Between Election 2008 and the early moments of the Obama administration, it was assumed a new New Deal was coming complete with massive infrastructure projects. But, now the stimulus package is so full of other things even some of the most unlikely news outlets have noticed.
In an amazing moment of clarity, resembling the end of a Hardy Boys novel after Frank and Joe solved a mystery, CNBC "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer and MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews questioned the meager infrastructure spending in the stimulus bill that passed in the House of Representatives on Jan. 28 by a 244-188 margin, without a single Republican vote during "Hardball" that night.
Chris Matthews, on Wednesday night's "Hardball," fell into the same trap many other journalists have in misunderstanding the term "Dittoheads," to describe fans of Rush Limbaugh as having no minds of their own that, as Matthews claimed, "repeat every word he speaks as gospel." Of course, as Limbaugh himself points out, fans of the radio talk show host are a varied group, that listen to him because he expresses the opinions they already share and/or just because he's entertaining and the term "Dittohead" is merely shorthand for saying you are a fan, not some "mind-numbed robot." However that fact was lost on Matthews who went on to patronize the audience saying Limbaugh acts as "a support group for guys, mainly men," who, "feel underappreciated by their families, by their bosses."
Matthews' slights against Limbaugh and his audience came in several segments devoted to Republican Congressman Phil Gingery coming on the talk show host's program to apologize to him for a criticism he made of him earlier in the week. In one of the segments Matthews threw the following question to Salon's Joan Walsh:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Okay here's a great philosophical-, Joan you have opened a can of worms here. Why do libertarians and I respect a lot of libertarian philosophy. It's, at least, in ideal terms the Ayn Rand stuff. It's-, I love the idea it's romantic. If everybody could live on themselves, and take care of themselves, if that could work, it doesn't, fine. But why do people who say they're individualists, cowboys, out there all alone, refer to themselves as "Dittoheads?"
On this evening's Hardball, Dick Armey told Joan Walsh:
I'm so damn glad that you could never be my wife, cause I surely wouldn't have to listen to that prattle from you every day.
The former Republican representative from Texas had been wrangling with Salon editor Walsh over the politics of the stimulus package and the role Rush Limbaugh has been playing, when things got out of hand . . . [H/t reader JF.]
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann branded Rush Limbaugh as the "extreme right," and made an analogy between Barack Obama talking about trying to divide jihadists from Muslim moderates during his inauguration, and the President's current efforts to isolate Limbaugh from other conservatives. Hosting Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter as guest, Olbermann began: "In his inaugural address, the President essentially tried to create a wedge between those who are reasonable and those who are not. Of course, he was talking about the Muslim world. Is it possible in this different context that he’s trying to do the same as he seeks bipartisanship with the Republicans, sort of, you know, separate, Mullah Limbaugh from the herd?"
Inspiring laughter from Olbermann, Alter’s opening act was to take a jab at Limbaugh’s past addiction to Oxycontin in distinguishing him from the Islamic mullahs: "Yes, I do think that`s what [Obama is] doing, although the mullahs don`t send their maid out into the parking lot to score drugs for them, so I`m not sure about the comparison."
If we are to believe Keith Olbermann’s latest wild theory, an innocent, mild mannered furniture salesman and humanitarian from Riyadh may have been inspired to become an al-Qaeda leader because he was falsely imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, courtesy of Olbermann’s favorite target, the Bush administration, who "created [his] reason for hating us."
Even for Keith Olbermann, this takes the cake, and makes you wonder if the rumors are true that the MSNBC host doesn’t really believe half of what he says, but only recites his rants and conspiracy theories for ratings. In light of reports that a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Said Ali al-Shihri, who was released in 2007 and has now become an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen believed responsible for a September embassy bombing, Olbermann seemed to seriously suggest that al-Shihri may have been an innocent man when he was first jailed at Gitmo, and then became a terrorist leader as a result of his imprisonment. The Countdown host plugged the story before a commercial break: "But perhaps the real question is: Since we never tried him, never found him guilty, and the Bush administration set him free, what if he wasn’t a terrorist in the first place but we turned him into one by sending him to Gitmo?"
One of the few saving graces from watching "The Rachel Maddow Show" on MSNBC? Its unintended amusement value.
Such was the case Friday night when journalist and author Carl Bernstein reined in Maddow during a segment aptly titled, "Talk Me Down."
Before interviewing Bernstein, Maddow enthused about MSNBC colleague Keith Olbermann's "extraordinary" interviews with a former National Security Agency analyst turned whistleblower. Follow this link to see the seven-minute segment in its entirety; Maddow makes this assertion at 2:14 into the clip --
Most liberal bloggers want to close Guantanamo, and some even want to make those "poor guys in Gitmo" some baba ghanoush. That aspiring terrorist's chef is the "Phoenix Woman" at Firedoglake, who complained about Rudy Giuliani ("everyone's favorite would-be dictator") on MSNBC's Morning Joe. Rudy's offense was citing the New York Times for reporting on a released Guantanamo detainee who is now deputy al-Qaeda commander in Yemen. But she complained:
Again, no names, facts, figures from the torturemongers. Just scare statements. And a chuckle from Rudy as he contemplates the possible deaths of innocents.
The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
Barack Obama’s inauguration was hardly a triumph of media objectivity, with reporters competing to see who could be the most adoring of the new Messiah-President. As always, the latest edition of MRC’s bi-weekly Notable Quotables newsletter has the most obnoxious liberal media quotes from the last two weeks.
Here’s a sneak peek at a few of the quotes that are contained in the January 26 edition; to see the whole set, you can sign up for the free e-mail newsletter or visit www.MRC.org on Monday (the whole package should be posted by Monday afternoon).
A Day When Even the Seagulls Were Awed
“We know that wind can make a cold day feel colder, but can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer? It seems to be the case because regardless of the final crowd number estimates, never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity.” — ABC’s Bill Weir on World News, January 20.
So asked Chris Matthews of Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy on today's edition of "Hardball." Gaffney was joined by liberal pundit David Corn of Mother Jones magazine in a segment around 5:20 p.m. ET and they were discussing the call by liberal Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) for a war crimes investigation of senior Bush administration officials and terrorist detainee interrogators.
For video of the exchange, click the play button on the embedded video.
Building on the relative popularity of their 8pm and 9pm slots--Olbermann & Maddow, respectively--MSNBC has begun the search for a personality to fill the currently unfilled 10pm slot. 10pm is currently devoted to a replay of Olbermann's "Countdown."
Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, is making 10 p.m. a priority now. In an interview on Tuesday in a studio on the Mall, hours after the inauguration of President Obama, Mr. Griffin said that the channel needed a third original show in its lineup.
"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough on Thursday aggressively clashed with his liberal co-anchor Mika Brzezinski and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart about Guantanamo Bay and the definitions of torture. After Capehart asserted, "I do think there's a way to protect America without violating everything that we stand for and everything that we are," a clearly agitated Scarborough shot back, "That is bull!"
The MSNBC host continued, "What you are doing and, Mika, what you are doing and the rabid left, not you all, but the rabid left has done for the past seven years, is just say, 'We are going to apply new standards to the Geneva Convention.'" An undeterred Capehart retorted, "How about following the Geneva Convention?" This prompted Scarborough to lecture, "Oh, guess what, Jonathan? We are! Al Qaeda terrorists that don't wear uniforms. How about reading the Geneva Convention! Because, terrorists that try and blow up civilians are not protected under the Geneva Convention."
Chris Matthews questioned Rush Limbaugh’s patriotism on Wednesday night’s "Hardball," as the MSNBC host wondered how the radio talk show host could dare to oppose Barack Obama as he exclaimed to his viewers: "Does Rush Limbaugh hate this country?" Matthews jumped on a quote from Limbaugh saying of Obama, "I hope he fails," apparently not understanding the concept that Limbaugh opposes any and all who would promote liberal policies precisely because he believes they will be harmful to the country. To see Limbaugh's quote in full context visit his official site. Matthews slammed Limbaugh in the following tease before going to a commercial break (audio excerpt here):
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Up next, does Rush Limbaugh hate this country? Wait till you hear what he said about the new president. He wants him to fail. What an amazing-, I've never heard anybody say they wanted a new president to fail. Usually you want the new president to succeed and then later on you argue the politics of what he or she does. But to want them to fail at the outset? What's that about?
