ITS TIME FOR THEM TO GO! Elisabeth Bumiller gets it right—but its time for a whole gang to go: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, MARCH 3, 2008
BUMILLER GETS IT RIGHT: Were pleased to be able to type these words: In this mornings New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller gets it (quite) right.
Omigod! In a fair and sensible News Analysis, Bumiller examines John McCains sometimes-shifting views and statements about four major issues. Yes, we could offer a few minor quibbles. For example, Bumiller could have gone back to Campaign 2000 regarding McCains views on the Bush tax cuts. And she could have cited a second piece of triangulation from Campaign 2000 concerning abortion. But on balance, Bumillers presentation is fair and accurate. She removes the halo from a saints head without the blatant anti-McCain spinning found in Jim Rutenbergs sexed-up report. (For our treatment of Rutenberg;s piece, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/29/08).
As we mentioned last week, a ten-year love affair with McCain seems to be reaching its end at the Times. That, of course, is a very good thing; journalists arent supposed to conduct love affairs with Big Major Pols. Then too, they arent supposed to stage 16-year wars—vendettas built on open loathing. But thats what they did with the Clintons and Gore—and its too late to roll that one back.
At any rate, a long love affair may be reaching its end, at least in some parts of the New York Times. Rutenberg broke up with his love quite unfairly. Today, though, were happy to type these words: Bumiller gets it right!
ITS TIME FOR POMFRET TO GO: Who on earth is John Pomfret? Since he took over the Posts Outlook section, weve repeatedly mentioned the gruesome bad taste displayed in the pieces he publishes. Yesterday, he did it again, with a pair of egregiously stupid lead articles about the role of women voters in the current election.
Are women stupid? Or are they fickle? Pomfret gave you that choice.
Voting for stupid was the inane Charlotte Allen, star of various kooky-con journals. But Allen isnt simply inane. As is often the case at Pomfrets Outlook, she can be remarkably nasty—when discussing Big Dems, that is. Here, she rants about Hillary Clinton and her stupid Latina campaign manager:
Clinton is stupid—and so is Solis Doyle, the Latina who wasnt selected for brains. And of course, Clinton has been putting the audience to sleep with minutiae about her health-coverage mandate. (No, this doesnt fit the stereotype, but garbage like this isnt asked to make sense.) According to Allen, Clintons campaign has been dragged down by every stereotypical flaw of the female sex—including the fact that women are stupid, the key point of her piece.
For what its worth, Allen isnt content to argue that women are stupid—she seems determined to prove the foolish claim herself. At one point, she says that she herself cant add 2 and 2. After reading this passage, we believed her:
You probably noted what Allen (and her editor) did not; the statistic about driving more miles per year is (essentially) irrelevant to the finding that women get in more (slightly) more accidents per mile driven. Meanwhile, if women get in slightly more accidents, but men get in many more fatal accidents, is it clear that men are better drivers? Such questions exceed the reach of people like Allen—and of the person who published her.
But Allens thesis—Women are stupid—was no dumber or more offensive than its twin, promoted in the latest groaner from the inane Linda Hirshman. Heres Hirshmans thesis: Women are fickle! As routinely happens in Hirshman pieces, the author seems unable to handle even the simplest data. Consider the passage where Hirshman proves that women have been fickle about Clinton and Obama. Can you follow the reasoning here? To be honest, we could not:
Black women have favored Obama, a lot; white women have favored Clinton, by a lesser margin. For unknown reasons, this is presented as the principal evidence for Hirshmans claim: Women are fickle. But as is often the case with Hirshman, its hard to follow her reasoning here—to follow the way she uses her data. For example, we have no idea why she says that black and white women stubbornly refuse to behave according to a strict model of economic self-interest. According to the data she provides, white women have split along economic lines—with the less educated women supporting Clinton by a robust margin.
Hirshman goes on to offer insulting (and insultingly stupid) speculations about why certain well-known women have endorsed Obama instead of Clinton. This is the kind of garbage that has come to define Pomfrets Outlook:
No, you cant get dumber than Hirshman. Which makes her perfect for Pomfrets Outlook—and perfect for a pairing with Allen. Are women stupid? Or are they fickle? That was the choice the Post gave its readers, in a pair of insultingly stupid selections.
Please note: In 1999, many observers dismissed Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubricks final film—but around here, we saw the film differently. We saw it as Kubricks study of a certain kind of upper-class elite—an elite which secretly longs to roll back the clock, to return to certain pre-Enlightenment norms and traditions. Indeed: As these Outlook pieces help show, the modern world is crawling with people who want to return to an easier time—a time when silly, stupid stereotypes kept the ladies in their place. The Hirshmans and Allens crawl on our discourse, offering cover for this outlook by virtue of their sex. And people like Pomfret employ them.
But then, Pomfret has made a running joke of Outlook. Its time for this strange dude to go.
ITS TIME FOR JEFFREY ROSEN TO GO: Last week, we saw two of our liberal intellectual leaders rush to recite the wisdom of Drudge. We figured it couldnt get any worse—until Jeffrey Rosen authored this piece in Saturdays New York Times.
Good lord! Rosen argues in his column that Obama is better than Clinton on the matter of civil liberties. For ourselves, we have no view on that question. But the following passage is simply astounding. You need to ponder it hard:
Astounding. No other word for it.
For the record, the unnamed federal judge to whom Rosen refers is the famous Clinton-trasher, Royce Lamberth. (Stephanie Mencimer: During the 1990s, judge Royce Lamberth earned a reputation as a Clinton basher on par with independent counsel Ken Starr.) For some reason, the fact that Lamberth once accused the Clinton White House of something—and was later criticized—is presented here as evidence against Hillary Clinton. Go ahead—just try to explain that.
That presentation by Rosen is outrageous enough. But when he cites Kathleen Willeys new book, you again get a chastening look at the endless intellectual corruption of your liberal leaders.
How big a kook is Kathleen Willey? Lets put it this way: Her new book is so far-out that she couldnt even get booked on Hardball, where she served as Chris Matthews dearest darling during the late 1990s. A thrill would run up the gentlemans leg whenever his darling, Faire Willey, appeared—for example, when she made a false accusation against journalist Cody Shearer, a false and reckless accusation which nearly got Shearer killed (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/20/99 and 5/21/99). Lets put Willeys various odd episodes off to the side; by the time the Starr investigations ended, her reputation had fallen so far that Robert Ray, Starrs successor, specifically noted that she had lied to his investigators, even after shed been granted immunity. In his final report, Ray noted that Willey had given substantially different accounts in two sworn statements and had lied to the FBI about her relationship with a former boyfriend. Indeed, it seemed that Ray had even considered prosecuting Willey for her misstatements. Following Willeys acknowledgment of the lie, the Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute her for false statements in this regard, his report said. Once again, this was the formal report which ended Ken Starrs endless probes. (For a full account of the press corps love affair with Willey, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/10/03. Note the way they refused to report the things the Ray report said.)
Can we talk? At this point, its hard to be much less credible than Willey. Again, the lady so totally lacks basic cred that she couldnt even get on Hardball when her book came out last fall. (She got on Hannity & Colmes—nothing else—andAlan Colmes pounded her with the statements from Rays report.) But so what? Heres one of our liberal intellectual leaders, citing her charges in the Times—and citing Lamberth, though not by name. Our mother tongue contains few words to describe the depth of this problem.
How deeply corrupt is your liberal leadership? Lets review just a few recent cases:
In just the past few months, Harold Meyersons friend got a funky phone call—and Meyerson couldnt run fast enough to accuse Hillary Clinton of playing the race card. Last week, Kevin Drum and Josh Marshall ran as fast as they could to pimp Matt Drudges latest slick claims. And a few days later, Rosen pops up, this time—omigod!—citing Willeys new book! This is the shape of your liberal intellectual leadership in the spring of 2008.
At various times, reformations of institutions are needed—reformations which may include widespread purges. And lets be frank here, since were all friends: For the past sixteen years, the liberal world has been betrayed by priests of this sad type—priest of the type who cite Willey and Drudge. They wouldnt speak up during the decade of Clinton pseudo-scandals; they wouldnt even speak up during the subsequent War Against Gore. In Rosens column, we gaze on their latest misconduct. By now, it should be perfectly clear: Theres nothing these people wont say and do to maintain their standing as inside players (or whatever). The Drums, the Marshalls the Meyersons, the Rosens? Theyve sold you out for the past sixteen years. Its time for this whole gang to go.
Case in point? On Saturday, the New York Times Jacques Steinberg played it very dumb indeed, in this Pravda-style report about Hillary Clintons press coverage.
Our hard-copy Times had a comical headline: On the Press Bus, Some Soul-Searching Over Accusations of Favoritism. But little soul-searching would be found in the contents of Steinbergs report—only the standard refusal to play it straight when the press corps conduct is challenged.
To his credit, Steinberg has actually heard what Clinton said during last weeks Democratic debate. After a bit of preliminary misdirection, he reports her complaint, in paragraph 6:
So at least were told that the recent soul searching began with Clintons complaint against Russert and Bri-Bri. But wouldnt you know it? Through all the rest of his soul-searching, Steinberg absent-mindedly forgot to mention the following facts about NBC News—the major news org these two men front. As Steinberg forgets to include these facts, an obvious pattern disappears:
Thats quite a pattern—and Steinberg managed to avoid it completely! Could Pravda have done a better job, back in its Soviet heyday?
Tomorrow, well take a look at last weeks questioning by Russert and Williams—the questioning which provoked Clintons complaint. But in September 2000, Russerts surly conduct toward Candidate Clinton created quite a bit of push-back, even in the Washington circles which endlessly pander to him. The great man was even flayed in the Buffalo News, the major newspaper in the town Russert calls home (from Nantucket).
What was said in September 2000? In the News, columnist Mark Sommer said that Russert had taken an astonishingly cheap shot against Clinton. In the Washington Post, Richard Cohen said this of Russerts behavior: Not since the old Saturday night fights has TV seen such a low blow. In an unsigned editorial, the Columbia Journalism Review said this: Russert pitched a question to Hillary Clinton that was breath-takingly out of bounds.
Indeed, Cohen went further with his complaints, writing this: Hillary Clinton's chief problem, her own strategists will tell you, is her inability to tell New Yorkers why she is running. After her debate with Rick Lazio last week she should no longer have that predicament. She's running to get away from Tim Russert and all he represents. Yikes! Meanwhile, up in Buffalo, Sommer noted that Russerts sex-obsessed question certainly wasn't out of character for the Buffalo blather king. After all, during the media's coverage of the Lewinsky scandal ...Meet the Press continually wallowed in the sex scandal. In a black mark for network news programming, Russert's show was the first to heap respectability upon notorious Internet smut sleuth Matt Drudge by having him on as a guest.
Huh! Maybe thats when Kevin and Josh decided that Drudge was an expert!
Sadly, theres a good deal of history here with Russert. Indeed, theres been a lot of history in the past month at his loathsome news org. But dont worry! Pool boys like Steinberg know their role when charges are filed against Big Village Titans. Steinberg did what decency required: Matthews and Shuster were disappeared, as was Russerts prior history. Read Steinbergs piece to see how hard these tools will work to keep you clueless—when their cohorts major stars come in for some criticism, that is.
TOMORROW: A look at last weeks questions.
FROM THE REVIEW: Heres that unsigned editorial from the Columbia Journalism Review:
Theres a lot of history here. With Steinberg, it all disappeared.