AND MICHAEL MAKES THREE: In Sundays New York Times, Michael Kinsley explained why Clinton didnt win the Dem nomination. In the process, he made it three about the way your press corps actually functions. In case you ever believed the things your children read in their civics texts, here is Michael, explaining the way your mainstream press corps actually plays you:
KINSLEY (6/8/08): The theme of this campaign has been umbrage. The candidates took turns pretending to be offended by something another candidate had saidor the other candidates failure to denounce what some third party had said.
All the candidates played this game, but Mrs. Clinton played it with the most unscrupulous joy. The low point was when she piled on during the ridiculous debate about whether Mr. Obama harbored snooty attitudes toward small towns in Pennsylvania.
So, at the end, when her own clumsy comment about Bobby Kennedy being assassinated in June was willfully misinterpreted to suggest that she was wishing that fate on her opponent, it served her right.
Last week, Richard Cohen said much the same thing (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/4/08). According to Kinsley, Clintons comment about Kennedys assassination was willfully misinterpreted to suggest that she was wishing that fate on her opponent, Barack Obama. Duh! His colleagues didnt believe Clinton meant that, Kinsley says. But so what? They said it all the same.
If engineers toyed with basic facts that way, theyd end up in prison. Theyd belong there.
It would be hard to imagine more squalid conduct, but Kinsley doesnt bat an eye as he describes itas he seems to say its OK when journalists make the nastiest possible statements, knowing their statements are false. And with this statement, Michael makes it three. He joins John Judis and Richard Cohen in a public display of true squalor:
But then, weve told you this, year after year: They dont believe the things they tell youthe things they tell you as a group, reading scripts which are well-understood. (For example, they didnt believe all that sh*t they told you for two solid years about Gore.) Many people cant believe that such a remarkable thing could be true. But dont believe us! Let Kinsley tell you! (And Cohenand Judis. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/22/08 and 5/23/08) At this point, the commissars dont even feel the need to disguise their cohorts astounding misconduct. And dont worry: Housebroken house-boys like Kevin and Josh wont mention what Michael has said.
Meanwhile, as Kinsley explained what his cohort does, two writers in the Posts Outlook section did a very constructive thingsomething Big Journos dont do.
One of the two is a college studentSarah Odell, a rising junior at Wellesley. In her piece, she said she became a feminist in the past year as she watched the coverage of Clinton. In the following passage, she does the thing that E. J. Dionne and Ruth Marcus (among others) simply wont do. Omigod! When Odell complains about media gender-trashing, she names an offender. By his name!
ODELL (6/8/08): One night, I happened to catch a clip of Chris Matthews MSNBC analysis after the first Democratic debate. His opening comment on Clinton's performance wasn't about her health care policy or her Iraq plan. He wanted to start with her necklace: "First of all, her pearls, Grace Kelly, dynamite. Matthews's wisdom on pearls was just one in a wave of sexist comments that would wash over Clinton throughout the primary season.
Can you spot the forbidden conduct? Were pleased to state that much-maligned Linda Hirshman, in her own Outlook piece, broke the same Hard Pundit Rule:
HIRSHMAN (6/8/08): This is probably the moment for me to admit that I am a Chris Matthews-inspired Clintonite. I started out feeling very lukewarm toward Clinton, but every time someone on cable television called her a bitch or a pimp, my interest in her candidacy went up. A lot of the feminists for Obama were also horrified at the tone of the Clinton coverage, but they maintained that you could be mad at Matthews and Tim Russert and Alex Castellanos and the guys on the Internet and in your office but still support Obama.
What law did Odell and Hirshman break? Of course! They actually named the names of big journalists who gender-trashed Candidate Clinton! In Matthews case, this has been going on for years, involving quite a few women other than Clinton. (Elizabeth Holtzman, come on down! You too, Mary Boyleand the early, feisty Norah ODonnell.) But as weve recently shown you (several times), pseudo-liberals inside the press corps never name the Big-Time Colleagues who gender-trashed Clinton during this race. They just keep forgetting to do that! Indeed, to see Michelle Goldberg avoid naming names, just read this mess at The New Republic, in which, at one point, were told this:
GOLDBERG (6/6/08): [M]uch of the second-wave women's movement would move from enthusiasm for both candidates to dismay and solidarity as Clinton was eclipsed and dismissed. They watched professional media types sing smitten fanboy hymns to Obama and, at the same time, spend hours dissecting Clinton's laugh and cleavage. The prospect of electing a black man clearly thrilled commentators, while the prospect of electing a woman elicited a derisive shrug. For some women, reaction to the coverage was radicalizing.
In fairness, no one spent hours dissecting Clintons cleavage; since people like Goldberg dont plan to name names, they can play the fool for readers by over-stating some press corps offenses. But in a piece which runs 3000 words, Goldberg never remembers to name the name of any journalist who behaved in this manner. She does type the name of Gloria Steinem as she bats the silly old lady around. But she forgets to name the names of the people who apparently engaged in this sort of conduct:
GOLDBERG: For these supporters, Clinton's portrayal during the campaign has been anything but inspirational. They say the press has demonized and degraded her, and almost any zealous supporter can reel off a list of journalistic insults. The media is the real target of their rage, while the anger at Obama comes from the sense that he's benefited from it and failed to denounce misogyny the way he does racism.
Playing by the rules of the tribe, Goldberg refers to journalistic insultswithout ever naming any journalists! In wonderfully typical fashion, the one name she finally does dare name is that of a well-known Republican operative. In the process, she gives a warm, understanding tongue-bath to unfairly-maligned CNN:
GOLDBERG: "We thought we'd gotten past a lot of this stuff, and it turns out that we were deluding ourselves," [Allida] Black says. "When CNN calls Hillary a white bitch, when they talk about her cleavage, when the metaphor to describe her presentation is, oh, she reminds me of my wife when she's angry and tells me to take out the garbage, or when they mock that Hillary has the support of white women...I've been stunned by it. I've been flabbergasted by it." (CNN, of course, did not call Clinton a white bitch. The GOP consultant and McCain adviser Alex Castellanos did, or kind of did, on the network. But the way many Clinton supporters retell it is itself indicative of their distress.)
Finally, Goldberg screwed her couragenaming Castellanos, a GOP hit-man, and absolving CNN in the process! (And rolling her eyes at the distress of those Clinton supporters, who cant even tell the story right.) By the way, Castellanos didnt kind of call Clinton a bitch; the gentleman called her a bitch, good and proper. (Throwing in white makes Goldbergs claim technically accurate.) But dont worry! Youll see indications of no distress from a cold inside player like Goldberg. She follows the law of the clan to the T. No names of big colleagues permitted!
The Outlook Two taught a lesson on Sunday: You can name the real names of actual peopleeven if theyre big major stars in the mainstream press corps! Meanwhile, the Kinsley Three have now made clear what weve told you all along: They dont believe the things they tell you! The dead of Iraq are in the ground because they played this sick game with Bush/Gore. And even as Kinsley stands up straight and tells you that they treat you like rubes, theres one thing of which we feel quite sure: Housebroken house-boyslike Kevin and Joshwill find endless ways not to notice.
Like colleagues Judis and Cohen before him, Kinsley has made an astonishing comment. Anyone want to hazard a guess? Will Duncan Black comment on this?
[One last question: Is Greg Sargent allowed to mention this? Or do such inclinations explain why Gregs former site still looks like this? Please note the dreadfuland obviousthings he was saying when all these strange glitches occurred.]
Howler history: Endorsements of the saints!
ENDORSEMENTS OF THE SAINTS: Has anyone ever misstated as freely as Chris Matthews does? We say misstated, not lied or dissembled, because Chris rarely seems to take the time to learn basic facts about his topics. Routinely, his statements bear little relation to actual facts. But does he actually realize this? We wouldnt know how to guess.
We ask these questions because of Matthews reactions to Clintons vile conduct last week. Last Tuesday night, after Clintons non-endorsement speech, Matthews was actually quite complimentary (just click here, then scroll down). Of course, like everyone else in TV land, he had known, all afternoon long, that Clinton wouldnt be endorsing that night; the campaign had made that point quite clear, after a mysterious AP report mistakenly said that she would endorse. But Matthews soon reversed his wide stance; the clan was battering Clinton hard, and he scurried to get in line with Standard Pundit Opinion. By Friday, he was feigning high indignation at Clintons indefensible conduct, a type hed never quite seen before. Here he was, on Fridays Hardball, explaining his own Tuesday night blunder:
MATTHEWS (6/6/08): Do the Clintons have to get hit up the side of the head before they knew they blew it? On Tuesday night, they didnt do the right thing. A lot of peopleI didnt realize this at the time as much because maybe Ive gotten to expect certain things of that campaign.
Oh, OK! Yeahthat was probably it! At any rate, Matthews continued to fuss and fume about Vile Clintons vile conduct. Well, weve had close elections before, he harrumphingly said, and the loserits all the more painful for the loser, but the loser admits the pain and endorses the winner. And then, he made the following statementa statement he would pretty much repeat as he covered Clintons endorsement speech the next day:
MATTHEWS (6/6/08): Im playing moderator here. Im just asking because Ive been told by people something like what youre saying. Its all This a new world for me. Ive never been in a situation where the concession speech was giving four days after the election.
If were not mistaken, his statement was bit more extreme the next day, as he waited for Clintons speech. (We didnt record the event, and no transcript has been posted.) Yes, you can nitpick the words endorse and concede, though Matthews used them fairly interchangeably as he complained about Clintons conduct last weekafter giving a favorable review, in real time, to her Tuesday night speech.
If were not mistaken, Matthews said on Saturday that hes never seen a situation where the loser didnt endorse/concede on the night of the final primary. Clearly, he did say, on Hardball, that hes never seen a situation where the concession speech was giving four days after the election. Why, the strange delay he was living through was a whole new world for him! That is such a ludicrous statement that we thought you might want to review some recent HOWLER HISTORY. It involves the endorsements of the saints. We refer to the official Twin Saints of Campaign 2000Saint John McCain and Saint Bill Bradley.
Throughout that campaign, the press corps pimped these sanctified men as moral sun gods returned to the earth. Matthews especially sanctified Bradley, contrasting his all-American goodnessand his wonderfully pleasing five oclock shadowwith the deeply vile traits of Gore (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/13/07). No one has ever disputed an obvious fact: Candidates Bradley and McCain were the press corps idea of two deeply sanctified men. In light of last weeks pundit panders, we thought you might want to see how these sanctified fellows went about endorsing Bush and Gore, the vile men to whom they had lost.
In the nomination battles of Campaign 2000, McCain and Bradley both stood defeated after Super TuesdayMarch 7, 2000. In each party, it was clear that the nomination fight was over. Heres the way the great saints reacted. And yes, Chris Matthews lived through these dark days. Clearly, though, he has forgotten.
The endorsement of Bush by Saint McCain: As noted, Super Tuesday fell on March 7, 2000. Two days later, a sanctified solon named Saint John McCain stepped before reporters to express his great sanctified viewpoint. In the next days Washington Post, Edward Walshs news report bore the following headline:
McCain Withholds Bush Endorsement, Calls on GOP to Adopt Reform Message
Say what? Walsh explained what the sanctified man had said, two days after defeat:
WALSH (3/9/00): Sen. John McCain ended his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination today, offering his "best wishes"but not his endorsementto George W. Bush and warning his party to heed his call to reform the political system or risk slipping into "the mists of history.
Huh! Two days after his defeat, this saintliest man offered Bush his best wishesbut he didnt endorse! The Washington Post editorialized:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (3/10/00): Unable to win Republican majorities, the McCain insurgency failedthough the candidate's concession speech yesterday was about as qualified as it could be. He suspended his campaign but did not pull out. He congratulated his rival, George W. Bush, but did not endorse him. He declared his devotion to the Republican Party but also to "the necessary cause of reform." And he hinted that this second cause might turn out to matter more to him.
Huh! In fact, it took the saintly man two more months to endorse Bushand when he did, the word itself had to be dragged from his mouth. Dan Balz did the reporting:
BALZ (5/10/00): McCain Endorses BushSoftly; Rivals Meet at Last, Rule Out No. 2 Spot
George W. Bush and John McCain sought to bring their bitter primary battle to a close here today, with McCain offering a businesslike endorsement of his one-time Republican rival and saying he looked forward to "enthusiastically campaigning" for Bush against Vice President Gore this fall.
McCain also said he told Bush in their private meeting what he has long said publicly: that he did not want to be considered for the vice presidency. "I take him at his word," Bush said, ending the hopes of some McCain supporters that the Arizona senator would end up on the GOP ticket despite his earlier protestations.
Bush and his advisers cheered the results of the reconciliation meeting as exactly what they hoped for, but there were clear signs that the divisions that had marked the nomination contest might linger through the election.
McCain had to be prompted before he uttered the word "endorse," and he agreed with a questioner that the decision to announce his support today rather than later was a form of "take your medicine now"a quip Bush said he took as a joke. McCain later told an aide he was merely trying to be ironic.
"I endorse Gov. Bush, I endorse Gov. Bush, I endorse Gov. Bush," McCain said softly, repeating the phrase six times to the laughter of Bush, their aides and querulous reporters who had gathered in a downtown hotel ballroom.
Dragging his feet every step of the way, this saintliest solon finally endorsedafter being asked why he hadnt used the word . [T]here were clear signs that the divisions that had marked the nomination contest might linger through the election, Balz opined, after watching the saintly mans conduct.
The endorsement of Gore by Saint Bradley: Saint Bradley blubbered and cried a good deal longer than Saint McCain had. Like McCain, he stood before reporters on March 9, two days after Super Tuesday. In the Post, Dale Roussakoff built an heroic framework around the great solons conduct this day. (So youll understand the Kremlinology here: The press corps had long agreed to pretend that Bradleys beat-up old car showed he was more authentic than Gore.) But uh-oh! There was no endorsement:
ROUSSAKOFF (3/10/00): When it was all over, and he had said goodbye to the presidential campaign and the press corps and the Secret Service, Bill Bradley returned today to the spot where his candidacy was bornbehind the wheel of his beat-up 1984 Oldsmobile.
It was there, alone, on drives down the Pacific Coast and across the New Jersey heartland, that Bradley had contemplated whether to run, how to run, when to run. And before releasing the Secret Service at 3 p.m. today, he asked for one last ride home to pick up his Olds so he could drive himself back to work.
Bradley withdrew from the campaign much as he entered it almost 15 months ago, invoking a "new politics," and making clear his dissatisfaction with Vice President Gore. He vowed to support Gore strongly against the Republicans, who he said represent "the opposite of where our country should be headed."
But when asked his feelings about Gore's campaign, Bradley was unforgiving. "I thought that there were distortions and negativity," he said. "I hope that he'll run a better campaign in the general election."
The former New Jersey senator said he would "support" Gore, and campaign for him, but pointedly did not use the word "endorse." Asked why, he told reporters, "It's your call.
Stay classy! In the New York Times, James Dao went into a bit more detail about the deeply sanctified fellows unforgiving comments concerning his vile opponent: Mr. Bradley said he would not hesitate to criticize the vice president if he engaged in the same kind of negative campaigning against Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, the presumptive Republican nominee, that Mr. Bradley had accused Mr. Gore of using during the primary season. So it went as the last fully sanctified Democrat suspended his run for the White Housecomplaining that the negative/nasty Gore might even criticize Bush!
And yes, it took Bradley even longer than McCain to endorse his unworthy opponent. In the Times, Katherine Kit Seelye reported the eventon July 14, 2000, four months after defeat. (With Clinton, it took four days.) In paragraph 5, note how the hiss-spitting Times reporter hissed and spat at Gore:
SEELYE (7/14/00): Bill Bradley emerged from months of political seclusion today to endorse Al Gore, his erstwhile primary foe, and to help the vice president appeal to independent voters here in the Midwest.
Mr. Bradley, whose bitter primary battle with Mr. Gore ended without the former New Jersey senator's winning a single state, used the words of Vince Lombardi, the former coach of the Green Bay Packers, to say he would work for a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress. "Winning is a team sport," he said.
Today I want to make it clear that I endorse Al Gore for president of the United States, Mr. Bradley told a crowd at an old-fashioned amusement park on the shore of Lake Michigan. He cited the vice president's leadership and his understanding of technology, saying that that understanding would allow Mr. Gore to keep the nation steady in an era of rapid change.
Mr. Gore effusively praised Mr. Bradley for his "high ideals," adding, "There is no more passionate voice for justice and equality in all of America."
As the two Democrats were making up on the stage, Mr. Gore's campaign was engaged in the kind of political pounding of Gov. George W. Bush's policies that Mr. Gore had used so effectively against Mr. Bradley in the primaries.
They had pimped Bradleys theme about Gore all through the primary race, and they were still pimping it this very day. Al Gore was just so nasty and negative! By the way: What in the world had Vile Gore said that Seelye found so disturbing this day? Truly, Gore was willing to do and say anything. She explained in paragraph 7:
SEELYE (continuing directly): The Gore campaign seized on news of a $750 million state budget shortfall in Texas as evidence that Mr. Bush's proposal for a $1.3 trillion tax cut for the United States over 10 years would derail the nation's roaring economy.
Governor Bush wants to do for America what he's done for Texasgo to Washington and spend our surplus and then more for budget-busting tax cuts, and hope then that somehow it will all add up," Mr. Gore asserted. "The last thing this country needs is an era of Bush economics that brings us back to deficits, high interest rates and high unemployment."
That was a Very Bad Thing Gore had said. (For the record, the dead of Iraq are in the ground because Seelye played this sick game for a yearevery f*cking day.) Of course, Ceci Connolly was pimping a variant of this Standard Theme in the Post. Lovingly, she went back and recalled the insightful things a sanctified man had said about negative, nasty, vile Gore. If Bradley wouldnt repeat his past statements, well by God, Connolly would:
CONNOLLY (7/14/00): The former New Jersey senator made no reference today to his earlier disdain for Gore, a man he once described as the "elephant of negative campaigning," a man who "uses words in a very tricky manner."
Instead, he focused on Gore's ability to harness the "technological forces changing America" and explained his presence at the rally with a quote from the late Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi: " 'Winning is a team sport!' " When he finished his brief remarks, the former NBA star shook Gore's hand, patted him on the shoulder and receded to a stool set back on the stage.
Gore, who once ridiculed Bradley as a Democratic Party "quitter" who supported "Reaganomics," today called him a "good Democrat who speaks and stands for principles we all believe in."
Vile Gore was just so two-faced! By the way: Gore had never used the word quitter to refer to Bradley. But it felt good to pretend that he had, so Ceci pimped the claim for a year, starting on October 1, 1999. Before this, she had always advanced the claim in a paraphrased form. On this grand day, for the very first time, the word quitter turned up inside quotes.
At any rate, Matthews (unrecorded) statement on Saturday morning struck us as so deeply absurd that we thought you might want to relive this history. These stories help you see what we mean when we say the press corps hands you constructspreferred story-lines which have little relation to the actual facts of the world. Bradley and McCain were Official Press Saints; Clinton is an Official Press Villain. She was widely trashed for vile conduct this weekfor waiting four days, instead of four months. People like Matthews went on TV and pretended they meant what they said.
This a new world for me, Matthews said. Ive never been in a situation where the concession speech was giving four days after the election.