The Obama campaign is trying to re-create Michelle Obama after her stumbles on the campaign trail, and the mainstream media are more than willing to pitch in.
Earlier today, NewsBusters contributor Clay Waters, director of the MRC’s Times Watch project, critiqued a New York Times story, written by Michael Powell and Jodi Kantor, which helped Obama soften her image and suggested that her "proud of my country" remarks were unfairly covered.
Powell reprised his work spinning Michelle Obama on MSNBC today.
The Times staffer sat down with MSNBC's Tamron Hall during the 9 AM hour of the June 18 "MSNBC News Live." During this time, Powell claimed that the potential first lady’s harsh image has "certainly been imposed on her," as though Mrs. Obama’s statements do not reflect who she really is and that those who criticize her public pronouncements are somehow putting words in her mouth.
It would be hard to overstate the significance of Barack Obama's blunder. As a certain junior senator from New York said during the primary season, while John McCain has obviously passed the Commander-in-Chief threshold, it's not clear Obama has. If there is one fundamental challenge facing the Dem candidate in this campaign, it is to prove that he has the values and the toughness necessary to protect our country against the terrorists who seek to destroy us.
Yet now—in an interview with ABC's Jake Tapper—Obama has proposed a read-them-their-Miranda-rights approach to dealing with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's the policy equivalent of Dukakis-in-a-tank, and is likely, in this NewsBuster's opinion, to have an even more harmful impact on his campaign. The McCain camp has wasted no time in weighing in. In a conference call yesterday, former CIA director James Woolsey said Obama's advocacy of giving terrorists access to U.S. courts was an "extremely dangerous and an extremely naive approach to terrorism."
Discussion on Morning Joe today among, on the one hand, Barack fans Mika Brzezinski and WaPo's Jonathan Capehart, and on the other a Joe Scarborough preaching realpolitik, revealed just how vulnerable Obama is on the issue. I'd encourage readers to view the extended video clip here, but for present purposes will focus on one exchange:
When Georgia Republicans ran an ad against former Senator Max Cleland, which included a photograph of Osama bin Laden, attacking the Democratic Senator's numerous votes to apply labor union rules to the Homeland Security Department, liberals were outraged as they claimed the ad was an attack on the "patriotism" of war hero Cleland. MSNBC host Keith Olbermann expressed outrage by mentioning the attack on Cleland several times in the last few years as he claimed that Cleland was "cut down," "sandbagged," "blindsided," "cheap shotted," "mugged," "hamstrung," and subjected to a "hatchet job," in part because of the inclusion of the bin Laden photograph.
But Olbermann himself recently employed a photograph of Osama bin Laden as he teased a story contending that "John McCain's top guy [Phil Gramm] on the economy made it easier for bin Laden," and charging that Gramm was "on the side of the terrorists' bankers before and after 9/11." The MSNBC host has also accused McCain of "betraying" U.S. troops, and has suggested that McCain does not "understand [the] risk and sacrifice" of U.S. troops serving in Iraq, and that he has "abandoned" them. He even went so far as to suggest that McCain has ulterior motives for supporting an extended U.S. presence in Iraq because he supports "war-profiteering" by U.S. firms who would benefit. And Olbermann once mocked McCain as "awol" during as Senate vote because he was at a fund-raiser "supporting himself instead of the troops." (Transcripts follow)
The day after Al Gore endorsed Barack Obama in Detroit, MSNBC kept repeating the allegedly big news with the on-air question "Will Gore Help or Hurt Obama?" Left out of that question: Who cares? Does Gore’s endorsement matter at all?
Pundits usually declare in today’s media-saturated world that endorsements from major politicians or movie stars just don’t have much impact. A Who’s Who of the Beautiful People in Hollywood endorsed and actively campaigned for John Kerry – and had no impact.
With Al Gore it’s the same thing. He doesn’t bring a single vote Obama doesn’t already have. He could have participated in the process but he waited until the primary challenge from Hillary was over. Now he supports Obama. Where in the world is the news there?
Simple mistake, or wish fulfillment? Appearing on MSNBC this afternoon, a Washington Post reporter claimed the paper's latest poll results showed Barack Obama with a "big lead" over John McCain on the issue of handling Iraq. The only problem: the poll actually shows McCain with a small lead on the issue. David Shuster interviewed Ed O'Keefe of WashingtonPost.com at 3:03 PM EDT.
DAVID SHUSTER: Ed, when asked who do you trust on the economy Barack Obama is ahead by 16 points. On women's issues he's ahead by 32 points. So where's John McCain making up the difference.
ED O'KEEFE: Terrorism. He's ahead of him big on that issue and that issue alone, it seems. Also, there's a perceived weakness for Barack Obama generally on his experience. McCain's certainly ahead on those two things. But you're right: on everything else, especially the big issues—Iraq and the economy, health care—Barack Obama has a big lead.
Here's something you don't see every day: four people on MSNBC agreeing that an ad attacking Republican presidential nominee John McCain is a "cheap shot."
Yet, that's exactly what transpired Tuesday morning when Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, and John Ridley discussed the new ad just released by the far-left MoveOn.org suggesting that if McCain is elected president, the baby pictured will be fighting in Iraq eighteen years from now.
First up to criticize the piece was NPR's Ridley (video embedded right, use scrollbars to center):
It seems not everyone in the liberal blogosphere is smitten with MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
Take for example Huffington Post editor Rachel Sklar who on Thursday called out the insufferably arrogant and pompous "Countdown" host for naming CBS's Katie Couric his "Worst Person in the World" previously reported by NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth:
Olbermann accused Couric of taking out of "context" comments by NBC correspondent Lee Cowan, who, as he covers the Barack Obama campaign, has said he finds it "hard to be objective," as she, not naming him, suggested he "find another line of work." Olbermann, who has attacked Hillary Clinton on several occasions while being softer on Obama, declared Cowan's reporting to be "utterly objective and accurate," and castigated Couric for "her own promulgation of the nonsense that Senator Clinton was a victim of sexism."
Has NBC White House Correspondent David Gregory turned over a new leaf?
Gregory, who has earned a lot of critics for having an anti-Bush/liberal bias, made it seem that way during a discussion about ethics in politics and journalism Thursday. He claimed to struggle with Jewish teachings about saying bad things about others - at least when it comes to Democrats.
Q. What's weaker than playing the "taken out of context" card?
A. Digging yourself deeper with the supposedly exculpatory explanation.
Mike Barnicle managed the Daily Double today with his mishandling of the flap over the way he described Hillary back in January. Barnicle was on Morning Joe, and discussion turned to a New York Times article, Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage, that mentioned his remarks.
MSNBC has been criticized as being in the tank for Barack Obama. And so today, when the Obama campaign launched its own rumor-squelching website, MSNBC was all-too-eager to promote the site through several news bits.
But there was just one problem. For a time this afternoon, MSNBC mistakenly promoted a prank site (UPDATE: site has since been pulled and url removed from this post), as opposed to the actual Obama site http://fightthesmears.com.
While the Obama site denies and denounces the viral internet rumors, the gag site satirically perpetuates and builds upon them! Fair warning: the gag site deserves a bad taste alert.
On Wednesday's Countdown show, during the show's regular "Worst Person in the World" segment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who rarely hits liberals during the segment while he often targets conservatives, turned his ire toward CBS News anchor Katie Couric for her recent charges that some media figures were guilty of anti-Clinton, or pro-Obama bias. Olbermann accused Couric of taking out of "context" comments by NBC correspondent Lee Cowan, who, as he covers the Barack Obama campaign, has said he finds it "hard to be objective," as she, not naming him, suggested he "find another line of work." Olbermann, who has attacked Hillary Clinton on several occasions while being softer on Obama, declared Cowan's reporting to be "utterly objective and accurate," and castigated Couric for "her own promulgation of the nonsense that Senator Clinton was a victim of sexism." (Transcript follows)
If a Republican Congressman publicly announced that he will not endorse John McCain because the GOP presidential nominee is too conservative and has a track record of refusing to reach across the aisle to work with Democrats, would the press report it?
Probably 24 hours a day, seven days a week until this Republican Congressman became a household name, right?
Well, on Tuesday, the Associated Press revealed the name of a Democrat Congressman from Oklahoma that is refusing to endorse Barack Obama for president because he believes the nominee is "the most liberal senator" in the nation whose "record does not reflect working in a bipartisan fashion."
Oddly, this announcement went almost completely ignored by television news outlets while garnering no attention from major newspapers such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today:
My late father, who worked with the toughest kids in a Brooklyn high school, used to say that when a person's reaction is disproportionate to the stimulus, something else is causing it. So when Obama campaign co-chair Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) dramatically reserved the "hottest ring in hell" for those who would go after Michelle Obama, my antennae went up. Interviewing him, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell also seemed a bit taken aback by the forcefulness of Durbin's response.
O'Donnell broached the subject by quoting from Maureen Dowd's NY Times column of this morning:
It’s good news for Obama that Hillary’s out of the race. But it’s also bad news. Now Republicans can turn their full attention to demonizing Michelle Obama. Mrs. Obama is the new, unwilling contestant in Round Two of the sulfurous national game of “Kill the witch.”
Washington Post: GOP tool? Might sound a tad far-fetched to you. But you're not Howard Dean.
Appearing on today's Morning Joe, DNC Chairman Dean claimed a Washington Post article about Jim Johnson, whom Barack Obama has chosen to head up the vetting of potential VP picks, was "planted" by the McCain campaign. Johnson's appointment has become an embarrassment to Obama because the former CEO of Fannie Mae has been linked to the mortgage crisis. As WaPo reported:
The questions about Johnson began after the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that he received more than $2 million in home loans that might have been below average market rates from Countrywide Financial, a partner of Fannie Mae and a leading purveyor of the kind of subprime mortgages that spawned a national housing crisis.
Try reading the following without busting out in uproarious laughter: the good folks at CNN see themselves as the "middle ground" between Fox News and MSNBC -- "the only news channel to give you all sides."
"No spin. No affiliation. No agenda."
Bet you can't.
Well, as hysterical as it might seem, such was asserted -- with a straight face, no less! -- in a Los Angeles Times piece Tuesday (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser):
Update | 10 AM: McCain Campaign Comments to NB on Mitchell Remarks
McCain campaign deputy chairman Frank Donatelli has commented to NB on Mitchell's remarks. See report at foot.
IMing with a friend in England this morning, Morning Joe on in the background, I was vaguely aware that an Obama staffer was on, touting her candidate's economic plan. Signing off my chat, I focused on the tube, only to realize that the Obama staffer was in fact . . . Andrea Mitchell.
Mitchell cast the battle of the candidates' tax plans as McCain's "old-fashioned" supply-side economics versus Obama's "mainstream, centrist" plans that "do help people" while responsibly "paying for everything."
Chris Matthews was not happy and seemed overly sensitive when John McCain compared Barack Obama to his old boss Jimmy Carter. On Tuesday night's "Hardball," after Matthews played a clip of McCain saying Obama was running for "Carter's second" term, he declared "I don't like it," and tried to write the attack off by saying not enough voters "even remembered voting for the guy."
The following exchanges occurred throughout the June 10 edition of "Hardball":
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: Look John McCain has a more complicated task because he's got to try to discredit Obama but also say he's not gonna be like George Bush either. And I think the difficulty of this task is highlighted by, you look at the examples, Barack Obama is saying John McCain would be George Bush's third term and McCain comes back with Jimmy Carter. Well you know there are a lot of voters out there saying, "And who was Jimmy Carter exactly?" They don't remember that.
Chris Matthews put the choice before voters in 2008 in the starkest terms possible on Tuesday's "Hardball" as he claimed a vote for McCain was akin to staying on a sinking Titanic and a vote for Obama was a chance at "deliverance."
CHRIS MATTHEWS OPENING SHOW: You're on this big comfortable ocean liner and it's starting to sink. Do you board the little life boat or stay on the big ship with the light still shining, the band still playing? You're the American voter, the year is 2008 and you've got till November to decide. Let's play Hardball!
Vote Obama: it's a matter of life or death! That's essentially how Chris Matthews characterized the choice confronting voters this November. Matthews not only put voting for Obama in the category of something to be done to "save your life," he analogized voting for McCain to a decision to remain on the Titanic rather than man the lifeboats.
The Hardball host was a guest on today's Morning Joe.
But NBC/MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell has since apologized for her off-the-cuff remark from last Thursday. Reports TVNewser:
MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell apologized today for calling southwest Virginia, "real redneck" country. Toward the end of her 1pmET hour, she said, "I owe an apology to the good people of Bristol, Virginia for something stupid that I said."
Imagine a conservative commentator suggesting Hillary would rather spend time up-close-and-personal in the company of bare-chested warriors than with Bill. Cries of sexism and intrusion on privacy could be expected to echo through the media.
But don't expect the MSM to blink over Mika Brzezinski having suggested the same regarding Laura and George W.
With Joe Scarborough off today, Mika again was in the Morning Joe host chair. One of Willie Geist's light-hearted "News You Can't Use" items focused on Laura Bush's surprise trip to Afghanistan, and the display of the traditional Maori haka dance that New Zealand troops there performed for her.
Keith Olbermann is not good for the news industry.
