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Mitchell: Dumb Americans Might Not Get 'Sophisticated' Cartoon --7/15/2008


1. Mitchell: Dumb Americans Might Not Get 'Sophisticated' Cartoon
Monday afternoon on MSNBC, journalist Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart discussed whether Americans are not "sophisticated" enough to understand the attempted satire in the cartoon featured on the cover of the current New Yorker magazine. According to Mitchell, "the only question there is whether [the cover] is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended." The image in question features Barack Obama in Muslim clothing with a flag burning in the background and is an obvious parody and an example of the liberal contention that conservatives are questioning the patriotism of the Democratic presidential contender. The Post's Capehart suggested that the uneducated voters in Middle America might not comprehend the high minded satire: "The folks at the New Yorker are very smart, very learned, learned people, but once you get outside of the confines of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, you sort of begin to wonder if anyone -- if there was a conversation around the table about how will this be viewed by people who won't necessarily get the joke."

2. CNN's Phillips: Cover Shows U.S. 'Pretty Racially Insensitive'
During a segment on CNN's Newsroom program on Monday afternoon, anchor Kyra Phillips voiced her clear objections to The New Yorker's satirical depiction of Michelle Obama as a radical leftist and Barack Obama as a Muslim: "If I see this magazine cover, okay? And I mean, this is pretty racial. I mean, let's look at it again. You've got Michelle Obama in an Afro. You know, you've got, you know, her husband, Barack Obama, in a turban. We're talking about racism and terrorism. I mean, these are -- and burning of the flag. These are the most sensitive issues in our country right now. If I see that, I'm going to think, oh my God, is this who we want in the White House?" She later asked: "Do you think in any way that this cover sets us back, that it's more divisive than anything else and only proves that we're still pretty racially insensitive?"

3. Matthews Worries 'Right' Will Turn New Yorker Cover Into T-Shirt
On Monday's Hardball Chris Matthews was so upset about the New Yorker's cover, depicting Barack Obama in a turban and Michelle Obama toting an AK-47, because he feared "the right will be using that as T-shirt material within the next couple of weeks." Matthews, along with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and the Atlantic Media's Ronald Brownstein also insulted all the non-New Yorker subscribers who didn't get the joke as unsophisticated, or as Lizza put it, "a little slow."

4. ABC's Cuomo Fears New Yorker's 'Supposed Satire' Could Spread
On Monday's Good Morning America, the show's co-hosts appeared quite bothered by the "supposed satire" of a New Yorker magazine cover that features a cartoon Michelle Obama as a black militant and Barack Obama in Muslim garb with a picture of Osama bin Laden in the background. And although the issue is obviously meant as a parody and a representation of the liberal view that conservatives are attacking the Illinois Senator's patriotism, Chris Cuomo fretted: "Is that the way people see him?" An ABC graphic for the second segment on the topic, a discussion with Democratic strategist James Carville, featured this warning: "Cover Controversy: Does New Yorker Cover Go Too Far?" In a tease for the subject, co-host Robin Roberts asked, "Did the New Yorker go too far with this week's cover?" Cuomo, making clear his belief that, whatever the satirical intent, the cover wasn't appreciated, opined, "The New Yorker is not even on the stands yet, but this supposed satire has a lot of people talking."

5. NBC Hires Liberal Democrat Ford to Analyze Liberal Democrat Obama
The Today show's lead political story on Monday was that the Obama campaign was offended by the liberal New Yorker magazine's attempt to parody, on its cover, supposed right wing attacks on Obama. To analyze the liberal Obama's reaction to the magazine cover, they brought on former liberal Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. to discuss the controversy. Today co-host Ann Curry announced Ford was a new NBC News analyst and not surprisingly Ford acted more like an Obama PR flack as he determined: "when you consider that a portion of this country, particularly in Midwestern and rust belt states still believe that Barack Obama, because of Internet campaigns, mistakenly and wrongly believe he may be a Muslim and they equate that with, with terrorist activity. It's, it's puzzling, and if not outright belittling that they would do this to this candidate at this point. I've never seen a candidate treated like this, at this point in a campaign."

6. Maggie Rodriguez of CBS News Hosts La Raza Conference
On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported from California and touted her role as emcee at the annual conference for the liberal Hispanic group La Raza: "The conference for the National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking." At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the segment by proclaiming: "Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote."

7. Halperin Scolds CNN, Charges Press in Cahoots with Democrats
With "WORST. WEEK. EVER?" on screen above the promise of "NO BIAS, NO BULL," Friday's CNN Election Center show devoted a story to John McCain's bad week, but afterward, Mark Halperin, the former ABC News political director now with Time magazine, declared that McCain's challenge are less his supposed gaffes than "his problem is stopping the press and the Democrats from making this what the election is about." Specifically, "I think the problem is that the press right now and the Democrats are trying to seize on every mistake, the Democrats are being very adept at creating the story of the day when John McCain misspeaks." Before Halperin, the 8 PM EDT CNN show anchored by Campbell Bran ran a set up piece by Dana Bash who ran through a series of events in McCain's campaign, such as Phil Gramm's America is in a "mental recession," but also McCain's "politically perilous" decision to express in Michigan his pro-free trade position. Halperin scolded her: "I have great respect for Dana Bash, but I'd say that some of the examples in her piece, I don't think were particularly bad. John McCain is a free trader. We've had free traders as Presidents who've been elected almost every election in modern times. So I don't think everything that the press is picking on is necessarily a gaffe or a problem."


Mitchell: Dumb Americans Might Not Get
'Sophisticated' Cartoon

Monday afternoon on MSNBC, journalist Andrea Mitchell and Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart discussed whether Americans are not "sophisticated" enough to understand the attempted satire in the cartoon featured on the cover of the current New Yorker magazine. According to Mitchell, "the only question there is whether [the cover] is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended."

The image in question features Barack Obama in Muslim clothing with a flag burning in the background and is an obvious parody and an example of the liberal contention that conservatives are questioning the patriotism of the Democratic presidential contender. The Post's Capehart suggested that the uneducated voters in Middle America might not comprehend the high minded satire: "The folks at the New Yorker are very smart, very learned, learned people, but once you get outside of the confines of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, you sort of begin to wonder if anyone -- if there was a conversation around the table about how will this be viewed by people who won't necessarily get the joke."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon, with video, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

During Monday's "MSNBC News Live" Mitchell also asserted that "critics" say the cartoon cover "depicts almost every false stereotype that Republicans have been launching against Barack Obama, plays into all the fears that are being generated on the Web."

Of course, one might point out to Capehart and Mitchell that much of Middle America might not actually read the New Yorker. And that it's the members of the liberal media who seem to be most bothered by the "satire."

A transcript of the exchange, which occurred at 1:07pm EDT:

ANDREA MITCHELL: And now let's turn to Washington Post editorial writer Jonathan Capehart for more on this controversial New Yorker cover. Critics say that it depicts almost every false stereotype that Republicans have been launching against Barack Obama, plays into all the fears that are being generated on the web. Jonathan, do you think this is a big deal? Are we making too much of it or is this something the Obama campaign has to push back against?
JONATHAN CAPEHART (Washington Post): Good afternoon, Andrea. I think it's a big deal up to a point. Look, no one does satire better than the New Yorker, perhaps maybe the Onion does better satire. But the New Yorker is terrific at that and that cover is an example of that, every negative thing that has been floating around the internet for months now, even more than a year is depicted in that, in that cover. Things from more than a year ago and things right up to the most recent being the fist bump from the night when he-- when Senator Obama clinched the nomination. But here's the problem: And it remind me of another famous New Yorker cartoon, where you have the island of Manhattan, huge. It's a very famous map. Huge island of Manhattan, Hudson River, and then it's just the rest of the country is a sliver with California at the end. And I think that, you know, the folks at the New Yorker are very smart, very learned, learned people, but once you get outside of the confines of Manhattan and the Upper West Side, you sort of begin to wonder if anyone -- if there was a conversation around the table about how will this be viewed by people who won't necessarily get the joke. I mean, even with an American flag burning in the fireplace, I don't know if those folks, those 12 percent of people polled in that poll you just showed still believe that Barack Obama is, is Muslim. What is that cover going to do for their beliefs and whether he is a Muslim, whether he is truly an American, whether Michelle is this secret Angela Davis militant, I think it pushes-- it pushes the line on what's acceptable and what's offensive. And here's the one time you see the Obama campaign and McCain campaign agreeing on something. And they both said that the New Yorker cartoon cover, the New Yorker cover was offensive.
MITCHELL: You know, maybe we're dating ourselves. That iconic New Yorker cartoon was, I think, Steinberg, from the '70s and one of our associate producers here last night said in looking at that picture of Michelle and Barack Obama as depicted in the New Yorker, they said, she said, well, I don't get it. Why does she have the afro? What is she supposed to look like? 'Cause Angela Davis is a reference point, but not for everyone in the demographic.
CAPEHART: Right. Some folks might think she looks like Erykah Badu with that hair. The singer.
MITCHELL: Right. No, I get it. David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, who is a brilliant editor and has really done extraordinary things with the magazine, was interviewed by Rachel Sklar on Huffington Post today and said, "Obviously, I wouldn't have run a cover just to get attention. I ran the cover because I thought it had something to say. What I think it does is hold up a mirror to the prejudice and dark imaginings about Barack Obama's-- both Obamas -- past and their politics. The fact is, it's not a satire about Obama. It's a satire about the distortions and misconceptions and prejudices about Obama." So the only question there is whether it is too sophisticated to actually be perceived the way it is intended.

CNN's Phillips: Cover Shows U.S. 'Pretty
Racially Insensitive'

During a segment on CNN's Newsroom program on Monday afternoon, anchor Kyra Phillips voiced her clear objections to The New Yorker's satirical depiction of Michelle Obama as a radical leftist and Barack Obama as a Muslim: "If I see this magazine cover, okay? And I mean, this is pretty racial. I mean, let's look at it again. You've got Michelle Obama in an Afro. You know, you've got, you know, her husband, Barack Obama, in a turban. We're talking about racism and terrorism. I mean, these are -- and burning of the flag. These are the most sensitive issues in our country right now. If I see that, I'm going to think, oh my God, is this who we want in the White House?" She later asked: "Do you think in any way that this cover sets us back, that it's more divisive than anything else and only proves that we're still pretty racially insensitive?"

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

Phillips made the comments during a segment in the 1pm Eastern hour of the CNN program with two black political figures -- conservative radio talk show host Shelley Wynter and Los Angeles Councilman Bernard Parks, Senior. During her introduction of Parks, Phillips mentioned that the California politician was calling for a boycott of The New Yorker. In her first question, she asked Parks why he was "so outraged" about the cartoon. Parks replied: "I think it's outrageous that we have a cover that would depict racism, sexism, anti-religion, also anti-patriotism, and then on top of it, to try to draw a conclusion that Mr. Obama has some sympathy towards terrorism...."

The CNN co-host then directed her first question to Wynter, and out of the box, she made it clear that she didn't see the cover as being satire: "Now Shelley, satire is supposed to be funny, it's supposed to be thought-provoking, it's supposed to be clever. Do you see this as over-the-top?" Wynter responded, "Absolutely not," and defended The New Yorker's position. He later compared the cover to Jesse Jackson's recent vulgar slam of Barack Obama: "If we're going to boycott The New Yorker, then I say I would just as well go down to Rainbow/PUSH headquarters and boycott Rainbow/PUSH for what Jesse Jackson said."

Phillips then made her remark that the cover was "pretty racial." In reply, Wynter shot back in disbelief to her position: "But do you -- I mean, do you really believe that? Do you really believe that if you see this article, this cover, excuse me, you're going to say to yourself, oh, this is Barack and Michelle. I mean, no way, this is crazy to me. This is satire. It's just -- no one was this outraged when someone had a painted -- had a cartoon of Condoleezza Rice as a pregnant black woman who had -- delivering a monkey as a baby. No one said anything. I didn't see the likes of Mr. Parks wanting to boycott that magazine that ran that cartoon. So this is satire, and so anybody that looks at a drawing of a cartoon and wants to say this is what my presidential candidate is going to be like, it's already ridiculous. They shouldn't be voting. They're retarded."

Parks voiced his basic agreement with Phillips concerning how some may see the cover: "I think you're missing the point in the fact that this magazine will be in newsstands across this country and internationally. No one is going to read the article to the fine point that you've just discussed it. It will leave the image and the impression of what the cover reflects..." He later proposed that the cover "hits at the lowest level of people's thought processes."

The final exchange in the segment began with Phillips asking if the cover indicated whether Americans were "still pretty racially insensitive."

PHILLIPS: Councilman, let me pose this, and councilman I'll start with you. I've known you for a long time. You've broken a lot of barriers as a black professional, being a police officer, the chief of the LAPD -- now, you're in the political arena. Do you think in any way that this cover sets us back, that it's more divisive than anything else and only proves that we're still pretty racially insensitive?
PARKS: Well, I think what it does is that it forgets that the eye of the beholder is the one that sets the judgment. It's not those who did the printing -- it's those who receive the message, and I think it does set us back, because every now and then, when you get something like this, you have to go back and look at the calendar and realize it's 2008, and we've just taken a major step back to where this wouldn't be acceptable decades ago. The fact is, today, you have more people that will speak out on it, but it wasn't acceptable in decades ago when people were going through many, many other issues that dealt with racism, sexism, so it's certainly not appropriate today.
PHILLIPS: Shelley, there's definitely a risk when you lampoon ignorance. That is for sure. Not everyone is going to get it. Can you give me the final thought?
WYNTER: I appreciate that. I'm just saying, if we're going to be politically-correct on satire, then what is the definition of satire? If you're going to knock down what's -- something that's clearly satirical, then what choice -- where do we go from here? Now, we have nothing out there, and I would say to Mr. Parks, if we're going to be set back, then we need to be as outraged at Jesse Jackson's comments last week because that set us back 150 years, back to the days of lynching, and because he said it, it doesn't take away from the fact that it set us back almost 150 years.
PARKS: Well, I don't think it's a benefit no matter who does the harm.
WYNTER: Fair enough. But there's no harm in this -- there's no harm in this-
PARKS: And I think no one -- anyone supporting Jesse Jackson, and I think what we need to do is find out how many people out of ten, understand what satire is and look at it in the face of what it is. It's a picture that depicts what could be the first couple of the United States in a very derogatory manner, and brings up all of the fears and anger which drives people to the worst conclusions they can come up with. I think that's totally inappropriate.
PHILLIPS: And gentlemen-
WYNTER: If nobody know what is satire is, they shouldn't be voting.
PHILLIPS: But Shelley -- but that's my final point. Is that when you lampoon ignorance, you know, not everybody is going to get it and it's risky. It's a definite risk.
WYNTER: That's what satire is. That's the definition of satire.
PHILLIPS: And we all appreciate it. Shelley Wynter, Councilman Bernard Parks. Gentlemen, great conversation.

Matthews Worries 'Right' Will Turn New
Yorker Cover Into T-Shirt

On Monday's Hardball Chris Matthews was so upset about the New Yorker's cover, depicting Barack Obama in a turban and Michelle Obama toting an AK-47, because he feared "the right will be using that as T-shirt material within the next couple of weeks." Matthews, along with The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza and the Atlantic Media's Ronald Brownstein also insulted all the non-New Yorker subscribers who didn't get the joke as unsophisticated, or as Lizza put it, "a little slow."

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

The following exchanges occurred on the July 14 edition of Hardball:

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You know the trouble is to many people it reminds us of a Thomas Nast cartoon of the 19th century, where they showed Irish immigrants as monkeys. You know you can say, on a sophisticated level, that everybody gets the joke. But people who see that picture of him in the turban and his wife carrying an AK-47 and the big picture, a loving picture of Osama Bin Laden, an American flag burning in the fireplace. I'll bet you any money that the right will be using that as T-shirt material within the next couple of weeks.

...

MATTHEWS: We have 12 percent of this country who believe that Barack Obama took the oath of office as a U.S. Senator on the Koran. We've got 19 percent of other Americans, adding up to 31 percent, who really have doubts about his religious background who do think he might be a Muslim. This picture with him in the turban on, what's it gonna do?
RONALD BROWNSTEIN, ATLANTIC MEDIA: Well first of all, as, as Ryan said it's intended to be a comment on a comment. If you look at the subscription list of The New Yorker I'm guessing that short of Prius owners it's gonna be hard to find a, a demo-, a consumer demographic group that is gonna be more inclined toward Barack Obama. So I think they certainly felt that their readers were going to get that they were attempting to invalidate the right's portrayal of Obama by taking it to, what they saw, as the logical extreme of the arguments that are being made. Now whether people try to use the argument in another way, I don't know. But clearly the intent here is to disqualify these arguments by raising them to a level of absurdity. And I'm guessing, for their audience, that people who got that, people who subscribe to The New Yorker, probably are going to get that. Now whether others, you know, take it differently we can't say.

...

MATTHEWS: Well the problem, the problem, Ryan is and you're as smart as I am about this. Let's face it there are lot of people out there who want to believe he's a Muslim, who want to believe that he's too exotic to vote for, for a lot of ethnic reasons. They prefer to think of a guy named Osama Bin, not Osama, there I make the mistake. Barack Obama with a middle name "Hussein," as a Muslim, as someone who is exotic and un-American. It's useful to them to have this kind of art.
RYAN LIZZA, THE NEW YORKER: One way you push back at that Chris is to lampoon it. Is to make fun of this idea. Is to show people that it's absurd. And look for the people that didn't get the joke, that didn't understand the cover, I think the fact that it's been on cable, wall-to-wall, for all day today and all over the web and having people from the magazine explain it. You know we've, we're trying to help people get the joke for people who are a little slow.

ABC's Cuomo Fears New Yorker's 'Supposed
Satire' Could Spread

On Monday's Good Morning America, the show's co-hosts appeared quite bothered by the "supposed satire" of a New Yorker magazine cover that features a cartoon Michelle Obama as a black militant and Barack Obama in Muslim garb with a picture of Osama bin Laden in the background. And although the issue is obviously meant as a parody and a representation of the liberal view that conservatives are attacking the Illinois Senator's patriotism, Chris Cuomo fretted: "Is that the way people see him?"

An ABC graphic for the second segment on the topic, a discussion with Democratic strategist James Carville, featured this warning: "Cover Controversy: Does New Yorker Cover Go Too Far?" In a tease for the subject, co-host Robin Roberts asked, "Did the New Yorker go too far with this week's cover?" Cuomo, making clear his belief that, whatever the satirical intent, the cover wasn't appreciated, opined, "The New Yorker is not even on the stands yet, but this supposed satire has a lot of people talking."
[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

GMA correspondent Jake Tapper filed a report on the topic and noted that the Obama camp has labeled the cover "tasteless and offensive." Cuomo agreed and again worried about its impact: "Jake, tasteless and offensive, yeah. But what about also effective? I mean, do you think we're going to start seeing this everywhere? This is the last thing the campaign needed right now, right?"

Cuomo then interviewed Carville on the subject. The longtime aide and friend to the Clintons actually dismissed the New Yorker cover as not that big a deal. (He defended the "really great magazine" and snidely observed, "This is not the Drudge Report. Please.") Cuomo wouldn't let go, however. After Carville brought up the satire defense, the ABC host retorted, "But, I mean, what is there to this point, exactly?" Citing a just released Newsweek poll finding the election between Obama and Republican John McCain tightening, he worried, "Is that the way people see him?

A transcript of the Jake Tapper segment and a partial transcript of the James Carville segment, follow:

7am tease
ROBIN ROBERTS: Cover controversy. Did the New Yorker go too far with this week's cover? The Obama camp fires back.

7:02am
CHRIS CUOMO: And we were looking at the cover a little bit. Let's put that magazine cover back up there. The New Yorker is not even on the stands yet, but this supposed satire has a lot of people talking.
ROBERTS: It does and we'll hear more about that instant fall out coming up.

7:07am
CHRIS CUOMO: Let's get to politics. Let's get to the latest on the race to '08. There's a surprising new poll out. Newsweek has Barack Obama leading John McCain by just three points, a statistical dead heat, really. That's down from 15 points of a lead last month. So, now, the selection of running mate could mean that much more. ABC's senior political correspondent Jake Tapper has all the reporting for us from Washington this morning. Morning, Jake.
JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Chris. Well, sometime in the next few weeks, Senator Barack Obama will announce his vice presidential pick and shortly thereafter, in all likelihood, Senator John McCain will do the same. But, until then, political junkies are studying every comment, all the body language, every last nuance to try to figure out who the nominees will be. It's like a game of vice presidential "Clue." Family value conservatives were concerned that Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist would not be a suitable VP pick because he's been a bachelor for decades. Then this month, Crist got engaged. So is it a clue? Crist in Florida with an engagement ring? Minneapolis media have written that Governor Tim Pawlenty's chances of being picked were hurt by his mullet or hockey hair. Suddenly, a new distinguished hair cut. So, is it Pawlenty in Minnesota with a hair cut? 1996 Republican VP nominee Jack Kemp offers this advice.
JACK KEMP (1996 Republican VP nominee): You cannot campaign for it. I think that's the most important thing. Any of you guys out there thinking of campaigning, you can't campaign for it.
JAKE TAPPER: Tell that to Mitt Romney who has shown an amazing willingness to take to the airwaves to praise former foe John McCain.
MITT ROMNEY: He's a person of great capability who has been tested and proven and someone who I respect enormously.
TAPPER: Another clue, Romney on cable with some cheerleading. On the Democratic side, a clue in the Los Angeles Times. Hillary Clinton in New York with an Obama phone call. Clinton fund raiser Jill Iscol was phoned by Obama last week.
JILL ISCOL (Hillary Clinton supporter): He said that he admired Hillary Clinton. He respected her enormously, how could he not consider her for vice president? And that she certainly was on his list.
TAPPER: Then there's the news over the weekend. Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, an opponent of the war in Iraq who has not endorsed McCain, will accompany Obama on the upcoming trip to Iraq. So is a clue Hagel in Iraq on a fact-finding trip? Those are, of course, just a few of the possibilities. Neither the Obama nor McCain campaigns are talking about the matter. But one thing that the Obama campaign is talking about this morning is that new cover of the New Yorker magazine which features a cartoon of the Obamas in the Oval Office. She is dressed as a black militant. He is dressed in Muslim garb. There's a picture of Osama bin Laden above the fireplace where an American flag is burning. The magazine says it's just a parody of conspiracy theorists' take on the Obamas. But the Obama campaign says the cartoon is tasteless and offensive.
CUOMO: Jake, tasteless and offensive, yeah. But what about also effective? I mean, do you think we're going to start seeing this everywhere? This is the last thing the campaign needed right now, right?
TAPPER: I agree with that 100 percent, Chris. In fact, Chris, this morning I went online. That image is already, the magazine cover, is already on the website of people who hate the Obamas and they are using this against the Obama family.

CUOMO: All right, Jake. Appreciate it this morning. Thank you. Let's get some more perspective here. I think you may have heard laughing from this man, Democratic strategist James Carville is here, author of the book "40 More Years." You're laughing, but is there a little bit of crying going on in the Obama camp over that picture?
ABC GRAPHIC: Cover Controversy: Does New Yorker Cover Go Too Far?
JAMES CARVILLE: I was laughing because it was tasteless and offensive and I was the next guest. You know, look. Does the New Yorker have a history of being a really great magazine and a responsible magazine? Of course it does. Does it have a history of using satire? Of course it does. This is not the Drudge Report. Please. And I think that David Remnick, who is the editor there, is a pretty smart guy. They've got pretty smart people, I think they knew what they were doing. I understand where the Obama campaign is coming from. I don't know I wouldn't feel the same way. But, given the context of everything, I think that we all know what the New Yorker was doing. They were trying to use satire in making a point at that I'm sure the Obama people would like made at some point.
CUOMO: But, I mean, what is there to this point, exactly? I mean, you're looking at the poll. Right, we had the numbers up there before for the Newsweek poll. The numbers are compressing. He's up 15. Now, it's a statistical dead heat. Is that the way people see him?
CARVILLE: You know, Chris, you can't look at one poll. And that's the danger. And I think if you look across either Pollster.com or RealClearPolitics.com, they'll show the race is about seven points right now, six or seven points. And that seems about right to me. You're always going to have some variations and fluctuations But I'm not at all convinced that there's any kind of severe tightening going on. Newsweek polls show this. Other polls show different things. It's still a fairly close race here. And it's still a race I would say that Senator Obama is the favorite, but there's certainly a way for McCain to do this.

NBC Hires Liberal Democrat Ford to Analyze
Liberal Democrat Obama

The Today show's lead political story on Monday was that the Obama campaign was offended by the liberal New Yorker magazine's attempt to parody, on its cover, supposed right wing attacks on Obama. To analyze the liberal Obama's reaction to the magazine cover, they brought on former liberal Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. to discuss the controversy.

Today co-host Ann Curry announced Ford was a new NBC News analyst and not surprisingly Ford acted more like an Obama PR flack as he determined: "when you consider that a portion of this country, particularly in Midwestern and rust belt states still believe that Barack Obama, because of Internet campaigns, mistakenly and wrongly believe he may be a Muslim and they equate that with, with terrorist activity. It's, it's puzzling, and if not outright belittling that they would do this to this candidate at this point. I've never seen a candidate treated like this, at this point in a campaign."

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

The following is the full segment aired on the July 14 Today show:

ANN CURRY: So let's get some perspective on all this from former Democratic Congressman Harold Ford Jr. He's now an NBC News political analyst. Hey, great to see you.

[On screen headline: "Obama Vs. McCain, Does Magazine Cover Go Too Far?"]

HAROLD FORD: Good morning, glad to be here.
CURRY: So how damaging is this New Yorker magazine cover?
FORD: It doesn't help. I think Senator Obama and his campaign's response that it's tasteless and offensive is, is spot on. Not only that, that it's curious that a magazine would, would go to this...to make this kind of a statement, when you consider that a portion of this country, particularly in Midwestern and rust belt states still believe that Barack Obama, because of Internet campaigns, mistakenly and wrongly believe he may be a Muslim and they equate that with, with terrorist activity. It's, it's puzzling, and if not outright belittling that they would do this to this candidate at this point. I've never seen a candidate treated like this, at this point in a campaign.
CURRY: Oh so you're saying, you're saying that, when you say, it's unbelievable they're treating, you're, you're suggesting that maybe there's something a little more untoward, devious about this decision?
FORD: No I think they may have wanted to satire, satirize this and that's all understandable. But at this point in the campaign, at this point in the nation's history, to take these steps with this picture, the editors at the magazine have some questions to answer.
CURRY: You make a good point in terms of the numbers. Because, in fact, a new Newsweek poll found that actually more than half of all respondents think that Barack Obama was either raised as a Muslim, educated in a Muslim school or sworn-in as Senator on a Koran. So the question really is why do so many people have this sense? It's not because of that magazine cover.
FORD: No-
CURRY: Because that happened after. Why, why do people have this wrong?
FORD: I think two reasons. One, Senator Obama's name suggests in some ways wrongly that his religion may be different than what it is. He's a Christian, he's a God-fearing man who raised his kids in a Christian church. Two, I think part of, part of what Senator Obama's gonna do, he didn't create this problem. But he's gonna have to exude more, show more his love and patriotism for the country. He gave a fantastic speech a few weeks ago, not only about patriotism but gave a great speech on Father's Day about personal and self responsibility. He's now, from a campaign perspective, got to figure out how do you follow that up. How do you amplify it? How do you reinforce those themes and those messages through paid advertisements. They've raised a lot of money and they're probably gonna have to spend a good chunk of it trying to disabuse people of this wrong notion about him and his religion.
CURRY: There are the new, the new, a new Newsweek poll also says that Barack Obama and John McCain currently are now in a statistical dead heat. That same Newsweek magazine said that, a month ago, Barack Obama was actually ahead by 15 percent. Now there's some debate about whether these are funny numbers. But do you think there's something going on? Because there's also a lot of accusation now against both campaigns about flip-flopping and specifically against Obama, about flip-flopping. Do you think there's something going on? Does Barack Obama have to really worry now?
FORD: No, these, these polls are, just snapshots of where we are. I didn't believe the polls showing that far ahead. I got great respect for Jon Meacham and the organization but at the same time this is, this race is fluid. This race is finally engaging and forming. Two things, Barack Obama is running for the President of the United States, not the president of Moveon.Org or the president of a liberal group. He's running to lead and be a decision maker and be a visionary for the country on the economy, national security and the immediate issue of Iraq. He's not flip-flopping. I think people try to put him in a-
CURRY: He's changed his position, people say that he's changed position on, by rejecting public financing, by voting for the FISA warrant-less wiretap. His position on gun control in Washington D.C. He has now been accused of flip-flopping on those issues. What do you mean he's not changed his positions?
FORD: I think it's, I think it's fair on the, on the campaign finance because he made a statement there. But on FISA and on the war I want a President who's gonna adjust to circumstances and needs on the ground. I want a President who's not gonna be inflexible or ideological. And I think what Senator Obama said is that, "That's the kind of President, the kind of decision-maker I want to be." Campaign finance we can debate. I would agree there's probably a great argument that can be made about his different position, differing positioning on that front. The reality is we have a housing challenge, we have an oil price challenge in this country. And we have a national security image challenge around the world. Barack Obama has to address those four issues over the next four months. If he does successfully he'll be elected, if not he won't.
CURRY: Harold Ford, alright. Thank you so much Harold Ford, this morning.
FORD: Thanks for having me.

To see just how liberal NBC News' new analyst is, see: www.mediaresearch.org

Maggie Rodriguez of CBS News Hosts La
Raza Conference

On Monday's CBS Early Show, co-host Maggie Rodriguez reported from California and touted her role as emcee at the annual conference for the liberal Hispanic group La Raza: "The conference for the National Council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking." At the top of the show, Rodriguez teased the segment by proclaiming: "Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote." Later during the segment Rodriguez continued to emphasize the importance of the Hispanic vote: "From coast to coast, in countless corners of American cities, the Latino influence is undeniable. Latinos are the largest minority in this country. 45 million strong and growing. By 2050 that number's expected to almost triple to 128 million. And a growing Latino population means more influence for Latino voters."

[This item, by the MRC's Kyle Drennen, was posted Monday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Following that observation, Rodriguez played a clip of Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, praising past immigration protests in the Hispanic community: "In 2008 we're culminating on several years of activism and mobilization of the Latino community. Just look back two years ago, with the 2006 marches, where millions of people took to the streets, many of them young people, who said today we march, tomorrow we vote. Well, tomorrow has arrived."

Another person Rodriguez spoke to during the segment was the liberal Univision news anchor, Jorge Ramos, who declared: "Only about 500 Latino voters in Miami decided that George Bush and not Al Gore should be the next president. In the year 2004, if only 67,000 Latinos in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico would have voted for John Kerry instead of George Bush, John Kerry would have been the President of the United States."

Rodriguez interviewed Ramos on the Early Show in June and described how they were old friends: "And I have to say something, I know Jorge 15 years. I was a rookie reporter at Univision...And he was the anchor. Never did I imagine that one day I'd be here interviewing you. So it's a treat." During that interview, Rodriguez highlighted a question Ramos asked during a Democratic presidential debate in February: "Federal raids by immigration enforcement officials on homes and businesses have generated a great deal of fear and anxiety in the Hispanic community and have divided the family of some of the three million U.S.-born children who have at least one undocumented parent. Would you consider stopping these raids once you take office until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed?"

At the end of that interview, Rodriguez asked Ramos about the role of Hispanic voters and Ramos replied: "Barack Obama and John McCain might have a Hispanic problem. They both voted for -- for the fence, or a wall between the United States and Mexico. And without Latinos nobody is going to get to the White House."

Here is the full transcript of the Monday, July 14 segment:

7:01AM TEASER:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: Thousands of Hispanic voters are attending conferences attended by both presidential candidates. That's why I'm here in Southern California. Both John McCain and Barack Obama are reaching out to this voting bloc. And ahead this morning I'll tell you the 45 million reasons why they both covet the Hispanic vote.

7:12AM SEGMENT:
MAGGIE RODRIGUEZ: I'm here in Southern California for the same reason the presidential candidates are. The conference for the national council of La Raza, the country's largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy group. Yesterday I hosted the luncheon in San Diego where Senator Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of thousands. Later today I will host the one where Senator McCain will be speaking. This marks the third time in two weeks that the candidates are addressing Latino groups. It's proof that they both know, especially in a race as close as this, as Jeff Glor just reported, this voting bloc could be the key to the White House. From coast to coast, in countless corners of American cities, the Latino influence is undeniable. Latinos are the largest minority in this country. 45 million strong and growing. By 2050 that number's expected to almost triple to 128 million. And a growing Latino population means more influence for Latino voters.
ARTURO VARGAS: In 2008 we're culminating on several years of activism and mobilization of the Latino community. Just look back two years ago, with the 2006 marches, where millions of people took to the streets, many of them young people, who said today we march, tomorrow we vote. Well, tomorrow has arrived.
RODRIGUEZ: Though Latinos make up just 9% of the electorate. In swing states like New Mexico, 37% of voters are Hispanic. In Florida, 14%. And 12% in Colorado and Nevada. Voters in these states have decided the last two presidential elections.
JORGE RAMOS: Only about 500 Latino voters in Miami decided that George Bush and not Al Gore should be the next president. In the year 2004, if only 67,000 Latinos in Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico would have voted for John Kerry instead of George Bush, John Kerry would have been the President of the United States.
RODRIGUEZ: Jorge Ramos, news anchor for Spanish language network Univision, says that's why John McCain and Barack Obama need to aggressively woo Hispanic voters. And they are, speaking to Latino audiences.
BARACK OBAMA: You hold this election in your hands.
RODRIGUEZ: Advertising specifically for Latinos.
JOHN MCCAIN: When you go to Iraq or Afghanistan today you're going to see a whole lot of people who are of Hispanic background.
RODRIGUEZ: And using influential surrogates, like L.A.'s Mexican-American mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa, a Barack Obama supporter.
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA: We have to go into every community all across the country, particularly in swing states.
RODRIGUEZ: Canvassing the country is only half the battle. Latino Leaders agree the candidates must also address the issues that matter to this diverse electorate.
RAMOS: Latinos are no different than other groups. So, the three most important Issues for Latinos are education, jobs, and health care. So it would be a huge mistake for Barack Obama and for John McCain to believe that we are all exactly the same. That we all come from Mexico and that we only care about immigration.
RODRIGUEZ: Barack Obama received a very warm reception at the luncheon yesterday and several standing ovations. And historically Latinos, most of them, do tend to vote Democratic. But Obama faces several hurdles. He's never been to Latin America. Latinos widely supported Hillary Clinton and not him in the primaries. And there have been tensions historically between Latinos and African-Americans. John McCain of course also faces hurdles, I will be speaking to him about that and other topics today after his speech with the council of La Raza.

Halperin Scolds CNN, Charges Press in
Cahoots with Democrats

With "WORST. WEEK. EVER?" on screen above the promise of "NO BIAS, NO BULL," Friday's CNN Election Center show devoted a story to John McCain's bad week, but afterward, Mark Halperin, the former ABC News political director now with Time magazine, declared that McCain's challenge are less his supposed gaffes than "his problem is stopping the press and the Democrats from making this what the election is about." Specifically, "I think the problem is that the press right now and the Democrats are trying to seize on every mistake, the Democrats are being very adept at creating the story of the day when John McCain misspeaks."

Before Halperin, the 8 PM EDT CNN show anchored by Campbell Bran ran a set up piece by Dana Bash who ran through a series of events in McCain's campaign, such as Phil Gramm's America is in a "mental recession," but also McCain's "politically perilous" decision to express in Michigan his pro-free trade position. Halperin scolded her:
"I have great respect for Dana Bash, but I'd say that some of the examples in her piece, I don't think were particularly bad. John McCain is a free trader. We've had free traders as Presidents who've been elected almost every election in modern times. So I don't think everything that the press is picking on is necessarily a gaffe or a problem."

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

Halperin's comments on the July 11 CNN Election Center, as provide to me by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

I think Senator McCain was having a pretty good week until Phil Gramm said what he said. You know, I have great respect for Dana Bash, but I'd say that some of the examples in her piece, I don't think were particularly bad. John McCain is a free trader. We've had free traders as Presidents who've been elected almost every election in modern times. So I don't think everything that the press is picking on is necessarily a gaffe or a problem. Earlier in the week, I thought they did a good job of taking advantage of Senator Obama's mistakes. The problem they have, the two problems they have that I think this week shows, one is, his advisors need to keep their mouths shut and not say bad things. What Senator Gramm said is going to hurt at least with the elites who are paying attention now, and probably eventually with real voters. The other problem they have is, what Dana talked about, his style is to talk a lot -- talk in town meetings, talk to reporters. And it is difficult to talk a lot and not occasionally go off message, whether he makes a slip-up or not, because the press will seize on what the press wants to seize on. That is a problem that I don't think they've solved.

...

Campbell, I think the problem is that the press right now and the Democrats are trying to seize on every mistake, the Democrats are being very adept at creating the story of the day when John McCain misspeaks. I don't think that's what this election should be about. There were other examples during the week, something he said about Social Security, the Democrats are driving it hard. I do think Steve Schmidt will do better than the previous regime at fighting back. But this isn't what the election should be about. There are real big issues, but for now, his problem is stopping the press and the Democrats from making this what the election is about.

-- Brent Baker