A ROLLING PLAGUE ON ALL OUR HOUSES! Jeffrey Rosen spread a plague. But so did several others: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 7, 2009
Biggest heist in history: Your HOWLER just keeps getting results! Last night, Naomi Klein appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/21/09.
We know what youre thinking. Yes, we could go into court and demand pay, pleading theft of services. We could do it. But it would be wrong.
More striking was the substance of what Klein argued, in a segment which was largely a monologue. Midway through her segment, Klein made this remarkable statement about the ongoing bank bailouts:
The bailout will go down as the biggest heist in monetary history? Is there any chance thats accurate? (To watch the Klein segment, click here.)
Is there any chance thats true? For ourselves, we have no ideain part, because we watch Maddow and Olbermann. At a time of massive upheaval, they flood their domestic coverage with utterly silly pseudo-events, giving almost no coverage at all to the monumental events Klein was discussing. (Or to health care. Or to low-income schools. Or to Obamas budget, for good or for illexcept as a chance to shout sexual insults at the rival tribe.) A few weeks ago, we wondered why someone as smart and as central as Klein had never appeared on Maddows showhad appeared on Olbermanns show only once. (In 2007, during her book tour. Right before Paris Hilton.) Today, we raise that question again, pointing to last evenings statement.
Is there any chance the ongoing bailouts will go down as historys biggest heist? We dont have the slightest idea! We watch progressive news programs.
A ROLLING PLAGUE ON ALL OUR HOUSES: David Letterman showed astounding bad judgment on Tuesday evenings program. Heres the way the well-known humorist set the moment up:
Intriguing! The first Hispanic nominee! What do you suppose that looked likeif you took Daves advice and watched? For a glimpse of Lettermans unseemly vision, we strongly suggest that you just click this. As we watched, we were reminded of Chris Matthews astounding portrait, two years ago, of the sweaty, crazy, yelling people who drive the Democratic coalition (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/20/07). Through no fault of his own, Jimmy Carter was sitting right in the front row as Matthews made this astounding statement:
In Matthews memory, Candidate Carter was calm and serious, unlike the crazy, sweaty people found in the Democratic Partyand now, in that Letterman clip.
Lettermans clip was openly racial/ethnic, a throwback to what once seemed to be an earlier day. With it, he gave viewers a throwback first impression of a sweaty, crazy, yelling juristof a woman who graduated summa cum laude from Princeton in her real life, among other acts of distinction. But this astounding bad judgment by Big Humor Dave followed an act of grotesque judgment by the New Republics Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen authored a gruesome post built on anonymous sources whichlets be honestopenly trafficked in racial stereotypes. (Gender too.) To see Glenn Greenwalds take on the Rosen post, just click here. (In one of his updates, Greenwald notes that Rosens brother-in-law stands to gain if Sotomayor is passed over.) For Joan Walshs post about Rosens slimy piece, just click this.
When it comes to journalism and political discourse, our societys intellectual systems have lay in tatters for some time. Indeed, weve marveled at Rosens work several times before this, when he was pushing Standard Crap in which both Clintons had to be vile (links below). That said, the open racialism of this weeks post took our culture to a new low. It was disappointingto us, quite surprising to see Letterman run with this trash.
Our intellectual and moral systems virtually lie in tatters. But this downward spiral isnt confined to garbage-can attacks from the right. Keith Olbermann was on the air Tuesday night, defending his programs ugly conduct from the week before. Im no worse than Laura Ingraham, the big fake fraud boldly said:
Shorter Olbermann: Ingraham is the worlds worst person. And Im no worse than she is!
As usual, Olbermann was misstating. We hadnt seen Ingrahams guest-host appearance last Friday, but we went back and read the transcript. In no way did Ingraham say or suggest that Musto had no right to criticize Carrie Prejeans views, or even her opportunism. From her very first reference forward, Ingraham complained about the vicious nature of the attacksnot about the fact that Prejean had been criticized at all. This was part of her opening statement, offered after showing tape of Mustos truly remarkable insults. Sadly, Ingrahams basic complaints are justified:
We basically agree with most of that; your mileage may differ. But by any prevailing previous standard, Musto did verbally savage Prejean in the most offensive termsin ways which had absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand. And by the way: In that segment later in the program, Ingraham interviewed Gloria Feldt, former head of Planned Parenthood. Amazingly, Feldt went straight to sneers and jibes about Prejeans breast implants tooand repeatedly refused to give a straight answer when Ingraham asked, again and again, why she would do such a thing.
Where are the feminists? Ingraham asked. We think it was a pretty good question, though the silence of others should be mentioned too. For years, Olbermann has lowered the bar when it comes to nasty attacks on women, who almost always turn out to be know-nothings, or of course boobs. He has vastly rolled back earlier standards of decencymuch as Letterman did Tuesday night with his grimy clip about Sotomayor. Sorryabout that first Hispanic.
Our societys intellectual standards have been in the trash can for decades. The entire world has paid the price for our astounding decline. (The watershed example: George Bush could never have reached the White House if normal intellectual standards prevailed within the press corps during the twenty months of Campaign 2000.) But the downward spiral of our intellectual and moral standards has never seemed quite so clear at it has this past week:
Walsh is right. Rosen wrote a slimy piece which slimed a highly accomplished person. The racial sub-text was clear.
Letterman showed astounding bad judgment when he followed up with that race-based comedy clip. Race-basedand blindingly stupid.
But then, Olbermann and Musto behaved like trash purveyors on last Thursdays program. And Feldt behaved in a remarkable way the next night, when she rose to extend their remarks.
In all honesty, liberals cant fairly complain about Rosen while accepting Olbermann and Feldt. On MSNBC, the development of progressive news shows has hastened an ugly tribal descent. Our society is currently dying from stupid. This past week provided a string of examples from our cultures headlong decline.
Rosen? Letterman? Olbermann? Feldt? Might we borrow from the community? Sorry, folks: Its all bad!
Earlier Rosenistics: We said it was time for Rosen to go in March 2008, as he faithfully, astoundingly quoted a pair of discredited Clinton-haters. (Kathleen Willey! Good God! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/3/08.) Two months later, he was at it againand no, he never answered our e-mails, explaining what he had meant in this latest piece (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/9/08). In these episodes, Rosen was pushing the stylish Clinton-trashing which drove our mainstream journalism for a decade or more. In 1999, that Clinton-hatred was transformed into the press corps war against Gore, another intellectual gong-show. Are we happy with how that turned out?
Our society has been running on stupid for decades. (Hillary Clinton is a murderer! As seen on Hardball.)The results are visible all around us. Rosen took us there once again this week. But so does Olbermann, almost constantly. Increasingly, our moral and intellectual standards are found in a ditcha ditch being dug by two tribes.
Paraphrasing Condi/the sequel: Speaking of intellectual gongistry, today we hit the New York Times, with its typically hapless attempt to quote Condoleezza Rice:
Yesterday, we sent several e-mails critiquing this specific act of quotation. The Times starts quoting Rice about halfway through the remarks she made at Stanford. In all candor, you have no real way of figuring out what she said or meant if you start your quotation there. But it does produce the desired result! Rice has made an historically ludicrous statement, the outraged Times gets to assert.
(The papers front-page critique of those new test scores was even dumber than this last week. Wed have to guess that its foolish frameworks may have been driven by a similar tribal animus.)
Gore was routinely quoted this wayby this same unimpressive newspaper, back when its targets of choice were different. (Under the unfortunate Howell Raines, its editorial page famously hated Bill Clinton. And then it was on to Vile Gore!) Youd almost think they might be chastened when they see how that earlier crusade turned out. But no! Our society has long been running on dumb for a very long time. Theres little sign that well figure out how to emerge from this downward spiral. The tribal joys seem too strong.
By the way: This is how Rice was repeatedly quoted on Monday evenings Maddow program. Our view? When even Rhodes Scholars with staffs quote public figures that way, the intellectual/moral problem we face has become apparent. (Again: As a general matter, you cant figure out what somebody said or meant if you start to quote them halfway through their statement.)
As weve said: If Rice is quoted and paraphrased fairly, the problems with her statement are clear. But as in the 90s, so too today: Its more fun to paraphrase wildly. The joys of the gong show are strong.