Just when it seemed that NBC's Meet the Press couldn't sink any lower, ratings for the last three months of 2013 for the Sunday morning news/interview show fell to its lowest level since the third quarter of 1992. That development has added to the speculation that liberal David Gregory might be on his way out as host.
From October through December, NBC's program came in third place for total viewers -- behind CBS's Face the Nation and ABC's This Week -- and the numbers among viewers in the important demographic from 25 to 54 years of age collapsed to their lowest level in the program's history.
Right now, the White House press corps is in a shouting match with the Obama Administration over the White House's refusal to allow media photographers to take pictures of various presidential events. While the left-leaning journalists are tossing around words like "propaganda" to describe the official photos which are being released, the recent trip President Obama took to South Africa for the funeral of Nelson Mandela illustrates that the media elite really isn't interested in news so much as it is in preserving its institutional power.
Perhaps the most-discussed news item out of the Mandela funeral trip was a picture that was taken of Obama, British prime minister David Cameron, and Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt taking a “selfie” -- a self-portrait usually shot with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone -- a moment that was caught by Roberto Schmidt, a photographer for the French Press Agency. Now, Schmidt says that the overwhelming interest in the shot makes him “ashamed of mankind.”
Joe Scarborough made a point of mentioning that until today, his MSNBC show hadn't discussed the Obama selfie at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Morning Joe's way too highbrow for that kind of stuff, don't you know, particularly when it might reflect badly on Barack Obama.
But when the crew finally got around to it today, opinion from Joe to Mika to Ed Rendell to Thomas Roberts was unanimous: there was nothing to criticize. Mika made her point by seeking to snap a selfie with Scarborough, as Joe jokingly showed her the hand. View the video after the jump.
All three networks on Wednesday engaged in damage control for the White House following criticism of President Obama's selfie during Tuesday's Mandela memorial service. On CBS This Morning, senior White House correspondent Bill Plante even made this absurd assertion: "The President might have caused a diplomatic incident if he had declined the invitation to be in a photo with two long-time allies." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
The cast of NBC's Today also justified the incident, with co-host Savannah Guthrie arguing: "I think some people thought it's not appropriate because it's a funeral. On the other hand, it wasn't a funeral, it was a memorial service." Weatherman Al Roker added: "It was a memorial, it was a celebration." Matt Lauer chimed in: "There were people singing and dancing all around them."
Once again, the folks at MSNBC have whitewashed the bloody history of a Communist dictator in order to provide political cover for President Obama. Following video of President Obama shaking hands with Cuban dictator Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, the folks at the Lean Forward network jumped to President Obama’s defense.
Appearing on his daily MSNBC show on December 11, host Thomas Roberts mocked the controversy over the handshake while calling Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) decision to walk out during Raul Castro’s speech a “a stunt to make some attention and some news about himself." Cruz, is the son of a Cuban immigrant and doubtless found the notion of Raul Castro speaking deeply offensive.
After Brian Williams touted President Obama's handshake with Cuban dictator Raul Castro as "one of the better moments" at Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela, correspondent Lester Holt went further on Wednesday's NBC Today, hailing the encounter as "a true Mandela moment." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
A sound bite followed of Democratic Congressman John Lewis gushing: "It's the power of Nelson Mandela to bring President Barack Obama together and Raul Castro together here in South Africa." Prior to Williams on Tuesday, Holt had similarly declared that "the measure of Mandela [was] so great" that "America's presidents shared a stage" with Castro.
Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday again exposed MSNBC’s Al Sharpton for deceptively editing a video, this time to make it appear the Factor host was disparaging Nelson Mandela within hours of his death.
“Sharpton uses the occasion of Nelson Mandela's death to dishonestly attack people he doesn't like,” said O’Reilly. “They don't come lower” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Leave it to CNN to take a completely non-controversial post by Sen. Ted Cruz honoring Nelson Mandela and whip it up into a public image problem for the senator. Conversely, President Obama's handshake with Cuban dictator Raul Castro was spun into a positive.
Even though Cruz appeared at Mandela's memorial service on Tuesday, CNN focused on controversial comments by his Facebook fans over his praise of the late Mandela. And during the 9 a.m. ET hour of Newsroom, anchor Carol Costello dug up a critic's broadside of the Senator: "'when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.' Although that's probably a vile slur on dogs." Costello's guest, Rev. Raphael Warnock, then admonished Cruz for his "fringe" fanbase:
Alan Gross, political prisoner. Those were four words missing from Emma Margolin's December 10 MSNBC.com story hailing the handshake between President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro earlier today at Nelson Mandela's memorial service in Soweto, South Africa. Gross, a State Department contractor, has been languishing in a Cuban prison for five years.
There was a reference to "genocide" in the story, but that was from a quote from a Cuban official railing against the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba (emphasis mine):
Tuesday's CBS This Morning swooned over President Obama's appearance at Nelson Mandela's memorial, hailing his "remarkable" speech as "the rhetorical and even emotional high point of this day."
Correspondent Bill Whitaker was particularly star-struck with the President's performance. "The crowd here sees him as a kind of hero. He has said that Nelson Mandela is a hero of his, but people here see some similarities between the two," he insisted. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
View journalist Barbara Walters on Tuesday used Nelson Mandela’s funeral as a way to push for normalization of relations with Cuba. Absolutely struck by the fact that Barack Obama shook hands with President Raul Castro, Walters lectured, “The significance is that maybe this may change our relations with Cuba after 50 years, because it seems a little ridiculous to me that we recognize China and our relationship but we still do not have a relationship with Cuba.” [See video below.]
She enthused that the footage of Obama and Castro was “old enemies…shaking hands.” The host hyped, “It’s historic.” Walters has a history of touting communist leaders.
Reporting from South Africa on Tuesday's NBC Today about the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela, Nightly News anchor Brian Williams noted how the "dignitary section has some criminals, some thieves, some kings, some presidents" and that "Several have been life-long sworn enemies." He then proclaimed that President Obama's "handshake with [Cuban leader] Raul Castro was one of the better moments." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Williams gushed that oppressive dictators sitting side by side with democratically elected leaders of the free world was somehow part of Mandela's legacy: "What would Nelson Mandela say to all of them and say to all of this? Most of the speakers have urged the crowd, 'Go on, behave like him, live like him, be infused with his spirit going forward and maybe we could get some place.'"
An indignant Chris Matthews on Monday took internet attacks on the late Nelson Mandela, allegedly from conservative commenters, and slammed the right for a lack of respect towards the South African leader: “Don’t they know that it’s not nice to make fun of a person so recently deceased, much less the world’s most honored champion of human freedom?”
Yet, how did the journalists at MSNBC and NBC respond to the death of Margaret Thatcher, someone who championed freedom in the struggle against communism? On the day she died, Richard Wolffe, a regular on Matthews’s show and network, seethed, “She had an attitude to her domestic enemies that frankly was the antithesis of freedom.” Another Matthews colleague, Brian Williams offered up an even more vicious attack.
With the departure of commentator George Will to Fox News, the job of representing the conservative point of view on ABC’s This Week seems to have settled upon Matthew Dowd. Trouble is, Dowd is not really what anyone could fairly characterize as a conservative.
Beyond the fact that he was a Democratic strategist for decades before switching to work for former President George W. Bush in the late 1990s, Dowd’s own political views seem to be rather conventionally liberal. If there was any doubt of that proposition, Dowd dispelled it in a column published last week at the ABC News website focusing on the Obama White House’s latest pet issue: the supposed crisis of income inequality in the United States.
On the Friday, December 6, All In with Chris Hayes show on MSNBC, during a discussion of Nelson Mandela's support for violent resistance, the Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan admitted that the former South African leader had a "moral failing" because he "associated with" dictators who "did the same things to their people" as "was done to him."
Referring to an article by Moynihan on the subject, host Chris Hayes brought up the "Santa Clausification process" as he posed the question:
On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, host David Gregory used the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela to lecture American politicians: "Mandela refused to be consumed by hatred and insisted on working toward a common purpose with his political foes. That, seems to me, is what is missing from this era of argument in Washington." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
However, Gregory portrayed President Obama as the victim of such polarization, rather than one of its instigators: "The election of our 44th president was similarly an example of how countries can overcome their past....Yet, President Obama has struggled since he made history. He still aspires to achieve political consensus on some of the country's most pressing challenges."
On Friday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC's Karen Finney accused Republicans of practicing their own form of "apartheid" by "separating people and dividing people" as she and host Al Sharpton discussed comments some right-leaning public figures have made in the aftermath of Nelson Mandela's passing.
Referring to former Senator Rick Santorum comparing Mandela fighting against the oppresssion of apartheid to conservatives fighting against ObamaCare, Finney asserted: [See video below.]
For someone who loves to make pop culture references, Chris Matthews can't seem to get them right. On Friday night, the Hardball host sneered at Rick Santorum comparing his fight against ObamaCare to Nelson Mandela's struggle against apartheid. A cocky Matthews derided, "That's like Snoopy fighting the Red Dragon." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] As any Peanuts fan will tell you, Snoopy fought the Red Baron.
On March 28, 2013, the MSNBC anchor mocked pro-Second Amendment voices as just like Nazis. He compared, "You know that scene in Casablanca when the French police captain shoots the Nazi, Major Strasser?" Of course, Humphrey Bogart's character shoots the Nazi, not the French captain. In another segment on Friday, Matthews used Mandela's death to shill for his book.
There was a really delicious exchange on ABC’s This Week Sunday that conservatives across the fruited plain will greatly enjoy.
