Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Granbury, Texas.
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
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Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski were among the first in the media, going back months, to take Donald Trump seriously. In contrast, Bill Kristol had repeatedly declared that we had reached "peak Trump," only to find The Donald confoundingly continuing to climb in the polls.
Things boiled over on today's Morning Joe. Despite a fresh poll showing Trump with an astounding 48% of GOP voters in Massachusetts, Kristol blithely declared that Trump "is not going to be the nominee." That elicited sarcastic laughter from Scarborough, who shot back "we can show you clip after clip after clip after clip of your incorrect predictions about Donald Trump and his imminent collapse." Later, Kristol seized on a new poll from Iowa showing Ben Carson having overtaken Trump. Claiming that "you guys have been overestimating Trump and underestimating Carson," Kristol said he was "just trying to be helpful." An exasperated Scarborough exploded: "you're out of your mind. You're not trying to be helpful. You're trying to cover your a--. It won't work with us."
It might be apocryphal, but the famous quote attributed to Pauline Kael, the late film critic of the New York Times, is along the lines of "how could Nixon have won? Nobody I know voted for him."
Mika Brzezinski had her Pauline Kael moment on today's Morning Joe. Mika declared herself "really surprised" by poll numbers showing there are more Americans dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton's response to Benghazi than there are people who think the congressional investigation into Benghazi is too partisan. Said Mika: "it's sort of like a disconnect I guess that I have with the people I talk to and the rest of the country."
This could be the worst whitewashing since Tom Sawyer suckered people into helping him with that fence... On today's Morning Joe, Joe Klein cleared Hillary of responsibility for American deaths in Benghazi, and blamed the CIA.
According to Klein, "this really was a CIA station there, not so much a consulate, and those guys should be able to protect themselves in most circumstances." Klein doesn't think Hillary should even be called to testify: "this is something that does not rise to the level of the Secretary of State." He suggested instead that David Petraeus be hauled before the committee.
Basta: enough already! It's not that John Heilemann thinks Joe Biden is a liar, it's just that he's not convinced that Biden knows his own mind yet. And so it was that on today's Morning Joe, Heilemann declared "if he called me this morning and said I'm going to get in today at noon, I wouldn't believe him because I think there's a chance that by noon he'd change his mind."
Heilemann used two words with rhyming Middle English endings to describe Biden's charged emotional state: fraught and wrought.
Joe Scarborough says there's an effort underway to delegitimize the FBI investigation of Hillary's email. Did Mark Halperin just abet that effort by alleging that FBI agents conducting the investigation are driven in part by personal animus toward the Clintons?
Appearing on today's Morning Joe, Halperin said that "of all the entities in the United States that represent a threat to Hillary Clinton being the next President of the United States, those FBI agents are probably in the first tier, in part because they're following the evidence wherever it leads, but in part because—let's be honest—a lot of FBI agents don't like the Clintons. View the video, and be sure to watch to the end to catch Hillary cackling in response to Jake Tapper's questions about the email.
After tape rolled of Black Lives Matter demonstrators repeatedly chanting "pigs in a blanket, fry 'em like bacon," you might have thought a BLM leader would either apologize, or at least seek to miminize the incident as the excesses of an irresponsible and unrepresenative few.
But no. On today's Melissa Harris-Perry show, after just such video was played, BLM leader Monica Dennis issued not one word of apology. To the contrary, Dennis said "there is no need to apologize" for what the BLM movement is "putting forth," and touted the group's intention "to resist" the police. The segment began with a clip of Ted Cruz denouncing the "rabid rhetoric" of groups like BLM. Harris-Perry declared that "when it comes to a rabid movement I'm going to go with the GOP primary over Black Lives Matter."
The conventional wisdom is that Joe Biden has been staying on the sidelines, waiting to see how bad the email scandal gets for Hillary. But while that might be true, consider that Biden need not just be a passive player in the game. There is a plausible theory by which Biden's entry into the race by its very fact would increase the odds of Hillary encountering legal travails.
One reason that President Obama might be holding off on having his DoJ go after Hillary is that he doesn't want to destroy the candidacy of the only plausible Dem candidate in the race. As brilliant and charismatic as is Lincoln Chaffee, still he might just not do.
Joe Scarborough swung a double-edged sword on today's Morning Joe, swiping simultaneously at his MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews and at radio host and debate panelist Hugh Hewitt. The subject was Marco Rubio, with Hewitt calling him "the most dynamic speaker the Republican party has seen ever, since Lincoln." "Since Lincoln," asked Scarborough incredulously—"do you have a tingle going up your leg?"
Scarborough said that rather than recalling Lincoln, "when I see Marco speaking, I'm seeing a guy that's running for student government." Interesting aside: Hewitt predicts that Republicans will have an open convention, with no candidate having wrapped up the nomination before the delegates get to Cleveland in July.
Even conservatives not inclined toward Trump might rally to the Donald's defense after seeing this sneering condescension from the New York Times .
On this evening's With All Due Respect, the Times' Jonathan Martin was asked, after viewing a clip of Ivanka Trump, how her more active involvement would affect the campaign. Responded Martin: "the comments that you heard right there are so stark to me, because they are a departure from the Trump brand that we know. I mean, she sounds like a really sort of poised, smart, capable person." So Donald's flustered, stupid and incompetent, Jonathan?
Wow: an MSMer who not only has "many" conservative friends, but is willing to admit it on live national TV?
On today's Morning Joe, in the course of praising Anderson Cooper's performance as debate moderator, Geist let drop that prior to the debate "many of my conservative friends" thought CNN would go easy on the Dems, but that five minutes in, they told him "oh, I guess he's not going to go easy."
First Sanders, now Trumka—are there any capitalists left on the left? On the most recent Meet the Press, Bernie Sanders made news when Chuck Todd asked him if he was a capitalist. "No," shot back Sanders, "I'm a democratic socialist." Mark Halperin was obviously taken enough by the question as to pose it on today's With All Due Respect to Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO.
"No, I'm a trade unionist, quite frankly," retorted Trumka. When Halperin tried to pursue the issue, Trumka laughed it off, calling it a "silly question." Silly? The biggest union boss in America opposes the economic system that made this country great and which creates the private sector jobs his members fill? Employers have to bargain with people who reject the very premise upon which their businesses rest? Silly? You're killing us, Richard. Or should we say "Mr. President," which was the obsequious way in which Halperin and co-host John Heilemann addressed Trumka. But kudos to Halperin for posing and then pursuing the question.
Rush Limbaugh likes to facetiously refer to Hillary Clinton as "the smartest woman in the world." Today's Morning Joe brought us three people who might actually believe it.
Previewing tonight's Dem debate, Mike Barnicle led off the love-in, fantasizing about people coming away from the debate saying "wow, there is a prepared, thorough, knowledgeable candidate. All the Benghazi stuff goes out the window." Next was Joe Scarborough, who said the debate gives Hillary the chance to show voters "she may be the smartest person on the stage and in politics right now." And finally, the incomparable Cokie Roberts, who gushed that any time Hillary is with "actual people" [as opposed to droids?] she "always wows them" adding that Hillary "knows everything about every issue."
Michelle might want to gently tap the president on the shoulder and remind him "umm, Barack, you're not in the faculty lounge any more. You're actually, uh, President and Commander-in-Chief. So you don't get to criticize your own failed policies as if you're not responsible for them. They're, umm, your policies, you know?"
Commenting on President Obama's 60 Minutes interview in which he said he was "skeptical from the get-go" about his administration's failed policy of training Syrian rebels, WaPo's David Ignatius on today's Morning Joe called the president's reaction "weird," adding "he spoke almost like a man vindicated when a policy of his own administration had collapsed in failure. And he was, he took the line almost of, see, I told you so."
Isn't that sweet: a Politico reporter assures a far-left MSNBC host that when it comes to a major issue, he shares her political viewpoint.
On this evening's Rachel Maddow show, guest host Melissa Harris-Perry happened to mention that she was a "feminist." Hardly had Harris-Perry uttered the words when Jake Sherman, congressional correspondent for Politico, broke in to assure her "me too!"
Says Joe Scarborough, if Jeb Bush had Donald Trump's poll numbers, the media would proclaim the race "T-K-Over." Yet rather than touting Trump's commanding lead, the liberal media speculates instead on the Donald's "exit strategy." That had Scarborough blasting CNN and other MSM outlets as "Trump deniers" on today's Morning Joe.
Why is the MSM unwilling to give Donald his due? Scarborough suggested the media should "just admit: we hate him so much, that even when he is trouncing everybody, we loathe this vulgarian from Queens who we've never accepted into our club and screw him, we're never going to give him any sort of respect." Concluded Joe: "I call them Trump deniers."
Yeah, that's been our big beef with the New York Times: it's too tough on top Democrats . . .
So we'll all sleep better now that Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet has assured us that the paper is not "too aggressive" or "unfair" in its coverage of Hillary Clinton. On CNN's Reliable Sources today, Bacquet, as proof of the paper's even-handedness, noted to host Brian Stelter a Times story on Benghazi that "did not point a finger at her" and another story probing problems within the Benghazi committee.
Who is taking more glee from the current Republican turmoil over the selection of the next Speaker: Democrats or the MSM—or do I repeat myself?
Today's Morning Joe featured a clip from Andrea Mitchell's interview of Ben Carson in which she asked: "what does this just say about the Republican brand and the Republican party. Can it survive after this kind of chaos?" Wishful thinking, Andrea?
For weeks now, Joe Scarborough has been expressing befuddlement over Ben Carson's appeal. It boiled over on today's Morning Joe, as Scarborough went on an extended anti-Carson rant.
Scarborough unleashed after clips were played from town halls in Iowa and New Hampshire in which Republican voters expressed strong support for the notion of Carson as a qualified president. Calling Carson unqualified to be president, Joe railed that he'd seen people like Carson on school boards who got into trouble because they were in "over their heads."
Is it the MSM's role to protect Hillary Clinton's image by preventing the public from seeing what members of her own party think of her? Today's Morning Joe played a clip from a Dem focus group in New Hampshire in which there was near unanamity that Hillary's personality could be a serious turn-off to voters, particularly male ones.
Joe Scarborough then said: "we actually cut a good bit in there, out, that was even more negative of Hillary because we thought it was actually too negative and didn't like some of the connotations there."
A week ago, we noted that—negating Nicolle Wallace's notion that the woman who aided the New York prison break shouldn't do any time herself—Willie Geist observed "you can't help convicted murderers escape from jail." An NB reader remarked: "I get the sense that Willie Geist is a good guy trapped inside the leftwing matrix."
Far be it from us to cause workplace problems for Willie by praising him too much, but Geist was at it again on today's Morning Joe, this time making some common sense remarks on gun control. After Eugene Robinson praised Australia's "very serious" gun control laws, Willie first cut through the haze, noting that "Australia, to be clear, confiscated guns." He went on to make this observation—as remarkable for its truth as it is for his rarity in the MSM—"there are so many laws out there, and you can make more laws and still wouldn't capture the people, the criminal element, that wants to get his hands on a gun."