In covering Elena Kagan's confirmation hearings, CNN and MSNBC have repeatedly lauded the Supreme Court nominee for her "flashes of humor" and "disarming ease."
In tune with the reverberations of the network morning shows' echo chamber, correspondents like CNN's Dana Bash and anchors like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Tuesday praised Kagan for her ability to inject humor into otherwise "hollow and vapid" hearings and charm hostile Republican senators into docility.
"But just on a color note, what struck me, Candy, has been the way Elena Kagan has tried to use a sense of humor to really disarm the senators, particularly Republicans," noted Bash.
Maddow's guest, Dahlia Lithwick of the liberal Slate magazine, gushed over Kagan's "gut-wrenching" sense of humor, her masterful ability to balance "seriousness and levity and humor," and her "disarming and charming and kind of likeable" personality.
"A likeable liberal. Dear me, I know," quipped Maddow.
Chris Matthews keeps painting the Elena Kagan confirmation hearing as a "culture war" between the Obama nominee and the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Newsbusters reported yesterday, Chris Matthews seemed to spin Monday's standoff between Sessions and Kagan as a battle between the senator's rural, unsophisticated Alabama roots and Kagan's Northeastern liberal academic background.
Well, Matthews showed up in even finer form today. Describing Kagan as a liberal Obama prototype from the "high academia" of the Ivy League, Matthews proceeded to frame her opponent, Sen. Jeff Sessions, as the voice of the Confederacy.
Remarking that the hearing has become like a "red state-blue state" battle, Matthews claimed that "listening to Jeff Sessions is to listen to the, really, the Confederacy; to listen to, really the conservative view of the Deep South."
Matthews also oddly added that Republicans want to make Kagan into a "voodoo doll" (repeating himself from the night before), an image associated more readily with New Orleans, Louisiana, than Sessions' boyhood town of Hybart, Alabama.
A liberal panel led by MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews injected sexism into the Kagan confirmation hearings on Tuesday morning, suggesting that Republican senators should curtail the tenacity of their questioning because the Supreme Court nominee happens to be a woman.
Invoking the Clarence Thomas hearings, which focused on the testimony of Anita Hill, who accused Thomas of making inappropriate sexual comments, Matthews asked, "Am I wrong in hearing flashes here of the Anita Hill testimony way back when in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings?"
Despite the absence of a sexual scandal, Matthews persisted with the bizarre analogy: "Are we past the sensitivity about a male member of the Senate grilling a female?"
The "Hardball" host failed to clarify exactly who in 2010 is sensitive about male senators posing tough but legitimate questions to a woman nominated to the nation's highest court.
Only 70 minutes after Barack Obama explained his decision to fire General Stanley McChrystal, Wednesday, MSNBC turned to leftist host Ed Schultz for analysis. Schultz gushed that the decision proved that the President is "brilliant on the basics." He enthused, "Well, as commander in chief, I think it's probably President Obama's finest hour," because it displayed toughness.
Host Tamron Hall knocked McChrystal, referencing his role in the investigation of Army Ranger Pat Tillman's death. She derided, "So, we know that McChrystal has a lot of, if you will, Xs on his report card."
Contessa Brewer got a lot more than she was likely looking for when she interviewed Col. Jack Jacobs [ret.] this afternoon about the McChrystal situation. The MSNBC host wanted to focus on the impropriety of McChrystal publicly airing his criticisms of Pres. Obama and others in the chain of command.
But while the Medal of Honor recipient readily agreed that McChrystal was out of line, and would probably pay with his job, Jacobs also went out of his way—twice—to add an inconvenient truth: that when it comes to the substance of the criticism, most in the military think McChrystal "was right."
If you take MSNBC's Luke Russert's words at face value, you would think the Democrats are going to win big this November–all thanks to Rep. Joe Barton's (R-Texas) comments on the Obama administration's treatment of BP, and their "shakedown" of the company via the escrow fund.
"A lot of Democrats see this as the ammunition they need to directly tie the Republican Party with that of big oil," Russert summarized.
Barton expressed his disapproval at the hearing for the White House's treatment of BP in forcing them to agree to the $20 billion escrow fund, calling it a "shakedown." MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer was visibly irritated during her news hour with the statement, and Russert called it a "really big blunder."
However, as NewsBusters reported, MSNBC's own Ed Schultz was ecstatic yesterday over the very actions of the White House, and spoke positively of the "shakedown."
In a satellite interview with Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) held shortly before 1 p.m. EDT today, MSNBC's Contessa Brewer criticized Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) for denouncing the president for pushing BP to agree to a $20-billion escrow account for oil spill damages as a "shakedown":
So, there's Joe Barton calling the $20 billion in escrow a shakedown, and as you point out, there are people in your district who have lost their livelihoods! They wonder how they can feed their families!
But yesterday, Brewer's MSNBC colleague Ed Schultz used similar language to voice his giddy approval of President Obama's maneuvering [video embedded at right and available as WMV file here]:
When asked what President Obama needs to do to prove to Americans that his administration is on top of the Gulf cleanup, Ed Schultz pressed that the President needs to call the shots and go "dictator" in his dealings with BP.
"I think the President has to make it very clear to the American people tonight, Chris, that we're not going to be stuck with the bill on this," Schultz said about the BP oil spill.
"When does the President become a dictator on this?" Schultz asked in an outburst. "When does the President start really calling the shots and saying 'This is the number. This is what you're going to pay. We're not going to let you off the hook.'?"
He sternly warned that BP will do its level best to escape having to pay the full cost of the oil spill cleanup, and implored the President to be frank with BP in demanding that they pay full restitution.
In the 2PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall did a news brief on Democratic Congressman Bob Etheridge assaulting two students attempting to ask him a question last week, proclaiming: "...there are some Democrats that are blasting the people allegedly behind this video....some would catagorize that as an ambush interview..." [Audio available here]
Hall played a clip of the video showing the assault and afterwards quoted an written apology from Etheridge. She described how the video "first appeared on Andrew Breitbart's conservative blog BigGovernment.org," remarking that he "was partly responsible for that notorious ACORN video featuring conservative James O'Keefe." Hall made sure to also mention that "O'Keefe pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for entering Senator Mary Landrieu's office under false pretenses." Hall then suspiciously noted about the Etheridge video: "One of these so-called camera men at one point reportedly identified himself as a student, so there's discrepancy over who these individuals really are."
In the 3PM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Chris Jansing spoke with NBC correspondent Luke Russert about the altercation and explained to viewers: "...in spite of the fact of what we see on camera and his apology, there are Democrats, right Luke, who frankly say they think that we need to look beyond what might seem obvious." Russert replied: "...nobody knows who these, quote, 'students' are" and cited Democratic Party spokesman Brad Woodhouse claiming they were actually Republican Party operatives. He concluded: "So a lot of Democrats are saying wait, hold on, this was a set up. This guy was intentionally put out to do this by the Republican Party."
During the 11AM ET hour on MSNBC, anchor Contessa Brewer discussed open mic comments made by senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina with Huffington Post writer Ryan Grim and remarked that the California Republican has "the 'Mean Girls' mentality" and "comes off like that Lindsay Lohan movie 'Mean Girls.'"
Hall was referring to Fiorina making fun of Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer's hairstyle on air before a television interview on Wednesday. Grim completely agreed with Hall's assessment: "Oh yeah, absolutely. It makes her look terrible. It doesn't put her in a very good light." Though he added: "But it's not something so extreme that it's going to annihilate her."
Earlier, Grim actually observed that Fiorina "really did dodge a bullet here." He explained: "...what she said isn't going to disqualify her from election. It makes her look a little bit silly, a little bit petty, but it's not going to be something that destroys her candidacy or her career like you had with somebody like Helen Thomas a week or so ago."
MSNBC on Friday didn't let lack of proof stand in the way of interviewing a man claiming he had an affair with a conservative favorite, South Carolina gubernatorial hopeful Nikki Haley. Tamron Hall talked to lobbyist Larry Marchant and announced, "Her campaign is, again, denying a second allegation that Haley, a married mother of two, cheated on her husband."
Hall did conduct a tough interview with Marchant, demanding, "What proof do you have? What proof do you have that you had an affair? She says it didn't happen." The News Live host repeatedly pressed the lobbyist, who was just let go from a position with a competing Republican candidate.
After Marchant offered nothing more than his own word, Hall derided, "Larry, I gotta stop you here because of a couple things. You say you went to dinner and all these other things. That is that's not proof had you a sexual encounter with her." Yet, if the News Live host and the producers at MSNBC found his story to be so lacking, why have him on the network at all?
On Thursday's 11AM EST hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall asked Ryan Grim of the left-wing Huffington Post about recent scandals involving the Obama White House tampering with Democratic primaries: "Darrell Issa of California...he wants the FBI involved in this....Any legs here, or is this, again, a situation that may be politicized by the other side?" [Audio available here]
Grim dismissed the idea that there was any need for an investigation: "I mean, this isn't criminal activity. This really is politics as usual." He then lamented: "...the problem for the administration is that, you know, they ran against politics as usual....they were going to move beyond all of this."
Later, Grim described the real "crime" in the Obama administration pressuring candidates like Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania and Andrew Romanoff in Colorado to end their respective primary challenges to incumbent Democratic senators: "...the real problem is that the administration didn't – wasn't willing to allow the Democratic base to choose the candidates....having these primary candidates actually pushes the senator in a more progressive direction....if there's any crime here, it's a political one, in that the administration was holding back a progressive agenda by not allowing these primaries to go forward."
Despite the latest NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll showing 61 percent of Americans support Arizona’s new immigration law, MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell on May 26 failed to interview a single supporter for MSNBC’s special, “A Nation Divided.” She did, however, manage to scrounge up plenty of vocal opponents, including two high-profile Democrats who believe the law is unconstitutional.
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa agreed that the legislation Arizona Governor Janet Brewer (R) signed into law in April divides the country along racial lines and think the federal government should pass comprehensive immigration reform.
“But the fact of the matter is this is a divisive measure, it’s unconstitutional,” insisted Villaraigosa, who supports the Los Angeles City Council’s decision to boycott Arizona. “It violates the rights of people in Arizona and it’s the wrong way to go.”
Instead of asking Richardson and Villaraigosa to explain how the new law is unconstitutional and divisive, Mitchell fired off bursts of piercing, penetrating questions, such as:
MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Thursday attempted to critique Barack Obama's handling of the oil spill, but felt it necessary to point out how "intellectual" and "focused" the administration usually is.
She prefaced her gentle disapproval by exclaiming, "...There was a lot of criticism- and we're not analogizing this to Katrina- but there has been a lot of criticism in the past of decisions made on war and peace and on Katrina by the George W. Bush administration."
Mitchell gingerly added, "And many people praised Barack Obama's White House because it was so intellectual and so focused on problem solving and fact getting. But is there a lack of passion?"
MSNBC’s May 26 special on immigration reform, “A Nation Divided,” was replete with unbalanced interviews with liberal activists and one-sided segments featuring only liberal positions on the controversial issue.
MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer pitched softballs to Democrats Michael Nowakowski, vice mayor of Phoenix, and Raul Castro, former Arizona governor, without brining on guests to counter their liberal perspectives.
“The other thing that this really does is it puts businesses in the enforcement business, and responsible for making sure that their employees are here legally,” Brewer told Nowakowski. “The consequences for which could mean business owners lose their livelihoods.”
In the same interview, Brewer set up Nowakowski to bemoan the supposedly high cost of enforcing Arizona’s new immigration law, which empowers state authorities to inquire into a person’s legal status if there is reasonable suspicion that a person is in the country illegally.
MSNBC’s Luke Russert on Wednesday chided Senate Republicans for meeting with Barack Obama and using language that wasn't "exactly the things that we’d necessarily see as elevated Presidential dialogue."
The network reporter highlighted the "tense" discussion between the President and the GOP members. "It was quite interesting to see some of these adjectives thrown about President Obama," Russert sniffed. He derided the GOP comments: "'Thin-skinned,' 'needs Valium,' 'testy'–not exactly the things that we’d necessarily see as elevated Presidential dialogue."
MSNBC on Thursday went on the offensive against Republican and Tea Party favorite Rand Paul. In a single day, the cable network devoted 37 minutes over eight segments to implying that the Senate candidate might be a racist.
Each piece featured a clip of Paul's appearance on Wednesday's Rachel Maddow program in which the MSNBC host suggested the libertarian candidate would tolerate bigotry because he opposes government regulation.
Throughout the day, MSNBC touted liberal guest after liberal guest to excoriate the politician. The lineup included Jesse Jackson, Democratic Congressman James Clyburn, liberal professors Boyce Watkins and Michael Eric Dyson and Democratic strategist Karen Finney.
During Wednesday's 10AM EST hour on MSNBC, Politico's Mike Allen shared his thoughts on Tuesday's electoral results: "Stop the steamroller. The idea the Republicans were automatically going to be in control going into November, now not true....a Democrat winning the only Democrat-Republican showdown of yesterday in a congressional seat in Pennsylvania. The Republicans should have won."
That despite the fact that the seat has been by Democrats for decades and that Democrats outnumbered Republicans 2-to-1 in the district. Allen touted how "the White House is saying this shows that if you fight district by district that you can win. Democrats can win in a tough district if they have a local message."
Anchor Alex Witt then asked Allen about the victory of Rand Paul in the Kentucky senate Republican primary. Allen continued to spin the news as bad for the GOP: "if he makes it to Washington...He's not going to do what the Republican leaders tell him to do, they fought against him."
Allen even claimed the Paul campaign was modeled after that of Barack Obama: "this is a continuation of the trend that we saw with Barack Obama in 2008. He wasn't the establishment candidate....That's what we're seeing in both parties now."
MSNBC's Alex Witt on Friday featured a rabidly anti-Sarah Palin journalist to explain why the former governor spoke at a National Rifle Association conference. Asked to comment, Cathy Areu, a Washington Post magazine editor, derided, "Oh, my God! She is such a fear-monger and really just appeals to this group of people who likes to hear all of these crazy comments."
Areu first drew fawning attention from fellow reporters when she appeared on CNN Headline News on April 14 and smeared, "Sarah Palin could do no wrong for so many people. I mean, she is a female Larry the Cable Guy minus the class and intelligence."
Witt made no mention of Areu's venomous attitude towards the former Republican vice presidential candidate. Instead she tossed softballs that allowed the Post editor to sully the motives of Palin: "I don't think she'll ever run for anything. She will just say she is going to run for something and will keep putting out books, which is what she's doing. She left the office in Alaska to sell books."
Twice in the span of ten minutes, MSNBC on Tuesday ran segments touting left-wing complaints that Elena Kagan may not be "liberal enough." News Live host Peter Alexander seriously speculated of the Supreme Court pick: "...But who is really most frustrated with the pick? It seems as many liberal groups are upset by this as are conservatives."
Later in the 10am hour, Alexander worried, "And also right now on the left, she may not be liberal enough. That's the complaint there. Some progressives say she's too much of a blank slate to know how she stands on any issue." He also uncritically listed the issues Kagan is supposedly conservative on, including "supporting banning late term abortions."
"As the MRC calculated, the coverage was 12-to-1 against the Arizona law," Pinkerton noted as he asked liberal contributor Ellis Henican if that disparity in the media's coverage of the issue bothered him.
When Henican brushed off the MRC study, Pinkerton also brought up how MSNBCer Tamron Hall posited that an Arizona sheriff's deputy may have "staged" a shooting to gain political support for the new Arizona law.
In Friday's 3PM ET hour of live coverage on MSNBC, anchor Peter Alexander asked black Republican congressional candidate Allen West of Florida about "aligning" with the tea party movement: "the Tea Party has raised concerns that it may have, I guess, racism built within it. We have seen some racist signs at past events...are African-American candidates aligning themselves with the tea party?" [Audio available here]
West responded: "The principles and values that I espouse, limited government, lower taxes, individual responsibility, and accountability, liberty, and honoring the traditions of our constitutional republic, are connecting me with those grass roots Americans that attend tea party rallies. And I've spoken at four to five of those rallies and I've not seen any racist type of signs."
On Wednesday, Alexander talked with correspondent Luke Russert about the fact that 32 African-Americans are running for Congress as Republicans. Russert noted with surprise how "these candidates are actually soliciting support from the tea party, a group that a lot of folks have claimed to be racist against African-Americans."
MSNBC's Contessa Brewer on Thursday didn't try and hide her opinion on illegal immigration, spinning such lawbreakers as having a "pivotal role in making our country work." The News Live host interviewed Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles and opined, "They do all kinds of jobs that keep our economy going, that keep us fed, our houses clean, our gardens tended and the like." [Audio available here.]
Brewer appeared absolutely baffled by the fact that most Americans agree with Arizona's new immigration law: "When you're looking at removing those people from the system, it's odd to me that you would get so much support."
Continuing her rather lengthy assessment, the anchor offered this rather loaded question: "Why do you think there's so much support for this law when the consequences of removing those estimated 12 million illegal immigrants could devastate our economy?"
On Thursday's 11AM hour on MSNBC, anchor Tamron Hall described "growing controversy" surrounding the recent shooting of an Arizona sheriff's deputy by illegal immigrant drug smugglers and noted how: "The Pinal County sheriff released the 911 tapes the injured deputy made, in response to what he called 'growing speculation' that the shooting was staged." [Audio available here]
Hall brought on Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu to respond and grilled him on the conspiracy theory put out by the left-leaning Phoenix NewTimes: "a report...comparing the deputy who received that wound...to another officer who had staged a gun battle. The allegation here is that this shooting...was to supposed to help convince people that the tough Arizona law against immigration was needed, that this was the example that you could hold up as proof. What do you say to those claims that this was all staged?"
Babeu replied: "Well, we in law enforcement operate in the realm of facts....We don't have the luxury to operate just with all these wild ideas that could be out there." He went on add: "So this news account, they didn't have the benefit of any of the facts. In fact, they didn't even talk to me or anybody from my agency."
NewsBusters contributor Scott Whitlock's May 4 item, "MSNBC's Contessa Brewer 'Frustrated' That Times Square Bomber Is a Muslim" was noticed by Fox News Channel "Special Report" anchor Bret Baier, who included a reference to the story and the underlying controversy in his May 5 "Grapevine" segment.
Hosting a debate segment this morning between Republican strategist Alex Conant and Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee that examined the political dimensions of the aftermath of the Gulf oil spill, MSNBC's Tamron Hall played soundbites from two politicians with rather divergent views on offshore drilling.
The first was liberal Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) opposing expanding offshore drilling to California, the second was conservative Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.), who gave a rather dopey comment where he downplayed the devastation of the oil spill by comparing its appearance to "chocolate milk."
After playing those clips back-to-back, Hall asked for Conant's reaction, mistakenly referring to Taylor as a Republican.
We at NewsBusters quickly tweeted Hall about her error and she promptly issued an on-air correction, albeit mistakenly tagging Taylor as a "Michigan Democrat" [MP3 audio available here]:
MSNBC host Contessa Brewer appeared on the liberal Stephanie Miller radio show on Tuesday and lamented the fact that the person arrested for the attempted Times Square bombing is a Pakistani American. She complained, "I get frustrated...There was part of me that was hoping this was not going to be anybody with ties to any kind of Islamic country." [Audio available here.]
Brewer continued, "...There are a lot of people who want to use terrorist intent to justify writing off people who believe in a certain way or come from certain countries or whose skin color is a certain way. I mean they use it as justification for really outdated bigotry."
The News live host didn't explain which ethnicity or religion she had been hoping the bomber would have been affiliated with. She did defensively mention members of a Michigan militia group arrested in March and asserted that they were "from far different backgrounds than what this guy is coming from."
Pres. Obama so badly wanted to claim credit for stopping the Times Square attack, that he led himself up a rhetorical box canyon in remarks this morning. Check it out:
BARACK OBAMA: This incident is another sobering reminder of the times in which we live. Around the world and here at home, there are those who would attack our citizens and who would slaughter innocent men, women and children in pursuit of their murderous agenda. They will stop at nothing to kill and disrupt our way of life, but once again an attempted attack has been [awkward pause] failed.
You just know PBO wanted to say that the attempted attacked had been "stopped" or "thwarted." There was just one little problem . . .
Picking up on a story from Louisiana about a bill to allow concealed carry for firearms in houses of worship, MSNBC's Tamron Hall asked viewers of the network's live coverage shortly before 3 p.m. EDT today if the legislation was "Crossing the Line."
True to the segment's formula, only one side of the controversy was represented in the form of a guest to discuss the matter, in this case, an opponent of the bill, State Rep. Barbara Norton (D). [full interview audio here; click play button on embed at right for video]
While Hall did ask Norton to react to a quote by bill sponsor State Rep. Henry Burns (R), she failed to ask Norton why she believed it was proper for the state to issue a top-down one-size-fits-all gun ban for houses of worship, as dictated by current law.
After all, as New Orleans Times-Picayune capital bureau staffer Ed Anderson reported yesterday, the bill does not require churches to allow parishioners to carry concealed and parishioners must be notified by church officers prior to any move to adopt a security force or allow concealed carry by worshipers: