Are reporters in the business of reporting fact or rumor? Andrea Mitchell, for one, doesn't scruple to circulate "scuttlebutt" that if true would be deeply damaging to John McCain.
Barack Obama's cancellation of plans to visit injured military members at bases in Germany has drawn considerable attention and criticism. On today's Morning Joe, Mitchell passed along an Obama-campaign inspired rumor that McCain used his Pentagon connections to sabotage the Obama visit.
Don't blame Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., member of two influential banking committees - the Senate Finance Committee and the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs - for IndyMac's collapse, says CNBC's Erin Burnett.
Burnett, host of CNBC "Street Signs," disagreed with a claim by MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough that a letter to regulators from Schumer caused a run on the beleaguered bank IndyMac, which eventually led to its failure and takeover by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
"I don't think Chuck Schumer caused a run on the bank," Burnett said on MSNBC's July 24 "Morning Joe." "This is the new world of banking. Companies, banks come out and they say, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh - our stock's down 20 percent. It's being manipulated. Please come in and help us government. Oh my gosh, there's a run on our bank - let's blame it on a senator.'"
Many McCain fans are no doubt bracing for the waves of European adulation that are about to break over Barack Obama, the MSM avidly reporting the scenes. With polls showing Obama with a 50+ percentage-point lead across the Old Continent [the French leading the Obamaphile way at 64-4%], the Dem candidate is assured of ecstatic crowds wherever he goes. Euro-Obamamania begins in Berlin today, with a speech by the candidate at the "Victory Column" in Tiergarten park.
But could all the adoration backfire? That emerging theme has found expression in two very different ways this morning. On the one hand, a scholarly exposition by Prof. Thomas Madden, writing at NRO—who draws parallels to the world of ancient Greco-Roman politics—and in more colloquial fashion by Joe Scarborough.
Here's how the Morning Joe host put it today at 6:34 AM EDT, in an exchange with Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist. Republican strategist Mike Murphy got in a good line at the very end.
Keith Olbermann’s tired hour-long rehashing of liberal talking points on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” are legion and often unremarkable in and of themselves. Same noise, different night. But it is noteworthy when a fellow MSNBC host has had enough and calls out Olbermann. That is exactly what happened when “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough rebuked the “Countdown” host for a misplaced attack on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the opening of Olbermann’s July 22 “Countdown.”
Olbermann began his show by ridiculing McCain for claiming that the surge was responsible for the success of the Anbar Awakening. Olbermann opined:
Me and Mrs. Jones, we've got a thing going on. We both know that it's wrong, but it's much too strong to let it go now. -- Billy Paul, "Me and Mrs. Jones"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting there's anything untoward between Mika Brzezinski and the Dem presidential candidate. But like the star-crossed couple of the song, the two do share a tragic bond, trapped as they are in an inability to admit they were wrong in opposing the surge.
The depths of Obama's denial emerged during a five-minute segment of his recent interview with Katie Couric. Couric tried repeatedly to pin Obama down on why he says he still would have opposed the surge, even knowing as he does know that it has succeeded. As Couric put it: "People may be scratching their heads and saying, 'Why?'" I'd encourage people to view the exchange, which comes at the five-minute mark of the interview. CBS video and transcript here.
And there on today's Morning Joe was the other half of the duo in denial, Mika Brzezinski. With Joe Scarborough playing the role of Couric-like inquisitor, Mika tried to talk about anything but the way Obama was wrong about the surge.
The things people will do for love. Take David Shuster. So eager is the Obama inamorato to cover for his man, he's willing to sacrifice all semblance of reason. Faced with the implacable fact that Obama was wrong in opposing the surge, Shuster has been reduced to claiming that Americans don't care about the surge's success. Shuster made his descent into abject sycophancy on today's Morning Joe. The jumping off point was a clip from an interview of Obama by ABC's Terry Moran [Brent Baker has the full report on the interview here].
TERRY MORAN: If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?
OBAMA: No, because, keep in mind that-
MORAN: You wouldn't?
OBAMA: Well, no, keep in mind, these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. You know, hindsight is 20/20. But I think that, what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.
After a clip was aired of McCain hammering Obama on his opposition to the surge, Shuster slipped on the flippers and goggles.
Just when I thought Obama lovin' was regulated to the political commentators and reporters at MSNBC, I was sadly mistaken. Even entertainment reporters need to show their support! June Sarpong, took some time on her appearance on "Morning Joe" today to gush about Obama's upcoming stops in Europe and talk about America losing its standing with the international community.
Sarpong was on the show to talk about the movie "Dark Night" setting box office records but who cares about movie records when we have Sen. Obama running for office! Since she's British, interviewer Willie Geist couldn't help but ask her how Obama's perceived in the U.K. Her response was a glowing endorsement of the Illinois senator. (Video below page break)
On this morning's "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, co-host Tiki Barber asked guest Dan Rather about his feelings regarding the recent Jesse Jackson imbroglio -- his "off mike" comments about Barack Obama. In the middle of praising Jackson, Rather referred to Barack Obama as "Osama bin Laden" -- and none of the four "Morning Joe" co-hosts reacted (nor did Rather).
Question: Will the media pick this up? That one of America's longest-serving network news anchors referred to one of the two presidential candidates as the world's most wanted terrorist -- and no one in the room seemed to notice?
While you ponder, here's what the former anchor of the "CBS Evening News" said (h/t to FiveThirtyEight who first noticed this blunder!):
"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough slammed the "hacks" at "The Daily Show" on Wednesday for only making fun of Republicans and giving a free pass to Democrats. Discussing a July 15 New York Times piece that described how TV comics and talk show hosts are hesitant to make fun of Barack Obama, Scarborough mocked, "I never want to hear anybody from 'The Daily Show' or any of these other shows ever saying again, 'We speak truth to power.' 'Cause you know what they do? They speak truth to Republicans."
After admitting that Republicans have made many mistakes over the last seven years, the MSNBC host continued to eviscerate the crew at the "The Daily Show" and others: " But, please, don't be subversive, because you're not. Because you're a hack. You're a hack for the Democratic Party and you only tell jokes about one side." New York Times journalist John Harwood, appearing on the program as a guest, attempted to stick up for the comics by justifying, "I don't think they are hacks for the Democratic Party. People write about what's funny to them. And the stuff that's funny to them is, is the stuff that comes out of what they see that they want to make fun of from Republicans."
Time magazine Managing Editor Richard Stengel told the hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on July 17 that "there's incredible despair out there and there's a sense that, that something needs to be done and people have kind of an appetite for big government in a way" in America.
Stengel was citing a new poll, but the interview did not discuss the fact that the poll also found 80 percent of respondents said they should be responsible for carrying their own financial burdens.
The poll was a joint effort of Time magazine and the Rockefeller Foundation, an organization Stengel characterized as "on a mission themselves to help the American worker and find out about the economy."
Could that be political?
"If you say that favors Barack Obama, maybe it does, I don't know," Stengel said.
How insulated is the MSM? In how much of a liberal cocoon does it exist? For an answer, consider the vile cartoon displayed here. My guess is that the great majority of NewsBusters readers are familiar with it. But John Harwood—of the New York Times and CNBC—has never seen it.
That became clear on today's Morning Joe. The topic was the TV comedy world's double-standard, in which Republicans are regularly skewered but the laff factory suddenly shuts down when it comes to mocking Barack. A New York Times article on the matter was the jumping off point, and Joe Scarborough had a field day ridiculing lefty comedians' hypocrisy in piously claiming to "speak truth to power." The truth, said Scarborough, is that the comedians lay off Obama not because there's nothing funny about him, but because they're "in the tank" for the Dem candidate.
Towards the end of the segment came this stunning exchange:
Mika Brzezinski might be an Obama backer, but she really should sit down with Hillary Clinton. The woman who turned $1,000 into $100,000 could clue her in to the workings of the commodities markets. Be it cattle or crude oil, the concept's the same: these are "futures" markets in which prices are set on traders' expectations of what conditions will be some time down the road.
Mika's need for urgent remedial help on the matter became evident during the first minutes of today's Morning Joe. Ostensibly fulfilling her news-reading function, Mika veered from the prepared text to inject her own editorializing to the effect that lifting the offshore drilling ban today wouldn't lower gas prices for ten years.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Time for a look at some of today's top stories. President Bush is calling on congress to lift its ban on offshore oil drilling. On Monday the president ended a long-standing moratorium on the practice, saying new drilling would ease pressure on fuel prices [going off-script to inject her own views] -- in about ten years. Critics argue the production of gas from the offshore --
Look for Mika Brzezinski outside the Danish embassy. True, the Danes had nothing to do with the New Yorker's publication of the Obama cover. But what more time-honored locale to protest an irreverent cartoon of a figure adulated with religious fervor?
Mika has condemned the New Yorker cover as "dangerous." Why dangerous? Mika doesn't quite say. But by darkly musing about unspoken perils that derive from the mocking of Obama, she would apparently place irony about her candidate off limits. Mika sounded the alarm on today's Morning Joe.
See Bonus Coverage at foot: Barnicle accuses Jesse Jackson of "corporate blackmail."
Two veteran members of the Senate, two entirely different treatments from Andrea Mitchell. Reverence for Ted Kennedy; scorn for Strom Thurmond. Guest hosting in Mika Brzezinski's spot on Morning Joe today, Mitchell, emotion in her voice, hailed Kennedy as "valiant" and a "hero." As for Thurmond, Mitchell mocked that he wasn't alive even when he was in the Senate.
The reference to the late South Carolina senator arose in the context of a discussion of the way in which, with the nomination of Barack Obama, the torch of Dem leadership has been passed to a new generation, whereas the same isn't true in John McCain's GOP.
Got to be good looking 'cause he's so hard to see Come together right now Over me—The Beatles, "Come Together" (1969) [YouTube]
Bob Herbert just doesn't get it. As Noel Sheppard has noted, in his NYT column today Herbert accuses Barack Obama of "lurching right when it suits him, and . . . zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash." The NY Times columnist goes on to condemn the candidate for "pandering to evangelicals;" agreeing with Justices Scalia and Thomas on a "barbaric" interpretation of the 8th Amendment; and playing a "dangerous game" with his "shifts and panders."
No, no, no, Bob! That's not what's happening at all. Obama isn't flip-flopping. He's simply fulfilling his pledge to bring us together. What makes Herbert's obtuseness all the more infuriating is that enlightenment was just a stroll down the corridor away, to the office of Gail Collins. Herbert's fellow Times columnist explained what is really going on during her appearance today on Morning Joe.
While guest hosting Wednesday’s "Morning Joe", former General Electric CEO Jack Welch condemned global warming, the very theory MSNBC has been peddling for years. GE, of course, owns MSNBC; the rebuke of MSNBC’s favorite alarmist hypothesis came in a segment where hosts share noteworthy editorials. Welch decided to share an opinion piece from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal aptly titled "Global Warming As Mass Neurosis." Welch informed the audience that the article has "a lot of technical numbers here to show you that NASA overstated what's happening." Welch summarized the article by saying "And they got an argument that states that global warming is the attack on capitalism that socialism couldn't bring"
After Jack’s synopsis, co- host Pat Buchanan interjects his belief that global warming is "a neo-Marxist idea for the transfer of wealth and power." Jack Welch jumps in to agree saying "Right" Pat Buchanan then decides to carry his rebuke even further by saying "And At the end global elites, and they’re, you know they’re gonna to dictate to all of us because of this phony idea that we're all in some eminent danger. I agree with that 100 %." Welch, the former GE CEO enthusiastically jumped in to agree saying "Absolutely!"
You can win in a court of law and still get attacked in the court of public opinion. That's what former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso would have learned from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" July 2.
Host Mika Brzezinski called Grasso a "poster child for Wall Street excess" in reporting a New York State Supreme Court ruling allowing Grasso to keep his $187.5 million pension payout.
"There you go, a little justice there," Brzezinski said. "Jack Welch calls it justice; I call it a very large pay package. It's a lot of money, Jack."
Andrea Mitchell depicts Wesley Clark's cracks about John McCain's heroism as a gaffe. Bloopers that will cost him any chance of being picked for the Obama veep slot. But surely the seasoned MSM hand knows better than to imagine that Clark was freelancing. Clark's were anything but impromptu remarks, made, say, late at night to a foreign reporter in a hotel cocktail lounge in some far-flung land. To the contrary, Clark took his shots in the brightest of limelights—those of a Sunday morning talk show—speaking with the venerable Bob Schieffer. Clark was explicitly there as an Obama campaign surrogate.
Moreover, Clark had made similar comments before, as a guest on Morning Joe earlier this month [YouTube of earlier appearance]. So the Obama campaign was well aware of his views. If it had any qualms about him expressing them, surely he would have been warned off. Thus, far from representing a gaffe, Clark's comments must be seen as reflecting Barack Obama's calculated strategy—and that is precisely how the McCain campaign has interpreted them.
So why would Andrea Mitchell turn up on Morning Joe today lambasting Clark for his "stupid" and "dumb" remarks? You don't suppose she was trying to inoculate Obama, give him cover, some plausible deniability, so that the remarks get the maximum attention without Obama's fingerprints being seen on them?
See Bonus Video at foot: Mika Victimized by Retching Rover!
In polite liberal circles, Ralph Nader's suggestion that Barack Obama "wants to talk white" and avoid appearing like another Jesse Jackson is infra dig. Take, for example, Joan Walsh's reaction on yesterday's Hardball. Said the editor of Salon.com:
I don't think that racism is too strong a word for what he said.
Added NY Times columnist Bob Herbert:
It's a lousy, reprehensible comment.
But as uncomfortable as Nader's statement might make some people, could there be a kernel of truth to it? Joe Scarborough seems to think so. And even Prof. Michael Dyson—Obama fan and commentator on matters racial—seemed to acknowledge that "ghetto-speak" would hurt Barack, going so far as to imitate the kind of street accent that could damage the candidate's campaign.
Mike Barnicle has some campaign advice for John McCain: don't say anything about Obama's questionable connections. The former Boston Globe columnist, with a heartfelt second from Mika Brzezinski, wants the world to know that he's heard enough about Reverends Wright and Pfleger, not to mention Bill Ayers, and thinks McCain would "win a few points" for staying away from all that stuff and concentrating on the important issues facing Americans—like better batteries.
Barnicle made his suggestion on today's Morning Joe in commenting on an audio clip of Obama warning a crowd this past Friday that the Republicans will, among other misdemeanors, play the race card against him and accuse him of having a "feisty wife."
Not a mere hell-freezes-over-moment. Call it–in honor of Chinese Olympic diving which made the NY Times today–a a triple-twisting forward three-and-a-half flying pig, pike position. An MSM reporter has condemned socialist big-government programs, adding a pitch for unrestrained free-market forces. Check the end of this item for a factoid making the moment even more remarkable.
CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera made the stunning statement on Morning Joe today while reporting on a change in Chinese policy that should lower the price of crude oil world-wide.
It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.
Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.
When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript]. The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical:
It would be hard to overstate the significance of Barack Obama's blunder. As a certain junior senator from New York said during the primary season, while John McCain has obviously passed the Commander-in-Chief threshold, it's not clear Obama has. If there is one fundamental challenge facing the Dem candidate in this campaign, it is to prove that he has the values and the toughness necessary to protect our country against the terrorists who seek to destroy us.
Yet now—in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper—Obama has proposed a read-them-their-Miranda-rights approach to dealing with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's the policy equivalent of Dukakis-in-a-tank, and is likely, in this NewsBuster's opinion, to have an even more harmful impact on his campaign. The McCain camp has wasted no time in weighing in. In a conference call yesterday, former CIA director James Woolsey said Obama's advocacy of giving terrorists access to U.S. courts was an "extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism."
Discussion on Morning Joe today among, on the one hand, Barack fans Mika Brzezinski and WaPo's Jonathan Capehart, and on the other a Joe Scarborough preaching realpolitik, revealed just how vulnerable Obama is on the issue. I'd encourage readers to view the extended video clip here, but for present purposes will focus on one exchange:
Here's something you don't see every day: four people on MSNBC agreeing that an ad attacking Republican presidential nominee John McCain is a "cheap shot."
Yet, that's exactly what transpired Tuesday morning when Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, and John Ridley discussed the new ad just released by the far-left MoveOn.org suggesting that if McCain is elected president, the baby pictured will be fighting in Iraq eighteen years from now.
First up to criticize the piece was NPR's Ridley (video embedded right, use scrollbars to center):
Q. What's weaker than playing the "taken out of context" card?
A. Digging yourself deeper with the supposedly exculpatory explanation.
Mike Barnicle managed the Daily Double today with his mishandling of the flap over the way he described Hillary back in January. Barnicle was on Morning Joe, and discussion turned to a New York Times article, Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage, that mentioned his remarks.
Washington Post: GOP tool? Might sound a tad far-fetched to you. But you're not Howard Dean.
Appearing on today's Morning Joe, DNC Chairman Dean claimed a Washington Post article about Jim Johnson, whom Barack Obama has chosen to head up the vetting of potential VP picks, was "planted" by the McCain campaign. Johnson's appointment has become an embarrassment to Obama because the former CEO of Fannie Mae has been linked to the mortgage crisis. As WaPo reported:
The questions about Johnson began after the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that he received more than $2 million in home loans that might have been below average market rates from Countrywide Financial, a partner of Fannie Mae and a leading purveyor of the kind of subprime mortgages that spawned a national housing crisis.
Update | 10 AM: McCain Campaign Comments to NB on Mitchell Remarks
McCain campaign deputy chairman Frank Donatelli has commented to NB on Mitchell's remarks. See report at foot.
IMing with a friend in England this morning, Morning Joe on in the background, I was vaguely aware that an Obama staffer was on, touting her candidate's economic plan. Signing off my chat, I focused on the tube, only to realize that the Obama staffer was in fact . . . Andrea Mitchell.
Mitchell cast the battle of the candidates' tax plans as McCain's "old-fashioned" supply-side economics versus Obama's "mainstream, centrist" plans that "do help people" while responsibly "paying for everything."
Vote Obama: it's a matter of life or death! That's essentially how Chris Matthews characterized the choice confronting voters this November. Matthews not only put voting for Obama in the category of something to be done to "save your life," he analogized voting for McCain to a decision to remain on the Titanic rather than man the lifeboats.
The Hardball host was a guest on today's Morning Joe.
Imagine a conservative commentator suggesting Hillary would rather spend time up-close-and-personal in the company of bare-chested warriors than with Bill. Cries of sexism and intrusion on privacy could be expected to echo through the media.
But don't expect the MSM to blink over Mika Brzezinski having suggested the same regarding Laura and George W.
With Joe Scarborough off today, Mika again was in the Morning Joe host chair. One of Willie Geist's light-hearted "News You Can't Use" items focused on Laura Bush's surprise trip to Afghanistan, and the display of the traditional Maori haka dance that New Zealand troops there performed for her.
Denying the obvious, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs tells reporters that tricking them into flying to Chicago on June 5th while Obama remained in DC to meet with Hillary "wasn't an attempt to deceive in any way." [Screencap from Morning Joe.]