Washington Bitchy: Nico Pitney smacks down Milbank
Mr. Washington Sketchy himself, WaPo king of snark Dana Milbank, takes one to the thorax from HuffPo blog reporter Nico Pitney, who went one-on-three on CNN's Reliable Sources. Milbank got called out for his whingeing over Pitney's Iran question at Barack Obama's recent presser, including getting called out on his past, gushing coverage of George W. Bush. Watch, and learn:
The LA Times reluctantly gives TMZ its props (sort of)
The media hates to love TMZ, the site that broke the story of Michael Jackson's death (even as the MSM refused to pick up the story until the LATimes confirmed it) but they have little choice but to pay attention.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."
He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."
In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."
A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.
There's much more, but don't expect the rest of the media to rally to Landay's factual cause. As Glenn Greenwald pointed out earlier this week, the mainstream media has long since moved the center to the right, and adopted the Cheney version of reality when it comes to war and national security, and relegated all other versions to the fringe:
What is, in my view, most noteworthy about all of this is how it gives the lie to the collective national claim that we learned our lesson and are now regretful about the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism. Republicans are right about the fact that while it was Bush officials who led the way in implementing these radical and lawless policies, most of the country's institutions -- particularly the Democratic Party leadership and the media -- acquiesced to it, endorsed it, and enabled it. And they still do.
Nothing has produced as much media praise for Obama as his embrace of what Goldsmith calls the "essential elements" of "the Bush approach to counterterrorism policy." That's because -- contrary to the ceremonial displays of regret and denouncements of Bush -- the dominant media view is this: the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism was right; those policies are "centrist"; Obama is acting commendably by embracing them; most of the country wants those policies; and only the Far Left opposes the Bush/Cheney approach.
Increasingly, President Barack Obama and Democrats who run Congress are being pulled between the competing interests of party liberals and the rest of the country on Bush-era wartime matters of torture, detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists.
When it comes to torture and Bush's Terrorism policies, it's the Far Left (which opposes those things) versus "the rest of the country" (which favors them). And she described Obama's embrace of Bush's policies as "governing from the center." Apparently, Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies are Centrist. Who knew?
BTW, if you caught MSNBC's "Morning Joe" this morning, you see Greenwald's point. The show, which increasingly is obsessed with rehabilitating the George W. Bush presidency, with Joe and Mika pulling the wagons and only Donny Deutsch and Lawrence O'Donnell running interference for the reality based community, has now become the new, unofficial home of that nasty piece of right wing work: Liz Cheney. Today, they gave her a full hour to bond with Mika and kvetch about Barack Obama not appreciating her dad.
Just completed the interview with Fairness and Accuracy in Media's "Counterspin," regarding my CommonDreams article on the media's ho-hum attitude toward the Bush administration's "torture for war" program. You can catch the podcast of the show, hosted by Steve Rendall and Janine Jackson here.
Okay, so I didn't watch "American Idol" this season -- or last -- okay I'm totally bored with it. But I just watched several performances on the show's website, and um ... you mean this guy didn't win???
Not only is Newt Gingrich a rank hypocrite -- imagine, the disgraced former speaker of the House, who was fined $300,000 and sanctioned by his own party for ethics violations back in the days before he himself had to resign as speaker (for having a sexual affair with an aide at the same time he was pushing for the impeachment of President Clinton ... for having a sexual affair with an intern ...) he is also a man of shallow principle. Newt, who claims that Nancy Pelosi has "disqualified herself" as speaker, and thus, should make like a Newt and resign, got caught with his proverbial pants down by Diane Sawyer this week, abba-abba-abba'ing over the various Republicans, including some of Pelosi's accusers, who've also called the CIA a bunch of liars.
The fact is that Newt, in the end, is not all that significant (except to the credulous press corps, which insists on giving him air time.) What is significant is the fact that he, and his attacks on Nancy Pelosi, and those of his party, are not actually serous. They don't represent some genuine outrage over something Pelosi has done (after all, they're accusing her of not opposing torture -- a sentiment they share.) What this is about, is the GOP persuing a strategy dating back to January, of using any opportunity to brand and attack members of the Democratic leadership, as a proxy for attacking the way too popular President Obama.
Let's travel back in time, to January, in the weeks after the inauguration, when Republicans were trying to figure out how to respond to the popular president's economic stimulus plan. ABC News noted on January 29:
Two weeks ago, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, R-Va., hired GOP pollster John McLaughlin to conduct a poll on the stimulus plan to define the most effective ways to frame Republican concerns.
ABC obtained a copy of a PowerPoint presentation prepared based on that poll, available HERE.
The GOP poll showed that Obama is popular (71 percent approval) and that an overwhelming majority (64 percent) approve of “Barack Obama's economic recovery plan.”
But it showed that Pelosi, D-Calif., (34 percent favorable) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., (20 percent) are far less popular. And when asked about the specifics of the stimulus plan without Obama's name attached, the plan loses its appeal.
The result: Congressional Republicans held together and voted unaminously "no." And the GOP has carried that strategy forward ever since. It's "Operation: Get Nancy," mostly because Harry Reid is so dull (and besides, El Rushbo usually takes care of him.) What is incredible, is not that the GOP is deploying a months-old strategy to satiate their base and in their minds, take down the Democratic Party by attacking the leadership -- while, they hope, unnerving Democrats out of really investigating torture or the other abuses of the Bush administration in the process. What is stunning is how willing the Washington press corps has been to go along with the program.
I.F. Stone used to joke that what passed for investigative journalism in Washington was actually just the restating of what was already in the public record at the appropriate time.
Indeed, and it turns out that Nichols was among the reporters who "exposed" the fact that Pelosi was briefed on torture. Only he did it in 2007. In other words: the fact that senior Democrats were compliant with the Bush administration when it came, not just to torture, but also to Iraq and overall national security policy is no new revelation. And the media has, almost to a man (or woman) failed to ask a single, quite relevant question: let's just say that Nancy Pelosi IS lying, and she WAS fully briefed about the fact that we were torturing people. What does that mean? The answer is, it would mean that Pelosi was aware of the commission of war crimes (though she claims that because her knowledge was classified, she couldn't have done anything about it) and it would mean that, ipso facto, war crimes were committed at the behest of the previous administration, with the quizzling assent of Democrats. Again, nothing new. Besides, if Pelosi's involvement is a 5 on the war crimes scale, then Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush and the CIA are at about a 12, right?
So ... does that mean Republicans, and the media, at long last, are ready to see those crimes investigated? Here's the funniest part of all: Democrats outside the Beltway are ready. And so is Nancy Pelosi.
Cheney, torture, and the very bored mainstream media
Just realized today that Commondreams ran my piece: "The media's collective yawn over torture for war" on Saturday. It starts off as follows:
Faced with what could be the biggest foreign policy bombshell since the Gulf of Tonkin lies cleared the way for Vietnam, the Washington-New York media establishment has chosen to do nothing. Much as D.C. reporters decided several years ago that they were no longer interested covering the Bush administration's duplicity in the run-up to the Iraq war (nor are the David Gregory's of the world interested in revisiting their profession's complicity with the former administration in that regard,) "the press," it seems, has decided to take a pass. And what they're passing on is truly stunning.
In short, evidence is quickly piling up suggesting that the torture of terrorism suspects, and even the alleged request from no less than the office of the vice president of the United States, to waterboard an Iraqi official, had less to do with protecting Americans from further attack after 9/11, than it had to do with bolstering a phony case for invading Iraq. Polls show a plurality of Americans will accept even torture - as sickening as that fact is to anyone who cares about civil liberties - if it's done to save innocent (read American) lives. But how would the American people square the idea of torturing people, not to save lives, but to produce false confessions in order to give a small group of ideologues - the neoconservatives - the war they desired. Most Americans have long since accepted that the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq was flawed, if not totally false. What we didn't know until recently, was that to sell that case, members of the Bush administration, possibly including Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld - maybe even the president of the United States, were willing to do things we're accustomed to ascribing to the North Koreans or Maoist Chinese: using torture not to get good information, but to produce false confessions, to justify an unnecessary war.
I'll be on FAIR's radio show "CounterSpin" tomorrow to discuss it. ... of course, we don't get CounterSpin here in South Florida, where pretty much the only things on the radio are right wing talk, sports talk, party music, and black comedians on FM talking to angry baby mamas. So you'll have to listen online. The interview is at 1:15 p.m. Not sure what time it will air.
There are exactly FOUR TV/cable reporters covering the torture for war bombshell, and all four of them are on MSNBC: Here's one of them: David Shuster:
The others are Chris Matthews, who is interviewing former NBC investigative producer David Windrem tonight, Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow. The rest of the collective Washington-New York media are fixated -- obsessed even -- over the Republican distraction story about Nancy Pelosi. Human events and others are now even embracing the fact that what was done was torture, so long as they can tie it to Pelosi.
Well, the Sunday shows were a wash. David Gregory had a rather dull interview with Jordan's King Abdullah, whose new book sounds like a keeper. The only interesting moment: Abdullah's obvious affection for his late father as he watched a clip of the late King Hussein. Meanwhile, in the panel afterwords, we learned from two Pulitzer Prize-winning historians that well, great presidents violate American values in wartime. It's just the way it is.
On "This Week," Stephanopoulos interviewed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmenidejad, and managed to asked him the same question about a dozen different times: would he accept Israel if the Palestinians go for a two-state solution? Will he accept them in a box? With a fox? On a train? In the rain? Will he, will he? Make it plain...! The extent to which the American media (not to mention American politics) is obsessed with Israel's point of view is striking. And the extent to which the Muslim and Arab world are resistant to the pressure to bow to Israel is equally striking; witness Abdullah's repetition over and over again to a resistant David Gregory that a Palestinian state is crucial to peace, and Ahmadinejad's repetition over and over again to a resistant Stephanopoulos that the Palestinian people have rights that should be respected by the international communty. Natch.
CNN managed to get through an entire Sunday without really questioning the absurd notion that somehow, torture is a necessary evil (but only when WE do it,) and without once bringing up the now-exposed Iraq-torture connection. In fact, none of the networks brought it up. Instead, each of the Sunday shows focused on the entirely irrelevant question of whether torture got us any good intel. For the hosts of America's Most Important News Programs, torture is just another policy choice in the grand war on terror, and the debate is over politics, not legality. It's a non-debate debate that is, in a word, shameful, as is the complete rub-out of the most important news to emerge last week: that the Bush administration began torture Abu Zubaydah AFTER he gave up whatever relevant information he had, and did so at the same time the Bush administration was looking for some link -- any link -- between al-qaida and Saddam Hussein. It's a point that has been entirely erased from television since it broke last week, and as of Sunday, has been repeated by only three media personalities: Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and on Sunday, Frank Rich, who points out the following revelations from the Levin report:
The report found that Maj. Paul Burney, a United States Army psychiatrist assigned to interrogations in Guantánamo Bay that summer of 2002, told Army investigators of another White House imperative: “A large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq and we were not being successful.” As higher-ups got more “frustrated” at the inability to prove this connection, the major said, “there was more and more pressure to resort to measures” that might produce that intelligence.
In other words, the ticking time bomb was not another potential Qaeda attack on America but the Bush administration’s ticking timetable for selling a war in Iraq; it wanted to pressure Congress to pass a war resolution before the 2002 midterm elections. Bybee’s memo was written the week after the then-secret (and subsequently leaked) “Downing Street memo,” in which the head of British intelligence informed Tony Blair that the Bush White House was so determined to go to war in Iraq that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” A month after Bybee’s memo, on Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney would make his infamous appearance on “Meet the Press,” hyping both Saddam’s W.M.D.s and the “number of contacts over the years” between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If only 9/11 could somehow be pinned on Iraq, the case for war would be a slamdunk.
But there were no links between 9/11 and Iraq, and the White House knew it. Torture may have been the last hope for coercing such bogus “intelligence” from detainees who would be tempted to say anything to stop the waterboarding.
With this kind of bombshell laid at their feet, what explains the media's refusal to cover this story? Perhaps the newsies are simply ignorant of the relevant law (presented for them here in black and white...) on torture, and so they can't make the connection in their minds to Iraq ... or perhaps they, the Washington press corps in particular, were and continue to be wholly complicit in -- even cheerleaders for -- the whole "war on terror," Iraq war adventure thing, and thus can't bring themselves to question their own beliefs. Or worse, perhaps an editorial policy has been set at the top, at each of these networks, not to talk about the big, fat elephant in the room: the probability that the Bush administration tortured "high value detainees" Pol Pot style, in order to create false "evidence" that would allow them to sell the American people on going to war in Iraq.
In related news, Andrew Sullivan declares FBI interrogator Ali Soufan a national hero. Hear hear.
And the Washington Post publishes a lengthy he-a-culpa, essentially an excused absence letter to the school of public opinion from Judge Bybee's friends, saying he's a wonderful, thoughtful man after all, who rather regrets a certain memo legalizing torture. How sweet. Now, if the Post could just get up an article abouthow John Yoo loves to pet puppies... beautiful, fluffy puppies...
It's all part of a media busting "documentary" being filmed by a guy named John Ziegler, who according to a caller on the Stephanie Miller Show today, was seriously picked on in high school, poor thing. He wants you to know that Sarah is not an idiot! It's the evil liberal media that's making you THINK she's an idiot... Also there too, she tells Ziegler that the media bias there, and also too Keith Olbermann, that guy's evil!
Anyhoo, gotta sign off now, cause it's time to practice my fancy pageant walkin'!
Update: Sarah says the mainstream media elite are taking her Ziegler interview out of context. No seriously, she's really saying that...
And U.S. News' Robert Schlessinger says that for her own good, Sarah needs to just go away.
... or does "Meet the Press" with David Gregory suck? That softball interview with Condi Rice today was a low point for the show. Meanwhile, on the other side of the low-end of the dial, George Stephanopoulos, the onetime political flack, is proving to be twice the journalist that Gregory, the supposed pro, is. He did a much more in-depth, interesting interview with Joe Biden than Gregory's bland Condi love and weak roundtable, and George actually broke some news:
Sources tell me that the Obama team's review of contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will show that Rahm Emanuel had only one phone conversation with Blagojevich.
The contact, described as a "pro-forma" courtesy call, came as Emanuel was named Chief of Staff for Obama. Most of the discussion concerned Emanuel's Congressional seat (which had previously been held by Blagojevich), with only a "passing reference" to the Senate vacancy, according to these sources. No deal for the Senate vacancy was discussed.
Speculation in Washington and Chicago has been swirling for a week now over what the Obama team’s report would find. Until now, the contents of that report have been kept sealed, at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office. Last Wednesday, Obama said he found it “a little bit frustrating” that the report had not yet been released.
The sources add that the report will show Emanuel also had four phone calls with Blagojevich Chief of Staff John Harris. During those conversations, the Senate seat was discussed. The pros and cons of various candidates were reviewed, and the sources say that Emanuel repeatedly reminded Harris that Blagojevich should focus on the message the pick would send about the governor and his administration.
Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.
To which Frank James of the Chicago Tribune's "Swamp" replies:
It struck me from the beginning of this that there probably was no 'there' there since USA Fitzgerald signaled very strongly that he wasn't going after anyone on Obama's team. It seemed like an attempt by us media types to raise questions to keep the pot stirring more than anything else.
Clearly. And shock of all shocks, all that blather will turn out to be for nothing. Poor dears. Back to end of the year countdowns for all of you!
DL Hughley's new CNN show isn't funny ... and that's just half the problem
See, this is what happens when the suits try to figure out what "the young folks" are into -- you know, like when your parents try to dress like you...?
DL Hughley got a show on CNN and Roland Martin didn't. Go figure. And not surprisingly, white critics love it, black critics don't. Why? One word: buffoonery. It's the last thing black people want to see at a time when we are about to elect our first black president. It's "Amos and Andy" at a time when we want "Hardball":
The fight to be taken seriously -- not just cast in slapstick crap comedies or as crack addicts, is as real as rain for black actors; just as the fight to make and release music that isn't about guns, money and hoes is real for black musicians (not to mention those of us trying to convince program directors that black people can do talk radio for non-black audiences...) The corporate execs still don't get it -- maybe because ... wait for it ... there's not enough diversity up there.
CNN, over the weekend debuted "DL Hughley: Breaks The News", the only African American hosted cable news program. Hughley, reverted back to his early BET "Comic View"days, lacking the intellectual clarity he often displays on Bill Maher or even recent CNN appearances. DL's material was immensely stereo typical, but calculated programming that continues to stifle mainstream media perceptions. CNN's attempt of a Flava Flav style of African American entertainment is an alarming step backward for a respected news organization.
It's easy to point the not funny finger at DL Hughley but the real story is who's behind the camera. While this election cycle has shown a diverse collection of analyst and pundits, media ownership and equity of power in television and radio are far from equitable.
While people of color make up 33% of the American population, less than 7% are owners and even fewer are in decision making positions.Yes, there are plenty of Black anchors and reporters on cable and network news but the content they report continually falls short. Perception has replaced reality, millions of Americans are yearning for more, while receiving less.
I have no doubt that CBS News' Dean Reynolds put down his very real feelings in this "reporter's notebook" posted on the broadcaster's website. But damn, does anybody except Dean Reynolds really give a crap about how the well-paid network reporters covering the presidential candidates are managed? Covering the presidential campaign is a plum assignment, especially this year, and you're beeyatching about Obama's plane not being Febreezed, or the events not being "choreographed" for the convenience of the media? Dude, are you serious?
I've covered some Obama events here in South Florida (for much smaller outlets than CBS), and yes, there's hellafide security and lots of ground rules, ridiculously early press call times and the occasional inconvenient positioning ... but guess what? Barack Obama is a black guy (and the first to lead a major ticket) who's being called a terrorist sympathizer by his opponent's campaign and threatened by angry wingers who want to "kill him" because they think he's a Muslim Manchurian Candidate so they can present the spoils to their Alaskan snow queen! Can you say, "Secret Service"??? Besides, you're complaining that you and other media types had to wait around in Miami, while people are freezing their asses off in cold parts of the country because they can't afford their heating bills. Hold a sec while I break out my violin.
Mr. Reynolds, you're being paid, I'm assuming, six figures to fly around the country for free, and be a witness to history. If it makes you happy that McCain's press team wipes your nose better and gives you the warm fuzzies, I suppose I'm happy for you. Other than that: Get a life. There's a recession going on and the rest of the ... well, world ... has a lot more important things going on.
Wall Street Journal columnist and former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan and former John McCain adviser, Time columnist, and MSNBC contributor Mike Murphy were caught on tape disparaging John McCain's selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice Presidential running mate.
"It's over," Noonan said.
When Chuck Todd asked her if this was the most qualified woman the Republicans could nominate, Noonan responded, "The most qualified? No. I think they went for this, excuse me, political bullshit about narratives. Every time the Republicans do that, because that's not where they live and that's not what they're good at, they blow it."
Murphy characterized the choices as "cynical" and "gimmicky."
UPDATE: Noonan apologizes for the potty mouth, but makes this point:
When the segment was over and MSNBC was in commercial, Todd, Murphy and I continued our conversation, talking about the Palin choice overall. We were speaking informally, with some passion -- and into live mics. An audio tape of that conversation was sent, how or by whom I don't know, onto the internet. And within three hours I was receiving it from friends far and wide, asking me why I thought the McCain campaign is "over", as it says in the transcript of the conversation. Here I must plead some confusion. In our off-air conversation, I got on the subject of the leaders of the Republican party assuming, now, that whatever the base of the Republican party thinks is what America thinks. I made the case that this is no longer true, that party leaders seem to me stuck in the assumptions of 1988 and 1994, the assumptions that reigned when they were young and coming up. "The first lesson they learned is the one they remember," I said to Todd -- and I'm pretty certain that is a direct quote. But, I argued, that's over, those assumptions are yesterday, the party can no longer assume that its base is utterly in line with the thinking of the American people. And when I said, "It's over!" -- and I said it more than once -- that is what I was referring to.
Be prepred, Democrats: much of the mainstream media appears to be going directly into the tank for Sarah Palin, judging by the opening remarks from "neutral" reporters including David Gregory (who today called the pick "cool" ... Andrea Mitchell and Maria Bartoromo, who spent her morning on "Meet the Press" hawking Palin as if she were a hot stock. Here's David Gregory on MTP:
MR. GREGORY: She went into labor and got on an airplane to go back to Alaska. That's pretty cool. I think there's a lot of people, men and women, who are going to look at this story and say, "This is a compelling person. I want to take a new look at this ticket."
Ironically, it fell to GOP strategist Mike Murphy to throw cold water on the MTP love fest for Palin:
MR. BROKAW: Mike, as you heard, I asked Governor Pawlenty about creationism vs. evolution. He said they ought to be taught side by side in schools, local school districts should decide. How does that cut with the independents?
MR. MURPHY: It's trouble. Again, if we get into a social issues debate with those particular swing voters, we're in big trouble. I believe that McCain cannot win in this environment without ticket splitters, people who vote for him for president but vote Democrat down the ticket. He may need as many as one out of five of his ultimate voters to be a ticket splitter. So the question is in a bad base year for Republicans, if we get caught on pure base issues--I agree, the evangelical vote loves her, but I, to the point I said earlier, I'd rather have lukewarm evangelicals and a whole lot of voters...
MR. BROKAW: Right.
MR. MURPHY: ...than delighted Goldwater-sized crowds and a completely delighted 45 percent of the vote. So if Sarah Palin the reformer, corruption fighter becomes who she is, she can help. If she gets trapped in the other stuff, I think she's an anchor. And we don't know yet how it's going to play.
But on the next question, Gregory went back to making the Palin sale, with a little help in the Amen chorus from Andrea Mitchell:
MR. BROKAW: "Even before McCain picked [Palin], people outside Alaska were beginning to notice the young governor with the bright smile" - the "runnerup in the 1984 Miss Alaska contest--whose good looks spawned a bumper sticker that read: `Coldest State. Hottest Governor.'"
Is that going to work in the West?
MR. GREGORY: Well, I think a lot of it does. And as you know better than anybody, you talk to people like Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, who--and he will attribute his success as a Democrat in Colorado not to social issues, but to issues like the economy that began to turn more Republican-leaning independents and even some Republicans in the state his way. I think the economy is a huge part of this. A lot of the working-class voters in states like West Virginia or Ohio, where she was debuted, or Pennsylvania were Democrats primarily for economic issues if not social issues. Obama still has an advantage there, even if he hasn't grabbed the issue completely. I think Sarah Palin helps John McCain get it.
MS. MITCHELL: Yes, I agree with that.
MR. GREGORY: That's the attack line from Obama that he's out of touch. She's got some working class roots, the hockey mom thing.
MS. MITCHELL: Yeah.
MR. GREGORY: A union husband, a husband who's in the union. So I think she may help deliver that to independent voters in the West and elsewhere for whom this is going to be a big issue, the economy.
MS. MITCHELL: I...
Likewise, George Will went from calling Barack Obama "the most thinly qualified presidential candidate in memory," last week, to stating this week on Stephanopoulos' show that it's not experience that matters after all, but rather judgment (where have we heard that before?) and good instincts about how to keep the federal government out of people's lives Will didn't even bring up Ms. Palin's experience on his own, and as of this morning, has completely abandoned it as an issue. George answered Stephanolpoulos' question of whether Palin was a good pick with an enthusiastic "yes." He went on to say:
"It certainly solved his enthusiasm deficit with regard to Mr. Obama. ... I suspect that now, the Republican base is more united and enthusiastic behind McCain then I suspect the Democratic base is behind Mr. Obama..."
And on the question of qualifications, Will adds:
"There is more to the qualification to high executive branch office than experience. There is understanding the constitutional principle of limited government and the culture of corruption that inevitably develops in a capitol that abandones limited government; that regulates everything and subsidizes everybody. She understands that."
Will later disclosed that his wife is an unpaid staffer helping to formulate Cindy McCain's convention speech.
Poor Sam Donaldson literally laughed out loud later in the roundtable, when Cokie Roberts actually claimed that Palin wasn't picked for women, or for the purposes of poaching female Hillary Clinton supporters, but rather to attract blue collar voters. Stunning.
If this first Palin Sunday was any indication, and judging by the equally enthusiastic reception Palin has received on CNN and MSNBC, where Chrystia Freeland (who was pushing Hillary as Obama's vice presidential pick before Biden was selected,) literally gushed about Palin on Friday, it's clear to me that much of the mainstream media, stung by the accusations of gender bias by the Hillary Clinton campaign during the primaries, is going to tread lightly when it comes to Palin, and many reporters, who at their core, are still fans of John McCain, will actually enthusiastically boost the ticket. That sounds like an incredible contrast to complaints by the right that the media is trying to help Obama, but I think it's reality. Democrats should pre-pare for a Palin love-fest, for at least a couple of weeks, as she receives her honeymoon.
Things that aren't going to happen: Collin Powell as McCain v.p.
How desperate for attention is the McCain campaign? So desperate, they're floating their own black guy (take that, liberal media...! Can somebody get Fournier on the line...?We've got fresh talking points for him...)
(Politico) Retired Gen. Colin Powell is among the potential running mates who have been considered by John McCain, campaign advisers told Politico.
Powell was among the possible vice presidential choices the Arizona Republican senator was thinking of when he said he would not rule out a supporter of abortion rights, a key adviser said.
Campaign officials say McCain has told them not to discuss the process.
Powell, who was President Bush's first secretary of state, would add celebrity to the ticket, as well as reinforce McCain's strength as a potential commander in chief, which his campaign considers to be one of his chief assets.
Nice of you to play along, Politico's Mike Allen, but you've got to know that this is a non-starter. Let me count the ways:
1. Colin Powell is from the Bush administration. You remember the Bush administration, right? The one that John McCain is trying his damnedest to run away from?
2. Colin Powell is pro-choice. We've seen this movie before. It's called "Rush Limbaugh and the Christian Taliban Shoot Down Ridge and Lieberman." The idea of nominating Powell, given the rabidness of the right on the abortion issue, is so preposterous, it makes me question the sanity of the McCain campaign if they are indeed floating this trial balloon. (Powell is also pro-affirmative action. See above, and insert "affirmative action" everywhere I typed "abortion.")
3. It's not even clear that Colin Powell supports John McCain. In fact, many in Washington believe he will either remain neutral, or endorse Barack Obama.
4. Collin Powell has lost his religion on Iraq. Powell, who has the dubious distinction in history of having sold the bogus Bush administration intel on Iraq to the world, has called his U.N. testimony "a lasting blot on his record." You really think McCain wants clips of either Powell's phony-baloney testimony, or his retractions and regrets aired repeatedly between now and November? I think not. And with Joe Lieberman and Randy Scheunemann hanging around, there is clearly no room for dissenters on the Neocon Express. Besides, it's now a known fact that Powell hates the neocons who dragged his reputation into the ditch to get their Iraq war. Why would he even think about serving with the same crowd again?
This strikes me as pure media manipulation, which Allen sadly fell for. Collin Powell will no more be on McCain's short list than Phil Gramm. Besides, McCain doesn't need to double down on the Iraq war. He's running on an all-war, all the time platform as it is. Powell would be surperfluous, not to mention unacceptable to the GOP Taliban, not to mention very likely not interested.
The Associated Press: the Fox News of wire services?
The Washington Monthly has the latest on the adventures of would-be McCain campaign staffer Ron Fournier, who happens to be the Washington Bureau chief for the Associated Press...
The latest piece from Ron Fournier, the AP's Washington bureau chief and the man responsible for directing the wire service's coverage of the presidential campaign, on Joe Biden joining the Democratic ticket, is drawing a fair amount of attention this morning. More importantly, McCain campaign staffers are pushing it fairly aggressively to other reporters, in large part because it mirrors the Republican line with minimal variation.
By choosing Biden, Fournier argues, Barack Obama is showing a "lack of confidence," and is siding with "the status quo."
There are two ways to consider Fournier's piece: substantively and in the broader context.
First, on the substance, Fournier's analysis seems a little lazy. By his logic, any potential running mate shows a "lack of confidence" -- picking Hillary would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over women voters; picking Bayh would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over independents and conservative Dems; picking Webb would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over voters concerned about national security; picking Kaine would mean Obama lacked confidence in his ability to win over voters in the South; etc. For that matter, "the status quo" in Washington has been conservative Republican rule. Biden may be an old pro and a DC insider, but he's anything but "the status quo."
Second, in context, Fournier's objectivity covering the presidential race continues to look shaky. We are, after all, talking about a journalist who, as recently as last year, considered working for the McCain campaign.
Fournier is also a buddy of Karl Rove, and exchanged emails with him recently, telling him to "keep up the fight..." he's also the guy who handed Mac a box of donuts during a media briefing earlier this year (with sprinkles.) Media Matters' Eric Boehlert has documented the AP's "Fournier problem," but so far, nothing has been done about it. Quite the contrary, Fournier has filled the Washington bureau with fellow travelers.
The Clintons made a lot of hay during the campaign about challenging the objectivity of news outlets, mostly to negative effect, for them. But in this case, Democrats have a real case to make that the most ubiquitous institution in news, the AP, has developed a strong right-wing/Republican bias in the bureau that matters most: Washington. How else do you explain a Fournier dispatch like this:
A dispatch Fournier filed in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina began: “The Iraqi insurgency is in its last throes. The economy is booming. Anybody who leaks a CIA agent's identity will be fired. Add another piece of White House rhetoric that doesn't match the public's view of reality: Help is on the way, Gulf Coast.”
Somebody call Howard Dean. Or the Obama campaign. There's something rotten at the AP and it's time someone in a position to do so stepped up and said something about it.
Join Moveon's email campaign here. Or here's the shorthand:
Can you email AP reporter Ron Fournier and CC his boss, Managing Editor Mike Oreskes? Tell them that the public's faith in the 160-year-old AP will be gone if Ron Fournier is allowed to continue his slanted articles against Democrats and for McCain.
Here are their emails:
Michael Oreskes, AP Managing Editor, mOreskes@ap.org Ron Fournier, AP reporter and Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, firstname.lastname@example.org
After you email them, please help us track our progress by reporting your email here: http://pol.moveon.org/call?cp_id=797&tg=508.532
Forget the correction watch ... it ain't comin' ... but via a brief Jon Stewart clip tonight your intrepid blogger learned that our boy Dana Milbank, the quote-clippingest, context-changingest snarkporter in Washington, has resurfaced as a CNN commentator. Sez Dana about the whole "misquoted Obama and kicked off of Countdown" kerfuffle:
"The CNN contract was negotiated long before the Obama column," Milbank tells FishbowlDC. He says that there are "no hard feelings" although he takes exception to Olbermann's characterization of things on last night's program (more on that later here on FishbowlDC).
"It's just that CNN's a better fit for me and my philosophy of holding all parties to account," says Milbank. He will be a political analyist for CNN, mostly with Campbell Brown but "wherever they want me."
Ooh, oh no she didn't! Olbermann, please to respond...
Olbermann tells TVNewser:
Dana appeared with us the night before his column appeared with the truncated Obama quote — and did so under the terms of his contract which both he and MSNBC obviously considered still in force. After the column, he contacted us, joking he was glad I hadn't put him on the "Worst Persons" list, and then discussing with the producers coming on to clarify or explain what he wrote. Out of appreciation for his work for us, I had delayed a permanent decision on whether he should again appear on Countdown. Dana used this time to make another deal, which he told us about the day before he appeared on another network.
Wow, it gets ugly. But the fact remains, and is now CNN's to deal with, that Dana Milbank completely mischaracterized a statement that amounted to heresay, by one of the two major presidential candidates. Had he misquoted John McCain in that way, to quote the Creepy Grandpa, there would have been a seizmic event. But since it was Obama, no probs, including at CNN, which apparently will appreciate Dana "holding both sides (ahem) ... to account." BTW Dana's new gig is with Campbell Brown, who is currently getting her wig handed to her by pretty much everybody, at 8:00. Perhaps someone should bring it to Dana's attention.
BTW, just for a laugh, check out this Powerline Blog rant from 2003... The first sentence is interesting. Or this one. Apparently, NO ONE likes Dana Milbank!
