Chris Matthews, when Vitter fell: Put aside questions of ideology: MSNBC has always been a weirdly unprofessional enterprise. Its a channel which cant even manage to do the basics.
This week, the channel has gone into one of its swoons where it fails to post its transcripts. We wanted to show you how many times Chris Matthews tried, on Mondays Hardball, to drag Huma Abedin into the Weiner mess, suggesting that she might be at fault in her husbands recent behavior. (Perhaps even in legal peril.)
Matthews, a truly horrid person, tried to do this at least three times. But we will wait for the transcript before we detail it for you.
(Isnt it sickening, to see Joan Walsh vouch for this horrid person, as he has done for so many years? We only hope Joans money spends good. Shes done a lot to obtain it.)
That said, Matthews was still ranting and raving about Weiners disturbing behavior last nightand he had some of his favorite trained apes on hand to help. This brought a question to mind:
How much did Matthews rant and rave when David Vitter fell?
Tomorrow, well walk you through the history of Hardballs treatment of Vitter. For today, lets get clear on the relevant dates in this history.
In the summer of 2007, the public learned that Senator Vitters name had appeared, five different times, in the records of the D.C. Madam. The first key event occurred on July 9, 2007. The next morning, the Washington Posts Shailagh Murray explained what had transpired:
MURRAY (7/10/07): Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) apologized last night after his telephone number appeared in the phone records of the woman dubbed the "D.C. Madam," making him the first member of Congress to become ensnared in the high-profile case.
The statement containing Vitter's apology said his telephone number was included on phone records of Pamela Martin and Associates dating from before he ran for the Senate in 2004.
The service's proprietor, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, 51, faces federal charges of racketeering for allegedly running a prostitution ring out of homes and hotel rooms in the Washington area. Authorities say the business netted more than $2 million over 13 years beginning in 1993. Palfrey contends that her escort service was a legitimate business.
"This was a very serious sin in my past for which I am, of course, completely responsible," Vitter, 46, said in a statement, which his spokesman, Joel DiGrado, confirmed to the Associated Press.
"Several years ago, I asked for and received forgiveness from God and my wife in confession and marriage counseling," Vitter continued. "Out of respect for my family, I will keep my discussion of the matter therewith God and them. But I certainly offer my deep and sincere apologies to all I have disappointed and let down in any way.
For ourselves, we cant say we hugely care about this. But then, we dont care much about the Weiner mess eitherand by the standards of Weinergate, that was some pretty hot stuff!
(That same July 10, Jeanette Maier, the "Canal Street Madam", alleged that Vitter had been a customer on more than one occasion in the 1990s. According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Maier offered no evidence or documents to support her claim. Last night, Matthews was ranting about material he said he couldnt confirm.)
The second major date in this case was July 16, 2007exactly one week later. On July 17, Elizabeth Williamson shared that news with Post readers:
WILLIAMSON (7/17/07): Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) ended a week of seclusion yesterday to say he'll return to work in Washington, ending speculation that the Republican would resign after his telephone number appeared last week in the records of an alleged Washington prostitution ring.
"I want to, again, offer my deep, sincere apologies to all those I have let down and disappointed with these actions from my past," Vitter said in a news conference yesterday in his home city of Metairie. "I am completely responsible. And I am so very, very sorry."
Vitter, 46, was accompanied by his wife, Wendy. Looking pale and grim, she told reporters that "like all marriages, ours is not perfect" but that "I am proud to be Wendy Vitter."
Vitter, a staunch social conservative known for his outspoken condemnation of Bill Clinton's extramarital dalliance, issued a brief written apology for his "very serious sin" on June 9, then went into hiding, as reporters looking for him camped on his lawn and at his offices in Louisiana and on Capitol Hill.
We cant say we care much about that either, except to feel for Vitters wife. But then, we havent been jumping around like a monkey this week, stroking our privates, throwing feces and screeching about someones wee-wee.
Chris Matthews has ranted hard the past few nights, helped along by a gang of trained seals. But what did he do when Vitter fell?
Information tomorrowbut isnt it great? To see the way Matthews gets enabled by fiery, high-ranking liberals?
Special report: The culture that has no name!
PART 2BOUNDLESS INANITY (permalink): A culture pervades the mainstream press corpsa noxious, nation-eroding culture which still has no fixed name.
A few weeks ago, Gail Collins put this culture on full display in an on-line discussion with her pal, David Brooks (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/6/11). For that reason, we should return to one of the things Collins said.
Collins cited the recent House election in New York State. This election turned on the future of Medicare, a very important subject. The winning candidate, Democrat Kathy Hochul, had argued her Medicare stance rather wellunless you read what Collins said in her chat with her best buddy, Brooks. In that all-too-familiar discussion, Collins rolled out the noxious, snide, insipid culture which shapes our public debates:
COLLINS (5/25/11): O.K., lets get to the issue. You do agree that yesterdays vote was all about Medicare, right? Heres a super-Republican district and two relatively anonymous candidatestheir debate high point came when they both admitted to owning four cars, but squabbled over whose fleet was more expensive. The only notable thing about the campaign was that the Democrat kept pounding away at the Republican for supporting the Paul Ryan budget plan, which included an end to Medicare as an entitlement.
I know you like Ryan and let me throw in some praise for him. I agree with the people who say he was brave to open up this conversation. Although it appears now he did not actually appreciate that the voters were going to hate, hate, hate his idea. So maybe a combination of brave and out of touch.
Collins vouched for Ryans good characterand she mocked the candidates in that election. According to this noxious high lady, the high point in their debate came when they both admitted to owning four cars, but squabbled over whose fleet was more expensive.
Collins is a disgusting personone of the most fatuous residents of the press corps Versailles. She has never met a political debate at which she wouldnt roll her eyes. For years, her columns have featured this sickening theme, in which she complains about all the silly, dull political talk she is forced to endure.
In the world of the high lady Collins, there are too many presidential debates. There are also too many candidatesand they give too many speeches. Their books are dumb, but she reads them all anyway. When there are only two candidates, they turn out to be fatuous, dumb.
When two candidates debate a massively serious issue, this high lady will simper away, saying they wasted everyones time with their ridiculous side-car discussions. She will make no real attempt to explore what the candidates said.
Collins is a sickening person, a high priest of a noxious culture which is eating this nation away. Kathy Hochul, who won that House election, is about a hundred times smarter than Collinsand a thousand times more honest.
Darlings! The issues are boring! So are the various candidates, with their boring discussions! High ladies like Collins just want to have fun; they want to offer their empty assessments of various politicians souls. These assessments will often be patently phony, as was the case with Collins assessment of Ryan, whose soul she savaged back in Aprilwhen she spoke to a liberal audience.
Collins is repellent, unwell. But what about her circles prevailing culture? That culture is noxiousand deeply inane. It still bears no real name.
What is the shape of the press corps culture? Consider a piece which appeared last Saturday in the Washington Posts op-ed section. (To access this ludicrous column, click here.) Written by the Posts Alexandra Petri, it bore this astonishing tag-line:
Alexandra Petri writes The Posts ComPost blogwhere a longer version of this piece was published.
Tearing their hair and screaming in pain, the analysts looked with wondering eyes. Could it be true, they sadly asked. Could there be a longer version of this inane piece of work?
In fact, palace journalists have been writing longer versions of Petris column since 1999. Her piece was an utterly childish complaint about Mitt Romney, Americas Awkward Stepdad. She didnt mention Romneys policy views, which she quickly said she found boring. Instead, she focused on the things that matterthe candidates hair and clothes:
PETRI (6/4/11): I mention this because on Thursday, Mitt Romney announced that he is running for president of the United States.
I have been watching his efforts to seem hip and relaxed for some time, and I have to say, Mitt, cease and desist.
Dad can be uncool. We are stuck with him. But you are Americas Awkward Stepdad, trying to win our approval, but hopelessly unsure of how to do it. I see you gelling your hair and slipping into those jeans you surreptitiously purchased at Urban Outfitters.
Troubled by Romneys clothing and hair, Petri quickly made the move these talented ninnies will often perform. In her next paragraph, she pretended that her own empty soul really belongs to the voters:
PETRI (continuing directly): We can see how Mitt would make this mistake. After all, the American voting pool has the approximate maturity of a five-year-old with severe ADD. Talking hair! Sex! Weiners! we scream, running dizzily around in circles. Whose undershorts are those? Get Paul Ryan out of here, hes boring us with numbers!
We. Its a slick, slippery word.
Ironically, Petri is dumb as a rock. As these empty souls often do, she quickly said that her own immaturity belonged to the American voting pool, a group which has the approximate maturity of a five-year-old with severe ADD.
She imagined the voters screaming in pain, saying theyre bored by Ryans numbers. But why would voters ever say that? Thanks to people like Collins and Petri, Ryans numbers never get mentioned! They get disappeared from the world.
Lets be clear: There are more than one hundred million voters in this country. They cast their votes for all kinds of reasons; presumably, many people cast their votes for reasons which may seem fairly dumb. But fatuous nitwits like Collins and Petri make a fetish of such silly dishing, as youll see if you make yourself read Petris piecewhich is just a shortened version of her full exploration, of course.
Petri is troubled by Romneys clothesby his clothing and hair. More remarkably, she is able to make all kinds of assessments from such observations. That said, her factual claims may not be all that. Consider her stupid, inaccurate claim about that key pizza incident:
PETRI: But as Jean Kerr once wrote, The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old. And this is already happening to Mitt.
He comes out swinging for Scotty McCreery on American Idol. He sends pizza to the Obama headquartersas a joke? A nice gesture? Its hard to say. And have you noticed that hes stopped wearing ties? Every fiber of his 64-year-old body seems to be straining to convey relaxation and effortless cool. I worry hell rupture something.
Its hard to say, this dimwit says. For ourselves, we wont waste our time explaining how stupid that highlighted passage is. Go to google and click around to see how dim Petri is.
Petris piece was mindless, inane. But as everyone surely knows, she was working from a press corps template which is at least a dozen years old. All the way back in March of this year, Brendan Nyhan had already diagnosed it. The former Spinsanity ace is now an assistant professorbut thats the only bad thing we can say about him and his work. Back in March, he had already seen where these fools were headed:
NYHAN (3/8/11): The media's coverage of Mitt Romney is showing signs of the pathologies that afflicted its coverage of Al Gore in the early stages of the 2000 presidential campaign.
In 1999 and 2000, the press pummeled Gore, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, with absurdly trivial and hostile reporting and commentary on the number of buttons on his suits, his cowboy boots, and the color of his attire, which were framed as evidence that Gore was a phony who was reinventing himself to get elected. These factually dubious claims were used to manufacture a narrative of Gore as a calculating liar that may have contributed to his puzzling underperformance in the 2000 election. While any politician changes and evolves over the course of their career, Gore's trajectory was framed as a series of phony personas (a sample from Howard Fineman: "By my count we're on about the fifth or sixth Al Gore now").
Quite correctly, Nyhan used the word pathologies as he described this ridiculous culture. Already, he had noticed that people like Petri were returning to one part of the war on Gore playbook.
Well recommend Nyhans whole post, although we will make two criticisms:
First, Brendan displayed a very good ear, noticing the way some journos were reverting to an older template. That said, the press corps remarkable war against Gores boots, suits, polo shirts, blue jeans and buttons dwarfs the amount of similar nonsense aimed at Romney to this point. Its important to note that distinction.
Beyond that, Brendan takes the easy way out as he explains why the press corps played these brainless games with Gore. Please! They did so because they had gone to war, not because the press tends to be more negative towards frontrunners, not because Gore came from a state that was a relatively poor fit to [his] presidential primary electorate.
By the fall of 1999, the mainstream press corps had rather plainly gone to war against Candidate Gore, Vile Clintons disgusting successor. That is why they spent three months waging what Paul Krugman would later call a campaign about clothing. Dartmouth professors should step to the plate and tell students the truth about that.
That said, Nyhan had an eagle eye for the foolish attention being paid to Romneys clothesfor the fatuous assessments journalists were already making, based on this key evidence. Whatever you may think about Romney, it takes a very silly person to build her assessments from his hair and his clothesor from that very key pizza incident. But the press corps is crawling with people like Petri. Chris Matthews was going this route with Romney last week, before he was handed a greater giftthe gift of Weiners live penis.
Petri was working within a long-standing culturea culture which still has no name.
Tomorrowpart 3: Talkers lament