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TRICKS OF THE TRADE! Josh and Rachel were all tricked out as they discussed Weiner's fall: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JUNE 20, 2011

Why we continue to type: Again, we’ll recommend the newly-completed chapter 5 of our ongoing book, How he got there. Just click here.

Tomorrow, we’ll start our second non-annual fund-raising drive. Today, we’ll briefly explain why we continue to type—more particularly, why we want to finish that book. (Most of the basic work is already done. Oh, but all the shaping!)

Why should the history of Campaign 2000 be told in something like full detail? Consider Adam Serwer’s short op-ed piece in yesterday’s Washington Post. The piece was drawn from this longer blog post—but the shortened version appeared right on the hard-copy op-ed page.

(To see the piece as it appeared in the hard-copy Post, click here—then click once again.)

On the one hand, Serwer’s piece has some merit, though not very much. On the other hand, the piece must have been puzzling to most readers of the Washington Post. As it appeared in hard-copy form, it started out like this:

SERWER (6/19/11): Does Tim Pawlenty have a “toughness problem”? Or do we have a media problem?

At last week’s Republican debate, CNN’s John King gave the former Minnesota governor an easy opening to repeat his “Obamneycare” dig at front-runner Mitt Romney directly. Pawlenty declined, leading to stories questioning whether Pawlenty is “tough enough” to be president.

Ever since Al Gore’s presidential run, the media have latched on to some perceived personality flaw in political candidates and shoehorned coverage into that frame. With Barack Obama, it’s that he’s too aloof. With Mitt Romney it’s that he’s insincere.

Serwer suggested we may have a “media problem” in the coverage of Pawlenty. That’s always possible, of course, although we think Serwer’s analysis is pretty silly. Pawlenty’s debate performance was notably weird. Journalists should have noticed.

That said, Serwer’s reference to the Gore campaign must have puzzled many Post readers. Has the Washington Post ever breathed a single word about the press corps’ war against Gore—the war to which Serwer refers in this passage? Just a guess: Due to twelve years of silence from career liberals and mainstream journalists, most Post readers had no idea what Serwer was talking about. Nor would they have understood this further allusion:

SERWER (continuing directly): Jonathan Chait wrote recently: “An Al Gore problem results in the media ganging up on a candidate like cool kids mocking a geek, with literally everything he’s doing serving as more evidence for the predetermined narrative.” The high school metaphor seems particularly apt when we’re questioning someone’s qualifications to be president based on his ability to level taunts at rivals.

Say what? Let’s say it again: The vast majority of Post readers have never heard that there was a problem with the press corps’ treatment of Candidate Gore. They will have little idea what Chait was talking about in that passage. These references come to them from inside a time capsule—a capsule which has been tightly shut over the past twelve years.

Sad, isn’t it? To see this topic enter the discourse because a career liberal like Serwer is shedding tears about the alleged mistreatment of poor Pawlenty! After he and his kind have spent twelve years deep-sixing the “media problem” unloosed against Candidate Gore! Pitiful children like Serwer and Chait are currently telling the truth very slowly. Just a guess: Most people reading yesterday’s Post didn’t have the slightest idea what they were talking about.

We want to leave the detailed history of Campaign 2000 behind us when we fly. We do so dreaming of a day when the liberal and progressive worlds are no longer in the hands of children like Serwer and Chait. The Irish saved civilization, we hear. Perhaps if we save the history of this campaign, future generations will know what to do with such actual knowledge.

More tomorrow, but here’s our question:

Did Post readers have any idea what Adam Serwer was talking about? We can’t imagine why they would have. But that is life inside a world in which career liberals have sold their souls, and shut their traps. for the chance to be media players. A world in which your big career liberals are telling the truth very slowly.

TRICKS OF THE TRADE (permalink): The recent flap about Anthony Weiner was a minor political event, but a very major press event. It showed you the press corps’ continuing love for all manner of silly distraction.

Why does press culture stay so dumb? At the end of the week, a few reports on cable were well worth your attention. First, consider Josh Marshall’s appearance on last Thursday’s Hardball.

Marshall appeared with Chris Matthews, a multimillionaire cable host who had spent the previous weeks flinging poo all around his cage concerning Weiner’s transgressions. Few cable hosts did more to make a major big deal of the Weiner flap. But a funny thing happened last Thursday night when Marshall appeared with Al Sharpton to review Weiner’s downfall:

No one mentioned the role Matthews played in creating the Weiner scandal! This silence was especially striking in the case of Marshall, who argued that it would have been better if Weiner hadn’t resigned.

