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DEVIL OR ANGEL? When Gore is still trashed—while Thompson is praised—the system is blindingly obvious: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2007

THE WAGES OF SIN: The wages of sin are all around us this week as Campaign 08 is being shaped. The dainty lads at our liberal journals have played ostrich for the past eight years concerning the press corps’ War Against Gore; therefore, when Gore’s new book appeared this week, the crackpots of our “mainstream” “press corps” felt free to trash him again. (Too fat! Too phony!) And then, just gaze on this morning’s Washington Post. There are two new books about Hillary Clinton, former Monica-watcher Peter Baker excitedly says. (His loathsome wife, Susan Glasser, co-wrote a pair of front-page attacks on Gore in 1999. They were among the most blatantly dishonest reports of that entire campaign.)

There are two new books about Hillary Clinton! And sure enough, the wages of sin were on display as Baker vouched for the brilliant good faith of these new books’ authors:
BAKER (5/25/07): Unlike many harsh books about Clinton written by ideological enemies, the two new volumes come from long-established writers backed by major publishing houses and could be harder to dismiss. [Carl] Bernstein won national fame with partner Bob Woodward at The Post for breaking open the Watergate scandal, while Gerth and Van Natta have spent years as investigative reporters for the New York Times.
Bernstein, author of one of these books, deserves the presumption of semi-regularity. But Gerth and Van Natta are a whole different breed. Very few people know that, though—because of the wages of sin.

In the mid-1990s, you see, your liberal journals averted their gaze when Gene Lyons’ Fools for Scandal detailed the loathsome games Gerth played in his original Whitewater “reporting”—the bungled (or dishonest) work which gave the name to an entire era. Nor did they jump on Gerth’s strange conduct when he bungled his Wen Ho Lee reporting—reporting the Times felt forced to retract. The fiery liberals at your liberal journals gave this cosmic loser (and Clinton-hater) a pass. And so he lives to play us again. Indeed, he’s pimped in this morning’s Post. “Hard to dismiss!” Baker says.

Fools for Scandal bore a high pedigree when it appeared in 1996. It began as a Harper’s piece by Lyons; later, the book was published and widely promoted by that venerable institution. But just name the time you saw Lyons’ book—it’s still massively relevant—cited in our liberal journals! The dainty boys of your liberal journals know they must never revisit such matters. Result? Most people have never heard a word about Gerth’s early Whitewater work. And that’s why Gerth is so “hard to dismiss!” That’s why he’s with us again today, able to peddle more bull-roar.

Van Natta, meanwhile, is such a nut that he once devoted a 1250-word piece in the Times “Week in Review” to the troubling way Bill Clinton cheats at golf (excerpts below). George Bush 41 would never have done it, the scribe inevitably said. And sure enough, this tandem of crackpots—vouched for by Baker—continue to spread their special brand of venom this morning. Are you ready for some 90s-era football? Here is the sixth paragraph in Baker’s front-page piece:
BAKER (pgh 6): The [Gerth-Van Natta] book also suggests that Hillary Clinton did not read the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq in 2002 before voting to authorize war. And it includes a thirdhand report that the Clintons made a “secret plan” after the 1992 election in which he would have eight years as president and then she would have eight years, although last night a key source disavowed the story.
Exciting! It isn’t until we reach paragraph 27 that we are allowed to know how shaky this thrilling report really is. In this passage, we see that “thirdhand” claim get torn up—if we’re still reading, that is:
BAKER (pgh 27): [Gerth and Van Natta] report that the Clintons updated their plan after the 1992 election, determining that Hillary would run when Bill left office. They cite two people, Ann Crittenden and John Henry, who said Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and close Clinton friend, told them that the Clintons "still planned two terms in the White House for Bill and, later, two for Hillary." Contacted last night, Branch said that "the story is preposterous" and that he was not even in touch with the Clintons at the time the conversation supposedly happened.
Oops. And Branch, of course, is massively credible—a man whose character has never been questioned. That said, you’re allowed to learn—in paragraph 27—what he said about the thrilling report that is bruited so hard up in paragraph 6. By the way: Did Gerth and Van Natta contact Branch? Is his denial included in their book, which is so hard to dismiss? Though it’s not clear, it would seem that Gerth didn’t contact Branch, based on Baker’s need to do so. But Baker doesn’t speak to this obvious point. In paragraph 27, we get to evaluate paragraph 6—but we’re never told about the practices of this book’s very credible authors. Gerth and Van Natta remain “hard to dismiss”—because they’ve always been treated so gently.

