The Associated Press has long been a bastion of liberal bias. But has it now sunk to the level of a left-wing blog in the throes of Palin Derangement Syndrome? Yes, suggests the Morning Joe folks. In a rare bit of unanimity, the panel condemned and ridiculed AP for its "analysis" item, "Palin's words carry racial tinge." According to Douglass K. Daniel, the item's author, Palin's criticism of Barack Obama for his association with Ayers somehow carries "a racially tinged subtext." See Warner Todd Huston's earlier discussion here.
Mika Brzezinski questioned the strategic wisdom of the McCain campaign's playing of the Ayers card, but even she joined in the excoriation of the AP.
H/t Doug T. It was all in good fun, but the Morning Joe gang staged a bit of business today suggesting there's something a mite stronger than half-and-half in Mika Brzezinski's cup of, well, morning joe.
After signing off with NBC reporter Tom Costello, Joe Scarborough made much of Mika's absence from the set. Cut to a shot of Brzezinski at the coffee counter, where she is seen . . . emptying a blue mini-bottle into her coffee mug. Mika accommodatingly turns the bottle toward the camera so that all can see it is . . . Skyy vodka.
Hillary Clinton, Queen of Soul? Barack Obama, All-American teenaged girl? That's precisely the analogy that Joe Scarborough made this morning in trying to explain why many Hillary supporters haven't swung to Obama. Hillary was a guest on today's Morning Joe, and the interview offered a number of other interesting tidbits:
Hillary dodged the question of whether Bill was telling the truth when he claimed she didn't want the VP slot on Obama's ticket.
The junior NY senator declined to swing at a Sarah-bashing softball Mika Brzezinski tossed her.
Hillary let slip that she still has her own campaign on her mind.
But let's get back to Joe's conventional-wisdom busting musical metaphor, which came after Hillary had offered an innocuous answer to guest panelist John Ridley's question as to why many of her supporters remain uncommitted to Obama.
"Shovel your ratings" appears to be Morning Joe's subliminal message to Keith Olbermann today. With the latest ratings showing Rachel Maddow's new MSNBC show beating Olbermann's Countdown, the MJ panel went out of its way to congratulate Maddow on her success, repeatedly mentioning what a "good person" she is and how nice it is to see such people do well.
The crew was riffing off the Drudge headline "Move Over, Olbermann, Rachel Maddow Tops MSNBC Ratings." As seen in the Drudge screencap [after the jump], on Tuesday Maddow beat Olbermann--the perennial MSNBC ratings leader--by a count of 1.8 million to 1.63 million. She also bested CNN's Larry King, among others. Scarborough & Co. never mentioned Olbermann by name. But the invidious-comparison-by-omission in their pointed praise of Maddow's good-personhood left little doubt that the wounds opened by Olbermann's open-mic slap at Scarborough, in which, during the Dem convention, he told Joe to "get a shovel" for remarks too GOP-friendly for Keith's liking, have yet to heal.
View the video, and be sure to stay tuned to the end. Mika tries to move the show along, but Scarborough pointedly persists, basking in the times when "good people do well." Got, it, Keith?
Of course we all know that it's absolutely wrong and mean-spirited to suggest that anyone on the left could conceivably be unpatriotic [though an exception might be made for unrepentant terrorist friends of Barack Obama who accept from Vietnamese communists rings made from downed US planes.] So while we won't be using the u-word here, two recent MSNBC shows offer a remarkable contrast. Let's compare Chris Matthews' giddy reaction to news of difficulties in the markets with Mika Brzezinski's gloom in begrudgingly discussing the Iraq surge's success.
The first portion of the video is from the opening of Hardball of September 15th, the day when news was breaking of Lehman and Merrill Lynch's travails, and the DJIA had sunk over 500 points. Matthews could hardly contain his glee, comparing McCain to Hoover, and declaring that because of the "terrible news" about the economy, "as of today, this is no longer an election about lipstick on pigs, misleading ads or how many houses a candidate owns. This is serious. The economy is a real issue. With real consequences." Then there was today's discussion on Morning Joe of the surge's success. Mika's pout—on view in the screencap—epitomizes her reaction. I commend the entire video clip to your attention, but would focus on these exchanges.
It might not do John McCain any good politically. But once in a while, it's refreshing to hear an MSMer called out on political bias.
It happened this morning when John McCain told Mika Brzezinski "I know you're a supporter of Senator Obama." Mika resorted to her favorite defense to the bias charge, mentioning that she has a brother who works on the McCain campaign and asking the Arizona senator to "say hello" to him for her. Just for good measure, McCain called Mika's tactic "a cheap shot."
It was Mika's question about campaign ads that touched things off . . .
Make it a trio of mindreaders at NBC/MSNBC. As noted here, yesterday Howard Fineman and David Shuster went Carnac on us, emphatically declaring that Barack Obama didn't have Sarah Palin in mind with his lipstick line. On this morning's Today, Andrea Mitchell joined her network stablemates [no pun intended!] in delving into Barack's brain and assuring us he meant no harm.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Barack Obama has been a punching-bag [aww] for a barrage of criticism from the McCain campaign. Charges that he slurred Sarah Palin when he said this about McCain and his change argument [cut to clip of Obama's lipstick line]. He was clearly talking about McCain, not Palin.
Well, guess that wraps it up. But wait. Over at Morning Joe, the group wasn't so forgiving, opining that Obama either did know, or should have known, the implications of what he was saying. Mika Brzezinski herself took the first shot.
Thanks to Sarah Palin, the culture war has become a civil war—on the left. Mika Brzezinski bravely opened a new front in the conflict during today's "Morning Joe," repeatedly going after two female MSMers for suggesting Palin is taking the working-mom thing too far.
And, mirabile dictu, Mika even admitted to sensing MSM unfairness to Republicans.
"This is an argument Joe and I have about fairness and whether or not there are some sort of underlying unfairness when it comes to Republicans. And I just, you know, I feel it here," Brzezinski said referring to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. Full text and commentary after the jump. View video here.
What does it say about Sarah Palin that some of my favorite targets, um, subjects raved about her this morning? Andrea Mitchell and Mika Brzezinski could hardly have been more complimentary, Tom Brokaw and Jay Carney chipping in with positive comments.
ANDREA MITCHELL: Here was a novice on the national scene, with the lowest of expectations. People said sure, she'll be able to perform. But it was an amazing, amazing speech in terms of the way it connected to people. I talked to people afterwards on the floor, a lot of women. One woman from California who said it didn't matter that she, this woman delegate, is pro-choice. She said "I'm a mom. I've got three kids at home. And I see myself up there." And she's connecting to her. She said "I did not think this was a good choice until I heard that speech." Now this is admittedly a select audience of very passionate and very conservative Republican delegates. But I think there is a broader audience for this out there. I think it was an extraordinary debut.
When NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd passed along comments from Dem strategists suggesting the speech might have been "a little too hot" for swing voters, Andrea and Mika actually rode to Palin's defense.
Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann began to poignantly patch things up two nights ago. But there's clearly still mucho trabajo to be done to heal the rift between Joe Scarborough and the temperamental Countdown host. Readers will recall that during the Dem convention, Olbermann was caught [accidentally on purpose?] on an open mic suggesting Scarborough "get a shovel" for his failure to toe a sufficiently pro-Obama line.
On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough took a thinly-veiled shot at Olbermann for the way he tried to keep Republican analyst Mike Murphy off the air, and then tried to pull the plug ["let's wrap him up, alright?"] when Murphy eventually made it into an interview with Chris Matthews.
Pat Buchanan was the sole voice on today's opening-hour panel to opine that Fred Thompson had done a good job with his speech last night. In contrast, Scarborough suggested Thompson had been flat. Pat expressed his feelings of alienation as the show was going to a break. It was then that Joe and Mika let Buchanan know that—in contrast with other MSNBC venues—dissident voices were welcome on Morning Joe.
No, not Chris Matthews to Keith Olbermann. That media odd couple have already begun to kiss and make up. Instead, it was Joe Scarborough who authored the line this morning, directing it at Obama spokesman Mark Bubriski. The cause of Joe's ire was this email statement Bubriski released to the Miami Herald [emphasis added]:
Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, a right-winger or as many Jews call him: a Nazi sympathizer.
The Morning Joe crew was unanimous in roundly condemning the Obama campaign tactic, rallying around Buchanan, one of its own, who was present on the set. Bubriski was riffing off a similar allegation made by Bob Wexler, a south Florida Dem congressman.
View video here. It's perhaps the longest video clip I've posted, but hope you'll agree the content justifies the length. Joe unleashes on Bubriski [calling him a "jackass" for good measure] three minutes in.
Peggy Noonan made a serious point about MSNBC's slanted coverage, and I suppose seriousness compels me to mention it first. But please do yourself a favor and stay tuned for the description of Peggy's un-PC laugh line that could be the best guilty pleasure of the campaign season. Joe Scarborough opened today's Morning Joe with an ode to the wonderfulness that was Obama last night. He was entirely in tune with Olbermann's claim that the speech was beyond criticism. All the adoration apparently annoyed Peggy, and she made a point of providing a counterweight when she appeared later in the show.
PEGGY NOONAN: Well, it was a bit of a "flop-a-lini" to tell you the truth.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Wow!
NOONAN: There were things about it that didn't work. Six months from now we're all going to remember the event. We're going to remember the Parthenon, the 60,000 people, the confetti shot out of the cannon. We're going to remember all that. We will not, I think, remember what he said. I think there was simply a number of problems with it . . . I'm actually putting a little edge on my criticism just to make up for the fact that on MSNBC last night somebody said, quote, "it wasn't a speech: it was a symphony." I'm sorry; I won't even name who did it. I am here to balance that bit of fatuous -- fatuous suck-upping!
Pay close attention to Joe Biden's words tonight. During an appearance on this morning's "Morning Joe" Bill Adair, Washington bureau chief for the St. Petersburg Times and editor of politifact.com, implied that Barack Obama's running mate is not always truthful. Adair told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that "from a fact-checker's standpoint, we should be grateful to Joe Biden" because he is "full employment for fact checkers."
Brzezinski asked Adair about "the most outrageous statement" by Biden and Adair pointed to Biden's soundbite in which he says John McCain votes with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time. He discredited it, along with a charge from Hillary Clinton's speech last night about John McCain desire to privatize social security, "I thought, well, in terms of Biden, the 95% is just something where you've got to understand that that's sort of the worse case scenario. He's cherry picking. 95% was last year. Last night one of the things that Senator Clinton said that we'll hear a lot is John McCain wants to privatize social security. We heard it from several of the other speakers last night. You know, that's a real exaggeration. McCain is actually really vague and fuzzy on social security."
Biden's "95 percent of the time" charge may be the "worst-case scenario" but the fact remains that people should pay close attention to what Biden says tonight.
Keith Olbermann has forgotten the figure-skating judge's cardinal rule: be sparing in the marks you award early contestants, to leave room for the favorites who perform at the end. After his gushing appraisals of Michelle Obama's and Hillary's convention speeches, how can Olbermann possibly top it in his praise of Biden's and Obama's to come?
Mixing metaphors here, let's compare the baseball scoring the Morning Joe crew gave Hillary's speech at show-opening today with Olbermann's assessment of last night. As you'll see, they range from solid single to Keith's grand slam. As for utility infielder Mark Warner's "keynote": has he considered giving up baseball and taking up knitting?
Tensions are running high at MSNBC, at least surrounding veteran host Joe Scarborough who seems to be increasingly discontented at his network's decision to market itself as the cable net of choice for Bush haters. That hasn't sat well with the likes of the far left Keith Olbermann who has played a large role in getting MSNBC to pursue this strategy
The Democratic convention seems to have only exacerbated those tensions. Last night saw Olbermann caught on an open mic blurting out profane disgust at Scarborough, prompting the latter to verbally call him out while fellow MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews sat back mortified at the intra-family dispute.
Things don't appear to have been smoothed over either as Scarborough was involved in another altercation this morning with liberal correspondent David Shuster on today's "Morning Joe." Scarborough ultimately accused Shuster and his MSNBC colleagues of being Democrats, their independent political registrations notwithstanding. (Exchange happens at 2:15 in video to the right.)
Could the NBC honchos be a tad touchy about criticism of the Beijing Olympics—especially when it comes from its own talent pool? Was there a kernel of truth in Mika Brzezinski's light-hearted warning that MSNBC's Morning Joe crew would "get a call" if it persisted in its mocking of the games for whose broadcast rights the Peacock Network has over the years paid billions?
When the subject of the Olympics arose during the opening segment of today's show, the panel went into an extended coughing fit, coupled with cracks about tanks in Tiananmen Square. Mika joined in the joshing for a while, before finally putting her foot down . . .
Thank you, Andrea Mitchell. No, really, I mean it. Thank you for providing some of the clearest evidence yet of just how much the press corps following Barack Obama has blinders on for its man. Mitchell has let it be known that "the people covering the campaign" don't think Obama played the race card with his currency crack. Andrea appeared on Morning Joe today just before 8 AM EDT.
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure --
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Andrea, excuse me for a minute. How can it be self-deprecating when he says, when Barack Obama says, that John McCain's camp is going to say "I look different"? Or when he says they're going to try to scare you because I'm black. How is that--because I've heard "self-deprecating" a couple times--how in the hell is that self-deprecating?
David Shuster surely knows better. Wherever you come down on the issue of who's playing the race card, one thing is glaringly, blindingly, incandescently obvious: when Barack Obama says McCain will point out Obama doesn't look like the other guys on the currency, the Dem candidate is doing much more than making the innocuous point that he is the first black major-party presidential nominee. Yet that is precisely how Shuster chose to misinterpret Obama's remark on today's "Morning Joe." Fortunately, Tiki Barber was there to run to daylight through the gaping hole in Shuster's line of logic.
The show began with a clip of Obama intoning his stock line that Bush and McCain will try to "make you scared of me" by pointing out, among other things, "he dudn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills. You know?"
Disclaimer: Yes, Joe and Chris. We know Jim was joking.
Money maven Jim Cramer is a self-described Democrat, one who idolized Lenin back in his Harvard days [Cramer's, not Lenin's] and was on the verge of tears over the downfall of his old college buddy Eliot Spitzer. But one Dem not high on Cramer's list is Jimmy Carter, so much so that Cramer feigned dismay to be informed that—contrary to his [tongue-in-cheek] belief—the former president is still among the living.
The host of CNBC's "Mad Money," a guest on today's Morning Joe, was buoyant about the economy, saying the surge in oil prices is over and that happier, if not downright happy, days are ahead. It was when he cautioned people about being sure not to exceed FDIC insurance limits on their bank deposits that Carter came up . . .
UPDATE: The original version of this item reported Joe Scarborough's statement, as transcribed below, that there were no Republicans on his MSNBC staff, with executive producer Chris Licht confirming Joe's assertion. Joe has been in touch to say he and Chris Licht were speaking tongue in cheek and that the remarks about there being no Republicans on the Morning Joe staff were a joke.
Mika Brzezinski is appalled to learn that the Bush Justice Department had a hiring preference for politically simpatico people. And Mika apparently believes Joe mischaracterizes her as a liberal.
The jumping off point on today's Morning Joe was Mika's reading of a news item on an article in today's New York Times about an internal Justice Department report concluding that "senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions." Scarborough saw this as SOP in Washington.
Sure, the elite media might overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. But so what? That's apparently Mika Brzezinski's opinion. Check out the exchange between Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe today at 7:50 AM EDT, triggered by Scarborough's insider take on the MSM's adulation of Obama.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: OK, Willie, come on. We've got to call these people out. Because we know people that work in the media, print. I mean seriously, they are, Tucker had it right: they're like ninth-grade girls.
. . .
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: I actually, really reject this love affair notion.
SCARBOROUGH: Come on.
BRZEZINSKI: What? I do.
SCARBOROUGH: Because you are absolutely drunk on the Kool-Aid.
Many McCain fans are no doubt bracing for the waves of European adulation that are about to break over Barack Obama, the MSM avidly reporting the scenes. With polls showing Obama with a 50+ percentage-point lead across the Old Continent [the French leading the Obamaphile way at 64-4%], the Dem candidate is assured of ecstatic crowds wherever he goes. Euro-Obamamania begins in Berlin today, with a speech by the candidate at the "Victory Column" in Tiergarten park.
But could all the adoration backfire? That emerging theme has found expression in two very different ways this morning. On the one hand, a scholarly exposition by Prof. Thomas Madden, writing at NRO—who draws parallels to the world of ancient Greco-Roman politics—and in more colloquial fashion by Joe Scarborough.
Here's how the Morning Joe host put it today at 6:34 AM EDT, in an exchange with Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist. Republican strategist Mike Murphy got in a good line at the very end.
Me and Mrs. Jones, we've got a thing going on. We both know that it's wrong, but it's much too strong to let it go now. -- Billy Paul, "Me and Mrs. Jones"
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting there's anything untoward between Mika Brzezinski and the Dem presidential candidate. But like the star-crossed couple of the song, the two do share a tragic bond, trapped as they are in an inability to admit they were wrong in opposing the surge.
The depths of Obama's denial emerged during a five-minute segment of his recent interview with Katie Couric. Couric tried repeatedly to pin Obama down on why he says he still would have opposed the surge, even knowing as he does know that it has succeeded. As Couric put it: "People may be scratching their heads and saying, 'Why?'" I'd encourage people to view the exchange, which comes at the five-minute mark of the interview. CBS video and transcript here.
And there on today's Morning Joe was the other half of the duo in denial, Mika Brzezinski. With Joe Scarborough playing the role of Couric-like inquisitor, Mika tried to talk about anything but the way Obama was wrong about the surge.
The things people will do for love. Take David Shuster. So eager is the Obama inamorato to cover for his man, he's willing to sacrifice all semblance of reason. Faced with the implacable fact that Obama was wrong in opposing the surge, Shuster has been reduced to claiming that Americans don't care about the surge's success. Shuster made his descent into abject sycophancy on today's Morning Joe. The jumping off point was a clip from an interview of Obama by ABC's Terry Moran [Brent Baker has the full report on the interview here].
TERRY MORAN: If you had to do it over again, knowing what you know now, would you support the surge?
OBAMA: No, because, keep in mind that-
MORAN: You wouldn't?
OBAMA: Well, no, keep in mind, these kinds of hypotheticals are very difficult. You know, hindsight is 20/20. But I think that, what I am absolutely convinced of is that at that time, we had to change the political debate because the view of the Bush administration at that time was one that I just disagreed with.
After a clip was aired of McCain hammering Obama on his opposition to the surge, Shuster slipped on the flippers and goggles.
"Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough slammed the "hacks" at "The Daily Show" on Wednesday for only making fun of Republicans and giving a free pass to Democrats. Discussing a July 15 New York Times piece that described how TV comics and talk show hosts are hesitant to make fun of Barack Obama, Scarborough mocked, "I never want to hear anybody from 'The Daily Show' or any of these other shows ever saying again, 'We speak truth to power.' 'Cause you know what they do? They speak truth to Republicans."
After admitting that Republicans have made many mistakes over the last seven years, the MSNBC host continued to eviscerate the crew at the "The Daily Show" and others: " But, please, don't be subversive, because you're not. Because you're a hack. You're a hack for the Democratic Party and you only tell jokes about one side." New York Times journalist John Harwood, appearing on the program as a guest, attempted to stick up for the comics by justifying, "I don't think they are hacks for the Democratic Party. People write about what's funny to them. And the stuff that's funny to them is, is the stuff that comes out of what they see that they want to make fun of from Republicans."
Mika Brzezinski might be an Obama backer, but she really should sit down with Hillary Clinton. The woman who turned $1,000 into $100,000 could clue her in to the workings of the commodities markets. Be it cattle or crude oil, the concept's the same: these are "futures" markets in which prices are set on traders' expectations of what conditions will be some time down the road.
Mika's need for urgent remedial help on the matter became evident during the first minutes of today's Morning Joe. Ostensibly fulfilling her news-reading function, Mika veered from the prepared text to inject her own editorializing to the effect that lifting the offshore drilling ban today wouldn't lower gas prices for ten years.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Time for a look at some of today's top stories. President Bush is calling on congress to lift its ban on offshore oil drilling. On Monday the president ended a long-standing moratorium on the practice, saying new drilling would ease pressure on fuel prices [going off-script to inject her own views] -- in about ten years. Critics argue the production of gas from the offshore --
Look for Mika Brzezinski outside the Danish embassy. True, the Danes had nothing to do with the New Yorker's publication of the Obama cover. But what more time-honored locale to protest an irreverent cartoon of a figure adulated with religious fervor?
Mika has condemned the New Yorker cover as "dangerous." Why dangerous? Mika doesn't quite say. But by darkly musing about unspoken perils that derive from the mocking of Obama, she would apparently place irony about her candidate off limits. Mika sounded the alarm on today's Morning Joe.
You can win in a court of law and still get attacked in the court of public opinion. That's what former New York Stock Exchange Chairman Dick Grasso would have learned from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" July 2.
Host Mika Brzezinski called Grasso a "poster child for Wall Street excess" in reporting a New York State Supreme Court ruling allowing Grasso to keep his $187.5 million pension payout.
"There you go, a little justice there," Brzezinski said. "Jack Welch calls it justice; I call it a very large pay package. It's a lot of money, Jack."
Andrea Mitchell depicts Wesley Clark's cracks about John McCain's heroism as a gaffe. Bloopers that will cost him any chance of being picked for the Obama veep slot. But surely the seasoned MSM hand knows better than to imagine that Clark was freelancing. Clark's were anything but impromptu remarks, made, say, late at night to a foreign reporter in a hotel cocktail lounge in some far-flung land. To the contrary, Clark took his shots in the brightest of limelights—those of a Sunday morning talk show—speaking with the venerable Bob Schieffer. Clark was explicitly there as an Obama campaign surrogate.
Moreover, Clark had made similar comments before, as a guest on Morning Joe earlier this month [YouTube of earlier appearance]. So the Obama campaign was well aware of his views. If it had any qualms about him expressing them, surely he would have been warned off. Thus, far from representing a gaffe, Clark's comments must be seen as reflecting Barack Obama's calculated strategy—and that is precisely how the McCain campaign has interpreted them.
So why would Andrea Mitchell turn up on Morning Joe today lambasting Clark for his "stupid" and "dumb" remarks? You don't suppose she was trying to inoculate Obama, give him cover, some plausible deniability, so that the remarks get the maximum attention without Obama's fingerprints being seen on them?