After hate-spewing MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson bashed former Vice President Dick Cheney for once wanting Nelson Mandela put on a terrorist list, Matalin shot back, “When will you ever get tired of beating up on Darth Vader” (video follows with transcript and commentary):
At the Daily Beast, Michael Moynihan attempted to overcome the tendency of journalists and celebrities to make Nelson Mandela a secular saint. Moynihan recalled that when Margaret Thatcher died, these same people denounced her for here "indulgence" of right-wing dictators like Agosto Pinochet in Chile, who allowed his country to become a democracy.
ABC called her reign an “elective dictatorship.” NBC reported several times that “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” became a popular iTune after she passed away, and CBS predicted the funeral would be a "tense and controversial affair." It's safe to guess these networks wouldn't dream of recalling Mandela’s associations with despots like Fidel Castro and Muammar Qaddafi, as Moynihan insisted they should:
Since the announcement of Nelson Mandela's death Thursday, the media have been in a virtual wall to wall tribute to his life and legacy. Yet not everyone thinks they're painting an accurate picture of the man.
Quite the contrary, Cornel West told CNN's Jake Tapper Friday, "We are witnessing the Santa Clausification of Nelson Mandela" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The media's determination to pin anything negative on Texas Senator Ted Cruz apparently knows no bounds.
Even as the establishment press, with Politico's Reid Epstein being one of the more recent examples, attempts to give President Obama the Mother of All Free Passes for the disastrous rollouts of HealthCare.gov and Obamacare in general, Cruz, currently perceived as a strong 2016 presidential prospect, somehow deserves to be associated with comments left at his Facebook post on Nelson Mandela's death. At least that's what Anneta Konstantinides at ABC's "The Note" seems to want readers to believe; otherwise, why would she engage in the effort at all? Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine; HT Twitchy):
With the passing of Nelson Mandela yesterday, it was a metaphysical certainty that the media would draw parallels between the legendary South African leader and Barack Obama. So it was not a surprise when it happened during a tribute package at the beginning of Friday’s Morning Joe.
As triumphant footage of Mandela rolled on the screen, co-host Mika Brzezinski read a scripted narrative: [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
On Friday's CBS This Morning, former Time magazine managing editor Richard Stengel unexpectedly zeroed in on a part of Nelson Mandela's legacy that apparently wasn't sufficiently left wing. Moments after he lionized Mandela as "the George Washington of South Africa", Stengel asserted that "he [Mandela] had not been very progressive about HIV and AIDS when he was president".
Veteran 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon also sang Mandela's praises, to the point that he made an eyebrow-raising comment about the supposed extent that the former South African president stands apart in recent history: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
With the recent high profile dismissal of hosts Alec Baldwin and Martin Bashir, you would think MSNBC executives would have warned their on air employees to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric.
Apparently not, for on Now with Alex Wagner Friday, Chris Matthews actually said that South Africa's last apartheid era leader F.W. de Klerk was more of a patriot than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) (video follows with transcript and commentary):
On Thursday's PoliticsNation, MSNBC political analyst Jonathan Alter played the liberal caricature by actually suggesting that, in light of former South African President Nelson Mandela's passing, Americans should practice "forgiveness" toward "hundreds of thousands of people" who are serving life prison sentences. Speaking to host Al Sharpton, Alter suggested:
Amid the tributes looking back at the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela following his death on Thursday, Friday's NBC Today and ABC's Good Morning America both managed to take shots at Ronald Reagan for not being supportive of Mandela during Apartheid. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
On Today, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell proclaimed: "The U.S. wasn't always on Mandela's side. In the 1980s, President Reagan supported the Apartheid regime, a cold war ally, even as protests broke out on college campuses across America demanding that the U.S. punish the regime....Finally, Congress, including key Republicans, overrode Reagan's veto, imposing the economic sanctions that helped break the Apartheid regime."
On Tuesday, successive MSNBC hosts used the failing health of former South African president Nelson Mandela to promote President Obama's upcoming trip to Africa. Daily Rundown host Chuck Todd lead the way when he announced: "We have some developing news that we just have to share. Nelson Mandela's daughter, Zindzi Mandela, tells NBC that she was with Nelson Mandela, that she told him of President Obama's upcoming visit to South Africa. And in Zindzi's words, she told him, quote, 'Obama is coming, and he opened his eyes and gave me a smile.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Legendary South African leader Nelson Mandela is in the hospital today with a lung infection, and MSNBC could not resist using the occasion to compare President Obama to Mr. Mandela. During a discussion with Time managing editor Richard Stengel on her daily program, Andrea Mitchell showed a picture of then-Senator Obama visiting South Africa’s first black president in 2005. Mitchell cooed, “You can imagine the role that Mandela played just in the imagination of a young Barack Obama and all of his generation.”
Stengel picked up on that thread. “And I think, you know, there are similarities between President Obama and Nelson Mandela, I think, in terms of their temperament, in terms of their approach to problems as pragmatists.” [Video after the jump. MP3 audio here.]