On February 27, MSNBC devoted significant coverage to an exchange from the most recent Democratic presidential debate in which NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert repeatedly questioned Sen. Barack Obama about praise he received from controversial minister Louis Farrakhan, whose statements Obama has denounced. The same day, Pastor John Hagee -- who has made controversial comments about homosexuality, Islam, Catholicism, and women -- endorsed Sen. John McCain, who embraced Hagee's support. Hagee's endorsement and McCain's response to it raise the question of whether MSNBC will report on them as extensively as it did on Farrakhan's praise.
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough again defended Chris Matthews' controversial comments about Sen. Hillary Clinton, saying, "[W]hat Chris Matthews said is the same thing Maureen Dowd has been saying since 1998. ... Maybe he said it more bluntly, but to say, that's sexism?" Additionally, co-host Mika Brzezinski called criticism of MSNBC as sexist "unfair."
Referring to comments he had made about Sen. Hillary Clinton's voice, MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanan said on the February 27 edition of Morning Joe, "Look, the famous Dr. Johnson, and I hate to repeat it, said, you know, 'To see a woman speaking is to watch a dog walking on its hind legs ... Sure, he said you're surprised not to see it done -- not that it's not done well, but to see it done at all."
On Morning Joe, Pat Buchanan said that when Sen. Hillary Clinton "raises her voice, and when a lot of women do ... it reaches a point ... where every husband in America ... has heard at one time or another." He later stated, "I know that's a sexist comment." Commentator Mike Barnicle previously compared Clinton to "everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court."
Discussing reports about Sen. John McCain's ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman, Pat Buchanan asserted: "I don't have a problem with John McCain writing a letter there, depending on what he says in the letter," adding, "[B]ut McCain shouldn't be denying that, I don't think, because it seems to me that's in the normal course of business of a congressman." But contrary to his description of McCain's actions as "the normal course" for a congressman, the FCC chairman at the time criticized McCain for his request, calling it "highly unusual."
On Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough said to Chris Matthews: "Bill Clinton says, though, Chris, that we're naïve for believing that politicians can work together, that we're naïve for believing that Barack Obama." Scarborough added: "But it seems to me it's cynicism versus hope." Matthews said: "Any politician who runs in America on the campaign message of 'don't get your hopes up' deserves to be doomed. What an amazing -- that is so un-American, because Americans believe that the way things are is not the way they have to be."
On Morning Joe, NBC News' Chuck Todd asserted that "all of this angst on the right has only served to remind moderates that [Sen.] John McCain's a moderate." But McCain does not call himself a moderate, claiming that he is "proud to be a conservative." Moreover, he has changed, and even reversed, his position on several issues, including immigration and taxes, to align himself with the base of the Republican Party.
On Morning Joe, Mike Barnicle claimed that while in "most campaigns," "Republicans begin on the right for their campaign and come to the middle for the fall," John McCain is "in the middle and he has to swing right for the primaries." In fact, McCain has already shifted rightward on immigration and taxes, and McCain himself has asserted that he is a "mainstream conservative."
Addressing a remark he made about Chelsea Clinton's work on her mother's campaign -- "doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way" -- MSNBC's David Shuster stated that "last night, I used a phrase -- some slang about her efforts. ... [T]o the extent that people feel I was being pejorative, I apologize for that. I should have seen that people might view it that way, and for that, then I'm sorry." However, Shuster never mentioned the specific "slang" he used in reference to Chelsea Clinton's campaign work, and he falsely claimed that, during the same segment in which he referred to her "being pimped out," he said "Americans should be proud of [Chelsea]" and that "everybody, all of us, love" her.
On Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski asked presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin: "[A]t this moment in history, isn't John McCain the perfect candidate to deal with what challenges we face as a country, and given the presidency that is just coming to a close right now?" At no point during the segment, however, did Brzezinski disclose that her brother is a McCain adviser.
On MSNBC's Morning Joe, David Shuster asked Clinton campaign chief strategist Mark Penn if it was a "mistake" when he "brought up a word and reminded people of [Sen.] Barack Obama's past drug use" on Hardball in December 2007. But, Penn was not the one to bring up Obama's past drug use; it was Chris Matthews. Matthews, as well as Norah O'Donnell, have falsely asserted that Penn brought up the issue.
On Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski said of Sen. John McCain, "[F]or the most part, he really does stick to his views even if they're unpopular," adding that McCain's "views on immigration were unpopular, and he stood by them even at the peril of his campaign." In fact, McCain once called for comprehensive reform that addressed the creation of a guest-worker program, a path to citizenship, and border security, but now says he supports addressing border security first.
In again refusing to acknowledge that former White House senior political adviser Karl Rove was involved in leaking the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame to conservative columnist Robert D. Novak, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough falsely suggested that Rove was not a source for Novak.
As evidence that "some of [Bill Clinton's] connections could create ethical and diplomatic conflicts for his wife," Andrea Mitchell reported on Clinton's September 2005 trip to Kazakhstan with Canadian mining financier Frank Giustra, followed by his hosting "the head of Kazakhstan's uranium agency at their Chappaqua [New York] home." But Mitchell didn't report, as stated by The New York Times, that the Kazakh official failed to obtain Clinton's help in "lobby[ing]" in support of Kazakhstan's intention to buy a stake in a U.S. firm. Further, Mitchell reported Giustra's claim that "the uranium deal ... was substantially completed before" he and Bill Clinton "arrived in Kazakhstan without noting that Giustra has reportedly been involved in Kazakh mining deals at least as far back as the mid-1990s.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell falsely claimed that during the January 31 Democratic presidential debate, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton "really misstated her vote on the Levin amendment" -- referring to an amendment offered by Sen. Carl Levin to the 2002 resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. In fact, during the debate Clinton acknowledged her vote against the Levin amendment and provided an explanation for her vote that is consistent with the way she explained her position on the day of the vote.