On Friday's Countdown show, liberal Air America host Rachel Maddow, substitute hosting for Keith Olbermann, characterized Condoleezza Rice's talks with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi as a scandal during the Countdown show's regular "Bushed!" segment which purports to update viewers on Bush administration scandals. Presumably seeking to portray the Bush administration as hypocritical for holding talks with Gaddafi while criticizing Barack Obama's promise to meet personally with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Maddow missed the point that Gaddafi has already made concessions to the U.S., the MSNBC host dubbed the talks as "Pillow Talk with Terrorists-Gate." She then sought to embarrass Rice by quoting overly affectionate comments made by the Libyan dictator in which he called Rice "Leezza" and "my darling African woman," and gushed that "I love her very much."
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, September 5, Countdown show on MSNBC:
RACHEL MADDOW: But first, the headlines breaking in the administration's 50 running scandals: "Bushed." ...
Were those evil Republicans attempting to carpet-bomb Andrea Mitchell with balloons at the RNC last night? Chris Matthews mused about the possibility on Hardball this afternoon. The footage of Andrea gamely batting away the balloons has received a lot of play. This morning, the Today show had fun with it. But Matthews seemed to conceive a more sinister scenario:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you were watching last night, here was a funny moment. I have to tell you: I love Andrea. Look at this crazy moment. For some reason: I don't know if it was foul play or what it was, a billion balloons went right into herwhen she was trying to do a report from the floor. She was getting absolutely buried in that post-speech balloon drop.
I wouldn't be surprised that if questioned on it Chris would claim he was kidding. But check out the video and see what you think. He sounded pretty sincere to me.
Hard to believe, but Meredith Vieira is apparently not a regular NewsBusters reader. The Today co-anchor would otherwise have avoided an embarrassing lapse. On Today this morning, Vieira claimed that it was only "blogs" that went after Sarah Palin's family matters. That left her vulnerable to McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's zinger, pointing out that one of her own network's anchors had questioned Palin's ability to serve as vice-president while attending to her children' needs.
Courtney Hazlett over at MSNBC's "The Scoop" is reporting that thousands of "Us Weekly" subscribers have not only called the magazine to cancel their subscriptions -- some reports say up to 10,000 cancellations have occurred -- but have also contacted advertisers and expressed their outrage that they are advertising with the celebrity news magazine that would so blatantly try to destroy Governor Palin.
Hazlett is hearing that the editorial board of "Us Weekly" had thought they pegged it right that media pressure and attacks would see Palin pulled from the McCain ticket even before her debut speech. Because the media had so quickly swarmed to destroy her, they thought she was toast before she even had the chance to accept the nomination.
Apparently fed up of hearing what they believe was a phony line being delivered by GOP spokesmen – that women across the country were offended by the media questioning Sarah Palin's fitness as a mother – Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann defied critics to find examples of any news outlets making that charge.
Matthews and Olbermann, spurred on by criticism from Hawaii's Republican governor Linda Lingle at around 8:09pm [EDT] during MSNBC's live coverage of Thursday night's (September 4) Republican convention, threw down the following gauntlet:
Just moments after MSNBC aired the Republican convention's video tribute to victims of 9/11, shown at about 8:40pm EDT Thursday night (September 4), Keith Olbermann offered this angry rebuke of his own network for doing so (CNN and PBS also aired it):
I'm sorry, it's necessary to say this and I wanted to separate myself from the others on the air about this. If at this late date, any television network had of its own accord showed that much videotape, and that much graphic videotape of 9/11, and I speak as somebody who lost a few friends there, it, we, would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize. It is a subject of great pain for many of us still and was probably not appropriate to be shown. We'll continue in a moment.
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Moments before Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin gave her history making speech at the Xcel Energy Center Wednesday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told NewsBusters that the left-wing media are trying to destroy her because she represents a threat to their ability to define what a successful, professional woman is in America today.
Offering some of the strongest media criticisms we've encountered at the Republican National Convention, Gingrich painted a picture of exactly what's at stake for the liberal press if Palin is successful in her bid to become the first female vice president in American history, and that people should not underestimate what they are willing to do to prevent that from happening (video embedded right):
It's been a wild week, so how about a little comic relief? Turns out Howard Dean does his own personal polling—among his wife's employees. And, surprise! They tend to agree with him. The DNC Chairman was chatting with Tom Brokaw on MSNBC this afternoon.
TOM BROKAW: What did you think of Sarah Palin last night?
HOWARD DEAN: I think the first half was terrific. I thought she really laid out who she was. I was fascinated. The second half, she sounded like Dick Cheney, she really did. The same old attack stuff, the same old canards about Democrats that mostly weren't true.
If only Brokaw had thought to ask Dean to mention the canards that were true! In any case, a bit later Dean described how he keeps his finger on the people's pulse.
It's not shaping up to be a big Brian Williams Fan Club day for me here at NB. Earlier, I noted how the Nightly News anchor seemed to suggest Sarah Palin was playing the race card. Here I am again, back on the Brian beat. Interviewing former GOP governor of Massachusetts Jane Swift at the top of MSNBC's 1 PM EDT hour, Williams hid behind unnamed feminists to make the "who's looking after baby?" charge against Sarah Palin.
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Are the women who consider themselves feminists, and are perhaps working women with several children, are they wrong when they express fears or doubts that she should be able to do this, that she should be doing this?
Swift, who gave birth to twins while serving as governor, made quick work of Williams' question. FWIW, I hadn't seen Swift in action before and found her impressive
After Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin gave her speech last night, MSNBC talking heads Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow gathered to discuss the VP candidate's remarks. Among the topics covered was Palin's religious background.
MATTHEWS: Is it true that she believes that God supports the war in Iraq? How does she know?
MADDOW: Was she sitting in the pew in her church in Wasilla two weeks ago when a speaker said that the Israelis deserve terrorist attacks, because Jews are unbelievers in Christ?
MADDOW: That was in the Politico today.Jews for Jesusfounder speaking at her churchwhile she was there two weeks ago making incredibly, incredibly out of line comments about Israel and Jewish people. These are tough questions she'll have to answer.
MATTHEWS: Pro or con?
MADDOW: Saying that's why Israel was subject to terrorist attacks. It was God's judgment for not believing in Christ.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden made the morning show rounds on Thursday to respond to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s convention speech, and journalists at NBC, MSNBC, ABC and CNN all encouraged Biden to strongly confront his Republican counterpart, as if Palin has been enjoying some sort of honeymoon from criticism over the past few days.
CNN’s John Roberts pressed Biden: “Before her speech last night you said that you were not going to attack Governor Palin. Are you feeling a little differently this morning?”
NBC’s Matt Lauer similarly pleaded: “Sarah Palin made a speech last night...It was tough. It was direct, hard words for Senator Obama. I’m curious, has this taken away any concern you may have had about tone or words you choose in the coming weeks?”
About a year into MSNBC's strategy of refashioning itself into the network for Bush haters, some consequences are starting to emerge for the cable channel and its corporate parent NBC.
Internally, the lurch to the left has resulted in numerous outbreaks of hostility as the remains of the old guard fight to protect themselves and the token conservatives find themselves increasingly marginalized.
Some external consequences are emerging a well now. While apolitical liberals still haven't kicked their CNN habit (and likely won't), MSNBC's corporate leftism has antagonized conservatives. It showed last night here in St. Paul as conventioneers held up signs denouncing the network and began a derisive chant of "NBC! NBC!" when Alaska governor Sarah Palin took a pronounced swipe at the media in her vice presidential nominating speech.
Subtract the subdued demeanor and the good tailoring, and how much difference is there between Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann? Take Williams' post-Palin speech analysis. Was the Nightly News anchor suggesting Palin's appeal is rooted in racism? He certainly made a clarion call to his fellow MSMers to keep up the good fight against her. Ann Curry interviewed a woman delegate who described Palin as "the American woman . . . who's had all the experiences that we have."
When it came Williams' turn to comment, he twisted the delegate's words into an invidious comparison between Palin and Barack Obama. Williams seemed perhaps to be suggesting Palin was appealing to racism.
During MSNBC's Wednesday night live coverage of the Republican National Convention Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Tom Brokaw and others scoffed at the idea they had an anti-Sarah Palin agenda. Brokaw depicted the charge of liberal bias as a mere "tactic," by the GOP, Matthews played it off as just "an old, old conflict," and even tried to write off the media's fascination of Obama, as just a mere fondness of "the new."
Brokaw dismissed the contention of any real liberal bias:
This is a political tactic on their part. And the shorthand is, "Let's go after the media." And are they sorting out, for example, Fox or conservative blogs or others who have, in fact, been defending all of this? No what they want to do is just raise the specter that everything that America sees is controlled by a tiny band of Eastern liberal elites.
And for her part Norah O'Donnell insisted:
There is one important thing to point out. The media is not attacking Sarah Palin. The media has done investigative pieces, in their job, about the way Sarah Palin was chosen.
The following are just some of the anxious rebuttals from the MSNBC crew to Palin's charge that the media was biased against her, as they occurred on MSNBC’s September 3, coverage of the Republican Convention:
Be grateful for small things. Ann Curry didn't call Bristol Palin's baby "illegitimate" or a "bastard." She settled for "out-of-wedlock." Now in fairness, NBC's Curry was in theory listing things for which people might feel sympathy for Sarah Palin, including her own Down syndrome child.
But in doing so, speaking with Keith Olbermann during MSNBC's RNC coverage this evening, Curry said the following.
ANN CURRY: She has a child who is having a child out of wedlock.
After sounding cautiously, perhaps nervously optimistic in today's column about John McCain's choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate ("A Clear and Present Danger to the American Left," September 3), Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan performed an abrupt about-face in front of a live NBC microphone later in the day, apparently unaware she was being recorded. "It's over," Noonan said, apparently referring to the chances of the McCain Palin ticket sweeping to victory in November. (Link to NBC video clip)
Here is a transcript prepared by Frank James of the Chicago Tribune's blog, The Swamp:
MURPHY: You know, I come out of a blue, swing-state governor world. Engler Whitman, Tommy Thompson, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, I mean, and these guys, this is all like how you win a Texas race, you run it up. It's not going to work.
NOONAN: It's over.
MURPHY: Still McCain can give a version of the Lieberman speech to do himself some good.
Less than two hours after Peggy Noonan and former McCain advisor Mike Murphy appeared on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon, a YouTube video appeared of their candid exchange in which they dismissed Sarah Palin’s viability as a VP pick. The speed at which the video appeared indicated that it almost certainly originated from someone inside MSNBC, another favor for the Democrats this election year.
Joshua Micah Marshall’s blog Talking Points Memo and the blog of Michael Calderone of the Politico broke news of Noonan and Murphy’s comments. The exchange started as MSNBC Chuck Todd previewed what was coming up next on the program before a commercial break 20 minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour, as Noonan and Murphy began a discussion off-camera, picked up by a hot mike. Todd then joined the discussion once the commercial break began. None of their discussion actually made it on the air for this reason.
In today's "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" moment, MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell, currently miles away from her three children that are all under the age of two, questioned whether or not Sarah Palin would be neglecting her four-month-old if she became vice president.
I kid you not.
As reported moments ago by Matt Lewis at Town Hall (video embedded right):
ST. PAUL, Minn.-- "Hate is a terrible thing, and it has a way of metastisizing in the soul, so I think the better she [Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin] does tonight, the greater the attack" the media will level on John McCain's running mate, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas told NewsBusters in a spot interview on Radio Row at the Republican Convention.
We spoke to Thomas this afternoon on his way from a radio interview and also asked the "Fox News Watch" panelist for his thoughts on MSNBC:
As Fox News prepares to interview Barack Obama tomorrow night, during prime time, TV journalist Michael Wolff details a meeting between Barack Obama, Fox News president Roger Ailes, and News Corporation president Rupert Murdoch in which the Fox execs promised to lay off the Democratic presidential candidate.
According to Wolff's telling, this was more than a mere tete-à-tete, this was a full-on diplomatic meeting (initiated at Murdoch's request), conducted only after preparation and with preconditions from the Obama campaign.
The apparent purpose? To smooth things over in the event that Obama defeats John McCain:
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews charged GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin as being a member of Alaska’s Independence party. Members of this party advocate to secede from the union and place all federally owned land under state control.
Even after Howard Fineman mentioned he received documentation from the McCain campaign showing Palin had been a registered Republican since 1982 and never a member of the Alaskan Independence party, Matthews continued to make the connection of Alaskan secessionist leader Joe Vogler to Palin.
Joe Vogler’s views are pefect media fodder to make Palin look fringy. It seems as if MSNBC and others are looking for their own William Ayers or Jeremiah Wright to pin on the McCain Palin campaign to scare away voters. Matthews quoted Vogler:
“I’m an Alaskan not an American. I’ve got no use for America or her damned institutions.”
Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann began to poignantly patch things up two nights ago. But there's clearly still mucho trabajo to be done to heal the rift between Joe Scarborough and the temperamental Countdown host. Readers will recall that during the Dem convention, Olbermann was caught [accidentally on purpose?] on an open mic suggesting Scarborough "get a shovel" for his failure to toe a sufficiently pro-Obama line.
On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough took a thinly-veiled shot at Olbermann for the way he tried to keep Republican analyst Mike Murphy off the air, and then tried to pull the plug ["let's wrap him up, alright?"] when Murphy eventually made it into an interview with Chris Matthews.
Pat Buchanan was the sole voice on today's opening-hour panel to opine that Fred Thompson had done a good job with his speech last night. In contrast, Scarborough suggested Thompson had been flat. Pat expressed his feelings of alienation as the show was going to a break. It was then that Joe and Mika let Buchanan know that—in contrast with other MSNBC venues—dissident voices were welcome on Morning Joe.
Obsessing over Sarah Palin's pro-life position on abortion, MSNBC hosts and reporters on Tuesday night repeatedly raised it and painted it as a detriment to Republicans even though last week with Democrats the channel did not similarly pursue how a solidly left view on abortion might hurt Obama and Biden. By the count of the MRC's Geoff Dickens, between 8 PM and midnight EDT, MSNBC raised abortion at least 16 times, twice with an edge that painted the GOP position as extreme by applying a “hard right” label. Chris Matthews declared “they are going hard right on abortion rights” and later David Gregory asserted: “The abortion platform here is pretty hard right.”
