On Thursday's "Today" show, co-host Meredith Vieira actually challenged former Clinton administration advisor Paul Begala about the significance of Barack Obama's recent "lipstick on a pig" comment.
As was typical for this shameless pol, Begala viewed the McCain campaign's complaints concerning this remark as a distraction "from the fact that, you know, in the eyes of most people, the economy's going in the wrong direction, health care's going in the wrong direction, the whole country's going in the wrong direction."
However, Vieira surprisingly disagreed, and wasn't letting her guest get away with simply echoing Democrat talking points (partial transcript and embedded video follow, file photo right):
Washington Post staff writer Kevin Merida talked to NewsBusters at a rally for John McCain in Fairfax, VA and denied that the media are biased. He asserted, "I think that most journalists are really conscientious about, you know, really looking at all sides of issues and subjects." However, he did hedge that "there's always some bias in media coverage and some, just, not-terrific journalism."
When asked about intense scrutiny into the life of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Merida didn't see an issue of unfair coverage. "...She's somebody new on the scene and she's getting a lot of, you know, scrutiny, like anyone would, I think, in her position, with her background, her resume and, kind of, bursting onto the national scene in this sudden way." Asked specifically about possible double standards, such as when "Today" reporter Amy Robach speculated on September 3 about whether a Vice President Palin will "be shortchanging her kids or will she be shortchanging the country," Merida declined to comment on other media outlets.
CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman’s report detailing the abortion stances of the four major presidential and vice-presidential candidates on Wednesday’s Anderson Cooper 360 program gave a fairly neutral portrayal of how "Biden and Obama both favor abortion rights" and how "Palin and McCain are both anti-abortion," despite Tuchman describing how Palin is "considered fervently anti-abortion." However, host Anderson Cooper, in his introduction to Tuchman’s report, gave no reaction or labeling as he mentioned South Carolina Democratic Chairwoman Carol Fowler’s slam against Palin, that John McCain picked her because she "hadn’t had an abortion," other than stating, "Just the mention of that word [abortion] stirs up intense emotions for a lot of voters."
Like many liberal media outlets totally apoplectic over Sarah Palin being John McCain's running mate, the New York Times has continually questioned her qualifications as having "only" been a governor and a mayor.
Yet, 24 years ago, when presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Walter Mondale was considering who his running mate should be, the Times editorial staff asked, "Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President," as it made the case that the women on Mondale's list were qualified despite lacking senatorial experience.
Is this because those were Democrats and Palin is a Republican?
Consider the answer as you read a July 3, 1984, Times editorial (emphasis added, taken from LexisNexis, no link available, photo courtesy AP):
What media outlets are the ladies of "The View" watching? After Joy Behar the previous day spoke of an alleged media love affair with Sarah Palin, Barbara Walters echoed Joy’s charge on the September 11 edition. Responding to Joy Behar’s statement that a "Bush operative" wrote Palin’s speech, Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted the media’s double standard that they never inquired as to who wrote Obama’s speech. Barbara Walters then jumped in and exclaimed that Governor Palin has "had a glorious ride with the media."
As reported yesterday, Sarah Palin’s ride with the media has been anything but glorious. MRC’s Rich Noyes reported on the media’s rough, often unfair treatment of the Alaska governor. ABC, "The View’s" own network, ran a hit piece on Mrs. Palin. Elisabeth Hasselbeck swiftly responded "it was glorious when they attacked her daughter too."
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Barack Obama’s use of the phrase "lipstick on a pig," on Thursday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez declared: "Lipstick wars. Barack Obama fires back." A clip was then played of Obama on Wednesday’s Late Show with David Letterman: "Technically, she [Sarah Palin] -- had I meant it this way, she would be the lipstick. You see?... The failed policies of John McCain would be the pig." In a later segment, the on-screen graphic appeared: "‘Lipstick On A Pig’ Dustup: Smear Tactics?"
In the second half of that segment, Rodriguez talked to liberal George Mason University professor Michael Fauntroy about the issue and Obama’s comments on Letterman: "I want you to listen to what he said to David Letterman last night about his lipstick comment...Michael, do you think he explained it or made it worse?" Fauntroy replied: "I think he explained it." Rodriguez went on to question whether Obama should have just avoided using the phrase to begin with, but Fauntroy disagreed: "...then both candidates are in big trouble because you end up in a circumstance in which you have to censor yourself in a way that may be -- may go beyond who you are as an individual. And what voters want to be able to see from the candidates is authenticity and that may not be possible if candidates are worrying so much about what they say."
"Good Morning America" weekend anchor Kate Snow on Thursday derided the McCain/Palin ticket for focusing on a comment by Barack Obama that "you can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig." Sympathetically covering the Illinois senator's contention that he wasn't referring to Sarah Palin and her claims to be a lipstick-wearing hockey mom, Snow whined that the topic was "illogical" and editorialized that the coverage is "reaching ridiculous heights."
The ABC correspondent, who glowingly covered Hillary Clinton during the primaries, didn't seem to have much patience for a McCain campaign ad that drew a connection between Obama's remark and Palin's lipstick/pit bull line at the Republican convention. Snow dismissively announced that "voters" say "there's a frustration about how this race has been bogged down in less-serious issues."
New York Times reporter Kate Phillips is absolutely sure that Barack Obama's "lipstick on a pig" comment wasn't referring to Sarah Palin, and wishes people would stop talking about it. Here's Phillips's Wednesday evening entry on the Times's political blog, "McCain Ad: The Wolves Are OutAgainst Palin."
Forget how worn that "lipstick on a pig" talk is getting at this point. Let's, uh, put a little gloss on that for a second, even though the liberal blogosphere and others have been awash in media-bashing today for anyone even writing about Senator Barack Obama's comments that the McCain campaign is putting "lipstick on a pig." He contended that it was all about the McCain-Palin ticket representing no change.
(And there's no question that Senator Obama did not refer to Gov. Sarah Palin as a pig during his talk last night in Virginia. Although the allusion to lipstick within a week of Ms. Palin's popular line at the Republican convention has prompted a great deal of chatter around the Internet.)
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the September 11 "Fox & Friends" to talk about media coverage of Sen. Barack Obama's lipstick-on-a-pig remark and on the continued fallout from MSNBC's biased convention coverage.
Bozell noted that the liberal media just "don't get it" about widespread anger over the lipstick remark, but cautioned the Fox News anchors from labeling Obama's remark as sexist:
BRENT BOZELL: There are women all over America who are outraged. Whether or not he meant to say it, he did say it. Period.
GRETCHEN CARLSON: And so, do you believe, though, that it was a sexist comment?
A week after a Rasmussen Reports survey discovered that by a ten-to-one margin the public believes the media are trying to hurt Sarah Palin, a new Rasmussen poll of 1,000 likely voters, briefly highlighted Wednesday night on FNC's Hannity & Colmes, determined “69 percent remain convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Barack Obama.” Specifically, “50 percent of voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama win versus 11 percent who believe they are trying to help his Republican opponent John McCain” with 26 percent saying “reporters offer unbiased coverage.”
Even amongst Democrats, more think journalists are aiding Democrat Obama than Republican McCain: “While 83 percent of Republican voters think most reporters are trying to help Obama, 19 percent of Democrats agree, one percentage point higher than the number of Democrats who believe they are trying to help McCain.” Most telling, “unaffiliated voters by a 53 percent to 10 percent margin see reporters trying to help Obama.”
CNN’s senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin criticized Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin on Tuesday’s Election Center program for having a "very extreme" position on the issue of embryonic stem cell research: "By excluding that entire scientific method, it seems like you're an extremist, and frankly, her position is very extreme in the American spectrum. And I think that is the real problem here." Toobin later used the same phrase to label Palin’s stance on global warming near the end of the program.
Toobin’s comment came as host Campbell Brown began the program with the controversy over remarks made by Palin’s Democratic opponent, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, who made an indirect reference to the Alaska governor’s developmentally-disabled son during a campaign stop in Columbia, Missouri earlier that day: "I hear all this talk about how the Republicans are going to work in dealing with parents who have both...the joy and the difficulty of raising a child who has a developmental disability, who were born with a birth defect. Well, guess what folks? If you care about it, why don't you support stem-cell research?"
Chris Matthews spent the entirety of Wednesday night's "Hardball," debunking the idea that Barack Obama was referring to Sarah Palin, when he made his "lipstick on a pig," remark as the MSNBC host questioned if it "insults...everyone's intelligence?" But didn't Matthews insult his viewers' intelligence, on Monday, when he accused Palin and Rudy Giuliani of using coded racist language when they joked about Obama's experience as a "community organizer?"
At the top of Wednesday's show, Matthews invited on Republican strategist John Feehry and Democratic strategist Jenny Backus to discuss the topic, and hit Feehry hard, as he admitted to Backus: "I’m doing your job," and dismissed the "lipstick" controversy: "This is like Seinfeld, this is about nothing."
But on Monday's show Matthews, similarly, tried to make a big deal out of "nothing," when he saw racism in Palin and Giuliani using the words, "community organizer":
MATTHEWS: Rudy Giuliani got the biggest giggle out of that. And then, of course, Sarah, Sarah Palin did. They're giggling over the community organizer role as if it's, has, it carries more freight than just a job you once had. Is this the new "welfare queen?" Is this a new symbol, that we're talking about here?...Do you it has an ethnic piece, an urban piece even?
The following exchanges occurred on the September 10, "Hardball":
Two segments on Tuesday’s Election Center program, which were promoted by host Campbell Brown as having ‘no bias, no bull,’ actually tried to paint Republican vice-presidential pick Sarah Palin as having a "very extreme" and "outside-the-mainstream" viewpoint on environmental issues, since on the issue of global warming, she’s "not one... who would attribute it to being man-made." Brown herself suggested during the second segment that the debate over the cause of global warming was already over [see video at right].
Correspondent Randi Kaye interviewed University of Alaska professor Rick Steiner during the first segment, a report on Palin’s environmental record. She asked, " In a word, if you can sum up Sarah Palin's record on the environment here, what would it be?" Steiner answered, "Abysmal." Anderson Cooper’s blog on CNN.com republished the professor’s September 7 editorial from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in which he railed against Governor Palin: "In addition to her frightening lack of qualification to be vice president (much less president) of the United States, Palin is an evangelical, anti-choice, pro-gun, right-wing conservative who wants creationism taught in schools." When a shorter version of her report aired on Wednesday’s The Situation Room, Kaye added that Steiner "says he’s not a Republican or a Democrat." Despite this clarification, it is clear from his editorial that Steiner is a liberal.
Wednesday's "Good Morning America," featured a one-sided segment on whether Sarah Palin, as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, tried to have some books banned from the town's library. Despite the fact that no one featured in the segment could cite a specific book, co-host Robin Roberts labeled the event "a battle that brought her toe-to-toe with a local librarian over which books were appropriate and which were not, something her critics say crossed the line into censorship." Investigative reporter Brian Ross also intoned that there are "members of the Alaska Library Association who to this day remain very wary of Sarah Palin."
The Ross report featured several critics, but no clips or on camera explanations by the McCain/Palin campaign. Instead, the piece focused on the 1996 uproar over certain controversial books in the Wasilla library. Then-Mayor Palin asked librarian Mary Ellen Edmonds what the process would be for removing books. The librarian was ultimately fired. However, Ross explained toward the end of the piece, "In a conversation with me yesterday, the librarian said she could not recall Palin asking for specific book titles to be removed from the shelves."
Is an implicitly mild anti-Michelle Obama comment worse than an overt anti-Catholic remark? According to the CNN Headline News show "Showbiz Tonight" on Monday September 8, they apparently are. While they ignored Joy Behar’s inflammatory remarks comparing the saints to mental patients, they were all over Elisabeth Hasselbeck for revealing that Michelle Obama provided a list of forbidden questions. For the record, Hasselbeck said "unlike the wife of a political candidate who shall remain nameless, she didn't come with a list of topics we weren't allowed to touch."
Reliable Obama supporter and CNN contributor Roland Martin alleged Hasselbeck "gets her information from Sean ‘Little Bowl of Hate Hannity" and drinks "Hatorade." To provide some balance one guest said "she shouldn’t be shot." The one caller, Deborah from Georgia, pleaded for Hasselbeck's firing. Everyone’s complaint with "The View" co-host involved revealing what occurred behind the scenes with Michelle Obama.
Tuesday's Countdown show on MSNBC showed a portion of Keith Olbermann's interview with Barack Obama in which the Countdown host ridiculously claimed that Obama was "just about 100 percent on the spot" in his predictions of the troop surge in Iraq, and downplayed the signficance of the reduction in the number of Iraqis who are the victims of violence. Olbermann: "Your predictions about the surge, your language about the surge seemed to have turned out to be just about 100 percent on the spot. ... If you are right, why have the Republicans and the conservative media been so effective in suggesting that you were wrong and somehow you need to atone for that?"
Ironically, during an interview with Olbermann on January 10, 2007, Obama had expressed his view that "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse." And in another irony, on Tuesday's show, Olbermann lambasted Sean Hannity as having "fantastically poor short-term memory" during the show's "Worst Person" segment because Hannity denied that anyone at FNC had suggested Obama was a Muslim, without mentioning that some FNC personalities had pushed stories about the possibility Obama had a Muslim background during childhood.
As Michael M. Bates earlier detailed, CNN’s Jessica Yellin filed a report from Anchorage, Alaska on Wednesday’s American Morning which cites a "non-partisan" organization whose official policy stance includes a pro-abortion position, and whose president used to work for NARAL. She also included a sound bite from a Palin critic who donated hundreds of dollars to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Yellin’s report examined how the Alaska governor balances her government work with her family life. She included sound bites from Meg Stapleton, a former aide to Palin who was labeled on-screen as a "Palin campaign advisor" and Kristan Cole, a childhood friend of the governor. After a positive and short depiction of Palin’s life, Yellin cited how "Palin supporters insist her experience as a working mother means she'll represent American women."
The CNN correspondent then went to the critics of the governor’s record: "But some women's groups are critical. The non-partisan National Partnership for Women and Families gives Alaska a D-minus when it comes to its parental leave policy. For example, there's no guarantee of paid leave for new parents." Yellin followed this with a sound bite from Dr. Vicki Lovell of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, who thought there's a contradiction there between Governor Palin's professed values about supporting families and then what we actually see in the state of Alaska, where there aren't adequate supports for families who are welcoming new infants."
Joy Behar, a comedian, made an unintentionally humorous line on the September 10 edition of "The View." Behar believes that "the press is in love" with Sarah Palin. Maybe the "View" panelist holds a warped view of reality because the mainstream media has been anything but in love with the Republican vice presidential nominee. [audio excerpt here]
If you needed any more evidence that the Democrats and their media minions are in a serious state of panic concerning the bounce that John McCain has gotten from Sarah Palin and a highly-successful convention, you need look no further than a blog posting by Time's Mark Halperin.
On Wednesday, Halperin, the magazine's editor-at-large and senior political analyst, wrote a piece delicously titled "(Near) Panic!!!" which linked to multiple media sources depicting serious consternation within the Obama campaign as well as Democrat circles concerning the groundswell of support for the Republican presidential ticket.
One source Halperin highlighted was a Los Angeles Times article entitled "Palin Bounce Has Democrats Off Balance" (emphasis added, picture courtesy Time.com):
While, like the rest of the media establishment, CBS’s Early Show seemed to conclude that Barack Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” crack from the day before was nothing but a harmless comment, reporter Bill Plante put the swipe in the context of Democrats’ desperation to find some way to undermine the Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
Unlike his competitors at ABC and NBC, Plante on Wednesday highlighted how Newsweek’s Howard Fineman quoted an unnamed “top Democratic strategist” as arguing about Palin: “We’ve got to go after her, and fast.” And Plante quoted from the blog WomenCount.org, which vowed to “work to stamp out sexism where we see it on the campaign trail.”
While all of the morning shows led with the “lipstick on a pig” complaint and steered the discussion to the view that the McCain campaign is thin-skinned and/or cynically calculating for raising such a spurious issue, none bothered to mention the far more absurd complaints from top Democrats that Republican references to Barack Obama as a “community organizer” were some sort of racist plot -- instead of quite obvious shots at Obama’s lack of experience.
Back in 2000, after John McCain lost his mostly honorable campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, he went about apologizing to journalists--including me--for his most obvious mis-step: his support for keeping the confederate flag on the state house.
Monday night featured MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow finding fault with Sarah Palin's religious beliefs and some of the teachings of her former church in Wasilla, Alaska, as the two harped on a speech the Alaska governor delivered at the Wasilla Assembly of God last June.
On the first episode of her new television program, the "Rachel Maddow Show," the eponymous host misinterpreted Palin's request that church members pray for American troops, as the Alaska governor expressed her hope that the Iraq war is part of "God's plan," with the MSNBC host claiming that Palin was "asserting" that the war factually is "God's plan."
Maddow claimed that Palin "said that the commander-in-chief for our side in the Iraq War is a mighty general who's initials are G-O-D." On Countdown, Olbermann and Maddow took exception with Palin's account of a minister who prayed that she would be successful in her political life as they mocked the concept of praying in the hopes that prayers might be answered. Olbermann referred to Palin as "Elmer Gantry" and "Amy Semple McHockey Mom."
Last week at the Republican National Convention, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich told NewsBusters that if Sarah Palin becomes vice president, she will have "delegitimized the entire left's ability to define what a successful, competent, professional woman is."
On Wednesday, feminist author and social critic Camille Paglia published an article at Salon wherein she not only seemed to agree with Gingrich, but also said, "Palin represented an explosion of a brand new style of muscular American feminism" that has the potential to break down the barriers erected by "shameless Democratic partisanship over the past four decades."
That was just the beginning, for Paglia proceeded to tear about the whole concept of liberal, feminist dogma, including as it pertains to abortion (emphasis added throughout, photo h/t NBer Viper):
Joy Behar, one of the hosts of ABC's daytime show "The View," took to CNN's "Larry King Live" Tuesday night and delivered a new line of attack on Republican VP nominee Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska: Palin's “very mean” in how she treats wildlife because she hunts them and is opposed to putting polar bears on the endangered list.
(Didn't John Kerry go hunting during the 2004 campaign?) Behar, apparently quite serious since she insisted her concern was “an important point,” began the live interview:
“You know, the one thing that I don't think anybody's said yet is that she's very mean to animals, this woman. Why does she have it in for these poor polar bear and the caribou and she aerial kills wolves? That's a very mean thing to do. I think that that's an important point we should all be looking at.”
With fresh media polls showing Sarah Palin causing a sizable percent of women to shift to support John McCain from Barack Obama, CBS and NBC on Tuesday night devoted full stories to fact check examinations to discredit her, specifically on the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere,” even though all the newscasts have already run stories on how she was for the bridge earmark during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign. Introducing a “Reality Check,” CBS anchor Katie Couric asserted:
There's also controversy over the way Governor Palin is trying to attract voters by portraying herself as a reformer opposed to government earmarks. And the example she continues to cite is her opposition to the infamous Bridge to Nowhere. But she doesn't quite tell the entire story...
Wyatt Andrews concluded: “By repeating the claim she said no thanks to the bridge, the implication is that Governor Palin confronted a Congress recklessly wasting money. The record shows, she wanted that bridge until the end and kept the money.” Over on NBC, anchor Brian Williams recalled how Palin's convention speech had “several memorable applause lines. It's how a lot of people came to know her.” But, he asked, “how do they all match up against the truth? Our senior investigative correspondent Lisa Myers takes a closer look.”
ABC reporter Lisa Fletcher interviewed friends of Sarah Palin for a segment on Monday's "Nightline" and grilled them on whether a "small town mom" will be able to "sit down with Putin and deal with foreign issues?" Fletcher, who herself was a small town reporter before joining ABC in December of 2007, mostly avoided friendly queries and instead grilled the Alaskan friends of the Republican vice presidential candidate.
At one point she asked pal Sandy Hoest, "She's spent less than two years as the governor of Alaska. Why should Americans have any confidence whatsoever that this woman can fulfill the duties of vice president of the United States?" Later on, the journalist challenged, "Is it possible to be pro-choice and vote for Sarah Palin?" When a few of Palin's friends identified themselves as pro-choice, Fletcher pounced, "Does that put a strain on your friendship with Sarah?"
Five days after Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was picked as the Republican vice presidential nominee, NBC's David Gregory falsely disputed the idea that the media had crossed a line by suggesting Palin's family life conflicted with her candidacy. Referring to an earlier interview, Gregory argued on Today: "Rudy Giuliani said questions have been asked about whether she can balance this with her kids. That question has not been brought up by the media."
Gregory was wrong — that precise question was posed repeatedly on ABC, CBS and NBC as the networks invaded every nook and cranny of Palin's family life. From August 29 through September 4, the Big Three network morning and evening shows ran a total of 59 stories mentioning Palin's family, or about eight per day. Nearly two-thirds of those (37) brought up the pregnancy of Palin's teenaged daughter; another ten questioned whether she could balance her family obligations with a campaign — the exact suggestion Gregory claimed was never "brought up by the media."
As the Sarah Palin smears continue in the media, Judge Judy joined the debate spreading an internet rumor about the Alaska governor. Appearing on the September 9 edition of "The View," arguably America’s most famous judge when prodded by Barbara Walters to express her concerns about Palin, Judy expressed discomfort with "the teaching of creationism in public schools."
The judge has nothing to fear because Governor Palin does not want to push creationism in Alaska’s public schools as the non-partisan site FactCheck.org explains in its debunkment.
"Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools. She has said that students should be allowed to ‘debate both sides’ of the evolution question, but she also said creationism ‘doesn't have to be part of the curriculum.’"
"The idea to make these guys [Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews] news anchors, I don't know who came up with this idea. It's sort of like people who believe if you add water you get sea monkeys. It just doesn't make any sense that you can add water and make an objective news anchor," NewsBusters Senior Editor Tim Graham quipped on the September 9 "Fox & Friends" program. [audio version here]
Graham questioned in particular the notion that Olbermann once told President Bush "to shut the hell up" on his "Countdown" program.
Co-host Brian Kilmeade asked the MRC's Director of Media Analysis if MSNBC's decision to remove Olbermann and Matthews as co-anchors of election coverage was too little too late:
On Tuesday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer about John McCain taking the lead in recent polls following the Republican convention and the selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate: "Sarah Palin is his Geritol...That's – I mean it really has -- because I wrote in my notes this morning, she not only energized the base,she seems to have energized him." While seemingly a compliment, such a statement conveniently reminded viewers of McCain's age.
In addition, the segment featured a total of four references to the "social conservative" base of the party that Palin has attracted. Schieffer observed: "But, you know, the interesting thing about this is that John McCain, the maverick that he is, has never been popular with one part of the Republican Party, especially the social conservatives...Now the people who were against him in the Republican Party seem to like him just fine." Smith added: "These are the Rove-cultivated religious right, so important to George Bush." Schieffer concluded: "Evangelicals, social conservatives. Now, John McCain has suddenly become their favorite and he was never that before. That can only be good for him in a political sense...And I think what we've seen here, she has gotten those social conservatives in the Republican Party who were never for him. How are independents going to feel on this down the road?"