On Tuesday night's Hardball, Chris Matthews theorized (confessing he didn't really have evidence) that GOP candidates like Sharron Angle get to pre-screen their questions before appearing on Fox News. He concluded: "How far will these candidates go in expecting the networks, especially Fox in the case of the right wing, to do their bidding and set them up as basically stooges, asking pre-arranged questions, pre-arranged answers?" Matthews mocked Angle's chutzpah that interviews should be fundraising opportunities.
It's a little mysterious that MSNBC would get on a high horse for offering repeated bites at the publicity apple for Senate candidates. Take the case of Bill Halter, the staunch leftist who challenged Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D.-Ark.) in a primary for not supporting a socialist "public option" in the health-care debate. From March through the June 8 primary, MSNBC hosted Halter in ten interviews (on programs included in the Nexis transcript database), including seven on The Ed Show, one on The Rachel Maddow Show (on March 3), one on Hardball (on March 12), one on Andrea Mitchell Reports on primary day (June 8).
Don't like candidates repeating their websites on air, MSNBC? Halter did on the Ed Show. Here's May 19:
SCHULTZ: Governor, you have gotten the grass roots support, I mean overwhelming compared to your opponent. Is it going to be there between now and June 8th? Can you count on the same people that got you close last night to close the deal for you?
HALTER: Well, Ed, I`m just going to ask them right now. Go to billhalter.com. Our average contribution has been $30. That`s something that people across Arkansas and across the United States can do, and I can guarantee you this, we`re going to put that money to good use.
Actually, it happened again on that night:
SCHULTZ: Adam, what if the progressive movement in this country can`t pull it off in Arkansas? Would this be a big setback? Because I see this as a real turning point right here. I mean, she is the first corporate Democratic senator that fought hard against health care reform. I don`t think she held insurance`s feet to the fire at all. If she is successful, is that a real blow to the progressive movement?
ADAM GREEN: Sure. Any loss would be a blow to any movement. But we`re going to win, and here`s why we`re going to win. One by-product of the fact that she has taken millions and millions of dollars from big corporations is that she really has no grassroots support here on the ground. You can feel it. Meanwhile, thousands of thousands of people are chipping in with their time and their money to Bill Halter, either at BillHalter.com or on our website, BoldProgressives.org.
Halter also did two website plugs on the Ed Show of May 24:
SCHULTZ: The latest Research 2000 poll shows you were slightly ahead of the Senator, 48-46. Is it going to be this close all the way? What do you think?
HALTER: I think it will be close, but I believe that we`re headed for a victory on June 8th. Certainly, we have all the momentum, Ed. We`ve seen that all over the state.
SCHULTZ: Do you have the money?
SCHULTZ: But right now do you have the money?
HALTER: Well, we`ve got enough to get our ads up, but we can always use more.
SCHULTZ: Well, what about her war chest? She doesn`t seem to have the grassroots the way you do.
HALTER: No, that`s true. But she`s had six years to raise money, and so she banked over $8 million.
We`ve out-raised Senator Lincoln ever since we got in the race, but she just had a big head start. Of course, she spent a lot of that money, too. But we could use everybody`s help, $10, $20, $30. BillHalter.com is the place to go.
The Ed Show dates for Halter were March 2, March 5, March 31, May 14, May 19, May 24, and June 2.
But Matthews called Sharron Angle's grinning insistence to Cameron on fundraising plugs in her interviews as "the most incredible 26 seconds of television history for a very long time." That's obviously a very slanted lesson in TV history.