Long before Obama and the Sotomayor confirmation process elevated "empathy" to supreme importance, it held an honored place in the pantheon of liberal values.
That being the case, why is it liberals appear incapable of empathizing with those who don't share their politics?
Recent example: Princeton political science professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell appearing on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show July 23 to talk about Obama saying at a press conference the night before that Cambridge police "acted stupidly" in arresting Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. --
Unless you've been asleep for the past couple of weeks, you're quite aware that CNN's Lou Dobbs has been taking a lot of heat for his reports concerning Barack Obama's birth certificate.
Never reluctant to stand up for himself, Dobbs on his radio program Tuesday took aim at those in the media who are "trying to silence their opponents and their competitors in the public marketplace of ideas," in particular MSNBC's Rachel Maddow who he referred to as a "teabagging queen."
What follows is a YouTube audio of some of his comments, along with a partial transcript:
Viewers of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on July 20 were treated to something seldom seen -- a political analyst trying to set the record straight after an argument, in the absence of the second pundit.
Maddow preceded her criticism of MSNBC colleague Pat Buchanan by saying this tactic is "not cool" and "not fair" before proceeding with it anyway --
MADDOW: It's not cool to talk about guests after their segment is over. It's also not fair to relitigate these arguments in the absence of one of the parties who participated in the argument and I will not try to do that now.
One of the sad byproducts of journalism's decline is that you rarely see a great debate on television anymore between a liberal and a conservative without it devolving into a lot of yelling, name calling, and folks talking over each other.
On Thursday night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow invited Pat Buchanan on to talk about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court.
What ensued was a surprisingly civil and respectful ten minute discussion that should give viewers faith that it is still possible for folks on opposite sides of the political spectrum to converse like adults about controversial subjects (video embedded below the fold with transcript, file photo):
On a rainy September night in 1972, a man on a ferry bound for Martha's Vineyard tried to throw another passenger overboard. The target of the assailant's attack -- former defense secretary Robert McNamara, then president of the World Bank.
The assault received considerable attention at the time though was largely forgotten in the decades that followed. After McNamara's death earlier this month at age 93, the incident was recounted by University of Pennsylvania professor Paul Hendrickson when he was a guest on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC show on July 7.
As she was about to introduce Hendrickson, an incredulous Maddow described the attack and told her audience, "This is not a metaphor" -- which turned out to be exactly how Hendrickson would describe it to Maddow. To which I respond -- it wasn't the only metaphor at work.
As the confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama's Supreme Court appointee Sonia Sotomayor are upon us, the left-wing attack machine had to take a few last shots ranking Senate Judiciary Committee Republican Sen. Jeff Session, Ala., and the Republican Party as a whole.
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow explained the junior Alabama senator would take over the spot after Sen. Arlen Specter's defection to the Democratic Party on her July 10 program, suggesting his selection to the post was part of some rebranding by the GOP.
"Republicans have also decided to have Senator Jeff Sessions lead this battle for them," Maddow said. "When Arlen Specter defected to the Democratic Party, the Republicans had a choice of who should be their top senator on the Judiciary Committee. They overtly chose Jeff Sessions of Alabama to be that top Republican."
My dear late father used to say that whenever a person's reaction is disproportionate to the stimulus, something else is at work. Keith Olbermann's "Worsting" of Ann Coulter on last night's Countdown [video] is a good illustration of the principle. Olbermann ostensibly awarded Ann his "Worst Person" for what was, after all, a rather mild swipe at Rachel Maddow, a tongue-in-cheek reference to her "raw sex appeal."
So what had really gotten under Olby's skin? What caused him to call Ann "putrid and evil"? Reference to the Coulter column in question reveals this paragraph, which Olbermann pointedly omitted from his Worst Person spiel:
Soon we'll only hear about Keith when his creepy e-mails using his mother's death to hit on chicks start making the rounds again. (Tip to Keith: When a girl refuses to give you her phone number, her assistant's phone number or her personal e-mail address, and only gives you her assistant's e-mail address, you're not halfway in the sack.)
Listen to Rachel Maddow introduce a guest on her MSNBC show Wednesday night, as seen and heard in the embedded video, and savor a Freudian slip for the ages.
A question that comes to mind -- how does one accurately transcribe this? Is the correct spelling "wretch," defined in my Random House dictionary as "a deplorably unfortunate or unhappy person," or "retch," as in "to make efforts to vomit"?
Fortunately for Maddow, it could have been worse .... Joining us now is New York Times columnist Frank Bich ...
"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" That's a saying once bungled by President George W. Bush, to the loud delight of the liberal media. But that same media should keep it in mind as Washington mulls a second round of stimulus spending.
A July 7 Bloomberg story by Shamim Adam reported that Laura Tyson, an economic advisor to the Obama administration, had put forward the notion that the $787 billion approved in February was "a bit too small," and that government should consider a second stimulus package "focusing on infrastructure projects."
Although Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., maintains there is "no showing that a second stimulus is needed," other members, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in a July 7 Politico article, say it shouldn't be taken off the table.
[Update, 8 pm Eastern: Screen capture, video link to interview added.]
CNN anchor Kyra Phillips sympathized with an outed homosexual army officer on Tuesday’s Newsroom program. Phillips questioned Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach about his recent meeting with President Obama, and asked, “What else did you tell him, because I know this has weighed heavily on your heart for a very long time....What did he tell you that gives you...hope...that he is going to get rid of this?” [video of interview available here]
The anchor’s interview with Fehrenbach occurred a day after he attended a “celebrating LGBT Pride Month” event at the White House. He was the guest of the homosexual activist group the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which presses for the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy (as Rachel Maddow announced on her MSNBC show a week earlier), and is promoting a petition on the lieutenant colonel’s behalf. After noting the officer’s career and “nine medals for bravery as a combat pilot,” Phillips began with an enthusiastic question: “So there you were- every chance to say everything you ever wanted...to the president about the situation that you are fighting for, which is your job, and to get rid of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ How did you make your way to the president for a one-on-one?”
This must be what it's like to listen to pundits in a country with state-run media.
Former president George W. Bush offers what barely passes as criticism of his successor and Obama's media apologists rush to his defense, as if to stanch a wound.
Here's Rachel Maddow and Dallas Morning News political reporter Wayne Slater on Maddow's MSNBC show June 18. In the first portion transcribed below, Maddow teases her discussion with Slater coming later in the show --
For once I was close to agreeing with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. Then she had to ruin it by reverting to herself.
Maddow was in self-righteous dudgeon on June 9 about news that the Pacific island nation of Palau agreed to accept Uighur detainees from Guantanamo -- for a whopping $200 million --
MADDOW: Well now, today's news, a potential solution. We may be looking at another round of "Survivor: Palau". This time, though, it's the Uighur edition. No decisions have been made yet apparently, but there are talks underway to have Palau accept our 17 woebegotten, innocent Uighur prisoners in exchange for a ton of money. The AP is reporting that the negotiations for Palau to take these 17 guys may involve a promise of as much as $200 million of development aid and budget support and other inducements to sweeten the deal. That would be roughly $10,000 per citizen of Palau. Or looked at it another way, that would be a payment to Palau of $11,764,705 per Uighur.
The Obama Administration's Justice Department threw a curve ball at the same-sex marriage movement last week, filing a 54 page-brief on Thursday in support of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
The Washington Times reported on June 16 that "Gay activists are fuming ... it represents a break in President Obama's campaign promise to repeal the 1996 legislation. The Justice brief upholding DOMA was filed in Smelt v. United States, a California lawsuit brought by Arthur Smelt and Christopher Hammer asking the federal government to give them the same benefits as heterosexual couples. The Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal, the ACLU and other gay rights groups issued a statement that said they were ‘very surprised and deeply disappointed' in the filing, and they unflatteringly compared it to actions taken by the former Bush Administration."
This action dealt a heavy blow to "gay rights" activists and is in stark contrast to Obama's lofty campaign promises. Yet we have heard very little about it (even this report in the Washington Times was only a small item in the ‘Culture' section) and we have seen even less on the news. Why?
When four members of the media, only one of them decidely right-leaning, agree on something, viewers should pay heed: blaming conservative talk show hosts whenever someone goes on an unprovoked shooting spree is wrong.
Such was the unanimous conclusion reached on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" when host Howard Kurtz and his guests -- Mark Halperin of Time magazine, Ana Marie Cox of Air America Radio, and Jim Geraghty of National Review -- got together to discuss the predictable reaction to Wednesday's killings at the Holocaust Museum Memorial.
Most surprisingly, even the uber-liberal Cox concurred:
I do think it is irresponsible to make that a very like hard connection. I have to totally disagree with Rachel [Maddow] and Keith [Olbermann] on this. I think that that was going a little bit too far to compare him to Rush Limbaugh.
Imagine that. What follows is an embedded video of this surprising segment (relevant section at 12:00) along with a partial transcript:
Radical MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is a fan of the radical magazine The Nation. The magazine’s Chris Hayes is a regular Maddow guest. On Friday night, as part of an ongoing appreciation of murdered late-term abortionist George Tiller, Obama-boosting Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell came on to discuss a blog she wrote for the Nation about how pro-lifers operate with a "totalitarian impulse that generates a culture of terror rather than a culture of life."
The black professor, who's unashamed about her abortion, wants pro-lifers demonized: "We want to start making...being an anti-choice group is like being in the KKK....we want it to be socially unacceptable to be part of a group that is actively working to take away the fundamental rights, the legal rights, the capacity of doctors and patients, women and families to make these choices."
This is one of those segments where it’s extremely convenient not to schedule a guest to disagree while pro-lifers are being smeared:
There she goes again, revealing more than intended.
Hardly a broadcast of her MSNBC cable show passes without Rachel Maddow earnestly claiming to have invited a Republican guest, only to be told, thanks no thanks.
But based on Maddow's remarks on her show this past Friday evening, those claims come across as dubious -- given Maddow's censorious rationale for selecting guests. Or more accurately, those possessing the temerity to disagree with her politics.
Maddow had this to say during a discussion with Ana Marie Cox about what they perceive as more vocal criticism of Obama from Republicans who do not hold elected office (click here for audio) --
Rush Limbaugh has begun humorously describing MSNBC as "government-controlled television." Trying to watch coverage of President Obama’s Cairo speech on MSNBC last night would certainly give you that impression. Obama’s speech was so impressive that not only were mouths agape in amazement in Afghanistan, Rachel Maddow’s official critical reaction was exactly these words: "Dude, no way. He said what? Huh-uh. Dude, come again. Dude? Did he really just say that?"
The American audience was rocked because Obama "hit them with hard truths and you want to make them fall over." She also compared the speech to an incredible fireworks display. First, Maddow ran footage of NBC’s Richard Engel from the evening newscast:
MADDOW: Our friend, Richard Engel, NBC‘s chief foreign correspondent, watched the speech in Afghanistan and described to "Nightly News" tonight the way he saw Afghans reacting to the speech.
I'm sure the talk show host can defend himself just fine; however, the following shows just how low MSNBC will go to trash Republicans and conservatives any chance they get. On last night's Rachel Maddow Show, the host used a long-known ersatz quote supposedly uttered by Rush Limbaugh to, well, y'know, get some cheap digs in:
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO TALK SHOW HOST (discussing Newt Gingrich's views on Judge Sotomayor): I didn‘t know why he retracted it and I still don't. I'm not retracting it. Nobody's refuted it. She would bring a form of racism and bigotry to the court.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MADDOW: When you get called racist by the guy who says the assassin of Martin Luther King, Jr. should get the Medal of Honor, consider yourself honored. Also, nauseated.
Wanted: Editor at MSNBC familiar with journalism ethics -- and willingness to ensure that "news" division adheres to them.
In the unlikely event such a hiring occurs, MSNBC political analyst Rachel Maddow would soon catch the attention of any ombudsman acting in good faith.
I have watched Maddow's television show on a regular basis since it started last September, and listened to her Air America Radio program for nine months before it ended last winter. What Maddow did this past Thursday was, bar none, the shabbiest spectacle I've seen by her and among the worst I can recall from anyone pretending to play a journalist on TV.
Norah O'Donnell and Rachel Maddow can't seem to make up their minds. In the same segment, Maddow argues - and O'Donnell fails to question - that Judge Sonia Sotomayor was not picked as an affirmative-action nominee, and follows with the mystifying non-sequitur that opposing "the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice" would be politically damaging for the Republican party.
O’Donnell was interviewing Rachel Maddow (normally exiled to the prime-time wing-nut section of MSNBC programming, Maddow instead made an appearance just after three PM on Tuesday), and immediately served up a steaming dish of Rush Limbaugh controversy. In keeping with the liberal myth of Republican racism, Maddow immediately pounced:
Language always gives us away, George Carlin once observed. And it's blowing the cover from liberals unhinged by former vice president Dick Cheney getting the better of an off-balance President Obama.
Two recent examples -- the first, Rachel Maddow's MSNBC cable show on May 20 with Newsweek investigative reporter Michael Isikoff as one of her guests. Isikoff described an "off the record" meeting that day between Obama and his senior officials and representatives of civil liberties and human rights groups --
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell warned Sunday that ideological conservatives, particularly radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, have gained a hold over the Republican Party that risks driving the GOP into an extended exile from power.
Powell cast his warnings in unusually personal terms as he answered recent charges from two champions of the Republican right -- Limbaugh and former Vice President Dick Cheney -- that he was no longer a Republican.
"Rush will not get his wish, and Mr. Cheney was misinformed," said Powell, whose resume includes work as military adviser to President Ronald Reagan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and President George W. Bush's Cabinet. "I am still a Republican."
Obviously, the "far right voices" referenced in the piece's headline are those of Limbaugh and Cheney.
If Rush Limbaugh is on the far right, surely MSNBC's Rachel Maddow qualifies to be characterized as far left. Yet only last month, the Tribune carried an article from the Los Angeles Times (another Tribune newspaper) that asked this burning question about Maddow:
Just when you thought left-wing criticism of Dick Cheney had climbed over the top, it keeps reaching new heights.
Case in point -- New Yorker magazine writer Jane Mayer appearing on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC cable show May 15 --
MADDOW: We're trying to figure out the role of vice president Cheney's office here in part on the torture issue, the leadup to the invasion of Iraq. From your reporting, what can you tell us about what sort of interest Cheney took personally in the intelligence that was gleaned from these interrogations?
Are the Fox News Channel and MSNBC bad for America?
Such was implied on CNN's "Reliable Sources" Sunday when host Howard Kurtz invited the Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik, "USA Today Live's" Lauren Ashburn, and the BBC's Matt Frei on his program to discuss the "increasingly partisan nature of cable news."
By the end of the conversation, Ashburn said "[T]he bottom line is this is not good for society," and Zurawik agreed: "That's absolutely right...The effect on society and on this democracy of this angry, polarizing, bitter kind of putdown conversation is dangerous."
Not surprisingly, Kurtz and his guests didn't include CNN amongst the partisans, with the host making sure to regularly inform his audience that "CNN, by and large, tries to play things down the middle, with liberal and conservative guests taking each other on."
Despite the obvious bashing of competitors while falsely holding his employer up as the model of impartial journalism on cable, the discussion was actually quite interesting (video embedded below the fold with partial transcript, relevant section begins at 11:44 with commentary to follow):
Clarity can come from unexpected places -- even that unlikeliest of sources, MSNBC.
Such has been the case with a pair of recent guests on "The Rachel Maddow Show" who made a series of surprising statements -- albeit only in the context of MSNBC.
Example one -- Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, appearing on Maddow's show May 12 and criticizing Dick Cheney's assertion that harsh interrogation of captured al Qaeda prevented terrorist attacks after 9/11 --
WILKERSON: You'll notice that Cheney always says, seven and a half years or almost eight years, no terrorist attack and so forth. That's because he has the honor of being, or the dishonor of being the man on whose watch 3,000 Americans died. More Americans died from a terrorist attack under Dick Cheney's leadership, if you will, than any other president in our history.
It's not often I hear three jaw-dropping claims in the course of a single day.
On "The Rachel Maddow Show," this can happen in a matter of minutes, especially when author Ron Suskind is the guest.
Suskind appeared on Maddow's MSNBC program on April 22 and wasted little time making dubious assertions stemming from the Senate Armed Services report that questioned the legality of al Qaeda interrogations --
Apparently viewers are getting tired of the cutsey, smugness that is Rachel Maddow, and not just a few of them either. Ratings for the already low rated Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC have shown a steep decline recently, falling from a high of 1.9 million viewers to "slightly over 1.1 million."
Naturally, MSNBC President Phil Grifin is putting on the brave face calling Maddow a "rock star" and that Maddow is a "great success." He told the L. A. Times, "We've never had success anywhere near that in our 12-year history at 9 p.m. right out of the gate."
How is it that MSNBC's Rachel Maddow toiled for years as a student before before earning a doctorate in political science at Oxford -- yet managed to avoid studying the American Civil War?
How else to explain Maddow's commentary last Thursday in response to tea party protests nationwide against dubious tax policy and runaway government spending?
Here's what Maddow said in previewing an upcoming segment --
Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, appears to have his sights set on higher office. What is higher office if you're already governor in Texas? Of course, that would be president of Texas. The return of Confederacy in American politics as seceding from the Union comes back into Republican fashion.
Yeah, I laughed too -- "Republican fashion"? Those pundits at MSNBC make the darndest claims, don't they?