Convention Watch

By Clay Waters | September 5, 2008 | 5:36 PM EDT

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."

By Mark Finkelstein | September 5, 2008 | 5:35 PM EDT

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 her when 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.
By Lyndsi Thomas | September 5, 2008 | 1:44 PM EDT

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."

By Scott Whitlock | September 5, 2008 | 1:28 PM EDT

David Gregory NBC 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.

By Kyle Drennen | September 5, 2008 | 1:09 PM EDT

Harry Smith, CBS 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."

By Mark Finkelstein | September 5, 2008 | 12:14 PM EDT

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.

By Colleen Raezler | September 5, 2008 | 11:49 AM EDT
CNN, David Gergen 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." 

By Rich Noyes | September 5, 2008 | 11:14 AM EDT
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%).
By Lyndsi Thomas | September 5, 2008 | 10:48 AM EDT

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?"

By Mark Finkelstein | September 5, 2008 | 8:31 AM EDT

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.

Schmidt was presumably referring to Brian Williams.  As we noted yesterday in Williams Hides Behind Pantsuits to Take 'Who's Minding Baby?' Shot, the Nightly News anchor, on MSNBC yesterday, asked former Mass. governor Jane Swift:
By Brent Baker | September 5, 2008 | 6:20 AM EDT
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.
By Brent Baker | September 5, 2008 | 4:01 AM EDT
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.”