What's wrong with this picture: a young, prominent, liberal blogger gets a respectable and highly-coveted position with a leading, leftwing magazine, and for some reason, can't shake himself from the vulgarity and vitriol prevalent in his past writing?
Such appears to be the case for Ezra Klein, a virtual rising star in the liberal blogosphere, who despite being on the staff of The American Prospect, still feels the need to drop an f-bomb now and again while attacking one of the nation's leading television journalists.
As reported by new blogger Unpopular Front (vulgarity warning!):
ABC, CBS and NBC reported "more signs of a looming recession," "deepening troubles," "new fuel for recession fears," "rattled consumers," "an economy on edge" and "bracing for recession," or some scary variation a total of 32 times just in the first two weeks of 2008.
The segments predicted a recession or reported fears of a looming recession four times as often as they reported optimism about the New Year, even though recent surveys of economists put the chance of recession at 40 percent to 42 percent.
"And the major concern heading into 2008 is that big ‘R' word, recession," David Muir ominously reported on January 1. "When does the mortgage mess, the housing market, lead to that?" he asked, assuming that a mortgage "mess" inevitably leads to recession.
ABC reported "growing concerns the economy may be heading toward recession." CBS mentioned that "when companies stop hiring, it's often a sign we're slipping into a recession." NBC noticed that in a speech about the economy, President Bush
Is the "Today" show obsessed with the Democratic race? Judging from Monday's show it appears so. On the day before an important primary for Republicans in Michigan, NBC's "Today" devoted almost seven minutes to the fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton compared to just 33 seconds to the GOP race. In fact "Today" devoted almost eight more minutes to the Detroit Auto Show in Michigan, than they did to the Republican primary in that same state.
On Friday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Jim Maceda reported that Europeans have an unusually high interest in this year's presidential election as "they say they'd be very happy with anyone who makes a clean break with the past eight years. In a word, change." Maceda also suggested that Hillary Clinton reminds some of President Bush because of her "talking tough on Iran and terrorism." Notably, while liberals have long criticized Bush for his "You're either with us or against us" line after the September 11th attacks, according to USA Today, Senator Clinton, a week before Bush's speech, used similar words as she argued that Bush should articulate "to every nation in this world, you're either with us or you're not, and there will be consequences." And, appearing on the CBS Evening News the same day, she spoke approvingly of Bush's plan to "make it clear that every nation has to either be with us or against us." (Partial audio available here.)
NBC’s "30 Rock" has always been a left-leaning show and manages to insert a joke or negative generalizations at the expense of Republicans into many episodes. Thursday night's episode was no different.
When conservative GE executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) and his liberal Congresswoman girlfriend, Celeste Cunningham (Edie Falco) blow off a day of work; Cunningham misses an important vote on a bill to "legalize recreational whale torture."
This might seem like a harmless little joke attributable to either party; however, it is a clear reference to Republicans in the next scene as it cuts to C-SPAN live on the floor of the House with the caption "Lott-Specter passes by one vote."
The morning after appearing with NewsBusters senior editor Tim Graham at the National Press Club (pictures and audio from that event posted below) to discuss the media's lack of interest in Hillary Clinton's role in Clinton administration scandals, MRC president and NewsBusters publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the January 11 "Fox & Friends" to discuss NBC's gauzy treatment of Barack Obama.
In fact, by Tuesday night, there were a total of 74 nationally televised media reports concerning Hillary's weepy moment (un-audited LexisNexis count), with CNN leading the way with 28, Fox News with fifteen, MSNBC and ABC News tied at eleven, NBC News with seven, and CBS News with two (all also un-audited).
Here's one of the first reports concerning the matter from the 3PM EST installment of "CNN Newsroom" Monday:
To know what's on a morning-show anchor's mind, it's often easy to read between the lines. Katie Couric famously employed the "some say" technique to put her own views in the mouths of unidentified others.
But it's relatively uncommon to hear an anchor flatly express an opinion in the way Matt Lauer did this morning. The topic was whether there were racial overtones to Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" tirade directed at Barack Obama in the closing days of the New Hampshire campaign. Matt's guests were radio talk show host Michael Smerconish and former Clinton advisor Paul Begala.
On a Wednesday blog entry on The Daily Nightly, NBC anchor Brian Williams candidly admitted the media screwed up in expecting a massive Obama wave, but then said "virtually everyone got it wrong." He also said "Give us a few weeks – we will promptly forget the lessons of this debacle in polling, predictions and primary politics" and "live to screw up another day."
But then, Williams went back to swooning over the historic moments of Obama touching voters in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and his "beautiful, soaring concession speech." He even defended Obama for thinking he was going to win big: "A colleague of mine contends Obama got caught up in the history he was making. I don't think that's quite fair. The candidate didn't change his message as much as Iowa changed the way we heard it. That day, I saw people embrace Obama the way people embrace loved ones returning from foreign battlefields."
Doesn’t Williams see that once again, he’s only underlining his utter lack of objectivity and identifying himself as Swooner-in-Chief? (Another sign he doesn’t care about the appearance of objectivity: he allows this swoon to be cross-posted for the trendy Left at The Huffington Post). It seems more plausible that he wants fellow liberals to know that he is one of them and yes, he, too, is caught up in the magic.
The Clinton and McCain victories in New Hampshire were topic A on the network morning shows today, so I thought we'd compile a montage video of the teases that the "Early Show," "Good Morning America," and "Today" ran.
On his blog The Daily Nightly, NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams took offense at "spinning" about his Obama-swooning patter on MSNBC about how reporter Lee Cowan admitted they've found it hard to remain objective about the Obama phenomenon. NBC, biased? Williams said "rival political efforts" (the Clintons?) charged him with bias and that's "just ridiculous." The anchor demanded viewers look at NBC against and judge the "quality and fairness of our journalism." But isn't that a little like Gary Hart challenging reporters to look for Donna Rice? Exhibits of Cowan's liberal bias on the campaign (not to mention NBC's) have been posted here at NB. From the anchor's blog:
Lee admits "...it's almost hard to remain objective..." which as he implies is our goal in our work every day. He's referring to what all of us who have covered campaigns have felt from time to time: it's impossible to get the long view...the view from 40,000 feet...while operating at sea level, and inside the bubble.
Lee was talking about the swirl of excitement that has hit the Obama campaign after Iowa -- the crowds, the hoopla -- all of it. Today we learned that rival political efforts were spinning this as some kind of "bias" on the part of either Lee, or me, or this News Division, and that's just ridiculous. My response is as it always is in these situations: look at it again, listen to what's being said, and judge us by the quality and fairness of our journalism.
On the day of the New Hampshire primary, the "Today" show booked former Clinton administration Secretary of State and Hillary Clinton supporter Madeleine Albright to praise Hillary's credentials to be "a great commander-in-chief," and slam Bush foreign policy as she declared: "Internationally I don't think I've ever seen such a mess."
On to promote her new book, Memo To The President Elect, Albright did receive one skeptical question about whether the Clinton administration had done enough to stop al Qaeda. However that didn't stop "Today" co-host Ann Curry from asking for Albright's foreign policy advice:
ANN CURRY: Bottom line, people feel very hopeless about our being able to improve relations with other nations, of finally being able to restore peace. Through your, through this effort in creating this book is there, is there hope? What would be the most hopeful thing you can say to the American people?
Were it not for the leftward-leaning news media, Democrats would have a much tougher time getting their agenda out. This is a point which journalists now and then will admit. Another such admission was made earlier today by NBC anchor Brian Williams who said the following:
I interviewed Lee Cowan, our reporter who covers Obama, while we were out yesterday and posted the interview on the web. Lee says it's hard to stay objective covering this guy. Courageous for Lee to say, to be honest.
Hillary Clinton secured interviews on all three network morning shows on Monday, but as CBS’s Harry Smith emphasized the New York Post "PANIC" headline and NBC’s Matt Lauer wondered if Hillary thought the voters were being charmed (but weren't doing their homework) about Obama, ABC gave her the softest interview of the day – with her former employee George Stephanopoulos. Which shameless producer makes the decision to let them play Patty-Cake?
ABC obviously presumes everyone knows of their previous professional relationship, since it was not disclosed. Stephanopoulos began: "She has taken charge of her campaign, Diane, running her war room out of her hotel suite, giving orders and I begin my interview by asking her what those orders are."
Pardon the viewer for hearing: "I begin my interview by asking her what my orders are."
Fred Thompson today blasted the media for propagating a false rumor about his impending withdrawal, while reinforcing the role he has created for himself as the candidate in this race who does not suffer unwelcome questions gladly.
Back in Iowa, Thompson famously refused to respond to the debate moderator/school marm's demand for a hand-show on global warming. On this morning's Today, he declined to engage in horse-race speculation about his own prospects, then took the media to task for its propagation of that false rumor about his impending withdrawal. Weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed the former Tennessee senator.
Update (Jan. 7 | 14:30): This was mentioned earlier in the comments thread. You can see Maher's offensive comments beginning about 1:35 into the video posted on YouTube here.
Appearing on the Friday "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," comedian Bill Maher took repeated swipes at the Republican Party and conservatives as idiotic, bigoted, homophobic, you know, all the usual epithets.
Although his material was registering mostly nervous laughter from the audience, Maher plunged further into his assault on traditional values, attacking Christians, particularly Catholics, by insisting that one has to be "schizophrenic" to go about life normally for six days a week only to, on the seventh go to church and believe that when drinking communion wine one is drinking "the blood of a 2,000-year old space god."
On this morning’s Today show, NBC’s David Gregory challenged Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards about his vote for the Iraq war, his relative lack of experience, and his divisive us-vs-them rhetoric. But Gregory had absolutely no reaction when Edwards grandly claimed that his phone call to Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf in the hours after the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto “was a calming influence” that helped stabilize an “international crisis” and was proof he is “ready for the Presidency.”
“We just had this, this international crisis in Pakistan that is still ongoing. And my response to that was to speak directly to President Musharraf, to urge him to do a series of things that would move the country toward democracy, that would allow international inspectors into the country and to proceed with the elections in an open, fair, verifiable and secure way. And I believe was a calming influence in a very volatile situation.”
Does Edwards really think that in the turmoil following Bhutto’s killing his phone call was of any consequence whatsoever? Or is this just another display of Edwards’ knack for grotesque overstatement, as when in 2004 he claimed that “when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”
Credit Chuck Todd for candor. The NBC News Political Director has acknowledged that the media is poised to take a third-place finish by John McCain in Iowa, declare him the winner and catapult the Arizona senator to victory in New Hampshire. Todd appeared with the Politico's Roger Simon on this afternoon's Hardball.
If Hillary Clinton’s trying to warm up her image in the last days before the first presidential vote, NBC’s Meredith Vieira threw another log on the fire, vouching strongly for her personal warmth on Wednesday’s edition of Today. "Her every word and move is caught on tape and while her critics assail Clinton as overly calculating, up close the Senator and former First Lady is natural, confident and warm," reported Vieira as she followed Hillary on the trail in Iowa.
After her report was over, Vieira underlined that private-warmth line to co-anchor Matt Lauer: "she's excellent, one-on-one with people. You know she has the image of being very cold and calculating but she's great one-on-one. I actually took my son Ben, who's a freshman in college, and wants to be president. He told her that and they sat and talked for the longest time and it was very genuine. I think she relates a lot to young people."
As you’ve already been told a thousand times, with only a day to go before the Iowa caucuses, the polls are showing a statistical three-way tie between Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards atop the Democratic field, and a similarly close two-way race between Republicans Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.
But the polls are probably wrong. Or maybe they’re right -- we won’t really know until Thursday night when the actual results are announced. And that’s the problem -- the media have given the polls so much emphasis that the actual results will only matter to the extent that they differ from the media’s pre-election expectations, i.e., only to the extent that this week’s polls are inaccurate.
In just the last month, RealClearPolitics has posted the results of 55 pre-Iowa caucus polls (27 for the Republicans, 28 for the Democrats). These are mostly media-generated polls, with a few conducted by universities. It’s because of these polls that reporters think they know who is and is not a frontrunner, who is and is not rising and/or falling, and who is and is not hopelessly behind.
In: preachy AIDS activism on the peacock network's "ER."
Reports Los Angeles Times writer Greg Braxton in the the January 2 paper (emphasis mine):
Gloria Reuben raised more than a few eyebrows in 2000 when she went from the front lines of NBC's acclaimed "ER" to the back line of Tina Turner's rock 'n' roll tour. Now she's starting the new year by stepping forward into her past.
Reuben, who won accolades for her groundbreaking portrayal of Jeanie Boulet, a physician's assistant grappling with an HIV diagnosis, returns to the role Thursday night. She called the experience, which is being billed as a one-time appearance, both emotional and exhilarating.
On Monday's "The Early Show," CBS anchor Harry Smith charged that the leading Republican presidential candidates are "mudslinging," contending that their campaigns have "turned nasty," but then suggested that Democrats are "playing nice." While the ABC and NBC morning shows portrayed candidates in both parties as "going negative," CBS's Smith hinted that Democrats were "playing nice" even after CBS correspondents had just referred to Obama as "attacking" other Democrats, and to John Edwards as portraying "corporate powers and Washington lobbyists" as "enemies of ordinary people." (Transcript follows)
Smith teased Monday's "The Early Show": "Pick me: It's a dead heat in the Iowa polls as Democrats fall into a virtual tie, and Republican leaders sling more mud."
On Monday's "NBC Nightly News," correspondent Mike Taibbi oddly suggested that Barack Obama could be considered an "independent" or centrist politician as he included the liberal Senator as one of several politicians with an "independent streak" with whom New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been associated. Taibbi: "Bloomberg was a long-time Democrat, turned Republican mayor, turned Independent, who has kept company with others with an independent streak, from Senators Joe Lieberman and Barack Obama to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger." Such a juxtaposition seems especially out of place in light of National Journal's 2006 vote ratings which found that Obama had a more liberal voting record than all but nine of his Senate colleagues. (Transcript follows)
On Sunday’s The Chris Matthews Show, the host used one of Mike Huckabee’s Iowa photo-ops as an excuse to launch into an elitist attack on Republicans and hunters. “Who made killing small animals the test of Republican manhood?” Matthews challenged at the top of his show. Over a clip of a vintage Looney Tunes cartoon, Matthews further upped the ante: “Who declared war on Bugs Bunny?!”
Later with his panel, an appalled Matthews noted how Huckabee “told a reporter that he loved to bag squirrels because he fried ’em up and ate ’em with biscuits and a Coca-Cola. What have we come to!”
Noticing how NBC News chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell was squirming, Matthews asked her, “Are you upset by this Andrea? You must be!”
“Absolutely,” Mitchell confirmed, adding a unique sexist angle: “You don’t see any women out there with a gun.”
Could it have been just a couple days ago that Chris Matthews claimed that the media had made a "mascot" out of Mike Huckabee? You wouldn't know it from this morning's Today show.
Weekend host Lester Holt kicked off the show's political segment by implying that among presidential candidates, Huckabee was the big loser in his handling of the Pakistani situation.
LESTER HOLT: The murder of Benazir Bhutto is having a big impact on the presidential race here in this country, where we now stand just five days from the first contest, in Iowa, and it's forcing Republican Mike Huckabee to do a bit of backtracking.
A “war on terror” is also a war on democracy? On Thursday’s NBC Nightly News, the broadcast closed with substitute anchor Lester Holt asking reporter Jim Maceda for his thoughts on the day’s top story, the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto. Maceda relayed that Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf would probably be saying “I told you so,” as he had warned against Bhutto holding a rally in the park in Rawalpindi. After the death, Maceda expected that Musharraf would “continue his crackdown on political rallies, on liberties, on protests, basically on democracy, all of that in the name of heightened security and Musharraf’s war on terror.”
MRC’s Kristine Lawrence found the item and offered the transcript:
NBC’s Ann Curry interviewed Mitt Romney on Friday morning's Today on the impact of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and in a tough interview, she dismissed Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy credentials. When Curry questioned Romney’s foreign policy experience, Romney noted that Reagan "was a governor, not a so-called foreign policy expert." Curry dismissively stated "Reagan was not elected at a time of war."
No, Reagan was just elected in an intense point in the Cold War. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan and U.S. diplomats were still being held hostage in Iran. Romney did say that Reagan was "elected at a time of the Cold War. And the Cold War was the greatest challenge that was faced by this nation in the last half of the last century."
According to MasterCard SpendingPulse, retail sales were up 3.6 percent during the holiday season - 2.4 percent excluding gas prices. But because it's not as big an increase as recent years have produced, the media reported it as bad news.
On NBC's "Nightly News," reporter Savannah Guthrie announced a "dramatic" 2.4 percent decrease in women's clothing sales. She didn't think the same percentage increase was "dramatic," however. Instead, she referred to the overall sales increase as "disappointing."
Other media labeled the figures "dismal," "small," "weak," "bleak" and "a clear sign that the economy is slowing down." Most made sure to point out, like "Good Morning America's" Ryan Owens, that the increase is "the smallest in four years."
My ears perked up as soon as I heard that Michelle Kosinski would be reporting from the Amazon on this morning's Today. Might we be treated to another shot of the comely correspondent in a canoe?
But that doesn't mean the segment was without its diversions. It told the tale of a Brazilian environmentalist in Manaus, on the edge of the Amazon. Ann Curry, long back from her Green Week exploits at the South Pole, introduced the story.