In his Friday "Political Memo," "Firing Up the Faithful With Echoes of Culture War Rhetoric," the New York Times's conservative-beat reporter David Kirkpatrick, watching the Republican Convention, uniquely managed to hear echoes of the GOP's 1992 convention -- specifically what Kirkpatrick called the "belligerence" of Pat Buchanan's "cultural war" speech, widely cited in the media (though not necessarily at the time) as leading to the downfall of the Bush-Quayle re-election campaign. Yet Kirkpatrick's argument boils down to just one social issue -- abortion:
Rudolph W. Giuliani, a former mayor of New York, said Senator Barack Obama thought a small Alaska suburb was not "flashy enough" or "cosmopolitan enough," linking his campaign to "Hollywood celebrities." Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, denounced the "Eastern elites" that he said dominated the television broadcasts and editorial pages.
Fred D. Thompson, a former Tennessee senator turned actor, mocked Mr. Obama for trying to deflect questions about the science and theology of abortion, promising the Republican convention audience that Senator John McCain would be "a president who doesn't think that the protection of the unborn or a newly born baby is above his pay grade."
Were those evil Republicans attempting to carpet-bomb Andrea Mitchell with balloons at the RNC last night? Chris Matthews mused about the possibility on Hardball this afternoon. The footage of Andrea gamely batting away the balloons has received a lot of play. This morning, the Today show had fun with it. But Matthews seemed to conceive a more sinister scenario:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: If you were watching last night, here was a funny moment. I have to tell you: I love Andrea. Look at this crazy moment. For some reason: I don't know if it was foul play or what it was, a billion balloons went right into herwhen she was trying to do a report from the floor. She was getting absolutely buried in that post-speech balloon drop.
I wouldn't be surprised that if questioned on it Chris would claim he was kidding. But check out the video and see what you think. He sounded pretty sincere to me.
Friday's "American Morning" featured a segment dedicated to fact checking Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention. In introducing the reporter who did the fact checking, co-host Kiran Chetry claimed, "CNN's Deborah Feyerick is here to fact check Palin's speech and I'm sure whenever politics is involved we have to fact check these."
Apparently, though, "American Morning" only feels the need to fact check speeches given by Republican candidates because the morning show did not provide the same fact checking analysis of the Democratic National Convention speeches given by Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden or Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. They did, however, fact check former president Bill Clinton's speech to the Democratic National Convention and argued that some of his more conservative policies helped to usher in the "mortgage crisis."
On Friday's "Today" show, reporter David Gregory and other NBC personalities offered a sour and largely negative reaction to John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. Deriding the Bush years, Gregory asserted that after McCain's nomination, the party faced a "daunting challenge," How will the candidate "overcome the record of Republican rule over much of the past eight years?"
The network journalist also featured footage of former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson knocking the speech as "typical for a Republican" and "pretty disappointing." He criticized the candidate for not doing enough outreach to moderates. A theme repeated throughout the show was attacking McCain for not going out of his way to play up differences with the Republican delegates in the Minneapolis convention center. Gregory chided, "Yet in front the party faithful, the Arizona senator declined to mention his signature stands that most angered his party: campaign finance and immigration reform, as well as climate change."
On Friday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith talked to a panel of working moms about the media questioning Sarah Palin’s duel role as a mother and a vice presidential candidate: "Why is it that every time a woman starts ascending up a certain part of the food chain, we have this conversation all over again?...Now, if Sarah Palin's husband were in her spot, would we have asked that question in one second?...Fair or unfair, all this -- this whole conversation, and do you still feel there's a double standard?"
Compare those questions by Smith to comments by co-host Maggie Rodriguez on Wednesday, during an interview with Rudy Giuliani. The former New York City mayor and McCain supporter criticized the questions of Palin’s parenting: "They're asking can she be vice president and be a mother. Come on." Rodriguez replied: "I think they're fair questions. It's a lot to juggle." Also on Wednesday, Rodriguez led a panel discussion on Palin by asking: "The question, can a mother of five, including an infant with Downs Syndrome, be an effective vice president?"
During Friday’s segment, one of the members of the panel, Lisa Witter, observed: "Well, I personally think that if Sarah Palin were Joe Palin, we wouldn't be having this conversation." Smith replied to that with: "Amen."
Update | 9-6 6:50 AM EDT: Booker Rising Blogger Stands By His Statement
I informed Shay Riley of Booker Rising of the statement by Ms. Russo of MSNBC, immediately below. Here is his response [emphasis added]:
I relayed what I overheard on the shuttle bus from the convention center in St. Paul back to Minneapolis, which was packed with RNC staffers because their host hotel was the Hyatt. I stand by what I overheard the convention organizer named Phil told the convention delegate sitting next to him. I guess the bar coding on the convention credentials will reveal the source of Code Pink's credentials.
Update | 9-5 2:56 PM EDT: Responding to my inquiry, Alana Russo of MSNBC has stated it's "completely, totally untrue" that the credentials had originated from MSNBC. In a subsequent message Ms. Russo indicated she did not know whether the credentials used by the protesters had been scanned to determine their origin.
H/t Kimberly M.
Did the Code Pink members who interrupted John McCain's speech last night use MSNBC press badges to get into the hall? Not according to Code Pink itself, which claims the two women "obtained passes to the convention from disaffected Republicans."
There is another, much more intriguing, explanation out there. According to Shay at Booker Rising, which describes itself a newsite for black moderates and black conservatives [emphasis added]:
I took the shuttle bus back to Minneapolis, and I overheard a convention organizer named Phil telling a convention delegate that the protesters on Wednesday night got through because of media credentials that were traced back to MSNBC (he told her that each credential has an individual bar code for each convention invitee). They suspect MSNBC this time as well.
Just before 9:00 last night during CNN's Republican convention coverage, CNN political analyst David Gergen asserted that the liberal establishment "doesn't exist anymore," leading Republican strategist Alex Castellanos to poke back with, "I think if David Gergen thinks the liberal establishment does not exist anymore, I think he has become a part of it."
Gergen responded to Castellanos, "First of all, is there a liberal establishment in charge of Washington? I'm sorry. There has been another party that's basically been running Washington for the last eight years. If there has been a liberal establishment, it shrunk a lot and it's not right in Washington. That's a '70s concept, Alex."
The dust-up between Castellanos and Gergen occurred during an analysis of the 9/11 video shown last night in which Wolf Blitzer noted President George W. Bush's absence from the video and suggested the absence made the video more "political," leaving the door wide open for Gergen, who has served as an advisor to both Democratic and Republican White House administrations, to go after Republicans for their "selective memory" and to fret that the convention has "been so combative."
One week ago, former Clinton campaign spinner George Stephanopoulos found nothing to criticize when he reviewed Barack Obama’s speech and the overall Democratic convention for Good Morning America. But on Friday, the ABC host relayed the Obama campaign’s negative take on McCain and stressed how voters don’t think Sarah Palin has as much experience as Joe Biden, and that she doesn’t help her ticket as much as Biden helps the Democrats.
“Go beneath those numbers a little more,” Stephanopoulos instructed. “Joe Biden helps Barack Obama a little bit more than Sarah Palin helps John McCain.”
But ABC’s poll, conducted Thursday after a week of battering coverage of the GOP vice presidential candidate, showed Palin had only a slightly lower overall favorability than Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a difference nearly entirely accounted for by her low approval among Democratic voters. Republican voters are more enthusiastic about Palin (85% support) than Democrats are for Biden (77%).
Appearing on Friday's "American Morning," Washington Post faith columnist Sally Quinn again attacked the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as Senator John McCain's vice presidential pick. During her interview with co-host Kiran Chetry, Quinn suggested Palin would not be able to balance her five children along with the duties of the vice presidency and potentially the presidency.
Chetry first asked Quinn if the questions she has raised about Palin, including her ability to be both a mother and a leader, would be questions that she would ask of a man. After firmly answering "yes," Quinn claimed that the "burden of raising children falls on the mother" and said that her questions about Palin are not sexist, they are about whether or not Palin can "do the job."
After bringing up the "country first" theme of the Republican National Convention, Quinn took a jab at McCain's age as well as Palin's ability to put country first as commander in chief: "And I think if you're talking about the commander in chief, and that is what she is likely to be given his age and his health, will she put her country first, or will she put her family first?"
Hard to believe, but Meredith Vieira is apparently not a regular NewsBusters reader. The Today co-anchor would otherwise have avoided an embarrassing lapse. On Today this morning, Vieira claimed that it was only "blogs" that went after Sarah Palin's family matters. That left her vulnerable to McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's zinger, pointing out that one of her own network's anchors had questioned Palin's ability to serve as vice-president while attending to her children' needs.
Assessing Barack Obama's speech last Thursday, for the “Nightline Report Card,” ABC's George Stephanopoulos awarded Obama A's as he dismissed Republican complaints about his “red meat” attacks on John McCain, declaring they allowed Obama to affirmatively answer “the commander-in-chief question” and hailed how he addressed social issues “in a way that a majority of Americans” will embrace. But this week, he tried to discredit McCain's points. On McCain's assertion he's more bi-partisan than Obama, Stephanopoulos recited a list of issues where “Obama has reached out to the other side.” Then citing McCain's claim that he will cut taxes while Obama will raise them, Stephanopoulos countered:
Senator Obama's plan, and this has been verified by outside experts, 95 percent of the country will get a tax cut, that's not the same -- that is bigger than the one that John McCain offers.
Overall, Stephanopoulos awarded Democrats with slightly better grades than the Republicans for their respective confabs, including ten A's over four nights to the Democrats in Denver, twice as many as the five A's over three nights he gave the Republicans. Throwing out F's he gave both parties for what he saw as bad stages, and an incomplete for each, of 15 grades for the Democrats, he issued ten A's, two grades of B+, two of B and one C. This week, from St. Paul, Stephanopoulos presented 12 grades for the Republican convention: Five A's, one A-, four grades of B, one B- and one C.
CBS's Bob Schieffer on Thursday night praised John McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, especially compared to VP nominee Sarah Palin's address from the night before. He was pleased that McCain appealed to “our better angels” with a speech that was “much more inclusive” than what Palin delivered:
I thought this was a fine speech tonight that appeals to our better angels, really. I found it much more inclusive than the speech that Sarah Palin made yesterday. I think this speech will play very well across America.
Colleague Jeff Greenfield, however, found McCain's address to have been too predictably Republican: “I have to say, I found much of the speech surprisingly familiar. It was a speech that almost any Republican could give, except for the part of change” and so “other than the instant bump in the polls that everybody gets” the address “may not have changed a lot of minds.” Over on NBC, Chuck Todd saw McCain's words as anything but the standard Republican fare: “This was designed to be as non of an ideological speech as a Republican nominee could give at a Republican convention.”
Just after the bottom half of the 8 pm Eastern hour of CNN’s coverage of the Republican convention, as Oklahoma Congresswoman Mary Fallin began an introduction of a video presentation about Islamist attacks on the U.S. over the past decades, host Wolf Blitzer gave a bit of a warning about the content of the video: "Let's listen to Congresswoman Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. She's going to make the case why Republicans are better in protecting us than Democrats, and that will lead into a video. It's provocative. There will be images of 9/11 and towers going down. It will raise controversy. We're going to show to it you because it's part of this convention. But let's listen to this Congresswoman from Oklahoma speak first."
Nine minutes later, after Fallin had finished her introduction and the video concluded, Blitzer began a short discussion with correspondent John King, co-host Campbell Brown, and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos about the video’s content. Brown charged that Republicans were playing on fear: "But that message though, has been fear, I mean, as a message at this convention."
Apparently fed up of hearing what they believe was a phony line being delivered by GOP spokesmen – that women across the country were offended by the media questioning Sarah Palin's fitness as a mother – Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann defied critics to find examples of any news outlets making that charge.
Matthews and Olbermann, spurred on by criticism from Hawaii's Republican governor Linda Lingle at around 8:09pm [EDT] during MSNBC's live coverage of Thursday night's (September 4) Republican convention, threw down the following gauntlet:
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani faced liberal lines of questioning from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger during the 6 PM EDT hour of The Situation Room before the network’s Thursday night coverage of the Republican convention. In particular, Borger pressed Giuliani on his differences with Sarah Palin on social issues: "Last night, you spoke before Sarah Palin, a woman who -- with whom you have very little in common on the social issues, right? She's pro-life.... [L]et's just say she's a heroine to the right wing of this party, and you're not their hero, okay?... [M]y question is, has the big tent of the Republican Party, which you always talk about -- has that gotten a little narrower?"
Just moments after MSNBC aired the Republican convention's video tribute to victims of 9/11, shown at about 8:40pm EDT Thursday night (September 4), Keith Olbermann offered this angry rebuke of his own network for doing so (CNN and PBS also aired it):
I'm sorry, it's necessary to say this and I wanted to separate myself from the others on the air about this. If at this late date, any television network had of its own accord showed that much videotape, and that much graphic videotape of 9/11, and I speak as somebody who lost a few friends there, it, we, would be rightly eviscerated at all quarters, perhaps by the Republican Party itself, for exploiting the memories of the dead and perhaps even for trying to evoke that pain again. If you reacted to that videotape the way I did, I apologize. It is a subject of great pain for many of us still and was probably not appropriate to be shown. We'll continue in a moment.
“Over half of U.S. voters (51%) think reporters are trying to hurt Sarah Palin with their news coverage, and 24% say those stories make them more likely to vote for Republican presidential candidate John McCain in November,” Rasmussen Reports announced Thursday in posting survey results which determined “just five percent (5%) think reporters are trying to help her with their coverage, while 35 percent believe reporters are providing unbiased coverage.” In Thursday's “Grapevine” segment, FNC's Brit Hume highlighted the findings from the poll of 1,000 “likely voters.”
By wide margins, more Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters see the media as trying to hurt rather than trying to help Palin. For Republicans it's 80 to 6 percent, for Democrats 28 to 4 percent (with 57 percent believing reporting is unbiased) and for unaffiliated voters it's 49 to 5 percent.
ST. PAUL, Minn. - On Thursday, NewsBusters had a quick chat with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay about the media's coverage of Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.
After praising Palin for being the "answer for what we've been begging for for over two years," he then spoke both frankly and optimistically about how the press have been attacking the Alaska governor since John McCain first introduced her as his running mate (video embedded right):
Out in the snarkiest swamps of liberal talk radio is the Stephanie Miller show, which is very low on policy talk and very high on toilet humor and sex jokes. At the end of the show's first hour on Tuesday, Miller aired a clip of McCain's Friday unveiling of Sarah Palin: "Here is Grampy McSame [McCain] introducing his trophy VP before he stepped back to check out her ass for twenty minutes."
As McCain spoke, the show's official impressionist, Jim Ward, began impersonating McCain: "My next trophy wife...The middle part of Alaska is ass...and she's got a terrific one, my friends." Miller lamely added: "She puts the ass in Al-ass-ka."
Miller read critical quotes from Paul Begala, Peggy Noonan, and Joe Conason, and said the choice was incredibly desperate. Then Ward piped up again in his McCain voice: "Desperation, and a desire to look at her ass for hours and hours, my friends."
Miller wrapped the segment: "We better have fun, Jim, because she may be out by the end of this show."
It's been a wild week, so how about a little comic relief? Turns out Howard Dean does his own personal polling—among his wife's employees. And, surprise! They tend to agree with him. The DNC Chairman was chatting with Tom Brokaw on MSNBC this afternoon.
TOM BROKAW: What did you think of Sarah Palin last night?
HOWARD DEAN: I think the first half was terrific. I thought she really laid out who she was. I was fascinated. The second half, she sounded like Dick Cheney, she really did. The same old attack stuff, the same old canards about Democrats that mostly weren't true.
If only Brokaw had thought to ask Dean to mention the canards that were true! In any case, a bit later Dean described how he keeps his finger on the people's pulse.
All three network news anchors appeared together on each of the morning shows on Thursday and blithely dismissed the notion that members of the media have shown bias and sexist attitudes in response to Sarah Palin's nomination for vice president. "World News" host Charles Gibson, who visited along with NBC's Brian Williams and CBS's Katie Couric, told "Today" host Meredith Vieira that the role of a journalist is "to raise these questions." "It's not based on politics. It is simply- those are the questions you ask," he touted.
"CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric acted as though the entire concept baffled her. "...But when you think of media these days, I mean, what does that mean exactly," she wondered. Placing blame on bloggers, she added, "In this case, it now means thousands and thousands of internet bloggers, partisan reporters and so I think you can't paint the media with a, with a broad brush."
While the majority of Thursday’s CBS Early Show coverage of Sarah Palin’s convention speech was positive, at the top of the 8am hour, co-host Maggie Rodriguez talked to Palin’s sister, Heather Bruce, and asked: "There's been a lot of talk this weekend about family, talk that family is off limits in a campaign. Yet we see your sister with her kids, introducing them, showing them on camera, and she even mentioned you in her speech last night. So the question is, is it okay to use family in a campaign when it benefits the candidate and not okay when it's negative?"
Bruce responded: "I just thought it was okay that Sarah introduces her family just to show that she's a real American family. I don't really have an opinion on whether it's beneficial or not, but in my opinion tonight, I thought it was just a gracious act for Sarah to recognize because I think she realizes that without a lot of family support in her situation that, you know, this -- this has come a long way with a lot of family support." Rodriguez then followed up: "And you're okay that...she gave you -- gave you your five seconds of fame last night?" Bruce replied: "I don't seek the limelight, or the press. I was surprised, but I wasn't offended whatsoever. You know, it was pretty gracious of her. That was kind of nice."
Thursday's New York Times lead story by Elisabeth Bumiller and Michael Cooper covered Palin's rapturously received speech at the Republican Convention Wednesday night, "On Center Stage, Palin Electrifies Convention." After describing how she introduced herself to the "roaring crowd" in St. Paul, the Times threw in this dubious assertion:
But the nomination was a sideshow to the evening's main event, the speech by the little-known Ms. Palin, who was seeking to wrest back the narrative of her life and redefine herself to the American public after a rocky start that has put Mr. McCain's closest aides on edge. Ms. Palin's appearance electrified a convention that has been consumed by questions of whether she was up to the job, as she launched slashing attacks on Mr. Obama's claims of experience.
Actually, only the liberal media was consumed by that question -- Palin was a wildly popular pick even before her impressive convention speech.
ST. PAUL, Minn.-- CNN's John Roberts spent a few minutes chatting with a woman about convention paraphernalia, but had only a few seconds to talk to NewsBusters. (see video at right)
We caught John Roberts on the street outside a security checkpoint for the Republican Convention this morning. Editor Matthew Sheffield asked Roberts for his thoughts on Gov. Sarah Palin's remarks about the liberal media. Roberts dismissed the complaint as a "convenient thing to do." When pressed by Sheffield if Palin is wrong, he didn't answer and continued walking away.
During CNN's Wednesday night coverage of the Republican National Convention, the topic of recent criticisms of the mainstream media came up on more than one occasion with Jeffrey Toobin declaring the accusations "unbecoming" and "ironic" Carl Bernstein claiming the media is always pointed to as the problem "when you're down."
In between speeches by former governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, Anderson Cooper brought up the attacks on the media which, Cooper noted, is "something we certainly have heard before." CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin responded by proclaiming: "But there is a delicious irony about John McCain attacking the media. There is no politician in recent American history who has gotten better, more adoring press coverage than John McCain throughout his career."
After noting that Senator John McCain used to call the media his "base," Toobin went into attack mode against McCain and the Republican Party for their "unbecoming" attacks against the media:
After Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin gave her speech last night, MSNBC talking heads Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow gathered to discuss the VP candidate's remarks. Among the topics covered was Palin's religious background.
MATTHEWS: Is it true that she believes that God supports the war in Iraq? How does she know?
MADDOW: Was she sitting in the pew in her church in Wasilla two weeks ago when a speaker said that the Israelis deserve terrorist attacks, because Jews are unbelievers in Christ?
MADDOW: That was in the Politico today.Jews for Jesusfounder speaking at her churchwhile she was there two weeks ago making incredibly, incredibly out of line comments about Israel and Jewish people. These are tough questions she'll have to answer.
MATTHEWS: Pro or con?
MADDOW: Saying that's why Israel was subject to terrorist attacks. It was God's judgment for not believing in Christ.
What does it say about Sarah Palin that some of my favorite targets, um, subjects raved about her this morning? Andrea Mitchell and Mika Brzezinski could hardly have been more complimentary, Tom Brokaw and Jay Carney chipping in with positive comments.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Here was a novice on the national scene, with the lowest of expectations. People said sure, she'll be able to perform. But it was an amazing, amazing speech in terms of the way it connected to people. I talked to people afterwards on the floor, a lot of women. One woman from California who said it didn't matter that she, this woman delegate, is pro-choice. She said "I'm a mom. I've got three kids at home. And I see myself up there." And she's connecting to her. She said "I did not think this was a good choice until I heard that speech." Now this is admittedly a select audience of very passionate and very conservative Republican delegates. But I think there is a broader audience for this out there. I think it was an extraordinary debut.
When NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd passed along comments from Dem strategists suggesting the speech might have been "a little too hot" for swing voters, Andrea and Mika actually rode to Palin's defense.
About a year into MSNBC's strategy of refashioning itself into the network for Bush haters, some consequences are starting to emerge for the cable channel and its corporate parent NBC.
Internally, the lurch to the left has resulted in numerous outbreaks of hostility as the remains of the old guard fight to protect themselves and the token conservatives find themselves increasingly marginalized.
Some external consequences are emerging a well now. While apolitical liberals still haven't kicked their CNN habit (and likely won't), MSNBC's corporate leftism has antagonized conservatives. It showed last night here in St. Paul as conventioneers held up signs denouncing the network and began a derisive chant of "NBC! NBC!" when Alaska governor Sarah Palin took a pronounced swipe at the media in her vice presidential nominating speech.
Subtract the subdued demeanor and the good tailoring, and how much difference is there between Brian Williams and Keith Olbermann? Take Williams' post-Palin speech analysis. Was the Nightly News anchor suggesting Palin's appeal is rooted in racism? He certainly made a clarion call to his fellow MSMers to keep up the good fight against her. Ann Curry interviewed a woman delegate who described Palin as "the American woman . . . who's had all the experiences that we have."
When it came Williams' turn to comment, he twisted the delegate's words into an invidious comparison between Palin and Barack Obama. Williams seemed perhaps to be suggesting Palin was appealing to racism.