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Daily Howler: Why do ''TV liberals'' argue so poorly? Perhaps they aren't ''liberals'' at all!
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CHURLS IN CHARGE (PART 3)! Why do "TV liberals" argue so poorly? Perhaps they aren't "liberals" at all! // link // print // previous // next //

JEST A-PICKIN’ AND A-CHOOSIN’: Tuesday night, Fox News seemed to show its true colors. On CNN and MSNBC—on all the evening network news show—the naming of Mark Felt as “Deep Throat” was the crowning news story. But not so on the Fox News Channel! Special Report gave the topic normal coverage—lead news story, half a segment during panel. But at 8 PM Eastern, Mr. O hit the air—and “Deep Throat” went back into the closet. Here were The O’Reilly Factor’s topics for the evening of May 31:
Talking Points Memo: “The American Civil Liberties Union is the most dangerous organization in the country.”

Segment 1: “Now for the top story tonight, another view of the ACLU's attack on America.”

Segment 2: “In the Factor investigation segment tonight, we've been reporting on the brutal murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford.”

Segment 3: “Continuing now with the Jessica Lunsford case.”

Segment 4: “Impact segment tonight, there's another Live Aid concert series planned.”

Segment 5: “Some of the biggest names in Hollywood are pushing the Scientology agenda.”

Segment 6: “How far left is Hillary Clinton?”

Most ridiculous item of the day: Poll about Michael Jackson

Let the others treat “Deep Throat” as news; Mr. O had larger fish to fry. And then, when he threw to Sean and Alan, they disappeared Mark Felt too:
Segment 1: “Amnesty International is comparing the treatment of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the treatment of prisoners in the Soviet gulags.”

Segment 2: “It looks like a White House run for Senator Hillary Clinton in 2008 is looking better than ever.”

Segment 3: “A controversial new book for teens has many parents and educators on the edge.”

Segment 4: “Why did a 9-year-old girl stab her best friend in the chest?”

Segment 5: “Are Michael Jackson supporters trying to play the race guard?”

Segment 6: “After 35 years, he is a free man. Now, I'm telling you, you won't believe what landed this man in jail to begin with.”

We don’t think Fox ever made it so clear—there are certain stories it just won’t discuss, no matter how large the news value. Indeed, we thought we heard Fox addressing its viewers on these Tuesday night shows. Can’t you just hear them? Hey, rubes!

THOSE HIGH-CLASS COMMUNITY STANDARDS: Let’s be fair. With Fox, you may not hear all the actual news, but at least you get those family values. Here’s the end of Segment 2 on Hannity & Colmes—the segment about Senator Clinton. Dick Morris was the show’s classy guest:

COLMES (5/31/05): Coming up next, would you let your child read about oral sex parties? You won't believe what's in this book that's being marketed to teenagers.

MORRIS: Is that because we're talking about Hillary?

COLMES: No. That's a cheap shot, Dick, you ought to be ashamed of yourself. You really ought to be ashamed of yourself.

MORRIS: I didn't know we switched topics.

COLMES: You really ought to be ashamed of yourself, Dick Morris. And then, shocking acts of violence by children. How do you punish a 9-year-old who commits murder?

You may not get all the news on the channel. But at least you won’t get hit with the tastelessness so typical of other nets’ secular humanists.

REPORTED IN AN EXCESS OF FAIRNESS: Last night, Mr. O devoted his “Talking Points Memo” and his lead segment to the Deep Throat story (sole guest, former “president’s man” Chuck Colson). On H&C, all remained silent. In two nights, Fox viewers have seen these two shows devote one segment (total) to this story.

Special report—Churls in charge!

PART 3—CAPITOL FOPS: So far, nothing we’ve said speaks directly to Kevin Drum’s excellent question. Why are conservatives “just livelier and more interesting on TV than liberals are?” the puzzled Drum asked last week. “[I]t goes directly to the core of recent liberal weakness at shaping public debate” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/31/05). Daniel Okrent may be a Manhattan High Fop—simply suffused with those high foppist values—but no, he isn’t a TV liberal. So nothing we’ve said about Okrent’s ways speaks directly to Drum’s vital question. Why do TV liberals argue so poorly? So far, we simply can’t say.

But land-o-goshen! Daniel Okrent’s foppist ways are also the way of the world in DC, where millionaire “journalists” shape the debate—and go on TV pimped as “liberals.” Why do such “liberals” argue so poorly? Perhaps for the most obvious reason—perhaps because they aren’t “liberals” at all! After all, Okrent kept saying that he was a Dem, but he’s the kind of fiery Dem you may not meet in less foppish climes—the kind of Dem with a strange affinity for fever dreams of the kooky-con right, the kind of Dem who couldn’t wait to slime our leading center-left pundit. So too, millionaire “TV liberals” may say that they’re liberals, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily so. In most cases, they show no sign of being such. Are these dandies really liberals? Or do they play libs on TV?

Consider the example of Margaret Carlson, a Washington fixture who appears on Capital Gang, introduced there each week as a liberal. But is Margaret Carlson really a liberal—or is she really a millionaire fop? We’re sure that Carlson is a very nice person, but she’s a nice person of a high foppist caste, as she revealed in her week-long diary for Slate in May 2003 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/12/03). How does a Washington TV liberal actually spend the bulk of her time? Carlson really showed us that week; as we noted at the time, on a week when she spent large chunks of time traveling around to promote her new book, Carlson filled the rest of her days with leisurely luncheons, home renovations, and tons of inane, idle chatter. Result? When she finally got around to discussing some issues in her Slate entries, she was instantly making factual errors and tossing off obvious RNC spin-points. Whatever one wants to think about this, it’s hard to see why you’d want to say that Carlson is a Washington “liberal.” We’re sure that Carlson’s a very nice person. But there’s little sign that she has any politics, and that’s true of most of the manifest fops who comprise our DC press elite.

Indeed, how do the honchos of the Washington press corps actually live their dandified lives? Okrent spends the bulk of his time chasing down fresh rhino hearts and puzzling hard about Walt Dropo’s drop-off—and then, for some reason, he thinks he’s equipped to battle the likes of Paul Krugman. But so too with the foppish folks who star each night in our Washington press corps. How do they actually spend their time? Let’s recall some recent samples of their inspiring ways:

Item—May 12, 2004: Jim Lehrer tells Chris Matthews that “we [journalists] weren’t smart enough” to anticipate the problems of occupation in Iraq (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/17/04). But he also reveals that he’s found the time to finish writing two more novels, and Matthews gushingly praises his guest for maintaining such a “brilliant lifestyle.” Speaking of Lehrer’s endless production of novels, Matthews says,I don’t know how you do it, Jim, because you are very active socially.” Oh? Could that brilliantly foppish life-style explain Lehrer’s inability to anticipate the obvious about post-war Iraq? Matthews, a member of the same foppish class, seemed to know that he mustn’t ask.

Item—October 4, 2000: One day after the crucial Bush/Gore first debate, Ted Koppel appears on Larry King Live. King asks the world’s most obvious question, about the campaign’s central issue, Candidate Bush’s large proposed tax cuts. “You know, honestly, it turns my brains to mush,” Koppel says. “I can't pretend for a minute that I'm really able to follow the argument of the debates. Parts of it, yes. Parts of it, I haven't a clue what they're talking about.” Two years later, a droll report in the Washington Post helps us see what does float Ted’s foppish boat (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/3/03). “[A]t home in Potomac, where he is building a massive riverfront estate on 16 acres of cattle pasture, Ted Koppel is at war with his neighbors,” Matthew Mosk drolly reports. As it turns out, Koppel is actually suing his neighbors, claiming that their foppish McMansions are just too dad-burned big. No, Koppel couldn’t keep up with “the arguments of the debates.” The dueling facts that King had cited turned his brain “to mush.” But in a masterful triumph of foppish values, he did have his lawyers crawling through his neighbors’ McBasements, making sure he knew their square footage right down to the last milli-acre. Given Koppel’s foppish values, these were the facts that did count!

Item—October 14, 2004: Uh-oh! Koppel again! On Nightline, Koppel interviews Kerry-trasher John O’Neill—and it’s obvious that Ted is unprepared. Koppel fails to catch his guest in a string of key misstatements. But then, where was Koppel earlier that evening, when he might have been preparing? Where else? He was attending a foppish “roast” for Colin Powell, one of the most powerful men in the world—and someone Koppel allegedly covers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/19/04). At the roast, Powell reveals more secrets of the press corps’ foppish ways. “Every couple of years, Ted will come by my house on the spur of the moment and we'll sit in the back yard and have a cup of coffee,” the secretary/general says. “And he's usually driving one of his hot cars. He always has a fast car of some kind. And so about, oh, four or five years ago, he came by the house and he had this real muscle car, and after we had a cup of coffee and chatted for a while, he says...” Well, we’ll spare you the rest of the manifest foppistry. But was this not another triumph of the press corps’ High Foppist Values? Koppel has time to chat about his latest hot car with one of the people he’s supposed to be covering. But he doesn’t have time to prepare for a crucial TV session. Result? On his show, Kerrry gets crushed.

Item—December 13, 2003: When Saddam Hussein was finally captured, Tim Russert was partying hearty—at Donald Rumsfeld’s house, no less. The next morning, the foppish fellow feels compelled to tell the tale on Meet the Press (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/16/03). “I actually had the opportunity to see the Secretary of Defense last night, and they were in an extremely festive holiday mood beyond their normal demeanors,” he reported, inventing a bit of high-blown language suitable to the high occasion. “This is ironic, Campbell, but as I was leaving the event, I saw the director of CIA, Tenet, and said, ‘You know, I had the strangest dream last night that Saddam Hussein was taken captive,’ which I actually had on—on Friday night. He looked at me in this poker face and said, ‘Happy holidays!’” Should major journalists get into the punch with the major news-makers they allegedly “cover?” It’s all a part of the foppish values that drive the Washington press corps! Russert, of course, jets off to his multi-million-dollar “crib” on Nantucket to write books of self-praise about how he’s really from Buffalo. But then, Gwen Ifill parties hearty with Condi Rice—then forgets to ask her pal the world’s most obvious questions (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/03).

You’re right—none of these people are “TV liberals,” the people Drum was asking about. But can’t you see how this cohort’s ways raise a question about their colleagues—the ones who do get sent on TV to present as “TV liberals?” As we’ve shown you again and again—we’re not quite sure how Drum keeps missing it—the movers and shakers of the Washington press are deep in the throes of Millionaire Pundit Values, and we know of no reason to think that those ballyhooed “TV liberals” are actually “liberals” at all. There’s nothing wrong with not being a liberal—the substantial majority of Americans aren’t—but when “TV liberals” perform so poorly, we might consider the obvious explanation; we might consider the possibility that these people aren’t “liberals” at all! Indeed, Carlson, who is a TV liberal, gave us a deathless look at their values when she did Imus in October 2000 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/4/03). The question: Why were journalists savaging Gore over trivial, alleged misstatements and ignoring Bush’s much larger, more significant whoppers? The following explanation came live-and-direct from a well-known “TV liberal.” We’ll concede that Carlson’s a very nice gal. But do you think that she’s really a “liberal?”
CARLSON (10/10/00): Gore’s fabrications may be inconsequential—I mean, they’re about his life. Bush’s fabrications are about our life, and what he’s going to do. Bush’s should matter more but they don’t, because Gore’s we can disprove right here and now…You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator or you look at his record in Texas. But it’s really easy, and it’s fun, to disprove Gore.
“It’s really easy, and it’s fun, to disprove Gore!” Does that sound like the view of a liberal—or does it sound like an expression of the Washington press corps’ who-gives-a-sh*t, High Foppist Values? As she continued, Carlson continued exposing her cohort’s foppist ways:
CARLSON: I actually happen to know people who need government and so they would care more about the programs, and less about the things we kind of make fun of…But as sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us. And we can disprove it in a way we can’t disprove these other things.
Is Carlson a liberal? “I actually happen to know people who need government,” she said—implying that many members of her millionaire cohort do not. But she hardly responded as a liberal, progressive, or Dem might do. “As sport,” she told Imus, “Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us.” Five years later, Drum still can’t imagine why this “TV liberal” doesn’t argue her case all that well. Readers, sometimes we wonder why we bother informing the public at all!

Up in Manhattan, a High Foppist Prince made a fool of himself in the New York Times this past week. But Washington is also spilling over with a foppist millionaire pundit class. They spend their time writing novels—and writing pointless TV scripts. They spend their time renovating their kitchens—or crawling through their neighbors’ McBasements. They love to show off their hot muscle cars—to the major figures they “cover.” Do they sound like liberals—or fops? To our ear, the choice is quite easy.

Why do “TV liberals” argue so poorly? Most of them aren’t “liberals” at all! Indeed, those foppist values are so engrained in the culture of the Washington press corps that even our fiery young “liberal” career writers seem to know what they can’t say.

TOMORROW—PART 4: Maybe Drum should take a look at the “liberals” right there at the Monthly!