Thom Hartmann is a rarity among liberal radio hosts. Not only does he frequently invite conservative guests on his show, and engage them in debate that is often contentious but rarely unpleasant, he did something this week that many liberals are ideologically incapable of doing.
Hartmann was speaking with fellow radio talker and author Michael Smerconish on Wednesday about changes in the radio industry over recent years when he credited Rush Limbaugh with a valid insight about the state of liberal radio. (Audio after the jump)
Michael, I know you’re trying to squeeze some lemonade out of your career prospects but bashing fellow talk hosts as routinely and regularly lying to listeners isn’t the best way to sell a book or get more audience to a cable news network.
You went on the CBS morning news show last week (documented by the Media Research Center) to hock your wares (a book and a satellite radio show and your new show on CNN) and accused those of us still working in terrestrial radio of LYING to listeners while declaring that you ALWAYS tell the truth.
Appearing on Friday's CBS This Morning, Sirius XM radio and CNN host Michael Smerconish hocked his new fictional novel about the talk radio business entitled Talk, and denounced the industry: "I think it's entertainment masked as news and I wanted to expose it because I think it's had a horrific impact on polarization and incivility in the country." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Smerconish was teed up by co-host Gayle King, who described the book as "the story of an influential conservative radio personality at a crossroad against the backdrop of a presidential race," before proclaiming: "...many times when I used to listen to talk radio, it's hard to do now, I used to listen to these guys, Michael, and say, 'They can't possibly believe what they're saying.' And after reading your book...the character says it's all for show. Half the time they don't mean what they're saying. It just is a way to just rile up the crowd."
It helps to be in the White House when a CNN host professes himself to be "card-carrying member" of the administration's health care law, or when the enrollment numbers are cast as a "major victory."
New CNN host Michael Smerconish touted the benefits of ObamaCare on Tuesday night, confessing he was a "card-carrying member of ObamaCare" and calling the enrollment numbers "quite an achievement." OutFront host Erin Burnett went even further, saying the enrollment was a "major victory." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
CNN president Jeff Zucker praised MSNBC guest host Michael Smerconish on Tuesday as he announced that the the cable news network would be giving the radio talk show host a weekly program: "We are thrilled to have Michael join CNN...At a time when the cable news landscape has become increasingly polarized, his independence and passion for reasoned dialogue makes him the perfect fit for CNN."
Smerconish's record, especially at MSNBC, actually does not point to independence, but liberalism. Here are the worst examples of the talker's slant to the left from the Media Research Center's archives: [video included below the jump for select quotes]
Appearing as a guest on the Friday, December 27, Hardball on MSNBC, comedian and Daily Beast columnist Dean Obeidallah -- who has also been a CNN contributor -- cracked that "conservatives hate a lot of women" as he recounted that the woman whose face appeared on the ObamaCare Web site had been tagged "the most despised woman in America" by "some bloggers on the right," whom he failed to identify.
According to MSNBC's Michael Smerconish, it's Barack Obama who is owed the "real apology" for the disastrous rollout of the health care law. Filling in for Chris Matthews, the Hardball guest host huffed, "The facts are that many of the same people that feel betrayed now will be thanking the President later." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
Lecturing the 52 million Americans who have lost their insurance, Smerconish added, "These are people in so-called junk plans that could bankrupt them and their families if they ever got sick." Displaying MSNBC logic, the host identified who should actually be asking for forgiveness on ObamaCare: "As Republicans revel in the President's comments, we should ask who should offer the real apology here?"
Talk about a lack of irony. Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish on Thursday lectured Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and the GOP to avoid "retreating" to "echo chambers" such as Fox News. Smerconish did this on MSNBC, the home of Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, Chris Hayes and Ed Schultz.
Smerconish, with no sense of self awareness for his own network's echo chamber, scolded, "And this is how you [appeal to more people]? By shutting out news outlets and retreating to your own Fox News echo chamber. If [Priebus] gets his way, it isn't new voices that the party will be hearing and reaching, just their own." On this concept of partisans talking to partisans, Smerconish threw a question to the deeply liberal Joan Walsh. [UPDATED: See video below. MP3 audio here.]
While serving as guest host of Tuesday's Hardball, Michael Smerconish closed the program by pushing for a legalization of prostitution. He claimed not to see anything wrong with women selling their bodies for money, calling it “the private affairs of consenting adults.” It's no coincidence that Smerconish's defense of the sex trade came just two days after gushing over prostitution patron Eliot Spitzer and his "unwarranted" resignation as governor.
In his defense of prostitution, Smerconish made two arguments for its legalization. First, he argued that it would be financially profitable for the government to “bring the world’s oldest profession aboveboard” and allow it to be considered a taxable income. This legalization would also allow for the communities to “clean up the trade,” he argued.
Hardball guest host Michael Smerconish on Monday was so gentle with reformed prostitution patron Eliot Spitzer that even the former governor seemed uncomfortable. Talking about Spitzer's new run for New York City comptroller, Smerconish enthused, "Governor, does running now mean that resigning was unwarranted?"
He continued, "Would a Spitzer victory mark the of end of the sex scandal as we know it? And I'm asking, really, have we become too intrusive into our elected officials' and candidates' private lives?" This appeared to be too much for Spitzer. He allowed, "Look, I'm not sure I'm the right person to ask, because I have a perspective that is so tailored to what I've been through." [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
“The press -- often the target of allegations of liberal bias by conservative media -- has found an unlikely ally in right-leaning radio and television hosts who have taken to defending the First Amendment with a fire-and-brimstone zeal,” she wrote.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time high on Tuesday.
But you wouldn't know that if you watched MSNBC's Hardball where two guests actually made the case that this really isn't an all-time high due to inflation (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
On Wednesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie brought on liberal MSNBC host Krystal Ball and radio host Michael Smerconish to discuss campaign strategy in the final two weeks before the presidential election, with the headline on-screen claiming: "Left vs. Right on Final Race for the White House."
There's one problem with that assertion, Smerconish prominently supported President Obama in 2008 and has routinely filled in for left-wing Hardball host Chris Matthews on MSNBC in the years since. Apparently having someone on the left like Ball and someone center-left like Smerconish is NBC's idea of balance.
When it comes to family members of Republican presidential candidates, looks like the MSM has decided they're fair game for attacks. Yesterday we noted how ABC's Bianna Golodryga claimed that Paul Ryan's mother was campaigning in a "very calculated" manner.
Today we offer Joan Walsh into evidence. Appearing on the weekend edition of MSNBC's "Hardball," the Salon editor accused Ann Romney of throwing a "tantrum" over her husband's decision to release no more than two years of tax returns. View the video after the jump.
We media analysts see, hear, and read a lot of stupid comments from press members everyday.
For me, the howler of the week has to be MSNBC political analyst Ron Reagan Jr. saying about President Obama on Friday's Hardball, "The media is not giving him enough credit" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Salon editor Joan Walsh took a truly disgusting cheap shot at the late Andrew Breitbart Friday.
Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, Walsh said, "I didn’t think it was possible to get lower than Andrew Breitbart, but his spawn have gotten lower than Andrew Breitbart" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Once again, MSNBC has continued to prop up Rev. Al Sharpton’s racist conspiracies that state legislatures led by the GOP are deliberately suppressing minority voters through new voter ID laws.
On Friday’s episode of Jansing & Co., radio host and MSNBC substitute host Michael Smerconish led a left-wing attack on the GOP. The panelists including Pennsylvania AFL-CIO chief Richard Bloomingdale asserted that a person's signature is sufficient identification to vote in the United States. Indeed, both Smerconish and Bloomingdale insisted they have voted that way for years in Pennsylvania with no problems. [See video below. MP3 audio here.]
From time to time, MSNBC hosts like to do their part to further the meme that Republicans are out to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as blacks and the elderly by using voter ID laws as a back-door way to discourage voting by those groups.
Today Hardball fill-in host Michael Smerconish picked up the baton, interviewing Michael Waldman of the liberal Brennan Center for Justice about his group's claim that its new "comprehensive study" finds five million Americans will be effectively disenfranchised in 2012 thanks to new voter ID laws in numerous states.
For his part, Smerconish did play a bit of devil's advocate:
As NewsBusters previously reported, MSNBC contributor Michael Smerconish on Thursday, while substitute hosting for Chris Matthews on "Hardball," actually floated the absurd conspiracy theory that Rupert Murdoch had staged the pie throwing event during his hearing before Parliament Tuesday in order to distract from his testimony.
On Saturday's "Fox News Watch," Jim Pinkerton referenced this piece (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The media's attention on Rupert Murdoch and the British hacking scandal hit a new low Thursday.
Filling in for MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Michael Smerconish finished "Hardball" with a segment floating the conspiracy theory that Rupert Murdoch staged Tuesday's Parliamentary pie throwing incident to distract everyone's attention from his testimony (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Chris Matthews, joined by two liberal talk radio hosts on Tuesday's Hardball, essentially blamed the likes of conservative hosts like Mark Levin for creating the climate of hate that led to the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords as the envious MSNBC host proclaimed: "People like Mark Levin, Michael Savage...every time you listen to them are furious, furious at the left with anger that's just builds and builds in their voice and by the time they go to commercial, they're just in some rage, every night, with ugly talk....They must have an audience. I looked at the numbers today. They have big audiences! And I guess that's the question. Why and is it ever going to stop if it keeps working?"
Before that Matthews rant, Philadelphia area radio host Michael Smerconish coined a word in his attack on conservative chatter as he talked about "the hatriolic comments" he's heard and in referring to a scene he saw at a town hall meeting worried: "These are people who are on the edge and if somebody pushes them over, God help us all."
E. Steven Collins, another Philly area talker, sided with Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who attacked Rush Limbaugh, as he hailed: "The sheriff in Tucson was absolutely right...It does impact people who may have a mental problem or may not" and added that there was a "direct relationship" with Sarah Palin putting crosshairs on her Web site over Giffords' district and the loss of a life of "that little girl who went down to meet the congressperson."
Chris Matthews, on Tuesday's Hardball, accused Fox News of "whipping up white hysteria" over allegations of the New Black Panther Party intimidating voters in Philadelphia as he wondered, at the top of his show, if there was "a rightist strategy to stir up racial resentment among whites by portraying whites as victims of black rule?" The Hardball host, during a discussion about the New Black Panther Party case with Philadelphia radio talk show hosts Michael Smerconish and E. Steven Collins, claimed that "Fox News and its friends" were pushing the story to motivate voters in the midterms because "I think there's nothing the Republican Party likes better than a nice, scared white voter. Let's be honest about it."
While Matthews did agree with Smerconish, about some of the merits of the case, the thrust of the segment was that Fox News and the right were pushing the New Black Panther Party story to race-bait as Matthews claimed: "This is just an attempt by the people on the right, I guess, especially Fox, to just keep pushing this, this beach ball in the air until it finally creates some noise."
The following teaser and full segment were aired on the July 27 Hardball:
Jeffrey Zaslow of The Wall Street Journal reported on political gaffes on Wednesday, and as an expert he brought on Obama-loving former Republican Michael Smerconish. Unsurprisingly, Smerconish bashed Ann Coulter and forgave Michelle Obama as he discussed his "Muzzle Meter" and the severity of scandalous words:
We've become a culture that is unforgiving when it comes to poor word choice, says syndicated radio host Michael Smerconish. "We're far too thin-skinned, starting federal investigations every time someone says something stupid." He blames political partisanship and a 24/7 media looking for "gotcha" moments. Web sites such as TMZ.com, Politico.com, Gawker.com and TheSuperficial.com traffic in verbal gaffes.
Mr. Smerconish, a lifelong Republican who this year announced he is now an independent, has developed a "Muzzle Meter," asking listeners to help him measure, on a scale of 1 to 10, whether poor word choices are innocent mistakes (a 1 or a 2) or were said with malice (a 9 or a 10).
A month ago, The Washington Post editorial page was dropping rhetorical bombs on conservative Republican Ken Cuccinelli for investigating ClimateGate. The headline at the top of the paper's May 7 editorial page (now scrubbed online) was "Mr. Cuccinelli's witch hunt: Virginia's attorney general declares war on academic freedom and climate reality." It began:
WE KNEW Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) had declared war on reality. Now he has declared war on the freedom of academic inquiry as well. We hope that Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) and the University of Virginia have the spine to repudiate Mr. Cuccinelli's abuse of the legal code. If they do not, the quality of Virginia's universities will suffer for years to come.
That's an unsigned staff editorial, not some fulminating columnist with a byline. But these very same Washington Post editorial page staffers offered space on Friday to alleged conservative Michael Smerconish to trash cable news bookers at Fox News and CNN for wrecking America with "polarized politics."
The producer asked whether CNN could identify me as a conservative. "Well, if someone who supports harsh interrogation, thinks we should be out of Iraq but in Pakistan, doesn't care much if two guys hook up, and believes we should legalize pot and prostitution is conservative, fine," I replied.
Chris Matthews gave his old Philly talk radio show host friend Michael Smerconish a platform, on Tuesday's Hardball, to boldy proclaim what anybody who's paid attention to Smerconish for the past few years has already known, that he is no longer a Republican. In explaining his decision to register as an independent Smerconish insisted he couldn't "play wind-up talk radio" and "read the GOP talking points" like the much more successful Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Glossing over the fact that the aformentioned hosts have repeatedly criticized the GOP when they betrayed conservative principles, Matthews pondered: "Do you think they honestly believe what they say?" [audio available here]
When NBC's "Today" show, on Wednesday, devoted an entire segment asking the question "How Should the GOP Battle Back?" who did they turn to, to offer strategic advice? Leftist Nation editor/publisher Katrina Vanden Heuvel and self-described "moderate" radio talk show host Michael Smerconish. What? Was Meghan McCain not available? Not surprisingly neither guest suggested the Republican Party should be consistent in expressing and acting on conservative principles as Vanden Heuvel railed:
On Wednesday's "Today" show, NBC's Chuck Todd called the decision of Arlen Specter – a Republican senator who has such a liberal voting record and has been such a constant-thorn-in-the-side of his party that he faced probable defeat in his own primary – to leave the GOP, "devastating." In a piece about Barack Obama's first 100 days that trumpeted his own network's new poll showing high ratings for Obama, Todd buried the GOP: "But for the Republican Party it's devastating, not just to their hopes of slowing President Obama's agenda in Congress but for what it says about the future of the GOP."
Todd then aired a sound bite from a Philadelphia area radio talk show host Michael Smerconish who advised the best way for the GOP to win seats was to "clone" Specter.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH, AUTHOR, MORNING DRIVE: The Republican Party in the aftermath of the presidential race should have come to him and tried to clone him. They need more Arlen Specters. And instead they deride him as a R.I.N.O - Republican In Name Only.
The following is the full segment as it was aired on the April 29, "Today" show: