Forget the popcorn: it could take a case of Cognac and a humidor of good cigars to fully savor the warfare that's breaking out in Dem ranks. Who could have predicted that Keith Olbermann would be accusing a prominent Clinton team member and former Dem VP candidate of making a "clearly racist" statement evoking the apartheid era in South Africa? And yet . . .
On this evening's Countdown, Olbermann and Newsweek's Howard Fineman were discussing Geraldine Ferraro's remarks about Obama and the way the Clinton campaign, far from denouncing them, sent out campaign manager Maggie Williams to try to turn the tables, accusing Obama of "false, personal and politically calculated attacks" for having the audacity to complain.
A few days before Eliot Spitzer went down in flames, a highly-connected Barack Obama* [Update: Kilpatrick has not committed to Obama] superdelegate was mired in accusations of corruption, bid-rigging and a dead-stripper sex scandal. Usually the media love to report the downfall of party bigwigs, but not in the case of Detroit's youngest mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Much of the media downplayed the mayor's scandals and did not report his party, let alone his status as a Democratic power player who can influence the election.
Kwame, who is the son of Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-MI), is not just any mayor. He was a Democratic rising star, who spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and is the superdelegate to the 2008 convention thanks to his position as Vice President of the Conference of Democratic Mayors.
But now “The First Hip Hop Mayor” is in serious trouble, with members of the city council calling for his resignation. Controversy has engulfed his two terms, and the latest bout involves a report that his wife assaulted a now-dead stripper whose shooting is still unsolved. At the same time, the mayor's longtime pal Bobby Ferguson won at least $45 million in city contracts while reportedly receiving inside information from Kilpatrick and his chief of staff.
A prostitution scandal strikes the Democrats? When Sen. David Vitter admitted he’d used the services of the "DC Madam," thanks to probing by ABC News, the major media saw harm for the entire Republican Party nationwide. Will Governor Spitzer become a national problem for the entire Democratic party? Or will the media suddenly keep the scandal as localized as they can make it?
NBC and MSNBC were especially aggressive in describing conservatives and Republicans "in crisis." The standout quote on the Vitter scandal (along with the Mark Foley internet-messages-to-pages scandal) came from MSNBC reporter David Shuster on August 29, 2007, who blurred the ethical embarrassments into Hurricane Katrina:
NewsBusters has frequently reported the deplorable connection between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and the Clinton front-organizations Media Matters and Think Progress.
On Friday, conservative radio host Glenn Beck marvelously illustrated just how this liberal alliance works, and showed how a few sentences transcribed by Olbermann's minions and taken out of context can easily be used to completely misrepresent their meaning and what the speaker was actually saying.
After being named one of "Countdown's" Worst Persons in the World for comments he made on his CNN Headline News program Tuesday, Beck deliciously explained how Olbermann, Media Matters, and Think Progress worked together to intentionally distort his words (audio available here, liberal website alert!):
Look out! Here comes a liberal media feud. On his MSNBC program every night, host Dan Abrams hosts a media-criticism segment called "Beat the Press." On Thursday night, Abrams heavily implied ABC’s Jake Tapper is a plagiarist, stealing snarky lines from Jon Stewart. We dislike Tapper putting too much snark in the breakfast buffet. But if you’re going to level a serious charge like plagiarism, you better not take your target out of context. Guess what? Abrams did. Take a look:
ABRAMS: Finally, you have to wonder sometimes whether the folks at ABC News, they get all their material from their own heads, they come up with it. Here's Jon Stewart on CNN over two weeks ago talking about the Democrats and how they allocate delegates, and then ABC’s Jake Tapper.
STEWART: Feel better. Have a delegate and a trophy saying you're number one.
TAPPER: Democrats distribute them proportionately. It’s kinda like T-ball where every child gets a trophy.
On Wednesday’s episode of Live With Dan Abrams on MSNBC, Abrams lit into Rush Limbaugh as "un-American" for encouraging Republican voters to cross over and vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. In his "Beat the Press" segment, Abrams attacked Limbaugh mocking him for a segment on Monday night’s Abrams show on Limbaugh’s "Far Right Dirty Tricks." On Wednesday, Abrams associated Rush with the "radical right" and attempted to describe a Limbaugh radio show snippet:
He was upset that I said he was perverting the process by encouraging Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton in open primaries in an effort to quote, "bloody up" Obama....When you encourage someone to vote for a candidate that they don't want as president, I believe it is actually un-American, and they are willing to increase the chances of what they consider to be a bad candidate winning in the hope they may slightly increase their candidate's chances? It is shameful.
Obama still has his fans in the MSM, or Hillary her detractors . . .
Appearing on this afternoon's Hardball, the seemingly mild-mannered Evan Thomas of Newsweek took a surprisingly tough shot at Clinton, disputing the very premise of her now-famous "it's 3 AM" ad. Discussing Hillary's comeback, Evans offered his blunt assessment with no real prompting.
EVAN THOMAS: What I don't get about this ad, the whole idea about 3 AM is you want coolness and detachment, right? She's not cool and detached. She's either really hot and angry, or she's icy cold and tough. But I don't think of her as cool. I think of Obama as being the cool, detached guy. Now maybe he doesn't have the experience, but I think if you peel this onion, there's something about it that just doesn't make sense to me. She doesn't strike me as the person who's the cool, detached, steady person at the other end of the phone.
Former Navy signalman Hassan Abu-Jihaad was convicted today on charges "of leaking information about the movements and vulnerabilities of ships in his battle group to suspected terrorism supporters" in spring 2001, months before 9/11. These secrets were sent via e-mail to a pro-Taliban Web site.
But in reporting the story, MSNBC.com ran an Associated Press story that failed to note Abu-Jihaad is an American born convert to Islam, arguably germane to his terror conviction given the recipient of the classified material he leaked in 2001. By contrast, CBSNews.com ran an AP story that mentioned Abu-Jihaad's convert status:
The American-born Muslim convert formerly known as Paul R. Hall faces up to 25 years in federal prison when he is sentenced May 23. His attorneys said they were disappointed, and that an appeal was likely.
When Christopher Hitchens came on today's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough began by inviting him to comment on "last night's" results. Quipped the famously hard-living Hitchens: "I'm still thinking of it as this morning's result. I hope it doesn't show." Unfortunately for Christopher, it did. See screencap.
But whatever price Hitchens was paying for indulgences of the night before did nothing to blunt his acerbic wit. The quondam Englishman turned naturalized American offered acid observations about both Dem contenders. Hillary was first in his sights. He described as "slightly sinister" her listing during last night's victory speech of Florida and Michigan among her primary wins, since by DNC rules those contests counted for nothing. By his lights, her inclusion of the two states portends nasty arm-twisting to come.
Then there was this: "Anyone who like me when they think about the Clintons thinks about zombies, thinks about the undead, thinks about stakes through the heart, silver bullets and so on, has just received confirmation. It's as bad as we thought it was going to be."
In a moment of excess hyperbole, even for Chris Matthews, at about 7:33 PM EST Tuesday night, Matthews claimed “nothing's done since '65, when we did the civil rights bill,” to fix the nation's problems. Fretting about how the country cannot afford a prolonged Clinton-Obama battle in Pennsylvania because “this country's in a rut” with “everything” from the war to the economy, Matthews ridiculously asserted:
We can't fix anything, whether it's Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, we can't fix our health care system. Nothing's done since '65, when we did the civil rights bill.
We did “fix” the Soviet empire since 1965 and Ronald Reagan managed to fix an economy in a rut under the direction of Matthews' former employer, Jimmy Carter. And, of course, most of the welfare state was created and expanded greatly since 1965, including Medicare and Medicaid. But, naturally, Matthews failed to recognize that maybe the creation and expansion of these massive government entitlement programs is part of the problem.
Palpably stung by Ken Blackwell's observation that Republicans had lost their way by running like Reagan but governing like Carter, Chris Matthews -- former speechwriter to the president from Plains -- cracked back by playing the Abramoff card and claiming Republicans are more corrupt than Dems.
Blackwell, the impressive former Secretary of State of Ohio and past candidate for Buckeye state governor, was Matthews' guest during this evening's MSNBC election coverage. Blackwell was discussing what it would take for Republicans to win in 2008.
KEN BLACKWELL: My view is this, Chris, that we got off track. We started to campaign like Ronald Reagan and at times govern like Jimmy Carter. And as a consequence, people, people really questioned whether or not we were true to our message . . .
Ken's comment clearly cut Chris to the quick. He tried to parry.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I just don't think Jack Abramoff worked for the Carter administration, Ken, did he?
If Rush Limbaugh, in promoting his radio show, said we must "ignore partisanship," would anyone take those words seriously? Limbaugh did not air that ad, but left wing MSNBC host Keith Olbermann did. In an MSNBC "Decision 2008" ad, Olbermann spoke of the need to "ignore partisanship" under inspirational music and prominent American flag displays.
"We as citizens must at some point ignore partisanship, not that we may prosper as a nation, but that merely we may function as a nation."
The ad then displayed a large photo of Olbermann followed by a brief slideshow of all of the MSNBC/NBC political correspondents. The Daily Kos blogger should explain when his highly partisan show will "ignore partisanship."Olbermann has called President Bush a "fascist" "engaging in terrorism," a "liar" and "idiot in chief." He even asked if there is an element in the Republican party that wants to re-segregate America.
Also of irony, was MSNBC’s prominent American flag displays. Back in 2002, then NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw explained that he does not wear an American flag on his lapel pin because he feels it’s an implied endorsement of the Bush administration.
"We'll deal with him later." -- Clinton co-chair Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, on Mark Penn.
"It's disgusting for him to do this . . . that's just disgusting." -- Clinton supporter Hilary Rosen.
Mark Penn sleeps with the fishes. Metaphorically speaking only, of course.
On this evening's Tucker, Clinton's chief campaign strategist came in for some industrial-strength opprobrium from two prominent members of Team Hillary for his attempt to flee what might be a sinking ship.
Not that Time's in the tank for Obama or nuthin'. Not that its new cover merely depicts Barack with an other-worldly aura, asks the question whether experience matters and answers it largely in the negative.
No, it gets much better. The magazine's editor goes on Morning Joe and cites a study comparing a new nurse with a nurse who has 35 years of experience. And he lets us know that not only did the experienced nurse not perform any better than the rookie, she actually wound up . . . killing the patient faster!
Time editor Rick Stengel [a former Bill Bradley speechwriter] today made his regular Thursday-morning Morning Joe appearance to tout the mag's new cover story. This week's, as you'll see from the screencap, is "How Much Does Experience Matter?", with that ethereal glow surrounding Obama's noggin.
Of all the qualities Hillary might have emphasized to her advantage, can you imagine basing her campaign on her "warmth" and "likability"? Chris Kofinis can. The former communications director of the John Edwards campaign appeared on Tucker Carlson's show this evening.
Kofinis offered his only-slightly premature post mortem of the Clinton campaign.
Like an offensive-line blocking for their quarterback Chris Matthews and the rest of Wednesday night's "Hardball" panel game-planned to protect Barack Obama from what they saw as the coming "vicious" and "nasty" attacks from Republican sack artists in the fall.
On Wednesday night's "Hardball" Matthews, along with NBC's Norah O'Donnell and Newsweek's Howard Fineman continued to gripe about conservative talk show host Bill Cunningham's emphasis of Barack Obama's middle name of Hussein as Matthews worried: "Is this gonna be a vicious, almost ethnic fight, going after the guy because of his heritage, his name and saying, He's gonna sell us out.’ Is that what's coming?"
In the course of offering a tribute to William F. Buckley, Jr. on this afternoon's Hardball, Chris Matthews made a surprising revelation: that he came to political consciousness as a WFB conservative.
You'll find the transcript of the Hardball host's remarks below, but I'd encourage you to view the video, here. See if, like me, you're struck by the heartfelt nature of his comments.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you want to influence someone, get to him or her in high school. It's my experience that people at that age are the most impressionable, the most searching for guidance, for example, for purposes. It was in high school that I came under the charm and the influence of William F. Buckley, Jr., the dashing, charismatic young conservative who wrote God and Man at Yale, McCarthy and His Enemies, and founded the wistful, precocious, companionable monthly, National Review. As a high schooler, I could tell you which drugstore got National Review first. I went to hear Bill Buckley at a meeting of the Montgomery County Young Republicans. It was from National Review that I gained my early affection and appetite for political philosophy and argument.
Standard-free journalism on parade all day on NBC's Sunday
Forgotten But Not GoneIt was another do-as-we-say, not-as-we-do day for the National Broadcast Company this past Sabbath.
Over the weekend NBC offered up their latest versions of Tim Russert's Meet the Press and the Chris Matthews Show -- the latter being political television's answer to Jerry Springer. In them we were treated to two more glittering examples of all that is wrong with the Jurassic Press.
That being the woeful lack of journalistic ethics demonstrated by those at the heights of the media mountain, and the utter shamelessness they and their colleagues exhibit upon their being outed as amoral hacks.
Not only does it represent the epitome of good-natured cool, it comes in stark contrast to the patented glare that Hillary aims at those who draw her ire. We've often illustrated the death-ray genre here at NB; you'll find a representative image after the jump from last night's debate.
Obama's gesture speaks largely for itself, but let's don our amateur body-language expert hat:
Tuesday night's Democratic debate brought an unexpected political analogy to mind: Hillary Clinton has become Bob Dole.
That point became eminently clear in the debate multiple times but especially during her attempt to rebuke NBC debate moderators Tim Russert and Brian Williams by evoking a recent "Saturday Night Live" episode which accused the press of being "in the tank" for Barack Obama.
"In the last several debates I seem to get the first question all the time," Clinton said. "I don't mind. I'll be happy to field it. I just find it curious if anybody saw 'Saturday Night Live,' maybe we should ask Barack if he's comfortable and needs another pillow."
Those remarks, while slightly better phrased, are strikingly similar to Bob Dole's "where is the outrage" lament while running against Bill Clinton in 1996. Both candidates:
On Tuesday night's "Hardball", Chris Matthews took offense to radio talk show host Bill Cunningham's criticism of Barack Obama, during a John McCain rally, as he called the comments "rotten business" and wondered "Is this now gonna creep into the debate, the discussion? This ethnic stuff and whatever?"
The following exchange occurred on the February 26 edition of "Hardball:"
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well let's take a look at, we had some really rotten business today. Here's radio talk show host Bill Cunningham at a John McCain rally today.
Given his penchant for comparing Republicans to Hitler, using such phrases as "slinging crap," and stating that the Bush presidency "has now devolved into a criminal conspiracy to cover the ass of George W. Bush," you would think that Keith Olbermann, the buffoonish left-wing sportscaster-cum-newsreader would refrain from giving lectures on political civility or the limits of comedy. Not so, however.
On last night's edition of his program, the Obama-supporting anchor was horrified that Jon Stewart, the man he apes, dared to make a joke about the Illinois Democrat's unusual middle and last names. The hypocrisy is thick enough to cut with a knife and serve—assuming you could stand the stench.
Olbermann began the segment comparing Stewart to Ann Coulter (horrors!):
In Tuesday's Los Angeles Times, on the verge of MSNBC's latest presidential debate, media reporter Matea Gold explored MSNBC's funky brew of news and (mostly) left-wing hectoring. Gold found some liberal media experts said that blend "gives partisans fodder to argue bias." Can anyone locate the line dividing news from editorializing?
"In an environment where opinions are flying, words escape easily," said Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a nonpartisan research group. "It gets harder and harder to define the line of what's acceptable."
Tom Fiedler, the visiting Murrow lecturer at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, rejected the idea "that you can move from one side to the other and not confuse most viewers. I don't think even Fox would attempt to take Bill O'Reilly and put him in a position of being seen as a news anchor."
Tucker Carlson, on his MSNBC show this evening, describing the Clinton campaign's press relations . . .
TUCKER CARLSON: They're awful to the media: let's be totally blunt. They're awful to the press. They treat the press like enemies. [Clinton Communication Director] Howard Wolfson's always calling around threatening people. Threatening people! News organizations! They do that! People hate you if you do that. I mean, they've earned the enmity of the press, in my view. They have. I mean, it's been hard but they've done it.
The airwaves have been filled today with the clip of an angry Hillary saying "shame on you, Barack Obama," and another of Clinton mocking the notion that, to believe Barack, "celestial choirs will be singing."
But on this evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews unearthed yet another clip of Hillary at her harshest. And after playing it, a butter-wouldn't-melt-in-his-mouth Matthews ripped the Clinton campaign strategy. Words won't do justice to Clinton's fingernails-on-blackboard tone, but here's what a raspy-voiced Hillary said in the video Matthews played.
HILLARY CLINTON: Quit misleading people about what I do. [Ed.: shades of Bob Dole's unsuccessful line to George H.W in 1988: "stop lying about my record.'] Quit telling people what is not true about my plan. You know, come on: enough is enough! Let's get real here, and compare exactly what both of us stand for!
Do MSNBC higher-ups ever watch the garbage being spewed on a nightly basis during their primetime schedule, or does Keith Olbermann have the freedom at this point to present anything he wants on the air regardless of how vile and devoid of facts?
Take for example the fourth story on Thursday's "Countdown" when the host and his guest, Air America's Rachel Maddow, used the New York Times hit piece on John McCain to bash conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh including labeling him a homophobe.
For those that can stand it, just listen to Maddow's answer to Olbermann's question concerning what Limbaugh wants McCain to do now that the Times has attacked him this way (video available here):
Appearing on Thursday's 1pm hour of MSNBC News Live, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews couldn't resist taking a few swipes at Rush Limbaugh. After anchor Peter Alexander played a clip of the conservative talk show host discussing the New York Times story on Senator John McCain, Matthews irritably claimed, "Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant here. Irrelevant. He doesn't know anything more than what he read in the New York Times."
The radio clip, which was from Thursday's edition of Limbaugh's program, featured the host urging the GOP presidential candidate to learn a lesson from the front-page New York Times story speculating about a improper relationship with a D.C. lobbyist. Matthews's apparent annoyance at Limbaugh might have something to do with being mentioned in the clip. At one point during the monologue, Limbaugh asserted, "[McCain] has thought Chris Matthews and these other people in the drive-by media are his friends. They aren't."