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MSNBC's Shuster Claims He's Balanced, Blasts 'Partisan' MRC --4/14/2009


1. MSNBC's Shuster Claims He's Balanced, Blasts 'Partisan' MRC
The MRC's recent Media Reality Check study showing a dramatic partisan tilt to David Shuster's evening "Hypocrisy Watch" segments drew amusing bluster from Shuster, who denigrated the MRC but did not dispute our facts, when media writer Howard Kurtz reported the study's results in Monday's Washington Post. Kurtz summarized: "MSNBC's David Shuster is an aggressive career reporter who has never been positioned as one of the channel's left-leaning commentators. But in his 'Hypocrisy Watch' segments this year, the conservative Media Research Center points out, 34 of the targets have been Republicans or conservatives -- including Rush Limbaugh twice and Karl Rove five times -- and only four have been Democrats or liberals. Shuster says the group is 'funded and run by die-hard conservatives with a clear partisan agenda' and that his work on the now-defunct program 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 'was hard hitting on both parties.'"

2. Matthews Retorts to Pro-Tea Party Guest: 'Stay In Your Box!'
On Monday night's Hardball, the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore challenged Chris Matthews to come out to one of the many tea parties protesting taxes and the government bailouts, as the former Club for Growth President egged on the Hardball host to prove he is "a man of the people," but Matthews ducked the invitation and yelled back: "Steve stay in your box!"

3. Krugman: Limbaugh's Tactics 'Right Out of Stalinist Show Trials'
Paul Krugman, the economist turned left-wing talking points spouter, went after the tea party protests by comparing Rush Limbaugh to Stalin and saying Republicans are like the mentally ill. He directed his preening, self-conscious writing style to the anti-spending tea parties in a column Monday, "Tea Parties Forever," that was even more hysterical than usual, which pondered whether making fun of the conservative protests was like making fun of the mentally ill. "Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn't feel right to make fun of crazy people," Krugman fretted before pouring on the insults: "But here's the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn't stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House." Likening how some who criticized Rush Limbaugh, and later apologized, to Stalin's "show trials," Krugman argued: "The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials."

4. 'Dwindling Number' of 'Very Hard Line' Oppose Changing Cuba Policy
It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barrack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. "With today's announcement," Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, "President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual." Kofman then declared: "It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is." Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged "some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel," but she dismissed those opponents as "a dwindling number." She emphasized the view Obama came up short: "President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy."

5. Matthews Laughs at Biden Riff, Skips His 'Daydreams' About Obama
Chris Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, showcased Saturday Night Live skewering Joe Biden, but he conspicuously ignored the "Weekend Update" clip, from the same show, making fun of his fondness for Obama in which he was depicted as daydreaming about Obama in a "loin cloth." The April 13 CyberAlert highlighted the clip from this past Saturday's show making fun of Matthews. However Matthews -- who in the past has enjoyed SNL's Darrell Hammond's impersonations of him so much that he invited the impressionist on his MSNBC show -- ignored the most recent quip made at his expense.


MSNBC's Shuster Claims He's Balanced,
Blasts 'Partisan' MRC

The MRC's recent Media Reality Check study showing a dramatic partisan tilt to David Shuster's evening "Hypocrisy Watch" segments drew amusing bluster from Shuster, who denigrated the MRC but did not dispute our facts, when media writer Howard Kurtz reported the study's results in Monday's Washington Post.

Kurtz summarized: "MSNBC's David Shuster is an aggressive career reporter who has never been positioned as one of the channel's left-leaning commentators. But in his 'Hypocrisy Watch' segments this year, the conservative Media Research Center points out, 34 of the targets have been Republicans or conservatives -- including Rush Limbaugh twice and Karl Rove five times -- and only four have been Democrats or liberals.
"Shuster says the group is 'funded and run by die-hard conservatives with a clear partisan agenda' and that his work on the now-defunct program 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue 'was hard hitting on both parties.'"

Kurtz's Monday "Style" section "Media Notes" column, which began with a look at The Politico: www.washingtonpost.com

[This item, by the MRC's Tim Graham, was posted Monday morning on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The first argument is largely true -- we are die-hard conservatives, although we're hardly party-line Republicans -- but the second argument is undeniably hilarious. Shuster clearly didn't have an evidence-based argument against the 34-to-4 tilt of this segment. He ends up complaining that it's clearly partisan to insist he refrain from being partisan.

It's also debatable that, as Kurtz suggested, Shuster has "never been positioned" as a left-wing commentator on MSNBC. When you substitute regularly for Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann, you're a substitute bomb-thrower. David Gregory wasn't trying hard to match the flagrant partisan style of Chris and Keith when he started on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but Shuster clearly tried to fit into that partisan Play-Doh mold once he took over.

To read the complete April 6 Media Reality Check, "Ignoring Democratic Hypocrisy, Zinging GOP," put together by the MRC's Rich Noyes and Scott Whitlock, go to: www.mrc.org

Matthews Retorts to Pro-Tea Party Guest:
'Stay In Your Box!'

On Monday night's Hardball, the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore challenged Chris Matthews to come out to one of the many tea parties protesting taxes and the government bailouts, as the former Club for Growth President egged on the Hardball host to prove he is "a man of the people," but Matthews ducked the invitation and yelled back: "Steve stay in your box!"

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As Matthews was wrapping up a segment with Moore and radio talk show host Michael Smerconish, Moore got in the following parting shot:

STEPHEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Chris! Chris! Chris! My question is you're a man of the people, why aren't you out there at these April 15th rallies? I mean c'mon! You know you, you say, you speak for the middle-class guys?
CHRIS MATTHEWS: What is this? Intramurals? Michael Smerconish, thank you and Steve stay in your box!

Perhaps Moore was just getting back at Matthews for making fun of him earlier in the segment when after Moore noted he was a fan of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Newt Gingrich, Matthews taunted: "You love them?!" Matthews also ridiculed Fox News for its coverage of the tea parties as he mocked: "Oh God! You know I gotta believe that Roger Ailes has the biggest tongue-in-his-cheek when he does these ads. 'We report. You decide.' I mean what, 'balanced coverage' of an anti-government rally?"

The following exchange was aired on the April 13 edition of Hardball:

STEPHEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: And these are middle-class folks. These are not people who are rich in three-piece suits. And the thing I would say about this is, I really think it is not partisan. I really believe, Chris, if Republicans were doing the policies the Democrats were doing, and this, you're right, this started under George Bush. No question about it. That people are just angry that Washington isn't listening to the little guy.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: So Stephen Moore are you personally angry that, that Newt Gingrich is highjacking a populist crusade? Are you willing to say that? Are you willing to go after Limbaugh and Hannity and the rest for being opportunists? Say that will ya?
MOORE: No those, those are my friends!
MATTHEWS: C'mon! Speak for the Wall Street Journal.
MOORE: Those are my friends, Chris!
MATTHEWS: Speak for the Journal sir!
MOORE: No but look I mean I think that, I love, love Sean Hannity. I love those guys. I love Newt Gingrich. But this did not start-
MATTHEWS: You love them?!
MOORE: -with them. It really did start in towns across America.
MATTHEWS: Okay. You love them?! Well let's watch Fox because I think they love themselves more than you love them. Here we go.

(Begin Fox News clip)
ANNOUNCER: April 15th, all across the country Americans are making their voices heard. In California, Texas, Georgia, Washington D.C. citizens are standing up, saying no to more taxes and demanding real economic solutions. April 15th, as tea parties sweep the nation on Tax Day we're there with total fair and balanced network coverage. Live! What is the fate of nation? We report. You decide.
(End clip)

MATTHEWS: Oh God! You know I gotta believe that Roger Ailes has the biggest tongue-in-his-cheek when he does these ads. "We report. You decide." I mean what, "balanced coverage" of an anti-government rally? An anti-tax-, a balanced coverage of that. It's so amazing!

Krugman: Limbaugh's Tactics 'Right Out
of Stalinist Show Trials'

Paul Krugman, the economist turned left-wing talking points spouter, went after the tea party protests by comparing Rush Limbaugh to Stalin and saying Republicans are like the mentally ill. He directed his preening, self-conscious writing style to the anti-spending tea parties in a column Monday, "Tea Parties Forever," that was even more hysterical than usual, which pondered whether making fun of the conservative protests was like making fun of the mentally ill. "Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn't feel right to make fun of crazy people," Krugman fretted before pouring on the insults: "But here's the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn't stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House." Likening how some who criticized Rush Limbaugh, and later apologized, to Stalin's "show trials," Krugman argued: "The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials."

[This item, by Clay Waters, was posted Monday on the MRC's TimesWatch site: www.timeswatch.org ]

An excerpt from Krugman's April 13 column:

This is a column about Republicans -- and I'm not sure I should even be writing it.

Today's G.O.P. is, after all, very much a minority party. It retains some limited ability to obstruct the Democrats, but has no ability to make or even significantly shape policy.

Beyond that, Republicans have become embarrassing to watch. And it doesn't feel right to make fun of crazy people. Better, perhaps, to focus on the real policy debates, which are all among Democrats.

But here's the thing: the G.O.P. looked as crazy 10 or 15 years ago as it does now. That didn't stop Republicans from taking control of both Congress and the White House. And they could return to power if the Democrats stumble. So it behooves us to look closely at the state of what is, after all, one of our nation's two great political parties.

SUSPEND Excerpt

Does it "behoove" us, now?

He linked radio host Rush Limbaugh, without evidence, to unsubstantiated claims from some on the far right during the Clinton years that the Clintons were murderers.

It's perhaps not fair to blame Krugman for this, because the renowned economist is simply parroting whatever the DailyKos or other left-wing blogs are saying:

Then there are the claims made at some recent tea-party events that Mr. Obama wasn't born in America, which follow on earlier claims that he is a secret Muslim. Crazy stuff -- but nowhere near as crazy as the claims, during the last Democratic administration, that the Clintons were murderers, claims that were supported by a campaign of innuendo on the part of big-league conservative media outlets and figures, especially Rush Limbaugh.

Speaking of Mr. Limbaugh: the most impressive thing about his role right now is the fealty he is able to demand from the rest of the right. The abject apologies he has extracted from Republican politicians who briefly dared to criticize him have been right out of Stalinist show trials.

END of Excerpt

For the April 13 column in full: www.nytimes.com

Krugman concluded with liberal myths about the Republican riot in 2000 "orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists -- that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida's Miami-Dade County."

For the latest instances of bias in the New York Times, check in daily with TimesWatch: www.timeswatch.org

'Dwindling Number' of 'Very Hard Line'
Oppose Changing Cuba Policy

It may well be that a growing share of the American public favor expanding interaction with Cuba, but in reporting President Barrack Obama's decision to allow Cuban-Americans unlimited travel and money transfers to the island, ABC's Jeffrey Kofman and NBC's Andrea Mitchell characterized opponents in a belittling manner -- while Mitchell also advanced complaints Obama did no go far enough. "With today's announcement," Kofman asserted on ABC's World News, "President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual." Kofman then declared: "It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is."

Mitchell, on the NBC Nightly News, acknowledged "some Cuban-Americans...still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel," but she dismissed those opponents as "a dwindling number." She emphasized the view Obama came up short: "President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy." Mitchell concluded by adopting that complaint as her own: "For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana."

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Monday nigt on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

As for where Americans stand, while 64 percent favor a change in policy toward Cuba to allow more travel, fully a third, 34 percent, oppose changing the policy, according to an April 3-5 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll posted by The Polling Report. The question: "Do you think the U.S. government should continue its policy that prevents nearly all U.S. citizens from traveling to Cuba, or do you think the U.S. government should change that policy and allow all U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba?"

See: www.pollingreport.com

The conclusion to Kofman's story on the Monday, April 13 World News: "All of this is happening just days before President Obama attends a summit with Latin American leaders, many of whom including American's friends, have been critical of U.S.-Cuban policy. With today's announcement, President Obama is making it clear he is not going to do business as usual. It is now only the very hard line who want the policy to stay as it is."

From the end of Mitchell's NBC Nightly News piece:

ANDREA MITCHELL: President Obama did not propose a far more sweeping step, getting Congress to lift the trade embargo that has lasted for half a century, disappointing opponents of the policy.
SARAH STEPHENS, CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE AMERICAS: It continues to isolate the United States. China, Russia, Venezuela, everyone else in the world is in Cuba and not the United States.
MITCHELL: And some Cuban-Americans, although a dwindling number, still argue that the Obama White House is only helping Raul Castro and his ailing brother Fidel.
CONGRESSMAN LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART (R-FLORIDA): When you give him unilateral concessions you embolden him. So it's a major mistake.
MITCHELL: For the past year, European countries and the Vatican have been getting Cuba to release political prisoners, but the Obama administration still refuses to negotiate directly with Havana.

Matthews Laughs at Biden Riff, Skips
His 'Daydreams' About Obama

Chris Matthews, on Monday's Hardball, showcased Saturday Night Live skewering Joe Biden, but he conspicuously ignored the "Weekend Update" clip, from the same show, making fun of his fondness for Obama in which he was depicted as daydreaming about Obama in a "loin cloth." The April 13 CyberAlert highlighted the clip from this past Saturday's show making fun of Matthews. However Matthews -- who in the past has enjoyed SNL's Darrell Hammond's impersonations of him so much that he invited the impressionist on his MSNBC show -- ignored the most recent quip made at his expense.

[This item, by the MRC's Geoffrey Dickens, was posted Monday evening on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The following moment was aired during the "Sideshow" segment on the April 13 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Welcome back to "Hardball." First up it's "Saturday Night Live!" Do you know who you're Vice President is? Well the team at "SNL" would have you think he is this.
(Clip from "Saturday Night Live" mocking Joe Biden)
MATTHEWS: Well that's what you call lampoon!

The April 13 CyberAlert item, "SNL Joke: Chris Matthews Daydreams of Obama in a Loin Cloth," recounted:

MSNBC's Chris Matthews, infamous for getting a "thrill" up his leg while drinking in a speech by Barack Obama and his ongoing adoration for the President ("He is the new us!"), became the punch line of a joke on NBC's own Saturday Night Live. During the Weekend Update segment on the April 11 show, SNL's news anchor, Seth Myers, delivered this "news" item, illustrated by a creative matching graphic: "A new comic is being published this summer called 'Barack the Barbarian' which features the President in a loin cloth. Also featuring the President in a loin cloth: Chris Matthews' daydreams."

To watch video of that: www.mrc.org

-- Brent Baker