Breaking news! A parallel universe does indeed exist, and either John Harwood or I inhabit it. The irrefutable evidence came this evening, as Harwood of CNBC/NYT claimed that Michelle Obama will be—albeit slightly–more of an asset to her husband's campaign than will Cindy McCain to that of her spouse.
Here was Harwood's response on this evening's Race for the White House to a question from host David Gregory about the respective roles the two spouses will play in the coming campaign.
JOHN HARWOOD: Yes, look, I don't know how you match up spouses, and obviously people generally speaking aren't going to vote on that. Cindy McCain looks a little bit more exotic, she's a little richer than Michelle Obama. Michelle Obama has a little bit more of the average, middle-class housewife look about her, she's got young kids. So, I'm not sure there's a big advantage for either side, if I had to give any I'd say slight advantage to Michelle Obama.
"Good Morning America" on Thursday picked up an attack on John McCain that has grown popular in left-wing media outlets and turned it into a Brian Ross investigation of the senator's "pastor problem." In a preview, co-host Diane Sawyer solemnly intoned, "This morning, John McCain's pastor problem. Is the preacher McCain calls a spiritual guide fueling the fire of Muslim hatred in America?" Investigative reporter Ross then preceded to warn how the Arizona senator's appearance with a pastor who loudly attacked Islam has "badly complicated" McCain's attempts to reach out to the Muslim world. [audio available here]
Where did Ross find the various clips of the Reverend Rod Parsley condemning Islam and standing on a podium with John McCain? The story has already been touted in liberal outlets such as Mother Jones magazine and heavily featured on the website Brave New Films,a creation of Robert Greenwald, best known for documentaries bashing Fox News and Wal Mart. (Despite this, Sawyer touted the "exclusive" nature of the investigation.) Additionally, the web version of Ross's story featured a misleading attempt to more closely associate McCain and Parsley. The ABC News headline asserted: "McCain Pastor: Islam Is a 'Conspiracy of Spiritual Evil.'" McCain's pastor? The Republican presidential candidate sought the reverend's support in February 2008. McCain is not a member of Parsley's World Harvest Church in Columbus, Ohio.
Like choosing Rosie O'Donnell to vouch that someone isn't a 9-11 conspiracy nut?
Of all the people Mika Brzezinski might have selected as a character reference for her father when he was portrayed as a problem for Obama with Jewish voters, Pat Buchanan isn't the first one who springs to mind. Yet that's who Mika [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough, home in Florida awaiting the birth of a baby] called on to defend her dad on today's Morning Joe.
The odd endorsement came at about 6:35 AM EDT today, after Mika highlighted an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal by Global View columnist [and former Jerusalem Post editor] Bret Stephens entitled Obama and the Jews. Stephens's item contained these lines [emphasis added]:
Mollie at the Get Religion blog reports that the Obama campaign is circulating a pamphlet in Kentucky with Barack Obama standing in the pulpit with a gleaming cross behind him, and she wonders where all the media fuss is, compared to the hoots and hollers when Mike Huckabee put a slightly subliminal cross image in one ad and said he was a "Christian Leader" in another. On Thursday, the Washington Post ran a brief item:
The pamphlet has circulated in other primary states and is striking for its overt appeal on religion. The words across the top read “Faith. Hope. Change.” Obama is pictured at a church pulpit, with a large illuminated cross in the background. A quote at the bottom reads: “My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want, but I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.”
Post reporter Shailagh Murray mentioned the campaign is seeking "to counteract the persistent and false belief held by some voters that Obama is Muslim," and to avoid a loss as wide as the one in West Virginia. But she makes no mention of Trinity United Church of Christ or Jeremiah Wright.
It wasn't just Barack Obama's candidacy that John Edwards endorsed tonight. It was also the worldview that sees the United States as a "bully." Consider these lines from Edwards just-completed speech.
