"CNN's 'Reliable Sources' is one of television's only regular programs to examine how journalists do their jobs and how the media affect the stories they cover." -- from CNN's "Reliable Sources" website [emphasis added].

When it comes to "how journalists do their job," the story of the week was Wolf Blitzer's spectacular failure to do his. Going into Thursday's debate, the big question was how Hillary was going to deal with the inevitable grilling over her flip-flopping on the issue of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants. But when Blitzer finally got around to the issue, well into the debate, he didn't bother to ask a single follow-up question to Hillary's terse "no" answer.

So surely Reliable Sources's host Howard Kurtz would put that question squarely on the table on today's show, right? Wrong.

Who'd you bet on in a Mixed Martial Arts match between Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd? You might get the chance. Earlier this week, Krugman called Barack Obama a "sucker" and a "fool," while praising Hillary. Maureen Dowd has now gone after Paul's girl, calling Clinton every name in the headline and a few more.

The theory of Dowd's column today is that while Hillary knows how to shake Barack Obama with her ice-cold demeanor, Rudy will revel in the combat with Clinton. Excerpts from "Shake, Rattle and Roll" [emphasis added]:

It's certainly safe to say that conservatives rarely agree with anything written by liberal bloggers.

However, on Saturday, not only was there a prominent posting at Daily Kos entitled "Clinton News Network = CNN," which received 631 comments in only seven hours, but the website's proprietor, the esteemed Markos Moulitsas, wrote an article of his own that was highly critical of Clintonista James Carville's role at the cable network.

In the end, the hypocrisy was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

But before we get there, the first piece voiced displeasure with the recent shenanigans by CNN during Thursday's Democrat Presidential debate:

There's a great deal of controversy brewing concerning implications that CNN not only stocked the audience at Thursday's Democrat Presidential debate, but also controlled the questions attendees asked.

So much for Wolf Blitzer not caving into pressure from the Clinton campaign.

*****Update: It looks like all six "undecided voters" set up to ask questions at the debate were plants. More at end of post!

One of the most delicious incidents from the debate was reported Friday by Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic magazine blog (emphasis added (h/t Allah at Hot Air):

Did you hear about that challenge famed oilman T. Boone Pickens made on November 6 when he offered $1 million to anyone that could disprove even one charge made against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth?

Like most people that weren't at the American Spectator dinner the evening Pickens made the offer, you probably didn't learn about this until Kerry accepted the challenge ten days later.

I guess that's when media outlets figured it was news, for at that point, they circled the wagons, and jumped all over a story that had gone totally ignored for nine days.

As reported by the Associated Press Friday (h/t Dan Gainor):

The lead story on Friday’s CBS "Early Show" focused on the Democratic debate and celebrated Hillary Clinton’s comeback as co-host Harry Smith exclaimed: "This morning, Hillary's camp declares a landslide as the Dems sling mud, exchange barbs, in the feistiest debate yet." The segment began with a report by CBS White House Correspondent, Jim Axelrod, who described how, "Hillary Clinton's two top rivals didn't waste any time attacking her...[she] looked confident, taking the attacks in stride." Axelrod later concluded his report by declaring that:

Her performance at this debate makes her prior stumble look like an isolated event. The story line now goes back to Hillary the sure-footed front-runner, where it will stay. At least for now.

Would the Democrats have been better off if Fox News had run their debate? The candidates are boycotting Fox as a way to please their far-left base, but Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace on this morning’s Fox & Friends criticized how CNN’s Wolf Blitzer repeatedly interrupted exchanges among the candidates last night (“It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”) and forced candidates like Joe Biden and Dennis Kucinich to beg for airtime.

“Fox, I have to say, I think we’re smarter,” argued Wallace, who has moderated a couple of GOP debates this year and would presumably play a role in a Democratic debate on FNC if the candidates dropped their boycott. “We let the guy talk for a minute. At the end of the minute, the bell rings, and that’s it. You’ve got a minute, and you can do with it what you want. But instead we have Wolf Blitzer every 30 seconds going, ‘Okay, okay, okay.’ It reminded me of Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapon 2.”

CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux, while moderating the second half of the Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas on Thursday night, added her own "two cents" to a question she fielded from an "undecided voter." After the voter asked the nominees what qualifications a Supreme Court nominee should possess, Malveaux directed the question to Senator Christopher Dodd, and added whether or not he would "require nominees to support abortion rights."

LaShannon Spencer, who was identified as a member of the First African Methodist Church, asked the question near the top of the 10 pm Eastern hour. She highlighted how health care and the Iraq war had, in her view, dominated the questions during past debates. "We constantly hear health care questions, and questions pertaining to the war. But we don't hear questions pertaining to the Supreme Court justice or education. My question is, if you are elected president, what qualities must the appointee possess?"

Rush Limbaugh has often indicated that he has no beef with Wolf Blizter. And I must say that I've generally found Blitzer to be a straight shooter who has rarely-if-ever provided grist for my NewsBusting mill.

All of which makes that much more perplexing Blitzer's bail-out at arguably the key moment last night's debate. The CNN anchor's failure to follow up on Hillary's monosyllabic answer on driver's licenses for illegals, letting her slide with her terse "no," was in my opinion the greatest single act of journalistic malpractice thus far in this campaign season.

Whitewash by L. Brent Bozell with Tim GrahamIt seems that no bad Hillary Clinton deed goes unresponded to.

As we are in the midst of a presidential campaign, this by itself is not an issue. That it is the national media that is leading this charge is. One need focus on but the latest corners of the Clinton pantheon to come to light to see the full court press the press puts on when their girl needs them.

In an October 10 Boston Globe interview, Senator Clinton let her socialism slip a bit, saying "I have a million ideas. I can't do all of them. I happen to think in running a disciplined campaign - especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility, which is what I'm trying to do - everything I propose I have to pay for. You know, you go to my website, you'll see what I would use to pay for what I've proposed. So I've got a lot of ideas, I just obviously can't propose them all. I can't afford them all. The country can't afford them all." (Emphasis ours.)

In a rather odd teaser for an upcoming Bill O’Reilly interview with co-host Hannah Storm on Wednesday’s CBS "Early Show," co-host Harry Smith remarked, "And looking for love in all the wrong places. Here's Bill O'Reilly in the studio this morning." What? Who’s "love" is O’Reilly looking for and why is the "Early Show" the "wrong" place to find it? Smith certainly made no such comment when he welcomed the ultra left-wing Dennis Kucinich earlier on the program.

For his part, O’Reilly had some odd responses when Storm asked about Hillary Clinton’s latest debate performance and charges of sexism against other Democratic candidates, "What do you make of Bill Clinton criticizing Hillary Clinton's Democratic rivals, saying that they were swift-boating her?" O’Reilly responded, "You see, I don't believe anything the press writes about Bill and Hillary Clinton at all...We tracked it yesterday, and we couldn't find any swift boat reference."

Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) participates in a debate at Drexel University in Philadelphia, October 30, 2007. (Tim Shaffer/Reuters)