Count Craig Crawford as a dissenting voice in the media storm blaming the Clintons for the injection of race into the Dem primaries. The Congressional Quarterly columnist and MSNBC political analyst offered his unconventional wisdom on a special Saturday edition of Morning Joe today.
CRAIG CRAWFORD: I never understood exactly what Bill Clinton said that was supposed to interject race, actually. I know he was arguing at arm's length with Obama about the war and some other issues. It wasn't clear to me -- I mean the most direct reference to race I saw in this campaign was interjected by the media after New Hampshire trying to say that for some reason Obama lost New Hampshire because of racism. I never followed that one either.
The woman who got her big break on network TV thanks to the firing of Don Imus now apparently wants another host to lose his job over some tasteless remarks.
Morning Joe is the show that took over MSNBC's early-morning time slot after Imus was bounced for his offensive observations about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Mika Brzezinski, a regular member of the Morning Joe crew, has now left little doubt she would like to see John Gibson fired for the callous comments about the death of actor Heath Ledger the Fox News host made on his radio show.
Tom Brokaw says his most conservative friend has told him he might vote for Hillary Clinton. I for one believe the former NBC News anchor. Hillary supporters might indeed constitute the rightmost fringe of his friend set.
Not that there was much doubt, but let's make it official: MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is firmly in the Obama camp. The capper came during today's opening segment of Morning Joe. After Chris Matthews offered a plausible explanation for Obama's "present" votes in the Illinois senate, David Shuster used an apt metaphor to describe Barack's less-than-trenchant rhetorical style.
DAVID SHUSTER: It's in Barack Obama's interest to say it as sharply as you [Matthews] just did, and his inability to sort of navigate in these debates, like the giant aircraft carrier trying to make a turn. If he could make the point as simply as you just did he would be fine but the way he's trying to explain and defend everything, it's like a guy who skis down a hill who makes these wide, swooping turns, and after awhile, you know, that's not, you don't get down very fast that way.
That's when Mika made her allegiance unmistakable.
Did Hillary Clinton really claim to be "blessed" and "grateful" to have a "passionate" husband? Yes.
Freudian slip or part of a calculated strategy to curry the women's vote by reminding people of the indignities she's suffered at the hands of her wayward spouse? In any case, Hillary deployed the intriguing double-entendre to defend Bill's recent attacks on Barack Obama.
H/t David Shuster. What's that? David Shuster, liberal MSNBC avenger, now a NewsBusters source? Not exactly, but read on . . .
Watching a special Saturday-morning edition of Morning Joe, I was surprised by CNBC chief DC correspondent John Harwood's willingness to pronounce Fred Thompson's political epitaph even before voters went to the South Carolina primary polls today. Shuster was similarly struck, going so far as to suggest a headline.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: What about Fred Thompson? Is it the end of the line, John, for him tonight, or is there a way he can rejuvenate his campaign?
Unlike the sensitive folks over at Media Matters, we NewsBusters are a relatively thick-skinned lot. And no one's ever confused me with Gloria Steinem. So we're not going to overreact to Willie Geist's comment this morning and demand a Matthewsesque mea culpa.
However . . . Willie did manage to diss the intelligence of his compatriots on today's Morning Joe. A Friday show tradition is for Geist and MSNBC celebrity correspondent Courtney Hazlett [a personal fave in the genre for her intelligent perspective] to predict which movie will score best at the box office during the coming weekend. When Hazlett tapped Cloverfield, an action-horror flick in which things go horribly wrong for Manhattan, Geist reacted with, well, horror.
Bill and Hillary might be taking flak for the vote-suppressing lawsuit their supporters brought in Nevada, but the couple can count on at least one supporter in the MSM: David Shuster.
On today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough and MSNBC's David Shuster got into an extended argument over Mitt Romney's testy exchange with a reporter over the candidate's claim that Washington lobbyists were not running his campaign [in contrast with McCain's]. But while that dust-up between Scarborough and Shuster had its moments, a couple Shuster comments during the briefer Nevada-caucus discussion were, IMHO, more telling.
View video here, which includes both the MSNBC pair's discussion and footage of Bill Clinton's angry reaction to a reporter who had the temerity to question him about the lawsuit.
What does it say about the secular state of the MSM that a liberal media member has to defensively clarify for the record that she doesn't object to a candidate having "a moral grounding"?
During the opening half-hour of today's Morning Joe, a clip was played of Mike Huckabee describing to a South Carolina gathering how he found his faith as a 10-year old attending a vacation Bible school. He expressed the hope that others had experienced that joy and would share it with others.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The thing that I found is, if people don't get too down in the weeds about their faith, and don't seem like they're lecturing, then I think it gives people a sense of assurance: "OK, the guy's got a faith system; I'm comfortable with that, and now move on and tell me how you're going to run the country."
That seemed to put Mika Brzezinski on the defensive.
The VRWC rides again, but this time it's apparently going after a Republican . . .
Mike Huckabee went on Morning Joe today and toyed with suggesting a "conspiracy" composed of the "Washington power circles" was out to get him. At 7:41 AM ET, the former Arkansas governor was discussing his efforts in South Carolina with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
See update at bottom: Scarborough nails Shuster on Huck/Obama double-standard.
If a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, does Mike Huckabee's sweet way with a word make tolerable views that would be rejected as extreme in the mouths of others less verbally gifted?
That's Willie Geist's view of the matter. The genius of the Morning Joe panelist normally resides in his ability to avoid the controversial while remaining interesting. But the anodyne-if-endearing Geist went out of character in today's opening segment on the subject of Mike Huckabee. And he did so in a manner the former Baptist preacher might not find so fetching.
The subject was a speech Huckabee gave yesterday in which he advocated changing the Constitution to adapt to the word of God.
"No, I don't think we're going to hit recession, but it's going to feel like it," Welch said. "Things are slowing down dramatically, as everyone knows. But I think we'll weather this thing and the global economy will keep us alive. So, we will not have a technical recession, but it will sure as hell feel like one."
After reputedly being the victim of rough politics in 2000 at the brass-knuckled hands of the Bush campaign, John McCain has pledged to eschew such tactics. But in the opening segment of today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough called McCain out for honoring that pledge in the breach, accusing him of "dirty campaigning."
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Very interesting. A John McCain mailer went out. John McCain was attacked in 2000, and he was going to be very positive. This is a McCain mailer that went out . . . He attacked Mitt Romney. He said Mitt Romney funded taxpayer-funded abortions. Calls Massachusetts "Taxachussetts," criticizes him for not supporting the Bush tax cuts.
See updates for Huckabee, Thompson responses to this story at bottom.
Scratch Joe Scarborough from the list of those praising the performance of Fred Thompson at last night's South Carolina debate hosted by Fox News. With panelists Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski in supporting roles, the Morning Joe host went off on Thompson today with stunning vitriol, deriding him as "Freddie boy" "pathetic," a "lapdog" and a "hatchet man" for John McCain.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Last night it was so painfully obvious that Fred Thompson went to John McCain yesterday morning [affecting deep Thompsonesque voice] "if I can stay awake through this debate, I'll attack Huckabee for you."
To riff off the Alice Roosevelt Longworth line: if you don't have anything nice to say about Rupert Murdoch, go sit next to David Shuster. The MSNBCer and former Fox Newser has no love lost for his old employer.
Shuster's latest is that Hillary, she of long memory, will be holding a grudge against Murdoch, whose NewsCorp owns the New York Post and Fox News, for the unflattering coverage the Post gave Clinton in the closing days of the New Hampshire primary campaign.
This space has not served as an unmitigated cheering section for Mika Brzezinski. But kudos to the Morning Joe panelist for the well-deserved shot she took at John Edwards today.
Perhaps it was the Edwards's lack of candor that incited Mika's ire. It's been widely reported, as in this ABC News blog, that the former NC senator tried to exploit Hillary's now-famous emotional moment of yesterday:
Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton's ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.
"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.
But when Brzezinski asked Edwards at 7:10 AM ET today whether he had indeed criticized Clinton for tearing up, Edwards brazenly replied "absolutely not." When Edwards went on to proclaim his own machismo, Mika saw her opening and went for it.
Are we seeing some fractures in the liberal media? Talking about Senator Obama’s surge to the lead in New Hampshire polls on Monday’s ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC, Hardball host Chris Matthews asserted that the “establishment press” would be part of Hillary Clinton’s resurgence. “There’s an establishment press — which is just as establishment as the establishment of the Democratic party — who can’t wait to write that fawning piece, ‘Here come the Clintons again.’”
Upon hearing that, ex-CBS anchor Dan Rather suggested that the media is really anti-Hillary right now: “I think they’re waiting to write the obituary....They’re just waiting to write ‘finis’ to the Clintons.”
Candid criticism, or sour grapes towards a guy who's lapping MSNBC in the ratings? In any case, David Shuster and the rest of the Morning Joe crew took out after Bill O'Reilly this morning in the wake of the incident in which the Factor host was, shall we say, energetic in his efforts to speak with Barack Obama at a NH campaign event this weekend. Shuster called O'Reilly a "jerk" and "such a buffoon." Read accounts of the incident here, here and here.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: The press corps, for the most part, there are exceptions, loathe Mitt Romney. And the press corps loved to see all of the Republicans [at the ABC debate this past Saturday night] kicking the tar out of him, and they were all sitting there smirking. But I thought it was too much. I think if you're sitting at home in New Hampshire, you sit back after a while and you say, first of all, why does John McCain hate personally so much. But secondly, why are they all attacking Mitt Romney? He must be the guy with the ball; he must be the guy who's ahead.
See Update at foot: "I wasn't teasing: don't get in my way."
If at the end of a hunt and while still in the field a politician disfavored by the MSM had joked about shooting his opponent, do you think it would have made big news? But how much coverage have you seen of just such a statement Mike Huckabee made during his recent Iowa pheasant photo-op hunt?
You've probably seen footage of Huckabee joking about shooting people who won't vote for him. Morning Joe played the clip in its opening segment today. Huckabee points to three dead birds on the ground.
Any man who is under 30 and is not a liberal has no heart; and any man who is over 30 and not a conservative has no brains. - Winston Churchill
I guess we know what old Winston would think of Chris Matthews, then. Appearing on Morning Joe today, the Hardball host turned the Churchillian maxim upside down, claiming his gut leans right but his head pulls him left.
Chris was conversing with MJ panelist Mika Brzezinski. After calling her "a cutie pie and "very smart," he continued.
Chris Matthews was in full flight on today's Morning Joe, vividly expressing himself on everything from the historic shockwaves that an Obama Iowa victory would send, to Media Matters's role as a Hillary front, to the attitude of NewsBusters. But the Hardball host was especially animated in describing the way the Clintons use intimidation to keep people in line.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: In the world, in the universe, the biggest American political story of modern times if Obama wins the Iowa caucuses. It will be all over the world; it will sweep the headlines in every newspaper in the world: friend, foe or neutral. It will be the Third World story of the century, of the last century [Barack's Time Machine?], the biggest story of modern Third World history, really, if Obama wins the American presidential caucus in Iowa.
See Update at Foot: Matthews suggests MSM pushing Mike because he's a sure loser.
Should we call him Mike "Huck-a-unbeatable"?
As noted here, on Monday David Shuster predicted that Mike Huckabee would win the White House if matched up against Hillary Clinton. Appearing on Morning Joe today at 6:05 AM ET, the MSNBC correspondent took his optimism about Huckabee's prospects a quantum leap further, saying the former Arkansas governor would defeat any Dem opponent.
Bona fide prediction, or devious three-dimensional-chess-move-cum- double-bank-shot-jujitsu gambit designed to sow chaos in Republican ranks? Hard to say, but one thing is undeniable: MSNBC correspondent David Shuster has predicted that Mike Huckabee will be the next President of the United States.
The surprising prognosis came at the end of an interesting pundits roundtable [presumably recorded over the weekend] that took the place of Morning Joe's regular live programming this Christmas Eve morning. Wrapping things up, host Joe Scarborough went around the horn, soliciting predictions from his guests.
When David Gregory grilled Hillary Clinton on Today on December 17th, the challenges to her came from his own mouth. Not once was a statement by Barack Obama used to confront Clinton.
But when Barack Obama made back-to-back appearances this morning on Today and Morning Joe, again and again tough questions were posed not in the first person but as coming from Hillary Clinton or her surrogates.
Chris Matthews shouldn't count on a Christmas card from Hillary after the way he absolutely unloaded on her on Morning Joe today. The topic was her Christmas ad [view YouTube here], which shows her "giving" a variety of government programs to the American people.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I always thought the problem with Hillary was, her notion of government was, "I am Evita, I am the one who gives gifts to the little people and then they come and bring me flowers and they worship at me because I am the great Evita."
Biting the hand that used to feed him, David Shuster has accused Fox News of being part of the "Republican establishment" and as such, going after Mike Huckabee. Shuster appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour today.
DAVID SHUSTER: What's been so interesting about Huckabee, you're starting to see the Republican establishment, despite him being the "Baby Jesus" candidate [adopting Joe Scarborough's formulation], the Republican establishment is going after him pretty hard now. And you even saw it last night when the, I suppose you could call them the Republican establishment Fox News correspondent was asking some pretty asinine questions --
"But Mika Brzezinski agrees with me!" might not be Mike Huckabee's best pitch to Republican primary voters in defending his harsh criticism of the Bush administration on foreign policy. But the fact is that Mika has done her best to throw Mike a lifeline on the matter.
In a "Foreign Policy" magazine article, an excerpt of which appears below, Huckabee had famously written of "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality."
Interviewing Huckabee on today's Morning Joe, Mika teed up some recent news as supporting evidence for the "arrogant bunker mentality" allegation -- and the candidate was only too happy to take a swing.
You'd hardly expect the chief Washington correspondent of business channel CNBC to negatively stereotype economic conservatives. But appearing on today's Morning Joe, the urbane John Harwood did just that.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [Huckabee is] a different type of evangelical. It's not the evangelical in American politics that's traditionally been very conservative economically. Obviously a lot of people at the Wall Street Journal don't like this guy.