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Tonight's Hardball post-mortem special on the just-concluded Memphis straw poll of GOP presidential hopefuls was a treasure trove for political junkies.

One obvious conclusion: it was good night for Mitt Romney. As a northerner, someone from Massachusetts and a Mormon at that, finishing second in the South was a notable accomplishment.

But Chuck Todd of the Hotline suggested another headline:



As has been well-documented by Media Research Center [parent organization of NewsBusters], while MSMers are loath to label anyone or anything 'liberal,' they don't hesitate to brand various entities or individuals 'conservative' or 'right-wing.' Well, folks, I believe we have a new world record in the category.



School District to Taxpayers and Parents: Up Yours .....


Saturday's Chicago Tribune includes a front page story titled, "The Bill they can't stomach: Voting Clinton's boyhood home a historic site too much for these 12 angry lawmakers." The article, written by senior correspondent William Neikirk, doesn't support the headline.



Ellen Ratner doesn't just like John McCain. She doesn't even just love him. Nope. Ellen lov-v-v-v-v-e-s the person that FCC rules require us to describe as "the maverick senator from Arizona."



In the weekly Friday afternoon roundtable with Cam Edwards at NRANews.com, he brought up three stories he had seen that he doubted had received much national media attention:



On Friday's Countdown show, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann highlighted recent comments by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, delivered during a speech at Georgetown University, seemingly directed at such conservatives as Tom DeLay and President Bush for some of their criticisms of the judiciary, criticisms which O'Connor argued put America's government at risk of heading toward dictatorship.



Newsweek Assistant Managing Editor Evan Thomas condescendingly charged, on this weekend's edition of Inside Washington, that opposition to the UAE ports deals resonated with the public “because it's something that simple idiots can understand.” After a bit of snickering from the other panelists, especially NPR's Nina Totenberg, Thomas zeroed in on talk radio, even though the most popular talk radio host, Rush Limbaugh, supported the deal. Thomas called the subject matter “a classic for talk radio” because “you can get it on a bumper sticker.” Expressing his support for the UAE's purchase of the company operating several U.S. ports -- “We need Dubai as an ally. On balance, it would be better that the deal went through” -- Thomas proceeded to lament how “it was an easy one to demagogue on talk radio." As if much of the mainstream media didn't pile on too. (Uninterrupted transcript follows.)

Video clip (25 seconds): Real (800 KB) or Windows Media (900 KB). Plus, MP3 audio (150 KB) UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh quoted this item on his Monday, March 13 show: MP3 audio (55 seconds/335 KB)



Though they pointed out how there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, the ABC and NBC anchors on Friday night, in noting her decision to resign from the cabinet, nonetheless raised links between her and disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.


In the last couple of weeks, a CBS News poll found approval for President Bush at “an all-time low of 34 percent” and an ABC News/Washington Post survey pegged Bush's approval at “a new career low” of 41 percent. Without a presidential approval poll of its own with which to batter Bush, anchor Brian Williams led Friday's NBC Nightly News with how “the latest Associated Press poll has the President's job approval at 37 percent. For some context here, that matches President Clinton at the lowest point in his presidency.”

A week and a half ago, on the February 27 CBS Evening News, anchor Bob Schieffer trumpeted how “a CBS News poll out tonight shows the President's job approval rating has fallen seven points since the hurricane to an all-time low of 34 percent.” A week and a day later, on Tuesday of this week (March 7), on ABC's Good Morning America, Robin Roberts asserted: "President Bush's job approval rating has sunk to a new career low. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the President's overall performance rating now stands at 41 percent.” (Transcript follows of how Williams opened Friday's NBC Nightly News.)



During the 5pm hour of this evening’s The Situation Room, CNN senior national correspondent John Roberts devoted a portion of his report from the Southern Republican Leadership Conference [SRLC] in Memphis, Tennessee to highlight one potential GOP presidential candidate that most people have likely never heard of. Roberts set up the exchange with Dr. Mark Kline in the live portion of his report:

John Roberts: "His name is Dr. Mark Kline. He’s a psychiatrist from California who is launching an exploratory campaign for president."

Shortly thereafter, the taped exchange between Roberts and Kline was shown:

Roberts: "So, Dr. Kline, you’re–you’ve launched an exploratory committee here for president. What do you, what do you think of the current administration?"

Dr. Mark Kline: "I think this is actually the worst administration I’ve ever seen in my entire life."



United States officials announced yesterday that the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq will be closing in a few months. This gave NBC yet another excuse to show a montage of the famous abuse photos. Mike Boettcher, appearing at 7:06AM EST on the March 10 edition of Today, described the planned closing this way:

Boettcher: "During Saddam Hussein's reign and later under U.S. occupation, Abu Ghraib became perhaps the world's most notorious prison. Photographs of prisoner abuse by American guards at Abu Ghraib sparked an international scandal." (Pictures of abused prisoners overlap Boettcher’s comments.)

So it was Saddam Hussein and the United States that made the prison notorious? A naked pyramid may be bad, but it’s not the same as brutal murder.



Nina Totenberg of NPR logged a radio report this morning (audio link to follow) about a speech that former justice Sandra Day O’Connor gave at Georgetown University Thursday. Apparently, O’Connor refused to allow video cameras or recording equipment to the proceedings. As a result, Totenberg’s report only involved quotes of the former justice’s words as transcribed by Totenberg.



Liberal Democratic sources behind the story go unmentioned as more fears raised.


Friday’s Good Morning America devoted a segment to something called "bubble-sitting" in which homeowners sell their home, rent an apartment and hope for real estate prices to decline so they can buy back into the market at a lower price. Charlie Gibson was about to explain why he prefers owning to renting when GMA’s real estate contributor, Barbara Corcoran, zinged the modest Gibson.

Charlie Gibson: "I must say I'm an advocate of ownership, because I think there's a certain--"

Barbara Corcoran: "That's because you're rich, you can buy a good home. (laughter) It's true."