The New York Times's Michael Cooper and Michael Luo covered the Republican debate Thursday night in Myrtle Beach, S.C., hitting the theme of a "faltering" Fred Thompson, lashing out in a desperate bid to salvage his campaign.
"Fred D. Thompson tried to salvage his faltering presidential campaign at a debate Thursday night with a barrage of sharp attacks on the 'liberal' policies of Mike Huckabee, the fellow Southerner whom he clearly sees as a rival in the South Carolina primary.
"The performance by Mr. Thompson, which including several pointed one-liners, capped a debate that showed the altered terrain of the Republican field as it moved beyond contests in Iowa and New Hampshire."
The Times portrayed Thompson as an aggressor and Mike Huckabee turning the other cheek.
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."
Thursday's CBS Evening News took a look at the economic and tax plans for some of the candidates from both parties, but, while Democratic plans were reported without any references to criticism, correpondent Chip Reid took jabs at Republican tax cut plans, labeling that of Mitt Romney, who "made a fortune in business," as being "right out of the playbooks of Ronald Reagan and George Bush." Reid further suggested that Mike Huckabee's plan for a national sales tax contradicts his "populist" message of "protecting the middle class," as the CBS correspondent neglected to mention that Huckabee's plan would also abolish the federal income tax and provide rebates to those with lower incomes. (Transcript follows)
Following an interview with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith talked to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer, who said of Barack Obama: "It makes people feel good to see someone who has managed to get where he has, a black American who won out in Iowa..."
The segment began with analysis of Clinton’s "display of emotion," which Schieffer thought was "rather touching." Schieffer even referenced former Democratic Senator and presidential candidate, Bill Bradley, who cried on camera, and declared "So at least, I guess we've come to accept that people can cry on camera and that's not a sign of weakness." Smith concluded: "It certainly got her back on the front page."
Following this discussion of Clinton, Smith went on to ask about Barack Obama:
Fred Thompson today blasted the media for propagating a false rumor about his impending withdrawal, while reinforcing the role he has created for himself as the candidate in this race who does not suffer unwelcome questions gladly.
Back in Iowa, Thompson famously refused to respond to the debate moderator/school marm's demand for a hand-show on global warming. On this morning's Today, he declined to engage in horse-race speculation about his own prospects, then took the media to task for its propagation of that false rumor about his impending withdrawal. Weekend anchor Lester Holt interviewed the former Tennessee senator.
On the bright side, during Friday's The Situation Room, one day after CNN's Bill Schneider ludicrously called Democratic voters in Iowa "pretty moderate," the political analyst labeled Barack Obama as "liberal," and CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin later called Obama "very liberal" as he recommended that the Hillary Clinton campaign should be attacking the Illinois Senator's voting record. Toobin further said that, as a state senator, Obama "had one of the most liberal voting records in a fairly liberal state." (Transcript follows)
On Friday afternoon, CNN's liberal contributor Roland Martin suggested that most people who are pro-life seem "hateful" as he was describing Mike Huckabee's need to reach out to non-evangelical voters. During an appearance on CNN Newsroom at about 1:47 p.m. with anchor Kyra Phillips, Martin contended that Huckabee needs to pursue a strategy similar to that of President Bush in 2000: "Sure, [Huckabee is] a staunch pro-life person, but he isn't perceived as being hateful as other people who are pro-life." (Transcript follows)
Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of Martin's comments from the Friday January 4 CNN Newsroom:
Public radio is a left-wing preserve, but some corners of public radio are so far to the left that they treat liberals as gangsters and monsters. A brief listen to Pacifica Radio's "Democracy Now" program on Thursday brought me to a segment on the presidential candidates, and how they're all, from left to right, compromised by their warmongering national-security experts. Radical journalist Allan Nairn attacked Mike Huckabee, for example, for failing to treat Bill Clinton as a war criminal:
On the PBS talk show "Charlie Rose" Thursday night, Newsweek editor Jon Meacham declared that Hillary Clinton was right that it was a "great night for Democrats" and a bad night for Republicans. He scoured Mike Huckabee as an embarrassment: "Do you really want to see if a Southern Baptist minister who took two days to find out about the National Intelligence Estimate about Iran is going to be your standard bearer in a world at war?" He also declared it was "a rather odd thing for the Republicans of Iowa" to "say to the world that the strongest possible president is a Governor of Arkansas who does not have a great deal or any real foreign policy experience." Meacham seemed to have no sense of irony that the same words were easily spoken of Bill Clinton in 1992, and Rose didn’t call him on it, even though they joked "how many presidents does Hope, Arkansas get in one lifetime?"
Meacham also never thought it was odd that the Democrats of Iowa said to the world that the strongest possible president is a man with three years experience in the U.S. Senate who said (a) that he would meet with America-hating dictators and strongmen like Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez without preconditions and (b) then wildly swung back to suggesting he would bomb inside Pakistan to strike al-Qaeda. Meacham, who honored McCain’s courage for supporting the surge in Iraq, never mentioned Obama thought it was a mistake. When it came to the Democrats, Meacham sounded like he was offering a toast:
"Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts used the label "fundamentalist Christians" to describe the Iowa supporters of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. During an interview on Friday's program, she also noted that America "saw, there, in your offices in Iowa, right before the caucuses, people praying there in your, in your office."
The ABC journalist also grilled the '08 contender, fresh from his caucus victory, on the subject of creationism and evolution. Citing a new National Academy of Sciences report, Roberts asked, "Do you agree with that, that creationism should be kept out of our classrooms?" After Huckabee stated that, as governor, he never dealt with the question, the host repeated her question: "Should creationism be banned from the classroom. Yes or no?"
Of all the ways Harry Smith could have opened this morning's historic Early Show, he chose to do so by waving today's Boston Herald with its one-word front page "Shazam!" above a photo of Mike Huckabee. Smith described Barack Obama simply as the "big winner" on the Democratic side.
View video here [with apologies for low audio level].
Americans catching the U.S. election coverage on BBC/World on Wednesday night found a typical dose of leftish European bias. While Katty Kay reported the Republicans were dismayed by a supposed teenage "dating game" of disappointment with candidates like Romney and Huckabee, Matt Frei had a warmer take on Hillary Clinton: "Her stump speech sounds as soothing as a bedtime story and her big selling point, experience." Hillary even claimed a role in the Irish peace process during Bill’s presidency.
MRC’s Michelle Humphrey found and transcribed these snippets of Brit bias:
MATT FREI, BBC: Hillary Clinton's people chose a Methodist church in Indianola for one of her last campaign events here. At this late, desperate stage in the Iowa campaign, every bit helps including a sprinkling of Hollywood star dust, hence the appearance on stage of actress Mary Steenburgen and her husband Ted Danson. Then its time for the real star. Daughter and mother in tow. Is Chelsea learning the family business, one wonders?
HILLARY CLINTON: Long before I was ever followed around by all these cameras.
Journalists often fret about Big Business. Yet their coverage leans so pro-union that they won't give the business side of the story - even when they ARE the business.
The writers' strike has cost the networks millions in lost ad revenue from the lack of new primetime and late-night shows. But now that late night lives again, the coverage is all about "awareness" of the writers' guild and the strike.
Once the late-night comedy shows returned January 2, a new controversy arose: guests who dared to cross the picket line to appear on the writer-less shows. One of those was Baptist preacher and GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
"I don't think Jesus would cross the picket line, no, I'm almost positive Jesus would be on our side," one striking writer said to CBS's January 3 "Early Show."
After asking Senator Clinton all softball questions such as how she keeps herself "going everyday," to what nick name she would like if she wins Iowa, "Fox and Friends" asked Governor Huckabee fair but much tougher questions.
Secularized networks keep making mountains out of Christian-symbol molehills on the campaign trail. At CNN.com on Monday, reporter Rebecca Sinderbrand highlighted how a new Mike Huckabee ad has a Christian ichthys or fish symbol in it, on a banner for the Iowa Christian Alliance: "For the second time in two weeks, presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has aired a commercial in which a Christian symbol appears in the background." The ad script itself talks about defending "our values" and the worth of the unborn, but mentioned religion (rights endowed by "our creator") only in passing.
On Tuesday's edition of The Situation Room, CNN reporter Mary Snow implied incorrectly that the Iowa Christian Alliance was "backing" Huckabee when it's made no endorsement. An ICA officer had to apologize for making positive comments about Mitt Romney that sounded like an endorsement. Here's what Snow reported:
On Monday's "The Early Show," CBS anchor Harry Smith charged that the leading Republican presidential candidates are "mudslinging," contending that their campaigns have "turned nasty," but then suggested that Democrats are "playing nice." While the ABC and NBC morning shows portrayed candidates in both parties as "going negative," CBS's Smith hinted that Democrats were "playing nice" even after CBS correspondents had just referred to Obama as "attacking" other Democrats, and to John Edwards as portraying "corporate powers and Washington lobbyists" as "enemies of ordinary people." (Transcript follows)
Smith teased Monday's "The Early Show": "Pick me: It's a dead heat in the Iowa polls as Democrats fall into a virtual tie, and Republican leaders sling more mud."
Was it a change of heart or manipulating the media? My personal opinion is of the latter, and I've gathered several reactions from other bloggers that seem to agree. The way the media is reporting it right now, Mike just made a stupid mistake and it is backfiring already.
On Sunday’s The Chris Matthews Show, the host used one of Mike Huckabee’s Iowa photo-ops as an excuse to launch into an elitist attack on Republicans and hunters. “Who made killing small animals the test of Republican manhood?” Matthews challenged at the top of his show. Over a clip of a vintage Looney Tunes cartoon, Matthews further upped the ante: “Who declared war on Bugs Bunny?!”
Later with his panel, an appalled Matthews noted how Huckabee “told a reporter that he loved to bag squirrels because he fried ’em up and ate ’em with biscuits and a Coca-Cola. What have we come to!”
Noticing how NBC News chief foreign correspondent Andrea Mitchell was squirming, Matthews asked her, “Are you upset by this Andrea? You must be!”
“Absolutely,” Mitchell confirmed, adding a unique sexist angle: “You don’t see any women out there with a gun.”
Is America ready to be led by a New Age pundit? There's been much scrutiny of the respective religions of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. But do we need to reconsider Maureen Dowd's fitness for op-ed office in light of her revelation that she has apparently embraced New Age spirituality, even undergoing a New Age "exorcism" complete with swinging crystal?
I kept waiting for Dowd to say it was all a joke -- but she never did. Her column of today, "Am I a Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon?", describes her experience, conducted by one Faith Green: "a pretty, curvy 31-year-old green-eyed blonde, [who] says she has studied tribal shamanism, rolfing, Pilates, tango, movement and stretching."
Could it have been just a couple days ago that Chris Matthews claimed that the media had made a "mascot" out of Mike Huckabee? You wouldn't know it from this morning's Today show.
Weekend host Lester Holt kicked off the show's political segment by implying that among presidential candidates, Huckabee was the big loser in his handling of the Pakistani situation.
LESTER HOLT: The murder of Benazir Bhutto is having a big impact on the presidential race here in this country, where we now stand just five days from the first contest, in Iowa, and it's forcing Republican Mike Huckabee to do a bit of backtracking.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University ..... found that Fox News Channel's evening news show provided more balanced coverage than its counterparts on the broadcast networks.
A look at the press release (small PDF) reveals the extent of the balance at Fox, and the imbalance elsewhere:
Fox News Channel’s coverage was more balanced toward both parties than the broadcast networks were. On FOX, evaluations of all Democratic candidates combined were split almost evenly – 51% positive vs. 49% negative, as were all evaluations of GOP candidates – 49% positive vs. 51% negative, producing a perfectly balanced 50-50 split for all candidates of both parties.
On the three broadcast networks, opinion on Democratic candidates split 47% positive vs. 53% negative, while evaluations of Republicans were more negative – 40% positive vs. 60% negative. For both parties combined, network evaluations were almost 3 to 2 negative in tone, i.e. 41% positive vs. 59% negative.
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.
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.
Politico is having some snarky fun, running a "populist pop quiz" challenging readers to guess whether it was John Edwards or Mike Huckabee who made the variety of class-warfare claims listed. You'll find a sampling of four of the questions below, but I'd encourage people to take the entire eight-question quiz and report back your scores. A cyber-statue of Karl Marx to the winner!
1. “No young person is more equal than another person because he has a higher IQ, or a higher net worth, or because he lives in a nicer home, or his clothes have a label of a designer that the other guy doesn’t have. That’s not what gives us equality.”
2. “There is unfortunately some disconnect between people who have never struggled and those for whom everyday life is a struggle.”
I'm calling this the Day's Daffiest Question Award. Suzanne Malveaux, come on up and accept it on behalf of CNN. You asked the question, after all.
Malveaux was interviewing Mike Huckabee this afternoon and talk turned to a tough editorial a New Hampshire paper had written about Mitt Romney.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX: Saturday, New Hampshire's Concord Monitor broke with tradition. They're not endorsing someone, but they certainly took a slap at your opponent, calling him "a phony that must be stopped." Do you think that they went too far?
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.
With as many critiques that I've given Huckabee, I've never questioned him on social issues. I've always thought that was his strong point. But now comes news that those principles may not be so bonafide, at least when money gets involved.
Just in case you've been living under a rock I will summarize what has led up to this. Someone associated with the Huckabee campaign responded to critical analysis from Rush about Huckabee, claiming in short that Rush didn't think for himself and just repeated chatter from the DC/Manhattan elites. Mr. Limbaugh responded, and it was quite blunt (audio here). This resulted in a lot of backpedelling from Huckabee who pleaded:
Despite what former President Bill Clinton and most Democrats think, Fox News's Chris Wallace really is the epitome of fair and balanced.
In case you had any doubt, his interview Thursday with WOR radio's Steve Malzberg was a perfect example of why Wallace is the most impartial of all the Sunday talk show hosts.
To give you an idea of just how unbiased he is, during this extraordinary segment, Wallace strongly disagreed with Rush Limbaugh's recent remarks concerning Hillary Clinton's aging appearance, and actually came to her defense.
Later, Wallace supported media's questions concerning Mitt Romney being a Mormon even though Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) belief in this faith is totally ignored.
On the flipside, Wallace ridiculed MSNBC's David Shuster for some of his recent comments about Fox News, and mocked those that find water-boarding so deplorable.
Here are some of the highlights of this absolutely spectacular interview (15-minute audio available here, readers are cautioned to prepare themselves for an almost astounding level of candor from someone regularly depicted as a GOP mouthpiece):