Is Barack Obama turning into Spiro Agnew? The White House's attacks on the Fox News smack of the distaste for media opposition espoused by Nixon's vice president almost 40 years ago but are being met with a decidedly different reaction today by the elite media.

Pundits have wondered aloud since last week why the White House would pursue a strategy that seems to be boosting the ratings of a purported 'opposition' news network. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough posited today that the White House's attacks on Fox News are designed to prevent the mainstream media from picking up on stories damaging to the administration (video embedded below the fold, h/t to NB reader Kirk W.).

Every time Fox breaks a story on the radical connections of a White House advisor or appointee, the news is potentially damaging to the administration. But damage is only really done if the rest of the media picks up on the story, reports it, and turns it into a national news sensation, a la Van Jones.


During Tuesday morning’s inaugural coverage on MSNBC, Chris Matthews twice compared the Bush family to the Romanovs as he contended that the Bushes are now likely to go into hiding because of President Bush’s unpopularity: "It’s going to be like the Romanovs, too, and I mean that. There’s a sense here that they are fallen from grace, that they’re not popular, that the whole family will now go into retreat." Even liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson had to call him out on the exaggeration as it sounds like he says in the background that "it didn’t happen exactly like the Romanovs," referring to the overthrow and execution of the Russian royal family after the Bolshevik communists seized power in 1917.

A few minutes earlier, claiming "this isn’t a partisan statement," Matthews raised the possibility that Obama could give such a good speech that he would join the "oratorical Mount Rushmore" of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy in making memorable inauguration speeches. Matthews: "And it seems like there’s a third opening there for Barack Obama. It’s almost the oratorical Mount Rushmore, that there’s so much open space among those Presidents. And only two stand out. And this isn’t a partisan statement. This is a fact. There’s FDR. There’s JFK. And there may be Barack Obama."



Fidel will someday disappear, but MSM nostalgia for the Cuban revolution is forever.  Good Morning America devoted a segment today to celebrations in Havana marking the 50th anniversary of Castro's dictatorship.  The thrust of Jim Avila's report was that, yeah, there are those who "complain" about that oppression stuff, but the key is that Cuba is free from los Yanquis!

JIM AVILA: It is Raul Castro who now runs the country, with Fidel incapacitated.  He brought the celebration back to where in 1959, he, Fidel and Che Guevara came out of the Sierra Maestra mountains to overthrow the American-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista.
Cut to clip of Batista and Pres. Nixon exchanging smiles and a handshake.  Funny: Avila referred to Batista as a "dictator", but never used that term for the Castro boys.
AVILA: That was ten American presidents ago. And while many Cubans complain about economic conditions and oppression, most still take pride in their independence. 


Although most media members used the occasion of Mark Felt's death on December 18 to praise the former FBI official better known as "Deep Throat," George Friedman of the geopolitical intelligence organization Stratfor warned readers about journalists becoming "tools of various factions in political disputes" as well as "the relationship between security and intelligence organizations and governments in a Democratic society." 

As Friedman indicated, Felt is a pop hero to media members across the fruited plain.

The Associated Press called him an "inspiration to a generation of investigative journalists" the day after his death. The Washington Post wrote days later, "Without a single byline he inspired thousands and thousands of campus misfits to get journalism degrees."

Unlike an adoring press that's always interested in the next gotcha story regardless of the consequences, Friedman, ever the concerned citizen looking out for America's national security interests, didn't write about Felt's role in the Watergate scandal with such glowing praise (emphasis added throughout, h/t many NBers):



Director Ron Howard appeared for a C-SPAN Washington Journal interview Monday morning on Capitol Hill with British screenwriter Peter Morgan to discuss their new film Frost/Nixon, based on Morgan’s play on the 1977 interviews between British TV star David Frost and the Republican president who resigned. The jarring moment came near the end, when C-SPAN host Steve Scully asked "For a generation who doesn’t remember Nixon or these interviews, what do you want them to come away with?"



During a phone interview with FNC anchor Megyn Kelly, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who already voiced disapproval of Barack Obama's attempt to suggest that Kissinger would agree with his intention to meet personally with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, on Saturday elaborated on his disagreement with Obama, and clarified his views on how America should negotiate with Iran. The segment began with a soundbite of Obama from the debate trying to lecture McCain about Kissinger’s views. Obama: "Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who’s one of his advisors, who, along with five recent Secretaries of State, just said that we should meet with Iran, guess what, ‘without precondition.’ This is one of your own advisors."

Asked by Kelly if he supported having a President "meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions," Kissinger responded: "No, I don’t. I have argued that, at some point, negotiations with Iran are important. But it is my view that they should be on the working level, and that the President should not be involved until we know that we are close to an agreement, or that we know what the nature of the agreement is." Kelly soon sought clarification: "So, in other words, you favor negotiations at the lower level, perhaps all the way up to the Secretary of State, but you do not believe an American President should sit down without preconditions, as Barack Obama says he would like to do." Kissinger: "That is correct."



How disappointed was Chris Matthews with Barack Obama's debate performance tonight? How angry was Matthews at Obama for agreeing so much with John McCain?  Enough that Matthews unleashed the ultimate Dem insult, saying Obama reminded him of . . . Richard Nixon.

Matthews first vented his frustration at Obama adviser Linda Douglass.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Linda, my friend, why did your candidate agree so much, openly and relentlessly, with his opponent tonight? 
Douglas's answer was to the effect that this is how a bi-partisan Obama would operate as president.  After criticizing Obama for mishandling the economic issues in the debate, Matthews turned to Andrea Mitchell, and levelled that supreme Dem slap.

View video here.



Correction/Author's Clarification:  Since I wrote this, Time has added two vice presidents to its list, one of them Henry Wallace. There were originally 13 VPs named; now there are 15. The cache page of the first VP listed, Aaron Burr, shows him as "1 of 13." I don't know for how long that will be shown. Is someone at Time reading NewsBusters?

Time Magazine names the "Worst Vice Presidents in U.S. History."  It's explained: "As the nation waits for John McCain and Barack Obama to announce their running mates, TIME looks back at the worst ever to occupy the nation's second highest office."

Any such list by its very nature is nothing more than subjective opinion.  And in Time's opinion, every vice president in this century who warrants such scorn is a Republican.  Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney are on the list.



Wha-h-h-h? This has to go down as one of the stranger non sequiturs from a pundit of national standing.  Responding to a study that concludes that burgeoning multiculturalism threatens national unity, David Broder takes solace in the fact that 34 years ago, the American body politic booted Richard Nixon from office.  

In his column of today, One Nation No More?, Broder comments on the study, E Pluribus Unum, recently released by the The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.



Economist and columnist Paul Krugman continues to rile his natural liberal allies by filing anti-Barack Obama screeds.






Hillary Rodham (C), a lawyer for the Rodino Committee and John Doar (L), Chief Counsel for the committee, bring impeachment charges in 1974 against President Richard Nixon in the Judiciary Committee.


During an appearance on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday, former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw pointed out that before the invasion of Iraq, even "people who were critical of the war" thought that Saddam Hussein "had weapons of mass destruction," as he responded to criticism that the media were not aggressive enough about challenging President Bush before the Iraq invasion.