That didn't take long. Tanned and rested on his first day back from vacation, Chris Matthews suggested on this evening's Hardball that under the guise of the "inexperience" charge, John McCain is handing out "permission slips" to racists to vote against Obama.
Matthews put his poisonous point to Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you this. Isn't he [McCain] handing out permission slips to vote against Barack? "Inexperience" is my favorite. Because you could have all kinds of problems with Barack Obama: ethnically, politically, culturally, class—I don't know what the adjective is for class, but "classily." And you can have every problem in the world with Mrs. Obama. But you could hide it all under, not hide it all, you could present it all under one word: "you know, I've got nothing against him. He's a bright young man with a quality education, interesting new ideas. But he's not quite ready yet." And that's a fair critique which covers all your reasons for opposing him.
Not that there was any doubt that McCain walked away the winner from Rick Warren's forum, but when David Shuster cracks that Obama was lucky not too many people were watching . . . Subbing for Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball, Shuster kibitzed Saddleback with Dem Steve McMahon and Republican Todd Harris. Shuster made his surprising remark at segment end.
DAVID SHUSTER: I think it also revealed that John McCain's going to be a much better debater than a lot of people think. And maybe also in some sense, Barack Obama is lucky in a way that Saturday night was Michael Phelps' night and not a night when a lot of people were paying attention to politics.
A bit later, Shuster used Phelps to work in an obligatory swipe at President Bush. After rolling tape of a clearly-excited Phelps mentioning that it was "pretty cool" that the president had taken pictures with him at the pool after the 400 individual medley race, Shuster pounced: "even cooler for the president, who's probably happy that someone popular wanted to get a picture with him."
On a special Saturday edition of MSNBC's Hardball, while previewing that night's presidential candidates forum hosted by evangelical leader Rick Warren, NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd seemed to suggest that it is not out of the ordinary for evangelical Christians to feel "personal hatred" toward a Democratic presidential candidate. Todd, who is normally relatively balanced in his coverage of politics, once even admitting to being a "fan" of the MRC despite a history of working for liberal Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, made the uncharacteristic remarks as he contended that the forum would give Barack Obama an opportunity to keep evangelicals from feeling "personal hatred" toward him. Todd: "It's a huge opportunity for Obama tonight to at least not be hated by the evange-, look, these folks are not going to ever support him. They know what kind of judges he's going to appoint. It's going to be judges that evangelicals aren't going to be happy with. But they're not going to, if they don't have a personal hatred of him, then that's a good thing for Obama."
Update: NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reports that Todd has since apologized for his comments.
Andrea Mitchell's floating of the Obama-camp accusation that John McCain cheated by overhearing Obama's responses at the Saddleback forum, as NewsBuster D.S. Hube reported, isn't the first time the NBC correspondent has made herself propagator-in-chief of Obama's conspiracy theories. As NewsBuster Noel Sheppard has noted, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis has now written NBC to protest Mitchell's behavior. Here's an excerpt from his letter to NBC News president Steve Capus [emphasis added]:
[I]nstead of taking a critical journalistic approach to this spin, Andrea Mitchell did what has become a pattern for her of simply repeating Obama campaign talking points.
In asserting a "pattern" of such behavior by Mitchell, what did Davis have in mind? Almost surely it included a very similar stunt that Mitchell pulled in connection with Obama's cancellation of his planned visit to injured troops while in Germany for his speech in Berlin. As I noted here at the time, Mitchell passed along the Obama camp's unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that McCain had pulled strings with Pentagon buddies to have them withdraw permission for the visit.
On Wednesday's "Hardball," substitute host David Shuster previewed a new book targeting Barack Obama by issuing the following warning to viewers at the top of the show:
DAVID SHUSTER: It was right around this time four years ago that the dishonest and highly effective Swift Boat attacks on John Kerry began. Now the man who started it all, with a book about Kerry, has one out attacking Obama. Can the Swift Boaters repeat their success, or does Obama know how to fight back?
In an ensuing segment with Republican consultant Mike Paul and Democratic consultant Rich Masters about the new book, The Obama Nation, Shuster derided the author, and by extension, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and demanded that John McCain condemn the anti-Obama book. The following are the relevant excerpts from the August 13, "Hardball,":
Elizabeth Edwards authorized a friend to attack John Edwards over his infamous "she was in remission" interview on Nightline. That's the stunning assertion of Sandra Westfall, the "People" magazine writer who authored the article [excerpt here] containing the friend's crticism. Westfall was a guest on tonight's Verdict with Dan Abrams.
DAN ABRAMS: Sandra, let me start with you.Is it fair to say that the story that you guys have in this week's magazine is effectively Elizabeth Edwards' side of the story?
SANDRA WESTFALL: You know, she authorized her brother and her best friend to speak to me on her behalf.
A newly formed conglomeration of thirty women calling themselves The New Agenda (TNA) have convened to "pool (their) talents and leverage already established 'riends of the family' organizations to launch a grass roots and grass tops effort to register women voters, organize a national 'get out the vote' effort around women's issues," so says Amy Siskind, a member speaking for the new gaggle.
But that's not all they intend to do. They want to rid the world of misogynistic males, and MSNBC's Chris Matthews is first on their hit parade.
On Monday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann blamed the Bush administration for the fighting between Russia and Georgia, charging that "the U.S. knowingly provoked Moscow for years by building up Georgia's military," and asked if "the administration essentially stoked the fires of this conflict by the way we contributed to the building up of Georgia and sort of encourage its president to do something like this." The MSNBC host was also distressed at the words of "neoconservatives" who favor a firm response against Russia, and referred to "troubling neocon echoes." Guest Flynt Leverett expressed his concern that "a very powerful group of neoconservative fellow travelers in the Democratic Party" would undermine Barack Obama's "more nuanced approach" to dealing with the situation as these neoconservative "elements" move into the Obama campaign. (Transcript follows)
On Monday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann attacked Sean Hannity for his recent declaration on FNC's Hannity's America that Obama "can’t point to a single instance in which President Bush or McCain or Karl Rove or Sean Hannity or talk radio or any other major Republican has made an issue of Obama’s race." Missing Hannity’s point that conservatives are not attacking Obama for being black or suggesting voters should be afraid to vote for him because he is black, Olbermann cited quotes from Hannity and Rush Limbaugh which, in the MSNBC host’s mind, proved Hannity wrong, and that "short-term memory is often the first thing to go right after ethics." Olbermann mocked Hannity and Limbaugh by concluding that, "What Hannity means when he says nobody has made an issue of Obama’s race is: He and Limbaugh haven’t called him the ‘N’ word." After a brief pause, Olbermann added: "Yet." Olbermann, who has a history of distorting the words of conservatives, read quotes from Hannity from the past about Obama and the race issue without conveying the context that Hannity was referring to Obama’s links to the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan, who are known for espousing racist views. (Transcripts follow)
Chris Matthews: Back With an Obamania Vengeance . . .
If Barack Obama makes it to the White House, perhaps he should appoint Chris Matthews Commissar of Gosplan, the Commission charged with developing the economy's Five Year Plans. The Hardball host, back from vacation, displayed the enthusiasm of a dutiful apparatchik in praising an Obama ad that in turn amounted to a pitch for central planning.
During the "ad wars" segment on this evening's Hardball, Matthews first played a McCain ad that hit Obama over his plans to raise taxes and his lack of readiness to lead. After Andrea Mitchell suggested that the ad is "the wrong tone for the [NBC] Olympics," during which it's playing, Matthews wondered whether McCain is "the Grinch that stole the Olympics," and suggested a "taste test," comparing Obama's ad. Here's the ad's text:
VOICEOVER: The hands that built this nation can build a new economy. The hands that harvest crops can also harvest the wind [images of electricity-generating wind turbines.] The hands that install roofs can also install solar panels. The hands that build today's cars can also build the next generation of fuel-efficient vehicles. Barack Obama: a new vision for our economy. Fast-track alternative fuels. Create five million jobs developing home-grown energy technologies. Because America's future is in our hands.
When Washington Post columnist and, until recently, regular Countdown guest Dana Milbank used an edited quote from Barack Obama that was arguably a distortion of the Illinois Senator's words, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann suspended Milbank from appearing on his show insisting Milbank correct his transgression against the Democratic presidential candidate. But if Olbermann's MSNBC bosses held him to the same standard, the Countdown host himself would have been suspended numerous times during the past four years if he were required to correct either distortions of people's words or his reporting of stories that turned out to be inaccurate. But while in Milbank's case the Washington Post columnist's infraction was against a liberal target in Obama, Olbermann has primarily targeted conservatives, as detailed below. Notably, while it is no secret that Olbermann is very pro-Obama as he conducts his show, on the June 26 show, Olbermann came closest to admitting he hopes Obama becomes President as he defended the Illinois Senator's decision to vote for a FISA bill opposed by the left. Olbermann: "If you get as hot about the issue as I have, you would rather see a President Obama prosecuting the telecoms criminally, rather than a Senator Obama throwing away a vote to keep open the civil suits when most of the other Democrats already caved in."
David Shuster, arbiter of journalistic standards? The MSM didn't bother to pursue the Edwards story, yet Shuster, he of "pimped out" fame, had the chutzpah to look down his nose not once but twice on the National Enquirer during an interview this afternoon with Barry Levine, its Executive Editor. Levine, speaking with Shuster on MSNBC this afternoon at 4:20 PM EDT, laid out a number of open issues, including paternity and the source of funding for Rielle Hunter's living arrangements.
BARRY LEVINE: I think this story is far from over in that regard.
DAVID SHUSTER: And finally I mean, I mean, as a newsman, and I sort of, take that term, sort of liberally for some of your critics, in terms of how they would describe the National Enquirer, but nonetheless, you did get the story right. In your estimation, where is the next aspect to this story for the National Enquirer?
On Thursday’s Countdown show, one night after accusing President Bush of not doing enough to protect America from Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization before the September 11th attacks, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann seemed sympathetic to the plight of bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan, during the show’s regular "Bushed" segment which purports to update viewers on what the Countdown host sees as Bush administration scandals. Following Hamdan’s sentencing in a military court during which the judge expressed an apology to the bin Laden aide as he handed down a sentence that would make Hamdan eligible for release in six months, the American military indicated Hamdan may still be kept prisoner at Guantanamo Bay indefinitely in spite of the ruling, prompting Olbermann to accuse the Bush administration of "urinating" on the Constitution, and making Hamdan one of the "victims" of its "medieval" justice system. Olbermann: "So, besides urinating on the Constitution and the rights and freedoms every American soldier has ever fought to win and protect, the Bush administration has now decided that when its victims have actually served their sentences, doled out under its own medieval, quote, "justice," unquote, system, it still might not choose to set them free, thereby giving that Constitution and our country a second pass on the way out." (Transcripts follow)
Ron Suskind's charge, that the Bush administration forged a letter to falsely link al-Qaeda with Saddam Hussein, landed the journalist/author not only a spot on Thursday night's "Hardball," but also the following recommendation for his book, The Way of the World, from guest host Mike Barnicle:
MIKE BARNICLE: And in reading the book, I have to tell you, in reading all your stuff, I admire all your stuff. But in reading this book and these charges that have laid out here and because of my background, covering like city stuff and everything for years, I can't help but come to the conclusion, at the end of this book, this book is basically charging the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States with being an accessory, before the fact, to 4000 murders and more in Iraq. They lied us into war, according to this book.
The following is an excerpt of the interview as it occurred on the August 7, "Hardball":
The media continue to have Obama's back after his ridiculous claim tire inflation could be a substitute for oil drilling in a speech at a rally in Missouri on July 30.
MSNBC anchor Alex Witt is the latest in a long line of media personalities expressing irritation that McCain is using the presumptive Democratic nominee's tire inflation comment in his campaign against Obama. Witt interviewed former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on August 7 about McCain's strategy.
"But sir, when John McCain picks up this tire-gauge issue and you know - throws it about back and forth, doesn't he just perpetuate the problem?" Witt asked. "I mean, if you were advising him, wouldn't you say, ‘Can you leave it alone?' or does it work for him?"
Chicken and egg question: which came first, Obama supporters or pro-Obama media coverage?
Such seems important given a new Rasmussen Reports study that found people who watch CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast network evening news programs largely support Obama for president, while those watching Fox News are more likely to say they're voting for McCain.
Though certainly not surprising, is this a function of the various channels' biases impacting their viewers, or people opting for news sources that are friendly to the candidate they support?
While you ponder, here are the relevant numbers (h/t NBer Schnikeys, photo courtesy MSNBC.com):
Apparently having a show on two different networks owned by NBC does not guarantee familiarity with voters. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” has hinted at a run for Arlen Specter’s Senate seat in 2010 as reported by Mark Finkelstein here.
A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvanians found that 55 percent of voters “say they don’t know enough to have an impression of him (Matthews)” as reported in the August 5 edition of Politico’s The Scorecard blog, which can be found here. The same poll found that 28 percent hold a favorable view of Matthews while 15 percent look unfavorably on the “thrilled” Hardball host.
Be with you in a sec. Gotta finish this bag of Cheetos. Man, what a mess down here in Mom's basement. Let's see, where were we? Barnicle. Right. Bloggers. Doesn't think much of us. On this evening's Hardball, decrying the decline of bi-partisanship, Barnicle put much of the blame on the blogosphere.
Subbing for Chris Matthews, Barnicle had as his guest historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The jumping off point was a clip of Obama saying he could imagine naming McCain as his head of Homeland Security. Barnicle wondered whether that was feasible in what he sees as a hyper-partisan age, and pointed the finger largely at bloggers. Kearns Goodwin suggested that despite the difficulties, she could imagine either of the candidates reaching out to his opponent. That prompted Barnicle to let loose on bloggers, casting them as largely a bunch of loons with too much time on their hands.
Joe Scarborough has estimated that 95% of the elite media will pull the lever for Barack Obama. Even so, evidence continues to mount that the MSM is beginning to view the Dem candidate with a more discerning eye. The latest example comes from an unexpected corner, that occupied by NBC correspondent Martin Savidge. As NewsBusters has reported, on everything from climate change to Jesse Helms to the Jena Six, Savidge has consistently toed the liberal media line.
But on MSNBC this afternoon, interviewing an Obama supporter, Savidge surprisingly suggested that Obama was "a bit of a liar" on the subject of oil industry donations that he and John McCain have accepted.
Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
As we'll detail below, David Shuster literally laughed in the face of a senior Republican today, and earlier on MSNBC Andrea Mitchell blithely dismissed the McCain energy plan as unrealistic. But there was one point of light, you might say, during the network's afternoon coverage. When Shuster briefly held a Dem congresswoman's feet to the fire on the question of Obama's vote for the 2005 Bush energy bill, what ensued was one of the more hapless—and ergo entertaining—dodges of the political season. Shuster's guest was Allyson Schwartz, a Dem congresswoman from Pennsylvania.
DAVID SHUSTER: Congresswoman, during the event in Ohio today, Barack Obama attacked the Bush-Cheney energy policy. But didn't Barack Obama vote for the 2005 Bush-Cheney energy bill?
Schwartz's first foray was the old politician's standby: ignore the embarrassing question and give your canned spiel on something you want to discuss.
This will give you an idea of just how far to the left NBC's Andrea Mitchell is.
Although many industry insiders and media watchers on both sides of the aisle view the cable network MSNBC as being a journalistic disgrace as a result of its blatantly obvious liberal bias, Mitchell says, "Nothing could be more important to our future."
And that's not all. For those with strong stomachs, here's Mitchell's complete response to a question on this subject from TVNewser (emphasis added):
Influenced by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's recent claims on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the McCain campaign deliberately included "phallic symbols" along with images of attractive young white women in an ad attacking Barack Obama to exploit racial resentment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann latched onto this theory on Monday's Countdown show and observed that the ad featured "two underdressed blondes mixed with the black guy," and contended that the ad included "three phallic symbols, two blondes and Barack Obama," opining that the ad is an example of "miscegenation," and that it suggests Obama is "going to wind up dating those women."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, also an MSNBC political analyst, charged: "That's the oldest and deepest racist, you know, canard in American history, really, is that, you know, the slave is going to come after the wife of the plantation owner." And, ignoring the GOP's history of portraying white Senator John Kerry as elitist during the 2004 campaign, Alter further charged that Republicans are "trying to portray [Obama] as being uppity," and hinted at the racially charged connotation of the word "uppity." (Transcript follows)
When Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times since 1993, recently charged in his column that the Republican Party deliberately targets black Democrats using ads featuring attractive white women to exploit racial resentment, and claimed as proof that the GOP does not run such ads against opponents who are white, the liberal columnist could have disproved this thesis by consulting a 1994 article in the paper he writes for regarding that year's Virginia Senate race involving former Senator Charles Robb, a white Democrat. The New York Times article, titled "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE AD CAMPAIGN; The Senate Race in Virginia: Robb and North Trade Barbs," from October 15, 1994, describes an ad run by Republican Oliver North's campaign depicting the Playboy cover image of Tai Collins, a young blonde with whom Democrat Robb was romantically linked. (Transcript follows)
It appears that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has dumped his appearances on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." Host Olbermann issued a DailyKos diary explaining the dust up on Monday, August 4. According to Olbermann, the problem came in when Milbank violated Keith Olbermann's well-known journalistic standards. Of course, I jest about that... not that there was a disagreement but that there are any journalistic standards in the Olbermann camp.
Now, for a man that is supposed to make his mark with words and for a man the left constantly claims is eloquent, Olbermann's diary explanation is quite badly written. But, the gist of the matter is that Olbermann has supposedly been asking Milbank for "nearly a week" if an Obama quote in one of his Washington Post stories was sourced and reported accurately. Apparently Milbank took exception to having his own journalistic integrity questioned by a sports guy.
For Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann showed up wearing his tinfoil hat to cover the recent break in the Anthrax attacks case from 2001, as he charged that "the government took advantage of this situation to use it as a tool to build up a case to go to war in Iraq," and, stepping into his "conspiracy theory" mode, even suggested that the Bush administration was not interested in quickly solving the case. Olbermann: "And in that context, there would be no rush to find the deranged, solo killer."
During the show's teaser, Olbermann's bizarre choice of words made it sound as if he were theorizing about the possibility of a conspiracy to carry out the Anthrax attacks to build support for invading Iraq, as the MSNBC host used the loaded phrase "it was an inside job" because the suspect was a government employee, and then seemed to link John McCain's speculation from 2001 that the Anthrax "may have come from Iraq," to the "motive." Before playing a clip of McCain, Olbermann teased: "For motive, for explanation, there are few options, and all of them are terrifying, including why people like U.S. Senators were saying this in 2001."
Warning: excessive adulation of Barack Obama is harmful to the vision and can in extreme cases cause hallucinations.
We're all familiar with how an Obamania overdose produced strange tingling sensations in Chris Matthews. A new, virulent strain of the affliction has now emerged, claiming its first victim in the person of Bob Herbert, who on live national TV saw visions of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Washington Monument where none existed.
The NYT columnist, a guest on today's Morning Joe, expanded on the theory set forth in his column of this past Saturday, Running While Black, that the McCain campaign ad mocking Obama as a Paris Hilton/Britney Spears-type celebrity was actually "designed to exploit" racist anxiety about black men and white women. Herbert lumped the McCain ad with the "call me" ad the RNC ran against Harold Ford, Jr. in his Tennessee senate race.
It was in describing the McCain ad that Herbert's symptoms surfaced.
Newsweek Paris bureau chief Christopher Dickey appeared as a guest on the August 4 edition of MSNBC’s “News Live” to discuss a recent trip through the South he took in order to determine “if Obama's candidacy was helping to pull people in the South together, freeing them of their histories, or pushing them apart.” During their discussion, the two journalists disparaged white Southerners who are skeptical of Obama as racists.
Responding to an inquiry by Brewer about his description of emotions in the South as “raw,” Dickey rendered any hesitations white Southerners may have with Obama as thinly-veiled racism:
The South is part of the country that’s had to deal with race as an issue for a very long time and often very painfully so the idea that Obama is a black man that may be the next President of the United States has raised hopes among African-Americans tremendously, uh, but it’s also raised a lot of concerns among whites who may not talk about it as a race question but raise lots of other issues that may in some cases be code for race.
In following up with that response, Brewer noted that Southerners often deal with the stereotype that they are all racists, yet proceeded to depict them as clinging -- I suppose bitterly along with guns and Bibles -- to racist traditions:
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Newsweek Washington correspondent/MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman went after John McCain for his recent ads attacking Barack Obama, and the Arizona Republican's charge that Obama was "playing the race card" because the Illinois Democrat has repeatedly joked that his opponents will try to discourage people from voting for him because "he's black." Olbermann started off the show suggesting that McCain's ad against Obama featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton exhibited "almost subliminal racism, a black man with two women," and that the ad "intermixed footage of that black candidate with images of two young white women."
Fineman charged that McCain is using negative attacks to distract from the "substantive issues" Obama is "trying to raise in the campaign," and suggested that McCain is in danger of seeming as "obsessed" as Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men" as the Arizona Senator is planning to "demonize Obama to draw out the Republican base." Fineman further characterized McCain as being "in survival mode. It's not quite like the prison years, but he's a tough character in a tough spot, and he's going to use anything he can to survive."
Fineman also seemed to voice agreement with Obama's joke that Republicans will try to use race against him. After noting that Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs was not telling the truth in denying that Obama was referring to race in his controversial joke, Fineman suggested that Obama was being "honest" in warning that "the country needs to be on guard," and the Newsweek correspondent recommended that Obama "should have all of his advisors and spokespeople be honest, too." (Transcript follows)
Exactly how wide is the gulf between elite media opinion and public opinion on matters of politics?
Let’s put it this way, after Sen. Barack Obama falsely accused Sen. John McCain of saying he (Obama) doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency and has a funny name, Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, called Obama's "Dollar Bill" statement "self-deprecating":
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure –