"An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for the good of his country."—attributedto Sir Henry Wotton (1568–1639), British diplomat.
If Sir Henry were around today, he might offer a corollary: a communications director is a man sent to meet with the media to fib for the good of his candidate. In the current campaign, the tactic's most transparent practitioner would seem to be Robert Gibbs, communications director for Barack Obama.
As I noted here, Gibbs recently had the chutzpah [if that's the right word for the man from Auburn, Alabama] to claim that Barack Obama's resignation from his controversial church was "a deeply personal, not a political decision." Rig-h-h-h-t.
Gibbs, the bland face of brazenness, was at it again last night, this time denying the blatantly obvious: that the campaign had tricked the press into flying to Chicago while Obama remained behind in DC to meet with Hillary.
Barack Obama, liberal? Surely you jest. Rachel Maddow found the suggestion so silly, she literally burst out laughing. The Air America host was part of this evening's panel on Race for the White House. David Gregory couldn't complete his reading of Rich Lowry's take on Obama before Maddow let loose.
DAVID GREGORY: Let's go to Smart Take #2. This is Rich Lowry from National Review Online, he's also talking [in a NY Post column] about Obama [emphasis added]:
Obama represents a rejection of triangulating Clintonism. He had no Sister Souljah moment during the primaries. Indeed, he initially embraced his Sister Souljah, in the form of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, introduced to the public in videotaped anti-American rants. Nor did Obama make any creative policy departures, like Clinton's advocacy of welfare reform in 1992. Obama is the fullest flowering of liberal orthodoxy since George McGovern. And yet his candidacy might not be electoral suicide. He has formidable gifts as a politician; he's eloquent, winsome, a quick study. He confronts a Republican Party that, beset by intellectual exhaustion, congressional scandal and an unpopular incumbent president, teeters on the verge of a Watergate-style meltdown. So Democrats contemplate the delicious prospect of having their purity and victory, too.
As Gregory speaks the words "Obama is the fullest flowering of liberal orthodoxy since George McGovern," Maddow can be heard laughing off camera. When Maddow's turn came to comment, she tried to make the case that Obama doesn't make it as a real liberal.
On Thursday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen teased an upcoming segment about CBS "Evening News" anchor Katie Couric’s recent interview with Barack Obama: "And then Obama. The Katie interview.What he thinks of Hillary," a clip of Couric was played: "Do you think you're chemically compatible?" Co-host Maggie Rodriguez then teased an interview with Clinton supporter Congressman Charles Rangel to discuss Hillary getting out of the race: "Coming up in just a couple of minutes we'll talk to one of her key supporters." However, the cameraman mistakenly focused on Couric, who was sitting in the studio. Rodriguez quickly added: "We're also going to talk to Katie Couric about an interview that she did with Barack Obama." [download video here]
In the later segment with co-host Harry Smith, Couric played a longer clip of her interview with Obama, which began with her pushing Clinton for VP: " In our latest poll, 59% of Democratic primary voters, including 46% of your voters, think you should select Senator Clinton to be your running mate. So in the spirit of Kennedy picking Johnson and Reagan choosing Bush, why not pick Senator Clinton?" Couric then asked the chemistry question: "As you know, a lot of it is about chemistry. So just now sitting here talking about it, do you think you're chemically compatible?"
Obama dodged the question, but Couric was persistent: "But what about chemistry, Senator?" Later in the segment, Smith commented: "I love the chemistry question. I love the follow-up on the chemistry question."
With Hillary Clinton's presidential run apparently over, ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday offered a love letter to the New York Senator. Well known Clinton fan Kate Snow and co-host Diane Sawyer rhapsodized about Clinton's "ground-breaking," "historic" campaign. The segment also featured Hillary poetry from author Maya Angelou. Splicing Snow's audio with Angelou's voice, the GMA reporter enthused, "Maya Angelou once wrote a poem about Clinton. 'She needs to rise. Don't give up on Hillary.'" Angelou then instructed, "Rise. Rise." [audio available here]
Sawyer's introduction to the segment sounded itself like a poem. She extolled the "ground-breaking, crossroads" in which the candidate found herself. After lauding the presidential contender "who ran her campaign on her own terms," Sawyer raved, "This woman, as we said, forged into determination and purpose her whole life.As someone said, no thorns, no throne. No gall, no glory. No cross, no crown." The ABC graphic accompanying the story fawned, "Senator Clinton's Amazing Journey: How She Changed the Face of U.S. Politics." Snow gushed that the presidential bid was the "culmination of a life-long journey." Speaking of the relationship between Bill and Hillary Clinton, she credulously repeated, "But it was a love story that would change the course of [Hillary's] life."
Last night, while covering the Democratic Presidential primaries in South Dakota and Montana, MSNBC's Chris Matthews takes a little detour down the road of tasteless smear to help Barack Obama.
Matthews suggests a tour of Minneapolis for Republican National Convention delegates
The opportunity of Republican conventioneers to arrive at the airport out there and immediately go to the Larry Craig memorial bathroom, ... then go to the bridge that fell down in St. Paul. There's a lot to celebrate for the Republican conventioneers.
"It's not just here and it's not just GM. Since 2005, the big three - GM, Ford and Chrysler - have had 70 plants and supplier shutdowns with a total loss of 149,000 American jobs," CBS correspondent Cynthia Bowers said. "At the same time, foreign automakers selling more fuel-efficient vehicles are building five new U.S. plants that will employ 24,000 workers over the next three years."
If Joba Chamberlain's debut as a Yankee starter didn't go that well last night, Joe Scarborough wasted no time this morning in demonstrating that, after a stint on the DL, he still has his stuff. Within minutes of reassuming his host's role, Scarborough unleashed a high hard one in the direction of Chris Matthews's chin.
Scarborough, back from an extended leave spent with his wife who's experiencing a difficult pregnancy, reported that the medical situation seems to have stabilized. Readers will surely join in wishing Joe and his family well.
The opening segment was, naturally, devoted to a discussion of Barack Obama's clinching of the Dem nomination, and to Hillary Clinton's less-than-gracious speech in which she declined to withdraw from the race and pointedly kept her options open. Which in turn led Scarborough to suggest that, at the beginning of Obama's campaign, there were only three true believers.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It seems to me that the Clintons have very little respect for Barack Obama. This was his night. An historic night. A night that nobody believed—but perhaps Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, and Chris Matthews—this was a night that very few people believed would ever happen. It happened. And on that night, she's sticking a sharp stick in his eye, saying listen: you either make me Vice-President, or you put me on the Supreme Court if that's what I want, or you play with me, or else . . . this is going to get really ugly.
Last week, the Bush administration released a report warning of the potential dangers of global warming, except there wasn't anything new in it. However, the timing of the release was seen as an act done so begrudgingly - since the Bush administration has previously resisted efforts to propagate climate change alarmism.
"For the first time, the Bush administration is conceding what most scientists have said for years - that global warming is having an impact on just about every aspect of the way we live," ABC "World News" anchor Charles Gibson said on May 29. "The government report was mandated by an act of Congress, but the White House has fought its release since 2004 and released it now only because a federal judge ordered it."
The Associated Press admitted the report had no new science in it, but they quoted Rick Piltz, director of Climate Science Watch, whose organization advances global warming activism.
On an evening where Barack Obama was on the verge of clinching the Democratic nomination and there was news that Hillary Clinton wanted in on the ticket, it was all too much for Chris Matthews to handle. The "Hardball" host couldn't contain his glee as he blurted on the 5pm edition of Tuesday night's show: "I'm getting giggles!"
Matthews made the following admission as he concluded a panel segment, with the "Politico's" Roger Simon and NBC's Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, that discussed such topics as Obama's locking up the nomination and the possibility of Hillary Clinton landing the VP spot, on the June 3 "Hardball":
On Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Julie Chen introduced a video montage of memorable moments in the Democratic race that could have been produced by the Democratic National Committee: "Well, the long primary season for the Democrats has been historic, marked by the first woman and the first African-American to be serious contenders for the Oval Office. And it has been filled with many extraordinary moments." [audio available here]
The video, which often had Paul Simon’s song "America" playing in the background featured clips of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton making inspirational speeches to cheering crowds. It also showed their down-to-earth side, Obama bowling and Hillary downing a beer, with the tune "I am everyday people" playing in the background. However, the montage did also include some campaign controversies, like Jeremiah Wright and Hillary’s Bosnia sniper fire story.
Campaign coverage at the top of the show featured Bill Clinton’s latest attack on the pro-Obama media: "Sleazy... It's part of the national media's attempt to nail Hillary for Obama. It's just a, it's another way of helping Obama." As co-host Maggie Rodriguez described it: "The president's rant. Former President Bill Clinton blasts media coverage of his wife's campaign...We'll talk about what's got him so angry." Later, Chen added: "But what about Bill Clinton, once the media darling, now speaking out against the media, saying some pretty unflattering things about the press."
Now that all signs point to Hillary Clinton's exit from the presidential race, Tuesday's "Good Morning America" chose to laud both Bill and Hillary Clinton as "iconic" and speculate, yet again, about an Obama/Clinton "dream ticket." Over the span of just ten minutes, various GMA personalities cooed over video of Bill Clinton on a plane gently placing a hand on his wife's face and shoulder.
Co-host Diane Sawyer and reporter Kate Snow each separately lauded this as a "tender moment." In a second segment, Sawyer seemed entranced as she played the video again and haltingly narrated, "When we see that iconic scene on the plane where he's reaching out to her and she's so tired-- She's so clearly tired there." Former top Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos appeared on the program to shill for the "dream ticket" of Obama/Clinton. Perhaps having some kind of inside information, the "This Week" host asserted he's been "betting" on such a pairing all year. Advocating for the wife of his old boss, Stephanopoulos proclaimed, "I think it's the best ticket for the Democrats. I think if Barack Obama picks her, they have the best chance of winning."
Since the first Democrat caucuses and primaries began in January, there has been a consistent media theme that it's acceptable for blacks to vote for Barack Obama because he's black, but racist for whites to vote for Hillary Clinton because she's white.
On Tuesday's "Morning Joe," MSNBC's Pat Buchanan exposed how utterly absurd and hypocritical this view is even as the Washington Post's Richard Cohen actually defended it.
What resulted was likely a far more honest discussion about race and racism in this nation than what Obama offered to the American people on March 18 when he tried to explain his connection to Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Without further ado, here were some of the highlights (video embedded right, grateful h/t Countdown to Hardball):
Media coverage of the economy in recent months should make journalists wonder what kind of job they're doing, according to Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor.
"‘If it bleeds it leads' has always been one theory. That only works up to a point," Gainor told Fox Business Network host Neil Cavuto June 2. "When you are actually spinning the results so much so that they're more negative than the worst economic time period in American history, well then you really have to sit back and think, ‘Maybe we're just doing this wrong.'"
There's a great moment in the video clip here in which WaPo editorial writer Jonathan Capehart dithers, then palpably decides to bite the bullet and tell the truth: yeah, the media's in the tank for Obama. His admission against interest came in response to a question from Pat Buchanan on today's Morning Joe.
PAT BUCHANAN: That brings up the question of the substance of what Clinton said when he talked about the media coming down on Hillary and they're working for Obama, and all the rest of it. Obviously there's real bitterness on the part of Clinton. But is there not, as there was, and the reporters admitted it after 1960, hasn't there been sort of a melding between a lot of journalists and this enthusiastic Obama campaign?
The first African-American president, he's young and he's fresh. And all the journalists admitted later: yeah, we were for Jack Kennedy. We loved the guy. We didn't like Nixon. Isn't there some truth, in other words, behind his bitterness?
JONATHAN CAPEHART: Well, you know, Pat, I think, um, that, eh, yeah. I think there is some truth to his bitterness. Um, you know, it's hard to, let's remember: reporters are human. And reporters are covering both these campaigns. And it's hard not to get swept up, I would think, into the enthusiasm and the drama and the excitement behind one of those huge Obama rallies.
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on the June 2 "Fox & Friends" to discuss Sen. Barack Obama's decision to leave the controversial Trinity United Church of Christ and the fact that Obama has appeared on the cover of 11 news magazines since the beginning of the year.
Partial transcript below by MRC intern Peter Sasso [audio available here]:
STEVE DOOCY, "Fox & Friends" co-host: Brent, so things heated up when the Catholic priest a week ago said some crazy stuff there at the pulpit at Trinity United. But we should go back a little bit. Barack Obama initially joined that particular church because it had a huge power base and if he wanted to get established in Chicago politics, he had to join it.
BRENT BOZELL, Media Research Center President: That's right. I mean and it's now become the home for whack jobs. But, you know, you look at his resignation yesterday and you just ask yourself why does this man do things half way? Why can't he go all the way? Did he resign because there is something wrong with that church? No. In fact, in resigning, he said I'm not saying this. He said this. Very emphatically, that he absolutely refuses to denounce that church. If you absolutely refuse to denounce that church, why did you leave it?
Not sure that would be a winning campaign slogan for Barack Obama, but on today's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski expressed skepticism as to whether Americans really care about winning in Iraq. Mika made her comments in the course of touting Frank Rich's NYT column of yesterday [on which I commented here].
Brzezinski was clearly eager to make her point: after reading an extended excerpt from Rich's column and inviting comment from the panel, she didn't let a bemused John Harwood of CNBC/NYT get more than a few words out before cutting him off to express her own opinion.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Anyone want to comment?
JOHN HARWOOD: Well, I don't think Americans forgot Iraq --
BRZEZINSKI: You know what? I think Americans are tired of being duped, and I think this is coming back, from the McClellan book. I mean, everyone talks about how Americans want to win, want to win. I don't know so much with Iraq.
With its talk of "change" and images of folks from the Dem demographic, was this an MSNBC promo . . . or an Obama ad? Check out this spot, aired today just before the start of Morning Joe.
VOICEOVER [which I believe is that of Joe Scarborough]: A revolution that happens for us every four years is a quiet revolution that begins and ends at the ballot box. It's the American voter that goes in, and makes a very simple choice that can change the country and change the world.
Who says there's no humor in politics? Obama communications director Robert Gibbs went on ABC's This Week today, and in one of the better deadpan bits since Buster Keaton actually said that Barack Obama's decision to quit the Trinity United Church of Christ was "not political."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: In Philadelphia, just in April, Senator Obama said of Reverend Wright "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." Now he's cut all ties to Reverend Wright, and left his church. What is it a mistake to wait this long?
ROBERT GIBBS: No, George. I think obviously what Barack Obama made in the past few days is a deeply personal, not a political decision. And as you heard the reasoning, he made that decision for two reasons. One, even guest speakers that were at Trinity, their views were ascribed to him even though he didn't hold those views, and secondly, the members of Trinity couldn't do what members of a church do, and that is, sit in quiet reflection and worship God.
Conservative bloggers and talk radio hosts have noticed the rash of gaffes — some goofy, some more serious — emanating from Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama lately, but the mainstream media’s coverage of Obama’s bouts with foot-in-mouth disease has been sparse, to say the least. In the case of one of Obama’s more recent gaffes, however, a CNN reporter did Obama the favor of editing the gaffe right out of his story.
On Monday, Obama weirdly talked about honoring the nation’s “unbroken line of fallen heroes — and I see many of them in the audience today.” In a report on Tuesday night’s CNN’s Election Center, correspondent Joe Johns used that Obama soundbite in a piece on the candidate’s “polling problem on patriotism” — but snipped out the part where Obama seemed to be seeing ghosts:
You've got to give the media credit for continuing to find new and innovative ways to make the U.S. economy look bad.
This time an increase in Spam sales are being touted as a sign that people are suffering as they are being forced to trade in their fancy meats and poultries for something less expensive - a sign of "our times," according to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams.
"And in what may be a huge economic indicator, this may say more about our times than we realize," Williams said on the May 29 broadcast. "Spam, the canned luncheon meat product, not the junk e-mail but, Spam sales have surged, lifting profits for the maker Hormel by 14 percent in just the first quarter of this year."
Mika Brzezinski realizes that the latest looniness emanating from Barack Obama's church poses political problems for the presidential candidate. But as a person of pallor, the ever-so-PC Morning Joe-er doesn't want to judge a black church—even when the most recent rantings come from the mouth of . . . a white preacher.
Morning Joe opened today with a clip of Father Michael Pfleger guest-preaching this past Sunday at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ. Pfleger, a fixture on the radical Chicago scene whose endorsement of Obama [h/t Michelle Malkin] until recently appeared on the official Obama campaign website, mocked Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire tears as a sign of her frustrated sense of white entitlement. The screencap shows Pfleger making like Hillary wiping away those tears.
(Watch video above, context included, fast-forward to 3:40 for Brzezinski's humorous comment.)
But while acknowledging the headache Pfleger poses for Obama, Mika was oh-so-loath to comment on the substance or tone of the remarks themselves. Excerpts from her discussion with Tucker Carlson, Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist:
"I'm not fit to be a Senator. I'm not fit to live. Expel me! Expel me! Not him. Every word that boy said is the truth! Every word about Taylor and me and graft and the rotten political corruption of our state. Every word of it is true. I'm not fit for office! I'm not fit for any place of honor or trust. Expel me!"—Claude Rains as the corrupt Sen. Joseph Paine in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"
Chris Matthews has broken out a Jimmy Stewart/Mr. Smith Goes to Washington analogy to assess Scott McClellan's book. Here's how the Hardball host put it on this afternoon's show:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: When you read the book, it reads like Claude Rains in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. You know: "everything the guy says is true." I mean, he's admitting that the other guy–the good guy's–right. I mean, if that's your perspective.
Lanny Davis let one of the world's worst-kept secrets out of the bag this morning: Mika Brzezinski's a Barack backer. But the Morning Joe host [in Joe Scarborough's absence] insisted on "taking issue" with the incontestable, and yet again cited her family's political diversity as a would-be shield against Davis's assertion.
Davis, former special counsel to Bill Clinton and die-hard defender of the Clinton clan, made his observation of the incontrovertible on Morning Joe at about 7:50 AM EDT today. It arose in the course of a discussion of Hillary's strategy for winning the nomination.
Was George Soros behind the publication of Scott McClellan's book? Meredith Vieira had the perfect opportunity this morning to find out—but chose to punt. The Today co-anchor certainly had the time: her much-touted exclusive interview with the author of What Happened ranged over the show's first two half-hours. But even when McClellan himself put the issue on the table—citing his publisher by name and alluding to its philosophy—Vieira failed to pursue a line of questioning that could have put matters in an explosive new light.
is part of the Perseus Books Group, which also owns Nation Books, “a project of The Nation Institute” which publishes the magazine of the same name, and Vanguard Press, whose home page now features The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, a new book by Vincent Bugliosi that “presents a tight, meticulously researched legal case that puts George W. Bush on trial in an American courtroom for the murder of nearly 4,000 American soldiers fighting the war in Iraq.”
Baker also notes that PublicAffairs is the publisher of no fewer than six books by Soros himself, and that McClellan's editor, Peter Osnos, who acknowledges having "worked very closely" with the author, is a liberal pundit in his own right.
Finally, Little Green Footballs has documented that there are several Perseus companies that actually include "Soros" as part of their name, as in Perseus-Soros Management, LLC.
Put it all together, and there's every reason to wonder whether Soros isn't behind McClellan's manifesto. But given the golden opportunity to pursue the matter, Meredith chose to move on. Here's the relevant exchange, which came during the second half-hour of this morning's Today.
When France 2 TV helped stoke a new wave of anti-Semitism and anti-Western sentiment and violence by presenting the world footage it claimed to show the Israeli military targeting and killing a Palestinian boy, Mohammed al-Dura, a scene that has been invoked by Osama bin Laden and many other terrorists and suicide bombers, the American news media also ran the story, showing the footage numerous times on major television news shows. But evidence has mounted over the years that Israeli troops likely were not the ones producing the gunfire seen in the video. And the sources of the footage at France 2 TV are under increasing fire for their role in the matter, last week losing a court battle to media critic Philippe Karsenty, who goes so far as to charge that the al-Dura footage was actually a staged scene, and that the boy may still be alive, part of what has become a reportedly common practice of Palestinian film makers as they record scenes of fake violence to be used as propaganda. A look at such filmmaking and acting has been examined in the documentary Pallywood, complete with a corpse in a fake funeral procession that gets up on its own after falling off the stretcher after the "Jenin massacre" hoax, and an ambulance that arrives immediately next to the body of a man literally two seconds after he is supposedly shot. CBS's 60 Minutes was among those accused of being duped into using scenes of staged violence as if they were real. (Transcripts follow)
I haven't seen Chris Matthews this excited since a Barack Obama speech sent a certain sensation skyward.
The Hardball host is in an absolute frenzy over Scott McClellan's allegations. So much so that guests on this evening's show are having a hard time expressing themselves as Matthews expounds at length. Ari Fleischer finally called Chris on it. And while David Gregory didn't express his ire in words, his facial expression left little doubt as to his annoyance at being cut off in mid-sentence.
The screencap shows Gregory's grimace. But be sure to view the video here to get the full effect. A bit later, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer appeared. He could be seen on many occasions attempting to speak, only to be submerged in a sea of ceaseless Matthews chatter. Talk at one point turned to VP Cheney's involvement in policy-making. Fleischer was again repeatedly frustrated in his attempts to talk, and finally had enough.
In what may rank as one of the oddest non sequiturs of the year, "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams appeared on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" to proclaim "some conservative local newspapers" won't report a cause of death when it's cancer. [audio available here]
Williams stopped by, along with CBS and ABC anchors Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, as part of a new anti-cancer initiative. Williams preceded his bizarre claim by instructing, "Think of the obituaries, just in our adult lifetimes, that didn't mention the 'C' word." Just what is Williams implying? It would help to have some sort of evidence that "conservative local newspapers" are suppressing information on cancer deaths. By "conservative," does Williams mean backwards or superstitious? Whatever the explanation, it certainly seems like another example of a journalist using "conservative" as a synonym for "bad."
"The downward slide for home prices is only picking up speed," CBS correspondent Anthony Mason said on the May 27 "Evening News." "The 14 percent plunge nationally was led by Las Vegas, where prices have fallen more than 25 percent over the past year. Miami is down more than 24 percent, Phoenix - 23 percent. Among the 20 major cities surveyed, only Charlotte showed a meager gain and analysts can't see a bottom yet."
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared this morning on the May 28 "Fox & Friends" to discuss the Oprah effect on the 2008 presidential race. It appears the daytime host may be taking a ratings hit from erstwhile loyal viewers chagrined by her backing the Illinois senator, although Obama himself seems to be benefiting from the backing. Also discussed: former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan's new book. [audio available here]
Below is a transcript taken down by MRC intern and NewsBusters blogger Lyndsi Thomas:
GRETCHEN CARLSON, "Fox & Friends" co-host: All right, so the details being leaking about this book, who better to discuss it than media hounds like you guys. Brent, let me start with you because McClellan says in this book that "as Press Secretary I spent countless hours defending the administration from the podium and the White House briefing room. Although the things I said then were sincere I have since come to realize that some of them were badly misguided." Is this a bitter guy or this a guy who just wants to get the truth out?
You pathetic little people of the blogosphere. You're nothing more than "nitwits at home with [your] computers" who've deluded yourselves into imagining you're "part of the news media." Just ask Mike Barnicle. The former Boston Globe columnist broke the tough truth to us on today's Morning Joe. WaPo editorial writer Jonathan Capehart was "so glad" to agree.
Capehart was in full courtier mode to Mika Brzezinski, anchoring the show during Joe Scarborough's extended absence awaiting the birth of a child home in Florida. When executive producer Chris Licht read a viewer email critical of Mika, Capehart leapt to her defense, and it was then that Barnicle and he sniffed at the pretenders of the pajamahadeen.