Mark Finkelstein

Mark Finkelstein's picture
Contributing Editor

Lives in Granbury, Texas. 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein

Former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift was diplomatic, but her message was clear: because Sarah Palin remains doubtful of getting a fair shake from the MSM, she wants to take her message directly to the American people. Swift, speaking on behalf of the McCain-Palin campaign, made the remark in response to a question from this NewsBuster during the course of a conference call this afternoon.

Swift took the question after making opening remarks in which she said that Governor Palin won last night's debate in part because she was able to connect with Americans as "a person from the middle class who [expressed] the real anxieties that families have about our economy right now." After suggesting that Senator Biden didn't connect as well, Swift added that Biden made a significant number of incorrect statements "that kept the fact-checkers busy."

It was then that NewsBusters had the opportunity to pose its question. Listen to audio here.

Poor Joe.  Ann Curry is concerned that the senator from Delaware was the victim of a double-standard during last night's debate that caused him to hide his light under a barrel.  The Today show co-anchor [subbing for Meredith Vieira] expressed her misgivings this morning to Obama supporter Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

ANN CURRY: But he restrained himself to some degree. I mean, she called him "Joe," he called her "Governor."  She attacked him, he didn't attack her.  Do you think there was a double-standard at play here? Did Joe pull down his full game, and did that hurt him last night--and his ticket?

View video here.

For someone who doesn't know something as obvious as the fact that—given her upcoming book—Gwen Ifill has a financial stake in an Obama win, Maggie Rodriguez has an awfully high opinion of the knowledge level of ordinary Americans.  Rodriguez interviewed a feisty Fred Thompson on today's Early Show.  During the course of the contentious exchange:

  • Questioning Thompson on Sarah Palin's inability to name a Supreme Court decision other than Roe v. Wade with which she disagreed, Rodriguez claimed that “everybody” and “ordinary Americans” can cite Supreme Court cases.
  • When Thompson stated that Palin would be dealing tonight with a moderator with a financial interest in an Obama win, Rodriguez retorted “I don’t know about that.”

View video here.

VP debate moderator Gwen Ifill might be banking on an Obama victory to boost her book sales, but Chris Matthews is a more altruistic sort.  He's serving as a volunteer Obama campaign consultant, with no obvious economic motive.  

On this evening's Hardball, Matthews counseled Obama and Biden to make more joint campaign appearances.  "Side by side, boys" was how Chris couched his advice, saying the more they do so in October, the better they'll do in November.

Chris' comment was triggered by decision of the City of Springfield, Illinois to seek to recoup $50,000 in expenses from the campaign event held there to announce Biden's selection as Obama's running mate.

View video here.

H/t Doug T. It was all in good fun, but the Morning Joe gang staged a bit of business today suggesting there's something a mite stronger than half-and-half in Mika Brzezinski's cup of, well, morning joe.

After signing off with NBC reporter Tom Costello, Joe Scarborough made much of Mika's absence from the set.  Cut to a shot of Brzezinski at the coffee counter, where she is seen . . . emptying a blue mini-bottle into her coffee mug.  Mika accommodatingly turns the bottle toward the camera so that all can see it is . . . Skyy vodka.

View video here.

It's the kind of liberal media bias that is perhaps the most telling of all. The unconscious sort, revealing an MSMer's world view.  On today's Early Show, introducing the portion of her interview with Sarah Palin dealing with abortion, Katie Couric states: "Palin says she makes no apologies for her pro-life views."

Can you ever imagine Couric introducing an interview with a Dem and saying "so-and-so makes no apologies for his pro-choice views"?  Neither can I.  In Couric's circles, support for abortion rights in this default position, the view that all right-thinking people hold.  No apologies necessary.

But being "pro-life"?  That's the kind of thing any cultured person should really consider apologizing for.  If Palin won't, so be it: but she better not expect to be invited to the better parties on the Vineyard this summer.

View video here.

How unbalanced was MSNBC's "Race for the White House" panel this evening?  The two Obama-friendly panelists—Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek—were ostensibly offset by Philly radio talker Michael Smerconish and Independent Women's Forum head Michelle Bernard.  But channeling Dem congressman James Clyburn on this morning's Today, Smerc called the House Republicans "sophomoric."  That was nothing. One-upping Smerconish in the pejorative department, Bernard said that every recent McCain move has been "like an epileptic fit."

Joe Scarborough, putting in a long day's work and subbing for regular host David Gregory, teed up Bernard's snipe with a negative take of his own on McCain's behavior.

Let's award a point of light to Matt Lauer.  On this morning's Today, he called out Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) for calling for an end to the blame game . . . right after the congressman blamed John McCain for failing to rally his Arizona troops to vote for the bailout.  But that didn't stop Clyburn from continuing to try to pin the tail on the elephant.

JAMES CLYBURN: We promised 50% of our caucus; they promised 50% of their caucus, or their conference.  We produced 60%, and they produced 33%.

MATT LAUER: Yeah, but in fairness, Congressman Clyburn, the Speaker of the House couldn't even deliver half of her own Democratic delegation from her own state.

CLYBURN: Well, that may be true. But zero from Arizona voted for this, and presidential candidate McCain came in, and he said he brought everybody to the table. But if you check, Matt, you will see that not a single person from Arizona voted for this legislation.  So here is what we have to do, going forward.  I think it's time for us to set aside blaming, set aside all of this extraneous stuff, like a speech that may have been delivered on the floor of the House [alluding to Pelosi's partisan spiel]. It's amazing to me that we can be so sophomoric to believe that a politician would not give a political speech.

That prompted Lauer's pointed response.

View video here.

Aren't Chris Matthews and Hardball the champions of the little guy?  You know, those folks, embittered by the bad economic times, who get exploited by questionable financial institutions? So why does Hardball have as a sponsor a lender with a target market of people so desperate they'd auction off their clothes, and which charges borrowers . . . over 99% per annum in interest? [Screencap showing 99.25% APR after the jump.]

There I was watching this afternoon's Hardball, when, just after Matthews got through playing [for the umpteenth time today on MSNBC] clips from Tina Fey's latest Sarah Palin impression, on came an ad for something called Cash Call.  A Gary Coleman look-alike, or perhaps the Diff'rent Strokes veteran himself, appears and makes an aggressive pitch to people at the end of their rope.

On the November 27, 2006 edition of Today, as noted here, Matt Lauer portentously declared: 

After careful consideration, NBC News has decided the change in terminology is warranted and what is going on in Iraq can now be characterized as civil war.

On that evening's Countdown, Keith Olbermann chimed in, suggesting that NBC's pronouncement was comparable to Walter Cronkite's 1968 declaration that the Vietnam War was lost.

Although NBC, without fanfare, stopped using the "civil war" term sometime beginning in September, 2007, it has never--despite the success of the surge and the marked decrease in sectarian violence--declared the civil war over. Could today be the day?  NBC's parent company, General Electric, has signed a deal with Iraq worth billions of dollars to it and Siemens for the provision of electric generation equipment.

Like an MSM version of Nancy Pelosi, whose hyper-partisan floor speech reportedly angered many GOP members, Chris Matthews wasted no time in trying to pin the blame for the defeat of the bailout plan on John McCain.  Appearing during MSNBC's 2 PM hour, the key to Matthews' argument was his assertion that Dems "overwhelmingly" supported the measure, whereas McCain failed to rally a sufficient number of Republicans.

Love the bailout or hate it.  Decry its defeat or rejoice in it. But one thing is clear: Matthews grossly misstated the facts.  Far from supporting the plan "overwhelmingly," fully 40% of House Dems voted against it: a margin of 141-94.  Republicans, the more free-market oriented of the two parties, were always more wary of the plan.  It was clear that passage was largely going to depend on massive Dem support.  If McCain failed to deliver, surely Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama failed as much or more.

View video here.

Barack Obama's desultory debate performance has left Maureen Dowd in the dumps.  Her weekend column is a laundry list of Sunday-morning quarterbacking.  Dowd's biggest beef is Obama's failure to have goaded McCain into a damaging display of ill-temper.  Just for fun, let's meander through Maureen's musings.

The president . . . is so insecure that he could only choose a vice president he knew would never hold his title.

The MSM portrayed Bush 41 as lacking in self-confidence by taking, in Dan Quayle, a VP who wouldn't overshadow him.  Now Dowd depicts Bush 43 as insecure for taking a strong Veep. Damned if you do, etc. 

Andrea Mitchell gave it the old Hollywood try for Obama this morning.  Summarizing the debate on Today, Mitchell managed to cobble together a video clip that showed McCain's only stumble, while snipping out what many including her colleague Chris Matthews saw as the debate's most salient feature: the multiple times Obama expressed agreement with McCain.

And so it was that Andrea treated us to McCain's difficulties in pronouncing "Ahmadinejad."  But the eight times Obama abjectly agreed with McCain?  Not a one made it into the Mitchell editor's cut. Then there was Andrea's parting shot:

The only question is whether in some of the reaction shots [McCain] looked too angry and dismissive of an opponent who seemed determined to remain cool.

How disappointed was Chris Matthews with Barack Obama's debate performance tonight? How angry was Matthews at Obama for agreeing so much with John McCain?  Enough that Matthews unleashed the ultimate Dem insult, saying Obama reminded him of . . . Richard Nixon.

Matthews first vented his frustration at Obama adviser Linda Douglass.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Linda, my friend, why did your candidate agree so much, openly and relentlessly, with his opponent tonight? 

Douglas's answer was to the effect that this is how a bi-partisan Obama would operate as president.  After criticizing Obama for mishandling the economic issues in the debate, Matthews turned to Andrea Mitchell, and levelled that supreme Dem slap.

View video here.

Is there some kind of competition on the left to see who can make the most denigrating remark about the mental acuity of Republicans?  As we've noted, last night Paul Begala called President Bush "a high-functioning moron," perhaps his bid to one-up Rep. Charles Rangel, who had called Sara Palin "disabled."

Today, it's Jonathan Capehart's turn.  Speaking with David Shuster on MSNBC this afternoon, the Washington Post editorial writer said that Sarah Palin reminds him of Lauren Caitlin Upton, the 2007 Miss Teen South Carolina whose tangles ["U.S. Americans," etc.] with the English language made her an overnight YouTube star.

Capehart's comment came in response to a Shuster inquiry about Palin's reply to Katie Couric's question about the relevance to Palin's foreign-policy credentials of Russia's proximity to Alaska.

Have we had it all wrong about Mika Brzezinski?  All this time we've pigeon-holed her as part of the Eastern liberal media elite, was she in fact secretly part of the Sarah Palin demographic?  It's not quite field-dressing a moose, but Mika let it be known today that she knows how to hunt and . . . has "gutted a deer."

The revelation came as Mika and Joe Scarborough were saying goodbye to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who, by the way, seemed optimistic that John McCain would make it to Mississippi for tonight's debate.

View video here.

What is it with Democrats and their grotesque slurs upon the intelligence of their political rivals?  Last week it was Charles Rangel calling Sarah Palin "disabled."  Tonight on CNN, Paul Begala called President Bush "a high-functioning moron."

Begala was on an Anderson Cooper-led panel with Republican Ed Rollins and CNN's Gloria Borger to discuss the state of the possible federal financial bailout.  Cooper took the first shot at the president, analogizing his performance in this crisis to that during Hurricane Katrina.

ANDERSON COOPER: Watching the president last night give that speech, it was like watching him in Jackson Square in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. I mean, he did not seem to be there.

So much for a "stunt."

John McCain got involved in the bailout negotiations after Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told Sen. Lindsey Graham yesterday that the bailout plan would fail unless McCain came in and brought balky Republicans aboard.  That's what Bob Schieffer reported on this morning's Early Show.  Schieffer's account stands in stark contrast with the allegation by Dems like Barney Frank and their MSM cohorts that McCain's moves of yesterday were nothing more than a political "stunt."

Here was Schieffer speaking with the Early Show's Maggie Rodriguez at 7:05 AM EDT today:

BOB SCHIEFFER: I am told, Maggie, that the way McCain got involved in this in the first place, the Treasury Secretary was briefing Republicans in the House yesterday, the Republican conference, asked how many were ready to support the bailout plan. Only four of them held up their hands.  Paulson then called, according to my sources, Senator Lindsey Graham, who is very close to John McCain, and told him: you've got to get the people in the McCain campaign, you've got to convince John McCain to give these Republicans some political cover. If you don't do that, this whole bailout plan is going to fail. So that's how, McCain, apparently, became involved.

Continued Schieffer . . . 

As a Jewish American, you can imagine how moved I was to learn that, as he explained to Larry King, Bill Clinton will not be out campaigning for Barack Obama until after October 9th, out of respect for the Jewish High Holy Days.

But by the same token, we know that the former president celebrates diversity and is deeply multi-cultural in his beliefs. America is a great mosaic, after all. And so, just as he respects the Jewish faith tradition, surely he would also wish to honor the great religions of the East. As a public service to President Clinton, we are therefore providing this calendar of upcoming holidays celebrated in the Eastern religions of Jainism, Sikhism, Taoism and Shintoism.

"I don't believe that the Times is pulling for Barack Obama." Jack Shafer, Slate, 9-23-08

There's actually much to agree with in Jack Shafer's column today regarding McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt's criticism of the New York Times.  Consider this observation by Shafer, for example:

The press corps does adore Barack Obama. They like his story. They like writing about him. They like the way he gives speeches. They like the way he makes them feel. And they don't mind cutting him slack whenever he acts like a regular politician—which he is.

But Shafer, Slate's resident media critic, also expresses the to-me mind-boggling belief cited at the top of this item, that the Times isn't pulling for Obama. So stunned was I by Shafer's claim that I wrote him, seeking clarification.  He was nice enough to reply, and I'm setting forth our exchange here: