Ron Suskind's charge, that the Bush administration forged a letter to falsely link al-Qaeda with Saddam Hussein, landed the journalist/author not only a spot on Thursday night's "Hardball," but also the following recommendation for his book, The Way of the World, from guest host Mike Barnicle:
MIKE BARNICLE: And in reading the book, I have to tell you, in reading all your stuff, I admire all your stuff. But in reading this book and these charges that have laid out here and because of my background, covering like city stuff and everything for years, I can't help but come to the conclusion, at the end of this book, this book is basically charging the President of the United States, or the Vice President of the United States with being an accessory, before the fact, to 4000 murders and more in Iraq. They lied us into war, according to this book.
The following is an excerpt of the interview as it occurred on the August 7, "Hardball":
The media continue to have Obama's back after his ridiculous claim tire inflation could be a substitute for oil drilling in a speech at a rally in Missouri on July 30.
MSNBC anchor Alex Witt is the latest in a long line of media personalities expressing irritation that McCain is using the presumptive Democratic nominee's tire inflation comment in his campaign against Obama. Witt interviewed former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott on August 7 about McCain's strategy.
"But sir, when John McCain picks up this tire-gauge issue and you know - throws it about back and forth, doesn't he just perpetuate the problem?" Witt asked. "I mean, if you were advising him, wouldn't you say, ‘Can you leave it alone?' or does it work for him?"
Chicken and egg question: which came first, Obama supporters or pro-Obama media coverage?
Such seems important given a new Rasmussen Reports study that found people who watch CNN, MSNBC, and the broadcast network evening news programs largely support Obama for president, while those watching Fox News are more likely to say they're voting for McCain.
Though certainly not surprising, is this a function of the various channels' biases impacting their viewers, or people opting for news sources that are friendly to the candidate they support?
While you ponder, here are the relevant numbers (h/t NBer Schnikeys, photo courtesy MSNBC.com):
Apparently having a show on two different networks owned by NBC does not guarantee familiarity with voters. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball” and NBC’s “The Chris Matthews Show” has hinted at a run for Arlen Specter’s Senate seat in 2010 as reported by Mark Finkelstein here.
A Quinnipiac University poll of Pennsylvanians found that 55 percent of voters “say they don’t know enough to have an impression of him (Matthews)” as reported in the August 5 edition of Politico’s The Scorecard blog, which can be found here. The same poll found that 28 percent hold a favorable view of Matthews while 15 percent look unfavorably on the “thrilled” Hardball host.
Be with you in a sec. Gotta finish this bag of Cheetos. Man, what a mess down here in Mom's basement. Let's see, where were we? Barnicle. Right. Bloggers. Doesn't think much of us. On this evening's Hardball, decrying the decline of bi-partisanship, Barnicle put much of the blame on the blogosphere.
Subbing for Chris Matthews, Barnicle had as his guest historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The jumping off point was a clip of Obama saying he could imagine naming McCain as his head of Homeland Security. Barnicle wondered whether that was feasible in what he sees as a hyper-partisan age, and pointed the finger largely at bloggers. Kearns Goodwin suggested that despite the difficulties, she could imagine either of the candidates reaching out to his opponent. That prompted Barnicle to let loose on bloggers, casting them as largely a bunch of loons with too much time on their hands.
Joe Scarborough has estimated that 95% of the elite media will pull the lever for Barack Obama. Even so, evidence continues to mount that the MSM is beginning to view the Dem candidate with a more discerning eye. The latest example comes from an unexpected corner, that occupied by NBC correspondent Martin Savidge. As NewsBusters has reported, on everything from climate change to Jesse Helms to the Jena Six, Savidge has consistently toed the liberal media line.
But on MSNBC this afternoon, interviewing an Obama supporter, Savidge surprisingly suggested that Obama was "a bit of a liar" on the subject of oil industry donations that he and John McCain have accepted.
Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
As we'll detail below, David Shuster literally laughed in the face of a senior Republican today, and earlier on MSNBC Andrea Mitchell blithely dismissed the McCain energy plan as unrealistic. But there was one point of light, you might say, during the network's afternoon coverage. When Shuster briefly held a Dem congresswoman's feet to the fire on the question of Obama's vote for the 2005 Bush energy bill, what ensued was one of the more hapless—and ergo entertaining—dodges of the political season. Shuster's guest was Allyson Schwartz, a Dem congresswoman from Pennsylvania.