Chuck Todd, Political Director for NBC News, fretted over how “this is as stringent of a platform on abortion the Republican Party ever has. And the problem is” that “these delegates are more conservative than even the ones four years ago.” Andrea Mitchell described Palin as “very conservative” and pressed a Republican Congressman: “Now there are a lot of women in that area who are less conservative socially than Sarah Palin. There are a lot of women who believe in choice. So how do you square the circle there?”
Matthews bemoaned to Tom Ridge that “it seems like you got a convention saluting a vice presidential nominee who wants to outlaw abortion, period, across the country. Is this going too far?” To Tim Pawlenty, Matthews demanded:
Do you believe you can win with the cultural statement being made by the selection of Governor Palin? That statement being someone from the very culturally conservative part of your party?
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did what conservatives have been waiting for someone to do since Sarah Palin was announced as John McCain's running mate: take on someone in the media claiming that she lacks the qualifications to be vice president.
Such marvelously occurred Tuesday evening on the convention floor in St. Paul when MSNBC's Ron Allen said to the former Speaker, "But to be fair, her resume is not something we're familiar seeing with presidential candidates."
This didn't sit well with Gingrich who strongly replied (video embedded right, h/t NB readers Matt Noll and Patrick):
Now that the dust has settled on both parties' vice presidential picks, it's time to take a look at how the media treated Joe Biden and Sarah Palin in the crucial early hours after they were announced as running mates.
This analysis is the first of several "Quick Study" reports we'll be running this election season to give a snapshot of press coverage, primarily through the lens of cable television.
Looking at the transcripts of CNN, FNC, and MSNBC during the two "primetime" hours of the day John McCain and Barack Obama announced their running mates, a trend becomes quite clear: The media were much more likely to report negative information about the Alaskan Palin than the Delawarean Biden.
Reviewing speeches at the Dem convention, Keith Olbermann was like a mother describing her child's performance in a middle-school musical. "A grand slam across the street," enthused Olbermann over Hillary's effort, only to outdo himself by calling Obama's speech's "spellbinding" and "extraordinary."
But when it came to reviewing Fred Thompson's speech tonight at the GOP convention, Olbermann suddenly morphed into Frank Rich with a migraine back in his theater critic days.
Sniffed Olbermann: "We have heard two speeches in the last forty minutes or so, Chris, first from President Bush and now from former Senator Fred Thompson. I think it's fair to say, nearly entirely militaristic in nature and touching to some degree on who John McCain is and what he would do, but mostly standing him next to a flag and a gun."
If a hypothetical tabloid owned by, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, had a cover story with scurrilous accusations about Joe Biden, do you think Chris Matthews would be waving it about on camera and Keith Olbermann citing it? Neither do I. But if for some reason they did, would they possibly fail to mention the mag's ownership?
But Matthews saw fit—not once but twice—to display the cover of Us magazine, with its story "Babies, Lies and Scandals" about Sarah Palin. Olbermann alluded to it as well. And who is the owner of Us? Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone . . . and a big-time donor to Barack Obama. How big a donor? You can view his list of contributions here, with an image after the jump.
Now it's true that Matthews discounted the "lies" allegation. But why give currency to dubious accusations—by a magazine whose stock-in-trade is celebrity gossip—by displaying them repeatedly on a national news show? There was no suggestion that Us, unlike the National Enquirer in John Edwards' case, had done any significant independent reporting. This is apparently scandal-mongering, pure and simple. And of course, neither Matthews nor Olbermann mentioned the Wenner connection.
On Tuesday's "Morning Joe," Newsweek's Jonathan Alter appeared as a guest for a discussion about Governor Sarah Palin's pregnant 17 year old daughter, Bristol. Alter defended the media's actions in heavily reporting on the pregnancy, saying of the Palin's: "This, to quote the Godfather, this is the business they have chosen."
Alter also defended the media's lack of reporting on former Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards's affair. The columnist argued that Edwards was no longer running for president when the scandal broke and therefore the media was right in avoiding stories on it. However, in regards to Governor Palin, Alter scoffed, "They know it's all gonna come out if they're running for president or vice president. If they don't want it to come out they shouldn't get in the ring, I hate to tell you that." It seems Alter forgot that Edwards's affair began in 2006 according to his own admission, just before Edwards announced his candidacy for president. Nevertheless, as Joe Scarborough pointed out, Edwards was going to play a big role at the Democratic National Convention and was even slated to speak when the story broke. But Alter stuck with his argument that Edwards's affair was not as newsworthy as Bristol's pregnancy.