WHO IS LARRY WILKERSON? Why did he let that report proceed? Someone forgot to ask: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, APRIL 27, 2009
A Requisite Village Script: Groan. Last Saturday, speaking with our entire staff, we discussed Newt Gingrichs Friday appearance before the House Energy Committee. We mentioned a strange new Village Script. It has become Village Law, we observed. For some reason, Villagers know they must refer to Gingrich as a man of ideas.
Newt must be praised as a man of ideas, much as McCain had to be a straight-talker. And sure enough! One day later, Walter Issaacson appeared on the CNN show, GPS. At one point, he produced this groaning exchange with his host, Fareed Zakaria:
Please come to Aspen! Its truly amazingthe way these Official Village Hacks memorize, and recite, Standard Scripts. (Weve presented Isaacsons jest about Jindals speech-writer as best we can. The published transcript is clearly inaccurate.)
Newt has a lot of great ideas! Doesnt that make you wonder what Isaacson might think about low-income schools?
See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/24/09. He memorized that script too.
Watching them fawn: We think of Zakaria as someone who is relatively original in his thinking. But heres the way he pandered and fawned in dragging out yesterdays panel:
Who comprised this panel of geniuses? People! Who else? Peggy Noonan, Jon Meacham and Isaacson!
Soon, Meacham was showing that he can fawn as shamelessly as all the others:
You might want your knee pads too, we quipped, channeling Ana Marie Coulter-Cox.
WHO IS LARRY WILKERSON: Groan. This wouldnt have been our first choice for a topic. But the conduct was so remarkably odd it nominates itself for review.
Last Wednesday (April 22), the Senate confirmed Tammy Duckworth as an assistant secretary at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The confirmation vote had originally been scheduled for April 2but North Carolina Senator Richard Burr asked for, and received, a delay, saying that Duckworth had failed to complete standard Senate paperwork. No one seemed to dispute this claim. For details, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/15/09.
On April 7, Burr said his questions had been resolved. I will support her, he told a group of editors at the (Raleigh) News and Observer.
Fifteen days later, on April 22, the confirmation vote occurred. Two nights after that, Rachel Maddow offered this remarkably strange report:
This represented the sixth separate time Maddow has presented some variant of this report, claiming she has no idea why Burr delayed the confirmation vote. In this case, she extended the offense, expressing surprise at Burrs change of hearta change of heart which had been announced, with explanation, more than two weeks earlier.
In fact, the reason for the delay in the confirmation vote had been clearly reported in real time. And Burrs support for Duckworths confirmation had been announced April 7. But so what? Last Friday night, Maddow was still mystified about the reasons for the delay. And she seemed to be surprised by Burrs favorable vote.
In our view, there are two ways to interpret this strange report. Neither is especially cheering:
Two possibilities: Either Maddow and her staff are unable to research even the simplest matter. Or Maddow was deliberately deceiving you again.
Again, we strongly suggest that you read our original report on this (minor) matter. There was nothing mystifying about the delay in the vote. Nor should there have been any surprise about the way Burr voted last week. But so what? Last Friday, Maddow was still professing her mystificationand turning a three-week confirmation delay into a misleading eleven.
Here at THE HOWLER, we have a rather persistent reaction to this sort of conduct. We dont like turning on our TV machine and being lied to by smiling hacks who kiss the keisters of mainstream journalists and give succor to various Bush Admin figures. We started this site in 1998 because we were already sick of that sort of misconduct. We still dont like that sort of misconducteven when its served to us by someone who claims to be on our side.
Maddow was still mystified by what occurred? If that was anything but an outright lie, she really ought to take her incompetent self off the air.
This silly episode has the marks of a vendetta (see below)the type of conduct staged by someone who isnt quite ready to serve the public. But on last Fridays program, Maddows interview with Lawrence Wilkerson was, in our view, much worse.
Who the heck is Larry Wilkerson? As Maddow explained in her introduction, he was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. As such, he played a key role in the way the United States went to war in Iraq. In particular, Wilkerson was in charge of the preparation of Powells UN presentation in February 2003the presentation which sealed elite opinion in favor of war.
In January 2006, the Washington Posts Richard Leiby interviewed Wilkerson about that fateful, still-unexplained episode. In response, Wilkerson authored a masterful display of standard keister-covering:
What a pile of pluperfect crap! According to Wilkerson, he and Powell were babes in the woods, thumb-sucking innocents who managed to get themselves snowed and used by others. Powell had even complained to David Frost about the fact that those in the know never came to him with the truth: What really upset me more than anything else was that there were people in the intelligence community that had doubts about some of this sourcing, but those doubts never surfaced up to us."
No one came to Powell with the facts! Quite correctly, Tim Russert was ridiculed when he made a similar, keister-covering statement to Bill Moyers. And yet, when Wilkerson grandly presented himself on our progressive news program last Friday, he received no questions of any kind about this crucial episode. You see, he was willing to call Dick Cheney names! For that reason, he was allowed to gild his own lily and, by extension, Powells.
Increasingly, this seems to be the peculiar function of Maddows progressive program.
Increasingly, the Maddow Show is the program on which one faction of the Bush Admin war machine appears to repair its image while trashing the other faction. When Powell himself appeared on the program, Maddow failed to ask the worlds most obvious question: Was water-boarding discussed in your presence? In accord with the dictates of Hard Village Law, Powell was allowed to escape without being asked. Last week, Maddow hosted both Wilkerson and Philip Zelikow, former top aide to Condoleezza Rice. But neither man was asked about the war-making role played by his principal. Each was allowed to present himself, and thereby his principal, as a high-minded opponent of the offenses committed by other Bush factions.
Whats the truth about the roles played by Wilkerson, Zelikow, Powell, Rice? Here at THE HOWLER, we arent really sure. You see, we waste our time watching programs like Maddowsprograms in which one part of the Bush Admin is allowed to rebuild its reputationno questions askedat the expense of the other.
Larry Wilkerson played a key role in the way we went to war in Iraq. But so what? Maddow gave him a total pass, even as she handed you that crap about the Duckworth matter. The Duckworth matter was quite minor; the Wilkerson matter is a part of world history. But in each case, Maddow massively failed, in ways which have nothing to do with journalismor with progressive values.
The segment on Duckworth was astoundingly bad. The Wilkerson session was worse.
Powell and Rice are masterful inside players, embraced by all within The Village. Last week, Maddow was kissing the keisters of Big Village Scribes in remarkably shameless ways, even as she kept letting Rice and Powell reshape their bright, shining images.
Why did Wilkerson let that report proceed? Someone forgot to ask.
V for vendetta: Why has Maddow been banging on Burr, seeming to lie in your face as she does so? Way back when, the self-adoring TV progressive seemed to call her shot:
Maddow was wearing her heart on her sleeve, letting us know how decent she is. Our advice? When someone pimps herself that way, prepare to check your wallet.