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?
CNN's Tom Foreman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain "has always said" allowing young people to set up private Social Security accounts "is not instead of Social Security; this should be in addition to Social Security." In fact, McCain supported President Bush's 2005 Social Security proposal, which would have allowed workers to divert up to 4 percent of their wages into a private account, thereby removing it from the money available to pay Social Security benefits for current retirees.
On MSNBC Live, Andrea Mitchell followed Contessa Brewer in airing a heavily cropped version of former President Bill Clinton's remarks on Meet the Press in which Clinton seemingly declined to respond in the affirmative when asked by Meet the Press host Tom Brokaw if he would say he "admire[s]" Sen. Barack Obama and "think[s] he's a ... great man." Mitchell called Clinton's comments "hardly an endorsement" of Obama and "not as effusive as you would expect." But Mitchell did not air or otherwise note Clinton's statements moments later that he "certainly admire[s]" Obama and that Obama's "greatness will ... become apparent" when he is elected president.
Should any one be surprised by the fact that the ratings for Friday night's presidential debate, once put in historical perspective, were rather mediocre? (Eleventh best overall, to be exact.) Or why, with approximately 57 million total viewers, the debate attracted only ¾ of the audience the co-chair of Commission on Presidential Debates predicted they would, and 40 million fewer than what MSNBC's Chris Matthews confidently predicted last week?
Despite the relentless media hype about the debate, there's no big press mystery about the lackluster viewership. The debate was held on Friday night and on Friday night not as many Americans stay home and watch TV. (Nielsen has known this for approximately three decades.) And that Friday night (non) viewing pattern is even more pronounced during the fall football season.
Why the commission, whose stated mission is to expose as many viewers as possible to the candidates, chose to have the first, and usually most important, debate on Friday night always struck us as being slightly coo-coo. But almost just as odd was the fact that the Beltway press last week, busy dissecting every last angle of the debate preview story (what the topics would be, who ran the candidates' debate practice sessions, etc.) steadfastly refused to raise the issue of a Friday night debate. For most reporters and pundits, Friday night seemed like a perfectly normal time to broadcast a presidential forum.
That notion, along with the way-off predictions that 80 or 100 million people would tune in, just seemed to highlight how out of touch the political press often is with folks beyond the Beltway.
That, according to Howard Kurtz who points to zero evidence to back up the claim, and doesn't even try to explain how he came to that partisan conclusion.
Meanwhile, the entire Kurtz dispatch from the debate really is an instant classic since it's littered with gems like this:
Some of the journalists who profess to want an elevated debate on the issues--which is precisely what they got, courtesy of Jim Lehrer--seemed unusually interested in style points.
See, it was unusual for Beltway journalists to focus on style points, according to Kurtz, whose job at the Post appears to be to present the press corps in the most flattering, hard-working and serious light possible.
On CNN, John King read a statement issued by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in response to Sen. Barack Obama's citation during the presidential debate of Kissinger's support for direct negotiation with Iran without preconditions. The statement read: "Senator [John] McCain is right. I would not recommend the next President of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the Presidential level." But King did not point out that, contrary to Kissinger's suggestion, at no point during the debate that night did Obama suggest that Kissinger had previously endorsed presidential-level talks between the United States and Iran.
Over at time.com, they're liveblogging the debate with two people, somebody who writes about politics (that's Karen Tumulty) with somebody who watches TV for a living (that's Jim Poniewozik). And wouldn't you know, it's the TV writer who makes this key point. After he referred to how McCain had "suspended" his campaign, Poniewozik explained the use of quotation marks around the word suspended:
The quotation marks need to be used, because this term has been parroted too uncritically. McCain has given interviews, done speeches, run ads, raised money and sent out surrogates. Essentially the man took a plane ride and got the media to call it a suspension.
On Thursday, the cabler started running the controversial spot that CNN had rejected and Fox News personalities had criticized. Late Friday, MSNBC reversed course and announced the ad, produced by independent liberal groups, would no longer run.
A new Associated Press article about seven top aides to Sarah Palin defying a subpoena in the Alaska Troopergate probe notes that the state Senate Judiciary chairman who threatened to hold the aides in contempt is a Democrat.
Then, in the next paragraph, the article noted that the state's Attorney General "filed a lawsuit on behalf of the seven state workers Thursday challenging the subpoenas. He claims the committee has no jurisdiction to issue subpoenas in the investigation."
But nowhere does the article tell readers that the Attorney General is a Republican ... a Republican who was appointed by Sarah Palin.
Michael Calderone at Politico flags the wire service for trying to suggest Biden recently kept journalists at bay just like Palin has.
And yikes, even Fox News claims AP got the Biden/press story wrong.
Meanwhile, Greg Pollowitz needs to update his National Review's Media Blog. He chided Biden -- and the media -- based on that initial, false AP report.
On Special Report, Brit Hume said, "A $100,000 grant that then-Illinois state Senator Barack Obama awarded in 2001 to a group headed by a one-time campaign volunteer is under investigation by the Illinois attorney general." But Hume did not note that a spokesperson for Attorney General Lisa Madigan said "Obama's actions in awarding the money are not a focus of the investigation," according to the Chicago Sun-Times article Hume cited in his report.
On CNN's The Situation Room, Jeffrey Toobin asserted that the media are "being kind of gullible in falling for" Sen. John McCain's announcement that he was going to suspend his campaign. Minutes earlier, however, Wolf Blitzer and correspondent Brian Todd had repeatedly asserted as fact that McCain "suspend[ed]" his campaign, without noting, as Toobin did, that McCain ads were running; that his surrogates repeatedly attacked Sen. Barack Obama on cable networks; or that McCain gave interviews with the three broadcast networks following his "suspension."
A County Fair readers points out the absurdity of the Washington Post today inserting the name of McCain's campaign plane into a news article about delicate bailout negotiations:
McCain's "Straight Talk Air" landed at Reagan National Airport just after noon, and his motorcade headed toward the Senate.
Compare that with how the New York Times handled the same set of facts:
Mr. McCain's campaign plane landed in Washington shortly before noon, when there was already tentative word of a bailout deal before he even set foot in the Capitol.
It seems obvious that by including the boosterish name of McCain's plane, the Post was simply inserting campaign talking point into a news story and propping up, on behalf of the candidate, his preferred image of a straight talker.
Rather than simply repeating John McCain's assertion that he has suspended his campaign, Huffington Post reporter Sam Stein actually did a little work to determine if that is true. His conclusion? "McCain Campaign Still Active Across The Country."
And yet MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell is still saying -- just now -- "John McCain suprised many yesterday by suspending his campaign and announcing that he was returning to Washington." O'Donnell certainly isn't unique -- she's just the person who happened to say it as I was writing this post. The major media, almost across the board, is repeating the McCain line that he has suspended his campaign.
This is really simple: John McCain has not suspended his campaign. His campaign staffers are on television, attacking Barack Obama. His ads are still running. His campaign offices are still buzzing with activity.
He. Has. Not. Suspended. His. Campaign.
Anyone who says he has simply isn't telling the truth.
Fox News co-host Megyn Kelly did not challenge McCain campaign senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer to reconcile her criticism of Sen. Barack Obama during the segment with her assertion that Sen. John McCain said, 'I'm going to put politics on hold 40 days out from an election, withdraw some $12 million in paid media and advertising off the airs in order to do what's right and put the country first.' "