NBC anchor Brian Williams appeared on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS on Monday night and trashed Joe the Plumber's anti-tax cause as a silly issue, not a serious question about the redistribution of wealth: "Look at how our attention was able to get pulled into pigs and lipstick and plumbers. We got a plumber who's the third member of the GOP ticket, in effect, and that's - it's all of our fault, yes, and there will be time to bloody our own backs with chains, but it's also the sorry state of our discourse as if, Tavis, we don't have enough serious issues to concentrate on." Williams added: "I think we may find out it was a movement year, we may find out we all had to step aside and just let it happen, and we may decide we went down too many rat holes of distractions on our way there."
Williams also complained once again about the delay in his Sarah Palin interview, given his network’s leading stature. "I went more than third -- I went fifth or sixth," even as he added: "I think she's a professional at her job, I try to be at mine, and we kind of quickly got over it." Sounds like he hasn’t.
Bill Moyers appeared not only on The Daily Show Tuesday, but on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, where he repeated all his lines in defense of Jeremiah Wright. Moyers also declared that while "I believe in capitalism...the tension between capitalism and democracy is that capitalism breeds inequality while democracy aims for more equality," and the media serves only the rich. When Smiley asked if were "witnessing the fall of the American empire," Moyers said yes, and that "it's probably a good thing that our empire has reached the extent of it -- has extended itself so far that it's beginning to have to have some second thoughts about it."
The talk of America's "empire," as if America were no different than ancient Rome, came near the end of the segment:
SMILEY: How would you respond if I said to you, Bill Moyers, that we are witnessing the fall of the American empire? You are a student of history. You know that every empire eventually falls. And what if I said to you that our democracy is so dysfunctional that it is irreparable, and that what you and I are witnessing, sad to say, is the fall of the American empire?
It was a hot night of hard-left talk on PBS’s Tavis Smiley show on Thursday night, when Smiley’s guest was radical Pacifica Radio anchorwoman Amy Goodman. The host of the daily Democracy Now program was decrying how American liberties have disappeared under George W. Bush, and Smiley wasn’t asking hostile questions, but softballs: "How do you explain how this Patriot Act has, in fact, crushed so many people? Crushed people, threatened people, put people at all types of unease?" Smiley never named one.
Goodman played up how awful it was, with Big Bad Bush crushing librarians and booksellers: "It is a very big problem. It was written before 9/11; it was just passed after 9/11, and that's the big problem. I travel around the country and we support independent bookstores all over. It's not only the librarians; it's the independent booksellers who also fall under the purview of the Patriot Act. It says that they and the librarians have to hand over information."
Geraldo Rivera of Fox News appeared Thursday night on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, and before he unloaded another bucket of invective against a "savage right-wing talk show campaign" on illegal immigration that makes school kids cry, he denounced former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer as just "another horny hypocrite," comparing him to Sen. David Vitter, evangelist Ted Haggard, and Sen. Larry Craig. He said he resented "anyone who uses any kind of state resource for their own private predilections."
Does this sound like the same Geraldo Rivera who devoted his nightly CNBC talk program in 1998 to praising Bill Clinton (and trashing "investigative terrorist" Ken Starr) and insisting he stand tall against....charges he used state resources (young staffers) for his own private predilections inside a state building? From the transcript on the Tavis Smiley website, here’s how Geraldo began remembering Eliot Spitzer:
I interviewed him on our old CNBC show many times, and on Fox, and in fact we just dug out the last interview I did with him and he talked about morality, that's the problem, Tavis. It's another horny hypocrite.
Leftist actress Susan Sarandon was a big backer of John Edwards, but now she's going to shift and endorse Barack Obama. On Monday's edition of the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, she likened Obama to a pregnant woman at an abortion rally:
Well, I'm going to back Obama. But I hope -- I think that he, as a symbol, has really excited people, and he's definitely confusing to everyone who really hates America for hating Muslims because a name like Obama and a black man, they're probably going to go "Oh, wait a minute -- What?" It's kind of like when you're out on the line for freedom to have an abortion and you're incredibly pregnant. They just can't quite figure it out.
So I think he definitely has convinced people that he stands for change and for hope, and I can't wait to see what he stands for.
Author and CNN commentator Carl Bernstein was interviewed on the Wednesday night edition of the Tavis Smiley show on PBS, and warned that the Clinton campaign has devolved into "the kind of campaign that we’re used to seeing against Republican right-wing opponents who the Clintons have identified over the years as their enemies. That is very much a take-no-prisoners scorched earth campaign, and I think that there are reasons to think that is causing a fissure within the Democratic Party that might be very damaging in the long run."He also suggested the former president was at his "most petulant" and "most disingenuous" in his attacks on Barack Obama.
UPDATE: I originally misread this as an attack on scorched-earth right-wing campaigns against Clinton, instead of Clinton's usual scorched-earth campaigns against right-wing opponents. I made Bernstein out to be more anti-conservative and so less troubled by intra-party division, and suggested he was ignoring history, when he was not. Smiley responded:
In the free-for-all that followed Tavis Smiley’s hostile GOP presidential debate in August, Michael Fauntroy was featured by Smiley’s show and several other liberal media outlets as an instant pundit on the subject, author of the book plainly titled Republicans and the Black Vote. But Sunday night on the Huffington Post, Fauntroy slammed a not-so-new documentary on blacks and the GOP as pathetic propaganda:
In arguing that the Dems were racist and that the GOP has been miscast by the liberal media as the enemy of Black people, Emancipation, Revelation, and Revolution completely overlooks the role of ideology in policymaking. Conservatives have long opposed Black progress. Conservatives opposed Reconstruction and civil rights. Conservatives pushed the "Lily-White" movement that purged Blacks from leadership of state Republican parties throughout the South. Conservatives have pushed for the maintenance of a racial status quo that held down Blacks and then blamed them for the lots in life.
Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw took the publicity tour on his book on the 1960's to PBS’s Tavis Smiley show, where he discussed how he was "in a rage" when a friend of his died in Vietnam, although he initially believed in it when John F. Kennedy insisted in a domino theory in southeast Asia, a premise that "quickly came apart." Brokaw agreed with Smiley that there were many parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, and also agreed that Martin Luther King is the most important figure in American history. But he also agreed when Smiley insisted no one has ever been able to detect a bias in his reporting and anchoring: "I've been comforted over the years that people on the far left and people on the far right have said to me, ‘What party are you in, anyway?’ I have never been able to figure it out."
For those who have any doubt that Brokaw fit the mold of the liberal media elite, see MRC’s Media Reality Check on twenty years of Tom Brokaw tilt. Here’s the exchange from PBS:
SMILEY: As I sit and listen to you talk, Tom, now about all of these issues that you've covered in your career and lived through in your life, I always thought that as a newsman, you, Tom Brokaw, kept your feelings, kept your politics out of what you -- I know on paper you have to do that or you don't have a job. [!]
The book tour continues for CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and his Clarence Thomas-bashing, Barack Obama-boosting routine. Last Friday, Toobin made his tour of nearly every NPR and PBS interview show complete with an appearance on Tavis Smiley, where he reprised his take on Thomas as bitter, isolated, and ultraconservative. (Thomas was isolated because he was interviewed by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham on his book tour. It also makes him a "highly partisan figure.") Smiley complained that in the Thomas interview on 60 Minutes, CBS’s Steve Kroft "basically rolls over the guy," and asked Toobin if it’s time to consider an end to lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court.
The two liberals also had a cozy chat reconsidering how conservative justices were overtly partisan in the way they decided Bush vs. Gore in 2000, which Smiley found to be an "extreme" where the Court was "out-and-out too political."
We have a new Special Report posted on the main MRC Web site on the ideological sandbox we call PBS. In previous years with Democratic control of Congress, PBS has played a more activist role within the media, dragging the rest of the national media further to the left and spurring more aggression and ill will against conservative and Republican leaders. Just as 2007 has been a year for a "surge" of troops in Iraq, it's also been a year of "surging" activism within PBS.
At the same time, Democratic congressional leaders now in the majority have been entertaining the idea of reviving a federal "Fairness Doctrine" which would require private broadcasters to comply with notions of balancing out each station's daily schedule of news, talk, and public-affairs programming. These same Democrats have been highly offended at the idea that anyone outside or inside taxpayer-funded broadcasting would monitor PBS content for fairness or balance.
The Bush administration has "finally been caught in their criminality," MSNBC host and former Speaker Tip O'Neill (D-Mass.) aide Chris Matthews seethed at the 10th anniversary party for his "Hardball" program, the Washington Examiner is reporting.
They're strong and loaded words, of course, but only the latest example of Matthews history of political bias against conservatives and the GOP. Yet coming as it does so close to the October 9 Republican presidential debate that Matthews will host, RedState's Erick Erickson is urging Republican candidates to call Matthews on the carpet for his bias.:
You know, I will be gravely disappointed if the GOP candidates do not make an issue of this at the debate.
If the GOP candidates are too chicken to take on Chris Matthews before a live television audience on Matthew's gross bias, they will have disgraced us all.
Tavis Smiley Publicist Promotes Justice Clarence Thomas Book Discussion with Character Bashing E-Mail
I received an e-mail this week from Brian Steffen who is the online publicist for Tavis Smiley. The e-mail was a promotion for a PBS airing of a panel discussion on "My Grandfather's Son," the new book by Justice Clarence Thomas. The e-mail consisted of an advance set of excerpts that were designed to entice me to watch the program. The only problem was that every excerpt in the e-mail took a pot shot at Justice Thomas by attacking his character, without substance of course, very much in line with most of the criticisms that Thomas has had to endure mainly because he is a black conservative.
But there is more going on here than the criticism of Justice Thomas as it appears in an unsolicited e-mail. The context of the comments reveal the true biases of liberal educators, certain representatives of black activist organizations and that of the media darlings that put these people on a pedestal. You will soon see that their bias feeds into the notion that the Supreme Court should be used as a tool to create policy and subvert the role of the other two branches of government that most readily represents the people. The bias also allows the panel guests to extend the cry for equal time under fairness doctrine like standards; a cry that is increasingly being used as a weapon to try and silence the free speech rights of conservatives in talk radio, on TV and the internet.
Last Thursday, on her new show "Tell Me More," NPR talk show Michel Martin held another one of those non-debates on whether the Republican front-runners should have submitted to the debate organized by leftist PBS host Tavis Smiley. She invited both former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and former Gingrich pollster Frank Luntz to come on and denounce the GOP no-shows for political stupidity and moral cowardice. Luntz insisted "Tavis Smiley is an incredible host, and he is completely fair." But while Martin pointed out that Smiley had prevailed on Steele to help cajole Republicans to attend for several months, she failed to tell listeners that Luntz was hired by Smiley to do polls after the PBS Democratic candidates debate in June. This is not a little-known fact. Liberal Democrat groups like Media Matters had a fit that Smiley hired a Republican pollster for a Democratic debate, and (unsuccessfully) demanded PBS fix it.
In refusing to interview anyone who felt that PBS and Tavis "George Bush is a serial killer" Smiley were offering a hostile forum for Republicans, Martin merely said the RNC failed to send a spokesman – as if there aren’t many conservatives outside the RNC building on Capitol Hill who would accept that opportunity. That's a lazy way to avoid having a contentious debate, instead of a double-beating.
On Friday morning’s Today, NBC put the thumb-screws on the Republican PBS debate no-shows in a segment with NBC’s Tim Russert and an outraged PBS host Tavis Smiley, who in his outrage over being snubbed, equated himself with history, that skipping his debate was a "watershed moment" in American history. Russert piled on with the same liberal media spin, quoting all the Republicans who said the no-shows were making a huge mistake, that attending was "good politics" – and no Republican holding a contrary opinion.
NBC Nightly News and ABC’s World News both brought out their Republicans-might-be-racists handbook and took advantage of PBS’s and Tavis Smiley’s decision to hold a Republican debate on black issues on the last week of the third-quarter fundraising crunch. Instead of trying to negotiate a better time, Smiley and PBS painted Republicans as making a huge and possibly racist mistake. Both networks loaded up on soundbites trashing the GOP frontunners for snubbing minorities and creating an "image problem" for themselves and their party.
On Thursday’s Nightly News, hours before the Smiley debate took place, NBC was already casting the debate’s losers as the no-shows. MRC’s Brad Wilmouth compiled the transcript:
If Dems and Republicans are at odds over everything from Iraq to healthcare, there's one thing that has brought many of them together: shared criticism of the leading GOP presidential contenders for their decision to skip the recent debate moderated by Tavis Smiley, billed as oriented to the concerns of black Americans.
But beginning on yesterday's "Meet the Press" and continuing on today's "Morning Joe," Pat Buchanan has not hesitated to make a pragmatic political case in defense of the Republican candidates' decision. And alone, at least among pundits I've heard, he drew an interesting parallel to the venues the leading Dem candidate is skipping.
Last night's GOP presidential forum was marked by a lack of attendence from the top candidates who said they couldn't come due to "scheduling conflicts."
Could the real reason they didn't come was that the debate moderator, liberal PBS host Tavis Smiley, has a long history of making offensive remarks about Republicans?
Attending the debate in person, I decided to ask that question to Smiley, specifically about his remark that he considered then-Texas-governor George W. Bush to be a "serial killer" for his enforcement of that state's capital punishment laws. His answer was both misleading and evasive.
On this afternoon's "Tucker," the eponymous host was discussing with Dem strategist Peter Fenn and former Dem congressman Tom Andrews [a grown-up among liberals, IMHO] the unwillingness of the leading GOP presidential contenders to participate in the debate moderated by Tavis Smiley, billed as addressing issues of concern to black Americans.
On the one hand, Tucker criticized the Republicans' reticence. On the other, he flashed anger at the way Dems play the race card. Carlson concluded with a particularly tantalizing comment.
Many conservatives who feel passionately about reaching out to black voters are infuriated that the Republican front-runners have not consented to a PBS debate hosted by PBS and public-radio talk show host Tavis Smiley. Newt Gingrich assured ABC viewers the other morning that "Tavis Smiley is a very responsible, very clear-cut commentator and analyst. He's going to run a very fair debate." But have these critical voices ever really looked at Smiley’s actual record when it comes to Republicans?
Start with October 24, 2000. Smiley told Geraldo Rivera on CNBC that George W. Bush was a serial killer. "There are, there are some issues on which if you are a voter of color, certainly if you are an African-American, you have a hard time choosing. For example, both of these guys support the death penalty. As far as I’m concerned, Bush in Texas is nothing more than a serial killer." Does Gingrich think that's "responsible" commentary?
On Tuesday’s "Good Morning America," the ABC program once again demonstrated the template for GOP figures to receive air time: Trash your fellow Republicans. GMA featured former Congressman J.C. Watts questioning whether top 2008 GOP presidential candidates are racist for skipping a PBS debate on minority issues. Continuing the theme, co-host Robin Roberts asked former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, "...Why are Republicans so reluctant to talk to minorities?"
In a piece setting up the Gingrich interview, Roberts intoned that the absence of Republican front-runners at the event is "raising questions about the message it sends to some voters." GMA co-host Diane Sawyer teased the segment by not-so-subtlety asking, "...Are the Republican candidates snubbing minority events?" Roberts and Sawyer never bothered to mention that Thursday’s PBS debate will be moderated by liberal host Tavis Smiley who, for instance, wondered in May, "Why shouldn’t we be outraged" at George Bush. Perhaps the Republican front-runners simply don’t want to go into a hostile, left-wing event. Would "Good Morning America" insist that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton attend a forum hosted by the NRA?
CORRECTION: 2007-09-25 14:20:00 -0400 [An earlier version misidentified Jake Tapper as saying the event is "raising questions about the message it sends to some voters." This was actually said by co-host Robin Roberts.]
This Thursday, PBS is hosting a Republican presidential debate with liberal commentator Tavis Smiley. For various reasons, the top four GOP candidates have all decided to skip it. In doing so, they are making a big mistake, my friend Bob Cox argues in today's DC Examiner. Here's an excerpt. My comments are below the fold:
One by one, the four leading candidates for the Republican nomination for president have announced they will not participate. This is not only a strategic mistake for these campaigns but also a major embarrassment for the Republican Party.
How can voters take seriously a candidate asking for their support to be leader of the free world when that same candidate is unwilling to take questions from black journalists, in front of a predominantly black audience? [...]
A presidential election must be approaching: liberals are playing the Republicans-are-evil-racists card. People will recall the notorious NAACP 2000 campaign commercial that equated George W. Bush with someone who dragged a black man to death behind his car on a chain.
On today's "View," Joy Behar [file photo] offered a similar slur: GOP = KKK.
Talk had turned to the fact that most of the Republican presidential candidates declined to participate in two Latino-oriented debates held earlier this year. The leading candidates have now indicated that they will also be taking a pass on a September 27th debate at Morgan State University organized by Tavis Smiley and to be broadcast on PBS.
The Washington Post’s favoritism toward Democrats is obvious in Wednesday’s paper. When Democrats abandon efforts to force a troop pullout from Iraq, the Post puts the story on A3 with the headline "Democrats’ Iraq Push on Hold." Reporter Shailagh Murray says the Democrats are "abandoning a bipartisan effort" for pullout. That’s amusing, since just words before, she says this move is because most Republicans don’t want to be counted in that "bipartisan" effort.
But on page A1, the Republicans are still the ones in political danger, with the story "Debate No-Shows Worry GOP Leaders." Reporter Perry Bacon Jr asserted that GOP presidential contenders turning down debates hosted by Hispanic liberals and black liberals could cause "a backlash that could further erode the party's standing with black and Latino voters." Bacon front-loaded the story with loud lamentations from Jack Kemp and Newt Gingrich about failing to stand before Tavis Smiley on PBS and get attacked from the left.
Bill Clinton has a new book out titled Giving (no, it's not free), and the book launch already has loads of media help. Today's Washington Post carries a gooey article from reporter David Segal about a Harlem book launch event and panel discussion in Harlem for Clinton hosted by Tavis Smiley, the nightly PBS chat-show host. The headline on the front of the style section was "Bill Clinton's Got What It Takes for 'Giving.'" Segal can't get over how Clinton consistently sounds like a genius, and how it makes him long for the glory days:
He still has this way of presenting his ideas for reforms as simple, elegant solutions that would all but enact themselves if enough people get behind them or merely get out of their way.
He spoke, at one point, of "whittling down materials to retrofit buildings to combat global warming in Bangladesh, and whatever it means, it sure sounds like a good idea. He said the market for charitable giving was "under-organized" and "under-capitalized," and again -- it makes sense even if you're not sure about what it means.
Here is the kind of debate that's common on taxpayer-subsidized PBS: two liberals arguing over the right degree of rage over President Bush on Iraq. Should it be white hot? Or just hot enough that you don't burn your mouth on it? On Thursday night's edition of his eponymous show, Tavis Smiley interviewed Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.
Ignatius worried out loud about finding some degree of national unity in the Iraq end game, and suggested Bush hatred is running contrary to the national interest: "People are so angry in Washington. The debate is so intense that I just worry that we're just slipping a gear as a country. People are almost so angry at George Bush that they want to see this thing fail to spite him, and that should be. That's wrong." Smiley tried to suggest he was asking "devil's advocate" questions, but his angry tone and finger-pointing body language gave his personal opinion away:
SMILEY: Far be it for me to argue with you, but let me just take the devil's advocate position on this, just to press you a little bit more on this. Why shouldn't we be outraged? Why shouldn't we be angry with George Bush?
IGNATIUS: We should be...
SMILEY: Why shouldn't this be the issue around which we will throw down a gauntlet and be angry? We're losing lives every day, why not this, if any issue, to be just outraged about?
The Washington Post "Style" section has several pieces on liberal blacks today. Fashion writer Robin Givhan devotes much ado to Cynthia McKinney's hairdo, panning both the new version and the old ("The braids made her look as though she should be hiking up the Alps wearing a gingham dress and carrying two milk pails.") She also gets in the usual liberal digs -- talking about "ugly" talk from conservative blogs: "A black woman's hair is an easy, timeworn source of racist mockery." And: "Indeed, plenty of black folks see all kinds of dire race-traitor undertones in Condoleezza Rice's smooth, controlled cap of hair."
On his nightly PBS talk show Monday, Tavis Smiley questioned John Edwards about the Harriet Miers nomination. Oddly enough, Edwards, who presumed he was ready to be President of the United States after being in the Senate about the same amount of time Miers was in the White House, suggested the big Miers issue was her lack of experience:
"I mean, the first question about her, of course, is that she has no record. Never been a judge, has no judicial experience. And that is certainly not disqualifying by itself, but what it means is that we don't know much about what her positions are. She has never written an opinion."
When Edwards said Senate Democrats will have to question her with vigor, Smiley wondered: "How vigorous do you expect them to be? There are some who would argue that they weren't terribly vigorous on Mr. Roberts, now the Chief Justice. And the Democrats split voting for the guy." Didn't they know they were supposed to vote 44 to 0 against?