KILLING THE PIG/PENN! Mark Penn states a range of viewsand Cottle calls him names: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2008
IT TOOK ONE DAY: “Watch the press corps beg Obama to second this high-minded strategy.” We said it yesterday–and today, it happened. You know what to do–just click here. More on this topic next week.
COLLINS AND THE CLAN: The front-page piece in todays New York Times is about as good as youll get from this clan. In a lengthy report, Katherine Seelye examines the claim that sexism played a role in the way the Democratic campaign was covered. On the merits, Seelyes piece has some flaws; wed say its roughly a C-minus effort. But if you were grading it on a curve, youd almost have to give at an A, so thoroughly do these players cover up for their own colleagues work.
(On todays Morning Joe, Gail Collins was tut-tutting and deflecting, along with the truly egregious Mika Brzezinski and the ludicrous man of deflections, Mike Barnicle. There are two words weve never used in our life; this morning, Brzezinski made us wish we could use them. I think its worth talking about whats fair commentary and whats not, Collins magisterially allowed as her ludicrous segment ended. Meanwhile: You cant say anything in this country any more without offending somebody, Barnicle said, offering variants all through the program. Instantly, Collins said this about Seelyes report: Youll note that in the article, most of the people who are mentioned are visiting commentators. Were not sure if thats accuratebut this was her obvious way of helping rhymes-with-rich avoid discussing players like Matthews and Tucker Carlson. Theres simply nothing these people wont do to cover for the rest of the clan. By the way: Collins is the mainstream press corps version of a feminist.)
In Seelyes favor, she names the names of many real journalistsand her editor includes mug shots of the twins, Matthews and Olbermann. Beyond that, she gives prominence to Katie Courics statement of lifes basic realities. But there are down-sides to Seelyes performance too. She never mentions her own papers Maureen Dowd, one of the press corps most disturbed gender-trashers. And an accompanying sampler of sexist remarks begins in November 2007. Matthews had been gender-trashing Candidate Clinton for roughly a year at that point.
Several players come off quite poorly in Seelyes piece. Lets start with a gruesome rube-runnerperhaps the most egregious propagandist weve ever seen on TV:
Good God! The mans an utter embarrassment. Sidebar: Once MSNBC came under attack for its relentless gender-trashing, Keith-O dropped the nightly segment in which he mocked young Hollywood women. How long will it be until this great man returns to this pleasure? We have no earthly idea, of course. But how long must young male viewers suffer?
Howard Dean comes off quite poorly too. Truly, this is pathetic:
Truly, thats pathetic. For the past sixteen years, journalists could say any damn thing they pleased about major Democratsespecially Clinton, Gore and Clintonsafe in the knowledge that Dem Party figures would never care enough to complain. Now we learn why this long roll-over occurred: Party leaders like Howard Dean werent regular viewers of cable! How were they supposed to know about the vile things being said? None of us are geniuses out here, but that explanation is even insulting to us. Dean would have been much better off if hed simply said nothing.
Hes calling for a discussion now! Just in time for it not to matter!
NOW is starting a campaign! Just in time! Seventeen months later! And by the way, could Gandy possibly have less of a clue? Almost surely, Michelle Obama will not be the recipient of the same kind of attacks that Hillary wasat least, not from the media players named in this article. (Good!) The fact that Gandy doesnt understand this fact means that shes been snoring soundly for the past many years.
Or that shes playing it dumb.
And then, the Greenfields will always be with us. Theres no way to know if Seelye has quoted him fairly. But after watching Collins play the fool, well assume that she has:
We involuntarily splay our legs every time a hack like that makes such a wh*rish comment. (Partisans have been imagining this!) It may be that Greenfield was quoted unfairly. But millionaire hacks have carried this water for the clan ever since this discussion began.
Its as weve noted for the past ten yearstheyre experts at playing it dumb. Indeed, here was Collins, in her mandatory column on this subject, a column she published last weekend:
Did Clinton lose because of the press corps gender-trashing? Theres no real way to answer that questionand, therefore, its a great way to confuse discussions about the general subject. (See our first quote from Seelye, above. Many in the news media took this approach, Seelye said. Indeed, they love to muddy the waters by dragging this larger point in.) And by the way: The sexism didnt come in when Clinton failed in her attempt to make history. On the part of people like Matthews, the overt gender-trashing came in long ago, as soon as Clinton started her run. It then persisted for a year and a half, as Gail Collins shut her trap, saying nothing.
By the way, Collins left something out of her column. Her utterly absent-minded omission sums up all weve said:
In Collins column, we learn that the nations wounded feminists are troubled by the treatment of Clinton. We learn that Clintons supporters feel she has not been respected. They feel that she has taken a beatinga battering, abuse and insults, were told. At one point, Collins herself even seems to call Clintons campaign a battle against prejudice.
But go ahead! Read through Collins entire column! See if you find a single word explaining who has dished this abuse! If there a battle was waged against prejudice, just whose prejudice was involved? Candidate Clinton took a beating? From whom did that beating come?
Omigod! There isnt a single word in this whole f*cking column explaining who engaged in this conduct! Matthews, Carlson and Dowd? Never mentioned! But then, Collins never gets around to mentioning the press corps at all! Go aheadread the whole column! Look for a single reference.
Who slimed Clinton? Collins wont tell! The lady is covering up for the clan, as she and her colleagues have done for so long. Indeed, theyve played this game for the past sixteen yearsand career liberal pool boys refuse to tattle. Kevin and Josh, good housebroken lads, will explain the whole scam in their memoirs.
Will someone please explain this point to adviser-obsessed Joseph Klein?
That brings us up to the present. Yesterday, GQs Lisa DePaulo presented a long, intriguing interview with Clinton adviser Mark Penn. In the course of the detailed session, Penn made a fairly obvious point. The basic structure of the campaigna structure which he thought worked poorlywas the choice of Candidate Clinton. This critique takes form during three sets of Q-and-As. Here are the second and third sets:
Theres more detail in the interview. But Penn offered a variant of an obvious point. In campaigns, advisers advise. Candidates make the decisions.
Penns interview is lengthy and detailed. He makes a wide array of claims about the way the campaign was run; about the way it was covered by the press; and about his own performance. He specifically says that some familiar, near-iconic claims about the campaign are simply bogus. But to the shrieking harpies of the mainstream press corps, under the leadership of Michelle Cottle, this interview can mean only one thingit can only provide the latest chance to further their preferred narratives. Hence, Cottle starts her post about the interview with a pander to her colleague, DePaulo. Then, she offers the kind of analysis which defines such defectives work:
For starters, is her first claim true? Does Penns entire exchange comes across as remarkably self-justifying and self-aggrandizing? It didnt strike us that way; at one point, Penn is quite clear about something he bungled majorly (his failure to step down from his role as CEO of Burson-Marsteller). But its typical of people like Cottle to start with a sweeping subjective assertionone which perfectly follows the outlines of previous analyses. And please note the way she continues: In her third paragraph, she is instantly wasting everyones time with irrelevant nitpicking about ancient toe-sucking. And uh-oh! When she identifies a second claim by Pennhis claim about the handling of moneyshe goes on to trash him for saying such a thing, without remembering to let us know if his claim is right or wrong. Here is the rest of her post, an exercise in pointless name-calling
As youll note, Cottle spends much of paragraphs 4 and 5 criticizing something DePaulo has said. Then, she uses her closing paragraph to name-call Penn again. Meanwhile, something completely slips her mind. She forgets to tell us if Penns critique of the money management is actually correct. (She thereby takes the side of the anonymous sources who have been crying to her for the past several months.) She also forgets to evaluate Penns critique of the campaigns larger organization.
She doesnt say if Penns claims are right; she just name-calls Penn for making them. In fact, Penn says a great many things in this long interview. Are his claims right or wrong? Life-forms like Cottle dont stoop to that level. Instead, they name-call the people they hateand they pimp for their poor dearest darlings.
Meanwhile, the boys and girls of the career liberal world know they must fall in line for this claptrap. In this post about the interview, Kevin Drum sits at the childrens table; although its clear that he actually thinks the interview had a good deal of meat, he obediently starts his piece with a complaint about Penns obsessive self-defense. As for Noam Schieber, what can you say? His twin posts about this piece are almost purely fatuous. More on that below.
And of course, everyone knows they must avoid That One Unacceptable Topic. In Scheibers What Penn Got Wrong post, the youngster offers a low-wattage critique (which he soon had to supplement) concerning Penns comments about the campaigns failure, starting in late October. Let us hand you a tiny, small hint about what is omitted here:
First: Typically, big players like Penn dont tell the truth when asked about the press corps. (They need the press for future ventures, as do their clients. For obvious historical reasons, this is especially true of Big Dems.) That said, Penn is much more frank about the press in this interview than is the norm for his party; Cottle, Drum and Scheiber all absent-mindedly forget to cite this part of his discussion. But what actually happened in late October, the part of the campaign on which Scheiber lazers? Duh. In one long section, Pernn correctly describes this period as the campaigns turning-point. He describes the way Obama began to attack. He describes the press corps reaction:
Penn is correct about all that. And hes correct in identifying that period as the campaigns (first) turning-point.
Weve explained this obvious history before. Lets run through it again:
In the weeks before that 10/30 debate, major journos (especially Matthews) began begging Obama to attack Clinton. Time was running out, they implored. In the New York Times interview cited by Penn, Obama said he would do it.
At the actual debate, Obama shrank back from the promised attack. But Russert and Williams pounded Clinton hard, throughout the entire two hours. Lets say it again: Moderators have never targeted a candidate in anything resembling that manner, in any presidential debateever. Their conduct that night was outrageousand wholly without any precedent.
Late in the debate, Clinton gave a slightly jumbled answer about an (irrelevant) drivers license issue. For the next week or so, the pundits corps behaved as if theyd caught her robbing a bankand shooting several tellers in the process.
Two weeks later, in a truly odd moment, Obama gave an amazingly similar answer to the same drivers license question (as Penn notes). And the pundit corps completely ignored it, just as Penn says. How irrelevant was this issue, really? How fake was their initial swarm against Clinton? The pundit corps spent several week insisting that Clinton couldnt get elected with such a ridiculous stance. When Obama adopted the very same stance, they didnt say boo about it. They havent said boo to this very day, much as Penn describes.
The swarm against Clinton was utterly fake. And as everyone except Lord Scheiber knows, thats when the campaign began changing. Thats what happened in October when the campaign began breaking down.
In short, it was at this pointon October 30when the press corps began targeting Clinton actively. (We have no idea why they waited so long. They waited about ten minutes with Gore.) From that point forward, the assault was on. The campaigns second turning-point occurred near the turn of the year, when the press corps began pimping the claim that the Clintons were slobbering racists. Did pundits believe that? We have no idea. Cohen and Kinsley recently said that pundits didnt believe what they said about RFK. And John Judis said that a much larger calculation was in place with the press by this time.
Penn discusses some of this in his interviewpulling some punches, as big players do. (You know, Im not gonna blame the press, he says. Democrats always say that.) And then, the interview passes to career liberals, like the three weve already mentioned. Cottle, of course, is Quinn-in-waiting, a reliable fount of class-acceptable blather and nonsense. Kevin and Noam are well-behaved boys. Theyre sitting at the childrens table, politely eating their Thanksgiving turkeys. Someday, theyll get to the adult tableas long as they arent tattle-tales.
We now return you to Cottle. Youll find her calling Penn naughty namesand refusing to let you know if his various statements are accurate. For Scheiber, heres a shorter explanation of Penns remarks: The Clinton campaign was performing flawlesslyuntil your cohort piled on.
COULDNT BE MORE ACCURATE: On Monday, well show you the very naughtiest part of Penns inexcusable book, Microtrends. In the meantime, this couldnt be much more accurate:
That couldnt be much more accurate. In the press corps novelization, Obama/Clinton was a virtual copy of Bradley/Gore. (Wed assume that Obamas campaign studied Bradleysknowing they had a much more attractive candidate, of course.) This is a very lazy group. They dont like inventing new novels.