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  • 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.

  • Reporters make choices

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Steve Benen:

    It's rather amusing to listen to major media figures ponder the question of whether John McCain will be able to successfully change the subject away from the economy and towards controversial figures Barack Obama has met. It's entertaining, of course, because the media figures treat this as something they have nothing to do with -- as if the political discourse is some kind of independent animal, which news outlets are powerless to control.

    The reality is, McCain wants the political world to obsess over the three-headed Ayers-Rezko-Wright monster, and it will be successful if the media decides the three-headed monster is suddenly newsworthy. There's no great mystery here. In fact, the pundits' speculation is silly -- if they follow McCain's orders, and talk about what he wants them to talk about, McCain's plan will be a triumph; if not, it won't.


    The thing a lot of journalists don't seem to understand is that they don't have to cover attacks about Bill Ayers.

    If they have concluded that Obama's non-friendship with a Chicago education activist who did controversial things 40 years ago when Obama was a child isn't as important as, say, the economy, there's nothing compelling them to cover Ayers. Nothing at all. The fact that John McCain or his surrogates want reporters to talk about Ayers doesn't mean they have to do so. "Journalism" doesn't mean "doing what John McCain wants you to do."

    Candidates say thousands of words every day. The media ignores the vast majority of them. What makes MSNBC think they are required to broadcast the couple of dozen words Sarah Palin says about Bill Ayers? Particularly when she said the same couple of dozen words yesterday, too?

    So we have the bizarre situation where reporters talk about things like Bill Ayers, all the while suggesting that things like Ayers are "distractions." Right! So ... stop!

    If a reporter honestly thinks that with fewer than 30 days to go before election day -- and with early voting already underway in many states -- Bill Ayers is one of the most important things for voters to hear about, fine. He or sh should cover Ayers. But reporters who think that the economy, health care, war, terrorism, and the Constitution are more important should just cover those things. It doesn't matter if the candidates aren't talking about them -- reporters don't work for campaigns.

    Is that really so hard to understand?

  • Is Glenn Beck still on TV?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The right-wing talker's CNN Headline News ratings continue to embarrass.

    Look at the latest numbers from Friday night. Among total viewers, Beck attracted an audience of 304,000, which meant he got absolutely crushed by his time slot competitors, MSNBC's Chris Matthews (953,000), CNN's Lou Dobbs (1,204,000) and Fox News' Shep Smith (2,032,000).