Mark Finkelstein

Mark Finkelstein's picture
Contributing Editor

Lives in Granbury, Texas. 

Twitter: @markfinkelstein

Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.

Latest from Mark Finkelstein

"Her politics of fear and division . . . must be wholly rejected on Tuesday."  Bob Cesca, The Mandatory Rejection of Sarah Palin, HuffPo 10-29-08

For a guy who calls for the rejection of the "politics of fear and division," Bob Cesca has an odd way of showing it.  His HuffPo column is one long, headfirst dive into the ugly politics he purports to decry.  Cesca hurls insult after distortion not merely at Sarah Palin, but more importantly, at the Americans who support her.  Among other things, Cesca-the-rejector-of-division calls Sarah Palin's supporters "easily-led gomers."

Read along, as we excerpt from Cesca's cesspit [emphasis added]:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee.

Has Chris Matthews heard America the Beautiful lately?  What could be more broadly acceptable than to suggest that God has blessed America with many riches?   But when Sarah Palin expressed that sentiment in a speech today, Chris Matthews mocked her.

H/t reader Melody. Forget "what has he done for me lately?" How about: "what has he ever done?"  Columbia professor and Obama fan Jeffrey Sachs was effectively stumped when Joe Scarborough put that question to him on today's Morning Joe. Sachs is author of Common Wealth, a title that should send shivers down the spine in these days of redistributionism in the air.

If Obama wins on Tuesday night, Chris Matthews's mocking this morning of the notion that the polls are tightening will be soon forgotten.  But if McCain pulls off the upset, Matthews's smirking triumphalism will take its place in the halls of journalistic hubris near the famous photo of Harry Truman holding up the Dewey Defeats Truman front page.

Just before Matthews came on, Andrea Mitchell ended her set-up segment by mentioning that the McCain campaign had released internal polls showing the race tied in the battleground states.  When Meredith Vieira opened the Matthews interview by asking him to comment, the Hardball host went into full mock mode.

Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR—a self-described progressive media watch group—now a professor of independent media at Ithaca College, invited me to address his class of student bloggers this afternoon.  Asked to name some of the fairer MSM journalists, I included David Gregory on my short list.  That could understandably come as a surprise to those who remember Gregory from his days as NBC's chief White House correspondent, when he earned the ire of the Bush administration for his often-aggressive style.  But I've found that Gregory plays it pretty much down the middle in his new role as host of Race for the White House on MSNBC.  

By coincidence, on this evening's show Gregory vindicated my confidence with some tough questioning of an Obama surrogate on the issue of taxes and spending.  Gregory went so far as to suggest that Obama's indication that he might not press for immediate implementation of tax increases on higher earners makes McCain's case. Gregory's guest was Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  When Van Hollen suggested Obama might postpone his tax-increase plan, Gregory moved in . . .

View video here.

Bob Shrum has made an addition to the growing list of things you can't say about Obama, because it's racist: don't you dare suggest Obama's never done anything hard.

Dem Shrum issued his diktat while debating Ed Rogers, a veteran of the Reagan and Bush 41 White Houses, on today's Hardball. Shrum seized on and distorted Rogers' statement, manifestly made in the political sense, that Obama had "never done one hard thing," to play the race card.

View video here.

B.C. and A.D?  Get with it, old man.  History is henceforth divided into the eras of B.B. and A.B.—Before and After Barack. And George W. might have been "misunderestimated" as he engaged in "strategery."  But that's so, like, yesterday.  Barack Obama is "pre-deortained."  By whom?  Spike Lee stopped short of saying God's hand is at work.  But he was clearly speaking in quasi-religious terms in discussing The One on today's Morning Joe.

Click on image at right to view video.

Imagine that a week before a presidential election, a radio interview surfaced in which the Republican candidate had called for, say, the abolition of Social Security. Now imagine the broadcast networks' reaction to that nugget: "We interrupt regularly-scheduled programming for this Breaking News," followed by 24/7 coverage with talking heads pondering the devastating impact on America's seniors, the overall economy, the future of Western civilization, etc. Nobel laureate Paul Krugman would be booked from now till election day, offering his pained pronouncements.

But how do those same networks react when a radio interview [YouTube after the jump] surfaces of Barack Obama in a call for the redistribution of wealth, in which he laments the Supreme Court's insufficient radicalism in pursuing redistribution and refers to the civil rights movement's failure to develop a better strategy to bring about wealth redistribution as a "tragedy?

Insert cricket-chirp soundtrack here.

Who wrote the following?:

"Societies in which the few are allowed to fatten themselves without limit on the labor of many are not just."

A. Friedrich Engels
B. William Ayers
C. Michelle Obama
D. Timothy Rutten

Any of the answers would make sense, but the headline kind of gave it away. It was Timothy Rutten of the LA Times who penned that immortal line in his column of today.  In doing so, Rutten echoes other in the MSM, as here and here, who in the wake of the financial markets' travails indulge in a certain anti-capitalist chic.

Let's have some fun deconstructing the intrepid class warrior's musings . . .

Renegade Night on Hardball.  First up, Bill Weld.  The former Republican governor of Massachusetts, who has endorsed Obama, told Chris Matthews he believed the Dem candidate would, as president, reach across the aisle to govern.   Weld didn't—couldn't—cite anything to support his assertion out of Obama's hyper-partisan Senate record in which he's toed the Harry Reid line 97% of the time.

But as apostasy goes, that was small potatoes compared to Christopher Hitchens.  The God Is Not Great author who, despite his support for the Iraq war, has also recently endorsed Obama, told Matthews he believes McCain is "borderline senile."

View video here.

Mary Mapes is in gloat over-drive.  Dan Rather's erstwhile producer, the woman behind Memogate, is beside herself with joy at what she sees as the impending death of the conservative blogosphere.  

It's her expectation that Barack Obama will win the presidency that has Mapes so hopeful.  Annotated excerpts from her HuffPo column, The Monster is Dying [emphasis added]:

Let's take a break from the tedious MSM spin on the latest polls, and settle back and enjoy the televised spectacle of two people who patently dislike each other going at it on live national TV.

Former UN Ambassador/current Obama backer Richard Holbrooke was a guest on today's Morning Joe.  Observing Holbrooke over the years, he's struck me as someone with, shall we say, a deep and abiding appreciation for his own acumen and importance.

Holbrooke and host Joe Scarborough repeatedly clashed over a host of issues from Biden's latest gaffe to Osama Bin Laden. But beyond the substance, it was the unvarnished animosity between the two that makes this must-see TV.

View video here.

How over-the-top was Chris Matthews in his vituperation against Sarah Palin and McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer this evening? So much so that:

  • Matthews twice berated an Obama representative for being insufficiently aggressive in going after Palin;
  • Brian Williams, in the subsequent segment, chided Matthews on his emotionalism.

The Hardball host was infuriated by Palin's description, in answer to a question from a third-grader, of the role of the vice-president. He also harped on the RNC's spending on Palin's wardrobe.

View video here.

When a McCain campaign representative told David Shuster today that the source of much of Barack Obama's fund-raising is unknown, the MSNBC host scoffed, claiming only "right-wing" blogs could believe that and challenging the spokesman to cite a credible source. 

Instead of fulminating about the conservative blogosphere, David might want to pick up a copy of Newsweek, which last time I looked had a news-sharing arrangement with . . . MSNBC.  None other than Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reported those very facts about Obama's fund-raising last week.

McCain spokesman Ben Porritt was Shuster's guest during MSNBC's 4 PM EDT hour today.

View video here.

It could be time to break out those old "Proud Member of the VRWC" coffee mugs collecting dust at the back of your kitchen cabinets.  The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy rides again!

Hillary invoked the VRWC yesterday at a campaign event in Minnesota for Al Franken in his race against incumbent Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

David Shuster had the report during MSNBC's 4 PM EDT hour today.

View video here.

See Update at foot: university says Mika will not "represent" Obama.

H/t reader Thomas S.  Despite her obvious liberal leanings, Mika Brzezinski prefers to play coy about her presidential preference on Morning Joe.  Mika often deflects co-host Joe Scarborough's accusations that she's in the tank for Obama by invoking the fact that her brother works for McCain.  And I have two beloved liberal Dem sisters: nu?

But Mika is apparently set to emerge from the political closet and let her Obama flag fly. Check out this report from the Fairfield [CT] Weekly about Brzezinski's upcoming participation in a debate at Fairfield University in which Mika will be "representing" Obama in a debate with formidable conservative pundit Monica Crowley [emphasis added]:

The NBC/MSNBC family of networks has been getting maximum mileage out of Chris Matthews's interview of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) last week.  Matthews himself has been recycling clips ever since. This morning, David Gregory narrated a Today show segment about the interview and its aftermath.  The only journalist whose views Gregory aired were those of Nick Coleman, columnist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

NICK COLEMAN: I think Michele Bachmann unfortunately is one of those politicians who doesn't understand the boundaries of common sense and sometimes common decency.

View video here.

I suppose that mocking Republican candidates is an essential element of a Washington Post editorial writer's job description.  Even so, it was jarring to hear the snide comments of WaPo editorialist Jonathan Capehart [seen right in file photo] about Sarah Palin read on the air today.  Not merely did he mock her shopping habits, Capehart came very close to accusing Palin of . . . "child abuse."

Mika Brzezinski, at the Morning Joe helm with Joe Scarborough off on assignment today, led the show with the Politico report that the Republican National Committee has spent more than $150 thousand on clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin and family.  Also aired was a clip of Palin describing the duties of the vice-president to a third-grader, the accuracy of which has been questioned.

View video here.

Guess who said the following this morning about Joe Biden's latest gaffe—his statement that America would be faced with a major international crisis within the first six months of an Obama administration as foreign forces seek to test the young new president: "certainly if Sarah Palin had said this, it would be above the fold in most newspapers today."

1. Brent Bozell
2. Rush Limbaugh
3. McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer
4. Dan Rather

If you guessed 1, 2 or 3, you'd be a rational NewsBusters reader . . . but wrong.  Yes, the answer is 4, Dan Rather.  In true man-bites-MSM mode, Rather made the remark on today's Morning Joe.

View video here.

Shades of McCain from an unlikely corner . . .

When at the beginning of the current financial mess John McCain declared that "the fundamentals of the economy are strong," he was roundly lambasted by the MSM, while the Obama campaign called his statement "an enormous mistake."

So, should we expect the liberal media and the Obama campaign to go after Barney Frank . . . now that he has said something remarkably similar? Discussing the markets with Maria Bartiromo on CNBC this afternoon, Frank declared: "I think it's clear that the fundamentals are better than the psychology."

View video here.