In a free-swinging democracy such as ours, rare are the restraints on political speech by our elected representatives. One exception are rules of decorum, such as those governing the House of Representatives that prohibit members from speaking in negative personal terms about their colleagues and other officials.
There is a similar, unwritten rule by which former presidents do not criticize their successors. And while the occasional lapse has occurred over the history of the republic, no president has so thoroughly trashed the tradition as Jimmy Carter, who has made stinging criticism of the Bush administration a virtual art form. Earlier this year, for example, Carter publicly labelled the Bush administration "the worst in history."
Ann Coulter did her best to drop a bomb on the October 10 episode of "Tucker" on MSNBC. At the conclusion of her interview, Ann Coulter announced (video) that the National Enquirer was just reporting that John Edwards had an 18-month affair while on the campaign trail. You can read the story here.
Before going any further, this allegation must be met with a healthy degree of skepticism. First of all, the story is originating from the National Enquirer, which in and of itself, raises questions as to the story's reliability. Secondly, Coulter had a notorious run-in earlier this year with Elizabeth Edwards on an MSNBC episode of "Harball." Coulter would have every motivation to repeat a salacious tabloid sex allegation about John Edwards.
With that said, though, you would think that the mere allegation would be worthy of a media frenzy based upon its recent behavior. The media have extensively covered the "bathroom sex" case of Senator Larry Craig. Before that, the media happily reported when Sentator David Vitter's phone number showed up in the records of the "DC Madam." Even before that, the Mark Foley story lingered for a month during a crucial point in the 2006 campaign.
“[W]ell, we’re coming to you from the Ford Performing Arts Center,” co-moderator Maria Bartiromo said during the October 9 CNBC “Closing Bell.” “And there’s a lot of buzz and excitement around. We're just about an hour away from the debate and of course, this is the first national presidential debate focused only on economic issues. We'll be talking taxes, trade, housing, broad economy, foreign relations, protectionism.”
But it didn’t end up that way. While there were four questioners, co-moderator Chris Matthews was the most obvious in asking questions that had little to do with the economy. Out of his 49 questions, 28 were largely non-economic.
As NewsBusters reported, MSNBC's Dan Abrams pointed an accusatory finger at Fox News Monday claiming, "The Republicans have had Fox News, and O'Reilly in particular, in their pocket on the Republican talking points since 1996."
Clearly not pleased, the "Fox & Friends" crew took Abrams to task for his statements Tuesday, especially co-host Gretchen Carlson (file photo above right) who seemed to be doing her darnedest to hold back her anger.
On Monday's "MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams," host and former MSNBC General Manager Abrams used the show's regular "Beat the Press" segment to respond to criticism by some Fox News personalities of recent anti-Bush comments made by MSNBC's Chris Matthews, and their questioning of whether Matthews is too partisan to host the latest Republican debate. Abrams: "The attack team over at Fox News is trying to get some traction out of comments Chris Matthews made ... Now, in a silly and obvious partisan attack, they're suggesting Matthews shouldn't host the Republican debate." After playing a clip of Bill O'Reilly charging that NBC News was "in the pocket" of the Democratic party, Abrams accused FNC of being "in the pocket" of the Republican party. Abrams: "The Republicans have had Fox News, and O'Reilly in particular, in their pocket on the Republican talking points since 1996." Abrams ultimately defended Matthews as "far less predictable" than Fox News hosts. (Transcript follows)
After playing a clip of FNC's Gretchen Carlson complimenting Brit Hume as their regular moderator of debates, Abrams challenged Hume's objectivity by playing a clip of the FNC host expressing his opinion that "a lot of Democrats" don't take the war on terrorism seriously, which came from a roundtable discussion from the July 29 "Fox News Sunday."
Republicans facing what is sure to be a liberally-skewed forum moderated by former Democratic partisan Chris Matthews need to take a cue from the host of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," a conservative opinion journalist argues:
Matthews is an over-the-top liberal, a brazen cheerleader for Clinton. He can also be a bully. Remember the incident about two years ago when he reduced Michelle Malkin nearly to tears? And how Zell Miller gained instant hero status for asking Matthews if he wanted to take that discussion outside?
To beat Chris Matthews the candidates don’t need to punch him in the nose. But they need to do two things. First, they need to follow Jon Stewart’s example.
In what left Matthews squealing that it was his worst interview ever, The Daily Show’s hyperactive (but not hyperliberal) Jon Stewart’s interview of Matthews on his new book not-so-gently poked fun at Matthews’ outlook on life. If -- with humor -- any of the candidates can take a few shots at Matthews and the premise of his questions, they can come out as the winner.
Writing the day before the October 9 MSNBC Republican presidential debate, Human Events editor Jed Babbin added that taking on Matthews specifically and media bias geerally is a sure-fire way to electrify the GOP voting base and awaken the general public to what they instinctively know. The media are biased to the left and actively engaged in furthering a left-wing agenda:
In the wake of MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews's deplorable comments regarding the Bush administration having "finally been caught in their criminality," many conservatives are wondering if this clearly left-leaning pundit should be allowed to moderate GOP presidential debates including this Tuesday's.
To address the growing controversy, Fox News's "Fox & Friends" invited media members from both sides of the aisle Monday morning to debate the issue. On the left were Ellis Henican of Newsday and Ellen Ratner of FNC; on the right were radio host Herman Cain and Jim Pinkerton of Newsday (video available here courtesy Johnny Dollar).
In the end, I strongly agree with Henican and Cain who felt that candidates should be willing and able to answer anybody's questions regardless of political leaning if they want to attain the highest office in the land.
Joe Scarborough: MSNBC's kind of Republican. The sort who not only tells a Democrat he's "very badly" needed in Washington. Who not merely expresses the desire to write him a campaign check. But who even volunteers [tongue-in-cheek, one would hope] to do illegal check-bundling for him a la Norman Hsu.
After recently putting in an embarrassingly sycophantish performance when interviewing Hillary Clinton, Scarborough was back ingratiating himself with another Dem today. Interviewing former Nebraska senator Bob Kerrey on "Morning Joe," talk inevitably turned to the possibility of Kerrey seeking a Senate seat again. Scarborough waxed wildly enthusiastic.
"This is Anne Jones, reporting live from the headquarters of the ACLU, where the organization has issued a 'DEFCON 1 Threat-to-the-Constitution Alert' in the wake of a Republican presidential candidate's call for the creation of God's 'kingdom on earth.' We're speaking with ACLU representative Amanda Rogers. Ms. Rogers, now that a Republican candidate has brought the wall that separates church and state crashing to the ground, can our constitutional system be saved?"
"Anne, I'm afraid the answer is a resounding 'no,' at least, not if someone who thinks like this, and who sadly reflects the thinking of his entire party, is elected president. Fortunately, there are candidates from another party who respect the constitutionally decreed separaration of church and state."
"Thank you, Amanda; very frightening stuff. Now back to our studio, where we'll be breaking into our regularly-scheduled programming throughout the day to bring you updates on this unfolding crisis. I'll be back a little later with an interview with the pro-Constitution group 'People for the American Way,' which has called the Republican candidate's statement 'the gravest threat to America since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.'"
OK, perhaps I exaggerate just a tad with this apocryphal dialogue, but you get the point. The MSM would surely be in full threat-to-the-Constitution cry if ever a Republican presidential candidate had said exactly what Barack Obama did yesterday:
MRC Research Director and NewsBusters senior editor Rich Noyes appeared on Friday's "The Big Story with John Gibson" on the Fox News Channel to discuss how MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews declared that the administration has “been caught in their criminality” just days before he was scheduled to co-moderate a GOP presidential debate on CNBC.
In a week when Democratic senators tried to intimidate executives at Clear Channel Communications based on a false interpretation of Rush Limbaugh’s “phony soldiers” comment, MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Thursday decried what he said were complaints from the Bush White House to MSNBC executives about the content of his show. “They will not silence me!” Matthews declared at a celebration of the 10th anniversary of his "Hardball" show, the (Washington, D.C.) Examiner reported.
Talking about the Democrats’ threats to silence Limbaugh on Tuesday, Matthews put all of the onus on Limbaugh’s speech, not liberals’ attacks on the First Amendement. “Do you think that Rush Limbaugh was right to call people who oppose the war who have served ‘phony soldiers?’” Matthews demanded of a panelist, distorting the facts. “So we’re agreed, so we all disagree with Rush Limbaugh,” he later claimed.
The fellow synonymous with "Hardball" showed his soft side today. Interviewed by his wife to help mark the show's 10th anniversary and promote his new book, "Life's a Campaign,"Chris Matthews was frequently emotional as he talked about everything from his heroes [including JFK, Churchill and Hemingway], his drinking days and his admiration for John McCain's patriotism.
In contrast, Kathleen Matthews, a former TV news anchor, exuded a composed professionalism. A nice, cool balance to Chris's fire, it seemed.
Later, John Kerry reminded us of what we didn't, shall we say, necessarily love about the guy.
While MSNBC's Keith Olbermann can hardly contain his glee at smacking around Rush Limbaugh over the taken-out-of-context "phony soldier" remark, it's notable that Olbermann himself essentially smeared Gen. David Petreaus as a phony at best and a traitor at the worst well before the Iraq war commander ever gave his assessment before Congress.
Indeed, before MoveOn.org issued the infamously juvenile "Betray Us" ad, Olbermann's minions plastered "Will Petreaus Betray Us?" in on-screen graphics during his August 16 program. [See also YouTube video appended at bottom of post]
Chatting with guest and liberal journalist Jonathan Alter on that program, Olbermann trashed the Petreaus report as a "ghost-written" concoction of the Bush White House, bound to be replete with partisan spin. Alter agreed, saying Petreaus has always been a "political" general, although he backtracked a bit to also say Petreaus was a "straight-shooter."
Cat fight on the left? On today's "Tucker," a "Media Matters" representative denied Hillary's claim that she "helped start" the organization.
Welcome back, Tucker. Really.
While Carlson was away, guest host David Shuster sullied Tucker's name-sake show with the tasteless "gotcha" game he sprang on Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), then compounded matters by leading a liberal love-in.
Tucker's been back in the saddle for a couple days, and this evening took on Wesley Clark and later a representative of Media Matters.
Speaking with Paul Waldman, Senior Fellow and Director of Special Projects of "Media Matters," Carlson displayed the graphic shown here, in which Hillary Clinton stated that she had "helped start" Media Matters. Under close questioning by Carlson, Waldman wound up contradicting Hillary's claim.
Despite the fact that the print media have mostly backed off the "phoney soldiers" smear against Rush Limbaugh, on Wednesday's "Hardball," host Chris Matthews refused to correct the record, instead choosing to toss a softball to anti-war Congressman Jack Murtha as he asked him on Wednesday's "Hardball":
"What do you think of Rush Limbaugh's comment the other day that somebody was a phony soldier because they opposed the war? He also said they were a phony Republican, by the way, because he said Republicans couldn't possibly, a Republican couldn't possibly be against the war? What do you make of that?"
Rep. Jack Murtha: "I don't watch Rush Limbaugh."
Matthews: "Ha! You don't have to watch him, you gotta hear about him. I don't either, I hear about him."
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) took to a popular conservative blog today to issue a defense of radio host Rush Limbaugh against left-wing smear attacks. As NewsBusters has reported, Blackburn herself was the target of a "gotcha" game by MSNBC's David Shuster.
In "Why let the truth get in the way of a good story," Blackburn expressed to Red State readers her support for Limbaugh and noted her resolution before the House of Representatives to commend Rush for this dedication to America's men and women in uniform:
As Brent Baker of MRC/NB has documented, MSNBC has been among the worst MSM offenders in propagating the falsehood that Rush Limbaugh had accused all anti-war military members of being "phony soldiers."
A point of light at that same network this morning, however, as Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist combined to debunk the Media Matters allegation, accusing the organization of using a "phony story about a phony soldier" to go after Rush.
It began at 6:04 A.M. EDT today, during the "Morning Joe" opening coffee klatsch.
Don't look for Shuster to be guest hosting "Tucker" again any time soon. -- from my column of September 26th.
Oy, was I wrong!
I had figured that David Shuster wouldn't be subbing again for Tucker Carlson after embarrassing his show, and MSNBC at large, with the tasteless "gotcha" game he sprung on Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), exploiting the death of a soldier for partisan political purposes.
But tuning to Tucker today, there was Shuster, the so-called MSNBC "correspondent."
The Media Research Center distributed the following press release Monday afternoon:
Media Research Center President Brent Bozell blasted MSNBC for deliberately misrepresenting statements radio host Rush Limbaugh made Thursday about an anti-war activist who falsely and despicably passed himself off as an Army Ranger and Purple Heart winner. On Friday, MSNBC’s Hardball and Countdown programs wrongly adopted the dishonest spin of the far-left group Media Matters to attack Limbaugh.
On Monday, three days before Limbaugh’s comments, ABC’s World News exposed the same anti-war activist, and ABC reporter Brian Ross declared his story “a complete fabrication.” In spite of this, Media Matters and MSNBC pounded Limbaugh for making the exact same point.
If Dems and Republicans are at odds over everything from Iraq to healthcare, there's one thing that has brought many of them together: shared criticism of the leading GOP presidential contenders for their decision to skip the recent debate moderated by Tavis Smiley, billed as oriented to the concerns of black Americans.
But beginning on yesterday's "Meet the Press" and continuing on today's "Morning Joe," Pat Buchanan has not hesitated to make a pragmatic political case in defense of the Republican candidates' decision. And alone, at least among pundits I've heard, he drew an interesting parallel to the venues the leading Dem candidate is skipping.
This week, Alan Colmes proved, yet again, that Fox News has its own liberals willing to say crazy things. The host asserted that right-wingers should have embraced the visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because the dictator is a "conservative" like them.
Speaking of angry liberals, MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann has claimed that the reason that "white wing" Republican presidential candidates are skipping minority debates is because they want to re-segregate America. Of course, given the host’s insensitive comments during a football broadcast, perhaps he shouldn’t be throwing stones.
Of all people, you'd think a movie director would understand the importance of sticking to the script. But no . . .
There was a delicious moment on this afternoon's "Hardball." Host Chris Matthews had billed a new movie as standing for the proposition that Saudis hate Americans [note the screen graphic]. But when the movie's director came on, he declined to buy into Matthews's sweeping generalization, pitched capitalism as the answer to the region's problems, and even speculated that Iraq war has helped America's relations in the Middle East.
In his opening tease, Matthews proclaimed "Let's talk about why the Saudis hate us . . . in our second story tonight, why do Saudis hate Americans?"
Then, after an interview about Iran with Mario Cuomo [yes, he's still around], Matthews, teasing the next segment:
David Shuster's tasteless game of "gotcha," that we reported here and here, in which the MSNBC "correspondent" exploited the name of a fallen American soldier to put Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on the spot, is getting considerable media attention. Brit Hume featured it in last night's "Grapevine" segment of "Special Report."
Joe Scarborough is still trying to wring mileage out of bashing Bill O'Reilly over his Sylvia's comments. After calling the "Factor" host a "moron" yesterday, the "Morning Joe" host was back at it today.
On this afternoon's "Tucker," the eponymous host was discussing with Dem strategist Peter Fenn and former Dem congressman Tom Andrews [a grown-up among liberals, IMHO] the unwillingness of the leading GOP presidential contenders to participate in the debate moderated by Tavis Smiley, billed as addressing issues of concern to black Americans.
On the one hand, Tucker criticized the Republicans' reticence. On the other, he flashed anger at the way Dems play the race card. Carlson concluded with a particularly tantalizing comment.
Keith Olbermann this week has been happier than Ralphie Parker on Christmas morning over a left-wing group-generated controversy over Bill O'Reilly. But like the BB-gun-receiving protagonist of "A Christmas Story," lil' Keithie needs to know the dangers of (metaphorically) putting his eye out. After all, on September 9 on NBC's "Football Night in America," Olbermann made a cryptic crack that could be taken to be racially insensitive, if not racist.
This could be a first: Al Sharpton criticized for being insufficiently inflammatory; faulted for not shooting from the hip.
At the opening of today's "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough panned the Rev's "O'Reilly Factor" performance last evening, in which the normally obstreperous one was relatively subdued on the subject of his host's comments on Sylvia's restaurant in Harlem. Scarborough later escalated his criticism, calling O'Reilly a "moron," and accusing him of making "racist" comments.
Did Chris Matthews, on his September 24th edition of "Hardball," really hear Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "allow" that there was a Holocaust? This is what he insisted to New York City Councilman David Weprin:
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s talk about that very point. The hottest issue of the last century, of course, and the worst case of inhumanity to man, of course, is the Holocaust. I listened carefully to him. And I know you did, sir. Didn‘t you hear him allow the fact that there was, in fact, a Holocaust?
WEPRIN: Well, he—his statement today was different than his statement in the past.
WEPRIN: In the past, he‘s clearly said that the Holocaust was a hoax, it never existed. Now he‘s talking about doing more research. There‘s no question...
DAVID SHUSTER: On Monday evening while guest-hosting the 6 p.m. evening hour, I conducted an interview with Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn. The congresswoman spoke at length about a newspaper ad that criticized General Petraeus. In what I believed was an effort to examine Representative Blackburn's priorities, I then asked her to name the last soldier from her congressional district killed in Iraq.
She responded "the name of the last soldier killed in Iraq from my district, I do not know." After that response, I identified who I believed to be that fallen soldier, a Tennessean killed in Iraq last month. But according to Pentagon documents, that young man came from a town inside a neighboring congressional district, not from Representative Blackburn's, and for that, I apologize for that mistake.