On June 3, NBC’s “Meet the Press” marvelously demonstrated how wonderful a panel discussion can be when there are an equal number of liberal and conservative pundits present as reported by NewsBusters here.
Three weeks later, host Tim Russert stocked his panel exclusively with liberals: David Broder of The Washington Post, John Harwood of The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, Gwen Ifill of PBS’ Washington Week, and syndicated columnist Roger Simon.
As a result of there not being one conservative present, the discussion was the usual twenty minutes of Bush-bashing, Hillary sycophancy, and attacks on all politicians with an “R” next to their names.
In fact, the liberal bias this Sunday morning came early and often immediately after Russert’s first question: (video available here with relevant segment beginning at minute 22:45):
Something interesting is happening between the new and old media: the more Democrats move to the left to please liberal bloggers, the more mainstream press members express disdain.
On Wednesday, following in the footsteps of the Washington Post’s David Broder and Time’s Joe Klein, and just days before Democrat strategist Bob Beckel, NBC’s Tim Russert jumped on the “Netroots Are A Danger to Democrats” bandwagon.
Appearing on Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes,” Russert seemed incredibly at ease with both co-hosts as he made statements that had to shock conservative and liberal viewers alike.
In April, NewsBusters commended HBO for actually having a balanced panel on “Real Time”: “Maher ought to try this format of having two liberals (including himself) and two conservatives more often, for a much more balanced discussion ensued than normal, making for one of the most interesting 'Real Times' of the season so far.”
For a change, Tim Russert employed the same strategy on Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” inviting on Democrat strategists James Carville and Bob Shrum, and Republican strategists Mary Matalin and Mike Murphy.
What ensued was an absolutely marvelous discussion largely centering on presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle without the normal vitriol and inflammatory rhetoric we observe when there are either only liberals on the panel or a sole conservative.
The Today show’s very belated attack on Rush Limbaugh on Monday, complete with Hillary’s minions comparing the hilarious Al Sharpton parody to a "minstrel show" (complete with blackface film clip), reminds me: how did NBC cover the last blackface controversy? That would be leftist blogger Jane Hamsher Photo-shopping Joe Lieberman in blackface on The Huffington Post last August 2 as she claimed he was an "integral part of the GOP’s bully machine for the last six years."
NBC didn’t. A Nexis search for terms like "minstrel show" and "blackface" found no mention of the blogger who stepped over the line. On the August 6 edition of Meet the Press, in a segment featuring Lanny Davis for Lieberman and Jim (brother of Howard) Dean for Ned Lamont, host Tim Russert ended with a very weak tip to the bloggers in that race:
Ben Franklin once said, "In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes."
That truth is even more painful for the increasing number of people who fall into a separate tax structure called the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Those qualified for the AMT face a flat tax rate of as much as 28 percent.
Lately, a number of politicians have been crying out for AMT reform to save the middle-class, but the media has a faulty memory when it comes to who is responsible for the AMT monster.
“House Democratic leaders, in an effort to upstage Republicans on the issue of tax cuts, are preparing legislation that would permanently shield all but the very richest taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax,” reported The New York Times on April 9. “Democrats Seek to Lead the Way in Tax Overhaul,” was the headline.
Former “Nightline” anchor Ted Koppel was one of Tim Russert’s guests on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.” As amazing as it might seem, he made some truly shocking and compelling statements about the Iraq war and the war on terror that virtually no Democrat or media member is willing to accept or report:
First, Koppel made it clear that America’s premature departure from Iraq would turn the entire Persian Gulf region into a battlefield between Sunnis and Shia, “something the United States cannot allow to happen”
Second, he said the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are part of the war on terror that “has been going on for the past 24 years” starting when “the precursors of Hezbollah blew up the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon” in 1983
Finally, he stated that America’s departure from Iraq and Afghanistan, regardless of when it occurs, will not represent the end of this battle, but, instead, that it is just “going to be a different war” after that point.
Meredith Vieira was in a light-hearted mood at the top of this morning's "Today," joshing with substitute co-host Ann Curry about the estrogen on the set and kiddingly offering to leave her husband for the winner of the Mega Millions lottery. But we shouldn't have let the idle chatter fool us. When it came to discussing the repercussions of the Libby conviction, Meredith's leopard-skin blouse should have been a clue -- because she pounced.
Discussing the trial with NBC host-turned-star-prosecution-witness Tim Russert [file photo], Meredith displayed and read this quotation from Republican strategist [and former Dole campaign manager] Scott Reed that appeared in a New York Timesarticle this morning:
“The trial has been death by 1,000 cuts for Cheney. It’s hurt him inside the administration. It’s hurt him with the Congress, and it’s hurt his stature around the world because it has shown a lot of the inner workings of the White House. It peeled the bark right off the way they operate.”
Vieira then asked Russert: "Is this the beginning of the end, do you believe, for the Vice President?"
It's a bit early for a Passover Seder, but Tim Russert recited his own version of the Four Questions on this morning's Meet the Press. Not once, not twice, but four times Russert put questions to Jack Murtha clearly designed to provoke the anti-war congressman into taking a verbal swing at Vice-President Cheney. Murtha refused to rise to his host's bait. Russert began by displaying Mr. Cheney's recent statement [displayed below]. Palpably fishing for an irate, headline-grabbing response, he put this provoking question to Murtha:
"How does it feel to be linked with Al-Qaeda by the Vice-President?"
When it came time to pass an anti-war resolution, the Democrats were no better than a bunch of timid pre-teens on Halloween. That was the view Matt Lauer expressed in a colloquy with Tim Russert on this morning's "Today."
Lauer: "The Democrats in the Senate failed to pass this vote so they could even debate this Iraq strategy and there's even some who are talking about possibly bringing up the idea of revoking the 2002 authorization to go to war. If they can't pass a kind of symbolic vote, how do they ever have the kind of strength to do something more serious?"
Russert agreed that "it's going to be very difficult."
Matt wasn't done: "Looking at what happened in the House . . . over the weekend, basically the House did pass this resolution saying they oppose the surge in troops, but put yourself in the position of Joe and Mary Smith, living somewhere across this country right now, and you've watched these politicians for more than a month talk about passing a symbolic vote. Does it amount to little more than them ringing someone's doorbell and running away?"
The trial of Scooter Libby is providing some pretty revealing insight into the mindset of the Washington press. This Sunday's Meet the Press featured an unabashed series of self-glorifications that make it no wonder the general public is turning elsewhere to get its news. The pedestal that the press places itself upon has grown so high now that they appear to believe themselves, at last, above the law. Tim Russert’s disastrous dance with Libby attorney Theodore Wells last week left him gun-shy enough to allow Howard Kurtz to frame the discussion. Kurtz began by expressing sympathy for Russert’s position on the witness stand, describing Russert as ‘cautious, hesitant, as anybody would be.’ There was no criticism of Russert’s failed memory, no suggestion of the responsibility of a journalist whose statements may end up sending a man to prison. Instead, Kurtz chastised those outside the beltway that have become deluded with the idea that the Washington press is in fact part of the political game:
"And I think that the people out there who don’t follow this all that closely think that we have become part of the club, too much the insiders. And that is a problem for journalism."
Listen closely to what Kurtz doesn’t say- he doesn’t say that becoming ‘part of the club’ is a problem for journalism. He says that the misconception on the part of those out of the loop that journalists have become part of the club is a problem for journalism. So apparently all they have to do is let us all know the truth, and the problem disappears. Precise work from the author of a book called Spin Cycle.
It is a common maxim that sometimes those who most loudly decry a sin are in fact the most guilty of it. The trial of Scooter Libby has become a troubling affirmation of that maxim, at least from my vantage point in the media room at the Prettyman Courthouse.
The Washington press has been giddy since the name Joe Wilson was first thrust into the limelight by the tag-team of the New York Times opinion page and NBC's Meet the Press. This week's court proceedings reminded us how invested Big Media has been in the prosecution of White House staff over Wilson's now-debunked claims. Consider this excerpt provided by Libby's defense from an appearance by NBC's Tim Russert on the Don Imus show:
"It was like Christmas here last night," describing the anticipation of indictments coming down over the leak case. "Santa Claus is coming. Surprises! What's going to be under the tree?"
Not that there was ever much doubt where Tim Russert aligns, but it was nice to get concrete confirmation on today's Meet the Press. Grilling John Edwards over his vote to authorize the war and his expression of support for it as late as 2004, Russert pointed out that Obama had staked out a firmly anti-Iraq war position before the conflict began.
Russert displayed a two-part graphic of Obama's 2002 statement, which concluded with the words: "I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars."
Russert then shot at Edwards: "His judgment was on the money."
Sparks flew on the set of NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, after Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole observed about Iraq, “It’s almost as if the Democrats, you know, it’s like they’re content with losing because to pull out, to withdraw from this war is losing. No question about it.”
Both moderator Tim Russert and Democratic Congressman Rahm Emanuel immediately berated Dole for her statement, but this morning a liberal Boston Globe columnist reveals the real Democratic mindset on Iraq, suggesting the U.S. must “accept defeat” in Iraq.
Dole made her comment about 40 minutes into the hour-long debate between the GOP senatorial and congressional campaign committee chairman and their Democratic counterparts. After Russert brought up a Vanity Fair article quoting some Iraq war supporters as criticizing the way the war has been handled, Dole responded by going after the Democrats’ position of withdrawing troops regardless of whether their mission has been accomplished.
On this morning's Meet The Press, Tim Russert tried to pass off the editorial in the "Army Times" and sister publications calling for Donald Rumsfeld's noggin as having some special significance. RNCC Chairman Tom Reynolds didn't let him get away with it. Reynolds exposed those so-called "military newspapers" as nothing more than cogs in the Gannett chain, a member-in-good-standing of the MSM whose flagship paper is the reliably-liberal USA Today.
Russert flashed the panel of the editorial shown here, and asked Reynolds:
Viewers of the Maryland Senate debate between Michael Steele and Ben Cardin on Sunday's "Meet the Press" might not have been surprised that the soundbite that "Today" plucked out the next day was the one showing the Republican being pressed about being a Bush-lover. But wait: did Tim Russert balance out that line of questioning with asking Cardin about his fervent support for Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or Ted Kennedy or even Barbara Mikulski? Why, no. Two weeks ago in a Minnesota Senate debate, Russert caused Republican Mark Kennedy to distance himself from Bush, then pressed Democrat Amy Klobuchar to distance herself from Hillary Clinton. That balance didn't occur yesterday. Here's the snippet of Russert that Meredith Vieira offered Monday:
(AP) London, March 2, 1867: Karl Marx, a rising star among centrist economists, announced today the publication of the first volume of his treatise, 'Das Kapital'.
OK, perhaps I exaggerate a tad. But is there any man of the left that the MSM is unwilling to cast as a "centrist" or moderate, particularly when he is seen as a potential Democratic presidential nominee?
The Associated Press offers a perfect case in point this evening. This article reports Barack Obama's acknowledgement on today's Meet The Press that, earlier protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, he is indeed contemplating a run for the presidency. Writes the AP:
"In recent weeks, his political stock has been rising as a potentially viable centrist candidate for president." [emphasis added]
These days, it is almost as telling what little gems media organizations choose to hide from the public about their own polls as what they share. The release of the most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll is a fine example. As NewsBusters reported, the good folks at the “Today” show on Thursday seemed quite giddy over numbers that suggest the Republicans are in a lot of trouble in the upcoming midterm elections. However, as is typical, what wasn’t shared from this study conceivably gives a different picture.
For example, as is typical these days, news organizations don’t like to share the political affiliations of those questioned. Certainly, you can’t blame them, for this might give the public some pause to trust the veracity of the data. This instance was no exception, for those that were either “strong Democrat,” “Not very strong Democrat,” or “Independent/lean Democrat” totaled 43 percent of the respondents. The tally for “Strong Republican,” “Not very strong Republican,” and “Independent/lean Republican” was only 37 percent. As such, 16 percent more Democrats or those who leaned Democrat were polled versus Republicans and those who leaned Republican. Color me not surprised.
Forgive the slowness of getting to this amazing exchange on Meet the Press, but with all the fuss that Chris Matthews and other national pundits have made over George Allen's "Macaca" salutation, it's amazing (and a testament to media Bush-loathing) that Missouri Democrat Senate challenger Claire McCaskill could completely copy rapper Kanye West and insist President Bush let people die in New Orleans because they were black, and nobody blinked. (Coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC? Zero.) At least Tim Russert brought it up last Sunday, late in the Missouri Senate debate on Meet the Press. But McCaskill wouldn't retract it. She was "acknowledging the feelings" of professional race-baiters and certain rappers who wear pink:
Russert: Let me turn to George W. Bush, because he’s become an issue in the campaign. Ms. McCaskill, you were quoted in the pubdef.net giving a speech which was blogged, saying, “She reminded people that ‘George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black.’” One, why would you say that, and do you believe it?
At the end of Sunday’s Meet the Press, Tim Russert warmly remembered longtime New York Times reporter R. W. Apple, well known not only for his journalism, but for his love of fine food and his tendency to wear bright dress shirts (some looked like picnic table tablecloths). As he displayed an old clip of Apple in a very early 1970s long-hair-and-big-sideburns combo, Russert put it this way: "For 43 years, he wrote for The New York Times with brio and clarity...R.W. ‘Johnny’ Apple, one great writer, one very unique character."
May he rest in peace. It should come as no surprise that a famous Timesman like Apple would display a fair amount of Manhattan ultraliberalism in his public career. Here are a few examples culled from the Notable Quotables archives:
When it comes to the Foley scandal, the MSM is definitely keeping its eyes on the prize: the Democratic takeover of Congress. In this NB item, I described how the New York Times editorialized this morning that it doesn't care what else flows from the scandal. So long as the Dems re-take power, the Foley flameout "will have done its job."
Over at 'Today' this morning, Matt Lauer fretted that the fallout might not come fast enough to swing the election to the Dems. Interviewing Tim Russert, Lauer said "the most cynical scenario, the worst-case scenario for Republicans is that they kept this under wraps because Foley's seat was important to holding control of the House at a time when the entire control issue is up for grabs in the mid-term elections." Matt didn't bother painting a more innocent scenario.
Pundits are pondering Bill Clinton’s feverish attack on “Fox News Sunday,” laying into Chris Wallace for alleged oh-so-clever smirking and pounding the host’s leg with his pointy finger for emphasis.
No one asked if Clinton’s outburst hurt the publicity for his “Clinton Global Initiative.” (It didn’t help.) The first question was: staged outrage, or a spontaneous reaction? It’s quite a commentary on the Slick One that millions on both sides of the political fence would guess he plotted this tantrum in advance. Count me in on that number. I believe it was staged, a plan to please left-wingers who loathe Fox News with a passion and want them demonized as the communications center of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
NBC's Tim Russert has built a reputation for "Meet the Press" as the Sunday interview show to watch, due to a style that can be both aggressive and substantive. Russert guests are often pressed to respond to long text boxes of criticism or asked to defend their own controversial statements. When Russert goes soft, it's often obvious: the questions get short. In his Bill Clinton interview Sunday, instead of pressing the former president with 300-word questions, the entire list of questions was about 300 words long. One answer from Clinton was longer than the word count of all the Russert questions combined.
Here, in review, is the Russert list of questions to Clinton:
President Bush might have successfully avoided Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN yesterday, but he couldn't escape Meredith Viera's backseat driving on Iran policy on this morning's 'Today.' Perhaps convinced of the value of a good gabfest by her years on "The View," Vieira left little doubt she thinks that George and Mahmoud should soon sit down for nice coffee klatsch.
Vieira's guest was Tim Russert. Alluding to the way that Pres. Bush and Ahmadinejad avoided each other yesterday, Vieira asked him:
"Eventually will [Pres. Bush] have to sit down with this man? How much saber-rattling can you do if you're talking about the potential of going to war?"
If there's one thing you might have thought Meredith would have learned over the last 51/2 years, it's that when George Bush raises the sword, he ain't necessarily planning just to rattle it.
In her Today show debut this morning, Meredith Vieira gave a flash of her ego - but not of her liberal politics. There was the obligatory opening love-in with co-host Matt Lauer in which Vieira claimed "I feel like it's the first day of school and I'm sitting next to the cutest guy." But then there was an interesting exchange that might presage conflicts to come. In what is apparently a Today show tradition, Matt had the crew replay the opening voice-over announcing "Meredith Vieira, live from Studio 1-A in Rockefeller Plaza."
Asked Matt: "Like the way it sounds?"
Vieira: "I do, but it's still 'Matt Lauer' and 'Meredith Vieira.'"
Lauer: "I don't think that's going to change - unless you bump me off."
On today's episode of Meet the Press (Sunday, September 10, 2006), Tim Russert interviewed Vice President Cheney. In the interview, Russert took issue with the fact that the Vice President once stated on his show that it was "pretty well confirmed" that Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers, met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague in April 2001.
Here's the craftiness by Russert: Mr. Cheney made the "pretty well confirmed" remark in a December 9, 2001, appearance, over four-and-a-half years ago. Russert failed to inform his audience this morning when the remark was originally made. In addition, in three following appearances on Meet the Press (3/02, 9/02, and 9/03), when the Vice President breached the topic of the Atta-Prague allegation, he essentially told Russert that he "[didn't] know" if the visit occurred, that it was "unconfirmed," and that intelligence had been unable "to nail down a close tie between the al-Qaida organization and Saddam Hussein." The Vice President's stance on the issue was certainly modified from the one he originally aired in 2001.
In fact, in the very last appearance that the Vice President made on Meet the Press (in September 2003), Mr. Cheney specifically told Russert that "we just don't know" if such a meeting ever happened. And in his September 2002 appearance, the Vice President said almost the opposite of it being "pretty well confirmed"; he said the meeting was "unconfirmed"! Yet this morning Russert harked back to the original 2001 appearance over four-and-a-half years ago to try and hammer the Vice President for the "pretty well confirmed" words. Fairness, anyone? Not at all.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, All you've got to do is call. Lord, I'll be there, yes I will. You've got a friend. - James Taylor, 'You've Got a Friend'
Was it an interview, or a benefit concert - 'Dem-Aid'? Matt Lauer and Tim Russert got a one-day headstart this morning on the Today show's traditional Friday music-on-the-mall. In the course of their conversation, Matt and Tim went karaoke on us, the duo belting out a heartfelt rendition of 'You've Got a Friend' to their buddies in the Democratic party.
Yesterday, President Bush announced that 14 heavyweight terrorists, including presumed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had been transfered to Guantanamo. President Bush is now calling on Congress to promptly pass legislation establishing war tribunals for the trial of the accused terrorists. The news creates a terrible bind for Democrats, forced to agree with the president on an element of the war on terror. The depth of the Dems' dilemma was evidenced by a clip Today played of Nancy Pelosi having to admit, if grudgingly, that she was "very pleased" by the news of the transfer and impending trials.
Before even a note was sounded, Today had set the stage with the graphic on display here, writing off the president's move as "the politics of terror." And once he chimed in, Lauer lost no time in playing the president's move as sheer political calculation.
Lauer: "Let's talk about the timing of this. The Supreme Court handed the administration a defeat on this subject back in June, so several months ago. The president any time in the last couple of months could have made this announcement. Why did he wait until now?"
Interviewing 9/11 Commission members Gov. Thomas Kean and Rep. Lee Hamilton on yesterday's Meet the Press, NBC's David Gregory repeatedly pushed his guests to admit Iraq was a distraction from the war on terror. Both Kean and Hamilton gave carefully-worded but clearly affirmative responses to Gregory's question but Gregory, substituting for Tim Russert, kept pushing for a harsher assessment of the administration. Gregory opened the segment reciting the cover of Newsweek: "Welcome both. Let me show you the cover of this week's Newsweek magazine. The banner headline: ‘Terror Now: A Plot Against Airlines, Bin Laden At Large, Iraq in Flames. Five Years After 9/11, Are We Any Safer? Governor Kean, are we?"
After a discussion about al Qaeda, Gregory prompted Kean: "Governor Kean, has that [Muslim] radicalization gotten worse since the 9/11 attacks, and why?" Kean cited a number of reasons including high-unemployment, poverty, U.S. support of Israel and the Iraq war. Out of that list, Gregory jumped on Iraq, as he launched into a barrage of anti-Iraq war questions:
Fresh from his most recent trip to the Middle East, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman returned to offer his latest rationale for Bush hatred. Appearing on yesterday's Meet the Press Friedman theorized: "What this administration has done, is actually stolen something from people. Whether it's an African or a European or an Arab or Israeli, it's that idea of an optimistic America out there. People really need that idea, and the, the sort of dark nature of the Cheneys and the Bushes and the Rices, this, this sort of relentless pessimism about the world, this exporting of fear, not hope, has really left people feeling that the idea of America has been stolen from them."
Just a week ago Friedman, right before his departure to the Mideast, sat down with NBC's Russert to espouse the miraculous benefits of a gas tax. Friedman returned just in time, to the still warm seat across from Russert, to the following welcome from the Meet the Press host: