Way to go out on a limb, Harold!. . . Of all the Morning Joe regulars, Harold Ford, Jr. is on my short list of those who bring the least to the table. Ford seems more interested in cultivating friends and avoiding offense than in saying anything interesting or—heaven forfend—controversial.
Ford took his penchant for finding something good to say about everyone to absurd new heights on today's show. On the one hand, Harold showed respect for Rand Paul's filibuster. On the other, he actually broke out the hoary "my dear friend" in saying he wasn't as worred about the drone policy as is Ron Wyden. And Harold is confident that President Obama will uphold the Constitution. Ford even claimed that AG Eric Holder did "a phenomenal job" in answering questions on the drone policy. We're running out of hands, here, Harold! Matters reached an absurd crescendo when, after observing that those who hang out with terrorists put themselves in peril, Ford proclaimed "I don't dine, socialize or spend time with people who are on a terrorist list around the globe." Good to know! View the video after the jump.
Not surprisingly, most of the folks on MSNBC have being having a field day Thursday ridiculing Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) for his historic filibuster the day before.
Doing his part on the Martin Bashir show was MSNBC political analyst David Corn who said that Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter to Paul “had a very silent FU in it” (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
Republican Sen. Rand Paul's filibuster on Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to rule out drone strikes against U.S. citizens, which ended early Thursday morning, was absent from the front page of Thursday's New York Times. The Times buried its coverage of Paul's striking "talking" filibuster, in which he held the floor for nearly 13 hours, ostensibly in opposition to Obama's choice of John Brennan for CIA director. Brennan was serving as a proxy for Paul's demand that Holder rule out drone strikes on American citizens or on U.S. soil.
Paul's performance did not merit a full news story in the Times. Coverage was limited to a few paragraphs in the middle of a more comprehensive story by Charlie Savage on bipartisan criticism of Attorney General Eric Holder, and a single sentence deep into Scott Shane's front-page story "C.I.A.'s History Poses Hurdles For a Nominee." Liberal columnist Gail Collins also wrote about it, in snotty fashion. There wasn't even a print-edition photo of the dramatic filibuster.
ABC's World News on Wednesday and Good Morning America on Thursday offered confusing, incomplete and brief explanations for why Rand Paul filibustered John Brennan, Barack Obama's Central Intelligence Agency nominee. According to GMA news reader Josh Elliott, "Paul was protesting the Obama administration's use of drone strikes against Americans." [Video of the terse explanations can be found below.]
World News anchor Diane Sawyer insisted the "Tea party firebrand" was opposing "the use of drones against U.S. citizens." This is hardly a full explanation for ABC's viewers. On the Today show, Chuck Todd produced a more accurate description: "[Paul] decided to filibuster the confirmation of CIA director John Brennan in an attempt to get the White House to once and for all promise to never target Americans with drones on U.S. soil." The "on U.S. soil" part is key. ABC allowed only news briefs on the filibuster. CBS and NBC offered full reports.
As Joe Scarborough said, "this is liberal on liberal on liberal violence. I love watching it." He was referring to the intra-squad liberal dogfight, spurred by Rand Paul's filibuster, that broke out on Morning Joe today over the use of drones by the U.S. government. H/t NB reader Ray R.
Though former car czar Steve Rattner played a supporting role, the two main combatants were Sam Stein of the Huffington Post and Richard Wolffe of MSNBC itself. Stein criticized the lack of guidelines that the Obama administration has established for the use of drones on U.S. citizens, supporting Paul's argument that it should be an easy question for the Obama admin to answer. In the other corner, Wolffe was the internationalist, suggesting all terrorists should perhaps be entitled to the same due process, be they Saudi, Kuwaiti or American. Stein and Scarborough had to enlighten Wolffe about the special protections the Constitution extends to U.S. citizens. View the video after the jump.
During the Wednesday edition of her CNN program “Outfront,” host Erin Burnett and her producers just could not stop themselves from deriding Kentucky Republican Rand Paul’s filibuster effort to block a Senate vote on John Brennan, President Obama's choice for CIA director.
While the show did give some serious discussion to the substance of Paul’s concern on behalf of Americans’ civil liberties, during the introduction of the segment, Burnett treated the matter rather flippantly and featured a graphic of the senator entitled “Sen. Paul Drones On… And On…”
At the same time that rising Republican Senate stars Rand Paul and Ted Cruz were making history with a filibuster Chris Matthews, on Wednesday's Hardball, insisted Paul and Cruz must be heroes to hate groups.
During a segment on the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center's new study about an increase of anti-government hate groups, Matthews demanded which politicians they supported: "Who do they root for?! They don't root for Rand Paul? Pat Buchanan? I mean who? They must like this new guy Ted Cruz. They must love Ted Cruz, c'mon!" (video after the jump)
Wednesday's CBS This Morning played up the supposedly gargantuan cuts in government spending that would go into the effect if the sequester goes into effect on March 1. Charlie Rose trumpeted the "massive spending cuts" set to take effect, while Gayle King underlined that the "deep automatic spending cuts" were quickly approaching. But neither anchor pointed out that $85 billion in cuts come out of a $3.5 trillion federal budget.
Correspondent Bill Plante hyped the effect of the possible "massive layoffs" on the Washington, DC region. But he only included one soundbite from a Republican/conservative, while playing three clips from President Obama and second Democrat.
Sunday afternoon, the Associated Press issued a supposedly comprehensive "kill" order to all subscribers relating to an erroneous story claiming that Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News Sunday's that "he sees voters wanting, quote, 'somebody who wants to round people up, put in camps and send them back to Mexico.'" I'm questioning whether the AP is really interested in making sure the story disappears.
Surely without intending to do so, liberal radio host Bill Press has providing a compelling argument against renewal of the Violence Against Women Act.
On his radio show this morning, the easily piqued Press sniffed in disdain at the sheer effrontery of Republican senators asking pointed questions of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. (audio clip after page break)
Nightline co-anchor Terry Moran lashed out at Rand Paul on Twitter, deriding the senator for daring to bluntly question Hillary Clinton over her role in the Benghazi scandal. Moran mocked, "Curious: What is Rand Paul's foreign policy background? Did he serve in the military? Did he study, live, do business or charity overseas?"
Of course, what qualifies Paul to question Clinton is that he's a United States senator and Moran isn't. Over the years, Moran, a journalist, has offered his liberal slant on numerous topics, including business and economics. In 2009, the reporter fawned over Michael Moore's left-wing film Capitalism: A Love Story, gushing, "[Moore is] an American populist in the grand tradition, a provocateur, a comic, a rhetorical bomb thrower." What qualifies Moran, who has never run a business, to seriously discuss a film about capitalism?
As former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw appeared as a guest on Wednesday's The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, he and host Stephen Colbert poked fun at former President Bill Clinton as the two discussed what a second term of President Barack Obama would likely involve.
A frequent emailer saw a silver lining in Rand Paul's detention this morning in Nashville by the Transportation Safety Administration which prevented him from speaking at today's March For Life rally in Washington: "Best way to get the MSM to mention pro-life rally."
Well, that's largely true. The local Nashville TV station video posted at Real Clear Politics mentions Paul's prolife purpose up-front, as does a commentary by James Fallows at the Atlantic (who incidentally described the rally as "mammoth"). But my emailer underestimated the lengths to which reporters at the Associated Press would go to keep anything pro-life out of a story. In their 750-word report (saved here for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes), Erik Schelzig and Eileen Sullivan completely misstated why Paul wanted to get on the flight he was not able to board -- which also means that their story's headline is incomplete:
After asking Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to discard his talking points and be frank on the debt ceiling issue, CNN's Don Lemon repeatedly interrupted the senator, and even lectured him and threw some Democrat talking points at him. Lemon interviewed Paul on Saturday's 5 p.m. EDT edition of CNN Newsroom.
"At this point though, and can we do this – let's do this interview without talking points, okay, let's just talk to each other," Lemon curtly told the senator at the outset. But then he asked a pointed question which made Paul raise his eyebrows.
With the deadline for raising the debt ceiling looming less than a month away, there are mixed feelings about raising the debt ceiling among debt-conscious politicians who are hesitant to give more spending power to the government. The Treasury Department has given August 2 as the estimated date on which the U.S. will no longer be able to meet fiscal obligations if the debt ceiling is not raised, though.
Sen. Rand Paul explained on Sunday that Republicans would be more in favor of raising the debt ceiling if there were a balanced budget amendment in the Constitution to obligate the federal government to balance its budget each year and prohibit it from running a deficit.
Check out a video of Paul's remarks after the break, and let us know what you think in the comments.
New York Times legal reporter Charlie Savage’s two stories on libertarian Sen. Rand Paul holding up extending sections of the Patriot Act ignored the huge hypocrisy of the act’s newest vocal defender, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The paper also demonstrated a new-found comfort on the part of the Times for the act, which it excoriated during the Bush years.
Reid attacked fellow Sen. Ron Paul in personal terms on the Senate floor Wednesday, but the Times ignored both the attack and Reid’s overheated defense of the Patriot Act, which would surely have been denounced as demagoguery coming from a Republican. Liberal journalist Spencer Ackerman called Reid a demagogue, saying "Dick Cheney would be proud." (Ouch!) Ackerman fumed:
New York Magazine apparently believes that opposing foreign aid is literally xenophobic - rooted in irrational fear of foreigners - and is willing to engage in some pretty sketchy journalistic practices to make its case. Those are a pair of lessons Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., learned on Tuesday.
Last year, MSNBC and other so-called "news" outlets mercilessly attacked Kentucky Senatorial candidate Rand Paul for giving an honest libertarian answer to Rachel Maddow concerning the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
On Friday's "Hardball," Chris Matthews tried the same tactic on Paul's father Ron, but the elder Texas Congressman was ready for the question and ended up making the host look rather silly for asking it (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Catching up with a Thursday night appearance by Senator Rand Paul to plug his new book, Paul’s segment on the Late Show exposed David Letterman as an arrogantly ill-informed ally of Wisconsin’s public employee unions: “Why don't we just raise the taxes and let these folks have their collective bargaining, have their union representation and go back to their jobs? Raise the taxes on the wealthy.”
When Paul tried to educate Letterman about how a small percent of the wealthy pay far more than their fair share, Letterman was an oblivious student as he baselessly countered: “I think there's something wrong with those numbers. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'm pretty sure there's something wrong with them.”
Paul had outlined his wish to reduce government spending, prompting Letterman to retort: “What would be so wrong then in terms of leaving the public sector alone and reducing tax benefits for the wealthy and large corporations? Why couldn't you make up your money that way?” (Audio: MP3 clip)
According to Nightline anchors Terry Moran and Bill Weir, new Republican Senator Rand Paul is "radical," "controversial" and longs to take a chainsaw to the Department of Education. Using hyperbolic language, Weir profiled Paul for Wednesday's program.
Co-anchor Moran previewed the segment by attempting to isolate the Kentucky politician: "Up next, even the most conservative Republicans balk at his proposals for slashing government." As a cartoon graphic of a crazed-looking Paul appeared onscreen wielding a chainsaw, Weir hyperventilated, "So, while the President argues for a budget scalpel, Rand Paul would use a chainsaw, shutting down the Departments of Energy and education."
The journalist continued, "He would kill the Consumer Product Safety Commission, shrink the Pentagon and cut off all foreign aid." Dismissing Paul's call for spending restraint, the ABC anchor challenged, "Does the richest nation in the history of nations have a responsibility to take care of its weakest?"
George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday highlighted Paul Begala, his old friend from the Clinton White House, while critiquing Senator Rand Paul and the state of Kentucky. Without mentioning his personal connection, the Good Morning America host chided, "You know, in the Daily Beast yesterday, Paul Begala, pointed out that Kentucky gets more from the federal government than they give out."
GMA on Wednesday offered no criticism of the union protesters, simply another attack on the actions of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Citing a USA Today poll showing Americans supporting collective bargaining, Stephanopoulos lobbied, "And we've see these protests all across the Midwest. Do you think you may have sparked a backlash here?"
Following up, the former Democratic operative berated, "But I think a lot of people look at this and say, Okay, and especially in Wisconsin, we've seen the public employees say we'll pay more for our health care and pensions. But, you can't take away our rights. Have the governors here gone too far?"
On ABC’s World News Saturday, correspondent John Hendren filed a report marking this year as the first time since 1947 that no members of the Kennedy family will hold public office in Washington, D.C. The piece began:
JOHN HENDREN: The sun has set on the Kennedy era. When Congress reconvenes next week, it will be the first time in 64 years that there has not been a Kennedy in office.
KATHLEEN KENNEDY TOWNSEND, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT F. KENNEDY: I think it's sad. I think that we need a Kennedy.
Hendren went on to recount the death of former Senator Ted Kennedy, "the Lion of the Senate," and the decision of Rhode Island Representative Patrick Kennedy to retire, as well as the shuffling of office space with the arrival of newly-elected Republicans. The ABC correspondent also noted that Tea Party-backed Rep. Ron Paul and Senator-elect Rand Paul are the only family members serving who will be serving concurrently in Congress.
Hendren concluded by offering a ray of hope for those would like to see the Kennedy family in government again: