On Thursday's Morning Joe, the panel discussed TIME Magazine's latest cover of White House Chief Strategist and Special Counselor Steve Bannon captioned "The Great Manipulator." It is imporant to note, unlike former Bush senior adviser Karl Rove and former Obama adviser David Axelrod, Bannon has been dubbed as if he is the "president's brain." The former was on the cover of TIME in 2005, while Axelrod has never been pictured there.

Earlier this afternoon (Tuesday), National Review’s Eliana Johnson dug up the full transcript of embattled NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams recounting his helicopter story to Tim Russert in 2005, and she zeroed in on Williams specific claim that the pilot — “our captain” — was shot “right through the earlobe,” a claim disputed by the two pilots on that Chinook.

On The Situation Room today, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer made a surprising admission to, of all people, real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump:
BLITZER: What do you think of his (Obama's) decision to pick Joe Biden as his running mate?

 On CNN's American Morning today, White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux reported on Barack Obama's campaigning in Virginia.  Afterwards, anchor Kiran Chetry had a question:

CHETRY: All right. And Suzanne, what's on tap for the campaign today? And please tell me it's not lipstick again.

MALVEAUX: Let's hope not. He's going to be in Norfolk, Virginia. That is in southeast Virginia, and it's home to the world's largest Naval base. It's one of the most competitive areas that the Democrats and Republicans are fighting over. It's a critical piece of property, piece of land there with folks in Virginia, and they want those voters.

In an op-ed in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal (page A-15), “Russert Took Media Bias Seriously,” former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg observed:
What made Tim Russert different, and better, I think was his willingness to listen to -- and take seriously -- criticism about his own profession. He was willing, for example, to keep an open mind about a hot-button issue like media bias -- an issue that so many of his colleagues dismiss as the delusions of right-wing media haters.
Goldberg recalled that when he wrote Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News, “no one in network television wanted to discuss the issue, no matter how many Middle Americans thought it was important.” But “Russert was the lone exception. He had me on his CNBC interview show, and we talked about bias for a full hour.” (Screen captures here and below are from that interview on the February 23, 2002 edition of Russert's CNBC show.)

In his op-ed, Goldberg quoted from an interview he conducted with Russert for his 2003 book, Arrogance: Rescuing America from the Media Elite.” (Below is a full reprint of that book chapter.)

Watch this video where Chris Matthews displays his utter lack of class with Keith Olbermann. While almost every other journalist and blogger on both sides of the political spectrum are giving condolences and highlighting Russert’s deserved credit of being one of the most fair and unbiased journalists of today’s media, Chris Matthews used the opportunity to go off on an anti-war rant.

In all the brouhaha last week over the incendiary comments made by Barack Obama's pastor the media seemed to forget to partake in their traditional Holy Week Christian-bashing excercise.  There were a few entries in the "Easter Hit Parade," like the Comedy Central show "Root of All Evil" which my boss, Brent Bozell, wrote about in a column recently, and an episode of "Law and Order" which featured another Christian-stones-someone storyline.

I suppose it's good news that there was less faith flagellation courtesy of the liberal media, and yet at the same time it's sad that I was expecting to find it at Easter time.  But the fact remains that Christmas and Easter are generally times when the media attacks on Christians are more pronounced.

For atheists it's a different story.

Tim Russert invited on longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas on his CNBC show over the weekend to promote her new book but Thomas used the hour to praise the Clintons and smear Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The former UPI correspondent slammed Reagan declaring, "I think that the poor did not prosper under him at all," and charged the press was too soft on George W.

Reminded by Tim Russert on Russert's Saturday night CNBC show, about how Vice President Cheney predicted U.S. troops would be welcomed as “liberators” by the Iraqi people, New York Times Iraq reporter John Burns corrected Russert's presumption that Cheney was misguided: “The American troops were greeted as liberators. We saw it. It lasted very briefly, it was exhausted quickly by the looting.” Burns added: “I think that the instincts that led to much that went wrong were good American instincts: the desire not to have too heavy of a footprint, the desire to empower Iraqis.”

As for what led to the inaccurate assumption that Iraqi would “stand up” for democracy, Burns contended that journalists made the same error: “I think that the policy makers in Washington, and to be on honest with you the journalists also, to speak for myself, completely miscalculated the impact of 30 years of violent, brutal repression on the Iraqi people and their willingness, in President Bush's phrase, ' to stand up' for themselves, to take authority, to take risks.” Burns also rejected the notion that different U.S. strategies would have prevented the current chaos: “My guess is that history will say that the forces that we liberated by invading Iraq were so powerful and so uncontrollable that virtually nothing the United States might have done, except to impose its own repressive state with half a million troops, which might have had to last ten years or more, nothing we could have done would have effectively prevented this disintegration that is now occurring.”

Video clip (3:45): Real (2.9 MB at 100 kbps) or Windows Media (2.4 MB at 81 kbps), plus MP3 audio (1.3 MB)

Tim Russert and Tom Friedman don't think you're paying enough at the gas pump, in fact they seemed downright giddy about the prospect of increasing the gas tax as a way to end America's "oil addiction." Appearing on this weekend's CNBC's Tim Russert program the New York Times columnist was asked for his solutions to America's energy crisis.