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TRULY DISGRACEFUL LYING! The New York Times editors lie in your face—and bungle the relevant facts: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2011

Bernie Sanders gets it right (about the Tea Party): When they’re calling the roll of the greatest buffoons, Chris Matthews is never far from the top. Last night, he extended a groaning factual bungle he has repeatedly made in the past several weeks.

Matthews spoke with Ron Reagan. After joking about Trumpism, Matthews said they should discuss a real issue—the Ryan Medicare plan. And sure enough! After roughly one minute, he blurted his latest howler:

MATTHEWS (4/27/11): OK. Let’s move on to the world…

Although everyone would like a tax break who makes very little money in many cases, everyone would like to also get their Medicare. It was promised to them from the time they had a paper route and they’d like to get when they hit 65, and they don’t want to hear there’s been some changes.

Your thoughts, Ron.

REAGAN: Well you know, God bless Paul Ryan for finally exposing the Republicans’ real agenda here. I think the Republicans have played their constituents for chumps for so long that they thought that they could actually attack Barack Obama saying, you know, “He’s going to destroy Medicare, so you got to watch out for this Marxist, socialist guy.” And then turn right around a few months later and deep-six Medicare as part of their plan.

And what, nobody was going to notice that’s what they were doing? Paul Ryan and the Republicans are getting exactly what they deserve in these town hall meetings. People are not that stupid.

MATTHEWS: You know, the problem is they brought this clean-cut young guy out, Paul Ryan, who looks like Mr. Clean—the guy is so young. And he comes out there and tells these people in their 60s and 70s, “By the way, you’re cut off.”

REAGAN: Right.

MATTHEWS: I mean, one woman was saying in the meeting the other day, I caught it today, “Do you know anything about Medicare? Do you know anything about what you’re talking about here?”

(LAUGHTER)

REAGAN: And the answer is maybe no.

In the weeks since Ryan’s plan was introduced, Matthews has persistently seemed to say that people who are currently in their 60s and 70s would be “cut off” from Medicare.

To watch the tape of this exchange, click here, then move to 2:15. There is nothing in Matthews’ inflection to suggest he knows that Ryan’s plan exempts people who are currently 55 and older. Of course, if you’ve followed Matthews through the years, you’ll understand an amazing fact:

Matthews may have been completely sincere in what he said to Reagan! It’s entirely possible that Matthews simply doesn’t know that fact about Ryan’s plan. Few people in any field of endeavor know as little about their field as this giant buffoon, who has long been paid $5 million per year to advance the corporate agenda. (For whatever reason, that agenda has massively changed in the past few years.)

Matthews and Reagan shared a good laugh about Ryan’s lack of knowledge—even as Matthews uttered his latest iteration of this howler. “People are not that stupid,” Reagan said at one point, introducing even more unintentional humor. Completing the hat trick: On the Hardball web site, readers are told that Matthews spoke with “Ronald Reagan.” (This channel has always had an uncanny knack for getting everything wrong, big and small.)

Matthews is one of history’s biggest buffoons—although he’s our buffoon now. Let’s move to someone who isn’t a fool: Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.

Concerning the Ryan Medicare plan, we were struck by something Sanders said to Darling Rachel last night. In a rational liberal world, the highlighted observations would be seen as very important—as an important chance for political outreach and coalition construction:

SANDERS (4/27/11): I want to tell you something, polls that I have seen suggest that working class people in the Tea Party do not think it’s a good idea to decimate Medicare and Medicaid or Pell grants. So I think that the Democrats now have an opportunity to bring forward a very different vision of America than the Ryan Republican budget. And your point is, is this going to be a sustained activity? Reid is planning to bring that bill to the floor of the Senate to give the Republican colleagues a chance to vote up or down, vote for it or against it, I think is the first step.

But I think this is what the campaign is about: Do you give tax breaks to billionaires and decimate the programs that millions of Americans depend upon? And then in addition to that, it is clear: our Republican friends want to destroy Social Security as well.

So, I cannot recall a moment in American history where the choices are clearer. I think the vast majority of the American people, including many Republicans, do not support the basic concepts of the Republican budget.

A brief aside: Showing her own instinct for ludicrous statements, Rachel quickly said this about Vermont: “I mean, your constituency is the entire state and Vermont is a more diverse state—I live near Vermont. It`s a more diverse state than people give it credit for.”

Maddow’s strange statement had nothing to do with anything Sanders was talking about. But please! Vermont is a more diverse state than people give it credit for? In 2009, the state was 1.0 percent black, 1.5 percent Hispanic! Where does this cable channel go to find so many fantasists?

Back to the person who isn’t a nut:

Sanders noted, two separate times, that people in The Other Tribe don’t like Ryan’s plan either. We’ve often cited the fact to which Sanders alludes: Average people of the left, the center and the right and center are all victimized by standard Republican policies. A serious liberal/progressive movement would be brainstorming hard every single day, conjuring ways to perform political outreach along this obvious spine.

But we don’t have a serious liberal movement! We have a liberal movement in which silly white liberals mainly exist to call people racists—in the most sweeping ways possible. Outreach? Bernie, you jest! In our world, self-impressed white liberals simply don’t speak to “those people.” Darlings! It just isn’t done!

The plutocrats cringe when they hear Bernie speak; they laugh when they see where things go from there. Instantly, Rachel acted on the white liberal’s sole instinct—the need to posture and preen about race. The state of Vermont is quite diverse, this ludicrous child quickly announced, citing her next-door neighbor knowledge. More on Maddow’s growing string of oddball howlers starting next week.

By the way: On Monday evening, O’Donnell made it three! Early in his show, he teased an upcoming segment:

O’DONNELL (4/25/11): What’s the best plan to reduce the deficit—the Ryan plan or the Obama plan? How about The People’s Plan? Why isn’t anybody paying attention to the progressive caucus plan?

Why isn’t anyone paying attention to the plan of the House progressive caucus? O’Donnell built his next segment, with Ezra Klein, around this conundrum.

O’Donnell should have asked himself! It was the first time he had ever mentioned the budget plan of the House progressives! But so it goes on this “liberal” channel, where liberal rubes go to get fooled.

TRULY DISGRACEFUL LYING (permalink): As usual, the New York Times bungled things best. We groaned at this morning’s front-page headline in our hard-copy Times. It sat above the fold:

Obama Shows Birth Certificate, Citing ‘Silliness’

What was wrong with that headline? It drives an unfortunate, misleading narrative—a narrative in which Obama refused to show his birth certificate until yesterday.

We were puzzled this morning when we heard the Morning Joe gang speaking from that inaccurate framework. When we saw our hard-copy Times, we saw where their frame might have come from.

In fairness, this isn’t the fault of Michael Shear, who reported the story. Right there in his opening paragraph, he made a basic distinction. On-line, the Times has now improved that unfortunate headline:

SHEAR (4/28/11): Obama Shows Birth Certificate, Citing ‘Silliness’

WASHINGTON—President Obama released his long-form birth certificate on Wednesday, a step that injected him directly into the simmering ''birther'' controversy in the hope of finally ending it, or even turning it to his advantage.

The gamble produced dramatic television as Mr. Obama strode into the White House briefing room to address, head on, a subject that had been deemed irrelevant by everyone in his orbit for years even as it stoked conservative efforts to undermine his legitimacy as president.

As he continued, Shear had factual and conceptual problems of his own—problems which help extend the confusion on which the birthers will continue to feed. But in fact, Obama presented his birth certificate in 2008—the so-called “short form” document, the only such legal birth document under Hawaiian law. Those who seek to confuse and continue this garbage will thrive on the following bogus framework: Obama didn’t release his birth certificate until this week! Why did he wait so long?

That framework is bogus—but it will be very heavily pimped. And there was the always hapless Times, advancing it right in its headline.

Shear never quite managed to explain the legal distinction between those two documents. (Obama released his state’s only legal birth document way back in 2008.) But for a truly ridiculous effort, you have to turn to this morning’s lead editorial, in which the editors capture several decades of “journalistic” death, destruction, decay.

Might we start with a basic point? Obama earned his way up the ladder, coming from an ordinary background. Today’s New York Times is a nepotistic concern—and the nepotism seems to show. The paper is run by a son-of-a-son, and the editorial page is run by Andrew Rosenthal.

Does anyone think he would hold that post if not for his Times-famous father? Rosenthal may be a perfectly decent guy. But when we see the pitiful work he reliably churns, we always wonder what might have been—had the Times chosen to hire from outside the extended family.

Let’s gaze on this morning’s work:

Good God, this paper is hapless! Her are the editorial’s opening paragraphs. Note the instant, odd contradiction. And yes, this really does matter:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (4/28/11): With sardonic resignation, President Obama, an eminently rational man, stared directly into political irrationality on Wednesday and released his birth certificate to history. More than halfway through his term, the president felt obliged to prove that he was a legitimate occupant of the Oval Office. It was a profoundly low and debasing moment in American political life.

The disbelief fairly dripped from Mr. Obama as he stood at the West Wing lectern. People are out of work, American soldiers are dying overseas and here were cameras to record him stating that he was born in a Hawaii hospital. It was particularly galling to us that it was in answer to a baseless attack with heavy racial undertones.

Mr. Obama practically begged the public to set aside these distractions, expressing hope that his gesture would end the ''silliness'' and allow a national debate about budget priorities. It won't, of course.

If there was ever any doubt about Mr. Obama's citizenship, which there was not, the issue was settled years ago when Hawaii released his birth certificate.

Say what? In paragraph one, we are told that Obama “on Wednesday released his birth certificate.” Unless you dream of extending this nonsense, that is a very unfortunate way to describe what occurred. But the familiar dumbness of Rosenthal’s work rears its head fully in paragraph four, where we are told that the state of Hawaii “released his birth certificate years ago!”

Say what? If the state of Hawaii “released his birth certificate” in 2008, why would Obama “release his birth certificate” again this week? After this ridiculous muddle, the editorial finally semi-explains. (“The fuller document that Mr. Obama had to request contains some extra information, including his parents' signatures and the name of the hospital where he was born, but it was unnecessary to show his legitimacy.”) But at no point did the editors state the basic important fact: In 2008, Obama released his legal birth certificate, the sole legal birth document issued by the state of Hawaii. In failing to clarify this basic fact, the editors show they aren’t up to speed with the misleading, fiendish narratives which will keep driving this garbage.

But then, what else is new? This exalted editorial board has been out to lunch for a very long time—under Howell Raines; under Gail Collins; under this son of The Man.

Obama released his legal birth certificate back in 2008! Why didn’t the editors make this clear, perhaps going into a bit more detail? Just a guess: Most likely, they aren’t clear on these basic facts in their own minds! And of course, they were speeding ahead to the key talking-point—to the point which pleases the brain-dead. The second iteration below truly shocks the conscience:

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: So it will not quiet the most avid attackers. Several quickly questioned its authenticity. That's because the birther question was never really about citizenship; it was simply a proxy for those who never accepted the president's legitimacy, for a toxic mix of reasons involving ideology, deep political anger and, most insidious of all, race. It was originally promulgated by fringe figures of the radical right, but mainstream Republican leaders allowed it to simmer to satisfy those who are inflamed by Mr. Obama's presence in the White House.

Sarah Palin said the birth certificate issue was ''fair game,'' and the public was ''rightfully'' making it an issue. The House speaker, John Boehner, grudgingly said in February that he would take Mr. Obama ''at his word'' that he was a citizen, a suggestion that the proof was insufficient. He said, however, that it was not his job to end the nonsensical attacks. ''The American people have the right to think what they want to think,'' he said at the time. That signal was clearly received. Lawmakers in nearly a dozen states introduced bills requiring presidential candidates to release their full birth certificates.

It is inconceivable that this campaign to portray Mr. Obama as the insidious ''other'' would have been conducted against a white president.

That last presentation is truly amazing. As everyone except liberals knows, an equally insidious campaign already has been conducted against a white president. It was conducted against the last Democratic president, a white fellow known as Bill Clinton. This campaign involved a brew of bogus charges about alleged financial wrongdoing—and ugly, remarkably evil charges about a string of alleged murders. The murder charges were driven by Jerry Falwell, as important a figure in the 1990s as Donald Trump is today.

Quick bit of history: As late as August 1999, Chris Matthews gave the crackpot Gennifer Flowers a full half-hour to advance these murder charges. Flowers’ presentation was so laughably crazy that she was then granted a full hour on Hannity & Colmes. (Fox re-aired the full hour on the weekend.) We have never found evidence that any journalist ever complained about these deeply disgraceful programs. But we can assure you that the New York Times editorial board did not.

Today, a board which tolerated and drove this jihad along lies rather baldly, right in our faces: Nothing like this would ever be done to a white president, they lie.

(Be sure to read the 1997 Anthony Lewis column which we’ve reprinted below.)

By the way: The financial jihad against President Clinton—the long-discredited “Whitewater” pseudo-scandal—was virtually invented by the New York Times through its bungled front-page reporting. (These events were fully discussed in Gene Lyons’ Fools for Scandal, a book all liberals knew to avoid despite its high-end provenance.) Beyond that, these insidious charges were driven hard by the Times editorial board, under Howell Raines, all through the 1990s. In 1999, the board then directed its scorn against Clinton’s chosen successor, Candidate Gore. The jihad the Times had run against Clinton was seamlessly transferred to Gore. (This process started in December 1997, when Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd invented the Love Story nonsense—the first of the major bogus claims used to bring Gore down.)

A campaign like this would never be conducted against a white president? Such a campaign was conducted, and was tolerated, by these children’s predecessors! The bald-faced lying of the career liberal world has never been quite so blatant. (See the Lewis column below.)

This board is a group of very bad people. In today’s piece, they are blatantly lying—or else they’re amazingly stupid. Beyond that, they’re so goddamned clueless that they don’t even know how to lay out the relevant facts about the current jihad. They’re too dumb to understand the new narrative: Obama wouldn’t release his (alleged) birth certificate until April 2011! Hmmmmmmmmmm. Why did he wait so long?

Cable was a disgrace last night. We thought Jim Lehrer’s performance was awful until the cable clowning began. (Maybe Lehrer is too busy writing a novel to get his ass in gear. His work last night, with the Post’s Dan Balz, was just plain utterly hapless.) Almost surely, Lawrence O’Donnell took the cake through his staged nonsense with Orley Taitz—pure garbage, for which he was instantly praised as “brave” by Darling Rachel. (Will liberals ever see through these charades?)

We’ll review some of this garbage tomorrow. But for today, ponder this:

An ugly, insidious slander campaign has been conducted against a white president. (Who above the age of ten doesn’t actually know this? Be sure to read the 1997 Lewis column below.) This campaign was conducted quite widely in the mainstream press—but the New York Times editorial board was one of the obvious leaders. In December 2002, Eric Alterman gave a thumbnail sketch of the board’s work during the glorious year of impeachment:

ALTERMAN (12/18/02): If [Howell] Raines is a liberal at all, he is not a very consistent one. After all, when he ran the editorial page, it sounded almost like the Wall Street Journal on Bill Clinton and Monicagate. "Until it was measured by Kenneth Starr," thundered the voice of the paper of record, "no citizen—mindeed, perhaps no member of his own family—could have grasped the completeness of President Clinton's mendacity or the magnitude of his recklessness." Meanwhile, the only problem with Starr's Torquemada-like investigation, opined the Times, was "legal klutziness.... In the main, Mr. Starr did his legal duty." As Michael Tomasky pointed out in these pages, as of December 13, 1998, the day after the House Judiciary Committee voted on the fourth and final article of impeachment, this alleged bastion of Upper West Side knee-jerk liberalism had published some fifty-five editorials in re Monica Lewinsky. Exactly two concerned themselves with Starr's egregious investigative techniques. The other fifty-three found fault with the President.

Before that, the board flogged Whitewater like a dead dog. These jihads were described in detail in Fools for Scandal, then by Lyons and Joe Conason in The Hunting of the President.

(What kinds of “liberals” don’t know this?)

Lyons and Conason laid it all out. But this was a time of rising conservative power in Washington. Careerist liberals knew they had to avoid these very bad, naughty books.

You’ve been played for fools for a very long time—by Josh, by David, by Joan, by their friends. You were mercilessly played last night.

But the editorial in today’s New York Times? Good lord! It’s even worse!

They who never spoke: These are horrible people. Incredibly, today’s editorial represents the first time the board has criticized Donald Trump’s recent conduct. While Trump jack-booted about the land, the editors quaked and cowered.

But then, their predecessors never dared speak about Jerry Falwell! Falwell peddled those murder charges for years, selling a film about all the mayhem; the editors never managed a peep. Finally, one columnist did speak up. Anthony Lewis described the campaign against that earlier president—the campaign this newspaper’s lying editors say could never occur.

Anthony Lewis described the real world. What follows is the bulk of his text. Does his language remind you a bit of language you are hearing today? By the way: This column appeared three weeks before the Lewinsky matter hit:

LEWIS (12/29/97): [Bill Clinton] gains strength, I have come to think, from his enemies. They are so hateful that they have created a certain public sympathy for him. And he has shown a winning equanimity in the face of their attacks.

Every President has critics. But Bill Clinton's started in on him with extraordinary vitriol from the moment he was first elected.

Conservatives set out to deny his very legitimacy, and they have not stopped. Today the voices of the extreme right are talking about impeaching President Clinton, and they are not joking. Representative Bob Barr, Republican of Georgia, introduced a resolution last month for an impeachment inquiry.

The most vicious attacks have of course been on Mr. Clinton's personal character. He has been depicted as a drug smuggler, a murderer. The peddlers of hate, including such as the Rev. Jerry Falwell, have profited from videotapes and books and articles spinning out conspiracy theories.

The 1993 suicide of Vincent Foster Jr., the deputy White House counsel, produced a conspiracy industry. The right-wing multimillionaire Richard Mellon Scaife used a newspaper he owns to promote the theory that Mr. Foster had been murdered and the killing covered up. Conservative radio talk-show hosts took it up. Two independent counsels found after determined inquiries that Mr. Foster had committed suicide, but that has not stopped the conspiracists.

One of the leading promoters of the notion that Mr. Foster was murdered is a reporter for the Scaife newspaper, Christopher Ruddy. He is now pushing a new conspiracy theory—that Ronald H. Brown, the Secretary of Commerce, was murdered.

[…]

In the old days people who invented such tales were dismissed as the lunatic fringe. Nowadays they have the power of money to circulate their lies. They have the motivation of extraordinary hatred for Bill Clinton. And they do not care about the pain they inflict on the families of Mr. Foster, Mr. Brown and the others who went down on the plane.

[…]

Finally, there is Whitewater. To date no wrongdoing by the President has been shown in that long-ago Arkansas land deal. (Those interested in distinguishing facts from charges should read Gilbert Cranberg's piece in the current Nieman Reports on how the press got one Whitewater fact wrong, finding incriminating evidence where there was none.)

Other Presidents have reacted to critics in their own ways. Franklin Roosevelt joyously battled what he called the "malefactors of great wealth." Richard Nixon shrank deeper into his paranoia. Bill Clinton brushes off the attacks, and most of the public seems to feel that that is what they deserve.

But there is still a cost, a heavy cost. The poison directed at President Clinton goes along with the attacks on all of government as evil. The coin of our politics is being corrupted, and it is hard to see what will restore civic discourse and enable us to deal with the country's real problems.

Go ahead! Just tell us that this accurate column doesn’t sound exactly like what you’re hearing today! With one difference: Today, disgraceful hacks of the corporatelib world insist these events never happened.

This would never be done to another president! The editors lie, in your faces.