KORNBLUT (3/20/07): From the start, Clinton's campaign has displayed two attributes: pugnaciousness and defensiveness. Clinton advisers believe that only by being aggressive can their candidate counter negative perceptions of their candidate and give her the opportunity to make her own case for leading the country.Those two attributes—and no others! Where in the world do our major newspapers find writers who churn out such work?
BARRINGER (3/14/07): Some are born earnest, some achieve earnestness, and some have earnestness thrust upon them. Bill McKibben qualifies for inclusion in at least two of these wedges of humanity.In 1989, at the age of 28, he achieved earnestness of a dour, frowning sort, Barringer continued, as one of the first laymen to warn of global warming in his book The End of Nature.
DOWD (6/9/94): President Clinton returned today for a sentimental journey to the university where he didn't inhale, didn't get drafted and didn't get a degree.Ha ha ha ha ha! That was good! Dowds lead—and yes, that was a front-page news report—helped define a part of emerging Times culture: its focus on the wit and brilliance of its brilliant, witty writers. Its the witty writer who gets the attention—even if it comes at the expense of the subject under review.
JERVEY (6/99): "Maureen is very talented," observes Joe Klein of The New Yorker. "But she is ground zero of what the press has come to be about in the nineties...I remember having a discussion with her in which I said, 'Maureen, why don't you go out and report about something significant, go out and see poor people, do something real?' And she said, 'You mean I should write about welfare reform?Dowd rolled her eyes at the very thought of caring about a serious issue. We thought we detected that same high tone when Barringer built her A-frame last week.
ROBERTS (3/13/07): [L]et's summarize: Bill Broad took to the pages of the paper of record to establish that there is significant concern in the scientific community about the accuracy of Gore's movie. To do so, he trotted out scientific outliers, non-scientists, and hacks with discredited arguments. In at least two cases...he made gross factual errors. As for the rest, it's a classic case of journalistic false balance—something I thought we were done with on global warming. I guess when it comes to Al Gore, the press still thinks it can get by on smear, suggestion, and innuendo.Hurrah for Roberts! He didnt just correct Broads bungles—here and elsewhere, he reminded his readers that this sort of thing has been standard when the press corps (when the Times) has dealt with Al Gore. (Earlier, he said this about Broads report: It's got all the hallmarks of a vintage Gore hit piece: half-truths, outright falsehoods, unsubstantiated quotes, and a heaping dose of innuendo.) As weve long said, voters have to be told about this, again and again, until they come to understand it. To this day, American voters are endlessly told about the press corps famed liberal bias. We have to tell them, over and over, the truth about this mainstream press corps. We have to tell them—again and again— how this press corps has treated Major Dem Leaders over the past fifteen years.
LEMIEUX (3/19/07): I don't like going along with implications that the 2000 election was entirely about Gore's weaknesses as a candidate. Gore didn't design the definitively irrational system the Constitution uses to select presidents. He didn't insist on Ralph Nader's vanity campaign. He didn't encourage the Florida state legislature to create its election statutes by having the attorney general's infant son scrawl something in crayon. He didn't appoint 5 partisan hacks to the Supreme Court. He didn't force outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times to conduct an endless smear campaign against him, or generally cover this highly consequential election like an elementary school student council race...Oh. Our. God. He even named Rich! Voters have to hear this history, again and again, if theyre going to understand modern politics—if theyre going to understand the punishing role the mainstream press corps has played, and will play, in our attempts to send Dems to the White House.
I don't recall Gore underestimating the importance of the 2000 campaign, but I do recall lots of alleged liberals—represented for me by Frank Rich—who claimed that the election didn't really matter and that Bush and Gore were indistinguishable... I don't claim that Gore was a great candidate. But when it comes to squandered opportunities, I'm a lot more upset at the media and the idiot "Gush-Bore" crowd than I am about someone who ran a serious campaign and would have been a good president.
Yes, it was thrilling to see Boehlert and Lemieux help Dems and libs understand recent history. Voters hear constant propaganda about liberal bias; they need to hear the truth told constantly too. Lets conclude with two old bits of theory:
Millionaire pundit values: Why has the New York Times—the mainstream press corps—behaved in this way for the past fifteen years? Again, imagine a thought experiment in a graduate seminar. Heres the question well pose to the students: How would a mainstream press corps function if its opinion leaders were almost all millionaires? Surely, a graduate seminar would predict that such a press corps would behave the way our own press corps does—that it would endlessly focus on trivia, and that it would tend to go after the leaders of the less millionaire-friendly party. But thats exactly how our mainstream press corps has behaved for the past fifteen years. And yes—its opinion leaders are almost all multimillionaires, although they struggle to keep the public from knowing. They fly away to their homes on Nantucket—to write soulful books about how theyre really from Buffalo.
The culture of Stasi: Again, well invite you to see the Oscar-winning film, The Lives of Others, and see if a bell doesnt ring in your head. This film portrays life under the Stasi in the last few years of the East German republic. And yes, the behavior of the Stasi agents reminded us of our mainstream press corps! In this film, a bunch of unaccomplished, half-witted Stasi agents sit around inventing silly tales with which they can bring down more accomplished people. Similarly, bored half-wits like Maureen Dowd have sat around in recent decades, thinking up silly tales with which theyve abused Major Dems. The more accomplished these Democrats are, the more this seems to annoy the souls of these bored, unaccomplished pseudo-journalists. Just imagine! Silly posers like Dowd and Rich have sat around dreaming up stupid tales which took down Gore and sent Bush to the White House! Even last summer, when Gores film appeared, Rich kept insisting, in the Times, that it showed us how fake and phony Gore is. Last week, Broad peddled his idiot tales—swiped from the New York Sun!—about how bungled Gores work really is. This sort of thing will never stop—until we stand up and stop it. Until we endlessly name their names, this Stasi-work will never stop.
Theyre millionaires—with the souls of bored Stasi. But until we tell the voters about them, the voters will continue to think that theyre driven by that much-ballyhooed liberal bias. Yesterday, we were thrilled to read the work of our heroes of journalist labor. Thanks to the work that these worthies are doing, average workers gaze steadily off, espying a bright, shining future.
OUR EARLIER HEROES OF JOURNALIST LABOR: And lets not forget our earlier heroes, whose work we should keep on reading and citing:
Gene Lyons, who wrote Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater in 1996.Gene and Joe chronicled the early years in which our press corps turned into the mess it now is. We have to explain these things to the voters. The other side will always yell, Liberal bias. Over and over, we have to make sure that voters get to hear the real truth.
Gene Lyons and Joe Conason, who wrote The Hunting of the President in 2000.
BECAUSE WEVE FAILED: Today, Gore testifies to the Congress about climate change. Because weve failed, this passage appears in Mark Leibovichs front-page report:
LEIBOVICH (3/20/07): There are still Democrats who hold Mr. Gore responsible for losing the 2000 election, and the 2008 field is already crowded. But if he were to decide to run again, Mr. Gores fame, network of donors and wealth would allow him to enter the presidential race late, political strategists say.That highlighted passage is perfectly accurate. But because weve failed to tell the truth up to now, theres a great deal which has been left out. See Lemieux, Scott, just above, for an alternative vision.