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Punditry

Huntsman, Manchin Take Besties Photos

After dropping out of the presidential election and a two season-long Republican bashing media tour, Jon Huntsman is ready to lead along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The pair, along with Republican Strategist Mark McKinnon, are founders of “No Labels” a project aimed at fostering bipartisanship in Congress.

Huntsman and Republicans haven’t seemed to mesh since he ran for president. In April, Huntsman curiously compared the party to communist China. And as someone who saw him deliver an obviously scripted “unscripted” speech at George Washington University, I can say he’s not that inspiring.

On Sunday Huntsman and Manchin traveled to New York City to announce No Labels’ initiative to recruit 75 members of Congress as “problem solvers.” Some of the worst doughy, white, male, political photos surfaced along the way… Read more

WaPo’s Sargent Confronts Examiner’s Carroll On Right-To-Work Issue

The Washington Examiner‘s Conn Carroll sent out two tweets this morning about state unemployment and labor unions and Greg Sargent, who mans WaPo‘s liberal Plum Line blog, saw it as the perfect opportunity for some trolling.

“FACT: 8 of the 10 states with highest unemployment have unionization rates above the national average,” Carroll tweeted. “FACT: 7 out of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates are forced unionism states.”

Sarcastically, Sargent tweeted back, “FACT: 9 of the words in your last tweet had the letter ‘e’ in them.”

Sargent told FishbowlDC his intention…

Read more

CBS Sunday Morning‘s Mo Rocca: ‘The Electoral College has totally outlived its usefulness’

The final results of the popular vote aren’t in yet, although Obama’s chances are looking pretty good. Nate Silver says he’s ‘likely’ to win, so we’ll take his word for it. But for a while, things were looking up for Romney and Donald Trump was ranting away, bringing up the inevitable Electoral College vote debate.

Before Tuesday’s election, Mo Rocca, correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and star of the PBS documentary Electoral Dysfunction, spoke to Mediabistro for its So What Do You Do? column and pondered what would happen if Romney won the popular vote: “When that happens, the Electoral College won’t just be suspended; it will blow up in a fiery ball. Republicans are not going to stand for it, and Democrats already got burned. So, finally, there will be unity in this country and people will say we’ve got to junk this thing. The Electoral College has totally outlived its usefulness.”

Read the full interview in So What Do You Do, Mo Rocca, CBS Correspondent and Cooking Channel Host?

Details Includes Odd Pick in Next Wave of Pundits

Despite being fired, unemployed and absent from the FNC airwaves for the last two months, Michelle Fields is included in Details magazine’s “Next Wave of Political Pundits.” The list was published online yesterday.

There’s little reason to doubt that once Fields is once again gainfully employed that she’ll be back on FNC and it’s quite possible she has a bright future there. But Details has her listed as a “Guest Commentator” when she hasn’t been seen on the network since she was let go from The Daily Caller in August.

Fields appears to spend her time these days tweeting and updating her personal blog.

Others who made Details‘ list seemed to make more sense apart from a certain senator’s daughter… Read more

Scalia: Media Portray SCOTUS as ’9 Scorpions in a Bottle’

During a book signing at the American Enterprise Institute Tuesday, Justice Antonin Scalia said the biggest public misconception about the Supreme Court comes from nightly newscasts.

“What we do is dull,” Scalia said, explaining that the “30-second takeouts” the public gets about the Court when watching the nightly news isn’t an accurate representation of what the justices do. For instance, he explained, they’re not spending most of their time debating the legitimacy of abortion or same-sex marriage. “We’re looking at dull stuff, like the bank code,” he said.

In a room packed full of lawyers, aspiring law students and news media, Scalia talked about his book Reading the Law and his “textualist” approach to interpreting the Constitution. Textualism is the idea that law should be applied using the original meaning of the words.

Not to be missed: A Q&A with the audience and a poignant interruption from Siri… Read more

Michelle Obama’s ‘Effing Fake’ Stutter Barely Noticed

The first lady’s Democratic convention speech last night in Charlotte has been showered with praise from both the left and the right. Still, the uncharacteristic stutter that came through didn’t go unnoticed.

Some examples of the stammering:

  • “And-and-and as I got to know Barack, I realized…”
  • “And we were taught to-to value everyone’s contribution….”
  • “That’s who we are. And-and standing before you four years ago…”
  • “Being president doesn’t change who you are. No, it-it reveals who you are…”

 TIME‘s White House Correspondent Michael Scherer tweeted, “Michelle Obama’s rhetorical style leans on the intentionally stuttered word.”

Similarly, New York magazine editor Dan Amira said, “Michelle Obama’s speech would have been better if she didn’t fake-stutter every sentence for dramatic effect.”

Going balls to the wall, TWT columnist Mary Beth Hicks tweeted, “The stuttering is SO EFFING FAKE.” And Twitter personality Gourmet Spud concurred, asserting, “Michelle Obama is a great speaker, but she uses that annoying fake-stutter-at-start-of-sentence way too much.”

The biggest authority on the subject came from Rosemary Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association. “Only thing I don’t like about Mrs. Obama’s speaking style: the deliberate little stutter,” she said on Twitter.

Brad Phillips, editor of the Mr. Media Training blog, told FishbowlDC he didn’t notice the stutter. “I did notice that she uses the same transitions numerous times (“you see,” “see”),” Phillips said in an email, “but based on the deservedly glowing reviews of her speech, I suspect few people noticed those moments.”

He added, “It comes down to this. If most people in your audience don’t see a problem, there probably isn’t one.”

Former Nightline Producer on Key to Great Debate

Before becoming a producer for the Intelligence Squared debate series, Dana Wolfe spent 12 years at Nightline working under Ted Koppel. And she says that, whether booking experts to discuss the RNC and DNC or just the news of the day, the cable news shows have a lot to learn about creating a truly intelligent discourse.

“Today’s media are full of one-sided debates and partisan rants and name calling and punditry. We try to avoid all of that, both with our format and by bringing intelligence to both sides of these issues so the audience can make up their own minds,” said Wolfe. “We have a vote at the top of our evening asking, for example, ‘How do you feel about this proposition?’ Then the audience sits for a live, hour-and-45-minute debate and they hear both sides of the discussion. They hear one side pick apart the other’s side, but in a very thoughtful way that isn’t sound bites.”

Read the full interview in Hey, How’d You Go from Nightline to Intelligence Squared Debates, Dana Wolfe? [sub req'd]

Pentagon TV’s Set to MSNBC

FishbowlDC encountered an all-too-chatty stranger in a cafe this morning reading WaPo. At first, we ignored. But soon enough, he told us about the viewing habits of he and his colleagues at the Pentagon.

Our anonymous media critic, a smiley white male in his mid to late 30s, works in a managerial role at the Pentagon. If you polled the employees “they’d probably be more of a Fox News crowd.” But to be fair to different political views, the Pentagon cafeteria TV is set to a different news channel everyday. “One day it will be on Fox News, the next MSNBC and then CNN,” he said. “One day I think it was on HLN.”

Despite the heavy Fox News crowd, as of late, all TVs have been fixed on MSNBC. Asked if this was due to Olympics news coverage, he said no, the MSNBC marathon at the Pentagon began before the Olympics.

Our ranter is somewhat torn between FNC and MSNBC. He likes FNC’s Bill O’Reilly, but  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow also appeals. After bringing up Sharpton’s name, our instapundit said the outrage Sharpton exhibited over the Trayvon Martin controversy was a wash. “Ten black people are shot in Chicago at any moment,” he said, “and yet when one black kid in Florida is killed, it’s all over the news.” As if he were speaking directly to Sharpton, the critic said, “On your flight to Florida, 10 people in Chicago were shot. Why aren’t you flying there?”

Marc Lamont Hill on the Joe Williams Controversy: ‘There has to be space for conversation’

One subject Marc Lamont Hill is not afraid to talk about is race, even if that means getting into some trouble. The TV commentator was fired from Fox News in 2009 for sympathizing with such figures as Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal, though that has not steered him away from the hot-button issue. So, when Mediabistro asked him about the recent scandal surrounding Joe Williams, Hill defended the ex-Politico reporter and his rights to voice his opinions, regardless of how controversial they may be.

“I’m very protective of people’s rights to say what they want to say, even if they disagree,” he said. “We must engage each other and ideas, even the unpopular ones that make us uncomfortable. On top of that, we have to determine what’s true, because sometimes things that may feel culturally untoward are still right, and we just have to deal with some uncomfortable truths. When it comes to this race talk stuff, people get real uneasy. They’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t really like talking about race.’ But we have to.”

Read more in So What Do You Do, Marc Lamont Hill, Author, Professor and TV Commentator?

Andrea Hackett

Scarborough Faces Backlash Over NYT Bias Claims

MSNBC’s Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough criticized the NYT on his program yesterday after the paper published an extensive report on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s upper-income neighborhood in San Diego. He said the story was “an embarrassment” for the publication, alleging that NYT didn’t cover Sen. John Kerry‘s (D-Mass.) wealth to the same extent when he ran for president in 2004.

Politico‘s media reporter Dylan Byers wrote a post citing an NYT rep who provided four examples of the paper’s coverage of Kerry’s wealth. In a follow-up post he quoted Scarborough (who has his own Politico blog and regular column) doubling down on his criticism and dismissing the four stories provided by the Times as follows:

“They may have a database showing how many articles they did on each candidate. I have to talk extemporaneously for three hours a day. But the general impressions of people like myself and [MSNBC contributor] Mark Halperin, that does count in the perspective that active news consumers have.”

Despite the rock-solid defense of having to talk “extemporaneously for three hours a day” and having “general impressions,” criticism of Scarborough by other journalists came flooding in.

“MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough didn’t learn much from last week’s Politico misfire on the New York Times’s alleged bias in covering presidential campaigns,” WaPo‘s media blogger Erik Wemple wrote in a post. “Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen tried to make that case and ended up getting buried. Turned out that the pair hadn’t dug deeply enough into the archives to put together an airtight argument.”

On Twitter, NYT‘s Jim Rutenberg said, “debate is healthy, but if @JoeNBC wants to stand by verifiably false assertions about our covg then not much more 2 say.”

Also on Twitter, Media MattersEric Boehlert summarized Scarborough’s defense in his own words: “Shorter Joe Scarborough: I have nothing to back up my attack…”

In another tweet, Slate‘s Dave Weigel said, “Please note: *Feeling like* some paper is biased is not actually media analysis.”

On Salon, Alex Pareene wrote: “The ‘general impressions’ of vain, blathering idiots like Joe Scarborough and Mark Halperin certainly do count, because someone gave them a TV show, for some reason.”

Scarborough’s one lukewarm defense came from Byers who tweeted to Rutenberg, “I believe his point is it’s about a general impression, your database be damned.”

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