On Monday's MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams, host and MSNBC general manager Abrams opened his show lambasting Karl Rove, tagging him the "Constitutional Crippler" for accusing judges of "bending the law" while Rove, Abrams contended, was doing much the same. Abrams: "If Karl Rove had been a professional wrestler, they might have called him 'the Constitutional Crippler.' Abrams further accused Rove of "hypocrisy" and of "shifting rules to accommodate his political objectives" as the MSNBC general manager declared that he would "not shed a tear" at Rove's departure.
With the announcement of Karl Rove resigning his position from the White House, it is time to revisit that infamous report by MSNBC's David Shuster who on Keith Olbermann's Countdown show on May 8, 2006 flatly stated:
I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted.
When a month later it was announced that Rove would not be indicted, a sheepish Shuster came up with several lame excuses for his monumental misreporting as chronicled by NewsBusters editor Brent Baker in his June 13, 2006 post. Under questioning by Countdown substitute host, Brian Unger, Shuster began by blaming the defense lawyers for his embarrassing error:
Chris Matthews' "Hardball" producers let the host down, as neither Sen. Pat Leahy or Rep. Henry Waxman accepted Matthews' invitation to grill Karl Rove on tonight's 5pm edition of Hardball. However that didn't stop Matthews from taking a few shots of his own at the President's adviser, as he called Rove a "bum," and sarcastically commented on Rove's genius as he greeted viewers of the August 13th edition of "Hardball" this way:
Matthews: "Can President Bush think without the man they call his brain? What about all those great ideas like dividing the country over Iraq and leaving New Orleans to drop into the sea? A country without Karl Rove calling the shots? Let's fear for the Republic. Let's play Hardball."
Apparently Hardball host Chris Matthews has a bit of a problem keeping his lust in check on the air. On Friday evening's Hardball, Matthews was interviewing CNBC's Street Signs anchor, Erin Burnett, about the latest Wall Street news when suddenly he switched gears as you can see in this video. The official transcript isn't up yet on the MSNBC website but here is a transcription of the conversation as best I could understand it:
MATTHEWS: Could you get a little closer to the camera?
BURNETT: What is it? Is it (garbled) in strangely?
Just when you thought the MSM couldn't sink any lower . . .
Could there possibly be an American who doesn't admire the Reverend Billy Graham? Apparently, yes. Have a look at the cover of this week's 'Time.' Of all the ways the editors might have positioned the logo, they managed to do so in a manner in which the 'M' in 'TIME' is transformed into horns protuding from the good reverend's head.
Tucker Carlson and Willie Geist took up the matter on Tucker's MSNBC show this afternoon.
The media have found their new poster boy to rail against the coal industry.
MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann," but with Allison Stewart filling in for an absent Olbermann, had anti-coal liberal Jeff Goodell, author of "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future" on the show.
Unsurprisingly, he criticized the company involved in the Utah mine collapse, as well as its CEO, Chairman of Murray Energy Corp. Bob Murray.
"He is a sort of embodiment of a sort of 19th century kind of coal baron kind of guy," Goodell said and pointed out Murray is "a big donor to the Republican Party" and "sort of notorious with journalists."
Goodell also doubted Murray's claim that the collapse was caused by an earthquake.
You might consider that speculating about a candidate's sexuality would be off limits in the responsible media. Yet that's just what happened on MSNBC this morning.
Chuck Nice is a comedian, after all, so perhaps his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Even so, the panelist on today's "Morning Joe" twice ventured into territory that would normally be considered verboten.
Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign was the phone guest, discussing the presidential candidates forum that his homosexual-rights group conducted yesterday. Without endorsing Hillary, he did single her out for favorable mention.
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS BRAD LUNA: Hillary does have a certain comfortableness with the issues and with our community. Obviously this is somebody you can tell has had a lot of contact discussing the issues, has thought about them for a number of years, and I do think that her sincerity and her genuineness came across last night.
MORNING JOE PANELIST CHUCK NICE: Are you saying that Hillary Clinton is bi-curious?
Forget Nurse Ratched. Pat Buchanan and Willie Geist have birthed a new metaphor for Hillary Clinton: the mean schoolmarm.
On "Morning Joe" today at about 6:55 A.M. EDT, the pair were discussing the way in which Clinton has cuffed Barack Obama around for his ill-considered statement that he would invade Pakistan under certain circumstances. Geist has been guest-hosting for Joe Scarborough this week. Buchanan hypothesized a situation in which the U.S. did have intelligence about OBL's location within Pakistan.
Two military veterans almost came to blows on MSNBC's "Hardball" Wednesday evening as they debated the war in Iraq, and what presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-New York) would do if she wins the White House.
On the left was anti-war activist Jon Soltz of VoteVets.org, who became known to most conservatives when he prevented a uniformed soldier from speaking at a YearlyKos breakout session last Friday.
On the right was Move America Forward Vice Chairman, and two-time New York Times bestselling author Buzz Patterson.
As the sparks began to fly early, I'm going to just role the tape (video available here), and allow you to read along with the transcript that follows (h/t Melanie Morgan):
Keith Olbermann a "fair and balanced" journalist for a day? Did the sweltering Chicago temperatures somehow get to him? The MSNBC host who is notorious for anti-Bush, anti-conservative rants employed a more balanced approach when he moderated Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, hosted by the AFL-CIO. While audience members posed numerous left-leaning questions to the candidates, Olbermann asked a number of challenging questions, a few even posed from the right. Olbermann not only asked "what should we not be funding" to find the money for repairs to infrastructure, without even suggesting a tax increase, but the MSNBC host also asked about the possibility of an al-Qaeda takeover in Iraq. Olbermann: "If you get us out of Iraq and somehow al-Qaeda takes over anyway, what will you do then?" (Transcripts follow)
Willie Geist's genius as an observer of the political and pop-cultural scenes has been his ability to stay largely above the fray. But guest-hosting for Joe Scarborough on today's "Morning Joe," Geist let the curtain down enough to make clear his pessimism about the Iraq war and desire to have the US exit post-haste. At the same time, retired General Barry McCaffrey made no effort to hide his contempt for Barack Obama's foray into foreign policy regarding Pakistan.
Geist interviewed MSNBC commentator McCaffrey at 6:30 A.M. EDT this morning. McCaffrey at one point opined that he could envision the possibility of reconciliation between Iraqi Shias and Sunnis. Geist was not so sanguine.
MSNBC'S WILLIE GEIST: Could we possibly stay there long enough, though, to see a reconciliation between Sunni and Shia? We're talking years, possibly generations for that to change, aren't we?
Later, looking ahead to tonight's Dem debate, Geist's focus was on which candidate could extricate us from Iraq fastest.
GEIST: Which [candidate] gives you the best sense that they will help us end this war, get us out of there?
Yesterday I wrote a piece about reporter Mika Brzezinski's handling of a story that reflected a political double standard on her part. While hosting MSNBC's "Morning Joe" for the vacationing Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski aired a video of a female reporter chasing after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Before she could catch up with the mayor however, the reporter was intercepted by a very large security guard and sent barreling into the side of what appeared to be a nearby dumpster. At the time Brzezinski brushed off the incident as "not that pressing," in stark contrast to the seemingly endless attention the David Vitter scandal received on "Morning Joe" throughout July. This morning however, Brzezinski seems to have changed her mind and now believes "That story's important."
For a little context, Villaraigosa, a Democrat, has been under scrutiny since he confessed to an affair with Spanish language reporter, Mirthala Salinas. Not surprisingly, Salinas received special access to the mayor during their affair.
Yesterday, after airing the video, Brzezinski gave her opinion as to the newsworthiness of the story. Here is her quote from the August 7 show:
Liberals can rest easier knowing that despite her outspoken views on newsworthiness and ethics, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski can still be counted on to go to bat for the Democrats. The reporter and "Morning Joe" regular showed off her famous sense of journalistic integrity while filling in for host Joe Scarborough on Monday morning. In the first half hour, Brzezinski played a video of a journalist trying desperately to get an interview with Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa has been surrounded by controversy since revelations that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with Spanish language reporter Mirthala Salinas.
The video clip showed one female reporter and at least two cameramen chasing the embattled mayor hoping for an interview. Before she could reach the mayor however, one of Villaraigosa’s hired thugs intercepted the reporter, sending the much smaller woman barreling into what appears to be a dumpster.
Recently Oklahoma officials announced a deadline extension to order special license plates dedicated to the global war on terrorism. Oklahoma is not the only state that has one. Virginia has had one for years that reads "Fight Terrorism" and features a Pentagon, the Twin Towers, and an American flag.
In other words, this is nothing new and its an unremarkable story. Except for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, whose staff ran the item in his blog "The NewsHole" with no comment, letting his left-wing loyalists provide the yuks. The August 2 headline, however, was a snarky, dismissive phrase: "Ridin' In Style."
While some commenters found the new plate non-controversial and wondered what the big deal was, others took the chance to mock the design.
One "T. Brooks" from Oklahoma even pulled a Natalie Maines, all while referencing a classic country hit:
At the Black Hat computer Hacker's conference held in Las Vegas last week, Neal Krawetz of "Hacker Factor" showed how easily the MSM has been tricked into believing the fake images that al Qaeda has offered to further their propaganda. Krawetz specifically referred to two images, one the July 27, 2006 image of al Qaeda second in command al-Zawahiri supposedly sitting in a modern television studio. It was an image that had the tongues of the MSM and pundits alike wagging. How is it, they clucked, that al-Zawahiri could be sitting in a modern television studio yet still could not be found?
Krawetz demonstrated how the elements of the two images, however, are special effects and not real.
On Friday's Countdown, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann charged that the "endless war and endless spending" had "crippled our ability to repair or just check our infrastructure," as he hosted Air America's Rachel Maddow in a discussion blaming the Minneapolis bridge collapse on Iraq war spending and unwillingness by conservatives to raise taxes. Olbermann quoted Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar's charge of "messed up priorities" and New York Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter's labeling of bridge collapse victims as "almost victims of war" because "perpetual war depletes the funds available to maintain our infrastructure." Maddow charged that America is "paying this incredible deadly price for a brand of American conservatism that hates and demeans government." (Transcript follows)
It's hard to write a blog aimed at being both red meat for Fox News haters and Reagan conservatives. That didn't stop Keith Olbermann's staff from trying yesterday in a blog that highlighted Giuliani's friendship with Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
Implying that Ronald Reagan would have something damning to say about Giuliani "from the grave," Keith Olbermann's "NewsHole" blog picked up an item run on HuffPo and American Spectator that cited one brief reference from the Gipper's diaries that called the then-federal prosecutor "crazy."
Here's a bold prediction: Joe Scarborough won't be switching registration to vote for John Edwards in the Florida primary. The Pensacola-area Republican congressman-turned-MSNBC-host unloaded on the Dem contender on today's "Morning Joe," accusing Edwards of opportunistic flip-flopping when it comes to dealing with Fox News.
"MORNING JOE" HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: John Edwards, demanding that Hillary Clinton return money she got from News Corp. [the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company that is Fox News' parent] because News Corp. is such a corrupt, terrible outfit. Of course John Edwards got $1,000 from News Corp. himself, so it's sort of like being half-pregnant. You can't be half-pregnant. You either take the money from the corrupt source or you don't. And of course this is the same John Edwards who won't go on Fox News, but before he decided this would resonate with primary voters, you couldn't keep the guy off of Fox News. I mean, he was like in Sean Hannity's lap every other night. Now, he is shocked and stunned. Shocked and stunned! -- that anybody would go on Fox News. Here's a guy who wants to take on the Taliban and he can't even handle [Fox News president] Roger Ailes. How sad, how sad.
On tonight's Hardball, Mike Barnicle, substitute-hosting for Chris Matthews, used the tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minneapolis to call for bigger government and wondered, "Does this help the Democrats?" All throughout tonight's show, Barnicle repeatedly pressed his guests to call for an increase in the size of government and at one point even demanded: "Government's gotta get bigger!"
First up Barnicle asked the liberal Barney Frank where he would find the money to pay for bridge repair. After Frank responded that he would "end the war in Iraq" and raise taxes to improve America's infrastructure, Barnicle took the Congressman's cue to advance the tax hike/big government theme for the entirety of the show.
The following are just some of the exchanges as they occured on the August 2, edition of MSNBC's Hardball:
Don't look for Arianna Huffington to be sitting down to a chummy luncheon with Hillary Clinton anytime soon. Huffington has been no fan of Clinton for some time, considering her insufficiently, and inauthentically, anti-war. But on today's "Morning Joe," Huffington took her animus to another level, accusing Hillary of an ultimate Dem sin: "swiftboating" an opponent, namely Barack Obama.
HUFFINGTON POST FOUNDER ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: After the CNN debate, I think it was ridiculous the way she and her campaign attacked Obama for saying he would engage in diplomatic talks with dictators. That is sort of a classic example of swiftboating your opponent. Like the equivalent of what Republicans do anytime Democrats call for troop withdrawal and they are talking about "cutting and running" or "precipitous withdrawal" or any of the clever little phrases.
Judging by the media's reaction one could assume the Hillary campaign isn't displeased by the release and subsequent publication by the New York Times of her college letters. During the roundtable portion of tonight's Hardball the media panel dissected how her letters during her college days affected her campaign and they mostly agreed they only serve to help humanize the notoriously cold candidate.
Joan Walsh of Salon.com declared: "I think they're intensely humanizing...So I thought there were a net gain, positive, for her." Walsh even encouraged her own daughter to read them for inspiration: "I have a teenager, so I want her to read them and remember, you know, it's, that we all have days like that."
Mika Brzezinski is so outraged that people are discussing Hillary's cleavage . . . that she hopes it helps the Dem prez candidate.
The topic arose at 6:18 A.M. EDT on today's "Morning Joe." The affable Willie Geist, a frequent panelist, is serving this morning as guest host for the absent Joe Scarborough. He broached the subject.
MORNING JOE GUEST HOST WILLIE GEIST: One of the other big stories that everybody is talking about is this Hillary Clinton cleavage thing.
MORNING JOE NEWSREADER MIKA BRZEZINSKI [in an exasperated tone]: Oh my gosh.
GEIST: . . . There's a shot of it right now; that's not so bad, I've seen much worse.
BRZEZINSKI: Are you kidding me? That's a great outfit. But what annoys me is that people wrote about it and talked about it. And if has helped her in any way I guess it doesn't bother me because that was ridiculous.
Nepotism alert! Tim Russert’s college-age son Luke – yes, the youngster with the XM satellite radio sports show with James Carville – was sitting in as one of the wise-cracking sidekicks on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday, and Joe Scarborough was mocking him and his "New Age parents" for drinking green tea from Starbucks. Apparently, "morning joe" humor is required, considering the show name. Channeling the spirit of Don Imus, with his regular drug jokes, Luke quipped: “Starbucks are legalized opium dens, and I agree with that.” He’s obviously joking, but you wouldn’t want to run for office and have Tim Russert put that quote up on screen, would you?
Scanning the columns at Townhall.com is part of my early-morning routine, and it was at about 6 A.M. today that I read Charles Krauthammer's "Obama Bombing." I marveled at how perfectly the Pulitzer Prize-winning author had captured the essence of Hugo Chavez, calling the Venezuelan thug "a malevolent clown."
Krauthammer's words obviously impressed Matt Lauer, too. For barely an hour later, I was pleasantly surprised to find the psychiatrist-turned-pundit's phrase turning up on the screen at "Today," with Lauer clearly seeming to advance the conservative commentator's theory.
Lauer was interviewing MSNBC's Chris Matthews on this week's Hillary-Obama dust-up.
"TODAY" CO-ANCHOR MATT LAUER: Let me ask you about this debate, the issue that came out of the debate, this whole inexperience-versus-change thing, when Barack Obama answered that in the first year of his presidency he would meet with people like Castro and Chavez. Let me read you what Charles Krauthammer wrote in the Washington Post this morning:
Do the Democrats want to risk strike three, another national security question blown, but this time perhaps in a final presidential debate before the '08 election, rather than a midseason intraparty cattle call? The country might decide that it prefers, yes, a Republican -- say, 9/11 veteran Rudy Giuliani -- to a freshman senator who does not instinctively understand why an American president does not share the honor of his office with a malevolent clown like Hugo Chavez.
The current political buzzword is "naive." That's of course what Hillary called Obama, and he has responded in kind. But when it comes to being an ingenue, Obama has a long way to go to top Sally Quinn, grande dame of the DC set and wife of former WaPo editor Ben Bradlee. Here's what she said on this afternoon's "Hardball."
SALLY QUINN: The fact is that the new word these days is 'dialogue.' [Ed.: New? Well shut Socrates mouth!] And so many of these dictators, quote, dictators [Ed.: we wouldn't want to offend Assad or Kim Jong Il] are really sort of shallow people who are looking for respect, andif you talk to them, you can immediately sort of get them down and get them on your side.
In today's Washington Post, Paul Farhi asks a question I've wondered: Why is it that every single story you hear about on cable is "developing," "breaking," or a "news alert?" Whatever happened to the regular TV news report?
This just in! There's no more news on TV, at least not on the cable news networks. Plain old news apparently just isn't good enough anymore, so TV news stories have been getting new and improved names.
President Bush's latest news conference? CNN labels it a "Developing Story." A car bombing in Baghdad? The banner on MSNBC reads, "Breaking News." A blown transformer in New York City? Fox News Channel is on it, with a graphic that announces, "Very Latest."
Filling in on July 17 for Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's Alison Stewart devoted a "Countdown" segment to criticizing the dress Wendy Vitter wore during a July 16 news conference in which her husband, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), admitted to an affair with a prostitute.
With "Fashion Ho-Pas?" emblazoned on-screen (pictured at right), Stewart interviewed Radar Online's Jeff Bercovici, who snarked that Vitter's sartorial choice could mark "a complete reversal of the laws of skankery." [Video (1:37):Real (2.54 MB) and Windows (2.90MB), plus MP3 audio (753 kB)]
Olbermann returned to his program's hosting duties the next day and also hosted the July 19 program before turning over the helm yet again to Stewart for his July 20 show*, despite having had three days to become aware of the "ho-pas" segment, take disciplinary action against Stewart, and make her issue an apology. Olbermann either saw the light or felt the heat over the weekend, apparently, as he issued an apology about one-third of the way through his July 23 program (h/t Ian Schwartz):
Is MSNBC becoming Catfight Central? A few days ago I noted this epic dust-up on the cable network between conservative radio talk show host Melanie Morgan and feminist Naomi Wolf. Today's "Morning Joe" brought more fireworks of a feline variety, as NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd took some serious swipes at Anderson Cooper and his hosting of last night's CNN/YouTube presidential debate.
NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR CHUCK TODD: I thought the questions were good, it was a good candidate forum. The downside was that the moderator [Anderson Cooper] missed opportunities to create a debate. That was my one frustration. Obama tried to take a shot at Hillary about being a Johnny-come-lately when it comes to withdrawal from Iraq, and it just disappeared, the attack disappeared. Obama's way of attacking Clinton sometimes is soft; he softpedals his attacks. Maybe Cooper didn't see it; maybe he needs to be hit with a sledgehammer, but he just immediately went to the next question.
Hmm, what would a Freudian say about Chuck imagining Cooper being hit with a sledgehammer?