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Tilting at Windmills

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January 16, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

"THE UNBEARABLE INANITY OF TIM RUSSERT"....Matt Yglesias comments on one of Tim Russert's questions during Tuesday night's debate:

Did Tim Russert really just ask if John Edwards speaking to Musharraf after the Bhutto assassination was part of an effort to give Musharraf "cover" of some kind? I believe he did. It would have been pretty sweet if Edwards had broken down Perry Mason-style and 'fessed up to the fact that he and Pervez conspired to kill her. But no dice. Alternatively, Edwards could have gone with the old "Tim, you've asked a lot of dumb questions in your day, but this really takes the cake."

This was vintage Russert: asking a juvenile gotcha question instead of something genuinely tough. In "The Unbearable Inanity of Tim Russert," in our January issue, Matt describes the vicious circle that this style produces:

Viewers watch a candidate getting grilled by Russert not to assess the candidate's views but to assess his or her ability to withstand the grilling. And, when this sort of toughness and sparring becomes its own reward, the vacuity of the questioning is almost guaranteed. After all, if you asked a politician a serious, important question and got a perfectly good answer, then maybe, for a moment, you couldn't be tough. Instead, Russert relies on his crutch of confronting politicians with allegedly contradictory statements they've made — to highly monotonous effect.

Read the whole thing here.

Kevin Drum 1:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (57)

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Comments

Timmeh thinks that the 'gotcha' moment will play and replay on all the talking heads shows.

Timmeh has been on the national political stage too long. We've all moved on to better entertainment.

Posted by: jcricket on January 16, 2008 at 1:23 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the initial questions on race were ridiculous.

Russert is probably the most challening questioner in the press, but I agree he often lacks substance. He also is so focused on his questions, than he does not listen closely enough to the answer and, as a result, always leaves potential follow up questions unasked.

I though it was a boring debate. But then the three candidates really don't disagree on much of anything. I think it might be better if they just let the three of them talk among themselves.

Posted by: brian on January 16, 2008 at 1:25 AM | PERMALINK

Y'know, to hell with the likes of Tim Russert. And having Youtube debates really doesn't switch things up enough. I say we enlist Richard Quest to moderate a debate. Or just create a panel of foreign correspondents to moderate one.

Posted by: bubba on January 16, 2008 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

Russert wouldn't know a good question if it hit him in the face. Tonight the whole Merrill Lynch/Kuwait question came up and not one person asked Hillary, Mrs DLC herself, about it. Considering Harold Ford of the DLC is also Vice Chair of Merrill Lynch, I thought it was pretty selective to skip right over it.

Posted by: EurekaSprings,AR on January 16, 2008 at 1:39 AM | PERMALINK

I think Russert is a total d-bag, but not *all* of his questions are idiotic. If you watch MTP with an open mind (hard to do when he trots out his cocktail party buddies for "analysis") you will find that he fairly often asks about contradictions between a politician's statements and actual facts. Other questions probe contradictions between branches of the administration.

All of these seem like the same "caught ya in a contradiction" question, but there is a big difference when the question is a contradiction between a politician's statement and, say, a report by the CBO.

I'm not saying he does it enough that his reputation is undeserved. It is. I'm just saying that he is not exclusively inane in the manner of Chris Matthews.

Posted by: skeptic on January 16, 2008 at 1:58 AM | PERMALINK

No dice

Posted by: Tyler on January 16, 2008 at 1:59 AM | PERMALINK

Matt says: "After all, if you asked a politician a serious, important question and got a perfectly good answer, then maybe, for a moment, you couldn't be tough."

Well, asking an actual tough question, like "what kind of threat are 20 year-old, inert, mustard gas shells, a.k.a. WMD's to a superpower like the US? So, how does this threat justify overturning a government and probably killing tens of thousands of innocent people?"

That kind of tough question can't be asked. That's why you get superficially tough gotcha questions. The media is out to sell eyeballs, and they tell people what they want to hear. The US being morally suspect, starting unprovoked aggressive wars, CRIMINAL acts of international law, those french fries don't sell all that well.

Plus the media are lazy, ignorant, easily led, and have their own biases - they personally wouldn't mind a couple hundred thousand dead Muslims.

Posted by: luci on January 16, 2008 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

Tim Russert isn't as hacktacular as Tweety but "unbearable inanity" is a good description. Matt's term... "sillyballs" ...spot on. The observation that Russert "has a legion of imitators" is so true. I can barely stand to watch TV news without controlling an urge to throw something at the screen.

