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Daily Howler: Over the weekend, it finally hit us--this may be as bad as 2000
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A BAD NEW IDEA (PART 1)! Over the weekend, it finally hit us—this may be as bad as 2000: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2007

HOW DO WE PLAN TO REACT: Patrick Healy doesn’t keep readers waiting. In today’s “news report” about Hillary Clinton, the snark begins in his opening sentence. Reporting on last night’s webcast event, the Times’ sheet-sniffer typed this up—and an editor put it print:
HEALY (1/23/07): Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton strived for an Oprah moment yesterday night, the third of her presidential campaign, by sitting in a fake living-room set and fielding questions on a live video Webcast about her vote for the Iraq war (if she had known then), universal health care (still wants it) and her favorite movies (''The Wizard of Oz,'' ''Casablanca'' and ''Out of Africa'').
Yes, that was his opening sentence; Clinton “strived for an Oprah moment.” But then, on Monday, Healey also brought out the snark, saying that Clinton’s health care event was “highly scripted political theater.” To state the obvious, those are code words for “fake and phony”—one of the themes that cable spinners are already eagerly rattling RE Clinton. And no—Healy didn’t make the slightest attempt to explain what was “scripted” about her event. This was an exercise in pure spin, not in journalistic exposition.

We’ll offer you a word of warning: This is exactly how it began with the Gore coverage in March 1999. Dimwits like Healy think it’s all about them, and it’s fairly clear that he plans to lard his “reporting” with snark, spin, script and pure dimwit attitude. That’s precisely how his colleague, the gruesome “Kit” Seelye, covered Gore for more than a year. If you liked the outcome of that campaign, you’ll sit back and saying nothing at all about Healy’s emerging coverage.

Are liberals capable of understanding the way our modern press corps works? Frankly, we have our doubts. But Healy seems determined to test us. Striving for a Seelye moment, he and his editors seem to be making their intentions all too clear.

HEALY CONTINUES: Simply put, Healy’s a nightmare. As he continues, he keeps his dimwit Spin Cap on. Before reporting the simplest facts, he has to explain what they mean:
HEALY: The questions e-mailed from Linda in Pensacola, Fla., and other visitors to the Web site were vetted by Mrs. Clinton's staff and offered or elicited few surprises. Mrs. Clinton sat on a sofa in front of a bookcase looking relaxed as a young aide read questions from a monitor.

Her answers suggested various personas that she wants to convey to voters: a hometown girl, a mother, a moviegoer, a churchgoer, a standard-bearer for women and a critic of the war.
Clinton’s answers can’t simply reveal what she thinks; no, they have to “suggest various personas she wants to convey.” Let us translate that language, too. When journalists say that a candidate is trying to “convey various personas,” they’re telling you that she’s fake and phony—that none of the various personas are real. But then, you saw Healy drop the word “fake” right into his opening sentence.

We’re in the hands of a deeply undistinguished political press corps. As a group, they’re extremely undisciplined in their reporting (especially at the Times) and they aren’t real fond of Candidate Clinton. Their tiny brains are crammed with spins and elements of dim-bulb resentment. Starting at roughly this point in 1999, we saw what they did to Candidate Gore. We’ll strongly suggest that liberals and Dems start complaining about the dim-witted snark-and-spin they’ve brought to this early reporting. And we’ll suggest that complaints must start now.

BUT THEN AGAIN, THIS IS US: But then, under current rules of the game, you can say any damn thing you want—as long as you say it about Democrats. A large part of the reason is our own passivity—our willingness to accept any degree of spin or insult. Let’s recall what Chris Matthews said in Atlanta this weekend, with Jimmy Carter in the audience and the whole world watching:
MATTHEWS (1/21/07): You know, I thought one of the smart things President Carter did as a candidate...was, every time President Carter won a primary, instead of standing on a platform with a bunch of sweaty, yelling people—you know, the scene with the Democratic Party usually, a bunch of crazy people yelling—and you had to have the full potpourri of Democrats present on that stage or someone would be ticked at you—you would meet in a hotel room and it was amazing. You’d sit down one-on-one, it was a unilateral, with some anchor or reporter, a serious reporter.
The usual scene for Democrats? According to Matthews, Dems are “a bunch of sweaty, yelling people”—“a bunch of crazy people yelling.” Matthews is a major player in the establishment press corps; he made this latest astounding comment for all the world to see and hear. But have you seen a single web site, except this one, comment on this astounding remark? We haven’t—which helps explain something we’ve told you before. Your party often seems to be run by the biggest gang of Born Losers on earth. As a group, we’ve accepted this from Matthews for years. (“Al Gore would lick the bathroom floor to be president.”) There is no sign that we plan to change—and Matthews has a jones about Hillary Clinton that will not let his soul go. The snark and the insults will fly thick and fast until we aggressively stop them.

More tomorrow as Terry McAuliffe plays Born Loser for Mr. O.

KORNBLUT TODAY: For the record, Anne Kornblut is much more disciplined in today’s Post. She reports what Clinton said and did without instantly saying—and signaling—that it was all “fake.” Near the end, though, she does say this. A small matter, but pathetic:
KORNBLUT (1/23/07): She hedged on her favorite movie, saying that, as a child, she had loved "The Wizard of Oz," only to discover "Casablanca" in college and law school, watching it so often that she memorized the lines. (Her passion for the Meryl Streep-Robert Redford classic "Out of Africa" came later, she said.) But she was clear about her own conviction that she can become president.
Clinton “hedged” on her favorite movie! Would anyone but a major “reporter” make such a silly remark?

Special report: A bad new idea!


PART 1—WAVES OF LAUGHTER: For starters, an embarrassing admission. Until this weekend, we’d never dreamed that another White House campaign could be covered as falsely as Campaign 2000. We thought that campaign was a Perfect Storm, unlikely ever to be repeated. But then, in the wake of the Clinton announcement, a wave of spinning and utter nonsense put a surprising new thought in our heads. Omigod! The press corps’ demonization of Dems could be just as bad this time around! The thought had never crossed our minds—until this weekend’s events.

What happened to put this thought in our head? We were struck by Chris Matthews’ astounding remark in Georgia; by Howard Fineman’s “idiotic” Newsweek column (Drum’s term); and by Anne Kornblut’s pathetic report in the Post about that Clinton health care event. But it may have been the following moment on Sunday’s Chris Matthews Show that put this brand new thought in our heads. For the first time, it crossed our mind—the press corps’ reflexive mocking of Dems may have attained a new level:
BROOKS (1/21/07): I've heard no evidence that Al Gore wants to run for office, and unless there's a sharp increase in sales of Slim-Fast—

MATTHEWS: Hah! HAH! That's what I say! That's what I say! Can a black man win the presidency? Can a woman win the presidency? Can a fat white man win the presidency is the other question.

BROOKS: I'm not one to talk, of course.

MATTHEWS: You're not overweight, not compared to him!

BROOKS: And finally, you know, they've got stars running for office. They've got three real stars.

MATTHEWS: OK. If we see a plummeting in the scales of Al Gore this summer, a super Slim-Fast diet, does that say this guy's getting back in there?

HOWARD FINEMAN: It will be front-page news. Al Gore buys a package of Slim-Fast!
If you couldn’t see these idiots, you’d never believe that they really existed. The fatuous pundits shared a loud laugh at the thought of the “fat white man,” Al Gore. Earlier, of course, they had shared some good fun as they laughed about fake, phony Clinton:
TUCKER: Where Hillary doesn't want to be is in the position that makes her seem purely calculating. It's true I think that she has—

[Group laughter]

FINEMAN: She's too late! She's too late for that!

MATTHEWS: Haven't you just defined her?... We've defined her problem right here.
Everyone enjoyed a good loud laugh at the image of the “purely calculating” (fake, phony) Clinton. Later, Matthews invited the idiot Fineman to share his recent thoughts about “Miss Perfect”—the fatuous thoughts he’d first revealed in that damn-fool Newsweek column. Indeed, to help the pundits along with their mockery, Matthews’ producers had even created a visual—a laughable photo-shopped image of “Miss Perfect,” Hillary Clinton, clad in a big poodle skirt.

Al Gore? Too fat! Hillary Clinton? Too fake! The loudmouths directed big laughs at a string of Big Dems, even enjoying Fineman’s impression of John Edwards’ funny southern accent. Simply put, it’s impossible to imagine a Matthews panels laughing this way at Saints John and Rudy, the sanctified GOP front-runners. After all, one of these great men stands for “Straight Talk”—and the other great man is “America’s mayor.” One can imagine many ways to mock and laugh at Saints John and Rudy. But such thoughts never enter these pundits’ heads. One group of front-runners is subject for laughter. The other exists to be praised.

Yes, for Matthews, the war is a mess. But the GOP front-runners are saints, and the Big Dems exist to be mocked. Gore is too fat—and Clinton’s too fake. And Edwards has a real funny drawl.

So yes, this weekend put a thought in our heads—a thought we’d never had before. But if you wanted to see the capper, you had to look at Anne Kornblut’s report in Monday morning’s Post. We limned it briefly in yesterday’s HOWLER, but Kornblut’s report is so god-awful bad that it deserves a fuller airing. It seems that Clinton appeared at a health care event, at a New York City health clinic. If you read far down into Kornblut’s piece, you even got the tiniest glimpse of what the event was about:
KORNBLUT: Clinton announced that she and Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.) will sponsor legislation to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program to include more middle-class families. Invoking her daughter and husband, she said all parents should be able to give their children the comprehensive health care that she and Bill gave Chelsea.
Incredibly, you had to read to paragraph 16 (out of 20) to get that minimal information. But then, Kornblut wasn’t trying to give information this day. Like a fool, she was dumbly typing this campaign’s first major novel.

Kornblut played the fool this day—and Mickey Kaus couldn’t wait to quote her! Suddenly, the fools were out en masse—and we were forced to consider a possibility we had never considered before.

TOMORROW—PART 2: Kornblut typed some Grade A pap—and Mickey was eager to copy.

POSTSCRIPT: At least he makes no attempt to hide it. (Perhaps his brain is so shot that he can’t.) On last night’s Hardball, the pundits discussed whether Clinton deserves the presidency:
FINEMAN (1/22/07): It is going to come down to the question—in a very strong field, by the way, with a lot of very qualified people—just because [Clinton] is a survivor, just because she’s tough as nails, what has she done that qualifies her to lead the world in the post-9/11— [...]

MATTHEWS: You think that question’s a tough one for her? What have you done to deserve this job?

MIKE BARNICLE: I think it’s a tough question for not just her, for perhaps the entire field. But the—

MATTHEWS: Not so much for McCain.

BARNICLE: Not for John McCain. OK, I’ll give you that.

MATTHEWS: He deserves the presidency. Whether he should be president or not, it’s up to the voters. But he’s certainly done a lot.
Saint McCain deserves the presidency. He’s wonderfully virile; he gives them free doughnuts; and he often tells them how smart they all are. And Clinton’s voice is “very nasal” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/03/07). These empty boys know the lay of the land as they survey Campaign 08. Dems and libs have to start fighting, now, or this will persist for two years.

Sadly, we know of no reason to think that liberal leaders have the brains—or the instinct—to fight against this. Readers, say hello to President McCain, the virile saint who will stage your next war.