Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR—a self-described progressive media watch group—now a professor of independent media at Ithaca College, invited me to address his class of student bloggers this afternoon. Asked to name some of the fairer MSM journalists, I included David Gregory on my short list. That could understandably come as a surprise to those who remember Gregory from his days as NBC's chief White House correspondent, when he earned the ire of the Bush administration for his often-aggressive style. But I've found that Gregory plays it pretty much down the middle in his new role as host of Race for the White House on MSNBC.
By coincidence, on this evening's show Gregory vindicated my confidence with some tough questioning of an Obama surrogate on the issue of taxes and spending. Gregory went so far as to suggest that Obama's indication that he might not press for immediate implementation of tax increases on higher earners makes McCain's case. Gregory's guest was Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. When Van Hollen suggested Obama might postpone his tax-increase plan, Gregory moved in . . .
They [the RNC] are calling voters, cold calls, and saying to them, what about William Ayers and the close working relationship he had [with Obama], which is not true by anybody's count . . . It certainly is a mischaracterization of the relationship. -- Andrea Mitchell to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), MSNBC 10-17-08.
Andrea Mitchell, meet Stanley Kurtz . . .
It's turning into Andrea Mitchell Day here. Earlier, I noted how Mitchell, measuring the drapes for Obama, predicted that he would run a "bipartisan" administration. Now Mitchell has ridden to Obama's defense, denying that he ever worked closely with Wiliam Ayers.
If you're going base an entire TV show on taking potshots at conservatives and Republicans for anything and everything, you might try to get at least the simple things right - things like grade-school U.S. geography.
MSNBC's Oct. 13 "Rachel Maddow Show" must not have read that memo. After launching into a Keith Olbermann-esque tirade criticizing Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain's geographic campaign strategy, the best and the brightest couldn't correctly label the state of Indiana, mistaking it for Illinois - which ironically is Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's home state.
How unbalanced was MSNBC's "Race for the White House" panel this evening? The two Obama-friendly panelists—Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek—were ostensibly offset by Philly radio talker Michael Smerconish and Independent Women's Forum head Michelle Bernard. But channeling Dem congressman James Clyburn on this morning's Today, Smerc called the House Republicans "sophomoric." That was nothing. One-upping Smerconish in the pejorative department, Bernard said that every recent McCain move has been "like an epileptic fit."
Joe Scarborough, putting in a long day's work and subbing for regular host David Gregory, teed up Bernard's snipe with a negative take of his own on McCain's behavior.
"Shovel your ratings" appears to be Morning Joe's subliminal message to Keith Olbermann today. With the latest ratings showing Rachel Maddow's new MSNBC show beating Olbermann's Countdown, the MJ panel went out of its way to congratulate Maddow on her success, repeatedly mentioning what a "good person" she is and how nice it is to see such people do well.
The crew was riffing off the Drudge headline "Move Over, Olbermann, Rachel Maddow Tops MSNBC Ratings." As seen in the Drudge screencap [after the jump], on Tuesday Maddow beat Olbermann--the perennial MSNBC ratings leader--by a count of 1.8 million to 1.63 million. She also bested CNN's Larry King, among others. Scarborough & Co. never mentioned Olbermann by name. But the invidious-comparison-by-omission in their pointed praise of Maddow's good-personhood left little doubt that the wounds opened by Olbermann's open-mic slap at Scarborough, in which, during the Dem convention, he told Joe to "get a shovel" for remarks too GOP-friendly for Keith's liking, have yet to heal.
View the video, and be sure to stay tuned to the end. Mika tries to move the show along, but Scarborough pointedly persists, basking in the times when "good people do well." Got, it, Keith?
Monday night featured MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow finding fault with Sarah Palin's religious beliefs and some of the teachings of her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, as the two harped on a speech the Alaska governor delivered at the Wasilla Assembly of God last June.
On the first episode of her new television program, the "Rachel Maddow Show," the eponymous host misinterpreted Palin's request that church members pray for American troops, as the Alaska governor expressed her hope that the Iraq war is part of "God's plan," with the MSNBC host claiming that Palin was "asserting" that the war factually is "God's plan."
Maddow claimed that Palin "said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq War is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D." On Countdown, Olbermann and Maddow took exception with Palin's account of a minister who prayed that she would be successful in her political life as they mocked the concept of praying in the hopes that prayers might be answered. Olbermann referred to Palin as "Elmer Gantry" and "Amy Semple McHockey Mom."
Less than two hours after Peggy Noonan and former McCain advisor Mike Murphy appeared on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon, a YouTube video appeared of their candid exchange in which they dismissed Sarah Palin’s viability as a VP pick. The speed at which the video appeared indicated that it almost certainly originated from someone inside MSNBC, another favor for the Democrats this election year.
Joshua Micah Marshall’s blog Talking Points Memo and the blog of Michael Calderone of the Politico broke news of Noonan and Murphy’s comments. The exchange started as MSNBC Chuck Todd previewed what was coming up next on the program before a commercial break 20 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour, as Noonan and Murphy began a discussion off-camera, picked up by a hot mike. Todd then joined the discussion once the commercial break began. None of their discussion actually made it on the air for this reason.
Sometimes the qualities that make a strong candidate in one pool make them a weak candidate in another pool.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would hurt Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain as a running mate because of "vulnerability" stemming from his successful businesses and support for free trade, according to a reporter for The Washington Post.
"On the whole subject of trade deals and free trade agreements is that a vulnerability, a potential vulnerability on the side of Mitt Romney?" Andrea Mitchell asked Post reporter Chris Cillizza on the August 28 broadcast of "MSNBC Live".
"It absolutely is," said Cillizza, who writes "The Fix" blog at WashingtonPost.com. "And that's a calculation I think the McCain campaign has to make. Yes, Mitt Romney has great business bona fides. Built a business, he used that line many times in the primary: ‘I know why jobs come and I know why they go.'"
"The other side of that, however, is he worked for a company called Bingham Capital that occasionally engaged in leverage buyouts, that means shipping jobs overseas. That's not the kind of thing that's going to go over well in these rust belt states where McCain needs to perform well, most notably Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania," Cillizza said.
On Monday's "MSNBC News Live," journalist Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart discussed whether Americans are not "sophisticated" enough to understand the attempted satire in the cartoon featured on the cover of the current New Yorker magazine. According to Mitchell, "...The only question there is whether [the cover] is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended."
The image in question features Barack Obama in Muslim clothing with a flag burning in the background and is an obvious parody and an example of the liberal contention that conservatives are questioning the patriotism of the Democratic presidential contender. The Post's Capehart suggested that the uneducated voters in Middle America might not comprehend the high minded satire: "...The folks at the New Yorker are very smart, very learned, learned people, but once you get outside of the confines of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, you sort of begin to wonder if anyone-- if there was a conversation around the table about how will this be viewed by people who won't necessarily get the joke."
Has NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory turned over a new leaf?
Gregory, who has earned a lot of critics for having an anti-Bush/liberal bias, made it seem that way during a discussion about ethics in politics and journalism Thursday. He claimed to struggle with Jewish teachings about saying bad things about others - at least when it comes to Democrats.
Not to be unkind, but how can one purport to conduct a serious post mortem of Hillary Clinton's failed candidacy without mentioning what would seem an obvious—and very important—factor: her personality that to many American was less-than-appealing, in a contest pitting her against the unusually charming Barack Obama?
Yet David Gregory ignored the personality factor entirely in his "post mortem, Powerpoint edition" on this evening's Race for the White House. Instead, he identified—and invited his panel to comment on—these five factors:
Not sure that would be a winning campaign slogan for Barack Obama, but on today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski expressed skepticism as to whether Americans really care about winning in Iraq. Mika made her comments in the course of touting Frank Rich's NYT column of yesterday [on which I commented here].
Brzezinski was clearly eager to make her point: after reading an extended excerpt from Rich's column and inviting comment from the panel, she didn't let a bemused John Harwood of CNBC/NYT get more than a few words out before cutting him off to express her own opinion.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Anyone want to comment?
JOHN HARWOOD: Well, I don't think Americans forgot Iraq --
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? I think Americans are tired of being duped, and I think this is coming back, from the McClellan book. I mean, everyone talks about how Americans want to win, want to win. I don't know so much with Iraq.
Four years before Barack Obama gave Chris Matthews a "thrill" up his leg, the senator produced a "chill" in the MSNBC host's leg. On July 27, 2004, during coverage of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Matthews reacted to Obama's prime-time address by rhapsodizing, "I have to tell ya, a little chill in my, in my legs now." [audio available here]
On February 12, 2008, following primary results in Virginia and Maryland, the "Hardball" host again gushed over Obama, this time after a victory speech. Speaking of the Democratic candidate, he fawned, "I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don't have that too often." So, first there was the "chill." Four years later, Obama produced a "thrill." One can only imagine what feelings the likely presidential nominee will createfor Chris Matthews's appendages at the 2008 Democratic convention.
Hillary–gone in a week? Yes, if you believe Michael Smerconish.
The Philly-based radio talk show host was the only Pennsylvanian on the panel on this evening's Race for the White House on MSNBC. He saved his bombshell for last. Nothing in the kibitzing preceding the show-closing Predictions segment foreshadowed Smerconish's surprising suggestion. But when it came time to break out the crystal ball, Smerconish unloaded.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Mine's a two-parter. Part one: Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Barack Obama 51, Hillary Clinton 49%. Part two: Thursday, 4 PM Eastern: Hillary Clinton suspends her campaign.
For those that are luckily unfamiliar, Rachel Maddow is one of the darlings of the extreme-left in this country. A regular on MSNBC's "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann, the Air America Radio host is also a panel member on that network's "Race for the White House" with David Gregory.
Another panel member is Joe Scarborough, and those that have watched this program since its inception know that he holds Maddow in as low esteem as any self-respecting conservative would -- or any sane American, for that matter.
With that as pretext, on Thursday's show, Scarborough apparently had enough of this liberal antagonist; during the following exchange, he unhooked his microphone, walked off the set, and didn't return (video embedded upper right):
Standard-free journalism on parade all day on NBC's Sunday
Forgotten But Not GoneIt was another do-as-we-say, not-as-we-do day for the National Broadcast Company this past Sabbath.
Over the weekend NBC offered up their latest versions of Tim Russert's Meet the Press and the Chris Matthews Show -- the latter being political television's answer to Jerry Springer. In them we were treated to two more glittering examples of all that is wrong with the Jurassic Press.
That being the woeful lack of journalistic ethics demonstrated by those at the heights of the media mountain, and the utter shamelessness they and their colleagues exhibit upon their being outed as amoral hacks.
Last Saturday, NewsBusters shared a truly disgraceful Ted Rall cartoon that depicted a United States soldier as a suicide bomber.
On Friday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in its "Cartoons From Around The World" section, featured a rather revolting "comic" by German cartoonist Rainer Hachfeld. In it, a panel showed children in Afghanistan shooting toy guns playfully at an American military plane, with panel two dramatizing the same plane attacking the kids with gunfire clearly hitting one as the other ran screaming for cover.
As this is the property of cartoon syndicator Daryl Cagle, copyright laws prevent unauthorized distribution. However, as the above link indicates, Hachfeld's piece was also published at Cagle's MSNBC.com webpage.
NewsBusters' member Saw the Light, who forwarded this piece to me, made the following sage observations about the cartoon which he has given me permission to share:
Mother Teresa might be allowed to oppose gay marriage. But those falling short of saintliness have forfeited their right to do so.
That, in a nutshell, is the logic that "Morning Joe" panelist John Ridley espoused on today's show. His comments came in the course of a dialogue with host Joe Scarborough in the wake of the public statement that Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and his wife made yesterday.
It’s approaching two weeks since an Air Force Airman was shot by an anti-war protestor in Willingboro, New Jersey.
Yet, apart from an Associated Press article which conveniently ignored the apparent motives of the assailant, a New York Post op-ed by Michelle Malkin, and a mention by Glenn Beck on CNN's Headline News, not one major mainstream media outlet has reported the horrific event in print or on the air.
To set this up, the Associated Press reported the day after the shooting (h/t NB reader CSM Robert E. Wilson, currently serving in Iraq):
Live Earth's TV ratings might have been dismal, and the extravaganza took heat for the liberal use of profanity by its performers. But at least the concert series served some purpose: providing comedic fodder for today's "Morning Joe." Host Joe Scarborough and sidekick John Ridley had considerable fun at the expense of Ann Curry, a host of NBC's coverage of the event (see related NB item), whose interview of Al Gore gave new meaning to "touchy-feely."
At about 6:45 A.M. EDT this morning, the MSNBC show rolled a clip from the Curry-Gore interview in which Curry repeatedly grabbed Gore's arm and ended with a manic hand-pump.
John Ridley might be an NPR regular, someone who says he likes the "center-left" and even professes admiration for Al Gore's work. But that didn't stop the "Morning Joe" panel member from ripping Gore on the MSNBC show this morning at 7:20 a.m. EDT for his choice of continuing his Live Earth concert tour rather than being at the side of his troubled son.
A clip was aired of Gore telling MSNBC's Chris Jansing that despite his son's latest run-in, his plans hadn't changed to attend the series of Live Earth concerts around the world. In a mantra reminiscent of his "no controlling legal authority" line from years ago regarding questionable fund-raising, Gore informed Jansing and other media that he was treating his son's situation as "a private family matter." Ridley went off on an extended tirade. Excerpts:
MORNING JOE PANEL MEMBER JOHN RIDLEY: Why isn't he with his son? He's in New York yesterday doing all these media hits. His son is in California. If my son were in crisis, I would be home with my son.
On the Thursday edition of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough slammed media outlets, such as AP and The Hill for misrepresenting what Ann Coulter said in her now famous on-air debate with Elizabeth Edwards. He also attempted to set the record straight by playing an extended clip of her appearance on the June 25 "Good Morning America," which started the whole controversy.
But first, Scarborough and contributor Willie Geist derided the misrepresentations of Coulter’s statements from various media outlets:
Joe Scarborough: "I want you to read, Willie, from The Hill, really quickly. Just read this line from The Hill. This is what The Hill and the Associated Press and what other wires are saying about what Ann Coulter said on GMA. Read it, Willie."
Willie Geist: "This week Coulter proclaimed, quote, ‘If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot,’ end quote."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough contacted NewsBusters a few moments ago with the relevant transcript from his June 1 "Morning Joe" program, lamenting in an e-mail that our "follow up blog on Newsbusters... actually omits fact that there was a long discussion started by female athlete re pole exercising. Transcript shows whole thing taken wildly out of context."
Here's the transcript, as forwarded by Scarborough to us after receiving same from Christopher Licht, executive producer of "Scarborough Country":
When it comes to anti-war politics, Rosie O'Donnell is one bedfellow Chris Matthews would gladly do without. The MSNBC host made that crystal clear on this afternoon's Hardball. Matthews played a clip of O'Donnell's recent slanging spate in which she unmistakably intimated to Elizabeth Hasselbeck that US troops are terrorists, responsible for 655,000 civilian deaths in Iraq [itself a grossly exaggerated figure in any case].
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: While I generally sympathize with her point of view, her skepticism about this war, I do have a problem with her suggestion that we're the terrorists, which is clearly what the intent of that conversation was.
On only his second day as a Don Imus-substitute, NBC reporter David Gregory proved that he can promote Democratic talking points in any medium. For the Thursday edition of "Gregory Live," which is simulcast on MSNBC and on radio, the veteran correspondent interviewed Illinois Senator and White House contender Barack Obama and asked him no tough questions.
He began by noting how the Democratic Senator has received "great media attention, great enthusiasm and crowds and people showering you with money." How absurd is it for Mr. Gregory to refer to Obama’s "great media attention" in the third person? After all, it was NBC’s "Today" show, where Gregory sometimes guest hosts, that labeled the Senator an "electrifying" "rock star."
After his fawning preface, Mr. Gregory did manage, finally, to segue into a question:
Proving that he's not a fan of Republicans, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews slammed 2008 GOP contenders on Wednesday for running a "mordant," "negative campaign." Sounding like a Democratic activist, he appeared throughout the day on MSNBC and, at one point, bitterly complained about former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee’s jibe that Congress spends money "like John Edwards at a beauty shop."
Mr. Matthews condemned the line, which was delivered during a May 15 presidential debate, as "stupid," "embarrassing" and "pandering." (Is it surprising that a Republican would play to his Republican audience?)
Video (1:22): Real (2.25 MB) or Windows (2.54 MB), plus MP3 (1.22 MB).
The "Hardball" host showed up in the 2pm hour of "MSNBC Live" to trash Governor Huckabee for daring to make fun of John Edwards. Responding to a question by host Contessa Brewer about whether Huckabee prepared the line in advance, Matthews could barely contain his contempt:
In 2003, David Kuo resigned from the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and later wrote a book [published just before the 2006 mid-term elections] claiming that the administration was hypocritical in its dealings with religious conservatives.
The MSM had a field day because according to them [as E.J. Dionne wrote here, for example], Kuo was a religious conservative himself. But is that true? What kind of religious conservative, the day after Jerry Falwell died, would go on MSNBC's Tucker Carlson show and say this about the late pastor?:
DAVID KUO: In bringing the pulpit to politics in the very strident, narrow and frankly angry way that he did, he very much damaged the name of Jesus.
Romney won, Rudy lost. That's Chris Matthews' take on the GOP presidential debate he moderated on MSNBC last night. Matthews made his views clear during his appearance on this morning's "Today." Meredith Vieira, who interviewed Matthews at 7:09 EDT, seemed to share her colleague's assessment.
TODAY CO-HOST MEREDITH VIEIRA: Winners and losers in your assessment?
MSNBC HOST CHRIS MATTHEWS: Oh, come on. Well, let me just say I thought that just factually, Giuliani stood out on the issue of abortion rights, clearly. At one point I asked if they would be happy, if it would be a good day for America, if the courts struck down Roe v. Wade, the court decision back in '73 that gave a woman the right to an abortion, and he said 'that would be OK,' Very tentative. And then later on he reasserted his position that he is for abortion rights. So I think that separated him on a big issue.
VIEIRA: Yeah, but Chris, he also said it would be OK if a strict constructionist judge upheld Roe v. Wade. It sounded like he was talking out of both sides of his mouth there.
Judging by the excerpt Tucker Carlson played on his MSNBC show this afternoon at about 4:15 PM ET, Richard Engel's War Zone Diary is a powerful and moving documentary of the NBC reporter's experiences in Iraq. To his credit, Engel has accompanied troops on many combat patrols. Among other clips, we saw particularly compelling footage of Marines on a night mission in the mean streets of Ramadi, in Anbar province, searching for - and finding unharmed - one of their comrades who had gotten separated during an earlier patrol there.
Speaking of combat, Engel did at at one point state that "it is very brutal but after some time you do start to see things from their [U.S. soldiers' and Marines'] perspective."
On this afternoon's Tucker Carlson show, an MSNBC consultant flatly called President Bush a recovering substance abuser. Guest host Joe Scarborough took things a giant step further, seeming to analogize evangelical Christians with such substance abusers.
Joe Scarborough substituted for Tucker Carlson on the latter's MSNBC show today. Discussing President Bush's upbeat mood, despite congressional opposition and the tough slogging in Iraq, Scarborough asked MSNBC consultant Craig Crawford "what's this guy got to be cocky about?"
Crawford: "I would point to the history of anyone recovering from substance abuse. No, seriously. There is a body of thought that those in recovery, like he is, become very absolute about blacks and whites. There's no middle ground. You either take that substance or you don't."
Scarborough: "As a guy who has grown up in an evangelical church, you could also say that about certain people of faith. A lot of people are more pragmatic, but there're some people that go in those church pews, and it's black or white, right?"
Crawford: "Sure, yeah!"
UPDATE 02-20-07: Joe Scarborough has contacted NB to express his very strong objection to this item, which he described as "deeply offensive and intellectually dishonest," claiming it suggested that he is anti-Christian. Said Mr. Scarborough: "the fact that I mocked Craig Crawford with a laugh for suggesting Bush was a substance abuser and then suggested it might be his faith instead that makes him see the world in black and white does not mean I compared the two. Seeing things in black and white is not a negative [in Christianity]." Added Mr. Scarborough: "The fact I am writing a book about how Christians are slandered by the mainstream media and American culture makes your remarks all the more maddening."