And make no mistake: We re-enter a familiar, kooky, dishonest old world when Baker turns to Gerth and Van Natta. It’s the murky world of National Enquirer reports, in which the stories of little-known sources keep changing to suit new circumstances. What follows is Baker’s first detailed treatment of the Gerth-Van Natta book. If this doesn’t smell like the 1990s, then we’ve never been there:
BAKER (pgh 25): According to Gerth and Van Natta, even before the Clintons were married they formulated a "secret pact of ambition" aimed at reinventing the Democratic Party and getting to the White House. The authors cite a former Bill Clinton girlfriend, Marla Crider, who said she saw a letter on his desk written by Hillary Clinton, outlining the couple's long-term ambitions, which they called their "twenty-year project."

Crider was first quoted about the letter in a book by a former National Enquirer reporter in 2000, at the time describing it as more about Bill Clinton's infidelities and the "little girls" he had. Gerth and Van Natta, however, report that they re-interviewed Crider and that she said the earlier book's account was "not totally accurate." In this telling, Crider described the note as being more about the couple's political plans, with little discussion of their personal relationship.
By the way, Crider is said to have been a Clinton girlfriend before he was married, a point Baker fails to note (it’s a buzz-kill). And by the way: Who is Baker quoting when the thrilling words “secret pact of ambition” appear inside quotation marks? Is he merely quoting Gerth? There’s no way to tell from his murky prose—just as you can’t tell who he is quoting when he highlights the thrilling words “secret plan” up in paragraph 6. (Those quotation marks have been removed from the Post’s on-line editions.) But excitable readers get a gift as Baker hands them these fuzzy quotations; they get to imagine that these are the actual words of the Clintons—that it’s the Clintons who are talking about their “secret pact of ambition.” Result? In the lurid world of Clinton-and-Democrat-hating, assorted crackpots will forever swear that Clinton and Clinton wrote themselves letters in which they muttered about “secret pacts.” Baker is a professional writer, supervised by professional editors; in this realm, such pleasures aren’t handed to readers by accident. In this realm, such pleasures are doled out by secret plan, just as it was done in the 90s. (By the way: When we didn’t make them stop this with Clinton, they started to do it with Gore. How do you like the results you got from all that liberal silence?)

At any rate, there you see the high excitement coming to us from Gerth and Van Natta. Let’s summarize, dropping the tricks of their trade, and assuming that there is some truth to their writing (always a large leap of faith). What have Gerth and Van Natta revealed in these passages, if they haven’t just made this shit up? In the 1970s, Bill and Hillary Clinton dreamed that he might reach the White House one day! Perhaps to do good for the country! Needless to say, this would be true of many couples who end up in that hallowed house. But Gerth and Van Natta—aided by Baker—have ways to make this sound steamy, disturbing. The Clintons had a “secret plan,” we’re thrillingly told—a “secret pact of ambition.” We’re told that the secret plan was amended in 1992 to include eight years for Hillary Clinton—and we have to wait some 21 grafs to learn that this claim is pure bullsh*t. Meanwhile, the word “ambition” is tossed all around—it sits right there in Gerth’s smarmy title—because women aren’t supposed to run for presdient in the world of losers like Gerth and Van Natta. People like Gerth are haters, nothing more—and their hatred will often extend to women. Meanwhile, Gerth is still with us for one reason only: Because the dainty lads at your liberal journals sat and stared at their policy briefs when Lyons explained, in the mid-1990s, what this “investigative reporter” had done. They sat and stared, then they hemmed and hawed. And Gerth is back with us this week, spreading pseudo-slime all around.

By the way, readers: When one Big Dem gets slimed this way, your favorite Big Dem gets slimed too.

The Clintons dreamed that he might reach the White House! Presumably, that’s true of many people who actually end up in that hall. But note the way a professional writer can make that into something “secret”—something that sounds unclean, unwell. By the way: Who else was dreaming of being president at this exact same time in our history? Saint John McCain—and good for him! One of McCain’s fellow POWs, Richard Stratton, told the New York Times in early 2000 that McCain told his fellow prisoners, while still in Nam, that he hoped to be president some day (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/9/00). "With him, it's no flash in the pan, no sudden dream,” Stratton was quoted saying. "He's been thinking of this for a long time." But you never see this anecdote cited, because our press corps has dumbly decided that presidential ambition is a sign of hopeless bad character. (This has been clear in their work for a decade.) So they juice up the Clintons’ old dreams, making them “secret,” unhealthy, unwell. And they never, ever tell you that McCain was dreaming the very same dreams at the very same juncture.

So yes, the wages of sin are all around us this week, as we discuss in our “Special report” down below. This week, your mainstream press corps is still trashing Gore because the fine lads at our liberal journals have averted their gaze for the past eight years—because they have simply refused to discussed the conduct of Campaign 2000. And this morning, Gerth is vouched for on the Post’s front page because these same weak-willed lads refused to discuss the earlier war he staged against President Clinton—even when Lyons did all their work for them. When it comes to the mainstream War Against Clinton, Gerth is the one who started it all—and Lyons laid the horrid facts out, in a book that was published by Harper’s. But your dainty lads dreamed of landing jobs at Gerth’s great paper themselves. Thus compromised, they continue to sun themselves this week at the pseudo-lib beach known as High-minded Musing. They detail their high-minded health care plans—and ignore what is happening all around them.

The Globetrotters always paid the Washington Generals well—and that’s who these high-minded lads really are. That’s why Gore is getting trashed again. It’s why Gerth is out pimping more slanders.

It’s why the GOP must be favored next year. Get ready to see “America’s Mayor” setting up shop in the White House. More Monday.

ONE JOURNALIST’S “SMOLDERING ANGER:” Make no mistake; some of these jokers are just flat-out nuts. As we’ve told you, their cohort had basically lost its mind by the late 1990s, driven mad by President Clinton’s ten acts of oral sex. But no one managed to stop the insanity—and their insanity spread. In August of 1999, for example, Van Natta devoted a 1250-word “Week in Review” piece to the way Bill Clinton cheats at golf. Here’s how the loony-tune started:
VAN NATTA (8/29/99): President Clinton stepped up to the first tee at Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard the other day and shanked the ball into the wrong fairway. "Aw, I killed it," the President blurted to himself. "I need help."

Without hesitation, Mr. Clinton fished another ball out of his pocket, placed it on the tee and lined up a second shot. In golf parlance, the do-over is known as a mulligan, a benign term for a shot not endorsed by the United States Golf Association. The mulligan is common among weekend duffers, who will gladly take one or even a handful of do-overs if their fellow players assent.

But Mr. Clinton never asked the permission of anyone in his foursome, which included Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, the New Jersey Democrat. Apparently being President means never having to say double bogey. His second shot mimicked the crooked path of the first, veering onto an adjacent fairway. "Aw, I did it again," Mr. Clinton said, stomping toward his golf cart.
This sort of drivel was passing for “news” by the Summer of ’99. But in the capable hands of a man like Van Natta, it wasn’t just news—it was also psychiatry. “As this vacation season draws to a close, and Mr. Clinton pursues another interlude of golf and fund-raisers, the mulligan presents itself as the perfect metaphor for his Presidency,” he searchingly wrote. And he drew the inevitable, invidious comparison: “Most past Presidents were golf purists who wouldn't contemplate even asking for a mulligan...let alone taking one. George Bush apparently never took a do-over.”

How nutty were the Van Nattas by the late 1990s? Four years after that piece appeared, the daffy fellow had researched and written a book on the golfing habits of former presidents. Lynda Cardwell reviewed it in the Times—and good God! Despite misstating the year when the crime occurred, she offered this bizarre description of the round of golf Van Natta had been forced to observe (in 1999). By now, Van Natta could fully unburden himself. Apparently, editors had tamped his passions down in his original offering:
CARDWELL (5/9/03): In 1997 [sic], on the notoriously tough course at the Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard, Mr. Van Natta, then the White House correspondent for The Times, was piqued when President Bill Clinton's press secretary announced that the president had shot a 79, a good score for anyone and an incredibly good score for him.

At first reporters laughed when they heard Mr. Clinton had finally broken 80, but "the laughs quickly gave way to a smoldering anger," Mr. Van Natta writes: "Perhaps the reporters' fury was fueled by boredom; there is nothing worse for a White House correspondent than trying to gin up stories during a president's August vacation when the desk back home is ravenous for copy."

While Mr. Clinton swore that his score was legitimate, he had failed to put a single ball in play while the press corps watched. When Mr. Van Natta revealed the president's chicanery in print, Mr. Clinton was furious.
Was Clinton furious? We have no idea. But how crazy were journos like Van Natta by now? In his book about presidential golf, he apparently said that he and his colleagues felt “a smoldering anger” over Clinton’s announced score. Clearly, the New York Times should have taken this gentleman’s arm and led him away to a nice, quiet place. Instead, he’s vouched for in this morning’s Post—“hard to dismiss!” In paragraph 27, we get to learn what Taylor Branch said about the thrilling claim in his new book. And we’re never told if the smoldering scribe checked with Branch himself.

Baker checked with Branch last night; it sounds like Gerth and Van Natta did not. The story got checked the second time through? Dare anyone call it a “mulligan?”

SHEER LUNACY: For a measure of your press corps’ near-lunacy, we strongly recommend Cardwell’s review of Van Natta’s golf book. We don’t know who’s crazier, Van Natta or Cardwell. But Clinton comes off quite well in this piece, although Cardwell doesn’t seem to know it. According to Cardwell, Van Natta performs brilliantly in his book, “taking the readers inside the confusing and cluttered confines of Mr. Clinton's golfing mind.” And it even gets dumber from there.

Yes, that’s what she actually wrote. But then, by the late 1990s, they had basically lost their minds. As for Cardwell, she was still typing this consummate bullsh*t six weeks into Iraq. She let us know of the “smoldering anger” the press corps will aim at a POTUS who dares misbehave.

Special report: We’re with Stupid!

READ EACH THRILLING INSTALLMENT: Blah blah blah. Be sure to read each installent:
PART 1: Fawning hard to Fun-lovin’ Fred, a Post piece advised: Vote for Stupid! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/21/07.

PART 2: O’Donnell “balanced” Garrigan’s fawning by trashing all known Major Dems. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/22/07.

PART 3: John Pomfret must be a bright man. So how was this drek thrust upon him? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/07.

PART 4: We libs still have our heads in the sand. We’ve met Stupid—and Stupid is Us! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/24/07.
Now, for a helpful sequel:

SEQUEL—DEVIL OR ANGEL: “Hero tales” and “demon tales” now drive (and decide) our White House elections. These tales come from the mainstream press corps—not just from “the right-wing machine.” You’ll hear these goony tales on the right too. But it’s the mainstream press which can tip our elections—and our mainstream press corps is deeply involved in distinguishing devils from angels.

By the way, in case you’ve missed it: The “hero tales” are bestowed on Reps; the “demon tales” are handed to Dems. The way this works has never been clearer. Consider the treatment handed two pols this week—treatment which differed by party.

Hero tales (Republican): First, consider Republican Fred Thompson. As far as we know, Thompson is a perfectly OK guy, if a bit on the slick, oily side. But at best, he’s a modestly-successful former pol with a mediocre, eight-year Senate record. Since leaving the Senate, he’s had a modest career as a TV and film actor.

Hero tales are for Big Reps. Dems are transformed into demons.
Thompson’s political career has been modest. But what happened to “Ole Fred” in late March when he began making noise about seeking the White House? Of course! On Hardball, Chris Matthews gathered the clan to build standard “hero frameworks” around him. For excerpts from these fawning discussions, see yesterday’s DAILY HOWLER. But according to Matthews and his panel, Thompson is smart, handsome and articulate. He’s a tough guy who looks like a Daddy. He sounds like a president—and he looks like a president. He would win a match-up with Hillary Clinton. And of course, he seems honest and open. Beyond that, Matthews described how he “fell in love” with Thompson during his 1994 run for the Senate. After a weekend’s rest, Matthews continued the gushing. “He looks classic wise man. He has gravitas,” the talker gushingly said. “He’s got that Colin Powell feature, where you just sort of trust him.”

Last Sunday, the Washington Post built these same hero tales around Thompson, comparing him to John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. Outlook’s John Pomfret had scoured the country in search of the dumbest possible writer—and he published the dumbest possible piece about how much fun Ole Fred really is. Liz Garrigan gushed, smooched, pandered and fawned, even telling us that Thompson looks like Work—and, of course, that he’s great with the ladies. Almost two full pages of Outlook were built around this clownish gushing. It came with two pictures of Thompson, one quite large, and a chart which showed us his Reaganesque lineage.

No surprise. At present, that’s what happens to Major Reps when they decide to run for the White House. They’re constantly referred to as “America’s Mayor,” or as the head of the “Straight Talk Express.” Or Outlook decides to pour it on, telling us how much we should like them.

That’s what happened to a Big Rep this week. Now, consider what happened to a Big Dem. Consider what happened to Gore.

Demon tales (Democrat): Al Gore has not had a mediocre career. His Oscar-winning documentary film has been credited with transforming the world debate about warming. He’s now a Nobel Prize nominee for his decades of work in this area. Indeed, he wrote the book on warming all the way back in 1992, with his first best-seller, Earth in the Balance. In his spare time, he warned the country in 2002 against the idea of war with Iraq. Almost everyone now agrees that his advice should have been heeded. Thompson, by contrast, voted for the war resolution in October 2002. Meanwhile, in recent weeks, Ole Dumb-bell has warned us: People, Mars is warming!

By any standard, Gore is one of the most honored public figures in the world. So what happened this week when his new book was published? Of course! In the New York Times, a famous columnist devoted her column to the notion that Gore is just too f*cking fat. And Outlook decided to trash him too; Garrigan didn’t just pander to Thompson, she also filled her bizarre Outlook piece with insults directed at Gore. Her denigrations were so old and so tired that Pomfret seemed to have dug her up from a time machine. In Outlook, Gore was still being described as “road-kill.” Garrigan showed little sign of having heard about Gore’s cosmic successes.

Has it ever been more clear how modern White House politics works? This has gone on for quite a few years—and career liberals have staunchly refused to discuss it. But has it ever been more clear? Has the agenda behind the mainstream coverage ever been more freaking obvious?

Thompson’s a mediocrity—a borderline dope. Gore is one of the world’s most honored public servants. So readers, when even Gore gets trashed this way, isn’t it finally perfectly obvious? That no matter what a big Democrat does, he will be trashed as too fat and too phony? Has it ever been more clear? Has the mainstream press corps—the Pomfrets, the Matthews, the Dowds—ever made it more blindingly obvious?