The VRWC rides again, but this time it's apparently going after a Republican . . .
Mike Huckabee went on Morning Joe today and toyed with suggesting a "conspiracy" composed of the "Washington power circles" was out to get him. At 7:41 AM ET, the former Arkansas governor was discussing his efforts in South Carolina with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski.
See update at bottom: Scarborough nails Shuster on Huck/Obama double-standard.
If a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, does Mike Huckabee's sweet way with a word make tolerable views that would be rejected as extreme in the mouths of others less verbally gifted?
That's Willie Geist's view of the matter. The genius of the Morning Joe panelist normally resides in his ability to avoid the controversial while remaining interesting. But the anodyne-if-endearing Geist went out of character in today's opening segment on the subject of Mike Huckabee. And he did so in a manner the former Baptist preacher might not find so fetching.
The subject was a speech Huckabee gave yesterday in which he advocated changing the Constitution to adapt to the word of God.
See updates for Huckabee, Thompson responses to this story at bottom.
Scratch Joe Scarborough from the list of those praising the performance of Fred Thompson at last night's South Carolina debate hosted by Fox News. With panelists Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski in supporting roles, the Morning Joe host went off on Thompson today with stunning vitriol, deriding him as "Freddie boy" "pathetic," a "lapdog" and a "hatchet man" for John McCain.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Last night it was so painfully obvious that Fred Thompson went to John McCain yesterday morning [affecting deep Thompsonesque voice] "if I can stay awake through this debate, I'll attack Huckabee for you."
To riff off the Alice Roosevelt Longworth line: if you don't have anything nice to say about Rupert Murdoch, go sit next to David Shuster. The MSNBCer and former Fox Newser has no love lost for his old employer.
Shuster's latest is that Hillary, she of long memory, will be holding a grudge against Murdoch, whose NewsCorp owns the New York Post and Fox News, for the unflattering coverage the Post gave Clinton in the closing days of the New Hampshire primary campaign.
This space has not served as an unmitigated cheering section for Mika Brzezinski. But kudos to the Morning Joe panelist for the well-deserved shot she took at John Edwards today.
Perhaps it was the Edwards's lack of candor that incited Mika's ire. It's been widely reported, as in this ABC News blog, that the former NC senator tried to exploit Hillary's now-famous emotional moment of yesterday:
Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton's ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.
"I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business," Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.
But when Brzezinski asked Edwards at 7:10 AM ET today whether he had indeed criticized Clinton for tearing up, Edwards brazenly replied "absolutely not." When Edwards went on to proclaim his own machismo, Mika saw her opening and went for it.
Candid criticism, or sour grapes towards a guy who's lapping MSNBC in the ratings? In any case, David Shuster and the rest of the Morning Joe crew took out after Bill O'Reilly this morning in the wake of the incident in which the Factor host was, shall we say, energetic in his efforts to speak with Barack Obama at a NH campaign event this weekend. Shuster called O'Reilly a "jerk" and "such a buffoon." Read accounts of the incident here, here and here.
See Update at foot: "I wasn't teasing: don't get in my way."
If at the end of a hunt and while still in the field a politician disfavored by the MSM had joked about shooting his opponent, do you think it would have made big news? But how much coverage have you seen of just such a statement Mike Huckabee made during his recent Iowa pheasant photo-op hunt?
You've probably seen footage of Huckabee joking about shooting people who won't vote for him. Morning Joe played the clip in its opening segment today. Huckabee points to three dead birds on the ground.
Any man who is under 30 and is not a liberal has no heart; and any man who is over 30 and not a conservative has no brains. - Winston Churchill
I guess we know what old Winston would think of Chris Matthews, then. Appearing on Morning Joe today, the Hardball host turned the Churchillian maxim upside down, claiming his gut leans right but his head pulls him left.
Chris was conversing with MJ panelist Mika Brzezinski. After calling her "a cutie pie and "very smart," he continued.
See Update at Foot: Matthews suggests MSM pushing Mike because he's a sure loser.
Should we call him Mike "Huck-a-unbeatable"?
As noted here, on Monday David Shuster predicted that Mike Huckabee would win the White House if matched up against Hillary Clinton. Appearing on Morning Joe today at 6:05 AM ET, the MSNBC correspondent took his optimism about Huckabee's prospects a quantum leap further, saying the former Arkansas governor would defeat any Dem opponent.
Bona fide prediction, or devious three-dimensional-chess-move-cum- double-bank-shot-jujitsu gambit designed to sow chaos in Republican ranks? Hard to say, but one thing is undeniable: MSNBC correspondent David Shuster has predicted that Mike Huckabee will be the next President of the United States.
The surprising prognosis came at the end of an interesting pundits roundtable [presumably recorded over the weekend] that took the place of Morning Joe's regular live programming this Christmas Eve morning. Wrapping things up, host Joe Scarborough went around the horn, soliciting predictions from his guests.
Biting the hand that used to feed him, David Shuster has accused Fox News of being part of the "Republican establishment" and as such, going after Mike Huckabee. Shuster appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour today.
DAVID SHUSTER: What's been so interesting about Huckabee, you're starting to see the Republican establishment, despite him being the "Baby Jesus" candidate [adopting Joe Scarborough's formulation], the Republican establishment is going after him pretty hard now. And you even saw it last night when the, I suppose you could call them the Republican establishment Fox News correspondent was asking some pretty asinine questions --
"But Mika Brzezinski agrees with me!" might not be Mike Huckabee's best pitch to Republican primary voters in defending his harsh criticism of the Bush administration on foreign policy. But the fact is that Mika has done her best to throw Mike a lifeline on the matter.
In a "Foreign Policy" magazine article, an excerpt of which appears below, Huckabee had famously written of "the Bush administration's arrogant bunker mentality."
Interviewing Huckabee on today's Morning Joe, Mika teed up some recent news as supporting evidence for the "arrogant bunker mentality" allegation -- and the candidate was only too happy to take a swing.
You'd hardly expect the chief Washington correspondent of business channel CNBC to negatively stereotype economic conservatives. But appearing on today's Morning Joe, the urbane John Harwood did just that.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [Huckabee is] a different type of evangelical. It's not the evangelical in American politics that's traditionally been very conservative economically. Obviously a lot of people at the Wall Street Journal don't like this guy.
Is Hillary Clinton's campaign still communicating with Billy Shaheen? And does Hillary still consider Obama's youthful drug use a relevant campaign issue? Clinton wouldn't say this morning. Hillary sandwiched her evasions between two moments of mirth and hilarity on today's Morning Joe.
Earlier in the morning, Hillary began her Today interview with David Gregory with a smile. Perhaps it was an intervening cup or two of strong coffee, but by the time she chatted with the Morning Joe crowd a bit later, Clinton was downright manic. Hillary was in full cackle as she attempted to laugh off her slippage in the polls. She ended the interview with some guffaws about the trials of waking up early on the campaign trail.
But in between, when it was Mika Brzezinski's turn to ask about continued communication between her campaign and Billy Shaheen, and the relevance of his allegations to the campaign, Hillary turned suddenly grim-faced [see image below] and evasive.
Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" at 7:25 a.m. to Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.): "Senator, we've been talking about this all morning. Mitt Romney teared up on 'Meet the Press' over the weekend. I don't know if you saw it, what you thought of it. Do you ever tear up? When was the last time?"
Kiran Chetry, co-anchor of CNN's "American Morning" at 7:36 a.m.: "We saw Mitt Romney tear up on one of the other networks the other day. What makes you tear up, if anything?"
Both times Clinton answered with the same joke about tearing up this morning when she had had to wake up at the wee hour of 4 a.m. to get ready for the morning show chats. Both times she remarked she doesn't know how they do it. Both times the journalists in question thanked Clinton for her pander, er, candor. No, it was definitely the first one.
Mika Brzezinski: back on the crime beat with another loopy liberal take on reality . . .
Yesterday, the resident lefty on the Morning Joe panel -- defying the facts of the volunteer guard who stopped the Colorado church shooter -- labeled as "the most inane thing" she'd ever heard the notion that one armed citizen could make a difference.
Today, in a breathtaking bit of revisionist history, Brzezinski tried to credit notoriously lax former Mayor David Dinkins rather than Rudy Giuliani for making NYC safe. So fierce was the return fire from Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough that, as pictured here, Mika ultimately took refuge under a sheaf of paper.
Don't confuse Mika Brzezinski with the facts. She's anti-gun and is not about to let some stunning counter-evidence change her mind.
If ever there was an illustration of how an armed citizen can make a difference, it is the case of Jeanne Assam, the brave woman who took out the killer at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs. And yet . . .
On today's Morning Joe, Mika -- in newsreader mode -- dutifully reported the incident. But when Joe Scarborough sought to draw the logical inference, Mika put her anti-gun foot down.
As Republican primary campaign slogans go, "Endorsed by Frank Rich!" might not be a candidate's strongest play. But for better or worse Mike Huckabee is essentially stuck with it after Rich's NYT's column of yesterday. The ostensible theme of "The Republicans Find Their Obama" is that Republican voters are leaning toward Huckabee for the same reasons that Dems are trending to Obama: that both men are relatively young, speak across racial lines, are witty and avoid hyper-partisanship.
But dig down a bit deeper, and it appears that Huckabee's real appeal for Rich is that, social issues aside, he is the most liberal of the GOP frontrunners. Making his case for Huckabee, Rich goes so far to dabble in Christian theology [emphasis added]:
A conservative comedian [yes, there are some], appears at a venue in a heavily-white suburb at a campaign event for a white candidate and tells his audience composed overwhelmingly of people of pallor they'd be embarrassed if they supported a black candidate and the white candidate won, saying "Oh no. I can't call him now. I had that black guy. What was I thinking?"
What are the odds the MSM would laugh it off?
But when Chris Rock does the equivalent on behalf of Barack Obama, the MSM raises nary an eyebrow. Rock appeared last night at an event for Barack Obama at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater and said:
"You'd be real embarrassed if he won and you wasn't down with it. You'd say, 'aw man, I can't call him now. I had that white lady. What was I thinking?'"
Was that Mike Huckabee on "Morning Joe" today -- or John Edwards? The former Arkansas governor found an odd way to refute charges he's not a true conservative, indulging in some class-warfare rhetoric that would have been the envy of the former North Carolina senator.
Mika Brzezinski hit Huckabee with an excerpt from Bob Novak's column of today. Here are the opening paragraphs from Novak's False Conservative:
Who would respond to criticism from the Club for Growth by calling the conservative, free-market campaign organization the "Club for Greed"? That sounds like Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich or John Edwards, all Democrats preaching the class struggle.
Thanksgiving is a time for reconciliation, so let's show some sympathy for our liberal media friends. It's been a tough 24 hours for them. Yesterday, articles appeared in the New York Times and LA Times reporting the dramatically improved security situation in Iraq.
Today brings another blow, as Thomas Friedman suggests that beyond the military successes, there might be an informal kind of political accommodation going on in Iraq that he refers to as an "ATM peace."
Update | 10:48 AM ET -- Mystery Solved: Morning Joe Executive Producer Chris Licht has emailed me to say: "Mika was reading research emailed from a segment producer to her Blackberry: specifically, the Bloomberg News article re: Townsend says election is potential terrorism target."
Have a look at the screencap. It's Mika Brzezinski scrolling what looks to be her Blackberry as she poses a hostile question to Fran Townsend, President Bush's top White House adviser on terrorism and homeland security.
Townsend, who has announced that she's stepping down after four years in the Bush administration, appeared on today's "Morning Joe." After some conversation with Willie Geist, Mika Brzezinski took over, peppering Townsend with a series of challenging questions on everything from the failure to capture Bin Laden to waterboarding.
Mika appeared to have Blackberry in hand throughout. When it came to her last, and nastiest, question, she was busily scrolling it as she read off its screen.
During Brent Bozell’s Thursday interview promoting our book Whitewash on Morning Joe, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough mentioned that ABC’s Jake Tapper had a new story out Thursday morning about how three people pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001 had donated to Hillary for President. Scarborough used that as an example of how the networks can’t be so isolated anymore in an era of New Media challenges. But there’s just one problem with that theory. Tapper’s story was isolated: it only appeared online, not on-air.
Tapper did appear on ABC's airwaves on Wednesday evening's Nightline to forward the story Hillary really wants circulated: John McCain’s campaign struggling with a supporter calling Hillary the B-word. Here’s the MSNBC exchange on Tapper:
America will have no one to blame but itself if it doesn't seize the opportunity to elect Barack Obama. That was the essence of a comment Michelle Obama made to Mika Brzezinski in the course of an interview the MSNBCer conducted with the candidate's wife in Iowa over the weekend.
The comments aired on today's "Morning Joe" during the 6:30 AM ET half-hour.
Sometimes, the smallest gestures are the most significant . . .
Have a look at the freeze-frame. It shows the moment at which the young woman in Iowa this weekend is retaking her seat after posing that planted question to Hillary about climate change. As you'll see, she's flashing someone a conspiratorial wink and smile. "Morning Joe" rolled the video of the moment at 6:43 and 7:01 AM ET today and MSNBC has been replaying throughout the day.
But for a driver's license and a wink, was a nomination was lost?
Guess I won't be calling Mika Brzezinski a "newsreader" again anytime soon. The "Morning Joe" panelist went to Iowa over the weekend and scored an in-depth interview with Michelle Obama that elicited a highly-controversial suggestion from the candidate's wife. According to Mrs. Obama, her husband isn't polling better among African-Americans because in the back of their minds, many blacks think "others" are better.