NBC's Matt Lauer, on Thursday's Today show, invited on Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski to applaud her presumptive write-in ballot win over Republican candidate Joe Miller and asked if she would now "stand up against" Republicans "who may feel that the only way for them to succeed" is for Barack Obama to fail. After Lauer went through the perfunctory congratulations, he asked the candidate who failed to win her party's own primary, if she would, essentially, become a thorn in the side of Republicans as seen in the following question:
MATT LAUER: You, you talk about governance based on anger or fear. You're a moderate Republican. You've said that you do not pass the purity test that the Tea Party has set out. You said something else. You said, said "I will tell you I'm not one of those who wants Obama to fail." Will you stand up against other Republicans who may feel that the only way for them to succeed is for the President not to succeed?
Lauer also made sure to note that since Sarah Palin endorsed Joe Miller, Murkowski's victory could also be seen as a diminishment of the former Alaskan Governor's "prestige" and "power," as queried: "There are a lot of other people who are saying you defeated Sarah Palin. She backed Mr. Miller in her home state, put the prestige of her power behind that, that endorsement. How much does this say about her power and impact going forward, in your opinion?"
The media seems to take an exceptional interest in Senator Lisa Murkowski when she’s uttering liberal talking points on ‘compromise’ or when she’s blasting Sarah Palin as being ‘not worldly enough’ for the office of the Presidency.
Case in point, as NewsBuster Brad Wilmouth pointed out, CBS recently highlighted Murkowski’s claim that she believes Palin lacks the ‘intellectual curiosity’ to run in 2012. And the rest of the main stream media ran with it, as reports on the ‘intellectual curiosity’ slap began cropping up at MSNBC, the Washington Post, the New York Times, ABC News, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, etc.
Then of course, there is the Anchorage Daily News (ADN), who’s seemingly made a living in coming to Murkowski’s aid. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that they were reporting on a Republican letter urging Tea Party candidate, Joe Miller, to start answering questions about his background, and offered their own editorial suggesting that personal matters are indeed fair game in an election.
Reporters from a CBS affiliate in Alaska recently left an accidental voicemail message for an aide to Senate candidate Joe Miller, in which producers are heard discussing the possibility of reporting on the appearance of a child molester at a Miller rally. Essentially, they could be heard conspiring to create or fabricate stories. The incident was so outrageous, it prompted Sarah Palin to refer to the reporters as ‘corrupt bastards.’
After initially claiming their employees were taken out of context, the General Manager at KTVA has announced the termination of two individuals involved in the conversation.
“The recorded conversation in question specifically involved how that evening's Miller rally might be promoted and the ensuing dialogue went downhill from there. These particular comments were not in line with KTVA standards. As a result of this incident, the two producers involved in the recorded conversation are no longer with the station.”
This is a far cry from the station’s original response to the incident, in which they stated:
On Tuesday's Today show, a couple of correspondents laid down the potential story line of a big defeat for Sarah Palin if the Republican Tea Party candidate she endorsed, Joe Miller, doesn't win his bid for the Senate seat in Alaska as NBC's Chuck Todd proclaimed: "Sarah Palin's political future is a little bit on the line" and added "this would be a big embarrassment," while NBC's Kristen Welker declared: "the race is also a referendum on Sarah Palin." Welker also featured a sound bite from a political analyst noting a Miller defeat would mean a "black eye" for the former Alaska Governor. Of course the question has to be asked, if Miller defeats write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski, will Todd and Welker go the other way and admit it was a huge win for Palin and the Tea Party?
During a preview of the key races on Election Day, Today co-anchor Matt Lauer asked political director Chuck Todd for his take on the Alaska Senate race, as seen in the following exchange:
On Monday, while both ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today covered the scandal involving reporters at CBS Anchorage affiliate KTVA caught on tape discussing ways to attack Republican Joe Miller's senate campaign, CBS's Early Show failed to make any mention of the incident.
On Good Morning America, White House correspondent Jake Tapper reported: "In Alaska, some reporters with the local CBS affiliate at a rally for Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller accidently left a message on the voice mail of Miller's spokesman." An audio clip of the voice mail played: "You know that of all the people that will show up tonight at least one of them will be a registered sex offender. We need to find that one person." Tapper followed with a clip of Sarah Palin condemning the comments on Fox News Sunday: "Those are corrupt bastards, Chris. That's what's wrong with the media today."
The Associated Press's Calvin Woodward has had a few shining analytical moments during the first two years of the Obama administration (examples here and here).
The AP reporter's dispatch on "gaffes and gotchas" Friday morning, which attempted to communicate a sense of bemusement tinged with condescension, both aimed mostly at first-time candidates, is not one of them, and contained its own gaffes:
It’s no secret that the nation is preparing for a GOP tidal wave with significant conservative victories in the Senate and House next Tuesday. The election has essentially focused on domestic economic policy. Conservative candidates have been gaining ground with a popular job growth/lower taxes/revive the economy mantra.
But desperate liberal Democrats have suddenly shifted the focus from the economy to divisive social issues like abortion and gay rights, and the mainstream media have been more than willing to give them a platform. Media personalities like Matt Lauer, Rachel Maddow and Eleanor Clift are loudly voicing concerns over the future of gay marriage and the legal status of abortion.
Clearly, Becky Bohrer at the Associated Press is very picky about what she'll report.
In her story datelined early this morning ("Senate race in Alaska is bitter and unpredictable"), she played the "any Tea Partier whose family or extended family has ever taken a government benefit is automatically a hypocrite" card. She made sure readers knew about Republican candidate Joe Miller's incredibly awful (that's sarcasm, in case anyone doesn't get it) violation of a government entity's office policy, wherein he was "disciplined for participating in a private poll during his lunch hour" (oh, the humanity!), and how Miller's presence in the campaign has "frightened" many Democrats into seriously considering their candidate, Scott McAdams.
You know Lee Greenwood: He's the country-music star who hit patriotic pay dirt with his 1980s hit song "God Bless the U.S.A."
Joe Miller, the Republican nominee for Senate in Alaska, looks much like Greenwood, to the point that he could easily be mistaken for the singer if he ever strolled through Nashville. And, listening to Miller speak, you hear echoes of Greenwood's famous tune. The tea party may not be looking for a single spokesman or leader, but in Joe Miller it has its personification: an outsider, a constitutionalist and someone who's thoroughly fed up with the political system's disrespect for the common man.
If I brought Greenwood up to Miller, he wouldn't wax nostalgic about the '80s, or assess the fine pleasures of a Hannity Freedom Concert. Miller would probably want to know why I spent three sentences talking about anything other than policy solutions. There's no shooting the breeze with Joe Miller. When he recently dropped by National Review's Capitol Hill office, the Alaskan was, in the words of my colleague Bob Costa, "cool as ice."
Miller's coolness is refreshing in such hot political times. A former U.S. Army officer who earned a Bronze Star in the first Gulf War, Miller gives the impression of great seriousness. He's a man on a mission.
Chris Matthews' level of political advocacy as we approach November's elections has now crossed from being unprofessional into almost pathological.
After claiming on Wednesday's "Hardball" that the Chilean miners would all be dead if they followed the so-called "every man for himself" philosophy of the Tea Party movement, he proceeded on Thursday to use this incident as an example of why people should vote for Democrats on November 2 (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Chris Matthews and Chuck Todd tag-teamed against Alaskan Republican Senate nominee Joe Miller, on Thursday's Hardball, as Todd claimed Miller was "running a terrible campaign" and warned that "it may be popular among conservatives to bash the media" but Miller is "turning off" voters when he does it. For his part Matthews called Miller "unlikable" going as far to compare him to the negative depiction of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the movie "The Social Network" as Matthews pined: "He seems about as likable as that guy...Joe Miller seems like that guy." Of the Tea Party conservative Matthews also added: "He seems like a misanthrope," and predicted: "I don't think people are gonna like this guy." (video included)
The following exchange was aired on the October 14 edition of Hardball:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Go to Alaska, you brought that up a minute ago.
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: Yeah.
MATTHEWS: Could a Democrat be elected Senator from Alaska against two Republicans?
On Wednesday's CBS Early Show, co-host Harry Smith highlighted supposed division between Sarah Palin and Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller: "...a controversial e-mail, reportedly from Sarah Palin's husband, Todd, that is burning up the internet, it was leaked by a left-leaning website called The Mudflats and is causing quite a stir in political circles."
Smith explained that Todd Palin was upset that Miller had not endorsed Sarah Palin when asked about her possible 2012 candidacy in television interviews. Smith then quoted from the email in question: "Todd reportedly sent it to Republican senate nominee Joe Miller, who Sarah Palin endorsed, and it says, quote, 'Sarah put her blank [a**] on the line for Joe and yet he can't answer a simple question, is Sarah Palin qualified to be president? I don't know if she is. Joe, please explain how this endorsement stuff works. Is it to be completely one sided?'"
Turning to CBS political analyst and Republican strategist Dan Bartlett, Smith said of Miller, "he's gone on Fox a couple of times and he hasn't really been able to say how much, you know – profess his fealty to Sarah Palin." In response, Bartlett remarked that, "you can kind of feel for Todd Palin and what he's doing," but then added: "Sarah Palin and her camp are extremely thin-skinned and if she does plan to run for president, she's going to have to get used to people like this doing things that they don't appreciate." Smith replied: "A thicker hide in order, perhaps."
Neither Smith nor Bartlett raised the ethical issue of a private email being publicized or the fact that Palin had been a victim of email-hacking in the past.
It’s a topsy-turvy, upside-down political world out there for people who thought Barack Obama would be cruising at a 70 percent approval rating while crushing the Republicans like bugs. In fact, the opposite has happened. The Senate Majority Leader is in grave danger of involuntary retirement. Everyone in Washington concedes Nancy Pelosi is unlikely to bang the gavel in January.
So why in the world does the tone of news coverage suggest all kinds of political problems...for conservatives, as if they were the collapsing majority in this campaign?
The media elites sound like they’re resigned to the idea that a lot of Democrats are going to be unemployed in November. Their coverage seems designed now to stanch the bleeding, to devote their coverage to close races where they can bash conservative challengers in the hope of turning the tide there.
Good Morning America on Monday highlighted the "admission" by Tea Party backed candidate Joe Miller that he opposes the federal minimum wage.
Reporter Jon Karl breathlessly related, "In an exclusive interview with ABC News, Alaska's Joe Miller talked about rolling back the power of the federal government further than Republicans have talked about for more than 70 years."
An ABC graphic appeared onscreen touting, "Tea Party Candidate's Admission: Against Federal Minimum Wage." Of course, the admission came in the form of Miller simply answering this question from Karl: "Should the federal government be requiring a minimum wage?"
George Will on Sunday gave a much-needed education to the entire "This Week" panel about how the Tea Party is moving the GOP in a positive direction that could alter politics in this nation for years to come.
As Christiane Amanpour and her Roundtable guests - Democrat strategist Donna Brazile, National Journal's Ron Brownstein, and Republican strategist Matthew Dowd - all fretted about the so-called Civil War brewing in the GOP, Will was once again the voice of reason.
"At the beginning of the year, the question was, will the Tea Party people play nicely with others and will they obey the rules of politics? Who's sort of not playing nicely?" asked Will.
"Mr. Crist starts losing the primary to a Tea Party favorite Rubio. He suddenly discovers that he's an independent and changes all his views overnight," he continued.
"Mrs. Murkowski loses a primary and suddenly discovers that she has a property right in her Senate seat and she's going to run as a write-in. Senator Bennett thought of that in Utah, Senator Castle in Delaware is thinking of a write-in candidate. Who are the extremists?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As we get closer to the midterm elections, and liberals in the media foresee the Democrat destruction about to commence, the scorn being tossed at conservatives and Tea Party members is reaching a fevered pitch.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is a perfect example.
Her "Slouching Toward Washington" piece published Sunday is nothing but a personal attack on those possibly interfering with her dream of a United States Socialist Republic.
Even more despicably, she used HBO's Bill Maher to assist her:
Today co-anchor Matt Lauer, on Monday morning, couldn't wait to tell viewers about the revelation that Christine O'Donnell once admitted to practicing witchcraft, as he greeted viewers at the top of the very top of the show: "Casting a spell. She's already won her state's Republican Senate primary and captured headlines across the country. Now a video surfaces showing Christine O'Donnell admitting she dabbled in witchcraft as a high schooler." Lauer's colleague Kelly O'Donnell, then went on to dredge up clips from Bill Maher's old Politically Incorrect show as she called the Delaware GOP Senate nominee a "tempest in the Tea Party."
While most of Kelly O'Donnell's piece was devoted to Christine O'Donnell's "witchcraft talk" that didn't keep her from mentioning that the Tea Party was causing "tension" in the Alaska Senate race: "And there's more Tea Party tension brewing for Republicans. Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who lost her primary, jumped back in the race." O'Donnell also aired a clip of Murkowski claiming her victorious primary opponent Joe Miller had "extremist views."
And so concludes the most recent chapter in one of Alaska's most epic political rivalries - Palin vs. the Murkowskis. More importantly, Joe Miller is an anti-establishment candidate in every sense of the word. He poses a threat even to the GOP's congressional leadership, as Tim Carney noted:
The Alaska result is above all a blow to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. As with the primary defeat of Utah's Bob Bennett in the spring, challenger Joe Miller's likely win replaces a close McConnell confidant with an unaccommodating conservative...
Murkowski was one of McConnell's rising stars. He tapped her for his inner circle in her first term, and she also got a spot on the Appropriations Committee. The darling of Alaska's former senior senator, Ted Stevens, Murkowski rocketed through the ranks. This year, she was elected secretary of the Senate Republican Conference, one of the top six leadership roles. After Stevens lost re-election in 2008, McConnell took her under his wing. "Lisa is the new powerhouse in Alaska," he told Roll Call. "She will fill the vacuum left by Ted."
Is Miller's anti-establishment approach a boon for a GOP seeking to rebrand itself, or a dangerous means to divide the party?
Republicans are “exotic” and “extreme,” and against science too, CBS’s Bob Schieffer contended on Sunday’s Face the Nation. “You have also taken some fairly controversial, some would say very extreme, positions,” Schieffer lectured Alaska Republican Senate candidate Joe Miller, citing “you want to phase out Medicare, you want to privatize Social Security.” Miller countered: “I would suggest to you that if one thinks that the Constitution is extreme then you’d also think that the founders are extreme.”
Next, picking up on Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s claim Democrats are “are centrist” while Republicans “are really off on the right wing fringe,” Schieffer pressed Republican Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour “about that,” highlighting Miller’s “controversial stands” before asserting:
Isn't that going to make it harder for some of these Republican candidates to get elected because down in Kentucky you have Rand Paul, who’s got the nomination for the Senate there, talking about, well, maybe we ought to rethink the Civil Rights Acts of '64 and '65. You've got Joe Buck, who won the nomination up in Colorado, who’s talking about bicycle paths being a, might lead to UN control or something other. It seems to me that you do have kind of an exotic crew out there this time.
Barbour shot back: “Well Bob, the administration and the Democratic Congress have taken the biggest lurch to the left in policy in American history.”