As NewsBuster Mark Finkelstein reported, Sunday's "This Week" wasn't a good omen for Hillary Clinton or her supporters.
Fortunately, for those of us that enjoy Hillary bashing as much as a Gershwin tune (how 'bout you?), dessert was served on "The Chris Matthews Show" as panelists including Dan Rather, Norah O'Donnell, Katty Kay, and Andrew Sullivan gave conservatives an early Clinton kicking Christmas present to savor.
Is this still payback for Bill and Hillary chastising Tim Russert for his behavior during October's debate in Philadelphia? Maybe more important, have press members decided that if they continue to pile on the supposedly inevitable one, the Democrats' only chance in 2008 is if Mike Huckabee is the Republican nominee?
Before we get there, here are some marvelous examples of Hillary bashing from seemingly unlikely sources to brighten your day:
ABC’s Chris Cuomo, who previously tried to push John McCain to give a preference between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, asked Mike Huckabee, after citing Hillary Clinton, "can a woman be president?" Cuomo inquired this after mentioning that Huckabee signed an ad stating "a wife is to submit graciously to...her husband."
Huckabee appeared on the December 13 edition of "Good Morning America" to address his recent questioning of Mormon doctrine that "Jesus and the devil are brothers." Cuomo also asked Huckabee why he is "unwilling to say" that Mormons are Christians. Huckabee responded "it's not my place to start evaluating his faith, your faith, somebody else's."
It is also notable that GMA co-host Diane Sawyer previously attacked Huckabee for playing the "religion card."
Yeah, it was a yawner. Even so, in its coverage of today's GOP debate the MSM has overlooked one notable nugget: Mike Huckabee's fervent espousal of a radical egalitarianism that, at least in this NewsBuster's view, reflects a fundamental misreading of the Declaration of Independence and a departure from conservative principles.
According to ABC reporter Claire Shipman, dreary economic news and a slow Christmas could be a real plus for the Democrats. Filing a segment for Wednesday's "Good Morning America," Shipman lamented, "It may be that no amount of hall decking can convince Americans to be jolly about the economy this holiday season."
However, the GMA correspondent saw good news in this for the Democrats. She asserted, "Traditionally, of course, problems in the economy would help the Democrats." After allowing that GOP candidate Mike Huckabee's "populist message" could resonate, Shipman gushed, "Among the Democrats, John Edwards has the message that's most consistently appealing to people suffering from economic woes." Not wishing to leave any Democrat behind, she rhapsodized, "But at the same time, the Clinton brand has a strong economic reputation."
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]:
The mainstream media have been fawning over the atheist inspired film "The Goldan Compass" and ignoring the fact that the author (upon which the movie is based), Phillip Pullman, has bragged about killing God in his novels. Well, according to CNN, the real focus should be on the fact that the film raises "awareness" about the plight of polar bears. No, really.
In 2007, ABC's investigative reporter Brian Ross has provided hard-hitting looks at Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani. He's focused only one such segment on a Democrat, Hillary Clinton. And, unsurprisingly, each of his investigations into a GOP candidate has been accompanied by snarky, sarcastic comments.
Following the recent GOP debate in which CNN chose to air a YouTube question putting candidates on the spot as to their belief in the literal truth of the Bible, there was much breast-beating as to the inappropriateness of religious tests for office.
But that didn't stop Tucker Carlson's two liberal guests this evening from taking potshots on religious grounds at President Bush and Mitt Romney.
On Wednesday's "Good Morning America," reporter Brian Ross's story on Mike Huckabee featured a misleading onscreen graphic that claimed the then-Arkansas governor pardoned a rapist who went on to murder two women in Missouri. In fact, Huckabee didn't pardon Wayne Dumond, the man in question. The ABC graphic read, "Huckabee's Pardon: Rapist Struck Again After Release." The inaccurate information appeared beneath the December 5 segment for two minutes and 50 seconds of a three minute plus segment. (Hat tip to NewsBusters reader TE.)
On "Fox and Friends," which got the story right, co-host Steve Doocy explained that the governor lobbied the Arkansas parole board to release Dumond. They did so. He then played a clip of Huckabee on FNC in November in which the governor pointed out, "I did originally support parole, but governors don't parole anybody." "The Early Show" on CBS also refrained from using the term "pardon." NBC's "Today" ignored the story completely.
Following two days of positive coverage of Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee and his front-runner status in Iowa, on Wednesday the CBS "Early Show" decided it was time to tear down the former governor’s campaign: "He's being dogged by new reports that he had a much bigger role in the parole of convicted rapist Wayne Dumond while he was Governor of Arkansas than he had previously been claiming."
Compare that statement by co-host Harry Smith, with Smith’s previous assessment of Huckabee when previewing an interview with the candidate two days ago:
When he announced he was running for the Republican nomination, many people said Mike who? Hucka what? But Evangelical Christians, a powerful force here, have rallied to his support. Pro-life, traditional marriage, they have found their champion. But they have found something more, a candidate who is good on his feet...His thoughtful debate performances have set him apart.
ABC investigative reporter Brian Ross on Wednesday continued his habit of offering up critical takes on Republican front-runners and ignoring Democratic scandals. So far this year, the correspondent has featured four hard-hitting segments on GOP candidates and only one on a Democrat.
During a piece on "Good Morning America," Ross investigated a developing story of whether then-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee used his influence to secure the release of a convicted rapist who went on murder two women. The story has received major play on the left-wing blog site Huffington Post, a point Ross mentioned, but he left out any attribution of the web page's very liberal leanings.
"A camel is a horse designed by committee." -- ascribed to Sir Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis.
Perhaps the only thing more likely to yield ungainly results than a committee designing a horse is a Democrat designing a Republican presidential ticket. David Broder tries his hand at it in his WaPo column today, "Principles Amid the GOP Pack. The result is a double-humped dromedary known as McCain-Huckabee.
From CNN's perspective, what would be the perfect addition to its YouTube Republican debate? Why, someone who is on a steering committee for the Hillary Clinton campaign! Keith Kerr, a retired, gay general was in the audience for the November 28 debate and grilled the Republican candidates over the issue of homosexuals in the military. Somehow, CNN forgot to mention his connection to "LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee." The next day, network anchors even tried to cover up their knowledge that the general was an "activist."
CNN's audience, however, probably shouldn't be surprised at the network's actions. Prior to the debate, anchor Anderson Cooper defended the usage of such plants by asserting, "Well, campaign operatives are people, too. We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions…that’s not our job..." The cable channel's tricky tactics marred an otherwise commendable debate. As noted on NewsBusters, a majority of the YouTube questions aired by CNN were from a conservative perspective.
At the now infamous CNN/YouTube Republican debate held last night in Florida, candidates received a number of questions from the over 5000 videos submitted for review. The questions were selected by a panel who went through them all, whittling down the choices to just a small number. Out of all those 5000 questions, CNN failed to choose one question about the issue of health care reform. And then CNN has the audacity to snivel about it on the Political Ticker last night. [Emphasis mine]
The issue of healthcare has sparked some of the most heated debate this campaign season on the Democratic front, but the Republican presidential contenders seemed to all but ignore what is considered a major priority for many voters.
Recent CNN/Opinion Research Corporation polls show healthcare reform is consistently at the forefront of voter concerns along with the war in Iraq and the economy.
Candidates often find a way to include their talking points and campaign priorities in debate answers regardless of what the question posed to them actually is. Since no question was posed to the candidates about their healthcare reform plans, they all but ignored the issue choosing instead to emphasize their stances on illegal immigration and the war in Iraq. –CNN's Emily Sherman
Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube presidential debate for the Republican candidates largely lived up to its promise to be a debate fitting for Republican voters as the vast majority of the questions used were asked from a conservative point of view. But the GOP debate's slant toward conservative questions was less than the July 23 CNN/YouTube Democratic debate's slant toward liberal questions. On Wednesday, out of a total of 34 video questions presented, conservative questions outnumbered liberal questions by 14 to 8, with the remaining questions ideologically ambiguous or neutral. During the Democratic debate, out of a total of 38 video questions, the slant toward liberal questions came in at 17 liberal to 6 conservative, with the remainder ambiguous or neutral.
[Update: Keith Kerr was known to CNN as a gay activist as far back as December 2003, when he was featured in this CNN article.]
CNN, as part of its Republican debate with YouTube, failed to mention that retired general Keith Kerr, who announced he was gay after his retirement from the Army, is a member of Hillary Clinton’s "LGBT Americans For Hillary Steering Committee." Not only did General Kerr ask the question via a YouTube video, but he was also present in the audience, and got to ask the candidates for a "straight answer" (pardon the pun).
General Kerr’s, whose question came 47 minutes into the 9 pm Eastern hour the debate, is also part of the Servicemembers’ Legal Defense Network's advisory council, an organization "dedicated to ending discrimination against and harassment of military personnel affected by 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and related forms of intolerance"
[See updates below: Bill Bennett mentioned Kerr's possible Hillary connection on CNN 30 minutes after the debate, and Anderson Cooper confirms this at the close of the 10 pm Eastern hour.]
"Good Morning America" host Diane Sawyer apparently has a significant problem with 2008 GOP contender Mike Huckabee's new ad that identifies the candidate as a "Christian leader." On Tuesday's program, Sawyer fretted over whether "we crossed a line here" and asked guest Newt Gingrich if the campaign spot is "just too heavy-handed about specific denominations?" The GMA host also speculated that Huckabee might be playing the "religion card."
Sawyer simply couldn't let go of the "Christian leader" phrase, which appeared in an onscreen graphic of a new ad for the Arkansas Governor. After playing a clip of the spot, Sawyer sputtered, "He put up there on the screen, Christian, Christian leader. Not spiritual leader, Christian leader." She then asked the former House Speaker, officially appearing to promote a pro-religion documentary he worked on, if Huckabee's usage of the term would "backfire" on him. After pointing out the political benefit that the 2008 candidate might receive, Gingrich dryly noted, "You know, he's not running in New York State." Not to be deterred, Sawyer pressed for specifics. "But do you approve of that 'Christian leader' on his ad," she wondered.
According to MSNBC host Chris Matthews, 2008 Republican candidate Mike Huckabee has been given "the biggest free ride from the liberal media that I have ever seen in my life." Appearing on Monday's edition of "Morning Joe," the "Hardball" anchor speculated that left-wingers would enjoy seeing the GOP "chaos" that a Huckabee victory in Iowa would produce and, as a result, are ignoring the Republican's "crazy" views on gun control. Matthews derided as "black helicopter stuff," the former Arkansas governor's assertion that owning a gun gives Americans the ability to fight tyranny. "It sounds crazy," he told "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough.
It's interesting to note that it wasn't Huckabee's position on taxes or immigration, which have been attacked as liberal by other conservatives, that Matthews objected to. The "Hardball" host lamented that a "sophisticated" media is allowing the '08 contender's position on guns to fly "under the radar." When Scarborough protested that conservatives view gun rights as meaning more just hunting, Matthews dismissively replied, "You really believe the only thing protecting you from the federal government coming into your neighborhood with helicopters and seizing you is your guns?" He then condescendingly claimed that the Founding Fathers designed the Second Amendment only for fighting the British and added, "I hate to tell you that the United States government is our government now."
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.
Wednesday's edition of ABC's World News hyped the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll finding a dramatic rise in Iowa for former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, rising to a near-tie with Mitt Romney, 28 to 24 percent. After noticing that Huckabee attacked Romney as a pseudo-conservative, Tapper challenged Huckabee from the right on taxes and on illegal aliens. When he asked about tuition breaks for illegals, Huckabee sounded like Hillary on the issue: "If you're government at the federal level is so incompetent that it fails to secure the border, you don't then grind your heel into the face of a 6-year-old child over it."
Tapper said "Huckabee appeals to socially conservative evangelicals because he is one. And he cultivates an affable image." But the remarks Tapper quoted weren't affable. They were like that "heel to the face" imagery. Here's the meatiest part of the transcript:
ABC's George Stephanopoulos highlighted adversarial quotes and characterizations for an interview with 2008 Republican candidate Mike Huckabee on Tuesday's "Good Morning America." The former Clinton operative quoted conservative Phyllis Schlafly as saying, "[Huckabee] destroyed the conservative movement in Arkansas" and Betsy Hagen of the Eagle Forum who compared the GOP contender to Bill Clinton and labeled him a liberal. In a previous piece, ABC reporter Jake Tapper highlighted an American Spectator article that derided Huckabee as "a guy with a thin skin, a nasty vindictive streak and a long history of imbroglios about questionable ethics."
Now, one could argue that Stephanopoulos's critique hit Huckabee from the right and, by quoting Schlafly, questioned whether the former governor is conservative enough to be the GOP nominee. However, just two weeks ago ABC medical expert Dr. Tim Johnson conducted a fawning interview with Hillary Clinton over her health care plan. He lauded the Democrat for knowing "health care better, I think, than any other candidate" and gushed over how impressed he was with the New York senator's "knowledge base." She certainly didn't face any adversarial quotes about temperament and "questionable ethics."
Appearing on Thursday night's "Hardball," liberal actor Ben Affleck joined host Chris Matthews in hashing over what Matthews called Jimmy Carter's "fearless" criticism of Dick Cheney, GOP "jingoists" and "crazy" right-to-carry laws.
Interestingly enough, next to Matthews, Affleck seemed more moderate, at least in his responses to the "Hardball" host's liberal baiting, as the actor deemed Carter's attack on Cheney was "almost inappropriate," and admitted, "I'm probably less of a gun control guy than Rudy Giuliani is." However Affleck did agree with Matthews that Mike Huckabee's "crazy" support of right-to-carry laws wouldn't stop increased violence in the cities.
On Thursday night, after President Bush's Address to the Nation regarding Iraq, MSNBC featured a discussion dominated by criticism of the President from the left, which bolstered the views of such liberal guests as talk radio host Rachel Maddow and Democratic Senator Joe Biden, and challenged conservative guest and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee's take on the speech. Chris Matthews showed repeated fascination with the President's reference to 36 nations fighting in Iraq, calling it "ludicrous." When Maddow compared America's toppling of Saddam Hussein's government to attempts by insurgents to topple the current elected government by remarking that "it's like getting a lecture on the evils of prostitution from David Vitter," Keith Olbermann seemed impressed as he labeled her words "the first zing of the night." (Transcript follows)
For the third time in less than a week, ABC anchor and former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos appeared on "Good Morning America" to dourly assess Republican Fred Thompson’s 2008 chances. On the Thursday edition of GMA, the host of "This Week" attempted to set an impossible bar for the former senator. "...He can't make a mistake,"Stephanopoulos breathlessly claimed.
Earlier in the segment, the ABC host negatively spun Thompson’s standings in the polls. Some might compliment the performance of a candidate who, upon entering the 2008 race, is only narrowly trailing the front-runner. Not Stephanopoulos. After claiming that many thought the former actor would surge into first place early in the summer, he critiqued, "That hasn't happened. Most of the latest polls show that he's in second place behind Rudy Giuliani....He hasn't quite rocketed out the way he expected."
For various reasons, the majority of the Republican presidential campaigns have said they are not going to participate in a CNN debate co-sponsored with the Google-owned YouTube.com.
Despite the fact that the Democrats' YouTube debate featured left-wing questions far out of proportion to questions from the right (see NB's prior coverage of the debate here), Republican activist Patrick Ruffini is arguing the GOP is really dropping the ball. Here's an excerpt from an open letter he's attached to a petition urging the candidates to change their minds:
We've read the news reports that only two of your fellow candidates have agreed to attend the Republican Party of Florida/YouTube debate, and there are major candidates considering snubbing the event.
As Republicans, we believe this is a serious mistake. Every Democratic candidate eagerly accepted the opportunity to answer questions from the American people via YouTube, even Hillary Clinton, the most cautious and calculating of the bunch.