Issues ››› Elections
  • The rules don't apply to Tom Brokaw

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    McCain just claimed Obama wants to raise taxes. When Obama asked for time to respond, Brokaw denied him the time, pointing to "the rules."

    Then, not 20 seconds later, Brokaw announced that "since the rules are a little loose here," he was going to add his own question to the mix.

    So, Tom Brokaw strictly applies the rules when it means denying Obama the chance to respond to a misleading claim about his plans. But then Brokaw announces that the rules are "a little loose" when he wants to ask a question.

    No wonder the McCain campaign picked Brokaw to moderate the debate.

  • 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?

  • MSNBC's Gregory reported Palin quote on Obama "palling around with terrorists" -- but not her distortion of the NY Times article she cited to make that claim


    MSNBC's David Gregory reported Gov. Sarah Palin's assertion that Sen. Barack Obama has been "palling around with terrorists" without noting Palin's distortion of The New York Times article she used to make her claim, or that the Obama campaign issued a statement rebutting the claim.

  • Hannity falsely claimed Obama's "air-raiding villages" statement is a "lie"


    On Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity repeatedly cited Sen. Barack Obama's 2007 remark that "[w]e've got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan] and that requires us to have enough troops so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there," calling the statement a "lie." Hannity did not note that Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently offered Afghans "sincere condolences and personal regrets for the recent loss of innocent life as a result of coalition airstrikes" and that news outlets have repeatedly reported that U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan have resulted in civilian casualties.

  • On Fox News, Hannity hosted Andy Martin -- who has called judge a "crooked, slimy Jew," accused African-Americans in public office of corruption -- in Obama smear-fest

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    On Fox News' Hannity's America, Sean Hannity hosted Andy Martin -- identified by Hannity as an "Internet journalist" -- who made what Hannity called "the explosive claim that [Sen. Barack] Obama's role as a community organizer was a political staging ground perpetuated by the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers." At no point during the segment did Hannity note Martin's history of smears against Obama or Martin's history of anti-Semitic and racially charged comments.

  • Vieira suggested Obama ad calling McCain "erratic" is attack on McCain's age, but her colleagues have made similar comments

    ››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

    Today's Meredith Vieira twice suggested that an Obama campaign ad describing Sen. John McCain as "erratic in crisis" is a reference to McCain's age. She did not note that the "erratic" characterization, in fact, comes from a USA Today editorial cited in the ad, which referred to McCain's response to the economic crisis on Wall Street as "erratic." Further, at least two of Vieira's colleagues at MSNBC, Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews, also said McCain's actions could be perceived as erratic.

  • Town Hall Sham

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Matt Yglesias points out that tonight's debate may be a "Town Hall," but moderator Tom Brokaw, not the audience, will pick the questions:

    In essence, Tom Brokaw and his staff will be asking the questions. They're sifting through a big group of people, and their pre-set questions, and picking the questions they like. Meanwhile, though, Brokaw and co. get to evade responsibility for the questions if people don't like them — it was real people asking! And no followups, so if John McCain gets a question about his plan to cut Medicare and wants to give an answer about Bill Ayers, nobody can stop him.

    Remember: Brokaw was the McCain camp's choice to moderate this debate -- and is NBC's liaison to the GOP candidate.

  • NPR, LA Times reported Palin's "palling around with terrorists" claim, but not her distortion of NY Times article she cited


    NPR and the Los Angeles Times reported Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that Sen. Barack Obama has been "palling around with terrorists," a reference to his acquaintance with William Ayers. However, neither noted Palin's distortion of The New York Times article she cited, which reported that "the two men do not appear to be close."

  • Limbaugh monologue contains numerous Obama falsehoods

    ››› ››› GREG LEWIS

    On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh made numerous false statements about Obama's health-care plan, his employment history, his legislative record, his work on behalf of veterans, and whether he puts his hand over his heart during the national anthem.

  • Hannity again mischaracterized Obama's "air-raiding villages" statement, praised Palin for bringing up comment


    On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity praised Gov. Sarah Palin for citing Sen. Barack Obama's remark that more coalition forces are needed in Afghanistan "so that we're not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there." Hannity did not note that Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently offered Afghans "sincere condolences and personal regrets for the recent loss of innocent life as a result of coalition airstrikes" and that news outlets have repeatedly reported that U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan have resulted in civilian casualties.