Was Fox News simply offering solid reporting on the inside baseball of the Fred Thompson campaign, or could there have been an element of payback for the candidate having blown off the Fox-sponsored debate last night in favor of appearing on NBC's "Tonight Show"?


NBC's "Today" show devoted its entire 7:30am half-hour of its Wednesday morning program to Bill and Hillary Clinton as it invited on the former president to tout his wife's candidacy and his new book.



Bill Clinton promoted his new book "Giving" in the second half-hour of NBC’s Today on Wednesday morning.



It was not exactly a plum assignment for a Republican to go on network television to discuss the alleged foot-tapping ways of the soon-to-be former GOP senator from Idaho. But Republicans also could easily see the delight in the eyes of the liberal media when word of Sen. Larry Craig’s Minneapolis airport arrest broke. The press went right back to last year’s smash-mouth Foleygate talking points about how this wasn’t just about the moral turpitude of one member of Congress, but it was about the impending end of the Republican Party, and potential doom for American conservatism.



On Tuesday's "Today" show Matt Lauer discovered the solution to all the environmental crises Al Gore and his ilk have warned about, there's just one hitch, it involves the extinction of all mankind. Promoting a book that examined how long it would take for the Earth to clean up "the mess we've made" Lauer and his co-host Meredith Vieira pondered how pristine the planet would be without us:

Matt Lauer: "Then we're gonna talk to the author of a book and this is, really asks an interesting question. The book is called The World Without Us and it asks the question what would happen to planet Earth if human beings were to suddenly disappear. What would happen to our cities? What would happen to our landmarks? How quickly would our streets turn to rivers? How quickly would our farmland turn to forest? What would happen to natural wonders and man made wonders, like the Panama Canal or the Statue of Liberty. We're gonna talk to the author about that. And really it's all about trying to figure out how long it would take nature to reclaim what we've created."

Meredith Vieira: "The mess."

Lauer: "How long it would take nature to fix the mess we've made?"



At the end of the first half-hour of NBC's Today show, the anchors were on camera when they clearly thought they were off-camera. At least here in the Washington area, while Meredith Vieira was looking down and waiting on screen, viewers heard Matt Lauer matter-of-factly critiquing an interview segment: "I wouldn't have echoed that first question...I already saw it in the intro...I already killed it." Meredith then looked up with a practiced smile and said, "Nice to see ya, Debra," and moved into promoting the next half-hour.



Mother Teresa died ten years ago this week, just days after Princess Diana perished in a car crash, displaying a very interesting comparison in media reactions. Princess Diana, molded by so much positive publicity over the years into a "secular saint" when she died, drew superior coverage, both in amount and in tone. Mother Teresa's publicity was also very positive over the years, of course, but the media seemed more willing to solicit harsh criticism of her life, even at the time of her death.



They Really Care

Several media outlets used the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to promote the 2008 Democratic candidates. On CNN, right after running a glowing piece on Democrats such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, anchor Soledad O’Brien sermonized that "no event has damaged the Bush White House more than Katrina." Over on ABC, "Good Morning America" co-host Robin Roberts claimed that candidates from "both parties" would travel to New Orleans to "point out the Bush administration's shortcomings in fixing many problems that still exist, like those being forced to still live in trailers."

Those Vile Republicans

"Hardball" regular David Shuster managed to combine both the Katrina coverage with the scandal over Senator Larry Craig. He bizarrely claimed that the Craig incident "adds moral insult to the injuries being suffered today by the victims of Hurricane Katrina."



NBC’s "Today" Show’s heart-touching feature on Geraldine Ferraro’s blood cancer survival on Friday morning gave a hint at the ulterior motive that they had for running it. Substitute host Ann Curry introduced the segment, a "Today’s Update" feature by gushing, "She’s always been a ground-breaker, and she is still at it."



Perhaps the first famous name that comes to mind when it comes to policeman arrests in a restroom is George Michael, the former Wham! singer, who was busted in April of 1998 for lewd conduct in a restroom at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills. (The act was reportedly masturbation and some public nudity.) This story, with Michael's fame on the wane, drew almost no attention from the same national media outlets who are now pounding on the office door of Sen. Larry Craig and insisting he resign.



As the networks dwell on the tenth anniversary of the death of a troubled British princess this week, it might be worth remembering that at the time, we noticed the tabloid tendencies toward celebrity deaths at the time were a much bigger media trend than investigations into the scandalous fundraising tactics the Clinton-Gore team used in 1996. Our MediaWatch study at the time noted:



This could be something of a first: a major MSM player admits there's a case to be made that the media is incredibly biased against Republicans.

As I noted here, when Tom DeLay accused the media of bias on this morning's "Today," Matt Lauer stonewalled: "I'm not going to let it, you know, end with that assumption, congressman, because I clearly don't agree with it."

But appearing on this afternoon's Harball, DeLay successfully wangled an admission from host Chris Matthews.
TOM DELAY: If [Craig] has been found guilty of what he's been accused of, then yeah. But I do know that the Republicans will do something about it. I do know that if he were a Democrat they would rally around him and they would not do something about it. I do know that the national media is incredibly biased against Republicans that find themselves [in trouble] --

CHRIS MATTHEWS: That's a charge which I've heard before and I can understand why you make it. You make it a lot. Sometimes you have a case to make. Sometimes.
View video here.