MSNBC has cited and discussed the press release issued today by Brent Bozell, President of NB's parent Media Research Center, excoriating the New York Times for its article on John McCain. The discussion came during the network's post-press conference analysis of McCain's appearance this morning.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let me interrupt. This is interesting. Mika just handed me a Blackberry quote here. Chris Matthews, earlier this morning Tim Russert asked the question how would conservatives respond to this? Would they rally behind John McCain, against the New York Times, or would they go ahead and finish off John McCain? I've got this press release. Brent Bozell on the New York Times, quote, politically motivated hit job:
It is beyond appalling that the New York Times continues its steady slide into the journalistic toilet with such a spurious, and so patently motivated, hit job.
MSNBC was so excited about a Thursday New York Times story with a derogatory look at Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s supposed relationship with a female lobbyist eight years ago, that the network broke into the 7 PM EST re-run of Hardball to read from the Web-posting of the article which Keith Olbermann described as “extraordinary.”
Olbermann insisted the alleged efforts of staffers to “protect” McCain sound “eerily similar” to Clinton-Lewinsky. Later in his 45 minutes of “Breaking News” coverage, Olbermann proposed: “If this doesn’t sound like deja vu all over again, I don’t know what does.”
An interesting thing happened during MSNBC's coverage of Tuesday's primaries: Keith Olbermann humiliated Chris Matthews as studio employees laughed in the background (video after the jump).
As the campaign coverage waned late into the evening, Matthews was interviewing Barack Obama supporter Kirk Watson (D), and was trying to get the Texas state senator to list some of the Illinois senator's legislative accomplishments.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times Matthews asked Watson to name something of importance Obama has done since getting elected to the Senate in November 2004, Watson refused, leading to a very indignant "Hardball" host :
Chris Matthews on this afternoon's Hardball, speaking with Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.).
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Congressman Burton, why do you think Cubans on the island still support the Castro brothers? What is it that allows that lock on those people to continue?
DAN BURTON: I don't think they do support Castro, I don't think they supported Fidel or Raul. That is a Communist regime where they have block captains who watch everybody in each invidual block, and anybody that even speaks out against the government ends up in a gulag.
After looking at what MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski said on Tuesday's "Morning Joe," the answer to Stephenson's question is: media that don't ignore Obama's disgraceful comments will likely defend them.
Fortunately, conservative talk radio host Mark Levin isn't part of the mainstream media establishment, and on his program Monday, said what most press representatives would if they had any spine, and didn't behave like shills for the Democrat Party (audio available here):
If you were to write an article about how the three cable news networks are covering a story, would you address the one with the highest ratings first, or the also-ran?
At the Washington Post, the answer is "the also-ran."
On Tuesday, in a piece about how political pundits are "overpopulating the news networks," staff writer Paul Farhi first highlighted what was going on at third-place MSNBC, and even gave Keith Olbermann the first crack at commenting on the matter (emphasis added throughout):
Update | 3:50 PM: Obama Campaign Clarification: As predicted, the Obama campaign has clarified Michelle's remark. See text at foot.
I sense there's often more than a bit of theater in the arguments between Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Not to say Morning Joe's the WWF of political talk, but a little conflict never hurt the ratings.
But there was evidence that this morning's dust-up between the duo was for real. At one point, Scarborough disclosed that a producer had told him through his earpiece to put on a smile, but Joe wasn't buying.
The subject was Michelle Obama's statement that "for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country."
Scarborough opined that whereas the flap over Barack borrowing a line from friend Deval Patrick wouldn't hurt him, the attitude Michelle expressed could. Mika rose to Michelle's defense, and the fight was on.
Slip of the tongue, or was the man who gets a thrill up his leg from Barack Obama's rhetoric voicing his innermost apprehension at the prospect of Hillary Clinton regaining the upper hand?
On this afternoon's Hardball, host Chris Matthews was discussing the March 4th Texas primary with Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, John Heilemann of New York magazine, and Norah O'Donnell. The MSNBCer made the point that under the arcane Texas rules in which the race is a hybrid of caucus and primary, it's possible for one candidate to win the popular vote and the other to walk off with more delegates.
That seemed to trigger Chris's anxiety reflex at the prospect of Hillary getting good publicity . . .
Rush Limbaugh read the first two paras of this item during his first half-hour today, citing "our buddies at NewsBusters." Thanks, Rush! Audio here.
If a supremely prominent Republican who was John McCain's chief surrogate had gotten into an angry confrontation at a campaign event, do you think the broadcast networks would have promptly let us know his interlocutor was African-American?
I do. But none of the broadcast network's morning news shows, at least during this morning's crucial first half-hour, disclosed the African-American identity of the man with whom Bill Clinton got into just such an argument yesterday in Ohio.
Not a word of any incident whatsoever at GMA or the Early Show, at least during the first half-hour. Today did mention that Clinton "showed his temper . . . after an Obama supporter tried to disrupt his speech in Canton," but nothing about the man's identity.
The domestic policy differences between Hillary and Obama are negligible. But the Clinton camp likes to claim that his national health care plan would leave 15 million people out, whereas hers covers everyone. Let's put aside for the moment the fact that former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich says the Obama plan would actually wind up covering more people. The key to Hillary's claim that she would cover everyone is that . . . she would punish people who refuse to fall in line.
Naturally, Clinton isn't eager to specify just what such punishment would be. But under intense questioning by Tucker Carlson on his MSNBC show this evening, senior Clinton advisor Kiki McLean employed an Orwellian euphemism. People who didn't comply wouldn't be punished. They'd simply incur an . . . "outcome."
All likely with the blessing of MSNBC's top brass, I suppose.
After all, they're clearly not trying to hide their political leanings anymore. So, why should they care if one of their hosts speaks and writes such detritus that it evokes the following vitriolic commentary from his readers aimed at America's president (vulgarity alert, h/t NBer Thomas Stewart):
Andrea Mitchell stopped just short of donning an impromptu Obama campaign-advisor hat. But the NBC correspondent has left little doubt she personally feels the time is ripe for Barack Obama to promote gun control as a campaign issue.
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant against President Bush, this time attacking him for threatening to veto an extension of the Protect America Act unless it includes provisions to give immunity from lawsuits to telecom companies who have cooperated with government surveillance in the past.
Calling the President a "liar" who was "slinging crap" and using "a form of terrorism against his own people" to gain support, Olbermann accused President Bush of fascism: "If you believe in the seamless mutuality of government and big business, come out and say it! There is a dictionary definition, one word that describes that toxic blend. You're a fascist! Get them to print you a T-shirt with fascist on it! What else is this but fascism?" (Transcript follows)
Clinton condemned the comment during an interview with a Washington DC radio host (see Tim Graham's earlier post on rest of interview) in which he was asked about Olbermann's remark in the context of the Shuster kerfuffle.
A couple days ago, speculating that Contessa Brewer might be a closet conservative, I expressed the hope that I wasn't making trouble for her at MSNBC. Maybe I did. For the anchor now has gone out of her way to express PC sentiments that almost make you wonder whether she wasn't trying to prove her liberal bona fides to her MSNBC honchos.
Jesse Jackson would normally be the last person who'd need to be persuaded to take offense at any comment that could possibly be considered to have racial overtones. Usually, it's a case of duck meets junebug.
But for whatever reason, interviewed by Brewer on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:18 PM ET, Jackson was on his way to taking the high road regarding Ed Rendell's recent remark about some whites in Pennsylvania being unwilling to vote for blacks . . . until Contessa cut in to point out the possible racial slight. Jackson took the hint and proceeded to express the criticism Brewer had apparently been hoping for.
The Hollywood Reporter's Paul Gough reports that MSNBC reporter David Shuster's exile from the airwaves now has a scheduled end:
MSNBC correspondent David Shuster will serve a two-week suspension for comments that angered the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. NBC News President Steve Capus confirmed on Thursday that Shuster will be back to work on Feb. 22.
Hillary Clinton's campaign confirmed on Wednesday that she would show up for an MSNBC debate on February 26 in Ohio.
Late on Tuesday afternoon, Bill Clinton submitted to an interview with longtime Washington, DC radio talker WMAL-AM (the D.C. home of Rush Limbaugh). The former president complained about media bias like it was brand new: "the political press has avowedly played a role in this election. I’ve never seen this before." (What about 1992?) He repeatedly insisted "two comprehensive, objective studies" show Barack Obama gets better press than his wife. When asked about the David Shuster "pimped out" remarks about Chelsea, Clinton praised his wife for countering the blatant sexism in the media: "I think she did the right thing to stick up, not just for our daughter, but for women everywhere. The level of blatant, vicious sexist comments by some people in this campaign has been appalling." He also applauded her for standing up for "basic human decency."
Clinton was interviewed by WMAL host Chris Plante (formerly a longtime CNN Pentagon reporter/producer) around 5 PM yesterday, and Plante aired most of it on his show from 8 to 10 PM. WMAL replayed clips of it several times again this morning. (Audio, whole or in parts, is presently here.) Plante began by asking if Hillary was now the underdog, and momentum was slipping away. Clinton went straight to media bias:
Hillary Clinton should be nobody’s idea of a paragon of civil discourse in the political arena. Her personal style of political warfare is ruthless, a bare-knuckles fight to the death. Ask Ken Starr. Her idea of employee relations is also rough. Paul Fray, an Arkansas campaign worker said she cursed him out with F-bombs and ethnic slurs after Bill Clinton lost his one race for Congress in 1974. A co-worker told NBC News in 1999 that he heard cussing from Hillary that night like he’d never heard before.
So it’s a little strange to see Hillary appearing so upset over MSNBC reporter David Shuster suggesting that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by Hillary’s campaign. Shuster was substituting as host of Tucker Carlson’s show and used the P-word as he suggested to liberal radio host Bill Press that it was wrong for the Clinton campaign to have Chelsea call supporters, but not grant reporters any access to her.
As fellow NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth has documented, last night an inspired Chris Matthews declared that in watching Barack Obama speak, "I felt this thrill going up my leg."
Joe Scarborough has offered a graphic variation on the metaphor to depict how the Clinton folks might be feeling this morning. It came at 7:05 AM ET during today's Morning Joe, subsequent to a discussion of Matthews' thrill-up-his-leg line.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Look at these numbers; the percentages of victories. You're talking about feelings? If I were running Hillary Clinton's campaign right now, if I were Howard Wolfson, I might have a feeling actually running down my leg.
A shocked Willie Geist could be heard exclaiming "oh God!"
During MSNBC's live coverage of Tuesday's presidential primary elections, after the speeches of Barack Obama and John McCain had aired, Chris Matthews expressed his latest over the top admiration for Obama's speaking skills as the MSNBC anchor admitted that Obama's speech created a "thrill" in his leg: "It's part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama's speech. My, I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." Minutes later, Brian Williams poked fun at Matthews' confession: "Let's talk about that feeling Chris gets up his leg when Obama talks ... That seems to be the headline of this half hour." (Transcript follows)
At about 10:13 p.m., right after McCain finished his speech, which came after Obama's speech, co-anchor Keith Olbermann remarked that, due to Obama's unusual speaking skills, it was a good idea for any other speaker to speak before the Illinois Democrat instead of after him. Matthews then expressed what he referred to as an "objective assessment" of Obama's speech:
OK, it was probably just a Freudian slip by someone with the Potomac Primary on the noggin. But perhaps big-government loving MSNBC should consider it as its official new sign-off. In any case, here's how David Gregory said goodbye at 3:59 PM ET at the end of his stint as network host this afternoon:
DAVID GREGORY: That's going to do it for me. My colleague Norah O'Donnell will take over our coverage. I'm David Gregory, thanks for Washington. Thanks for watching, rather. Stay with MSNBC -- all day coverage of Chesapeake Tuesday. Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews will host coverage of the returns. That's at 6 o'clock PM tonight Eastern, only on MSNBC, the place for politics. Have a good afternoon.
Is NBC News allergic to the use of "pimp" during its serious news broadcasts? In the wake of the scandal over MSNBC's David Shuster suggesting Chelsea Clinton had been "pimped out" by her mother's campaign, a quick look at the Nexis database shows that NBC News hosts and anchors have not been immune to the rising use of "pimp" in our pop culture as not only a noun, but as a verb or adjective, meaning to promote (either selling a product or the attributes of a person) or to improve or renovate (like the MTV show Pimp My Ride).
This is especially true of the Today show, where Al Roker, Natalie Morales, and Meredith Vieira (in her case by reading a quote) have all used the newfangled word. CNBC reporter Jane Wells also filed a story on the "Pimped Out John," a deluxe toilet with all kinds of amenities. Snippets of transcript follow.
Former CBS correspondent and best selling author Bernard Goldberg noted the clear double standard NBC and MSNBC has on liberal versus conservative commentators. On the February 11 edition of "The O’Reilly Factor," Goldberg discussed the corruption at NBC News after the fallout from the David Shuster "pimped out" comments.
Goldberg alluded to left wing partisan commentator Keith Olbermann, without mentioning him by name, and noted that has anchored the election night coverage and moderated a presidential debate. Goldberg posed the question "would NBC News have Rush Limbaugh anchoring their election night coverage on MSNBC? Would they have an angry, ideological right winger like Michael Savage anchor their election night coverage on MSNBC?" He then answered his own question "of course not!" And added that "they do have a left wing bomb thrower doing it."
As reported by Politico Monday evening, John Harris interviewed the presidential candidate, producing the following delicious exchange (emphasis added, h/t NB reader Thomas Stewart and Inside Cable News):
I wouldn't want to create problems for Contessa Brewer [file photo]. But again today the spirited MSNBC anchor said something that made me wonder whether she might be a closeted conservative in the belly of the liberal beast.
Janet Huckabee, responding to Brewer's question on the possibility that her husband would withdraw from the presidential race, drew a contrast between the Romney and Huckabee campaigns.
David Shuster’s suspension was a topic of discussion on the February 11 edition of "The View," as at least Barbara Walters and Whoopi Goldberg disagreed with the Clinton campaign for demanding an even harsher punishment for Shuster. Walters first expressed mixed feelings that many people rely on "The View" for news adding "sometimes we’re very wonderful and very accurate and sometimes we’re not."
An offended Joy Behar chimed "I don’t think we’re less accurate than a lot of the shows that I watch, because I watch all of them," adding "we do our research here." Barbara Walters apologetically replied "I shouldn’t have said that."
MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham appeared on "Hannity & Colmes" on Friday night to discuss the David Shuster suspension over his suggestion that Chelsea Clinton was being "pimped out" by Hillary. Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes insisted both that Shuster was (a) dreadfully wrong and yet (b) over-punished for a verbal miscue. (FNC's transcript is here.)
Both hosts suggested that Tim was defending Shuster, which he denied. "Chelsea Clinton now is 27 years old. She is not the 13-year-old that moved into the White House. And the problem that — we have a much greater problem in the United States today — that she's been treated....with such an adoring tone. They really treat her like Saint Chelsea." Tim also said MSNBC had a double standard between Shuster and far wilder comments from Keith Olbermann: "Keith Olbermann could come on and say that Bush is responsible for killing 3,500 Americans. Or remember when he called Chris Wallace a monkey posing as a newscaster?"
As NewsBusters has been reporting, MSNBC's reaction to David Shuster's "pimped out" Chelsea Clinton comment is an extraordinary example of the double standard that exists at this admittedly left-leaning cable network.
In fact, the goings-on since Shuster first made this remark last Thursday make it crystal clear that potentially insensitive comments directed at the Clinton family are thoroughly verboten by MSNBC, whereas derogatory statements concerning President George W. Bush are highly encouraged.
As another example of this hypocrisy, consider the following disgraceful report concerning Bush's twin daughters aired on MSNBC's "Countdown" November 28, 2006 (h/t NBer Grammy):