Campaign Watch

By Jack Coleman | November 14, 2008 | 1:12 PM EST

Most recent unintentionally hilarious moment on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC cable show -- her interview with Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie over the upcoming recount in the Senate race between incumbent Republican Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger/reformed court jester Al Franken.

The interview on Wednesday night's show began innocuously enough, with a news caption at the bottom of the screen identifying Ritchie.

Ritchie described the mechanics of the looming recount, which is triggered by state law for margins of victory less than one-half percentage point. The next news caption read, "Sen. Norm Coleman (R) Has 206 Vote Lead Over Challenger Al Franken (D)" (albeit all in capital letters, as with all the captions).

Then came this eye-opener of a caption, presented as fact as with the preceding two when it is an allegation and a kneejerk one at that -- "Before Recount, GOP Trying To Smear Minnesota Secretary of State."

Says who ...? All that was needed to make this bird capable of flight were two more words ... "Democrats allege."Adding that, however, might convey an attempt by MSNBC to appear fair and balanced, the last thing its goo-goo viewership wants.

By Geoffrey Dickens | November 11, 2008 | 6:29 PM EST

After airing an interview clip of Sarah Palin telling Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that she was looking for guidance from God about running for national office again, an appalled Chris Matthews called it "troubling," when he let loose this rant on Tuesday's "Hardball":

Is, is this commentary about theocracy and going to God for approval? We've been through that with President Bush who said he, "didn't take advice from his father, he got it from another father." And we've been through this sort of Joan of Arc period. Are we gonna get another piece of this where God's leading candidates to run for president? I mean that sort of keeps us out of the conversation doesn't it? I mean, seriously, I mean God is telling her to run? And she's saying it openly on a secular television show? This isn't the religious hour....Talking about God, in a political setting is troubling to a lot of people. If you're talking about a big tent, this looks more like the church tent, not the big tent.

Then a little later in the program, Matthews returned to Palin's expressions of faith and noted that kind of talk can be,"dangerous." And when his guest, former Dick Cheney aide Ron Christie, said he was tired of the media picking on Palin when, in fact, Joe Biden made a lot of blunders, Matthews let this howler fly: "Joe Biden took more hits from the media than anybody for the last 30 years!"

The following exchanges occurred on the November 11 edition of "Hardball":

By Brent Baker | November 11, 2008 | 11:34 AM EST
No place is safe from expressions from foreigners pleased by Barack Obama's election. On Monday's Late Show, in the midst of demonstrating how to prepare a recipe for squid, British chef Jamie Oliver paused to tell David Letterman: 
Can I just say, on behalf of all the people of England, congratulations on your new President. We like him very much.
Letterman replied: “Oh, that's nice to hear. Thank you very much.”
By Brent Baker | November 11, 2008 | 12:34 AM EST
Warning its readers to “be prepared to gag,” the “Scrapbook” page of this week's Weekly Standard magazine recited “some of the worst over-the-top reactions to The One's ascendance,” starting with Time's Nancy Gibbs who opened this week's cover story by comparing Obama with Jesus: “Some princes are born in palaces. Some are born in mangers. But a few are born in the imagination, out of scraps of history and hope...” In the November 17 issue, she heralded (citing his full name) the greater meaning of Obama's victory:
Barack Hussein Obama did not win because of the color of his skin. Nor did he win in spite of it. He won because at a very dangerous moment in the life of a still young country, more people than have ever spoken before came together to try to save it. And that was a victory all its own.
She gushed over how “an election in one of the world's oldest democracies looked like the kind they hold in brand-new ones, when citizens finally come out and dance, a purple-thumb day, a velvet revolution.”
By Kyle Drennen | November 10, 2008 | 1:14 PM EST

David Frum, CBS On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Julie Chen asked former Bush speech writer David Frum about recent attacks on Sarah Palin by McCain campaign staffers: "What do you make of Sarah Palin's response to those anonymous attacks?" Frum strongly defened her: "I think she's entirely within her rights on this one. You know, I was a critic of her nomination, but everybody is entitled to some basic fairness and the stories that have been released about her most recently are not only incredible on their face..." Frum was indeed a critic of Palin, calling her nomination a "huge mistake" during an October 13 Early Show appearance.

This time, Frum dismissed Palin’s opponents: "And you often get people seeking advantage by denigrating those above them. And then there's just the sheer human joy in mischief... there's sometimes just a human joy in cruelty." He also criticized the media coverage of the rumors: "And they are also, I think, a real problem in our rules in media. I mean, it should be a rule that if somebody is anonymous they shouldn't be allowed to criticize somebody else by name, because then we can't evaluate them, who they are, their motives, whether they're telling the truth."

By Scott Whitlock | November 10, 2008 | 12:59 PM EST

Former top Democratic aide-turned journalist George Stephanopoulos appeared on Friday's edition of the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and agreed with the host that it was "impossible" not to feel exuberant when Barack Obama was declared the winner on election night. Stephanopoulos also repeatedly admitted that he fervently believed all along the Democratic candidate would defeat Senator John McCain. Stephanopoulos' wife, actress Ali Wentworth, also appeared as part of the show's weekly "Oprah Fridays Live" series and asserted that in the spring she asked her reporter husband, "Is Obama going to win? Is Obama going to win? He said, 'Yes. He's going to win.'"

Wentworth elaborated, "And I was texting him during the election. Like, 'Really? Absolutely?' He would say, 'Easily. It's done. Yes.' Which was so- [Stops herself.]" Fellow panelist Mark Consuelos (an actor and husband of Kelly Ripa) also recounted the supposedly neutral journalist assuring him that Obama would be victorious. He explained, "We had dinner together over the summer and I sat next to you....I said, I'm a supporter but I just don't- I - feel nervous that America is not ready to elect, you know, Obama." Consuelos repeated the confident reply: "And he [Stephanopoulos] said, 'November 4, Obama will be elected president. Please pass the rigatoni,' is exactly what he said."

By Brent Baker | November 9, 2008 | 11:13 PM EST
File under: Don't believe your lying eyes and ears. Barely two weeks after a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press survey determined that “by a margin of 70%-9%, Americans say most journalists want to see Obama, not John McCain, win on Nov. 4,” as even 62 percent of Democrats recognized how journalists hoped Obama would be victorious, Reuters set out to prove any and all favorable Obama coverage had nothing to do with liberal bias. In a November 6 dispatch, “Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race,” Steve Gorman of the Los Angeles bureau focused his story on undermining the “perception that mainstream news organizations routinely gave Obama preferential treatment en route to his election as the first black U.S. president.” Gorman contended:
But media scholars, including a former top aide to McCain, disagree. They said campaign coverage often did lean in Obama's favor, though not -- as many conservatives have suggested -- because of a hidden liberal agenda on the part of the media. Instead, academic experts said, Obama benefited largely from the dynamics of the campaign itself and the media's tendency to focus on the “horse race,” emphasizing ups and downs in the polls and political tactics. As Obama's poll numbers rose in response to events, so did favorable press coverage for him, not the other way round.
By Noel Sheppard | November 8, 2008 | 11:07 AM EST

The media's post-election truth leaks are in full swing now as the Washington Post will publish an admission from its ombudsman Sunday that it was clearly biased towards Barack Obama in its coverage of the just-concluded presidential campaign.

Isn't the truth great when it doesn't hurt your agenda?

Although Deborah Howell's piece "An Obama Tilt in Campaign Coverage" will appear in Sunday's print edition, it was published at the Post's website Saturday, and revealed quite frankly what most media observers have known for months (emphasis added, photo courtesy Newsday):

By Kyle Drennen | November 7, 2008 | 6:14 PM EST

At the top of Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Russ Mitchell reported on location from Athens, Greece as part of the show’s ‘Destination Unknown’ series and managed to squeeze in this observation: "...coming here, also, meeting people on the street, Europeans, they're absolutely giddy about the election of Barack Obama. They're actually coming up to us and congratulating us, which is interesting. So Europe is reacting in that way."Later in the 8:30AM half hour, Mitchell returned to that observation: "As I said earlier in the broadcast, you get the sense being over here in Europe that the attitudes of some Europeans towards Americans may be changing with this week's election of President-Elect Barack Obama." Mitchell then turned to correspondent Richard Roth, who reported: "America's got a new President-Elect and a lot of the buzz on this side of the ocean is that's cool."Roth, reporting from London, visited a local pub to get British reaction to Obama’s election: "Here in the country that was briefly called 'Cool Britannia' not so long ago, we're hearing some new compliments for the former colony." One patron remarked: "It makes America a better place." Roth asked one woman: "You like our movies?...You like our music?...So now you like our politics?" She replied: "I think they're a lot healthier now. Everybody's talking about it. So America is the thing of the moment at the moment and definitely -- definitely cool."

By Brent Baker | November 7, 2008 | 5:07 PM EST
President-elect Obama's economic plans aren't left-wing and government-centered enough for CNN anchor Rick Sanchez, who about 20 minutes after Obama's Friday afternoon press conference shared his personal suggestion for another WPA (Works Progress Administration) and/or CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), two government make-work programs from the 1930s. To a guest who lived through the Depression as a child, Sanchez proposed: “I'm thinking WPA, I'm thinking it may be time for Americans to do something like that once again because there's so many people unemployed and there's so much that needs to be done in this country.”

With another guest in the same 3:30 PM EST segment, Sanchez cited energy requirements and wondered: “Isn't this the kind of need that could be met by American workers if the government created a WPA or CCC plan?”
By Scott Whitlock | November 7, 2008 | 4:08 PM EST

"Good Morning America" co-host Diane Sawyer on Friday uncritically highlighted an address given by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright on Thursday and parroted his talking points about being a scapegoat. In a tease for the segment, she recited, "Reverend Jeremiah Wright is now speaking out again.

By Brent Bozell | November 7, 2008 | 3:35 PM EST

The election of Barack Obama was certainly historic, and the great attraction of that historic moment led to more history: an Obama-smitten news media that completely avoided their responsibility to test the nominee with hard questions. It made the gooey 1992 Clinton campaign look like a fistfight by comparison.

Obama faced none of the withering scrutiny applied to even the Republican vice presidential candidate. Instead, he was treated to a nearly constant string of encomiums and tributes to his transformational candidacy, while nearly every possible pitfall of political embarrassment or inconvenience has been omitted or dismissed.