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Daily Howler: O'Donnell ''balanced'' Garrigan's fawning by trashing all known Major Dems
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BALANCING STUPID! O’Donnell “balanced” Garrigan’s fawning by trashing all known Major Dems: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, MAY 22, 2007

TONES WON’T DIE: She had reached her penultimate paragraph. By rule of law, she knew she must say it; the rules of the guild are abundantly clear. So “earth tones” spilled into her review of Gore’s book—and into today’s New York Times:
KAKUTANI (5/22/07): Part civics lesson, part political jeremiad, part philosophical tract, ''The Assault on Reason'' reveals an angry, impassioned Al Gore—a far cry from the carefully scripted, earth-tone-wearing Al Gore of the 2000 presidential campaign...
Reciting her guild’s most sacred script, Michiko Kakutani complained that Gore was the one who had been too darn scripted.

Needless to say, Kakutani’s review of Gore’s new book is extremely positive. That’s because Gore is now a world-renowned global savior; you can no longer pretend that he’s a delusional nut, the approach Kakutani took in 1999 when she reviewed Gore’s previous book, Earth in the Balance, on the Times’ front page. Today, she’s simply in love with Al Gore. She even loves that he’s wonky:
KAKUTANI (5/22/07): This volume moves beyond its criticisms of the Bush administration to diagnose the ailing condition of America as a participatory democracy...and it does so not with the calculated, sound-bite-conscious tone of many political-platform-type books, but with the sort of wonky ardor that made both the book and movie versions of ''An Inconvenient Truth'' so bluntly effective.
Now that Gore’s a global savior—now that everyone has to admit he was right—Kakutani adores his “wonky ardor!” Of course, Earth in the Balance presented the same science as An Inconvenient Truth—and if we want to act like children, that acclaimed best-seller had been “wonky” too. But back in 1999, Kakutani’s crowd was chasing Gore down, calling him every name in the book. And so, when she penned her front-page critique of Earth, she simply hated the charts and graphs that littered the frequently loony work. Back then, the ardor she now adores seemed like “high-decibel outbursts of passion:”
KAKUTANI (11/28/99): Vice President Al Gore emerges from "Earth in the Balance" (Plume), his 1992 book about the environment, as the quintessential A-student who has belatedly discovered New Age psychobabble. Like his speeches, his book veers between detailed policy assessments (predictably illustrated with lots of charts and graphs) and high-decibel outbursts of passion, between energetically researched historical disquisitions and loony asides about "inner ecology" and "spiritual triangulation"—asides that may help explain his curious affinity with his feminist consultant, Naomi Wolf.
In fact, there weren’t lots of charts and graphs in the book—but saying so made Gore sound more wonky. In Earth in the Balance, Gore “come[s] across” like a “policy wonk in the making,” Kakutani sniffed later on in that profile.

As we’ve told you, that 1999 review by Kakutani was one of the most dishonest pieces of writing we’ve seen in nine years at this site. (For a fuller treatment of that inexcusable review, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/23/07.) In 1999, Kakutani worked extremely hard—and quite dishonestly—to portray Gore as a borderline nut. But today, he’s an irrefutable global savior—and so she suddenly luvvs all that ardor.

But still and all, script never sleeps—and primal narratives never die. It’s part of the deal; Kakutani’s crew will always insist they were right in 1999, when they trashed Gore as a cosmic phony. And so, they just keep handing you those “earth tones”—insisting it was Gore who was scripted. Liz Garrigan played this card on Sunday; two days later, Kakutani played it again. Script never dies with this sad, broken gang. Until liberals and Democrats demand some respect, those “earth tones” will always be with us.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Did Naomi Wolf tell Al Gore to wear earth tones? This was always a fake, phony story. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/7/03.

APPARENTLY, E. J. WAS AWOL: At first glance, E. J. Dionne’s fawning column about Gore’s brilliance strikes us as even phonier than Kakutani’s. Suddenly, Dionne recalls terrible “media bias” against Candidate Gore—but only during the Florida recount! This struck us as a very new theme, so we did a quick Nexis check. Funny—we can’t find a word about this press corps misconduct in Dionne’s numerous columns about the recount from November/December 2000. At some point, we’ll review this recovered memory in more detail. For years, we thought highly of Dionne.

HOWLER heart ROMANO: It was heaven! Newsweek had both Clintons on its cover; this allowed a tabloid talker to ask his favorite question: How often do Bill and Hill sleep together? As we enter, the discussion is raging—and Lois Romano is starting to make Chris mad:
ROMANO (5/21/07): I think they’re extremely close. They’re of one mind. And I, I—

MATTHEWS: I’m not asking about that. Are they living on the same planet? Do they ever see each other physically?

ROMANO: They’re completely—oh, yes, yes, yes.


ROMANO: Come on! They`re a partnership! Because—look, she’s a senator. She goes home on weekends. He’s traveling around. But they are—they are—make no mistake about it, they are a partnership, and they are a love story. I mean, regardless of anything else that’s happened—

MATTHEWS: Well, how many is it? Is it 20 days a year? How many days of the year are they actually together in the same roof overnight, if you will?
Romano said the Clintons are together about half the time. In response, Matthews told her to “recheck the reporting,” and he asked Newsweek’s Jonathan Darman if that could possibly be accurate. As usual, his hungry heart was longing to know how often the Clintons shack up.

Finally, Romano just laughed at Matthews’ questions to Darman—and then, she pretty much called him a nut. And omigod! As often happens when she’s the guest, her broken-souled host got mad:
MATTHEWS: You put a cover piece, so I’m going to keep pounding on you. Is he going to live in the White House if they win? Why are you laughing, Lois?
ROMANO: Because—what is your obsession with logistics here? Of course he’s going to live in the White House! And—

MATTHEWS: Because I’m talking to three reporters, and I’m trying to get three straight answers, so I don’t want attitude about this. It’s a point of view—I want facts. Tell me what the facts are, Lois, if you know them. If you don’t, I don`t know what you’re arguing about.
“What is your obsession?” she asked. Our analysts all stood and cheered.

But then, here at THE DAILY HOWLER, we’ve [heart] Romano in her recent Hardball appearances. Few pundits resist this host’s standard narratives in the way Romano has done in these sessions. Last night, she kept refusing to take the bait about the Clintons’ disturbing love life. And on May 8, her host got good-and-mad when she said the most obvious thing in the world—when she said that many primary voters may not know that Giuliani is pro-choice. This obvious statement got her host’s goat. And uh-oh! Matthews staged a silly rant about “you liberal journalists:”
MATTHEWS (5/8/07): Wait a minute! He just said where he is [on abortion].

ROMANO: Right. And how many people were watching that [first Republican] debate? I mean—

MATTHEWS: Well, you guys, you guys—you journalists, you liberal journalists—I’m sorry, Lois. You keep assuming that conservatives don’t—are dumb. They’re not paying attention. You keep saying, “When they find out”—

ROMANO: Weren’t the numbers, though, less than the—

MATTHEWS: —where they have the same access to information you and I do. Why do you keep saying—

ROMANO: But the numbers—

MATTHEWS: —Republicans haven’t gotten the message yet? Everybody around me says that: “You just wait until the Republicans find out what is going on, on this planet.” Well, they do know what is going on.
As he continued, Matthews gave Romano “one more chance” to retract the vile, cruel thing she had said about Republican voters.

Almost surely, Romano was right and Matthews was wrong in this red-faced dispute. In the weeks since this exchange, Giuliani’s numbers have dropped among GOP voters as his stand on abortion has been more fully discussed. On May 8, it was absurd to assume that the bulk of Republican voters understood his position.

Our analysts have simply [heart] Romano in her recent Hardball sessions. But uh-oh! History teaches us a hard lesson: When Matthews gets mad at “liberal” women, such women disappear from the air.

Special report: We’re with stupid!

PART 2—BALANCING STUPID: It’s hard to do justice to the sheer nonsense found in Liz Garrigan’s “Outlook” piece (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/21/07). Vote for the guy who’s more fun to be with! This framework was already foolish during Campaign 2000, when pundits pushed it so hard on George Bush’s behalf. But post-Iraq (and post-An Inconvenient Truth), it starts to feel more like insanity. In 2001, after all, we ended up with the “class clown” who was “more fun to be with”—and he proceeded to destroy the known world, taking us to a war in Iraq which he still won’t abandon. Meanwhile, remember the guy who annoyed the big pundits because he seemed to be too smart? He ended up as a global savior; his brilliant film on global warming has transformed the world debate, and he was also right on Iraq—in his spare time, it would seem! But so what! On Sunday, Garrigan returned with that ludicrous message, singing the praises of “class clown” Thompson—and trashing Gore in counterfactual ways, sad holdovers from Campaign 2000. Nothing stops these hopeless losers from bringing us that ludicrous framework. Vote for Stupid, they seem to be saying. Let Stupid lead us again!

Tomorrow, we’ll ponder Susan Glasser, the editor who put this nonsense in print. But today, let’s focus on something else; let’s consider the way Glasser kept the “Outlook” section fair-and-balanced. After all, Glasser is far too professional—far too fair—to let Garrigan’s ludicrous piece go unchallenged. Someone else had to discuss the search for this year’s “Dream Candidate”—someone with a Democratic perspective. So Glasser called a reliable source—Tinseltown Democrat Lawrence O’Donnell. And uh-oh! As we compare O’Donnell’s “Outlook” piece with Garrigan’s, we get a look at the strange type of blend that often passes for “balance” in today’s mainstream press corps.

As we’ve noted, Garrigan fawned, kissed up, gushed and pandered to GOP “dream candidate” Thompson. What kind of balance did O’Donnell provide? The kind of balance we’ve seen for years—the kind that doesn’t exist.

In his piece, O’Donnell wasn’t willing to fawn about any Democrat dream boy. At one point, he did identify Gore as his party’s “dream candidate”—but he devoted exactly one sentence to Gore, and said nothing good about him. Instead, he offered a fatuous account of why voters supposedly seek these dream candidates—after which he trashed all Dems who are currently in the race. He even found two ways to trash Bill Clinton! In short, O’Donnell “balanced” Garrigan’s fawning by trashing all living Dems.

Why are we talking about these “dream candidates?” After reminding us that he’s a “West Wing” writer, O’Donnell got to the heart of the matter. He offered this fatuous summary:
O’DONNELL (5/20/07): The logic behind all this is simple enough: Campaign organizers and contributors look for dream candidates because they don't think they can win with the lot they have. The media look for dream candidates because they're fun. (If Thompson gets into the race, his press bus is going to be the place to be.) And the voters look for dream candidates because they crave authenticity.
Huh! “If Thompson gets into the race,” O’Donnell says, “his press bus is going to be the place to be.” Notably, he makes no such claim about Gore, who he has just identified as the possible Democratic “dream candidate.” Almost surely, he avoids such a claim for an obvious reason; he knows the press corps has long hated Gore with a passion, and would hate to ride around on his bus (link below). But he’s writing for one of the big news orgs involved in this drama, so he simply skips past the obvious. Instead, he offers a pleasing, press-approved thought—the voters want a dream candidate “because they crave authenticity.” That sounds good, but it’s pure press corps pap. Is it possible that Democratic voters want Gore because he has shown remarkable insight and brilliant good judgment? Please! You’ll hear O’Donnell say something like that about the time you hear that Hollywood’s hot tubs have all frozen over.

You see, while Garrigan simply luvvvs Ole Fred, O’Donnell doesn’t care much for Gore. Amazingly, he was still on TV calling Gore a Big Liar in October 2000, when history hung in the balance (link below). Appearing on The McLaughlin Group (as a liberal, “balancing” off Tony Blankley), O’Donnell trashed Gore all up and down, accusing him of the pseudo-lies the mainstream press had pimped for two years. And he shows no sign of admiring Gore now—or any other Dem candidate. “Authenticity is hard to fake,” he quips. “Just ask the presidential candidates.” He then proceeds to point out the flaws of all the current major contenders. He bitterly trashes John Edwards, for instance. Cover the eyes of the children and pets as we see how the Post provides “balance:”
O’DONNELL: Democratic former senator John Edwards of North Carolina works the man-of-the-people thing harder than any other candidate, but his $400 haircut—the one that finally got his bangs under control—and his "job" at a hedge fund between campaigns tell the larger truth: Edwards is the richest man-of-the-people pretender running for president. Romney may in fact be richer, but in what may be his only flash of authenticity, Romney is running as an ultra-rich Republican, not a populist.
Awful. O’Donnell trashes that $400 haircut (not seeming to know that there were two); plays the girlie-man card with his reference to “bangs;” and then goes on to tell the world that Edwards is a “pretender”—a phony. O’Donnell, writer of fatuous scripts, is eager to trash Major Dems for the Post. He even slimes Bill Clinton, early on, with this sad golden oldy:
O’DONNELL: Now the Republicans are looking to a TV star, Fred Thompson of "Law & Order" fame, as their dream candidate for president. We've been here before, watching uninspiring presidential candidates jockey for the nomination while the dream candidate lurks offstage. Mario Cuomo was the Fred Thompson of 1992...As long as he toyed with the idea of running, Cuomo towered over the Democratic field—Bill Clinton, Bob Kerrey, Tom Harkin, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown. When Gennifer Flowers held a news conference to play her tapes of phone conversations with candidate Clinton to prove that they had an affair, we didn't hear anything like phone sex; we heard Clinton fretting about Cuomo, the candidate who was not—and never would be—in the race.
Good one! From that, you’d think we actually know that Clinton and Flowers once had “an affair.” In fact, Flowers’ (semi-doctored) tapes never established any such thing, and Clinton never testified to anything like that (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/14/03). But so what! By 1999, Flowers was on cable TV presenting her “Clinton murder lists,” and people like O’Donnell averted their gaze, pretending they didn’t notice the fact that the lady was a bit under-hinged. On Sunday, he works her name in again, once again tickling the corps’ favorite theme. And omigod! He worked the Lincoln Bedroom in later! Everyone was present but “that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” as this fatuous “Hollywood Dem” fulfilled the Post’s notion of balance.

But at least we got to see, once again, what the Post means by “balance.” On Sunday, Garrigan pandered and fawned to Thompson, in a profile so absurd that it stretched the boundaries of mainstream press nonsense. Providing the Democratic perspective, O’Donnell couldn’t say a good word about Gore, and he criticized all other Big Dems, calling Edwards a girlie-man phony. But then, so it has often gone as the mainstream press has acted out its notion of balance. This leaves us with a puzzling question: Who would put Garrigan’s nonsense in print? And who would provide such strange “balance?”

TOMORROW—PART 3: Who is Susan Glasser?

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Incredibly, O’Donnell was still trashing Gore as a liar in October 2000, appearing on TV as a “liberal.” See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/3/05. It counted as “balance” back then—and it’s still “balance” today!