It's Day 4 of the Democratic convention and MSNBC just can't get over the lack of "red meat" thrown to the party faithful. Commentator Pat Buchanan raised the issue during the 7:00 hour of this morning's "Morning Joe" while critiquing Bill Clinton's convention speech, noting that John McCain and the Republicans "skated free for this convention" and calling the current crop of Democrats "a yuppified party" when compared to Democrats in the past. Host Joe Scarborough continued the red meat theme into the 8:00 hour when he stated "We've been critical this week of the Democrats, Buchanan and I, because we're mean-spirited Republicans saying that the Democrats needed to go more aggressively against George Bush's eight years of failure, tying McCain to Bush."
Scarborough provided a deli-menu's worth of meat to any Democrats watching that could be used against Republicans in general and John McCain specifically. He bragged, "in ten seconds I could write a speech and say, what do you say about a party that comes to Washington, takes it over, promises to balance the budget and turns Bill Clinton's $150 billion surplus into a $500 billion debt? What do you say about a party that says they are going to fight for our children when in fact they are bankrupting the American dream?"
Ah the wit and wisdom of Chris Matthews. Did you know that Joe Biden's hometown of Scranton, Pa., is stuck in 1957? Or that Sen. McCain hopes to peel off Michigan from the Democrats due in part to white voters anger at black Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick? Did you know you shouldn't bother to ask a Mormon what he did over the weekend?
Oh, and the media used to love John McCain because they were his base.
The blow-up that is occurring on MSNBC is beginning to draw attention from media members including the former co-anchor of the "CBS Evening News" Connie Chung who advised those involved in the on air squabbles to "just grow up!"
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published a recap of the skirmishes that NewsBusters has been reporting all week.
In a piece entitled "MSNBC Anchors' Fights Go Live," the Journal's Rebecca Dana sought out Chung's opinion of what's going on at her former network (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser, photo courtesy WSJ):
Spike Lee seems intent on inadvertently subverting Barack Obama's campaign. As we saw previously, Spike Lee suggested that rappers could be an important campaign asset for Obama. And now in an interview with an MSNBC reporter, Lee asserts that history can be divided into two epochs. Here is a transcript (emphasis mine):
REPORTER: I'm joined now by Spike Lee who we found on the floor of the Democratic convention. First of all, it's such a key...
SPIKE LEE: Amongst the Indiana delegates...
REPORTER: And Florida too. Powerful delegations.
LEE: (garbled) Florida and Indiana. That's all right.
Few Republicans have made it onto MSNBC air during the network's Dem convention coverage, but even that is apparently too much for Keith Olbermann. As Chris Matthews was interviewing GOP consultant Mike Murphy in the interlude between Bill Clinton and Joe Biden tonight, Olbermann could be heard off-camera angrily demanding "let's wrap him up, alright?"
It was Murphy's surmise that, in the privacy of the polling booth, Bill and Hilary would pull the lever for McCain that seemed to set Olbermann off, prompting him to call for the hook.
MIKE MURPHY: I think Hillary and Bill Clinton are the happiest people in town because they came, they both crushed in good speeches, and they left. And now they can go do what I would bet money they'll do which is quietly vote for John S. McCain. I believe that. I believe it. I believe it.
On Wednesday, NewsBusters asked: Is the hatred [Keith] Olbermann has been spewing on virtually a nightly basis beginning to take its toll on his fellow on air personalities presaging a looming uncivil war at MSNBC?
Amid a spate of awkward on-air conflicts among MNSBC anchors at this week’s Democratic convention, some staff members say there are sharp internal disputes at the cable network over whether its opinion and personality-driven political coverage has crossed the line.
“The situation at our channel is about to blow up,” a high-ranking MSNBC journalist told Politico on Wednesday.
Another chapter in the ongoing Matthews-Olbermann feud? Yesterday, a catfight broke out between the two when Olbermann suggested Matthews had stolen an idea from two female pundits, and later made a hand gesture mocking Matthews gabbing [YouTube here, h/t Undercover Black Man]. Were the warring duo at it again this evening?
You be the judge. Click on the image to the right to view the video..
Again co-anchoring the MSNBC desk with Olbermann tonight, Matthews was just about to throw it to Luke Russert out on the convention floor. The son of the late Meet the Press anchor was interviewing young convention delegates. In light of the reported desire of both Matthews and Olbermann to grab the Meet the Press anchor chair, the opportunity to interact with Luke might be seen as a valuable plum.
Matthews appeared to be reading a script from his laptop, when he suddenly stopped. Olbermann picked up the thread and threw it to young Russert. A furious expression crossed Matthews' face and he began to shake his head and mutter, until his image was blotted out by a prominent NBC logo.
Just seconds before Nancy Pelosi acknowledged the nomination, by affirmation, of Barack Obama on Wednesday night, Chris Matthews cheered the organizers who were able to bring the "magic moment" to fruition.
Praising the negotiators who were able to bring the Hillary Clinton and Obama camps together on the nomination process, Matthews, during MSNBC's August 27, live coverage of the Democratic National Convention hailed the occasion:
According to the New York Times, pro-life Pennsylvania senator Bob Casey, Jr. spoke last night at the Democratic convention to “reach out to religious voters and anti-abortion Democrats and independents.” MSNBC’s Chris Matthews noted prior to Casey’s speech that it was part of the Democratic party strategy to “build a coalition, largely of pro-choice people, but with some, a few, pro-lifers, in order to win 60 seats in the U.S. Senate.” Former Clinton advisor Paul Begala told CNN that Casey speaking at the convention was “an example of Senator Obama’s ability to find common ground.” CNN’s Gloria Borger stated, “Having Senator Casey up there, who disagrees with Barack Obama on the issue of abortion, who will talk about it and talk about how they disagree, but how he respects Obama and the way he handles this issue, it's something that they hope Catholic voters will be listening to.”
The only problem was that Casey didn’t “reach out” to pro-life voters. He simply acknowledged his and Obama’s differing views on abortion in the following statement: “Barack Obama and I have an honest disagreement on the issue of abortion. But the fact that I'm speaking here is testament to Barack's ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him.” That’s the only mention of abortion that appeared during the seven minute speech."
While hosting the 1 p.m. EDT hour of MSNBC News Live, Brian Williams interviewed Democratic Senators Evan Bayh and Jack Reed as well as former Republican presidential candidate and New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. However, the differences between the discussions were stark.
Williams whipped out Democratic talking points during his interview with Giuliani. The host asked:
[W]hat can the Republicans tell Americans who are concerned about having troops on the ground in two nations overseas, concerned about a rather dire financial outlook, the list of banks that are in trouble yesterday that in the last reporting period went from 90 to well over 100, the environment, all of the issues that have been on the plate of the current administration for eight years, all the stuff they're hitting you with from this podium?
Also during his discussion with Giuliani, Williams brought up that "the area where your candidate, Senator McCain has admitted weakness has been famously economics" to bring up the subject of McCain’s Vice Presidential choice. The Nightly News anchor also asked: "Mr. Mayor, now that Senator Clinton has spoken to this gathering and President Clinton tonight and presumably the Democrats will leave here Thursday after Obama’s speech saying they are united as one, for how long is Senator Clinton going to be a fixture in Senator McCain’s ads?"
On two separate occasions during the 1 p.m. EDT hour of MSNBC News Live on Wednesday, host Brian Williams continued to wonder, as he did repeatedly the night before, if there will ever be a female President: "If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when?" He recited the line during discussions with Representative Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and NBC Political Director Chuck Todd. Williams first raised the topic during the second segment of the hour. After asking Rep. Lowey about her thoughts on Senator Hillary Clinton’s Democratic National Convention speech, Williams wondered:
Congresswoman, we have talked about the 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling. As I said to Tom Brokaw on the air last night, the people who came to gladly vote for Senator Clinton, came with hammers in their hands to break that glass ceiling. They didn't cast their vote lightly. And here's the conundrum. If not Senator Clinton, who? And if not now, when?
Between Maureen Dowd's column of this morning and Norah O'Donnell's questioning of an Obama spokesman this afternoon, it looks like Barack's halo is losing its glow in some MSM sectors. Obama spokesman Bill Burton was O'Donnell's guest just after 3 PM EDT, and she read to him from Dowd's column, which he jokingly professed not to have read.
NORAH O'DONNELL [reading Dowd]: "Ed Rendell compared Obama to the passive-aggressive Adlai Stevenson and told the Washington Post that Obama gives six-minute answers and "is not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with."
Boos from the pro-Obama crowd in Denver.
O'DONNELL: There is this sense that he is not the easiest guy to identify with: the Republicans say "celebrity." And already today I'm hearing from Republicans that Invesco Field Thursday night, he is going to be stepping out from some Greek-columned stage that we have pictures of [see screencap], and he, this god-like deity once again. How are you going to combat that criticism that the Republicans say, once again, Barack Obama, uh, is, um, trying to be god-like?
Appearing on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon to promote his new movie, ‘America Betrayed,’ a left-wing screed produced by a former CNBC anchor that purports to be a “documentary” about the evils of the American government during the past seven years, actor Richard Dreyfuss slammed the Republican party as “corrupt through and through,” “adept at thievery,” and that “the rest of the country” abandoned New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Dreyfuss drew loud cheers from the liberal audience gathered around MSNBC's outdoor spot as he nonsensically declared: "I am tired of being called a traitor because I like my flag and I like -- and I support the troops."
His claim that New Orleans was "abandoned" is absolutely vapid: The Coast Guard responded rapidly, saving thousands from the rapidly rising flood waters. Millions of Americans donated money to help the victims. The federal government has pumped billions of dollars into reconstruction.
As my colleague Mark Finkelstein reported Tuesday, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann labelled long-time Hillary Clinton advisor Howard Wolfson a Tokyo Rose-like traitor due to his current affiliation with Fox News.
On Wednesday, during an interview with FNC's Martha MacCallum, Wolfson struck back by mentioning how unfortunate it is "that a news organization with a great tradition like NBC has been taken over by those kind of antics."
That was just the beginning (video embedded below the fold, h/t Johnny Dollar):
It appears that Keith Olbermann might be vying for the title of Most Obnoxious Anchor On Television. First we had Olbermann dissing Joe Scarborough during a live broadcast on Monday from the Democrat convention. Then a day later, Olbermann managed to enrage Chris Matthews during another broadcast. And now it looks like Olbermann is going for broke in the insult department by pushing to have Tom Brokaw banned from appearing on MSNBC as reported in Page Six of today's New York Post:
At a forum on Sunday, when Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell called MSNBC "the official network of the Obama campaign," Brokaw said, "I think Keith has gone too far. I think Chris has gone too far."
Insiders say Olbermann is pushing to have Brokaw banned from the network and is also refusing to have centrist Time magazine columnist Mike Murphy on his show.
Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly cited the Media Research Center's latest special report, "Obama's Margin of Victory: The Media," in the midst of the "Unresolved Problems" segment for his August 26 program.:
There is no doubt that NBC News continues to be in the tank for Barack Obama. According to a Media Research Center study, NBC is the most lopsided network in favor of Barack. Pro-Obama reports outnumber negative Obama reports by 10-to-1 on NBC News, according to the study. Even some NBC News commentators recognize the corruption.
At that point O'Reilly's producers cut to video of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough scoffing at the notion that colleague David Shuster and others at MSNBC are strictly independent and non-partisan in their reporting. [See Mark Finkelstein's related post on that here.]
O'Reilly also cued video of CNN's Lou Dobbs complaining that his colleagues in the media are "in the tank" for the junior senator from Illinois. [See Noel Sheppard's August 25 blog post on that here.]
Pay close attention to Joe Biden's words tonight. During an appearance on this morning's "Morning Joe" Bill Adair, Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times and editor of politifact.com, implied that Barack Obama's running mate is not always truthful. Adair told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that "from a fact-checker's standpoint, we should be grateful to Joe Biden" because he is "full employment for fact checkers."
Brzezinski asked Adair about "the most outrageous statement" by Biden and Adair pointed to Biden's soundbite in which he says John McCain votes with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time. He discredited it, along with a charge from Hillary Clinton's speech last night about John McCain desire to privatize social security, "I thought, well, in terms of Biden, the 95% is just something where you've got to understand that that's sort of the worse case scenario. He's cherry picking. 95% was last year. Last night one of the things that Senator Clinton said that we'll hear a lot is John McCain wants to privatize social security. We heard it from several of the other speakers last night. You know, that's a real exaggeration. McCain is actually really vague and fuzzy on social security."
Biden's "95 percent of the time" charge may be the "worst-case scenario" but the fact remains that people should pay close attention to what Biden says tonight.
About 24 hours after dissing Joe Scarborough via an open microphone during Monday's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took an insulting poke at partner Chris Matthews.
Wonderfully, Matthews didn't take it lying down.
This raises an important question: is the hatred Olbermann has been spewing on virtually a nightly basis beginning to take its toll on his fellow on air personalities presaging a looming uncivil war at MSNBC?
Consider that on Tuesday evening, after Matthews finished sharing his views concerning Hillary Clinton's upcoming speech, Olbermann arrogantly introduced House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) thusly (h/t TVNewser):
The Barnicle clan should be grateful Mike landed the MSNBC gig. It could have been tough making ends meet had he chosen a career in used-car sales. I base that on some hilarious footage from today's Morning Joe, as Mike failed to persuade a Hillary fan to back Barack. And don't miss Mike Murphy's brilliant analysis, at the end, of what was missing in Hillary's speech.
At 7:35 AM EDT, a Hillary supporter, Judy Duvall of Fort Collins, CO, was brought by the set, still sporting her Hillary button. Under questioning from Joe Scarborough, Judy said that Hillary's speech was great but hadn't convinced her to support Obama. A bit later, after Republican consultant Mike Murphy had offered his IMHO-brilliant analysis of Hillary's speech [see below], Judy was brought back to the set to permit Barnicle to make his case.
Keith Olbermann has forgotten the figure-skating judge's cardinal rule: be sparing in the marks you award early contestants, to leave room for the favorites who perform at the end. After his gushing appraisals of Michelle Obama's and Hillary's convention speeches, how can Olbermann possibly top it in his praise of Biden's and Obama's to come?
Mixing metaphors here, let's compare the baseball scoring the Morning Joe crew gave Hillary's speech at show-opening today with Olbermann's assessment of last night. As you'll see, they range from solid single to Keith's grand slam. As for utility infielder Mark Warner's "keynote": has he considered giving up baseball and taking up knitting?
The ratings for the Democratic National Convention for ABC, CBS and NBC fell by a million viewers compared to the opener for the 2004 convention with headliner Bill Clinton TVWeek is reporting. On the other hand, the cable newsers saw a ratings jump from their 2004 convention ratings. This reveals the further decline in the old paradigm with the big three networks steadily losing their news influence bit by bit to cable outlets.
ABC, CBS and NBC brought in 12.1 million viewers in the 10 p.m. hour, down one million from 2004, according to preliminary, fast-national data from Nielsen Media Research. NBC scored the largest audience.
Most prevalent theme during Tuesday night's coverage of the Democratic National Convention, after speculation over healing the Clinton-Obama feud: TV journalists worrying about how the Democrats are not adequately aggressive in their attacks against John McCain as reporters, especially on CBS, repeatedly pressed for more “red meat” and wondered if the speakers are being “hard enough” or “tough enough” on McCain?
CBS's Bob Schieffer rued to keynoter Mark Warner that “normally keynote speeches” deliver “a lot of red meat,” but “I didn't hear a lot of that.” Over on NBC, Brian Williams pushed Warner: “You know there's some in the party who feel that this gathering isn't tough enough against a John McCain who, after all, hasn't let up for a day against this party.” Back to CBS, Jeff Greenfield asserted Barack Obama needs Hillary Clinton “to wake up this hall after a speech that was not only not red meat by former Governor Warner, but more like tofu with sprouts.” Couric even asked Michael Dukakis “if he thought the Democrats were hitting John McCain hard enough?” Clinton's speech left Couric unfulfilled: “We expected a lot of red meat from Senator Clinton tonight...Are you surprised she didn't sort of attack him more vociferously?”
Previewing Ed Rendell early in the evening, CNN's Wolf Blitzer wondered: “Let's see if he has some red meat.” On MSNBC, Chris Matthews was “amazed why they don’t have more fun with the man who calls himself Dick Cheney,” as he lamented: “It seems like they’re pulling their punches.” Analyst Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post yearned:
I am waiting for someone to take the podium and say the word “torture.” I'm waiting for someone to take the podium, say the word “Iraq.” I'm waiting for someone to take, to take the podium and talk about domestic surveillance...
Saying he's "not gonna take any lectures on how to be a good Democrat from two people who spent the last two years relentlessly attacking Bill and Hillary Clinton," Wolfson has fired back at Matthews and Olbermann. Noel Sheppard has the story here.
Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann put their own feud aside to agree on something tonight. Hillary honcho Howard Wolfson is a puppet, nay, a Tokyo Rose traitor, for going to work for Fox News. It was the McCain campaign's use in its ads of Hillary's anti-Obama statements that triggered the outburst.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Irony upon irony, instead of the commercials designed to destroy Hillary Clinton, [the Republicans] are using Hillary Clinton in commercials designed to destroy the Democratic nominee.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Those are crocodile tears. And you wonder whether an objective person, either rational or post-rational, would be able to appreciate the fact that that's clear politics--nothing wrong with it. But Republicans have no heart in Hillary Clinton's claim to the White House. They villainized her for years. Their commercials, their attitudes are--you go to a Republican hangout, it's all anti-Hillary. That's their point of view. To now hold her up as some victim of some sort of foul play, of unfair politics, is a joke. But the funny thing about it is, they're enjoying it. Fox News, for example, seems to enjoy it. It's no accident, for example, that they hired Howard Wolfson. They use him as some sort of, oh, little toy soldier waiting on the shelf.
OLBERMANN: Tokyo Rose was the thought that came to my mind.
Interviewing 11-year-old Scholastic News reporter Jack Greenberg shortly before 3 p.m. EDT, MSNBC's David Shuster asked the junior journalist whether he had any problem being skeptical -- sorta like Lee Cowan? -- of the people he interviews. Greenberg answered [audio available here]:
I try to stay objective through all my work. I try to do my best not to keep a political opinion, because as a journalist I always try to balance it out with what is on the other side.
To these ears, it sounded like a sophomoric line by, well, a sophomore seeking to impress classmates and perhaps his fuzzy-headed teacher. But MSNBC has proclaimed Mario Cuomo's call for a nuclear freeze because "peace is better than war and life is better than death" one of the greatest convention-speech lines ever.
In the run-up to this evening's keynote address by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner and Hillary's much-anticipated speech, Hardball did a segment on some of the best Dem convention speeches of the past. Now, love it or hate it, it's hard to deny that the late Ann Richards' "born with a silver foot in his mouth" about George 41 was a pretty good zinger. And even Barack Obama's "there is not a liberal America and a conservative America. There is the United States of America" wasn't bad either. No beef with those being included. But try out the excerpt from Maria Cuomo's 1984 speech that MSNBC selected as one of the "best of the best."
During the 11 a.m. EDT hour of Tuesday’s MSNBC “News Live,” host Dan Abrams interviewed Reuters Washington correspondent John Decker about Senator Obama’s campaign seeking a criminal investigation against the American Issues Project over an ad which links Obama to terrorist Bill Ayers.
While none of the American Issues Project ad was shown, MSNBC did help Obama rebut any claims of a connection between Obama and Ayers by airing part of Obama’s response ad: “Why is John McCain talking about the sixties trying to link Barack Obama to radical Bill Ayers? McCain knows Obama denounced Ayers’ crimes committed when Obama was just 8 years old.”
Just like in the Obama ad, Abrams only referred to Ayers as a “radical,” and never mentioned the bombings Ayers took part in or his September 2001 statement that, "I don't regret setting bombs...I feel we didn't do enough."
During MSNBC's convention coverage on Monday night, Bill Maher explained to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann that American politics "seem to be getting worse because, sorry to say it, people get stupider and stupider every election cycle."
Maher's evidence of Americans' stupidity is found in the fact that "they think off-shore drilling is gonna lower the price of gas and they think Obama, the black guy from the single mother, somehow is the elitist."
Matthews and Olbermann didn't blink at Maher's characterization of Americans but simply provided the perfect set-up for Republican mockery by asking him who the Republicans will run as vice-president and who he wanted to win "for just comedic purposes."
Keith Olbermann seems to be suffering from a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease during the Democrat convention coverage. As noted earlier by NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein, Olbermann, after commenting ecstatically about Michelle Obama's speech declared that he was "beginning to sound borderline sycophantic."
Also last night, an open mic caught Olbermann dissing fellow MSNBC team member, Joe Scarborough using profanity to describe his apparent disgust with Scarborough's analysis that Barack Obama has been falling behind in the polls.
"Jesus, Joe, why don't you get a shovel?" Olbermann snorted. Watch the video to the right or read the partial transcript below: