WHERE DID TRUMPISM COME FROM! Chris Matthews, repurposed, rails against Trump. But where did Trumpism come from? // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, APRIL 19, 2011
Steve Benens Hannityism: Well start by copping to a mistake. We were off by a week in the matter of the high Lady Collins.
On April 8, we suggested it might be time for the lady to pay a visit to Mitt Romneys dog. In an act of heroic self-abnegation, Lady Collins held off till last weekend. Last Saturday, she was discussing a Romney campaign book when, without warning, she struck:
By our count, thats the eighteenth column in which the lady has discussed Mitt Willards roof-strapped dog.
In a rare bit of good news for the republic, some of Collins commenters are starting to complain about this serial nonsense. But others cant get enough of the high ladys shaggy-dog tale. Here was Collins tenth commenter, opining at two in the morning:
Remember this the next time Digby tells you how stupid the other side is. Maybe its just our vast tolerance!
Lady Collins simply cant stop. But then, neither can Steve Benen, who treated us to more of his Creeping Hannityism in this absurdly deceptive post from last Saturday. Looking ahead to Sundays shows, Steve was complaining about the way the line-ups are egregiously dominated by The Other Tribe:
Sean Hannity has treated the rubes this way for roughly a thousand years.
Maybe Benen is just incompetent. Assuming he has minimal skill, that post is deeply dishonest. Reading that post, you might get the impression that Sunday talk line-ups have routinely been deeply unbalanced, extending back for many years. We're accustomed to seeing this crap, Benen boo-hoos as he starts.
In fact, there was nothing wrong with Amanpours line-up. Beyond that, there was nothing wrong with last Sundays line-ups generally. And Benen was misstating the facts and the context about that shattering Sunday from a couple of months ago. But then, hes now done so at least times.
What is it like to be treated like rubes? Consider the following facts:
Last Sundays guest lists: You'll note that Benen didn't link to last Sundays guest lists. He said those guest lists aren't quite that egregious as compared to the earlier Sunday, when he said no Democrats had appeared. But in fact, there was nothing egregious about Sundays guest lists at all. None of the four major programs (excluding Fox) were tilted toward Republican or conservative guests, with the possible exception of CNNs State of the Union. Meet the Press featured a solo segment with Obama official Tim Geithner and a balanced panel. Face the Nation featured one senator from each party. (On Fox News Sunday, the panel tilted right, as it always doesbut the guest list did not.)
In truth, the guest lists werent egregious at all. Steve knew that; the rubes did not.
Amanpours guest list: To state the obvious, a programs guest list doesnt have to be balanced every week. But there was nothing unbalanced about Amanpours guest list last Sunday. First, she did a full segment with Geithner, who expressed the White House position on budget matters; then, she did a segment with those House Republicans. To conclude, she offered a reasonably balanced panel. Her questioning of the Republicans was woefully weak, but nothing was wrong with her scheduling.
Guest lists from recent decades: Benen seemed to imply that unbalanced guest listseven egregiously unbalanced guest listshave been the norm since before the last decade. But where was the evidence of that? On several occasions, Media Matters has conducted exhaustive studies of Sunday guest lists. Steve didn't cite any such studiespresumably because they wouldnt support the grievance he described.
Those Sunday shows from a few months ago: This post represented at least the third time Benen has complained about the February 13 Sunday programs. Here as before, he writes that those programs featured zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration as opposed to eight Republicans. Depending on how you want to score it, that carefully nuanced statement might even be technically accurate. But in fact, OMB director Jacob Lew had a solo segment on State of the Union that dayand Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed, a Democrat, was featured on Meet the Press. (He balanced a first-term Republican congressman on that programs panel.) Presumably, this helps explain Steve's tortured construction about zero Democrats from Congress or the Obama administration, although Lew is a cabinet member. Even with these corrections, that days programs still featured eight Republicansand only two Democrats. (Pundit panels were basically balanced.) But as she introduced one guest, Amanpour explained part of the reason:
Three of the Republican guests had been interviewed at the CPAC conference. It isnt unusual for Sunday shows to tilt one way or the other at such times. As weve noted, you can only discern a general imbalance by conducting a multi-week study, something Steve chose not to do.
Benen got the rubes quite riled with this pathetic post. Sean and Rush have always toyed with the rubes this way. You will note that Steve's irate commenters, like those who call El Rushbo, enjoy being mocked this way too.
Are we really accustomed to seeing Sunday show line-ups dominated by Republicans? Thats what Steve told the rubes last weekendand the rubes really ate it up. But he presented no evidence that anything like that is the norm. Were last Sundays guest lists not quite that egregious? They werent egregious at all!
Creeping Hannityismthats what we call it. But then, we call it something else too. We call it deliberate deception, of the type our side claims to hate.
WHERE DID TRUMPISM COME FROM (permalink): The downward spiral of David Brooks continues to amaze.
This morning, Brooks devotes his whole column to Donald Trump. As his headline has it, he seeks to explain Why Trump Soars. Incredibly, Brooks ends his piece with words of affection for Trump. Before you review that cloying conclusion, please note the five words weve emboldened:
Now he spouts birther nonsense. In an entire column about Trumps surge toward the top of the polls, that represents Brooks only discussion of this noxious conduct.
I would never want to live in a country without people like him, Brooks says of Trump as he closes. Alas! Given the broken morals of his High Pundit Classgiven our storebought Career Liberal Culturethere is very little chance that Brooks will ever have to!
How nonsensical has Trumps birtherism been? It has been very nonsensical. Before we discuss the harm it doesbefore we discuss where this lunacy comes fromlets scan the ludicrous type of conduct David Brooks wouldnt want to live without.
How ludicrous has Trumps conduct been? It has been inexpressibly ludicrous:
Now, Trump calls Obama the worst president in American history, Brooks sadly notes. But for Trump, this makes Obama the third worst president ever in just the last thirty years! This is the way this big dumb clown was talking just four years ago, to CNNs Wolf Blitzer:
Blitzer seemed to be exaggerating. As best we can tell, Trump only said that Bush was probably the worst in March 2007. But by September, he couldnt think of any president who had ever been as bad as Bush. Last week, though, as he spoke with Sean Hannity, recovered memory flowed in:
Using Nexis, we can find no sign that Trump had ever called Carter the worst president before last week, although its always possible. But as of last week, Obama was the third president in the last thirty years to rank as worst president ever! Perhaps because he was speaking on Fox, Carter was now the worst before Obamaand Bush disappeared from the list.
That said, Trumps ugly recent buffoonism has extended well past this meager example. Its hard to believe, but when he spoke with Hannity last Friday (part 2 of their talk), he even descended to this:
Truly, thats just stunningand of course, its balls-out false. And then, continuing directly, this ugly man offered us more:
Were sorry, but the book in question really wasnt better than Hemingway. Beyond that, Bill Ayers is not a super-geniusand Ayers didnt say that he wrote Obamas book. Meanwhile, note the way Trump assembles his knowledge. He heard that Obama got bad grades. Beyond that, a lot of people have said that Ayers wrote that book.
To refer to this swill as political porn would be far too kind. How does this bottom-feeding harm the republic? Millions of gullible voters simply dont know that Trump (and Hannity) are playing them for fools. They come to believe the things Trump is saying; this heightens their distrust of Obama. Beyond that, it heightens their distrust of any claims from the mainstream press, since the mainstream press is so plainly hiding the truth about Obama. And as millions of voters are turned into fools, millions of voters who read liberal blogs are, in turn, transformed into tribal haters. At sites like Digbys, the word they is used with increasingly reckless abandoneven as we assure ourselves that we are the most tolerant people who ever drew breath on the earth.
Tribal war is thus ratcheted up by Donald Trumps disgraceful behavior. The sheer stupidity of our culture is taken to the next level. And this morning, Davis Brooks, in a deeply disgraceful moment, tells us he wouldnt want to live in a country without such men. He wouldnt want to live in a country that isnt driven by ugly delusions.
Theres little chance hell ever have to. By now, we all live in the country Mark Twain described in his comical portraits from the frontiera world in which various touring buffoons mislead highly gullible people. In the current instance, Brooks cheers one of the vilest charlatans onand the editorial board at the New York Times still wont discuss Trumps behavior. In such ways, our highest-ranking journalists agree to accept our remarkable, gong-show political cultureas theyve done for a very long time.
In the case of the Times editorial board, they were there at this cultures birth, as they themselves spread wild claims all around about Clinton and then about Gore. For ourselves, we remembered those wildest political days as we watched Chris Matthews, and two handsome stooges, during last evenings Hardball.
By now, of course, Matthews has been repurposed; he supports the Democratic side, pimping in that direction. For that reason, he rails each night against Trumps conduct. Last night, he invited a pair of acolytes to help him deride Trumps conduct. Josh Marshall and David Corn knew just what they should sayand what they shouldnt. (To watch the whole segment, click this.)
Warning! If you understand Matthews role in the culture of the Clinton-Gore years, what follows represents a truly remarkable discussion. And dont worry: Marshall and Corn do understand the things Matthews did in those years:
What does Donald Trump care most about in life these days? It seems to be ratings, ratings, ratings, Corn said. And when he says people love this issue, thats spoken like a true demagogue.
As people of his low class always do, Matthews put the principal blame on the foolish and gullible voters, not on the craven and powerful leaders. (When he described what the right are saying, he was speaking about Republican voters.) Aside from that, wed say that this exchange was highly accurate. But what made this exchange so remarkable? Just this: Especially during the twenty months of Campaign 2000, it was Matthews who lived in an alternative universe where the normal rules didnt apply. It was Matthews who shaped a new journalistic culture in which you had to say stupid things because that was the price of admission to our clubhouse. For the twenty months of Campaign 2000, guests on Hardball knew the rules: If youre not willing to trash-talk Gore, dont talk to me, because we hate him. A few weeks after September 11, it even reached the point where Matthews was willing to go on the Imus show and say, Hes not an American:
Incredibly, nowe arent making that up. And dont worry: Marshall and Corn know this history. They know they mustnt bring it up because thats the price of admission to our clubhouse.
More disgracefully, they also knew they mustnt challenge Matthews back in real time, when it might have mattered. As Matthews trashed Gore for two years, they kept their pretty traps shut, like all the other career players did.
Matthews insulted Gore for two years, in amazingly ugly ways. George Bush ended up in the White House.
Matthews helped create the ludicrous culture in which Trumpism thrives. Aside from Rush Limbaugh, we can think of no one who played a larger role in the invention of this culture during the Clinton-Gore years. Matthews motives were a bit different from Trumps; presumably, Matthews was serving the interests of his owner, Jack Welch, who was in turn making him a rich man. But his insults were every bit as stupid and ugly as Trumpsand they went on for two years.
Night after night, the insults rained as Josh and Davidand Joan Walshkept their pretty traps shut. They didnt do so because they were tolerant. They did so because they were on the make. Today, theyre cable stars.
To this day, liberal leaders wont tell you.
Its hard to find sufficient contempt for the players involved in this world. (We speak as folk who have always liked Corn, a good guy, a great deal.) For David Brooks, who wouldnt want to live without Trump. For the New York Times editors, who are too craven to speak. For people like David and John and Joanand for our tribal spear-carriers, who wont sell out their friends.
Even in the face of this mess, your leaders hand you the pleasing lieyour only problem is you are too tolerant! Actually, the problem is different:
We regular liberals tend to be gullible, much like the other tribe. And we have been played again and again, by the folk who get sold as our leaders.
Chris Matthews, repurposed, now rails against Trump. But people, where did Trumpism come from? The lunatic culture Trump now drives was invented on Chris Matthews show.
The ugly insults litter our archives. David and Josh, well-trained lads, were quite careful. They didnt tell.