Disappearing Specter: Many people wrote to say that the Specter audio works for them (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/18/09). Some say the solons remarks can be heard loud and clear on the Huffington tape; others say theres a lot of background noise and such. One reader suggested the audio link may have been fixed since we tried to play it. Not for us! We play audio and video all the time, but it not only doesnt work for us, it disables our system in such a way that we have to restart. (As we noted, we asked two other people, more tech-savvy than us, if they could make the audio work. They had no luck either.)
At any rate, that leaves the second mystery in place. If Specter can be heard making those statements, why have they been cited so little? One e-mailer made a suggestion with which well largely disagree:
E-MAIL (2/18/09): I'd like to report that yes, I can open the audio file.
I downloaded the file to my machine then I used WinAmp. Windows Media Player works too.
Maybe they fixed the link? Anyway, interesting audio, and interesting question. But it doesn't further the narrative, I guess, so it doesn't get reported.
Disagree. As we noted, these highly newsworthy statements by Specter didnt even get much play on the liberal web. Beyond that, many major players on cable are deeply involved in pushing narratives about the GOP as the party of no; Specters comments are right in their wheelhouse. More specifically, Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews havent mentioned these comments at alleven though they fit right into narratives the three have been driving. And of course, Olbermann has his nightly stable of hacks, his successor to Joe Louis bum-of-the-month club); none of them have mentioned these comments either! Specters remarks are perfect for Countdowns reliable sourcesbut theyve gone unmentioned there too.
For ourselves, wed prefer less focus on mind-reading motive. But by any rational standard, Specters comments were highly newsworthy. Wed offer a slightly mordant thought about MSNBCs failure to cite them: When you basically get to make up the sh*t with which you drive your narratives (see below), youre no longer forced to waste your time developing real information. Since at least the early 1990s, Washingtons major mainstream pundits have largely invented the facts and the logic which drive the narratives they prefer. This groaning process is now entrenched on progressive cable as well. Why bother repeating what Specter actually said? You can simply make up sh*t which keeps the rubes quite happy.
(In our view, Maddow is by far the best of the three hosts weve cited. That said, the other two set a standard which is groaningly low.)
By any standard, Specters comments were news. But even in GOP-trashing preserves, his comments disappeared from the earth. Its comicaland of course its quite sadto see how this process works.
ABOUT THAT LOW STANDARD: We think its sad. But progressive viewers get treated like fools each weeknight evening on cable. Last night, for example, Chris Matthews continued his long self-reinvention with ludicrous comments about Hillary Clinton (more tomorrow). But for an even better example, consider the groaning segment Keith Olbermann staged with Laura Flanders this past Tuesday night.
Sad. The segment concerned Sarah Palinand therefore, in accordance with Pseudo-Prog Law, it had to turn on two key notions: Sarah Palin is blindingly stupid, and shes the worlds biggest hypocrite. Ironically, there was nothing so stupid that Keith wouldnt say it, so long as it furthered these judgments. Consider how the nonsense began:
The nonsense began right at the start of the show, as Olbermann teased the upcoming segment. Treating his viewers like absolute fools, the man called Big Stupid said this:
OLBERMANN (2/17/09): Two out of two Palin mothers agreeabstinence-only programs dont work.
BRISTOL PALIN (videotape): Everyone should be abstinent, but its not realistic at all.
SARAH PALIN (videotape): Yes, abstinence, you know. Hey, dont get pregnant.
Just like that, Olbermann told the rubes that Governor Palin had somehow agreed that abstinence-only programs dont work. He presented a truncated quote from Greta Von Susterens Monday night program on Foxa quote which supposedly drove home his point.
In fact, Sarah Palin had never addressed the question of whether abstinence-only programs work; in fact, she never discussed such programs at all. (For that reason, the quote he presented was highly truncated.) But soon, he was teasing the segment againand he had some new snark to deliver:
OLBERMANN: To Algiers in Algeria, where a guy is eating nails. Watch the self-proclaimed man who eats anything. With steady diet of newspaper, candle and nails, the human disposal act is sure to impress the record- keeping folks over at the Guinness Book department of human achievement. Just one minor caveatGuinness stopped keeping eating records in 1991 over concerns that people would hurt themselves, save by eating nailsor peanuts.
Governor Palin suddenly has a different outlook on abstinence-only sex-edkind of taught the reality of the world by her own daughter. And the Alex Rodriguez kiss-and-cry...
Keith hits all the Big Topics. But in what way had Governor Palin been kind of taught the reality of the world by her own daughter? It what way did she suddenly have a different outlook on abstinence-only sex-ed? It wasnt real clear, but the claim sounded snarky, so he teased it outloud, dumb and clear.
Of course, by the time Olbermanns segment began, it was time to go straight to the insultsinsults which needed no explanation. Heres the way Big Stupid began his segment on the two Palin moms:
OLBERMANN: There is a whistle blower in the house of hypocrisy that is Governor Sarah Palinher daughter, Bristol. In our third story on the Countdown, she`s now speaking out about being a teenage mother and she says that abstinence is not realistic, and that having her baby was her own choice, and that her mothers view on that, quote, doesnt matter. In fact, Bristol Palin said she would love to be an advocate. Quoting her, "I hope that people learn from my story and just like prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.
By now, the governor was a house of hypocrisythough Olbermann still hadnt made the slightest attempt to explain the unflattering claim. In the world of Big Stupid Cable, its all about handing the rubes preferred narratives, the ones they turn on your program to hearand Olbermann seems to love nothing more than beating up on Palin. He no longer gets to mock the young blondes, something he used to do every night, but Palin seems suitable as a replacement. And he doesnt waste much time explaining whats actually wrong with Palins viewsor even what they are. Its all about calling the lady stupidand its all about calling her a hypocrite, without quite explaining why. And of course, the tasteless insults fly. This is the way the chat began when he introduced the evenings tough moll, Flanders. Note: In his question, hes still pretending that Sarah Palin has somehow changed her stance on education, now that her own daughters pregnant:
OLBERMANN: Is this not the mirror image of the conservative`s joke about reality, that a liberal is just a conservative who hasnt been mugged yet?
FLANDERS: I think there is a name for people who only teach their kids about abstinence and thats grandparents. And Sarah Palin is finding that out. The scariest thing in that conversation with Greta Van Susteren waswell, I thought the scariest thing was the part where Bristol Palin said that talking with her mother was worse than labor. I mean, I guess Katie Couric found that out. Can any of us imagine what a Palin presidency would be like? Like a Nadya Suleman labor?
A Palin presidency would be like a Nadya Suleman labor. Laura Flanders was keeping it classyand respectful feminist that she of course is, she was crawling up Sulemans snatch in pursuit of prime insults for Palin.
No, Palin is never going to be presidentbut Olbermann will keep presenting guests who serve his viewers tacky, gender-based insults. He cant mock Lohan or Kirsten Dunst any morethe network was getting in too much trouble for the way its various male hosts were behavingbut hes still allowed to speak this way about Palin! But lets continue! Having sneered about Sulemans labor, Flanders found the next destinationthe claim that Palin is very stupid, unlike us in our much brighter clan:
OLBERMANN (continuing directly): So, what happens though? Despite the governors signal that some of this seemed to be getting through to her, what happens to the issue of the abstinence-only program, when next it comes up in Sarah Palins next campaign?
FLANDERS: Well, I dont think that not getting it has ever been a real obstacle for Sarah Palin.
In fact, the governor had given no signal that she had changed her mind about sex education at all. And by the way: Does Governor Palin actually favor abstinence-only education? We dont know, and we dont hugely care (see comment about presidential prospects above). But when Palins last campaign began (last September), the Anchorage Daily News noted that her spokeswoman said that Palin didnt support abstinence-only education (click here). And Palin had said the same thing in her prior campaign, in a 2006 gubernatorial debate, the New York Times soon reported (click here). No matter! Shell always support abstinence-only when you watch Countdown, where shell also be a hypocriteand deeply stupid, of course. In fact, the highlighted comment by Olbermann was utterly stupid. But it led Flanders back to her script:
OLBERMANN: With Bristol Palin using the one word choice, suchin that word such a profound repudiation of the social engineers on the right. Do we think her mother gets the dichotomy between her public positions on all these issues and the people she is pandering to and the real life that she is experiencing with her own daughter and her grandchild?
FLANDERS: Well, again, you have got that getting it question.
Sorry, but Bristol Palins use of the word choice didnt mean squat in the way Keith implied. His repeated statement to this effect was dumb beyond all dumbness. But so what? To people like Flanders and Olbermann, social questions present the chance for progressives to express their superiority to those who hold different views. And of course, theres nothing so stupid that they themselves wont say it, if it helps a gang of pitiful rubes believe that theyre much smarter and better than those with whom they disagree.
Here at THE HOWLER, were pro-choice; we have no particular views about sex education. (Like youlike Olbermannweve never studied it.) But Olbermanns presentation was utterly stupid throughout, in a wide array of ways. (If the gentleman has even average intelligence, it was presumably deeply dishonest as well.) But on pseudo-progressive cable news, youre now handed large cans of pure crap, just as you were handed pure crap all through the disastrous 1990s. (Many current liberal heroes were deeply involved in that process.) The targets have changedbut the methods remain. Flanders and Olbermann were keeping it classy, sticking their noses up Sulemans snatch to serve the demand for fresh insult. And there was nothing so stupid that they wouldnt say it, to help the rubes know theyre way smart.
How stupid was Olbermann on this topic? Deeply, profoundly, defiantly stupid. But his effort was all about praising the clan. Its the oldest preferred tale in the book.
One of the worst segments ever: Snide, snarky, stupid, insultingit was one of the dumbest segments ever. To watch a pair of hacks run them some rubes, you know what to dojust click here.