MRC Clips Feb 4, 2011


Time’s Halperin Raves: Obama Has Level of ‘Sophistication and Skill’ That Not One Republican Can Duplicate


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It’s rare when Chris Matthews is outdone in his praise of Barack Obama but Time’s Mark Halperin, on Thursday’s Hardball, managed to top the MSNBC host as he delivered a rave review of Barack Obama’s performance at the National Prayer Breakfast. After playing a clip of the speech, Matthews merely offered a “That’s pretty good” but the Game Change co-author did him one better, going as far to warn any GOP candidate considering a presidential run in 2012 to study the address because it had”a level of sophistication and skill that not one Republican on the field right now can duplicate.”

(MP3 audio) Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center.

ABC Sets Up Sting Operation to Find Racism in AZ Immigration Law, Hires Actor to Play a Bigot


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ABC and reporter John Quinones on Thursday stretched the bounds of journalism, hiring an actor to play a racist security guard as a way of testing how the people of Arizona would react to the state’s “anti-immigration law.”

Previewing the network’s “What Would You Do?” segment for Friday’s 20/20, Quinones explained the undercover concept: “So, I go undercover, pretending to be someone who is about to be arrested and deported, simply by the way I look.”

The piece featured a cartoonish “security guard” harassing Mexican actors in Tucson, Arizona. Presumably, ABC chose a security guard because impersonating a police officer is illegal. The actor walked into a restaurant and spewed, “I’m just looking to make sure these guys are legal citizens. And if they’re not legal citizens, they shouldn’t be here. They should be deported. They look Mexican.” [MP3 audio here.]

Of course, having this man pretend to be a security guard really makes no sense. (A security guard is going to deport people?) Secondly, for journalists that often attack conservative sting operations, it’s rather odd to see ABC manipulate such a scenario

The Radio, Television and Digital News Association ethics guide states: “Use surreptitious newsgathering techniques, including hidden cameras or microphones, only if there is no other way to obtain stories of significant public importance and only if the technique is explained to the audience.” Was this the only way ABC could do such a story?

Previewing the segment, Quinones misstated what Arizona’s law actually is. He asserted, “So, we took our cameras down to Arizona, where a controversial, new law would give police the authority to question and perhaps deport anyone who, in their eyes, appears to be in the U.S. illegally.”

This is false. Byron York of the Washington Examiner explained in an April 26, 2010 column:

Critics have focused on the term “reasonable suspicion” to suggest that the law would give police the power to pick anyone out of a crowd for any reason and force them to prove they are in the U.S. legally. Some foresee mass civil rights violations targeting Hispanics.

What fewer people have noticed is the phrase “lawful contact,” which defines what must be going on before police even think about checking immigration status. “That means the officer is already engaged in some detention of an individual because he’s violated some other law,” says Kris Kobach, a University of Missouri Kansas City Law School professor who helped draft the measure. “The most likely context where this law would come into play is a traffic stop.”

After playing clips of the “security guard” arguing with patrons as he harassed Mexicans, Quinones lectured, “And what we kept hearing over and over from folks was that they all knew about the anti-immigration law. What they didn’t realize until we staged our scenario was how it might affect innocent people, Latinos, George who are in this country legally.”

Notice the use of “anti-immigration” rather than anti-illegal immigration.

A previous “What Would You Do?” segment featured “ugly Americans” in Paris. In January of 2009, overweight and wearing George W. Bush t-shirts, these actors showcased obnoxious behavior in Europe.

Quinones smeared, “They’re the ugly Americans. And for more than a century, they’ve been fixtures in American literature and film.” Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center.

For Second Day in a Row, Mitchell Pitches for Gun Control: ‘Somebody’s Got to Listen in Washington’


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Andrea Mitchell, for a second day in a row, pushed for more gun control on her MSNBC show as she encouraged Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, “You and Mike Bloomberg…have all been yelling and screaming,” about more restrictive anti-gun measures, “Somebody’s got to listen in Washington.” Initially invited on Thursday’s Andrea Mitchell Reports to discuss the Obama administration’s push for more green jobs, Nutter wasn’t allowed to finish the segment without Mitchell pressing him: “As a big city mayor, what are you saying to the White House about waiting for this gun control speech we keep hearing about?”

On yesterday’s show Mitchell expressed disappointment, to the aformentioned New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, that Barack Obama had “absolutely nothing, not one word….not even a sentence” in his State of the Union speech about gun control.

(MP3 audio)Geoffrey Dickens is the Senior News Analyst at the Media Research Center.

Jon Stewart to Michael Steele: GOP Base Is ‘So Easily Ignitable’

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On Tuesday’s “Daily Show,” liberal comedian Jon Stewart flashed a smirk and wondered why the conservative base of the Republican Party is “so easily ignitable.” The comedian hosted former Republican Party chair Michael Steele, who recounted the story of how he had to go about “re-igniting our base” after the party lost the White House and fell further into the minority in Congress in 2008.

“Why is it so easy to ignite your base?” Stewart asked with a smile. Amidst laughter from the audience, Michael Steele played along and quipped “they’re an excitable bunch.” Stewart kept at it. “They are so flammable, your base,” he remarked, and added “so easily ignitable.”

The remarks seem to echo Stewart’s calls for civility in discourse, where he has focused much of his invective toward what he feels to be inflammatory political rhetoric. Earlier in the show, Stewart mocked “political hypochondriacs” on the Right who fear America will suffer the destructive fates of certain European and African countries; Stewart then lampooned Leftists who try to “cheer the hypochondriac up” by wishing America was in fact like certain European or Asian countries.

Shortly after, Steele talked about the party’s efforts to be fiscally responsible and return to its conservative roots in “going back to Reagan.” Stewart then chimed in that “even with Reagan – Reagan ran big deficits, Reagan raised taxes.”

While it’s true that Reagan did raise taxes and run big deficits during his presidency, he is best-known for lowering tax rates, simplifying the tax and regulatory codes, and running considerably smaller deficits than, say, President Bush or President Obama. Matt Hadro is News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center

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