Jeremiah Wright is on the Republican "payroll" according to View co-host Joy Behar. Discussing the Reverend Wright controversy, Behar offered her conspiracy theory of a Republican dirty trick: "I think Reverend Wright might be being paid by the Republicans. That's what I think." She emphasized: "He's on the payroll!" This is not the first time Behar has hypothesized on the evil genius of the right. The daytime diva accused Republicans of causing Democratic Senator Tim Johnson's stroke and wondered if the "right-wing" planted the bogus McCain/Iseman story. [audio excerpt available here]
Whoopi then chastised Hasselbeck and those who criticize Obama for his Wright connection: "To sabotage the first black president is outrageous." Behar expressed no such concern over her own smear of African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Since Time now sends out its issue on Fridays, perhaps they regret the decision to hand over a page to leftist professor Michael Eric Dyson to proclaim that Rev. Jeremiah Wright is a "war-tested patriot," unlike draft dodgers like Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton. "War-tested" is an odd word, since Wright served stateside, but "patriotism" is even weirder for a man who has alleged that America is a terrorist nation who deserved 9/11. Dyson, used to arguing for bigger thugs than Wright (gangsta-rapper Tupac Shakur) and inveighing against insufficiently radical blacks (Bill Cosby), effortlessly if ridiculously pitched Wright as the uber-patriot, more patriotic than George Bush, Bill Clinton, or Dick Cheney:
Even the angry comments of Jeremiah Wright have to be read as the bitter complaint of a spurned lover. Like millions of other blacks, Wright was willing to serve the country while suffering rejection.
ABC reporter David Wright, a well known fan of Barack Obama, filed a report on Wednesday's "Good Morning America" in which he urged viewers to sympathize with how difficult it must have been for the senator to finally break with his controversial pastor. The journalist mournfully announced, "For Obama, whose own father abandoned him as a child, this must have been another painful break."
Rather than wonder why Obama repeatedly stood by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a man who absurdly claimed that the United States created the AIDS virus, (reporter) Wright lobbied for Americans to realize what a "big deal" the break was for the Obama campaign. He justified, "Imagine having to publicly denounce the minister who married you, who baptized your kids, who prayed with you the day you announced your candidacy for president."
Was Barack Obama's denunciation of Rev. Wright yesterday just some ginned-up anger, a show for the cameras—and the voters? You might think so, to judge by Andrea Mitchell's surprising revelation on today's Morning Joe . . .
JOE SCARBOROUGH: What do you think of the Obama statement yesterday? Was it enough to finally put this behind him?
ANDREA MITCHELL: Perhaps, yes. He had to do it. This thing had been a nagging, you know, problem, an open wound really. This was a very public divorce. I should point out, though, that quite to my surprise when he was out on the stump last night, once again Obama was kind of trivializing it, saying "well, my opponents are making fun of me, and trying to define me, and saying I don't put my hand over my heart, and they talk about my former pastor's crazy statements." So he was trying to blame it on McCain, Hillary, whoever, rather than on what he earlier said in a very specific and dramatic way.
MRC President and NewsBusters Publisher Brent Bozell appeared on both the April 29 "Hannity & Colmes" and the April 30 "Fox & Friends" to discuss media treatment of the ongoing Barack Obama/Rev. Jeremiah Wright saga. Bozell discussed a taxpayer-funded "puff piece" interview by PBS's Bill Moyers on "Hannity & Colmes." The next morning on "Fox & Friends," in addition to addressing Moyers's bias, Bozell discussed reports that Hillary Clinton backer the Rev. Dr. Barbara Reynolds was the person responsible for arranging Rev. Jeremiah Wright's April 27 National Press Club event.
While Reynolds has a political agenda in view, Bozell noted, he doubted there was a direct link to Hillary Clinton herself. [Audio excerpt here]
An excerpt from the "Fox & Friends" segment:
GRETCHEN CARLSON, co-host: Well how did Rev. Jeremiah Wright end up as a keynote speaker at the National Press Club? And what role Barbara Reynolds, openly a Clinton supporter, what role did she play in arranging Rev. Wright's appearance? More details coming out this morning now.
BRIAN KILMEADE, co-host: Yeah, Brent Bozell, you have a theory here. And we know now thanks to one of the reports that she had brought up Rev. Wright's name two years ago as a speaker and he has spoken before at 2007. But when they needed Rev. Wright, they had to go to Reynolds who does know him personally.
Remember how the MSM swooned over Barack Obama's Philly speech on race after the Rev. Wright tapes pushed the story to the front pages? I expected the same kind of rapturous reaction to Obama's press conference of yesterday in which he definitively ditched the conspiracy-mongering minister.
But, surprisingly, that was not the case at all on CBS's Early Show this morning. To the contrary, the tone was set by the opening graphic shown here, which skeptically asked: "too little, too late?" And when Bob Schieffer and Juan Williams appeared a bit later, they were similarly cynical. Then again, there was one bit of perhaps unintentional candor on host Harry Smith's part, of which more later.
Andrew Malcolm of The Los Angeles Times Top of the Ticket blog suggested that Bill Maher on HBO "says what many people, most of them supporters of Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, who refused to disown Wright in his recent race speech, are saying to themselves about the impact of the pastor's reappearance and resulting news coverage," but have "many" been this vivid?
I saw Reverend Wright. This is the guy that Obama did not throw under the bus. He said ‘you know what, I can no more repudiate him than I can repudiate my family.’ And I saw this guy the other night, who I also defended, Reverend Wright, saying ‘you know what, Obama was just being a politician.’ You know what, Reverend Wright? You’re a dick. [Laughter] What a dick. At the very moment Obama doesn’t need this to come back into the race. Obama did not disown him. That this guy brings up the one thing Obama cannot afford to have brought up, that he’s just another politician. This is his whole campaign, that I’m a different kind of politician.
Tuesday night the broadcast network evening news shows centered their coverage, of Barack Obama's repudiation of Jeremiah Wright, from Obama's point of view with “'I'M OUTRAGED'” (ABC) or just "OUTRAGED" (CBS) plastered on screen by an Obama image, interest in whether Obama has now put the “controversy behind him” (ABC and NBC) and only an afterthought about whether anything Wright said Monday was any different than what he had over the previous 20 years Obama has known him. (NBC chose “FIRING BACK” as the on-screen heading)
Brian Williams asked Tim Russert: “Do you think this stops the damage?” Similarly, CBS's Katie Couric wondered to Jeff Greenfield: “Is today's repudiation enough to kind of control the damage?” Echoing NBC's Lee Cowan, ABC's David Wright relayed how Obama is “hoping it will finally put the Wright controversy behind him.”
NBC aired a clip of Obama maintaining “I have known Reverend Wright for almost 20 years. The person I saw yesterday was not the person that I met 20 years ago,” but Cowan did not challenge that premise. At least CBS's Dean Reynolds pointed out that “yesterday's wording did not differ markedly from the sermons Wright delivered in the past” and ABC anchor Charles Gibson noted Wright “really didn't say anything different than he said in some of those sermons that have been played over and over again.”
I'm beginning to see Joe Scarborough's skirmishes with Mika Brzezinski on Morning Joe as mere batting practice for the much more serious battles he undertakes in the evening with Rachel Maddow on Race for the White House.
As Noel Sheppard documented, Maddow and Scarborough tangled on April 17th, with Joe possibly having exited the set in the end. The pair were back at it on this evening's "Race," the Air America host this time accusing Scarborough of "tying Barack Obama to Hitler."
Maddow's theme throughout the show was that the media has devoted too much coverage to the Rev. Wright matter. David Shuster, subbing for host David Gregory, lit the fuse.
Chris Matthews invited on former President Jimmy Carter on Tuesday’s "Hardball," and not surprisingly tossed softballs at his former boss and prompted him to weigh-in on Jeremiah Wright as he asked: "Do you think his pastor will be used by people on the right to play the racial card?"
The following exchange occurred on the April 29 edition of MSNBC’s "Hardball":
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Do you think his pastor will be used by people on the right to play the racial card?
JIMMY CARTER: I don't have any doubt. They'll use everything they can by the racial card. That's what the Republicans have done, at least in the South, ever since 1964 when Lyndon Johnson ran against, against Barry Goldwater. And my mother was Lyndon Johnson's campaign, campaign leader in Sumter county. So yeah I think they will use everything they can against Obama if he gets the nomination.
In a particularly dire analysis on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co- host Harry Smith reacted to the recent media tour of Barack Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, and declared: "He's being called the 'Pastor of Disaster' for the effect he's having on Barack Obama's campaign. Why is Reverend Jeremiah Wright taking his case to the public now?"
Smith began the segment on Wright by observing that: "Well, the month of April has probably been the longest month of Senator Barack Obama's life. He started off this month by distancing himself from comments made by his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Now he's doing it again."
Smith then talked to Democratic strategist, Joe Trippi, who said of Wright’s media appearances: "It's a nightmare for the Obama campaign. They can't like this at all and they've got no control." Smith went on to comment on Obama’s initial speech in Philadelphia that addressed Reverend Wright: "The speech on race that was so lauded, almost forgotten now." He followed up by asking Trippi: "...is this a campaign killer, can this be a campaign killer?"
Appearing on the April 29 edition of "The View," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich proved his intellectual superiority to Joy Behar punching holes in her very shallow debate points. Also, in discussing the ongoing Reverend Wright controversy, Whoopi Goldberg placed Billy Graham in league with Wright and Louis Farrakhan. [audio version of embedded video available here]
In challenging Newt Gingrich’s assertion that there’s a sympathy on the far left for America haters such as William Ayers, Behar inquired, "there’s no romance going on between the hard right of this country and Saudi Arabia let’s say?" Gingrich swiftly answered "the hard right in this country deeply dislikes Saudi Arabia as the source of Wahabbist funding."
The Bill Moyers PBS interview of Barack Obama’s long-time minister, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, underlined once again that our tax dollars don’t fund programs championing racial harmony. They fund programs that celebrate black radicals, militants, and kooks. Moyers came to Rev. Wright’s side not to condemn him or even challenge him, but to praise him and defend him. As he implored Wright to explain his "God damn America" sermon, Wright at least said he was free in America to denounce America. To which Moyers replied: "Well, you can be almost crucified for saying what you've said here in this country."
Bill Moyers wants us to see Jeremiah Wright as the Jesus Christ of our time?
With Barack Obama drowning in Rev. Wright's waves, all Hillary really needs to do is keep her head down and show up on time to be endorsed today by NC Gov. Mike Easley. The last thing Clinton needs is to make a gaffe of her own.
Now let's grant that the one we're about to discuss ranks rather low on the Gaffe-o-meter. If Sniper-gate was a 6.2, this might be a 2.1. But this particular misstep does have the demerit of undercutting a major Clinton campaign theme. Hillary's strategy nowadays consists of appealing to middle- and lower-income voters. Call it the Beer-and-a-shot Shtick. She's a Gal of the People. Not snobby like those Obamas. You know, like Michelle, who complained to a group of women in a struggling area of Ohio about her difficulties in spending $10,000 a year for various lessons for her kids while paying off student loans for her sojourns at Princeton and Harvard.
But that's exactly the kind of mistake Hillary has made. Today's Good Morning America played a clip [date and place unidentified, but presumably from the IN or NC campaign trail] of Hillary saying this to a crowd:
HILLARY CLINTON: Some people say, "oh she is tough." Well, if you'd had my life, you'd be tough too.
At his National Press Club appearance on Monday, Reverend Jeremiah Wright re-affirmed several of his past incendiary allegations -- and added at least one new one equating U.S. troops to the Roman legions who killed Jesus -- but only ABC's World News noted that as the network journalists preferred to paint Barack Obama as a “victim” of Wright and all three evening newscasts highlighted Wright's attack on Dick Cheney for not serving in the military.
CBS's Dean Reynolds, who spent more time on Wright's attack on Cheney than on anything crazy Wright said Monday, explained that “as for questions about his patriotism, Wright pointed to his Marine service compared to Vice President Cheney's five deferments from duty.” Wright: “I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?”
NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams set up the story from Andrea Mitchell by stressing how “one veteran politico today” dismissed Wright's comments as “a 'circus' and a 'sideshow.'” Mitchell soon repeated how “Obama supporters described the whole thing as a media circus.” Viewers then heard from former Senator Bill Bradley followed by Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, the man who in March hailed Obama's speech on race as “a very important gift the Senator has given the country.” Monday night Capehart lamented how “the victim in all of this is going to be Senator Obama's campaign.”
One small step for David Axelrod, one giant leap for Barack Obama away from Jeremiah Wright . . .
When chief Obama strategist Axelrod appeared at the end of this evening's Hardball, I expected him to dodge the current Rev. Wright controversy with some bromide about the reverend's right to express his opinions. But—in evidence of just how badly Wright's current comments are hurting Obama—Axelrod surprised me by acknowledging that he wished Wright hadn't piped up and suggesting that the good reverend's out for Numero Uno. Axelrod did manage to work in a blame-the-media angle.
View video here. [Note: Axelrod comments come after Matthews takes shot at Bill Kristol.]
Does it seem the ultimate of political ironies that media are using the same strategy that helped Bill Clinton win the White House in 1992 to prevent him and his wife from returning to the Oval Office in 2009?
After all, even people that haven't been around the political block a few times should certainly find the following all too predictable press strategy all too familiar (picture courtesy Times Online):
Are Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s comments shouting "God damn America" comparable to Rosa Parks famous refusal to give up her seat? According to "The View’s" Sherri Shepherd it is. Discussing Wright on the April 28 edition, Shepherd, with Joy Behar’s backing, called Wright’s anger "righteous" and compared it to Rosa Parks’ famous protest.
SHEPHERD: And I remember, I remember you said, not going back, but you said "when can we go to the place where they say ‘forgive them they know not what they do’?" Anger is sometimes a very good thing, because I’m thinking of Rosa Parks. Had she not been angry and said "no I’m not going to get up. I’m tired my feet hurt."
BEHAR: Yes, righteous rage.
SHEPHERD: It’s righteous and that’s what Jeremiah has.
HASSELBECK: Enlighten me.
SHEPHERD: No, but I’m saying he had a righteous anger. Martin Luther King was angry, he was very angry.
How bad was Reverend Wright's appearance before the National Press Club this morning? Bad enough that even CNN contributor Roland Martin—who yesterday enthused about Wright's address to the Detroit NAACP, who gave Wright's chat with Bill Moyers an 'A'—flunked it with an 'F.' Bad enough that David Gergen condemned it as "narcissistic almost beyond belief." Bad enough that, introducing a panel discussion of the speech, the palpably distressed CNN Newsroom host Tony Harris let out an audible groan of "ah, boy," and later wondered how much damage had been done.
As NewsBusters' Brent Baker reported last Friday, Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, was "interviewed" last week by PBS's Bill Moyers, and the broadcast networks fell for the snowjob hook, line, and sinker.
Quite surprisingly, Howard Kurtz's panel on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" were far less impressed, in particular, former New York Times columnist William Safire who deliciously framed the interview as a "a loving conversation. And Bill Moyers is a liberal, was from the word go, and he was doing his best to make the most for Jeremiah Wright."
Wonderfully, Kurtz and his panel members, unlike seemingly all the rest of the currently fawning over Jeremiah media, agreed:
Were they commenting on the same speech? Rev. Jeremiah Wright goes before the Detroit NAACP, claims that black and white children learn with different parts of their brain, and offers a simpering, unflattering imitation of the way white pastors speak. CNN's Soledad O'Brien gushes that the speech was a "home run" and "really funny." But over at Morning Joe, Wright's words prompted a panel member to rip the reverend as a "mediocrity" and a "buffoon."
Soledad O'Brien was in the hall when Wright spoke. She reported on the speech at the top of CNN's 6 AM ET hour.
SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: The whole thing, frankly, was really funny. I think a lot of people have seen Rev. Wright defined as controversial, defined as angry, defined as anti-American: not in that speech. Not in that speech at all. He was funny, he was witty. This is a guy who's got two masters and his doctorate in divinity. Here is a guy who speaks five languages, they took pains in his introduction to point out all his accomplishments.
The Washington Post touts a Jeremiah Wright article on its front page today, so readers are instructed to turn to the Metro section. The headline there reads "Reverend's Words Stir Debate on His Creed." Only the reporters never quoted a single word of Wright's. What kind of Stupid Reporter Trick is that? So what readers get is fulmination over the reaction to Wright's words, but no idea of what those words were. The Post also used the words "liberation theology" almost always without quotes, even when citing its cousin, the Latin American Marxist variety. William Wan and Hamil Harris began:
Bobby Henry was angry when he first saw the now-famous snippets of sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. playing over and over on television. He considered the uproar over Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor an attack on a man of faith and the black church.
But he also wondered: Who is Wright, and what is the religious movement, known as black liberation theology, that shaped his ministry?
This week's Fox News Watch was a mix of the candid, the intriguing and the downright comical. Let's start with the humor. Well-intentioned liberal panel member Jane Hall, wringing her hands over the fact that the Wright matter has injected race into the campaign, got off this bit of unintentional comedy.
JANE HALL: Unfortunately, this is going to be what's going to be associated [with Obama]. I mean, it's like Willie Horton, except that Obama knew Reverend Wright,* and on Fox and other networks he is visually linked, it gives one more excuse to run this incendiary footage. I really regret that race, which Obama tried to transcend, is now going to become a very ugly subject in this race.
So it's unfair to pin this Wright stuff on Obama, except for the fact that, well, it's . . . fair. Moreover, whose fault is it that race has been injected into the race? If Obama were really the kind of person to transcend race, he wouldn't have been hanging around with Rev. Wright for 20 years.
Bob Herbert: voice of reason? On economics and the role of government, no. On the dynamics of the Dem nomination race? Actually, yes. In both his TV appearances and columns, Herbert, a military veteran who grew up largely in a comfortable New Jersey suburb, comes across as more clear-eyed and down-to-earth, less angry and ideological, than his NY Times confreres like Paul Krugman or Frank Rich.
Take Herbert's column of this morning, Heading Toward the Danger Zone. My sense is that, at heart, Herbert backs Obama. But that doesn't deter the columnist from offering an unblinking assessment of the very perilous electoral path on which Obama finds himself. Let's work backwards from Herbert's stunning conclusion [emphasis added]:
One of Senator Obama’s favorite phrases is “the fierce urgency of now.” There is nothing more fiercely urgent for him right now than to reassure voters and superdelegates that an Obama candidacy will not lead to a Democratic debacle in November.
Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC-TV channel 9, and Raleigh CBS affiliate WRAL-TV channel 5, have both refused to air the new ad from North Carolina's Republican Party which declares that two Democratic gubernatorial candidates “should know better” than to endorse Barack Obama since “he's just too extreme for North Carolina,” as evidenced by his long association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The ad includes a clip of Wright yelling “Not God Bless America, God [bleep] America!”
A Friday Charlotte Observer article, “2 stations in N.C. will not air GOP ad: Charlotte, Raleigh broadcasters decline controversial spot that quotes Obama's former pastor,” reported:
A Charlotte TV station says it will not air an advertisement from the N.C. Republican Party that uses a soundbite from Barack Obama's retiring minister.
"I just don't think it's appropriate to be on our air," said Joe Pomilla, general manager for WSOC-TV. "I think it's offensive, and I'm not real comfortable with the implications around race."...
Maybe some citizens of the state are not so “comfortable” with a local TV executive deciding the First Amendment doesn't apply in North Carolina.
Interviewed by Bill Moyers for a PBS show to be aired on the night of April 25, 2008, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. accused people of trying to paint him as "un-American" or "some sort of fanatic" for purposes of harming the candidacy of Barack Obama. (AP Photo/PBS, Robin Holland, HO)
In an attempt to rehabilitate Jeremiah Wright and, by extension, Senator Barack Obama's connection to the man, Friday's "Good Morning America" featured two segments on the "soft-spoken," patriotic pastor, a man who urged God to damn America. Reporter David Wright, a well-known Obama partisan, described an appearance Pastor Wright made with liberal PBS journalist Bill Moyers. Wright cooed, "But the soft-spoken man who sits down with Bill Moyers couldn't seem more different from that fire-brand preacher we've all seen in those sound bites."
During his segment, the ABC reporter seemed to accept Reverend Wright's contention that he had been smeared by the media. Journalist Wright, no relation to the pastor, asserted, "In the interview, Pastor Wright expresses his horror that the media has made him a bogeyman." As though he were a PR representative, (reporter) Wrightmentioned the reverend's military service and spun, "There's plenty in Wright's background that speaks to his patriotism." He argued that some of the pastor's comments were taken out of context, citing the background of Wright's "chickens are coming home to roost" remark. However, the ABC journalist skipped over the incendiary preacher's contention that "the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." Was that "soft spoken" falsehood taken "out of context?"
Barack Obama's pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, suggested in an interview with Bill Moyers that Obama agreed with his comments which stirred a furor in March, but instead of framing their stories around evidence Obama may be in sync with Wright's paranoid and America-hating rants, the network evening newscasts on Thursday stressed Wright's claim his sermons were unfairly distorted.
CBS's Jim Axelrod relayed how Wright asserted “parts of his sermons were publicized by Obama's opponents to damage Obama, but that they fundamentally misrepresented Wright's ministry and Wright himself.” NBC anchor Brian Williams related how “Wright says he does not think he's been treated fairly,” before reporter Andrea Mitchell began with Wright's insistence “his sermons were taken out of context to hurt Barack Obama.” Leading into a soundbite from Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart, who in March hailed Obama's speech on race as “a very important gift the Senator has given the country,” Mitchell asserted “some analysts agree that Wright was taken out of context.”