Blog

  • Chris Matthews v. Chris Matthews on "tribalism"

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    MSNBC's Chris Matthews, responding to Rush Limbaugh's claims that Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama was all "about race":

    "I don't know how you get into this tribalist talk. We could make all kinds of assumptions, but we have no knowledge of a person's inner beliefs. ... You know what drives me crazy? When somebody says "well, I know you're Catholic, so you must believe this.' Or 'I know you're jewish, you must believe this.' Or 'I know you're black, you must believe this.' Give us all a break, Rush. Let us think. Let us think. Let us decide."

    That's quite a shift from April, when Matthews said:

    What is the Catholic vote, Mike Barnicle? It isn't like a vote like, for example, if you're a Jewish voter probably you care about Israel, that's a safe bet. You have one key concern. I can't think of other groups that would make it that simple. But clearly, if you're African-American, you care about civil rights. You care about certain programs of the federal government. That's a generalization, but probably true. You're more progressive. But Catholics -- where would you put them? Is there a squirrel box or a rabbit hole you can put them in politically?

    And from March, when he said of Obama: "this gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder."

    Despite his comments today, Matthews is among the most "tribalist" journalists in the country.

  • Brian Willaims has no opinions

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    At least that's what the NBC anchor told students at Yale University last week:

    "I've trained myself in twenty-six years in this business to not have [opinions]," Williams said in an interview following the talk. "I try to call as an umpire would - balls and strikes - and see it right down the middle."

    Well, maybe college kids believe it. But we think Williams makes it very easy to pick up his political opinions.

  • RE: Judith Miller & FOX News

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Earlier, Eric noted that former New York Times reporter Judith Miller is heading to Fox News. Now, via Politico's Michael Calderone, we see that Miller's judgement remains questionable:

    Miller contends that she's a "political independent," and said Fox wasn't looking for any ideological perspective on national security.

    "They didn't ask me what I was going to say, or whether I was going to fit a mold," Miller said. "I think they want me to be independent, and that's what I am."

    You'd think by now Miller would have developed some skepticism when faced with improbable claims from speakers with agendas. And yet she apparently believes FOX's claims to be "fair and balanced" ...

  • Bill Kristol still won't come clean

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Times columnist won't come clean about whether or not he played a central, behind-the-scenes role in getting the McCain campaign to pick Sarah Palin as the GOP VP. If true, that claim, reported last week by Scott Horton, would give readers additional insight as Kristol continues to strongly defend Palin (as he does in today's column) in the face of an avalanche of conservative critics who have denounced her candidacy.

    Kristol in his column also doesn't come clean about what the specific complaint prominent conservatives, including Peggy Noonan and David Brooks, have lodged against Palin; that she's an anti-intellectual and that she spurns the pursuit of ideas. As Noonan wrote :

    This is not a leader, this is a follower, and she follows what she imagines is the base, which is in fact a vast and broken-hearted thing whose pain she cannot, actually, imagine. She could reinspire and reinspirit; she chooses merely to excite. She doesn't seem to understand the implications of her own thoughts.

    Kristol specifically mentioned Noonan's critique in his column, but pretends that what Noonan really objected to was the GOP turn to populism. So Kristol spends most of his column defending the masses and ridiculing elites. That's fine. But that's clearly not the point Noonan raised.

    It must be eye-opening for conservatives to finally be on the receiving end of Kristol's misinformation and watch him build up and tear down straw men.

  • Newsweek: America is a center-right country, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    This is becoming a monthly theme for the mag.

    In September, Jonathan Darman insisted America is a center-right country and Obama better not forget it. He also stressed that for "40 years, Democrats have been mostly out of stop with the nation."

    Now comes Newsweek honcho Jon Meacham who, in a lengthy essay, stresses that America is a center-right country and Obama better not forget it.

  • NBC and diversity

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    There's an online push to get NBC to look beyond middle-aged white men when it fills the Meet the Press moderator chair following the election season:

    "Meet the Press" is the number one rated Sunday morning public affairs program. The program influences the outcome of elections, advances public policy and enhances the prestige of invited guests. It is no longer acceptable to lock women and people of color out of the corridors of power.

    Here's where you can sign the petition.

  • The press and the Bradley effect, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We earlier noted that the press is spending an awful lot of time hyping the so-called Bradley effect and leaning heavily on the idea that Obama's big lead could still evaporate.

    We noted the oddity of so many Bradley effect reports sprouting up despite the lack of evidence that it's been seen in America in decades. To us, the press attention seems more like an easy way to inject some drama into the increasingly drama-less campaign.

    The latest to tackle to topic is Time and we're not sure whether to praise or mock its effort. We'd mock Time because it manages to join the media caravan detailing the somewhat soggy story:

    Politicos are abuzz over the last hurdle Obama must clear in his path to the presidency: a phenomenon known as the "Bradley effect."

    But we'd praise Time because it concludes:

    The Bradley effect may be this fall's paper tiger: an old theory re-heated by the media because there's not much left to talk about.

    For the record, Time thinks the Bradley effect is just a way for the press to juice up the campaign storyline. So Time then spends time addressing the Bradley effect.

  • As GOP pundits flee

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The McCain/Palin ticket, it's worth separating the group into two camps; those who came out forcefully and somewhat early against the ticket for philosophical and intellectual reasons, and those who waited until the polls went south on McCain/Palin before making public their reservations about the duo.

    We touched on this regarding Peggy Noonan, but with the New York Times raising the larger issue with a Sunday Week in Review piece, "In the Conservative Commentariat, Unease," it's worth stressing again.

    The Times was too polite tho suggest that any of the conservative pundits broke with McCain/Palin because they didn't want to be associated with a loser. (And by loser we don't just mean a candidate who might not win, but a candidate who might lose convincingly.) But we think that possibility remains strong among Beltway pundits.

    For instance, did it really take David Brooks and Peggy Noonan and Christopher Buckley six weeks to arrive at the conclusion that Sarah Palin was not qualified to be vice president? Or that her pick reflected poorly on McCain, as they now concede?

    Note that the morning after Palin's vice presidential debate performance, Brooks cheered her in the Times. Three days later when it became clear that the debate had had no impact on the national polling, Brooks suddenly announced Palin represented a "cancer" on the Republican Party.

    In that regard, pundits such as George Will, Charles Krauthammer, David Frum, Kathleen Parker, and Ross Douthat deserve a bit more credit for not waiting so long to jump on the conservative's anti-Palin/McCain bandwagon.

  • Let's play Find the Liberals

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    From the Sunday morning talk show lineup:

    Fox News Sunday: John McCain

    Meet the Press: Colin Powell, Chuck Todd, David Brooks, Jon Meacham, Andrea Mitchell, Joe Scarborough

    Face the Nation: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former Rep. Rob Portman, Gov. Matt Blunt, Gov. Tim Kaine

    Late Edition: Sen. Claire McCaskill, Rep. Roy Blunt

    This Week: Newt Gingrich, Thomas Friedman, David Gergen, Donna Brazile, George Will

    P.S. It's not called Find the Democrats. It's called Find the Liberals....