JOHN EDWARDS: There's also a wall that's divided our image in the world. The America as the beacon of hope is behind that wall. And all the world sees now is a bully. They see Iraq, Guantanamo, secret prison, and a government that argues that waterboarding is not torture [lusty booing from the crowd]. This is not OK. That wall has to come down. For the sake of our ideals and our security. We can change this. We can change it. Yes, we can.
Bill Moyers appeared not only on The Daily Show Tuesday, but on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, where he repeated all his lines in defense of Jeremiah Wright. Moyers also declared that while "I believe in capitalism...the tension between capitalism and democracy is that capitalism breeds inequality while democracy aims for more equality," and the media serves only the rich. When Smiley asked if were "witnessing the fall of the American empire," Moyers said yes, and that "it's probably a good thing that our empire has reached the extent of it -- has extended itself so far that it's beginning to have to have some second thoughts about it."
The talk of America's "empire," as if America were no different than ancient Rome, came near the end of the segment:
SMILEY: How would you respond if I said to you, Bill Moyers, that we are witnessing the fall of the American empire? You are a student of history. You know that every empire eventually falls. And what if I said to you that our democracy is so dysfunctional that it is irreparable, and that what you and I are witnessing, sad to say, is the fall of the American empire?
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers appeared on Tuesday’s edition of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, and delivered a long-winded defense of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who he said was "assassinated by soundbites." Moyers regurgitated the original, discredited Obama line, that out of 200,000 minutes from the pulpit, "His whole life, his whole ministry, his whole career was being summed up in sound bites that added up to no more than 20 seconds endlessly played through the media grinder of our national press." Wright was just making a few errors, like most of us do, he argued: "All of us have made absurd statements. I know that Rev. Wright, whom I had never met before this, was no doubt, had misspoken and made some erratic statements and all that. Most of us do." [audio available here]
Last week Newsweek reporter Allison Samuels defended Barack Obama's decision not to leave the church of Rev. Jeremiah Wright whose America-hating sermons have become a big political issue on the campaign trail. Responding to questions from host Greta van Susteren on the Fox News show "On the Record" May 5, Samuels goes easy on Obama, excusing his decision to stick with Wright for years after Obama supporter Oprah Winfrey quit the Trinity United Church of Christ (apparently) in disgust. (Video here, transcript here, Samuels article on the same subject in May 12 Newsweek here)
But what Samuels didn't disclose to TV viewers was that she is no neutral observer standing on the sidelines making a good faith effort to objectively chronicle the truth for posterity. More on that in a moment.
Update (Ken Shepherd | May 9): Our good friend Mark Levin sent along an audio clip from his May 8 radio program wherein he addressed Jon Stewart's ludicrous comparison.You can access the audio here.
On Wednesday night’s edition of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, host Jon Stewart interviewed John McCain. As part of his ongoing outrage that the Reverend Wright issue would be raised against Barack Obama, Stewart sprung it on McCain that President Bush is his own Reverend Wright problem. He liked this “fascinating” analysis so much he repeated it, and suggested when it comes to Team Bush and al-Qaeda, “our policies are their Reverend Wright-- isn't he the guy they throw out there and inflame their base and get support? Don't you think he's actually been okay for al-Qaeda?” McCain answered by declaring the terrorists were a “transcendent evil” beyond one politician.
Stewart seemed to be citing an NBC poll (slightly wrongly) that found 32 percent of voters expressed concern about Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright, but 43 percent were concerned by Sen. McCain’s relationship to President Bush. Stewart formulated his jokey question as if he were about to question McCain about being endorsed by harshly anti-Catholic minister John Hagee:
“It took much too long for major news media outlets to appreciate the importance of the Wright connection” to Barack Obama, Don Campbell, who spent “nearly two decades as a Washington reporter, editor and columnist for Gannett Newspapers and USA Today,” asserted in a Wednesday op-ed piece for USA Today. The headline over the piece by Campbell, now journalism lecturer at Emory University in Atlanta, asked: “Wright story: What took so long?” Only after “the most incendiary clips...landed on YouTube” were the news media, Campbell observed, “dragged into the controversy holding their noses, but by then Obama had the goal line in sight.”
Nonetheless, Campbell contended “Obama has been ill-served by a press corps that seemingly was mesmerized by the large, frenzied crowds who turn out to see the Democratic rock star.” Indeed, “crowds can be deceiving,” as Campbell recalled: “McGovern, nobody's idea of a rock star, attracted huge and exuberant crowds throughout the fall of 1972 -- on his way to losing 49 states to Richard Nixon.”
PBS omnipresence Bill Moyers was interviewed on the radical taxpayer-subsidized Pacifica Radio network's Democracy Now program on Wednesday, and declared that Hillary Clinton wishes the worst on Barack Obama -- "she keeps hoping for every day, is that lightning will strike him" and insisted "She can only win in a way that would leave the Democratic Party in shambles." Even so, Moyers complained that all three candidates are failing to correct a "dysfunctional" capitalist system.
Moyers also made excuses for Jeremiah Wright's wild sermons about 9/11 and AIDS, and brushed off suggestions that his interview could have been tougher. "I’m not a very adversarial fellow. I’m not a gotcha kind of journalist," he claimed. "I knew that they were going to be asking all of these questions. I leave that to those people whose job it is for the commercial media." He decried the ABC debate questions to Obama as "a great exercise in irrelevance."
During Tuesday's coverage of the Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina on MSNBC, co-anchor Keith Olbermann dismissed the importance of the finding that approximately half of primary voters considered Barack Obama's pastor Jeremiah Wright was an important factor in their decision, including some who apparently admired the way Obama reacted to the story. And, without naming Fox News, the MSNBC host seemed to accuse FNC of having "done nothing but broadcast this story since it first broke, with the wildest exaggerations and the broadest of interpretations possible." He further expressed relief that, in his view, Wright had not been a strong factor against Obama in the election: "It really does, thank goodness, prove, I think, some of the limitations of the media and of negative campaigning."
Below is a transcript of the relevant comments from Olbermann, which aired about 9:37 p.m. on Tuesday May 6 on MSNBC:
At this point before the Wednesday morning shows, Matt Drudge is highlighting an MSNBC clip where Tim Russert says we know the nominee will be Obama, and Hillary will be the last to realize it. But will the networks' post-election coverage identify the sour notes for Obama in the exit polls? AP reporter Alan Fram found the Jeremiah Wright connection continues to hurt Obama with white voters (and this is Democratic primary voters):
Obama, the Illinois senator battling to become the first black president, again failed to gain ground with a crucial voting bloc that has consistently eluded him — working-class whites. But he was piecing together a coalition that besides blacks included the young, first-time primary voters, the very liberal and college graduates, plus sizable minorities of whites....
Wright was a looming factor in the voting, with nearly half in each state saying he was important in choosing a candidate. Of that group, seven in 10 in Indiana and six in 10 in North Carolina backed Clinton.
Those saying Wright did not influence them heavily favored Obama. In North Carolina, Obama got more votes from people saying they discounted the Wright episode than Clinton got from those affected by it, while in Indiana the two groups were about equal in size.
There they go again. Once more, a liberal print journalist has seen racism behind conservative concerns about Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Yesterday, NewsBusters noted a blog post by a Chicago Tribune journalist which claims that Obama’s “supposed patriotism deficit” is because white Americans view African Americans in general as less patriotic.
In a May 5 Washington Post article appearing on page A2, “Department of Human Behavior” writer Shankar Vedantam asserted that it is not Revered Jeremiah Wright’s incendiary comments that have damaged Obama, it is his race, sex and public style. If Wright were a white female who wrote her outlandish ideas in a scholarly journal, Vedantam thinks the effects would not be the same.
On the syndicated, "The Chris Matthews Show," Kim Genardo, a political reporter for NBC Raleigh, North Carolina affilate WNCN, predicted that "smart, educated" North Carolina primary voters wouldn't be swayed by Jeremiah Wright but was unsure how "conservative, white, rural voters" would vote as she admitted she's not, "in touch with them."
The following exchange occurred on the May 4, edition of "The Chris Matthews Show":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's talk about North Carolina, Kim. It's where you work. He's had a big lead down there, Barack Obama. Has for weeks now.
KIM GENARDO, WNCN RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA: Absolutely.
MATTHEWS: It's narrowing, I hear. Tell me what you hear about that race as it's shaping up. Will it be an up or down on Jeremiah Wright, not Barack?
CNN’s John Roberts apparently took David Gergen’s advice from last week, and during his interview of Barack Obama on Monday’s "American Morning," declared out of the gate that he wasn’t going to ask the Democrat from Illinois about his former pastor. "I want to just stipulate at the beginning of this interview, we are declaring a Reverend Wright-free zone today. So, no questions about Reverend Wright. Our viewers want us to move on, so this morning we're going to move on. Is that okay with you?" Obama reacted favorably to this declaration. "Fair enough. That sounds just fine."
Rosie O'Donnell appeared on the May 5 "Today" show in its fourth hour, claiming that many have confused her "passion for rage" much in the same way as they've misunderstood Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Indeed, claimed the former "The View" co-host, Obama's former pastor "made sense to me." [Audio available here.]
O'Donnell also defended Wright's conspiracy theory view on AIDS, chalking that up to Wright's "genetic memory" of the Tuskegee Institute. O'Donnell incorrectly asserted the U.S. government infected the patients in that syphilis study.
Below is the transcript, taken down by NewsBusters resident O'Donnellogist Justin McCarthy (emphasis ours):
Here's something you don't see every day: a liberal, female editor of a leading liberal online magazine stating with cameras rolling that most press members "Hate, hate Hillary Clinton."
Yet, that's exactly what occurred Sunday morning when Salon's editor-in-chief Joan Walsh spoke some truths about the media's love affair with Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama, as well as their disdain for the former first lady (video embedded right).
Also surprising was Walsh's view of liberal assertions that the Rev. John Hagee is as big an issue for Sen. John McCain's candidacy as Rev. Jeremiah Wright is for Obama's.
But, before we get there, here were Walsh's comments about media bias during this campaign:
When Washington Post writer Sally Quinn came on the Charlie Rose show Wednesday night to discuss the Reverend Wright controversy, the accusations against whites flew wildly. Obama’s distancing from Wright was "so incredibly sad," and happened because "we are still a racist country," where "so many white Americans...have absolutely no idea what goes on inside black churches on a Sunday morning...and I think it brought out a lot of latent racism." She concluded the interview by insisting that whites "go to their white churches, and you wonder how they can call themselves Christians and still look at other people as though they are inferior."
Sally Quinn came on with Rev. Floyd Flake, a former Congressman from New York, who also discussed this with Rose the first time Wright became controversial. Quinn tried to say that Obama’s greater condemnation of Wright would help Obama, but it was tragic.
In an interesting way, I think it may have helped Obama, because I think that by [Wright] coming out the way he did, he allowed Obama to come out much more forcefully the way he did today. And he had to. He had absolutely no choice.
PBS talk show host Charlie Rose turned to the Reverend Wright issue on Wednesday night. Former New York Times music critic Kelefa Sanneh insisted the fuss over Wright comments like the government inventing AIDS for black genocide were a "red herring," that when you look at Wright’s old speeches and books, "there’s not much in there that’s hugely controversial," and even when he gets political, "he’s not making wildly controversial statements by and large." Sanneh also seemed to insist blacks couldn’t be racists.
Sanneh began by insisting that the Wright issue is being overblown, because there were radical things that Martin Luther King said that "would generate enormous controversy today." (Brent Bozell touched on that, the 1967 King speech at Riverside Church alleging both white and black American soldiers were brutalizing Vietnamese civilians.) But Rose was tough enough to respond: "But I want to know what that [King speech] was that’s equivalent to saying AIDS is a government conspiracy to kill black children?"
What is it about Hollywoodans that makes so many of them believe that any time political leaders they revere get caught in a scandal, it's because of some vast conspiracy?
While you ponder, consider how just days after "View" co-host Joy Behar suggested that Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama's pastor "might be being paid by the Republicans," film director Spike Lee said, "It looks like [Rev. Jeremiah Wright's] being paid to keep talking."
I kid you not.
As reported by Britain's Guardian Thursday (emphasis added, h/t Deceiver via NBer bias-fighter, picture courtesy New York magazine):
Do my tax dollars really have to support the anti-American vitriol that comes out of the mouth of PBS's Bill Moyers every week?
Before you answer, consider that the host of "Bill Moyers Journal" followed up last week's much publicized sycophantic lovefest with Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama's America-hating pastor by going on a six minute defense of the junior senator from Illinois and the reverend this Friday which was filled with Democrat talking points.
Readers are warned to proceed with caution before either reviewing the highly-offensive transcript that follows, or clicking on the embedded video in the upper-right (h/t TVNewser):
John Kass, a right-leaning columnist for the Chicago Tribune, asked the obvious question in a Wednesday column:
Obama can't worry about Clinton's troubles. He's got a few of his own. And he'll be thinking what every one of us would be thinking, if we were running for president as Barack Obama: How the heck will "Saturday Night Live" ridicule me and Jeremiah Wright?
Kass had a few ideas of how SNL should do it:
Wright, Obama's ridiculously controversial longtime pastor, torpedoed the Obama campaign by releasing copious amounts of natural gas in separate speeches, one at an NAACP meeting in Detroit and the other before the National Press Club this week in Washington.
Though SNL writers haven't asked me, I'd suggest a skit called "The Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Clapping School For White Liberal Folks."
ABC’s Nightline featured yet another Cynthia McFadden trip with Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail Thursday, but it wasn’t all sympathetic questions about how hard it is to be a feminist pioneer. (There was one about how all the criticism must be hard on her mother.) Instead, on the trail in Indiana, McFadden pushed hard from the left on how Barack Obama thought her gas-tax holiday proposal was "phony" and "pandering," and how columnist Thomas Friedman of the New York Times thought it was "ridiculous," and how Iran thought her remarks about them were irresponsible. She also wondered if the Reverend Wright issue was "guilt by association...Does it worry you a little bit about the taint of association? Because, you know, you’ve been tarred by the same brush over the years."
McFadden began somewhat sympathetically, although it wasn’t good news, about how Indiana superdelegate Joe Andrew switched sides to Obama, despite President Clinton making him DNC chairman in the late 1990s. Then she switched to arguing against any gas-tax relief:
Though she leavened it with considerable levity, there's no escaping the bottom line: Mika Brzezinski sees Pat Buchanan as a nut. An affable one, to be sure. Even one with interesting things to say. But at heart, a nut. A "crazy uncle" fit for the same crate of cracked pots as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
The prelude was Mika's reading of an excerpt from a brilliant essay by Charles Krauthammer in today's WaPo. Writing of Obama's recent attempt to definitively hurl Rev. Wright under the Greyhound, Krauthammer observed:
It's hard to think of an act more blatantly expedient than renouncing Wright when his show, once done from the press club instead of the pulpit, could no longer be "contextualized" as something whites could not understand and only Obama could explain in all its complexity.
Turns out the Wright show was not that complex after all. Everyone understands it now. Even Obama.
After Jimmy Carter and Joy Behar, CNN’s Larry King had a prominent liberal guest on his show for the third night in a row on Wednesday, this time Michael Moore. After King played a clip from Bill O’Reilly’s interview of Hillary Clinton which concerned the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Moore pulled out the "black rage" card, as well as the stereotypical rich white liberal guilt. "[Y]ou have to ask yourself, Larry, what's it like to be black in America? And what kind of rage would you feel? And if you did feel that rage, what kind of things would you say that, at times, would be outrageous, crazy even, because you've had to live through this for so long. And I do not believe, as a white guy, that I am in any position to judge a black man who has had to live through that." [audio clip here]
Moore appeared as a guest on "Larry King Live" for the entire hour of the program. His comments on Wright came twenty minutes into the program. Besides explaining away Wright’s many polarizing and outlandish statements, he also attacked Hillary Clinton for her actions in the campaign, as well as his more usual targets of George W. Bush and John McCain.
To its credit, the May 1 CBS "Early Show" continued coverage of the Jeremiah Wright controversy, although the co-hosts also hoped for an Obama comeback, as co-host Julie Chen wondered: "A new CBS poll shows Barack Obama has been hurt by the Reverend Wright controversy. Does he have time to recover?"
Correspondent Dean Reynolds's field report went on to flesh out worrisome poll numbers: "Our new CBS News poll had more troubling news for Obama. At the beginning of April, 69% of Democrats thought the Illinois Senator would be their nominee. Now, only 51% do. While those who think Clinton will be nominated has gone up by 13 points."
But Reynolds held out a ray of hope for Chen and co-anchor Harry Smith, as he observed that:
Would it have been any better for Barack Obama to have said people "rely" on bigotry rather than "cling" to it? I don't think so, but apparently he does . . .
This morning's "Today" aired an extended clip from an interview Meredith Vieira recently conducted of Barack and Michelle Obama. The full interview will be shown Saturday on MSNBC. While I didn't detect any blockbuster moments, there were a few notable nuggets.
On the issue of why he didn't distance himself from Rev. Wright sooner, Obama says: "When those first snippets came out, I thought it was important to give him the benefit of the doubt." That would suggest Obama actually had some doubt as to where Rev. Wright stood. Is that credible, after 20 years in the angry pastor's pews?
The Obama campaign has chosen NBC's Today show as the venue to try to move beyond the Jeremiah Wright controversy and a preview aired on Wednesday's Nightly News, of the session to air Thursday morning, showcased Barack and Michelle Obama making their case. While Meredith Vieira apparently did ask Barack Obama why he had not denounced Wright sooner, Nightly News viewers heard Barack Obama boast in response that he had resisted doing the “politically expedient” and Michelle Obama resorting to a plea reminiscent of the Clinton era:
We got to move forward. You know, this conversation doesn't help my kids, you know. It doesn't help kids out there who are looking for us to make decisions and choices about how we're going to better fund education.
Anchor Brian Williams set up the story by relating how “Barack and Michelle Obama sat down with Meredith Vieira from Today on NBC as they try to put the drama over their former pastor behind them.” Andrea Mitchell explained Obama was “clearly trying to move past the controversy over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but when pressed, explaining why he didn't denounce his former pastor sooner.”
On The Daily Show on Comedy Central Tuesday night, Jon Stewart pressed former Speaker Newt Gingrich to agree that Reverend Jeremiah Wright should not be a major story, that every candidate and president has a "preacher who’s said crazy things." Stewart professed he was "really stunned" by the media’s focus, and he asked, "Isn't the silliness of this now boiling down to the strategy of shouldn't we be focusing on whether this is truly an issue?" He also claimed Wright is like many ministers, black and white: "Don't white preachers have very similar beliefs, but when they counsel a candidate, nobody really focuses on them?"
Gingrich was playful, but firm: "I think if you replaced the word, the various things he said about white America, like Ku Klux Klan America, if you replace those with the word ‘black’ and you imagine a white racist preacher who was as vehement as Reverend Wright, he would literally be ostracized in this culture." He also raised Obama’s connection to Weather Underground figure William Ayers. But Stewart wasn’t budging: "I think if he played that game of six degrees of separation with other candidates you could probably find equally vile characters circling the universe."