When it comes to the failure of the Democratic gun control package in the U.S. Senate earlier this week, "[t]he media [have been] amplifying... with less subtlety" President Obama's gripes about the power of the NRA and a minority in the Senate supposedly scuttling the will of the American people on background checks, the Wall Street Journal editorial board noted today. But the truth of the matter, the board explained, is that Democrats have only themselves, and more specifically President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to blame.
The Journal editorial board explained how "[t]he White House demanded, and Mr. Reid agreed, that Congress should try to pass the [Manchin-Toomey background check] amendment without" the benefit of 30 hours of floor debate which "would have meant inspecting the details" of the legislation and "opened up the bill to pro-gun amendments that were likely to pass." A simple majority was needed for such a debate, the Journal notes, a threshold they could have cleared as Reid had 54 votes for his cloture motion. So why did Reid not go that route? Because it would "have boxed Mr. Reid into the embarrassing spectacle of having to later scotch a final bill because it also contained provisions that the White House loathes," the Journal argued, adding (emphases mine):
In an interview with Republican Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey on her Tuesday MSNBC show, host Andrea Mitchell attempted to use a new Federal Reserve report showing massive wealth loss for the American middle class to promote President Obama's agenda: "Does that, in fact, justify what the President has been saying...about the need for more help and the need for more stimulus?"
Toomey dismantled that argument: "The problem is the President's program has been making it worse. The President got the big stimulus bill that he wanted.... the economic growth is so feeble that we're not even creating enough jobs to meet the demands of the new entrants in the work force....Unfortunately, the President wants to double down on all the failed policies that he's been pursuing."
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer and NPR's Nina Totenberg had a humorous exchange on PBS's Inside Washington Friday.
After mocking Totenberg for the "surprise" of her giving Democrats on the Super Committee credit, Krauthammer scolded her for constantly interrupting him saying, "I'm in the middle of a sentence, and I am going to get to the end, and I will let you know with punctuation, alright?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Charles Krauthammer justifiably lost his patience with his fellow panelists on PBS's Inside Washington Friday evening.
No matter how many times he explained that Republicans last week proposed a revenue increase that Democrats refused, PBS's Mark Shields and NPR's Nina Totenberg couldn't seem to grasp this simple concept leading Krauthammer to ask, "What planet are you guys living on...I’ve rarely encountered such thickness" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
CNN's Christine Romans and Ali Velshi tried to argue that no evidence exists linking tax cuts to job creation while interviewing Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) Thursday, on America's deficit problem.
The financial gurus challenged Toomey's conservative point that tax hikes should be off the table as a revenue increase, because they would hurt the economy. "So, where is the evidence that not cutting taxes creates jobs?" Ali Velshi asked. "We haven't seen it."
Joe Scarborough took Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski to task Thursday over the ongoing debt negotiations. "[Republicans] already have given specifics on the Paul Ryan Medicare plan which was political suicide for a lot of Republicans. They took that hard vote. What hard vote have Democrats made on the debt over the past year? Name one. Name one vote" said Scarborough.
On Sunday’s NBC Nightly News, during a roundup of several reporters covering a number of high-profile Senate races, correspondent Ron Allen was upfront in labeling Pennsylvania Republican Senate nominee Pat Toomey as a "conservative," but an ideological label for liberal Democratic nominee Joe Sestak was absent: "Conservative Pat Toomey, a former Congressman and businessman, has been consistently leading in the polls ahead of Joe Sestak, a Democratic Congressman."
And correspondent Natalie Morales played up the possibility that "a lot of people are going to be blaming the Tea Party" if Republicans land one vote short of a Senate majority and Delaware Republican nominee Christine O’Donnell also loses: "If they're somehow able to get to nine and then Christine O'Donnell loses, a lot of people are going to be blaming the Tea Party."
On Sunday’s syndicated Chris Matthews Show, as host Matthews asked the panel to predict the outcome of the Pennsylvania Senate election, he described Republican candidate Pat Toomey as "right-leaning," but assigned no ideological label to Democratic candidate Joe Sestak. Panel member John Heilemann of New York magazine asserted that Toomey is "not just right-leaning, he’s a pretty conservative guy," while also giving no label to Sestak. Ironically, it was Helene Cooper of the New York Times who finally described Sestak as "so far to the left."
Later in the show, as the group discussed what Republican control of Congress would mean for President Obama, Heilemann continued to see Republicans being at an extreme without noting any liberal extremism as he recounted President Clinton’s battle in the 1990s with Republican Speaker New Gingrich and how President Obama could play a similar role with a Republican Congress. Heilemann: "He (President Clinton) took advantage of Newt Gingrich’s extremism to make Republicans look bad. Obama can play that part of the game possibly very effectively."
On Friday morning, after airing a full report on the Democratic strategy of painting Republican candidates as "dangerous" and "extreme," CBS’s The Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez seemed surprised when Republican guest Eric Cantor disagreed with her view that "there is no question these Tea Party Republicans are outside the Republican mainstream," and her suggestion that next year Republican congressional leaders may be in the "tricky position" of "feeling indebted to these candidates while trying to keep them in line."
And, picking up on Republican accusations of Democrats being extreme, the CBS anchor also wondered, "If these Tea Party-backed candidates win the election, wouldn't we just be going from one extreme to another?"
Meanwhile, over on the Today show, NBC’s David Gregory repeated the theory of some Democrats that Delaware Republican Senate nominee Christine O’Donnell and other Tea Party-backed candidates are hurting Republicans in neighboring Pennsylvania. And, while he at least conceded that the Tea Party is a "legitimate movement," he described Nevada Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle – in addition to O’Donnell – as "outliers." He did not acknowledge the role the mainstream media may be playing in turning swing voters against Tea Party candidates.
It's no secret that Chris Matthews once flirted with the idea of running for Senate in Pennsylvania, but since he didn't throw his hat into that race, the Hardball host, on Thursday night, did everything he could to help Joe Sestak beat Republican Pat Toomey, as he urged: "I hope your party gets organized up there, because the Democratic Party of Ed Rendell and you and all those other guys ought to get together with Brady andwin this thing!" And even before Matthews invited viewers to "Meet Joe Sestak" in an interview segment, the MSNBCer began cheerleading for him in a preview as he teased: "Up next, Joe Sestak from my home state of Pennsylvania, he's fighting hard, the good fight against Pat Toomey, the Club for Growther of the far right." [audio available here]
The following exchanges were aired on the September 2 edition of Hardball:
Imagine if, in 2004, Karl Rove had offered then-Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) a cushy administration post if only he dropped his primary challenge of then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, whom the Bush White House was backing for reelection.
Surely the media would merely smell "stupid politics" rather then the stench of corruption and complain that Democrats making hay of the matter were cynically making a federal case out of something that happens in Washington all the time.
Of course both you and I know that's the exact opposite of what would happen. But when it comes to Joe Sestak's alleged job offer by the Obama White House, Time magazine's Michael Grunwald is peeved at Republicans, practically telling them in his May 27 "Viewpoint" post at Time.com to move along:
The general election campaign for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak has started "ugly," according to Jay Newton-Small. In her May 20 Swampland blog post, the Time magazine staffer offered as evidence the former's press conference yesterday in which:
[H]e spent much of the speech blasting Sestak. In his 7-minute opening remarks he said “I” or “me” 52 times – including the thank yous – and “Joe or “he” 43 times.
Newton-Small did go on to note that "the beginning of a general election is all about defining your opponent" and added that:
Leave it to CNN host Rick Sanchez to unintentionally give us a moment of comedy in an afternoon cable news broadcast.
On "CNN Newsroom" on April 28, Sanchez interviewed Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., about the departure of Sen. Arlen Specter, Pa., from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. He asked the senator from South Carolina if Specter was correct in his analysis that the conservative wing of the Republican Party was squeezing out a segment of the electorate.
"You're shrinking the electorate to an extreme - to a point where a regular Republican can't win," Sanchez said, paraphrasing Specter. "What do you make of that argument?"
Welcome to the Political Reporting 101 class, boys and girls. Please break out your notebooks because today we will be covering examples of poor political reporting. And the first such example is this report from CNN. It is about the Senator Arlen Specter campaign which is so worried about their prospects in next year's primary election that they are already running attack ads against someone who isn't even an announced candidate. Your first assignment will be to discover the name of the person that CNN reporter Lauren Kornreich neglected to interview in her story: