Appearing on Morning Joe a couple weeks ago, Time editor Rick Stengel was quick to blame the controversy over Rev. Wright's past remarks on "the incredible ignorance of white Americans" about what goes on in black churches.
But the Time editor wasn't quite so forgiving when it came to the past of the current pontiff. Appearing on today's Morning Joe to discuss Time's cover story on Pope Benedict XVI's impending visit to America, Stengel blithely referred to the Pope as having been the Vatican's "hatchet man" during his years as a cardinal.
Chris Matthews got Barack Obama one-on-one on Wednesday night as part of "Hardball's College Tour," but didn't admit to getting a "thrill" up his leg from the Illinois senator's appearance. However, Matthews did ask Obama questions mostly from the left, like if he was "tough enough to take the heat," from "right wing radio," and warned him the "Republicans will bring [Jeremiah Wright] back."
On the lighter side, Obama didn't directly address Matthews about his leg tingles but did seem to make an allusion to it in the following exchange:
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about, at any time in this campaign, did you have a chuckle that you just couldn't get rid of? Something weird that happened, that was so crazy that you just went to bed laughing about?
OBAMA: Oh I think that, that happens about once a day. You know? But then I stopped watching cable news.
MATTHEWS: I got another set of cards in the back room.
The following questions from Matthews to Obama occurred on the April 2 edition of "Hardball":
Ed Rendell is too truthful to be a good vice-presidential candidate. Just ask him. The Pennsylvania governor and Hillary supporter was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball. Wrapping up the interview, host Chris Matthews broached his availability as Veep.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think the Democrats have a shot at carrying Florida on the best of conditions this year?
ED RENDELL: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. Particularly when the issues about Social Security are fashioned. I think this is going to be the best chance we've had to carry Florida since 2000.
MATTHEWS: I think Hillary has a better chance than Barack in Florida.
RENDELL: No question.
MATTHEWS: But I think Barack has a better chance if you're his running mate. Would you be available, Governor, to be a running-mate with Barack Obama--
Tonight, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann will once again get to do his Countdown show on the NBC network. A frequent and harsh critic of President Bush, especially regarding the Iraq war, Olbermann has used his Countdown show on MSNBC to regularly attack the President whom he has called an "Idiot-in-Chief" and a "fascist." Olbermann has also branded the Republican party as a "terrorist group" that tries to scare Americans into voting for them. The MSNBC host is celebrating the fifth anniversary of his Countdown show, and, on Thursday's program, he closed the show previewing Sunday's NBC special:
He calls it Hardball, but again tonight Chris Matthews showed he's a softy when it comes to Barack Obama. Chris was crestfallen when NBC News political director Chuck Todd laid out the case, chapter and verse, that political payback, even revenge, explained Sen. Bob Casey's endorsement of Obama as much or more than the "spiritual" reasons Chris so wanted to believe in.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Chuck, I didn’t expect this guy. He’s a very cautious U.S. senator in his first year, his first term, and what did he do? Almost a spiritual announcement he made today: I’ve got to be for Barack.
"After me, the deluge" (après moi, le déluge) -- popularly attributed to Louis XV
Look for Chris Matthews to start calling her "Louie." The Hardball host was as roiled as Robespierre today at Hillary Clinton's threat to take the Dem party down in a convention credentials fight over the seating of the Florida and Michigan delegates.
In the course of an interview with Greta Van Susteren of Fox News yesterday, Clinton made clear her intention to take things to a floor fight if necessary, and went so far as to preemptively undermine Barack Obama's legitimacy as a candidate if he doesn't go along with her proposal to seat the Florida and Michigan delegates. That set Matthews off, though it was panelist Tucker Carlson who supplied the most colorful language, describing Hillary as a "kamikaze" who is "ready to wreck the party."
Leave it to liberals to pile on Sen. John McCain with cheap shots about his age, and we're not talking making jokes about him serving in the Civil War or what not. Mocking John McCain's age, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann imagined that the senator could easily segue from talking about foreign policy or the economy to talking about "buying more Depends or something like that." (h/t Conservative Punk)
"You can dissassociate yourself from that remark if you wish," Olbermann immediately added in his exchange with Rachel Maddow of the liberal Air America radio network.
Yesterday NewsBusters noted a liberal blogger who took a cheap shot at McCain's false teeth. McCain's teeth were bashed out by North Vietnamese tormentors during his time as a POW.
Hardball had some fun this evening at Hillary's expense over the mystery of The Sniper Who Didn't Fire. Credit Politico's Roger Simon with the most devastating remark.
Hillary's heroic claim has been that "we used to say in the White House that if a place is too dangerous, too small or too poor, send the First Lady." Simon said what in retrospect might be obvious but something I hadn't previously heard anyone else observe.
ROGER SIMON: She says I was there because it was too dangerous for the President. It was too dangerous--so he sent his wife and only child? It makes no sense.
Which is what Limbaugh has dubbed his call for Republicans to cross over -- where legal -- to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic Presidential primaries. In so doing he hopes to prolong as much as possible the Democrat primary process.
Limbaugh began Operation CHAOS in advance of the March 4th primaries and primary/caucus held in Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont and Texas. It appeared to be at least somewhat effective beyond just ruffling Abrams' feathers, as HRC won three of the four (losing only in Vermont). Which is when Abrams first resorted to Limbaugh name calling -- at least in this regard.
Barack Obama came to Philadelphia on March 18 not so much to address his poisonous pastor, Jeremiah Wright, but to talk vaguely of race relations. The news media swooned. No one was giddier than MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who rhapsodized that Obama’s speech was one of the greatest speeches in American history, worthy of Abraham Lincoln, and should be read by school children like "The Great Gatsby" and "Huckleberry Finn." This, after all, is the Chris Matthews who said he "felt this thrill going up my leg" over Obama.
Obama said he could no more disown Wright than his own white grandmother, whom he disparaged as mired in racial stereotypes. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos deemed that part of the speech an "act of honor" -- even if it publicly humiliated Grandma, and even if Wright’s record of paranoid ranting and raving about racism is anything but honorable.
Earlier today, Democratic Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick conducted a news conference with his lawyer wherein he gave a brief statement pledging to stay in office and fight the perjury charges leveled against him. As Detroit Free Press columnist Bill McGraw noted today, Kilpatrick has the dubious honor of being the first Detroit mayor to be charged with a crime while in office.
That news conference happened shortly before 1 p.m. At the time I channel-surfed through CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News and I later reviewed the video from all three to confirm my observation: Of all three news networks, only CNN tagged Kilpatrick with its onscreen graphic as a Democrat (see screencap at right).
Fox News Channel labeled Kilpatrick as "Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit Mayor." MSNBC opted for "Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit." CNN tagged the alleged perjurer onscreen as "Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, (D) Detroit."
The Big Three Networks and Their Plan to Protect Obama (PPO)Why did it take until Thursday March 13, 2008, for the nation to begin to learn about Barack Obama's pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright? The man whose Trinity United Church of Christ Obama has attended and generously funded for seventeen years? Whom he had publicly and repeatedly cited as his mentor and had named as a campaign advisor? Whom he chose to perform his wedding and baptize his two daughters?
Because, until then, we were in the midst of Phase I -- preventative medicine -- of the media's version of campaign health care for the Senator's Presidential bid. Call it the Plan to Protect Obama (PPO).
The Reverend Wright story had been percolating beneath the surface for several years. It finally broke through to widespread dissemination last week. A picture is worth a thousand words -- moving pictures with audio of Wright's anti-American, paranoid rantings from the pulpit have finally inspired many more than that.
Good thing Chris Matthews was down in DC and Mika Brzezinski in NYC this morning. Had they been in the same studio, it might have taken Springer-show security to pry them apart. Such was the level of bad vibes that cropped up between the MSNBC pair during Matthews' appearance on Morning Joe today.
The first incident to incite Matthews' ire was Mika's suggestion, after an impassioned Matthews plea to forget the Clintons and focus on Obama, that the Hardball host had done what it certainly sounded as if he had: endorsed the junior senator from Illinois. That drew a denial and an if-looks-could-kill glare from Matthews seen here in the screencap.
Later, Matthews got very miffed that Mika was about to end the interview of Hillary spokesman Howard Wolfson without letting Chris pose any questions.
Somebody better break it to the New York Times: they might still be the paper of record in their own minds, but to the rest of the world they're just one more dead-tree joint struggling for attention.
The Old Grey Lady's unjustified conceit was on display during this afternoon's Hardball, when one of its columnists was aghast that Chris Matthews had had the audacity not to have read her oeuvre.
Deborah Solomon, who has a weekly column in the NYT Sunday magazine, had interviewed the Rev. John Hagee, a minister who has endorsed McCain and has made a number of controversial statements. I'd mention in passing that while Hagee's critics have accused him of anti-Semitism, he has in fact received numerous awards from Jewish groups for his steadfast support of Israel.
It wasn't quite a "thrill up up my leg" moment, but Chris Matthews clearly hasn't gotten over his love affair with the candidacy of Barack Obama. It was a discussion of NM Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama on today's Morning Joe that inspired an outpouring of emotion in which among other things Matthews acknowledged Obama "gets to me."
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think [Richardson's] a gutsy guy, his own man, and I think it's a powerful endorsement. It certainly would have been powerful if it had gone the other way to Senator Clinton. I think it'll be a prized endorsement for Senator Obama, especially coming from a, he also comes from an interesting background. He always says, he says, you know, I've got a, what does he say? I've got an English name, I've got a Mexican mother, and I look like an Indian. I mean, he's, he's always had an interesting --
Time editor Rick Stengel made his regular Thursday Morning Joe appearance today, revealing the magazine's cover to be published tomorrow. But while we learned that the Dalai Lama's photo will appear there, the bigger story is the "cover" Time is trying to provide for Barack Obama's Rev. Wright problem.
Here's the gist of Time's defense of Obama, a distillation of Stengel's statements and Time articles by Amy Sullivan and Joe Klein:
An important aspect of the problem is that white Americans are incredibly ignorant about black churches in America.
In fact, Rev. Wright's church isn't that radical as black churches go.
It was understandable for Obama to have joined Wright's church. At the time he was a 27-year old bi-racial man trying to figure out his identity as the son of an atheist father and skeptic mother and needed a church "he could learn from."
It's understandable that Obama didn't leave the church: it's like reading a book--you don't necessarily agree with the author.
Obama's speech was a "triumph," and Americans will be thinking "small" if they make the Wright thing a big issue in the campaign.
In today's great minds think alike moment, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein observed the same oddity in Barack Obama's much-publicized speech Tuesday.
For those with short memories, Finkelstein noted that Obama's reference to his white grandmother's "fear of black men who passed by her on the street" was eerily similar to a statement Jesse Jackson made in 1996.
On Wednesday's "Morning Joe," Scarborough was concerned about the very same thing (video available here):
There's a new entry next to Mika Brzezinski's name in the annals of MSM elitism. The Morning Joe panelist today lamented blue-collar whites who "can't hear" the message Barack Obama propounded. Poor benighted souls. Joe Scarborough called Mika on it.
Brzezinski's comment came in response to Scarborough's exposition of why he didn't think Obama's speech would work with many blue-collar whites.
Is there something in the water at NBC that gives its TV talent restless leg?
MSNBC's Chris Matthews is the latest journo to bust a move, on the March 19 "Ellen DeGeneres" show.
Looks like colleague David Gregory has some fresh competition, but I'm confident the NBC White House correspondent has what it takes. After all, he can get down to anything from Hilary Duff to Mary J. Blige.
On Tuesday night's "Hardball", Chris Matthews praised the current Democratic frontrunner's speech on race as "Worthy of Abraham Lincoln," and also claimed it bypassed Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" address as the "best speech ever given on race in this country." Of Barack Obama's speech in Philadelphia today, Matthews went on to declare: "I think this is the kind of speech I think first graders should see, people in the last year of college should see before they go out in the world. This should be, to me, an American tract."
The following comments from Matthews on Obama's speech occurred on the March 18 edition of MSNBC's "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS OPENING THE SHOW: A divide as American as the Grand Canyon, a speech worthy of Abraham Lincoln. Let's play Hardball!
One set of facts, two diametrically different NYT op-eds addressing it this morning. The fact: that Barack Obama is backpedaling as fast as he can away from the hateful anti-American rhetoric of Jeremiah Wright. The op-eds: Bill Kristol's, offering a dose of sobering realism about Obama's feet that if not of clay, then are certainly those of a garden-variety politician.
And then there's Roger Cohen's, the Obama fan who, in a bit of breathtaking revisionism, would explain away Barack's moonwalk on the theory the candidate has simply "grown beyond" the problematic preacher. And Cohen's just fine with that.
Appearing on the last episode of Tucker on March 14, 2008, Barack Obama fan and LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks grimaces after claiming Obama "probably wasn't listening" in church when Rev. Jeremiah Wright made his controversial statements.
I've enjoyed Tucker Carlson's show and can't let it pass into history, as it did last night, without a mention here. MSNBC has said that Tucker will remain at the network as an at-large commentator, and I have a feeling that, liberated from show-host concerns, he might become even more uninhibited in the expression of his quirkily conservative/libertarian views.
So let's usher Tucker out by focusing on one of our favorite nemeses, Rosa Brooks, the liberal LA Times columnist who appeared on the show's final episode. The unreconstructed Obama apologist offered the lamest excuse yet for his failure to have disassociated himself earlier from the ugly rhetoric of Rev. Jeremiah Wright: Barack simply wasn’t paying attention in the pews.
Instead of acting as an impartial journalist who would express interest in probing why Barack Obama may say he disagrees with the incendiary anti-U.S. left-wing rants from his minister while he has remained close to him, Friday afternoon on MSNBC Norah O'Donnell fretted about how “Rush Limbaugh went nuts today on his program about this story” and wondered: “How do we get away from this?” Guest Michael Crowley of The New Republic assured her: “I don't think this reflects anything on what Barack Obama believes.”At about 3:55 PM EDT, MSNBC played this clip of a screaming Wright:
We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Nagasaki! And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. [edit jump] We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yard.
O'Donnell then rued:
I don't even know how these candidates can talk about policy because it seems like every day someone's asking them to apologize for the comments of their supporters. I mean, Rush Limbaugh went nuts today on his program about this story. John McCain is talking about this particular story. How do we get away from this?
Even Tucker Carlson, MSNBC's uninhibited house libertarian, was a bit taken aback. But good Dem Bill Press has had the, um, gumption to say what others may have thought about Hillary Clinton: that she has "balls of brass."
Press's comment came on this evening's Tucker in the course of a discussion of Clinton's shameless assertion that the Michigan primary was "fair" despite the fact that the DNC had agreed it wouldn't count and that Obama's name did not even appear on the ballot.
TUCKER CARLSON: You know this term "Orwellian"? Everything's "Orwellian." But rarely do you hear a statement that is in fact Orwellian. That actually reaches the threshold of "war is peace," "hate is love" and it's this right here. Hillary Clinton talking about the Potemkin primaries in Michigan and Florida and saying this: "If you're a voter from Florida or Michigan, you know that we should count your votes. The results of those primaries were fair and should be honored." They were fair in Michigan? Barack Obama was not on the ballot!
On Thursday night’s "Hardball," Chris Matthews compared Barack Obama's writing abilities to those of the great American writer Mark Twain. Prompted by Philadelphia radio talk show host Michael Smerconish’s praise of Obama's first book "Dreams From My Father," the "Hardball" host effused: "It's almost like Mark Twain. It's so American, it's so textured."
The following exchange occurred on the March 13 edition of MSNBC’s "Hardball:"
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I think that this argument that he's an empty suit is gonna get tested and proven false. I just finished and have spent all week long, reading to my radio audience excerpts of "Dreams From My Father," Barack Obama's first book. And I'm telling your audience on "Hardball," if you want to know what makes this guy tick forget the grandiose, highfalutin speeches this is the real deal.
Some joker at the Washington Post-published Express tabloid apparently isn't a big fan of MSNBC's Tucker Carlson. The caption accompanying Carlson's picture in a March 11 story reads "Go ahead: Slap him in your imagination."
The photo appeared above a snarky headline reading "Haze of Smug Disappears From Washington Skies," referring to Carlson being dislodged from his one-hour MSNBC perch in favor of a "Race for the White House" program to be anchored by NBC White House correspondent David "Dance Dance Revolution" Gregory.
On Tuesday's Hardball, MSNBC host Chris Matthews voiced agreement with New York Times columnist Orlando Patterson, a Harvard sociology professor, as he read a passage from Patterson's latest column during which the Harvard professor declared that, in watching Hillary Clinton's recent campaign ad questioning Barack Obama's qualifications for handling a 3:00 a.m. emergency, he "couldn't help but think of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, the racist movie epic that helped revive the Klu Klux Klan with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society." Declaring that the ad reminded him more of "a 911 call than 9/11" with "a mother protecting her kids from a prowler outside," Matthews declared such an ad "would be racist." (Transcript follows)