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.
Q. How can Scott McClellan tell he's pushed his turncoat trip a tad too far?
A. When even leading media liberals suggest his reputation's in tatters.
Say what you will, but I like Joan Walsh, editor of Salon.com. Liberal? No doubt. But also a grownup. On this evening's Hardball, Walsh had the integrity to acknowledge that by accusing Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly of regurgitating Bush White House talking points, McClellan was looking "worse for wear."
Sitting in for Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle [who I must say does a more "fair 'n balanced" job than the regular guy] rolled video from the this past Friday's show in which McClellan leveled his accusation.
NewsBusters has reported for years how the ultra-left wing website Daily Kos will publish all kinds of hateful articles about conservative politicians and figures without ever deleting or editing them.
On Sunday, it was made infinitely clear to the Kossacks that although attacks on right-leaning figures are encouraged -- even if they've just passed away, such as the recent disgraceful posts about Jesse Helms' death -- you're not allowed to say anything bad about their hero, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.
UPDATE at end of post: Kos denies the allegations.
Although frequent DK poster The Baculum King's "Keith Olbermann Stooping to Fox's Level Now??" has been deleted, Google still has the cached version for all to see (h/t NBer Thomas Stewart, vulgarity alert):
UPDATE: The original version of this item reported Joe Scarborough's statement, as transcribed below, that there were no Republicans on his MSNBC staff, with executive producer Chris Licht confirming Joe's assertion. Joe has been in touch to say he and Chris Licht were speaking tongue in cheek and that the remarks about there being no Republicans on the Morning Joe staff were a joke.
Mika Brzezinski is appalled to learn that the Bush Justice Department had a hiring preference for politically simpatico people. And Mika apparently believes Joe mischaracterizes her as a liberal.
The jumping off point on today's Morning Joe was Mika's reading of a news item on an article in today's New York Times about an internal Justice Department report concluding that "senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions." Scarborough saw this as SOP in Washington.
Between now and Election Day, we're sure to see—and chronicle at NB—plenty of MSM sycophancy for Barack Obama. But between the thrills going up assorted media legs, evidence is emerging that some in the media are beginning to assess the Dem candidate in a clearer light. Take for example, Gabriel Sherman's piece at the New Republic which as its title—End of the Affair—suggests, has as its thesis that at least for some of its members, the MSM's puppy-love stage might be coming to an end.
Today comes Howard Fineman's admission, hesitant as it might be, and mitigated by his suggestion that Obama came close to hitting an absolute home run with his European trip, that yes, well, after all, the guy is—how can I put this?—arrogant.
Newsweek's senior DC correspondent was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews. The jumping off point was Obama's cancellation of his plans to visit injured American troops in Germany.
May he live to be 120, but when Bob Shrum eventually goes to his reward, his epitaph could read "Here lies Shrum. He thought he was great. But his presidential record . . . was 0-8."
After Shrum taunted Pat Buchanan on today's Morning Joe as "living on Mars" for supposedly overestimating the power of affirmative action as an issue, Pat fired back, reminding Shrum of his dubious lifetime achievement of having consulted on eight losing Dem presidential campaigns with nary a win.
Sure, the elite media might overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. But so what? That's apparently Mika Brzezinski's opinion. Check out the exchange between Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe today at 7:50 AM EDT, triggered by Scarborough's insider take on the MSM's adulation of Obama.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: OK, Willie, come on. We've got to call these people out. Because we know people that work in the media, print. I mean seriously, they are, Tucker had it right: they're like ninth-grade girls.
. . .
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I actually, really reject this love affair notion.
SCARBOROUGH: Come on.
BRZEZINSKI: What? I do.
SCARBOROUGH: Because you are absolutely drunk on the Kool-Aid.
Appearing on the Monday, July 21, Tonight Show, MSNBC host Chris Matthews defended his declaration from last February that a Barack Obama speech caused him to feel a "thrill going up my leg," and suggested he really is not biased in the presidential race as he contended that "I’m a freaking American" and "who I’m rooting for" is "us." Referring to Obama having "seen on both sides of that San Andreas Fault of race in this country," Matthews effused that Obama was "inspiring." Matthews: "I was inspired by it, and I said so at the time, and I took some heat for it, but I’d rather be honest and say what I feel ...You know, I mean, I'm a freaking American. I do have a reaction to things, and I do react emotionally to my country. I care about this country. I want to look out for it. It's my job. I'm not just some umpire. You know, I take a side: Us. That's who I'm rooting for." Video of Matthews' "thrill" comment from February 12 can be found here.
But after seeming to claim that he was not cheering for either candidate, as he discussed the expected closeness of the election, Matthews focused on his fear that many 70- and 80-year-olds will be "suspicious of change," which sounds like a reference to Obama, as he advised the elderly to "think like your kids for once." Matthews: "I hope one thing. When people go to vote, they look at the guy's background, they look at the age of the two candidates, they look at their abilities and really open up their hearts and say what's really good for my kids, who don't have any color awareness. Kids don't think about that, race. Think like your kids for once. Think the way they think. It would be great if the older people in the country, the 70-year-olds, the 80-year-olds who are suspicious of change, to say, ‘You know, why don't I think the way my kids are thinking and think about the future?’ Whatever they decide, just open up your heart to this prospect of something different. That's what I hope we do." (Transcript follows)
While many in the media rather enjoyed Obama’s speech in Berlin, particularly CBS which declared that it “confirmed his rock star status,” many conservatives felt that this speech, like others, lacked substance. But, Obama need not worry because NBC Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, reporting from London, came to Obama’s defense during the 3 p.m. hour of the July 25 MSNBC “News Live”:
Well, [the Obama campaign] have rebutted that and I think when you look at this speech, this was a broad, overarching, thematic speech. It was never intended to be a checklist of legislative programs. So I think that they can fairly defend themselves and say this was the big picture of let’s have the United States and Europe re-engage.
Of course, it could be argued that with the rise of center-right leaders in Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, that Europe has largely re-engaged President Bush’s administration in the past few years, but why bother with such minor details?
Earlier in the segment, Mitchell reported on Obama’s meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, describing the meeting as a “love fest” and gushing about their “full scale presidential news conference”:
During a joint press conference between Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour bizarrely connected the Illinois senator with a 2005 comment by then-Interior Minister Sarkozy that French rioters were "scum." She asked the now-president of France, "And I'm wondering whether you feel, today, when you stand next to someone you clearly admire so much, and who has broken so many barriers, that you regret that term or that you wish you hadn't said it?"
Amanpour never made clear the odd link she seemed to be making between Obama and the "scum" rioters, other than to begin by stating, "Mr. President Sarkozy, you know that in France, the presence of Barack Obama and what he's done in terms of breaking the barriers in the United States has, sort of, made a resurgent black consciousness movement here." President Sarkozy deftly handled the CNN reporter's question. He began with this jibe: "Thank you, madam, for your exceptional knowledge of French political life and your contribution to friendship among peoples." Maintaining a smile, the president added, "...And I'm so glad that you should mention in front of Barack, a situation that prevailed before I became president in France."
Are reporters in the business of reporting fact or rumor? Andrea Mitchell, for one, doesn't scruple to circulate "scuttlebutt" that if true would be deeply damaging to John McCain.
Barack Obama's cancellation of plans to visit injured military members at bases in Germany has drawn considerable attention and criticism. On today's Morning Joe, Mitchell passed along an Obama-campaign inspired rumor that McCain used his Pentagon connections to sabotage the Obama visit.
The screencap captures it nicely: Heather Wilson, smiling. Robert Wexler, mouth agape. On this afternoon's Hardball, the feisty, brilliant [bio: high honors Air Force Academy grad, Rhodes Scholar] GOP representative from New Mexico took on the duo of the combative congressman from Florida and host Chris Matthews, and walked away a winner. The subject was Obama's Berlin speech, and by extension his presidential qualifications.
You'll find excerpts below, but they don't do begin to do justice to Wilson's brio and the coolness under verbal fire she displayed. That's why I'd strongly encourage readers to view the video. Wilson kicked off her tour de force in commenting on a clip of Obama in his Berlin speech proclaiming that various walls, including one between American and Europe, "cannot stand" and must be torn down.
Barack Obama is still giving Chris Matthews thrills. On Thursday night's "Hardball," before throwing to an Obama clip, Matthews gave the following rave review, on his July 24 show, to the Illinois senator's speech in Germany:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: What, what do you make of this? Let's take another bite here because it was quite a speech. You have to judge for yourself but the speech had its thrill factor, certainly once again. Here he was.
However Matthews wasn't in such a jovial mood near the end of the program.
The Biz Flog, the video blog over at the Business and Media Institute, takes at look at the effect the high cost of oil has had on the airline industry, and the effect that has had on passengers seeing higher ticket prices and fees.
Instead of focusing on and explaining the real causes of higher ticket prices, the media have accused the airline industry of trying to “nickel-and-dime” passengers.
On “MSNBC Live” July 9 host Tamron Hall gave a report on the quality of commercial airline travel, calling price increases “nickel-and-dime fees.”
“Passengers think they’re getting nickel-and-dimed,” host of the Today show, Matt Lauer said July 9 on the morning program. “All the things that were free on planes are now costing us.”
Keith Olbermann is notorious for filching stories from the blue blogs, particularly ones that attack the eeevil Bill O'Reilly. But now his sloppy, unprofessional practices have come back to bite him. He aired an out-and-out falsehood tonight as fact, ripping and reading from the most unreliable source in existence.
On "Countdown" tonight Olbermann assailed O'Reilly over his segment on Rep. Robert Wexler. After some crack about altering the color of Wexler's lips (a confirming clue as will be seen), he then turned the indignation up to '11' and ridiculed Bill for not knowing that Florida doesn't have a state income tax:
OLBERMANN: The Frank Burns of News then speculated that Wexler was somehow trying to cheat Florida out of income tax. Fund had to inform him that Florida doesn't have an income tax. "No income tax? This is where my argument falls to the ground!"
Apparently it's not just the American press corp that has fallen head over heels for Barack Obama. On Wednesday night's "Hardball," NBC News' Martin Fletcher revealed the quote that "went rushing around the media" in Israel was that a Shimon Peres female assistant remarked of Obama, "What a hunk!"
When asked by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, on the July 23 "Hardball," to give his assessment of the media coverage given to Obama in Israel, Fletcher dropped the following nugget:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let me ask you Martin for a final question there, as Barack Obama leaves the Middle East. What's the general assessment of the people over there, in terms of news coverage? Has he shown himself to be a commander-in-chief, potentially?
Me and Mrs. Jones, we've got a thing going on. We both know that it's wrong, but it's much too strong to let it go now. -- Billy Paul, "Me and Mrs. Jones"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting there's anything untoward between Mika Brzezinski and the Dem presidential candidate. But like the star-crossed couple of the song, the two do share a tragic bond, trapped as they are in an inability to admit they were wrong in opposing the surge.
The depths of Obama's denial emerged during a five-minute segment of his recent interview with Katie Couric. Couric tried repeatedly to pin Obama down on why he says he still would have opposed the surge, even knowing as he does know that it has succeeded. As Couric put it: "People may be scratching their heads and saying, 'Why?'" I'd encourage people to view the exchange, which comes at the five-minute mark of the interview. CBS video and transcript here.
And there on today's Morning Joe was the other half of the duo in denial, Mika Brzezinski. With Joe Scarborough playing the role of Couric-like inquisitor, Mika tried to talk about anything but the way Obama was wrong about the surge.