Wash. Post's Milbank compares Edwards' haircuts to undocumented workers at Romney's home while "he's complaining about illegal immigrants"

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On Countdown, Keith Olbermann asked Dana Milbank about the repeated references in The Washington Post to the cost of John Edwards' haircuts, including in his own column. Milbank replied that he is "guilty of the haircut slander" and added: "[T]he $400 dollar haircut speaks of that the same way Romney having the illegal immigrants twice return to work in his home even ... as he's complaining about illegal immigrants." While Milbank identified an inconsistency between Romney's actions and his stated views, he offered no justification for suggesting a similar inconsistency in Edwards' efforts to fight poverty while paying for expensive haircuts.

On the December 11 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, host Keith Olbermann asked Washington Post national political reporter Dana Milbank about the repeated references in that day's edition of the Post to the cost of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' haircuts. Milbank replied that he is "guilty of the haircut slander." Milbank added: "But what we do in our business, in the shorthand way, is sort of have a phoniness meter out there, and the $400 dollar haircut speaks of that the same way Romney having the illegal immigrants twice return to work in his home even ... as he's complaining about illegal immigrants." Milbank did not explain how Edwards' haircuts are in any way analogous to Romney's reported use of a company that employs illegal immigrants. (The Boston Globe reported that Romney fired the landscaping company that the illegal immigrants worked for only after he was confronted with the issue for a second time.) While Milbank identified an inconsistency between Romney's actions and his stated views, he offered no justification for suggesting a similar inconsistency in Edwards' efforts to fight poverty while paying for expensive haircuts.

As Media Matters for America noted, on December 11, the Post published four pieces on Edwards, including one by Milbank, that each mentioned the cost or "expensive" nature of haircuts Edwards has received. Milbank quoted Edwards saying: "What America needs right now is America needs a fighter. ... Let me tell you why we need a fighter. There's a wall around Washington, and we need to take that wall down. The American people are on the outside, and on the other side -- on the inside -- are the powerful, the well-connected and the very wealthy." Milbank then wrote: "Sounds like a bit of class warfare -- coming from a man with a 28,000-square-foot house, $30 million in assets and a $400 haircut."

From the December 11 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

OLBERMANN: And do we -- to some degree, is this true: Do we in the media manufacture crises in politics or exaggerate things into crises for the hell of it? I mean, are we doing this with Senator [Hillary] Clinton [D-NY]? Here, [Sen. Barack] Obama [D-IL] rolls out [talk-show host] Oprah [Winfrey] and everybody goes, "Ooh, Oprah!" And nobody says, "What the hell is Oprah doing telling people how to vote?" This polling suggests she might increase Obama's base by a percentage point, and in one poll, nationally, Clinton still leads him 44 to 27.

No offense on this, but is this like your paper noting that John Edwards' haircuts keep being brought up in the campaign, and then in all four articles on him in the Post today, your own included, each of you guys brought up his haircut?

MILBANK: Well, first, with Oprah, I'm a little skeptical of that. A Pew poll on the same subject found 60 percent of people thought that she would be beneficial.

OLBERMANN: All right, so it's somewhere between one and 60.

MILBANK: OK, well, 30 would be significant. But I think to the larger point -- and I am guilty of the haircut slander there -- I think we often go for shorthand. But what we do in our business, in the shorthand way, is sort of have a phoniness meter out there, and the $400 dollar haircut speaks of that the same way Romney having the illegal immigrants twice return to work in his home even as complaining -- as he's complaining about illegal immigrants. If you remember Sargent Shriver three decades ago going into the steelworkers' bar in Pittsburgh and ordering a Courvoisier. That's about all I remember about his campaign.

OLBERMANN: In 15 seconds, what is he [President Clinton] saying about Senator Clinton should only take Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off? What is he trying to do to her?

MILBANK: I don't know. He wants her to work a good bit harder. He wants her to try to build up that firewall in New Hampshire while he tries to keep them -- the others from running away with it in Iowa.

OLBERMANN: Dana Milbank of The Washington Post and MSNBC. Great thanks, Dana.

Posted In
Elections, Immigration
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Dana Milbank
Show/Publication
Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Stories/Interests
John Edwards, 2008 Elections
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