Howling Dog Graphic
Point. Click. Search.

Contents: Archives:

Search this weblog
Search WWW
Howler Graphic
by Bob Somerby
E-mail This Page
Socrates Reads Graphic
A companion site.

Site maintained by Allegro Web Communications, comments to Marc.

Howler Banner Graphic
Caveat lector

WHO’S IN CHARGE? Why is our discourse so inane? Incomparably, we repeat a key question:


QUITE A MORNING: We have an event tonight for which we must prepare. But what a day in the morning’s newspapers! We’ll get to a few of these topics in coming days. But four things deserve your attention.

First, check Nicholas Kristof’s must-read piece in this morning’s Times. On the campaign trail, Candidate Gephardt routinely discussed the unthinkable possibility which Kristof examines. What would happen if a nuke went off in Times Square? American society as we know it would cease. But your mainstream press corps is more concerned with the price of John Kerry’s shirts. Let them eat haircuts, your “press corps” has said. This morning, Kristof examines the unthinkable. This topic deserves much more attention.

Second, check Michael Winerip’s latest must-read report, this time about the libraries in some urban schools. But time out! For once, Winerip seems to be unaware of a larger issue involved in his brief. Having spent many years teaching urban fifth-graders, we plan to explore it tomorrow.

Then there’s pitiful Katharine “Kit” Seelye. Her work should be sent straight to the Smithsonian, where future journalism students could go to marvel, ponder. lament and stare. Her third and fourth paragraphs are always editorials, and today’s tortured “news report” provides no exception. By the way, does Seelye have politics? We still don’t know. But if there’s a less disciplined scribe on the face of the earth, we’re not really sure who it is.

Finally, for a good solid laugh, check this front-page headline in the Washington Times: “Kerry’s proposed Iraq trip recalls McGovern war visit.” How big a rube must a Times reader be? It’s simply amazing to see the way this paper talks down to its readers.

DAVID BROOKS—A QUESTION RESTATED: So let’s see: According to this morning’s papers, The Media Fund is running an ad about “George Bush’s priorities.” The Log Cabin Republicans are running an ad about the proposed gay marriage amendment. Last night on Sean & Colmes, we learned that another group is running an ad about the funding of No Child Left Behind.

But what’s David Bossie worried about? He’s running an ad about John Kerry’s shirts, and about the cost of John Kerry’s troubling haircuts!

Yes, the sheer inanity of Bossie’s ad is one of our age’s sad wonders. But then, the same inanity—the precise same inanity—was found at the core of a David Brooks column in Saturday’s New York Times. What does Bossie’s ad concern? Kerry’s shirts, haircuts, yacht and big houses! And what did Brooks’ column concern? His list of topics was precisely the same! There they were, precisely the same topics, at the heart of the man’s inane column.

And so we repeat our question from yesterday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/04): Who is scripting Brooks’ column? As some readers have pointed out, it’s obvious that Bossie didn’t get his topics from Brooks’ column. Bossie’s ad was in the can and posted by Monday; there’s no way it could have been produced on such short notice. So where did Brooks come up with the very-same topics? Who was actually calling the shots when he wrote this insulting, inane column?

Readers, it isn’t necessarily wrong when a scribe takes his cues from a pol or a party. For example, if the RNC offers a salient critique of some issue, it’s perfectly fair for a scribe to affirm it. But in this case, Brooks’ points were unattributed—and his column was vastly, insultingly inane. The New York Times should be embarrassed to have put such drek into print at all. But when we see that the column’s agenda apparently originated somewhere else, the Times should be asked to tell its readers: Who is actually scripting its columns? The name on the piece said “David Brooks.” But who really scripted this column?

Let them eat earth tones, they said four years back. Now we’re fed haircuts and troubling shirts. The Times should be embarrassed to publish such crap. But again we ask the obvious question: Who is actually scripting these columns? Again we ask Gail Collins (and David Shipley): Gail, it’s 11 o’clock in your country. Do you know who your columnists are?

TOMORROW: No, really: Halbfinger does Kerry’s flip-flops.

KRAUTHAMMER HELPER: Whoa, Nelly! This morning, Imus hosted Frank Rich and Bill O’Reilly—in separate telephone sessions, of course—as the pair of plupotent pundits extended their war about Mel. In our view, this remains the most illuminating press story of the week; we’ll review Frank and Bill’s remarks before tomorrow’s HOWLER. For our money, O’Reilly has lone been over-the-top and around-the-bend in his constant rants against what he calls “secularism.” But we think he has sometimes gotten the better of Rich on this topic. We’ll offer examples tomorrow.

Last night, though, the propaganda continued. Dem consultant Flavia Colgan spent some time in Scarborough Country. She scolded Jon Voight for comparing Gibson to Hitler. But then she said this—and misled:

COLGAN: Jon Voight, which—I have to disagree with him even putting Mel Gibson in the same sentence with Hitler. I think he’s doing what he’s accusing Mel Gibson to do, which is to do make inflammatory comments. And it really doesn‘t help the issue.

But, look, he talked about the devil imagery. Where in the Gospels did the devil enter into it? I’ll tell you where—in Luke. There’s one statement about the devil going into Judas. To portray some flying devil and then someone at the breast milking on a devil and going in and out of Jewish crowds is absurd.

Normally, Colgan does better than this. Readers, are you normally happy when Dem consultants spread Charles Krauthammer’s spin-points around? At least The Hammer mentioned a salient fact, if in passing (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/8/04)—in The Passion, Satan appears among Jewish crowds only twice, out of four appearances. But when Andrew Sullivan adopted the point last Friday, this qualification had already disappeared. “[Gibson] is clearly and palpably anti-Semitic,” Sully wrote. “His movie is an act of aggression against Jews…Charles notes how Satan walks and lives and breathes among the Jews in the movie.” Last night, Colgan—in another discussion of alleged anti-Semitism—deep-sixed Krauthammer’s qualification, too. In The Passion, Satan stands beside Romans and Jews. But when Colgan showed up in Scarborough Country, the Romans had somehow disappeared.

Alas! Colgan’s comments were even more misleading than Sully’s. Where is Satan when he has “someone at the breast milking?” Alas! That’s the scene where Satan stands in solidarity with the Roman commander who is directing the scourging of Jesus. But insider pundits have formed a group judgment, and they’re trying to drag you along for the ride. Result? Dems embellish Krauthammer’s points! Meanwhile, some readers scream when this sort of thing is dumped on Dems, but are pleased when it’s handed to Mel.