Appearing as a guest during the 10 a.m. hour of the July 11 “MSNBC News Live,” Chicago Tribune managing editor James Warren compared McCain adviser Phil Gramm’s recent comments on the economy’s health to those of Henry Ford during the Great Depression:
But I think in the annals of a not particularly sensitive remarks this will rank up there with a bunch of things. Somebody, a historian reminded me yesterday, the auto manufacturing pioneer Henry Ford during the Depression said something to the effect that “these really are good times, it’s just that few know it.”
Warren then went on to suggest that Gramm needs to be reminded of the current economy’s impact on average Americans:
See Bonus Coverage at foot: Barnicle accuses Jesse Jackson of "corporate blackmail."
Two veteran members of the Senate, two entirely different treatments from Andrea Mitchell. Reverence for Ted Kennedy; scorn for Strom Thurmond. Guest hosting in Mika Brzezinski's spot on Morning Joe today, Mitchell, emotion in her voice, hailed Kennedy as "valiant" and a "hero." As for Thurmond, Mitchell mocked that he wasn't alive even when he was in the Senate.
The reference to the late South Carolina senator arose in the context of a discussion of the way in which, with the nomination of Barack Obama, the torch of Dem leadership has been passed to a new generation, whereas the same isn't true in John McCain's GOP.
If there's one person in the NBC news stable who combines solid analytical skills with a commitment to fairness, it could be political director Chuck Todd. Evidence thereof comes from no less a certified conservative source than Tom DeLay. Appearing on this evening's Hardball just after Todd had offered his breakdown of the electoral map, DeLay allowed that he "can't dispute" any of Todd's analysis, prompting Chris Matthews to exclaim "that's a development for us here: objective truth for you!"
So what was that Todd analysis that DeLay didn't dispute? There was much to it, but for present purposes let's focus on this: Todd can't see how Obama wins without Pennsylvania, and that having former governor Tom Ridge on the McCain ticket would help deliver the Keystone State. The catch is that Ridge is pro-choice, which in turn poses the question of whether pro-life Republicans would revolt if McCain chose him for the veep slot.
Got to be good looking 'cause he's so hard to see Come together right now Over me—The Beatles, "Come Together" (1969) [YouTube]
Bob Herbert just doesn't get it. As Noel Sheppard has noted, in his NYT column today Herbert accuses Barack Obama of "lurching right when it suits him, and . . . zigging with the kind of reckless abandon that’s guaranteed to cause disillusion, if not whiplash." The NY Times columnist goes on to condemn the candidate for "pandering to evangelicals;" agreeing with Justices Scalia and Thomas on a "barbaric" interpretation of the 8th Amendment; and playing a "dangerous game" with his "shifts and panders."
No, no, no, Bob! That's not what's happening at all. Obama isn't flip-flopping. He's simply fulfilling his pledge to bring us together. What makes Herbert's obtuseness all the more infuriating is that enlightenment was just a stroll down the corridor away, to the office of Gail Collins. Herbert's fellow Times columnist explained what is really going on during her appearance today on Morning Joe.
During the noon hour of the July 8 "MSNBC News Live," host Tamron Hall discussed McCain's new TV ad with Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman and Washington Post’s Kevin Merida. The ad focused on McCain's time as a POW as demonstrative of his love of country and Hall questioned how Obama could compete with such a story.
Well, look, Senator McCain's got this great story about what he survived and what he endured and his campaign wants to tell that story as much as possible because they think that that's something voters respect and it gives them a sense of what he’s made of. But Senator Obama’s got a great American success story, too, and it’s just a different one and I think voters are equally impressed with what he’s all about.
So, the story of a man who never served in the military but was a community organizer and graduated from Harvard Law is "different" but just as impressive as the story of a man who was a prisoner of war, tortured by his Communist captors and refused special treatment in order to stay with his fellow servicemen in prison?
You'd think Chris Matthews might wish Howard Wolfson well on the news that the former top aide to Hillary Clinton has joined Fox News as a Dem analyst. Think again. The Hardball host has ungraciously predicted that the move to Fox could spell the end of Wolfson—and in doing so revealed his own pop-culture roots.
