On Saturday’s Fox News Watch, as the panel discussed media coverage of former Republican Governor – and current FNC host – Mike Huckabee’s involvement in commuting the prison sentence of Maurice Clemmons – who would later go on to murder four police officers in Washington state – panel members at first left the impression that Huckabee had commuted Clemmons's sentence after his child rape conviction. (Credit to NewsBusters reader Dana Christianson for emailing in a tip on the matter.) Conservative panelist Jim Pinkerton of New America Foundation had to point out that Huckabee commuted the sentence at a time when Clemmons serving time for the non-violent crime of committing burglary – which he did in 1989 while he was under age 18. Pinkerton even had to directly correct liberal FNC analyst Kirsten Powers, who seemed to convey that she thought Huckabee had commuted the sentence after the child rape conviction:
JIM PINKERTON, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: The kid was 17 years old and convicted of nonviolent – not – without a gun burglary and sentenced to 108 years. I think most people would see that as excessive. The real scandal is that he had at least three brushes with the law since the year 2000, and nobody then ever chose to revoke his clemency. That wasn't Mike Huckabee's fault. That was other people.
KIRSTEN POWERS, FNC ANALYST: What about the child rape?
CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin appeared on Thursday’s Newsroom and Situation Room programs to explain how "in no way did I intend to misquote" from a recent article by National Review’s Byron York: "This exchange aired just once in the 6 pm hour, and as soon as the National Review brought it to our attention at 7:05, we immediately realized the context could be misconstrued. We cut that portion of the interview. It never aired again." Griffin also mentioned how he had "since called Byron York and his editor Rich Lowry, explained what happened, and told them both that I regret any harm this may have brought."
In an interview excerpt aired on Tuesday's Situation Room (NB post with video), Griffin had told Sarah Palin: “The National Review had a story saying that, you know, 'I can't tell if Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, or all of the above.'” In fact, York was mocking media coverage of Palin: “Watching press coverage of the Republican candidate for Vice President, it's sometimes hard to decide whether Sarah Palin is incompetent, stupid, unqualified, corrupt, backward or -- well, all of the above."
Griffin first appeared seven minutes into the 2 pm Eastern hour of Newsroom. Anchor Kyra Phillips asked the correspondent about the criticism he had received over the misquotation. He played a clip of the question, and explained the impression he had of the interview overall. He then played the initial exchange he had with Governor Palin over the "botched" quote, and most of her answer.
John McCain's early love affair with the press has been well-chronicled. He was a "maverick" most loved because he went against his own party--best loved, in fact, when he produced legislation like McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform.
As Rich Lowry points out, they liked him for more than just that, they liked him because he gave them such extensive access.
Since 2000, John McCain had thrived on his irrepressible chattiness with the press, talking about anything reporters wanted for as long as they would listen. The press loved the access and avoided “gotcha” coverage, letting McCain explain any seeming gaffes. The arrangement worked beautifully for both sides — until McCain became the Republican presidential nominee.
Barack Obama, liberal? Surely you jest. Rachel Maddow found the suggestion so silly, she literally burst out laughing. The Air America host was part of this evening's panel on Race for the White House. David Gregory couldn't complete his reading of Rich Lowry's take on Obama before Maddow let loose.
DAVID GREGORY: Let's go to Smart Take #2. This is Rich Lowry from National Review Online, he's also talking [in a NY Post column] about Obama [emphasis added]:
Obama represents a rejection of triangulating Clintonism. He had no Sister Souljah moment during the primaries. Indeed, he initially embraced his Sister Souljah, in the form of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, introduced to the public in videotaped anti-American rants. Nor did Obama make any creative policy departures, like Clinton's advocacy of welfare reform in 1992. Obama is the fullest flowering of liberal orthodoxy since George McGovern. And yet his candidacy might not be electoral suicide. He has formidable gifts as a politician; he's eloquent, winsome, a quick study. He confronts a Republican Party that, beset by intellectual exhaustion, congressional scandal and an unpopular incumbent president, teeters on the verge of a Watergate-style meltdown. So Democrats contemplate the delicious prospect of having their purity and victory, too.
As Gregory speaks the words "Obama is the fullest flowering of liberal orthodoxy since George McGovern," Maddow can be heard laughing off camera. When Maddow's turn came to comment, she tried to make the case that Obama doesn't make it as a real liberal.
Saturday's Fox News Watch featured a discussion on revelations that CNN staff were sent a memo advising them to make positive claims about Fidel Castro to balance out the regime's critics, crediting the communist dictator as a "revolutionary hero" to leftists who established "free education and universal health care." FNC's liberal contributor and NPR correspondent Juan Williams took exception:
I don't know what was going on there. ... what news man is at work and saying here is what we want to say nice about a man who was an oppressive force in his culture, in his society? A man who long ago left the heroic stance, the Che Guevara time period, and became somewhat of a hard hand that has left his people living at a low quality of life. I don't get it.
Discussing the controversy surrounding his latest campaign ad and the broader issue of his invocation of religion in his political campaign, the normally good-natured Mike Huckabee turned . . . cross on this morning's Today. And while contending he wanted to promote a kinder tone at this time of year, the candidate came prepared to take some pointed shots at Mitt Romney.
If Alan Colmes turns up at your Thanksgiving get-together sporting a couple shiners and a re-arranged smile, don't press the poor guy if he claims to have walked into a door. The FNC host just got clobbered by a certified DC heavyweight -- Bob Novak.
Novak was a guest on this evening's Hannity & Colmes. Colmes first questioned the venerable reporter about the item he published this week regarding the Clinton campaign's claim to have a scandalous story about Barack Obama. For the record, Novak stated this evening that since first reporting the story, "I've had substantiation from another source, another very, very good source, who with his own ears heard Clinton people putting out" allegations about Obama.
That's when Colmes decided to press his luck. Mistake.
The liberal-media establishment at the Poynter Institute delights in the supposedly scandalous appearances of conservatives in the media, as its Romenesko website featured liberal PBS complainers on Wednesday:
National Review editor Rich Lowry recently filled in for David Brooks on "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" during the Friday week-in-review segment. Some viewer reactions:
"Please rethink having such a callous, offensive 'reporter' on PBS again."
"He gives journalism an ugly face not to mention the total disregard this young man has for democracy."
"The remarks of Rich Lowry were shameful and deeply disturbing."
A red meat speech to Gwinnett County, Georgia, Democrats was cause for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Rhonda Cook to whip up a 15-paragraph Max Cleland press release just in time for Veteran's Day. Not once were any Georgia Republicans quoted for balance in Cook's November 11 story, as the former senator and Vietnam veteran thundered about impending doom for Republicans both nationwide an in Georgia in 2008. But particularly offensive was how Cook uncritically relayed a tired, discredited liberal Democratic meme that Cleland was ousted from office in 2002 thanks to an ad questioning his love of country:
Democrats were especially angered by Cleland's loss to Saxby Chambliss five years ago because of an 11th-hour television ad in which the Republican challenger questioned the incumbent's patriotism.
Of course, Democrats and longtime Cleland supporters are welcome to think anything they want about the ads that questioned Cleland's voting record, but it's not objectively accurate, and neither Cook nor the AJC should uncritically further the Democratic talking point.
This is hardly the first time liberals have played the Max Cleland-as-a-victim-of-McCarthyism card. National Review's Rich Lowry capably addressed this three years ago (emphasis mine):