Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Oak Island, North Carolina
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
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The Today show brought Bill Clinton in this morning to provide color commentary on President Bush's speech of last night. Bill wouldn't bite on the worst of Matt Lauer's attempts to have the ex-President condemn his successor.Right out of the box, Lauer tried to lure Clinton into criticizing the nation's lack of preparedness.
Lauer: "Were you surprised . . . that four years after 9/11 with so much time, energy and money spent on preparedness in this country that we seemed so ill-prepared to handle a catastrophe in a major American city?"
Is the Today show stuck in a time warp? Could Today be trying to stem its dipping ratings by doing a reality-show version of 'Groundhog Day,' the hit movie in which every day was the same for Bill Murray?
Well, we didn't hear Cher singing "I Got You Babe" in the background, as she did when the alarm would go off for Murray, but other than that, there was an eery resemblance.
Readers might want to check my blog. They'll find that the very last entry was entitled "Today Show Revels in Prez' Polls."
Well guess what? Different day, same . . . stuff.
Ten times? A dozen? Maybe more? Eventually I lost count of the number of times that this morning's Today show trumpeted President Bush's low poll ratings. This was liberal schadenfreude on steroids.
In the very first words out of her mouth opening the show, Katie Couric spoke of W's ratings being at an "all-time low," while archly noting that W's visit today was his first "ground tour" of New Orleans.
Was FEMA head Mike Brown Assistant City Manager of Edmond, OK, or was he Assistant to the City Manager? And did he serve from 1975-78 or from 1977-80?
Small beer, you might think, but a heady enough brew for the Today show to lead with this morning.
Andrea Mitchell reported on a Time Magazine piece which she claimed raised "serious questions about the management training" Brown had received.
When Matt Lauer eventually leaves the Today show, he can look forward to a career in slow-pitch softball. His talents were on full display this morning in his interview of Hillary Clinton.
The conventions of good journalism dictate that when guests, particularly intrinisically political ones, are interviewed, they are challenged on their assumptions.
Yom Kippur is still a month off, but for the Today show and Tim Russert, the Day of Atonement has already arrived for President Bush.
And just how might W make amends for his perceived "callousness" on Katrina? Why, by appointing a moderate "or even a minority" to the Supreme Court.
Matt Lauer interviewed Russert this morning beneath the on-screen legend "Bush on the Hot Seat."
Lauer mused that when it came to W's handling of Katrina, this could be a case of "you never get a second chance to make a first impression."
The essence of his rant was that the federal government in general and FEMA in particular are "covering their butts" by concealing the number of dead.At one point Broussard said, verbatim, that FEMA was trying to hide the fact that they had "murdered" thousands of people through their bureaucratic incompetence.
It had to happen. When the chorus of MSM complaints of federal inaction was drowned in a sea of thousands of soldiers moving into New Orleans, the MSM nimbly adjusted. Now the problem is . . . too many soldiers.
NBC's Carl Quintanilla framed it this way on this morning's Today show, with the rubric "Chaos in New Orleans" displayed on screen:
"Now that the military is moving in huge convoys of soldiers, concerns that too strong a military presence in too small a space could cause accidents, crashes."
Anyone seen Kathleen Blanco lately? Remember her, the Democratic Governor of Louisiana, the lady who put in a few shaky, overwhelmed performances at the beginning of the Katrina catastrophe? She seems to have disappeared off the MSM radar screen.
How about the Mayor of New Orleans, another Democrat? How many Americans can even name him? Compare and contrast with the role Rudy Giuliani played in the wake of 9/11.
Instead, Today's focus this morning was almost entirely on the shortcomings of the federal [read Republican-led] government in its response to Katrina.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the MSM water, up pops Cindy Sheehan.
The Today show’s pretext for bringing back Cindy was her return to Crawford.
You know the MSM figure a story has legs when they create a logo for it, and sure enough Today opened its segment with a natty little logo of an American solider, an Iraqi flag, and the emblazoned question: "Iraq – the new Vietnam?”
In to answer the question was that paragon of objectivity Chris Matthews – former aide to Dem House Speaker Tip O’Neill.
But beyond her small physical stature, it is Ratner's smallness of mind that renders her unbearable. Most of the talk centered on Cindy Sheehan, with Ratner predictably arguing that W should meet with her.
In the eyes of the MSM, Pope Benedict XVI has a problem. He's too darn . . . Catholic.
As the Pope begins World Youth Day in his native Germany, Today took the occasion to invite in Newsweek's Christopher Dickey for an oh-so-effete critique of Benedict XVI.
Interviewed by Katie Couric, Dickey first claimed that Europeans view Benedict "with some skepticism right now. People are looking at this Pope and saying what does he want to do by re-Christianizing Europe?"
Gee, and here I thought that was a Pope's job.
When the Today show sprung a surprise this morning -- an unannounced trip to Iraq by Matt Lauer -- one US soldier had a little su
The Today Show this morning employed a phalanx of Democrats to heap scorn on President Bush's foreign policy and its impact on domestic security, while just for good measure throwing in a segment letting Americans know that the impact of rising oil prices is . . . even worse than they thought.
First up was the lugubrious George Mitchell, former Dem Senate Majority Leader and foreign envoy under Clinton, to comment on developments in Israel and elsewhere. Mitchell-of-funeral-director-mien droned up predictably about the evacuation of Israeli settlers from Gaza.
Has something gotten into the water at The Today Show? Yesterday, as reported here, Katie Couric's thesis was that W's poll numbers on the economy were unfairly low. This morning, Matt Lauer gave surprisingly deferential treatment to Bernie Goldberg and his book, '100 People Who are Screwing Up America,' which focuses on liberals and the cultural elites as the root of our societal ills.
Lauer began by asking "who is this book for?"
Hard to knock Today this morning for its take on the President's latest poll numbers. Today's theme? That while W's poll numbers on his handling of the economy are down, in fact the economy is up.
As Katie Couric put it: "The President's poll numbers on Iraq and economy are falling even though by all measures the economy is doing well."
On a slow news day when there's no solid gloom or doom to report on the national security or domestic economy fronts, why not run a couple segments on bad stuff that, well, might happen?
That was the Today Show's apparent strategy this morning. First up was a piece on possible terrorist attacks on US shopping malls. A bleary-eyed Steve Emerson, Today's terrorism expert, looking like he had better things to do in Aspen, CO, went along for the ride with Katie Couric.