Mark Finkelstein

Mark Finkelstein's picture
Contributing Editor

Lives in Oak Island, North Carolina 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

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I'm on the road this week, but a quick take from this morning's Today.

As it did the day after the Iraqi referendum, Today buried the story today that, with tabulations completed, 78% of Iraqis voted in favor of adopting the proposed new constitution.

At least 10 x more time was accorded to yet more car bombings in Baghdad, Hurricane Wilma and storms in the Northeast. Even the story of some stranded dolphins merited several times more airtime than the Iraqi vote, not to mention some sympathetic tongue-clucking by Katie.

Such are the skewed priorities of our MSM.

Is it shtick or sincerity? Bill O'Reilly loves to portray himself as a down-the-middle straightshooter, and there he was this morning on the Today show in full pox-on-both-their-houses mode.

Katie Couric began the interview by asking his take on the Plame affair:

To read their bios, there are some remarkable similarities between Ken Starr and Pat Fitzgerald. But not in their media treatment.

Less newsworthy than a baseball game, and in any case, just another "potentially divisive event." That's the back-of-the-hand treatment the Today show gave the apparent approval of the Iraqi constitution in this weekend's referendum.

Katie Couric opened Today by touting a tropical storm in the Caribbean, the travails of Rove and Libby and the White Sox's victory. Not a word about the Iraqi referendum.

Regular readers of my threads at FR know that Julian Phillips of Fox & Friends Weekend has been a favorite target for my barbs.

Fairness therefore dictates that I salute him when he gets something right, as he did this morning.

The topic was the planned neo-Nazi march in Toledo, OH and the violence it sparked among largely black protesters.

Co-host Alisyn Camerota teed up the issue: "the question always arises, do you let the neo-Nazis or other groups, like the KKK, march?"


In a deliciously ironic twist of fate, shortly before airing a segment aimed at embarrassing the Bush administration by suggesting that it had staged a video conversation between the president and soldiers in Iraq, the Today show was caught staging . . . a video stunt.

In the Bush/Iraq segment, Today screened footage indicating that prior to engaging in a video conversation with President Bush, soldiers on the ground in Iraq were given tips by a Department of Defense official.

But the only advice that the official was shown as giving was a suggestion to one solider to "take a little breath" before speaking to the president so he would actually be speaking to him. It was also stated that some of the soldiers practiced their comments so as to appear as articulate as possible. But there was no indication, or even allegation, that the soldiers were coached as to the substance of their comments or in any way instructed what to say.

Video excerpt: Real or Windows Media

Ever wonder where the media find those people for the heart-wrenching personal interest stories used to illustrate a point? Me too.

The Today show aired a doozy this morning, and used it to make a hair-raising prediction that pointed the finger at insufficient government welfare spending.

The topic was increasing fuel prices, and in particular the rising cost of home heating.

Does the MSM sense blood in the Bush administration water? That seems to be the case, judging from the breathtaking accusation that Katie Couric just leveled at it.

The context was Couric's interview of Chris Matthews on the subject of the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into possible leaks in the Valerie Plame affair.

If you invite the chubby kid from down the block to the birthday party, is it fair to criticize him for eating cake?

There was something of that lack of hospitality to the Today show's interview of President and Laura Bush this morning

Charles Krauthammer has called the Miers nomination a "joke."

George Will called her "the wrong pick."

Bill Kristol labelled the nomination a "mistake."

David Frum suggests she is "not good enough."

Senators Brownback, Thune and Lott have expressed reservations.

So what are these folks up to? Well, to listen to Ellen Ratner, of Fox & Friends Weekend "Long & Short of It" feature, they are consciously . . . lying.

Can you recall the last time the Today show invited a major conservative commentator on to opine on the issues of the day? Neither can I.

But there was Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol this morning, under Today's 'hopeful' graphic "Is Bush Losing His Base?", being treated deferentially by David Gregory.

Call it 'gotcha' journalism, or perhaps just a revealing look inside the liberal media mind, but Katie Couric just engaged in a stunning leap of logic on this morning's Today show.

If you can tell a lot about a person by their friends and enemies, then it should be revealing to see how people are lining up on the Miers nomination.

On the enemies [or shall we say ‘serious doubters’] side: Rush Limbaugh, George Will, Mark Levin and Terence Jeffrey.

On the ‘friends’ side: Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and, as of this morning, the Today show.

There was something of a world-turned-upside down feel to this morning's Today show.

There was Katie, putting WH spokesman Dan Bartlett on the hot seat. Nothing unusual about that. But rather than using allegations or statements coming from the left, Couric threw in Bartlett's face statements made by Rush and Bill Kristol.

Katie ran a clip of Rush's oft-quoted remark that the Miers pick was made "in weakness,' and Kristol's admission of being "disappointed, depressed and demoralized."

Even as the news was breaking during the first minutes of the show, Katie Couric wasted absolutely no time in launching the first of what are sure to be many hits on Harriet Miers, who appears to be President Bush's pick to replace Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court.

For five years I've hosted a local, community-access political TV talk show, 'Right Angle.' We've had hundreds of guests, many of them college students, with a good smattering of high school students and even a handful of middle-schoolers.

But for sheer embarrassing, puerile, vapidity, none of them has been the equal of the utterly unwatchable Ellen Ratner, the short, and liberal, half of "The Long & the Short of It" feature on Fox & Friends Weekend.

With a tone and a look on his face suggesting "what have I just done?", Tim Russert let the cat out of the bag this morning about the Dems' political motivations in the prosecution of Tom DeLay.

The context was an otherwise-predictable interview with Katie Couric of the Today show. But toward the end, Russert had this to say: "DeLay is a fierce partisan infighter" then added "and the Democrats realize that and are trying to respond in kind."

In a telethon that would have been the envy of Jerry Lewis, the Today show's first half-hour painted a portrait of wall-to-wall gloom for America and for the political fortunes of George Bush.

This was done against a backdrop of Jimmy Carter's pet charity Habitat for Humanity quite literally pounding home the message - as it builds homes for the displaced in Rockefeller Center - of the difference a Democrat president can make.

In the news recap, a quartet of woe for Republicans:

For conservatives seeking refuge from the hurricane of liberalism that is the MSM, sports coverage is normally a safe redoubt. And if any sport would normally be considered a haven safe from liberalism, it is golf.

But danger lurks everywhere. And it took no more than the flimsy excuse of an important golf event being played in the Washington, DC suburbs for the MSM to air a love letter to Democratic icon JFK.

In its Katrina coverage, the MSM made hay at President Bush's expense in suggesting that the government's sluggish response was the result of racism.

Given the early and energetic preparations of government at all levels for Rita, you might think that it would impossible for the MSM to recycle the racism canard. But that didn't stop the Today show from giving it the old college try this morning.