DAVID SHUSTER: Congresswoman, during the event in Ohio today, Barack Obama attacked the Bush-Cheney energy policy. But didn't Barack Obama vote for the 2005 Bush-Cheney energy bill?
Schwartz's first foray was the old politician's standby: ignore the embarrassing question and give your canned spiel on something you want to discuss.
This will give you an idea of just how far to the left NBC's Andrea Mitchell is.
Although many industry insiders and media watchers on both sides of the aisle view the cable network MSNBC as being a journalistic disgrace as a result of its blatantly obvious liberal bias, Mitchell says, "Nothing could be more important to our future."
And that's not all. For those with strong stomachs, here's Mitchell's complete response to a question on this subject from TVNewser (emphasis added):
Influenced by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert's recent claims on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the McCain campaign deliberately included "phallic symbols" along with images of attractive young white women in an ad attacking Barack Obama to exploit racial resentment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann latched onto this theory on Monday's Countdown show and observed that the ad featured "two underdressed blondes mixed with the black guy," and contended that the ad included "three phallic symbols, two blondes and Barack Obama," opining that the ad is an example of "miscegenation," and that it suggests Obama is "going to wind up dating those women."
Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, also an MSNBC political analyst, charged: "That's the oldest and deepest racist, you know, canard in American history, really, is that, you know, the slave is going to come after the wife of the plantation owner." And, ignoring the GOP's history of portraying white Senator John Kerry as elitist during the 2004 campaign, Alter further charged that Republicans are "trying to portray [Obama] as being uppity," and hinted at the racially charged connotation of the word "uppity." (Transcript follows)
When Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times since 1993, recently charged in his column that the Republican Party deliberately targets black Democrats using ads featuring attractive white women to exploit racial resentment, and claimed as proof that the GOP does not run such ads against opponents who are white, the liberal columnist could have disproved this thesis by consulting a 1994 article in the paper he writes for regarding that year's Virginia Senate race involving former Senator Charles Robb, a white Democrat. The New York Times article, titled "THE 1994 CAMPAIGN: THE AD CAMPAIGN; The Senate Race in Virginia: Robb and North Trade Barbs," from October 15, 1994, describes an ad run by Republican Oliver North's campaign depicting the Playboy cover image of Tai Collins, a young blonde with whom Democrat Robb was romantically linked. (Transcript follows)
It appears that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank has dumped his appearances on MSNBC's "Countdown with Keith Olbermann." Host Olbermann issued a DailyKos diary explaining the dust up on Monday, August 4. According to Olbermann, the problem came in when Milbank violated Keith Olbermann's well-known journalistic standards. Of course, I jest about that... not that there was a disagreement but that there are any journalistic standards in the Olbermann camp.
Now, for a man that is supposed to make his mark with words and for a man the left constantly claims is eloquent, Olbermann's diary explanation is quite badly written. But, the gist of the matter is that Olbermann has supposedly been asking Milbank for "nearly a week" if an Obama quote in one of his Washington Post stories was sourced and reported accurately. Apparently Milbank took exception to having his own journalistic integrity questioned by a sports guy.
For Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann showed up wearing his tinfoil hat to cover the recent break in the Anthrax attacks case from 2001, as he charged that "the government took advantage of this situation to use it as a tool to build up a case to go to war in Iraq," and, stepping into his "conspiracy theory" mode, even suggested that the Bush administration was not interested in quickly solving the case. Olbermann: "And in that context, there would be no rush to find the deranged, solo killer."
During the show's teaser, Olbermann's bizarre choice of words made it sound as if he were theorizing about the possibility of a conspiracy to carry out the Anthrax attacks to build support for invading Iraq, as the MSNBC host used the loaded phrase "it was an inside job" because the suspect was a government employee, and then seemed to link John McCain's speculation from 2001 that the Anthrax "may have come from Iraq," to the "motive." Before playing a clip of McCain, Olbermann teased: "For motive, for explanation, there are few options, and all of them are terrifying, including why people like U.S. Senators were saying this in 2001."
Warning: excessive adulation of Barack Obama is harmful to the vision and can in extreme cases cause hallucinations.
We're all familiar with how an Obamania overdose produced strange tingling sensations in Chris Matthews. A new, virulent strain of the affliction has now emerged, claiming its first victim in the person of Bob Herbert, who on live national TV saw visions of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Washington Monument where none existed.
The NYT columnist, a guest on today's Morning Joe, expanded on the theory set forth in his column of this past Saturday, Running While Black, that the McCain campaign ad mocking Obama as a Paris Hilton/Britney Spears-type celebrity was actually "designed to exploit" racist anxiety about black men and white women. Herbert lumped the McCain ad with the "call me" ad the RNC ran against Harold Ford, Jr. in his Tennessee senate race.
It was in describing the McCain ad that Herbert's symptoms surfaced.
Newsweek Paris bureau chief Christopher Dickey appeared as a guest on the August 4 edition of MSNBC’s “News Live” to discuss a recent trip through the South he took in order to determine “if Obama's candidacy was helping to pull people in the South together, freeing them of their histories, or pushing them apart.” During their discussion, the two journalists disparaged white Southerners who are skeptical of Obama as racists.
Responding to an inquiry by Brewer about his description of emotions in the South as “raw,” Dickey rendered any hesitations white Southerners may have with Obama as thinly-veiled racism:
The South is part of the country that’s had to deal with race as an issue for a very long time and often very painfully so the idea that Obama is a black man that may be the next President of the United States has raised hopes among African-Americans tremendously, uh, but it’s also raised a lot of concerns among whites who may not talk about it as a race question but raise lots of other issues that may in some cases be code for race.
In following up with that response, Brewer noted that Southerners often deal with the stereotype that they are all racists, yet proceeded to depict them as clinging -- I suppose bitterly along with guns and Bibles -- to racist traditions:
On Thursday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and Newsweek Washington correspondent/MSNBC political analyst Howard Fineman went after John McCain for his recent ads attacking Barack Obama, and the Arizona Republican's charge that Obama was "playing the race card" because the Illinois Democrat has repeatedly joked that his opponents will try to discourage people from voting for him because "he's black." Olbermann started off the show suggesting that McCain's ad against Obama featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton exhibited "almost subliminal racism, a black man with two women," and that the ad "intermixed footage of that black candidate with images of two young white women."
Fineman charged that McCain is using negative attacks to distract from the "substantive issues" Obama is "trying to raise in the campaign," and suggested that McCain is in danger of seeming as "obsessed" as Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men" as the Arizona Senator is planning to "demonize Obama to draw out the Republican base." Fineman further characterized McCain as being "in survival mode. It's not quite like the prison years, but he's a tough character in a tough spot, and he's going to use anything he can to survive."
Fineman also seemed to voice agreement with Obama's joke that Republicans will try to use race against him. After noting that Obama campaign advisor Robert Gibbs was not telling the truth in denying that Obama was referring to race in his controversial joke, Fineman suggested that Obama was being "honest" in warning that "the country needs to be on guard," and the Newsweek correspondent recommended that Obama "should have all of his advisors and spokespeople be honest, too." (Transcript follows)
Exactly how wide is the gulf between elite media opinion and public opinion on matters of politics?
Let’s put it this way, after Sen. Barack Obama falsely accused Sen. John McCain of saying he (Obama) doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency and has a funny name, Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, called Obama's "Dollar Bill" statement "self-deprecating":
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure –
Appearing as a guest on Thursday's Countdown on MSNBC, liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, also a Princeton University professor of economics, informed viewers of what he believes is "the reason to hate Exxon," which is because "it has not done anything to address the energy problem, and it's actually spent heavily on, you know, financing climate skeptics, on basically blocking intelligent policy, on muddying the waters of our debate." He also lamented that America did not follow Jimmy Carter's advice on energy policy: "If Jimmy Carter had actually managed to sell us on energy conservation 30 years ago, we would be in a lot better shape than we are right now."
As he and host Keith Olbermann dismissed the legitimacy of John McCain's plan to drill for more oil domestically to reduce gas prices, Krugman complained that Barack Obama is not being aggressive enough in attacking McCain, and recommended that Obama charge that McCain's plan is an "outrage," and that the Arizona Senator is "insulting your intelligence, he's really doing bad stuff." (Transcript follows)
In light of Keith Olbermann's recent mockery of elderly television viewers as being in the "65 to dead" demographic, two years ago on MSNBC's Countdown show, Olbermann seemed to rejoice at the prospect of O'Reilly's audience members "dying off," as Olbermann bragged about his viewing figures which had increased during the previous year, especially among viewers in the age range of 25-54 years, while O'Reilly's overall ratings had dropped. Olbermann, on the June 28, 2006, Countdown: "Bill, seriously, it's slipping away from you. You don't know what to do. You can't even lie well anymore. Seriously, I understand, it's called panic. ... It's terrifying. You begin to see the audience dying off and the creases deepening in your forehead and the loofahs drying up. You make mistakes, you trust the wrong people, you blame Al Franken, you yell at somebody, you yell at everybody. It feels like the ladder is teetering, you're tired, you're depressed, you're anxious, you're balding. Let me give you three words of advice, Bill-O: Keep it up!" Video of Olbermann's rant can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
On Friday's Countdown, during the show's "Worst Person in the World" segment, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tried to characterize the ratings of his show as more admirable than than those of FNC's highly watched O'Reilly Factor by narrowly citing viewing figures among younger demographics. Olbermann, who has a history of quoting the viewing figures for those 25-54 years old -- citing their value to advertisers -- to make himself appear more competitive with O'Reilly, on this occasion dismissively referred to older viewers as "65 to dead." Olbermann: "But don't worry, Bill, you're still dominating that important demographic, 65 to dead." Notably, in June 2006, Olbermann gloated that O'Reilly's viewers are "dying off."
And, although Olbermann vaguely claimed that Bill O'Reilly "crows about the ratings and then gets them wrong again," the MSNBC host in no way contradicted O'Reilly's numbers as Olbermann merely cited the statistics for the specific younger demographics, which did not disprove anything the FNC host stated.
TVNewser reported on the July figures: ""The top rated program was again The O'Reilly Factor at 8pmET(2,252,000 viewer average). For MSNBC, the top program was Countdown with Keith Olbermann at 8pmET in 9th place (959,000) and for CNN it was Larry King Live tied for 10th (940,000)." The TVNewser report can be seen here. (Transcript follows)
There's no current wisdom more conventional than that which has Hillary Clinton entirely out of the veepstakes. Take the opening of yesterday's Hardball, for example, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews.
MIKE BARNICLE: It didn't get much notice in the media and it didn't show up in any newspaper obituary pages, but the idea of a Democratic ticket of Obama and Hillary Clinton died a very quiet death this week. How did the dream-team ticket disappear so fast and so quietly?
Introducing a later segment, Barnicle displayed a statement from a group that had been pushing the idea of Hillary for veep now saying that it's abandoned its effort "because it seems that Senator Obama has made his decision to offer the slot on the ticket to another candidate." The subsequent schmoozefest with Dem consultant Steve McMahon and Air America honcho Mark Green took it as a given that Hillary would not be the VP candidate, focusing instead on what other role she might play in the campaign.
After several media outlets discovered the Democratic congressman from Florida uses his in-laws' house in a Florida retirement community to meet residency requirements, he has sent out an e-mail (entire text here) asking for campaign donations - alleging it's his "strong and vocal stands in favor of impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney" that has made him a target of "ultra-conservative" media.
"In the eyes of the right wing, I am seen, along with Rep. Kucinich, as one of the symbols of the impeachment fight. They believe that if they defeat me - they defeat our cause," Wexler wrote. "For the last week, I've been relentlessly targeted by ultra-conservative radio and television hosts, as well as my local media. It has taken a toll. Now more than ever, I need your support to help me stay in Congress to represent your voice in Washington."
Thank you, Andrea Mitchell. No, really, I mean it. Thank you for providing some of the clearest evidence yet of just how much the press corps following Barack Obama has blinders on for its man. Mitchell has let it be known that "the people covering the campaign" don't think Obama played the race card with his currency crack. Andrea appeared on Morning Joe today just before 8 AM EDT.
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Andrea, excuse me for a minute. How can it be self-deprecating when he says, when Barack Obama says, that John McCain's camp is going to say "I look different"? Or when he says they're going to try to scare you because I'm black. How is that--because I've heard "self-deprecating" a couple times--how in the hell is that self-deprecating?
David Shuster surely knows better. Wherever you come down on the issue of who's playing the race card, one thing is glaringly, blindingly, incandescently obvious: when Barack Obama says McCain will point out Obama doesn't look like the other guys on the currency, the Dem candidate is doing much more than making the innocuous point that he is the first black major-party presidential nominee. Yet that is precisely how Shuster chose to misinterpret Obama's remark on today's "Morning Joe." Fortunately, Tiki Barber was there to run to daylight through the gaping hole in Shuster's line of logic.
The show began with a clip of Obama intoning his stock line that Bush and McCain will try to "make you scared of me" by pointing out, among other things, "he dudn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills. You know?"
You might say nothing could be more unsurprising than a panel of political pundits admitting the obvious: that Barack Obama is playing the race card when he accuses John McCain of saying the Dem candidate "doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency."
But what makes the punditry panel's unanimity notable is that no one would accuse them of being McCain backers, and what's more, that they turned up on Hardball. Surely Chris Matthews, were he not on vacation, would have found one diehard to deny reality. But with Mike Barnicle guest-hosting, a consensus of truth-telling broke out.
Barnicle began by playing a clip of McCain, interviewed by CNN's John King, saying that it is legitimate to accuse Obama of having played the race card. The video is worth viewing if only to watch McCain end the interview by shaking a surprised King's hand and walking away. Then the panel commented. Perry Bacon of the Washington Post said he would decline to answer directly, but his answer left no real doubt as to his view.
Disclaimer: Yes, Joe and Chris. We know Jim was joking.
Money maven Jim Cramer is a self-described Democrat, one who idolized Lenin back in his Harvard days [Cramer's, not Lenin's] and was on the verge of tears over the downfall of his old college buddy Eliot Spitzer. But one Dem not high on Cramer's list is Jimmy Carter, so much so that Cramer feigned dismay to be informed that—contrary to his [tongue-in-cheek] belief—the former president is still among the living.
The host of CNBC's "Mad Money," a guest on today's Morning Joe, was buoyant about the economy, saying the surge in oil prices is over and that happier, if not downright happy, days are ahead. It was when he cautioned people about being sure not to exceed FDIC insurance limits on their bank deposits that Carter came up . . .
On Wednesday's Countdown show, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann claimed that pro-gun groups like the NRA "are trying to increase deaths by gun," as he used his "Worst Person" segment to attack a gun rights activist who infiltrated gun control groups to spy on them: "Mary Lou Sapone infiltrated the executive boards and learned the plans of organizations trying to decrease deaths by gun in this country, and apparently reported it back to organizations like the NRA, which are trying to increase deaths by gun in this country." A month earlier, on the June 26 show, after the Supreme Court struck down Washington, D.C.'s handgun ban, Olbermann named Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he called a "clown," as "Worst Person" as the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that the Second Amendment only applies to the types of weapons that existed in 1791, like muskets, to be used in a militia. Olbermann: "You've got around 30,000 gun deaths in this country per year, another 75,000 non-fatal gun wounds, half the suicides are by gun; and this clown and his four colleagues decided that the 32-year-old ban on handguns in Washington, D.C., and the demand that firearms kept in the home be locked or disassembled was unconstitutional based on the Second Amendment." (Transcripts follow)
Mike Barnicle went into hyper-sensitive mode on Wednesday night's "Hardball," as the substitute host feared the McCain campaign was questioning Barack Obama's citizenship, simply because a McCain ad placed the words "foreign oil," right next to Obama's face.
Barnicle did pull back a bit, as he asked if he was "overreacting," but his initial reaction to the ad was reminiscent of the New York Times' claiming the word, "Rats" popped up in a GOP ad back in 2000.
The following exchange occurred on the July 30 edition of "Hardball:"
MIKE BARNICLE: You know we sit here in living rooms and dens across America and these ads come beamed across and you sort of, half pay attention to them. I think a lot of people just half pay attention to 'em. But there's an element in that ad, right toward the end of the ad where it has Obama's face up and the word "foreign," next to it with "more foreign oil." There it is, it's right there on the screen now.
During the 1 p.m. hour of the July 30 edition of MSNBC’s “News Live,” host Andrea Mitchell once again defended Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), this time in regards to Sen. John McCain’s newest TV ad tagging Obama as a celebrity that isn’t ready to lead America. During an interview with the Arizona Republican’s senior policy advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer, Mitchell asked: “Tell me about the ad and the reasoning behind [the ad]. Why Paris Hilton? Why Britney Spears? It does seem that you're trying to demean Barack Obama.”
Later, when Pfotenhauer asserted that McCain has proven he’s a leader and has put his country’s interests first on more than one occasion whereas Obama has just given speeches, Mitchell questioned Pfotenhauer’s statement about the presumptive Democratic nominee and claimed that comparing Obama to Paris Hilton raises questions:
Chuck Todd has some advice for John McCain: embrace Ted Stevens' demise. The NBC News political director made his suggestion in the course of kibitzing McCain campaign strategy with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.
CHUCK TODD: Joe, why isn't McCain jumping on this Ted Stevens thing? He hated Ted Stevens.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: He did!
TODD: He should be dancing on this guy's political grave today. This is the John McCain Republican party versus the Ted Stevens Republican party. And he ought to be, he ought to be gloating today. And he's not touched it.