Posted by: Apollo 13 on January 16, 2008 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, I thought that Tim Russert was at his absolute worst while interviewing Sen. Hillary Clinton on last Sunday's Meet the Press, which should probably be renamed Me, the Press in his honor by the network for the remainder of his tenure as NBC's Washington Bureau chief.

Right at the outset of the interview, Russert ambushed Sen. Clinton with a shamefully edited and deliberately truncated quote from her husband, which had been lifted dishonestly and completely out-of-context from an observation former President Bill Clinton had recently offered his audience regarding Sen. Barack Obama's voting record and statements on the Iraq War since assuming his seat in 2004.

Russert then very rudely attempted to talk right over Sen. Clinton, when she rightly protested that her husband's entire statement was not being played for the benefit of the MTP audience.

Russert did almost the exact same thing to Sen. Obama last November, which stands in sharp contrast to his generally fawning interviews with his show's Republican guests, such as Sen. John McCain and Vice President Dick Cheney.

All told, Sunday's shameful performance by Russert was yet another low point during NBC News' decade-long series of sharp dips on yellow journalism's well-worn road.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 16, 2008 at 4:29 AM | PERMALINK

From the "Gee! Ya Think?" File:

"I'm sure people view me as a war monger ..."
-- President George W. Bush, to Terry Moran on ABC News' Nightline (January 15, 2008)

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 16, 2008 at 5:26 AM | PERMALINK

"you will find that he fairly often asks about contradictions between a politician's statements and actual facts." - skeptic

But then he invaribly accepts whatever weak attempt to explain the contradiction he receives
without followup questions. Tim sure ain't no trial lawyer.

Posted by: nepeta on January 16, 2008 at 7:09 AM | PERMALINK

When i was in India recently, there was a show (on IBN, I believe) where there was a real interviewer who would debate real people with real differences of opinion. For example, you would get a show with a competent moderator, a liberal Hindu woman, and a conservative Sikh man, talking about the implications of the recent global warming summit. And guess what? The guests actually had doctorate degrees in fields relevant to the discussion! They weren't just shills. And the moderator was actually capable of asking serious and hard hitting questions of both guests without playing the gotcha games. It was like what Charlie Rose would dream to do, but can't because of ratings issues. Why can't we have that?

Posted by: fostert on January 16, 2008 at 7:20 AM | PERMALINK

Nepeta, you are spot on. Russert tries to gain credibility by asking tough questions but he just sits back and takes the "canned and spun" answer and then moves on to the next question. It makes you wonder, why bother to ask the question in the first place if you will accept any answer. The only guy I saw him "fight back" with was Ron Paul. Probably because he has no fear that Paul will win and won't need to curry favor woth him. Most other guests he fears burning bridges with.

Posted by: M on January 16, 2008 at 7:24 AM | PERMALINK

Viewers watch a candidate getting grilled by Russert not to assess the candidate's views but to assess his or her ability to withstand the grilling.

That sounds about right. Watching Russert you get the impression that he truly does not care about specific issues. He is much more interested in maintaining his status as a gossip monger in the Washington political establishment.

Posted by: Del Capslock on January 16, 2008 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

That example pales in inanity to most of the first half hour of last evening's "conversation"...both Williams and Russert need a smug scrubbing...I think all three candidates get extra points for not saying...just how STUPID are you guys? When Russert went for his third (or was it fourth) go around on the "great race debate" I wanted to hurl!

Posted by: Dancer on January 16, 2008 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

bubba: I say we enlist Richard Quest to moderate a debate.

Now that I'd like to see!! Odd style but actually a very effective interviewer for the Beeb before he jumped to CNN. He definitely grows...

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 16, 2008 at 8:20 AM | PERMALINK

If we could just get rid of the cross-fire crap and get back to real news, real journalism.

Russert isn't a journalist, never has been, never will be one. Russert is a hype artist and nothing else. Watching his show is nothing but a waste of time because it's simply for silly stupid partisan hacks.

The man is a clown, so we can we please get him off the candidate debates. I'm tired of Russert wasting my time because that's all he ever does and all that he is capible of doing.

Can we please get some serious news people.

Posted by: me-again on January 16, 2008 at 8:30 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not a big Russert fan because he doesn't follow up with tough questions when he gets a weak answer, but the solution is not serious, important questions. Politicians can talk all day long and make it sound like they are saying something when they really are not. Serious, important questions would lead to a lot of good sounding hot air. Politicians need to be pinned down.

Posted by: reino on January 16, 2008 at 8:32 AM | PERMALINK

Can somebody give me an example of a "serious, important question" that I would want to hear answered and that would cause a candidate to say something beyond what is already on his/her website?

Posted by: reino on January 16, 2008 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

" Can somebody give me an example of a "serious, important question" that I would want to hear answered and that would cause a candidate to say something beyond what is already on his/her website? "

How about: "Name the top five factions in Pakistan, how each one is affected by Bhutto's assassination, and how you would respond to each one if they were to gain power. You have seven minutes" That would work for me.

Posted by: fostert on January 16, 2008 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

He did toss a couple of softball questions Obama's way, after treating Clinton and Edwards as if they were assassins.

One was the "Wilder effect" question, where he led with a total inaccuracy (no big surprise), saying Obama got a much lower percentage of the vote in New Hampshire than polls had indicated he would. Then, when discussing strengths and weaknesses, he said to Obama, You say your weakness is that you're not a good operating officer -- but is the country really LOOKING for an operating officer right now? I had to look up to see if Russert or Axelrod was asking the question.

If Edwards HAD responded to the Bhutto question by taking Russert down, he would have shot up in the polls among Democrats.

Posted by: sullijan on January 16, 2008 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

The democratic candiates can do themselves a lot of good by going after such wingbags as Russert:


Russert: (inane 'gotcha' question)
Hillary, Barak and John exchange glances, all nod decisively.
Russert: uhhh...
(the three candidates surge toward the moderators, grab Russert and haul him behind the stage)

(sounds of mayhem, with Russert's little-girl screams. Then gurgling and silence)

(Candidates return to stage, straightening clothes)

Hillary: So, Mr. Wilson. Would you care to ask the next question?

Posted by: Snarkilicious on January 16, 2008 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Russert is like a lawyer who has taken 3 or 4 depositions and prepares his outline to question a witness thinking he's really gonna get the truth. But when the wit deviates from the Russert script, he just moves on to the next queestion. He's so eager to do the gotcha dance, he can't improvise.

Posted by: hollywood on January 16, 2008 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

That Yglesias piece was terrific. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: TR on January 16, 2008 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

How about going back to actually "Meeting the Press". The questions used to be posed by several guest reporters every week. Bloggers have more press credentials than scowling Timmeh.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on January 16, 2008 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

"Name the top five factions in Pakistan, how each one is affected by Bhutto's assassination, and how you would respond to each one if they were to gain power. You have seven minutes."

Let me channel Obama as I answer this question.
"The important thing to keep in mind when you think about the assassination of Bhutto is the impact it will have on the men and women of Pakistan. The vast majority of Pakistanis aren't just Musharraf followers or Bhutto followers, they are human beings who dream of better lives for themselves and their country. When they see an assassination, they are horrified by it. What we need to do now is help that country move forward, to bring democracy to a country that has gone without it for several years. We can do this by changing our foreign policy. The key here is Change. I am the candidate for Change."

Hollywood hit the nail on the head. If you can't improvise--you can't react to the answers that candidates give--then please get off my TV. It doesn't matter what the initial question is, because any candidate can answer any question, unless you are talking about candidates for student council.

Posted by: reino on January 16, 2008 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

What about Tweety immediately after the debate? He did a 180 from his recent coverage and positively gushed over Hillary's performance. Message from MSNBC?

Posted by: RollaMO on January 16, 2008 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

He's so eager to do the gotcha dance, he can't improvise.

This is really the great defect in almost all the debates, with almost all the questioners.

They can't do followup. And if you can't do followup, there's practically no reason to ask the question in the first place. With any question of importance, the politician will have a pat, prepared answer. If you don't know exactly how to challenge that answer on the spot, you've got nothing.

But doing good followup requires a very real kind of brilliance. You have to be able instantly to spot the exact defect and/or evasion in the answer, and nail the point -- or at least expose the ongoing evasions.

I'm sure that what makes Russert so very bad at this is that all of his questions are probably prepared by his staff for him, and he only marginally understands the true significance of his own questions. He's as scripted as the candidates, and can do no more to deal with questions impromptu than they can. They all display a reciprocal vacuity.

All of which makes British style debate in the House of Commons seem like a very handy way of allowing real democracy to flourish.

Posted by: frankly0 on January 16, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Well, asking an actual tough question, like "what kind of threat are 20 year-old, inert, mustard gas shells, a.k.a. WMD's to a superpower like the US? So, how does this threat justify overturning a government and probably killing tens of thousands of innocent people?"

Should read:

Well, asking an actual tough question, like "what kind of threat are 20 year-old, inert, mustard gas shells, a.k.a. WMD's to a superpower like the US? So, how does this threat justify overturning a government and actually killing one million innocent people?"

Posted by: Stefan on January 16, 2008 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

reino: Good answer.

But the good thing is that if Obama goes on with that crap for seven minutes, everyone knows he's a joker. Bill Clinton could "undo the question" and give a seven minute speech on the current situation in Pakistan without actually answering the question. But at least he'd show his knowledge about the situation. But he's not running, and Hillary isn't on that level. And Edwards would give a lawyer's speech that might fool half the people half the time. But at least we would know how much they really care about the situation if they have to fill up seven minutes. Even Hollywood can't bullshit for seven minutes.

Posted by: fostert on January 16, 2008 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Trouble is, when HE gets grilled, like after the Libby trial, he turns into Ralph Wiggums. C'mon, Hillary, you've got nothing to lose--when he throws you a beanball, charge the mound--channel Bill and Chris Wallace, or George Bush and Dan Rather.
If nothing else, don't you want to know how it would feel to punch all that makeup?

Posted by: Steve Paradis on January 16, 2008 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

"But doing good followup requires a very real kind of brilliance."

It doesn't really, especially when you know what the answer will be (and we do, since they're stock answers). It does, however, required actual work. One has to look at what the candidate has said in the past on the question, assume they'll be consistent (if not, that's the follow-up), decide what the weakness in their position is (this requires knowledge or more research), and ask about it. (This is similar, if not exactly the same, to what every trial lawyer does in preparing cross-examination. It's not a big deal.).

One can only conclude that the press is too ignorant, too lazy, and/or too irresponsible to take these basic steps.

Posted by: David in NY on January 16, 2008 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I don't watch MTP much, but I did see Romney's apprearance. Russert's technique of Mitt certainly followed Yglesias' description.

I tend to doubt Yglesias' contention that "Meet the Press may have a weakness for right-leaning guest panels". Before joining NBC, Russert worked for Democrats Pat Moynahan and Mario Cuomo. Expecting Russert to lean right is as unlikely as expecting Newt Gingrich's analysis to lean left.

However, there are few conservatives on TV (other than on FNC). Russert's attempts to be non-partisan may make him more right-leaning than most other TV pundits -- that is, less left-leaning.

Posted by: ex-liberal on January 16, 2008 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

"[Matthews] did a 180 from his recent coverage and positively gushed over Hillary's performance."

Typical TV personality behavior. He's assumed the criticism he's been getting for bashing Clinton has just been a function of whom he's bashing. So he's decided to let up on her. But he's got it all wrong -- his mistake has been to focus on the wrong stuff, e.g., her being a woman, and not on genuine questions, e.g., "Is she more in the pocket of lobbyists than the others?", "How distinct is her foreign policy from that of George Bush?".

Posted by: David in NY on January 16, 2008 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I tend to doubt Yglesias' contention that "Meet the Press may have a weakness for right-leaning guest panels". Before joining NBC, Russert worked for Democrats Pat Moynahan and Mario Cuomo. Expecting Russert to lean right is as unlikely as expecting Newt Gingrich's analysis to lean left.

You tend to be dumb and to ignore the issue as well. Has nothing to do with Russert's background, has to do with whom he invites on his program. It is demonstrable that he invites far more people from the right than from the center-left, and nobody from the actual left.

Posted by: David in NY on January 16, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

It is demonstrable that he invites far more people from the right than from the center-left, and nobody from the actual left.

As do all the morning talk shows. Conservatives tend to outnumber liberals 2-to-1 or 3-to-1.

Assuming you can count, this should be easy enough for you to observe yourself.

Posted by: TR on January 16, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

However, there are few conservatives on TV (other than on FNC).

Joe Scarborough, Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Bill Bennett, J.C. Watts, Bill Kristol, George Will, and Kate O'Bierne all agree!

Posted by: Ben on January 16, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

If liberals don't like the way Tim Russert works, they can simply shut off their TV sets.

Posted by: mhr on January 16, 2008 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

The fact that a buffoon like Russert is even taken seriously, speaks volumes about the low level our political discourse has sunk to in this country and how little we expect of our national "talking heads" in terms of knowledge and civility.

He is nothing more than a paid shill for the Republican Party and belongs on the FOX network and nowhere else.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on January 16, 2008 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

However, there are few conservatives on TV (other than on FNC). Russert's attempts to be non-partisan may make him more right-leaning than most other TV pundits -- that is, less left-leaning.

Yeah, but the real question is:

What about those deferments, ex-liberal? Got an answer to that question?

Posted by: Pale Rider on January 16, 2008 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

fostert wrote:

...It was like what Charlie Rose would dream to do, but can't because of ratings issues. Why can't we have that?

I usually find Charlie Rose worth my time, but his habit of talking over the guests, anticipating their responses and trying to provide instant backstory is tiresome. Many times I've missed what would have been an informative, nuanced or humorous reply because CR could not sit back and listen for 5 seconds. I can live with that, though, because the issues are usually drawn out well, in constrast to Russert and his "how about those Bills?" schtick.

Posted by: trbtx on January 16, 2008 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

trbtx: I agree with you about Charlie, but he's better than any non-comedian interviewer right now (yes, Jon and Steve are pretty damn good in their own way). But I'll take any of the Indian interviewers, any day. But we don't really have that choice, do we?

Posted by: fostert on January 16, 2008 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Almost all the commentators are more interested in seeing who "won" the debate than simply letting the public understand how the candidates think. Last night, for example, the MSNBC commentators accused Barack of "pulling his punches," when he agreed with something Hillary said. They acted as though we wanted to see a food fight and that the debate was less worthwhile because the candidates acted like adults.
In a similar vein, I was disgusted when, after the NH Primary, Chris Mathews and Keith Olberman (who I usually like), ridiculed McCain for reading a dignified victory speech rather than stand up and give a "rah rah." Just because the networks want food fights to boost their ratings, it doesn't mean we want the same thing.

Posted by: Jonathan Hoffman on January 16, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding Matthews: there's a reason he's doing a 180 turn away from his cheap shots at Hillary. Emily's List, for one, has gone after his biased "reporting". Russert remains a journalistic embarrassment although at least he didn't descend to his previous all time low asking about haircuts and spaceships.

Posted by: Chrissy on January 16, 2008 at 1:11 PM | PERMALINK

fostert: I am employed by a (the) telecom company, working on video over DSL alternatives to cable and satellite television. Any of these three technologies should offer a chance for choice, and does to a limited degree. Even if IBN and it's commentators were available as a separate channel offering, how would one make it stand out among the History (serial murderer) Channel and other sensationalist fare. I've got to admit, when I pass by monitors in the lab, I'll spend more of my free moments watching snippets of old movies than any political commentary. I'd rather come here and read the mostly reasoned comments along with the occasional ALL-CAPS rant.

Posted by: trbtx on January 16, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK
Message from MSNBC? RollaMO at 10:18 AM
His bosses received numerous complaints, but tweety still plays his games. NBC news hacks: Ego over info.
….Russert to lean right . ex-laxat 10:52 AM
Any one who has ever watched has seen that multi-millionaire Russert is far easier on your Republican sweethearts, Dave. Don't believe everything you know. Posted by: Mike on January 16, 2008 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with Russert and Tweety is how utterly useless they are. Olbermann is good but leans a little too much toward the stentorian. Cafferty
would be best at voicing what a totally classless
and disastrous eff-up the entire GWB experience has been.

Posted by: Alan in WA on January 16, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Why must you harass me with your Tim Russert obsession? You (or, rather, he) are lowering my life expectancy! It vexes me so!

I would rather direct my efforts to more worthwhile pointless, fatuous tasks. Rather than waste my brain cells on the empty mound of flab that is Tim Russert, I search google for trite phrases, like "as old as the hills and as young as your heart." Fancy that! No hits! (Now there's one.)

Posted by: Anon on January 16, 2008 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

reino: "Politicians need to be pinned down."

That's always been my philosophy, reino.

But you know, I'm just not as young as I used to be, and now the younger ones keep getting away.

Posted by: Larry C. (Boise, ID) on January 16, 2008 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal: "Before joining NBC, Russert worked for Democrats Pat Moynahan and Mario Cuomo."

And Chris Matthews once worked for the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill, George Steppinfetch - excuse me, Stephanopoulos -- was employed by President Bill Clinton, John Dean was the White House chief counsel for the Nixon administration, and Arianna Huffington was once married to a former conservative "Family Values" advocate, California GOP Congressman Michael Huffington, before he left both her and their two young daughters to live with his boyfriend to San Francisco.

So, ex-liberace, what's your fucking point again?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on January 16, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

trbtx:

You hit on the reality of it all. When I was a kid, I loved watching "Firing Line" with Bill Buckley. But everyone thought I was a freak. And they still do. People don't want to hear reasoned commentary on TV. So it won't sell. But once we aknowledge that fact, it's not very reasonable to complain about TV commentary, is it? They deliver what we will buy, so the problem can only be with ourselves. Now, maybe the people on this blog may be better. But if we say that, we admit we are not in the regular market, and therefore not worth programming for. And not worth anyone at MSNBC listening to. We are blogsterbating.

Posted by: fostert on January 16, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

The Laff Riot that is the John King story at Salon is all anyone needs to know about modern journalism.

I trust everyone here has read that now?

To think that I years ago thought John King was kind of OK because he occasionally seemed to harbor some liberal views. --That was before I had to hear him again and again fail to do his job at White House press conferences, dail briefings, whatever.

Posted by: Anon on January 16, 2008 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Please google interview,
"NAACP President: Ron Paul Is Not A Racist", Austin, TX, KLBJ Alex Jones radio show, 1/13/08.

The following is a transcript from that show. Will CBS air this? Or will the "Political Animal" report this? Doubt it..... but here it is. I thought I'd make it easy for you........

Linder says Paul being smeared because he is a threat to the establishmentAustin NAACP President Nelson Linder, who has known Ron Paul for 20 years, unequivocally dismissed charges that the Congressman was a racist in light of recent smear attempts, and said the reason for him being attacked was that he was a threat to the establishment.
Linder joined Alex Jones for two segments on his KLBJ Sunday show this evening, during which he commented on the controversy created by media hit pieces that attempted to tarnish Paul as a racist by making him culpable for decades old newsletter articles written by other people.
"Knowing Ron Paul's intent, I think he is trying to improve this country but I think also, when you talk about the Constitution and you constantly criticize the federal government versus state I think a lot of folks are going to misconstrue that....so I think it's very easy for folks who want to to take his position out of context and that's what I'm hearing," said Linder.
"Knowing Ron Paul and having talked to him, I think he's a very fair guy I just think that a lot of folks do not understand the Libertarian platform," he added.
Asked directly if Ron Paul was a racist, Linder responded "No I don't," adding that he had heard Ron Paul speak out about police repression of black communities and mandatory minimum sentences on many occasions.
Dr. Paul has also publicly praised Martin Luther King as his hero on many occasions spanning back 20 years.
"I've read Ron Paul's whole philosophy, I also understand what he's saying from a political standpoint and why people are attacking him," said Linder.
"If you scare the folks that have the money, they're going to attack you and they're going to take it out of context," he added.
"What he's saying is really really threatening the powers that be and that's what they fear," concluded the NAACP President.

Posted by: lucille on January 16, 2008 at 8:44 PM | PERMALINK

yes. for a contrast, check out david barsamian's interview with fatima bhutto. aired today on houston's pacifica station. and a record of it can probably be found at alternativeradio.org.

a fascinating indictment of her aunt.

Posted by: albertchampion on January 16, 2008 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can somebody give me an example of a "serious, important question" that I would want to hear answered and that would cause a candidate to say something beyond what is already on his/her website?
Posted by: reino on January 16, 2008

I sent in a couple of questions. Here's one IIRC:

What do each of you think about Benazir Bhutto's taped interview with David Frost where she said she knew who killed Osama bin Laden?

Think that would've shook things up?

Posted by: MarkH on January 16, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

"What do each of you think about Benazir Bhutto's taped interview with David Frost where she said she knew who killed Osama bin Laden?"

Let me channel Hillary Clinton on this one.
"A few weeks ago, the world had its hopes high that an election in Pakistan would bring improvements to the country. The world is a complex place, however, and we need to be able to react to changes and deal with complexities. That quote gives a small hint at what a complex political situation existed in Pakistan, and we don't need any hints now in the wake of the tragic assassination. It just goes to prove what my campaign has been saying all along--that we need a candidate who not only is prepared for an election but is prepared for what happens after an election. My experience will give me the ability to deal with world leaders who are imperfect and world situations that demand action. We cannot afford to elect somebody who is not prepared to walk in the first day and work with different leaders from all over the world."

As I've said before, if there is no follow up, then there is no chance of anything happening.

Posted by: reino on January 17, 2008 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK
They acted as though we wanted to see a food fight and that the debate was less worthwhile because the candidates acted like adults.

I think it is more accurate (and reveals the actual issue) to say “they acted as if they wanted to see a food fight, the debate was less exploitable for lazy, celebrity-gossip-style ‘news’ because the candidates acted like adults.”

Posted by: cmdicely on January 17, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK
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