Gimme that old-time religion ...


Tom Brokaw keeps the hits coming -- here he is last night on MSNBC: "I would not like to be Joe Biden debating Sarah Palin, because she is going to have a lot of momentum by the time she gets to that debate if things go as well as the Republicans hope they will."

A reminder, if you needed it, that Brokaw apparently spends his non-broadcast time at a cabin in Montana.

In my Nation post last week, "How to Cover the GOP," I wondered if the media would obsess over every disagreement or sign of disunity in St. Paul, as they so enthusiastically did in Denver. (Jamison Foser notes a nice moment in his column where Jeffrey Toobin and Carl Bernstein explode on CNN's Soledad O'Brien in Denver after she asked about the millionth variation of the Great Clinton Question: "Do you think it matters at all -- anyone can jump in on this -- that President Clinton will not stay for Barack Obama's speech on Thursday?")

Anyway, it's obvious the media are suddenly tired of ferreting out intra-party insults and squabbling. The huge Ron Paul counter-convention, and McCain's subsequent effort to keep Paul off the convention floor, just haven't done it. So may I suggest another possibility? Last night, Joe Lieberman gave a speech in support of John McCain. Lieberman was the Republican nominee's choice for vice president as recently as 10 days ago, has been one of McCain's most visible supporters on the campaign trail, bashed Obama during his speech, and is beloved by the national-security wing of the Republican party. But in his speech, Lieberman said this:

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have taken on corrupt Republican lobbyists, or big corporations that were cheating the American people, or powerful colleagues in Congress who were wasting taxpayer money.

But he did!

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have led the fight to fix our broken immigration system or to do something about global warming.

But he did!

Um, reading between the lines, didn't Lieberman address the Republican convention -- shortly after the sitting Republican president -- and call the Republican Party a bunch of corrupt, cheating, tax-wasting do-nothings? That seems awful juicy to me. Reporters should ask other Republicans if they agree with Lieberman, and if not, if they still want him by McCain's side this fall. They should also ask Lieberman to expand those critiques, and why, if he believes them, he is still supporting the Republican presidential ticket in November. (Also, by "taken on," he means what exactly?)

George Zornick writes: Michael Wolff has an interesting profile of Rupert Murdoch, here, and this account of a secret Obama-Murdoch meeting seems to have the most immediate relevance:

It wasn't until early in the summer that Obama relented and a secret courtesy meeting was arranged. The meeting began with Murdoch sitting down, knee to knee with Obama, at the Waldorf-Astoria. The younger man was deferential -- and interested in his story. Obama pursued: What was Murdoch's relationship with his father? How had he gotten from Adelaide to the top of the world?

Murdoch, for his part, had a simple thought to share with Obama. He had known possibly as many heads of state as anyone living today -- had met every American president from Harry Truman on -- and this is what he understood: nobody got much time to make an impression. Leadership was about what you did in the first six months.

Then, after he said his piece, Murdoch switched places and let his special guest, Roger Ailes, sit knee to knee with Obama.

Obama lit into Ailes. He said that he didn't want to waste his time talking to Ailes if Fox was just going to continue to abuse him and his wife, that Fox had relentlessly portrayed him as suspicious, foreign, fearsome -- just short of a terrorist.

Ailes, unruffled, said it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand.

A tentative truce, which may or may not have vast historical significance, was at that moment agreed upon.

We don't know if that's exactly true, nor if it has anything to do with Obama's upcoming, first-ever appearance with Bill O'Reilly on Thursday. If true, it's very interesting, although not surprising, that Ailes stipulated to said treatment of Obama. Frankly, he would have to be blind not to. Sean Hannity has done all of the above, and in recent weeks has added baby-killer to the mix. (Not baby-killer in the usual pro-choice sense, but literally, a real baby killer.)

As to the potential "vast historical significance," I don't think Obama's appearance on the network, nor any subsequent appearance, will temper the outrageous rhetoric much. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but should Obama ascend to the presidency, Fox is going to continue to be a huge problem -- they have abandoned all pretense, to the extent any existed, and are basically a televised version of right-wing talk radio. Will they actually accuse the sitting president of being a near-terrorist and baby-killer? I'd think not, but there was that whole Vince Foster thing ...

I do think it's likely the onslaught will continue, "truce" or not. It's how News Corp. pays the rent, frankly. In the piece, Murdoch's ominous response to who he preferred in the Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama contest was: "Obama -- he'll sell more papers."

Quote of the Day, courtesy of McCain campaign manager Rick Davis: "This election is not about issues. This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates."

Daily Show segment of the day: Brilliant.

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Alex Neill
Hometown: El Paso, TX

I just wanted to call your attention to tonight's ABC Nightline program and its section on Sen. John McCain and his time as prisoner of war. John Donvan interviews several Vietnam POWs who were in captivity with Sen. McCain. The report states that all of the former POWs were against the use of torture. The report then references one of John McCain's "hallmark positions" being his opposition to the use of torture in the war on terror.

At no time does the report bother to mention that McCain voted against the Feinstein Amendment that would have set limits on CIA interrogation techniques. So much for his "hallmark" anti-torture position. So John McCain was against torture ... before he ran for president. Right in the middle of the GOP primary season, he has a change of heart. In the words of the 2004 Bush presidential campaign, echoed in so many contemporary media reports: "McCain was against torture ... before he was for it." The fact that Nightline failed to mention that vote after talking about Sen. McCain's "hallmark" issue is irresponsible to say the least.

Name: Jim Celer

Here's a Bloomberg report, quoting McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt on how poor John (and specifically, poor Sarah) is getting some bad press:

" 'It used to be that a lot of those smears and the crap on the Internet stayed out of the newsrooms of serious journalists,' Schmidt said at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota."

He chose not to finish with: "Until we Republicans encouraged, promoted and sometimes invented the smears and crap and fed them to the newsrooms of serious journalists."

Name: Mike
Hometown: Miami

While it is commendable that the Obama campaign is not taking cheap shots at Governor Palin regarding young Bristol's pregnancy, isn't it fair for the media to note yet another policy failure of the Bush administration -- especially since it is likely to be continued under McCain? After all, if "abstinence only" doesn't work in an extreme right wing Governor's family, where exactly does the McCain camp believe it will be successful? I'd be interested in some "straight talk" on this.

Name: Bob Rothman
Hometown: Providence, RI


I'm waiting for Dana Milbank to write about the "presumptuous" Republican nominee. Here's John Dickinson: "Almost exactly three years to the day that President Bush created a new standard for botching the political response to a natural disaster, McCain is not going to repeat Bush's mistake. On Sunday, he flew with Sarah Palin to Mississippi to survey preparations." Will someone tell John McCain that he is not president yet? Why are his actions any less presumptuous than Obama's speech in Germany? Oh yeah, McCain was a POW.

Name: John Sherman
Hometown: Moorhead, MN

When the subject is the media's relation to the McCain campaign, the question "How stupid do they think we are?" is not a rhetorical question.

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