What does it say about Sarah Palin that some of my favorite targets, um, subjects raved about her this morning? Andrea Mitchell and Mika Brzezinski could hardly have been more complimentary, Tom Brokaw and Jay Carney chipping in with positive comments.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Here was a novice on the national scene, with the lowest of expectations. People said sure, she'll be able to perform. But it was an amazing, amazing speech in terms of the way it connected to people. I talked to people afterwards on the floor, a lot of women. One woman from California who said it didn't matter that she, this woman delegate, is pro-choice. She said "I'm a mom. I've got three kids at home. And I see myself up there." And she's connecting to her. She said "I did not think this was a good choice until I heard that speech." Now this is admittedly a select audience of very passionate and very conservative Republican delegates. But I think there is a broader audience for this out there. I think it was an extraordinary debut.
When NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd passed along comments from Dem strategists suggesting the speech might have been "a little too hot" for swing voters, Andrea and Mika actually rode to Palin's defense.
Subtract the subdued demeanor and the good tailoring, and how much difference is there between Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann? Take Williams' post-Palin speech analysis. Was the Nightly News anchor suggesting Palin's appeal is rooted in racism? He certainly made a clarion call to his fellow MSMers to keep up the good fight against her. Ann Curry interviewed a woman delegate who described Palin as "the American woman . . . who's had all the experiences that we have."
When it came Williams' turn to comment, he twisted the delegate's words into an invidious comparison between Palin and Barack Obama. Williams seemed perhaps to be suggesting Palin was appealing to racism.
Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann began to poignantly patch things up two nights ago. But there's clearly still mucho trabajo to be done to heal the rift between Joe Scarborough and the temperamental Countdown host. Readers will recall that during the Dem convention, Olbermann was caught [accidentally on purpose?] on an open mic suggesting Scarborough "get a shovel" for his failure to toe a sufficiently pro-Obama line.
On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough took a thinly-veiled shot at Olbermann for the way he tried to keep Republican analyst Mike Murphy off the air, and then tried to pull the plug ["let's wrap him up, alright?"] when Murphy eventually made it into an interview with Chris Matthews.
Pat Buchanan was the sole voice on today's opening-hour panel to opine that Fred Thompson had done a good job with his speech last night. In contrast, Scarborough suggested Thompson had been flat. Pat expressed his feelings of alienation as the show was going to a break. It was then that Joe and Mika let Buchanan know that—in contrast with other MSNBC venues—dissident voices were welcome on Morning Joe.
On Tuesday's "Morning Joe," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter appeared as a guest for a discussion about Governor Sarah Palin's pregnant 17 year old daughter, Bristol. Alter defended the media's actions in heavily reporting on the pregnancy, saying of the Palin's: "This, to quote the Godfather, this is the business they have chosen."
Alter also defended the media's lack of reporting on former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards's affair. The columnist argued that Edwards was no longer running for president when the scandal broke and therefore the media was right in avoiding stories on it. However, in regards to Governor Palin, Alter scoffed, "They know it's all gonna come out if they're running for president or vice president. If they don't want it to come out they shouldn't get in the ring, I hate to tell you that." It seems Alter forgot that Edwards's affair began in 2006 according to his own admission, just before Edwards announced his candidacy for president. Nevertheless, as Joe Scarborough pointed out, Edwards was going to play a big role at the Democratic National Convention and was even slated to speak when the story broke. But Alter stuck with his argument that Edwards's affair was not as newsworthy as Bristol's pregnancy.
No, not Chris Matthews to Keith Olbermann. That media odd couple have already begun to kiss and make up. Instead, it was Joe Scarborough who authored the line this morning, directing it at Obama spokesman Mark Bubriski. The cause of Joe's ire was this email statement Bubriski released to the Miami Herald [emphasis added]:
Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer.
The Morning Joe crew was unanimous in roundly condemning the Obama campaign tactic, rallying around Buchanan, one of its own, who was present on the set. Bubriski was riffing off a similar allegation made by Bob Wexler, a south Florida Dem congressman.
View video here. It's perhaps the longest video clip I've posted, but hope you'll agree the content justifies the length. Joe unleashes on Bubriski [calling him a "jackass" for good measure] three minutes in.
Peggy Noonan made a serious point about MSNBC's slanted coverage, and I suppose seriousness compels me to mention it first. But please do yourself a favor and stay tuned for the description of Peggy's un-PC laugh line that could be the best guilty pleasure of the campaign season. Joe Scarborough opened today's Morning Joe with an ode to the wonderfulness that was Obama last night. He was entirely in tune with Olbermann's claim that the speech was beyond criticism. All the adoration apparently annoyed Peggy, and she made a point of providing a counterweight when she appeared later in the show.
PEGGY NOONAN: Well, it was a bit of a "flop-a-lini" to tell you the truth.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Wow!
NOONAN: There were things about it that didn't work. Six months from now we're all going to remember the event. We're going to remember the Parthenon, the 60,000 people, the confetti shot out of the cannon. We're going to remember all that. We will not, I think, remember what he said. I think there was simply a number of problems with it . . . I'm actually putting a little edge on my criticism just to make up for the fact that on MSNBC last night somebody said, quote, "it wasn't a speech: it was a symphony." I'm sorry; I won't even name who did it. I am here to balance that bit of fatuous -- fatuous suck-upping!
It's Day 4 of the Democratic convention and MSNBC just can't get over the lack of "red meat" thrown to the party faithful. Commentator Pat Buchanan raised the issue during the 7:00 hour of this morning's "Morning Joe" while critiquing Bill Clinton's convention speech, noting that John McCain and the Republicans "skated free for this convention" and calling the current crop of Democrats "a yuppified party" when compared to Democrats in the past. Host Joe Scarborough continued the red meat theme into the 8:00 hour when he stated "We've been critical this week of the Democrats, Buchanan and I, because we're mean-spirited Republicans saying that the Democrats needed to go more aggressively against George Bush's eight years of failure, tying McCain to Bush."
Scarborough provided a deli-menu's worth of meat to any Democrats watching that could be used against Republicans in general and John McCain specifically. He bragged, "in ten seconds I could write a speech and say, what do you say about a party that comes to Washington, takes it over, promises to balance the budget and turns Bill Clinton's $150 billion surplus into a $500 billion debt? What do you say about a party that says they are going to fight for our children when in fact they are bankrupting the American dream?"
The blow-up that is occurring on MSNBC is beginning to draw attention from media members including the former co-anchor of the "CBS Evening News" Connie Chung who advised those involved in the on air squabbles to "just grow up!"
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal published a recap of the skirmishes that NewsBusters has been reporting all week.
In a piece entitled "MSNBC Anchors' Fights Go Live," the Journal's Rebecca Dana sought out Chung's opinion of what's going on at her former network (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser, photo courtesy WSJ):
Update | 10: 30 AM: Scarborough acknowledges Biden's 'F' rating. At 8:36 AM EDT, Joe said that "a blog" had attacked him, noting Biden's 'F' rating from gun owners. View video here, which also contains Chuck Todd's statement that even Dems acknowledge Biden's speech "wasn't great."
Joe Scarborough and the rest of the Morning Joe crew actually had my sympathy this morning. Amidst all the infighting at MSNBC, including demands for Joe's head in Olbermann-friendly circles, one could sense that the panel was on its best behavior. During the opening hour, a subdued David Shuster—who had openly fought with Joe just two days ago—was there, but just barely. A conciliatory Scarborough could not have been more enthusiastic in his praise for yesterday's DNC proceedings, from Bill's speech to the historic fact of the nomination of an African-American.
But if my impulse is to cut the Morning Joe folks some slack today, I have to draw the line at the whopper Joe got off at 6:45 AM, in which he claimed that Biden's presence on the ticket will help reassure gun owners that Obama won't take their weapons.
Click on the image to the right to see what Joe had to say, then compare it with Biden's record on gun ownership. As you'll see, the contrast couldn't be more stark.
Pay close attention to Joe Biden's words tonight. During an appearance on this morning's "Morning Joe" Bill Adair, Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times and editor of politifact.com, implied that Barack Obama's running mate is not always truthful. Adair told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that "from a fact-checker's standpoint, we should be grateful to Joe Biden" because he is "full employment for fact checkers."
Brzezinski asked Adair about "the most outrageous statement" by Biden and Adair pointed to Biden's soundbite in which he says John McCain votes with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time. He discredited it, along with a charge from Hillary Clinton's speech last night about John McCain desire to privatize social security, "I thought, well, in terms of Biden, the 95% is just something where you've got to understand that that's sort of the worse case scenario. He's cherry picking. 95% was last year. Last night one of the things that Senator Clinton said that we'll hear a lot is John McCain wants to privatize social security. We heard it from several of the other speakers last night. You know, that's a real exaggeration. McCain is actually really vague and fuzzy on social security."
Biden's "95 percent of the time" charge may be the "worst-case scenario" but the fact remains that people should pay close attention to what Biden says tonight.
Keith Olbermann has forgotten the figure-skating judge's cardinal rule: be sparing in the marks you award early contestants, to leave room for the favorites who perform at the end. After his gushing appraisals of Michelle Obama's and Hillary's convention speeches, how can Olbermann possibly top it in his praise of Biden's and Obama's to come?
Mixing metaphors here, let's compare the baseball scoring the Morning Joe crew gave Hillary's speech at show-opening today with Olbermann's assessment of last night. As you'll see, they range from solid single to Keith's grand slam. As for utility infielder Mark Warner's "keynote": has he considered giving up baseball and taking up knitting?
Tensions are running high at MSNBC, at least surrounding veteran host Joe Scarborough who seems to be increasingly discontented at his network's decision to market itself as the cable net of choice for Bush haters. That hasn't sat well with the likes of the far left Keith Olbermann who has played a large role in getting MSNBC to pursue this strategy
The Democratic convention seems to have only exacerbated those tensions. Last night saw Olbermann caught on an open mic blurting out profane disgust at Scarborough, prompting the latter to verbally call him out while fellow MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews sat back mortified at the intra-family dispute.
Things don't appear to have been smoothed over either as Scarborough was involved in another altercation this morning with liberal correspondent David Shuster on today's "Morning Joe." Scarborough ultimately accused Shuster and his MSNBC colleagues of being Democrats, their independent political registrations notwithstanding. (Exchange happens at 2:15 in video to the right.)
If the aphorism de mortuis nil nisi bonum instructs us to speak only good of people who have passed away, perhaps there is a corrollary applicable to those dealing with a dread disease. While I am thus somewhat reluctant to do so, I cannot let pass without comment Mike Barnicle's words about Ted Kennedy on today's Morning Joe.
MIKE BARNICLE: Last night when he came out, it was clearly a bittersweet experience. There was a tinge of sadness to it, to be frank about it. He's an enormously courageous man . . . You know, I've encountered very few people of my life, Joe, who are more extraordinarily attunedto others who are in pain. Whether it's physical pain, whether it's something caused by an illness. Whether it's an accident of fate, whether it's something that has befallen them, some tragedy of any sort. He is uniquely equipped to reach out to people who are hurt and damaged.
Linda Douglass, the former ABC News reporter and current senior advisor to the Obama campaign, lashed out at John McCain and Mitt Romney by labeling them “extremely conservative on social issues” in an interview on Saturday’s “Morning Joe.” Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski failed to point out that liberals like Obama can be extreme in their views on social issues, too.
After Douglass repeatedly played up the foreign policy experience of Obama’s chosen running mate Sen. Joe Biden, Brzezinski asked Douglass about Biden’s experience in dealing with economic issues, especially if Romney, known for being well-versed in economic issues were to become McCain’s running mate. Douglass touted Biden’s experience with economic policy before inexplicably twisting her answer to include abortion.
You know the old software programmer's excuse: "that's not a bug. That's a feature!" John Harwood of CNBC/NYT has produced a political variation on the theme to buff up Joe Biden. Biden's gaffes, including the racially-insensitive ones, are actually . . . "a strength."
Harwood was chatting with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on a special Morning Joe edition today, and the topic of Biden's famous "clean and articulate" comment about Obama arose. Biden also made headlines of course with his crack about 7-11s being populated by people with Indian accents.
JOHN HARWOOD: He is not somebody who is infused with political correctness, the verbal equivalent of putting his pinky up when he opens his mouth. So this is what, the way ordinary voters are as well. They're not always worried about sort of calibrating every single word by "ooh, is this racially insensitive?" That's something that Joe Biden brings as an asset to the ticket. The gaffes actually show one of his strengths.
Andrea Mitchell's floating of the Obama-camp accusation that John McCain cheated by overhearing Obama's responses at the Saddleback forum, as NewsBuster D.S. Hube reported, isn't the first time the NBC correspondent has made herself propagator-in-chief of Obama's conspiracy theories. As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has now written NBC to protest Mitchell's behavior. Here's an excerpt from his letter to NBC News president Steve Capus [emphasis added]:
[I]nstead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.
In asserting a "pattern" of such behavior by Mitchell, what did Davis have in mind? Almost surely it included a very similar stunt that Mitchell pulled in connection with Obama's cancellation of his planned visit to injured troops while in Germany for his speech in Berlin. As I noted here at the time, Mitchell passed along the Obama camp's unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that McCain had pulled strings with Pentagon buddies to have them withdraw permission for the visit.
Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
When Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times since 1993, recently charged in his column that the Republican Party deliberately targets black Democrats using ads featuring attractive white women to exploit racial resentment, and claimed as proof that the GOP does not run such ads against opponents who are white, the liberal columnist could have disproved this thesis by consulting a 1994 article in the paper he writes for regarding that year's Virginia Senate race involving former Senator Charles Robb, a white Democrat. The New York Times article, titled "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE AD CAMPAIGN; The Senate Race in Virginia: Robb and North Trade Barbs," from October 15, 1994, describes an ad run by Republican Oliver North's campaign depicting the Playboy cover image of Tai Collins, a young blonde with whom Democrat Robb was romantically linked. (Transcript follows)
Warning: excessive adulation of Barack Obama is harmful to the vision and can in extreme cases cause hallucinations.
We're all familiar with how an Obamania overdose produced strange tingling sensations in Chris Matthews. A new, virulent strain of the affliction has now emerged, claiming its first victim in the person of Bob Herbert, who on live national TV saw visions of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Washington Monument where none existed.
The NYT columnist, a guest on today's Morning Joe, expanded on the theory set forth in his column of this past Saturday, Running While Black, that the McCain campaign ad mocking Obama as a Paris Hilton/Britney Spears-type celebrity was actually "designed to exploit" racist anxiety about black men and white women. Herbert lumped the McCain ad with the "call me" ad the RNC ran against Harold Ford, Jr. in his Tennessee senate race.
It was in describing the McCain ad that Herbert's symptoms surfaced.
Thank you, Andrea Mitchell. No, really, I mean it. Thank you for providing some of the clearest evidence yet of just how much the press corps following Barack Obama has blinders on for its man. Mitchell has let it be known that "the people covering the campaign" don't think Obama played the race card with his currency crack. Andrea appeared on Morning Joe today just before 8 AM EDT.
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Andrea, excuse me for a minute. How can it be self-deprecating when he says, when Barack Obama says, that John McCain's camp is going to say "I look different"? Or when he says they're going to try to scare you because I'm black. How is that--because I've heard "self-deprecating" a couple times--how in the hell is that self-deprecating?
David Shuster surely knows better. Wherever you come down on the issue of who's playing the race card, one thing is glaringly, blindingly, incandescently obvious: when Barack Obama says McCain will point out Obama doesn't look like the other guys on the currency, the Dem candidate is doing much more than making the innocuous point that he is the first black major-party presidential nominee. Yet that is precisely how Shuster chose to misinterpret Obama's remark on today's "Morning Joe." Fortunately, Tiki Barber was there to run to daylight through the gaping hole in Shuster's line of logic.
The show began with a clip of Obama intoning his stock line that Bush and McCain will try to "make you scared of me" by pointing out, among other things, "he dudn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills. You know?"
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees it fall, did it really fall? If a supporter of a campaign scores a vitriolic tune and nobody reports the lyrics, does the song matter? MSNBC hopes not.
On the July 31st "Morning Joe" during the "News You Can't Use" segment, co-host Willie Geist brought attention to a recent rap song penned by platinum selling rapper and Barack Obama supporter, Ludacris . The song calls for Senator John McCain to be paralyzed. Geist first attempted to down play the hate-filled nature of the song by saying "I think it's an actual controversy. Isn't it? Some are saying it is."
Geist proceeded to play only a short non-offensive part of the song. Guest-host David Shuster agreed that the tame lyrics MSNBC selectively showcased were "pretty good."
Disclaimer: Yes, Joe and Chris. We know Jim was joking.
Money maven Jim Cramer is a self-described Democrat, one who idolized Lenin back in his Harvard days [Cramer's, not Lenin's] and was on the verge of tears over the downfall of his old college buddy Eliot Spitzer. But one Dem not high on Cramer's list is Jimmy Carter, so much so that Cramer feigned dismay to be informed that—contrary to his [tongue-in-cheek] belief—the former president is still among the living.
The host of CNBC's "Mad Money," a guest on today's Morning Joe, was buoyant about the economy, saying the surge in oil prices is over and that happier, if not downright happy, days are ahead. It was when he cautioned people about being sure not to exceed FDIC insurance limits on their bank deposits that Carter came up . . .
On the July 30 "Morning Joe" esteemed New York Times list best-selling author Pete Hamill filled in as a co-host and with one extremely blockheaded statement proved once and for all that very smart people can say very stupid things. The former editor-in-chief of the New York Post tried to pin defeat in Vietnam on John McCain.
Hamill delivered the obtuse statement at the end of a discussion about Barack Obama's hubris. That talk was centered on a Washington Post article that claimed Barack Obama opined "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
Chuck Todd has some advice for John McCain: embrace Ted Stevens' demise. The NBC News political director made his suggestion in the course of kibitzing McCain campaign strategy with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.
CHUCK TODD: Joe, why isn't McCain jumping on this Ted Stevens thing? He hated Ted Stevens.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: He did!
TODD: He should be dancing on this guy's political grave today. This is the John McCain Republican party versus the Ted Stevens Republican party. And he ought to be, he ought to be gloating today. And he's not touched it.
UPDATE: The original version of this item reported Joe Scarborough's statement, as transcribed below, that there were no Republicans on his MSNBC staff, with executive producer Chris Licht confirming Joe's assertion. Joe has been in touch to say he and Chris Licht were speaking tongue in cheek and that the remarks about there being no Republicans on the Morning Joe staff were a joke.
Mika Brzezinski is appalled to learn that the Bush Justice Department had a hiring preference for politically simpatico people. And Mika apparently believes Joe mischaracterizes her as a liberal.
The jumping off point on today's Morning Joe was Mika's reading of a news item on an article in today's New York Times about an internal Justice Department report concluding that "senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions." Scarborough saw this as SOP in Washington.
May he live to be 120, but when Bob Shrum eventually goes to his reward, his epitaph could read "Here lies Shrum. He thought he was great. But his presidential record . . . was 0-8."
After Shrum taunted Pat Buchanan on today's Morning Joe as "living on Mars" for supposedly overestimating the power of affirmative action as an issue, Pat fired back, reminding Shrum of his dubious lifetime achievement of having consulted on eight losing Dem presidential campaigns with nary a win.
Sure, the elite media might overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. But so what? That's apparently Mika Brzezinski's opinion. Check out the exchange between Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe today at 7:50 AM EDT, triggered by Scarborough's insider take on the MSM's adulation of Obama.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: OK, Willie, come on. We've got to call these people out. Because we know people that work in the media, print. I mean seriously, they are, Tucker had it right: they're like ninth-grade girls.
. . .
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I actually, really reject this love affair notion.
SCARBOROUGH: Come on.
BRZEZINSKI: What? I do.
SCARBOROUGH: Because you are absolutely drunk on the Kool-Aid.