Such was the opinion of former Los Angeles Times television critic and Pulitzer Prize winner Howard Rosenberg in a rather scathing article published Saturday.
Adding delicious insult to injury, Rosenberg didn't have very nice things to say about Chris Matthews, Dan Abrams, MSNBC, or that network's obvious love affair with Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama either.
Here were some of his candid observations (emphasis added, h/t TVNewser):
Barack Obama's greatest vulnerability as a candidate is, perhaps, his lack of national security credentials—the doubt in voters' minds as to whether he is qualified to be Commander-in-Chief. So if there was one thing Hillary Clinton could have done during her speech today to bolster Barack, it would have been a clear-cut statement that, yes, she believes in his ability to be Commander-in-Chief. But the only person person Hillary spoke of today as qualified to be Commander-in-Chief was . . . herself.
Let's recall that during the primaries, Hillary repeatedly hit Obama on the issue of his lack of C-of-C cred, going so far as to draw an invidious comparison between Obama and John McCain on the matter. Consider these statements from March, as reported by the Chicago Tribune [emphasis added]:
Not to be unkind, but how can one purport to conduct a serious post mortem of Hillary Clinton's failed candidacy without mentioning what would seem an obvious—and very important—factor: her personality that to many American was less-than-appealing, in a contest pitting her against the unusually charming Barack Obama?
Yet David Gregory ignored the personality factor entirely in his "post mortem, Powerpoint edition" on this evening's Race for the White House. Instead, he identified—and invited his panel to comment on—these five factors:
Denying the obvious, Obama communications director Robert Gibbs tells reporters that tricking them into flying to Chicago on June 5th while Obama remained in DC to meet with Hillary "wasn't an attempt to deceive in any way." [Screencap from Morning Joe.]
"An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country."—attributedto Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639), British diplomat.
If Sir Henry were around today, he might offer a corollary: a communications director is a man sent to meet with the media to fib for the good of his candidate. In the current campaign, the tactic's most transparent practitioner would seem to be Robert Gibbs, communications director for Barack Obama.
As I noted here, Gibbs recently had the chutzpah [if that's the right word for the man from Auburn, Alabama] to claim that Barack Obama's resignation from his controversial church was "a deeply personal, not a political decision." Rig-h-h-h-t.
Gibbs, the bland face of brazenness, was at it again last night, this time denying the blatantly obvious: that the campaign had tricked the press into flying to Chicago while Obama remained behind in DC to meet with Hillary.
Freshly posted to Robert Cox's Olbermann Watch blog: news of a FIFTH tax warrant surfaces for MSNBC's bombastic uber-liberal Keith Olbermann.:
Olbermann Watch has confirmed that the New York State Department of Labor filed an Industrial Commission Warrant against Olbermann Broadcasting Empire on April 1, 2008 for $1,039.15 with the New York County Clerk's office.
An Industrial Commission warrant is a remedy available to the Labor Department after all administrative procedures have been exhausted - the employer had been given notice of the claim, had an opportunity to contest it, and the time for all appeals has lapsed. It creates a lien on all property of the corporation within the county and gives the county sheriff the right to execute the warrant by, among other things, attaching and selling the employer's property within the county. There are various procedures that the sheriff has to go through before selling the property.
For well over a year, NewsBusters has been reporting the media's almost romantic obsession with Democrat presidential nominee Barack Obama.
This unprofessional infatuation eventually became so obvious that press members themselves have been openly discussing it for the past couple of months.
With this in mind, conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin absolutely skewered two of the most obvious Obama lovers during his program Wednesday, describing the "slobbering" that happens when "the news in this country is turned over to politicians, or the staffers of politicians."
Playing audio clips of NBC's Tim Russert and MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Levin accurately demonstrated how the sycophantic adoration exhibited by the press for the junior senator from Illinois during this campaign is a bias and a journalistic disgrace likely worse than anything Americans have ever witnessed concerning a presidential candidate.
Chris Matthews looked at Barack and Michelle last night, and saw Jack and Jacqueline. Opening this evening's Hardball, the host was almost overcome by emotion in describing the scene of Obama's victory speech last night in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Here was Chris, discussing the matter with NBC's Andrea Mitchell, Roger Simon of Politico, and Ed Gordon of BET.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's dwell for one moment at least on the man who won last night. I swear. I had no idea this would ever happen in America. I don't know if it will ever happen again. This is a trend, I don't know, this is an odd occurrence. But it was . . . spectacular.
. . .
Last night's magic moment for a lot of Americans. In fact, me included. I, that picture is right out of Camelot, as far as I'm concerned.