One clear sign of just how powerful talk radio is today is the number of candidates and mainstream media types pointing fingers at leading conservative hosts for their influence.
The recent fixation on Rush Limbaugh's unfavorable position towards Republican presidential candidate John McCain is a fine example.
Conservative talker and Fox News host Sean Hannity has now been tossed into the campaign influence peddling ring by none other than Mike Huckabee who shared some criticisms of the outspoken radio and television personality with Florida's Herald Tribune last Friday:
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was Howard Kurtz's guest on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday, and unfortunately, viewers were treated to a litany of hypocrisies from both media personalities, so much so that it seemed like a lengthy advertisement for the controversial "Countdown."
Although Kurtz did present his guest as being mostly liberal and decidedly anti-Bush, he never once mentioned "Countdown's" actual ratings, or how Olbermann is often in last place in his time slot behind "The O'Reilly Factor," "Nancy Grace," and whatever is being offered by CNN.
You would think that since Kurtz works for CNN, he might have mentioned this.
But that wasn't the only hypocrisy Sunday morning, for when Olbermann made clear just how biased he is, Kurtz seemed to be totally oblivious (video available here, liberal website warning):
The woman who got her big break on network TV thanks to the firing of Don Imus now apparently wants another host to lose his job over some tasteless remarks.
Morning Joe is the show that took over MSNBC's early-morning time slot after Imus was bounced for his offensive observations about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Mika Brzezinski, a regular member of the Morning Joe crew, has now left little doubt she would like to see John Gibson fired for the callous comments about the death of actor Heath Ledger the Fox News host made on his radio show.
"I like how you think, senator," cooed "Late Show" host David Letterman in agreement with John Edwards's charge that "most of what" Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly says "is crap."
Letterman had asked the former senator about his "feud" with O'Reilly over Edwards's charge that the Bush administration is failing to care for military veterans to the extent that hundreds of thousands are winding up homeless.
The exchange came in a jovial January 22 interview in which Edwards joked about having Letterman as his running mate, or at the very least as a celebrity endorser a la Oprah Winfrey.
The Republicans had two contests for delegates on Saturday, but many pundits played the game of playing up the hotly contested race, and playing down the "little-contested" race, even though they equally count at convention time. In this case, it also means playing up media favorite John McCain and playing down media un-favorite Mitt Romney. Here's AP reporter Tom Raum:
Among Republicans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney cruised to victory in the little-contested GOP Nevada caucuses.
But McCain's victory in South Carolina could shake up the GOP contest and give him political grasp. McCain won in New Hampshire but placed second to Romney in Michigan.
This kind of punditry, assuming McCain's victory is the one with the "grasp," ignores the actual delegate count. According to CNN on Sunday morning, Romney has 72, McCain has 38, and Huckabee has 29.
"The New York Times" uses fuzzy math to smear volunteer soldiers and "Fox and Friends" picked it up. MRC’s Clay Waters reported on the "Sunday Times" January 13 story, "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," essentially smearing soldiers linking some committed murders to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflict.
However, the numbers show that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are far less likely to commit murder. On the January 16 edition of "Fox and Friends," co-host Steve Doocy noted that veterans are "five times less likely to commit murder." Gretchen Carlson noted the danger of putting out these dubious stories adding "You don't have time to actually get to the bottom of all of these articles. People just assume that what they read, wrong or right, is truth."
It really was just a matter of time before one of the most hate-filled and vitriolic press members, whose material relies so strongly on reports from Clinton front organizations Media Matters for America and Think Progress, would start posting articles at one of the most hate-filled and vitriolic liberal websites on the Internet.
In fact, it's really a perfect fit, dontcha think?
As such, when MSNBC's Keith Olbermann posted his first blog at Daily Kos Monday, it shouldn't be surprising that he took the opportunity to bash Fox News's Bill O'Reilly.
After all, what would this man be without Bill, and those who hate him (h/t NB reader Thomas Stewart and Inside Cable News):
TV Newser reports that reader reaction to the Playboy magazine interview in which MSNBC star Keith Olbermann wackily claimed that Fox News was more dangerous than al-Qaeda was so bad, Playboy went looking to recruit a positive letter-writer for balance.
[A]n anonymous emailer directed TVNewser to BloggingOlbermann.com, a fan site of Olbermann's. Becky, who runs the site, tells the story of how Playboy editor Chip Rowe contacted her looking for a positive letter in support of Olbermann to offset the slew of negative letters Playboy received...
More from an industry insider: "The more glaring issue here is that Olbermann's Al Qaeda comment was so over the top that Playboy had to resort to asking one of his rabid fans to find one person to say something positive about him."
But there's more. Keith-loving blogger Becky was allowed to use a phony surname in her letter:
Add Keith Olbermann to the list of MSNBC hosts offended by popular applause lines from Thursday's GOP debate on FNC. On Friday's Countdown, the same day that Hardball's Chris Matthews had earlier compared Mike Huckabee's words regarding the U.S. military defending itself from Iran to "talking like jihadists," Olbermann named Fred Thompson "Worst Person in the World," contending that the GOP presidential candidate had "pulled another whopper" because the former Senator joked that Iranian military members on speed boats who harassed U.S. Navy warships came close to meeting "those virgins that they're looking forward to seeing." Olbermann further mocked Thompson by suggesting that his candidacy was just part of a "Candid Camera" stunt. (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Hardball, during the show's regular "Big Number" segment, Chris Matthews went after Mike Huckabee for quipping during Thursday's FNC presidential debate that those who attack the American military should be prepared to see the "gates of hell," as the MSNBC host asked if we're all "learning to talk like jihadists now," and contended that Huckabee's comments earn him a "10" on the "irresponsibility scale." Notably, Huckabee's remark was very popular with "Republican-leaning" focus group participants as shown by pollster Frank Luntz Thursday night during FNC's post-debate coverage, as the former Arkansas governor's words scored around 90 percent in terms of approval. (Transcript follows)
The Democrats may still refuse to debate on Fox News Channel, but they’re getting increasingly competitive enough with each other to appear on the morning show Fox & Friends all of a sudden. Hillary Clinton made her second appearance of the year on Wednesday after her New Hampshire squeaker, and Barack Obama followed. But this may be the one media outlet where Obama gets tougher treatment than Mrs. Clinton. While co-host Brian Kilmeade turned at the end to some tougher questions on al-Qaeda, it was smooth sailing for Hillary.
Here were the toughies Hillary had to face on the supposedly harsh and right-wing Fox News Channel [transcripts by MRC's Justin McCarthy]:
1. Gretchen Carlson asked: "You know, I thought of course the line of your speech last night that everyone will be talking about this morning is the one where you said ‘I listened to you,’ meaning the people in New Hampshire, ‘and in the process I found my own voice.’ What did you mean by that?"
After Joy Behar’s inflammatory comments, claiming saints would be no more than mental patients in modern society, Fox News was the one of the very few major news outlets that picked it up. Other than Joe Scarborough on MSNBC, Fox News was the only news outlet that covered the Joy Behar craziness. In cyberspace, Fox News was the only major news website to report it.
Could it be that her comments were simply not newsworthy enough? Under the mainstream media’s standards with Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, they should be. On the January 11 edition of "Fox and Friends First" Steve Doocy noted Fox News’ sole voice.
"Extraordinarily, I was googling this last night. Fox News is pretty much the only outfit that is even talking about this. It’s so extraordinary."
See updates for Huckabee, Thompson responses to this story at bottom.
Scratch Joe Scarborough from the list of those praising the performance of Fred Thompson at last night's South Carolina debate hosted by Fox News. With panelists Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski in supporting roles, the Morning Joe host went off on Thompson today with stunning vitriol, deriding him as "Freddie boy" "pathetic," a "lapdog" and a "hatchet man" for John McCain.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Last night it was so painfully obvious that Fred Thompson went to John McCain yesterday morning [affecting deep Thompsonesque voice] "if I can stay awake through this debate, I'll attack Huckabee for you."
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 riff off the Alice Roosevelt Longworth line: if you don't have anything nice to say about Rupert Murdoch, go sit next to David Shuster. The MSNBCer and former Fox Newser has no love lost for his old employer.
Shuster's latest is that Hillary, she of long memory, will be holding a grudge against Murdoch, whose NewsCorp owns the New York Post and Fox News, for the unflattering coverage the Post gave Clinton in the closing days of the New Hampshire primary campaign.
Candid criticism, or sour grapes towards a guy who's lapping MSNBC in the ratings? In any case, David Shuster and the rest of the Morning Joe crew took out after Bill O'Reilly this morning in the wake of the incident in which the Factor host was, shall we say, energetic in his efforts to speak with Barack Obama at a NH campaign event this weekend. Shuster called O'Reilly a "jerk" and "such a buffoon." Read accounts of the incident here, here and here.
After asking Senator Clinton all softball questions such as how she keeps herself "going everyday," to what nick name she would like if she wins Iowa, "Fox and Friends" asked Governor Huckabee fair but much tougher questions.
The leftist Fox News Channel-monitoring bloggers at News Hounds are quite sensitive about how fiercely the Democrats are questioned. On Wednesday, "Donna" was thrilled at how well former DNC chairman and Hillary campaign operative Terry McAuliffe did on Fox & Friends. (Well, she kept calling him "McCauliffe.") He was a spin-control role model, apparently. But FNC’s Gretchen Carlson was reportedly throwing McAuliffe digs and disses. Notice there are no transcripts as she claims:
Gretchen tried to steer the conversation to how close it was in Iowa between Sen Obama and Sen Clinton. McCauliffe didn't engage and talked about the how well the campaign was going.
Gretchen got a dig in about Sen Clinton having babysitters, buses and snow shovels given out to help people to get out to vote. McCauliffe [sic] turned the diss around and said that they just wanted to make sure that everyone who wanted to caucus got a chance to caucus. He said this is the most important election for many many years and they wanted everyone who wanted to caucus to be able to do so.
On Tuesday's Fox and Friends, Democratic strategist and FNC contributor Bob Beckel found amusing Hillary Clinton's contention that her trip to Bosnia in 1996, which Clinton has been accused of exaggerating as a dangerous mission despite the presence of daughter Chelsea and comedian Sinbad on the plane as she mentioned the need for a "corkscrew" landing and running on the tarmac in case of sniper attack, was evidence of her foreign policy experience. Clinton's comments, which were a response to Barack Obama's charges that her foreign policy experience consisted only of talking and "having tea" with foreign dignitaries, evoked an amused and cynical reaction from the liberal Beckel: "I don't know what that gives you in terms of foreign policy experience except a bad case of heartburn. I probably would have thought of something else besides that. I wonder what Sinbad did during that landing. I wonder if she hid behind him or not. Dangerous that would probably be." (Transcript follows)
The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University ..... found that Fox News Channel's evening news show provided more balanced coverage than its counterparts on the broadcast networks.
A look at the press release (small PDF) reveals the extent of the balance at Fox, and the imbalance elsewhere:
Fox News Channel’s coverage was more balanced toward both parties than the broadcast networks were. On FOX, evaluations of all Democratic candidates combined were split almost evenly – 51% positive vs. 49% negative, as were all evaluations of GOP candidates – 49% positive vs. 51% negative, producing a perfectly balanced 50-50 split for all candidates of both parties.
On the three broadcast networks, opinion on Democratic candidates split 47% positive vs. 53% negative, while evaluations of Republicans were more negative – 40% positive vs. 60% negative. For both parties combined, network evaluations were almost 3 to 2 negative in tone, i.e. 41% positive vs. 59% negative.
Despite what former President Bill Clinton and most Democrats think, Fox News's Chris Wallace really is the epitome of fair and balanced.
In case you had any doubt, his interview Thursday with WOR radio's Steve Malzberg was a perfect example of why Wallace is the most impartial of all the Sunday talk show hosts.
To give you an idea of just how unbiased he is, during this extraordinary segment, Wallace strongly disagreed with Rush Limbaugh's recent remarks concerning Hillary Clinton's aging appearance, and actually came to her defense.
Later, Wallace supported media's questions concerning Mitt Romney being a Mormon even though Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) belief in this faith is totally ignored.
On the flipside, Wallace ridiculed MSNBC's David Shuster for some of his recent comments about Fox News, and mocked those that find water-boarding so deplorable.
Here are some of the highlights of this absolutely spectacular interview (15-minute audio available here, readers are cautioned to prepare themselves for an almost astounding level of candor from someone regularly depicted as a GOP mouthpiece):
Isn't it often the case that over-confident braggarts are typically insecure types masking their own short-comings with undeservingly cocky bravado?
After all, one would think the president of the cable news network whose ratings in virtually every time slot have plummeted for years would be a little humble when referring to his competition in the industry.
Quite the contrary, in an interview with the New York Observer, CNN's Jonathan Klein behaved like he was running the Yankees, and Fox News Channel was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (emphasis added throughout):
Biting the hand that used to feed him, David Shuster has accused Fox News of being part of the "Republican establishment" and as such, going after Mike Huckabee. Shuster appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour today.
DAVID SHUSTER: What's been so interesting about Huckabee, you're starting to see the Republican establishment, despite him being the "Baby Jesus" candidate [adopting Joe Scarborough's formulation], the Republican establishment is going after him pretty hard now. And you even saw it last night when the, I suppose you could call them the Republican establishment Fox News correspondent was asking some pretty asinine questions --
On the December 18 "Studio B," Fox News Channel's Shepard Smith blasted an idea being floated by liberal San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) to slap a new tax on stores that sell soda. It makes for great video, especially given Shep's penchant for leaning left on global warming.
Of course, Shep did also hint that he thinks it would be better to outlaw tobacco rather than add so-called sin taxes on it. All the same, it makes for fun video as Shep wonders if sugary gum or comfortable mattresses will be taxed next for their alleged contributions to the "obesity epidemic."
Is this the evil conservative Fox News that those on the left portray? From the December 17 "Fox and Friends" interview with Senator Hillary Clinton, one has to wonder where it came from. After a surprisingly tough interview with David Gregory on NBC’s "Today," Senator Clinton sailed through a softball interview with the allegedly right wing Fox News.
After Hillary’s husband accused "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace of engaging in a "right wing hit job," and the left wing blog campaign to boycott the Fox News debates, co-host Gretchen Carlson asked such hard hitting questions like "how do you keep yourself going everyday?"
Co-host Steve Doocy asked the tough question of what her name would be if she pulls off a victory in Iowa.
As NewsBusters reported, Nobel Laureate Al Gore made a fool out of himself at the United Nations climate change meeting in Bali Thursday by chastising America for having the exact same global warming policy the Clinton administration had when he was vice president in 1997.
Marvelously, former U.N. ambassador John Bolton was on Fox News the following day speaking inconvenient truths about the Global Warmingist-in-Chief that sycophantic media members disgracefully refuse to share with the citizenry.
With that in mind, get your popcorn ready, kick your feet up, and listen to the facts about this issue spoken in a fashion that press members eschew for the sake of their own politics and advocacy (video available here):
I'm caffeinated and ready to blog. I'll focus mostly on the questions from the moderator, Carolyn Washburn. I'm watching the feed from Fox News Channel.
Here goes nothin':
15:25 | Debate's over. Thought it'd never end. Washburn seemed much more at ease with the Democrats, as well as looser with the time constraints. I don't believe she ever cut anyone off, for example. The questions generally tacked to the left. The series of questions pressing the candidates on character issues was promising on paper but seemed uneven. Her question to Clinton on secrecy was soft. The question to Biden about his ill-advised jokes about Indians owning Dunkin Donut shops was good, but Hillary Clinton made similar comments about Indians and gas stations, which went unmentioned.
15:22 | Washburn: "What are the lessons from Iowa?"
15:20 | Richardson resolves to lose weight. Well, he could ask Huckabee about that policy plank.
15:17 | Washburn: "Tell us your New Year's resolution for 2008."
15:15 | Washburn asks about the use of signing statements when signing legislation.