It might not do John McCain any good politically. But once in a while, it's refreshing to hear an MSMer called out on political bias.
It happened this morning when John McCain told Mika Brzezinski "I know you're a supporter of Senator Obama." Mika resorted to her favorite defense to the bias charge, mentioning that she has a brother who works on the McCain campaign and asking the Arizona senator to "say hello" to him for her. Just for good measure, McCain called Mika's tactic "a cheap shot."
It was Mika's question about campaign ads that touched things off . . .
The woman introducing Joe Biden to a Michigan crowd yesterday called Sarah Palin a "bucket of fluff." Biden then told the crowd that Barack Obama is too smart and too well-educated to live in a Republican neighborhood. Now that the Dems have put Obama's smarts and education on the table, will the MSM demand Obama finally release his Columbia transcript?
But, OK, fine. Biden's put it out there. We know about Biden's academic record. And John McCain's far-from-stellar academics at the Naval Academy are well documented. Sarah Palin apparently moved around quite a bit in college. But there's one person about whom there is a very large lacuna when it comes to his academic record: one Barack Obama. His campaign has refused to release his Columbia University undergraduate transcript, the one upon which he was admitted to Harvard Law. Now that Biden has put smarts on the table, will the MSM demand that Obama come clean on Columbia?
Chris Matthews spent most of Monday night's "Hardball," laying out a blueprint for how Barack Obama can hit John McCain on the economy, as he compared the GOP presidential nominee to Herbert Hoover.
Opening the September 15 show, Matthews greeted viewers with the following teaser:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Why is John McCain talking like Herbert Hoover? Depression or just depressing? Let's play "Hardball."...Did John McCain really mean to say the "fundamentals of the economy are strong?" Herbert Hoover, who presided over The Great Depression, said quote, "the economy is fundamentally sound." So is it fundamentally good politics to say, with the stock market plunging, that things are hunky-dory?
Then, in the first segment, Matthews kept pressing Sen. Charles Schumer about why Obama wasn't being more aggressive against McCain on the economy:
On a day when markets are in turmoil, you might think that the role of an American president, current or aspiring, would be to assure his fellow citizens—and the world—that our economy is fundamentally strong.
That's what John McCain did. In contrast, Barack Obama suggested that the American economy is fundamentally weak. WaPo's Jonathan Capehart has declared Obama the winner of the exchange, for doing a better job in channeling the country's anxiety.
Click on image for video of McCain and Obama addressing the state of the economy on the stump today, and Capehart's commentary.
Decimate: 1. to destroy a great number or proportion of: the population was decimated by a plague. 2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.
Is that the definition of the post-partisan politics Barack Obama claims to be preaching? You know, the kind where there's no blue-state America or red-state America: just the United States of America? Maybe Chevy Chase didn't get the email. Appearing on Morning Joe today, Chase expressed his disappointment that Tina Fey didn't go after Sarah Palin harder in her SNL impersonation. Chase wanted to see Fey "decimate" the Republican VP candidate.
Chase was appearing to tout a charity auction he and wife Jayni are conducting to fund environmental education in the schools. See Bonus Coverage for a disturbing factoid Jayni let slip. Chase's call for blood came in response to Willie Geist's very first question.
But, incredibly, on today's Meet the Press Tom Brokaw used Brazile's line to confront Rudy Giuliani over comments in his GOP convention speech about Obama's community organizing. Brokaw went so far as to display a button [screencap after jump] bearing the phrase. The MTP host might just as well have been wearing it.
On the September 12 edition of Hardball, Chris Matthews so twisted what Governor Sarah Palin said in reply to Charlie Gibson's question about Israel's defense decisions that her reply is hardly recognizable in Matthews' hands. By slyly adding his own additions to Gibson's question and Palin's reply, Matthews attempted to make Palin look naive on the foreign policy question. In essence, Matthews lied about what Palin said.
Matthews made a knot out of Palin's words, like taking a straw and tying it in a knot. It's still a straw, but it is no longer useful for what it was intended. With his underhanded additions to Palin's answer, Matthews made her words no longer fit the situation.
Make it a trio of mindreaders at NBC/MSNBC. As noted here, yesterday Howard Fineman and David Shuster went Carnac on us, emphatically declaring that Barack Obama didn't have Sarah Palin in mind with his lipstick line. On this morning's Today, Andrea Mitchell joined her network stablemates [no pun intended!] in delving into Barack's brain and assuring us he meant no harm.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Barack Obama has been a punching-bag [aww] for a barrage of criticism from the McCain campaign. Charges that he slurred Sarah Palin when he said this about McCain and his change argument [cut to clip of Obama's lipstick line]. He was clearly talking about McCain, not Palin.
Well, guess that wraps it up. But wait. Over at Morning Joe, the group wasn't so forgiving, opining that Obama either did know, or should have known, the implications of what he was saying. Mika Brzezinski herself took the first shot.
Brand-new prime-time MSNBC star Rachel Maddow told the San Francisco Chronicle last week that while Republicans wanted gay people steam-rollered "out of the country," she thought the Democrats were worthless and weak. "I don’t think the Democrats have ever fought the culture war."
Chronicle media writer Joe Garofoli interviewed Maddow for a podcast from the Republican convention in St. Paul last Thursday. Maddow said Sarah Palin’s Wednesday night speech seemed drawn from Pat Buchanan’s 1992 address in Houston. Garofoli nudged the self-described lesbian into repeating her line "I was 19 and I felt my country was declaring war on me."
When asked the difference in the cultural battles between then and now, she replied: "At the time, I think the ascendant right wing was really looking to change America by steamrolling out of the country people they felt like were anathema to their idea of American values. Now I think there is a more self-conscious idea that they’re saying they want to do that, so as to create a divide in the electorate they can exploit for political gain."
Chris Matthews spent the entirety of Wednesday night's "Hardball," debunking the idea that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin, when he made his "lipstick on a pig," remark as the MSNBC host questioned if it "insults...everyone's intelligence?" But didn't Matthews insult his viewers' intelligence, on Monday, when he accused Palin and Rudy Giuliani of using coded racist language when they joked about Obama's experience as a "community organizer?"
At the top of Wednesday's show, Matthews invited on Republican strategist John Feehry and Democratic strategist Jenny Backus to discuss the topic, and hit Feehry hard, as he admitted to Backus: "I’m doing your job," and dismissed the "lipstick" controversy: "This is like Seinfeld, this is about nothing."
But on Monday's show Matthews, similarly, tried to make a big deal out of "nothing," when he saw racism in Palin and Giuliani using the words, "community organizer":
MATTHEWS: Rudy Giuliani got the biggest giggle out of that. And then, of course, Sarah, Sarah Palin did. They're giggling over the community organizer role as if it's, has, it carries more freight than just a job you once had. Is this the new "welfare queen?" Is this a new symbol, that we're talking about here?...Do you it has an ethnic piece, an urban piece even?
The following exchanges occurred on the September 10, "Hardball":
Tuesday's Countdown show on MSNBC showed a portion of Keith Olbermann's interview with Barack Obama in which the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that Obama was "just about 100 percent on the spot" in his predictions of the troop surge in Iraq, and downplayed the signficance of the reduction in the number of Iraqis who are the victims of violence. Olbermann: "Your predictions about the surge, your language about the surge seemed to have turned out to be just about 100 percent on the spot. ... If you are right, why have the Republicans and the conservative media been so effective in suggesting that you were wrong and somehow you need to atone for that?"
Ironically, during an interview with Olbermann on January 10, 2007, Obama had expressed his view that "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse." And in another irony, on Tuesday's show, Olbermann lambasted Sean Hannity as having "fantastically poor short-term memory" during the show's "Worst Person" segment because Hannity denied that anyone at FNC had suggested Obama was a Muslim, without mentioning that some FNC personalities had pushed stories about the possibility Obama had a Muslim background during childhood.
You could see this one coming. After Harry Smith called Sarah Palin "Geritol" for McCain, some MSM wag was sure to take things the next step. I'd say it just happened. NBC News DC bureau chief Mark Whitaker was chatting with Andrea Mitchell at 1:27 PM EDT today.
MARK WHITAKER: [People] want to see passion. They want to see that Obama, and the same thing is true of McCain, and we've seen him [show] a lot more passion since he picked Sarah Palin, it's definitely --
ANDREA MITCHELL: Someone described it as Geritol.
WHITAKER: Well, or something else. Put a little pep in his step!
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."
We now know the official Obama talking point on Lipstick-gate.
In the course of her Morning Joe appearance today, Obama spokeswoman Linda Douglass used the word "ridiculous" no fewer than six times to dismiss the controversy that has arisen since Obama said yesterday that you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig.
Click on the image at the right to view the edited video clip.
Douglass was an ostensibly objective reporter at the National Journal before jumping ship for Obama in the midst of this campaign season.
An Obama campaign spokeswoman opened today's Morning Joe with an aggressive defense of his lipstick line, arguing that Obama was being criticized "for saying something that John McCain has said before, that Barack Obama frequently says about 'you can dress something up.' He was talking about the Republican change argument."
A bit later, bolstering her argument, the spokeswoman described the conference call the McCain campaign arranged to respond to Obama's line. She pointed out that all the reporters asking questions on the call were women, and that all of them asked McCain representative Jane Swift "are you serious?" in alleging that Obama was alluding to Palin.
Concluding, the Obama spokeswoman argued that if read in context, "he's not talking about Sarah Palin." Oh, wait. That wasn't an Obama spokeswoman. It was Andrea Mitchell, sitting in for Mika Brzezinski.
Jacob Weisberg of Slate.com, and a contributor at Newsweek, told David Schuster of MSNBC yesterday that President Reagan would be “rolling over in his grave” if he knew that Sarah Palin brought her unwed pregnant daughter on to the stage with the family at the Republican National Convention.
I was shocked to see her unmarried pregnant teenage daughter on stage with the Republican nominee. It seemed to me that Ronald Reagan would be rolling over in his grave if he saw the Republicans embracing unwed motherhood this way. And I think, really, the issue there is about the pro-life absolutism that has come to dominate the party.
As everyone knows, conservatives are a distinctly disagreeable bunch. Mean-spirited knuckle-draggers, pretty much. It's therefore a shock to come across one who's actually likeable. At least if you're Chris Matthews.
Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, a guest on this evening's Hardball, observed that the Obama campaign hasn't quite decided how to go after Sarah Palin. The first line of attack was on the experience issue, but "now they're saying, OK, let's define her as a right-winger. You know, we'll talk about her views on creationism and some of these other extreme views." That elicited this from the Hardball host.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: She's got a lot of--they are pretty far over. For a person that seems very likeable and mellow, she doesn't look like a political zealot.
On Monday, Fox News's John Gibson gave credit to NewsBusters for the demotions of Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann from their positions as co-anchors of MSNBC's election and debate coverage.
On Sunday, MSNBC announced that NBC's David Gregory would be replacing them in this role, and that they would continue as on-air analysts.
The following day, Gibson, who is a staunch detractor of Matthews and Olbermann, took what he referred to as a "Victory Lap," and gave credit to a number of websites for their hard work in continually exposing the over-the-top bias regularly exhibited by this pair (audio available here courtesy our good friend Johnny Dollar, relevant section at 7:00):
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged conservative talk radio hosts Mark Levin and Sean Hannity as "lunatic right-wing" hosts, and Hannity as "not-so-smart." Responding to a recent joke Levin made on Hannity's radio show that the National Organization for Women is really the "National Organization of Ugly Women," Olbermann called Levin's show "psychotic" and charged that the conservative host "knows his ugly."
The MSNBC host's attacks on Hannity and Levin came during the Countdown show's regular "Best Persons" segment, which, contrary to its name, often includes people Olbermann means to be attacking, similarly to the show's "Worst Person" segment. Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Monday, September 8, Countdown show on MSNBC:
Tom Brokaw had his Pauline Kael moment on MSNBC this morning. Though the story might be apocryphal, the late New Yorker film critic is famously credited with saying she was shocked by Nixon's 1972 victory, since everybody she knew had voted for McGovern.
Here's Brokaw on today's "Morning Joe," discussing the importance of the upcoming debates.
TOM BROKAW: Debates should be judged on two big counts: tonal and substance. You know, are you comfortable with this person? Look, everybody believes that on debating points, John Kerry probably beat George Bush, the 43rd, the last time around. But people liked Bush.
On Monday, The Boston Globe greeted the debut of hard-left Air America host Rachel Maddow’s new show on MSNBC with a bouquet of praise. She’s not only "a key face of the new, feisty, ratings-boosted [?] MSNBC," she’s "affable and erudite," she’s "cripplingly patriotic" and has a "yen for national-security issues." MSNBC brass added she "often isn’t expressing an opinion as much as laying out facts," and claimed MSNBC is a brand for "high-powered intellects...an appetite for really smart discussion of the news."
The liberal campaign to seek to diminish Sarah Palin by sexualizing her continues. Yesterday, I described how Frank Rich used a number of sexualized terms in reference to Palin's relationship with McCain: "shotgun marriage," "speed-dating" and "embrace." Chris Matthews employed a similar tactic this evening, claiming that Palin is running "somewhere between a VP and a First Lady."
During the first segment of this evening's Hardball, Matthews tried out his theory, with no particular success, on pollster Stu Rothenberg and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. For the record, Matthews did stop short of telling Palin to iron McCain's shirt:
Chris Matthews, on Monday night's "Hardball," speculated that Republicans were playing the race card, when they made fun of Barack Obama's experience as a community organizer, even going as far to say they're using the phrase like a "bullwhip." In a segment with NBC's Chuck Todd and pollster Stuart Rothenberg, Matthews suspiciously noted that Republicans like Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani, at last week's GOP convention, were "giggling" over the "community organizer" title as he pondered: "Is this the new 'welfare queen?'"
Then a little later in the program, in a segment with the Financial Times' Chrystia Freeland and the Independent Women's Forum's Michelle Bernard, Matthews returned to the subject as he declared: "It seems to me that the use of the word, 'community organizer,' is almost like a bullwhip."
The following exchanges occurred on the September 8 edition of "Hardball" [audio excerpts available here]:
On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" September 8, Jim Cramer took a shot at owner of The Wall Street Journal, Rupert Murdoch, in the midst of talking about the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover:
I read The Wall Street Journal, sorry, The Fox Street Journal. When is Murdoch going to put his positive right wing implant on left wing journalists? ... When is Murdoch going to broom the Spartacus workers union?
As for Fannie and Freddie, Cramer told the hosts of the September 8 broadcast that "We had a laissez-faire attitude. Now we are going to have the greatest bureaucracy in history created by Republicans. I'm an agent of change," Cramer said sarcastically.
Later in the segment, Cramer joked that the Democratic Party were "Bolsheviks" quipping, "There. How's that for biased media?"
NewsBusters.org's parent company, the Media Research Center, today released the following statement from President L. Brent Bozell, III.:
Arch-liberal MSNBC has finally pulled the plug on the horrendous anchor tandem of Olbermann and Matthews. It's a good move, but it's about time. I wonder what it was that finally made them see the light?
Thanks to Sarah Palin, the culture war has become a civil war—on the left. Mika Brzezinski bravely opened a new front in the conflict during today's "Morning Joe," repeatedly going after two female MSMers for suggesting Palin is taking the working-mom thing too far.
And, mirabile dictu, Mika even admitted to sensing MSM unfairness to Republicans.
"This is an argument Joe and I have about fairness and whether or not there are some sort of underlying unfairness when it comes to Republicans. And I just, you know, I feel it here," Brzezinski said referring to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Full text and commentary after the jump. View video here.
In case you missed it, MSNBC has decided to replace its election coverage co-anchors Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann with David Gregory.
Having followed Matthews career since his days with the San Francisco Examiner, and watched his ascendence at CNBC and MSNBC resulting from the success of "Hardball," I wonder why he got the boot along with Olbermann.
After all, regardless of Matthews' clear liberal leaning, this disturbing leftward shift by MSNBC in recent years is certainly due to the success of Olbermann's "Countdown." NBC News and MSNBC officials have intimated such for months (continued below the fold, photo courtesy Wall Street Journal).