There’s been a lot of suggestion by the media lately -- especially since the elections last Tuesday -- that the Republican Party is in dire trouble, and could lose control of the House and the Senate in 2006. For those interested in a side of this debate that the media are ignoring, you should watch today’s “Meet the Press,” in particular the second-half with DNC chairman Howard Dean.

When's the last time you remember a broadcast network adopting a politician's self-aggrandizing label as its own description of him?

Yet that's exactly what NBC did on this morning's Today show.  Remember how during the 2000 primaries John McCain traveled around the country on his "Straight Talk Express" bus, beguiling reporters? 

On NBC’s “Meet The Press” this morning, host Tim Russert stocked his panel with three left-of-center journalists – Nina Totenberg of NPR, Ron Brownstein of the Los Angeles Times, and David Gregory of NBC News – to discuss the events of the week. When they got to the nomination of Samuel Alito to replace retiring justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Russert mentioned that when Bill Clinton was president, both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, despite obvious Liberal leanings, were approved by a strong majority of both Democrats and Republicans. “And they say, ‘Why can't we have the same courtesy to conservative jurists under President Bush?’"

In response, Totenberg said: “If you look at the Ginsburg nomination, for example, she'd been a judge, I think, for 12 years. She'd been, actually, a pretty conservative liberal judge, if you can be such a thing.” This could be the first time that anyone has referred to the former general counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union as being “pretty conservative.”

As the discussion ensued, Totenberg expressed frustration with the president’s second choice to replace Sandra Day O’Connor:

In constructing a balanced panel to discuss a president's fortunes, one does not normally select one person who opposes him and. . . another person who opposes him and ran against him in a general election.

Within seconds of President Bush finishing his announcement of Samuel Alito as the nominee to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court, the CNN “American Morning” team was ready to attack and criticize this decision (video links to follow).

The Associated Press, in its continued obsession with the religious affiliations of Supreme Court justices and nominees--as long as they are Catholic--released its first story of the day concerning the rumored pick of Samuel Alito for the high court: Alito Would Be Fifth Catholic on Court.

When Bill Clinton nominated ACLU general counsel Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, what are the odds that, in the very first sentence of its report, the Today show described Ginsburg as "liberal"? Roughly the same as the Saints winning this year's Super Bowl, perhaps?

Yet this is how Katie Couric opened Today this morning: "Breaking news: President Bush is nominating conservative judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court."

Let's look at the facts:
  • The Miers withdrawal was greeted with widespread approval;
  • Conservatives are already beginning to rally around the president, awaiting what they optimistically expect to be a good replacement nominee.
  • If you believe the NY Times, Karl Rove has dodged the indictment bullet, at least for the time being.

So if you were writing the opening graphic for this morning's Today show,

Are you a Republican or conservative?  Want to get invited on a morning MSM show?  No problem!  Just be prepared to do one thing - criticize the Bush administration.

We've seen the pattern in recent weeks at the Today show.  First there was Bill Kristol, fiercely attacking the Miers nomination.  Yesterday, GOP congressman-turned-MSNBC-host Joe Scarborough upped the ante, accusing VP Cheney of a "lie."

And this morning brought an appearance by conservative uber-celebrity Ann Coulter.

In introducing Joe Scarborough this morning, Katie Couric described him a "former Republican congressman." After witnessing his performance, one is prompted to ask: was "former" intended to modify "congressman," or "Republican"? In any case, Scarborough was living proof of the adage that the kind of Republicans welcome on the Today show are those willing to take swipes at the Bush administration. Scarborough did so in spades this morning. Speaking of the Plame investigation, Katie asked, in her best butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-mouth ingenue tone:

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:

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