And what a week it was. NPR's "On the Media," recaps.
The Oregonian on Sunday joined more than 70 newspapers across the country (most located in swing states) in distributing, as paid advertising, the controversial, right-wing DVD titled "Obsession," about the threat of radical Islam. The Oregonian included the insert, dubbed by one critic an "alarmist manifesto," over the objection of Portland's mayor who feared the anti-Muslim DVD it would unnecessarily raise tensions in the community.
And that, "distributing with the Oregonian lends the video an impression of objectivity and legitimacy it does not deserve."
Editor & Publisher has been covering the unfolding Obsession/newspaper story for weeks and has the latest here.
The Oregonian's publisher, like many others, claimed the newspaper simply treated the DVD like any other insert and that it would not reject it based on whether he agreed or disagreed with the DVD's contents.
Yet we can't help wondering if another "alarmist manifest" DVD arrived at the newspaper next week that targeted a different religion, or perhaps a minority group, or even a specific politician, whether the publisher would use the same guidelines when acceepting or rejecting the insert.
The ones he mentioned on Sunday's MTP? That's what Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars wants to know. Specifically, the NBC/WSJ numbers Brokaw sited, "in all fairness" (his words), to show most Americans think John McCain is better equipped to be Commander in Chief.
Problem is, Belle says the numbers Brokaw used don't really exist in the latest NBC/WSJ poll.
An AP article posted on Sunday over at Fox News online with the headline, "Conservatives Begin Questioning Palin's Heft" seems to have been mysteriously yanked.
See The Brad Blog for more details.
I'm told that Biden appeared on every major network tonight except ABC (which only turned him down because Palin wasn't available, on an equal-time sort of basis).
If true, that's a grossly inappropriate decision by ABC. Particularly in light of the fact that the media has all but ignored Biden while paying a great deal of attention to Palin:
(The charts above come from PEJ's Campaign Coverage Index.)
Mark Halperin: "Obama said during the debate that Kissinger, a McCain adviser, supports presidential talks with the Iranian president."
This is false.
During the debate, Obama said Kissinger "said that we should meet with Iran -- guess what -- without precondition" -- not that the meetings should happen at the presidential level.
McCain repeatedly purported to correct this statement by saying Kissinger doesn't support presidential-level talks with Iran -- and each time, Obama made clear that was not his contention.
The transcript is here. See for yourself. Halperin isn't telling the truth. He's just parroting the McCain spin.
UPDATE: The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza writes: "McCain was able to turn a single question about meeting with rogue leaders into an extended colloquy that ended with him hitting Obama for misunderstanding Henry Kissinger. A very good moment for McCain."
This, too is false. Obama didn't misunderstand Kissinger. McCain misstated Obama's accurate statement about Kissinger. Again, read the transcript for yourself. Obama doesn't say Kissinger favors presidential-level talks; he says Kissinger favors talks. And the AP notes: "Obama was right that Kissinger called for meetings without preconditions."
So it's only a "very good moment for McCain" if you think that misstating your opponent's comments for the purposes of rebutting them is a "good moment."
CBS polling suggests Obama won among undecides, and won big:
CBS News and Knowledge Networks conducted a nationally representative poll of approximately 500 uncommitted voters reacting to the debate in the minutes after it happened.
These figures are still preliminary and could change as more respondents complete the survey. But here's what we have so far:
Forty percent of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. Twenty-two percent thought John McCain won. Thirty-eight percent saw it as a draw.
Of course, as we learned from 2000, the media have a few days to change viewers' minds about what they saw.
Let's hope this time they focus on fact-checking the candidates' claims rather than engaging in theater criticism.
UPDATE: Politico's Roger Simon isn't wasting any time trying to change voters' minds.
In the post-debate spin room, should journalists at least try to differentiate what's being said? Jeralyn at TalkLeft notes as an example Nicole Wallace's claim on CNN that Obama would raise taxes "on the vast majority of the American people."
A YouTube you will see before the clock strikes Midnight
Barack Obama repeatedly saying: "I agree with Sen. McCain" or "I agree with John."
Along with Martin and Fox, some right-wingers seem to think this is a big deal. It isn't.
First, it's a little odd to see a journalist chiding a candidate for finding areas of agreement with an opponent; usually the media complains of excessive partisanship.
Second, this just isn't that unusual. It's how candidates talk: they acknowledge areas of agreement.
Look, for example, at how often Gore and Bush agreed during the second debate in 2000:
GORE: I agree with that. I agree with that.
MODERATOR: You agree with that, Governor?
BUSH: I do.
GORE: I don't disagree with that.
MODERATOR: And you would agree?
GORE: I would agree.
GORE: I agree with that
GORE: first of all, let me say that the governor and I agree on some things where this subject is concerned.
GORE: I also believe in the Golden Rule. And I agree with a lot of the other things that the governor has said.
BUSH: Yeah, I agree.
GORE: I agree with Governor Bush that we should have new accountability, testing of students.
Or the first Bush-Kerry debate in 2000:
BUSH: I agree with him.
KERRY: The president and I have always agreed on that.
KERRY: I couldn't agree more that the Iraqis want to be free and that they could be free.
BUSH: In terms of Darfur, I agree it's genocide.
BUSH: I agree with my opponent that we shouldn't be committing troops.
BUSH: Well, I think -- listen, I fully agree that one should shift tactics, and we will, in Iraq.
BUSH: I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network.
Washington Post reporter Chris Cillizza is commenting on the debate via Twitter: "McCain -- happy warrior. He's taking the more in sorrow than anger approach to hitting Obama."