Come on up for the rising ...

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

We've got a new "Think Again" column called "Olympic Coverage or Cover Up," here. Take a look at the last two paragraphs even if you don't care about that for the latest in "heckuva job, Brownie"-style Bush appointments.

Earlier this week at The Nation, I wrote about Tom Brokaw's assertion that John McCain won the Republican primary because of his "indomitable will" -- Brokaw opined that McCain was "the most authentic ... he wasn't trying to reinvent himself." I pointed out that McCain's victory was predicated on massive changes in positions on many issues -- 74 by Steve Benen's count -- and so it was an inaccurate thing for Brokaw to say; one of the best examples of the press's blindness to McCain's shifting policy positions.

Now, again this week, Brokaw has offered yet another paean that unsubtly encapsulates another journalistic weakness many have for McCain. Right after Bill Clinton finished speaking, Brokaw had this to say (video):

BROKAW: Well, look, for Bill Clinton, and for anyone in the Democratic Party for that matter, it's a very tricky case taking on John McCain and trying to rough him up. When John McCain was sitting in a prison in Hanoi, Bill Clinton was writing letters to his ROTC commander and trying to get out of the draft, which he did successfully.

One could talk extensively on the conservative record of supporting the military (for just a small example, see our Think Again column from this spring), but let's highlight the obvious and immediate problems with this statement.

Bill Clinton went out of his way to repeatedly commend McCain's service -- his only attacks were on policy and judgment matters, which have nothing to do with military service.

Saying "anyone in the Democratic Party" would have such a problem makes one wonder why NBC sent Brokaw to Denver if he wasn't going pay attention to the stage. Last night featured a stream of current and former soldiers speaking as Democrats.

One such person was John Kerry, also a Vietnam veteran, who was on his way to the stage as Brokaw spoke.

Again, Brokaw is no longer in semi-retired irrelevance: he is the current host of Meet the Press and is present at virtually every major political event covered by NBC News. These kinds of clueless statements about John McCain leave us unsurprised that Brokaw still spends most of the week in a cabin in Montana, and hopeful that he'll decide to just stay there.

Geroge Zornick writes: Politico is fronting a story today about Obama by Carrie Budoff Brown, which is full of conventional-wisdom fluff. The blurb on the front page reads: "Self-assurance has carried him to the pinnacle of American politics. But skeptics believe confidence can curdle into arrogance," and that's all you really need to know about the story. If you want to see how Budoff Brown gets 2,000 words out of that, go nuts.

I'll just point out this quote, high up in the piece:

At a San Francisco fundraiser earlier this month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Obama "a leader that God has blesses [sic] us with at this time."

It's meant to display the arrogance of the candidate and his followers, and is rather popular in the media -- see here, here, here, and so on.

Do you recall any such declarations of arrogance from the media in the past two elections? You know, when this stuff was being said:

  • "This was Providence. ... Anybody looking at the 2000 election would have to say it was a miraculous deliverance, and I think people felt it again this year." -- Charles Colson, Nixon adviser
  • "God gave this President and this President's Party one more chance. God heard the fervent prayers of millions of values voters to keep His hand on America one more time." -- Paul Weyrich, Heritage Foundation founder and Washington Times columnist
  • "Thank God that George Bush is our president." -- Rudy Giuliani
  • "George Bush is a leader for our times. When we sing 'God Bless America,' it is a prayer, and I believe this person is part of God's answer." -- U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman
  • "'I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen... I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it." George W. Bush

I could have gone on, but my Googling fingers got tired.

The silly season on guessing the Democratic vice presidential nominee is thankfully over, and the Republican version has been truncated by convention coverage. Truncated -- but still here. Behold the reporting from ABC News:

Romney was followed to the airport by a grey unmarked Chevy SUV with police lights. Two men wearing suits using ear pieces were in the driver and passenger seats.

Aha! Although:

They did not appear to follow Romney into the terminal.... [and] while the men following Romney with ear pieces stoked further speculation about whether he has come under protection in advance of a vice presidential announcement, it should be noted that the vehicle following Romney did not have Maryland plates.

ABC's Bret Hovell reports that everywhere McCain has gone in the country with Secret Service protection his SUVs have had Maryland plates.

Oh, but:

On the other hand, ABC's Ann Compton notes that Barack Obama's Secret Service vehicles do not always have D.C. or Maryland plates.

The plot thickens. The ABC News team is on it.

(Note: It looks like ABC took down the license plate speculation...)

Although the press loves McCain ... does he still love them back? Excerpt:

There's a theme that recurs in your books and your speeches, both about putting country first but also about honor. I wonder if you could define honor for us?

Read it in my books.

I've read your books.

No, I'm not going to define it.

But honor in politics?

I defined it in five books. Read my books.

This week on Moyers:

What did the Democrats accomplish this week, and can they deliver real change while still playing old fashioned Beltway politics? In the historic moment of the first African-American nominee for President, Bill Moyers sits down with Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel and University of Pennsylvania professor of political science Adolph Reed Jr. to discuss the promises from the DNC and expectations of Barack Obama. Also on the program, Bill Moyers speaks with political analysts Merle and Earl Black, who've tracked the American electorate for years. They will discuss how American demographics -- particularly votes from the Southern and the swing states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania -- will influence the campaign and the election.

From the SEIU: The Service Employees International Union's (SEIU) will hold their first Take Back Labor Day Festival September 1st, at the foot of the Republican National Convention. Events will kick off at noon at Harriet Island Regional Park with a family area and other activities. The concert will run from 3-7 p.m. with musicians The Pharcyde, Mos Def, Steve Earle, Allison Moorer, Atmosphere, Billy Bragg, and Tom Morello & friends. Joining the performers for the afternoon concert will be SEIU leaders Andy Stern and Anna Burger, progressive syndicated talk show host Thom Hartmann, and other special guests.

One of the very best political documentary films of the year -- and one that is terribly relevant to this election campaign -- is about a man who died in 1991. Here at the Impact Film Festival I just saw Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, "a powerful and strangely moving account of how sewer tactics became business as usual in the modern Republican Party," so writes Joe Conason here. And he's right. The movie also features the Alterman family cat -- or one of them, the good one, truth be told -- "Duke" in extended sequences ...

Correspondence Corner:

Name: Richard Gallagher
Hometown: Fishkill, NY

Dear Eric,

I did a little research on the people quoted by Associated Press reporter Mike Baker in his hit piece on Elizabeth Edwards.

Brad Crone, the "Raleigh-based Democratic consultant," owns a company called Campaign Connections which produces direct mail and other advertising for some Democrats in North Carolina.

If you click on his client list, you will see names that most people outside of North Carolina will not recognize, and it appears that he never worked for John Edwards.

Betsy Wells is the chairman of the Cleveland County (NC) Democratic Party. Cleveland County is a rural county with a population of approximately 100,000. Wells worked for the Edwards campaign in New Hampshire in 2004, where she passed out North Carolina peanuts.

Chris Lehane, the only other person Baker quotes by name, has indeed been a real political consultant on a national level, but as you point out Lehane's comments are not even remotely critical of Mrs. Edwards.

Why do I have the feeling that Baker wrote his story first and then searched for quotes from some Democrats (no matter how obscure) who would support his thesis?

Name: Mike Forester
Hometown:

A quick Google search shows that Mike Baker has been writing about the campaign, the Edwardses, and Washington generally for the AP for some time. Wouldn't that mean his editor, who should be ashamed, is the AP's Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier?

Don't hold your breath, in that case.

Name: Ian
Hometown: Los Angeles

All day long on America Online, I saw that stupid story on Elizabeth Edwards and thought, who in god's name could be criticizing her? When I finally read it I thought, who the hell is reporting this? It's not news. It's not reporting. It's barely disguised gossip. So after reading Dr. A's piece above, I sent the AP a letter. Not that it will do any good.

Name: Steve Thorne
Hometown: Somewhere in California

Ben Stein was a speech writer for Nixon. If you watch the video of Nixon's little talk to the White House staff before leaving for good (and you can take that "good" any way you wanna), you can see Ben Stein in the back with a look that can only be interpreted as "Say it ain't so!" Now, if he couldn't figure out why Nixon was resigning, he's too stupid to be quoted anywhere.

Name: Dean Oakwood
Hometown: Oxford, MI

Two ironic moments occurred tonight (Aug 27) that relate to Fox News:

1. As John Kerry stood at the podium and berated the tactics of Bush and Karl Rove, Fox News was running commercials, perhaps in an attempt to protect their golden boy insider from on-air criticism. CNN showed the speech.

2. As the DNC ran the tribute video about American Soldiers, Fox News was again running ads or had commentators talking. And as a double-amputee Iraq veteran took the stage to talk about how Obama will care for the soldiers and make the right decisions about soldiers and wars in the future, Fox was again running ads or had monotone Brit Hume boring its audience. CNN ran the video and speech.

Now that's fair and balanced news right there.

Name: W. Lewis
Hometown: Cincinnati

Eric,

I try to keep up with the news but I'm confused. Is the Democratic Party in disarray and split or are they in goose-step obedience? Sure, some may say it depends on the minute and day (that "some" is unattributed and may in fact be me) but it's beginning to look like the conspiracy laden phrase "This is good news for McCain" jokingly used by some bloggers after every event presumably positive for Democrats is actually the theme for the MSM and beyond.

Enthusiastic crowds of voters are either a "fan" base or like North Korean Communists.

Obama running as the Democrats' nominee is actually hubristic and "rock star" like.

Obama having just one home but in an upper middle class neighborhood is actually elitist.

Michelle Obama gives an amazing speech introducing herself to the electorate on a big stage, yet actually the Democrats squandered an opportunity to bash McCain.

The list goes on ... I understand why surrogates for the opposition push this. I just don't understand how it also seems to become the lead story for so much of the media.The header you pointed out, " 'Ferris Bueller' actor unimpressed by Dems," seems to reach beyond what even The Onion does and of course is "good news for McCain."

What next? "'Oprah' stagehand says Obama presumptuous" after Obama shows a lead in polls with white working class men over 70?

I'd say I'm at wits end but I believe I reached that mile marker long ago. Which, of course, is "good news for McCain."

Name: Don Hynes
Hometown: Portland OR

Thank you for your and Media Matters' ongoing work to clarify the accusation, innuendo and slander that passes for "news" in our post Reagan era.

Perhaps the attack dogs bred in Lee Atwater's puppy mill seem comical to those who keep their heads above the purposefully bred climate of cynicism, distortion and slander, but this corruption to our civitas caused the last eight years of apocalyptic hell for the nation of Iraq, further economic collapse for the disadvantaged and working classes of the United States, assault on the global environment at its weakest moments, and the rest of the global list infected by the Bush plague.

As the poet William Stafford wrote:

"the signals we give -- yes or no, or maybe --
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep."

Your signals are very clear, Eric, and are of profound importance.

Name: Richard
Hometown: Los Angeles

So Springsteen is now saying on his web site that he won't be performing tomorrow [August 27] in Denver at the stadium. Were the rumours of his appearance ever accurate?

Eric replies: Apparently not. It was all about "the hope."

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