Last week, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski downplayed Mark Sanford's Argentinean affair, saying that unlike Bill Clinton, who "risked, you know, things that were happening in the White House by his behavior," Sanford is just a guy who "had an affair with someone it sounds like he is in love with." You really have to watch the video to get the full effect of Brzezinski's excuse for Sanford's conduct.
Brzezinski's suggestion that, unlike Clinton, Sanford didn't "risk" anything was absurd, for reasons I explained in a column a few days ago.
But so was her sympathetic portrayal of Sanford as just someone who fell in love. Brzezinski has no idea if Sanford loved his mistress. None. (Neither do I. And I don't care one way or another.) That was clear a week ago, and it's even more clear today:
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford says he "crossed lines" with a handful of women other than his mistress - but never had sex with them.
The governor says he "never crossed the ultimate line" with anyone but Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine at the center of a scandal that has derailed Sanford's once-promising political career.
Here's how the AP reported on the Minnesota Supreme Court's ruling in favor of Al Franken:
Coleman's campaign didn't immediately return a call for comment. Nor did, whose signature is required on the election certificate Franken needs to be seated.
Pawlenty, a Republican, has said he would sign the certificate if ordered to do so by the court. The court's ruling stopped short of explicitly ordering the governor to sign the document, saying only that Franken was "entitled" to it.
That's some pretty fine hair-splitting.
UPDATE: And here's how Chris Cillizza describes Pawlenty's comments from Sunday: "On Sunday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) indicated he was inclined to sign the certificate of election for Franken if the state's Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Democrat."
Well, no, Pawlenty didn't say he was "inclined" to sign the certificate. Here's what he said: "I'm going to follow the direction of the court, John. We expect that ruling any day now. I also expect them to give guidance and direction as to the certificate of election. I'm prepared to sign it as soon as they give the green light. ... I'm not going to defy an order of the Minnesota Supreme Court. That would be a dereliction of my duty."
That's rather more definitive than "inclined."
He's dissecting Todd Purdum's new Sarah Palin hit piece in VF.
Here's a highlight of Purdum's reporting: "More than once in my travels in Alaska, people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin's extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of 'narcissistic personality disorder' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders--'a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy'--and thought it fit her perfectly."
Is there any real chance that "several" Alaskans independently told Purdum that they had consulted the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders? I don't believe it for a moment.
I'm with Kristol; this doesn't pass the smell test. Then again, Purdum's work for the mighty VF has often failed to pass any kind of common sense test.
UPDATE: Don't you love how Purdum zeroed in on how self-obsessed Palin is; how (clinically) narcissistic she is? I'd be curious to find out how many VF features in recent years about male politicians stopped to ponder the me-me-me tendencies of those powerful players.
Maybe I imagined this, but I could have sworn I heard a collective sigh of relief last week from the press, and especially the cablers, when it realized it wouldn't have to spend more time discussing health care reform (borrrring!) now that Michael Jackson had died.
As Jim Rutten at the Los Angeles Times noted, Jackson's death was huge news, and news consumers responded in record numbers:
When Jackson's death was first reported, traffic across the Internet spiked to virtually unprecedented levels. Google's search engine slowed to a crawl; Yahoo reported "one of the biggest things" in its history; social networks Twitter and Facebook nearly collapsed under the weight of traffic. This newspaper experienced 12 million page views at its website, apparently because it was widely credited with confirming the death.
The funny part is Rutten was complaining about the "serious" media's wall-to-wall Jackson coverage on Saturday. (Rutten thought it was excessive.) If anything, the coverage seems to have become more intense/monotonous since the weekend.
Behold CNN's primetime last night, four days after Jackson died. Since Jackson's passing, very little actual news had been uncovered (the official cause of death won't be known for weeks), but CNN devoted pretty much its entire night, starting with Lou Dobbs Tonight, to the Jackson story.
I realize that for TMZ and Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight (not to mention US and People), the Jackson passing requires all hands on deck. But I guess I'm not sure why on CNN the "Jackson" references have out-numbered "Honduras," which just experienced a traumatic military coup, nearly 10-to-1 over the last two days, according to TVeyes.com
UPDATED: From journalism.org:
Jamison just highlighted the dreadful WashPost effort, as the Beltway press corps continues to fictionalize the tale about Obama's falling poll numbers. (Fact: According to the latest from WashPost/ABC News, his approval rating stands at a very robust 65 percent.)
In my column this week, I focused attention on the ABC News team and how they did their best to ignore, play down and just plain misinform viewers and readers about their own polling data.
For instance, on his blog, This Week host George Stephanopoulos posted an item under the headline: "Obama's Poll Numbers Falling to Earth?" In his post, Stephanopoulos stressed that Obama was "slipping a bit," but never once mentioned that Obama's approval rating stood at 65 percent, down just 1 point from March.
Jake Tapper's report last week on GMA perfectly captured the ABC unsightly phenomena. Watch below, and then read the column to see exactly why his report was so dismal.
Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe, during today's "Post Politics Hour":
I think we're already starting to see signs of Obama taking the blame. Look at last week's Post-ABC poll that showed that while most Americans still like Obama personally, they've got serious concerns about how he's going to address the deficit, the economic stimulus plan and health care reform efforts.
The poll to which O'Keefe refers does not say anything about whether Americans "like Obama personally." The poll asked whether respondents "approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?" Personal favorability and job approval ratings are not the same thing, no matter how much journalists conflate them.
Saying Americans "like Obama personally" but have "serious concerns" about how he is going to do his job is a distortion of the poll's actual findings, which is that a strong majority of Americans approve of how Obama is doing his job.
As for those "serious concerns," the poll finds that 56 percent of Americans approve of Obama's handling of the economy while only 41 percent disapprove. Health care: 53 percent approve, 39 percent disapprove. The public is split, 48-48 on his handling of deficits. O'Keefe's description of the poll as showing "serious concerns" about Obama's handling of these issues is misleading.
Actually, it's worse than that looks. O'Keefe's phrasing is forward-looking: "serious concerns about how he's going to address ..." The Post and ABC also asked whether respondents trusted Obama or Republicans in Congress to handle a variety of issues; that question is pertinent to O'Keefe's phrasing. On health care, Obama had a 55-27 advantage; on the economy, he led 55-31; and on the budget deficit he led 56-30.
EDITORIAL: Sotomayor reversed again
Martin Luther King can rest easy. His dream is being protected by the Supreme Court - against and over the opinion of Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
The high court's landmark decision in Ricci v. DeStefano, the New Haven, Conn., firefighters case, is a dramatic stride toward the cherished goal of achieving a colorblind society. In Ricci, the court told us that people of ability can succeed regardless of skin color, and government bureaucrats seeking racially biased outcomes can be thwarted in their racist designs.
Previously: The Civil Rights Movement according to Fox ...
Newsbusters' Kyle Drennen:
In addition to wondering about the fate of the party nationally, Schieffer also asked about Sanford's political future: "Should he also resign as the governor of South Carolina?...This seems to go beyond just the fact that, you know, he became involved in this relationship. He was basically missing in action for five days... Isn't this more than just a sex scandal here? I mean, this is dereliction of duty, isn't it?"
It's interesting that Schieffer never leveled such a charge against Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Uh ... maybe that's because Clinton never skipped town, ditching his security detail and lying to aides about where he was going and leaving the Vice President unable to reach him and the nation essentially without a president for five days?
Seriously, Drennen is complaining - sorry; he finds it "interesting" -- that Schieffer never accused Clinton of being "missing in action for five days"? No, it isn't "interesting." Shieffer never accused Clinton of being "missing in action for five days" because Clinton was never missing in action for five days.
What is wrong with these people?
Newsbusters' Tim Graham complains that the media isn't badgering the Obamas about their church attendance:
The Obamas haven't faced much questioning from the White House press corps about when they're going to make a church decision. With most presidents, this might not be a big deal, but the establishment media's reluctance surely reflects its sensitivity to Obama's political problems with choosing radical, ranting Rev. Jeremiah Wright in Chicago and staying in his church for 20 years.
For the Obamas and for Sullivan, the question is this: if they wanted to claim the First Family was going to charm the evangelicals with their piety, do they think this game of kicking the can is impressive? Or doesn't it begin to signal insincerity?
Try to follow the logic of that first paragraph. According to Graham, it is not unusual for the White House press corps to avoid questioning the First Family about their church attendance. But in this case, the reason the press isn't subjecting the Obamas to such questions is the media's "sensitivity to Obama's political problems." The media is doing what they usually do, according to Graham - so they must be doing it for a different reason!
That's just dumb.
It is worth noting - though Graham does not - that George W. Bush did not regularly attend a DC church. And it's pretty safe to say that the Bushes tried to "charm the evangelicals with their piety."