(If MSNBC ever gets around to posting the transcript, it will do so here.)

A bit of background: Weiner announced his resignation last Thursday afternoon. That evening, Matthews devoted the first of two programs to a loving review of the whole thrilling flap. Here’s the question he posed at the start of his chat with Marshall and Sharpton. To watch the full segment, click here:

MATTHEWS (6/16/11): Wow! Welcome back to Hardball.

That [videotape] from January of this year shows the kind of passion former Congressman Anthony Weiner brought to the job. He was right to resign—or was he? My guests disagree.

Josh Marshall is editor of Talking Points Memo and the Reverend Al Sharpton heads the National Action Network.

Gentlemen, I can never predict how people are going to go on a topic like this. I don’t know whether it’s a partisan issue or not. Josh Marshall, should he have quit?

Marshall said Weiner should not have quit; Sharpton took the opposite view. But note the way the store-bought Marshall deferred to his multimillionaire host, to whom he has now sold allegiance. This is how liberals are kept barefoot and clueless by their tricked-out intellectual leaders

MARSHALL (continuing directly): I wish he wouldn’t have quit. If he wanted to, no problem—I have no problem with that. The key is, I don’t like how his party ganged up on him and forced him out. You know, the next thing they were going to do, say they weren’t going to have electricity in his office anymore, so he couldn’t have lights on or something.

The kind of universal demand from the leader of his party in Congress, the head the Democratic Party, everyone, demanding that he resign, when other people who’ve done infinitely worse things have never been treated like that—and all while this is happening, his voters, the people who he actually works for, polls showed clearly, they didn’t want him to resign.

So it’s not that I think that, you know, the republic is going to stand or fall whether Anthony Weiner is in office, just the intensity of the demands just seemed off to me. So, because of that, I wish he wouldn’t have had finally buckled, although I can only imagine the pressure was overpowering.

MATTHEWS: OK. That’s one point of view. He should have stuck.

In those words, you gaze on the soul of a fully tricked-out “career liberal leader.” Marshall was more than willing to complain about the conduct of Democratic Party leaders, who “ganged up on [Weiner] and forced him out.” He was happy to tell Hardball viewers that “the intensity of the demands just seemed off” to him. But whatever you think of those leaders’ conduct, who created the intensity surrounding this issue—who built the furor around this matter, a furor which almost surely affected the Democrats’ conduct?

Of course! Matthews himself flung piles of poo all around his cage, building the massive pressure around the Weiner situation. It was Matthews himself who helped build the huge pressure around this three-week flap. But Marshall sold his soul long ago; he understood that he mustn’t mention this obvious part of the history. On Hardball, he was allowed to criticize the Democratic leaders. He was not allowed to mention the ludicrous conduct of his cable host.

Please note one other part of Marshall’s tricked-up complaint. He specifically complained about “the kind of universal demand from the leaders of his party in Congress, the head the Democratic Party, everyone, demanding that he resign, when other people who’ve done infinitely worse things have never been treated like that.”

Other people who’ve done infinitely worse things have never been treated like that! As everyone knows, this is a reference to David Vitter, among others. But as we noted two weeks ago, Matthews himself is one of the people who openly sympathized with Vitter in 2007, then screeched and yelled about Weiner in the past three weeks. In a rational world, a guest like Marshall would have inquired about that. But Josh was bought and sold long ago. To build his own profile and his own income, he has agreed not to mention such obvious facts.

Liberals have been kept clueless about the mainstream press in precisely this way for a very long time now. Tricked-out strivers deep-six the conduct of people like Matthews in exchange for exposure and the cash it brings in. Conservatives batter the mainstream press; meanwhile, “liberals” like Marshall shuts their traps in exchange for worldly success.

It’s hard to find sufficient contempt for the likes of Marshall. We hope his money spends well.

On Friday night, Matthews continued his ridiculous clowning, as we’ll show you below. But first, consider Rachel Mddow’s spectacularly stupid performance on that same Thursday night.

Maddow opened her show with a 16-minute report on Weiner’s resignation. The report was so dumb in so many ways that it could only have come from Maddow and her staff. (To watch the whole segment, click here. Note the ridiculous diversion about the way the Weiner feed came into her office that day—a silly diversion intended to make you feel like part of the gang.)

We’ll mention two of the major absurdities. In each case, you must understand this: Maddow did her whole report perched beneath an IOKIYAR sign. (“It’s OK if you’re a Republican.”)

Is it OK if you’re a Republican? Can Republicans get away with all sorts of conduct for which Democrats get smashed? Weirdly, Maddow was soon reciting this list of examples:

MADDOW (6/16/11): Of course, not calling on people to resign depends on the people caught up in the scandal not being Republicans. Because the point is, David Vitter is a Republican, and [gesturing toward sign behind her] it’s OK if you’re a Republican. If you’re not a Republican, though, if you are, say, a Democrat like Congressman Anthony Weiner—well, I’m sorry, you have to go.

[…]

It is not some foregone conclusion that bad behavior in office leads to the end of a congressional career.

David Vitter and his hooker scandal, as we noted, David Vitter is still there getting caught up now in other lesser, friendlier controversies.

His former colleague John Ensign lasted for years after his sleeping with his staffer/cover-up/illegal lobbying/payoff thing was exposed.

Democratic Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York is still a member of the House even after he was found to have violated 13 separate House rules related to taxes and gifts.

Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana, the "$90,000 hidden in his freezer" guy, he stayed in office until his constituents made the decision. They eventually voted him out.

John McCain won his party`s nomination for president of the United States years after McCain was caught up in the savings and loan Keating Five scandal -- an episode Mr. McCain called the worst mistake of his life, but not one, of course, that caused him to resign.

Republican Senator Larry Craig, he also stayed in office after the whole wide stance airport stall thing.

There was more. But as she perched beneath a large sign saying IOKIYAR, Maddow included two recent situations in which it was OK if you were a Democrat! She didn’t quite seem to realize that these examples contradicted her basic premise—flew in the face of her sign.

Or she just didn’t care. By now, Maddow doesn’t have to make sense to please her hapless fans. She just has to fill our heads with tales of victimization.

Might we note a second problem with Maddow’s very foolish report? Over and over, Maddow kept telling viewers that it’s OK if you’re a Republican (IOKIYAR)—that Republicans don’t have to resign for conduct like Weiner’s. As she keened and wailed, she kept forgetting to mention the names of these former House members:

Mark Foley (R, Florida)
Eric Massa (D, New York)
Mark Souder (R, Indiana)
Christopher Lee (R, New York)

In fact, Weiner is the fifth House member to reign in some sort of sex scandal in just the last five years. (There may be more. We don’t keep obsessive records.) And omigod! Three of the previous four House members were Republicans! In those instances, it wasn’t OK when they were Republicans. Playing the fool as she constantly does, Maddow didn’t clutter her viewers’ heads with this information.

Maddow is one of the biggest fools we’ve ever seen on TV. That said, let’s get back to the mother of all cable fools, for whom Maddow sold her soul back in 2008. On Friday night, Matthews again devoted his Hardball program to a loving retrospective about the Weiner mess.

Incredibly, this is the way this gruesome cancer-on-the-republic started Friday’s program:

MATTHEWS (6/17/11): Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews out here in Los Angeles. I’m here to do the Bill Maher show tonight. But leading off tonight here: Notes on a scandal.

Weiner goes down in flames, David Vitter in Louisiana gets re-elected easily, and the shirtless Chris Lee is gone in a day. Tonight, we close the book on the Weiner scandal by trying—trying—to answer the question: Why are some politicians consumed by sex scandals while others slip past them?

The dishonesty of these people is endless. Matthews said he would try to explain why the Weiners go down in flames and the Vitters do not. In a long opening segment, Howard Fineman and John Harris joined him in this worthwhile quest. But neither man noted the blindingly obvious: Matthews himself treated Weiner and Vitter in totally different ways.

Why did Matthews treat the two pols so differently? If Harris and Fineman had been forced to discuss this matter for the whole evening, neither man would have asked.

They play you to gain the wealth and the fame. In the process, the liberal project suffers. Matthews has been a tricked-out corporate wh*re ever since the days when he served Jack Welch, the man who provided him his vast wealth. But Josh and Rachel are all tricked-out too.

They and their type have played you this way for a very long time.