• Debate expectations

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    WaPo's Chris Cillizza on tonight's debate:

    Who's the Underdog? On the one hand, every state and national poll shows movement toward Obama and his massive spending edge on television appears to be asserting itself in the final month of the campaign. On the other, McCain has done hundreds of townhall meetings in his political career, and was so comfortable with the format that he proposed a series of ten such gatherings with Obama this summer. Despite McCain's skill at townhalls, we still think he's the underdog, based on his disadvantage in polling and fundraising, and the public increasingly blaming his party for the financial crisis gripping the nation.

    This nicely illustrates the problematic thinking that goes into the media's assessment of who "wins" debates. Why on earth would McCain's disadvantage in fundraising make him an underdog tonight? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever -- but it does illustrate the fact that too many journalists think about debates in terms of everthing except the one thing that actually matters: Which candidate most successfully shows that s/he is most likely to be the kind of president most viewers want?

  • The rules don't apply to Tom Brokaw

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    McCain just claimed Obama wants to raise taxes. When Obama asked for time to respond, Brokaw denied him the time, pointing to "the rules."

    Then, not 20 seconds later, Brokaw announced that "since the rules are a little loose here," he was going to add his own question to the mix.

    So, Tom Brokaw strictly applies the rules when it means denying Obama the chance to respond to a misleading claim about his plans. But then Brokaw announces that the rules are "a little loose" when he wants to ask a question.

    No wonder the McCain campaign picked Brokaw to moderate the debate.

  • Palin takes questions; needn't have worried

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    According to New York Times blog The Caucus, Sarah Palin finally took questions from reporters on the plane.

    During the Q & A, she blasted Obama for his association with Bill Ayers. The Caucus provides no indication that any of the reporters asked her to square her comments about Obama and Ayers with John McCain's relationship with Gordon Liddy. (Or her own connections to the Alaska Independence Party, for that matter.)

    Instead, Palin got this question:

    And she was asked if she would like to make an appearance on "Saturday Night Live," to answer back to Tina Fey's parody of her.

    "I would love to," she said.

    After weeks of waiting for a chance to ask Palin a question, that's what the press corps came up with? "Would you like to be on Saturday Night Live?"

  • Tom Brokaw is biased in favor or Dems because....

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    He doesn't want "Mother Earth" to become a "dead planet."

    We know, it doesn't make sense to us either. Because only Dems live on planet earth?

    But on the eve of Tuesday's debate, conservative press critics assembled recent public utterances by Brokaw and insisted they prove he boasts a "long record of favoring Dems."

    Trust us, the highlighted quotes are utterly innocuous.

    Oddly, GOP critics made no mention of Brokaw's unofficial role this summer as NBC's liason to the McCain campaign....

  • Chi. Tribune columnist and Ayers critic says McCain should answer for Liddy

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman has gotten some media attention for criticising Barack Obama over his association with Bill Ayers. Odd, then, that Chapman's repeated criticism of John McCain for his cozy relationship with Gordon Liddy hasn't gotten nearly as much attention.

    Chapman has a new post on the Tribune's web site spelling things out:

    Liddy, who worked for President Nixon's campaign, was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for multiple crimes in burglarizing the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate building--part of a broader plot to steal the 1972 election through sabotage, illegal spying and other dirty tricks. He even planned the murder of a journalist, though that idea was overruled. Bombings? He proposed the firebombing of a liberal think tank.

    Liddy, now a conservative radio host, has never expressed regret for this attempt to subvert the Constitution. Nor has he developed any respect for the law. After the 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, he endorsed the shooting of federal agents: "Kill the sons of bitches."

    Yet none of this bothers McCain. Liddy has contributed thousands of dollars to his campaigns, held a fundraiser for McCain at his home and hosted the senator on his radio show, where McCain said, "I'm proud of you." Exactly which part of Liddy's record is McCain proud of?

    While Obama has gotten lots of scrutiny for his connection to Ayers, McCain has never had to explain his association with Liddy. If he can't defend it, he should admit as much. And if he thinks he can defend it, let him.

  • In-bounds demagoguery?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Yesterday, Marc Ambinder said it was "scuzzy" for the Obama campaign to bring up Keating Five -- while avoiding any such description of the McCain campaign's attacks on Obama over Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. Today, Ambinder again offers a bizarre complaint about Democrat's campaign criticisms.

    Marc Ambinder:

    McCain's own policy chief said that McCain might cut Medicare and Medicaid. So while Dems do demagogue this issue, pointing out that McCain wants to cut Medicaid and Medicare isn't out of bounds. And if McCain wants to keep his goal of balancing the budget, those cuts would have to be deep.

    So, it "isn't out of bounds" to point out that "McCain wants to cut Medicaid and Medicare." And those "cuts would have to be deep" if McCain is to follow-through on his plan to balance the budget. And yet "Dems do demagogue this issue."


    Ambinder doesn't bother to explain how Democrats "demagogue" the issue. Indeed, his post seems to undermine the assertion rather than support it.

  • More on the media's Ayers-Liddy double standard

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    David Gregory just interviewed McCain spokesperson Nicole Wallace on MSNBC, and kept asking her if McCain would bring up Bill Ayers tonight. When Wallace criticized Ayers, that's how Gregory responded - by asking if McCain would make those same points tonight.

    That's just an inept question. All it does is give Wallace a chance to bash Obama. And there's no upside: who cares what Nicole Wallace says at 6 pm about whether McCain will bring something up at 9 pm? We'll find out whether he will soon enough.

    The blindingly obvious question would have been to ask Wallace about McCain's ties to Gordon Liddy, who served four and a half years in prison as a result of his role in Watergate, plotted to murder journalist Jack Anderson and Howard Hunt and to firebomb the Brookings Institution, and who instructed radio audiences in the 1990s to shoot federal law enforcement agents and bragged that he named his own shooting targets after Bill and Hillary Clinton. McCain and Liddy are buddies.

    Of course, Gregory didn't do that. Instead of asking her about McCain's own close ties to criminals, Gregory just invited her to attack Obama.

    UPDATE: Now David Gregory is sitting there as former Nixon aide Pat Buchanan attacks Obama over Ayers. Surely Gregory will ask Pat Buchanan about McCain & Liddy? No.