In a free-swinging democracy such as ours, rare are the restraints on political speech by our elected representatives. One exception are rules of decorum, such as those governing the House of Representatives that prohibit members from speaking in negative personal terms about their colleagues and other officials.
There is a similar, unwritten rule by which former presidents do not criticize their successors. And while the occasional lapse has occurred over the history of the republic, no president has so thoroughly trashed the tradition as Jimmy Carter, who has made stinging criticism of the Bush administration a virtual art form. Earlier this year, for example, Carter publicly labelled the Bush administration "the worst in history."
"This is Anne Jones, reporting live from the headquarters of the ACLU, where the organization has issued a 'DEFCON 1 Threat-to-the-Constitution Alert' in the wake of a Republican presidential candidate's call for the creation of God's 'kingdom on earth.' We're speaking with ACLU representative Amanda Rogers. Ms. Rogers, now that a Republican candidate has brought the wall that separates church and state crashing to the ground, can our constitutional system be saved?"
"Anne, I'm afraid the answer is a resounding 'no,' at least, not if someone who thinks like this, and who sadly reflects the thinking of his entire party, is elected president. Fortunately, there are candidates from another party who respect the constitutionally decreed separaration of church and state."
"Thank you, Amanda; very frightening stuff. Now back to our studio, where we'll be breaking into our regularly-scheduled programming throughout the day to bring you updates on this unfolding crisis. I'll be back a little later with an interview with the pro-Constitution group 'People for the American Way,' which has called the Republican candidate's statement 'the gravest threat to America since the presidency of Ronald Reagan.'"
OK, perhaps I exaggerate just a tad with this apocryphal dialogue, but you get the point. The MSM would surely be in full threat-to-the-Constitution cry if ever a Republican presidential candidate had said exactly what Barack Obama did yesterday:
Oh sure, sometimes they love to hate us, but one thing is clear: NewsBusters is must reading for MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
As I noted here, Scarborough and panelist Willie Geist blasted Media Matters on today's "Morning Joe" for using a "phony story" to go after Rush for his "phony soldiers" comment. Joe and Willie recognized the truth of the matter: that Rush had been speaking of one phony soldier indeed, Jesse Macbeth, and not of anti-war soldiers in general.
Later, at 8:03 A.M. EDT, in the context of the Media Matters-inspired attack on Rush, Joe and Mika made clear that they have NewsBusters on the noggin.
As Brent Baker of MRC/NB has documented, MSNBC has been among the worst MSM offenders in propagating the falsehood that Rush Limbaugh had accused all anti-war military members of being "phony soldiers."
A point of light at that same network this morning, however, as Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist combined to debunk the Media Matters allegation, accusing the organization of using a "phony story about a phony soldier" to go after Rush.
It began at 6:04 A.M. EDT today, during the "Morning Joe" opening coffee klatsch.
Joe Scarborough is still trying to wring mileage out of bashing Bill O'Reilly over his Sylvia's comments. After calling the "Factor" host a "moron" yesterday, the "Morning Joe" host was back at it today.
Figures. Who else would Mika Brzezinski's ink-stained doppelganger be but Maureen Dowd?
"Morning Joe" has apparently introduced a new feature, "Three Things to Read Today," in which each of the panelists recommends an item from that morning's newspaper crop. Willie Geist went first today, and being the pop-culture maven he is, suggested the New York Post's coverage of the sexual harrassment lawsuit that a former female New York Knicks employee has brought against coach Isiah Thomas.
Less than a half-hour after Kiran Chetry and Roland Martin speculated whether O’Reilly’s recent comments on race would be the next "Imus Moment," the cast of MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" mocked the Fox News host. Co-host Mika Brzezinski put on her best Meryl Streep imitation after a clip of O’Reilly’s comments were played. "Oh, my God.... Wow... That's attractive," and also made an audible Al Gore-style sigh. Guest host Willie Geist went further. "Also, using the term 'blacks.’ I don't think anybody's said that since like 1973." Come again?
Brzezinski, Geist, and host Joe Scarborough discussed O’Reilly at the top of the 8 am Eastern hour on Tuesday’s "Morning Joe." While the cast played the O’Reilly clip for the first time, a caption spun O’Reilly’s words: "O’Reilly Shocked That Harlem Restaurant is ‘Normal’ (see above picture). The three were so "overwhelmed" by the clip that they played it again.
MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski said MSNBC would show the full comments in context of Rep. King, a top advisor of Rudy Giulliani. Instead they begin the video segment directly with the mosque statement. After showing a few seconds of his comment and a statement from Giulliani, the rest of the segment was spent with CAIR representative, Ibrahim Hooper, without anyone offering an opposing challenge or viewpoint.
Earlier today I noted that in her HuffPo column, ex-CBS producer Mary Mapes continues to cling to the delusion that the Memogate documents were authentic. In an inteview on "Morning Joe," Dan Rather has now made a comparable reality-defying claim.
Mika Brzezinski, who, as was repeatedly pointed out, used to work at CBS and has friends on both sides of the issue, conducted the interview. Bubbles didn't have the gumption to challenge Rather regarding the forged documents at the heart of the story. Interestingly, Rather chose to raise the issue himself, and in doing so demonstrated his tenuous grip on reality and some twisted journalistic standards.
"I'm a Dan Man myself, so I tend to look at this from his viewpoints [sic]." -- WaPo media critic Tom Shales, on today's "Morning Joe."
It's a morning for candor on "Morning Joe." Earlier, Mika "Bubbles" Brzezinski had admitted that "the SATs were not my strong suit." Later in the show, the notoriously tough-on-conservatives [see, e.g., MRC item #3 here] Tom Shales acknowledged that he has a soft spot for Dan Rather, calling himself a "Dan Man."
I'll say. Despite the overwhelming mountain of uncontroverted and incontrovertible evidence, Shales refuses to admit the obvious: that the documents at the heart of Memogate were the most transparent [literally] and amateurish of forgeries.
Substitute anchor Willie Geist interviewed Shales at 8:30 A.M. EDT this morning.
Regular readers of this space know that MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski is one of our favorites, serving up heaps of grist for our mill with her regular injections of liberal opinion into her newsreading on "Morning Joe," as here.
We'd been searching for an apt nickname for Brzezinski, and as of this morning, Mika herself has supplied one. Meet "Bubbles" Brzezinski. Mika was reading headlines from the morning's crop of newspapers, when she came across an item from the Boston Globe.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Boston Globe: "Many colleges ignore SAT writing test." I find this very interesting because SATs were not my strong suit. I probably would never have been allowed to go to college if it was based on just my SAT scores. But apparently hundreds of universities, including several top schools, are ignoring or paying little heed to students' scores on the writing section of the SAT in admissions. I never had a writing section, just bubbles.
Look for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to be pinning a DNC medal for heroism on Mika Brzezinski. The MSNBC newsreader opened today's "Morning Joe" with an intrepid assault on President Bush, undaunted by the rhetorical fire she knew it would draw from NewsBusters.
Some people are hard to shop for, but when it comes to MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski it's going to be a breeze. Next to her name on my Chanukah list, I'm putting her down without hesitation . . . for a Roget's Thesaurus. Because when it comes to describing the performance of people across her political divide, Mika seems stuck on a solitary word: "underwhelming."
As noted here, reading the news of Fred Thompson's "Tonight Show" appearance last week, Mika editorialized that "it was sort of underwhelming, but . . . it's done."
At the top of today's "Morning Joe," host Joe Scarborough invited Mika to assess General Petraeus's performance before Congress yesterday, and . . . you guessed it.
If part of NewsBusters' mission is keeping the MSM on its toes, it looks like we're succeeding when it comes to the MSNBC show "Morning Joe." For two days running, host Joe Scarborough has mentioned our site, conscious that we're on the prowl for evidence of liberal bias. Yesterday at about 6:30 A.M. EDT, Joe and newsreader Mika Brzezinski were discussing the fact that President Bush had mentioned to Robert Draper, author of the new Bush biography "Dead Certain," that he was expecting to replenish his financial coffers upon leaving office.
Said Scarborough “I hope NewsBusters heard that cause you said [it was only] a little [untoward on Bush's part].’ I say ‘a lot.’ Let them make me the poster boy today.”
Joe had NewsBusters on the noggin again today. At about 7:07 A.M. EDT Mika injected her opinion into the reading of a news item about Fred Thompson's "Tonight Show" appearance.
You might consider that speculating about a candidate's sexuality would be off limits in the responsible media. Yet that's just what happened on MSNBC this morning.
Chuck Nice is a comedian, after all, so perhaps his comments should be taken with a grain of salt. Even so, the panelist on today's "Morning Joe" twice ventured into territory that would normally be considered verboten.
Brad Luna of the Human Rights Campaign was the phone guest, discussing the presidential candidates forum that his homosexual-rights group conducted yesterday. Without endorsing Hillary, he did single her out for favorable mention.
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR OF MEDIA RELATIONS BRAD LUNA: Hillary does have a certain comfortableness with the issues and with our community. Obviously this is somebody you can tell has had a lot of contact discussing the issues, has thought about them for a number of years, and I do think that her sincerity and her genuineness came across last night.
MORNING JOE PANELIST CHUCK NICE: Are you saying that Hillary Clinton is bi-curious?
Forget Nurse Ratched. Pat Buchanan and Willie Geist have birthed a new metaphor for Hillary Clinton: the mean schoolmarm.
On "Morning Joe" today at about 6:55 A.M. EDT, the pair were discussing the way in which Clinton has cuffed Barack Obama around for his ill-considered statement that he would invade Pakistan under certain circumstances. Geist has been guest-hosting for Joe Scarborough this week. Buchanan hypothesized a situation in which the U.S. did have intelligence about OBL's location within Pakistan.
Yesterday I wrote a piece about reporter Mika Brzezinski's handling of a story that reflected a political double standard on her part. While hosting MSNBC's "Morning Joe" for the vacationing Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski aired a video of a female reporter chasing after Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Before she could catch up with the mayor however, the reporter was intercepted by a very large security guard and sent barreling into the side of what appeared to be a nearby dumpster. At the time Brzezinski brushed off the incident as "not that pressing," in stark contrast to the seemingly endless attention the David Vitter scandal received on "Morning Joe" throughout July. This morning however, Brzezinski seems to have changed her mind and now believes "That story's important."
For a little context, Villaraigosa, a Democrat, has been under scrutiny since he confessed to an affair with Spanish language reporter, Mirthala Salinas. Not surprisingly, Salinas received special access to the mayor during their affair.
Yesterday, after airing the video, Brzezinski gave her opinion as to the newsworthiness of the story. Here is her quote from the August 7 show:
Liberals can rest easier knowing that despite her outspoken views on newsworthiness and ethics, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski can still be counted on to go to bat for the Democrats. The reporter and "Morning Joe" regular showed off her famous sense of journalistic integrity while filling in for host Joe Scarborough on Monday morning. In the first half hour, Brzezinski played a video of a journalist trying desperately to get an interview with Antonio Villaraigosa, the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles. Villaraigosa has been surrounded by controversy since revelations that he had engaged in an extramarital affair with Spanish language reporter Mirthala Salinas.
The video clip showed one female reporter and at least two cameramen chasing the embattled mayor hoping for an interview. Before she could reach the mayor however, one of Villaraigosa’s hired thugs intercepted the reporter, sending the much smaller woman barreling into what appears to be a dumpster.
Here's a bold prediction: Joe Scarborough won't be switching registration to vote for John Edwards in the Florida primary. The Pensacola-area Republican congressman-turned-MSNBC-host unloaded on the Dem contender on today's "Morning Joe," accusing Edwards of opportunistic flip-flopping when it comes to dealing with Fox News.
"MORNING JOE" HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: John Edwards, demanding that Hillary Clinton return money she got from News Corp. [the Rupert Murdoch-controlled company that is Fox News' parent] because News Corp. is such a corrupt, terrible outfit. Of course John Edwards got $1,000 from News Corp. himself, so it's sort of like being half-pregnant. You can't be half-pregnant. You either take the money from the corrupt source or you don't. And of course this is the same John Edwards who won't go on Fox News, but before he decided this would resonate with primary voters, you couldn't keep the guy off of Fox News. I mean, he was like in Sean Hannity's lap every other night. Now, he is shocked and stunned. Shocked and stunned! -- that anybody would go on Fox News. Here's a guy who wants to take on the Taliban and he can't even handle [Fox News president] Roger Ailes. How sad, how sad.
Mika Brzezinski is so outraged that people are discussing Hillary's cleavage . . . that she hopes it helps the Dem prez candidate.
The topic arose at 6:18 A.M. EDT on today's "Morning Joe." The affable Willie Geist, a frequent panelist, is serving this morning as guest host for the absent Joe Scarborough. He broached the subject.
MORNING JOE GUEST HOST WILLIE GEIST: One of the other big stories that everybody is talking about is this Hillary Clinton cleavage thing.
MORNING JOE NEWSREADER MIKA BRZEZINSKI [in an exasperated tone]: Oh my gosh.
GEIST: . . . There's a shot of it right now; that's not so bad, I've seen much worse.
BRZEZINSKI: Are you kidding me? That's a great outfit. But what annoys me is that people wrote about it and talked about it. And if has helped her in any way I guess it doesn't bother me because that was ridiculous.