Showing they have no sense of morality, no grasp of corruption and no understanding of what defines a criminal, CNN gives us another one of those ubiquitous year in review stories, this one titled "Politicians who fell from grace in 2008." In this one, CNN has decided to reveal for us their top eight politicians that found 2008 to be a "career-buster" because of their "crimes and misdemeanors" or their outrageous controversies.
CNN features corruption mired Rod Blagojevich, the sex crazed Elliot Spitzer and John Edwards, and the criminal bribe taker Ted Stevens among four others. Each of these men in the CNN list have either been convicted of criminal actions, are indicted for corruption, lost their positions, been drummed out of their party, or are soon to face jail time. Among these eight criminals, however, is a name that doesn't belong among this class of serial abuser of the public trust. It won't be shocking to note that among the worst sex criminals, bribe takers, liars and thieves in politics for 2008, CNN ridiculously included the name of Governor Sarah Palin.
Palin, however, has done nothing remotely like what these other political ner-do-wells have done. She did not take bribes, she did not indulge in sexual dalliances with co-workers or call girls, she did not get booted from her party or lose her job as Governor. She is not under indictment nor does she face jail time, yet CNN includes her in a list with Rob Blagojevich, John Edwards, Kwame Kilpatrick, Larry Langford, Tim Maloney, Elliot Spitzer and Ted Stevens.
Imagine for a moment the Senate was currently controlled by Republicans, and the white male majority leader advised Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich not to pick a black candidate to fill president-elect Barack Obama's vacated seat instead pressuring the governor to choose between two white candidates, do you think this would get some media attention?
Probably every hour on the hour until the white majority leader was forced to apology and conceivably resign, right?
Well, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday who Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told Blagojevich he did and didn't support concerning Obama's replacement, and irrespective of their qualifications, there was a clear racial divide in his preferences:
Ain't this post-racial period great? Here we have one of the more famous members of the Black Congressional Caucus accusing Senate Democrats of threatening to act like Orville Faubus, George Wallace and perhaps the most iconic of segregationists, Bull Connor.
Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther who is now a congressman from Chicago, levelled his accusation on the CBS Early Show this morning in reaction to the letter signed by all 50 Senate Democrats declaring that they would not seat Roland Burris, the African-American that Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday named to take Barack Obama's Senate seat.
Lynn Sweet wants the Obama team to come clean over its contacts with Blago. David Shuster has a different concern. He's hoping the media won't get "adversarial" once the Obama folks get around to releasing their report about who said what to whom.
Shuster made his pre-emptive plea for good media manners on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show Shuster has recently begun hosting now that David Gregory has moved on to Meet The Press.
Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times, began with a reasonable reporter's take on the pending release by Team Obama of its accounting of contacts between the President-elect's representatives and Blago and his minions: take your time but be complete. In contrast, Shuster's focus was his demand for media decorum and desire to exculpate Rahm Emanuel before even learning the facts.
When It's the Democrats, the Media Falls SilentWe are now a week into the wall-to-wall coverage of the tape recorded fall of Senate seat auctioneer and sometime Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. But there has always been a distinctly different tenor from the media in stories involving scandalized Democrats compared to their reports on corrupt Republicans.
During the 2006 mid-term elections, the news world was saturated with talk of a GOP "Culture of Corruption," a Democratic slogan repeated incessantly by the traditional media. The press cast three bad Congressmen and a single scamming lobbyist as representative of an entire Party gone bad, and their incessant drumbeat helped drive the GOP out of power.
Meanwhile, one prominent Democrat after another has been tinged with scandal, but the media has yet to stamp their Party as "Culturally Corrupt."
The first of just three questions asked of Barack Obama at his December 17 press conference [audio available here]:
CYNTHIA BOWERS, CBS News Chicago correspondent: I have a question. You ran on a platform of transparency. How difficult is all this having to wait to release your inquiry business when the American people expect transparency?
Yes, you read that correctly. Bowers prompts Obama for an answer wherein he can lament having to wait to answer questions about the nature of his interaction with indicted Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.).
Perhaps the lap dog media are cowering in the corner after Obama yesterday swatted Chicago Tribune's John McCormick on the proverbial nose for his Blagojevich question. Bowers has covered Chicago for CBS News since 1999 and hence seen the president-elect rise from relative obscurity to the highest office in the land.
On CNN anchor Campbell Brown’s “No Bias, No Bull” program on Monday evening, New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis and Time magazine editor-at-large Mark Halperin agreed that there was no problem with the transition team of President-Elect Barack Obama delaying the release of their internal findings into their contacts with the office of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Louis saw “nothing but pluses” over this decision, as it would push the release into Christmas week, a time where there “won’t be a lot of viewership.” Halperin emphasized that as long as “there are no embarrassing contacts or politically-sensitive contacts, they’re fine.”
Louis and Halperin participated in a panel discussion, which began 18 minutes into the 8 pm Eastern hour of the CNN program, along with Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard. Brown first posed the following question to Louis: “As we have been talking about, the U.S. attorney asked Barack Obama, the transition team, to delay releasing their internal findings for at least a week, until they have had a chance to do interviews of their own -- probably some pluses to that for Obama, as well as minuses. What do you think?”
On Monday’s CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez discussed the potential impeachment of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich with Democratic Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and asked: "You've been calling for impeachment proceedings since the day after this scandal broke. Why? What happened to innocent until proven guilty?" Schakowsky explained: "No, this isn't about the legal process. This is about the governor being unable to govern right now. This is really a political question. Right now, our state is without the leadership that we need and so, of course, he'll be innocent until proven guilty in the courts."
This is not the first time Rodriguez gave the benefit of the doubt to a Democratic official embroiled in scandal. In March, Rodriguez defended the disgraced Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, who was accused and later convicted of perjury, regarding sexually explicit text messages. At the time, Rodriguez asked the prosecutor in the case: "But texting and actually doing are two different things. Is innuendo evidence?"
During a report on Monday morning’s Newsroom program, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta used a clip of Sean Hannity from Fox News Channel, along with clips from two of their resident Obama defenders, to outline how Blagojevich corruption scandal was a “distraction” for President-Elect Barack Obama. The graphic on-screen throughout the report even stated how the scandal was “Distracting Obama.”
Acosta began his report with an online ad from the Republican National Committee, which highlighted “Obama’s past ties to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and questioning the president-elect’s handling of the scandal” and how “[c]omplete with eerie music -- this...website video has the feel of a campaign attack ad.”
The CNN correspondent then noted how “not all Republicans approve the message,” including Senator John McCain, who suggested that Republicans “should try to be working constructively together” with the incoming administration instead of focusing on possible connections to Blagojevich. Acosta continued on this point by introducing the Hannity clip: “Even conservative Sean Hannity has noted what federal prosecutors have made clear, that there are no allegations of wrongdoing facing the next president.”
Looks like we can possibly thank our meddling media for another possibly bungled investigation, this time over the selling of Barack Obama's Senate seat by Illinois Governor Rod Blagojavich. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune was working with Fitzgerald's office on the investigation but decided to stop doing so in favor of printing the sensational story they were sitting on. This forced the arrest early so that the paper wouldn't blow the whole investigation.
The story everyone thought they knew was that Fitzgerald moved when he did to stop a crime about to be committed. But, the WSJ reports that this isn't the case. Apparently the WSJ found that members of Fitzgerald's team wanted to let things roll for a little while longer so that they could catch the actual selling of the Senate seat with Governor Blagojevich, his facilitators and who ever was going to try to buy the seat all on the tape at once. But, the Chicago Tribune informed the prosecutors that they wouldn't wait any longer to put off publishing their story on the investigation. Once the Trib reported on the investigation, it was over for Fitzgerald and his folks for the investigative phase of the case.
The media defense of disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and corruption in politics continued Sunday morning as new "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, along with his guests, actually defended Blago's actions as "pay to play" business as usual that's just "part of the system" and "how the world works."
Such seems an astounding about face from the press's disgust and incessant focus on the so-called "Republican culture of corruption" that surrounded the reporting of former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay's travails in 2006, as well as the attention given to Jack Abramoff the same year in order to assist the Democrat takeover of both chambers of Congress that November.
Amazingly, two years later, the corruption in Illinois involving not only a Democrat governor, but also having some links to folks connected to the newly-elected Democrat president-elect, are just "part of the system" and "how the world works" (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 4:20, file photo):
In today's "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" moment, PBS's Jim Lehrer actually defended the corrupt actions of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Friday asking his guests, "What's the big deal here?"
I kid you not.
During his discussion with regulars Mark Shields and David Brooks on Friday's "News Hour" the subject of Blago arose, and Lehrer took what has to be considered an absurd position on this issue (video available here with relevant section at 6:00, partial transcript follows, h/t Mike Francesa via NB reader John F.):
Which would be the safer place to be for a political figure who's received death threats?:
a. A school concert in a public venue. b. A press conference in the company of the President-elect of the United States of America.
If you answered 'b,' you're thinking like me and presumably most people. If you answered 'a,' you're A.B. Stoddard. The associate editor of "The Hill" offered up the strange excuse that death threats are preventing Rahm Emanuel from attending press conferences in the course of an MSNBC appearance this afternoon during which she also claimed that "President-elect Obama is taking steps to be as forthcoming and as open and as transparent as he promised he would be."
Maybe there's hope for some of those immersed in left-wing media.
Liberal radio host Ed Schultz has been decidedly skeptical about claims emanating from the Obama inner circle about whether contact was made between Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and Obama or his surrogates on filling Obama's Senate vacancy.
Schultz hammered away at this on Wednesday's show, focusing on what could be Obama's Achilles' heel in the affair, senior adviser David Axelrod's statement on Nov. 23 that Obama and Blagojevich had spoken about the vacancy (after the scandal broke, Axelrod claimed he "misspoke").
After playing a clip of Axelrod's statement on Nov. 23, Schultz had this to say (audio) --
Well, OK, how can any fair-minded American say, well, that's OK, we're done with that angle of the story. Wait a minute. This is a clear, admitted discrepancy and it makes people wonder what the hell's going on here.
The latest message being promoted by the mainstream media echo chamber is that Rod Blagojevich is insane. They just can't seem to face the fact that Blagojevich is a product of the same corrupt Democrat Chicago political machine which Barack Obama belongs to so they have recently begun actively promoting the idea of Blagojevich as some sort of totally irrational loon even to the extent of pointing out his well-groomed hair as evidence of his mental illness. Fortunately, Chicago Tribune writer John Kass has provided a reality check on this MSM silliness with his article titled "By Chicago standards, Blagojevich isn't crazy.":
When it comes to Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-Dead Meat), many national TV talking heads can't resist playing amateur psychiatrist.
"He's crazy," said one talking head of our governor. "A sociopath!" said another. "He should have been put in a straitjacket, not handcuffs," said a third, all of them diagnosing Blagojevich as cuckoo.
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich has become such a huge embarrassment to his fellow Democrats that the mainstream media is now trying to explain away his over-the-top corruption as insanity on his part. And the sign of Blagojevich's insanity according to some media sources is his incredibly well-groomed hair. It seems that the Chicago Sun-Times is at the forefront of promoting Blagojevich insanity in two separate articles. First we have the Sun-Times Mark Brown promoting the idea of Blagojevich as a complete loon:
Rod Blagojevich's defense lawyers might want to consider an insanity defense.
The federal government's secret tape recordings of the governor's scheming during the past two months confirm what a lot of people have been saying about him for a long time now.
He's utterly mad. Completely and totally off his rocker.
And here's where it might actually work as a legal defense: He's incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong.
What follows are the questions that President-elect Obama took today at his 11 a.m. news conference after formally announcing former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) as his choice for Health and Human Services Secretary.:
JACKIE CALMES, Wall Street Journal: Given the, in your statement when you addressed the controversy over Gov. Blagojevich, you did not repeat what your spokesman said yesterday about having him, that he should resign. Why did you not? And could you tell us what context, if any, you know that your staff or any emissaries for you have had with prosecutors or the FBI?
PHIL ELLIOTT, Associated Press: Thank you. Have you or anyone in your transition or campaign been intereviewed as it relates to the criminal complaint? And who is the transition advisor referenced in the complaint?
ABC was the only network to break into its daytime programming on Thursday with live coverage of Barack Obama’s press conference regarding the Wednesday arrest of Illinois’s Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. Neither CBS nor NBC interrupted regular programming to cover the press conference, during which Obama also named former Senator Tom Daschle as Health and Human Services secretary.
This lack of coverage is particularly odd because both CBS and NBC featured live coverage of past significant Obama press conferences. Since being elected to the presidency, Obama has held seven press conferences, including Thursday’s. CBS provided live coverage of three of them, Obama’s first on November 7, the announcement of Obama’s economic team on November 24, and the announcement of Obama’s national security team on December 1. Meanwhile, NBC covered five of the seven press conferences, the same as CBS, with the addition of a brief Obama press appearance on November 26 and the announcement of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as commerce secretary on December 3. Apparently neither CBS nor NBC felt that Obama addressing a major corruption scandal in his home state was worthy enough to interrupt "The Price is Right" or local news.
On Wednesday’s The O’Reilly Factor on FNC, during the show’s regular "Miller Time" segment, comedian Dennis Miller used humor to make a serious point about Barack Obama’s connections to corrupt and questionable characters in Illinois, and whether the President-elect was aware of the darker sides of his colleagues. Miller: "It’s just nice to know that my President-elect went through that entire system – all of these guys – Ayers, Blagojevich, Rezko, the Reverend Wright – and he didn’t notice any of them. At his worst, he is oblivious. At his absolute worst, he is disingenuous. He had to know something about some of these guys. ... We’re told that he’s the smartest guy on the planet on one hand. In the other hand, he never noticed any of this stuff. Come on, get the antenna up there, Barack. You got to wake up."
Liberal-leaning Chicago Tribune columnist and blogger Eric Zorn is tired of politicians -- Democratic and Republican -- declaring that Gov. Rod Blagojevich's arrest was a "sad day" for Illinois.
The sad day, rather, was Wednesday, when Blago returned to work:
[I]n statement after statement, our gloomy pols were keening as though a great leader had fallen or an important factory had closed.
Perhaps this was their acknowledgment of the severity of the charges and the depths of the alleged betrayal of the people. Perhaps they felt it would be undignified to pump their fists and say "Yessssss!" as many of the rest of us did.
But look. There have been many sad days in Illinois political history.
The days when elected officials have pocketed kickbacks, payoffs and bribes, for instance.
President-elect Barack Obama's transition website Change.gov is censoring questions offered by readers about disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Although the "Open for Questions" page was launched Wednesday stating "The Obama-Biden Transition wants to hear from you," readers have been quick to shelter the president-elect from inquiries relating to Blago.
A collection of "The Faces of Political Scandal," assembled by ABC News yesterday (HT to an e-mailer), once again demonstrates the media's relative reluctance to identify the membership of Democrats involved in scandal.
Of the 14 politicians identified, seven are Democrats and seven are Republicans. Five of the seven GOP members are identified as such, while only two of the seven Democrats were flagged. The montage also has a couple of surprising factual errors.
Here's the detail, slide by slide:
Current Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich -- Party not ID'd, while containing a quote with a Republican frame of reference ("Gov. Blagojevich has taken us to a new low," U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said. "This conduct would make Lincoln roll over in his grave.").
A simple typo, or has all the bleeping news out of Chicago liberated ABC to start using some salty language its own? Check out the screengrab from this morning's Good Morning America.
As correspondent Jim Avila came on to narrate a segment about Blago's wife Patty and the conflicts among her, her powerful Chicago pol father, and her husband, the screen graphic read, as you see, "GOVERNOR'S FAMILY FUED." Reading the transcripts of Blago and Patty's colorful conversations, I'll say they did! But surely GMA could have found a more G-rated way of reporting that ;-)
Corruption to the left of him. Corruption to the right of him. Corruption right in front of him. Yet in spite of all this, Howard Fineman of Newsweek maintains that Barack Obama has been somehow hermetically sealed off from Chicago corruption throughout his political career. Fineman is merely echoing the premise currently being promoted by much of the media in his Newsweek article about Illinois governor Rod Blagovech and Jesse Jackson, Jr.. Fineman starts out by hinting that Jesse Jackson, Jr. was corruptible (emphasis mine):
What I know about the South Side of Chicago I know not from Barack Obama, but from Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. In the summer of 1997, I spent two days with him there. He was in his second term representing the area. He was fond of it, but the real message I got from him was: I want to be in the Loop, literally.
The son of the civil-rights leader had attended St. Albans School in Washington and gone on to earn a law degree. He of course knew the history of the movement, and revered it. He admired his dad, whom he called "The Rev." But it was clear that Junior hungered for proximity to established money and power.
He told me about the time that friends in the business world had taken him downtown for a tour of the Federal Reserve's branch on LaSalle Street. He had been ushered into the inner sanctum and shown the real stuff: bundled stacks of Benjamins.
KHQA TV wishes to offer clarification regarding a story that appeared last month on our website ConnectTristates.com. The story, which discussed the appointment of a replacement for President Elect Obama in the U.S. Senate, became the subject of much discussion on talk radio and on blog sites Wednesday.
The story housed in our website archive was on the morning of November 5, 2008. It suggested that a meeting was scheduled later that day between President Elect Obama and Illinois Governor Blagojevich. KHQA has no knowledge that any meeting ever took place. Governor Blagojevich did appear at a news conference in Chicago on that date.
That's fine, except for the fact that the KHQA story in my NewsBusters/BizzyBlog post earlier today was from November 8 -- three days later (link again is to a file saved at my web host, obtained from Google cache shortly before it disappeared). It (obviously) talked about the meeting in the past tense (bold is mine):
If naiveté were a crime, Jesse Jackson Jr. could be looking at a life sentence. Either that, or Senate candidate 5 wasn't being completely candid in his press conference this afternoon.
Jackson professed shock that Rod Blagojevich—a man who long before this week's arrest had a Katrina-sized cloud over his head—might have been conducting his Senate-seat search in accordance with anything but the most Mother Teresa-worthy standards.
Wednesday’s CBS Early Show worked hard to put as much distance as possible between Barack Obama and disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, as correspondent Chip Reid reported: "Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have both been leaders in Illinois Democratic politics for years, but long-time observers say that's about as far as the connection goes." Reid later dismissed Republican efforts to question Obama’s connection to the indicted Governor: "...that's not stopping the Republican National Committee from trying to tie the two men together...Despite the occasional photo together, though, linking them could be a tough sell."
In a segment that followed Reid’s report, co-host Harry Smith asked Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet: "Does any of this rub off on Barack Obama?" Sweet replied: "A little bit does. Because these are his -- this brings up the whole -- we're talking about the Senate seat for sale, but the criminal complaint does bring up Tony Rezko, it does bring up questions about the associations-" Smith interjected: "Which the Republicans tried so hard during the campaign to say Barack Obama is a Chicago politician." Sweet dispelled that characterization: "Right. And here's the thing, Obama does not come out of this culture."