Lives in Granbury, Texas.

mark.finkelstein@gmail.com 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Parrots, dogs, small planes, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein
December 21, 2015, 9:12 AM EST

It's rare when a politician says something surprising, or doesn't succumb to a feel-good suggestion. Which made Rick Santorum's response to Joe Scarborough this morning doubly remarkable.

On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough had teed Santorum up to agree with his suggestion that we need to "reach out aggressively to let Muslim Americans know that they are every bit a part of the American dream as you or me." But Santorum turned the tables, saying "I would ask that in reverse: what are they going to do to reach out to make sure they are confronting --" Scarborough broke in: "no, no, no. I don't think so." But a composed Santorum went on to calmly make his case, calling out in particular CAIR for "continuing to apologize for the radicals."

December 18, 2015, 8:20 AM EST

The polls might currently be suggesting something else, but Mika Brzezinski's view on which Republican has the best shot at beating Hillary Clinton might surprise you.

On today's Morning Joe, Mika said "If you want someone to beat Hillary Clinton, it would be Donald Trump. Because he will do things that none of those candidates will do . . . The Democratic party has a problem if Trump wins the nomination." Mika's comments came after Chuck Todd suggested that for now, Republican voters are looking for "bold colors" [i.e. Trump], but later might become more pragmatic and turn to someone with a better chance of winning.

December 17, 2015, 8:47 AM EST

A modern-day variation on "better red than dead" . . .  Joe Scarborough says that Haley Barbour and many Republican leaders would "much rather" have Hillary be president than to let Trump win and represent the GOP.

On today's Morning Joe, Scarborough said that if it looks like Trump will win the nomination, something Scarborough sees as very plausible, he envisions Mitt Romney or Michael Bloomberg jumping into the race as a third-party candidate. Not really with the goal of winning, but rather to "take a bullet," splitting the vote and denying Trump the White House.

December 16, 2015, 8:42 AM EST

When tagging items at NewsBusters, one of our Media Bias sub-categories is "Sudden Respect." The notion is that to win the affection of the MSM, all a Republican or conservative needs to do is turn against members or positions of his party. A great illustration of the phenomenon comes from today's Morning Joe. During last night's undercard debate, Lindsey Graham repeatedly ripped fellow Republicans for their rhetoric on Muslims, at one point even apologizing to Muslims for Donald Trump's comments.

And that of course caused what Rush might call a GrahamGasm by the Morning Joe crew. Mike Barnicle called Graham "fantastic," Nicolle Wallace said "I adore Lindsey Graham." Most amazing was Mika Brzezinski, who beyond praising him as "incredible" actually declared, sounding like she was choking up, "I feel a connection with Lindsey Graham," causing Joe Scarborough to claim [we presume facetiously] that Mika said "where has he been all my life?" Not to be outdone, Joe called on President Obama to award Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Barnicle summed up the panel's sentiment by saying "thank God for Lindsey Graham."

December 15, 2015, 7:18 AM EST

UPDATE: Scarborough just discussed blooper on air, mentioning NB and this NewsBusters. Video clip below!
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Ted Cruz: MSNBC's modern-day version of Nikolai Yezhov! Yezhov was the head of Stalin's secret police who fell into disfavor and was executed during a purge. A photo of him standing next to Stalin was famously airbrushed to remove his image.

And so we come to today's Morning Joe, which displayed an image of tonight's Vegas debate stage. Photos of all the candidates appear at their assigned slots. With one exception. Ted Cruz is nowhere to be found! Simple mistake . . . or diabolical left-wing media plot to purge the #2 Republican contender?  The truth is out there!

December 14, 2015, 7:58 AM EST

Joe Scarborough prefaced his remarks this morning by saying "this is the sort of thing that right-wing bloggers get very angry about."  So let's oblige him . . . 

On Morning Joe, Scarborough said "I am shocked by how many Republicans, that have always voted Republican, that have said they're going to vote for Hillary if it's Cruz or Trump running against Hillary. I'm talking Deep South, Southern Baptist. I asked people who I expect to say yes, Cruz, go "hell no. No. I will never vote for Ted Cruz or Donald Trump. I will vote for Hillary Clinton."

December 13, 2015, 9:14 PM EST

What's been implicit in TV commercials for years—that American husbands are feckless wimps—has now become explicit . . . 

Tuning in to watch a simple Sunday Night Football game, we were treated to a Kia ad. Wife at the wheel as the family pulls into a crowded parking lot for their boy's football gameWimpy husband suggests they go back and park someplace safe. We get to read the wife's mind as, driving it up a hill, she says "or, we could run it right up the gut." She then adds the coup de grace: "someone's got to wear the pants in this family." Take that!

December 13, 2015, 1:32 PM EST

Ain't that reassuring? . . . On today's Meet the PressJohn Kerry told Chuck Todd that "for the most part" we know who's entering our country. Kerry's statement came after he boasted about the Obama admin's "huge process" for vetting visa applicants. Not huge enough to catch Tafsheen Malik. Knowing for "the most part" who is entering the US is dangerously insufficient, given the hundreds of thousands of "refugees" and other immigrants from Muslim lands that President Obama wants to admit.

Also troubling was Kerry's response to Todd's question, whether, given that Malik had posted her radical views online before being admitted, we will begin searching the social media of would-be immigrants,. Kerry said we are looking into "whether there are means and whether we should,examine social media. If Kerry can't give an emphatic "yes" to both questions, how can we continue to admit people who might be out to kill us?

December 11, 2015, 7:00 PM EST

It's one thing to dump on Trump, as author Rick Perlstein did on today's With All Due Respect, calling The Donald a modern-day George Wallace, and floating "fascism" about him. But Perlstein took things a nasty step further, denigrating Trump supporters in the ugliest terms.

Per Perlstein, Trump has unleashed forces in his supporters "that are more animalistic than human." Perlstein added that spectacle of the US losing to ISIS has filled Trump fans with "childlike, impotent rage."

December 11, 2015, 7:38 AM EST

Jon Meacham is no conservative. The Pulitzer-winning historian is, after all, a former editor of Time and Newsweek. Which makes his declaration about President Obama that much more damning.

Asked on today's Morning Joe for a historical analogy to Barack Obama, Meacham harkened back to Jimmy Carter: "three years into his administration, [Carter] giving a speech about this very subject, saying that there was a crisis of the American spirit . . . And a lot of people thought that there wasn't a crisis in the American spirit, there was a crisis in the American presidency. And I think that's the analogy that comes to my mind."

December 10, 2015, 8:19 AM EST

The last person you'd imagine backing Donald Trump's Muslim ban might be Mika Brzezinski. Yet on today's Morning Joe, a reluctant Mika came close to doing just that. Brzezinski springboarded off the news that the visa screening program failed to stop Tafsheen Malik from entering the country although she was already radicalized at the time.

While professing her opposition to the plan, she called the news "incredibly disturbing." When former Obama car czar Steve Rattner admitted that the process in place "had failed," Mika suggested: "are you saying something that might be in line with Donald Trump's policy?" Mika went on: "I'm not sure Donald Trump's concept is good for our country," but "we just had a slaughter." Concluded Brzezinski: "someone tell me something better than what Donald Trump is saying," adding sarcastically "and there's got to be something better because everybody has been sitting here for days, just lambasting him."

December 10, 2015, 6:01 AM EST

What does it take to get a member of the MSM to praise a Fox News host?  Simple: trash Donald Trump. On yesterday's With All Due Respect, co-host John Heilemann declared "I have always like Shep Smith, and I like him more today than I've ever liked him before."

So what had Shep done to enhance Heilemann's fondness for him? On his show on Tuesday, during a dialogue with Wall Street Journal editor John Bussey, Smith tore Donald Trump, and his plan for Muslims, to shreds. Smith called the plan unlawful, unconstitutional, fear-mongering, racist and "crazy." He claimed Trump "lied" about Muslims cheering 9/11, and described the Donald as a "carnival huckster" who "represents the worst, darkest part of all that is America." Reading between the lines, you might suspect Shep doesn't like Trump very much.

December 9, 2015, 7:43 AM EST

From the woman who brought you Benghazi, the Russian reset, the bungling of the Arab Spring, and the disregard for national security that compromised classified email material . . . 

Yet , incredibly, Joe Scarborough today extolled Hillary's foreign policy credentials, claiming--not a typo--"what an amazing brand she would have to offer the American people right now. Even Republicans that are in search of a unifying, strong leader against ISIS." Scarborough did so after citing Trent Lott and David Petraeus' praise of Hillary's hard work and knowledgeability as a senator. That might be.  But how can anyone possibly look at Hillary, one of the most polarizing figures of our times, and someone responsible for a series of foreign policy flops, as a "strong, unifying leader against ISIS?" 

December 8, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

Call Ayman Mohyeldin "the Duke Ellington Reporter" in homage to the jazz great's "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." Or perhaps you could say that Mohyeldin had his Pauline Kael moment, after the New York Times movie critic who, as legend has it, averred she couldn't understand how Nixon won since she didn't know anyone who voted for him.

Isn't a reporter supposed to, you know, get around and speak with people with a range of views?  Not Ayman. On this evening's Hardball, Mohyeldin said that "every single person I've spoke to" said [Trump's Muslim immigration plan] would be "disastrous." But just a bit earlier in the show, Michael Steele cited a poll showing that 56% of Americans believe that Islam is incompatible with American values. Mohyeldin apparently didn't have a chance to chat with any of the majority of Americans. Not surprising, coming from the man who called American Sniper Chris Kyle a "racist" who went on "killing sprees."

December 8, 2015, 8:08 AM EST

One of James Taranto's tongue-in-cheek tropes at his Best of the Web Today column is "We Blame George Bush." As Wikipedia describes it, the trope "is a play on the perceived tendency for many of his detractors to lay the blame for pretty much anything" on Bush. In a recent example, "We Blame George W. Bush" was placed over a headline reading “Slipping Into a Food Coma? Blame Your Gut Microbes.” 

And lo and behold, from today's Morning Joe comes a real-life example of the phenomenon. Mika Brzezinski blamed Donald Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims from the US, on in part—you guessed it—George W. Bush. In fairness, Mika did also blame the Obama admin. She argued that foreign policy blunders not just by the Obama administration but "by the George W. Bush administration"  created feelings that Trump is tapping into. For Mika to reach back to blame Bush for Trump's proposal, when even liberals praise him for going out of his way, for example, six days after 9-11, to declare "Islam is peace," etc. is something between outrageous and hilarious.

December 7, 2015, 6:57 PM EST

For a moment there, it looked like John Heilemann might go Absolut Olbermann and call Donald Trump a "fascist" for his proposal which would for the time being bar the entry of all Muslims into the United States.

But Heilemann backed off that f-word. While noting "some will say fascist" about Trump or his policy, Heilemann declared "I'm not saying that." Instead, he settled for asserting that there are "many voters in the country who are in fact reactionary" and that there is no way to describe Trump's policy "other than reactionary." 

December 7, 2015, 7:43 AM EST

Given the Morning Joe reviews, if President Obama's terrorism speech were a Broadway show, it would have closed after one night. From Richard Haass to Richard Engel, Joe Scarborough to Willie Geist, the prez's performance was universally panned. 

And in the cruelest comment of all, Mika Brzezinski reported that "I watched it with my youngest daughter who's very, very interested and we were waiting for the address, and sat together and watched. And when he was finished she got up and left. She goes: I don't really know what the point of that was." Mr. President, when you've lost Mika's daughter . . . But hey, look at the bright side: you could fire up Air Force One and still make an afternoon tee time in Palm Springs.

December 6, 2015, 9:18 PM EST

Maybe you're a liberal, reluctant to accept Charles Krauthammer's conclusion that President Obama's speech on terror tonight was a "complete failure." Fine. But there's no getting around Richard Engel, whom no one would accuse of conservatism. Speaking with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, the bleak assessment of NBC's chief foreign correspondent was that President Obama laid out "the same strategy that hasn't been working for last several years."

After a point-by-point takedown of Obama's weak tea, Engel concluded "the course of treatment that he laid out for this sick patient with cancer with no immediate cure does not seem like an incredibly strong prescription." Ouch.

December 5, 2015, 12:42 PM EST

They would have used a photo of her in an NRA cap, but none was available . . . Man, it's getting hard to navigate the nuanced shoals of political correctness. Now, even the ineffably sensitive New York Times has run afoul of the rules, as propounded by Melissa Harris-Perry. On her MSNBC show today, Harris-Perry griped that the Gray Lady had run a photo of Islamic terrorist killer Tafsheen Malik wearing a hijab. As per H-P, the Times was sending a message that "this is what terrorism looks like." 

Damn those anti-Muslim bigots of the New York Times! But seriously, what was the poor Times supposed to do? What if it had photoshopped the hijab off Malik? Harris-Perry might have complained the paper was suggesting that there was something offensive about the garment. Sometimes you just can't win with the PC police.

December 4, 2015, 11:46 AM EST

It was a priceless TV moment. Here was law professor Sahar Aziz on Jose Diaz-Balart's MSNBC show complaining about anti-Muslim bias in the US and insisting we don't know the motive behind the San Bernardino massacre. Aziz called the San Bernardino attack a "workplace violent act," pointing to the lack of any claim of responsibility or link to a terrorist group.

But literally seconds after Aziz signed off—without so much as a commercial break—NBC's Pete Williams came on to announce that just before the attack, the wife in the terrorist couple, Tashfeen Malik, "posted a statement of support for the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on a Facebook page." Williams added that such expressions of support for ISIS and for ISIS leaders, "does seem to follow a pattern that has been used in other ISIS-inspired attacks." It's okay, Professor Aziz: retroactive correction accepted!