Surprisingly, Tom Brokaw broke away from the surging media narrative to bring a rare moment of tempering during the Meet the Press panel. And even more amazingly, he pointed to a very specific foreign policy that may be driving more and more people against this country:
MR. BROKAW: But I think that there’s something else that goes beyond the event that we’ve all been riveted by in the last week. We have to work a lot harder as a motivation here. What prompts a young man to come to this country and still feel alienated from it, to go back to Russia and do whatever he did and I don’t think we’ve examined that enough? I mean, there was 24/7 coverage on television, a lot of newspaper print and so on, but we have got to look at the roots of all of this because it exist across the whole subcontinent, and the-- and the Islamic world around the world. And I think we also have to examine the use of drones that the United States is involved and-- and there are a lot of civilians who are innocently killed in a drone attack in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, and in Iraq. And I can tell you having spent a lot of time over there, young people will come up to me on the streets and say we love America. If you harm one hair on the-- on the head of my sister, I will fight you forever and there is this enormous rage against what they see in that part of the world as a presumptuousness of the United States.
Tom Brokaw has no excuse for his stupidity on Meet the Press Sunday. None. He's old enough to know better, but evidently he's so full of right wing tropes that he's forgotten the purpose of Social Security and why it is structured the way it is, which of course plays right into the hands of those who would like to destroy it entirely.
This particular exchange is characteristic of people who have absolutely no basic understanding of the principles at play or what those principles mean to everyone, not just people who rely on Social Security:
GREGORY: Okay. But you-- Tom-- Tom when you-- I’m not afraid of it-- well, you know, I thought I’d let it go the first time. On second thought I had to say I don’t really know what you meant. Tom, you know, you interviewed-- you interviewed then candidate Obama in 2008. You said-- you asked him then, would you get Medicare and Social Security reform done in your first two years? He said, well Tom, I don’t know if I can do that but-- certainly in the first term. I asked him to make a commitment for the first year of his second term. He’s not prepared to do that. This is the driver, David you-- you recently linked to a Weekly Standard piece about you’re going to run out of discretionary money to do the things the president wants to do if he doesn’t take on entitlements.
MR. BROKAW: They’ve got to address it. And the president I think, could help himself a lot if he were tougher on the AARP for example, and said look, it’s not about the people at the bottom for whom Medicare really is the lifeline. It’s about all of the people, including those of us around the table who get the same benefits, members of our family who are very working class. My brother, you know, has a really great working class career working for the telephone company. But there’s a big disparity between what I’m worth and he’s worth but we get the same benefits at the end of the day. There’s something wrong with that. And, you know, the fact of the matter is that we’re all living longer as well. Social Security can go up if you give it some lead time to retire at 67 and probably 20 years from now to retire maybe at 70 because people are staying in the workplace longer. He ought to be able to raise those issues in a way that he can begin to sell them to the idea of-- sell to the American people the idea that we’ve got fundamental reforms that we have to do, as David says, downstream because we are going to be bankrupt not just our children but your grandchildren.
No. There's nothing wrong with that. Not one thing. Lean in, and listen carefully. Tom almost had it right when he said it's not about the people at the bottom, but about ALL the people, but then some weird kind of out-of-touch equivalence signal went off, and he had to go on about how wrong it is that he gets the same benefits that Joe Surveyor gets.
The problem is, people actually listen when he does this. I happened to get caught in a discussion on Twitter where he had sold his bill of goods to at least one person who seems to think poor folks won't get their Social Security benefits unless we take it away from people like Tom effing Brokaw.
For the benefit of that person, Tom Brokaw, and anyone else who is laboring under this travesty of a misconception, here are some facts to take to your discussion:
Social Security is intentionally universal. This is not a bug, it's a feature. It is intentionally universal and must remain so because otherwise it becomes just another discretionary program that Congress can raid, cut, and shame people over like they do with Medicaid, food stamps, heating subsidies and just about everything else. By making it universal no matter whether you're Donald effing Trump or Granny down the street, and by paying for it with employee and employer contributions, it is removed from the realm of the hungry right wing, provided it is protected by the left wing, which is something our President and Congress would do well to remember.
As long as the payroll deductions and benefits are calculated on the same formula for people, it remains a universal program and everyone's benefit is funded. The very second you talk about cutting the "upper tier" out of the program it is no longer universal, no longer paid for, and no longer alive.
Get it? Good.
Social Security is funded for 24 years. Talk to me about the "need" to reform it after the wars are amortized in advance, or taxes are raised in advance to pay for them. Do NOT, under any circumstances, sit your righteous self down in the room and misinform the American public that a PREPAID program for the next 24 years is your problem when it most clearly is not.
The nonsense about raising retirement age has to stop. This is a real flaw among the Village elite, who think they can look at a damned actuarial table and figure it all out. People are not statistics. Some people live longer because they're not out there digging ditches and laying pipe at age 65. Some people wouldn't live longer if they had to lay pipe or dig ditches until age 70. And damn it all, someone will be out there laying pipe and paving roads now and in the future, and they'll just be screwed by an age change the same way the baby boomers were.
I really hope Tom Brokaw reads this. Because anyone who has bothered to pay attention during this recession knows the highest percentage of workforce dropouts are women between age 54-65. So we get double-screwed, because we're denied the last 15 years of our working lives to earn higher benefits, and have to scrape by until we get to the magic retirement age.
NO. Raising the retirement age isn't a simple swipe of the pen. It's the difference between having money in the bank at retirement to supplement Social Security and not having money in the bank. It's the difference between survival and living on the dole for some people.
Mostly, it's just unnecessary.
I am so tired of these out of touch pundits pretending they're playing the Great Policy Game of 2012, where they approach it like Monopoly on steroids. Just. Stop. Stop talking about inflicting pain like sadists and get out of your bubble. Talk to real people, not people who play all of this out like it's a big game where someone wins and someone gets "pain."
Tom should be telling his rich buddies to suck it up and get over it. They profited from the wars, now they can pay their fair share. If they have that much, they can give a little up to make sure others have even the small things they worked so hard for.
Enough of the pain talk. Start talking about real life, with real people, in real situations. Or shut up and sit down and let someone else talk about it.
With just three days before the Florida primaries, Mitt Romney has unleashed a new attack ad against his chief rival, Newt Gingrich.
The ad, which uses a 1997 clip from the day Mr. Gingrich was found guilty by the House of ethics violations, prompted a terse statement from Mr. Brokaw on Saturday in which he expressed concern that his work was being used for political purposes he never intended.
“I am extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad,” he said. “I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.”
NBC’s lawyers have requested that the Romney campaign remove the NBC footage from the ad.
Gingrich, who paid a $300,000 reimbursement fee for the penalty, has emphasized that the ethics inquiry was unfairly partisan. "Whether it was an unprecedented ethics reprimand, his erratic leadership style, or his resignation in disgrace at the hands of his own party, it is understandable why Speaker Gingrich would want to re-write history," Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement released with the ad.
Romney's campaign said they had received NBC's letter by Saturday afternoon. "We just received the letter; we are reviewing it, but we believe it falls within fair use," senior adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said.
David Gregory paints this phony outrage as a firestorm, but Friedman has to correct him. Even Tom Brokaw was stunned at the ignorance and stupidity of the right wingers going ballistic over President Obama's speech to our school kids.
MR. GREGORY: We brought it up with David Axelrod. Well, this has created such a firestorm. Here's the New Canaan Public Schools, writing a parent letter, and in it they say this. "In developing their plans our principals have considered issues such as developmental appropriateness, curricular relevance, the time at which the speech is being broadcast and the importance of teachers assuming responsibility for the selection of instructional materials. In elementary schools the administration and faculty will view the speech, download it and after discussing it, make decisions regarding how it might be used in the future--including deciding its appropriateness for various grade levels. Parents will be notified, if and when, the decision to show the speech is made." Tom Brokaw, talk about tortured language. What's going on here?
MR. FRIEDMAN: Signs of the apocalypse. I mean, really.
MR. BROKAW: It's stunning to me. I come from a time and a place in America where it would be thrilling to have a president of the United States address your school about the importance of studying and staying in school. And this president, whatever else you think about his political philosophy, is a symbol of working hard, coming from difficult circumstances and getting to where he is in part because of education. I think it's so ripe for satire, it's unbelievable. The superintendent of the Gettysburg Public School System said today that they have devised a plan for students to be shielded from a President Abraham Lincoln who will be coming to make an address. Look, that is the most tortured thing I can possibly imagine, what we just read there. It sounds like East Germany trying to form some restrictions on people leaving the eastern sector to go into the western sector. I think it's perfectly appropriate for parents to say, "I don't want my child to hear that. I would rather keep them out or put them in a different school that day." But this is completely out of control, in my judgment. And it's not--it's not partisan. I mean, if--when I was a student or when my children were in school...
MR. GREGORY: Right.
MR. BROKAW: ...if it had been Dwight Eisenhower or John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan or George Bush, the idea of hearing a president of the United States saying we should study hard and that's how we advance and we all need to get in on, on this, I think is an appropriate message.
MR. GREGORY: Mayor Giuliani, you ran for president and one of the things that I've noticed in my experience covering a Republican president,George W. Bush, is the lack of respect for the institution of the presidency. Whether it's people saying during Bush's time, "Hey, he's not my president." Well, no, yes, he is. Does that trouble you?
MR. GIULIANI: Yes, it does, and Tom is right. But the difference is we looked at President Eisenhower or President Reagan, even up to about that point, even President Bush 41 differently. There's a lack of respect for the president, there's a lack of respect for politicians. And David Axelrod said, "Well, this isn't politics." Everything the president does nowadays is politics, for better or worse. And I think that's what you're seeing. You're seeing people distrust the president's motives or the administration's motives. It's not just about the speech, it's about the lesson plan. I think it's unfortunate and I think, you know, what's the--it almost seems a shame to say what's the harm in a president speaking to a group of children.
FMR. REP. FORD: I wish when I was in fourth...
MR. GIULIANI: I think, I think the president should be given the opportunity to do it.
MR. FRIEDMAN: But David, you know, you said, it's a firestorm. And we live in the age of firestorms. You know, today, or this week, it's the president speaking in school. What it needs is for people to stand up and say that's flat out stupid, OK? That's flat out stupid what you're talking about. The president of the United States, addressing schoolchildren in this country to study hard, work hard because that's the way you advance in today's global economy. And instead of that, we kind of dance around it, you know. It's flat out stupid.
Wow, Friedman said something I can get behind here. "Signs of the apocalypse." That's how their reaction is to everything done by the president. Why didn't Gregory call it stupid too? Rudy couldn't even defend their actions. That's saying a lot when the only thing he can come up with is that it's all politics now. How does that make it OK? When will the media start acting like the f*&king media? They can't even do it for something as absurd as this.
The truth may set you free, but not if you're a Republican and the subject is taxes. After all, 95% of American families as promised received a tax cut from the Obama stimulus package. And while three-quarters of Americans support President Obama's proposal to roll back the Bush tax cuts for those earning over $250,000 to their Clinton-era levels, it turns out that affluent voters, too, chose Barack Obama over John McCain. Making matters worse, a Gallup poll Monday revealed that Americans' "views of income taxes among most positive since 1956."
So as their furious followers head off to their April 15th orgy of tea-bagging, the leadership of the GOP and its amen corner in the right-wing media have instead turned to tall tales on taxes.
Here, then, are 10 Republican Tax Day lies:
President Obama will raise taxes on small businesses.
The estate tax devastates small businesses and family farms.
40% of Americans pay no taxes.
Tax cuts always increase revenue.
The GOP is the party of fiscal discipline.
Ronald Reagan was the greatest tax cutter of all time.
FDR caused the Great Depression, or at least made it worse.
Obama's cap-and-trade plan will cost each American family $3,100 a year.
Obama's tax proposals will undermine charitable giving.
The rich pay too much in taxes already.
For the details behind each of the GOP's Tax Day deceits, continue reading.
There's a whole lot of rationalizing going on in media circles over the laughable and admitted stump-speech-disguised-as-a-Vice-Presidential-debate last week. Moderator Gwen Ifill apparently thinks that if the candidates themselves weren't worried about staying on topic or engaging one another, it wasn't her job to make them do so.
The understanding was that we were going to have a debate. And one of the interesting things about debates, that people forget -- especially with this one, there was so much obsession about Sarah Palin -- is that there are two people on stage. And their job – you know this, you’re doing this Tuesday night – are to debate each other. The moderator’s job is to control their debate. If they have decided, as Joe Biden decided, that he was going to debate John McCain and she decided she was going to give a stump speech to the American people, there’s very little a moderator can do, other than say, “No, no, no, listen, I ask the questions! Please, please answer!” So I guess I knew going in that they all had their goals for that debate.
I was taken, going in, it can now be said, by how many of the questions that people volunteered to me were all about her. There was 99%, I would say, was all about her. 99% of the analysis afterward were about her. It was as if Joe Biden wasn’t part of this deal. And if she wasn’t challenged on the things she said that were not completely correct, or if she wasn’t challenged on changing the subject and answering the questions, by her competitor, I had another job to do at the table.
By her own admission, Ifill recognizes that it's the moderator's job to control the debate--and says that Palin "blew her off"--but since neither of the candidates called out the other for not following the debate rules, she has "another job at the table". Um, huh?
Why bother having a moderator at that point, Ifill? What other job was monopolizing your time?
The right wing is in a frenzy about the fact that Gwen Ifill is working on a book about "emerging young African American politicians," which supposedly means she cannot be neutral during the VP debate she is moderating tomorrow night. Since the right wing is in a frenzy, we can be pretty sure the establishment media is about to join in.
Two things to keep in mind:
1) The October 7 presidential debate will be moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw, who currently serves as NBC's liaison to the McCain campaign -- while spreading pro-McCain misinformation on Meet the Press. In fact, the McCain campaign hand-picked Tom Brokaw to moderate the October 7 debate[..]
On Tuesday's Fox & Friends, McCain Sr Policy Advisor Nancy Pfotenhauer throws a subtle shot across the bow at Ifill, warning that there will be serious questions to answer for if there are too many foreign policy questions in the debate:
DOOCY: It sounds like they're stacking the deck against her, because they know...everybody knows that's Joe Biden's...you know, that's his forte. Why wouldn't they ask half and half or...the average person is more concerned with domestic stuff than foreign stuff anyway.
PFOTENHAUER: Exactly, so I think that whoever...you know, I think the moderator will have some...some serious questions to answer themselves if they do do go so heavily foreign policy.
I suspect Republicans don't really care about Ifill or her book, but are raising a fuss so that a) they'll have an excuse if Palin fails to meet expectations tomorrow night; and b) they might "work the ref" and pressure Ifill into going easy on Palin.
Regardless of whether the "outrage" is sincere or not, this is likely to be the Republican cause of the day. Joe Scaborough was all over this story earlier on MSNBC, the far-right blogs are livid, Drudge is on the case, and one assumes other outlets will soon follow.
UPDATE: There's still a chance that McCain will do another of his patented Hail Marys to stop the debate. Media Bloodhound offers some suggestions on how he might distract the media from his running partner.
Sunday on Meet The Press, Tom Brokaw moderated a debate between McCain strategist Steve Schmidt and Obama strategist David Axelrod on topics ranging from Iraq to the Wall Street bailout. At the end, Tom Brokaw did something strange. He opted to give himself the last word and told the audience:
In fairness to everybody here, I'm just going to end on one note. And that is that we continue to poll on who's best equipped to be Commander in Chief, and John McCain continues to lead in that category despite the criticism from Barack Obama by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Gentlemen, thank you very much.
We checked, and the latest NBC poll actually has no question about Commander in Chief. We contacted NBC about this, and it turns out Brokaw was referring to a poll taken weeks ago--right after the Republican convention and well before Friday's big national security debate. And in each of NBC's last two polls, Americans chose Obama over McCain.
Can you email Tom Brokaw today? Let him know that this election is very close, and we need journalists to be responsible. Giving himself the last word in the debate, and citing an outdated poll number as if it was current, was a mistake. As a responsible journalist, he should apologize for both.
On a related note, a journalist from a well-reputed publication also saw my post and asked NBC to explain where Brokaw got his facts. At this time, they've yet to respond. Interesting that they responded to MoveOn so much more quickly than one of their own, isn't it?
Brokaw tells Steinberg he "advocated" for a modification to the anchor duties of MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews during election nights. His reasoning came with praise for the Countdown host. "Keith is an articulate guy who writes well and doesn't make his arguments in a 'So's your old mother' kind of way," he said. "The mistake was to think he could fill both roles. The other mistake was to think he wouldn't be tempted to use the anchor position to engage in commentary. That's who he is."
We've shown before that since his naming as Tim Russert's interim replacement how completely one-sided Tom Brokaw has been in terms of Republican framing. But this truly takes the cake. After letting McCain spokesman (and Official WATB) Steve Schmidt let loose with a bunch of lies (more on that later) against Obama that campaign manager David Axelrod easily shows for the crap it is, Tom Brokaw in the interest of fairness cites an NBC/WSJ poll that says that more Americans think McCain is "best equipped" to be Commander in Chief.
AXELROD: What has happened is, as Sen. Obama predicted from the beginning, that we got distracted in Iraq and now Osama bin Laden, who is the person who attacked the United States, killed 3,000 American citizens is now resurgent. He is stronger and that is the result of the misbegotten decisions of John McCain and he stubbornly wants to continue, even as the Iraqis won't take responsibility, sitting on $79 billion of their own surplus, while we spend $10 billion a month. It doesn't make sense. We can't take more of the same, Steve.
BROKAW: In fairness to everybody here, I'm just going to end on one note and that is that we continue to poll on who is best equipped to be Commander in Chief, John McCain continues to lead in that category, despite the criticism from Barack Obama by a factor of 53 to 42 percent in our latest NBC/WSJ poll.
See, here's the problem, Tom. I have the latest NBC/WSJ poll (.pdf) taken September 19-22. Guess what? THOSE NUMBERS AREN'T IN THERE. Pulled out of thin air, or an orifice of your choice. In fact, in the MSNBC.com political coverage of this poll, the headline read: Obama Up 2 in NBC/WSJ Poll. So where exactly are these numbers, Tom? If you go to Gallup, the lead is even stronger (50 to 42%), which is pretty close to the numbers you attributed to McCain.
So Tom Brokaw -- in the interest of fairness to whom exactly, I'm unclear, since he is deliberately MISinforming the public -- tries to mitigate Axelrod's deft defense of Obama's judgment by lying and saying that most people believe McCain is still better equipped to be Commander in Chief. You can leave a comment at the Meet The Press Comment Form on Brokaw's campaigning on behalf of McCain.
And by the way, Schmidt's assertion that McCain called for Rumsfeld's resignation? Big fat, stinking lie. From the Obama campaign: