You don't suppose NewsBusters has become Matt Lauer's guilty pleasure; one having a salubrious effect on his thinking? The Today co-anchor this morning suggested an MSM double-standard on the Dem and GOP races and acknowledged the success of the surge.
Matt's guest during the first half-hour was Tim Russert, impressively fresh despite red-eyeing to NYC after moderating last night's Nevada debate. Lauer, after playing clips of the candidates' take on Iraq, suggested that the war is no longer the winning issue the Dems once thought it was.
MATT LAUER: How much of a tightrope are they walking with the apparent success of the surge over the last couple months, how difficult is it for these Democratic candidates to score points on Iraq right now?
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TIM RUSSERT: They have to keep playing to their base, which wants immediate troop withdrawal, and yet they also want to be responsible, that they're not going to leave Iraq in a more chaotic situation.
Did Tim Russert just imply that the Dem base favors an irresponsible
position on Iraq? Sure sounded like it. He continued.
RUSSERT: But you just seized on a real dividing line this coming November. The Republican candidate's going to say "the surge has worked, keep the troops there, we must protect Iraq well into the future." John McCain said perhaps the next 100 years! The Democrats are going to say "troops out soon."
Lauer then offered that candid kernel on the MSM double standard.
LAUER: No front-runner on the Republican side; no front-runner on the Democratic side. And yet when you listen to the press coverage of this, you hear them say "the up-for-grabs race on the Republican side signals a party in disarray. The up-for-grabs race on the Democratic side signals a party with an embarrassment of riches." Why is that? Is it the media?
RUSSERT: We have to be careful. I remember in 1992 it was the Democrats who were the party in disarray [remember the "Seven Dwarfs"?] and Bill Clinton finally emerged and beat George Herbert Walker Bush. But what the Democrats point to, Matt, is money -- Democrats outraising them dramatically. Last night in Michigan, half the Republicans said they're angry or dissatisfied with the Bush administration. We found the same thing in Iowa, and the same thing in New Hampshire. And there are still five viable candidates on the Republican side; only two, two-and-a-half, three on the Democratic side.
LAUER: Mr. Edwards would be really happy that you called him half a candidate.
RUSSERT: I said three at the end, didn't I? It was a long flight!