Amidst a war of words with the White House, character attacks from the Left, and a New York Times hit piece on his connections with lobbyists, House Minority Leader John Boehner has received positive media coverage – from MSNBC of all places. The network ran a portrait of Boehner's childhood on its 11 a.m. news hour, and again on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" at 1 p.m.
"The public hears a lot of the arguments against [Boehner] from the Left," remarked NBC correspondent Luke Russert on the 11 a.m. MSNBC news hour Monday. "They hear that he's a country club Republican, if you will, with extensive ties to lobbyists. But it's quite interesting. He's a man who comes from very humble beginnings, starting out in a big Catholic family in Reading, Ohio."
Russert narrated a piece on Boehner's upbringing in Ohio, as one of 12 children. He interviewed one each of Boehner's brothers and his sisters, as well as his high school football coach.
In a brief interview with the openly-gay former Army Lt. Dan Choi MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer gave her vocal support to his cause, hoping that the military's policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ends soon.
Brewer has covered the issue quite one-sidedly in the past on behalf of the gay rights side. She has hosted many gay-rights advocates on her news hour and has barely covered the other side of the DADT issue. Examples: here, here, and here.
Brewer was covering the ruling of a federal judge in California that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," is unconstitutional. The judge has not yet issued a final ruling, but plans to do so in two weeks. Brewer's lone guest in the segment was Choi, an outspoken advocate and poster boy for the military gay-rights movement, who was arrested this past spring for chaining himself to the White House fence in protest of DADT.
During the 3 p.m. MSNBC news hour Monday, anchor Chris Jansing asked the question and hosted an expert who supplied the seemingly desired answer. The question: Could President Obama make a mid-term comeback similar to President Reagan in 1982? The answer: Absolutely.
The two discussed the similarities of the situations faced by the presidents, and seemed to conclude that if the economy turns around, President Obama would almost certainly be re-elected.
It is a big if, but the short segment seemed quite focused on what would happen after the economy turns around. The two didn't bother to discuss what would happen if the economy continues to be stagnant, or takes a turn for the worse.
During the 10 a.m. ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing spoke with Islamic scholar Hamza Yusuf Hanson about the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, who proclaimed: "I think there's a lot of fear....there has been a concerted effort by a certain segment. It's a very small minority, but their powerful and vocal, to demonize the Muslim community."
Yusuf was on to discuss his founding of Zaytuna College in California, the nation's first Islamic higher education school. However, Jansing introduced the segment by placing the college in this context: "...the [mosque] controversy prompted Time magazine to ask, Is America – if America is Islamophobic. A Time poll found that 46% of Americans believe Islam is more likely than other faiths to encourage violence against nonbelievers. And a small college in Berkeley, California, may become the new battleground in America's uneasy relationship with Islam."
After briefly discussing the college, Jansing turned to the mosque: "Do you understand the unease among many Americans, and we are seeing a lot of it come out with this mosque controversy?" After denouncing opponents of the project, Hanson defended the imam involved: "Feisal Abdul Rauf, who's the imam there, is an extremely gentle person and to frame him as an extremist means that the whole community is mad...these are people that have spent their life in interfaith dialogue..." Rauf claimed the United States was an "accessory" to the September 11th attacks during a September 2001 60 Minutes interview on CBS.
Appearing in the 2:00PM ET hour on MSNBC, New York Daily News reporter Samuel Goldsmith cited a poll featured on the paper's website, about opposition to the Ground Zero mosque: "[it] shows that 70% of New Yorkers say that they think the opposition is out of hatred and religious intolerance."
Unfortunately, Goldsmith forgot to mention that it was a completely unscientific poll that only appeared within articles on the topic and allowed people to potentially vote numerous times. The slanted poll question read: "Is opposition to the building of a mosque near Ground Zero intolerant?" The three responses offered were: "Yes, it's pure religious bigotry against Muslims; No, you can be against because it dishonors victims of Sept. 11; Maybe, but the sensitive thing to do is to move it further from the WTC site."
Goldsmith touted the Daily News poll after anchor Jeff Rossen cited a scientific poll on the issue: "A new Siena College poll suggests – and we actually have the results right here – that 63% of New Yorkers oppose this Islamic center. Only 23% support it." After promoting the unreliable online poll, Goldsmith argued: "...there's a lot of voices coming out....It's hard to really get a grasp of what the public opinion is, I think."
Not only did MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell hail President Obama's support of the Ground Zero mosque as "politically courageous," but she seemed disappointed when, on the next day, he walked back his comments a bit. On both her Monday and Tuesday MSNBC news hours, Mitchell seemed to emphasize that Obama once again kowtowed to the conservative media on an issue he was originally on the right side of.
Mitchell told Chuck Todd that Obama's remarks at the iftar dinner in support of the mosque were "politically courageous, in terms of domestic politics." She then asked why Obama then changed his tone the next day. She used the "politically courageous" phrase again, later on the show.
Chuck Todd, meanwhile, labeled the story as one "that was basically a creation of the conservative blogosphere in many ways."
As the anchor of MSNBC's noon news hour, Contessa Brewer could not openly advocate for supporters of gay marriage – but she definitely seemed to give generous credence to their views on Thursday and Friday. Furthermore, she made snide comments about opponents of same-sex marriage, providing an opposition to their arguments but not seriously questioning proponents of same-sex marriage.
Brewer obviously has strong views on this particular issue, and as a news anchor seems to have trouble keeping her personal opinions out of her news desk duties. In the little time allotted during each show to the same-sex marriage debate, Brewer hosted three pro same-sex marriage guests and none from the opposition.
MSNBC's Cenk Uygur railed against the Tea Party on Friday, attacking their members as the "cancerof the Republican Party." The liberal radio host was completing his final day as guest anchor of the 3pm hour of News Live.
During each show's program he would offer three short commentaries railing against conservatism or President Obama for not being liberal enough.
Uygur, the host of the liberal Young Turks radio show, asserted that the Tea Party will "kill" Republicans after 2010, allowing that the midterms might result in a "slight bump up for the GOP." In contrast, the Cook Report currently predicts a 32 to 42 seat pickup for the Republicans in the House.
MSNBC News Live guest host Cenk Uygur on Wednesday railed against opposition to gay marriage, asserting that conservatives "fought against women's rights and they lost. They fought against civil rights for blacks and they lost." He also touted the supposed moral superiority of liberals, lecturing, "This country is fundamentally progressive." [MP3 audio here.]
To bolster this case, Uygur quoted Marting Luther King: "'Cause as a very smart man once said in the middle of another civil rights battle, 'The arc of history bends towards justice.'" Yet, liberals hardly have a spotless record when it comes to human rights.
In 1972, Jane Fonda famously parroted communist propaganda while sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun. Many progressives have also fawned over the communist murderer Che Guevara.
Today I am thinking about all the reasons William K. Black detests me. Last Tuesday, I reported how MSNBC promoted the findings of June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, co-authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, without acknowledging their affiliation with the Roosevelt Institute, a left-wing think tank. On Friday, Black, associate professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, devoted almost 1,500 words, in an article cross-posted to the Huffington Post, to assaulting my character, dismissing me as a "divider," positing that I "have unresolved difficulties with gays," and claiming I have "sex fantasies" about the book.
Black, pictured from an April 30 appearance on PBS's Bill Moyers Journal, is also Carbone's husband.
During live news coverage this afternoon, MSNBC's Chris Jansing demonstrated her apparent ignorance of the statistical maxim "correlation does not imply causation." Interviewing the authors of Red Families v. Blue Families, the daytime anchor gleefully reported the finding that states that voted Republican in the 2008 presidential election have higher rates of divorce, teen pregnancy, and unwed parenthood than states that voted for Barack Obama.
"You've heard the term a lot – 'family values' – but are they actually breaking up families?" the daytime anchor inquired enthusiastically. "According to one book, the so-called liberal blue states actually have more stable family units than culturally conservative red states."
Presenting the findings as a nonpartisan analysis of statistical data, Jansing omitted the fact that the authors, June Carbone and Naomi Cahn, are contributors to New Deal 2.0, a blog of the left-wing Roosevelt Institute designed to "discuss how the Great Recession has exposed the fault lines of traditional family values."
Writing for New Deal 2.0 on March 1, Carbone and Cahn lectured:
Newsbusters reported earlier on the double standard of MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer on reporters appearing at fundraisers. During the same news hour, Brewer simply couldn't understand the Republican position on extending the Bush tax cuts for all taxpayers, and jokingly wondered if the Republicans are even human.
"What I don't get is a lot of the people who are shouting about letting these tax cuts expire...are the same people who are shouting about the deficit, and how troubling it is that the national debt is skyrocketing," Brewer pouted. "And you can't have it both ways."
Russert then pretty much confirmed where the news anchor stands on the issue, noting that it's "an argument that a lot of Democrats are saying."
On Monday's News Live, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer expressed incredulity at the revelation that journalist Andrew Breitbart will be appearing at a Republican fundraiser. "I mean, really? Is he going to be a good fund-raiser for the Republicans?"
Reporter Richard Wolffe lectured, "Because if he is that much of a political activist that he is raising money for the RNC, then he is not quite the journalist he describes himself as."
Yet, those exact words could be put to Brewer. On July 24, she was the featured guest at a fundraiser in Kentucky for gay rights. This despite the fact that the anchor has also reported on gay rights for MSNBC. On the July 12 News Live, she wondered why American politicians weren't "taking a stand" on ending Don't Ask, Don't tell.
For two days in a row on her noontime news hour, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer worried aloud about the White House bowing to the wishes of the conservative media on the Shirley Sherrod case, describing it as "towing to right-wingers."
"In some ways, it makes it look like the White House is kowtowing to right-wingers here, Mike," Brewer told MSNBC correspondent Mike Viqueira Wednesday as she was addressing the Shirley Sherrod case and what the White House's role was in her firing. The next day, after discussing the apologies by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilisack, Brewer asked the same question.
"So what does it say then about how conservative cable controversies influence the White House?" Brewer asked liberal Washington Post editorialist Jonathan Capehart.
Apparently not grasping the public's growing unease with Barack Obama's big government/big debt approach to the economy, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Thursday touted as admirable how the President and Democrats in Congress have "passed job extension benefits again and again. They passed a big health care reform bill that's gonna lower health care costs."
Highlighting the passage of the Democratic agenda, she continued, "They’ve had stimulus spending. They have sent more money to small community banks." Fretting about polls showing declining support for Obama, she demanded to know: "What else do people want the President and Congress to do?"
Operator, oh could you help me place this call? You see the number on the matchbook is old and faded. Jim Croce, 'Operator,' 1972
The Obama administration, the folks that want to run our health care and who knows how much else of our economy and our lives, can't get a simple phone call through to one of its former officials.
In this afternoon's press conference, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly said that the Obama administration, through the person of its Agriculture Secretary, has tried but failed to have a phone conversation with Shirley Sherrod, the USDA official it forced out yesterday.
Reporting Thursday from Capitol Hill, MSNBC congressional correspondent Luke Russert touted a likely win for Senate Democrats on the Financial Reform Bill, saying it would be a "huge victory."
"Obviously, [President Obama] ran on the slogan 'Change you can believe in,' with health care reform and financial regulatory reform," Russert commented, thus tying the passage of the financial reform bill with success of Obama's message of "change."
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer, who on Monday argued that overturning Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a "civil rights issue," will appear at a July 24 fundraiser in Kentucky to support gay rights in the state.
According to a press release: "As the evening’s featured guest, MSNBC’s Brewer, who has several family ties to Kentucky, will speak on the need for a statewide anti-discrimination Fairness law in the Commonwealth from a national news perspective."
On Monday's News Live, Brewer implored, "My big question today: Why aren't more American leaders itching for a fight on gay rights?" She also said of ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell, "Is it time for our American leaders to stand up for what's right and no matter what public opinion polls say to have the leadership and the courage to take a stand on it?"
Recovery summer just keeps getting better and better. News outlets such as MSNBC.com announce "New jobless claims drop sharply." Although the unadjusted data reflect an actual increase, the media are reporting a seasonally adjusted drop of 21,000 in jobless claims.
When it comes to Barack Obama, MSNBC is the network of thrills and chills . . .
Chris Matthews famously felt a thrill going up his leg listening to an Obama speech. Now, MSNBC anchor Alex Witt has been similarly moved by Obamian oratory, declaring this morning "I got a few chills" listening to PBO's "very powerful" speech on immigration.
Witt described her sensations to MSNBC DC bureau chief Mark Whitaker.
In covering Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, CNN and MSNBC have repeatedly lauded the Supreme Court nominee for her "flashes of humor" and "disarming ease."
In tune with the reverberations of the network morning shows' echo chamber, correspondents like CNN's Dana Bash and anchors like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday praised Kagan for her ability to inject humor into otherwise "hollow and vapid" hearings and charm hostile Republican senators into docility.
"But just on a color note, what struck me, Candy, has been the way Elena Kagan has tried to use a sense of humor to really disarm the senators, particularly Republicans," noted Bash.
Maddow's guest, Dahlia Lithwick of the liberal Slate magazine, gushed over Kagan's "gut-wrenching" sense of humor, her masterful ability to balance "seriousness and levity and humor," and her "disarming and charming and kind of likeable" personality.
"A likeable liberal. Dear me, I know," quipped Maddow.
Chris Matthews keeps painting the Elena Kagan confirmation hearing as a "culture war" between the Obama nominee and the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Newsbusters reported yesterday, Chris Matthews seemed to spin Monday's standoff between Sessions and Kagan as a battle between the senator's rural, unsophisticated Alabama roots and Kagan's Northeastern liberal academic background.
Well, Matthews showed up in even finer form today. Describing Kagan as a liberal Obama prototype from the "high academia" of the Ivy League, Matthews proceeded to frame her opponent, Sen. Jeff Sessions, as the voice of the Confederacy.
Remarking that the hearing has become like a "red state-blue state" battle, Matthews claimed that "listening to Jeff Sessions is to listen to the, really, the Confederacy; to listen to, really the conservative view of the Deep South."
Matthews also oddly added that Republicans want to make Kagan into a "voodoo doll" (repeating himself from the night before), an image associated more readily with New Orleans, Louisiana, than Sessions' boyhood town of Hybart, Alabama.
A liberal panel led by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews injected sexism into the Kagan confirmation hearings on Tuesday morning, suggesting that Republican senators should curtail the tenacity of their questioning because the Supreme Court nominee happens to be a woman.
Invoking the Clarence Thomas hearings, which focused on the testimony of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of making inappropriate sexual comments, Matthews asked, "Am I wrong in hearing flashes here of the Anita Hill testimony way back when in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings?"
Despite the absence of a sexual scandal, Matthews persisted with the bizarre analogy: "Are we past the sensitivity about a male member of the Senate grilling a female?"
The "Hardball" host failed to clarify exactly who in 2010 is sensitive about male senators posing tough but legitimate questions to a woman nominated to the nation's highest court.
Only 70 minutes after Barack Obama explained his decision to fire General Stanley McChrystal, Wednesday, MSNBC turned to leftist host Ed Schultz for analysis. Schultz gushed that the decision proved that the President is "brilliant on the basics." He enthused, "Well, as commander in chief, I think it's probably President Obama's finest hour," because it displayed toughness.
Host Tamron Hall knocked McChrystal, referencing his role in the investigation of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death. She derided, "So, we know that McChrystal has a lot of, if you will, Xs on his report card."
Contessa Brewer got a lot more than she was likely looking for when she interviewed Col. Jack Jacobs [ret.] this afternoon about the McChrystal situation. The MSNBC host wanted to focus on the impropriety of McChrystal publicly airing his criticisms of Pres. Obama and others in the chain of command.
But while the Medal of Honor recipient readily agreed that McChrystal was out of line, and would probably pay with his job, Jacobs also went out of his way—twice—to add an inconvenient truth: that when it comes to the substance of the criticism, most in the military think McChrystal "was right."
If you take MSNBC's Luke Russert's words at face value, you would think the Democrats are going to win big this November–all thanks to Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) comments on the Obama administration's treatment of BP, and their "shakedown" of the company via the escrow fund.
"A lot of Democrats see this as the ammunition they need to directly tie the Republican Party with that of big oil," Russert summarized.
Barton expressed his disapproval at the hearing for the White House's treatment of BP in forcing them to agree to the $20 billion escrow fund, calling it a "shakedown." MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer was visibly irritated during her news hour with the statement, and Russert called it a "really big blunder."
However, as NewsBusters reported, MSNBC's own Ed Schultz was ecstatic yesterday over the very actions of the White House, and spoke positively of the "shakedown."
In a satellite interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) held shortly before 1 p.m. EDT today, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer criticized Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for denouncing the president for pushing BP to agree to a $20-billion escrow account for oil spill damages as a "shakedown":
So, there's Joe Barton calling the $20 billion in escrow a shakedown, and as you point out, there are people in your district who have lost their livelihoods! They wonder how they can feed their families!
But yesterday, Brewer's MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz used similar language to voice his giddy approval of President Obama's maneuvering [video embedded at right and available as WMV file here]:
When asked what President Obama needs to do to prove to Americans that his administration is on top of the Gulf cleanup, Ed Schultz pressed that the President needs to call the shots and go "dictator" in his dealings with BP.
"I think the President has to make it very clear to the American people tonight, Chris, that we're not going to be stuck with the bill on this," Schultz said about the BP oil spill.
"When does the President become a dictator on this?" Schultz asked in an outburst. "When does the President start really calling the shots and saying 'This is the number. This is what you're going to pay. We're not going to let you off the hook.'?"
He sternly warned that BP will do its level best to escape having to pay the full cost of the oil spill cleanup, and implored the President to be frank with BP in demanding that they pay full restitution.
In the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall did a news brief on Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge assaulting two students attempting to ask him a question last week, proclaiming: "...there are some Democrats that are blasting the people allegedly behind this video....some would catagorize that as an ambush interview..." [Audio available here]
Hall played a clip of the video showing the assault and afterwards quoted an written apology from Etheridge. She described how the video "first appeared on Andrew Breitbart's conservative blog BigGovernment.org," remarking that he "was partly responsible for that notorious ACORN video featuring conservative James O'Keefe." Hall made sure to also mention that "O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering Senator Mary Landrieu's office under false pretenses." Hall then suspiciously noted about the Etheridge video: "One of these so-called camera men at one point reportedly identified himself as a student, so there's discrepancy over who these individuals really are."
In the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing spoke with NBC correspondent Luke Russert about the altercation and explained to viewers: "...in spite of the fact of what we see on camera and his apology, there are Democrats, right Luke, who frankly say they think that we need to look beyond what might seem obvious." Russert replied: "...nobody knows who these, quote, 'students' are" and cited Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse claiming they were actually Republican Party operatives. He concluded: "So a lot of Democrats are saying wait, hold on, this was a set up. This guy was intentionally put out to do this by the Republican Party."
During the 11AM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer discussed open mic comments made by senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina with Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim and remarked that the California Republican has "the 'Mean Girls' mentality" and "comes off like that Lindsay Lohan movie 'Mean Girls.'"
Hall was referring to Fiorina making fun of Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer's hairstyle on air before a television interview on Wednesday. Grim completely agreed with Hall's assessment: "Oh yeah, absolutely. It makes her look terrible. It doesn't put her in a very good light." Though he added: "But it's not something so extreme that it's going to annihilate her."
Earlier, Grim actually observed that Fiorina "really did dodge a bullet here." He explained: "...what she said isn't going to disqualify her from election. It makes her look a little bit silly, a little bit petty, but it's not going to be something that destroys her candidacy or her career like you had with somebody like Helen Thomas a week or so ago."