What do you call an ardent Arlen Specter supporter who proposes a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq and accuses Republicans of 'chicanery' for introducing proposals on gay marriage and flag burning? Why, a 'conservative' of course - if you're NBC's Today show and your guest is Michael Smerconish.
This is the MSM's means of convincing viewers that there is balance in their choice of guests. As I noted here, the mislabelling reached its pinnacle a while back when Today labelled Bush antagonist Pat Buchanan - someone who left the GOP seven years ago to run against W - a 'Republican strategist.'
Today was back at the name game this morning. As you'll note from the screen grab, it labelled Michael Smerconish a 'conservative.' Smerconish is a Philadelphia-based talk radio show host. If there is a litmus test for identifying Keystone State conservatives, it was one's choice of a horse in the recent GOP senatorial primary pitting true-blue conservative Pat Toomey from liberal Republican Arlen Specter. Not merely did Smerconish [who actually served as a manager in a previous Specter campaign] support Specter over Toomey, he went so as to broadcast his show live from Specter's Senate offices! Before you point out that Pres. Bush also supported Specter, well, I'd chalk that up - without defending it- to realpolitik.
Smerconish has also expressed the belief that "it is time for the Administration to set a timetable to leave Iraq."
On this morning's Today, Smerconish was interviewed by Lester Holt, and reiterated his support for a timetable:
Smerconish: "Let them [the Iraqis] know we are leaving. Light a fire under their fannies so they stand on their own two feet. Right now the Iraqis are overly dependent on us."
Holt seemed to have more doubts about the strategy than Smerconish: "Does a military decision of withdrawal, it will be perceived as political cover for the administration?"
Smerconish: "Not if it's handled in the correct way and tied to guidelines and say if we can establish x by y date we will have troop reduction."
Smerconish also described as Republican "chest-thumping" and "chicanery" their introduction of flag burning and marriage amendments.
Smerconish is surely a Republican. And he no doubt harbors conservative views on some issues, notably including border security. But to portray this middle-of-the-road Republican as a 'conservative' exemplifies the MSM's truth-in-packaging problem.