On Sunday’s NBC Nightly News, during a roundup of several reporters covering a number of high-profile Senate races, correspondent Ron Allen was upfront in labeling Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Pat Toomey as a "conservative," but an ideological label for liberal Democratic nominee Joe Sestak was absent: "Conservative Pat Toomey, a former Congressman and businessman, has been consistently leading in the polls ahead of Joe Sestak, a Democratic Congressman."
And correspondent Natalie Morales played up the possibility that "a lot of people are going to be blaming the Tea Party" if Republicans land one vote short of a Senate majority and Delaware Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell also loses: "If they're somehow able to get to nine and then Christine O'Donnell loses, a lot of people are going to be blaming the Tea Party."
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, as host Matthews asked the panel to predict the outcome of the Pennsylvania Senate election, he described Republican candidate Pat Toomey as "right-leaning," but assigned no ideological label to Democratic candidate Joe Sestak. Panel member John Heilemann of New York magazine asserted that Toomey is "not just right-leaning, he’s a pretty conservative guy," while also giving no label to Sestak. Ironically, it was Helene Cooper of the New York Times who finally described Sestak as "so far to the left."
Later in the show, as the group discussed what Republican control of Congress would mean for President Obama, Heilemann continued to see Republicans being at an extreme without noting any liberal extremism as he recounted President Clinton’s battle in the 1990s with Republican Speaker New Gingrich and how President Obama could play a similar role with a Republican Congress. Heilemann: "He (President Clinton) took advantage of Newt Gingrich’s extremism to make Republicans look bad. Obama can play that part of the game possibly very effectively."
In the span of a mere 50 seconds on Thursday's NBC Nightly News, Andrea Mitchell managed to apply a conservative ideological tag four times to Pat Toomey, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, yet she failed to issue even a single label for liberal Democratic candidate Joe Sestak.
Sitting at the anchor desk with Brian Williams, Mitchell made clear Toomey “is a Republican fiscal conservative who was fiscally conservative before the Tea Party was cool,” soon repeating, in the narration for her story, how “Toomey is a former Congressman and a fiscal conservative” – all before driving home his ideology once more as she recalled that he “led a conservative Washington interest group.”
On Friday morning, after airing a full report on the Democratic strategy of painting Republican candidates as "dangerous" and "extreme," CBS’s The Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez seemed surprised when Republican guest Eric Cantor disagreed with her view that "there is no question these Tea Party Republicans are outside the Republican mainstream," and her suggestion that next year Republican congressional leaders may be in the "tricky position" of "feeling indebted to these candidates while trying to keep them in line."
And, picking up on Republican accusations of Democrats being extreme, the CBS anchor also wondered, "If these Tea Party-backed candidates win the election, wouldn't we just be going from one extreme to another?"
Meanwhile, over on the Today show, NBC’s David Gregory repeated the theory of some Democrats that Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell and other Tea Party-backed candidates are hurting Republicans in neighboring Pennsylvania. And, while he at least conceded that the Tea Party is a "legitimate movement," he described Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle – in addition to O’Donnell – as "outliers." He did not acknowledge the role the mainstream media may be playing in turning swing voters against Tea Party candidates.
It's no secret that Chris Matthews once flirted with the idea of running for Senate in Pennsylvania, but since he didn't throw his hat into that race, the Hardball host, on Thursday night, did everything he could to help Joe Sestak beat Republican Pat Toomey, as he urged: "I hope your party gets organized up there, because the Democratic Party of Ed Rendell and you and all those other guys ought to get together with Brady andwin this thing!" And even before Matthews invited viewers to "Meet Joe Sestak" in an interview segment, the MSNBCer began cheerleading for him in a preview as he teased: "Up next, Joe Sestak from my home state of Pennsylvania, he's fighting hard, the good fight against Pat Toomey, the Club for Growther of the far right." [audio available here]
The following exchanges were aired on the September 2 edition of Hardball:
Someone—please!!—buy the man another stock phrase . . .
Teasing his upcoming interview with Joe Sestak on last evening's Hardball, Chris Matthews admitted that Democrats are worried that Dem PA senatorial candidate Joe Sestak isn't "ready for prime time."
When Sestak later appeared, he demonstrated just why Dems are distraught. The leaden, formulaic Sestak used the trite "at the end of the day" cliché not once, not thrice, but no fewer than . . . nine times in the course of his interview!
On February 18, Rep. Joe Sestak, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania, revealed in a Philadelphia TV interview that the Obama White House offered him a job in an effort to talk him out of opposing Sen. Arlen Specter, who’d recently switched parties. Network interviewers asked the White House for comment, but the network news bosses at ABC, CBS, and NBC kept any mention of this possible quid pro quo off the airwaves of their morning and evening news programs for more than three months.
Then ten days after Sestak defeated Specter, the White House issued a brief statement on the Friday afternoon heading into the Memorial Day weekend, claiming they asked former President Bill Clinton to offer Sestak an unpaid position on a presidential advisory board. That drew perfunctory reports on Friday night and some brief mentions over the holiday weekend.
During the following week, the White House narrative fell apart, since Sestak could not serve on these advisory boards as a member of Congress. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs obfuscated and dodged reporters when peppered with questions, which led to some newspaper and cable coverage, but ABC, CBS and NBC all blacked out the story as it crumbled.
Then Andrew Romanoff, a Democratic Senate candidate in Colorado, emerged with a similar story, complete with a White House e-mail he received that touted several positions in foreign aid programs he could have. This spurred two network morning show stories, but the networks weren’t acknowledging any kind of scandal was occurring. There’s now been 12 days of network silence on Team Obama’s Sestak maneuvering.
CNN's Larry King completely left out the major topic of the White House's continuing obfuscation on the Sestak and Romanoff controversies and barely mentioned the economy during his interview of President Obama on Thursday. While King did ask extensively on the Gulf oil leak and touched on the Middle East and immigration, he also tossed softballs on LeBron James and the President singing with Paul McCartney.
The CNN host aired his interview with the chief executive during the first half of the 9 pm Eastern hour. King spent the entire first two segments asking about the oil leak issue. Other than one question, where he asked whether the President had any responsibility for the disaster, the journalist asked softball questions (remember, CNN claimed just under two months ago in April that it was the only "non-partisan" cable network, and how King hounded Carrie Prejean during an interview in November 2009):
The obfuscation displayed by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Tuesday, in refusing to address factual contradictions in the Joe Sestak job offer storyline, is so obvious that even MSNBC's Chris Matthews on Wednesday night showcased a “kerfuffle” between Gibbs and CNSNews.com's Fred Lucas who dared to point out a Congressman cannot serve in the un-paid board position reportedly offered to Sestak if he refrained from running against Senator Arlen Specter.
Matthews declared of Gibbs, who wouldn't go beyond repeated “I'd refer to the memo” deflections: “That is a big case of bluffing and BS.”
An hour later on FNC, columnist Charles Krauthammer marveled: “The indifference of the press to what the White House issued last Friday [is] really quite remarkable. This statement is Swiss cheese. It's got holes in it all over the place and it doesn't add up.”
As the Joe Sestak job-offer scandal took a weird turn on Friday -- Bill Clinton offered me an unpaid, obscure presidential advisory panel placement to dissuade me from a Senate run? -- The Washington Post found in the new story a chance to hail Bill Clinton. At the very end of a Saturday report headlined "Bill Clinton has evolved into Obama's Mr. Fix It," reporters Philip Rucker and Paul Kane slipped into fanboy mode:
Sestak said Clinton briefly brought up Emanuel's suggestion that if Sestak dropped out he might end up on a presidential advisory board for the Pentagon or the intelligence community. Sestak flatly turned him down.
"I knew you'd say that," Clinton replied. Even the master can't fix everything.
Left unsaid: if Clinton is "the master," why is Obama president instead of his wife? (Or do you just repeat "Even the master...") On the front page, the Post seemed to be buying this square-peg-for-round-hole tale about this weird, very unpersuasive offer no one would accept. Reporter Michael Shear tried playing cute and light in his opening, that Obama "resisted acknowledging what the top West Wing lawyer finally admitted on Friday: This administration plays politics. And not always effectively."
An absolutely astounding thing happened on MSNBC's "Hardball" Friday: Chris Matthews praised Rush Limbaugh.
Not only that, but what tickled Matthews' fancy was the conservative talk radio host lampooning former President Bill Clinton.
To set this up, the "Hardball" host invited MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell and NBC's David Gregory on the program to discuss Friday's revelation that Clinton, acting as a White House proxy, offered Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) a position within the administration if he backed out of the Senate race against Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
As the segment neared a conclusion, Matthews played a clip from Limbaugh's program earlier in the day (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Has it dawned on the MSM that the only thing that would have carried any weight today would have been Joe Sestak unequivocally stating that he wasn't offered the Sec. of the Navy job? He didn't. Sure, Pres. Obama's mouthpiece issued a denial.But if there was any way under heaven that the White House could have strong-armed Sestak into flatly stating that no one offered him the Navy post, it would have happened. It didn't.
Instead, all Sestak says is that Pres. Clinton offered him some measly advisory board position, which he rejected. And indeed, Sestak tells a reporter that Clinton told him that "Rahm Emanuel" had mentioned the possibility of an advisory board position. So we know Emanuel was in the mix. Sestak is quoted as saying that he only had "one phone call" with Pres. Clinton. But he never said he didn't subsequently hear from Emanuel or some other senior Obama aide.
After 8 months of being in a silent lockdown mode on the subject of whether the White House offered the Democrat Senate candidate from Colorado, Andrew Romanoff (photo), a job if he would remove himself from the primary race, the Denver Post has finally gotten around to reporting on it again following their initial September story. By strange "coincidence" the Post's sudden willingness to once again broach this subject happened just hours after their bizarre silence on this topic was pointed out by various blogs on the web including the NewsBusters blog of your humble correspondent yesterday.
The first Denver Post mention in 8 months of this allegation comes from the blog of staff writer Michael Booth who sounds irritated with Republicans for even focusing on this situation:
Republicans trying hard to make Joe Sestak’s job-trading allegations stick are dragging Colorado Senate challenger Andrew Romanoff into the argument.
Much of their ammunition comes straight from a Denver Post article last September by Washington correspondent Michael Riley. The Post article cited top Democratic sources saying the Obama administration “suggested a place for Romanoff might be found” in the executive branch. The implication was that the job would be available if Romanoff dropped any challenge to appointed Sen. Michael Bennet for the Colorado Democratic primary.
Just how desperately does the MSM want to bury the Sestak job-bribe story? Yesterday we reported Time editor Rick Stengel's risibly feigned ignorance of the matter.
On Morning Joe today, Joe Scarborough broke off a colorful metaphor to describe the liberal media's see-no-evil approach to the subject, saying the MSM wouldn't cover the story "if Rahm Emanuel announced it in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue wearing nothing but a Speedo."
Mika Brzezinski broached the subject by mentioning that she had gotten "hammered" by her husband and friends for her criticism of the MSM's failure to ask the tough questions on the matter.
A Democrat candidate running against a Senate incumbent is offered a job by the White House as an incentive to drop out of the primary race. Sounds like the Joe Sestak scandal in which he alleged that someone in the White House offered him a job in order to drop out of the race against the incumbent senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Specter. Right? Well, yes. However, this also perfectly describes another similar scandal in which it is alleged that the White House offered a job to Andrew Romanoff (photo) in order to drop out of the primary race for the senate from Colorado against incumbent Michael Bennet. And the amazing thing about this scandal is that the newspaper that broke it has since remained completely silent on any further reporting.
First the scandal details as reported by Michael Riley for the Denver Post in this September 27, 2009 article:
WASHINGTON — Not long after news leaked last month that Andrew Romanoff was determined to make a Democratic primary run against Sen. Michael Bennet, Romanoff received an unexpected communication from one of the most powerful men in Washington.
Jim Messina, President Barack Obama's deputy chief of staff and a storied fixer in the White House political shop, suggested a place for Romanoff might be found in the administration and offered specific suggestions, according to several sources who described the communication to The Denver Post.
Romanoff turned down the overture, which included mention of a job at USAID, the foreign aid agency, sources said.
Imagine if, in 2004, Karl Rove had offered then-Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) a cushy administration post if only he dropped his primary challenge of then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, whom the Bush White House was backing for reelection.
Surely the media would merely smell "stupid politics" rather then the stench of corruption and complain that Democrats making hay of the matter were cynically making a federal case out of something that happens in Washington all the time.
Of course both you and I know that's the exact opposite of what would happen. But when it comes to Joe Sestak's alleged job offer by the Obama White House, Time magazine's Michael Grunwald is peeved at Republicans, practically telling them in his May 27 "Viewpoint" post at Time.com to move along:
On the one hand, you might say it was the least surprising coming-out since Ricky Martin announced he was gay. On the other, it was refreshing to hear Mika Brzezinski say words we knew to be true but at least in my case had never heard her unequivocally pronounce before: "I'm a Democrat."
Mika made her declaration in the context of arguing that just because she's a Democrat doesn't mean she shouldn't ask tough questions about the Sestak job-offer allegations or Pres. Obama's handling of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Mika also took a surprising shot at her fellow MSMers for failing to ask the tough questions . . .
On his CNN program on Monday, John King pressed both Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak on the latter's allegation that he was offered a job by the White House in exchange for getting out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Arlen Specter. Even though King pushed for an answer, Axelrod denied any wrongdoing on the White House's part and Sestak refused to explain further [audio available here; video below the jump].
The CNN anchor raised the controversy with Sestak 16 minutes into the 7 pm Eastern hour. Though King was late in pressing Sestak on the issue, given the politician made the allegation against the Obama White House in February, he tried hard to get the Pennsylvania Democrat to divulge further information. The congressman went beyond filibustering, rephrasing his vague answer and even trying to change the subject:
UPDATE: Later in today's show, a clip [displayed after the jump] was played of an interview from months ago in which Scarborough unequivocally put it to Sestak that he had been offered the Secretary of the Navy position, and Sestak seems to confirm it. So much so that after watching the clip, today's guest Jeffrey Sachs, an ardent Obama fan, had to laughingly admit that, yes, Sestak had been offered the Navy job
Does Chuck Todd understand the difference between offering, in return for a candidate's agreement to drop out of a race, a big federal job with its salary and perks, versus offering to support someone's possible future political campaign? Apparently not. For the NBC Political Director and chief White House correspondent this morning equated the Obama admin's apparent offer of a top job to Joe Sestak with Dick Cheney's reported offer to support Tim Pawlenty in a subsequent gubernatorial run if he would get out of a Senate primary against Norm Coleman. H/t reader Ray R.
Let's make this clear: offering a federal job which is within the offerer's power of appointment, in order to influence someone is a crime. Offering political support in a possible future race is neither illegal nor wrong: it is simply politics. But Todd shockingly equated the two during the course of a spirited conversation with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.
Viewers are encouraged to watch the extended clip, but here's the the crucial segment:
On Sunday's Face the Nation on CBS, host Bob Schieffer interrogated Republican Senator Lamar Alexander on GOP senate nominee Rand Paul: "Can you see yourself supporting a candidate who takes those kinds of positions, Senator?" However, Schieffer lobbed softballs to Democratic senate nominee Joe Sestak minutes later, who claimed the White House offered him a job to quit the primary race.
In his interview with Alexander, Schieffer focused almost exclusively on comments made by Paul: "...he has had some rather controversial things to say, like the '64 Civil Rights bill may have been too broad. He's questioned the Disabilities Act. He's talking about abolishing the Federal Reserve and the Department of Education." Alexander chalked up some of Paul's remarks to political inexperience, but also noted: "...we’ve got a Democratic Caucus with nearly 60 votes that includes a very nice senator from Vermont who proudly describes himself as a Socialist."
Schieffer pressed on: "...the Republican Party, as I understand it, is trying to broaden its appeal to African Americans, to minorities. Why would any member of any minority group want to vote or want to be for someone who says that, well, you know, maybe that Civil Rights Act went a little too far?...I mean, can you be for that?" Schieffer went on to wonder: "And what about this whole business of the tea party? Is it going to prove to be a good thing for Republicans or is this something that you need to be worried about here?"
Liberal media outlets were quick to pounce on the new Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Kentucky about his views on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not just Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, but NPR All Things Considered anchor Robert Siegel on Wednesday night. The sharp questioning of Paul is a contrast with NPR's interview with Joe Sestak, the new Democrat Senate nominee in Pennsylvania in the same newscast.
NPR anchor Michele Norris glanced right past an important, newsworthy, unresolved issue in Sestak's race, from much more recent history: did the Obama White House bribe him with a job offer to stay out of the primary, as he claimed last year?
NORRIS: It's been reported that the White House at one point tried to get you to back away from this race. Who told you to back down?
NORRIS: And did that continue even after you started to gain on Arlen Specter?
In February, Congressman Joe Sestak, D-Pa., alleged that the White House had offered him a "high-ranking" job in exchange for him refraining from challenging Sen. Arlen Specter in that state's primaries. Since Sestak defeated Specter on Tuesday, a number of media outlets have profiled him
The White House denies that it ever made such an offer, which means either the Obama administration or Sestak is lying. Either would be a huge story. Yet a number of major media players, including the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and the Associated Press, have ignored the potential controversy.
The Washington Post devoted 16 paragraphs to a glowing profile of Sestak. But at no point did the paper mention his allegations. The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes noted on Twitter that the piece in the Post "was about Sestak being difficult for estab/WH Dems. How do you leave out public charges he made about WH and job?" He also asserted that "If players/parties were different, it wld be at the top of the coverage."
The general election campaign for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak has started "ugly," according to Jay Newton-Small. In her May 20 Swampland blog post, the Time magazine staffer offered as evidence the former's press conference yesterday in which:
[H]e spent much of the speech blasting Sestak. In his 7-minute opening remarks he said “I” or “me” 52 times – including the thank yous – and “Joe or “he” 43 times.
Newton-Small did go on to note that "the beginning of a general election is all about defining your opponent" and added that:
Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday echoed White House talking points and attempted to prop up the beleaguered campaign of Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter. Talking to Joe Sestak, who is opposing the preferred Senate candidate of the White House, the host said of Obama: "If the top Democrat in the country says he needs Arlen Specter in the Senate, why shouldn't Democratic primary voters listen?"
Stephanopoulos also played a commercial featuring the President and noted that Obama says he "loves" Specter.
Touting the Republican turned Democrat, the journalist enthused, "Voters have said they want politicians to work together across party lines and Specter has a record of doing that, doesn't he?"
But Matthews wasn't alone. A search of Nexis for "Bush regime" found other former and current MSNBCers using the term both before and after Bush's tenure in office in addition to liberal acolytes like Democratic strategist Steve McMahon, Senator Arlen Specter's challenger from the Left, Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.), and quadrennial Green Party standard-bearer Ralph Nader.
So I asked EyeBlast.tv video editor Bob Parks to compile a video montage showing just how fond the Left was of using the term "Bush regime" on MSNBC programming. You can check that out by clicking the play button on the embed at the right.
Someone submit the Morning Joe java to Henry Waxman for analysis. There seems to be something in it causing top Dems to experience serious delusions . . .
On today's show, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius claimed that the people of her home state of Kansas are "wildly supportive" of the substance of ObamaCare. Unfortunately, suggested Sebelius, they're just too ignorant to know what's in the blessed bill.
Later, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine didn't deny that the Obama admin had engaged in two sleazy patronage deals, involving Joe Sestak and Scott Matheson. Instead, the DNC Chairman laughed off the cynical, and possibly illegal, arrangements. "Life is life," smirked Kaine.
To Morning Joe's credit, the patronage deals and the Charlie Rangel situation were discussed throughout the show. The withdrawal of Dem Rep. Eric Massa from his re-election race, amidst allegations he sexually harrassed a male staffer, was also discussed, though not raised with Kaine. Would an RNC Chairman appearing on the show the day after the Mark Foley affair erupted have gotten a similar pass?
Eleanor Clift is by no stretch a conservative apologist, but her reporting in Newsweek on the Specter switch exposes an angle that the broadcast networks are omitting: the Machiavellian maneuvers behind-the-scenes to coax Specter to jump the GOP ship.
Of particular interest is Clift's revelation that Gov. Ed Rendell's motive for pushing Specter to become a Democrat was to shut down a potential Democratic rival for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Joe Sestak (Pa.) [emphasis mine].:
Those who know Rendell say he really wants the seat that Specter holds but would not run against his friend. The scenario that was unfolding had Specter losing in the Republican primary to Club for Growth President Pat Toomy, the favorite of Pennsylvania's conservative Republican base, and then had Toomy losing to a Democrat in November 2010. The Democrat suiting up for that task was Rep. Joe Sestak, a retired Navy admiral in his second term, eager to move up, and at 57 years of age, young enough to stake a claim on the seat.
A Sestak candidacy would derail Rendell's future plans.Keeping Specter in the seat at his age, which is 79, makes it far more likely that the seat would open up in the kind of timetable Rendell would hope for.
It did not take long after the infamous Rush Limbaugh smear for Democrats to call for a return of the Fairness Doctrine. On the October 3 edition of "Fox and Friends" at 7:33 AM, Congressmen Joe Sestak (D-PA) and Mike Pence (R-IN) discussed Rush Limbaugh’s "phony soldiers" remark. When Congressman Pence asserted that this is an excuse for the Democrats to re-insert the Fairness Doctrine, Congressman Sestak called for a return to "ensure the tone changes if we are to approach this war correctly."
SESTAK: We should be talking about the Fairness Doctrine. And what we should be doing is saying, Mike, this war is it hurting or helping our security? How can we bring about a better end to this? And that's what I believe needs to be done. Do I think both sides' words are wrong? The tone is absolutely wrong. So let's not defend either side and say whether we think or don't think.