If a hypothetical tabloid owned by, say, Richard Mellon Scaife, had a cover story with scurrilous accusations about Joe Biden, do you think Chris Matthews would be waving it about on camera and Keith Olbermann citing it? Neither do I. But if for some reason they did, would they possibly fail to mention the mag's ownership?
But Matthews saw fit—not once but twice—to display the cover of Us magazine, with its story "Babies, Lies and Scandals" about Sarah Palin. Olbermann alluded to it as well. And who is the owner of Us? Jann Wenner, the founder of Rolling Stone . . . and a big-time donor to Barack Obama. How big a donor? You can view his list of contributions here, with an image after the jump.
Now it's true that Matthews discounted the "lies" allegation. But why give currency to dubious accusations—by a magazine whose stock-in-trade is celebrity gossip—by displaying them repeatedly on a national news show? There was no suggestion that Us, unlike the National Enquirer in John Edwards' case, had done any significant independent reporting. This is apparently scandal-mongering, pure and simple. And of course, neither Matthews nor Olbermann mentioned the Wenner connection.
View edited video here.
During the 5 PM EDT edition of Hardball, Matthews discussed the matter with Newsweek's Howard Fineman and Roger Simon of Politico.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: Let's take a look at this. This is of course a very popular, well, you see it at the checkout counter at Safeway, that's where I see it all the time, Us Weekly, we've got a cover of this available, a better picture than I can show you, but let's take a look at this cover. This is probably not the kind of PR that John McCain envisioned in winning the regular folk.
Matthews and Fineman went on to challenge the "lies" allegations. Olbermann, chatting later with David Greogry, didn't. The Countdown host began by getting off what could prove to be the evening's biggest laugh line.
KEITH OLBERMANN: As much as we try to steer this away from Governor Palin, I imagine that this is continuing to be a matter of interest and perhaps concern, certainly of interest, to senior Republicans.
Stop, Keith. You're killing me.
And a bit later, after citing McCain campaign manager Rick Davis saying the campaign is about a composite view that people have of the candidate.
OLBERMANN: How does a candidate's first choice—the vice-president, the vice-presidential candidate—winding up on a tabloid magazine with words "scandals" and "pregnancies" and all the rest of it, how does that help that composite picture that Mr. Davis is talking about?
To his credit, Gregory sought to restore some perspective.
DAVID GREGORY: Well because I think there is an assumption and a hope that maybe some of the tabloid aspects of it don't creep into what is the impression that people take away.
Note: Greg Pollowitz of National Review was already reporting the Us/Wenner/Obama connection back in June. If the mag is slamming Sarah now, it was mooning over Michelle then.