Later in his "Sideshow" segment Matthews aired a sound bite from Limbaugh and then snidely remarked: "Well Rush must have a lot of acorns squirreled away not to share everyone else's hopes that the economy does come back."
The following Matthews outbursts were aired on the January 21 edition of "Hardball":
During Tuesday’s inauguration coverage on MSNBC, the Today show’s Al Roker poked fun at co-anchors Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann as the NBC weather man, on location at the inaugural parade site, appeared with the MSNBC duo and joked that Matthews "got that tingle down his leg" because Obama looks good without a shirt. Discussing the admiration that so many young people feel for Obama, Roker declared: "It doesn’t hurt ... that he’s a good-looking guy! ... This is a guy, this is a President who can take his shirt off, you know. I mean, if I take my shirt off, people are running and screaming. You know, that’s, so I think it’s just an exciting, exciting time. And I know that’s why Chris got that tingle down his leg!"
After Matthews tried to go along with Roker’s jovial mood by quipping that "we tingle up the leg, okay? It is a big freakin’ difference. And don’t you forget about it, buddy," Olbermann set himself up to receive a jab as well, as he joked that "it’s left to me to be the referee." Roker, presumably referring to Olbermann’s penchant for delivering outlandish tirades on his Countdown show, shot back: "And what does that say, if Keith Olbermann is the referee, Keith Olbermann is the voice of reason?" Matthews added: "That is a strange role for Keith Olbermann. Very strange."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Tuesday, January 20, inauguration coverage on MSNBC from about 2:08 p.m.:
Norah O'Donnell just mocked the manhood of the Senate Republicans. The MSNBC host was discussing with Tucker Carlson how—despite making noises about wanting more financial disclosure about donations to Bill Clinton's foundation—Republicans have announced their intention to vote for Hillary's confirmation as Secretary of State nonetheless.
O'Donnell wondered out loud whether the Republicans "have kind of lost their cojones."
Among President Barack Obama's abundant initial achievements -- bringing peace to Gaza by the mere specter of his looming presidency, at least according to Rachel Maddow.
Maddow's gooey reverence for Obama was on full display Monday night as her MSNBC show was broadcast live from the Mall in Washington.
Teasing an upcoming segment, Maddow made this confident assertion --
Coming up on part two of our very last Lame Duck Watch, NBC correspondent Richard Engel will join us live with the latest news from Gaza City, for the last legacy of the Bush administration abroad may be Israeli troops pulling out of Gaza literally on the occasion and because (forefinger raised for further emphasis) Barack Obama is being inaugurated tomorrow.
The man hasn't even taken office and we're already witnessing retreat.
During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, when spectators were heard booing President Bush as he was introduced, Chris Matthews seemed to become uncomfortable and criticized the protest as "bad form," remarking, "Don’t do that. Don’t boo, don’t boo, don’t boo." But minutes later, when protesters could be heard singing "Hey, hey, goodbye," co-anchor Keith Olbermann seemed to suggest that he was only bothered by the behavior because it distracted attention from Michelle Obama’s introduction. Olbermann: "Far be it for me to have been critical of anyone critical of this President, obviously, but, unfortunately, during that demonstration, something of the introduction of Mrs. Obama was lost because people were singing the, they still are, the ‘Hey, hey,’ song from various sporting events over the year, towards the 43rd President."
Ironically, just a minute earlier, Matthews seemed to praise his network for embracing Obama’s "change," and remarked that the spectators at the inauguration were part of MSNBC’s audience.
Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the January 20 inaugural coverage on MSNBC, which aired at about 11:32 a.m.:
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, in his latest heart-palpitation over the new era of Barack Obama, inadvertently let the cat out of the bag regarding his network’s transparent to court a left-wing audience.
“This is the network that has opened its heart to change -- to change and its possibilities. Let’s be honest about it. These -- these people watch this network out here,” Matthews gushed Tuesday morning.
Matthews’s co-anchor and fellow liberal Democrat Keith Olbermann, jokingly seconded his observation: “He’s Chris Matthews and he approved that message.” Matthews then made an indirect slam at Obama’s detractors: “We’re not crotchety about change -- stuffy” [audio available here].
Matthews’s latest gush came just before the bottom half of the 11 am Eastern hour of MSNBC’s coverage of the inauguration. He first remarked on the apparent giddiness of the mass of people in attendance for the swearing-in of the 44th president: “Well, there’s one thing you can’t see at home. I have never seen so many teeth in my life. Everybody is smiling. I mean, it’s all teeth out -- when you get close.” Olbermann responded with his first joke: “ A combination of smiling and the weather -- there’s chattering going on.” Matthews then continued about how the crowd seemed “radiant” and how they were “lucky enough to be in this business today, looking out the window here and getting the reaction when the crowd catches your eye. It is such a deal.”
During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews seemed to admit the liberal pro-Obama tilt of his network as he proclaimed that MSNBC "opened its heart to change," and that they are the "network of the 21st century," and that "this crowd knows us." Matthews: "It sure as hell helps to be on MSNBC today. Let’s talk straight here. This is the network that has opened its heart to change, to change and its possibilities. Let’s be honest about it. These people watch this network out here. ... This is the network of the 21st century, MSNBC, and I think we’re open to it, and that’s why this crowd knows us. ... We’re not crotchety about change and stuffy."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of MSNBC’s January 20 inaugural coverage from 11:31 a.m.:
Abandoning any pretense of balance, MSNBC's Inauguration coverage will be quad-anchored by four left-wingers: the network's three night time hosts -- Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow -- plus regular analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. Plugging the team at the end of the 7 PM EST Hardball on Monday night, Matthews trumpeted how “this is one of the great opportunities in journalism to cover history in the face” and declared “it's going to be the honor of our lifetimes.” With a graphic on screen showing pictures of the four and announcing MSNBC's 9:45 AM to 4 PM ET coverage, Matthews trumpeted:
This is one of the great opportunities in journalism to cover history in the face. We're going to see history in the face and when you get up tomorrow morning I recommend you stay tuned all day because I don't think you're going to stop seeing history being made, from the very beginning in the morning. It's going to be our best coverage all day. We're going to end up -- Keith and I and Rachel and Gene Robinson -- it's going to be the honor of our lifetimes to be here on the Washington Mall.
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment," in which he called on President-elect Barack Obama to prosecute President Bush and administration members on a charge of torturing prisoners, and invoked extreme examples such as slavery leading to the Civil War, and the handling of Germany after World War I leading to the rise of Nazism and World War II, to illustrate that "this country has never succeeded in moving forward without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past," and that Obama must try to prosecute Bush for the sake of the country’s future. After quoting Bush’s recent words about the interrogation techniques he authorized against 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and statements by Obama expressing reluctance to pursue prosecutions against the Bush administration, Olbermann began invoking extreme examples from history.
This country has never succeeded in moving forward without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past. ... We compromised with slavery in the Declaration of Independence, and, fourscore and nine years later, we had buried 600,000 of our sons and brothers in a civil war. After that war’s ending, we compromised with the social restructuring and protection of the rights of minorities in the South. And a century later, we had not only had not resolved anything, but black leaders were still being assassinated in the cities of the South. We compromised with Germany in the reconstruction of Europe after the First World War. Nobody even arrested the German kaiser, let alone conducted war crimes trials then. And 19 years later, there was an indescribably more evil Germany and a more heartrending Second World War.
Look no further than New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's recent appearance on "The Rachel Maddow Show" for why its namesake should invite guests who don't share her worldview more often than the current once-monthly clip, the better to sharpen the discourse.
Herbert appeared on Maddow's MSNBC program Jan. 13 to describe why he opposes President-elect Barack Obama's plans to double US troop strength in Afghanistan from the current 30,000 soldiers.
What follows is a transcript of the conversation between Maddow and Herbert, with my criticism afterwards. Words that are italicized indicate emphasis by the speaker, words in bold represent my emphasis --
Never mind how Barack Obama will magically bring “diversity,” “excellence” and “unity” to America, “Santa Claus” loves the incoming administration. Seconds before 5 PM EST Monday afternoon on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked a woman in the crowd around MSNBC's platform on Washington's Mall: “What do you think this next administration brings to the country?” The woman, wearing a Santa Claus hat more than three weeks after Christmas, excitedly replied:
I think they bring diversity. I think they bring a spirit of excellence. I think they bring unity and they bring love. Santa Claus loves them.
You'd think Santa Claus would be jealous of Obama for intruding on his specialty of giving away stuff. But maybe the woman was mixed up and meant to say that Obama is just as great as Santa Claus because she expects to get hand outs from him too.
Is the Cuban government pulling off a Weekend At Bernie's scenario with a deceased Fidel Castro in the role of Bernie? That is the rumor floating around South Florida. MSNBC has reported on this possibility but in doing so they have smeared Cuban Americans with a complete lie which WBPF-TV where they got the report eventually corrected (emphasis mine).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Fidel Castro hasn't appeared publicly in more than two years.
The 82-year-old's time out of view has many people in South Florida wondering about the Cuban leader's health and future.
There has been a lot of speculation within the Cuban-American community about whether Castro is dead or alive.
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor, during the show’s "Talking Points Memo," FNC host Bill O’Reilly slammed the New York Times and NBC News, presumably referring to MSNBC hosts like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow, accusing them of having "damaged their own country in a disgusting display of propaganda and outright lies" by "convincing the world that the USA is a nation of torture, a country that sadistically inflicts pain on both the innocent and the guilty." O’Reilly further attacked the "insane call for fishing expeditions to find something that will lead to prosecuting the President and Vice President," and added that he "despises, despises those who, in the name of ideology, want to weaken the country, putting us all in danger," and charged that doing so would be "un-American."
O’Reilly then hosted a discussion with FNC military analyst retired Colonel David Hunt and, to argue the liberal point-of-view, FNC analyst Bob Beckel, and Hunt contended that he had used "coerced interrogation" in the past that had "saved guys' lives."
Time TV writer and blogger James Poniewozik raised eyebrows when he reported that although he voted for Barack Obama, MSNBC's gleeful Obama coverage makes him sympathetic to Americans whose legs are not so thrilled. He disdained their "blatantly triumphalist" promos as worse than Fox News, and suggested MSNBC is wildly inconsistent for first suggesting that Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann aren’t objective enough to anchor major political events like the conventions, but then decide they’re just fine for anchoring their hero Obama's inauguration:
...MSNBC has decided it's OK to relax and let its pro-Bama freak flag fly. As if to confirm every "real vs. fake America" stereotype Sarah Palin and company perpetrated during the campaign, MSNBC's inauguration coverage will even run in Starbucks in New York, San Francisco and Seattle. (Seriously: did David Brooks think up that promotion?) On one of its incessantly running Inauguration Day promos, a narrator gushes, "When a new President inspires the nation, one day Americans will ask: where were you when Barack Obama became President?"
Besides the confusing timeline of that sentence, there's something almost bludgeoningly hortatory about it. Mind you, I voted for Barack Obama enthusiastically, in the primaries and the general election--and yet hearing stuff like this (Obama = The Moon Landing) I can empathize with the people who didn't.
Are you a latte liberal who can't make the pilgrimage to D.C. for the Obama inauguration? Or do you think that if you did, you'd in the January chill without your mid-day brew? Well, MSNBC is looking out for you!
The Obama leg-thrill network has teamed up with Starbucks Coffee to open more than 600 java joint locations in New York City, Seattle, and San Francisco.
Not into coffee? MSNBC also has movie theaters dedicated to the ceremony, although sitting next to Chris Matthews in a dark room watching Obama sounds a little sketchy to me.