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  • Maureen Dowd, what a waste

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    CJR dissected her Times column from Wednesday, noting its the unusual seriousness and the oddly earnest tone Dowd took while discussing Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama. CJR noted that readers expressed admiration for Dowd's effort, happy to see Dowd's usual snide, name-calling set aside.

    Personally, we don't think a single instance of insight and poignancy can erase the mountain and trivial absurdities that Dowd has shoveled throughout the campaign. And rather than read her column and think how refreshing it was that she opted to get serious, our reaction was to ponder what a misuse of national column space her efforts have been most of the campaign season. Meaning, she could have been serious and insightful most of the time. Instead, she opted for childish and trite.

  • Questions we wish had been asked on NBC

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Coming right from an interview he observed between NBC's Brian Williams and John McCain and Sarah Palin, MSNBC's Todd was struck by the lack of in-person chemistry between the two Republicans.

    "There was a tenseness," said Todd on MSNBC, as the Huffington Post reported. "I couldn't see chemistry between John McCain and Sarah Palin. I felt as if we grabbed two people and said 'here, sit next to each other, we are going to conduct an interview.' They are not comfortable with each other yet." (My guess is that post-election, we'll find out much more about this story.)

    Then Todd wondered out loud:

    "When you see the two of them together, the chemistry is just not there. You do wonder, is John McCain starting to blame her for things? Blaming himself? Is she blaming him?"

    Great question. Too bad Brian Williams, who just interviewed McCain and Palin, never asked those questions.

    Correction: I originally wrote, incorrectly, that Todd had been part of the NBC interview and criticized him for not asking questions about whether McCain blamed Palin. I regret the error.

  • The AP strikes again

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Ari Melber catches the AP playing around with the space-time continuum in order to describe Barack Obama as "nervous" about GOP attacks on his foreign policy readiness.

  • Jim Geraghty Comes Undone

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Last week, I explained the problem with assuming that voter registration forms for voters with "funny" names:

    That's Drudge's point here - Hahahaha, they tried to register Mickey Mouse! Fools! But here's the thing: there are 32 people named "Mickey Mouse" listed in the White Pages nationwide, including two in Florida ... On MSNBC, NBC deputy political director Mark Murray just referred to "Harry Potter" and "Han Solo" as other obviously fake names. There are 77 Harry Potters in the White Pages. No Han Solos, but there is a Hans Solo. And 8 Luke Skywalkers. This is really simple: You cannot tell that a voter registration form is illegitimate based solely on the name.

    As I noted at the time, the United States is a nation of 300 million people. They aren't all named Fred Jones. Assuming that a name is fake just because it is unusual, or "funny," or the same as the name of a celebrity, is nothing short of stupid.

    Unfortunately, that's a lesson some people have to learn the hard way. Jed L at Daily Kos points out that the National Review's Jim Geraghty made a fool of himself by mocking American Prospect writer Adam Serwer based on just such an assumption:

    Now, unless A. Serwer thinks that there is actually a registered voter named "Duran Duran" in New Mexico, he ought to refrain from sputtering that those who disagree with him are 'racist' and 'paranoid.'

    You see where this is going, don't you? Yep.

    Here's Geraghty's follow-up:

    UPDATE: I am floored by the fact that the white pages for Albuquereque, New Mexico has a listing for "Duran Duran." Mea culpa.

  • About CNN's Palin interview

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Linda Bergthold was not impressed by the work of CNN's Drew Griffin:

    Griffin allowed her to openly lie about a number of issues without any interruption or challenge. She claimed Obama had never reached across the aisle to work with Republicans, even though his work with Sen. Dick Lugar on nuclear weapons is well documented. . She lied about Obama's tax plan over and over again, saying that he will tax ordinary Americans and small businesses, even though he as clearly stated he will not do that.

  • Bill O'Reilly irony alert

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    He complains about the threats he receives, telling the New York Daily News they're the "real drawback" of his job. "I have to have bodyguards and security, so that's not fun."

    No fun, indeed. But recall last year it was on BillOreilly.com that a fan of his made threats on Hillary Clinton's life: "If [Hillary] wins... my guns are loaded."

  • Sunday papers

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    CJR takes a much-needed look at a key, overlooked media story from the campaign season. It's about the way newspapers provided wholesale distribution (at a cost, naturally) to 22 million homes in swing states for a right-wing documentary about the evils of Islam, Obsession.

    And how newspapers themselves then provided free publicity in the form of news coverage to document the controversy being kicked up by newspapers distributing the DVD.

    Most publishers insisted they had no choice but to cash the right-wing checks and ship out the DVD's because newspaper can't censor advertisers. But as one readers asked in a letter to a North Carolina newspaper, "Are you planning to accept money from those who would like to stir up hatred against immigrants from Mexico?"

    Decades ago, conservative activists moved to the forefront of information wars when they embraced direct mail as a way to spread propaganda. Do newspaper inserts represent the next chapter?

  • Why Politico, why?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We've already noted how dopey we think Politico's daily tabulation is of which candidate "won" each day. We think it's dopey because it seems to be such an obviously bad, forced idea to declare at dinner time every night who "won" that day.

    It's a bad idea because most days on the campaign trail are not won or lost. But journalists obsessed with the horse race are determined to pretend that each day a victor emerges. (Why stop a daily winners? Why not announce which candidate won each passing hour?)

    Instead, we'd guess that between September 1, and November 4, there will probably end up being just five or six truly important, momentum-changing days on the trail. (We're thinking of the afternoon McCain "suspended" his campaign as an example.) As for the other 50+, they'll end up looking pretty much just like each other, with no winners or losers.

    Nonetheless, Politico persists with its manic who's-up-who's-down approach (i.e. insert manufactured drama here) and pretends to be able to pick the winners and losers. So let's take a look at how the tea leaf-readers at Politico arbitrarily decided that McCain had "won" Tuesday.

    According to Politico, the Republican ticket won because (and this was the only proof presented) Sarah Palin picked up a comment Joe Biden made over the weekend about how he and Barack Obama would be tested with an "international crisis" within six months of taking office. Palin ridiculed Biden during her stump speech.

    Politico conceded the Biden comments did not constitute a gaffe and that put in context they were "pretty tame." And yes, Politico mentioned that on Tuesday new polling data from Pew Research showed Obama up 14 among likely voters.

    But because Palin made a passing reference to to the "crisis" comment in a speech, that meant Republican "won" the day.

    Did we mention this exercises is dopey?