Convention Watch

By Lyndsi Thomas | September 4, 2008 | 1:09 PM EDT

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:

By Kerry Picket | September 4, 2008 | 12:56 PM EDT

Cross Posted At

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 Jesus founder speaking at her church while 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.

MATTHEWS: What's the source?

By Mark Finkelstein | September 4, 2008 | 12:03 PM EDT

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.

View video here.

By Matthew Sheffield | September 4, 2008 | 11:56 AM EDT

Protestors of MSNBCAbout 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.

By Mark Finkelstein | September 4, 2008 | 8:08 AM EDT

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.

View video here.

By Tim Graham | September 4, 2008 | 7:51 AM EDT

When athletes trash-talk their opponents before a big game, their comments often go up in the opponents’ locker room for motivation. Something tells me Jonathan Alter’s trash-talking in Newsweek is in Sarah Barracuda’s locker. The piece was headlined "Why Sarah Palin is Likely to Belly-Flop." (It doesn’t have that title online, but that was the header yesterday on Newsweek's list of most-read stories.) Alter is looking forward to Palin being "grilled," as if she was going on with the mooseburgers:

By Brent Baker | September 4, 2008 | 6:32 AM EDT
Sarah Palin's Wednesday night Republican convention speech was widely greeted with praise from television commentators and the short break between her address and Rudy Giuliani's beforehand didn't leave much time for analysis of Giuliani's, but ABC's George Stephanopoulos managed to find a dark side to both while ABC's Nightline devoted a six-minute story to “new details tonight on a brewing controversy in Alaska,” a “nasty family scandal that's come to be called trooper-gate.”

Following Giuliani's speech, Stephanopoulos declared it “far and away the toughest speech we've seen so far” at both conventions and ruminated: “What I wonder about is how it came across on television. A little too nasty? A little too ugly? I don't know.” After Palin finished, he  fretted that she “she also spent a lot of time attacking” and “that could come off as quite negative to some viewers.”

Issuing the Nightline “Report Card,” Stephanopoulos, who a week earlier awarded Joe Biden and Democrats four A's, gave Giuliani and Palin three A's, a B and a C. For “Red Meat,” he presented an A “for substance,” but a C “on delivery” because he contended their repeated mention of how Barack Obama was a “community organizer” came across as “a little too derisive.”
By Brent Baker | September 4, 2008 | 4:48 AM EDT

Guest “Dr. Phil” on Wednesday night chastised David Letterman's misunderstanding of teenage sexual behavior and parental influence after Letterman sarcastically complained that if a President McCain “drops dead...don't you want your President to have had the presence of mind to have chatted to her teenaged kids for five minutes about birth control?” (Letterman delivered the same belittling joke the night before too.)

Referring to Letterman's almost five-year-old son, daytime TV host Phil McGraw, aka “Dr. Phil,” informed Letterman:

Let me tell you something, new dad. If you are under the misapprehension that when Harry is 17 that you are going to have even a remote influence on what he decides in the back seat of a Chevy on a Saturday night -- I don't think old Dave's going to be popping in his mind at that point. It's not a 15-minute conversation. It's a dialogue that you need to have starting when he's about eight or nine.

Undeterred from his contempt for Sarah Palin, Letterman asked: “Then why didn't they have the dialogue?” McGraw suggested: “Maybe they did. But when children get that age, at 17 -- see, here's the thing. The body's grown but the brain is not.” Letterman soon sneered: “They don't sell Trojans in Alaska? Come on,” prompting McGraw to point out: “Wasn't Barack's mother like 18 when he was born?” Indeed she was.

Audio: MP3 audio clip (2:10, 650 Kb)

By Matthew Balan | September 4, 2008 | 3:52 AM EDT

CNN GraphicJust as Sarah Palin concluded her speech, CNN ran a graphic 8 minutes into the 11 pm Eastern hour of its coverage of the Republican convention about John McCain’s history of cancer as the Alaska governor was waving to the cheering crowd [see the graphic at right].

By Geoffrey Dickens | September 4, 2008 | 3:08 AM EDT

During MSNBC's Wednesday night live coverage of the Republican National Convention Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Tom Brokaw and others scoffed at the idea they had an anti-Sarah Palin agenda. Brokaw depicted the charge of liberal bias as a mere "tactic," by the GOP, Matthews played it off as just "an old, old conflict," and even tried to write off the media's fascination of Obama, as just a mere fondness of "the new."

Brokaw dismissed the contention of any real liberal bias
This is a political tactic on their part. And the shorthand is, "Let's go after the media." And are they sorting out, for example, Fox or conservative blogs or others who have, in fact, been defending all of this? No what they want to do is just raise the specter that everything that America sees is controlled by a tiny band of Eastern liberal elites.

And for her part Norah O'Donnell insisted:

There is one important thing to point out. The media is not attacking Sarah Palin. The media has done investigative pieces, in their job, about the way Sarah Palin was chosen.

The following are just some of the anxious rebuttals from the MSNBC crew to Palin's charge that the media was biased against her, as they occurred on MSNBC’s September 3, coverage of the Republican Convention:

By Matthew Balan | September 4, 2008 | 2:37 AM EDT

During the two minutes between Roland Martin and Jeffrey Toobin’s two attacks on Sarah Palin after her speech at the Republican convention on Wednesday night, veteran journalist Carl Bernstein also criticized Republicans, since in his view, the Alaska governor’s speech demonstrated "that the Republican Right is running this election." CNN correspondent John King then reacted to Bernstein’s assessment, and offered some constructive criticism of the difference in coverage between the two conventions: "...[L]anguage matters in what we do, and I don't necessarily disagree with the point of what Carl was saying -- but we do speak a different language when we talk about this party [the Republican Party], and I think that's why we're often criticized." He then scolded the media in terms of labeling:

KING: To say the Right is running the Republican campaign -- if that means these people are the Right, then Carl's exactly right. But we didn't say, during the Democratic convention... all those delegates down on the floor -- you know, many of them were members of the Left.

Click here for mp3 audio.