In a triumph of synergy, Bob Schieffer hosted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on yesterday's Super Bowl Sunday edition of CBS' Face the Nation. Goodell's solo interview lasted about ten minutes; he was followed by a panel of CBS' NFL analysts.
Look, I love the NFL (Go Giants!). If Schieffer had contained his interview with Goodell to the amazing season the league just finished, whether he thinks Brett Favre is going to retire again (and whether it will stick this time), the NFL's next generation of stars, whether he thought the Colts made a mistake by not going for a perfect season and football immortality, and his prediction as to whether we'd see the triumphant return of the Manning Face before the day was over (answer: yes), the show would have been the perfect start to a great day of football.
But that's not what happened. Instead, Schieffer opened the interview by basically giving Goodell five minutes to spout the NFL owners' talking points about negotiations for their next contract with the NFL Players' Association:
Goodell used that time to play down the NFLPA's concern that the owners will lock them out for the 2011 season (thus making management seem more reasonable) while simultaneously suggesting that the players are receiving too high a percentage of revenues and will need to give some of that up in their next contract, because the owners need to be better recompensed for their investments in new stadiums. According to Goodell, if that happens, "everyone benefits."
Somehow, I don't think NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith would agree with that. Smith might have pointed out that the owners make their own decisions about whether to build massive monuments to their egos, and should suffer if they make poor investments. He could have noted that most NFL players have short careers, high risk of life-altering injury, and can be fired virtually at-will, unlike athletes in the other major American sports.
But Schieffer didn't give equal time to labor and management, he just let management give its side unanswered.
From a February 7 post at HumanEvents.com:
HUMAN EVENTS announces its first ever Al Gore Snowman contest. Our friend Amb. Fred Eckert suggested that we award a prize for the best snowman made to look like the chief poobah of global warming baloney, former Vice President Al Gore.
With Washington digging out of a near-record snowfall, it's only appropriate to (dis)honor the principal perpetrator of biggest fraud since the UN's Oil for Food scandal. (That one, after all, only cost about $30 billion. The global warming "cap and tax" legislation will cost much more.)
Once you've dug out, please take your best shot. Send us a picture of your snowman. The best one will receive $50 and an autographed copy of Jed Babbin's "In the Words of Our Enemies," the "Cliff notes of evil." Deadline is 9 am Wednesday, 10 February.
The uniform refusal of the Beltway press corps to ever mention Sarah Palin's dismal polling numbers, even when journalists are specifically handicapping her political future, continues to be sad spectacle to watch.
The latest? ABC's The Note. Here's the headline:
President Obama vs. Sarah Palin? Former Alaska Gov. Takes Aim at President:
And the lede [emphasis added]:
Good to know. Palin is feeling increasing "confident" and may even take on Obama in 2012, we learn. What ABC is careful to never mention is that recent polling shows Obama would demolish Palin in a head-to-head match-up.
And that's way the press prefers to play the Palin game. Her God-awful polling numbers, even among Republicans, must never, ever be mentioned or put in context.
Why? Because acknowledging how widely unpopular Palin actually is would then throw into question why the Beltway press corps continues to shower her with never-ending attention.
From the February 7 FoxNews.com article:
Much attention has been given to President Obama's persistent use of "I" when giving speeches to sell his administration's agenda. Is he taking responsibility -- or, as his critics say, is he still in campaign mode? FoxNews.com is tracking the president's speeches all this month and will report back after each to see whether The "I's" Have It.
Being a liberal is like being Hitler, murderer of over six million human beings, were he to have tsk tsked Pol Pot for being so evil as to have murdered three million Cambodians. There is no sense of shame with a liberal. They have no sense whatsoever that anything they've ever done should temper their reactions to the actions of others. They have no understanding of the old saw of throwing stones in glass houses.
The substance of Huston's bizarre screed is just as bad. Huston is blasting liberals for criticizing Sarah Palin for writing crib notes on her palm before a Q&A session at this weekend's Tea Party festivities. See, Huston thinks this is hypocritical of the liberals, because President Obama often uses a teleprompter:
OK, let's take just a minute to go with that concept. Let's say that anyone that has to have notes for every single appearance is an idiot that cannot remember to draw a breath unless he has a note to remind him to do it.
If that is a solid point to make, we have but one word that can put little Steffie in his place, make Sarah seem like a genius, and diss his messiah all at once. That word...
That's right folks, if Sarah is an idiot for having four or five words scribbled on her palm to remind her of the order in which she wants to address the issues, then what is president Obama that has to set teleprompters up in a sixth grade class room to talk to the folks there?
Huston is right that there is hypocrisy at play here, but he somehow manages to miss the fact that it's Palin's hypocrisy. See, Palin bashed Obama for using a teleprompter even as she relied on notes scribbled on her hand to get through her appearance:
"This is about the people, and it's bigger than any one king or queen of a Tea Party, and it's a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter," she said.
That was just one of several digs at President Obama. (Ms. Palin herself read a prepared speech.)
Huston wraps up his embarrassing little rant by declaring liberalism a "mental disorder":
See what I mean about liberals? They have no sense of shame, no sense of proportion, not a single firing synapse to guide them. It truly is a mental disorder.
Newsbusters Associate Editor Noel Sheppard takes aim at the Associated Press for doing the "inexcusable" -- the wire service "attached to its Sunday piece a tremendously unflattering photo of the former Alaska governor."
Sheppard might want to have a word with his Newsbusters colleagues, who have a habit of using what they clearly think is a "tremendously unflattering photo" of CBS anchor Katie Couric at every opportunity:
Sheppard concludes his post by whining about the AP mentioning that Palin was paid for her speech:
But even worse, the piece concluded, "Her fee was $100,000 for the appearance at the for-profit event."
Amazing. Could you imagine the AP mentioning how much Nobel Laureate Al Gore or former President Bill Clinton was paid in an article about one of their many speeches?
Is this what the AP sees as fair and balanced?
Tell you what, Noel. You seem busy accidentally attacking your colleagues, so let me Google that for you.
This is priceless.
At the WashPost blog dubbed "Politics and Policy" [emphasis added], here are Ann Gerhart's observations about Sarah Palin's Tea Party convention last night:
1) She's lost a lot of weight, perhaps 15 pounds. She looked trim and firm, like she's hoisting the barbells or maybe chopping wood. Her chair at the head table was empty; if she had the shrimp and filet mignon served to attendees, she ate in her hotel room.
2) She wore a fitted black suit, black hose and high black platform heels. She had on three opera-length strands of pearls, two white and one multi-colored. In her lapel, a small pin with two flags -- for Israel and the United States.
3) She was animated and full of energy, so much so that she kept knocking her microphone with her hand as she made her points. Hope the Texans are ready for her when she campaigns Sunday for Gov. Rick Perry. She certainly looks like a woman who has some plans.
Question: Has the newspaper ever made those kind of observations about a male politician giving a keynote address?
During an interview that aired on Fox News Sunday today, former vice presidential candidate-turned-Fox News contributor Sarah Palin took another swipe at President Obama for using a teleprompter to make speeches. She told host Chris Wallace that she doesn't want to be the de-facto leader of the Tea Party because, "It's much bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter. It is the people's movement. It's about the people and I'm proud to be a part of this."
Perhaps the Tea Party movement isn't bigger than a charismatic woman who has crib notes apparently scribbled on her hand when she is giving speeches.
A Huffington Post blogger seems to have caught Palin with the words "energy," "tax cuts," and "lift American spirits" written on her hand during her keynote speech yesterday at the Tea Party Convention. (Oliver Willis -- who works for Media Matters -- and Think Progress also caught Palin apparently reading off her hand during a later Q & A.) Palin also said during the speech -- without a hint of irony -- that the Tea Party movement is "a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter." Palin appeared to be reading her speech from an apparently far-more-appropriate paper copy.
Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that there are numerous photos of Palin using teleprompters to give speeches while on the campaign trail. For example, here's a photo posted last year by Florida TV station CFNews 13 of a November 1, 2008, Palin rally in Ocala, Florida:
And here's another of Palin in Missouri a few days later, courtesy CNN:
And a third of her in Ohio the same day, posted by The Plain Dealer:
Time to retire this talking point?
Sarah Palin's interview this morning on Fox News Sunday again exposed the central problem Fox News has in maintaining a stable of once and potentially future Republican candidates, officeholders, and strategists: how can you expect honest analysis from contributors who have the ulterior motive of trying to maintain their own political viability?
Asked who the frontrunner is for the GOP nomination, Palin replied, "I have no idea." After Wallace told her that such a response indicates that she's "not a very good analyst," Palin added, "Fire me then, Roger [Ailes]. Sorry, I already failed." And yes, she did, but so did Ailes in hiring her.
How exactly is Palin supposed to respond to that question? Everyone and their dog knew when Palin was hired that by Fox that she was considering a presidential run. So Palin has two options: She can talk up someone who may be a potential opponent, or she can talk down those potential opponents and boost her own stock. Fox News has created a situation in which it is impossible to determine whether their contributors are actually trying to provide strong analysis of the political landscape, or whether they are trying to help themselves.
And it's not like Palin is unique in this respect. Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Mike Huckabee are all Fox News contributors or hosts who are considering a run for president in 2012. Former Bush administration officials Karl Rove and Dana Perino appear regularly on the network to burnish their old boss' - and thus their own - legacy. Dick Morris uses his Fox News appearances to fundraise for political organizations with which he is affiliated.
Minutes after Palin's speech at the National Tea Party Convention last night, poor Mike Huckabee was asked to comment on how she "electrified" the crowd there:
You can almost see the gears turning in his head as he tries to figure out how best to respond. Trash Palin and risk the ire of her supporters? Praise her and risk the clip ending up in a future Palin 2012 primary campaign ad? The Fox News Shadow Primary is shaping up to be an awkward one; the networks' viewers will surely not benefit from such a sideshow.