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.
Obsessing over Sarah Palin's pro-life position on abortion, MSNBC hosts and reporters on Tuesday night repeatedly raised it and painted it as a detriment to Republicans even though last week with Democrats the channel did not similarly pursue how a solidly left view on abortion might hurt Obama and Biden. By the count of the MRC's Geoff Dickens, between 8 PM and midnight EDT, MSNBC raised abortion at least 16 times, twice with an edge that painted the GOP position as extreme by applying a “hard right” label. Chris Matthews declared “they are going hard right on abortion rights” and later David Gregory asserted: “The abortion platform here is pretty hard right.”
Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, fretted over how “this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is” that “these delegates are more conservative than even the ones four years ago.” Andrea Mitchell described Palin as “very conservative” and pressed a Republican Congressman: “Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?”
Matthews bemoaned to Tom Ridge that “it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?” To Tim Pawlenty, Matthews demanded:
Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party?
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did what conservatives have been waiting for someone to do since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate: take on someone in the media claiming that she lacks the qualifications to be vice president.
Such marvelously occurred Tuesday evening on the convention floor in St. Paul when MSNBC's Ron Allen said to the former Speaker, "But to be fair, her resume is not something we're familiar seeing with presidential candidates."
This didn't sit well with Gingrich who strongly replied (video embedded right, h/t NB readers Matt Noll and Patrick):
Now that the dust has settled on both parties' vice presidential picks, it's time to take a look at how the media treated Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in the crucial early hours after they were announced as running mates.
This analysis is the first of several "Quick Study" reports we'll be running this election season to give a snapshot of press coverage, primarily through the lens of cable television.
Looking at the transcripts of CNN, FNC, and MSNBC during the two "primetime" hours of the day John McCain and Barack Obama announced their running mates, a trend becomes quite clear: The media were much more likely to report negative information about the Alaskan Palin than the Delawarean Biden.
Reviewing speeches at the Dem convention, Keith Olbermann was like a mother describing her child's performance in a middle-school musical. "A grand slam across the street," enthused Olbermann over Hillary's effort, only to outdo himself by calling Obama's speech's "spellbinding" and "extraordinary."
But when it came to reviewing Fred Thompson's speech tonight at the GOP convention, Olbermann suddenly morphed into Frank Rich with a migraine back in his theater critic days.
Sniffed Olbermann: "We have heard two speeches in the last forty minutes or so, Chris, first from President Bush and now from former Senator Fred Thompson. I think it's fair to say, nearly entirely militaristic in nature and touching to some degree on who John McCain is and what he would do, but mostly standing him next to a flag and a gun."
If a hypothetical tabloid owned by, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, had a cover story with scurrilous accusations about Joe Biden, do you think Chris Matthews would be waving it about on camera and Keith Olbermann citing it? Neither do I. But if for some reason they did, would they possibly fail to mention the mag's ownership?
But Matthews saw fit—not once but twice—to display the cover of Us magazine, with its story "Babies, Lies and Scandals" about Sarah Palin. Olbermann alluded to it as well. And who is the owner of Us? Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone . . . and a big-time donor to Barack Obama. How big a donor? You can view his list of contributions here, with an image after the jump.
Now it's true that Matthews discounted the "lies" allegation. But why give currency to dubious accusations—by a magazine whose stock-in-trade is celebrity gossip—by displaying them repeatedly on a national news show? There was no suggestion that Us, unlike the National Enquirer in John Edwards' case, had done any significant independent reporting. This is apparently scandal-mongering, pure and simple. And of course, neither Matthews nor Olbermann mentioned the Wenner connection.
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.
On Friday’s Hardball on MSNBC, the day after he labeled Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as "showcase appointments," Chris Matthews retracted his comment, chalking it up to a bad choice of words, as he contended that he should have called Powell and Rice "high-profile" appointments, rather than "showcase" appointments. Matthews: "I should have said 'high-level, high-profile' appointments. They were genuine appointments. They were not tokens." And, although Matthews did seem to demean Rice on Thursday by referring to her position of Secretary of State as a "nice title," Matthews on Friday used a different tone: "Nobody on Earth believes that Condoleezza Rice is not this President's chief foreign policy advisor. Or nobody challenges their ability. Personally, I love the guy, although I wish he'd had opposed the war, General Powell. So I used the wrong word. I should have said 'high-level, high-profile,' not 'showcase,' because some people took that as 'token.' And damn it, I certainly didn’t mean that."
On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tagged John McCain as the day’s "Worst Person in the World," as he charged that McCain is "suffering from at least one actual delusion," and "an utter disrespect for the meaning of the loss of life," because the Republican presidential candidate recently characterized Iraq as a "peaceful and stable country." Citing recent suicide bombings that have killed 78, Olbermann slammed McCain’s comments from what the MSNBC host referred to as a "frightening" interview. Olbermann: "So an average of four people a day dead in suicide bombings means a country is peaceful and stable, but a peaceful and stable country does not mean victory has been achieved and we can get our men and women out of there. One way or the other, you are witnessing a man suffering from at least one actual delusion, to say nothing of an utter disrespect for the meaning of the loss of life. It is not funny. It is shameful. John McCain, today’s 'Worst Person in the World.'"
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, August 29, "Worst Person" segment from MSNBC"s Countdown show:
Is there nothing—nothing?—that the MSM won't try to spin against Sarah Palin? They've turned the matter of her Down syndrome son into a suggestion she will neglect her child. Twisted the news of her daughter's pregnancy into a "damaging revelation" that will cause her image to "suffer." Now, in perhaps the most acrobatic stunt yet, Andrea Mitchell has suggested that the intensity of Palin's popularity . . . could be a bad thing.
Mitchell's theme-o'-the-day, as announced at the top of her 1 PM MSNBC hour, was that there was something flawed in the process by which Palin was vetted. She repeatedly hammered at the issue with her guest, Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota. Of course, suggesting that the vetting of Palin was inadequate is to imply that she was a poor pick. Voters will ultimately be the judge of that, but the initial evidence—as gauged by that outpouring of GOP enthusiasm [and dollars]—and by the very virulence of the MSM/Dem counterattack, suggests Sarah will prove to be a big plus for the ticket. It was when Mitchell wondered what would have happened if McCain had "gone with his heart" and picked Joe Lieberman that the matter of the intensity of Palin's popularity arose.
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.
Looks like the grown-ups at NBC/MSNBC have taken the kids aside and told them to kiss and make up. After the embarrassing "tension convention" [to quote Imus] at the DNC amongst Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough, we've already seen the Countdown host plucked out of the GOP convention, under the convenient excuse that he would be anchoring—back in NYC and safely removed from St. Paul—the coverage of Hurricane Gustav.
When Olbermann and Matthews appeared on split-screen during the 7 PM EDT hour this evening, they were clearly on their best behavior. The dueling duo traded kind words, culminating in Olbermann's credulity-cracking claim to "miss" his erstwhile antagonist. Chris got things off to a conciliatory start.
KEITH OLBERMANN: Joining us now from the site of the convention, Chris Matthews from St. Paul. Chris, good evening.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Good evening, partner.
View the video, here. Was that an amiable grin on Chris' lips, or the sardonic smile of someone who's been taken to the woodshed?
On Friday’s Countdown show, while appearing as a guest, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman, also an MSNBC political analyst, contended that, regarding her level of experience, Sarah Palin "makes Barack Obama look like John Adams." Host Keith Olbermann called her "the least experienced vice presidential candidate probably in American history," and repeatedly applied labels to her suggesting extremism, calling her "fanatically anti-abortion," "hard right," "global warming denying," a "rabid conservative," a "red meat conservative," and a "fire-breather." Picking up on a joke by Fineman that there are not many "pro-drilling, anti-polar bear, and anti-abortion women" who were Hillary Clinton supporters who would move to support Palin, Olbermann asked Fineman: "Was her real appeal the fact that she is a red meat conservative? I mean, she is, as you suggested, pro-drilling. She’s this side of ‘melt the Arctic,’ this side of ‘imprison abortionists,’ she’s run up the debt, ‘purge the lefties’ fire-breather."
The MSNBC promo bills the network as "the place for politics." Looks like it's the place for rib-ticklin' comedy, too. Check out Keith Olbermann's side-splitter from the ad:
KEITH OLBERMANN: This is one of those turning-point-in-history American elections. We as citizens must at some point ignore partisanship. Not that we may prosper as a nation, not that we may achieve, not that we may lead the world, but that merely, we may function.
Stunning Fox News Watch host Bill Hemmer, panelist Jim Pinkerton, picking up on a NewsBusters post with video (“Maher: Matthews and Olbermann 'Were Ready to Have Sex with' Obama”), from just hours before the FNC show aired live at 6:30 PM EDT Saturday from St. Paul, pointed out that MSNBC's Democratic convention coverage was so adulatory that it led to:
Bill Maher, who's no conservative, who hates Bush, to joke that he thinks that Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews want to have sex with Obama. That's no slap at Obama, of course. He's innocent.
As the other panelists laughed, Hemmer was incredulous, interjecting “whoa, whoa” before pressing for corroboration: “Bill Maher said that?!” Pinkerton, Cal Thomas and Juan Williams all chimed in with confirmation and then Hemmer, putting his finger to his earpiece, informed viewers: “I'm hearing that we have a sound clip of that. Do we? Alright, roll it. Here's Bill Maher.” Viewers were treated to the video of Maher from his Friday night HBO show:
I think there is a problem, though, with the media gushing over him too much. I don't think he thinks that he's all that, but the media does. I mean, the coverage after, that I was watching, from MSNBC, I mean these guys were ready to have sex with him.
Audio: MP3 clip from FNC which matches video above (1:15, 450 Kb)
(Via The O'Reilly Factor on FNC) On his show last night (Fri. 8/29/08), Bill O'Reilly called it, "One of the most outrageous things I've ever seen in my 35 years of journalism."
During coverage of Sarah Palin accepting to be John McCain's running mate, MSNBC ran a graphic. Under the banner of "BREAKING NEWS," MSNBC put on the screen, "How many houses does Palin add to the Republican ticket?" Outrageous, indeed.
Add this episode to the mountains of evidence illustrating the pro-Obama bias at MSNBC.
John McCain had yet to announce Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, when MSNBC began flashing a graphic of informational stats on Palin. These were her age, her 80% approval rating, and that she is “facing a state investigation.”
The graphic was continuously shown at different times during the broadcast, and the state investigation graphic remained without comment until later. The Washington Times reported on the investigation. According to the article:
…aides to the Alaska Governor say they welcome a prosecutor’s probe into whether her administration improperly sought the firing of a state trooper who had divorced the governor’s sister.
Mrs. Palin has denied any connection to the divorce. She said Mr. Monegan was being dismissed for not adequately filing state trooper vacancies and because, in her judgment, he “did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues.”
The Washington Times also points out that Palin offered her sister’s ex-husband a job at the Alaska Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, which he turned down.
Of all the criticisms an apparently panicky Dem party has heaped on Sarah Palin in the hours since her selection was announced, Keith Boykin [bio] has come up with perhaps the unseemliest. The former aide to President Clinton has accused Palin of being an "affirmative action" pick.
Boykin, a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard Law, was debating the selection with Republican Joe Watkins at the end of MSNBC's 4 PM EDT hour. After some preliminary jousting, Boykin dropped his bomb.
KEITH BOYKIN Let me just say something about this choice. The reason why she doesn't help, quite frankly, is because it's an insult. It's an insult to women. I spoke to several women today at the Democratic National Convention who said it's insulting John McCain would pick somebody—an affirmative-action candidate basically—who is not qualified.
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!
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann made his support for Barack Obama even clearer Thursday when moments after the junior senator from Illinois accepted his party's nomination as president, the "Countdown" host assailed an Associated Press writer for having the nerve to not be as enthralled with the Messiah's address as he was.
In Olbermann's crosshairs on this occasion was Charles Babington who penned an article that largely mirrored the opinions offered on Fox News by liberal contributors Juan Williams and Nina Easton: the speech was short on specifics.
This didn't sit well with Olbermann who said the following (video embedded right) :
Chris Matthews has had it with Karl Rove, and he told the Reverend Al Sharpton, during MSNBC's live coverage of the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night, to "beat" Rove in Ohio, "before we have the count." After Sharpton claimed the Democrats were "robbed" in 2000 and 2004, Matthews urged the Reverend not to let it happen again.
MATTHEWS: Well let's hope if you, for the purposes of your cause, Reverend Sharpton, that Karl Rove and Don King and the rest of them don't get together in Ohio again, like they did last time, and use the marriage issue to drum up a divisive vote, to take that state away. So you ought to keep your hands on that situation and beat them before we have the count, instead of joining in the pity thereafter.
Before Matthews interviewed Sharpton he bemoaned the tactics of Rove as he yelled, "People really do hate the politics of Karl Rove!," and "I really do think that hurts our patriotism."
The following rants occurred around 12:03AM [EDT] on MSNBC about an hour after Barack Obama's acceptance speech:
During his normal "Hardball" program on MSNBC on Thursday evening, Chris Matthews asked Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison if the "Republican party platform is inclusive enough on the issue of reproductive or abortion rights." Hutchison, whose name has been floated as a possible vice-presidential nominee for John McCain, didn’t give a straight yes or no answer, and mentioned that in her view, "...both the Republican and the Democratic platform generally have areas that are not mainstreamed, and I don't think that you can agree with either platform in its entirety, and I think you just have to understand that a candidate’s views are going to prevail and I think people choose the candidate."
How does Keith Olbermann view pre-Obama America? Apparently akin to the Soviet Union, and South Africa under apartheid. Here was his statement from the top of tonight's DNC coverage.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: It is an iconic night in history: we'll all remember this night as long as we live. This is the night that the first Western government, the first Western political power, or party, has nominated an African-American, someone of African heritage, to lead the country. It's something that took a long time to happen, almost like an old Polaroid film developing. But here it is. It happened officially last night, and tonight it is crowned, this achievement. And it's going to happen at a football field.
KEITH OLBERMANN: And it happens as suddenly in some respects as the Soviet Union crumbled or apartheid was beaten in South Africa. These seemingly invincible hurdles that could never be overcome and within a short period in our historical timespan, suddenly they're gone. And almost nobody saw it coming. Certainly no one at all saw it coming more than four years ago.
At about 7:45 p.m. EDT on August 28, a camera panning the crowd outside the outdoor MSNBC set in Denver caught a man holding up a "9/11 Was an Inside Job" sign. Another sign urged a Maddow/Olbermann presidential ticket in 2012 while another called for legalizing marijuana.
You can view the video at the right. For the embed code, check out the video on EyeBlast.tv.
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.
It’s hard to imagine that Barack Obama has ever had to deal with a moment’s bad press from his pals at MSNBC, but you may remember how back on February 19, while anchoring coverage of the Wisconsin primary, Chris Matthews dared to ask a Texas state senator -- who was appearing on MSNBC to plead Obama's case -- to list “any” of his legislative accomplishments. He could not.
As Obama accepts the Democratic nomination tonight and the networks move to Minneapolis for the Republican National Convention, it seems a fair bet that TV’s talking heads will scold the GOP for daring to suggest Obama lacks the necessary experience to be president, so it's worth recalling how Matthews himself raised that point to devastating effect just six months ago.
Here’s the key part of that exchange, which originally aired shortly before 10pm EST on February 19:
As the Democrats begin to wind down their national convention, we at NewsBusters are revving a series of reports under the banner "Quick Study" that take an in-depth and quantitative look at the ways cable news anchors and correspondents use information and perspectives to frame the race to suit their liberal ideology. We especially intend to shine a bright light on pretentions of objectivity that fall short of this standard, such as CNN's new motto, "No bias. No bull."
The dispute between Joe Scarborough and his liberal MSNBC colleage David Shuster ("your party?") brought the issue of party registration among elite media to the forefront of cable news watchers' minds so we figured, why not check up on the actual party registration data of CNN, the self-styled "objective option" for cable viewers?
As it turns out, the idea of CNN's objectivity is difficult to square with the partisan leanings of many of the network's own anchors and correspondents. Many of the men and women covering the Democratic National Convention for CNN, including quite a few of their top tier reporters, are registered Democrats according to voter data.
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?"