Tony Snow Goes Over To The Dark Side – CNN

The “liberal” media is at it again. CNN has just announced that it has hired former Bush press secretary, and Fox News anchor, Tony Snow, to be a conservative commentator.

Snow: “I’m delighted to be able to join CNN during the most exciting and unpredictable political year in memory. The big challenge in 2008 is to develop deep, creative and aggressive analysis of both political parties, their candidates and campaigns. I’m eager to get started, since this race is sure to shape American politics for years to come.”

If this is CNN’s answer to the Fox News signing of Karl Rove it is yet another blunder on the part of their programming staff. The last time they went after the Fox model was the acquisition of Glenn Beck, who is now the lowest rated evening pundit on any of the cable news nets.

CNN’s press release on Snow failed to mention that he is presently the permanent guest host for Bill O’Reilly’s Radio Factor. Which raises the question of when, precisely, O’Reilly’s aneurysm will erupt. Remember this

“O’Reilly: “But you can’t go over to CNN. I mean, that’s the devil over there. You can’t. You know. You’re a religious guy. You can’t go into the pagan throne over there.”

Score one for Satan.

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Hillary Clinton’s Strange Bedfellows

Last month Hillary Clinton met with the editors of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review to discuss her campaign in the Pennsylvania primary. The Tribune-Review is owned by ultra right-wing media baron Richard Mellon Scaife. Now the Tribune-Review has published their choice for the Democratic presidential nominee.

“For Pennsylvania Democrats, the smart choice Tuesday is Mrs. Clinton.”

This development caps a weekend of irony for Clinton.

On Saturday a recording was released wherein we hear Clinton bashing, and accusing them of intimidating her supporters. With the Tribune-Review endorsement we have the unlikely scenario of Clinton slamming a loyal progressive organization that was founded to defend her husband from impeachment, while being endorsed by Scaife’s organization that fought for his impeachment and accused her of murder.

On Sunday Barack Obama was quoted as saying that he, Clinton and McCain would all be better than George Bush. Clinton seized on that statement to say…

“We need a nominee who will take on John McCain, not cheer on John McCain.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Which is why I found it so distasteful when last month both Hillary and Bill Clinton cheered on McCain. Breathe in the hypocrisy:

Hillary: “[McCain] will put forth his lifetime of experience. I will put forth my lifetime of experience. Senator Obama will put forth a speech he made in 2002.”

Bill: “…it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people [Hillary and McCain] who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country.”


One More Thing About The Philadelphia Debate

Lest anyone get the wrong idea, the problem with the debate in Philadelphia was not that it was more harsh on one candidate than the other, and it was not whether the questions were too tough. The problem was that the questions were too stupid. The problem was that the moderators behaved like tabloid gomers who just wanted to stir the kettle. The problem was that George Stephanopoulos could ask, without gagging, how much Rev. Wright loves America. Was Obama supposed to hold his hands apart in the air and say, “He loves it this much?”

It has already been reported that Geo-Stef was channeling Sean Hannity for his question selection. Now we also learn that Charlie Gibson mangled journalistic ethics by utilizing a plant:

“I want to do one more question, which goes to the basic issue of electability. And it is a question raised by a voter in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, a woman by the name of Nash McCabe.”

First of all, it was not a question raised by a voter. It was a question raised by Gibson’s choice to air this voter’s video. What’s worse is that it was not even a random Pennsylvania voter at all. Ms. McCabe was sought after for inclusion in the debate.

Secondly, why is a question about “electability” included in a candidates debate anyway? Does Gibson think that when Americans lie awake at night they are pondering a candidate’s electability rather than whether their company will have another round of lay-offs, or how they are going to pay their mortgage?

It’s the stupidity, the irrelevancy, and the deceit. That’s the problem with the debate – and with the Corporate Media as a whole.

More Questions For McCain w/Video

Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films has come into possession of the super-secret, leaked interview of John McCain by George Stephanopoulos. From The Real McCain:

BNF is also asking for contributions of satirical questions that Stephanopoulos might ask McCain. Of course, considering the debate a few days ago, where does reality stop and satire begin? Here are my suggestions:

  1. Considering what “some say” is the undeniable success of the surge, do you think that Clinton and Obama love America as much as you and Gen. Petraeus?
  2. You’ve said that the economy is not your forte and you’ve demonstrated some confusion about Al Qaeda and Iran. Do you think your opponents campaigns will suffer because they don’t bake or can’t bowl?
  3. Your relationship with telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman was reported by the liberal New York Times. I won’t ask you about that because I know you don’t want to talk about it. But could you tell us why you support retroactive immunity for our patriotic telecom companies and oppose the big government regulations of the Media Ownership Act of 2007?
  4. Sen. Obama has been called an elitist because he was educated at Harvard. After eight years of President Bush, do you think the American people still want to vote for a regular guy like yourself instead of an arrogant know-it-all?

10+ Questions John McCain Will Never Be Asked

Jon Perr at Perrspectives gives us an inspired list of questions that, in all likelihood, will never be asked of John McCain in a debate or in his interview with George Stephanopoulos this Sunday:

  1. Do you agree with Pastor John Hagee that war with Iran is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy?
  2. Doesn’t your legendary temper make you too dangerous to be trusted with the presidency of the United States?
  3. Doesn’t your confusion regarding basic facts about the war in Iraq, including repeatedly citing a nonexistent Al Qaeda-Iran alliance, make you unfit for command?
  4. Given your past adultery, should Americans consider you a moral exemplar of family values?
  5. Doesn’t your flip-flop on Jerry Falwell being an “agent of intolerance” show your opportunistic pandering to the religious right?
  6. Given your wealth and privileged upbringing, aren’t you – and not Barack Obama – the elitist?
  7. What is your religion, really? And has the answer in the past changed as the South Carolina primary approached?
  8. Didn’t President Bush betray you with his signing statement on the Detainee Treatment Act? You claim to be against torture, but aren’t you a hypocrite for voting “no” on the Senate waterboaring ban?
  9. Why did you flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts you twice opposed? Why do you now support making them permanent for the wealthiest Americans who need them least?
  10. With the economy tanking, shouldn’t Americans be concerned over your past statements that “the issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should?”

My only problem with Jon’s list is that some of the questions actually address substantive issues like the war and the economy. In goes without saying that Stephanopoulos will steer clear of such inquiry. Maybe some other less superficial “journalist” will approach these items. Also I would add a few questions of my own:

  1. Since the purpose of the surge was to produce political reconciliation in Iraqi and they are no close now than when the surge began, hasn’t the surge failed?
  2. As a pro-war candidate who frequently cites his experience as a veteran, why have you declined to support the bipartisan GI Bill now in Congress?
  3. You are an advocate of retroactive immunity for telecom companies and an opponent of the Media Ownership Act of 2007. Does your relationship with telecom lobbyist Vicki Iseman have anything to do with this?

Jon has details and links to source material at his site. Check it out.

Wall Street Journal Squelches Parody

A parody of the Wall Street Journal has the Wall Street Journal up in arms. When copies of the parody appeared at newsstands, so did a Journal operative who insisted on buying every last one.

“He grabbed them all, said, ‘I need to buy all of these,'” Mr. Laurence said. “He had been going around to different stands, buying them.”

Is this just another demonstration of Rupert Murdoch’s commitment to honest journalism and free expression? Or is Murdoch merely exercising his business reporting philosophy as told to his former editor Harold Evans (Good Times, Bad Times):

“What do you want this crap for, anyway? Two pages is plenty for business news.”

This is the man who just joined the board of the Associated Press.

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Gibson And Stephanopoulos: The Keystone Flops

The Democratic debate in Philadelphia last night was dominated by a wall of stupid painstakingly constructed by ABC’s moderators, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos.

Their obsession with trivia and avoidance of substance submerged this affair from its opening introduction. It’s hard to say it much better than Washington Post critic Tom Shales who leads off by saying that “Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances,” and then proceeds to say what he really thinks.

And he’s not alone…

Tom Shales (Washington Post) – “For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.”

Will Bunch (Philadelphia Daily News) – “By so badly botching arguably the most critical debate of such an important election, in a time of both war and economic misery, you disgraced the American voters, and in fact even disgraced democracy itself.”

Greg Mitchell (Editor and Publisher) – “In perhaps the most embarrassing performance by the media in a major presidential debate in years, ABC News hosts Charles Gibson and George Stephanopolous focused mainly on trivial issues as Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama faced off in Philadelphia.”

Andrew Sullivan (The Atlantic) – “The loser was ABC News: one of the worst media performances I can remember – petty, shallow, process-obsessed, trivial where substantive, and utterly divorced from the actual issues that Americans want to talk about.”

Joanne Ostrow (Denver Post) – “Wednesday’s televised candidates’ debate from Philadelphia, tape delayed in Denver, got around to issues eventually. But the first round- devoted to pettiness and word obsession and gaffes- was more revealing.”

Joe Klein (Time) – “The ABC moderators clearly didn’t spend much time thinking about creative substantive gambits. They asked banal, lapidary questions, rather than trying to break new ground.”

Michael Grunwald (Time) – “At a time of foreign wars, economic collapse and environmental peril, the cringe-worthy first half of the debate focused on such crucial matters as Senator Obama’s comments about rural bitterness, his former pastor, an obscure sixties radical with whom he was allegedly “friendly,” and the burning constitutional question of why he doesn’t wear an American flag pin on his lapel.”

Richard Adams (The Guardian) – “A stinker, an absolute car crash – thanks to the host network ABC. It was worse than even those debates last year with 18 candidates on stage, including crazy old Mike Gravel.”

Noam Scheiber (New Republic) – “The first half of the debate felt like a 45-minute negative ad, reprising the most chewed over anti-Obama allegations (bittergate, Jeremiah Wright, patriotism) and even some relatively obscure ones (his vague association with former Weatherman radical Bill Ayers).”

Daniel Rubin (Philadelphia Inquirer) – “We’ve revisted bitter. We’ve gone back to Bosnia. We’ve dragged Rev. Wright back up onto the podium. We’ve mis-spent this debate by allowing Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos to ask questions that skirt what in my mind is what we need to know now. What would they do about the mess they’d inherit? The war. Health care. The economy. Stupid.”

Cathleen Decker and Noam N. Levey (Los Angeles Times) – “With the moderators and Clinton raising assorted questions about Obama’s past for the first half of the debate, issues received relatively short shrift. Not until 50 minutes in was a policy issue — Iraq — asked about by the moderators. More than an hour went by before a question was asked about what Stephanopoulos called “the No. 1 issue on Americans’ minds” — the economy.”

Stephanoupolos defended himself by saying that voters are concerned with

“…experience, character [and] credibility. You can’t find a presidential election where those issues didn’t come into play.”

The problem is that you can’t find a but a trace of questions in this debate where those issues did come into play. The moderators had obviously decided that they were going to chase petty controversy and ratings by focusing on tabloid trivialities. Their cynical smugness and conceit are a sad commentary on the state of journalism and politics.

MoveOn has started a petition to ask the media to “stop hurting the national dialogue in this important election year.”

FAIR is urging citizens to write to ABC:

Right-Wing Media Label Obama A Marxist

The media has gone haywire (again) ever since Barack Obama had the temerity to tell the truth about economically struggling small town Americans.

Obama: “You go into some of 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.”

For some reason, many news analysts believe that people who are getting shafted by economic policies that devastate their communities and burden their families are never bitter or have no right to be. They believe that the only proper characterization of these folks is as noble, hard-working, optimists who never complain.

But it gets even worse. The evolving theme that the press is embracing is not just that Obama is an elitist, a charge that makes no sense given both his personal history and the substance of his comments, but that he is a Marxist:

William Kristol put it this way in the New York Times:

“It’s one thing for Karl Marx to assert that ‘religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature’ and another for Barack Obama to claim that we ‘cling to … religion’ out of economic frustration.”

The Washington Post says:

“I find Senator Obama very smart, but that comment struck me as sort of stupid — the kind of half-baked Marxism that might be expected to appeal to a Bay Area audience.”

When asked if Obama is a Marxist, Sen. Joe Lieberman told Andrew Napolitano:

“Well, you know, I must say that’s a good question.”

Rich Lowry of the the National Review says:

“Versions of Obama’s insight have been expounded by a world-famous 19th-century economist (Karl Marx)…”

And Brit Hume of Fox News twice said on air that Obama has a Marxist view of religion.

Let the propaganda smears begin…

The Daily Show Tribute To Fox News

The Daily Show’s John Oliver provides a searing summation of the past twelve years of Fox News; twelve years of flaming flagism; twelve years of fairly unbalanced tele-pundits; twelve years of warmed over Bush-worship; twelve years of Patriopathic™ zeal.

The past twelve years on Fox News has been a blur of journalistic ignominy. Looking back on just makes me want to cry out, “Please…Don’t remind me.”

Progressive Media vs. Freedom’s Watch

The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy™ is revving up its media machine in response to news that Democrats intend to run a campaign for president against Republican John McCain. What gall! Unable to tolerate such impudence, Republicans, and their patrons in the press, are brewing a full-scale whine with a pungent aroma of fear and a nose for hypocrisy.

The object of their dread is the announcement of a new fund created in part to counter the media’s love affair with McCain. Progressive Media USA (PMUSA) was revealed in an article by Politico and described thusly:

“Wealthy Democrats are preparing a four-month, $40 million media campaign centered on attacks on Sen. John McCain. And it will be led by David Brock, the former investigative reporter who first gained fame in the 1990s as a right-wing, anti-Clinton journalist.”

As evidence of the trepidation with which the GOPress has received this news, here is a sampling of the headlines generated since the story broke this afternoon:

Politico: David Brock, Dems plan $40M hit on McCain
Fox News: Dems Plan $40 Million Anti-McCain Ad Blitz
USA Today: “$40M hit” to be aimed at McCain
UPI: Democrats planning for new McCain attacks
CBS News: Democrats Plan $40M Hit On McCain

Without exception, the headline writers all adopt a negative tone that focuses on the group’s alleged mission to attack McCain, despite the fact that the group’s organizers have laid out a much broader, issues-oriented agenda.

Bill O’Reilly joined the chorus by devoting a major chunk of his program to the story including his Talking Points Memo, an interview with Politico reporter Jim VandeHei, and an extended segment with Stepford Pundit Laura Ingraham. His long-time obsession with Brock and PMUSA backer George Soros explodes all over the screen. He repeatedly calls Brock, president of Media Matters, a “vile assassin” and, when VandeHei suggests that the right has similar groups, O’Reilly says that he’s not aware of any (more on this lie below). He pretends to ask VandeHei to provide more info, but then just continues his non-stop ranting without providing an opportunity to do so. In the course of his coverage O’Reilly describes the Soros/Media Matters connection as…

“…the most frightening thing I have ever seen in American politics.”

Really? More frightening than the election debacle of 2000? More frightening than Watergate? More frightening than the McCarthy Hearings? More frightening than the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King? Does O’Reilly really believe that an organization that demands honesty from the media is evil, as he says on the Factor? Does he really fear a wealthy individual who has given hundreds of millions of dollars to promote democracy around the world? More likely he is afraid of being repeatedly shown to be a lying gasbag who is more aligned with theo-corporatism than traditional American liberty.

Earlier in the day, Election HQ on Fox News brought in Republican propagandist Frank Luntz (who is identified only as a pollster without affiliation) to offer his analysis. Luntz argued vociferously that any move by Democrats to attack McCain would fail. He looked straight into the camera to make an impassioned plea that they abandon such plans or suffer at the polls. It was heartwarming to see Luntz display such empathy for his Democratic rivals. Who knew that he was so concerned about the electoral welfare of the party he has fought against his entire career.

The most stunning assertion by Luntz in this interview was his response to a surprisingly reasonable question from Megyn Kelly. She asked Luntz whether the Democrats’ plan was an appropriate reaction to all the favorable press McCain receives. Luntz seemed astonished that Kelly would suggest such nonsense. He disputed her premise and went further to declare that it was Barack Obama who was the press darling. He actually said aloud that:

“The most negative story that they can use on Obama is that he can’t bowl. Give me a break.”

Apparently Luntz has been a coma for the past few months. If the idiocy of this comment were able to generate light, you would be able to see it from space. Anyone with a television has seen the attacks on Obama that range from accusations that he is a Muslim to casting doubt on his patriotism to belittling his experience. And always, always his association with Rev Wright, criticisms of whom could populate their very own cable network. In fact, the segment immediately following Luntz’s interview with Kelly was yet another story about Rev. Wright.

Amidst this conflagration of outrage over the Democrats’ desire to actually mount a campaign, the media is missing a minor development that just might have some relevance to the stories they are advancing. They might want to look into the fact that Republicans are also engaging in this thing called politics. Last year a group of Republican insiders corralled their biggest donors and created Freedom’s Watch (FW). The New York Times trumpeted their arrival:

“Founded this summer by a dozen wealthy conservatives, the nonprofit group is set apart from most advocacy groups by the immense wealth of its core group of benefactors, its intention to far outspend its rivals and its ambition to pursue a wide-ranging agenda.”

At its launch the group announced that they intend to raise $200 million – five times the goal proposed by PMUSA. FW was co-founded by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, who is now its spokes-liar. FW’s new chief is Carl Forti, a former communications director at the National Republican Congressional Committee, and known for his unscrupulous dishonesty. FW is well off and well connected. And unlike PMUSA, its management is directly tied to Party operatives. Even Bill O’Reilly, who said he was unaware of any such organizations, was, in fact, well aware of FW. He interviewed its founding president Bradley Blakeman just four months ago.

Now the media is aghast at the thought that Democrats are coming to the field prepared to play. But not one of them has reported that the Republicans started this conflict, seeded it with more money, and even now are using it to escalate the propaganda war. Email from the McCain campaign has already gone out pleading with supporters to dig deeper.

“We need to be able to answer whatever smear campaigns the liberal left throws at us. Please help as we combat this base demagoguery with a donation of $50, $100, $250 or even $1000 today.”

It will be interesting to see if any of our observers in the 4th estate ever bother to fairly present the facts in this matter, or even to put it into context. But given the way they’ve misrepresented it thus far, I wouldn’t hold out much hope.

Update: In response to Obama’s request that third party groups not produce anti-McCain ads, Progressive Media USA has become Progressive Accountability. The new group will conduct research and tracking of the McCain campaign, but will not produce ads.