WASHINGTON (CNN) – Between uncertainty about her appearance at a big fundraiser and a war of words with a late night TV talk show host, former Republican vice presidential nominee Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was back dominating political headlines last week.
Did the media over do it with too much Palin coverage?
On CNN’s Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz asked three political reporters to weigh in on just that question.
The journalists largely agreed that the wall-to-wall coverage of Palin, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and last week’s annual Republican fundraiser was justified because of all the interest in Palin’s possible presidential aspirations.
"[T]his is one case where it's not the press’ creation," Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin told Kurtz. “A lot of Republican sources that all of us talked to were very unhappy with what Governor Palin did and the confusion in her political operation.”
“And it goes to a larger question,” continued Halperin, “is she doing what she needs to do now in order to be a plausible presidential candidate in 2012? Her relationship with the National Republican Party, confusion in her operation, a lack of confidence in her and those around her is what was at issue there; not gossip and not the rivalry with Newt Gingrich. And that's a legitimate issue and one the people covered.”
Air America’s Anna Marie Cox agreed.
“[I]t was not about Sarah versus Newt. It was more about Sarah versus sort of the apparatus of the GOP - and her relationship with them and the lack of professionalism in her operations,” Cox said Sunday.
The National Review’s Jim Geraghty had a different take, suggesting that the media’s dissatisfaction with the governor’s political staff was coloring the coverage Palin received about the GOP fundraising dinner last week.
“When a reporter doesn’t get a phone call returned, that grates on them,” Geraghty said to Kurtz. “And that may, in one form or another, get reflected in the coverage.”
The four journalists were uniformly critical of late night talk show host’s David Letterman’s recent off-color humor about Palin’s family.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – On the same day that Vice President Biden said he had doubts about the validity of the Iranian election results, Indianan Republican Rep. Mike Pence urged President Obama to speak out in favor of the forces of reform in the Middle Eastern country.
“First and foremost, we need to take a half step back from this administration’s olive branch-and-apology approach to enemies and countries that have been hostile to the United States of America and our allies,” Pence said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“I’m hoping, before the end of the day today, the President of the United States will speak a word of support for Mr. Moussavi and for the dissidents and the reformers within Iran,” said Pence, referring to the defeated challenger to incumbent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
And moving on to another issue in the news, Pence criticized the desire of some Democrats to include a public insurance option in the health care reform bill Congress will soon begin work on.
“I keep hearing the word ‘competition’,” Pence told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “The government competes in the private sector the way an alligator competes with a duck,” said Pence.
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(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that the Obama administration opposes taxing the medical benefits employers provide workers to pay for health care reform, but he refused to rule it out entirely.
"We do not think that is the way to go; we think that is the wrong way to finance this legislation," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program. Pressed on whether President Barack Obama would veto a bill from Congress containing such a mechanism, Biden said Obama would consider the measure in total before making a decision.
Obama has outlined a series of steps to lower current costs and raise taxes to pay for an overhaul of the health care system, including creation of a government-funded "public" option for the nation's 46 million uninsured. He will speak Monday to the American Medical Association, which questions how a public option can work.
On Saturday, the president proposed $313 billion in cuts and new savings over the next decade, with some of the funds coming from expected increases in efficiency, reductions in excessive hospital payments and drug cost savings from individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid.
Biden noted that the administration also seeks to raise $300 billion in taxes by limiting the deductions of high-income Americans.
Republican leaders join Obama and Democrats in calling for health care reform, but oppose a public option as a potential boondoggle that would be unfair to private insurers.
The White House issued the following statement from Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in response to Sunday's speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
"The President welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech. The President is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples. He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal. The President will continue working with all parties – Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Arab states, and our Quartet partners – to see that they fulfill their obligations and responsibilities necessary to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a comprehensive regional peace."
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WASHINGTON (CNN) - It seemed like deja vu on the opinion shows on cable television this week. Ten days after the killing of Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas physicians who performed late-term abortions, a resurgence of partisan finger-pointing flared up once again on cable. This time it’s over whether James von Brunn, who is accused of killing a security officer at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and is linked to white supremacist groups, was motivated by political views of the extreme right.
Keith Olbermann said on MSNBC, "Von Brunn’s rhetoric sounds a lot like Rush Limbaugh’s." Limbaugh responded on his radio program that Von Brunn "is a leftist, if anything. This guy’s beliefs, this guy’s hate, stems from influence that you find on the left, not on the right."
On Reliable Sources, CNN's Howard Kurtz asked three top journalists whether cable television and other outlets for commentary should be held to a higher standard when it comes to making insinuations about who is to blame when a hate crime occurs.
Time Magazine's senior political analyst Mark Halperin called the coverage in the aftermath of the shooting at the Holocaust Museum "a freak show" and said the opinion show hosts on cable television "are committing an absolutely irresponsible act."
"Cable TV does what it does," Halperin said. "People need to step forward, responsible people, politicians, civic leaders, and the media, and say 'we're not going to take an act of violence and turn it into a political football.'"
Halperin said the President should "be stepping forward more than he has to lead a bipartisan dialogue."
Jim Geraghty of the National Review said it's important for media personalities to resist the urge to insinuate that people with opposite political views have extremist views.
"It's always very tempting to say that those who disagree with you aren't just wrong or mistaken, but are actively evil and insane...It's a temptation that is on both sides of the aisle...It's cheap point scoring to say 'this is why you shouldn't listen to Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck because all of their listeners are just potential terrorists," Geraghty said.
(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday that President Barack Obama consults him on all major issues as promised, and that the job is what he hoped it would be.
"There's not a single decision made that he hasn't asked me my view," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" program.
Biden has said he accepted the chance to be vice president on condition that he would be an important consultant and confidante to Obama.
"He's kept his end of the bargain," Biden said of Obama, describing himself as "one of the last people who has the opportunity to make my case to him."
"I think he respects my opinion," the vice president said.
Biden cited a tangible benefit of his role, saying: "I used to react to nominees to the Supreme Court; now I got to help select a Supreme Court nominee," in reference to Obama's nomination of U.S. Appellate Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the high court.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Comments by a bipartisan trio of moderate senators Sunday suggest that the Obama administration and more liberal Senate Democrats could be in for a fight if plans to overhaul the nation’s health care delivery system focus primarily on a public health insurance option.
Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said Sunday that she found an approach involving private health insurance co-operatives “far preferable to the government-run plan that has been discussed by the administration.”
Sen. Ben Nelson of Omaha, a moderate Democrat, struck a similar note, suggesting that his party should look first at trying to make current private health insurance options operate more effectively and for more people.
“I think the government role can be a back-up,” Nelson said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.
“What we want to do is we want to make sure that we preserve what’s there,” Nelson added, “and be able to have competition but to do it in a way that you don’t destabilize the insurance for 200 million Americans [while] trying to provide for 42 to 46 million Americans to have health insurance as well.”
Democrat Kent Conrad, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, was blunt about the upcoming consideration of health care reform in the Senate.
“The problem is votes,” Conrad told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “I think you are in a 60-vote environment,” said Conrad, rejecting the possibility of using special Senate rules that would require just 51 votes to pass health care reform. “And that means you’ve got to attract some Republicans as well as holding virtually all of the Democrats together. And that I don’t believe is possible with the pure public option. I don’t think the votes are there.”