On Wednesday, Newsweek's Andrew Romano celebrated news out of Indiana that "establishment" Republican Dan Coats fended off two conservative opponents in the Senate primary.
Romano's obvious delight came through loud and clear starting with the headline, "The Tea Party is Now Irrelevant in Indiana." You see, one loss in a Senate primary was enough to declare the movement DOA - and Romano was anxious for the rest of the media to play along.
The real headline in Indiana was that 52 percent of Republicans went in favor of Tea Party challengers, but two of them in the mix was enough to split the vote, and Coats squeaked by at 39 percent.
A few media sources, including Politico, reported that Coats limped out of the primary "bruised" by anti-incumbency. Romano, however, insisted that 39 percent was a clear victory. Why the stark difference in coverage? According to Romano, some in the media were glorifying Tea Parties to apparently advance some selfish narrative.
Try not to cough from the smell of irony as you watch a Newsweek writer complain about dishonest narratives being perpetrated by the media:
Everyone knows that the quickest way to become a popular Republican in the media’s eyes is to denounce the Republicans as too extreme and conservative. The latest example is Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who became an instant media sensation when he abandoned his dreadfully losing GOP campaign for the U.S. Senate to run as an independent. Chris Matthews pushed the storyline as a “Stalinesque purge” of moderates.
Obama strategist David Axelrod crowed about how great the Democrats looked as a result: “We have a big tent. They have a lean-to now.” This, from the party that hasn’t tolerated a pro-life presidential or vice-presidential nominee since Jimmy Carter tried to straddle the fence in 1976. This, from the liberals who are presently trying to “purge” Sen. Blanche Lincoln in a Democratic primary in Arkansas. This, from the party that successfully purged Sen. Joe Lieberman from its ranks.
MSNBC's Morning Joe scored an interview with Charlie Crist on Friday, but only co-host Mika Brzezinski seemed interested in asking the newly independent governor tough questions. Joe Scarborough spun Crist's defection from the Republican Party as one of conviction. [Audio available here.]
Brzezinski grilled the senatorial candidate with this hardball: "Tell me why this isn't just politically expedient? Why this isn't just sort of a desperate attempt to win because you were losing?" Technical difficulties forced Brzezinski to ask her question again.
Attempting to get an answer to something that apparently didn't occur to Scarborough, she reiterated, "On February 22nd you were actually on this show and you said, 'I am in this race as a Republican.' We asked, "Might you become an independent?' So, how is this not politically expedient?" Scarborough joking referred to his co-host's query as "hateful."
Both Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist appeared live on Friday's Today show, and both received the same question by NBC's Meredith Vieira, was Crist's departure from the GOP just another example of the Republicans being "intolerant" to moderates? In addition to advancing that liberal view of the Florida Senate race, Vieira also questioned if Rubio was being "manipulated" by the Tea Party, as seen in the following exchange:
MEREDITH VIEIRA: Do you feel you're being manipulated at all by the Tea Party? Because they're the ones that have sort of helped boost your numbers. You've become their darling.
MARCO RUBIO: Absolutely not. Well you know what? The Tea Party is just a collection of every day Americans, most of whom have never participated in politics before, who are tired of the direction of this country and want their voices heard. This is not a professional political movement. In fact, it's only a year old but I think it's been a good thing for American politics to see people get involved and have their voices heard. I'm proud of the, of the support they've given me. [audio availabe here]
Before that exchange Vieira threw out the "GOP is too intolerant" line, first to Crist:
How should MSNBC supplement its income? Have the DNC underwrite part of Norah O'Donnell's salary. She's certainly earning it . . .Yesterday, as noted here, a giddy Norah enthused that Charlie Crist's vote-splitting independent run gives the Dems "a real shot" to win the Florida Senate seat.
O'Donnell was back on the Dem ramparts this morning on Morning Joe, defending Janet Napolitano's execrable record on border security, leading Joe Scarborough to mock the Homeland Security secretary with some effervescent imagery . . .
That set up the left-wing Dean to bash conservatives and the GOP: "What effect does the tea party have on the Republican Party? And this is a really good example. They've driven another moderate out of the Republican Party....there just apparently is no place in the Republican Party for moderate, thoughtful people anymore."
Hall first asked Dean about an odd rumor: "There is a story online that's being picked up by conservative blogs that you offered to contribute to Charlie Crist's campaign if he left the Republican Party. What happened there?" Dean explained: "That was a joke between me and Joe Scarborough which some enterprising staffer for Crist picked up and pushed it around. It's not true. I'm supporting Kendrick Meek." He then added: "I actually think that the two big winners out of this are the United States, who are hopefully going to get a real senator instead of a far-right person, and I do think, of course, it helps the Democratic Party and Kendrick's candidacy as well."
After Hall introduced Dean at the beginning of the segment, she remarked: "I say it like you're a correspondent now....I love that being a possible segment Governor Dean, you coming on and talking about the top political news of the day."
Gov. Charlie Crist "goes it alone in his bid for Senate," the Miami Herald noted in its headline today for a story about the Florida governor's plan to ditch his floundering attempt to secure the GOP Senate nomination in favor of an independent run.
The story by Herald staffers Steve Bousquet, Adam C. Smith and Beth Reinhard painted Crist in a sympathetic light as a misunderstood statesman who's become a "pariah" to his party and has thus been "forced to run an unconventional race" (emphases mine):
TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Charlie Crist, a pariah in the Republican Party that has been vital to his success, will launch a risky political career Thursday as a ``people's candidate'' for the U.S. Senate with no party affiliation.
Crist began telling campaign donors of his decision Wednesday, which he will announce at 5 p.m. at Straub Park in downtown St. Petersburg, surrounded by family members, friends, local supporters and an army of media personnel. It will be an extraordinary event in Florida's colorful political history, as a one-term governor who blew a 30-point lead in the Republican Senate primary is forced to run an unconventional race.
ABC's Good Morning America on Thursday gushed over "rising star" Charlie Crist's decision to leave the Republican Party and run as an independent in the Florida Senate race. Next to a graphic that read "Declaration of Independence," co-host George Stephanopoulos speculated, "Is this trouble for Republicans? Will more independents rise up?" [Audio available here.]
Stephanopoulos also oddly called the Florida governor a both a "GOP star" and a "rising star," despite the fact that Crist's popularity has been fading within the party for almost a year. However, when then-GMA host Diane Sawyer interviewed Joe Lieberman on August 9, 2006, she was highly critical of the Democrat's decision to leave his party.
Sawyer scolded, "Senator, I heard you say 'I'm a Democrat.' But you're talking about running as an independent and there are members of the party who've already said, commentators, that this is a selfish decision. How can you run against the party?...You're going to be all alone out there."
Check out Norah O'Donnell's reaction to the news that Charlie Crist is poised to enter the Florida senatorial race as an independent.
Appearing on Morning Joe today, the MSNBC correspondent was absolutely giddy with excitement at the prospect that Crist's independent run could give Democrat Kendrick Meek "a real shot!"
Chris Matthews -- who was offended by Rush Limbaugh calling the Obama administration the "regime"-- claimed the Republicans were engaged in a "Stalinesque" purge. On Tuesday's Hardball Matthews charged that conservatives challenging moderates within the Republican Party (like Marco Rubio versus Charlie Crist in Florida) was akin to Joseph Stalin's violent purges in the 1930s, as he teased an upcoming segment this way: "Coming up what happens to Republicans who don't march to the right wing tune? Well they're getting purged. This is Stalinesque, this stuff."
Later on in the segment Matthews claimed the GOP was engaging in something "particularly nasty" in "pruning itself" and warned Republicans risked losing "sophisticated" voters in the suburbs if it continued to turn towards "Palin-ism and gun-toters."
The following Matthews quotes were aired on the April 20 edition of Hardball:
Whenever a liberal columnist gives some "friendly" advice to a Republican who is running for public office, you can be sure that he almost always has an ulterior motive. Such was the case with columnist Michael Mayo of the ailing Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel. Not only did Mayo urge Charlie Crist to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent, he also cynically advised Crist to open himself up for bribery ala Ben Nelson should this year's elections result in a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats:
Democrats now have a 57-41 edge over Republicans in the Senate, and there are two independents who align with the Democrats, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
With 36 Senate seats up for grabs in November, Democrats and Republicans could end up virtually deadlocked for the majority.
Could you imagine if there was a 49-48 split and Crist were one of three independents?
Anything Florida wanted, Florida would get.
How about this idea: Our junior senator could broker a deal where all Florida homeowners get affordable windstorm coverage through national catastrophe insurance. In exchange, we allow expanded oil drilling off Florida's shores.
I say go for it, Independent Charlie.
For Floridians, it could have a nice ring — and ka-ching — to it.