Daily Howler logo
WHAT DIGBY SAID! In a remarkable pair of posts, Digby helps us recall the truth about someone’s favorite: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, MAY 7, 2010

History can ruin your weekend: We strongly recommend the substantial part of chapter 5 we have posted at our companion site, How he got there. How did George W. Bush reach the White House? This chapter-chunk is highly informative. Warning: The ugliness of the press corps’ conduct may well ruin the weekend of a sensible person.

To read this part of chapter 5, click this. (The squalor will only get worse as this chapter proceeds.) For an overview of this material, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/4/10.

WHAT DIGBY SAID (permalink): We’ll strongly recommend two recent posts by Digby.

In this first post, from Thursday, Digby links to Michael Getler’s scornful review, as PBS ombudsman, of Politico’s recent work.

This is the part of Getler’s post which Digby wisely clipped. Getler refers to last weekend’s White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the press corps’ annual prom:

GETLER (5/5/10): This gathering has about as much to do with covering the American presidency as a beauty contest has to do with—well, let's just leave it as a beauty contest.

Each year, the dinner, according to press coverage, seems to grow in size and glamour, flooded with beautiful and handsome Hollywood stars and television entertainers as guests of journalists, who have also grown to become stars, and news organizations. It is a testimonial to the celebrity culture that dominates much of Washington and New York journalism. (The New York Times, to its great credit, in my opinion, does not attend.) It is also, in my opinion, an embarrassment, just one more brick on the pile that buries confidence in the U.S. press.

The hot new face of American journalism and political reporting, Politico, posted 84 stories about the dinner by my last count. All of it great stuff, no doubt.

We appreciate Getler’s reference to the press corps’ destructive “celebrity culture.” When we started THE DAILY HOWLER, in early 1998, one of our recurrent features was called “Life in this celebrity press corps.” (We meant it as a spoof of the long-running Reader’s Digest feature, “Life in these United States.”) We say the following for an unpleasant reason: At this site, we didn’t have to wait for the year 2010 to see the culture-killing potential involved in the celebrification of the group formerly known as a “press corps.” (We do not offer that as a criticism of Digby, in any way.)

Digby’s second post is this one, concerning the astounding Chris Matthews.

For ourselves, we no longer watch Hardball every night, as we did for a solid decade, because Matthews is no longer the straw that stirs the celebrity press corps’ drink. (As he was during the Clinton/Gore era and the early Bush years.) That said, it’s stunning to think that Matthews made this statement, on Tuesday evening’s program:

MATTHEWS (5/4/10): Let me finish tonight with that arrest at John F. Kennedy airport. You know, it’s good to know that our government can do the job.

People like competence. Men like men who are competent, women like men who are competent, women like women who are competent, men like women who are competent. Everyone likes people who are competent. The era of the “cutie klutz” this isn't. We don't want a Woody Allen character running the country or our household. Annie Hall, remember, was a comedy.

What killed President Bush`s credibility? His utter [sic] claim that the reason we went to war in Iraq was to search for nuclear weapons. Because he and his people were dishonest enough to make that claim, he ended up looking like an incompetent when we fought our way into that country and are still fighting our way out, only to find there were no nuclear weapons on hand.

The incompetence became downright staggering when the commander in chief pranced onto an aircraft carrier with that “Mission Accomplished” banner flying overhead. The bozos couldn’t even get the PR right.

If we take that text at face value, Matthews seems to be saying that it was Bush’s incompetence that eventually killed him, not his earlier dishonesty. Whatever.

More to the point: It’s “downright staggering” to see Matthews making that statement about the “Mission Accomplished” fandango. As Digby’s post helps us recall, no one pandered to the greatness of this spectacular than Matthews did in real time. As Digby helps us recall, Matthews built a good deal of his fawning commentary around the apparent extra-large size of Bush’s manly parts. Digby spared us Matthews’ colloquy on this subject with the deranged Gordon Liddy. We’ll give you that transcript below.

The dishonesty in Matthews’ recent commentary is simply staggering. This raises a much larger problem.

Matthews did tremendous harm to his country during the Clinton-Gore era, when he was working for Jack Welch, his ultimate mentor. (It was Welch’s sponsorship which made Matthews a multimillionaire.) Presumably at the behest of Welch, Chris worked his keister off, for twenty months, to get George Bush elected. No one worked harder to shape the lunatic commentary used to take out Gore.

A great deal more of Matthews’ lunacy will be discussed in the second part of Chapter 5 at our companion site, How he got there. The fact that Matthews isn’t in prison for the things he said and did in November 1999 alone is proof that our society is obsessive, in an unhealthy way, about the First Amendment.

As Digby helps us see, Matthews’ commentary this week was staggeringly dishonest. (This is especially true since he works inside a fraternal order which burns up a great deal of time pretending to find contradictions and flip-flops in the statements of disfavored pols.) Now for the larger heart of this darkness:

Liberals ought to be revolted to see this broken-souled hustler pimping his scams on our side now—and to see Joan Walsh parading around on his show saying how brilliant and great he is. The last time we saw Joan do it, we retched about it for the last time. This type of alliance will never be a good thing for progressive causes, no matter how hard Chris fakes it on our behalf— no matter how many greenbacks Joan’s blatant pandering deposits in Salon’s purse.

To all intents and purpose, your entire celebrity press corps works by the broken standards displayed in Matthews’ recent commentary. Today, many liberal “journalists” are adopting the practices of this sad bunch as they pander to us. This will never serve the national interest. This will never work out well for progressive interests.

Go back and reread those two Digby posts. Having done so, be prepared to get sick to your stomach the next time you see Walsh parade out onto Matthews’ show and tell him how great he is—how much his deeply seminal thinking resembles that of Joan herself.

This sort of thing will never work, except in service to Salon’s bank account. In this third post, Digby roasts Mary Landrieu, quite hard, for perceived financial conflict of interest.

There’s nothing wrong with that sort of analysis. But when will we “liberals” be honest enough to apply it to “our own?”

Chris and Gordon, sittin’ in a tree: From the mid-1990s on, one obvious sign of the press corps’ profound dysfunction has been the blatant psychosexual disorder of its leading players. Below, we give you Chris Matthews and Gordon Liddy, in 2003, talking about Bush’s manly parts in the wake of his “Mission Accomplished” visit to the USS Abraham Lincoln. As he starts, Chris is complaining about some Democrats who called Bush’s tail-hook landing a stunt. You’ll note that even here, some four years after the fact, Liddy turns straight to a potent old psychosexual theme from November 1999, the “month of Wolf:” Al Gore hired a woman to teach him how to be a man!

MATTHEWS (5/8/03): What do you make of this broadside against the USS Abraham Lincoln and its chief visitor last week?

LIDDY: Well, I—in the first place, I think it's envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he's in his flight suit, he's striding across the deck, and he's wearing his parachute harness, you know—and I've worn those because I parachute—and it makes the best of his manly characteristic.

You go run those—run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman's vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn't count—they're all liars. Check that out. I hope the Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that tape.

MATTHEWS: You know, it's funny. I shouldn't talk about ratings. I don't always pay attention to them, but last night was a riot because, at the very time Henry Waxman was on—and I do respect him on legislative issues—he was on blasting away, and these pictures were showing last night, and everybody's tuning in to see these pictures again.

LIDDY: That's right.

MATTHEWS: And I've got to say why do the Democrats, as you say, want to keep advertising this guy's greatest moment?

LIDDY: Look, he's, he's coming across as a—well, as women would call in on my show saying, what a stud, you know? And then guys—they're seeing him out there with his flight suit, and he's, and they know he's an F-105 fighter jock. I mean it's just great.

[...]

MATTHEWS: You know what struck me about that? The part that couldn't have been faked, which is the faces of the troops...They just love him.

LIDDY: They're loving him.

MATTHEWS: I think that's a bonding that we're seeing right there. We're watching it now, Gordon. It's pretty impressive bonding between him and these guys. I mean they did win the war together, and he was their commander in chief. Why not have a— We don't have an Arc de Triumph in this country like the French do. Isn't it OK to—

LIDDY: Please don’t mention the French!

Two of the biggest nuts in the jar. By 2003, even some of us liberals were able to see how strange this conversation was; our long hibernation was over. That said, these two crackpots had staged a similar psychosexual rant, this time about Gore’s masculinity problems, back in November 1999, when Matthews spent the bulk of the month sexually trashing Wolf, and through her Candidate Gore.

Matthews’ commentary this week co-exists with his earlier, real-time fawning about Bush’s magnificent “Mission Accomplished” moment. As always, his dishonesty is simply staggering; we’d have to judge that it’s even larger than Bush’s manly characteristic. But the cosmic damage Matthews did to this country, and to the world, occurred in 1999 and 2000—in November 1999, for example. The story of Matthews’ conduct in that one month will be told in some detail when chapter 5 continues at How he got there. In the meantime, every liberal in this country should retch when liberal editors go on Hardball and fawn to this truly horrid, horribly dishonest man, in exactly the way he fawned to Bush as Bush took our country apart.

Our “liberal journals” have always played us for fools concerning the work of big career-makers like Matthews. They have refused to tell us the truth about these people. Now, Walsh takes the insult further, praising this manifest crackpot on the air. And sure enough! We “liberals” just sit there and take it!

We took it from Matthews back in real time. We take it from Walsh today.