Anxious to keep the Blago drama percolating, many in the press have decided that among the most pressing question facing the nation is who on Obama's staff may have talked to Blago about filling Obama's senate seat. If you read the coverage and listen to the talking heads, you know this is hugely important.
Why? We're not sure since prosecutors don't even hint that any conservations that took place between the two camps were improper. Indeed, it would bizarre if Obama aides hadn't reached out to the governor about filling the president-elect's seat.
But none of that matters now because Obama and his aides won't talk, or so we're told. We need to know who talked to Blago and told him Obama wouldn't play ball for any kind of deal. Who told the corrupt pol to forget about getting any kind of deal from Obama. Follow? We need to know who talked to Blago and did the right thing. But of course, the press leaves off the did-the-thing part, and simply obsesses over who talked to Blago because that sounds more sinister. (There's a criminal complaint!)
Let's note the Chicago Sun-Times whose Blago/Emanuel article has landed top honors at the Drudge Report. Headline [emphasis added]: "Is Emanuel the adviser on gov tape? MUM: Obama's chief of staff refuses to answer the question."
Oh my. And the lead:
President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, refused to take questions from reporters this morning about whether he was the Obama "advisor" named in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Looks shady, no? And where did Emanuel duck reporters questions? Where did he refuse to come clean to the Sun-Times? At his kids' school concert. No joke. Behold:
Emanuel was uncharacteristically absent from Obama's news conference this morning. He was spotted two hours later in the lobby of Chicago's City Hall. He was there to listen to his two children performing in a concert with their school, Anshe Emet. A Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.
On MSNBC Live, Tamron Hall forcefully challenged Republican strategist Doug Heye's characterization of President-elect Barack Obama as a "good friend" of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's. Hall challenged Heye on his "assessment of 'good friend' because," Hall said, "I don't want these things to linger out there without you kinda backing them up."
Dick Morris baselessly suggested that former President Bill Clinton "fire[d] all 93 US Attorneys" upon entering office in 1993 in order to "cover for firing [U.S. Attorney Charles] Banks and replacing him with Paula Casey, a Clinton ally," falsely suggesting that Banks "was hot on [Clinton's] heels as he probed charges that swirled around the [Whitewater] land deal." In fact, Banks had reportedly resisted investigating the Whitewater matter in 1992, just weeks before the presidential election, in defiance of pressure from officials in then-President George H.W. Bush's administration.
On his radio show, Bill Cunningham advanced baseless speculation that President-elect Barack Obama will not be inaugurated because of the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Also, accusing the media of "latch[ing] on" to evidence undermining any suggestion of wrongdoing by Obama, Cunningham falsely claimed that "parts" of the criminal complaint against Blagojevich "clearly indicate that Obama is up to his eyeballs in fraud." But as U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald made clear, the complaint indicates nothing of the sort.
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On The Radio Factor, John Kass falsely claimed that Rita Rezko, wife of Antoin Rezko, "b[ought] the Obama dream house" in what Kass called "that shady real estate deal." In addition, Kass, who was also featured on ABC's World News and the CBS Evening News in reports about the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, suggested to Bill O'Reilly that President-elect Barack Obama must be tainted by corruption because he comes from Chicago.
In a post on ABCNews.com's The Note, Rick Klein asserted that "the emerging lineup of Democratic rogues is starting to stack up against" several Republicans accused of corruption and scandal, but in the slate of people he listed, he omitted numerous examples of high-profile Republicans embroiled in criminal or ethical scandals, such as Rep. Don Young, Sen. Ted Stevens, and Rep. Rick Renzi.
On Hannity & Colmes, Hannity asserted that President-elect Barack Obama is "all over" the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, adding, "The pres -- the word 'president-elect' is mentioned 44 times in the document. Pretty troubling." However, nowhere in the complaint was a single allegation against Obama made. Further, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald stated during a December 9 press conference that the criminal complaint "makes no allegations about the president-elect whatsoever -- his conduct."
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."
On his radio show, Sean Hannity complained of Sen. Ted Stevens' speedy trial on corruption charges, contrasting it with Rep. William Jefferson's case, saying that "justice moves at lightning speed" for Republicans like Stevens. Hannity added, "Not only do you get indicted, you get tried, you get convicted in record time, but the Justice Department moves so fast, it's like some kind of national emergency." But Hannity did not note that Stevens and his attorneys reportedly requested a speedy trial following his indictment so that Stevens could "clear his name" before Election Day.
On his radio and television programs, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's use of a military jet for transportation was unprecedented. In fact, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert (R-IL) in 2001.
From Dayton Ohio:
Hi Brian - I like you (really) and watch your show most evenings. But your failure, last night, to even acknowledge the prominent NYT article about NBC's relationship with Barry McCaffrey was cowardly and calls your credibility into serious question.
From Los Angeles:
I hope that this time you will address the serious, undisclosed conflicts of interest, as detailed on the New York Times front page about your military analyst Barry McCaffrey and his Defense Solutions. You are seriously harming your credibility by avoiding addressing this, and that of NBC News.
And from Naples, Florida:
Brian -after reading all of these comments, don't you feel any obligation or duty to speak of the General McCaffrey affair? Integrity is earned over a long period of time by being honest in actions and motives. If that ethical integrity is in any way compromised, it is difficult to repair the damage.
Will Williams ever acknowledge his readers concerns? Or is his blog just a p.r. vehicle to drum up viewers?
On Hardball, Christopher Hitchens repeated an unsubstantiated claim he has made in the past: that Hillary Clinton "got" her husband to visit Pakistan in 2000 after a Pakistani-American PAC held a fundraiser that brought in $50,000 for her Senate race.
Chris Matthews echoed the discredited rumor that 32 ballots from Minneapolis were mishandled in the Minnesota Senate race. Matthews asked: "What about these absentee ballots that were found in somebody's back seat and they're now counting them as official -- what is that about? That sounds pretty squirrely or sneaky or what -- I don't know what it sounds like." In fact, a lawyer for Republican Sen. Norm Coleman has reportedly said regarding those ballots that "[i]t does not appear that there was any ballot-tampering, and that was our concern."
The top of this article seems fine as the reporter outlines the extraordinarily close recount race between Al Franken and Norm Coleman. But boy, the piece completely falls apart as the Times' Christina Capecchi stuffs the second half of the dispatch with right-wing talk points presented by right-wing talking heads.
*The article quotes Coleman's election attorney who accuses the Franken camp of vote-counting ""shenanigans," but requires the attorney to provide not proof/examples.
*In addressing the fact that the Secretary of State overseeing the recount is a Democrat (last time we checked that was allowed), the Times reports that Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten traced the official's "ties to liberal Democratic groups."
The Times though, doesn't bother to note that Kersten is a right-winger who smeared Franken right before Election Day as a "slanderer of Christianity." She's hardly a source worth citing in the New York Times.
*Speaking of dubious sources, the Times also quotes Sean Hannity who claims there's some "fishy business" unfolding in Minnesota. This has been the right-wing mantra all week: Dems are trying to "steal" the Minnesota election. The proof? There is none, which means there's absolutely no reason for the newspaper to be legitimize that kinds of GOP conspiracy talk.
In total, the Times article quotes or references six Coleman supporters but just one Franken backer.
The Franken/Coleman recount is going to be a lengthy process. Let's hope the Times can improve its coverage.
Discussing Sen. Ted Stevens' conviction for lying on his Senate financial disclosure forms, Chris Matthews asked Rep. Heather Wilson, "Does it bother you personally that one of your colleagues looks like a crook?" However, after Wilson responded, in part, that "in my office and in my service, you know, I tell everyone that works with me, we stay on the white side of gray," Matthews did not ask Wilson about a Justice Department report that called for further investigation of actions Wilson and others allegedly took surrounding the firing of a former New Mexico U.S. Attorney. The report stated that the alleged conduct of Wilson and others in the case "may have been criminal."