• "Off message"?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    That's how Ben Smith describes the most recent instance of a Republican speaker at a McCain event invoking Barack Obama's middle name.

    How many times do speakers at McCain events have to invoke Obama's middle name before reporters stop stipulating that McCain doesn't want it to happen?

  • The David Brooks contradiction cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Okay, this is getting confusing.

    Last Friday we noted the hypocrisy of the Times' David Brooks, the East Coast media elite intellectual, cheering Palin's debate performance and her anti-intellectual approach; cheering the way Palin's "accent, her colloquialisms and her constant invocations of the accoutrements of everyday" likely connected with "casual parts of the country."

    That struck us as rather embarrassing narrative for Brooks of all people to embrace. And guess what? Apparently so did Brooks. Because on Monday during an interview, he did a complete about-face and announced that Palin and her anti-intellectual approach represents a "a fatal cancer to the Republican party." And that she was no way qualified to be VP.

    So to recap: On Friday, Palin was the star of the GOP. On Monday she represented a cancer.

    At least Brooks now has the bases covered.

  • Pundits to McCain: You've changed, man. But has he?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    MoDo's the latest to claim that McCain's just not the same any more; that h's not the same guy the press used to love. That angle was pressed in New York magazine this week, too. The notion that McCain's has lost all his pundit pals because he's reinvented himself as a dishonest pol.

    True enough, we suppose. But we can't help thinking that Daily Howler might actually be closer to the truth by suggesting that the honor-driven McCain maverick the pundits once toasted never really existed, so the sorrowful obits to him now being printed up ring a bit hollow.

  • We love Tina Fey, honest

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    But we agree with Jane Kim that Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin, while wildly entertaining, does not qualify as news and the cablers should really stop treating the skits as news. Kim writes:

    The ostensible newsworthiness of this very effective parody is a press creation born of repeated juxtaposition—and a distracting one, considering we've entered the four-week countdown.

    And good grief, why, as Jamo noted last night, are news reporters bothering Palin with Fey questions during their very rare change to ask the candidate questions?

    Sadly, the facination seems to springs from the media's desire to turn campaigns completely into entertainment.

  • (Yawn) Halperin thinks Drudge holds the key to the election

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Yep, according to the Time scribe, who wrote a book genuflecting before Drudge's mighty power, the "Internetist" is among "the five most important people in American politics right now--who aren't running for president."

    Halperin offers no further details, but based on his past writings we can assume Halperin thinks that Drudge's web site boasts the power and influence to change the landscape of the White House campaign in the closing weeks. Halperin's been touting that line for years now.

    But think about this: According to the polls, the current campaign has taken a relatively dramatic shift in recent weeks with Barack Obama now enjoying his biggest lead to date. In fact, it represents biggest lead any candidate has posted this late in a presidential campaign since 1996.

    The question is, what role has The Drudge Report played in that dramatic shift over the last three weeks? Our answer: None. Zero. Nada. Irrelevent.

    But Halperin still thinks Drudge holds the key to the election.

  • Press pundits remain silent about sexist coverage

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Over the weekend The New Yorker held its annual talking heads festival and one of its panels featured Bill Keller, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Peggy Noonan, Jack Shafer and Ken Auletta who discussed the media and the campaign.

    One of the questions from the audience came from a Hillary Clinton supporter who asked about sexism in the coverage during the primary season.

    Go to 3:00 in the HuffPost video to hear the complete non-answers offered up by Shafer and Noonan who pretty much refuse to even address the premise of the question, which continues to be the Issue That May Not Be Discussed Inside the Beltway Press Corps.

    Maybe this would have helped them form a response. It's installment #104 in Shakesville's Hillary Sexism Watch which ran during the primaries.

  • Frustration mounts over prez "debates"

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Paul Reiser didn't see a lot of "town" in Tuesday night's town hall debate, just "a couple dozen of over-lit, underwhelmed people who got free tickets."

    And Greg Mitchell notes, "We've come to lower our expectations for real debates in the "debate" process, but this one was terrible." The selected questions were weak, he said, and the follow-up's non-existent. Mitchell suggests even bloggers could do a better quizzing the candidates.

    Agreed. Given the media and technology revolution we've seen in recent years, which has forever altered the way candidates can communicate to voters, this staid, MSM-driven format feels very 1984/1988.

    But not a peep from the Beltway talking heads, who refuse to criticize the TV productions.

    UPDATE: At the debate's conclusion, CNN's Anderson Cooper announced, "A debate unlike any we've seen before."

    Really? It seemed to be exactly like previous debates we'd seen. But Cooper's job was to prop up the forum as something extra special.

    UPDATE: Micah Sifry at Tech President writes:

    If a candidate can post a 37 minute speech online or a 13 minute documentary (and get millions of views, as Obama has done), then surely we can remake the debates in the age of the Internet to deliver rich, detailed and interactive content to the America people, to help us make up our minds and improve the quality of the national discussion.

  • The rules

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    So much for the free-wheeling town hall format, right?

    As one Daily Kos diarist put it:

    Town hall? By what stretch of the imagination? More like a mausoleum. Might as well have had cardboard cutouts in those chairs. Just another way that the system forces us to feel fricking non-existent. Forces us to behave like good little children and not respond. Forces us to listen and not speak.

    Meanwhile, moderator Tom Brokaw seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time focused on "the rules," which pretty much prevented a town hall debate from actually taking place.

  • CNN turns to Alex Castellanos to discuss racially-tinged campaign tactics

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    After Paul Begala quoted an AP article suggesting Sarah Palin has leveled racially-tinged attacks on Barack Obama, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper turned and asked Alex Castellanos if he thinks there is a racial element to the GOP campaign.

    Alex Castellanos.

    Alex Castellanos.

    I mean, sure: he's an expert on racially-tinged campaigns. But what makes CNN think they'll get an honest answer out of him?

  • Good question

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    From Time's live blogging Jim Poniewozik:

    "Will there be a memorable moment from any one of the Presidential debates?"

    Cable chatterers busy hyping the events don't like to dwell on the simple fact that very rarely do these type of heavily structured debates create memorable moments.