Embarrass Obama, and expect the liberal media to go after you, no matter who you are: That's what National Review journalist Byron York warned early Thursday afternoon.
He was quickly proven right by a story from reporter Larry Rohter in Friday's New York Times, "Real Deal On Plumber Reveals New Slant," in which Rohter took a wrench to Joe Wurzelbacher (aka "Joe the Plumber"), the citizen who dared to question Obama on his tax plan as the Democrat campaigned in his neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio. Obama responded with a classic paleo-liberal cliche: "I think that when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
That insight into Obama's mindset was politically fascinating, but Rohter buried it in the 11th paragraph of his story, focusing his investigation on such vital matters as "Joe's" actual first name (Samuel) and whether or not he has a plumber's license.
After smearing Joe the Plumber on Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith turned to a group of his own hand selected ‘average Joes’ to defend Barack Obama’s tax plan: "I'll tell you, we have assembled a panel of 'average Joes.' Joe the plumber, the most famous person in America now. Well, we have five Joes here this morning, from various walks of life, and we're going to put their incomes to the test against the candidates' tax plans and see how it will affect them all." Financial analyst Jennifer Openshaw then proceeded to examine the personal financial situations of each "Joe" and concluded that four of them would save more money under Obama’s tax plan as promoted by his campaign.
Smith did acknowledge these projections were hypothetical: "...according to the Obama tax plan, and this, of course, is subject to passed by Congress...Talk about a pie in the sky." However, he then continued to assume it would be implemented and focused on the first guest, asking Openshaw: "He would do much better with Obama plan?" Openshaw replied: "You bet, he would do a lot better. But under McCain, what's interesting is, you know, he's got that $2,500 health care tax credit...for coverage, you know, you might not be able to cover both you and your son if you have to go find coverage someplace. So that's something to watch out for."
Continuing the mainstream media's dogged pursuit of the truth, Thursday's "Nightline" breathlessly asserted that Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher isn't really named Joe. In a segment on the Ohio man who quizzed Senator Barack Obama about his tax plan, co-anchor Martin Bashir derided, "But his name's not Joe and he's not a registered plumber. And those are only half his problems."
Of course, his middle name is Joseph. Continuing to harp on this subject, reporter Jake Tapper alerted, "And it turns out Joe the plumber is not even technically named Joe...His name is Sam, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher." Now, although it took the media almost a year to report on Jeremiah Wright, Obama's radical preacher, Bashir announced that in the case of Wurzelbacher, "It wasn't long before the media pounced. But with the spotlight has come some scrutiny." Before launching into an investigation of Joe the plumber, Tapper chided, "The McCain campaign did not necessarily vet Joe, it seems." (Do voters need to be vetted before they're allowed to ask Obama a question?)
Imagine the media maelstrom if a reporter found a swing-state Republican voter who had strong reservations about voting for John McCain, was flirting with the idea of voting for Barack Obama, but ultimately resigned him/herself to voting for McCain out of pressure from his/her evangelical church.
But make that a labor union Democrat from Pennsylvania and it's but a passing reference in a news story.
Reporting on how the presidential candidates were "jostl[ing] for the Scranton vote," Financial Times reporter Andrew Ward found a union worker who backed Hillary Clinton in the primaries and was reluctantly voting for Sen. Obama, in part because of union pressure. From the October 15 paper (emphasis mine):
On Thursday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen followed the liberal talking points about how Joe the Plumber’s real first name is Samuel and how he doesn’t have a plumbing license. When host Anderson Cooper asked if John McCain benefitted from the attention on the Ohio laborer, Gergen replied, "Well, I think he was for a while. But I -- when we found out he was Sam the non-plumber, it changed a little bit." Gergen went on to treat Joe Wurzelbacher, who works with plumbing, as if he worked as a McCain campaign surrogate: "...I don't understand why the McCain team didn't vet the guy before they made such a -- you know, made such a focus on him on national television. I can guarantee you that the George W. Bush campaign, you know, which ran a highly disciplined campaign, would have vetted and would have known before he went out there about... his personal status."
Barack Obama’s supporters are whining about any attempt to link their candidate with former Weather Underground bomber William Ayers as “guilt by association” — even though, as National Review contributor Stanley Kurtz points out, the working relationship between Obama and Ayers can more correctly be described as “guilt by participation.”
But today’s Wall Street Journal treats us to a classic case of guilt by association: a front-page profile of the descendants of slaves owned by John McCain’s great-great grandfather before the Civil War. After documenting the poor treatment that the black families (who share the last name “McCain”) received over the past century, reporter Douglas Blackmon tags Senator McCain — whom he places at the family’s former plantation as a young man in the 1940s and 1950s — as out of touch:
On Thursday’s The O’Reilly Factor, FNC’s Megyn Kelly filled in viewers on the current voter fraud controversy in Ohio involving ACORN, and Democratic Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s refusal to comply with a federal court ruling in spite of clear evidence of fraudulent voter registrations. Kelly: "She's required by federal law to have her state database linked up to the DMV, and to the Social Security Administration, so that she's got two ways of checking people's registration to make sure they're legit. ... And she's required to keep a list of the discrepancies. She has done neither. She admitted she has turned off the link between the state database and the DMV. ... She admits all this stuff. The state of Ohio is embarrassed because the federal government now has to come in and order the state to run a clean election."
Kelly also noted the potential impact of voter fraud given Ohio’s history of close presidential elections: "George Bush won Ohio by less than 200,000 votes, both in 2000 and 2004. She's admitting, admitting that 200,000 out of the 660,000 new voters are potentially problematic. And she won't let people verify whether, in fact, there is a problem."
Below is a complete transcript of Thursday’s "Kelly File" segment from FNC’s The O’Reilly Factor:
They [the RNC] are calling voters, cold calls, and saying to them, what about William Ayers and the close working relationship he had [with Obama], which is not true by anybody's count . . . It certainly is a mischaracterization of the relationship. -- Andrea Mitchell to Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), MSNBC 10-17-08.
Andrea Mitchell, meet Stanley Kurtz . . .
It's turning into Andrea Mitchell Day here. Earlier, I noted how Mitchell, measuring the drapes for Obama, predicted that he would run a "bipartisan" administration. Now Mitchell has ridden to Obama's defense, denying that he ever worked closely with Wiliam Ayers.
Two years ago, ABC’s Brian Ross broke wide open the scandal of Republican Rep. Mark Foley sending sexual Internet messages to Congressional pages. Foley resigned quickly, but that didn’t dampen the story. We reported "On the ABC, CBS, and NBC morning and evening news programs, from the story’s emergence on Friday night, September 29, through Wednesday morning, October 11, the Big Three networks have aired 152 stories." On October 11's Good Morning America, news anchor Christopher Cuomo spoke insistently: "Less than a month before the elections and the Mark Foley scandal just keeps growing." Reporter Jake Tapper added: "This is the scandal that will not go away."
But what about a scandal that will not be acknowledged? Even when a network breaks the story? On October 13, ABC reporter Brian Ross broke the news on his Blotter blog that Rep. Tim Mahoney, the Democrat who replaced Mark Foley in the House, who ran on returning morality to Congress, "agreed to a $121,000 payment to a former mistress who worked on his staff and was threatening to sue him." The FBI is now investigating. ABC has audio of him yelling at the mistress (with profanities) that she's fired. Mahoney didn’t resign. He’s running for reelection.
Number of ABC stories on the morning and evening newscasts? Zero.
In an October 16 Web exclusive today, Newsweek's Sarah Kliff looked at the "chorus of disapproval" that met Sen. John McCain's use of air quotes when dismissing the "health of the mother" exception that swallows the rule in some late-term abortion bans. Of course Kliff hit her readers with complaints from such unbiased, neutral observers as Chris Matthews and NARAL Pro-Choice America, which endorsed Sen. Obama in May. She concluded by citing a pro-choice Biden backer insisting that pro-lifers would be turned off too.
Kliff then went on to dive into what the health exception is in federal case law and conceded that:
McCain is correct when he suggests that the law does not specify which conditions or complications should be included in the legal definition of what constitutes a threat to the mother's health. That decision is left up to the doctor.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich on Friday strongly challenged "Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer about the media's lack of fairness towards the McCain/Palin presidential ticket. The exchange came after the ABC journalist followed up on negative Gingrich remarks about the Obama tax plan by asserting, "for fairness," Obama talking points on middle class tax cuts.
An irritated Gingrich refused to allow Sawyer to move on to another topic and retorted, "No, wait a second. I don't notice very often, reporters, for fairness, pointing out what Governor Palin said or pointing out what Senator McCain said." The GMA anchor, slightly taken aback, defended, "And let me just say, I do point out what Senator McCain says, Mr. Speaker. You know I do." [audio excerpt available here]
And yet, just a few minutes earlier, during a different segment, Sawyer seemed to prove Gingrich's point that the media often recite the left's talking points and attacks. She launched into an update on Joe "the plumber" Wurzelbacher, which was really a series of gratuitous attacks on the Ohio man who famously challenged Obama over his tax plan. She derided, "It turns out, even though he was arguing about taxes for plumbers who end up making $250,000 a year, it turns out that he doesn't have a plumbing license, though the company he works for does."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, correspondent Jeff Glor reported on the role of Joe the Plumber, a.k.a. Joe Wurzelbacher, in the presidential campaign: "The McCain campaign is using Wurzelbacher to say their opponent would raise taxes. Though it turns out, Wurzelbacher himself owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and his annual tax bill would actually go down under Obama's plan." Glor then added: "Obama mocked the McCain strategy."
At the end of Glor’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked: "Yeah Jeff, we're starting to learn a little bit more about Joe/Steven, the Plumber?" Smith mistakenly referred to Wurzelbacher’s first name being Steven, when in fact it is Samuel, and he corrected himself: "Samuel." Glor responded: "A couple of more things about Joe the Plumber -- Samuel, indeed. He is registered to vote. There were some questions about that. He does not have a plumber's license, though. And it turns out his real first name is Samuel. Joe is his middle name." At that moment, an on screen Graphic appeared with the headline: "The Real Joe the Plumber" and listed the details Glor mentioned. On Thursday, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Wurzelbacher: "...feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." but offered no direct quote of any such comment.
You might know Barack Obama as the most liberal member of the Senate, a hyper-partisan who toed the Harry Reid line an amazing 97% of the time. But Andrea Mitchell sees in Obama a bipartisan president in the making. Appearing on Morning Joe today, Mitchell came close to speaking of an Obama presidency as a given, just managing to curb her enthusiasm. And wait till you see the people she cited as evidence of Obama's bipartisan proclivity.
Network polls put McCain-Palin ten-plus points behind Obama-Biden and Brian Williams introduced Thursday's NBC Nightly News by asserting “some senior Republicans are getting edgy at the prospect of a long up hill climb in a short amount of time,” but Williams and other journalists may not be so confident of an Obama victory -- how else to explain NBC's decision to air hit piece Thursday evening about Sarah Palin's husband Todd? Or maybe it just reflects continued animosity.
With “Palin abused her power” on screen with a picture of Todd and Sarah Palin, from Alaska reporter John Larson related that in the “troopergate” probe “state investigators noted in their report the pressure Todd Palin used to try to get his brother-in-law fired, and that Governor Palin’s firing” of public safety commissioner Walter Monegan, “who resisted that pressure, was an abuse of power, though she did not break any laws.” Nice caveat there.
Larson framed his story around how, horror of horrors, “state employees testified 'he had significant influence' on government affairs, that he occupied the Governor's office at least half the time.” Larson intoned, as if it were some kind of new and damaging revelation: “In fact, in this, his first nationally televised interview” Monegan “told NBC News Todd attended the Governor's closed cabinet meetings.”
After playing an exchange from last night's presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews, thought he was watching an old "Looney Tunes" cartoon, as he chuckled: "Sometimes I think I'm watching Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd here." In this case Matthews believed McCain, in the role of Fudd, was being outwitted, once again, by that "wascally wabbit," Obama.
Within an hour of the conclusion of Wednesday night’s presidential debate, CNN’s political panel began sketching out John McCain’s political obituary, with senior analyst David Gergen drawing a round of laughter when he replied “beats the hell out of me” when asked by anchor Anderson Cooper what McCain could do next. Gergen bleakly suggested McCain had no chance and should end the race with his “honor intact” (which means no more attacks on Barack Obama):
I think you have to do everything you can to help save as much of the Senate and the House as you can for your party. I think you have to need -- you need to see if you can leave this with your honor intact. I think you need to go positive about what you do on the economy and get rid of this stuff about Bill Ayers and all this garbage that we've been going through now.
Wurzelbacher has become the focal point of the presidential election because of his objections to Obama's plan to boost taxes on people who earn more than $250,000. Ironically, the plumber currently has an income level that would make him eligible for Obama's proposed tax cut rather than the tax increase.
But that doesn't address what impact Obama's tax hikes might have on Wurzelbacher's boss and how new taxes might adversely impact the plumbing company's payroll under an Obama administration.
After noting that Wurzelbacher admitted the company he's hoping to buy doesn't cross the quarter-million threshold, Ibanga seemed perplexed at his anger at the notion of taxing "rich" people for their success:
On CNN’s post-debate coverage on Wednesday night, special correspondent Soledad O’Brien misinterpreted the dial-tester reaction from a focus group of 30 Ohioans. When she played a clip of the dial test line graph flat-lining then rising up again slightly when John McCain spoke about the issue of Bill Ayers during the presidential debate, she overemphasized the results: “You see the dive. I mean, literally, it goes off the cliff. You can watch that right on the screen” [see video at right].
Just before this, she played the positive reaction of the focus group to McCain’s “I am not President Bush” remark: “Take a look at the squiggles -- immediately, when he said you should have run four years ago, those -- those squiggles go up sharply because really, people here found that to really resonate with them.”
At the top of Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez claimed that Joe Wurzelbacher, the Ohio plumber who criticized Obama’s tax policy, was upset that McCain mentioned him in Wednesday’s debate: "This is the small businessman first mentioned by John McCain, but then referenced repeatedly by both candidates. I had a chance to speak with Joe after the debate and he told me he did not like being mentioned, he feels like he is being used by the Republican Party as a pawn to make their point..." Despite that assertion, Rodriguez never offered any audio, video, or even a direct quote of Wurzelbacher saying any such thing.
However, in the same sentence, Rodriguez did admit: "...at the same time, he said since he has been thrust into this, he wants America to know that he absolutely disagrees with Senator Obama's tax plan. He says it punishes him for making more money and he even called it Marxist." In the report by correspondent Jeff Glor that followed, such criticism of Obama was backed up as audio of Wurzelbacher talking to Evening News anchor Katie Couric was played: "You know, I've always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question for once, instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question but I still got a tap dance. He [Barack Obama] was almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."
For general discussion and debate. Possible talking point: campaign home stretch.
Less than three weeks to go until Election Day, and polls have Obama way up. Did the debate last night do anything to potentially change things, or has the financial crisis on Wall Street so dominated headlines the past four weeks that nothing else matters?
Joe the Plumber, aka Joe Wurzelbacher the Ohio man that has suddenly become the face of the presidential campaign, told ABC's Diane Sawyer Thursday that Barack Obama's tax plan to spread the wealth is "a very socialist view, and it's incredibly wrong."
Predictably, Sawyer defended Obama's position by saying it's only a three percent tax increase that people making over $250,000 would be required to pay.
Deliciously, the "Good Morning America" guest wasn't backing down (partial video embedded right):
Though he decided “this was John McCain's best debate,” Democratic operative-turned ABC News journalist George Stephanopoulos made it a “clean sweep for Barack Obama” as he declared on Nightline after Wednesday's third and final presidential debate: “He has won every debate.” Add in the VP debate, which Stephanopoulos gave to Joe Biden over Sarah Palin, and Stephanopoulos has awarded all four debates this year to the more liberal candidate. He justified his latest assessment:
He won tonight by staying cool under pressure. He won tonight by parrying the attacks of John McCain. The only thing that John McCain could have really done tonight to change the tenor of this campaign was to get under Obama's skin, to force him into an error. That did not happen tonight. Another win for Barack Obama.
Anchor Terry Moran predicted “you're going to get some heat for this, George, you called all three presidential debates and the vice presidential debate for Obama-Biden.” But instead of suggesting that just might show some bias on the part of Stephanopoulos, Moran presumed it meant Stephanopoulos' evaluations presage the electorate: “Does that mean this thing is over?” Stephanopoulos replied: “I don't know if it's over. Right now, Barack Obama would win, I think, more than 300 electoral votes, if the election were held today. He's well ahead right now.”
In his Thursday morning debate review, Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales demonstrated he seems to think that any friendship or relationship between Obama and bomber Bill Ayers is purely fictional: "McCain brought up tired old charges against Obama of being pals with '60s radical William Ayers even though those claims have been shot down time and time again by the Obama campaign."
He didn’t tell the reader that Schieffer urged on the subject, and McCain had to be dragged to the subject of Ayers.
Speaking of the possibly fictional, Shales laid into violence-prone Republican rally audiences, and then turned it into another example of McCain's alleged anger management problems:
Without mentioning GOP vice presidential candidate and famous Alaskan hockey mom Sarah Palin by name, Obama referred to McCain's "running mate" and the raucous rallies at which she has spoken, with Obama looking askance at rally rowdies who shouted out "terrorist" when Obama's name was mentioned and even the unnerving and obscene "Kill him!" McCain got huffy, as he does with barely a moment's notice, and said he was "proud of the people who come to our rallies."
Recapping Wednesday's presidential debate TV journalists were struck with how Barack Obama conveyed an “appeal to the center” while a “sarcastic” John McCain showed “disdain and contempt” and was hurt by being too much of a right-wing “ideologue” whose “worst moment” came when he raised the name of William Ayers.
Also noteworthy: On NBC, Ann Curry pressed six undecided voters to “raise your hand if you know of people, and be honest here, who may not vote for Barack Obama because of his race.” And NBC anchor Brian Williams asked Hillary Clinton to assess Sarah Palin: “Is Governor Palin qualified to be Vice President or President?”
On “Nightline,” George Stephanopoulos went three for three for the Democrat -- four for four if you add in Biden over Palin -- in declaring Obama the “winner.” Read on for our recap.
Despite the huge media hubub that it's caused, the U.S. Secret Service is formally denying an allegation from a Pennsylvania newspaper that an attendee at a Republican rally shouted out "kill him" in reference to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
"We have yet to find someone to back up the story," agent Bill Slavoski told the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. "We had people all over and we have yet to find anyone who said they heard it."
The alleged remark was first reported by David Singleton, a writer for the Scranton Times-Tribune newspaper. Singleton remains the sole person claiming he heard the offensive words:
It's got to be incredibly frustrating for Republican voters to see that PBS, the taxpayer-funded television network, is so completely incapable of finding a balanced panel of analysts after a presidential debate. After the third debate, Jim Lehrer lined up this anti-McCain crew:
-- David Brooks, the increasingly fraudulent "conservative," who effusively praised Obama for being grand and calm "like a redwood forest," a "source of comfort," while McCain "seemed tight" and "hard to live with for four years," and who ended up the night announcing McCain would lose. (UPDATE: On Charlie Rose later, Brooks decided Obama was so cool he was "a mountain.")
-- Mark Shields, the liberal former Bobby Kennedy campaign aide, who obviously agreed about Obama's "eerie coolness."
-- Historian Michael Beschloss, a liberal who's written books with Clinton Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who trashed McCain for saying anything about Bill Ayers, which caused Lehrer to at least suggest that Bob Schieffer raised the subject.
Appearing on Tuesday's Late Show, Josh Brolin, who plays George W. Bush in Oliver Stone's 'W' movie set to open this weekend, blinked “Vote for Barack Obama.”
Picking up on a monologue joke earlier in the program by David Letterman about how Sarah Palin's blinking is conveying “coded messages,” immediately upon sitting down Brolin pointed to his face as he urged Letterman and viewers: “Watch this.”
He blinked several times, then asked: “You know what that is?” Brolin smugly answered his own question as he smiled and raised his fist in self-satisfaction to audience applause: “Vote for Barack Obama.”
[See update below for how Toobin did the same thing later in the evening.]
CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin brushed aside the issues of Barack Obama’s affiliation with left-wing terrorist William Ayers and the liberal group ACORN during a roundtable discussion on Wednesday’s Situation Room program: "Who cares about ACORN? Who cares about Bill Ayers? I mean, I just don't get this. What is the point of raising that?" When CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger countered by trying to show the relevance of these affiliations, that "he has given lots of different stories on Ayers, and that his affiliation with ACORN, as a group that they think now has been discredited," Toobin went further: "But he doesn't have an affiliation with ACORN." When both Borger and host Wolf Blitzer both affirmed that he did have ties to the organization, Toobin backtracked: "...I stand corrected on that, but I just don't see why that is going to move voters?"
Toobin must not be watching his own network, for CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin outlined on October 6 how "the relationship between Obama and Ayers went much deeper, ran much longer, and was much more political than Obama said," including how the two worked together on the board of the Annenberg Challenge Project and the Woods Foundation, and how Obama’s political career began during a meeting at Ayers’s house. While the network omitted ACORN’s name from an October 9 news brief about a raid on the organization’s Las Vegas office, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s story about the raid acknowledged how ACORN "has a liberal political agenda and ties to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama."
The New York Times posted on its website Wednesday political writer Matt Bai's long profile of Barack Obama, which will be featured in the next edition of the Times Sunday Magazine.
Near the end of the 8,800-word piece, in which Bai talked to Obama on his campaign plane, the Democrat dropped a backhanded tribute to Fox News, which by his lights is not only frustrating him in the polls, but is part of a wider apparatus "designed to perpetuate" the country's "cultural schism." Obama even identified New York Times reading as a reliable signifier of effete liberalsm.
Imagine that Chris Matthews was interviewing the former head of the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, someone who helped engineer the election of a Republican House member after the incumbent Dem had been caught in a sex scandal. Now imagine that same Republican was currently stuck in a sex scandal of his own, and just that afternoon a credible report emerged that he might drop out of the race. What are the odds Matthews wouldn't have raised the new scandal with the former RCCC chairman? About as good as Keith Olbermann suddenly endorsing McCain-Palin after tonight's debate, you say? Agreed.
Yet when Matthews had Rahm Emanuel on his show this evening, the Hardball host failed to raise the matter of Tim Mahoney with Emanuel, the hyper-partisan Dem and former DCCC chairman. This despite the Politico's report that Mahoney might be dropping out, he who won Mark Foley's seat after the Republican was forced out of the race in 2006 after sordid details emerged of his text messaging with male House pages.
There was one amusing moment: after defending William Ayers as a "distinguished professor," Emanuel balked at calling him a "good guy" on the grounds he didn't know him. Right.