In his Washington Post analysis, Dan Balz wrote that, during the vice presidential debate, Gov. Sarah Palin "did not stumble over names of foreign leaders." But Balz did not note that Palin misstated the name of Gen. David McKiernan, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, twice referring to him as "McClellan."
On two recent editions of Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity claimed that Franklin Raines is an "economic adviser" to Sen. Barack Obama, in one case citing "The Washington Post" as a source for his claim. However, both Raines and the Obama campaign have denied that Raines advises Obama in any way, and a washingtonpost.com Fact Checker item examined several Post items cited in a McCain ad that makes the same claim and concluded that the ad "exaggerat[ed] wildly" in its claim that Raines "advises" Obama.
The Los Angeles Times asserted that, during the vice-presidential debate, Sen. Joe Biden called President Bush's policies toward Israel "an abject failure" and that Gov. Sarah Palin "reject[ed] the way Biden depicted Bush's policies with her line about the 'blame game.' " But the Times did not note that Biden was responding to moderator Gwen Ifill's question specifically asking the candidates to assess the Bush administration: "What has this administration done right or wrong -- this is the great, lingering, unresolved issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- what have they done?"
Hopefully, that will put to rest the lazy, utterly predictable press performance regarding Biden and its really, really, really tired attempt to blow up minor campaign utterances of his into so-called gaffes.
Cenk Uygur at HuffPost argues that Ifill failed in her job as moderator last night and here's why:
Because all she did was pose simple questions that were easily deflected with prepared talking points. That's not a debate; that's a boring, fairly useless, series of mini-speeches. If you don't probe beyond the initial non-answer, you are simply not doing your job. That's a disservice to the American people who came to find out if these people know what they're talking about and what their real plans for the country are.
Was Ifill's timidty due to the surrounding controversy regarding her forthcoming Obama book? It's impossible to say. But this we do know for sure: If every four years the Commission on Presidential Debates didn't select moderators from the same extremely small, elite circle of Beltway media insiders, than perhaps potential conflicts like this wouldn't come up.
Believe it or not, there are more than four of five Americans who are qualified to moderate a debate. It's time for the commission to branch out and tap other talent.
In reports on the vice presidential debate, CBSNews.com, MSNBC.com, and FactCheck.org all falsely claimed that Sen. Joe Biden's statement that Sen. John McCain "voted against funding the troops" in a 2007 appropriations bill was wrong. In fact, while McCain did not vote on a later version of the appropriations bill, he voted against the measure on March 29, 2007, and said at the time that he was opposing it, in part, because it "would establish a timeline" for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.
In an interview with former acting Gov. Jane Swift during NBC's post-debate coverage, Brian Williams did not question Swift about her false assertion that Sen. Barack Obama made "disgraceful comments comparing our vice presidential nominee, Gov. [Sarah] Palin, to a pig" or her subsequent backtrack that she "can't know" whether Obama's comment "was aimed" at Palin.
The Washington Post turned to five people to assess last night's VP debate for its "Topic A" feature:
Political analysts, pollsters and others assess Joe Biden and Sarah Palin's debate. Here are contributions from: Carter Eskew, Greg Mueller, Jeremy Lott, Ed Rogers, Douglas E. Schoen.
Here's how the Post described the five:
Eskew: "Chief strategist for Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign"
Mueller: "Republican strategist; former senior aide to Steve Forbes's and Pat Buchanan's presidential campaigns; president of CRC Public Relations"
Lott: Author of 'The Warm Bucket Brigade: The Story of the American Vice Presidency'"
Rogers: "White House staffer to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush; group chairman of BGR Holding"
Schoen: "Democratic pollster and author of 'Declaring Independence: The Beginning of the End of the Two-Party System'"
Looks pretty balanced, right? Two Democrats, two Republicans, and a neutral expert on the Vice Presidency (Lott.)
Except ... Jeremy Lott has been assistant managing editor for the far-right American Spectator, a fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and was Manager of Editorial Services at the Cato Institute.
Given his right-wing bona fides, is it any surprise Lott praised Palin's performance and panned Biden's?
Of course not. Lott is anything but the neutral observer the Post led readers to think he is.
In his pro-Palin column in the NYTimes, Brooks, the embodiment of an East Coast Beltway elite and self-styled intellectual (he actually starts off his column by citing "midcentury psychologist Abraham Maslow"), cheered the fact that all night Paliln advertised "she was not of Washington, did not admire Washington and knew little about Washington. She ran not only against Washington, but the whole East Coast, just to be safe."
He went on to note how Palin's "accent, her colloquialisms and her constant invocations of the accoutrements of everyday" likely connected with "casual parts of the country."
In essence, Brooks, the conservative East Coast intellectual, toasted the fact that Palin projected an anti-East Coast, anti-intellectual style (she was folksy!), while conceding she didn't win on substance.
Another example of how campaigns can force pundits out of their comfort zones?
On his radio show, Chris Baker said, "I don't think homeless people should vote. Frankly. In fact, I have to be very honest. I'm not that excited about women voting, to be honest." Baker later said: "But that's just me. I'm a pig, and that's fine. All right? And we'll see that, I'm sure, on a lame-ass website very soon. But I don't think hobos ought to vote at all. They're nuts. And I think that there needs to be a little more care in who votes."
Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker:
Well, darnit all, if that dadgum girl (wink, wink) didn't beat the tarnation out of Joe Biden. ... Palin is a populist pro. She hit all the notes that resonate with non-elite Americans: family (Hi Mom and Dad!), "Can I call ya Joe?" personal responsibility, Wall Street greed, children with special needs. Her most effective technique was speaking directly to the American people and letting Joe know that's what she was gonna do, doggonit. Stylistically, she used the language of the people to great effect. ... I'll have to go to the transcript to figure out what Palin actually said and try to figure out whose facts were right. But there's no question: She won the debate on popularity.
Uncommitted voters who watched the vice presidential debate thought Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden did the best job by a margin of more than two to one, according to a CBS News/Knowledge Networks poll taken immediately following the debate.
Forty-six percent of these uncommitted viewers said Biden won the debate Thursday night, while 21 percent said Palin won. Thirty-three percent thought it was a tie.
Even a quarter of Republican uncommitted voters thought Biden won the debate.
A national poll of people who watched the vice presidential debate Thursday night suggests that Democratic Sen. Joe Biden won, but also says Republican Gov. Sarah Palin exceeded expectations.
The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. said 51 percent of those polled thought Biden did the best job, while 36 percent thought Palin did the best job.
Respondents thought Biden was better at expressing his views, giving him 52 percent to Palin's 36 percent.
On the question of the candidates' qualifications to assume the presidency, 87 percent of those polled said Biden is qualified and 42 percent said Palin is qualified.
Between reporting and opinion. We've noticed this in the past; Politico puts up a big sweeping piece, often co-written by two of its most prominent writers, that to us read like straight editorials because they're pure opinion about the days big events.
This morning the Politico does that with a debate wrap-up. In this case, we happen to agree wtih the Politico's assessment about who 'won' and 'lost' the debate in St. Louis. ("It is hard to count any objective measures by which Biden did not clearly win the encounter.")
But it strikes us as bad form to have the daily's writers post opinion like that and not label it or present as as such, as least with an "analysis" tag. It's only going to lead to trouble down the road.
Following the debate, Fox News pollster Luntz suggested there would be a "shift" in the national polls in the direction of McCain-Obama thanks to Palin's St. Louis performance.
That, he said, was based on the responses registered among Luntz's debate focus group members. How many focus group participants changed their votes and moved over to the GOP side after the debate? Three.
Meanwhile, actual debate polls raise doubts about a pending "shift."
And here's what happened when CNN polled its focus group:
ABC News correspondent Kate Snow uncritically quoted Gov. Sarah Palin's claim that Sen. Barack Obama voted for "[c]utting off funding for our troops while in a war zone." However, Snow did not report that Sen. John McCain voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as Obama noted during the September 26 presidential debate.