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OUR MASTER’S VOICES! Liberals write to the New York Times—and recite Ole Massa’s stories: // link // print // previous // next //

OUR MASTER’S VOICES: Oh, how Massa do love to school us! Our analysts chuckled when they read these four letters in this morning’s New York Times. The letters concern Maureen Dowd’s recent column about that “Ozone Man,” Gore (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/28/07).

How lovingly does Ole Massa school us? The fourth letter—the one least likely to be read—is the one which criticizes Dowd for mindlessly ridiculing Gore in the past. It’s the first letter—the letter which will be read—which contains these deathless passages:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (3/2/07): Mr. Gore won the popular vote and would have been elected if it hadn’t been for the scandalous Supreme Court decision and the even more scandalous Republican shenanigans in Florida.

It’s true that his campaign was not perfect—the chief problems were his understandable but unfortunate sigh in the first debate and his attempt to counteract its effect by passivity in the second debate.

But we have seen that he has become a far more effective speaker. And now he knows that it is not a good idea to sigh.
For years, Massa has told us an uplifting story: What happened was really Al Gore’s fault! This, of course, keeps field hands from wondering if the fault just might lie somewhere else.

Two factual points about Massa’s tales—tales which are recited again today by letter-writers who support Gore:

First, if Gore’s sighing was his “chief problem,” then he ran a damn-near perfect campaign. (And no one ever does.) After that first debate, Gore won all five overnight polls of people who had watched, by an average margin of ten percent. The sighing only became a problem when Ole Massa and his helpful house workers began to kvetch and complain about it. You know Massa’s ways! He even assembled loops of Gore’s sighs—with the volume jacked way up, of course—and he played these tapes on his cable “news” channels, helping us understand what had happened. But Massa never mentions that—so the letter-writer still doesn’t know it.

Second, even in that final letter—the one which scolds Dowd—the letter-writer refers to the “fact” that “[Gore’s] handlers had persuaded him to wear— horrors—brown.” But did Gore’s “handlers” (i.e., Naomi Wolf) really do that? It isn’t a “fact” as far as we know, and we’ve searched long and hard on the subject. In fact, this claim was built on a single “speculation,” by Dick Morris—a “speculation” which Ole Massa quickly turned into “fact.” And Dowd played her usual role in the flim-flam. On Day 3 of the spreading foolishness, she claimed that Wolf’s alleged role in this absurd tale had actually been reported by Time. (“Time magazine revealed that Al Gore hired Ms. Wolf, who has written extensively on women and sexual power, as a $15,000-a-month consultant to help him with everything from his shift to earth tones to his efforts to break with Bill Clinton.”) That claim was flatly false, of course; Time had done the first report about Wolf’s role, but it hadn’t said a word about earth tones. But so what? Dowd went ahead and typed this anyway. But then, Howell Raines had typed the same thing on Day 2, in a Times editorial. That’s how Massa helps us see the wisdom of his preferred, phony tales. By the way: That “shift to earth tones” involved a single brown suit which Gore had worn to his first debate with Bill Bradley. Massa’s comely indoor workers—including Arianna—tore their hair about it for weeks.

Today’s letters come from defenders of Gore—but the writers still channel Ole Massa’s slick tales. But so it goes as we libs and Dems recite the endless fake tales of the 90s. Yassuh! Every time we open our mouths, we hear Our Master’s Voices.

TURNED AGAINST GORE: The Times printed letters about Dowd in 1999 too—for example, after she printed the mocking column in which misstated where that “speculation” had come from. On November 3, she mocked and ridiculed Gore and Wolf. The next day, these letters appeared:

To the Editor:

Re "The Alpha-Beta Macarena" (column, Nov. 3), by Maureen Dowd: If paying Naomi Wolf an outlandish consultant's fee for "one plus one equals two" advice on how to be an "alpha male" is Al Gore's idea of campaign money well spent, I tremble to think what he might do with our tax dollars.

New York, Nov. 3, 1999

To the Editor:

The news of Al Gore's hiring Naomi Wolf to advise him about transforming from a beta to an alpha male only redefines leadership downward in Clintonian America (news article, Nov. 1). I recall thinking in 1992 that when Bill Clinton selected Mr. Gore as his running mate, the Democratic ticket was stronger because of its No. 2. During the Clinton presidency, the people could at least hope that Mr. Gore would preserve integrity and dignity in a scandal-ridden White House.

Now, Mr. Gore has shown himself to be shallow, too, convinced that image should trump substance. If he continues on this course, the only legacy he will leave is one for misrepresentation and insincerity.

Arlington, Va., Nov. 3, 1999

For the record, the sum Wolf was being paid wasn’t outlandish, and Dowd’s simpering alpha-beta nonsense was a complete pant-load too. For our full account of the month-long sliming of Wolf, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/10/03.

The Times also published a letter this day from a woman in New York City. “I feel as if I've missed some vital link when I say that I don't really see what's so newsworthy about Al Gore's hiring Naomi Wolf,” she wrote. “I've read Ms. Wolf's books, I liked them, and I still don't care. I'm going to cast my ballot based on the candidates' views, not on their external images or their hiring practices. Is internal campaign business really worth all this fuss? As a feminist and a voter, I'd have to say no.”

This writer couldn’t quite fathom the fuss. But she was outvoted by the two irate males who railed against Gore’s gruesome conduct. These angry fellows didn’t know that they’d been played by the simpering Dowd. And yes: This is the way those wily house slaves sent George W. Bush to the White House.

MASSA’S PANEL DISCUSSION: Yesterday, at 10:02 Eastern, we got an emergency telephone call from a close relation in southern New Hampshire. On WBUR’s syndicated program, On Point, Tom Ashbrook was devoting an hour to this question: Should Al Gore run for the White House?

We clicked and listened, then rolled our eyes ruefully. Just how hard does Massa work to keep you from learning what actually happened? We thought this show gave a good object lesson. You can hear the whole hour yourself (no transcript is available). To do so, just click here.

To his credit, Matt Bai got things off to a promising start. Omigod—did he actually say it? Bai was the first person Ashbrook questioned. Six minutes into the show, he said this:
BAI (3/2/07): I think [Gore] does harbor a genuine bitterness and frustration from everything he’s been through in the 2000 campaign—toward the media, toward the process, toward the Republicans. I think there’s genuine contempt there for parts of the American political picture.
Interesting! According to Bai, Gore has a “genuine bitterness toward the media.” There’s “genuine contempt there,” he said. In Bai’s opinion, this was a reason why Gore shouldn’t run in 08. “That kind of bitterness and anger is toxic,” he said. “You have to put it aside.”

Interesting! Gore feels bitterness and contempt toward the media! To Bai, this anger was a reason why Gore shouldn’t run again. In our mind, this raised an obvious question—what in the world had the media done to make Gore feel so angry and bitter? Wow! We settled back to hear the discussion—a discussion you never hear in press quarters. And wouldn’t you know it! Ashbrook never asked these obvious questions in the course of the 42 minutes that remained with his august panel.

Bai had made an intriguing statement. It went straight down the memory hole.

Ashbrook never asked about Bai’s remarks—and the rest of the panel never addressed them. That was intriguing, because two of the panelists knew all about the press corps’ conduct during Campaign 2000. Indeed, in the spring of 2000, one of the panelists—Marty Peretz—commissioned us to wrote a piece for the New Republic on that very topic! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/4/06. The piece was never published.) At the time, Marty gave us various suggestions about what we should include in the piece. He was well aware of the ongoing problem. Yesterday, though, he took a pass.

And then, there was Ashbrook’s third panelist—Arianna Huffington. What had Bai meant when he said that Gore had contempt for the press corps’ conduct? Is there any chance that Bai was referring to savage, inane work like this?
HUFFINGTON (2/6/00): [Bill] Bradley has warned voters to watch for Mr. Gore's "tricky" way with words, going as far as to compare him with Richard Nixon...In fact, not only this campaign but Mr. Gore's entire career has been laden with untruths—all demonstrating a pattern of serial abuse of language, truth and reality.

He invented the Internet, discovered Love Canal and was the inspiration for "Love Story”...
Oof! “Gore’s entire career has been laden with untruths,” Arianna wrote during Campaign 2000, “all demonstrating a pattern of serial abuse of language, truth and reality.” She then recited the half-*ssed complaints which Massa and his trusty hands had ginned up and endlessly broadcast.

Is there any chance that this was the thing which might have Gore concerned?

Those were a few of the things Arianna published during Campaign 2000. (The Love Story bullsh*t had started with Dowd, way back in 1997.) Now, she was sitting on Ashbrook’s panel, saying she hoped Gore would run again in 2008! And good boy! Ashbrook never asked her why she’d changed her mind—how she had made such a startling flip. And everyone else agreed to avoid the touchy matter Bai had raised. The question of Gore’s alleged media problem went completely unaddressed.

In fairness, we’ll guess that Ashbrook has no idea about Arianna’s past statements. He doesn’t know about them because such things are never discussed, by agreement of Massa’s top hands. Yesterday morning, Bai spouted a bit—but everyone else agreed to ignore him. It has been that way for the past seven years as the house slaves have agreed not to tell.

Indeed, if you want to understand the sounds of silence, listen to Bai at about the 25-minute mark when he “says hello to my good friend Arianna there in L. A.” If you don’t understand the code of silence after that, let’s face it—you just never will. What happens in the press corps stays in the press corps. They all agree not to tell—and liberals end up writing the Times, spouting the corps’ favorite bullroar.

One more point of fairness, this time to Peretz. Yes, Marty knows all about this problem—but he’s also a friend of Gore’s. His decision to avoid this topic may reflect concern for Gore’s future interests. After all, Gore is now trying to save the planet through his crucial work on warming. And if you want the press corps’ world-class losers to cover your work on global warming, you can’t go around telling the truth about their prior outrageous conduct. Most likely, this would also be the thinking behind any future Gore White House run.

Yep. That’s the way the game is played within the vast halls of Ole Massa’s Big House. But this strategy isn’t good for Dems in the end. That in mind, we’ll suggest you read today’s final post.

One last point: Marty stressed, 45 minutes in, that Gore “is not an angry person. He just isn’t. That’s the truth.” We have no current first-hand knowledge, but we know Gore as a superlative guy. We’re glad that Marty said these things. We would assume that they’re accurate.

THE SECOND TIME AROUND: Don Imus has shown his good side this week, railing against the way wounded soldiers were treated at Walter Reed and by the VA. For all his endless flaws (keep reading), Imus is able to care about average people, especially when they’re abused by the swells. He has been railing—and railing hard—about this topic all week.

One of his targets has been the man he keeps calling “James Nicholson,” the current Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Imus has hammered “the arrogant bastard” all week, savaging him for insensitive things he said on Bob Woodruff’s special report Tuesday night. “This guy is such a creep,” Imus said again this morning. And then, again, he read one of Nicholson’s statements from Tuesday night’s ABC program.

Regarding Nicholson, Imus is catching on about eight years too late. We’ll guess that Imus doesn’t realize that “James Nicholson” is also “Jim Nicholson,” RNC chairman during Campaign 2000. In fact, this “arrogant bastard” is the guy who invented most of those tales about Gore—all those idiotic tales which Imus lapped up in real time. Imus loved “the arrogant bastard” back then, back when he was changing world history by the force of his ginned-up tales. Imus has called Gore every name in the book from that day right up to this. We’ll take a guess—many of his impressions of Gore stem from Nicholson’s tales.

Imus has savaged “James Nicholson” all week. He hasn’t said a single word to suggest hat he’s aware of Nicholson’s history. Nicholson churned the sh*t about Gore for two years—and hapless “reporters” lapped it right up.

To his credit, Imus is able to feel real concern for the young people at Walter Reed. Note to Imus: This war you hate would not have occurred if you’d wised up to this “bastard” back then.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Surely, Nicholson’s most ridiculous stunt came on June 16, 1999, when he led a group of addled “reporters” on a tour of a fancy D.C. hotel. To read the whole ridiculous tale, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/8/02. Our question: Could anyone but a Washington “journalist” ever be such a perfect mark? Could anyone but a Washington “journalist” be so dumbfoundingly stupid?

Long story short: Nicholson wanted reporters to say that Al Gore was raised at the Ritz. You had to be a perfect fool to fall for that tale—but one who did was the hapless Anne Kornblut. At the time, she wrote for the Boston Globe. Soon, though, she was snatched away by the New York Times, then she was grabbed by the Washington Post. As on the plantation, so too in this “press corps.” When you’ve shown that you’ll be a perfect fool, that’s when you get the promotions.

IT’S TIME FOR THEM TO GO: We’ve seen some very encouraging work around the Net in the past day or two; Scott Lemieux is an ongoing breath of fresh air at Tapped, for example. But this brief post at Think Progress on Wednesday struck us as extremely promising. “Matthews Obsessed With Clinton Sex Speculation,” said the headline. When Atrios linked, his headline simply said, “Tweety Slobbers on the Clenis.”

“MSNBC host Chris Matthews is obsessed with Bill Clinton’s sex life,” Nico Pitney says in the Think Progress post. “Over the last four weeks, Matthews has incessantly raised baseless speculation that President Clinton may have an extramarital affair or engage in inappropriate behavior that would impact Sen. Hillary Clinton.” (Please note the key word: baseless.) Pitney then offers video clips in which Matthews wonders, as he does every night, about Bill Clinton’s sexual conduct. And make no mistake about how sick Matthews is. “I’m just thinking,” he stupidly said Monday night. “Is Bill Clinton going to stop trying to play Holly Golightly up in New York?” For those who may not know, Holly Golightly was the call-girl protagonist of Truman Capote’s famous novel, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Matthews is obsessed with Clinton’s conduct, and he keeps getting cruder, stupider and more obsessive in the way he expresses his interest.

Yes, Matthews has a jones about Clinton’s (fantasized) sex life that just won’t let his soul go. And the time has come for progressives and Dems to say that this conduct must stop. For ourselves, we think it’s long past time for Matthews to go—for NBC, at long last, to feel some shame about the way this troubled man behaves on the air. Failing that, progressives and Democrats have to help voters understand who Chris Matthews actually is. We have to redefine this over-paid, broken-souled heavy-breather. We have to embarrass him in the eyes of his colleagues. We have to put new thoughts into voters’ heads about who Chris Matthews is.

That’s why we finally decided, in the past month or so, to try to put the conduct of Dowd and Matthews into the Irish Catholic context. Whatever else they are, Dowd and Matthews are authority figures. Dowd writes at the very top of American journalism; Matthews is on TV six days a week. It’s normal for people to assume that they must be sane, must know what they’re doing. If we want people to see their conduct differently, we have to give them a different way to understand what they’re seeing.

Ah, we Irish! The number of Irish Catholics who were chasing Gore around is quite astounding to contemplate. (Michael Kelly. Ceci Connolly...) And yes, this is a cultural artifact—and sadly, people do need to hear it.

And people need to hear that Matthews is a screaming nutcase. They need to hear it many times; they need to hear it in many contexts. They’ll hear it more quickly if we say it respectfully. But the evidence is all around, as Pitney helped show in this post. If we had more time today, we’d chronicle all the times Matthews has referenced Patrick Healy just in the past several weeks. He just can’t stop thinking of Bill.

We’ve let this blowhard go for a decade; this has been very unwise on our part. We have to help the voters rethink who these losers actually are. Mainly, they’re a gang of extreme Antoinettes. But it helps when the Jack Welches go out hire the most broken-souled among we Irish. Regarding Matthews, we’ll guess that Welch had a feel for his man. We’ll guess he knew what he was buying.