Reporting on Brown gets dirty

Noel Sheppard Contributor
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Since the moment Republican senatorial candidate Scott Brown made Tuesday’s special election in Massachusetts a horse race, the reporting of his improbable ascent has been downright offensive.

News media that normally favor unlikely underdogs treated this one like a burglar found lurking in the basement at three in the morning.

The biased teeth gnashing began as soon as polls showed the race between Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley tightening.

The New York Times was having none of that, and published a piece on January 8 discrediting the data:

And a new poll that showed a competitive race between Ms. Coakley and Mr. Brown has generated buzz on conservative blogs and energized the Brown campaign — though many news organizations dispute its methodology. […]

The poll that suggested Ms. Coakley’s lead was narrowing, which was conducted by Rasmussen Reports and does not meet the polling standards of The New York Times because it relied on automated telephone calls, suggested Mr. Brown had strikingly strong support among independent voters.

Makes you wonder if the Times would like to take that one back.

But that was just the beginning, for a week later, NBC’s “Today” Show asked a somewhat civics-challenged question: “Will Democrats Lose Ted Kennedy’s Seat?”

This seemed a bit preposterous given Brown’s scolding of CNN’s David Gergen at a debate with Coakley four days prior: “Well, with all due respect, it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat. It’s the people’s seat.”

The following day, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews actually expressed concern to NBC’s Chuck Todd that there weren’t any left-leaning votes for Democrats to buy in Massachusetts:

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: You know in the old days, maybe I shouldn`t be harkening back to the old days, if the Democrats faced this kind of a disaster in the works, you`d go back to your ones, the people you were sure are going to vote Democrat, and you`d make sure they got to the polling place, you`d get them lunch, you`d get them a car. You`d make sure they got there and in some cases you`d be buying people to get them, not officially buying them, but getting them there as block secretaries, as block captains, you`d be getting them there with street money, legitimate but it`s a little bit old school. But I hear talking to somebody today there aren`t people up there in Massachusetts like that anymore.

The same day, MSNBC’s Ed Schultz said on his radio program:

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO HOST: I tell you what, if I lived in Massachusetts, I’d try to vote ten times. I don’t know if they’d let me or not, but I’d try to. Yeah, that’s right, I’d cheat to keep these bastards out. I would. ‘Cause that’s exactly what they are.

As such, in the course of only a few hours, two prominent MSNBC hosts actually said they advocated cheating to beat Brown.

Meanwhile, a colleague of theirs, NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell, made the following odd statement on Schultz’s “Ed Show” that same day:

KELLY O’DONNELL, NBC NEWS: What we`ve got to figure out is whether all the talk we`re doing about this race will fire up Democrats to try to prevent a loss, a stunning loss, really, if it were to happen.

So is that the role of so-called “journalists” today: to figure out if their reports are firing up Democrat voters to defeat a Republican candidate?

Apparently so, for as the race wound down, and Election Day neared, MSNBC’s David Shuster wondered Monday, “Has Democratic-leaning Massachusetts lost its mind?”

That same morning, Maggie Rodriguez on the CBS “Early Show” actually said, “It’ll be interesting to see if Brown the Republican wins if the Democrats can defer his swearing in and get health care passed.”

Wow! In less than three days, two MSNBC personalities advocated cheating, and a CBS News host hoped Democrats could delay swearing Brown in if he actually won.

Unfortunately, none of these is the worst example of liberal media bias concerning the Massachusetts Senate race, for on Monday’s “Countdown,” MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann spewed hyper-partisan invective possibly like nothing ever offered on air by a cable news host:

KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC HOST: In short, in Scott Brown we have an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, teabagging supporter of violence against woman and against politicians with whom he disagrees. In any other time in our history, this man would have been laughed off the stage as an unqualified and a disaster in the making by the most conservative of conservatives. Instead, the commonwealth of Massachusetts is close to sending this bad joke to the Senate of the United States.

If this is the kind of “reporting” America gets during a special election for a sole Senate seat, what’s going to happen this November when control of Congress is on the line?

Scary question isn’t it?

Noel Sheppard is the Associate Editor of the Media Research Center’s NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at nsheppard@newsbusters.org.