National Rifle Association board member and Washington Times columnist Ted Nugent lost his cool during his first televised interview following the firestorm that surrounded his infamous claim that he would "be dead or in jail" if the president is reelected. During a May 4 appearance on CBS This Morning, Nugent took umbrage with interviewer Jeff Glor's suggestion that Nugent will have a hard time attracting moderate voters for Mitt Romney:
TED NUGENT: I'm an extremely loving, passionate man, and people who investigate me honestly, without the baggage of political correctness, ascertain the conclusion that I'm a damned nice guy, and if you can find a screening process more powerful than that, I'll suck your d--k.
Nugent then turned to a female CBS producer and said, "Or I'll f--k you, how's that sound?" CBS' video bleeped out some of Nugent's words at the end of his tirade, but they were transcribed by TMZ.com.
CBS reported that "Nugent's wife told him after the interview ended that Nugent owed an apology to the producer. And Nugent did. He also called Glor Thursday and said that, after the interview, he was rushed to the emergency room and had a kidney stone removed." Just earlier this week, Nugent appeared on NRA News to suggest that he could play a role in convincing moderates to not vote for President Obama this fall:
CAM EDWARDS, HOST: I think between now and November, I think you would agree, that the most important thing that anybody listening could possibly seek to do is to make sure that on election day we elect somebody other than Barack Obama.
TED NUGENT: Correct. And so -- I know it's that middle ground, it's the moderates. We've already got the Second Amendment community. I hope we have the hunting community and conservation community. I hope we have the most productive community in America. But I will learn from, maybe the greatest articulator and believable and revered man in the history of individual freedoms, and that's Charlton Heston. And I know that's quite a leap going from the "Motor City Madman" to the supreme eloquence of Charlton Heston, but officially on Cam & Company right now today May 2, 2012, I vow to my fellow patriots that I will work hard to be as efficient and effective for that middle ground to understand the right to keep and bear arms and to gut the abuses in our federal agencies, including Fish and Wildlife and EPA and FDA and USDA etcetera etcetera ad nauseam. I will try to be more -- I hate the word moderate -- but effective to the moderates because they're the voting block we need to access.
Nugent's appearance on CBS was not, of course, the first time that the "Motor City Madman" had a rather immoderate meltdown.
With the competitive race for the Republican nomination effectively over, the runners-up are expressing their hurt feelings with how they were treated by the press. Traditionally, those barbs have been directed at the so-called liberal media for the way reporters and pundits covered conservatives. This year though, the GOP complaints are raining down on Fox News, with both Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich taking shots at their former employer for what the candidates consider to be the channel's unfair and unbalanced primary coverage.
Fox News is biased! So claimed Gingrich this week:
During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight.
And so claimed Santorum last month:
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum accused Fox News of "shilling" for GOP front-runner Mitt Romney during a contentious interview Tuesday on the "Kilmeade and Friends" radio show.
"He's had a 10-to-1 money advantage," Santorum said of Romney. "He's had all the organizational advantages. He has Fox News shilling for him every day, no offense Brian, but I see it. And yet, he can't seal the deal because he just doesn't have the goods to be able to motivate the Republican base to win this election."
Like a classroom filled with favorites used to being the center of the teacher's interest, the GOP candidates this season, flattered nonstop for years on Fox, suddenly found themselves competing for the channel's attention and fighting for kingmaker Roger Ailes' affection. Was it inevitable that the incestuous primary process played out on Fox would produce hurt feelings and bruised ego? Yes. Was the spectacle yet another reminder that Fox News has transformed itself into a purely political entity? It was.
With signs that the Republican nominating process may take much longer, and become much more contentious, than once thought, fault lines are beginning to appear within the conservative media, which has traditionally been very disciplined in their messaging.
What's confusing though, is watching conservative bloggers, who traditionally bash the press for being unfair to Republicans, suddenly claiming the press is being too nice (too fair?) to certain GOP hopefuls.
Last week, Andrew Breitbart's editorial panel at Big Journalism, claiming to have spotted a long-term press conspiracy, lashed out at the mainstream media for giving Mitt Romney a free ride prior to his possible nomination:
John McCain's Romney oppo file makes its way to the Internet. Will the media now begin to talk about some of the troubling things in Romney's record, or will they "Obama him" and allow a candidate to skate through the primary with little vetting -- except what the candidates can push through before they're jumped on and called "mean?" The media doesn't want to vet Romney now; they're holding their fire in the event he becomes the nominee, after which they will unload.
This week, conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, who has been forceful in her support of Romney, lashed out at the mainstream media for giving Newt Gingrich a free ride while supposedly "grilling" Romney with "enthusiasm":
The key question for tonight's debate is whether the NBC moderators will serve up more hanging curveballs over the plate for Newt Gingrich to bash out of the park or whether they will actually scrutinize him with the same enthusiasm they have shown in grilling Mitt Romney.
There's something surreal in watching conservatives complain the press is being too nice to a Republican candidate during primary season.
From the August 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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First, the bad news.
Last week there was an eruption of dopey chatter about the type of blue jeans Republican Mitt Romney wears. Why? Because according to a Los Angeles Times report, Romney was spotted, "sporting skinny Gap jeans bought for him by his wife." (Revealing personality detail!)
The good news is that since that initial bout of interest, the story hasn't really gained much traction.
Why is that good news?
It's not because I necessarily care about Romney's standing in the press. It's just that having survived the travesty that was Al Gore's Beltway media treatment during the 2000 campaign, I break out into allergic reactions when I hear, or read, pundits going on about how "inauthentic" Candidate X or Y is. And I start running for the exits when the pundits point to the candidates' wardrobe as supposed proof of that crucial lack of authenticity.
Gore, of course, got gored for wearing cloths that were the wrong "tone," and the wrong type of shirts, and the wrong everything because Gore was "inauthentic" and had to fake his way through life. (That's why he's such an exaggerator!) At least that's what dishonest, Gore-bashing pundits insisted throughout the 2000 campaign.
Most of that kind of Gore commentary was insanely snide and virtually all of it was pointless, which is why I hope if Romney runs for the White House we don't see a return of that kind of press nonsense.
For the record, the Los Angles Times article that started the Romney skinny jeans meme was a mess. The newspaper actually put the jeans mention in the sub-headline as well as the lede of the article. Inside the Times newsroom, Romney's jeans were presented as the most important part of the candidate profile.
From the January 22 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
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In a Washington Post op-ed, Mitt Romney makes false and misleading assertions to claim that the strategic missile reduction treaty with Russia "jeopardizes our missile defense system." In fact, the head of the Missile Defense Agency testified that "the new START treaty actually reduces constraints on the development of the missile defense program."
From the March 7 edition of Fox Broadcasting Company's Fox News Sunday:
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From The Hill:
Mitt Romney isn't a Senator. He's never been a Senator. He isn't even in elected office anymore. How he could fillibuster is anyone's guess.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Mitt Romney's false suggestion that during the Republican presidential primary campaign he had not attacked Sen. John McCain's lack of accomplishment "in the world of business." In fact, during the primary campaign, CNN had aired a clip of Romney saying, "I think, at a time like this, it makes sense to have a president who's actually had a job in the real economy."
Reports on CNN's American Morning and its Political Ticker blog quoted former Gov. Mitt Romney praising Sen. John McCain's "credentials on fiscal issues," but neither report noted that "questioning McCain's economic credentials was the centerpiece" of Romney's campaign during the Republican presidential primary in Florida.
NBC News' David Gregory let Sen. John McCain claim that Mitt Romney "disparage[d] the service and courage of an American hero" when he stated that Bob Dole is "probably the last person I would have wanted to have write a letter for me," a reference to a letter Dole wrote to Rush Limbaugh defending McCain. That night, Gregory also uncritically aired McCain's attack on Romney on NBC's Nightly News. But Romney made no comments disparaging Dole's military "service and courage" in his response to Dole's letter, as the full context of Romney's remarks make clear.
Discussing Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson's 2008 predictions, Bill O'Reilly stated on his Fox News show that the "secular-progressive far left says, look, all these people are crazy; all believers are nuts. They're dangerous people. ... Mitt Romney is a dangerous Mormon." However, polling data indicate that white evangelical Protestants are the most likely to be bothered by Romney's religion, and that conservatives are less willing than liberals to vote for a Mormon.
A Des Moines Register article reported that Mitt Romney "defended the Bush administration's use of wiretaps to spy on suspected terrorists," quoting Romney asserting that President Bush "has done what was necessary here with the Patriot Act, as well as by listening in when al-Qaida was calling." But the article simply ignored the central issue in the debate: whether the government should have to obtain warrants to eavesdrop on communications involving people in the United States.
On Meet the Press, Mitt Romney claimed Hillary Clinton "put politics ahead of people" because "she was one of 28 [senators] to vote against alternative methods" of stem cell research. In fact, while Clinton voted against legislation that would have provided funding for alternative research measures, but restricted embryonic stem cell research, she voted for a bill that contained provisions providing for research relating to "alternative method technologies" and also expanded funding for embryonic stem cell research. Romney also touted a recent "breakthrough" on "alternative methods of creating stem cells without having to create new embryos" while failing to note that the senior American scientist involved in the "breakthrough" has emphasized the need to continue embryonic stem cell research. Meet the Press host Tim Russert did not challenge Romney on his claims.