Newsweek Writer Touts Huntsman as 'Rising Star,' Sneers Palin-Bachmann Era Needs to End

At the end of the 11 am hour on Wednesday, MSNBC fill-in anchor Milissa Rehberger interviewed Newsweek/Daily Beast contributor Melissa Lafsky Wall to discuss Newsweek's list of political "rising stars." The funniest pick was one-percent-in-the-polls GOP candidate Jon Huntsman, who Wall said "seems patient... seems willing to build gradually and bring his name to a national level." Many viewers probably heard echoes of Dana Carvey's President Bush saying Dan Quayle is "still gaining acceptance."

In noting New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Wall couldn't avoid slamming other female conservative GOP stars: "The era of the Palins and Bachmanns needs to come to an end." Is that Republican opinion, or Newsweek's? Guess.

Rehberger asked Wall how Huntsman be a "rising star" when he's already apparently risen? Wall replied with a really unconvincing thesis on how he's never really risen, but might eventually:

He's always been a little bit of the dark horse....He's never emerged as a mainstream sort of GOP candidate along the lines of a Newt Gingrich or a Mitt Romney. That being said, he is someone that both liberals and conservatives respect and seem to like, and he seems patient. He seems willing to build gradually and bring his name to a national level. So I think he is a rising star in the sense that he does not necessarily seem to demand the same level of attention as a Romney, but he very well could.

The magazine's slideshow also has a laughable summary about you shouldn't let Huntsman's bad polling tell you he isn't a dynamic rising star:

Don't be fooled by his low poll numbers in the 2012 GOP race. The former Utah governor and ambassador to China might be losing the short game, but Huntsman is playing the long game. He'll come out of the race with much higher name recognition, right-wingers are coming around to his conservative bona fides, and liberals see in him a man they may disagree with but whom they can respect.

Wall called Susana Martinez "a real force on the political spectrum," whatever that means, before slamming Palin and Bachmann:

She is a member of the GOP. The GOP is really looking for a powerful female leader to emerge. The era of the Palins and Bachmanns needs to come to an end. So looking down the line, she could be a very attractive candidate in 2016, and there’s even talk of putting her on the short list of running mates for 2012.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was also on Newsweek's list, but did not come up on MSNBC.

Rehberger really showed why she's merely a holiday-week fill-in by noting that Newsweek also found four rising stars in the halls of Congress, Paul Ryan, Kevin McCarthy, Tim Scott, and Jim Jordan. She then asked bizarrely, "We've heard a lot about Paul Ryan, but who else on the list is, do you think, going to make it to Capitol Hill at some point?"

Um, they've all made it to Capitol Hill.

The Newsweek reporter failed to correct this whopper, babbling "Jim Jordan could be a very interesting candidate. Um, he has had a lot of, he's joined the debate much more in the past year or two. Um, again, a lot will depend on how things play out in the 2012 election, and who really emerges as a leader in the debates. So I think a lot will come forth in the next few months."

Could she be any vaguer? A skeptic watching MSNBC might think that neither of these women know a cotton-picking thing about these Republican congressmen. Wall didn't seem to even read the little captions Newsweek wrote to explain who Jim Jordan is -- the head of the stalwart conservative House Republican Study Committee.

For fervent MRC followers, the name Melissa Lafsky might ring a bell. She won our "Quote of the Year" in 2009 for bizarrely wondering on The Huffington Post if Chappaquiddick drowning victim Mary Jo Kopechne would have felt her death was "worth it" to become a "catalyst" for Ted Kennedy's glorious Senate career:

“Mary Jo wasn’t a right-wing talking point or a negative campaign slogan....We don’t know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she’d have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history....[One wonders what] Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted’s death, and what she’d have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded. Who knows — maybe she’d feel it was worth it.”

[Hat tip: Dan Isett]

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis