As political rituals go, the phony denial of interest in the VP nomination is among the most annoying. So credit Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee for unequivocally stating their willingness to serve as McCain's running mate.
But please, politicians out there, spare us the feeble non-denial denials such as the one Jim Webb offered up on today's Morning Joe. Isn't Webb supposed to be Mr. No-Nonsense Macho Man? After all, he was on the show to tout his new book, A Time to Fight, and to talk up his rough 'n tumble Scots-Irish roots. But judging by his wimpy response to the Veep question, perhaps the book should be renamed A Time to Fumfer. His reply to Mika Brzezinski's question on his interest in the Veep nomination has to go down as one of the lamest of an already-lame genre.
During MSNBC's live coverage of the Kentucky and Oregon Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell seemed to take seriously suggestions by Hillary Clinton "loyalists" who argue that Republicans in control of the election process in some red states Barack Obama hopes to carry may deny him a "fair vote" in the November general election. Mitchell: "Other Clinton loyalists, but realists, say that that electoral map is a stretch in one regard: There are ... Republican governors and Secretaries of State, if you will, Katherine Harris-type election officials in those states. ... [Obama] has to go up against the establishment, which would be Republican, and he has to figure out a way to get a fair vote, if he's the nominee, in those red states." (Transcript follows) [audio available here]
During an interview with Lisa Caputo of the Clinton campaign, Caputo commented that the possibility of Clinton winning the popular vote among Democratic primary and caucus voters while Obama wins the delegate count reminds her of the 2000 election. Matthews then contended that Al Gore "may well have won the election" if he had requested a statewide recount instead of "just a couple of counties" because Gore might have won most "intended votes."
Even before I heard Chris Matthews mention it, it struck me too . . .
Among the visuals a big-time campaign carefully choreographs is the human backdrop when the candidate speaks—particularly when it's a matter of an important, nationally-televised speech. So it's very hard to imagine that it was coincidence that the crowd visible behind Hillary this evening as she gave her Kentucky primary victory speech . . . was comprised 100% of people of pallor. Kibitzing with co-anchor Keith Olbermann immediately after Clinton's comments, Matthews mentioned it.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I thought a giveaway line was "who is best positioned to win in November?" That is not exactly a self-crediting commentary. When you position yourself in politics, it's a deliberate effort to try to find a space, not necessarily your own passionate position, or your real position, but to find a place, to triangulate, to try to find a place that appeals to a certain percentage of the voters that will carry you over. And to advertise yourself as the "best-positioned" is not really a statement of authenticity, it's a statement of political positioning. It's a Dick Morris phrase, if anything. It's certainly an odd way to portray it.
I think I know what she's saying, which is "I'm perhaps stronger on defense, perhaps I'm white, perhaps I'm appealing to the working class." I do think it's interesting that her entire crowd was white tonight. That was interesting. Usually they try to mix it up a bit, up near the lectern on purpose, to give it a sense of random selection. It didn't look very random there.
Doesn't Mika Brzezinski have any Republicans in her Rolodex? With Joe Scarborough home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby, Mika has been filling in as anchor, and I sense doing much of the show's booking [mention is often made of her work in that regard]. Today's guest lineup consisted of six Dems/liberals versus a sole Republican, brought in almost at show's end.
Here's the list, in order of appearance, of today's political guests coming from outside the NBC/MSNBC family [Chuck Todd and Andrea Mitchell also appeared as guests, and Harold Ford, Jr. and Pat Buchanan served as panelists]:
Jonathan Capehart--WaPo editorial writer
Ted Sorensen--former JFK speechwriter
Doris Kearns Goodwin--historian and former LBJ aide
Tom Daschle--former Dem senator [check out the spiffy red spectacles]
Terry McAuliffe--Clinton campaign chairman
Jon Meacham--Newsweek editor and contributing editor of the center-left Washington Monthly
Like choosing Rosie O'Donnell to vouch that someone isn't a 9-11 conspiracy nut?
Of all the people Mika Brzezinski might have selected as a character reference for her father when he was portrayed as a problem for Obama with Jewish voters, Pat Buchanan isn't the first one who springs to mind. Yet that's who Mika [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough, home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby] called on to defend her dad on today's Morning Joe.
The odd endorsement came at about 6:35 AM EDT today, after Mika highlighted an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Global View columnist [and former Jerusalem Post editor] Bret Stephens entitled Obama and the Jews. Stephens's item contained these lines [emphasis added]:
It appears the New York Post's assessment that MSNBC's Keith Olbermann is on the verge of another professional meltdown was quite prescient.
On Monday's "Countdown," answering to criticism that his Special Comment last Wednesday about President Bush's "panoramic and murderous deceit" was so over the top that he should be suspended, Olbermann had the unmitigated audacity to claim those offended were showing "their instinctive hatred for, and contempt for" America's troops.
His targets: conservative commentators and stalwart supporters of the United States military including radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin.
I kid you not.
What follows is the video of Olbermann's extraordinarily convoluted and Norman Bates-like explanation for his deplorable behavior last Wednesday as well as the transcript:
Can it be coincidence that on the day it's reported that Keith Olbermann is feuding with Chris Matthews, the Hardball host goes out of his way to shine up the clown prince of Countdown?
As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, the New York Post, in the course of reporting today that Olbermann has been "lashing out" at his network's talking heads, stated that Olbermann's "feuding with 'Hardball' host Chris Matthews is nothing new."
So on this evening's Hardball, how does Matthews promote tomorrow night's primary coverage that he will be co-anchoring with Olbermann?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Remember, tomorrow night with Keith Olbermann, we're going to be working together for complete coverage of the Oregon and Kentucky primaries. As I said, for me it's Christmas morning. I don't know how it feels to Keith.
On Monday's "Hardball" Chris Matthews scolded the Georgia Republican Party State Chair for comparing John McCain to Jesus but back in 2007 the MSNBC host declared of Bill Clinton: "There are times when he sounds like Jesus..."
First up, during the "Sideshow" segment of the May 19 show, Matthews delivered the following critique of Georgia Republican Party Chair Sue Everhart:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Now to the most absurd analogy of the day. In praising John McCain for his stoicism while he was tortured in Vietnam, Georgia Republican Party Chair Sue Everhart had this to say about her candidate, quote, "John McCain is kind of like Jesus Christ on the cross." Well I think John Lennon made that mistake when he said the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Let's cool it with those comparisons.
However, last year Matthews compared Bill Clinton to Jesus and actually won "Quote of the Year," for it at the MRC's 2008 DisHonors Awards. The following quote is from the February 28, 2007 edition of "Hardball:"
People that have been following the career of MSNBC's Keith Olbermann are fully aware that it's only a matter of time before he has a professional meltdown forcing him to once again change jobs.
Such was the case in 1997 when he abruptly left ESPN due to what he referred to in a Salon article five years later as having been unable to "handle the pressure of working in daily long-form television" while admitting that "deep down inside I've always believed that everybody around me was qualified and competent, and I wasn't, and that some day I'd be found out."
We believe it, too, Keith.
With this in mind, according to Monday's New York Post, history is about to repeat itself (h/t TVNewser):
Conservative radio talk show host and Constitutional lawyer Mark Levin on Friday called for MSNBC to suspend Keith Olbermann as a result of his deplorable remarks concerning American soldiers and President Bush.
As my colleague Brad Wilmouth reported, Olbermann on Wednesday's "Countdown" "accused the President of 'panoramic and murderous deceit,' and of 'creating' an America that 'includes cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.'"
This didn't sit well with Levin who on Friday gave Olbermann the tongue-lashing his employers at MSNBC would give him if they possessed any shred of decency or common sense (audio available here thanks to our friend Johnny Dollar):
The 9a.m. hour of Friday’s MSNBC News Live featured only slanted coverage of President Bush’s remarks to Israel's Knesset including "Hardball" correspondent David Shuster’s characterization of the President’s remarks as “clearly an intellectually grotesque and dishonest statement.”
Shuster also argued that Bush’s remarks were offensive to "a lot" of people because "when you talk about Adolf Hitler in the context of the Middle East, it diminishes the atrocities and just how horrific the Nazi regime really was."
The hour long broadcast featured two segments which focused on Bush’s remarks with guests David Shuster and Barack Obama supporter Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), both of whom criticized the President’s statements and went along with the Democratic spin that Bush’s statements were an attack on Obama.
When Mika Brzezinski gushed over Pat Buchanan's knowledge of WWII history today, was she aware that her hero has criticized Britain for coming to the defense of her father's native Poland when Nazi Germany invaded it?
Buchanan has been a member of the Morning Joe panel this week. Much of today's talk has focused, with a Bush-bashing panel of guests, on President Bush's condemnation of appeasement in remarks to the Israeli Knesset. At 8:12 AM ET, the show rolled video from last night's Hardball of Chris Matthews's hectoring of radio talk show host Kevin James over the latter's inability to state precisely what it was that Neville Chamberlain did in attempting to appease Adolf Hitler. As I noted here, Chris managed to stumble on some history of his own during that segment, but MJ didn't deign to discuss that embarrassing fact.
Willie Geist turned to Buchanan to answer the question that James couldn't.
The big story this morning is President Bush's remarks to the Israeli Knesset invoking the example of Hitler to warn against the appeasement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the opening segment, from Mika Brzezinski [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough this week] to Willie Geist to Pat Buchanan to Mike Barnicle to David Shuster, nary a word in defense of Bush was heard, with Shuster twice referring to Bush's remarks as "grotesque." The only slight straying from Bush-bashing orthodoxy was Barnicle's observation that when he first heard of the remarks, he took them as aimed at Jimmy Carter, not Barack Obama.
A show purporting to have any semblance of balance would surely have a defender, if not of Bush, then at least of John McCain [who has reacted approvingly to Bush's comments] as a subsequent guest on today's show. Well, here's the guest lineup that Mika announced:
Bill Richardson--Obama endorser
Joe Biden--who has called Bush's remarks "bull----"
Susan Rice--Obama foreign policy advisor
Jonathan Alter--liberal pundit and occasional Olbermann sidekick
On Thursday's "Hardball" Chris Matthews accused George W. Bush of delivering "a sucker punch" to Barack Obama in his speech to the Knesset. In the speech Bush warned against appeasing enemies, which Matthews took to be a cheap shot at the Illinois senator's willingness to talk to the leaders of hostile nations like Iran. [audio available here]
Matthews made the "sucker punch" remark on the May 15, "Hardball" in the following question to the "Dallas Morning News'" Wayne Slater:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you while you're up now Wayne, this question of the President. You've written about "Bush's Brain." What was he up to in the Knesset today with that, well you'd have to call it a sucker punch over there. In the Knesset, in Israel, which was, you know, so much to do with the Holocaust, let's be honest. In terms of the world and the way it looks, the necessity of a state of Israel, a Jewish state. And to go in there and basically accuse the Democrats of selling out the Jews of Europe. I mean an amazing charge right there in, in the homeland! Incredible!
Message to Chris Matthews: when ripping a guest for his lack of historical knowledge, try to avoid making a history mistake of your own in the same segment.
It happened on this afternoon's Hardball. After lambasting a guest for not knowing his Neville Chamberlain history, Matthews surmised that the attack on the USS Cole in October, 2000 happened under . . . President Bush.
Over a graphic which read “Pres. Bush Invokes Nazis While Criticizing Obama’s Foreign Policy,” MSNBC sought to hype Democratic reaction to President Bush’s speech in Israel.
During the 9a.m. hour of Thursday’s “MSNBC News Live,” host Mika Brzezinski reported: “President Bush issued a stinging criticism of Barack Obama today suggesting that his plans to hold talks with Iran is the same as trying to appease the Nazis on the eve of World War II.”
Brzezinski began the broadcast with “breaking news” of President Bush’s comments and repeatedly came back to it, making for a total of six references to the “controversy” in the hour-long broadcast. The host also quoted the reaction from the Obama campaign three times and continually referred to the President’s remarks as a “swipe at Obama.”
It wasn't just Barack Obama's candidacy that John Edwards endorsed tonight. It was also the worldview that sees the United States as a "bully." Consider these lines from Edwards just-completed speech.
JOHN EDWARDS: There's also a wall that's divided our image in the world. The America as the beacon of hope is behind that wall. And all the world sees now is a bully. They see Iraq, Guantanamo, secret prison, and a government that argues that waterboarding is not torture [lusty booing from the crowd]. This is not OK. That wall has to come down. For the sake of our ideals and our security. We can change this. We can change it. Yes, we can.
During MSNBC's live coverage of Tuesday's West Virginia Democratic primary, Chris Matthews three times compared Hillary Clinton to Al Sharpton because she recently cited her popularity with white blue-collar voters as a reason she should be the Democratic presidential nominee. Matthews: "It's almost like she's the Al Sharpton of white people." Keith Olbermann claimed that media coverage of the Democratic campaign has been fair, but still conceded that "if the media leaned at any point early on in this race, it was not against [Clinton], but towards her." Matthews contended that, similar to the way Bill Clinton in 1992 had "a tremendous wind at his back in terms of press coverage because of generation," this time Barack Obama "has benefitted from being the new breeze."
Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe also got to poke fun at Matthews over his over the top confession last February that an Obama speech caused a "thrill going up my leg." While discussing Clinton's speech from Tuesday night, McAuliffe joked: "I'm sure it sent shivers up Chris Matthews's leg." (Transcript follows)
Toeing the "Green is Universal,"corporate line, MSNBC's Chris Matthews seemed shocked that anyone would dare question whether climate change was real. During a discussion about John McCain's eco-friendly rhetoric the "Hardball" host was dismayed when conservative radio talk show host Heidi Harris called it a move "to the left," as Matthews decried: "You think climate change is an ideological issue?!"
The following exchange occurred on the May 13 edition of "Hardball:"
Guest hosting on Tuesday's "Morning Joe," MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews assigned dark motives to the voters of West Virginia and repeatedly reaffirmed that nobody should be surprised if Barack Obama loses the May 13 primary to Hillary Clinton. According to Matthews, "You could have predicted West Virginia 20 years ago on this one." Making his racial overtones more clear, Matthews derided, "These people made up their mind in '57." [audio available here]
This was all too much for fellow guest host Pat Buchanan. One of the few conservatives on MSNBC, he first laughed and then alluded to the fact that West Virginia has been almost exclusively controlled by Democrats: "What an indictment! What an indictment of your party, Chris!" Matthews snidely responded by claiming his remarks indicated "a suggestion of understanding the geography of America." He followed up by jokingly referring to Buchanan's previous presidential runs and not-so subtlety asking, "How did you do in West Virginia? Pretty good, huh?"
Does the media treat hypocrites of differing political preferences similarly? The evidence would suggest not. When noted Christian televangelist Jim Bakker was found to have committed adultery and mail fraud back in 1986, the national media were beside themselves with glee, running hundreds of stories about Bakker's hypocrisy. The same pattern repeated itself with other Christian evangelists, including George W. Bush supporter Ted Haggard in 2006, a case that Wikipedia admits "may have affected voting patterns in the 2006 elections". The media made sure to feature the haggard case as a front-page story during the run-up[ to the election, probably hoping (correctly as it turned out) that it would help the Democrats take control of Congress. However, the shoe is now on the other foot.
Famed left-wing radio personality Bernie Ward of San Francisco, a former priest who had one of the loudest and most consistently anti-George W. Bush voices in the entire nation, was found guilty of possessing and distributing child pornography on Friday and will serve at least five years in prison. ward tried to argue that he was "doing research" on child pornography, but as the San Francisco Chronicle reported:
Them thar Wellesley gals is so country. Kinda like good ol' "can I git me a huntin' license here" John Kerry, nothing makes Hillary Clinton feel more comfortable than to find herself in the hills and hollers. Thus it was entirely natural, and not at all a cynical campaign ploy, for Hillary to slip into some country vernacular when addressing a Mountain State gathering.
Check out the video, aired on this evening's Hardball, of Hillary speaking in West Virginia today. There was something of a Southern cast to Hillary's accent throughout, but it hit a high note with her "sumpin'."
It's really telling ya a lot about history to point out that it was West Virginia that made it possible for John Kennedy to become president. Now, John Kennedy didn't have the number of delegates he needed, when he went to the convention in 1960, but he had sumpin' equally as important: he had West Virginia behind him. Because, it's a fact, that Democrats don't get elected president unless West Virginia votes for you, and --
During the 1992 presidential campaign, when incumbent Vice President Dan Quayle made a spelling mistake, the New York Times was all over it. It's clear from the Times's story that the rest of the media was also in full pursuit:
So Jay Leno has a week's worth of new Dan Quayle jokes. At a school here, everyone was quite hush-hush the day after the visiting Vice President spelled potato wrong while directing a spelling bee.
..... Reporters stood around today for hours outside of the house where 12-year-old William Figueroa lives. He has become a national celebrity for having spelled the word correctly on the blackboard, only to have Mr. Quayle, holding a flash card with the word spelled incorrectly, encourage him to add an E at the end.
Heavens to Murgatroyd! Chris Matthews has reduced Hillary Clinton to a cartoon character. Snagglepuss to be precise. "Exit stage left" was one of the Hanna-Barbera animation's catchphrases, and Matthews used it to wonder whether Hillary was prepared to leave the presidential race, given her flagging political fortunes. Here's how Matthews put it at the top of today's Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Meanwhile, listen carefully. That sound you hear is the slow falling of electoral delegates, of superdelegates, to Barack Obama. Seven more came aboard today. So with Obama way ahead in elected delegates, now trails Hillary Clinton by only four-and-a-half superdelegates. It didn't help Clinton when her long-time supporter and U.S. congressman Rahm Emanuel of Illinois called Obama today "the presumptive nominee" of his party.
As Snagglepuss flashed on the screen, Matthews wondered out loud: "does Hillary have an exit strategy at this point?"
On a "MSNBC Live," report on "sky high gas prices" anchor Tamron Hall relayed the story of one man who is using a horse rather than a vehicle, but did not explain some important reasons why prices have soared.
"The high prices have led ... one Tennessee man to find a more fuel efficient way to get around town in Bradley County: The guy is riding a horse," Hall said on the May 9 broadcast. "It is cheaper to maintain a horse than it is to fill up a gas tank. He says that it costs $150 to $200 a month to ride and feed that pony."
Four years before Barack Obama gave Chris Matthews a "thrill" up his leg, the senator produced a "chill" in the MSNBC host's leg. On July 27, 2004, during coverage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Matthews reacted to Obama's prime-time address by rhapsodizing, "I have to tell ya, a little chill in my, in my legs now." [audio available here]
On February 12, 2008, following primary results in Virginia and Maryland, the "Hardball" host again gushed over Obama, this time after a victory speech. Speaking of the Democratic candidate, he fawned, "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." So, first there was the "chill." Four years later, Obama produced a "thrill." One can only imagine what feelings the likely presidential nominee will createfor Chris Matthews's appendages at the 2008 Democratic convention.
Here's something you probably never thought in your wildest dreams you'd hear a Democrat say about MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews:
Do I think he is shamelessly biased and doesn’t care about being biased? Absolutely.
Be still my heart.
As I'm sure you're in as much disbelief as I, and must hear it from the horse's mouth so to speak, the following was reported by The Hill Monday, and somehow slipped underneath the radar until NB member Par for the Course made me aware of it moments ago (emphasis added):
Is it the province of a "correspondent" of an ostensibly objective network to proclaim the tactics of a presidential candidate "inappropriate"? Apparently so, when the network is MSNBC and the correspondent David Shuster. The frequent sidekick to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann got into it with Pat Buchanan on today's Morning Joe.
Shuster spoke out against Hillary's rough-'n-tumble end-game tactics, while a feisty Buchanan defended Clinton's right to go down swinging. Shuster sounded less the reporter and more the DNC member concerned about damage to the party's presumptive presidential candidate. When Mike Barnicle got into the act, he wanted to be sure not to be seen as insulting the Clintons.
DAVID SHUSTER: What is the plausible scenario for what she's doing now, and do you agree, the only plausible scenario is that she's just trying to permanently damage Barack Obama?
MIKE BARNICLE: What about this one, David? What about the fact that, listen, not speaking ill of either former President Clinton or Senator Clinton [God forbid!], but this is all they've ever done in their lives. They've never worked at a private job, they've never worked in corporate America [Rose law firm?], they've been public people for 30 years. All they know is running! That's all they know: that's who they are.
Was it Hardball—or the World Series of Poker? Interviewing Hillary's Howard Wolfson today, Chris Matthews accused the Clinton campaign of playing the white race card. Just minutes later, when Wolfson suggested Matthews might be discriminating against Puerto Rican voters, Chris protested "don't play that card on me."