On MSNBC's Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski asserted that "people overwhelmingly thought [Gov. Sarah Palin] won her debate," while Willie Geist suggested that Palin won by a smaller margin than Brzezinski claimed. However, most polls conducted on the days following the vice presidential debate found that Sen. Joe Biden won. In fact, a Media Matters review of polling sites did not find any national polls that found Palin won the debate.
That's how Ben Smith describes the most recent instance of a Republican speaker at a McCain event invoking Barack Obama's middle name.
How many times do speakers at McCain events have to invoke Obama's middle name before reporters stop stipulating that McCain doesn't want it to happen?
Okay, this is getting confusing.
Last Friday we noted the hypocrisy of the Times' David Brooks, the East Coast media elite intellectual, cheering Palin's debate performance and her anti-intellectual approach; cheering the way Palin's "accent, her colloquialisms and her constant invocations of the accoutrements of everyday" likely connected with "casual parts of the country."
That struck us as rather embarrassing narrative for Brooks of all people to embrace. And guess what? Apparently so did Brooks. Because on Monday during an interview, he did a complete about-face and announced that Palin and her anti-intellectual approach represents a "a fatal cancer to the Republican party." And that she was no way qualified to be VP.
So to recap: On Friday, Palin was the star of the GOP. On Monday she represented a cancer.
At least Brooks now has the bases covered.
The New York Times uncritically quoted Gov. Sarah Palin saying of Sen. Barack Obama: "Our opponent voted to cut off funding for our troops. ... And he said, too, that our troops in Afghanistan are just, quote, 'air-raiding villages and killing civilians.' " The article did not note that Sen. John McCain himself voted against a bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and that Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently apologized for civilian deaths resulting from coalition air strikes in Afghanistan.
The Los Angeles Times' Doyle McManus recycled a standard gender cliché by asserting that Sen. Barack Obama "seemed to prove" conservative economist Jude Wanniski's theory that Republicans are the "Daddy Party" and Democrats are the "Mommy Party." McManus also uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's false claim that Obama "would raise taxes" as president.
MoDo's the latest to claim that McCain's just not the same any more; that h's not the same guy the press used to love. That angle was pressed in New York magazine this week, too. The notion that McCain's has lost all his pundit pals because he's reinvented himself as a dishonest pol.
True enough, we suppose. But we can't help thinking that Daily Howler might actually be closer to the truth by suggesting that the honor-driven McCain maverick the pundits once toasted never really existed, so the sorrowful obits to him now being printed up ring a bit hollow.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, correspondent Louise Schiavone aired a video clip of Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman criticizing Sen. Barack Obama for his association with Bill Ayers, but neither Schiavone nor Lou Dobbs noted that Chapman has also repeatedly criticized Sen. John McCain for his association with G. Gordon Liddy, whom Chapman has called McCain's "own Bill Ayers."
But we agree with Jane Kim that Fey's impersonation of Sarah Palin, while wildly entertaining, does not qualify as news and the cablers should really stop treating the skits as news. Kim writes:
The ostensible newsworthiness of this very effective parody is a press creation born of repeated juxtaposition—and a distracting one, considering we've entered the four-week countdown.
And good grief, why, as Jamo noted last night, are news reporters bothering Palin with Fey questions during their very rare change to ask the candidate questions?
Sadly, the facination seems to springs from the media's desire to turn campaigns completely into entertainment.
The Chicago Tribune uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's false assertion during the second presidential debate that Sen. Barack Obama "will fine" small business owners who don't insure employees. In fact, Obama's health care plan states that small businesses are "exempt" from its requirement that "[l]arge employers" either "offer meaningful coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees" or "contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan."
The Washington Post uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's comment that Sen. Barack Obama voted for an "energy bill on the floor of the Senate loaded down with goodies, billions for the oil companies." However, the Post did not note that Obama has said he voted for the bill because it included extensive investments in renewable energy or that the bill actually resulted in a net tax increase for the oil and gas industry.
Yep, according to the Time scribe, who wrote a book genuflecting before Drudge's mighty power, the "Internetist" is among "the five most important people in American politics right now--who aren't running for president."
Halperin offers no further details, but based on his past writings we can assume Halperin thinks that Drudge's web site boasts the power and influence to change the landscape of the White House campaign in the closing weeks. Halperin's been touting that line for years now.
But think about this: According to the polls, the current campaign has taken a relatively dramatic shift in recent weeks with Barack Obama now enjoying his biggest lead to date. In fact, it represents biggest lead any candidate has posted this late in a presidential campaign since 1996.
The question is, what role has The Drudge Report played in that dramatic shift over the last three weeks? Our answer: None. Zero. Nada. Irrelevent.
But Halperin still thinks Drudge holds the key to the election.
On his radio show and website, Chris Baker promoted an Internet video in which the Rev. James David Manning of ATLAH World Missionary Church in Harlem says: "The difference between Obama's mama and Bristol Palin is that Obama's mama was trash. I mean, she was dirt. She was a bag of trash sitting on the sidewalk waiting there in Honolulu on one of those streets for the garbage truck to come by and pick her up and take her to the dump."
Over the weekend The New Yorker held its annual talking heads festival and one of its panels featured Bill Keller, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Peggy Noonan, Jack Shafer and Ken Auletta who discussed the media and the campaign.
One of the questions from the audience came from a Hillary Clinton supporter who asked about sexism in the coverage during the primary season.
Go to 3:00 in the HuffPost video to hear the complete non-answers offered up by Shafer and Noonan who pretty much refuse to even address the premise of the question, which continues to be the Issue That May Not Be Discussed Inside the Beltway Press Corps.
Paul Reiser didn't see a lot of "town" in Tuesday night's town hall debate, just "a couple dozen of over-lit, underwhelmed people who got free tickets."
And Greg Mitchell notes, "We've come to lower our expectations for real debates in the "debate" process, but this one was terrible." The selected questions were weak, he said, and the follow-up's non-existent. Mitchell suggests even bloggers could do a better quizzing the candidates.
Agreed. Given the media and technology revolution we've seen in recent years, which has forever altered the way candidates can communicate to voters, this staid, MSM-driven format feels very 1984/1988.
But not a peep from the Beltway talking heads, who refuse to criticize the TV productions.
UPDATE: At the debate's conclusion, CNN's Anderson Cooper announced, "A debate unlike any we've seen before."
Really? It seemed to be exactly like previous debates we'd seen. But Cooper's job was to prop up the forum as something extra special.
UPDATE: Micah Sifry at Tech President writes:
If a candidate can post a 37 minute speech online or a 13 minute documentary (and get millions of views, as Obama has done), then surely we can remake the debates in the age of the Internet to deliver rich, detailed and interactive content to the America people, to help us make up our minds and improve the quality of the national discussion.
The AP misrepresented a response given by Sen. Barack Obama during the second presidential debate, resulting in the false suggestion by the AP that Obama said he doesn't think the U.S. can face "the challenge" in Afghanistan. In fact, Obama said: "There are some things I don't understand. I don't understand how we ended up invading a country that had nothing to do with 9-11, while Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda are setting up base camps and safe havens to train terrorists to attack us."