When conservative Sen. Jesse Helms died in 2008, Brent Bozell wrote about how NBC substitute anchor Lester Holt could only talk about what he opposed: "He staked out firm positions against everything from communism and foreign aid to civil rights and modern art." NBC reporter Martin Savidge called Helms an "ultra-rightist."

But when Sen. Jim Jeffords died – a man best known for leaving the GOP and throwing the Senate majority to the Democrats in the summer of 2001 – NBC anchor Brian Willliams described him on Monday as a “giant of Vermont and national politics for decades.” He was a “moderate,” not a liberal:



New York Times reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg penned an obituary in Monday's edition for former Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who died Sunday morning.

Specter served as a liberal Republican for most of his career before switching to the Democratic Party in 2009 in an unsuccessful attempt to preserve his seat. But while Specter battled conservative icon Judge Robert Bork and helped deny Bork a seat on the Supreme Court, it's a later Supreme Court dust-up the Times and liberals refuse to forgive him for: His tough questioning of Anita Hill after she accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during Thomas's 1991 Supreme Court hearings.



In an obituary for former Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter on Sunday's NBC Nightly News, correspondent Kelly O'Donnell summarized his shift in political allegiance this way: "Specter's views, supporting abortion rights, immigration reform, and gun control, made him too liberal for the Tea Party movement...Under assault, he bolted to the Democratic Party."

Introducing O'Donnell's report, anchor Lester Holt declared Specter to be "a longtime voice of moderation in Washington, and at times a figure of controversy." As evidence of Specter's controversial nature, O'Donnell cited him questioning the credibility of Anita Hill during a 1991 Supreme Court hearing: "Specter angered many women over the spectacle around Anita Hill, who claimed Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her."



Longtime Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter died Sunday.

This from the Associated Press:



As former Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) railed against political extremists whom he termed "cannibals," CNN's Piers Morgan actually encouraged him to "start taking a few of them out for us" and "Bury a few more bodies." Specter had specifically referenced the Tea Party and the Club for Growth as "cannibals" he wrote about in his new book "Life Among the Cannibals" and repeatedly took shots at the conservative wing of the Republican Party, on Tuesday's Piers Morgan Tonight.

Just last week CNN's Piers Morgan condemned bigoted jokes and slammed conservative actor Kirk Cameron for his "deliberately inflammatory" rhetoric against homosexuals. However, he not only allowed Specter to label his enemies "cannibals" but joined in on the act.



A seemingly befuddled Chris Matthews on Tuesday interviewed former Senator Arlen Specter, gleefully (and incorrectly) referring to the Democrat as a Republican. Downplaying the fact that Specter switched parties, Matthews bellowed, "Your party has become a right-wing party."

After mentioning the plight of Charlie Crist, who was defeated by Marco Rubio in a Republican senatorial primary, Matthews shrieked, "He lost the Senate race because he contacted [hugged] the President physically once. This is what is going on in your party." Again, the Republican Party is not Specter's party. Just getting warmed up, Matthews complained, "And so the party of Lincoln has became the party of Strom Thurmond, hasn't it?" [See video below. MP3 audio here.]



  Chris Matthews, during MSNBC's live election night coverage, was distressed at what he saw was the "death of the moderate wing of the Republican Party." After his colleague Keith Olbermann ran down the latest results of Republicans leading or winning in specific races Matthews bemoaned how such moderates like Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter were run out of their own party and even bellowed: "Mike Castle getting knocked out by the woman who said she's not a witch...is a joke, it's a joke for the Republican Party to lose people like Mike Castle."

The following November 2, outburst by Matthews was aired during MSNBC's live election night coverage:

 (video after the jump)



Imagine if, in 2004, Karl Rove had offered then-Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) a cushy administration post if only he dropped his primary challenge of then-Republican Sen. Arlen Specter, whom the Bush White House was backing for reelection.

Surely the media would merely smell "stupid politics" rather then the stench of corruption and complain that Democrats making hay of the matter were cynically making a federal case out of something that happens in Washington all the time.

Of course both you and I know that's the exact opposite of what would happen. But when it comes to Joe Sestak's alleged job offer by the Obama White House, Time magazine's Michael Grunwald is peeved at Republicans, practically telling them in his May 27 "Viewpoint" post at Time.com to move along:



Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak, Pennsylvania; Dana Bash, CNN Correspondent; & John King, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgOn his CNN program on Monday, John King pressed both Obama senior advisor David Axelrod and Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak on the latter's allegation that he was offered a job by the White House in exchange for getting out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary against Arlen Specter. Even though King pushed for an answer, Axelrod denied any wrongdoing on the White House's part and Sestak refused to explain further [audio available here; video below the jump].

The CNN anchor raised the controversy with Sestak 16 minutes into the 7 pm Eastern hour. Though King was late in pressing Sestak on the issue, given the politician made the allegation against the Obama White House in February, he tried hard to get the Pennsylvania Democrat to divulge further information. The congressman went beyond filibustering, rephrasing his vague answer and even trying to change the subject:


UPDATE: Later in today's show, a clip [displayed after the jump] was played of an interview from months ago in which Scarborough unequivocally put it to Sestak that he had been offered the Secretary of the Navy position, and Sestak seems to confirm it. So much so that after watching the clip, today's guest Jeffrey Sachs, an ardent Obama fan, had to laughingly admit that, yes, Sestak had been offered the Navy job

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Does Chuck Todd understand the difference between offering, in return for a candidate's agreement to drop out of a race, a big federal job with its salary and perks, versus offering to support someone's possible future political campaign?  Apparently not.  For the NBC Political Director and chief White House correspondent this morning equated the Obama admin's apparent offer of a top job to Joe Sestak with Dick Cheney's reported offer to support Tim Pawlenty in a subsequent gubernatorial run if he would get out of a Senate primary against Norm Coleman. H/t reader Ray R.

Let's make this clear: offering a federal job which is within the offerer's power of appointment, in order to influence someone is a crime.  Offering political support in a possible future race is neither illegal nor wrong: it is simply politics.  But Todd shockingly equated the two during the course of a spirited conversation with Joe Scarborough on today's Morning Joe.

Viewers are encouraged to watch the extended clip, but here's the the crucial segment:



DINO or RINO couldn't happen to a nicer one.

Specter



Good Morning America's George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday echoed White House talking points and attempted to prop up the beleaguered campaign of Pennsylvania's Arlen Specter. Talking to Joe Sestak, who is opposing the preferred Senate candidate of the White House, the host said of Obama: "If the top Democrat in the country says he needs Arlen Specter in the Senate, why shouldn't Democratic primary voters listen?"

Stephanopoulos also played a commercial featuring the President and noted that Obama says he "loves" Specter.

Touting the Republican turned Democrat, the journalist enthused, "Voters have said they want politicians to work together across party lines and Specter has a record of doing that, doesn't he?"