Here was Matthews on this evening's Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Fox News loves presenting itself as the alternative to the other news networks. Roger Ailes, the guy behind the network, figures that the Hillary campaign needs a new home, now that she's out of the race for president. So, abracadabra, Howard Wolfson, the voice of the Hillary campaign, has just been hired by—you guessed it—Fox News. Wolfson has just signed a contract as a regular contributor. He told the New York Times, quote, "it is important to have a strong progressive voice on the network." Well I think it's the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Reminds me of a movie: it's called Howards End.
As you might expect, the first outbreak was on MSNBC where liberal commentator and screenwriter John Ridley wondered whether McCain's coincidental presence in Colombia during the recent daring hostage rescue was really a publicity ploy:
"We know that John McCain was down there fortuitously. We know that someone on his staff who was a lobbyist for Colombia. It just seems all very convenient right before the Fourth of July.We know that John McCain was down there fortuitously. We know that someone on his staff who was a lobbyist for Colombia. It just seems all very convenient right before the Fourth of July."
New chapter in the lack-of-love fest between Joe Scarborough and Rachel Maddow. As noted here and here, the pair have clashed in the past. The GOP-congressman-turned-MSNBC-host and the Air America personality got into it again on last evening's Race for the White House, with Joe [guest-hosting for David Gregory] eventually accusing Rachel of perfectly capturing the Clinton cackle.
What do you do when you just can't win your ratings time slot? Answer: Cook the books. That's what MSNBC tried to do regarding "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and the 5:00pm slot:
CNN and Fox News Channel both pointed out Tuesday that MSNBC included special coverage of Tim Russert’s death and memorial in its June data ratings for Hardball With Chris Matthews – prompting MSNBC to say it made an error.
The flap was over a press release that MSNBC issued, based on Nielsen data, with the headline “MSNBC’s ‘Hardball’ No. 1 Among Adults in June at 5 p.m.”
You can win in a court of law and still get attacked in the court of public opinion. That's what former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso would have learned from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" July 2.
Host Mika Brzezinski called Grasso a "poster child for Wall Street excess" in reporting a New York State Supreme Court ruling allowing Grasso to keep his $187.5 million pension payout.
"There you go, a little justice there," Brzezinski said. "Jack Welch calls it justice; I call it a very large pay package. It's a lot of money, Jack."
During the 11:00 a.m. hour of MSNBC’s News Live, host Tamron Hall discussed possible developments late in a presidential campaign such as an October surprise or a terrorist attack. After Republican strategist Cheri Jacobus claimed that Bush would be remembered for his leadership after 9/11, her Democratic counterpart Keith Boykin tried to insist that Bush was to blame:
You know, I disagree with what Cheri said too about 9/11. 9/11 was a failure for George Bush. He was asleep at the switch on 9/11. He had a memo, he had a memo a month before.
Michelle Obama has made a lot of news with her now infamous soundbite about how America is “downright mean” and that “for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.”
But the mainstream media feel that they must defend the potential first lady and show her “softer side.”
During the 1 PM hour of Monday's MSNBC News Live, host Andrea Mitchell interviewed Susan Page, USA Today Washington Bureau Chief, about the newspaper’s interview with Michelle Obama. During their discussion of Obama, Mitchell gushed: “She’s Princeton, she’s Harvard, she’s so smart and so beautiful and, you know, a mom and a wife and a partner and yet people get caricatured.”
Andrea Mitchell depicts Wesley Clark's cracks about John McCain's heroism as a gaffe. Bloopers that will cost him any chance of being picked for the Obama veep slot. But surely the seasoned MSM hand knows better than to imagine that Clark was freelancing. Clark's were anything but impromptu remarks, made, say, late at night to a foreign reporter in a hotel cocktail lounge in some far-flung land. To the contrary, Clark took his shots in the brightest of limelights—those of a Sunday morning talk show—speaking with the venerable Bob Schieffer. Clark was explicitly there as an Obama campaign surrogate.
Moreover, Clark had made similar comments before, as a guest on Morning Joe earlier this month [YouTube of earlier appearance]. So the Obama campaign was well aware of his views. If it had any qualms about him expressing them, surely he would have been warned off. Thus, far from representing a gaffe, Clark's comments must be seen as reflecting Barack Obama's calculated strategy—and that is precisely how the McCain campaign has interpreted them.
So why would Andrea Mitchell turn up on Morning Joe today lambasting Clark for his "stupid" and "dumb" remarks? You don't suppose she was trying to inoculate Obama, give him cover, some plausible deniability, so that the remarks get the maximum attention without Obama's fingerprints being seen on them?
Just two weeks after getting into a brouhaha with Huffington Post editor Rachel Sklar, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann has found himself in a tussle with one of the chairmen of the Netroots, Salon's Glenn Greenwald.
At the heart of this dogfight between two shameless liberal pols was Barack Obama's recent flip-flop on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and how Olbermann altered his own views on this subject in order to shelter the Democrat presidential nominee from criticism.
Grab some popcorn, folks, and let's get ready to rumble (h/t TVNewser):
Michael Smerconish is thinking of voting for Obama. The Philly talk radio host let it be known while subbing for Dan Abrams on tonight's "Verdict" on MSNBC. He actually did so, chatting with Ron Reagan, while criticizing Obama's flip-flops. But the bottom line is the bottom line.
SMERCONISH: I want to think big picture, and I want to do so by showing you a piece of that which was published in today's Washington Post by Charles Krauthammer, if we can put that up on the screen:
The truth about Obama is uncomplicated. He is just a politician . . . When it's time to throw campaign finance reform, telecom accountability, NAFTA renogiation or Jeremiah Wright overboard, Obama is not sentimental. He does not hesitate. He tosses lustily . . . By the time he's finished, Obama will have made the Clintons look scrupulous.
That's Charles Krauthammer. Ron, I voted for the first time in 1980 for your dad. I have never voted for a Democrat for president. I voted for plenty of Democrats, but never for president. I've not ruled it out in this cycle, because I like this guy. But the events of the last 10 days or so make him seem status quo, make him seem like just a run-of-the-mill politician.
See Bonus Video at foot: Mika Victimized by Retching Rover!
In polite liberal circles, Ralph Nader's suggestion that Barack Obama "wants to talk white" and avoid appearing like another Jesse Jackson is infra dig. Take, for example, Joan Walsh's reaction on yesterday's Hardball. Said the editor of Salon.com:
I don't think that racism is too strong a word for what he said.
Added NY Times columnist Bob Herbert:
It's a lousy, reprehensible comment.
But as uncomfortable as Nader's statement might make some people, could there be a kernel of truth to it? Joe Scarborough seems to think so. And even Prof. Michael Dyson—Obama fan and commentator on matters racial—seemed to acknowledge that "ghetto-speak" would hurt Barack, going so far as to imitate the kind of street accent that could damage the candidate's campaign.
Peter Boyer's profile of Keith Olbermann in the June 23 New Yorker magazine, “One Angry Man,” contained a bunch of noteworthy revelations, such as:
♦ Olbermann wanted to be more vulgar in his “shut the hell up” insult of President Bush than TV allows. Boyer on Olbermann's May 14 “Special Comment” rant: “Phil Griffin, the senior vice-president in charge of MSNBC raised the matter of tone. Why did Olbermann need to end his commentary by telling the President of the United States to 'shut the hell up'?” Answer: "Because I can't say, 'Shut the f**k up.'”
♦ A focus group for CNN found “audiences didn't like him.” Shortly after Olbermann returned to CNN in 2003, “Griffin ran into an old colleague at CNN, who told him that that network had considered hiring Olbermann, but focus-group tests showed that audiences didn't like him.” (In fact, Olbermann did fill-in work for CNN in late 2001 through 2002. See screen shot from January 24, 2002.)
♦ After Olbermann delivered his first Special Comment in August of 2006 denigrating Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a “quack” pushing “fascism,” Boyer learned: “His bosses loved it. 'I think we're onto something,' the President of NBC News, Steve Capus, told me. 'That's what we keep hearing from the audience, more and more, is that they appreciate that we have people who are actually speaking truth to power...'” Olbermann wrote his diatribe after “downing 'a couple of screwdrivers'” while waiting for a plane at LAX.
Mike Barnicle has some campaign advice for John McCain: don't say anything about Obama's questionable connections. The former Boston Globe columnist, with a heartfelt second from Mika Brzezinski, wants the world to know that he's heard enough about Reverends Wright and Pfleger, not to mention Bill Ayers, and thinks McCain would "win a few points" for staying away from all that stuff and concentrating on the important issues facing Americans—like better batteries.
Barnicle made his suggestion on today's Morning Joe in commenting on an audio clip of Obama warning a crowd this past Friday that the Republicans will, among other misdemeanors, play the race card against him and accuse him of having a "feisty wife."
Want to know just how in the tank MSNBC's Dan Abrams is for Barack Obama?
On Thursday's "Verdict," the network's former general manager actually tried to deflect criticism from Michelle Obama by bringing up statements John McCain made concerning his experience as a Vietnam POW making him realize how much he loves America.
This is how Abrams began the program: "Tonight: We have uncovered comments from John McCain on camera that could undermine the steady right-wing attacks against Michelle Obama."
Is that Abrams' role as a journalist: to undermine attacks against the wife of a presidential candidate?
Readers are warned that the following transcript is likely to offend them in a fashion that might not be desired on a Saturday (video embedded upper right, use scrollbars to center, h/t Hot Air via NBer Thomas Stewart):
In 1992, reporters like Joe Klein and Sidney Blumenthal were mocked as Clinton Conformity Cops, telling other journalists that the goal of electing Bill Clinton was too important to create any obstacle of objectivity that might get in the Democrat's way. This came to mind when watching MSNBC on Thursday night, but Keith Olbermann took it a step further. He attacked ABC’s Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos for having "bigger IQs" than to make the apparently simple-minded statement that Barack Obama reversed himself on accepting public financing for his campaign.
His guest, Newsweek political reporter Howard Fineman, also played Obama Conformity Cop by completely agreeing with and hailing Obama’s lame line that taking millions of small private contributions really is "public financing." He claimed Obama wasn’t really flip-flopping: "I don't think of it as an 180-degree reversal. I think of it as a recognition of reality, and one he's been signaling for a long time. This guy cares about changing the system, paradoxically in his mind and I think to some extent, he's right. This is what he has to do to try to change the system."
Doesn't this sound like they're desperately spinning that Obama has to burn the McCain-Feingold village in order to save it?
Almost two years ago, NewsBusters wondered when media would begin reporting Enron's ties to higher oil and gas prices.
Recently, we've gotten our answer: when it could be blamed on the Republican presidential nominee.
Such was certainly the case Wednesday evening when Obama advocate Keith Olbermann did a segment on "Countdown" pointing fingers at John McCain for having not done more to repeal the so-called "Enron Loophole" created by the enactment of the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000.
Though predictable, Olbermann conveniently ignored how the first version of this bill passed in the House with almost unanimous bipartisan support, cleared final approval in the Senate by a voice vote without any objection, and was signed into law by Bill Clinton who had also been a strong advocate (video embedded upper-right, use scrollbars to center):
Not a mere hell-freezes-over-moment. Call it–in honor of Chinese Olympic diving which made the NY Times today–a a triple-twisting forward three-and-a-half flying pig, pike position. An MSM reporter has condemned socialist big-government programs, adding a pitch for unrestrained free-market forces. Check the end of this item for a factoid making the moment even more remarkable.
CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera made the stunning statement on Morning Joe today while reporting on a change in Chinese policy that should lower the price of crude oil world-wide.
It's rare to hear an MSM figure flatly suggest that a presidential campaign lied, but Joe Scarborough broke out the the l-word today in wondering whether chief Obama strategist David Axelrod did just that when he emphatically denied, on yesterday's show, that there is a concerted "makeover" of Michelle Obama in the works.
Now her husband’s presidential campaign is giving her image a subtle makeover, with a new speech in the works to emphasize her humble roots and a tough new chief of staff. On Wednesday, Mrs. Obama will do a guest turn on “The View,” the daytime talk show on ABC, with an eye toward softening her reputation.
When Axelrod appeared on Morning Joe yesterday at 7:40 AM EDT, Scarborough quizzed him about the matter [dialogue as per closed-caption transcript]. The senior Obama aide's denial of a makeover plan couldn't have been more categorical:
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.