Mark Finkelstein

Mark Finkelstein's picture
Contributing Editor

Lives in Granbury, Texas. 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein

Ain't this post-racial period great?  Here we have one of the more famous members of the Black Congressional Caucus accusing Senate Democrats of threatening to act like Orville Faubus, George Wallace and perhaps the most iconic of segregationists, Bull Connor.

Bobby Rush, the former Black Panther who is now a congressman from Chicago, levelled his accusation on the CBS Early Show this morning in reaction to the letter signed by all 50 Senate Democrats declaring that they would not seat  Roland Burris, the African-American that Gov. Rod Blagojevich yesterday named to take Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Could this be the most unvarnished insult to someone's intelligence in the recent annals of major network television?  Here was Zbigniew Brzezinski, speaking to Joe Scarborough on today's "Morning Joe." [H/t reader Melody.]

You know, you have such a stunningly superficial knowledge of what went on that it's almost embarrassing to listen to you.

It was Scarborough's exposition of the widely accepted view—shared by Bill Clinton himself—that Yasser Arafat was to blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David summit, that prompted Brzezinski's remarkable display of disdain.

The ostensible subject was Caroline Kennedy. But in the course of, you know, discussing Kennedy's foundering effort to, you know, be anointed senator, Mika Brzezinski said something of more enduring interest.  The Morning Joe co-host provided a telling glimpse into the liberal mindset, as Brzezinski cast her vote for Big Mommy government.

Host Joe Scarborough observed that New York Gov. David Paterson was letting Kennedy twist in the wind. Rather than spending his time taxing everything in sight, the guv would be better off appointing Caroline or someone else, so the new senator could hit the ground running once Hillary is confirmed as Secretary of State, opined Scarborough.

That's when Mika made her pitch for taxes as a tool for reforming those not living the lifestyle approved by the latest member of the Lititz landed gentry.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are "moderate" liberals.  And GOP opposition to Obama Supreme Court nominees would constitute a "fake fight" demonstrating that Republicans remain mired in the culture wars.  Such was the collective wisdom of two of the roundtable members on ABC's "This Week" today.

Chinese divers won a record seven gold medals during the 2008 Olympics.  But even they didn't leap as headlong into the Beijing tank as did NBC.  That's how you might describe the collective verdict of the Fox News Watch panel this evening on NBC's regime-friendly coverage.  The subject arose as part of the show's Year in Review, and began with a clip of Matt Lauer unctuously questioning a ChiCom official:

MATT LAUER: There's a recent poll that said some very high percentage of the people in China are happy with their lot in life. Something around 80%.  You compare that with the polls in the United States that say only about 25% of Americans are.  What's the root of their happiness here?

View video here. The panel lit into the network's coverage, with even the liberal-leaning Jane Hall and Kirsten Powers joining the NBC-scorching consensus.

I'm starting to think the New York Times is rolling out a year-ending Worst Ideas of 2008 list—with a twist. Instead of knocking the nutty notions, the Gray Lady's embracing them.

Yesterday, as I noted in Union Got To Be Kidding Me, the Times came out against border fences and for the right of illegal immigrants . . . to form unions.

Today, in The Gas Tax, the paper editorializes in favor of taxing gasoline so that it would never cost less than $4-5/gallon.  Yup: the Times wants to snuff out the only silver lining on the economic downturn.

Sure, its revenues might be plunging along with its share price, but the New York Times is still good for something.  In these somber days of winter, the Gray Lady, her name notwithstanding, can still inject the sunshine of humor—albeit of the unintentional variety.

Take its current editorial, Getting Immigration Right -- please. With jobs at a premium and the collapse of the Big Three automakers attributable in no small part to the role of the unions, the Times naturally comes out in favor of:

  • making it easier for illegals to get into the country to compete for what jobs are left, and
  • granting the right of illegals once here to . . . unionize.

When during its first half-hour this Christmas morning "Today" moved to a conversation between Matt Lauer and Pastor Rick Warren, I braced myself.  Don't tell me, I thought, they're going to get into the invitation Pres.-elect Obama extended him to give the invocation at the Inauguration, and the reaction of some gay-rights groups. Well, surprise!  They didn't: not in word or implication.  Warren appeared strictly in his role as pastor, and the conversation focused exclusively on the meaning of the day.  

The video clip is of the portion of the conversation in which Warren describes the origin and practice of a Warren family tradition of holding a birthday party for Jesus on Christmas Day.  

There was no Memorex around when the brontosauri were bidding bye-bye, but I think we have a pretty good idea of what they sounded like as they were going extinct.  Just listen to Brian Williams this morning.  Appearing on Morning Joe, the NBC Nightly News anchor lamented the decline of "classically-trained" journalists in favor of guys with "an opinion and a modem."  

A question from Pat Buchanan about the ebbing fortunes of the old media set Williams off on a soliloquy he assured us was not self-interested.

Given some of the reactions to an item I wrote yesterday about Barney Frank's objections to Rick Warren giving the invocation at the inauguration, let me state for the record that I lean libertarian on marriage.  On the one hand, I don't like courts substituting their judgment for legislatures or the will of the people.  But in the long run, I think it might be better for government to recognize that marriage is a religious or spiritual institution, and confine its role to enforcing agreements between partners.

That said, I can't help but chuckle at the way the MSM is twisting itself into knots over the Rick Warren issue.  The latest, most entertaining episode occured on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, on MSNBC. David Shuster discovered that, contrary to his presumption, civil rights pioneer Rev. Joseph Lowery, also on the inaugural program, does not support gay marriage!

ABC can't be so naive as to believe it wasn't a carefully calculated publicity stunt.  Surely the good folks at Good Morning America know it was anything but an invasion of privacy--that the Clintons wanted the world to see the image of a blissfully happy married couple tripping the sand fantastic. And yet .  . .

GMA devoted a segment this morning to a collective tongue clicking in concern that the Obamas' privacy is being invaded by photographs taken during their current vacation in Hawaii. To lend historicial perspective, other instances of photograhic invasions of presidential privacy were aired, including the image displayed here.  According to ABC's Yungi de Nies, who narrated the segment, the photographic invasion of vacation time was "something the Clintons had to get used to.  They were spotted dancing in the sand on one vacation."  "Spotted"?  I suppose. In the same sense streakers are "spotted" running across football fields.

View video here.

Let's let Kate O'Beirne, in a 2005 column in the National Review, tell the real story behind the Clintons' careful mise-en-scène:

All in all, I like Politico's list of the Top Ten Media Blunders of 2008, by staff writer Michael Calderone, appearing on the website this evening. How can you be too tough on a list that includes, among other faux pas:

  • MSNBC's use of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews as election night and convention co-anchors;
  • The New York Times's suggestive but unsubstantiated story about John McCain and lobbyist Vikki Iseman; and
  • The MSM's lack of curiosity despite the National Enquirer's solid reporting on the John Edwards affair?

But no story about a list would be complete without some beefing and second-guessing, and I have some.  Here's blunder #6 on the Politico list [emphasis added]:

Does Barney Frank think incest is worse than pedophilia?  The question arises because, chatting with Andrea Mitchell this afternoon, here's how Frank reiterated his opposition to Barack Obama having granted Rick Warren the honor of pronouncing the invocation at the inauguration. 

BARNEY FRANK: I think Rick Warren's comments comparing same-sex relationships to incest is deeply offensive, wildly inaccurate and very socially disruptive.

View video here.

But Warren didn't limit his comparison of gay marriage to incest.  In the same statement  in which Warren alluded to incest he also invoked polygamy and pedophilia.

The people just don't know Caroline like I do.  That was the essence of Andrea Mitchell's defense of the would-be senator after Pat Buchanan analogized her to another nominee who famously flopped.  Appearing on Morning Joe, Buchanan unleashed a merciless metaphor.

PAT BUCHANAN: It's not only entitlement.  It appears–we are getting close to Harriet Miers country, where Bush put her out there, and it became transparent when people started going after her that she wasn't quite up to this --

Buchanan's barb stirred Andrea into action.

Howard Kurtz features Mika Brzezinski in his WaPo Media Notes column this morning.  Between a book deal and the syndication of her new radio show with Morning Joe partner Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski has become a hot media property of late.

The column reveals some interesting bits about Brzezinski, including the fact that she was unceremoniously let go at CBS upon the advent of Katie Couric.  But it's the discussion of her liberalism or alleged lack thereof that might be of most interest to NewsBusters readers.  On the one hand, Kurtz quotes Mika as saying: "I've been in a box as a journalist for 20 years.  That is a very safe and lazy place to be. You can hide behind objectivity. It is much harder to put yourself out there."

On the other, Kurtz dredges up Brzezinski's too-familiar dodge when accused of being a liberal [emphasis added]:

The MSM has been too reverential towards George W. Bush.  Yeah, that's the ticket.  The only thing more absurd than that assertion was Arianna Huffington's willingness to accept it as a fact in answering a question. Here was the exchange between Huffington and Choire Sicha, writing for the LA Times, in today's "Sunday Conversation" feature [emphasis added]:

CHOIRE SICHA: It was only recently that this spell of reverence for Bush lifted. Why'd it take so long?

ARIANNA HUFFINGTON: I think it took so long because there is something about the conventional wisdom that is very addictive to members of the press. They don't want to diverge from it too far.

The conversation later provided another rib-tickler from the HuffPo hostess [emphasis added]:

As NewsBuster Dan Gainor has noted, Playboy Mexico thought it could make some pesos by peddling an issue with a scantily-clad Virgin Mary on the cover—just in time for Christmas.  Today's Los Angeles Times contains an editorial denouncing the tasteless stunt.  All well and good.  But it set me to wondering.  Did the LAT protest similar outrages against religous symbols when they appeared in the US?

The infamous "Piss Christ" comes to mind. Even more on point is the portrait of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by lacquered elephant dung and cutouts from pornographic magazines, that the Brooklyn Museum found worthy of display.  

Though NewsBusters is normally in the business of critiquing the liberal media, not praising the conservative, I want to ensure that as many of our readers as possible have the pleasure and profit of reading Mark Steyn's recent column: We're in the fast lane to Bailoutistan.

Lynn Sweet wants the Obama team to come clean over its contacts with Blago.  David Shuster has a different concern.  He's hoping the media won't get "adversarial" once the Obama folks get around to releasing their report about who said what to whom.

Shuster made his pre-emptive plea for good media manners on this evening's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the MSNBC show Shuster has recently begun hosting now that David Gregory has moved on to Meet The Press.

Sweet, of the Chicago Sun-Times, began with a reasonable reporter's take on the pending release by Team Obama of its accounting of contacts between the President-elect's representatives and Blago and his minions: take your time but be complete.  In contrast, Shuster's focus was his demand for media decorum and desire to exculpate Rahm Emanuel before even learning the facts.

View video here.

Surely no one would view Rev. Jeremiah Wright as closer to the centerpoint of American politics than Pastor Rick Warren, right? Wrong.  Here's Chris Matthews on this evening's Hardball.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It seems like Barack Obama, as much as seems to inspire people, including me, has a problem with pastors.  I don't know what it is. You get him hooked up with a pastor, whether it's Jeremiah Wright, or it's this guy Rick Warren.  One's on the left, one's on the far right.  Both are causing him trouble.

So Wright's merely "left," while Warren's "far-right."  Do we really need to prove the obvious: that Warren is vastly more mainstream than Wright? It hardly seems worth the effort, but let's consider a few factoids: