We realize we're entering pet peeve territory with this topic, but we can continue to be amazed that reporters seem blind to the idea that having the first presidential debate on a Friday night pretty much guaranteed that viewership would be, relatively, soft.
The New York Times is latest to look right past the obvious.
That's what sources tell Gawker the newspaper's owner did. They say the piece was seen as "an embarrassment," which was why no writers would put their names to it. Instead, the byline read, "Daily News Political Editors."
Mike Barnicle and Mark Halperin on MSNBC this morning agreed that the unserious media fell down in terms of holding the powerful accountable. That it, "abdicated that responsibility" over the years.
Under the headline "More Elderly Humor From Robert Gibbs," Time's Michael Scherer writes:
This morning on MSNBC, [Obama spokesman Robert] Gibbs returned to the make-fun-of-the-elderly joke well. "Just yesterday, John McCain said we shouldn't fix blame. He took a breath and then fixed blame. He said the fundamentals of our economy are strong, and he flip-flopped. He opposed the bail-out of AIG, and then he supported it. This guy zig-zags. Look, if he's driving a car, get off the sidewalk." (Video here.)
Hardy Har Har. Back in the 2004 presidential election, one in four voters was 60 years old or older. I am sure they find these sort of jokes from Obama's top message man hilarious. Just hilarious.
Uh ... if you "zig-zag" while driving, you'll likely end up on the sidewalk. That doesn't have anything to do with age; it has to do with most roads not being zig-zag shaped.
At the beginning of Scherer's post, he referenced a comment by Gibbs about McCain's failure to remember how many houses he owns as another example of Gibbs criticizing McCain's age. But Gibbs didn't say anything about McCain's age in that comment, either. He made a comment about McCain forgetting how many houses he has because McCain forgot how many houses he has.
Republicans, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, have said that Republican members of congress voted against the bailout legislation because they were upset over Nancy Pelosi's speech.
Reporters should ask John McCain if those members were putting "country first."
On Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC's Tom Brokaw allowed McCain strategist Steve Schmidt to falsely claim that John McCain had called for Don Rumsfeld to be fired. That's an old lie that the McCain campaign had abandoned long ago -- but Brokaw let Schmidt get away with bringing it back.
Even worse, Brokaw ended the segment by announcing -- "in fairness to everybody here" -- that the "latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll" found that John McCain "continues" to lead Barack Obama on the question of who is "best-equipped to be commander in chief."
Yesterday, Nicole Belle at Crooks and Liars pointed out that the numbers Brokaw read did not, in fact, appear in the "latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll."
Now MoveOn says they contacted NBC -- and "it turns out Brokaw was referring to a poll taken weeks ago--right after the Republican convention and well before Friday's big national security debate. And in each of NBC's last two polls, Americans chose Obama over McCain."
MoveOn thinks Brokaw should apologize.
That's a good first step. He might also want to figure out a way to reassure the public that he'll do a better -- and more fair -- job when he moderates the October 7 presidential debate.
He probably won't spend much time doing that, though -- his days are apparently pretty full acting as NBC's liaison to the McCain campaign. In that role, Brokaw works to assure the McCain camp that "Mr. McCain could still get a fair shake from NBC News."
After Brokaw's performance on Sunday, NBC should be scrambling to assure the Obama campaign of the same thing.
During an interview with CBS on Monday, John McCain complained about "gotcha" reporting. He was referring to the fact that journalists over the weekend at a campaign event overheard Sarah Palin answer a question from a voter regarding her position about Pakistan. It was a position that seemed to differ with McCain's.
When Katie Couric brought up the incident, McCain denounced the incident as "gotcha" journalism because Palin had been speaking with a voter.
That strikes us as odd. Because Palin pretty much refuses to answer question from reporters on the campaign trail, that leaves them little option but to seek out her exchanges with voters. Or does the McCain camp consider entire campaign events to be off the record for reporters?
When Barack Obama made controversial comments to supporters at a fundraiser and they were reported online in April, his campaign did not complain about "gotcha" journalism. And when Bill Clinton was taped on a campaign event rope line attacking Vanity Fair, the Clinton campaign did not complain about "gotcha" journalism.
According to today's NYT article, Brokaw has served as a point person between NBC and the McCain campaign; the guy who helped smooth over ruffled feathers.
Is that really what the host of MTP should be doing off-camera?