Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.
Lives in Oak Island, North Carolina
Pilot, parrots, dogs, tennis.
Latest from Mark Finkelstein
CNN has apparently decided to cast itself as the Christine Ford defender. Opening New Day this morning, co-host John Berman claimed that Republicans have manage to "corner" Ford into testifying only under "excruciating" terms. Berman also accused Republicans of mounting a campaign of "stealth intimidation" against Ford. And of what does that intimidation consist, according to Berman? That Kavanaugh is known to be preparing for nine hours a day. Berman would presumably prefer that Kavanaugh go into a hearing unprepared to face the tender mercies of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and the other Dem members of the Judiciary committee.
Morning Joe, normally the go-to place for Trump antagonism, was surprisingly supportive today of the Republican decision to move to a Judiciary committee vote on Kavanaugh next Wednesday, rejecting Dem demands for an investigation of Christine Ford's allegations. Mika Brzezinski accused the Democrats of "moving the goal posts." Joe Scarborough and Mike Barnicle scoffed at the idea of an FBI investigation: "investigate what?" Anti-Trump Republican Susan Del Percio said if Ford is not willing to testify on Monday, "what right does she have to delay this or ask for the FBI investigation?"
Introducing Jill Abramson on CNN this morning, Alisyn Camerota said, "you say that you shudder to think what will happen" when Christine Ford is questioned at Monday's scheduled Senate hearing. Replied Abramson: "I think that the Republicans, despite all the changes that have happened in the generations since those [Clarence Thomas] hearings, are still going to go in with a strategy to save this nomination at all costs. And if that means destroying, destroying Dr. Ford, I hate to even think about it, but I think it's going to be the same kind of political circus that we saw back in 1991. That's what worries me."
Role reversal on today's Morning Joe? Joe Scarborough and Donny Deutsch took a hard line on Brett Kavanaugh. But Mika Brzezinski suggested that the statute of limitations serve as a guide to dealing with the accusations, and warned Dems against playing "dirty" on the Kavanaugh confirmation. Singling out Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, Scarborough warned that any Republican supporting Kavanaugh would be forever "branded" for voting to confirm the Justice casting the deciding vote on Roe v. Wade.Donny Deutsch took it a dramatic step further, declaring: "I believe Kavanaugh is dead at this point. I would be shocked if he was ever a Supreme Court Justice."
On Joy Reid's MSNBC show, commenting on President Trump's disputing of the Puerto Rico death toll, Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin says: "Donald Trump has killed those people twice. Once through neglect in oversight, and secondly, disgracing [sic] that they died at all."
Donald Trump has wasted no time in "going there": accusing Hillary Clinton of being an enabler of Bill's sexual misconduct with women. So will the MSM ask Hillary about her role in hushing up the scandals, intimidating the women, etc? No, according to Mark Halperin, not unless the MSM is "forced" to do so.
Said Halperin on today's With All Due Respect, "I don't think a reporter will ask unless they're basically forced to." Halperin and Heilemann did hold out one intriguing possibility: that some "new information, some more recent information" about Bill's peccadilloes could force the MSM's hand. Added Halperin tantalizingly, with Heilemann's agreement: "Trump thinks he knows some new facts, by the way."
We made it a point to tune into Joy Reid's debut this morning in the MSNBC slot formerly occupied by Melissa Harris-Perry. For anyone who imagined Reid might be more fair-and-balanced than MH-P: fuggedaboutit. After an all-liberal opening panel blamed Bernie Sanders for failing to adequately address the concerns of African-Americans, the remainder of the show was one, long, hate-Trump fest.
Mac Stipanovich, a Florida lobbyist who in the past worked on one of Jeb's gubernatorial campaigns, was the token representative of the GOP. As the headline indicates, he was Joy Reid's kind of Republican. Stipanovich called Trump a "fascist" who is "worse by far" than Hillary. Concluded Stipanovich: "we can't have him be President of the United States." Question for Reid: in the course of a two-hour long show largely devoted to trashing Trump, amongst your numerous guests couldn't you have found one who, you know, supports him? Do you want your show to exclusively preach to the liberal choir, or do you have any interest in attracting a wider audience?
By the end of this campaign, someone might come up with a more disgusting metaphor for Donald Trump, but for now Chris Hayes has the early clubbhouse lead.
On his MSNBC show this evening, Hayes called Trump "a hot wet rag applied to an infected wound." Imagine the outrage if a conservative described Hillary Clinton with a similar simile. Hayes was interviewing the MSM's favorite kind of Republican: Bob Inglis of South Carolina, a former congressman who's terribly worried about global warming and called those of us not so concerned "hoaxsters." Inglis said he'd never vote for Trump: surprise!
If it's sauce for the goose, it's sauce for the Hillary . . . Question for MSNBC's Katy Tur: of all the epithets Donald Trump pinned on his primary opponents, which was the first and arguably most effective? Bet you answered "low-energy," with which Trump of course famously jabbed Jeb. It stuck, and helped drive Jeb from the race.
Did people suggest at the time that Trump was hitting below the belt? Nope. So why is it suddenly unfair for Trump to say something very similar about Hillary? On today's Morning Joe, discussing Trump's critique of Hillary, Tur claimed: "there's this veiled sexism they have been accused of, somebody that doesn't have the strength and stamina, somebody who should not be president."
Of everyone in the MSM, Joe Scarborough has been widely seen as the most ardent Trump supporter--starting from the day Donald descended that escalator with Melania. Scarborough would argue he was merely offering dispassionate political analysis--saying that Trump's chances should be taken seriously while others were disdainfully dismissing him. But for those of us who watched Joe day in and day out during the primary season, there seemed to be something much more than green-eyeshade analysis going on. Scarborough revelled in every poll and primary result favorable to Trump.
Which makes Scarborough's statement on today's Morning Joe so strange. Joe first expressed disappointment that yesterday, Trump "stuck by the Muslim ban." Scarborough then proclaimed "I'm never going to vote for a guy that is saying he is going to ban somebody just because of the God they worship." Note to Joe: from the beginning, Trump has said the ban would remain in place only until we can "figure out what is going on." Trump is not proposing to ban Muslims because they worship Allah, but because virtually all of the mass terrorists attacks in Europe and the US have been carried out by Muslims. As the San Bernadino slaughter demonstrated, US authorities manifestly have not "figured out" what's going on, since the Muslim murderers were supposedly screened and entered our country legally.
One of our media bias categories at NewsBusters is Double Standards. There was a classic example of the phenomenon on today's Morning Joe. The show's running theme was relentless mockery and ridicule of Ted Cruz for crossing the street yesterday to calmly debate a group of Trump supporters.
But later in the show, when a clip was run of Hillary being confronted by a West Virginian over her boast that she would "put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business," the panel reverentially praised Clinton, giving her "credit" for her courage in doing so. The panel had the chutzpah to insist that Hillary's moment was "organic" and wasn't staged. Really? She's sitting around a table with a handful of voters. Is Morning Joe asking us to believe that the former coal company worker wasn't hand picked and that Hillary wasn't fully briefed on what to expect? Please. Earlier, Mika Brzezinski actually introduced the Cruz segment by saying it was an example of someone "choking like a dog." The double standard was glaring and outrageous.
Chris Hayes has established a new standard. It is henceforth fair game to say on national TV of any parent who has spanked his child that such parent "hits his kids." Hayes employed the inflammatory formulation on his MSNBC show this evening. Hayes played a clip of a child in a Cruz audience telling him "you suck" and Cruz responding "in my household, when a child behaves that way, they get a spanking." Proclaimed Hayes portentously: "I should note it's a matter of public record by Ted Cruz that he hits his kids."
Okay then, so Hayes has equated a spank, which can be more symbolic than real, with a "hit." Would Hayes encourage the next reporter who interviews Hillary to ask if she ever spanked her daughter, or was ever spanked herself, and in any case how she views the issue? What about Barack and Michelle Obama? This is absurd--and despicable.
Mike Barnicle's a guy from the Duke Ellington era, so I suppose it makes sense if he doesn't "get around much anymore." How else to explain his nonsensical statement on today's Morning Joe? When Joe Scarborough asked him why the FBI investigation of Hillary's email is taking so long, Barnicle said "I have not spoken to anyone who believes there is an indictable offense that has occurred."
Responded Scarborough sarcastically: "you're talking to a very tightly focused crowd there," adding that people in the intel community say "anybody else would be in prison right now." The befuddled Barnicle reversed himself moments later, saying "there's a couple of people I've spoken to who, you know, think that there should be sort of a Petraeus ruling on it, at a minimum." Petraeus was indicted and convicted of a misdemeanor for his mishandling of email. So which is it, Mike?
As far-left MSNBC hosts go--an admittedly low bar--I'll admit to having found Chris Hayes a relatively fair and decent proponent of his misguided policies. But he did two things tonight that made me lose respect for him. First, he literally laughed in the face of Rick Tyler and called him "preposterous," when Cruz advocate Tyler called Donald Trump a "northeastern liberal progressive." This despite Trump's record of donating to . . . northeastern liberal progressives and describing himself, among other things, as "very pro-choice." Would Hayes ever be so rude to a liberal guest?
Even worse when it comes to hypocritical double-standards, it is hard to top Hayes' skeptical suggestion about Denny Hastert's pattern of sexual abuse of boys: "good Lord Almighty do I wonder whether that just stopped when he left the high school?" Come back and reclaim your integrity, Chris, when you wonder the same about post-White House Bill Clinton. Did his abuse stop when he left "the precincts" of the White House? Orgy Island, anyone?
Joe Scarborough was careful to state for the record that he was "not voting for Hillary Clinton." But everything else he said during a segment on today's Morning Joe was one long love letter to her foreign policy and leadership skills.
Granted, Joe set the bar very low, comparing Hillary's prospective leadership to President Obama's fecklessness. Even so, it was striking to hear Scarborough proclaim "Hillary Clinton does not believe in leading from behind. Hillary Clinton does not believe that you sit back and let the events of the world shape the country. Hillary Clinton does not believe in the type of foreign policy, the don't-do-stupid-stuff foreign policy of Barack Obama." He also claimed that within a week of assuming office, Hillary would build better coaltions around the world and with congress than Obama ever did.
We're all familiar with Godwin's Law: in an argument, the first person to mention the Nazis automatically loses. We're going to have to come up with a companion concept for the Washington Post: call it the Cambodian Corollary. Wapo's editorial of yesterday, "Softening on Trump? Remember this" reflects the paper's apparent worry that people will take a second look at Trump in light of his moderated tone in recent days. We can't have any of that! With Hillary as unpopular as she is, the high negatives of her likely opponent must be preserved!
So WaPo runs through a list of the offensive or controversial things Trump has said. And yes, he's said a variety of dubious things, including of course his "blood out of her wherever" about Megyn Kelly. But then WaPo invents this utterly bizarre, false analogy [emphasis added]: "Remember that Mr. Trump promised to round up 11 million undocumented immigrants and deport them, in what would be the largest forced population movement since Pol Pot’s genocide of the Cambodian people."
Gag me with a steak and kidney pie . . . It's the most blatant example of the MSM glossing over an Obama controversy in favor of featuring a feel-good story that this NewsBuster can remember. Today's Good Morning America went gaga over Britain's little Prince George, with no fewer than four teases followed by a lengthy segment devoted to how much President Obama enjoyed the company of the tyke on his current visit to the UK. Lots of cute pictures and even a clip of Obama claiming "nothing was going to stop me from . . . meeting George, who was adorable." Awww.
But incredibly, at least in the first half-hour, not a word was breathed of Obama's ugly threat to the UK, in which he told Britons they would have to go "to the back of the queue" for a trade deal should they vote to exit the European Union in a referendum set for June. Obama thus stuck his nose into the internal affairs of an ally. In the closing comments in which the crew cooed over how royal little George was, Paula Faris actually claimed to co-host Tom Llamas that the segment "really moved you." Yuck.
Will this stem the MSM's flood of deserved praise for Prince? It turns out that Touré--better known in these parts as a former spoke in MSNBC's since-cancelled Cycle--is also a Prince biographer, his book published in 2013.
Appearing on With All Due Respect today, Touré cited two sources: Prince's former sound engineer, and a member of his band, for the proposition that Prince was a "conservative" and a "Republican." Touré embraced the notion himself, but, being a liberal, described what it means to be a conservative in pejorative terms: "I am making money, I'm successful, I want this money and this success protected . . . When you are rich, you want status quo."
Mike Barnicle prefaced his remarks on Obamacare by saying his understanding was "meager." He was grossly . . . overstating his knowledge. The subject in the Morning Joe segment today was UnitedHealthCare's decision to quit the Obamacare exchanges. Dr. Dave Campbell explained that UnitedHealthcare was going to lose $1 billion on Obamacare this year, and that all other insurers were also losing money.
That's when Barnicle piped up: "my understanding of it, meager as it is: so it's the profit motive that's going to drive these insurance companies out of the exchanges. They have boards of directors. They can't figure out how to retool their approach to it in order to make [money]?" Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant, Mike! Why didn't UnitedHealthcare think of that? If there's a problem with that profit-motive thingy, just have the board of directors figure out a way to turn a profit. Problem solved!
From bathrooms to abortions, Bloomberg's John Heilemann believes that in his heart, Donald Trump is a social liberal. Heilemann made his assertion on today's With All Due Respect in the context of discussing Trump's comments on a Today town hall this morning in which he was critical of the North Carolina transgender bathroom law, and said he'd have no problem letting Caitlyn Jenner choose any bathroom.
Heilemann: "Trump is probably, I think in his gut, a social liberal. I think his position on abortion, for instance, the ["very pro-choice"] position he held for most of his life, is the real position . . . I think on this issue he's like most Manhattanites or most New Yorkers: he's basically a social liberal."