The Republican convention was delayed by a day on Monday. It’s not a problem: the national media’s pre-convention spin was timed perfectly, almost as if it was on automatic pilot. In Monday’s New York Times, longtime political writer Adam Nagourney regurgitated the same old, tired political spin that the Republican Party is too conservative and exclusionary on “social issues,” and that their divisive stands will hurt them with “mainstream” voters.
1976. 1980. 1984. 1988. 1992. 1996. 2000. 2004. 2008. Will they ever stop saying this?
Almost as soon as word leaked that Mitt Romney had chosen Paul Ryan as his running mate, liberal reporters stepped forward to help define the Wisconsin congressman as too conservative, a heartless budget-slasher who might repel as many votes as he might attract to the GOP ticket. Chris Matthews, for example, on Saturday derided Ryan as someone whose plan “really screws the people who desperately need Medicare and programs like that.”
The script is always a little different, but the trend is always the same. The Media Research Center has monitored campaign coverage for 25 years, including the media’s reaction to four Republican vice presidential selections: Dan Quayle (1988); Jack Kemp (1996); Dick Cheney (2000); and Sarah Palin (2008). While most of the candidates usually received initially positive introductory coverage, in each case journalists quickly pivoted to emphasizing the attack lines pushed by the Democratic campaigns. [Video evidence after the jump.]
In an interview with actress Candice Bergen for Thursday's NBC Rock Center, correspondent Harry Smith brought up Bergen's long-running 90's sitcom, proclaiming: "Well you can't talk about Murphy Brown and not also say Dan Quayle....What Vice President Quayle said in a 1992 speech was an attack on the character Murphy Brown for glorifying single motherhood."
A portion of the speech played, with Quayle warning against, "Mocking the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it just another lifestyle choice." A sound bite followed of Bergen reacting in character on the CBS show: "What really defines a family is commitment, caring and love." Following the clips, Bergen happily told Smith: "Certainly Dan Quayle made the show number one for a few months. And when I won the Emmy that year, I thanked him for that."
In an interview with former Vice President Dan Quayle on Thursday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer pushed Quayle to admit that Mitt Romney was wrong to oppose Obama's auto bailout: "[He] said, 'You know what? Let Chrysler fail.'...There would have been thousands of jobs lost. Did he get it wrong? Did President Obama get it right by bailing out the auto industry?"
Quayle endorsed Romney on Tuesday, prompting Lauer to ask: "You've seen the polls, he's always between 20 and 25%. Conservatives have tried to find anybody to pass him....why is he the Rodney Dangerfield of the race, Mitt Romney, why doesn't he get any respect?" The headline on screen throughout the segment read: "Decision 2012; Dan Quayle on Volatile GOP Race."
Within seconds of his introduction on Friday's "Tonight Show," Bill Maher attacked leading Republicans.
In a truly delicious example of instant karma, moments after calling Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Michele Bachmann idiots, the pompous, more arrogant than most Maher spoke of how important the "Iowa primary" is (video follows with commentary):
Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC, the Today show on NBC, and the NBC Nightly News all gave attention to potential Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee’s recent words from the Michael Medved Show lamenting the example set by the unwed pregnancy of actress Natalie Portman. But, while Huckabee might have been better served if he had also made a point of praising her for keeping her child and planning to marry the father during his original comments, the reports on ABC and NBC mostly ignored that it was host Medved who decided to bring up Portman, and Huckabee was responding to him rather than making a point of bringing her up on his own.
But only Saturday’s Today show even briefly mentioned that Medved introduced Portman into the conversation as substitute anchor Savannah Guthrie read a statement from Huckabee on the matter.
NBC's Kelly O'Donnell, in a story aired on Friday's Today show, traveled to Arizona to profile Republican Ben Quayle's run for Congress and in the process gave Dan Quayle's son the same sort of treatment the former Vice President received from the media, as the NBC correspondent treated him like a joke. While O'Donnell briefly mentioned that Ben Quayle is a small business owner, the thrust of her piece was making light of foibles of the son and even father.
In her story O'Donnell aired a joke from her NBC colleague Jay Leno to make fun of a Quayle campaign mailer, pressed Quayle to deny he "wrote under the name Brock Landers, a porn star character from the movie Boogie Nights" for a blog and of course dredged up old footage of his dad misspelling the word potato and being ridiculed by Lloyd Bentsen in a 1988 vice presidential debate. [audio available here]
The following is the full O'Donnell story as it was aired on the August 20 Today show:
Saturday’s Good Morning America on ABC devoted a full report to former Vice President Dan Quayle’s son Ben’s run for Congress in Arizona, focusing primarily on perceived gaffes by both him and his father. As anchor John Berman set up the report, he gave the impression that he views the former Vice President primarily as a joke: "It's time to dust off the jokes and hold on to your potatoes. Who can forget the vice presidency of Dan Quayle? His mortal feud with TV's Murphy Brown. His battles with the dictionary. Well, now, one of his children wants to follow in his footsteps and is making some headlines of his own, not all intentional."
During the piece which recounted a number of activities and statements by Ben Quayle that have come under criticism, or have come across to some as gaffes, correspondent T.J. Winick played a clip of the time that Dan Quayle infamously told a school boy that the word "potato" should have an "e" added to the end during a spelling lesson at a school. Winick did not inform viewers that it was the teacher who led Quayle astray as she had misspelled the word on the word list she had given to the then-Vice President to check the children’s spelling.
Winick also described what he called a "shocking ad" in which Ben Quayle labeled President Obama "the worst President in history," and promised to go to Washington and "knock the hell out of the place." The ABC correspondent also informed viewers that Quayle had been criticized for using a photograph of himself with his nieces in campaign literature because he has no children of his own.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd must have woken up on the far-left side of the bed Tuesday given the number of prominent conservatives she chose to abuse in her article published Wednesday.
In "Daisy Chain of Cheneys", Dowd went after former Vice President Dick Cheney, his two daughters Liz and Mary, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, former Vice President Dan Quayle, Rush Limbaugh, the Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, and OF COURSE George W. Bush.
This was really quite a venom-dripping hatefest even for Dowd (h/t Jennifer Rubin):
MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday used an interview with former Vice President Dan Quayle to gratuitously highlight Lloyd Bentsen’s famous 1988 slam, "You're no Jack Kennedy." Although Quayle appeared on "Andrea Mitchell Reports" to share his reflections on the passing of Ted Kennedy, the cable anchor sniped, "One of your toughest moments was during the debate with Lloyd Benson when you compared yourself to John F. Kennedy..."
As though Quayle was unfamiliar with what happened 21 years ago at the vice presidential debate, Mitchell recounted, "And Lloyd Bentsen memorably said, you know, 'I knew John Kennedy. I served with John Kennedy and you are no John Kennedy.’ What happened after that?"
Finally getting to some sort of Kennedy-related query, she quizzed, "I know it was a big hiccup in the road for you. You ended up being elected in any case, but how did Ted Kennedy reach out to you?" Quayle, not surprisingly, didn’t seem to enjoy the question and talked about how nice the Senator was to him during the ‘88 campaign. The former Vice President asserted that people who knew him, understood that he was up to the job. He then zinged Mitchell: "And people that didn't [know me], would sort of parrot what those of you in the media said at the time."
Correction/Author's Clarification: Since I wrote this, Time has added two vice presidents to its list, one of them Henry Wallace. There were originally 13 VPs named; now there are 15. The cache page of the first VP listed, Aaron Burr, shows him as "1 of 13." I don't know for how long that will be shown. Is someone at Time reading NewsBusters?
Any such list by its very nature is nothing more than subjective opinion. And in Time's opinion, every vice president in this century who warrants such scorn is a Republican. Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney are on the list.
During a segment on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" about the selection of vice presidents and what goes into the choice, reporter Claire Shipman gushingly introduced a clip of Al Gore's wisdom on the subject. She fawned, "But the man who is often named as the best choice in modern history, and who orchestrated a great choice himself, has some key advice."
Shipman didn't say who, exactly, considers Gore the best selection in history. She also failed to point out that Joe Lieberman, the Democrat tapped by Gore in 2000, wasn't elected vice president. So, how would one qualify that as a "great choice?" Earlier in the piece, the GMA correspondent lauded the "emotional history of picking the first Jewish running mate [Lieberman]," the "bold move of two young southerners [Bill Clinton and Gore] and blandly noted George W. Bush's selection of Dick Cheney as a "surprise."
During the 1992 presidential campaign, when incumbent Vice President Dan Quayle made a spelling mistake, the New York Times was all over it. It's clear from the Times's story that the rest of the media was also in full pursuit:
So Jay Leno has a week's worth of new Dan Quayle jokes. At a school here, everyone was quite hush-hush the day after the visiting Vice President spelled potato wrong while directing a spelling bee.
..... Reporters stood around today for hours outside of the house where 12-year-old William Figueroa lives. He has become a national celebrity for having spelled the word correctly on the blackboard, only to have Mr. Quayle, holding a flash card with the word spelled incorrectly, encourage him to add an E at the end.
The front of Thursday’s Washington Post Style section carried a report from Monica Hesse on how the toy makers at Lego were a little embarrassed that one of their "Creativity Awards" was handed to an eight-year-old who would like President Bush impeached:
That last one's winners were announced last week, and Bethesda's Kelsie Kimberlin, 8, got the nod. The judges of Lego's first annual Creativity Awards got more than they bargained for. When the third-grader is asked to describe her winning entry to Lego's Creativity Awards, her explanation -- with just a little prompting from her dad, Brett -- is on message: "I don't want kids to lose any parents in the war."
Later in the article, the youngster added: "I don't like Bush because he sends people to be killed." Hesse explained the YouTube video that Kimberlin and her father made (which the Post also placed on its website for viewing):