While liberals complain that Fox News is too helpful in offering its air time for Republican candidates and campaigns, MSNBC continued the recent string of NBC-Universal properties bowing to President Obama with gobs of unchallenged free air time. On Thursday night's Rachel Maddow Show, MSNBC offered two large chunks of a speech Obama gave to the DNC's "Gen 44" initiative for young people. Seconds before the first speech clip, MSNBC aired a 15-second NBC public service announcement starring Obama. (See Mark Finkelstein on that.)
The event was a fundraiser expected to raise $750,000. Two honorary co-chairs of the DNC effort are the actors America Ferrera ("Ugly Betty") and Dule Hill ("The West Wing" and "Psych").
This wasn't a standard presidential press conference or interview. This was a campaign event, aired by Maddow in a four-minute clip and then a five-and-a-half-minute clip, both followed with analysis by liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. In both clips, Obama attacked conservatives for ruining the economy and civil discourse, including claims like this:
For the last decade, the Republicans in Washington subscribed to a very simple philosophy: You cut taxes, mostly for millionaires and billionaires. You cut regulations for special interests -- whether it's oil companies or banks or insurance companies. You cut back on investments in education and clean energy, and research and technology. And basically, the idea was that if you had blind faith in the market, if you let corporations play by their own rules, if you let everybody else fend for themselves, including young people, including the next generation, then somehow America would grow and prosper. That was the theory. Now, look, here's what we know. The philosophy failed. We tested it. We tried it. We tried it for eight years; it didn't work.
The first clip seemed to be live. The second clip was definitely not -- because the speech transcript puts it before the first clip. This is where Obama says gee, the Democrats wanted to be bipartisan, but the Republicans decided not to say yes to socialism:
When I arrived in Washington about 20 months ago -- some of you were there. It was really cold. It was a cold day. (Applause.) It was a cold day, but the spirit was warm. (Applause.) And our hope was that we could pull together, Democrats and Republicans and independents, to confront the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. What we hoped was that we could get beyond some of the old political divides -- red states, blue states -- that had prevented us from making progress for so long. And we came into this with that spirit because we understood that we're proud to be Democrats, but we're prouder to be Americans. (Applause.)
And instead, what we confronted when we arrived was just politics, pure and simple; an opposition party that was still stuck in the same failed policies of the past -- whose leaders in Congress were determined from the start to just let us deal with the mess that they had done so much to create.
Maybe you could argue that this was both a stem-winder at a DNC fundraiser -- and a news event. But then consider what surrounded Obama on Maddow's show.
She began the show with a long 15-minute segment devoted to one liberal Congressman in Oregon who's upset he's being opposed. Maddow found it incredibly weird that a shadowy group called Concerned Taxpayers of America was running more than $80,000 of ads against Rep. Peter DeFazio. (This first appeared in the Washington Post.) Since she's into Democrat video, Maddow ran DeFazio's own sting video, starring himself, confronting the CTA at an address they use in DC, then interviewed DeFazio so he could express more outrage at being opposed.
After the Obama speech clips, Maddow ran a goofy skit where an orange-skinned man with a cigar pretending to be "John Boehner" handed out checks on the House floor from the tobacco companies, referring back to a Hedrick Smith PBS documentary wailing about the negative influence of corporate money on socialism -- ahem, democracy. Boehner admitted to Smith that he had done that, but would not do it again.
Whatever liberals want to paint Fox as a GOP network ought to watch their own MSNBC stars and wonder just how much of a partisan production they're putting on in the last weeks of an election season.