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:
Tensions are running high at MSNBC, at least surrounding veteran host Joe Scarborough who seems to be increasingly discontented at his network's decision to market itself as the cable net of choice for Bush haters. That hasn't sat well with the likes of the far left Keith Olbermann who has played a large role in getting MSNBC to pursue this strategy
The Democratic convention seems to have only exacerbated those tensions. Last night saw Olbermann caught on an open mic blurting out profane disgust at Scarborough, prompting the latter to verbally call him out while fellow MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews sat back mortified at the intra-family dispute.
Things don't appear to have been smoothed over either as Scarborough was involved in another altercation this morning with liberal correspondent David Shuster on today's "Morning Joe." Scarborough ultimately accused Shuster and his MSNBC colleagues of being Democrats, their independent political registrations notwithstanding. (Exchange happens at 2:15 in video to the right.)
If the aphorism de mortuis nil nisi bonum instructs us to speak only good of people who have passed away, perhaps there is a corrollary applicable to those dealing with a dread disease. While I am thus somewhat reluctant to do so, I cannot let pass without comment Mike Barnicle's words about Ted Kennedy on today's Morning Joe.
MIKE BARNICLE: Last night when he came out, it was clearly a bittersweet experience. There was a tinge of sadness to it, to be frank about it. He's an enormously courageous man . . . You know, I've encountered very few people of my life, Joe, who are more extraordinarily attunedto others who are in pain. Whether it's physical pain, whether it's something caused by an illness. Whether it's an accident of fate, whether it's something that has befallen them, some tragedy of any sort. He is uniquely equipped to reach out to people who are hurt and damaged.
During MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention, on Monday night, Newsweek's Howard Fineman pronounced that Michelle Obama, in her opening night speech, had "dug herself, beautifully and completely, out of the hole she put herself in...when she said her husband's success was the first time she was proud of her country."
Fineman made the following declaration at 12:03am [EDT] on the Monday, August 25 (to Tuesday morning August 26) coverage of the Democratic Convention:
How unbalanced was MSNBC's tag team tonight? When Keith Olbermann felt himself getting verklempt over Michelle Obama's speech, he threw it, for some fair-n-balanced commentary, to . . . Chris Matthews. At the conclusion of Mrs. Obama's appearance, Olbermann almost seemed ready to call the election off and just hand the presidency to Obama by acclamation.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Ye-a-h-h-h. Case closed.
Matthews responded with a very guttural "uh-h-h-h."
OLBERMANN: That could not have done better for them. That could not have done better for them. Right to the point of the little girls taking the mikes away and suddenly turning out to be hams. It's wonderful. It really was terrific. And notice, did you notice throughout that, especially as it built towards its conclusion, the woman in that convention hall--the ones we saw at least--we can't say every one--but there were tears throughout among the women. And it was not a maudlin speech, it was not a salesmanship speech. There was just a -- I know, I'm beginning to sound borderline sycophantic on this. So I'll stop. You start.
Live from Denver, Colorado, on Monday, Brian Williams hosted the 1 p.m. hour of MSNBC's "News Live" and featured guests Gwen Ifill of PBS and Michele Norris of NPR to talk about Michelle Obama’s upcoming primetime speech at the Democratic National Convention. The segment turned out to be a love-fest of Michelle Obama and her humble roots.
Williams started off the segment by asking the typical question of "what does Michelle Obama have to do tonight in this hall?" Ifill immediately went into gushing mode, first about Senator Ted Kennedy and then about Obama:
Michelle Obama has to find a way to bemore amazing and more emotional than Ted Kennedy. If it looks like Ted Kennedy actually walks across that stage tonight and appears in some fashion in person and speaks, it’s gonna be an emotional highpoint. Michelle Obama, however, also has to deal with preconceptions about who she is. A lot of people have never seen anything that looks like a Michelle Obama before. She’s educated, she’s beautiful, she’s tall, she tells you what she thinks and they hope that she can tell a story about Barack Obama and about herself.
Linda Douglass, the former ABC News reporter and current senior advisor to the Obama campaign, lashed out at John McCain and Mitt Romney by labeling them “extremely conservative on social issues” in an interview on Saturday’s “Morning Joe.” Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski failed to point out that liberals like Obama can be extreme in their views on social issues, too.
After Douglass repeatedly played up the foreign policy experience of Obama’s chosen running mate Sen. Joe Biden, Brzezinski asked Douglass about Biden’s experience in dealing with economic issues, especially if Romney, known for being well-versed in economic issues were to become McCain’s running mate. Douglass touted Biden’s experience with economic policy before inexplicably twisting her answer to include abortion.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell had some harsh words for members of the media today, especially those associated with the cable network MSNBC.
Speaking at a discussion put together by the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy, he called the coverage of Barack Obama "embarrassing," and accused MSNBC of being "the official network of the Obama campaign."
UPDATE at end of post: "Fox & Friends" weighs in.
As reported by Michael Calderone at Politico Sunday (h/t NB reader Wisdom6773, file photo courtesy USA Today):
Hailing Barack Obama's attacks on John McCain's foreign policy as “profound” with “the fire I've been waiting for,” during live MSNBC coverage Saturday afternoon of Obama introducing running mate Joe Biden, Chris Matthews was pleased “he finally took on John McCain on the issue of our time, which is Russia” as “he used the word bluster twice.” Matthews then smeared John McCain and conservatives as warmongers: “There are a lot of neo-conservatives out there that just love the old black and white Manichaean cold war feeling again. They'd like to get rid of color television, in fact. Let's go back to the '50s and let's fight with the Russians again.” That earned approving laughter from co-anchor Keith Olbermann who later cited Biden's call “to restore America's soul” and wondered: “Does it bring it up to this kind of Lincolnian greater than the sum of the parts public good mission almost?”
Matthews explained to his viewers that Obama “referred to it as bluster because if you read the really smart columnists,” and those would be “people like David Ignatius and Tom Friedman” who are “in the middle politically,” Obama was just “calling it what it is, bluster. It's just words, just sword-rattling, and he called it today. I thought that was profound.”
At about 3:42 PM EDT, just after Biden finished speaking, Matthews oozed over Obama's address with “dignity and indignation,” comparing him to actors Denzel Washington and Spencer Tracy. Really:
When I was watching Barack, I said there's the fire I've been waiting for. Maybe it was the camera angle, but I was looking up, if you look at some of the stronger performances, and they're almost always strong by the actor Denzel Washington, when he's really sticking it to the bad guys at the end of the movies, when he's really making his sort of Spencer Tracy moment, there's something about the face, there's something about that statement of strength and even anger where you really make your point with dignity and indignation, and I thought he was doing it today for the first time as a candidate: Barack Obama taking the fight to the bluster of the opponent.
You know the old software programmer's excuse: "that's not a bug. That's a feature!" John Harwood of CNBC/NYT has produced a political variation on the theme to buff up Joe Biden. Biden's gaffes, including the racially-insensitive ones, are actually . . . "a strength."
Harwood was chatting with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on a special Morning Joe edition today, and the topic of Biden's famous "clean and articulate" comment about Obama arose. Biden also made headlines of course with his crack about 7-11s being populated by people with Indian accents.
JOHN HARWOOD: He is not somebody who is infused with political correctness, the verbal equivalent of putting his pinky up when he opens his mouth. So this is what, the way ordinary voters are as well. They're not always worried about sort of calibrating every single word by "ooh, is this racially insensitive?" That's something that Joe Biden brings as an asset to the ticket. The gaffes actually show one of his strengths.
MSNBC went live shortly before 1 AM EDT, with David Shuster anchoring, to announce that Senator Joe Biden is Barack Obama's pick for Vice President, and Shuster was joined via phone over the next hour by NBC News political director Chuck Todd, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Howard Fineman of Newsweek. One word I didn't hear in that hour or the next as MSNBC remained live until 3 AM (CNN and FNC went to re-runs at 2 AM): liberal. In MSNBC's 2 AM hour, Joan Walsh of Salon.com touted Biden as a “working class hero.”
Olbermann hailed the “very powerful combination” of Obama and Biden based on joining Obama's “vision” of restoring America's image in the world and Biden's selfless “fervor to do good” enabled by his “18,000 good ideas” to achieve Obama's noble goal.
At about 1:35 AM EDT Friday night/Saturday morning, Olbermann proposed:
Barack Obama is planning to announce his VP pick via text message to his supporters. So in the spirit of the times, let's text message something to Sen. Obama:
Brck: b fraid. b vry fraid. hlry stl h8s u.
That's what we glean from Hillary's startling statement in Florida today. Chris Matthews aired it at the top of tonight's Hardball:
HILLARY CLINTON: I am doing everything I can to campaign for Senator Obama. I think it's fair to say that I have done more, as Senator Rich said, in a relatively short period of time, on behalf of my opponent, than probably anyone else has.
So not only is she bragging on her own accomplishments. Hillary's still calling Obama . . . "my opponent." The point was not lost on Matthews.
Billed as a roundtable, it played more like a group therapy session for distraught Dems on the verge. Obama's polls dropping. An inchoate sense this might all be slipping away. Chris Matthews and his guests for the show-ending "Politics Fix" on this evening's Hardball were united in bemoaning Barack's plight. The host himself was the ultimate downer, analogizing Obama's campaign to that of . . . Michael Dukakis.
Matthews fellow sufferers were Jeff Johnson, host of The Truth on BET, and Salon.com editor Joan Walsh.