Friday, November 21, 2008

Can't hold back

I yell at the television. I know I'm not the only one. People yell at the television during sporting events, when the quarterback throws an interception or when the the pitcher walks in a run. But when I yell at the television, I'm usually watching cable news. MSNBC is my guilty pleasure at night. I know, I know. MSNBC is to Democrats what Fox News is to Republicans, but at least I'm not watching the station thinking I'm getting unbiased news. And it's funny to watch sometimes. Funny in an "I can't believe they are such idiots" sort of way. I love watching the "strategists" talk about what President-elect Barack Obama is thinking. I didn't realize they all had ESP.

Hardball with Chris Matthews was especially shout-worthy last night. Questions came up like, "Who will be making foreign policy if Hillary Clinton takes the secretary of State position?" Hmm, let's ponder that one. She hasn't even accepted the position. Even if she does, she won't take over the position until January, 2009. No one knows what will happen. Maybe she'll take over and refuse to take orders from Obama. Maybe she'll realize she's on Obama's team and work together. Flip a coin. Matthews posed a scenario where if Clinton gets the nomination, she'll be ticked later on because Obama will draw the line on which appointments she can make. Matthews actually said "here's what will happen" as if he looked into his crystal ball and saw it. It's all conjecture. And I suppose that's what being a strategist or a political pundit is about -- conjecture. But it gets ridiculous at times.

Matthews talked about the "noise" or "chatter" surrounding the Clinton appointment. He asked Howard Fineman from Newsweek why we're hearing so much about it? Um, here's a thought, because people like you, Chris, don't shut up about it. Fineman said, in the end, that we're hearing more about the Clintons than we are about what Obama is going to do as president. And whose fault is that? It's as if Matthews and Fineman think they have no control over what words come out of their mouths.

I also loved Matthews' discussion with Joan Walsh from and Michelle Bernard from MSBNC. First, Walsh said that it's Obama's decision on who will be his secretary of State, and if he picks Clinton, she'll do a great job, but that it's funny that people who, up until now, respected Obama are now second-guessing him before a decision has been made. Right on, sister. Walsh then went on to say that she doesn't think it's fair that the Clintons are getting blamed for the press on this because it was Andrea Mitchell who first broke the story after speaking to two Obama advisors. Matthews said, "That's a good question. Who's leaking all this information?" He picked up the New York Times and "read" that Philippe Reines, a spokesman for Clinton, said that Clinton has outstanding campaign debt and repaying it is a pre-condition for taking the secretary of State job. Never mind that if you read the NY Times article, Reines said nothing of the sort. Walsh even brought that up on the show, and Matthews pretended to re-read the article, obviously not getting any more out of it than he did before, because he moved on. Never mind that the article's focus was not the secretary of State job, but rather Clinton's unpaid campaign debt. Matthews said, "That's being done in public." But I don't know what he's talking about, since he didn't understand the article to begin with. Then the talking heads just move on. Matthews is flat out wrong. He doesn't correct himself. But let's move on.

Bernard then has a discussion with Matthews, again, about how the Clintons are all over the news, and who is the President-elect, is it Obama or Clinton? And again, I'll say that if people like Bernard weren't so eager to get on Hardball and talk about the Clintons, they wouldn't be in the news. Who is driving this bus? Obama is doing what he needs to do as president -- appointing cabinet members, getting a staff together. Suddenly, he's no longer No Drama Obama because the press is capitalizing on these picks and running story after story. Is he supposed to hide out in a mountain cave while conducting business so the press doesn't get wind of what is going on? Give me a break.

The other thing that had me yelling at my television last night during Hardball was when Matthews discussed the Norm Coleman-Al Franken recount in Minnesota with strategists Steve McMahon and Todd Harris.

At one point, Harris told Matthews that Franken's campaign wants a list of absentee voters whose ballots were rejected so they can contact these people to "get them" to say they voted for Franken. I had just read an article about this earlier in the day. Franken was trying to do no such thing. What Franken wants is for absentee ballots to be looked at to make sure that they were legally rejected. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Franken spokesman Andy Barr said Monday that the campaign knew of "hundreds" of absentee ballots that had been rejected by election judges, and that at least a dozen counties had so far complied with the campaign's formal request to each Minnesota county for lists of rejected ballots. He said a hearing is scheduled Wednesday in the campaign's lawsuit seeking Ramsey County's list.

The 18-page legal brief that the campaign filed Monday with the state Canvassing Board included four examples of absentee voters said to be disenfranchised when their ballots were rejected. Jessup Schiks, of Kandiyohi County, had his absentee ballot rejected because officials ruled the signature didn't match the registration card; campaign officials said Schiks later signed an affidavit confirming the ballot was his.

In another case, Bruce Behrens, a Goodhue County resident, said his absentee ballot was rejected because officials believed his girlfriend, who vouched for him, wasn't a registered voter even though she is.

"The [canvassing] board must consider and take into account all ballots cast -- including validly cast absentee ballots that have been wrongfully rejected," a legal memorandum signed by Franken's lawyers stated.

From The Public Record:

Franken’s campaign wants to review the lists to ensure that individuals whose ballots were rejected were truly ineligible to vote.

I haven't read anything that said Franken intends to contact these voters or knock on their doors, except from Coleman's campaign:

But Coleman's campaign attorney Fritz Knaak said Wednesday he thinks Franken's campaign will "pound on people's doors" and ask them whom they voted for.

So when Harris brought this up on Hardball, I expected Matthews to rebut his statement with the facts. Instead, Matthews response was "Are they really going to do that?" Harris responded, "Absolutely." Absolutely? Are you absolutely friggin' kidding me? Harris doesn't know absolutely anything, but he's going to make the statement anyway. And Matthews said nothing. It was worse than Matthews pretending to read that NY Times article about Clinton's campaign debt.

I may just be a pajama-clad teenage blogger in my parents' basement, but even I know that facts are facts. It's not like I haven't been shocked by commentators' and strategists' disregard of facts before on cable news shows. But for some reason, last night, I'd had enough. I am astounded at what passes for "journalism" nowadays.

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