Related: Washington Sketchy returns! With quotes! (Sure hope somebody checked them...) |
Still waiting for a correction from "Dr. Hubris," Dana Milbank, who apparently can diagnose arrogance without even examining the patient (or checking his quotes for accuracy.) No Washington Sketchy column today. Maybe tomorrow...
This morning on "This Week," George Stephanopoulos demanded of Nancy Pelosi, at least eight, ten times, to know whether she would bring a vote on offshore drilling to the floor of the House. Why wouldn't she do it? Would she do it as part of a "comprehensive package?" "Why NOT allow an up or down vote on offshore drilling?" "Didn't you promise to bring votes to the floor?" "Why, why, why, won't you let the Republicans bring a drilling measure to the floor?"
Right after the Pelosi segment, George threw to break. The first advert? Chevron. Later in the program? It was the American Petroleum Institute's turn. (There was also an ad by T. Boone Pickens for his "alternative energy" plan.)
Telling. In radio, on-air personalities are always very much aware of who the advertisers and sponsors are, and management is very skittish about hosts dissing those advertisers. There's always a tug of war between the sales and programming departments about how much deference should be paid. Don't think for a moment that it's not much the same in television.
Chevron began its advertising push last September with a spashy ad intended to portray the company as a good global citizen. The current spot attempts to do the same thing, portraying the company as a leader in clean energy technology. The API ad attempts to convince the viewer that the oil industry makes much smaller profits than other industries, and invests billions in finding new sources of energy for America's moms and dads. The API isn't just going on the air, they're also taking it to the streets, with "educational programs" designed for America's classrooms, in which they enlist elementary school teachers as on the ground surrogates for the industry. Seriously. Both Chevron (and its friends, like Exxon-Mobile) and the API are also engaged in efforts to combat, not global warming, but the notion that it exists.
We're into day two, and still no correction from either Dana Milbank or the WaPo on his "refinement" of Barack Obama's statement to Democrats on Capitol Hill. Dana has moved on, talking in today's "sketch" (which I think can now officially be renamed "Washingotn sketchy -- and yes, I stole that from a commenter on the thread) about Alaska's "Uncle Ted" Stevens.
It's been nearly a full day, and we're still waiting for a correction from Dana Milbank, whose prissy, spurned media diva, spite-filled column calling the other guy (Barack Obama) imperial, has been debunked all over the web, from TIME Magazine to the Atlantic, by people who actually heard Barack Obama's remarks to House Democrats. Tick ... tick ... tick ... so far, Millbank's column remains posted to the WaPo homepage, unchanged. (Curiously, Keith Olbermann gave Milbank a complete pass tonight. I was certain he'd at least make "Worst Persons," instead he didn't even get a mention...)
Milbank has been taking it on the chin pretty much all day today, from all quarters, and his portrayal of Obama as an uppity presidential wanna-be has taken off in winger world, despite its inherent falsehood, but so far Milbank hasn't breathed a word, or more importantly, updated his column online.
What's it gonna take, Dana? Just post the correction already!
Clearly, Milbank is guilty of, at minimum, seriously sloppy reporting for failing to confirm the quote with either the campaign, or a first hand witness. The less charitable take is that he went with a here-say quote, or worse, a deliberate distortion of a quote, in order to advance his theme and sex up his column. He's only making matters worse by disappearing from view and letting the column stand. Compounding his errors are the Post's editors, who are not only not correcting the record, they're continuing to promote the piece on the homepage.
If you're of a mind to complain, here's where you can write the Washington Post:
Ombudsman Deborah Howell: email@example.com or call 202-334-7582
Fresh from his presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection, Obama settled down to some presidential-style business in Washington yesterday. He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president's) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing. Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally.
Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities, which included a fundraiser at the Mayflower where donors paid $10,000 or more to have photos taken with him. His schedule for the day, announced Monday night, would have made Dick Cheney envious:
11:00 a.m.: En route TBA.
12:05 p.m.: En route TBA.
1:45 p.m.: En route TBA.
2:55 p.m.: En route TBA.
5:20 p.m.: En route TBA.
Who knew he was such a Diva? ... and I'm talking about Dana. Next, our intrepid "reporter" delivers the money quote, clipped from that 5:20 p.m. TBA, which Milbank describes as an "adoration session" with Democratic lawmakers in a Capitol Hill chamber that the Secret Service swept beforehand "just like they do for the actual president." Wowee. The quote:
Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
So first, Milbank derides the security sweep that Obama happens to require because of threats to his life that began almost the moment he announced his candidacy (he's black, you know...) Then, throwing all reporter etiquette aside, the snarky Milbank throws out a clipped quote that not only did he not hear first-hand, but which it turns out, is way, way out of context.
MSNBC is on the story right now, and they're talking to an actual witness, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez of California, who was in the Canon Caucus Room when Obama made the remarks. More on that as it hits the air.
Milbank's world of snide
Milbank has something of a history of peevishness toward those he perceived as being on the left, including the very standard Democrats.com. And he has gone Medieval on Obama before, having been one of the principle harbingers of Reverend Wright doom during the primary. Hillary Clinton didn't escape his rapier wit, either, and in general, his Washington Sketch columns appear designed more to turn him into the male, WaPo version of Maureen Dowd than to bring forth actual news.
Meanwhile, later in his column, Milbank gets to what I think is the real point of his and his colleagues' disgruntlement:
The Project for Excellence in Journalism reported yesterday that Obama dominated the news media's attention for a seventh straight week. But there are signs that the Obama campaign's arrogance has begun to anger reporters.
In the latest issue of the New Republic, Gabriel Sherman found reporters complaining that Obama's campaign was "acting like the Prom Queen" and being more secretive than Bush. The magazine quoted the New York Times' Adam Nagourney's reaction to the Obama campaign's memo attacking one of his stories: "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others." Then came Obama's overseas trip and the campaign's selection of which news organizations could come aboard. Among those excluded: the New Yorker magazine, which had just published a satirical cover about Obama that offended the campaign.
The Washington press corps fell in love with John McCain in 2000 because he gave them unprecedented access aboard his "Straight Talk Express."
... They later fell in love with George W. Bush because he gave them cute nicknames like "Stretch" (David Gregory) and made them giggle like schoolgirls during his infrequent press conferences. Bill and Hillary they never liked, and during the impeachment fiasco, they showed their displeasure. Now they've got a new pol to hate -- Barack Obama, who clearly doesn't know how important they are. Obama paid for that dispelasure during the Rev. Wright imbroglio, and a new media study shows that the press has been much, much tougher on him than it has on McCain.
Team Obama now has two choices: try to ingratiate themselves with a press corps that is as pampered, arrogant and self-centered as it has been in my lifetime, or continue to stiff arm the Fourth Estate and ride the negative coverage all the way to Election Day.
Awaiting the full transcript or video from the Obama Congressional chat.
"It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol [of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."]
The "is not about me at all, it's about America" part is pretty important to the quote, I'd think. And Ambinder points out other elements of Milbank's sloppy journalism, reiterating one of my points above and catching something I missed:
The Capitol Police and the Secret Service, not the Obama campaign, closed the halls for Obama to pass yesterday. If you're inclined to think Obama presumptuous for this, then John McCain is also on your list; last week in Columbus, the police department there gave him full intersection control during rush hour. Oh, and that was David Cameron to whom Obama "gave some management advice," not to Gordon Brown, although Brown could probably have used it!
So will Milbank post a correction? Enquiring minds...
“His entire point of that riff was that the campaign IS NOT about him. The Post left out the important first half of the sentence, which was something along the lines of: ‘It has become increasingly clear in my travel, the campaign, that the crowds, the enthusiasm, 200,000 people in Berlin, is not about me at all. It’s about America. I have just become a symbol … .”
As of 1:33 p.m., still waiting for the Milbank retraction... |
A new study says the obvious: the major networks may give Barack more airtime, but they're tougher on him than they are on John McCain.
The Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, where researchers have tracked network news content for two decades, found that ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign.
You read it right: tougher on the Democrat.
During the evening news, the majority of statements from reporters and anchors on all three networks are neutral, the center found. And when network news people ventured opinions in recent weeks, 28% of the statements were positive for Obama and 72% negative.
Network reporting also tilted against McCain, but far less dramatically, with 43% of the statements positive and 57% negative, according to the Washington-based media center.
Conservatives have been snarling about the grotesque disparity revealed by another study, the online Tyndall Report, which showed Obama receiving more than twice as much network air time as McCain in the last month and a half. Obama got 166 minutes of coverage in the seven weeks after the end of the primary season, compared with 67 minutes for McCain, according to longtime network-news observer Andrew Tyndall.
... But the center's director, RobertLichter, who has won conservative hearts with several of his previous studies, told me the facts were the facts.
this information should blow away the silly assumption that more coverage is always better coverage," he said.
If you're still in disbelief, a quick check of the transcripts of the two big Sunday shows, "Meet the Press" (with Tom Brokaw) and "This Week" with George Stephanopoulos should do the trick. Brokaw spent half the interview hectoring Barack Obama on the surge, and confronting him with commentary on his overseas trip, not from neutral analysts, but from neocon columnists, and McCain supporters, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. Surprise, surprise, neither was impressed with his trip. When Obam pointed out to Brokaw that both men are supporting his opponent, and that there are far more positive reviews out there than negative, Brokaw shot back that he should "just answer the question." Over to George, who retreated to the role of communications aide during his chummy interview at John McCain's wife's ranch in Arizona, helpfully correcting McCain when he declared Vladimir Putin to still be the president of Russia, and kindly supplying, unprompted, the name of Vlad's successor, Mr. Medvedev, just to help Senator McCain get through his answer. Stephanopoulos is the master of the failed follow-up, and demonstrated the technique time and again with McCain, who was allowed to not answer question after question, including the one tough one: whether he was wrong about the initial decision to invade Iraq.
Compare and contrast:
A sample question from the Brokaw interview with Obama:
MR. BROKAW: Let's talk about Afghanistan. That war, as you've emphasized a lot in the past week or so, that war's been going on since shortly after 9/11. This was your first trip. You're a member the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I know schoolteachers and NGO volunteers
SEN. OBAMA: Right.
MR. BROKAW: ...who go there on a regular basis. How is it possible that, as a candidate for president of the United States and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is making his first trip to what you call the central front in the war on terror?
And one from the Stephanopoulos chat with John McCain:
STEPHANOPOULOS: You've also taken some heat this week with your comments saying that Senator Obama would rather lose...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... a war than win a political campaign.
STEPHANOPOULOS: I can't believe you believe that.
MCCAIN: Well, I'm not questioning his patriotism. I'm questioning his actions. I'm questioning his lack, total lack, of understanding. His...
STEPHANOPOULOS: But that is questioning his total...
STEPHANOPOULOS: When you say someone would rather lose a war, a candidate, that's questioning his honor, his decency, his character.
MCCAIN: All I'm saying is -- and I will repeat -- he does not understand. I'm not questioning his patriotism. I am saying that he made the decision, which was political, in order to help him get the nomination of his party.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So, putting lives at risk for a political campaign -- you believe he's doing that.
George, I think, speaks for most of the media, Joe Klein et. al., who simply can't bring themselves to believe that McCain could harm a hair on Barack Obama's head, while the tone of the questioning of Obama is fierce and combative (even at the Unity Conference today, which I think most observers expected to be softball.)
So does the media find Obama more interesting than John McCain? Hell yes. Who wouldn't? But do they prefer him, or are they promoting him? No way. The only goal of the media, particularly on television, is to keep the circus going. And to do that, they have to keep McCain competitive. And believe me, they will do what it takes to help him, lift him, give him whatever passes are necessary and otherwise bend over backwards to shore up his moribund campaign.
Despite his spectacular week overseas, there are a few warning signs on the horizon for Sen. Barack Obama, which his team has got to pay attention to:
Warning sign 1: gassy polls
Stipulating that you have to take any poll with a bit of a grain of salt -- a lot can depend on the sample, the news of the week, etc., the Obama campaign has got to be a bit thrown off by the latest Quinnipiac poll, which shows John McCain closing in key swing states, and even taking the lead in Colorado (which since 2004 has had a Democratic State House, State Senate, governor's mansion and 1 out of 2 Senate seats.) The pollsters explain that part of the reason for McCain's rebound is the issue of offshore drilling, which is gaining acceptance among voters hard hit by high gas prices.
Arizona Sen. John McCain has inched ahead of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in Colorado; come within inches in Minnesota and narrowed the gap in Michigan and Wisconsin, according to four simultaneous Quinnipiac University polls of likely voters in these battleground states, conducted in partnership with The Wall Street Journal and washingtonpost.com and released today.
Voters in each state say energy policy is more important than the war in Iraq. And by margins of 22 to 31 percentage points, voters in each state support offshore oil drilling, and by seven to 12-point margins, drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge.
Sen. McCain has picked up support in almost every group in every state, especially among independent voters and men voters. The Republican now leads Obama among independent voters in Michigan and Minnesota. Overall results show:
Colorado: McCain is up by a nose 46 - 44 percent, compared to a 49 - 44 percent Obama lead June 26;
Michigan: Obama tops McCain 46 - 42 percent, compared to a 48 - 42 percent lead last time;
Minnesota: Obama edges ahead 46 - 44 percent, compared to a 54 - 37 percent Obama lead;
"Sen. Barack Obama's post-primary bubble hasn't burst, but it is leaking a bit. It's been a good month for Sen. John McCain. His movement in these key states, not large except for Minnesota, jibes with the tightening we are seeing in the national polls," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
The other issue with the polls is that Obama's slim lead, including in the Gallup daily tracking poll, indicates that despite McCain's moribund campaign, there is something out there that's keeping some voters, particularly older voters, from siding with Obama, even if they aren't thrilled about McCain (and who is.) I think that the X factor in Obama's run is race, which many voters won't admit to, but which is behind the arbitrary suspicion of him as a potential president. The Obama team has got to factor in a 5-8% share of the vote nationally -- and higher in certain states, like Pennsylvania and even Michigan -- that will be unavailable to him, specifically because of the race factor.
Warning sign #2: media bully victim syndrome
I have this theory that most reporters were high school yearbook or newspaper club nerds who always both despised and envied the jocks, bullies and cheerleaders, and found ways to laud them in print while scorning them in private. Today, most of these guys spend their time trying to find ways to deflect the new bullies on their backs: right wingers, especially those on talk radio, by constantly interpreting their wishes and then executing them, usually while in wobbly kneed terror.
Politico is one example of this media angst. The site works hard to be "fair and balanced," but often winds up airing right wing memes. A few headlines from the site today that will make the right wing talk radio rounds:
Obama cancels troop visit Jonathan Martin on the Obama campaign's decision to cancel a visit with U.S. troops in Germany, which will be THE top story on right wing talk radio, and probably the focus of a new attack ad, going into next week.
Headsprung: McCain's love-hate relationship with the media goes haywire
McCain supporters are in a full-on lather about the supposed media bias in favor of Obama. Okay, let me backtrack, the media DOES prefer the Obama story, particularly this week, not because they just like Obama better -- the Washington press corps likes John McCain plenty, and have since 2000. They're more interested in Obama at present because he is ... wait for it .. making news. By traveling overseas on his first major road trip, Obama, the neophyte in the race, is doing something visual and exciting, and that's what media gravitates towards.
The story yesterday about just one reporter and one photographer meeting poor John McCain's plane when it landed in New Hampshire made me laugh, and then seemed kind of sad, but the reality is, as much as right wingers may not like it (read the comments underneath the story, )simply landing on the tarmac in New Hampshire isn't a news event. One pool photog can easily grab the image and use it as background for a quick voiceover story about McCain arriving in the state. If McCain had held a major rally or event in New Hampshire and it got short shrift coverage, that would be different. But he didn't do that. His campaign didn't even have the good sense to have some supporters, or a prominent local pol there to greet McCain, hence, making news. If the McCain campaign can't figure out the simple logistics of media and communications, his supporters shouldn't expect the press to help him out. The MSM has spent the last eight years kissing up to Senator McCain. Now, he's his own.
Besides, I seem to remember the same right wing crowd lashing out at the media for pro-McCain bias as far back as 2000, with stuff like this April 2000 rant by Brent Bozell of all people being fairly common, though now sounding like they're coming from the looking glass:
McCain's Media Lapdogs Rip Conservative Critics
It's only natural that leftists would take the media lovefest over Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain's "trash-talk express" to mean only one thing. In The Nation, Eric Alterman asked: "Can we please put the `liberal media' [insert barnyard reference here] to rest forever, now?" At the invitation of the Los Angeles Times, left-wing media critic Jeff Cohen declared: "The `Straight Talk Express' may not roll over Bush, but it already has run over and killed the myth of the liberal news media."
Nowhere in their critiques did they consider that nowhere but nowhere has the mainstream press praised the Arizonan's votes to impeach Clinton, for tax cuts, for a missile defense, against abortion, or any other conservative stance he's (sometimes) taken. That would make you wonder about the liberal media.
But these radical rogues have some strange new company: network TV pundits trotted out as representative of "conservative" thinking. Alterman took glee in quoting Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, who told the New Yorker magazine, "The whole idea of the `liberal media' was often used as an excuse by conservatives for conservative failures." He noted Kristol said on CNN's Reliable Sources that "the press isn't quite as biased and liberal. They're actually conservative sometimes." Kristol didn't have an example of that alleged conservatism, nor was he asked for one, which got him neatly off the hook.
Kristol's colleague David Brooks -- another "conservative" -- said in a Newsweek column: "The movement consciousness is based on the idea that we are a band of brave, beleaguered souls under perpetual assault from the liberal mainstream media. These people detest McCain because liberals don't hate him"
But the award for liberal bias denial has to go to CNN pundit Tucker Carlson, yet another Weekly Standard staffer busily promoting McCain. On Feb. 6, Carlson claimed Bush staffers "are doing this kind of Spiro Agnew thing, the liberal media loves McCain because he's liberal, or something. That's ridiculous. The press likes McCain for the same reason voters in New Hampshire like McCain, because he doesn't fear anything."
Even during this year's primary, there were constant hews and cries from the right about the press "picking the Republican nominee," as the Carpetbagger Report chronicled back in January:
Why reporters fawn over John McCain
Posted January 7th, 2008 at 2:05 pm
This morning, almost in passing, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough mentioned the national press corps covering the presidential campaign and said, “I think every last one of them would move to Massachusetts and marry John McCain if they could.”
A little crude, sure, but Scarborough’s point is not without merit. Last week, for example, McCain finished fourth in the Iowa caucuses, behind a guy who barely even tried to campaign. No one has ever finished fourth in the Republican caucus and gone on to win the GOP nomination. The national media, therefore, naturally declared the fourth-place finisher the big winner of the night.
TP pulled together some of the embarrassing, ingratiating praise media personalities offered for the Arizona Republican.
MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle: “McCain’s stance on the war. They view it because of who he is and the eye contact during these town meetings. He’s the Babe Ruth of town meetings.”
Politico’s Mike Allen: “Tonight is a fantastic night for John McCain…. He’s one of the biggest winners of the night.”
Newsweek’s Jon Meacham: “To me, the great story about Sen. McCain is, when in doubt, give principle a try.”
Fox News’ Carl Cameron: “Inside Washington, he’s been a real maverick outsider.”
John McCain may very well be the first fourth-place finisher in nominating history to come out of Iowa with momentum and media adulation. It’s worth taking a moment to consider why.
Jason Zengerle, noting that there’s “no denying that the media absolutely loves McCain,” highlights a point that often goes unsaid.
The simple explanation is: McCain affords the press access like no other candidate. In the McCain campaign, there’s no barrier between candidate and reporter. If you have a question for McCain, you don’t have to bother going to his press secretary; you simply go ask him. On some days, you literally spend eight hours with the candidate, just riding with him in the back of his bus peppering him with questions on everything from Pakistan to his philosophical thoughts about suicide. Toward the end of the day, this amount of unfettered access to the candidate can actually be a bit of a problem, when you start to run out of questions for him and there are awkward silences. But, on the whole, it’s hard to overstate the sort of goodwill this access engenders among reporters.
Still, I do wonder why McCain allows this sort of access, given all the risks it entails.
Well, maybe. I explored this a bit last year in a piece for The American Prospect, and found that the risks may not be as great as they appear. In the 2000 campaign, an enamored press corps was willing to cut McCain all kinds of slack. In October 1999, for example, aboard the campaign bus, McCain referred to the Vietnamese as “gooks.” Not only did reporters not call the candidate on the use of the slur, almost none of them reported on McCain’s ugly word choice. According to one insider I talked to, there was a “gentleman’s agreement” in place — in exchange for access and freewheeling interviews, most campaign correspondents would knowingly look the other way from some of McCain’s more “candid” blunders.
And therein lies the point: McCain gets all of the benefits (media adulation) and few of the risks (carte blanche to act like an idiot without being called on it).
That of course, was back in the day -- 6 months ago -- when even the New York Times was endorsing McCain, the wingers at Newsbusters were calling him "a huge favorite among liberal editorial pages as the acceptable (or in the Times's case, the barely acceptable) Republican in the race for president," and Bozell was back, dubbing him a media darling. Back in the good old days in the media sunshine, McCain was gamely referring to the Washington press corps as his base... He could do that because in many ways, they were and are. Now, Bozell and other wingers are left spinning their heads literally around, to claim that the same media that was biased in favor of John McCain is biased against John McCain... Bozell today:
The New York Times is out of control. On a regular basis, the news department makes headlines for outrageously biased non-news, such as the incredibly scummy story in February alleging that McCain had a sexual relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman despite the paper’s utter lack of proof. Even their advertising department has gotten into the act. Recall how they made a sweetheart deal with MoveOn.org to slam Gen. David Petraeus as "General Betray Us." Now it’s the op-ed department, refusing to give McCain the opportunity to respond to Obama because they don’t like the response, period.
Meanwhile, over in TV land, the network anchors lined up for their chance to boost Obama’s adventures. In the first days of the trip, it led all the network newscasts and they praised him aggressively, down to the jump-shots he made playing basketball in Kuwait. Now compare that to their coverage of McCain when he went abroad. On a trip in March, the networks amassed four stories in the entire week. CBS gave McCain’s trip....ten seconds, 31 words.
When McCain went to Colombia and Mexico a couple of weeks ago, ABC beat him up. Five times over the course of two segments on July 2, various "Good Morning America" hosts, reporters and analysts emphasized that McCain's trip might result in voters thinking he didn’t care about the domestic economic situation. Robin Roberts began her interview: "So, why is Senator McCain abroad when Americans are focused on the economy here at home and losing jobs, more and more jobs?" McCain said the drug trade in Colombia is a serious issue for Americans. But Roberts just plowed ahead, and asked again why on Earth he would go to South America. ABC didn’t want an answer. ABC wanted people to resent McCain for leaving the country.
McCain’s campaign is now running Internet ads mocking Chris Matthews for his "thrill up the leg" comments about Obama and other assorted media goo, complete with Frankie Valli crooning "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You" in the background. It’s quite clear that the media are hypersensitive about any mockery of Obama. So mocking his pitter-patter valentines in the media may be the best hardball he can throw.
NYT REJECTS MCCAIN'S EDITORIAL; SHOULD 'MIRROR' OBAMA Mon Jul 21 2008 12:00:25 ET
An editorial written by Republican presidential hopeful McCain has been rejected by the NEW YORK TIMES -- less than a week after the paper published an essay written by Obama, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned.
The paper's decision to refuse McCain's direct rebuttal to Obama's 'My Plan for Iraq' has ignited explosive charges of media bias in top Republican circles.
'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece,' NYT Op-Ed editor David Shipley explained in an email late Friday to McCain's staff. 'I'm not going to be able to accept this piece as currently written.'
In McCain's submission to the TIMES, he writes of Obama: 'I am dismayed that he never talks about winning the war—only of ending it... if we don't win the war, our enemies will. A triumph for the terrorists would be a disaster for us. That is something I will not allow to happen as president.'
NYT's Shipley advised McCain to try again: 'I'd be pleased, though, to look at another draft.'
Of course, Drudge adds this:
[Shipley served in the Clinton Administration from 1995 until 1997 as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Presidential Speechwriter.]
He also includes the full text of McCain's op-ed, plus Shipley's explanation:
'The Obama piece worked for me because it offered new information (it appeared before his speech); while Senator Obama discussed Senator McCain, he also went into detail about his own plans.'
Shipley continues: 'It would be terrific to have an article from Senator McCain that mirrors Senator Obama's piece. To that end, the article would have to articulate, in concrete terms, how Senator McCain defines victory in Iraq.'
As for the rejected op-ed, it's essentially a hit piece on Obama, criticizing his policies and statements, without offering anything new from McCain, up to and including a plan for Iraq. That's why the op-ed was rejected. Duh.
I would post the RedState response, but ever since they stopped being Romneyites and started kissing McCain's rear end and parroting his campaign's talking points, they've become boring. I'll summarize: MSM, liberal media blah blah blah ... tell it to Judy Miller.
Senator Obama is blaming the news media — and especially FOX News — for Michelle Obama's high negative ratings. Just under 30 percent of those polled had an unfavorable view of Michelle Obama in our last FOX News/Opinion Dynamics poll. A Rasmussen Reports poll last month put her unfavorable rating at 42 percent.
Obama tells Glamour magazine that political spouses should be off-limits. He says the "conservative press — FOX News... went fairly deliberately at her in a pretty systematic way... spouses are civilians. They didn't sign up for this."
Though Obama failed to mention it, his wife has made a number of official campaign stops with him and has even campaigned for him on her own.
Obama then added, "If you start being subjected to rants by Sean Hannity and the like, day in day out, that'll drive up your negatives."
On his upcoming overseas trip, Barack Obama will be met along the way by the anchors of the three network evening newscasts. About 200 other journalists have also asked to join Obama during his trip.
But Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post reports that John McCain has taken three foreign trips in the past four months — all unaccompanied by a single network anchor and with little fanfare. The Tyndall Report, which monitors news coverage, says that since June the nightly newscasts on the three networks spent a combined 114 minutes covering Obama while devoting just 48 minutes to McCain.
Hume and Kurtz fail to mention that the McCain camp never made the ask of the networks. Don't hate on Team Obama because they were sharp enough to do so ...
The magazine is sticking its finger in the eye of every bigot who hates the Obamas because they're African-Americans, every racist who seeks to polarize the electorate and every ignoramus who mistrusts the senator from Illinois without examining his record and background.
Something else is going on here as well. This criticism centers on conservatives' strong dislike -- "hatred" is such a nasty word, no? -- of both Obama and the New Yorker, two of the most visible and successful symbols of liberal America. While there was also carping in some liberal quarters, the most vocal anger seemed to come from the other side.
The liberals' opponents are jumping on the bandwagon partly in the hope of making the New Yorker look bad (i.e. unpatriotic). The magazine has written many stories blasting the Bush administration's policies, especially its handling of Iraq.
If Obama were to choose Powell, 42% of likely voters nationwide said it would make them more likely to support the Democratic candidate - as did 42% of Democrats and 43% of political independents. The Zogby International telephone poll of 1,039 likely voters nationwide was conducted July 9-13, 2008, and asked respondents how the selection of certain vice presidential candidates would affect their likelihood to vote for the two leading presidential candidates. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.
Watch right wing heads exploding everywhere... oh God, there go some Democratic head explosions in West Virginia! Zogby provides the doubters with a helpful table:
Likelihood to vote for Barack Obama if he chooses ... as his Vice President
What? Not much help from "Bayh Bayh Bayh"? Meanqhile, the pollster says McCain's best bets are Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee. Now I think that Romney will ultimately be the running mate (supporting evidence here), no matter how much Mac may still secretly hate his guts, but me thinks the pollster doth miss name recognition too much. Not that name recog doesn't count in a veep selection. Just sayin. I doubt that the respondents to the poll really sat down and thought about the idea of TWO black men running together for president.
Anyway, just to be fair, here's the GOP chart:
Likelihood to vote for John McCain if he chooses ... as his Vice President
And would ya look at Miss Charlie, getting 5 percent! |
Again this morning, David Gregory and a parade of adoring "analysts" on MSNBC are asserting that John McCain has, of course, established his credentials and experience on foreign policy, while Barack Obama "still needs to pass the foreign policy test."
And yet, these same reporters and analysts overlook the rather inconvenient fact, that for someone who supposedly is so knowledgeable about the world, John McCain makes constant, blatant, serious mistakes about fundamental things that happen to be about ... the world.
He doesn't grasp the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, something he has demonstrated repeatedly, to the collective yawns of the mainstream press.
Just yesterday, he once again demonstrated that his knowledge of Europe comes to a screeching halt shortly after the Reagan administration. For instance, McCain still thinks there is a Czechoslovakia, a country that ceased to exist in 1993, when the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (a/k/a Slovakia) were born. Not only does McCain think that Czechoslovakia still exits, he wants to put a missile shield there, "and he doesn't care who objects." Well who would object? There are no people in that country to object, because it doesn't exist anymore... And does this pause the media narrative? Not a bit. The MSM continue to give McCain the benefit of the doubt, for no other reason than because they find McCain so very likable, and "authentic." McCain has built his media base by giving them the one thing, besides perks like box seats at ballgames and invites to the White House Christmas party, that they crave more than anything else: access, and even that, he has begun to retract, by forcing brown nosing reporters to "earn" their way into the good seats on the Straight Talk Air Express...) I'm guessing Gregory and his colleagues are only too happy to oblige.
For more on the media's determination to give McCain a free ride, see Media Matters. Learn more about the real John McCain here. |
The mainstream media, which now includes the major blogs, has a way of taking a meme and running with it, particularly, it seems, when the meme originates on the right, or somehow damages Democrats (I think it's a "former Democratic staffer turned journalist" self-hatred thing.) There's a method to turning a political figure into a caricature that's easily digested on a one-hour cable news show with a brightly-lit set and busy theme music, and the MSM can use the meme to build a candidate up, or bring him down to size. [Much ado about Obama's "brand."... At left: limited edition Obama poster, "Change," by artist Shepard Fairey. Available here.]
Take for instance the notion that Barack Obama, by not accepting campaign finance reform, and by committing various other illiberal sins in the upper chamber of Congress, is "damaging his brand." I've started hearing the phrase used in heavy rotation since GOP strategist Matthew Dowd used it to tisk-tisk Obama on campaign financing last Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos." He elaborated on the ABC News blog the following day:
Obama's brand is new to the political marketplace and it is especially in need of protection by him and his campaign.
What is his brand?
From my perspective it is something that involves a new kind of politics, something that doesn't involve political expediency, something that gets past the spin of Washington, something that involves truth and inspiration in order to get the job done.
That is why I believe Obama and his campaign made a blunder flip flopping on public campaign finance for the general election.
Obama had said for many months he would abide by public financing in the fall and now has decided against doing just that. As Liz Sidoti of Associated Press wrote, "Barack Obama chose winning over his word."
Not a good thing at all for his brand. Is it lethal? Probably not, but it's a mistake.
Dowd is just one of the seemingly endless throng of media types who have gone over the moon over the way Obama has chosen to finance his campaign (who knew public financing was such a cherished item among the media elite?) But as a communications pro, he is also a student of the idea of "moving the zeitgeist" -- tapping the collective subconscious of the media elite, which shapes what they report, what they harp on (particularly on TV), what they ignore, and how they treat a particular candidate.
Gore got slapped upside the head by the media zeitgeist in 2000, when the herd decided that his meme would be "phony, effete guy who isn't comfortable in his own skin" (Google the phrase "Gore and 'comfortable in his own skin'" and see just how much you get...) Once the meme took hold, Gore was derided, falsely, for claiming he invented the Internet, for his clothes, or his tan, and on and on. That same year, John McCain was given the incredibly positive meme: "maverick." It has stuck for eight years, and MSM types continue to resist giving it up, even after McCain has shed every principle he held in and before 2000 in his desperate hunt for the White House, and long after voters no longer hold the term operative for the Senator from Arizona. Bill Clinton's media meme from day one was "slick. He'll say and do whatever it takes to win." Unfortunately for Hillary, she inherited that mantle in 2008.
For Obama, the meme started as "movement, change and phenomenon," but has begun to migrate downward, ever since "Saturday Night Live" made the press corps feel bad about themselves for liking him. (It's always deadly to make the media feel bad about themselves.) Wore, his team has repeatedly snubbed, been "cool" toward, and outsmarted the Washington press corps, giving the David Gregories of the world added impetus to smack him down. Now that he has committed campaign finance apostasy, finally discover the issue that strikes at the heart of every Washington reporter, Obama risks being tagged with the negative meme of "the guy who damaged his brand."
Which is why the phrase "damaged his brand," or the idea of it, has been repeated over and over again since last week, in the Los Angeles Times, in the Washington Post, by Arianna Huffington (this morning on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," and on and on and on, not to mention by the vacuous day shift girls on the cable news anchor desks. From there, the meme makes its way to the left- and the right wing blogosphere, and presto! It's in the zeitgeist. The "damaging his brand" meme has been fueled by a much linked column by WaPo's David Broder, which essentially cedes the moral high ground on just about anything to John McCain, simply by virtue of his long service in Washington, and prior service in the military (Broder is highly influential among the punditocracy, by virtue of his long service in Washington, as this devotional post by Chris Cillizza illustrates.) So kids, the phrase of the week is "damaging his brand."
Still, the good news for Barack is that he has defied the punditocracy before. In fact, he was issued a stern warning last October by John Dickerson of Slate for criticizing Hillary Clinton's truthfulness during the debates. The risk to Obama, in Dickerson's mind? He might damage his brand.
Related: for a piece on the "Obama brand" that won't make you hurl, check out this smart piece by political strategist Patrick Ruffini, from February. |
I got pretty sick of MSNBC and the other cable nets harping on this supposed "teen pregnancy pact" story that originated in TIME Magazine. Well ... turns out it might not actually be true (surprise, surprise...)
(CBS/AP) School counselors, teachers and families of students the principal said made a pact to get pregnant and have babies together have no information to back the claim, the mayor of Gloucester said Sunday.
Mayor Carolyn Kirk plans to meet Monday with school, health and other local officials after Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan was quoted by Time magazine saying the girls made such a pact.
The meeting will discuss the alarming rate of teen pregnancy. Seventeen girls in the high school became pregnant this year - four times the usual number. The girls are all 16 or younger, and nearly all of them sophomores.
Kirk told The Associated Press that Sullivan has told officials in this hard-luck New England fishing town that he can't remember his source of information.
"The high school principal is the one who initially said it, and no one else has said it," Kirk said. "None of the counselors at the school, none of the teachers who know these children and none of the families have spoken about it.
"So, my position is that it has not been confirmed," she said.
Another day of wasted media time, that could have been devoted to reports about Iraq, Afghanistan, FISA, the economy, gas prices, joblessness, and you know ... news. And meanwhile, shouldn't TIME's reporter have corroborated the story before it went to print?
I was all prepared to give Brian Williams a chance as the temporary moderator of MTP, which has been part of the Sunday staple in our house for a decade, any my life for long before that. The guests promised to be interesting: Miss Lindsey Graham vs. one of my favorite presidential contenders, Joe Biden. Well ... in two words... it sucked.
Perhaps Biden wasn't properly prepared, but he seemed completely unable to coherently defend Barack Obama's decision to opt out of public financing, even conceding that Obama's decision probably contributes to breaking the system. Putting aside, if I can, the fact that Williams spent at least 20 minutes on this subject, much more time than it deserves, why didn't Biden simply turn to McCain's smirkly little defedress, and tell her the following:
"First of all, Lindsey, I can guarantee you that the moms and dads watching us today who are worrying about how they'll aford the mortgage or where they're gonna get $100 to fill up their gas tanks next week aren't too worried about the fact that Barack Obama isn't gonna use their tax money to run his campaign."
"Second, John McCain is hardly in a position to lecture Barack Obama about keeping his word when he has flip-flopped on everything he used to say he believed in, whether it's tax breaks for the rich, torture, or offshore oil drilling."
"And third, Brian, wasn't it David Shuster at your network who reported that John McCain has jumped in and out of the campaign finance system himself, first using a promise to stay in the system to get a loan, then trying to wriggle out of public financing when he thought he'd raise more money? Brian and Lindsey, you both know that the Democratic National Committee even filed a lawsuit against my friend John McCain's campaign, precisely because he has broken his word repeatedly on this issue."
See how easy that was? Three simple freaking talking points, none of which was uttered by Joe Biden, who has been so spectacular in responding to everything from Rudy "noun, verb and 9/11" Giuliani, to the McCain stance on Iraq.
It was an unfortunate miss by Biden, but an even greater one by the once crack researchers of "Meet the Press," who apparently spent the week digging only for quotes that would make Obama look like a flip-flopper, rather than information about the public financing stances of both sides.
Luckily, as I have been hoping, Tom Brokaw will take over hosting duties on MTP, at least through election day. Brokaw is clearly the only person at NBC with the stature to assume Russert's seat. Temporarily suspending his retirement, he starts his new gig next week.
Reporters say the media has dropped the ball on the war. Says CNN's best correspondent, Michael Ware (ok, tied for best with Christiane Amanpour):
"This is the Vietnam War of our generation. This conflict is going to have repercussions that far exceed that of an Indo-Chinese, essentially, civil war," he says. "Yet for a litany of reasons, which may or may not be legitimate, from cost to security to audience fatigue, the media has dropped the ball on this conflict. It is a tragic indictment on the Fourth Estate."
Ditto the media's coverage of the Bush administration, which was slavish after 9/11, and only critical after the public figured out the administration was lying anyway.
Dig into the New York Observer's lengthy article on the misreporting of the Iraq war here.
Let me start by saying that from my experience, the vast, vast majority of Hillary Clinton supporters are reasonable, intelligent people who understand politics, and have a sense of fair play. They get that elections are won, and elections are lost, and at the end of the day, what matters most is the future of our country, not the future of our favorite political figure. In the past two election cycles, none of my favorite candidates has won. In 2000, I liked Bill Bradley. In 2004, I was Wes Clark all the way, even volunteered for him. I was extremely unhappy with the guy who won the '04 primary, and still went to work for an organization dedicated to getting him elected president. When Kerry lost, it really sucked.
But you move on, and deal with the situation you've got. Most Hillary supporters are doing just that. The candidate is too, and in gracious fashion. If nothing else, the Clintons understand politics.
So what's with some of their supporters? Some of them are downright loony.
For proof, look no further than Doug Band, chief gatekeeper to former President Bill Clinton.
Band keeps close track of the past allies and beneficiaries of the Clintons who supported Obama's campaign, three Clinton associates and campaign officials said. Indeed, he is widely known as a member of the Clinton inner circle whose memory is particularly acute on the matter of who has been there for the couple — and who has not.
"The Clintons get hundreds of requests for favors every week," said Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. "Clearly, the people you're going to do stuff for in the future are the people who have been there for you."
McAuliffe, who knows of Band's diligent scorekeeping, emphasized that "revenge is not what the Clintons are about." The accounting is more about being practical, he said, adding, "You have to keep track of this."
Ack! Should people be hiding their bunnies? Then, there are the bitter enders of the feminist sort, who demand apologies, from the media, and from the Obama campaign, for the anti-womanism that supposedly brought Hillary down (not the votes, no, not the votes, the misogyny!). From this really angry reporter lady named Erbe:
The Democratic National Committee either doesn't get it or refuses to admit it. Nothing short of a lengthy, detailed mea culpa by the DNC and by Obama himself, directed to Clinton supporters for the sexist name-calling and personal, nasty characterizations Clinton was alone forced to endure, will do. Even that may not persuade these voters to consider supporting the party this fall. The DNC, Democratic Party leaders in Congress, and Obama should have been at her side, calling her treatment by the media (and even by some Obama supporters) unacceptable.
According to most polls, something in the range of 20 to 25 percent of her 18 million supporters say they'll vote for Senator McCain in November. That's 4.5 million votes—too many to take for granted. Yet taking them for granted is just what the party and Obama are doing. When CNN's Candy Crowley asked Obama how he would appeal to disaffected Clinton voters, he missed the mark entirely, giving a standard set of policy proposals.
I appeared on one of the cable news networks over the weekend, paired with a political reporter from a major newspaper. We were asked whether her supporters would kiss and make up with the Obama camp and end up throwing their support to the Illinois senator in the general election. He said, dismissively, "yes." I responded that with all due respect I thought he was quite wrong. But his laissez-faire attitude typifies that of the bulk of the MSM, the Democratic Party, and the Obama campaign.
We won't know how her supporters will vote until after the general election and its exit polls. Those who sit it out won't even be counted in exit polls. My feeling is just as the MSM underestimated the reaction to anti-Clinton remarks would generate, and the DNC overestimated voters' party loyalty, that no one has a clear read on what comes of all this. The party may have created a miniboom in Republican registration—disaffected Democrats who will never vote for a Democratic candidate again.
Never? Never ever ever? Damn.
Then we get into the really wacky weeds. You simply have to read this absolutely insane piece in something called the (San Francisco) City Edition, which was sent to me by Clinton bitter ender Carolyn Kay. It's long, but it's worth a read. To summarize, Barack Obama is a criminal terrorist ally planted by Karl Rove who also reverse engineered the Democratic primaries and caucuses so that Obama would get more pledged delegates out of a system designed by Harold Ickes but really run by Fox News, which the Clinton camp said was their preferred network and which attacks Obama relentlessly but which actually was helping him win bcause Tony Rezko's banker is Obama's banker and his friends are guarded by Blackwater... Seriously. Here's just the log line:
"Strategy involves G.O.P. crossover voting to take out Clinton, marketing newcomer Obama, stripping battleground delegates, inciting violence at the convention, and (if necessary) declaring martial law to prevent November's general election. Meanwhile, revelations about the Illinois senator's ties to Chicago political fixer Tony Rezko and two Iraqi agents are downplayed by the press. For their part, Democratic Party leaders persist in efforts to circumvent the nominating process, even as Karl Rove emerges as a player at Rezko's trial."
Wow. It gets crazier from there...
Evidence of a covert campaign to undermine the presidential primaries is rife, so it's curious that many within both the Democratic and Republican parties have ignored the actual elephant in the room this year. That would be Karl Rove. Long accused of rigging the two previous presidential elections, this master of deceit would have us believe he's gone off to sit in a corner and write op-eds this time around.
Not so. According to an article in Time magazine last November, Republicans have been organized in several states to throw their weight behind Senator Barack Obama, hoping to deprive Senator Hillary Clinton of the Democratic nomination. While Rove's name isn't mentioned in the story, several former fundraisers and strategists for President Bush are identified. Together, these gentlemen helped flush Obama's coffers with cash early on in the race, something the deep pockets had not done for any candidate in their own party. With receipts topping $100 million in 2007, the freshman senator from Illinois achieved a remarkable feat, given that most Americans only first heard of him in 2005.
To expedite the Rove strategy, a website and discussion forum called Republicans for Obama formed in 2006. The executive director of New Hampshire's Republican Party, Stephen DeMaura, later established an even larger cyber enclave on Facebook in 2007 called “Stop Hillary Clinton (One Million Strong AGAINST Hillary)”. At the same time, the Obama camp launched its own initiative targeted at Republican voters. Called "Be a Democrat For a Day", the campaign included a video that was circulated in Florida, Nevada, Vermont and elsewhere explaining the process of re-registering with the local voter registrar's office. In addition, many states nowadays hold open primaries, allowing citizens to vote for any candidate, regardless of their party affiliation. In Nebraska, for instance, the mayor of Omaha publicly rallied Republicans and Independents to caucus for Obama on February 9th. In Pennsylvania, Timereported on March 19th that Obama was running radio ads in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia asking Republicans to register as Democrats and then vote for him in the state's April 22nd primary.
The tactic, called crossover voting, has allowed Obama to open up an unsurmountable lead in pledged delegates. Republicans for Obama was certainly not bashful in making its case in an email appeal linked to its home page before the March 4th contests. "Since Texas has an open primary," the appeal read, "Republicans and Independents should sign in at their polling place and request a Democratic ballot. They should then vote for Barack Obama... Just think, no more Clintons in the White House." Then there was Iowa, which held the nation's first caucus on January 3rd. Here G.O.P. winner Mike Huckabee received just half as many votes as Clinton, who finished third behind Obama and John Edwards. [SIDEBAR: of course, finishing third -- not her fault -- a conspiracy --- read on...]
Of the 17 states holding open primaries, Obama has won 13 of them. And an analysis of the caucus results to date shows that a disproportionate sum of delegates has been awarded to Obama, with red states - which normally vote Republican in the general election - exercising undue influence on the process. For instance, his 13,700 vote margin in the Nebraska caucus netted him 8 pledged delegates, whereas Clinton netted 9 delegates from her 204,000 vote victory in Ohio's primary. In Texas, which holds both a primary and caucus, Obama gained 5 more pledged delegates than Clinton, despite the fact that she won the election by a 100,000 vote margin. And although Clinton won the Nevada caucus, the Obama camp somehow managed to finagle more pledged delegates at the state convention held after the vote.
Never mind that it was Hillary who won Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania, meaning that if there was a conspiracy afoot, it failed... and the rules under which Obama got more delegates out of his states won were crafted by none other than Harold Ickes, who once managed Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign... There's more:
And so we step through the looking glass into a Rovean wonderland. Last year, at the same time Clinton commanded a huge lead in the national polls, political analysts and professional strategists retained by CNN and other broadcast networks began hammering across the notion that "the voters don't like her". Incorporating the use of psychological branding, adjectives like "divisive", "polarizing", and "untrustworthy" have been repeated over and over in connection to Clinton in the same manner that "biological warfare" and "weapons of mass destruction" were disseminated in the lead-up to the Iraq War. In addition, beginning on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, the senator from New York has been roundly derided in the media as the losing candidate. Before Indiana-North Carolina primaries on May 6th, the term "panderer" was added to list of press buzzwords, ostensibly in response to Clinton's senate bill to transfer the federal gas tax to the oil companies.
Much of this pejorative terminology, by the way, traces back to a cadre of right-wing, neoconservative ideologues who keep the studio seats warm at Fox News Channel. "There is no candidate on record, a front-runner for a party's nomination, who has entered the primary season with negatives as high as she has," Rove told Reuters last August. Joining Fox as a part-time election analyst last February, he forgets to mention each time he dwells on this theme that the conclusion is borne of a tautology.
Until recently, Obama himself invariably recited Rove's "high negatives" comment in press interviews whenever discussing Clinton. His often bitter criticism of her, along with other "Washington insiders", who he says want to "boil and stew all the hope out of him", represents a staple of his core political message. The other half of the stump speech, known as the I'm-a-uniter-not-a-divider pitch, is reminiscent of the Bush 2000 campaign, which Rove managed. Perhaps that's not surprising when you discover that one of Obama's speechwriters is Ben Rhodes, the brother of Fox News VP David Rhodes. (Marisa Guthrie, of BC Beat, reported this connection.) You may recall that on election night in November 2000, it was Fox that called Florida for Bush, even though the other networks declared Gore the winner based on the exit polls. How Fox knew the polls were wrong in advance of the votes being counted has never been explained.
And the G.O.P. links to Obama don't end there. The Times of London reported on March 2nd that Obama had interviewed conservative Republican lawmakers Senators Chuck Hagel and Richard Lugar for key positions in a future cabinet. "Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary." the story revealed. "Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a 'stretch'." Lugar, who placed Obama's name on his nuclear non-proliferation bill two years ago, is being evaluated as a potential secretary of state.
Hang on, wasn't it HILLARY who during the campaign warmed up to Fox News, and even Richard Mellon Scaife? Obama was slammed by FNC by giving them no quarter, while Hillary's team praised them as the only truly fair network. So who's side was whose? It continues:
Although Obama says he has always opposed the Iraq War, he appears to be linked to Bush Administration policy there through his principle political benefactor in Chicago, Tony Rezko. Rezko received a contract to build a power plant in Iraq through a college chum appointed as the new Minister of Electricity in 2003. Like other Iraqi exiles recruited for posts by Coalition Provisional Authority Administrator L. Paul Bremmer, Aiham Alsammarae absconded hundreds of millions of dollars in reconstruction funds as part of a crime spree dubbed "The Mother of all Heists" by 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft. Currently wanted by Interpol (but apparently not the U.S. Government), Alsammarae now lives in Illinois, where he has donated several times to Obama's presidential campaign. ...
Later, as a state senator, he wrote endorsement letters on behalf of Rezko to government agencies allocating funds to build other housing projects. (Years later, the fact that sued slumlords were still receiving taxpayer funds would raise eyebrows in Chicago, but apparently no one lodged any serious objections at the time.) In fact, a 2007 Chicago Tribune article reported that Rezko's firm got contracts to rehab 30 buildings, including 11 in Obama's state legislative district on the South Side. Edward McClelland, writing for Salon.com, noted that "Rezko, after all, built part of his fortune by exploiting the black community that Obama had served in the state senate, and by milking government programs meant to benefit black-owned businesses."
While it may be unclear why Obama would continue his relationship with Rezko after this point, it's indisputable that he did. In 2005, while Rezko was under investigation by federal authorities for fraud, Obama approached him for help in purchasing a $2 million Georgian-revival home in the historic Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago. The property deal involved splitting the land into two lots, with Rezko buying the large side yard for $625,000. Obama and his wife Michelle then acquired the parcel that included the mansion, paying $300,000 less than the asking price. The Chicago Tribune reported the details of this unusual arrangement in November 2006.
Although no laws were broken in the transaction, the New York Times reported that the Obama property deal may have been an attempt by the developer to shield assets from creditors in several individual lawsuits pending at the time. Even more hair-raising, Rezko - who was in bankruptcy proceedings at the time - received a $3.5 million loan in April, 2005 from a longtime business associate, Nadhmi Auchi. Auchi is a London-based Iraqi exile and one of the world's richest men, according to Forbes. He's also the former moneyman for Saddam Hussein, the Sun-Times reports.
Okay, so after all that, we establish that no laws were broken. Do go on...
According to The Times of London, "Mr. Auchi was convicted of corruption, given a suspended sentence and fined £1.4 million in France in 2003 for his part in the Elf affair, described as the biggest political and corporate scandal in post-war Europe." Rezko and Auchi are current partners in a major 62-acre land development in Riverside Park in Chicago. The Times also reported on February 26th that Auchi lent Rezko additional funds shortly before the purchase of the Obama property. "Under a Loan Forgiveness Agreement described in court, Mr. Auchi lent Mr. Rezko $3.5 million in April 2005 and $11 million in September 2005, as well as the $3.5 million transferred in April 2007."
Interestingly, Obama's unusual mortgage lender visited Chicago in 2004. (The State Dept. has never explained how he got a visa.) A reception in his honor was attended by both Rezko and Emil Jones, president of the Illinois state senate and a key player in Obama's 2004 U.S. senate bid, according to a CNN report.Obama himself attended the Auchi gathering, held at the posh Four Seasons, but says he doesn't recall meeting the man and was at the hotel that day on other business. A prosecution witness at the Rezko trial in Chicago testified on April 14th that Obama met Auchi during a party at Rezko's home April 3, 2004.
And the skeletons continue to pile up in the closet. Another Iraqi ex-patriot connected to Obama, Aiham Alsammarae, posted more than $2.7 million in property as collateral to help spring Tony Rezko from jail in April, according to a story in the Sun-Times. This was an odd development, since Alsammarae is (or was) wanted by Interpol for the theft of $650 million in Iraqi reconstruction funds. Newsweek reported on March 17, 2008 that Alsammarae'a son sent several faxes to Obama's office in Washington in 2006, complaining that his father was being unjustly held in a Baghdad jail in 2006.
In December of that year, Alsammarae escaped. Regarding this incident, the New York Timesreported that "Iraqi officials initially blamed the Americans and later claimed that a private security detail used by Mr. Alsammarae when he was a minister was responsible, saying that a fleet of S.U.V.’s filled with “Westerners” pulled up to the jail and spirited him away, perhaps with the complicity of some of his jailers." (The security firm Blackwater guarded Alsammarae during his time in government.)
The Sun-Times has quoted an Obama spokesperson as characterizing the faxes sent to the senator's office as "a routine request from a constituent." Iraq's former Minister of Electricity, however, boasted that he escaped 'the Chicago way'", according to the New York Times.From the luxury of his compound in Illinois, Alsammarae donated online to the candidate in January, February and March of this year. The Sun-Tmes recently verified that a warrant for the fugitive's arrest remains active, but U.S. officials would not disclose what the warrant is for.
A man of multiple talents, Alsammarae also claims to have brokered a peace dialog with two Sunni militant groups in Iraq in 2005. According to the Washington Post, he "said the groups, which he identified as the Islamic Army in Iraq and the Mujaheddin Army, were willing to enter negotiations with U.S. and Iraqi officials." Alsammarae also told the Post that he lead his ownpredominantly Sunni political group called the Iraqi National Council Front. He also claims that his conviction for corruption has been vacated. (CNN interviewed Alsammarae in January 2006. Scroll halfway down the page to read the transcript.)
Not to be left out of the party, Rezko contracted in 2005 to build a power plant in Iraq with his friend's help, but the project was later given to another firm due to an apparent kickback scheme uncovered by U.S. authorities. A private blog called RezkoWatchhas also reported that Rezko submitted a second proposal to build a training facility for Iraqi power plant security guards in Illinois.
How such business dealings might impact Obama's position on American troops stationed in Iraq, if he's elected president, is unknown.
But here's the strangest twist of all in the Rezko affair (so far): the federal prosecutor in the Chicago trial is Patrick Fitzgerald, the former special counsel in the Valerie Plame C.I.A. leak case. If you remember, a much anticipated indictment against Karl Rove never materialized in that earlier episode. Instead, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby was tried and convicted on four counts of lying under oath. (His sentence was later commuted by President Bush.) Whether Fitzgerald is delaying indictments of Chicago Gov. Blagojevich and Sen. Obama on orders from the Bush Administration is a matter of speculation. Curiously, on April 23rd, Rove's name came up when a witness testified that in 2004, G.O.P. heavyweight Robert Kjellander lobbied Rove to replace Fitzgerald in the case because a vigorous prosecution might hurt Republicans, according to a report ABC News posted on its website. The allegation defies logic, however, since Fitzgerald had specifically been tapped by the President to handle the Plame incident.
First of all, how did Rezko's banker magically turn into Obama's banker, without actually lending Barack any money? And if he was being guarded in Iraq, while holding a government position, by U.S. firm Blackwater, doesn't that make him our guy? And what, in the end, is the point being made? Precisely what is it that Patrick Fitzgerald should want to prosecute Barack Obama for? This kind of nuttery is passing for journalism in a real, live newspaper, folks, though obviously not a very good one.
This is sheer lunacy, and it's not coming from the right, but from people supposedly on our side.
Welcome to crazy town.
Now, that's not to say that there are not genuine concerns by serious women about gender bias, and about what they saw as attacks on Hillary that had a nasty, gender twist. But make no mistake, there were plenty of racist bombs thrown during the campaign as well, including some from within Camp Clinton. And with Youtube, and Zazzle, and all the ways to spew out a poorly thought through message, you've just got to cope with a certain amount of ugliness in the zeitgeist. I don't think it helps either black folk or women (of which I'm one of each) to moan about it now. Campaigns get ugly. Hell, Howard Dean was compared to Osama bin Laden by other Democrats when he ran, and then he was derided as a screaming lunatic, based on one unidirectional mic. But when campaigns end, they end, and those who really believe that their party has the best plans for the country unite, suck it up, and work together to win.
It's time to put, not party, but country before the cult of personality. I was very disappointed by the Clintons during this race, and have caught myself saying that if she won, I'd skip the presidential ballot for the first time since I turned 18. But I really didn't mean it. In the end, I'm a voter. I'm a supervoter. And I would have voted for the ticket.
Here's hoping we can put away the conspiracy theories and at least agree on that.
I love the way the mainstream media (perhaps more correctly termed the "corporate media," gets an eyeful of the New York Times and suddenly, spins on a dime. Don't know if you caught Norah O'Donnell's act tonight on MSNBC, but she was spinning out of control, walking back from weeks of political race-baiting during her ever stranger primary night impersonation of Frank Luntz (this week in a black cocktail dress and way too formal necklace, no less...) Suddenly, after apparently reading this piece in the New York Times (as it seems everybody in punditland did today,) she discovers that wait! West Virginia white voters aren't RACIST ... they're REPUBLICANS!
So what did the Times say that has so many pundit heads exploding?
...Consider the media shorthand for both Kentucky and West Virginia, where Hillary Clinton beat Barack Obama by huge margins. These are hard-working, real Americans, the Clinton camp says, and a Democrat can’t win without them.
In fact, both West Virginia and Kentucky have gone against the national tide of the last 8 years and have been trending Republican. Also – and this needs to be said – a significant percentage of the voters in both those states have now indicated that they may not vote for a fellow Democrat simply because he’s black.
Pollsters know that people lie about race; voters rarely come out and say they will not vote for someone because he’s black. Instead, they say things like we’re hearing from West Virginia and Kentucky – that “race is a factor.”
In Kentucky, over 25 percent of Clinton supporters said race was a factor in their vote – about five times the national average for such a question. Clinton, if she really wanted to do something lasting, could ask her supporters why the color of a fellow Democrat’s skin is so important to their vote.
Now, consider the argument that a Democrat needs these states. In 2000, George Bush won West Virginia 52 to 46 percent. Four years later, he’d increased his margin to 56-43.
In Kentucky, Bush won 57-41 in 2000, and padded that to 60-40 four years later.
Appalachia, we now know, is Clinton’s heartland – but it does not resemble the Democratic landscape. If these are Democratic states, there’s some strange serum in the local brew at party headquarters.
On to Oregon, where Obama won by double digits. A bunch of chai tea sipping elitists, with zero body fat, living in hip lofts while working at Nike, yes? No. Well, they do like running, and tea. Oregon is one of the nation’s whitest states – just under 2 percent of residents are black – but rich it is not. The state is below the national average in both per capita income and median household income.
This suggests that Obama doesn’t have a white working class problem so much as a regional problem, in a place where Democrats won’t win anyway. ...
Now think ... how many times this afternoon and tonight did you hear a cable talker use the phrase, "Obama doesn't have a white working class problem, he's got a regional problem...?" I'll count them for you: Norah O, David Gregory, Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann are just four of the analysts who came up with that ephiphany tonight.
Do tell. You mean the third of white voters who indicated THEMSELVES that they are in actuality, McCain voters just participating in the Democratic primary to vote down the black guy won't vote for Barack in the fall any more than they supported him in the spring? REALLY? And Hillary, after all her pandering and stroking "hard working white folk" may not be turning out white Democrats, but rather, McCain voters, in the primary?
Well I'll be a unicorn's horse shoe.
And white people who aren't self-described racists WILL vote for Obama, even though he isn't entirely white? But ... if the media can't keep obsessing over racial voting ... I suppose we'll just have to hear about CLASS and REGIONAL voting bias FOR THE REST OF THE CAMPAIGN...
Summary: A New York Times article detailed the connection between numerous media military analysts and the Pentagon and defense industries, reporting that "the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform" media military analysts "into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks." A Media Matters review found that since January 1, 2002, the analysts named in the Times article -- many identified as having ties to the defense industry -- collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR.
This is why Bob Herbert doesn't get booked on MSNBC
I like Eugene Robinson. I like him a lot. But he has been sickeningly pliant in going along with the Rev. Wright 24-7 nonsense on MSNBC, which has turned the "story" into a spectacle so tiresome and overblown, I've actually started watching CNN. Bob Herbert, on the other hand, doesn't get booked on MSNBC nearly as much as his colleague at the "other" big paper (the WaPo, where I count no fewer than four op-ed pieces on Wright just this morning). Here's an example of why:
The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is no doubt (and regrettably) a big issue in the presidential campaign. But what we’ve seen over the past week is major media overkill — Jeremiah Wright all day and all night. It’s like watching the clips of a car wreck again and again.
We’ve plotted the trend lines of his relationship with Barack Obama over the past two decades. What did Obama know and when did he know it? We’ve forced Barack and Michelle Obama, two decent, hard-working, law-abiding, family-oriented Americans, to sit for humiliating television interviews, reminiscent of Bill and Hillary Clinton on “60 Minutes” at the height of the Gennifer Flowers scandal.
We’ve allowed the entire political process in what is perhaps the most important election in the U.S. since World War II to become thoroughly warped by the histrionics of a loony preacher from the South Side of Chicago.
There’s something wrong with us.
Race is like pornography in the United States — the dirty stories and dirty pictures that everyone professes to hate but no one can resist. But I suspect that even porn addicts get their fill sometimes.
The challenge for the working press right now is to see if we can force ourselves past the overwhelming temptations of Wright and race and focus in a sustained way on some other important matters, like the cratering economy, metastasizing energy costs, the dismal state of public education, the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or the damage being done to the American soul by the endless war in Iraq. ...
Amen, Herbert. Now to be fair, Robinson has criticized the overkill on Wright, too. But by participating in the endless loop of discussions and re-discussions on the issue that have been playing on MSNBC, literally from morning until Keith Olbermann saves the network from itself at 8 p.m. weeknights, he is helping to feed the beast, as are the very intelligent Rachel Maddow (who I like much better on TV than radio), and the Wright obsessed Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, Pat Buchanan and Dan Abrams.
MSNBC should be ashamed of themselves. It's as if there is literally nothing interesting to talk about in this political season besides Wright. They have milked this story for all its worth and then draining it some more. There is no more dog left to kick. Let's see if next week, the GE sideshow manages to move on. (To quote Herbert's column, "don't hold your breath.")
By the way, Frank Rich doesn't seem to turn up on the network much, either...
It is entirely fair for any voter to weigh Mr. Obama’s long relationship with his pastor in assessing his fitness for office. It is also fair to weigh Mr. Obama’s judgment in handling this personal and political crisis as it has repeatedly boiled over. But whatever that verdict, it is disingenuous to pretend that there isn’t a double standard operating here. If we’re to judge black candidates on their most controversial associates — and how quickly, sternly and completely they disown them — we must judge white politicians by the same yardstick.
When Rudy Giuliani, still a viable candidate, successfully courted Pat Robertson for an endorsement last year, few replayed Mr. Robertson’s greatest past insanities. Among them is his best-selling 1991 tome, “The New World Order,” which peddled some of the same old dark conspiracy theories about “European bankers” (who just happened to be named Warburg, Schiff and Rothschild) that Mr. Farrakhan has trafficked in. Nor was Mr. Giuliani ever seriously pressed to explain why his cronies on the payroll at Giuliani Partners included a priest barred from the ministry by his Long Island diocese in 2002 following allegations of sexual abuse. Much as Mr. Wright officiated at the Obamas’ wedding, so this priest officiated at (one of) Mr. Giuliani’s. Did you even hear about it?
There is not just a double standard for black and white politicians at play in too much of the news media and political establishment, but there is also a glaring double standard for our political parties. The Clintons and Mr. Obama are always held accountable for their racial stands, as they should be, but the elephant in the room of our politics is rarely acknowledged: In the 21st century, the so-called party of Lincoln does not have a single African-American among its collective 247 senators and representatives in Washington. Yes, there are appointees like Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice, but, as we learned during the Mark Foley scandal, even gay men may hold more G.O.P. positions of power than blacks.
A near half-century after the civil rights acts of the 1960s, this is quite an achievement. Yet the holier-than-thou politicians and pundits on the right passing shrill moral judgment over every Democratic racial skirmish are almost never asked to confront or even acknowledge the racial dysfunction in their own house. In our mainstream political culture, this de facto apartheid is simply accepted as an intractable given, unworthy of notice, and just too embarrassing to mention aloud in polite Beltway company. Those who dare are instantly accused of “political correctness” or “reverse racism.”
An all-white Congressional delegation doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the legacy of race cards that have been dealt since the birth of the Southern strategy in the Nixon era. No one knows this better than Mr. McCain, whose own adopted daughter of color was the subject of a vicious smear in his party’s South Carolina primary of 2000.
This year Mr. McCain has called for a respectful (i.e., non-race-baiting) campaign and has gone so far as to criticize (ineffectually) North Carolina’s Republican Party for running a Wright-demonizing ad in that state’s current primary. Mr. McCain has been posing (awkwardly) with black people in his tour of “forgotten” America. Speaking of Katrina in New Orleans, he promised that “never again” would a federal recovery effort be botched on so grand a scale.
This is all surely sincere, and a big improvement over Mitt Romney’s dreams of his father marching with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Up to a point. Here, too, there’s a double standard. Mr. McCain is graded on a curve because the G.O.P. bar is set so low.
For all the talk of Barack Obama turning the corner following his vehement denunciation of Rev. Jeremiah Wright this week, the poor mainstream media is still trying to suck the last, fainting whisps of breath out of what has been, for them, a blockbuster ratings grabber.
MSNBC devoted a full day -- no joke -- to agonizing over the Wright aftermath. CNN did better, which is why I got my actual news from them yesterday. This morning on "Morning Joe," the team tried to wring some news value out of the clips of the Obamas answering a SINGLE QUESTION about Wright, out of what I must imagine were dozens, on the trail yesterday, and a fleeting moment of Wright drama with Meredith Vieira on "The Today Show."
It's almost pitiful, watching the press try and extend the life of this very dead story. Poor Pat Buchanan seemed lonely and apoplectic yesterday, all but calling for a media black-in, meaning his pals at MSBNC must continue to cover Wright every day to the exclusion of all else, including the scintillating question of WHY BARACK OBAMA DIDN'T DO HIS DISTANCING ACT SOOOONER! Robert Novak pitches in to help his friends in the GOP, too, and David Broder, also at the WaPo, does his usual "both sides of the fence" agonizing. (Chuck Todd went off the reservation yesterday, reporting that GOPers he's talking to are lamenting the fact that the Wright issue might be "off the table for the general election," having peaked too soon, and been foreclosed by Obama's angry reaction to Wright's grandstanding.
Meanwhile, the New York Times throws one more Wright Hail Mary pass this morning, digging deep, deep into the Obama-Wright split with this actually quite well done piece:
Late Monday night, in the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C., Barack Obama’s long, slow fuse burned to an end. Earlier that day he had thumbed through his BlackBerry, reading accounts of the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s latest explosive comments on race and America. But his remarks to the press this day had amounted to a shrug of frustration.
Only in this hotel room, confronted with the televised replay of the combustible pastor, did the candidate realize the full import of the remarks, his aides say. At the same time, aides fielded phone calls and e-mail from uncommitted superdelegates, several demanding that the candidate speak out more forcefully.
As Mr. Obama told close friends after watching the replay, he felt dumbfounded, even betrayed, particularly by Mr. Wright’s implication that Mr. Obama was being hypocritical. He could not tolerate that.
The next afternoon, Mr. Obama held a news conference and denounced his former pastor’s views as “divisive and destructive,” giving “comfort to those who prey on hate.” And so, with those remarks, a tightly knit relationship finally came apart — Mr. Wright had married Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, and baptized their children.
Theirs was a long and painful falling out, marked by a degree of mutual incomprehension, friends and aides say. It began at the moment Mr. Obama declared his candidacy, when he abruptly uninvited his pastor from delivering an invocation, injuring the older man’s pride and fueling his anger. ...
... As for Mr. Wright, he saw a cascade of perceived slights coming from the campaign of a bright young follower whose political ambitions were tugging him away from Trinity United Church of Christ. He saw the church he had founded coming under pressure from reporters and critics, forced to hire security guards. And he made no secret of whom he blamed: Mr. Obama’s political adviser, David Axelrod, a white Chicago political operative.
Not to be outdone, The Hill reports on Capitol Hill reaction to the media obsession crucial issue of Rev. Wright:
Lawmakers supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) say they have no fears about a backlash against Democrats or their candidate because of the controversial remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), an Obama supporter whose state has a key primary Tuesday, said he’s not worried: “African-Americans I’ve talked to feel it’s imperative for him to distance himself from Rev. Wright.” ...
... Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), suggest worries behind the scenes about the re-emergence of Wright are more serious. After coming off the floor Tuesday night, Cleaver said an Obama supporter had just told him, “We’re scared to death.”
Cleaver has a unique perspective. He’s a black preacher himself, and a supporter of Clinton’s. He worries that white voters will be angered by Wright’s remarks, and that black voters will be put off by Obama’s rejection of his onetime spiritual leader.
“I don’t think there is a way out of this,” Cleaver said. “If African-Americans are convinced that Obama was treated fairly, they will come out. If not, we will lose the black vote for two decades — the young black vote.”
But other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including prominent Obama supporters, aren’t so worried.
“I think Sen. Obama said everything he needed to say,” said Butterfield, who has been tapped by the Obama campaign to help deal with the uproar over Wright’s remarks. This weekend he’ll be making appearances and doing interviews in his home state to help put distance between Obama and Wright. ...
Back in Barack's home state, the Chicago Tribune appears to have tired of the Wright story, and the Sun-Times goes with an AP wire story -- signs that for some newspapers, the Wright story is finally losing its sexiness.
Not so for the cable news folks, especially at MSNBC, and I'm assuming, Fox News. They'll try to drag the Wright story into the weekend if they can, and if possible, beyond. But as Lawrence O'Donnell said on MSNBC Tuesday night, after Obama's definitive statements on the matter, any news outlet that continues to try and cover the Wright story ought to examine its motives.
The Wright controversy comes full circlhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gife
"An insult to me, and a disrespect to what I'm trying to do in this campaign..."
You might say Barack Obama just couldn't take it anymore. The Democratic front runner just finished making a statement and taking questions on the subject of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, who horrified the media and Obama supporters Sunday with a speech in which he made fun of the Kennedys, following by a talk at the National Press Club Monday in which, most pundits agree, he pitched his former parishioner directly under the bus -- the wheels, not the tall gap underneath. Well today, Barack isn't the only one feeling the wheels on his back.
I think this has been the single best thing to happen to Obama in weeks.
Why? Because after watching his pastor seize the spotlight for two days, after an absolutely wonderful interview on PBS that should have ended the matter, Barack Obama has a license to get mad. And in getting mad at Jeremiah Wright, he can finally give the teeming masses of the mainstream media what they are downright demanding -- a no-holds-barred, unambiguous denunciation and rejection of Jeremiah Wright. Like it or not, Obama had to do it, eventually. More importantly, it was pretty obvious from his tone of voice that at this point, he also wanted to do it, which was not true during that speech in Philadelphia. The very personal breach between the two men puts real, not artificial or political, distance between Obama and what clearly would be his biggest nemesis in the campaign. It still probably will be. The right will not be mollified by anything Barack does. they will still try to hang him with Wright's statements, right into November. But Obama has now gotten license to jettison Wright, and with him, the fear factor that had begun to cloud his campaign. And when I say fear, I mean middle America's fear of Barack Obama, and the possibility that he's not "one of us... he's one of them..."
So there we are. Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright have thrown each other overboard.
Can we please go back to politics now?
Update: Tamryn Hall, MSNBC's late morning anchor (who has the best haircut in the business, by the way,) just finished explaining the ABCs of church in Chicago to Andrea Mitchell.
Hall is from Chicago, and attended Trinity Church, just like Obama. She just backed up Obama's contention that he didn't see the side of Wright that we all saw on Monday. She also pointed out that for Blacks who move to Chicago, there are two major churches they are often told are the ones to attend, and one is Trinity. She made the common sense point that just because the minister marries you and performs the baptisms of your kids, doesn't make them your spiritual advisor. And no, it also doesn't mean you go to church every single Sunday. I can tell you that I have no relationship whatsoever with the minister who married Jason and me. Ditto with the Episcopalian priest who baptised my daughter. And while I am a member of one of those major, social center churches Tamryn spoke of, here in Miami, I couldn't tell you everything that my very prominent pastor believes, nor could I tell you what he preaches every week.
Fake outrage of the week: Obama and the bitter white people
This has got to be the dumbest "scandal" I've ever heard of. To be honest, as cynical as I am about the media, I can't believe that this is even a story, or that Keith Olbermann ... MSNBC ... the sanity network ... would bother to make this breaking news. First, the set up, courtesy of ABC News:
In the midst of an assault from his rivals, a defensive Barack Obama said Friday that many working-class Americans are angry and bitter over economic inequalities and have lost faith in Washington — and, as a result, vote on the basis of other issues such as gun protections or gay marriage.
The Illinois senator's analysis of what motivates working-class voters came after chief rival Hillary Rodham Clinton accused him of looking down on such voters. Clinton rebuked Obama on Friday for similar remarks he made privately last Sunday to a group of donors in San Francisco.
"People don't vote on economic issues because they don't expect anybody is going to help them," Obama told a crowd at a Terre Haute, Ind., high school Friday evening. "So people end up voting on issues like guns and are they going to have the right to bear arms. They vote on issues like gay marriage. They take refuge in their faith and their community, and their family, and the things they can count on. But they don't believe they can count on Washington."
I see nothing controversial in that. In fact, I hear some version of that on "Hardball" about every other day. So what did Barack orignially say, that caused such a firestorm? Let's go to the folks who broke the story: The Hillarycentric Huffington Post:
You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them... And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.
And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
So ... if Barack is "looking down" on these voters, as HRC later accused him of, then what do you make of the guy who wronte "What's the Matter With Kansas?" a book all about people voting against their economic interests and turning to marginal social issues instead. And isn't what Hillary is really pissy about is that Barack included her husband's administration as one of the periods during which people fell through the cracks?
By the way, tanks alot, HuffPo, for exploiting the Obama statement for link ratings. It came as part of an extended piece by Mayhill Fowler on Obama's travels in the Keystone State, but Ariana & Company chose to elevate it as the headline. Nice work.
Meanwhile, the Obama camp has responded ... by essentially ignoring Hillary and going after John McCain (the other front in this Friday, slow news day war of words):
"Senator Obama has said many times in this campaign that Americans are understandably upset with their leaders in Washington for saying anything to win elections while failing to stand up to the special interests and fight for an economic agenda that will bring jobs and opportunity back to struggling communities. And if John McCain wants a debate about who's out of touch with the American people, we can start by talking about the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans that he once said offended his conscience but now wants to make permanent,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor.
But back to my original point. What morons in the media find it perfectly reasonable to ask whether Michelle Obama is "angry" and "bitter," and various pundits feel free to drone on and on about hte bitterness of lower middle class whites in the aftermath of Barack Obama's speech on race, but if Barack Obama says precisely the same thing, in I have to say, rather mundane fashion, it's somehow a scandal. Why? Because Camp Hillary says so?
Give me a break.
The real reason the MSM cares about this story is that it fits the narrative the East Coast elite media has written about Barack: that he is an elitist who only attracts elitists, and who can't connect to the common man. Like the "bowling-gate" story, it reinforces the notion of the Chris Matthews crowd -- an elite, wealthy East Coast bunch whose children go to Ivy League schools, but who style themselves as men with the common touch who can still belly up to the bar and have a cold one with the boys -- even though they haven't actually done so in a generation and now enjoy a good, fine wine and cigar -- that somehow Barack is the sell-out that they are not. Except that they are.
This whole notion of wanting the president to be a "common man" doesn't even jibe with American history. America has a history of preferring aristocratic presidents -- from Teddy Roosevelt, the ultimate elite sportsman, to FDR to JFK to Ronald Reagan. We've only fallen in love with the "Bubba concept" since Bill Clinton, who chumped Bush I with the help of the media, who exposed the former veep as a man who didn't know the cost of a loaf of bread. But right after Clinton, Americans turned around and elected Bush's blue-blood son, knowing that he was an elite, Ivy league educated SON OF A FORMER PRESIDENT, but falling for the completely phony media-enabled narrative that he is some sort of common Rancher Joe. Give me a break.
The only reason Bush gets away with the "regular guy" gag is because the mainstream media suck-ups let him get away with it. And they are doing the same thing with Hillary "$109 million" Clinton and John "Married to a Liquore Heiress' McCain. Apparently, Ivy educated reporters feel inadequate in the manliness department, and so they project whatever qualities they think are common and manly onto the politicians they enable.
Unfortunately for Barack, he is too much like the members of the media for them to feel good about loving him.
When will the mainstream media begin to actually cover John McCain? The Washington press corps tendency to coddle Republicans, evidenced by nearly six years of doting coverage of George W. Bush after 9/11 and right through a disastrous war or two, is on full display with McCain, who has long had the hearts of supposedly hard nosed reporters in D.C. No reporter is allowed to utter a word or write a sentence about St. John of Iraq without including the word "maverick." It's become such a cliche that I challenge anyone in the press to explain precisely what they mean. After all, John McCain is not maverick enough to have held his positions on tax cuts for the rich during wartime, illegal immigration/amnesty, or any substantive issue that would set him appart from George W. Bush's declining wing of the Republican Party. He has pandered to the former "agents of intollerance" (his words) of the Christian right, and has already begun to adopt the laissez-faire economic policy of the Club for Growth, which couldn't stand him three months ago. To whit: McCain is advocating tax cuts as the solution to every economic ill, no help for struggling Americans but continued corporate welfare for the very fat cats he claims to hold at ascetic arms length (despite the herds of lobbyists in his inner circle.)
Perhaps they're just getting bored covering Hillary and Obama, but the media face-people are incredibly lazy when it comes to McCain, to the point where it has become conventional wisdom for all but Tony Blankley of all people that the Democrats will have a hard time painting McCain as pushing for a third Bush term. Huh? Have these people never witnessed a presidential campaign? Even Howard Dean has figured out that that is precisely the Democratic message in November, and McCain's hearty agreement on all things Bush, principally Iraq, makes it almost too easy.
So who is the media kidding? Do they ever intend to actually peel the onion on McCain, or can we look forward to a six-month cuddle all the way to November? I hope for the former, but sadly, expect the latter.
I'm not alone.
MSNBC's Dan Abrams is down to doing a nightly segment called "Teflon John" detailing the media's rose petal treatment of the aging Arizona Senator.
Eugene Robinson has a go at McCain in his WaPo column today for McCain's staggering lack of knowledge when it comes to who, precisely, is fighting whom in Iraq (and who is supporting the various factions.) It's rather stunning that this guy gets a bye for 1) not knowing whether Moqtada al-Sadr is the puppet or the puppeteer, 2) not understanding that Iran's influence is growing in Iraq, not declining, and that it is various Iran-based Shiite militias, like al-Sadrs, that Iran is arming, not Sunni al-Qaida 3) blythely pushing for a 100 year U.S. military commitment in Iraq, which Robinson correctly points out is precisely what it sounds like, and 4) showing almost senile ignorance about the difference between a limited U.S. presence in South Korea, where no one is shooting at us, and a prolonged, endless hostile engagement in Iraq.
CNN made some minor attempts to call McCain out on his al-Sadr contradictions today, which is a start. But John King, sitting in for Wolf Blitzer this afternoon heartily laughed off attempts by a Democratic strategist to reiterate McCain's call for 100 years in Iraq. It's as if the media is saying, come on, guys, we all KNOW McCain knows what he's talking about. He's just saying that stuff because he's ... well ... old? Tired? Battle weary? Is there any excuse for a man vying to lead the free world who doesn't know the difference between a Shia and a Sunni?
The NBC News post-debate love-fest is in full swing, with Chris Matthews smooching Tim Russert on "reeling in his marlin" on Hillary's answer regretting her vote on Iraq (I think the mutual admiration and agreement society is almost irresistible for journalists.) But a few minutes ago, Keith Olbermann was the one playing the part of the fisherman, and Russert was playing the fish.
Olbermann nailed Russert on the phony issue about Obama's supposed pledge to take public financing in the general election, a pledge that, as Olbermann has pointed out on "Countdown" and as he pointed out again tonight, Obama didn't really make. Russert didn't concede the point, but Olbermann won the exchange. Barack answered a questionnaire in which he said he would pursue and agreement with the Republican nominee to attempt to get a public financing deal if he became the nominee. That's a promise to negotiate, not a promise to unilaterally disarm his campaign against the GOP. I know Russert would like to see the fight between Obama and McCain pulled even for the general via the money if necessary (and the commentraitor agrees, based on last Sunday's "This Week" ...) but it ain't gonna happen.
More importantly, this is a false media story promulgated by MSM types who, like Russert, want to see a horserace this fall. And none of them are pointing out the very important point that John McCain has already made it clear that he has no intention of accepting public financing for the general election campaign, and is in fact trying to wriggle out of it in the primary.
(sigh) Anyhow, for once and for all (and then I never intend to blog about this again) here is the question asked of the candidates by the Midwest Democracy Network (only Obama and John Edwards responded):
Question I-B: If you are nominated for President in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?
Yes ___ No ___
And here is Barack Obama's answer:
OBAMA: Yes. I have been a long-time advocate for public financing of campaigns combined with free television and radio time as a way to reduce the influence of moneyed special interests. I introduced public financing legislation in the Illinois State Senate, and am the only 2008 candidate to have sponsored Senator Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) bill to reform the presidential public financing system. In February 2007, I proposed a novel way to preserve the strength of the public financing system in the 2008 election. My plan requires both major party candidates to agree on a fundraising truce, return excess money from donors, and stay within the public financing system for the general election. My proposal followed announcements by some presidential candidates that they would forgo public financing so they could raise unlimited funds in the general election. The Federal Election Commission ruled the proposal legal, and Senator John McCain (r-AZ) has already pledged to accept this fundraising pledge. If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.
Is that a pledge to take public financing come what may? You be the judge.
The normally right-leaning New York Post hits Camp Hillary on the Barack in Africa photo flap (hereby dubbed "turbangate", while the New York Daily News plays it down the middle. (Drudge provides the front page montage)
The New York Times produces a John McCain bimbo eruption (who woulda thunk it?):
For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON
WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.
Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.
It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.
But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.
Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)
Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor. He has criticized the cozy ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, but is relying on corporate lobbyists to donate their time running his presidential race and recently hired a lobbyist to run his Senate office.
“He is essentially an honorable person,” said William P. Cheshire, a friend of Mr. McCain who as editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic defended him during the Keating Five scandal. “But he can be imprudent.”
Mr. Cheshire added, “That imprudence or recklessness may be part of why he was not more astute about the risks he was running with this shady operator,” Charles Keating, whose ties to Mr. McCain and four other lawmakers tainted their reputations in the savings and loan debacle.
I'm sorry to get distracted (it happens to me a lot these days,) but did you catch the photo that the Times ran above this story?
Sorry, but why is it that people who stand behind John McCain always look so ... miserable? ... sorry, back to the story! This bit was interesting:
One of his efforts, though, seemed self-contradictory. In 2001, he helped found the nonprofit Reform Institute to promote his cause and, in the process, his career. It collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in unlimited donations from companies that lobbied the Senate commerce committee. Mr. McCain initially said he saw no problems with the financing, but he severed his ties to the institute in 2005, complaining of “bad publicity” after news reports of the arrangement.
Like other presidential candidates, he has relied on lobbyists to run his campaigns. Since a cash crunch last summer, several of them — including his campaign manager, Rick Davis, who represented companies before Mr. McCain’s Senate panel — have been working without pay, a gift that could be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
In recent weeks, Mr. McCain has hired another lobbyist, Mark Buse, to run his Senate office. In his case, it was a round trip through the revolving door: Mr. Buse had directed Mr. McCain’s committee staff for seven years before leaving in 2001 to lobby for telecommunications companies.
Mr. McCain’s friends dismiss questions about his ties to lobbyists, arguing that he has too much integrity to let such personal connections influence him.
“Unless he gives you special treatment or takes legislative action against his own views, I don’t think his personal and social relationships matter,” said Charles Black, a friend and campaign adviser who has previously lobbied the senator for aviation, broadcasting and tobacco concerns.
And therein lies the potential hazard for John-boy. I don't think too much will be made in the mainstream media about the possible paramour, unless more develops. I mean, who wants to picture John McCain's 900-year-old behind having sex ... with ANYBODY? But if this story opens the door to more reporting on his potential hypocrisy on issues involving lobbyists, conflicts of interests and campaign finance, it could stick to him like glue.
I await the judgment of the RedBloggers and talk radio wingnuts who detest McCain, to see if they rally ... or pile on. Right now, I'd guess they'll rally. They want to keep the White House more than they want to hate John McCain, I suspect.
And now for the meaty bit of the story, the part the MSM is disgorging with abandon tonight:
Mr. McCain’s confidence in his ability to distinguish personal friendships from compromising connections was at the center of questions advisers raised about Ms. Iseman.
The lobbyist, a partner at the firm Alcalde & Fay, represented telecommunications companies for whom Mr. McCain’s commerce committee was pivotal. Her clients contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his campaigns.
Mr. Black said Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman were friends and nothing more. But in 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, “Why is she always around?”
That February, Mr. McCain and Ms. Iseman attended a small fund-raising dinner with several clients at the Miami-area home of a cruise-line executive and then flew back to Washington along with a campaign aide on the corporate jet of one of her clients, Paxson Communications. By then, according to two former McCain associates, some of the senator’s advisers had grown so concerned that the relationship had become romantic that they took steps to intervene.
A former campaign adviser described being instructed to keep Ms. Iseman away from the senator at public events, while a Senate aide recalled plans to limit Ms. Iseman’s access to his offices.
In interviews, the two former associates said they joined in a series of confrontations with Mr. McCain, warning him that he was risking his campaign and career. Both said Mr. McCain acknowledged behaving inappropriately and pledged to keep his distance from Ms. Iseman. The two associates, who said they had become disillusioned with the senator, spoke independently of each other and provided details that were corroborated by others.
Separately, a top McCain aide met with Ms. Iseman at Union Station in Washington to ask her to stay away from the senator. John Weaver, a former top strategist and now an informal campaign adviser, said in an e-mail message that he arranged the meeting after “a discussion among the campaign leadership” about her.
"It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign," said communications director Jill Hazelbaker, in a prepared statement sent about an hour after the Times posted their story online. "John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.
"Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career."
The sexiest story probably ever to include the words "John McCain" makes its way across the pond (courtesy of Rupert Murdoch...)
Meanwhile, Ms. Iseman's lobbying firm, Alcalde & Fay has dropped her from their "Meet the Firm" page. Now that's confidence! Her picture is still online, though... and their client list is still up, and it includes a heap of South Florida cities:
City of Deerfield Beach, FL City of Delray Beach, FL City of Hampton, VA City of Hialeah, FL City of Hobbs, NM City of Homestead, FL City of Key West, FL City of Lake Mary, FL City of Lauderdale Lakes, FL City of Lauderhill, FL City of Maitland, FL City of Melbourne, FL City of Miami, FL City of North Miami Beach, FL City of Oldsmar, FL City of Oviedo, FL City of Pembroke Pines, FL City of Petaluma, CA City of Plantation, FL
Hey, I live in Pembroke Pines! Thanks, Alcalde & Fay!
It's way too late in the game to make mistakes, and I'd say the Obama campaign made a small one tonight, sending a Texas state senator into the MSNBC lion's den to be shelacked by Chris Matthews, who zinged him with a "gotcha" question about Obama's accomplishments in the Senate, as Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, flacking for Hillary, smirked on. The State Senator couldn't name said accomplishments, although afterward, Keith Olbermann reminded Matthews that no one could likely name an accomplishment by the entire congress at this stage.
"That's why it's called Hardball," retorted Chris, after demanding that the Senator name an accomplishment, "NOW!"
Bottom line, the clip will be Youtubed something awful by Camp Clinton tonight, and served to the Wolfson-cowed (still lying about the horse race) mainstream media, and to the right wing hit machine, tomorrow.
Update: The Texas State Senator in question, Kirk Watson, crawls out from under a rock to tell his constituents that yes, he lost his game of "stump the chump" with Christopher Matthews.
Update 2: Here, go ahead. Relive Kirk Watson's shame...
MSNBC owes Barack Obama an apology. On "Hardball" just a few minutes ago, Chris Matthews went through his set-up, talking about the Clinton campaign ginned-up "controversy" over Barack Obama's alleged borrowing of Deval Patrick's rhetoric, and with an interesting image appearing over his left shoulder.
No, not this one...
What gives, MSNBC? Did some junior associate producer grab the wrong picture filed starting with an "O" or have you guys been watching too much Fox Noise...?
It's reminiscent of another interesting moment on MSNBC, a couple of years ago when Niger Innes, that's N-I-G-E-R ... appeared on a morning news program ... to interesting chyron results.
Video to come shortly.
Update 5:30 - Apology issued on-air. video still to come shortly.
That's how long the MSNBC debate hosts, Tim Russert and Brian Williams, went without asking a single substantive question on policy of any of the three Democratic front runners. Instead, we spent a full half hour on the various and sundry ways the candidates -- by virtue of their opponents' race, gender or likability -- have hurt each other's feelings.
Long after both Obama and Clinton had put to rest the racial dust-up, and declared their candidacies to be moving forward, and after poor John Edwards was forced to suffer the indignity of having to answer a ridiculous question that began with, "what's a white man to do..." Russert and Company were still asking pablum questions about why the candidates and their staffs talk so gosh-darn mean about one another.
I'd like to propose a thought experiment: let's hook up electrodes to Tim Russert's body and deliver a significant electric shock to him each time he uses the phrase "do you regret saying..."
As usual, Keith Olbermann is the voice of reason in a sea of insanity (Chris Matthews). Last night on Countdown, Olbermann broke down the spinsanity in the wake of the New Hampshire "upset" by Hillary Clinton, who had been the front runner for the better part of a year before losing her momentum to Barack Obama in the closing weeks. Matthews and other pundits have been practically leaping out of windows in their overwrought condition after failing, for the second time in 20 years, to seal the downfall of the Clinton family. And Matthews in particular has been blaming everything from the pollsters to lying, racist, white poll respondents who lacked the courage to admit to their inner Archie Bunker.
Well ... a funny thing happened on the way to the polls.
As Keith pointed out, they may not have been as wrong as they seemed.
Here's what Barack Obama had going in to the primary, according to the major polls taken between January 5 and January 7:
...for an average, courtesy of RealClearPolitics, of 38.3%.
In the end, Obama got 37% of the vote. That's pretty close, and it presents the frightening prospect that the Rasmussen poll was the most accurate of all... perhaps because it is a rolling snapshot poll, unlike the others, and had by far the largest sample.
What appears to have been wrong in the polls, was not the Obama number, but rather the Clinton number, and even that wasn't wrong, so much as it was missing a crucial part: the undecideds.
Let's take the Rasmussen poll, for example. It scored the race as follows:
Obama 37 Clinton 30 Edwards 19 Richardson 8
My math says that leaves 6 points on the table. If Hillary takes the remainder, she's even with Obama. But something else also appears to have happened -- late deciders and weak supporters of other candidates defected to Hillary as well. Either that, or Independents, who may not have been well represented in any of the Democratic race polls, broke heavily for Hillary in the end.
That is not to vindicate the pollsters. It's just to say that while all of us missed the boat on how strong the backlash would be among women against the media and opposition onslaught against Hillary, the polls for Barack were pretty stable, for the most part (although many had his numbers where I had them -- in the 40s, which clearly didn't pan out.)
In the end, I think the hand wringing is bad for Barack, and he would do well not to follow Chris Matthews' lead in whingeing about the outcome.
Two days later, Chris Matthews is still spitting up about Hillary's supposed candidacy-killing mistake on driver's licenses for illegal immigrants in New York. Well ... tonight, Elliot Spitzer dismantled the Mattster on "Hardball," backing his defense of HIS -- not Hillary's, as Matthews said last night -- plan with endorsements from former terrorism czar Richard Clarke, members of the Bush cabinet, and the 9/11 Commission. Matthews was left all a-stutter.
Meanwhile, Matthews continued to try and press forward with his Clinton jihad, actually penning one of his new-fangled "advice columns" for Democratic candidates -- this one for Hillary herself! Matthew's suggestion: tell voters to ignore the fact that she's a woman, and that the attacks on her by other candidates are a good thing -- proves she's winning! In other words, Chris looks to justify his own call for more attacks on Hillary by suggesting that she wants it ... she really wants it ...
The debate spiraled toward a rather messy conclusion, with John Edwards (and Barack Obama playing Tubbs to John's Crocket) giving Hillary Clinton a colonic on the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. I think by then I was too tired to care, but Chris Matthews and company are gleefully dissecting that final moment for its potential to take Hillary down. They're already writing the GOP talking points. Finally, something Chris can get excited about.
What's sad, is that whatever happened tonight, the media already was poised to write a headline about Hillary being hit on character and "doubletalk." Now, they'll have this final bit to feed on for a news cycle.
Chris is in hog heaven.
Oh, and Dennis Kucinich says yep, he did see a UFO.
Clinton, rivals spar as Democrats debate By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated
PHILADELPHIA - Democrats Barack Obama and John Edwards sharply challenged Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's candor, consistency and judgment Tuesday in a televised debate that underscored her front-runner status two months before the first presidential primary votes.
Obama, the Illinois senator, began immediately, saying Clinton has changed her positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement, torture policies and the Iraq war. Leadership, he said, does not mean "changing positions whenever it's politically convenient."
Edwards, the former North Carolina senator, was even sharper at times, saying Clinton "defends a broken system that's corrupt in Washington, D.C." He stood by his earlier claim that she has engaged in "doubletalk."
Clinton, standing between the two men, largely shrugged off the remarks and defended her positions. She has been the focus of Republican candidates' "conversations and consternation," she said, because she is leading in the polls.
The cable chat media, led by Chris Matthews of MSNBC (backed by his seconds, Chuck Todd and Howard Fineman), and their friends in the print press, have a message for the non-Clinton Democratic candidates: "Bring me the head of that Clinton woman!"
Matthews and company are desperately casting around, offering beligerent free advice to Barack Obama: ATTACK HILLARY NOW! Why are they so certain that Barack must quit to professorial schtick and lop off Hil's head? Becauase John Edwards, for all his shrillness, isn't getting the job done. And for the mainstream media hit squad that tried with all its might, but failed to take down President Bill Clinton over that phony scandal with a chubby, horny intern, the job must get done.
Matthews in particular seems bent on justifying his near decade of obsession with the Clintons' sex life, and his spittle-mouthed, high horsed jihad against the former president back in the bad old days of 1998, when the right wing Congress and their bounty hunter, Ken "show me the panties" Starr, sought to undo the results of two elections by hounding a sitting president out of office for doing what just about every president before him has done: cheat on his wife. (Just a guess, they probably all lied about it, too.)
And now that Hillary Clinton seems to be running away with the Democratic nomination for president, she... must ... be ... stopped. And if the media can't do it themselves (too obvious) then Barack had damned well better start the shelling.
If he doesn't, the media bete noires say, he's toast. He can't beat her if he doesn't beat her. The desperation to see a bar room brawl is so thick that yesterday on "Hardball," Pat Buchanan, who usually holds it together a lot better on "the race thing," at least on TV, actually mused that Obama "sure doesn't come off like a Black guy from the south side of Chicago." Huh? What's he supposed to do to Mrs. Clinton? Smack that ass and call her a "ho?"
Meanwhile, on the other side of the political aisle, there's no competing narrative demanding why Mitt Romney doesn't mount a real, full throated attack against Rudy Giuliani, the front runner for the GOP nod. The assumption is that there is so much to attack with Hillary, but with Rudy? Not so much. I mean, he's "America's mayor" after all -- what's there to attack? The media insists that the only thing worth attacking Rudy for is his apostasy on social values issues -- gay marriage and abortion. Beyond that, Matthews and Co. can't imagine anything, by golly by gosh, that Mitt or Huck or Fred could possibly want to bash Mr. 9/11 for...
Honestly, with the exception of David Shuster and of course, Keith Olbermann, it's almost as if the powdered men of the MSM have formed a Jim Jones-like cult whose ritual chant is an incantation to burn Hillary in the fires of hell. ... and her cheating but still getting love from his wife, still more popular than any of the TV talking heads, and more manly to boot hubby, too. (Haters.)
Anyhoo, the Dems will attempt to live up to the Mathews brawl-o-meter tonight, if Barack and his team are that easily hypnotized (earth to Barack, look how well nasty attacks have worked for John Edwards!) The debate will be moderated by the almost rhythmically bland Brian Williams and the Roger Ailes golf buddy posing as an objective journalist, Tim Russert.