Between now and Election Day, we're sure to see—and chronicle at NB—plenty of MSM sycophancy for Barack Obama.  But between the thrills going up assorted media legs, evidence is emerging that some in the media are beginning to assess the Dem candidate in a clearer light.  Take for example, Gabriel Sherman's piece at the New Republic which as its title—End of the Affair—suggests, has as its thesis that at least for some of its members, the MSM's puppy-love stage might be coming to an end.

Today comes Howard Fineman's admission, hesitant as it might be, and mitigated by his suggestion that Obama came close to hitting an absolute home run with his European trip, that yes, well, after all, the guy is—how can I put this?—arrogant.

Newsweek's senior DC correspondent was a guest on this afternoon's Hardball, with Mike Barnicle sitting in for Chris Matthews. The jumping off point was Obama's cancellation of his plans to visit injured American troops in Germany.

View video here.

See Bonus Coverage at foot: Barnicle accuses Jesse Jackson of "corporate blackmail."

Two veteran members of the Senate, two entirely different treatments from Andrea Mitchell.  Reverence for Ted Kennedy; scorn for Strom Thurmond. Guest hosting in Mika Brzezinski's spot on Morning Joe today, Mitchell, emotion in her voice, hailed Kennedy as "valiant" and a "hero."  As for Thurmond, Mitchell mocked that he wasn't alive even when he was in the Senate.

View video here.

The reference to the late South Carolina senator arose in the context of a discussion of the way in which, with the nomination of Barack Obama, the torch of Dem leadership has been passed to a new generation, whereas the same isn't true in John McCain's GOP.

If we're going to promote a candid discussion of race in our country, we can't jump down the throat of everyone who ventures onto the racial minefield.  Rather than finding offense in Roger Simon's suggestion that choosing Bobby Jindal as his VP running-mate would hurt John McCain among racist voters, I propose we simply analyze it.  Here's what Simon said on this evening's Hardball, as guest host Mike Barnicle led the Politico reporter and Newsweek's Howard Fineman through a tour d'horizon of possible VP picks.
MIKE BARNICLE: Interesting new Republican face, Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana.

ROGER SIMON: Interesting.  Young.  Very young, almost too young to run, not quite, he gets over the constitutional limit. But I gotta raise the delicate subject: if you're John McCain, and you know that you're going to get an 'x' percentage of votes based on race, do you pick a dark-skinned vice-presidential candidate, who some people are going to say–wrongly—is black, is a Hindu converted to Catholicism, who's an Indian-American? You know, none of that should matter in American politics, but is it a safe choice, or is it a choice that is going to get everybody chattering? I think McCain is going to go for a safer choice than that.
View video here.

Mike Barnicle has some campaign advice for John McCain: don't say anything about Obama's questionable connections. The former Boston Globe columnist, with a heartfelt second from Mika Brzezinski, wants the world to know that he's heard enough about Reverends Wright and Pfleger, not to mention Bill Ayers, and thinks McCain would "win a few points" for staying away from all that stuff and concentrating on the important issues facing Americans—like better batteries.

Barnicle made his suggestion on today's Morning Joe in commenting on an audio clip of Obama warning a crowd this past Friday that the Republicans will, among other misdemeanors, play the race card against him and accuse him of having a "feisty wife."

View video here.

Q. What's weaker than playing the "taken out of context" card?

A. Digging yourself deeper with the supposedly exculpatory explanation.

Mike Barnicle managed the Daily Double today with his mishandling of the flap over the way he described Hillary back in January. Barnicle was on Morning Joe, and discussion turned to a New York Times article, Media Charged With Sexism in Clinton Coverage, that mentioned his remarks.

View video here.

Mika Brzezinski realizes that the latest looniness emanating from Barack Obama's church poses political problems for the presidential candidate. But as a person of pallor, the ever-so-PC Morning Joe-er doesn't want to judge a black church—even when the most recent rantings come from the mouth of . . . a white preacher.

Morning Joe opened today with a clip of Father Michael Pfleger guest-preaching this past Sunday at Obama's Trinity United Church of Christ. Pfleger, a fixture on the radical Chicago scene whose endorsement of Obama [h/t Michelle Malkin] until recently appeared on the official Obama campaign website, mocked Hillary Clinton's New Hampshire tears as a sign of her frustrated sense of white entitlement. The screencap shows Pfleger making like Hillary wiping away those tears.

(Watch video above, context included, fast-forward to 3:40 for Brzezinski's humorous comment.)

But while acknowledging the headache Pfleger poses for Obama, Mika was oh-so-loath to comment on the substance or tone of the remarks themselves. Excerpts from her discussion with Tucker Carlson, Mike Barnicle and Willie Geist:

You pathetic little people of the blogosphere. You're nothing more than "nitwits at home with [your] computers" who've deluded yourselves into imagining you're "part of the news media." Just ask Mike Barnicle. The former Boston Globe columnist broke the tough truth to us on today's Morning Joe. WaPo editorial writer Jonathan Capehart was "so glad" to agree.

Capehart was in full courtier mode to Mika Brzezinski, anchoring the show during Joe Scarborough's extended absence awaiting the birth of a child home in Florida. When executive producer Chris Licht read a viewer email critical of Mika, Capehart leapt to her defense, and it was then that Barnicle and he sniffed at the pretenders of the pajamahadeen.

View video here.

Bureaucratic bungling by the state of Minnesota had a heavy hand in the fatal Minnesota bridge collapse last summer, according to a new report commissioned by that state's legislature. The Associated Press has the story, but it's not as exciting as the initial "blame Bush" meme the media found so convenient as the tragedy unfolded. (emphasis mine):

ST. PAUL - A new report on the Minneapolis bridge collapse said money worries may have led to bad maintenance decisions ahead of the catastrophe that killed 13 people last August.

The report, commissioned by the Legislature, also criticized the Minnesota Department of Transportation for bridge inspections that were mishandled or not acted upon over the years, even when they called for immediate repairs.


The big story this morning is President Bush's remarks to the Israeli Knesset invoking the example of Hitler to warn against the appeasement of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the opening segment, from Mika Brzezinski [subbing as host for Joe Scarborough this week] to Willie Geist to Pat Buchanan to Mike Barnicle to David Shuster, nary a word in defense of Bush was heard, with Shuster twice referring to Bush's remarks as "grotesque." The only slight straying from Bush-bashing orthodoxy was Barnicle's observation that when he first heard of the remarks, he took them as aimed at Jimmy Carter, not Barack Obama.

A show purporting to have any semblance of balance would surely have a defender, if not of Bush, then at least of John McCain [who has reacted approvingly to Bush's comments] as a subsequent guest on today's show. Well, here's the guest lineup that Mika announced:
  • Bill Richardson--Obama endorser
  • Joe Biden--who has called Bush's remarks "bull----"
  • Susan Rice--Obama foreign policy advisor
  • Jonathan Alter--liberal pundit and occasional Olbermann sidekick

Is it the province of a "correspondent" of an ostensibly objective network to proclaim the tactics of a presidential candidate "inappropriate"? Apparently so, when the network is MSNBC and the correspondent David Shuster. The frequent sidekick to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann got into it with Pat Buchanan on today's Morning Joe.

Shuster spoke out against Hillary's rough-'n-tumble end-game tactics, while a feisty Buchanan defended Clinton's right to go down swinging. Shuster sounded less the reporter and more the DNC member concerned about damage to the party's presumptive presidential candidate. When Mike Barnicle got into the act, he wanted to be sure not to be seen as insulting the Clintons.

View video here.

DAVID SHUSTER: What is the plausible scenario for what she's doing now, and do you agree, the only plausible scenario is that she's just trying to permanently damage Barack Obama?

MIKE BARNICLE: What about this one, David? What about the fact that, listen, not speaking ill of either former President Clinton or Senator Clinton [God forbid!], but this is all they've ever done in their lives. They've never worked at a private job, they've never worked in corporate America [Rose law firm?], they've been public people for 30 years. All they know is running! That's all they know: that's who they are.

The reviews are in and Ted Kennedy's endorsement of Barack Obama was a bit hit with the crew over at "Hardball." Chris Matthews compared Kennedy to King Arthur and said of the liberal Senator's speech: "Today we got a glimpse of the early 1960s when politics was alive." The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson admitted it gave him "goose-bumps," and MSNBC's Mike Barnicle called it "electric."

It wasn't long after the fatal Minnesota bridge collapse on I-35 last summer that the liberal media jumped on the tragedy as a way to bash President Bush and the spending priorities of the Bush administration. Keith Olbermann suggested that Iraq war spending was to blame and Mike Barnicle, subbing for Chris Matthews on "Hardball" wondered if it gave Democrats political ammunition for growing the size of government.

Of course, this hardly was shocking for seasoned bias busters like our own Tim Graham, who noted parallels with media bias following a 1989 bridge collapse in San Francisco.

But now the investigation into the August bridge collapse is complete and it turns out that the seeds of the tragedy were planted in the 1960s when the bridge was built during the LBJ Era of massive social and defense spending with the Great Society and Vietnam respectively.

From a January 15 article by AP's Frederic J. Frommer: