Mike Allen preps the release of the internal Obama report regarding contact between his staff and Blago's re: filling his U.S. senate seat. The press has been hyping the issue, and the pending report, beyond recognition, with all sorts of claims the new Democratic team has become ensnared and that dark clouds have descended.
Reporters now, it seems, don't even bother to offer up evidence when suggesting Obama has been tainted by the soggy story. Here's Allen [emphasis added]:
The complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose conversations had been secretly taped by federal investigators, tested the smoothly running Obama transition, with some Democrats fretting that the case presents a distraction that could last into the new administration.
Number of Democrats quoted or mentioned in the article suggesting the Blago "distraction" could drag on? Zero.
Number of Democrats even quoted or mentioned in the entire article, period? Zero.
Neat trick, right?
First, what's the nation's most pressing issue? On Matthews' weekend syndicated show, the first topic up for discussion was Obama's relations with the press. Because, as Crooks and Liars noted, "it's all about the media, dontcha know?"
Second, that's where Matthews compared Obama to Nixon and Bush. Both Republicans displayed an open contempt for the media (with Nixon, it was more of an unhinged hatred), and Matthews suggested Obama (aka "this guy") was going to be just like them.
Third, it's curious that Obama hasn't even taken office yet and already Matthews was harping on the president-elect's press relations. I'd sure be interested to see, during Bush's eight years in office, how many panel discussion the Chris Matthews Show hosted to complain about how Bush treated the press. We doubt there were many during the Lapdog days.
The ABC anchor scored a coup over the weekend with his report re: Rahm Emanuel's contact with Blago and his top aides about Obama's vacant U.S. senate seat. Most news outlets, like the AP, remain in heavy breathing mode, suggesting Emanuel's contacts could lead to all sorts of political trouble for Obama.
Sources also confirm that Emanuel made the case for picking Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett during at least one of the conversations. In the course of that conversation, [Blago's Chief of Staff John] Harris asked if in return for picking Jarrett, "all we get is appreciation, right?" "Right," Emanuel responded.
Seems like that represents something of a story/innuendo killer. We'll see if the Village plays dumb or not.
Teasing a segment on Hardball echoing the Politico's suggestion that political family dynasties are largely a Democratic phenomenon, Chris Matthews said, "if the Republicans are the party of family values, the Democrats sure seem to be the party of family ties." On-screen text during the segment read: "Democratic Nepotism?" But, as MSNBC failed to do in a similar segment earlier, Matthews did not note that, in the last 10 years, two Republican senators have been appointed to their fathers' Senate seats.
During an interview with President Bush that aired on Fox News' Special Report, Bret Baier asked Bush, "Do you believe that there hasn't been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in more than seven years because of the policies your administration has implemented?" The question tracked a talking point reportedly contained in a "two-page memo" that the Los Angeles Times reported "presents the Bush record as an unalloyed success" and "mentions none of the episodes that detractors say have marred his presidency."
Like John McCain before him this week, Newt Gingrich let it be known he's unhappy with the RNC for posting a very partisan, gotcha-style web ad making all sorts of dark insinuations about Obama and the unfolding Blago story.
The recent web advertisement, "Questions Remain," is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack. In a time when America is facing real challenges, Republicans should be working to help the incoming President succeed in meeting them, regardless of his Party.
Gingrich's point is well taken. But as we noted last week, it's been the Beltway press corps that been waaaaay out in front of the GOP in terms of laying on the Blago spin as thick as possible. It's been the press for the most part, not Republican operatives, who have been scheming and dreaming up all sorts of what-if scenarios.
On MSNBC Live, David Shuster said that President-elect Barack Obama and his staff decided "repeatedly" to "release virtually no information about the Blagojevich scandal," while Mark Leibovich said that Obama's responses to questions about the scandal "hearken to a kind of echo of what other White Houses in the past have said when they don't want to answer questions immediately." However, neither noted that U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald reportedly requested that Obama "delay the release of a report" about an internal review of the contacts between his aides and Blagojevich's office.
On Hardball, Chris Matthews cited a Politico article as purported evidence that "zero -- count 'em, zero Southerners have been named to the Obama Cabinet so far," and a Bloomberg article similarly asserted that Obama's Cabinet is lacking in Southerners. These claims either ignore or discount Obama's selection of Lisa Jackson, Hillary Clinton, and Robert Gates.
Discussing "family dynasties" on MSNBC Live, Politico senior editor Beth Frerking and David Shuster mentioned that several incoming Democratic senators and Democrats who could become senators in the future have relatives who have been elected to public office, but did not note that, in the last 10 years, two Republican senators have been appointed to their fathers' Senate seats, including Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed in 2002 by her father.
On MSNBC Live, discussing political diversity in President-elect Barack Obama's administration, Jonathan Allen said that Obama had chosen "Robert Gates as defense secretary, and that's something that I think [Obama's] people will point to." Tamron Hall responded, "Gates is not a registered Republican." Hall did not note that Gates himself has said, "I felt, when I was at CIA, that as a professional intelligence officer, like a military officer, I should be apolitical, and so I didn't register with a party. I consider myself a Republican," and noted that until his selection by Obama, "all of my senior appointments have been under Republican presidents."
The Politico reported that President-elect Barack Obama "announced he would delay the release of an internal review about contacts between his aides and Blagojevich's office until next week," but did not report that Obama said that while the review was complete, "The U.S. attorney's office asked us to hold off releasing those [findings] for a week." Despite Obama's explanation, Sean Hannity asked: "Why can't we get it out this week?"
In the absence of any allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama or his staff in connection with the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, media figures continue to warn that a "cloud" hangs over Obama or assert that the scandal threatens to cast a "cloud" over Obama's presidency.
Fox News' Brian Kilmeade echoed a false assertion made in a December 11 AP article by claiming that President-elect Barack Obama said, "I'm confident nobody on my staff talked on my behalf when it comes to filling my seat." The AP had reported falsely that "President-elect Barack Obama said Thursday he didn't discuss his vacant Senate seat with disgraced Gov. Rod Blagojevich and said he's confident nobody on his staff did either." In fact, during a December 11 press conference, Obama did not claim that nobody on his staff "talked on his behalf" to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich; rather, he stated, "I'm confident that no representatives of mine would have any part of any deals related to this seat."
Anxious to keep the Blago drama percolating, many in the press have decided that among the most pressing question facing the nation is who on Obama's staff may have talked to Blago about filling Obama's senate seat. If you read the coverage and listen to the talking heads, you know this is hugely important.
Why? We're not sure since prosecutors don't even hint that any conservations that took place between the two camps were improper. Indeed, it would bizarre if Obama aides hadn't reached out to the governor about filling the president-elect's seat.
But none of that matters now because Obama and his aides won't talk, or so we're told. We need to know who talked to Blago and told him Obama wouldn't play ball for any kind of deal. Who told the corrupt pol to forget about getting any kind of deal from Obama. Follow? We need to know who talked to Blago and did the right thing. But of course, the press leaves off the did-the-thing part, and simply obsesses over who talked to Blago because that sounds more sinister. (There's a criminal complaint!)
Let's note the Chicago Sun-Times whose Blago/Emanuel article has landed top honors at the Drudge Report. Headline [emphasis added]: "Is Emanuel the adviser on gov tape? MUM: Obama's chief of staff refuses to answer the question."
Oh my. And the lead:
President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, refused to take questions from reporters this morning about whether he was the Obama "advisor" named in the criminal complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich
Looks shady, no? And where did Emanuel duck reporters questions? Where did he refuse to come clean to the Sun-Times? At his kids' school concert. No joke. Behold:
Emanuel was uncharacteristically absent from Obama's news conference this morning. He was spotted two hours later in the lobby of Chicago's City Hall. He was there to listen to his two children performing in a concert with their school, Anshe Emet. A Sun-Times reporter pressed him to comment about whether he was the emissary named in the criminal complaint.
On MSNBC Live, Tamron Hall forcefully challenged Republican strategist Doug Heye's characterization of President-elect Barack Obama as a "good friend" of Gov. Rod Blagojevich's. Hall challenged Heye on his "assessment of 'good friend' because," Hall said, "I don't want these things to linger out there without you kinda backing them up."