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A NEW WAY OF LIVING! When GE can lie to you this way, you’re no longer in a democracy: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 23, 2008

THE ROT OF THE JACK WELCH NETWORK: The rot of MSNBC has spread all though its parts. That in mind, we strongly recommend this Media Matters report about the net’s Courtney Hazlett.

Yes, Hazlett is just a mindless dope, hired to churn out Hollywood drivel. And yes, she was talking to Willie Geist, former Tucker Carlson “boy toy,” at the end of a Morning Joe program. So yes, this is very much the shallow end of the network’s news pool. But with that said, this incident gives you a perfect look at this network’s prevailing methods.

Even Hazlett seemed to know that she was required to do it! In her exchange with Geist, she took a statement by Vogue’s Anna Wintour—and turned it into what it wasn’t. Wintour, you see, had criticized the Washington Post—and that isn’t allowed on this cable “news” network. So Hazlett did some doctoring—and poof! Wintour’s statement was no longer a knock at the Post. It was now aimed at Hillary Clinton.

For the record, the Post is a corporate partner of MSNBC—and Clinton is MSNBC’s long-term target. Simple logic took over from there. So did Jack Welch’s vile methods.

A much more serious episode follows. But even Hazlett seemed to know how Jack Welch’s “news” network works.

A NEW WAY OF LIVING: In what follows, we’ll eventually speak about GE. But first, some factual background.

Shortly before the Nevada caucuses, Barack Obama met with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette. During that session, he made a pair of statements which have been widely discussed. For ourselves, we don’t think it’s worth having a heart attack over these statements—but on the other hand, the statements aren’t meaningless.

Just to establish the factual record, here are the statements in question. Statement 1 deals with Ronald Reagan. Sorry, but Statement 2 doesn’t:

OBAMA, STATEMENT 1: I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. I think they felt like with all the excesses of the 1960s and 1970s and government had grown and grown but there wasn't much sense of accountability in terms of how it was operating. I think people—he just tapped into what people were already feeling, which was we want clarity, we want optimism, we want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that had been missing.

OBAMA, STATEMENT 2: I think it is fair to say the Republicans were the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time over the last 10, 15 years, in the sense they were challenging conventional wisdom. Now, you've heard it all before. You look at the economic policies when they're being debated among the presidential candidates, and it's all tax cuts. Well, you know, we've done that, we tried it. That's not really going to solve our energy problems.

Might we make an obvious observation? In Statement 1, Obama was talking about Ronald Reagan—a Republican president who left office nineteen years ago. In Statement 2, he wasn’t talking about Ronald Reagan. He was talking about developments of “the last ten, fifteen years”—a period which coincides with the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

It’s hard to imagine anything much more obvious. But over the course of the past three days, the screaming mimis of the NBC News/East Coast Irish-Catholic “press corps” have been insisting that Statement 2 was a statement about Ronald Reagan. And on the basis of that misstatement, they’ve been saying very bad things about—who else?—Hillary Clinton.

We’ll end up speaking about GE—and about the political world you now live in. First, let’s review what Clinton said about Obama’s statements during Monday’s debate.

On Monday night, Clinton criticized Obama’s Statement 2—his statement about the last fifteen years. For the record, Clinton said nothing about Statement 1. Here’s what she actually said at Monday’s debate:

CLINTON (1/21/08): I do think that your record and what you say does matter. And when it comes to a lot of the issues that are important in this race, it is sometimes difficult to understand what Senator Obama has said, because as soon as he is confronted on it, he says that's not what he meant.

The facts are that he has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last 10 to 15 years, and we can give you the exact quote. Now, I personally think they had ideas, but they were bad ideas. They were bad ideas for America.

Was that a faithful paraphrase of Obama’s statement? Different people will think different things. But Clinton was plainly referring to Statement 2—Obama’s remarks about “the last 10 or 15 years.” But uh-oh! When Obama answered, he acted as if she’d been talking about Statement 1—his statement about Ronald Reagan. In short order, Clinton interrupted, making an obvious point—she hadn’t discussed Ronald Reagan:

CLINTON: Barack—

OBAMA: Wait. No. Hillary, you just spoke.

CLINTON: I did not say anything about Ronald Reagan.

OBAMA: You just spoke for two minutes.

CLINTON: You said two things. You talked about admiring Ronald Reagan, and you talked about the ideas of the Republicans. I didn't talk about Reagan.

OBAMA: You just—Hillary, I'm sorry. You just—Hillary, we just had the tape. You just said that I complimented the Republican ideas. That is not true. What I said—and I will provide you with a quote—what I said was is that Ronald Reagan was a transformative political figure because he was able to get Democrats to vote against their economic interests to form a majority to push through their agenda, an agenda that I objected to. Because while I was working on those streets watching those folks see their jobs shift overseas, you were a corporate lawyer sitting on the board at Wal-Mart.

Slick! And that’s aimed at Obama.

Clinton made it abundantly clear. She had been talking about Statement 2. She hadn’t mentioned Reagan, she (accurately) said—she had criticized Obama’s statement about the ideas of the past 15 years. But so what? Playing it dumb—and getting applause—Obama continued defending his statement about Reagan, even after Clinton reminded him that she hadn’t challenged that statement.

Obama, a very bright man, was playing it dumb as he answered here. That’s fairly standard in political debate; indeed, when John McCain does this, it’s instantly cast in stone as “straight talk.” But in this morning’s New York Times, a certain semi-sane op-ed columnist gets busy trashing Hillary Clinton—due to Obama’s bit of deception. Readers, put aside your current thoughts on Obama. This is how American politics has worked for the past sixteen years:

DOWD (1/23/08): In the Myrtle Beach debate Monday night, Obama was fed up with being double-teamed by the Clintons. He finally used attack lines that his strategists had urged him to use against Hillary for months. ''It was as though all the e-mails were backed up,'' said one.

When Hillary tried once more to take Obama's remarks about Ronald Reagan out of context, making it seem as though Obama had praised Reagan's policies, he turned sarcastic about getting two distortionists for the price of one.

''I can't tell who I'm running against sometimes,'' he snapped at Hillary, obviously entrapped and psyched-out by the Clinton duo.

What happened at Monday night’s debate? As usual, Dowd started lying. Baldly lying through her teeth as she has done for the past many years, Dowd told readers that Clinton had “tried once more to take Obama's remarks about Ronald Reagan out of context.” In reality, Clinton hadn’t discussed Reagan at all. But Dowd knew she had to pretend.

In this passage, Dowd is playing by rules that have driven our politics in the Clinton/Bush era. If someone named Clinton or Gore makes a statement, then, by the rules, they just have to be lying. In this case, it was Obama who spun things a bit. So the facts had to be rearranged.

As noted, this has gone on for a very long time, as libs and Dems have dumbly looked on. Most appallingly, this is how Bush ended up in the White House, thereby leading “the party of ideas” over the past seven years. During the twenty months of Campaign 2000, endless statements by Gore were reinvented—just as Clinton’s statement is reinvented today. The rules of the game have been clear a long time. Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton must always be turned into the liars.

But then, why should anyone be surprised to see Dowd playing this game? Last night, on Hardball, a plutocrat tool was also busy reinventing these facts. Over and over, Chris Matthews wondered why Clinton is so dishonest (so “dirty”)—why she claimed she didn’t talk about Reagan when she so clearly had talked about Reagan. Even by this inveterate liar’s low standards, his reinventions last night were just stunning. It made us think about GE. But first, let’s review what he said.

Early on, Matthews played tape of Clinton reminding Obama that she hadn’t mentioned Reagan. Then, the strange, sick man said this:

MATTHEWS (1/22/08): She did say four days ago in Las Vegas, quote, "My leading opponent the other day said that he thought the Republicans had better ideas than Democrats the last 10 to 15 years. That`s not how I remember the last 10 to 15 years." Let me ask you, Marcia [Dyson], why does Hillary Clinton deny, almost like in high school, I didn’t say Reagan’s name, when she clearly was talking and knocking Obama for what he’d said about Reagan?

In a rational world, that is simply bizarre. According to Matthews, in talking about “the last ten to fifteen years,” Clinton had “clearly” been talking about Reagan—a man who left office in 1989! Indeed, it was “almost like in high school” when Clinton denied this plain fact, Matthews said!

Dyson, a Clinton supporter, was completely unprepared for this odd line of questioning. So Matthews kept pushing this topic all night. Three separate times, he made this same case. By the end, he was saying this to the New York Times’ John Harwood—a housebroken fellow who seemed to know the rules of Chris Matthews’ great enterprise:

MATTHEWS: Explain to me the complication. Why did Senator Clinton—who with her husband had both taken shots at [Obama] for saying Ronald Reagan at least had put together a brilliant coalition back in 1980? Why did she deny doing so, clearly having done so, by saying, almost in a high school fashion, “I didn’t say the name Reagan?” What’s the point of denying the charge after making the charge?

HARWOOD: I didn’t quite get her “I didn’t say the name Reagan,” because I think she actually didn’t say the name Reagan.

MATTHEWS: It’s the definition of “is!”

HARWOOD: I agree with you. The reality is Bill and Hillary Clinton right now are looking for any sort of brick in the street and they want to hit Barack Obama with them. And, you know, that`s the way the fight goes. And Barack Obama’s complaining about that. But they are pretty good at it.

MATTHEWS: I like your references to brick in the street. All right, thank you. We`ll be right back with the round table.

Clinton had been truthful—and Obama played dumb. But by the time Matthews and Harwood got done, it was Clinton who had been dishonest; who was compared to a high schooler; who was involved in “the definition of is;” who was looking for bricks in the street with which she could hit poor Obama. Hillary Clinton had been dishonest—and Hillary Clinton was playing too rough. And by the way: It’s fairly clear, from this exchange, that Harwood understood the actual facts. (Harwood is perfectly bright.) But he also seemed to know what his loathsome host wanted. And he delivered it to him.

Matthews played this game all night long, turning Clinton into the liar—and into someone “dirty” (see below). But this is exactly the “King Lear politics” which have driven our discourse for the past sixteen years. In these politics, the truthful person becomes the liar; the dissembler is praised for telling the truth. Candidate Gore was also the liar—constantly made one by people like Matthews. Last night, once again, we saw the up-is-down way our politics have worked all these years.

Even by Matthews’ repulsive standards, last night’s reinventions were striking. Watching, we found ourselves thinking of a big defense contractor—of Chris Matthews’ owner, GE. In case you don’t know it, here’s the history: In 1986, GE purchased NBC News—and Jack Welch, a near-billionaire conservative Republican, began to assemble its current “news team.” His put three Reagan Democrats in high office—and made them into multimillionaires. From that day to this, they’ve turned a string of Big Major Dems into big major liars.

For the first time in our lives, we thought a strange thought as we watched this corruption last night: We’re close to a type of proto-fascism when our big “news orgs” function this way. A big defense contractor buys a news network—and put tools like Matthews in place, paying them millions of dollars per annum. These tools then lie, and lie, to your face. The dead of Iraq are in the ground because, in 1999 and 2000, the liberal world let this game play.

They bought a news network; hired some tools; and last night, one of them lied in your faces. This has gone on for a very long time. Do we still call it “democracy?”

PRETTY DIRTY TOOL BOY: Matthews—a drooling figure from dystopian fiction—played another game all night. He kept accusing Clinton of “dirty” politics—then saying he hadn’t meant “dirty.” Here was the first iteration, early on:

MATTHEWS: Do you think, Marcia, that Hillary Clinton—Senator Clinton—is trying to make this a pretty dirty campaign? Not “dirty”—a very tough campaign? Do you think that’s what’s going on here, a very tough campaign?

Oh gosh! He hadn’t meant to say “dirty,” so he quickly took the word back. But wouldn’t you know it? The same damn thing kept happening all night! It happened all through this tool’s program:

MATTHEWS: Reverend, you blame it on the media. But you know, last night, Senator Clinton did this, and I’m not—“dirty,” I shouldn’t have used that word. “Tough,” let me just put it this way.

MATTHEWS: I don`t want to use the word “dirty.” I shouldn’t use it, because what is “dirty” anymore and what is tough? She had a more evocative punch than he did. Wal-Mart doesn’t sound evil. Slumlord in inner-city Chicago has a certain ring to it.

MATTHEWS: He’s doing business with the bad guy. I don`t know what—I should never say “dirty” because I can`t tell what is anymore. What is OK? Your response to this incident, first?

Poor guy! Trying exceptionally hard to be fair, Jack Welch’s Lost Boy kept telling his viewers that he didn’t want to say “dirty.”

Even we were stunned last night, watching this plutocrat tool boy at work. But we’ll ask an obvious question: Are you still living in a democracy? When a big defense contractor can purchase a network, then hire tools like Matthews to play you?

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, Jack Welch went out and he bought some “lost boys.” We libs have accepted this proto-fascism right up to this dying day.

RUSSERT’S IDIOTS DID THE SAME THING: It happened the same way on Meet the Press. Russert played tape of Clinton criticizing Statement 2—and the magpies spoke up to defend Statement 1. Doris Kearns Goodwin was there to go first. There’s no bigger tool on the planet.