It's said that to work, humor must contain a kernel of truth. No wonder David Letterman's effort to wring humor out of the shoe-throwing incident fell so flat. The Late Show host joked that Muntadhar al-Zeidi had been offered a show on . . . Fox News. Letterman was playing off the report that al-Zeidi is reported to be hot-tempered and possess poor journalistic skills.
How lame was Letterman? After airing the "joke" on Morning Joe today, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist gave it a double thumbs-down.
"I will say that when I started [at MSNBC] in 2003, nobody spoke to me for six months. I was a strange man in a strange land," Joe Scarborough is reported to have told Time magazine.
TVNewser's Steve Krakauer noted today that in an upcoming 10 Questions feature the "Morning Joe" host will share his thoughts about his network, which he sees, "right now" to be "a free marketplace of ideas where everybody's invited and opinions clash."
Scarborough added that "as long as I'm fair, I don't think there's a problem at all." There's no word, however, on if Scarborough thinks fairness is strived at by his colleagues Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann.
Promise, or threat? John Harwood declares "the New York Times isn't going anywhere." The Times correspondent, who also toils for CNBC, made his unconditional claim on today's Morning Joe in response to Joe Scarborough's envisioning of a future in which major news organizations, including the Times, might disappear. Scarborough was concerned that the public would be deprived of the media's investigative function.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The problem is, though, that these people are all being fired. So what are we going to do without a New York Times or a Washington Post or an NBC News? The investigators that hold government accountable.
That's when Harwood sprang to his employer's defense.
Appearing on Friday's "Morning Joe," former CBS anchor Dan Rather chided President Bush for not doing enough during his lame duck period and argued for moving Inauguration Day up to December 1. And although Rather didn't explain specifically what Bush wasn't doing enough about (The financial crisis? The terrorist incident in India?), he did hyperbolically fret, "But, we're in possibly, possibly the biggest crisis we've been in since December 7, 1941 and maybe since the time of the Civil War." (As big a calamity as slavery and the dissolution of the Union?)
Addressing the past practice of inaugurating presidents in March, Rather lobbied "Thank heaven, we now swear them in, new presidents, in January. I'd be in favor of moving it up to December 1st."(The former network anchor didn't explain how he would then deal with situations like the protracted 2000 post-election battle.) [Audio available here.]
Always irreverent, Tucker Carlson seems freer than ever to aim a few jabs at his network and the people that work there. On today's Morning Joe, Tucker landed a one-two punch. With all the talk focusing on Detroit, Carlson let the cat out of the bag that NBC is implementing layoffs of its own. Tucker played off that news, tweaking Chris Matthews along the way, by announcing that he too was planning a Senate run, one in which a bailout of the news networks would be the centerpiece.
Tucker, an unreconstructed libertarian, spoke in opposition to the Detroit bailout. After observing that capitalism without failure is like religion without sin, he made his tongue-in-cheek announcement.
"Talk about too big to fail," said managing editor of Time Richard Stengel on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Dec. 4, who was on the program promoting the latest cover story for the magazine entitled, "The Case for Saving Detroit." Stengel:
"I find the fact that so many Americans are unsympathetic to Detroit to be kind of amazing," Stengel said:
We make the case that in fact the, you know, the Big Three have adapted in a lot of ways ... They haven't managed things well, they have too much capacity, but I mean, talk about being too big to fail in a way, right?
The fact is Americans don't understand what collateralized debt obligations are, yet they sort of said, ‘Okay, let's bailout all of these banks and AIG' and yet people feel like, ‘Hmm what about the big car manufacturers?
On Thursday's "Morning Joe," after being told that a critique of his on the auto industry bailout sounded very similar to one made by liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, MSNBC political director Chuck Todd told co-host Willie Geist that he dreaded what the people at NewsBusters would say: "By the way, I can't wait 'til our friends at NewsBusters, you know, compare, compare me to Michael Moore. I appreciate that. I appreciate that, Willie."
The exchange occurred after Todd argued that there was a class warfare reason behind the fact that the October financial bailout seemed to have less resistance than the auto industry rescue plan now being considered. He argued, "We are holding the automakers and the UAW to a tougher standard than, it seems to me, that we held the Citibank guys and, it seems to me, that we held everything that's going on with the white collar bailout on Wall Street." [Audio available here]
He later added, "...And maybe it's because we also don't know anybody that works at GM...We don't know those families. But, we do know somebody at JPMorgan Chase." Geist then played a clip of Moore "making almost the same point you're making right now."
Veteran Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein appeared on Wednesday's "Morning Joe" and gushed that Barack Obama's appointment of Hillary Clinton to the State Department will benefit from the "real wisdom" Bill Clinton has "when it comes to foreign policy." Continuing to fawn over the President-elect's cabinet choices, Bernstein enthused, "And the real thing about this appointment, though, is that Obama is assembling a group of people to unite the country."
The author of the Clinton bio "A Woman in Charge" optimistically added, "He [Obama] wants a political consensus so he can do what other presidents haven't been able to do, which is to move the country in the direction he wants without division down the middle." Bernstein didn't explain how the liberal senator, who's lifetime American Conservative Union score is seven, would "unite the country."
Why does Sarah Palin continue to receive so much media coverage? Peggy Noonan has a theory. The Wall Street Journal columnist believes the MSM is up to what she considers "mischief": attempting to make Sarah Palin the face of the Republican party.
Noonan propounded her premise during an appearance today on Morning Joe.
Transcript from press conference of Pres. Barack Obama, Feb. 12th, 2011:
CNSNEWS.COM: Mr. President, when you first took office you promised to create 2.5 million jobs by January, 2011. But the Labor Department report issued yesterday indicates that in fact 1.7 million jobs were lost during that period. Why did your plan fail?
PRES. BARACK OBAMA: Ah, but it didn't fail. To the contrary, we succeeded beyond all expectations. You misquoted our promise. We said we would create or "save" 2.5 million jobs. And a report prepared by my White House team being distributed to you demonstrates that had we not taken the bold steps we did back in 2009, we would by now have lost 5.8 million jobs. We therefore in fact saved 4.1 million jobs, more than 50% greater than the number of jobs we promised to save. So our program has been a huge success. Let's see, Keith, you had a question?
KEITH OLBERMANN: Yes, Mr. President. You are so wonderful, sir. Please comment, if you would, sir.
The "or save" makes Obama's plan virtually fail-proof. No matter how many jobs are lost, Obama will always be able to claim that things would have been much worse were it not for his plan. To his credit, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd pointed out the verbal sleight of hand on today's Morning Joe.
Amidst all the sanctimonious do-gooderism and global-warming alarmism that is NBC/Universal's "Green Week," it's good to see that at least one network minion has managed to maintain his sense of humor.
Morning Joe's Willie Geist became something of a sensation with his spoof electioneering for John McCain on the sidewalks of Manhattan's ultra-blue Upper West Side. In that same spirit, Willie ventured onto the streets of midtown yesterday, asking folks how they were celebrating Green Week, and posing provocative questions. Sample: "Do you think global warming is kinda hogwash? I mean, look how cold it is today." He got some amusing answers and met some colorful characters, including one dazed and confused fellow who turned out to be none other than Mike Barnicle.
Repent, all ye owners of Suburbans, thou drivers of Explorers. Mend thy ways, ye Escalade-loving louts! Take heed of the warning the prophet Mika has vouchsafed unto you: greedy thou art; verily, destroyers of the environment be thee!
Oy. Mika Brzezinski was on quite a roll this morning. On the one hand, free-marketers would find much to agree with in Mika's arguments. As noted here yesterday, whereas Joe Scarborough has been vigorously advocating a federal rescue of Detroit, Brzezinski favors bankruptcy over bailout. But Mika couldn't help muddling her message, delivering a jeremiad against Detroit for producing larger vehicles and Americans for buying them, actually condemning the latter as "greedy."
Joe Scarborough didn't cotton to being called a "socialist," but that's just the label Krystia Freeland laid on him during today's Morning Joe. The Financial Times editor used the s-word to describe what she mockingly described as Joe's "touching faith" in the wisdom of government bureaucrats when it comes to reorganizing Detroit automakers.
The Morning Joe host didn't take the insult lying down.
Panelist Pat Buchanan and Scarborough had been making the case over the course of the opening segments that Detroit was too important to be allowed to go under. Then Freeland came on, preaching bankruptcy over bailout, and the ruckus erupted . . .
Is MSNBC being rewarded for having backed Obama? That's what Jim Pinkerton suggests. On this evening's Fox News Watch, the columnist and New America Foundation fellow cited the news that GE Capital, a subsidiary of MSNBC's parent company GE, has received a $139 billion government loan guarantee.
Host Jon Scott opened this evening's show opened with a clip of Chris Matthews [in a story that NB was first to report], saying that he saw as his "job" making the Obama presidency a success. Pinkerton unloaded.
Remember back during the campaign, when the Obama folks and their MSM cohorts adamantly denied that their man was a liberal? That National Journal study that ranked him the most liberal senator? Nonsense! Very misleading. After all, this is the man who doesn't believe in a red America and a blue America, but in the United States of America. Someone with a history of reaching across partisan lines [even if no good examples were handy at the moment].
So . . . remember all that? Well, forget it. Now that Obama is safely ensconced in his Office of the President-Elect, the MSM can let the [ill-concealed to many of us] cat out of the bag: yes, he's a liberal. Big time! In fact, Obama is nothing less than the second coming of the biggest American liberal icon of all time: FDR! Rick Stengel announced the news on today's Morning Joe.
It's not like Barack Obama is a socialist or anything. It's just that Thomas Friedman wants him to put a "government master" in charge of the country's biggest manufacturing sector. Friedman made his modest proposal in his New York Times column of today, and expanded on it during a Morning Joe appearance. [H/t reader Tom.]
If Morning Joe seems every-so-slightly less up-to-date, there's a reason for it. The show is now seven seconds behind the times. A tape delay has been instituted in the wake of Joe Scarborough's unintentional dropping of an f-bomb two days ago.
B&C reported the change yesterday, and NewsBuster Ken Shepherd discussed it here. The Morning Joe crew had fun with the move on today's show. Coming back from its first break, the show aired tape [via Jimmy Kimmel Live] of CNN's Rick Sanchez coming back from a break of his own. With a screen over his shoulder reading "Transition to Power," Sanchez said: "We welcome you black. Uh, welcome you back." Point made: Joe's not the only cable TV guy capable of an embarrassing slip 'o the tongue.
The crew proceeded to a light-hearted discussion of the move to tape delay, with executive producer Chris Licht proudly displaying his finger poised on the red button.
Insiders tell us that beginning today, Morning Joe will air on a slight delay. Yesterday, host Joe Scarborough sort of forgot he was on live TV and said, "They don't go around flipping people off or screaming 'Fuck You' at the top of their lungs," when describing how members of Pres.-elect Obama's inner circle work. The delay will allow producers to "drop" the audio so expletives aren't heard over the airwaves.
This is not new for MSNBC morning TV. When I worked there, Imus in the Morning always aired on a seven-second delay.
What's gotten into the NBC/MSNBC water? Chris Matthews's verbal miscue on this evening's Hardball makes a triple-header of gaffes on the family of networks today. As we've noted, Joe Scarborough kicked off the slip parade, unintentionally dropping an f-bomb on Morning Joe. About an hour later on Today, Meredith Vieira stumbled into asking Matt Lauer a question that invoked the uncomfortable subject of his rocky marital history. And now, discussing Sarah Palin's political future, Matthews committed the same stumble that an unscrupulous staffer claims the vice-presidential candidate made: calling Africa a country. [H/t anonymous reader.]
Matthews made his mistake in the course of posing a question to Larry Persily, a former member of Palin's gubernatorial staff.
Whoops. It's turning into quite the morning for gaffes on the NBC/MSNBC family of networks. As noted here, during the Today opening, Meredith Vieira stumbled onto the sensitive subject of Matt Lauer's marital history. Then, during Morning Joe's 8 AM hour, Joe Scarborough accidentally dropped an f-bomb, provoking a protracted apolog-a-thon. [H/t reader P.C.]
[Warning: video contains unexpurgated F-bomb 20 seconds in].
During a break, Time's Jay Carney had apparently told a story of some politico who had used the f-word. Back on the air, Scarborough had actually been praising the discipline of the Obama team members. It was in describing them as people who, in contrast with the person Carney had mentioned, were careful with their words and deeds, that Joe's internal edit button went on the fritz.
Mike Barnicle, come on up here and accept this morning's Lanny Davis Award for shameless defense of the indefensible. You've earned it. Not merely did the Morning Joe panelist excuse Barack Obama's nasty jab at Nancy Reagan, he actually claimed that we need more of those kind of "jokes" from our presidents.
Joe Scarborough began the discussion by asserting that whereas mayors, governors and other lesser officials can get away with what Obama said about the former First Lady, it is unbecoming in the mouth of a president. The Morning Joe host also suggested that had George W. Bush made a comparable crack about a beloved Dem First Lady, the New York Times would have taken him harshly to task. Leaping to Obama's defense, the former Boston Globe columnist didn't merely don the wetsuit: Barnicle went full bathysphere.
Just in time for the new James Bond movie, Chris Matthews has earned himself a new moniker: Odd Job. Matthews says he sees his job as a journalist as doing everything he can to make the Obama presidency a success.
Appearing on "Morning Joe" today, Matthews was reluctant to criticize Rahm Emanuel's kabuki dance over accepting Obama's offer to be chief of staff.
The "Hardball" host (and presumptive candidate for U.S. Senate from PA) was equally unwilling to see the Emanuel episode as evidence of a lack of planning and discipline in the nascent Obama administration. Matthews eventually explained why.[H/t multiple NB readers.]
Today's Unintentional Honesty Award goes to Jonathan Capehart. The Washington Post editorialist, discussing Barack Obama's acceptance speech last night, spoke of the president-elect thanking "his reporters," before catching himself and substituting "supporters."
Joe Scarborough, with an assist from executive producer Chris Licht, called Capehart out on his Freudian slip. The WaPo man proceeded to pat himself on the back as one of those rare MSM members who had not been in the tank for Obama. Right.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and "News Live" on Sunday and Monday repeatedly played clips from Sen. John McCain's appearance on the November 1 edition of "Saturday Night Live" for a combined total of 11 times. One MSNBC host, Alex Witt, on Sunday, even claimed, "We're gonna have a lot of clips of that for ya so you can be smiling through this morning." However, MSNBC did not show even one clip of Ben Affleck's impersonation of "Countdown" host Keith Olbermann from the same broadcast.
Many of the hosts expressed that they thought McCain was funny during his SNL appearance, probably because he was making fun of himself and his campaign. But apparently MSNBC didn't want its viewers laughing and smiling at SNL's imitation of Olbermann which cast him as pompous and as someone who commonly has hypersensitive overreactions. After all, a senior executive at the cable channel has admitted that Olbermann "runs MSNBC."
The Nobel hasn't conferred any classiness on Paul Krugman. Dancing on the GOP's grave this morning in his NYT column, the newly-minted laureate impugns the party of Lincoln as "a haven for racists and reactionaries."
According to Krugman [file photo], tomorrow's election will purge the Republican congressional delegation of some of its more moderate members, leaving it even more "extreme."
The only evidence Krugman adduces in support of his Republican-are-racists slur is that GOP Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia "observing large-scale early voting by African-Americans, warns his supporters that 'the other folks are voting.'” Where's the racism, given that 90+% of African-Americans are expected to vote for Obama and presumably for Chambliss's Dem opponent?
View video after the jump of Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe ripping Krugman as a "shrill, silly, partisan cartoon-character" who takes his cues from the left-wing kookasphere.
Mark Whitaker, head of the NBC News DC bureau, got off today's unintentional laugh line when he described Barack Obama as having "lifted himself up from the streets of Hawaii."
Oh those mean streets of Hawaii. You know, the sort pictured here at the Punahou school that Obama attended from 5-12th grade. While attending Punahou, Obama lived with his grandparents. Readers will recall that grandma Dunham was . . . a vice-president of the Bank of Hawaii.
Breaking down the front door of a suspected al-Qaeda stronghold in Fallujah took great courage. But even that fearless feat pales in comparison to the dangerous mission that Willie Geist undertook. The intrepid member of the Morning Joe crew ventured out onto the sidewalks of Manhattan's Upper West Side wearing . . . a McCain-Palin T-shirt, trying to drum up support for the Republican ticket. (h/t readers BondPlainBond and Steve.)
As Willie explained, it was all a good-natured goof. But the West Siders for the most part lived up to their stereotype of, as Willie described it, "a monolithic block of elitists," scorning Geist for his gall.