TWO DAYS IN THE LIFE! Two days in December help us see the truth about Russerts legend: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2008
THE POWER OF NARRATIVE: Leave it to the Cape Cod Times to spoil a wonderful log cabin narrative! A reader tipped us to this June 14 report, which includes a photo of Tim Russerts summer home on Nantucket. The habitation was assessed at $7.2 million, the report says.
The place is more baronial that we would have imagined. (In that original Washingtonian report about the Nantucket NBC crowd, Russerts home was described as a sprawling gray-shingled housebut also as a cottage which lies down an unmarked dirt path.) At any rate, theres a world of difference between that photo and the Buffalo tales that were endlessly used to tell the public that Tim was an everyday joe, just like them. And yes, we average joes do swallow such tales. In the third comment on the Cape Cod Times post, a reader shared this impression of Russert:
Last week, we were struck by how many letters to the editor repeated such narratives. Nantucket pretty much sells itself. But the notion that Jack Welchs multimillionaire friends are just like uswell, that notion calls for some marketing. Oh by the way! Did we mention the fact that Brian Williams truly loves shopping at Target?
Theres quite a gap between that photo and those iconic Buffalo tales. But a bigger gap is found between the actual work of NBC News and the torrent of propaganda dumped on our heads in the aftermath of Russerts death. Last week, Chris, Mike and Patrick (and so many others) told us about their cohorts fairnesstheir brilliance, their unrivaled love of the truth. Sorry. The actual work of NBC News and its cable arm is a quite different story.
Today, we revisit two days in the lifeFriday, December 3, 1999 and Monday, December 6. Yesterday, we told you how we selected those datesand we summarized what had transpired on December 1 and 2, 1999. In particular, were reviewing the work done on Hardball, on NBCs cable arm. As this work was churned in a Washington studio, Russert sat a mile away. He was NBCs Washington bureau chief.
As such, the following work was performed on Tims watch. And this is just two days in the life; this type of work was done night after night, year after year, with deeply unfortunate outcomes. Nine years later, Major Dem leaders and career liberal writers still cant manage to peep out a protest. No serious review of Matthews work has ever appeared in a liberal journal. And of course, Howard Dean didnt know about this sort of thing because he doesnt watch that much cable.
Its one of the most remarkable stories of this or any agethis unrelenting liberal/Dem acquiescence in the face of such undisguised assaults. All last week, after Russerts death, major journalists went on TV and lied their keisters off about this. We knowthe truth is hard to believe. And yet, the truth is right there.
He was afraid he was going to say something weird? Matthews had been saying weird things all weekand hed been aggressively disinforming the public. But Matthews proved an able prophet; he went on to say many weird things this night, and a good many things that were baldly inaccurate. And then, he topped himself on Monday nightand on Tuesday, December 7. By this time, Matthews was in the business of saying weird thingsweird things that savaged Big Dems and pimped a certain Republican.
His first segment was a short session with Bauer, then a GOP White House candidate. But the weirdness started in his next segment, when he began applying tongue baths to a different candidateGeorge W. Bush. The previous evening, Bush had finally shown up for his first Republican debate, garnering weak and mediocre reviews. Except on Hardball, where Matthews explained how brilliant his performance had been.
Having savaged Gore for two straight nights, he began pimping up Bushmuch as his owner, near-billionaire Jack Welch, might himself have done.
Friday, December 3Pimping Bush: Matthews was very impressed by something that George W. Bush did, he told Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, a jury consultant who was now a regular Hardball guestessentially appearing as cable TVs original body language expert. After watching tape of Bush from the previous night, Matthews told Dimitrius, I thought that wasI was very impressed. What did you think? And what a shock! Dimitrius thought the same thing as Matthew, as was almost always the case in her sessions on Hardball. Well, III was impressed, too, she replied, perhaps attempting to think of something you could pretend to be impressed by. After describing an unexceptional thing the brilliant Republican hopeful had done, she said, It makes him look as though he's really done his homework, and thatthat impresses people.
Matthews spent several segments lavishing praise on Bushs performance. The weirdest things he said in these segments involved his attacks on GOP hopeful Steve Forbes, who had plainly offended all civilized decencies by sparring with Bush in the debate, and in follow-up comments on Friday. In Matthews first segment on Bushs performance, he had chatted with Granite State journalist Jennifer Donahue and Republican strategist Scott Reed. Heres a taste of what happened on Hardball in late 1999 if you challenged Bush:
But then, as Matthews had said just a few minutes earlier, I'm so tired at the end of the week, I'm afraid I'm going to say something weird. Later, he pictured Bush ridiculing Forbes as StevieStevie Wonder.
Beyond his oddball rants about Forbes, Matthews trashed a pair of journalists who had dared ask Bush some questions. I mean, I thought it was unbelievably arrogant of Brit Hume (the debates moderator) to ask Bush a question about what he was reading, Matthews thundered. Referring to Bushs earlier stumble in a pop quiz about foreign leaders, Matthews offered a bit of advice: Never let a humorless reporter ask you a bunch of questions.
Matthews devoted three segments this night to his pimping of Bushs performance. Such assessments are always subjective, of course; suffice to say that Matthews found a brilliance in Bushs performance that few other pundits had managed to spot. The previous two nights, hed murdered Gore. Now, he found someone to like.
Jack Welch could hardly have done it better. And then, omigod! Up popped Hillary Clinton! The final quarter of this evenings Hardball was devoted a remarkable discussion of Clinton with Andrea Mitchell. That day, Clinton had named New Yorker Bill DeBlasio campaign manager for her senate race against Rudy Giuliani. This produced a remarkable session concerning Clintons character and conduct.
Clinton would be trashed a bit, as well see. She would be trashed much more savagelyand much more stupidlyon the upcoming Monday night program. What was most remarkable was the way Matthews and Mitchell managed to slime Clinton with a new tarmac incident. Its hard to avoid an obvious judgment: The pair were lying to Hardball viewers, right on Russerts watch.
December 3Trashing Clinton: As the session began, Matthews commiserated with poor, abused Mitchell. He played tape of Clintons earlier announcement statementand boo-hooed about Mitchells fate::
Thanks to the she-bitch Clinton, poor Mitchell, a veteran network reporter, would be forced to cover a Senate race! It was a revoltin development! Mitchell wriggled away from this oddnessbut then, Matthews asked her about Clintons campaign chief. And the gentlemans weirdness came back, in spades, as he voiced his reaction:
Lets just say the tone had changed from the segments on wise/impressive George Bush. As Matthews continued, his distaste for a pair of Big Dems was quite clear. And he soon voiced the delicate theories Dems would object toeight years later:
These Clintons don't like being corrected, Matthews advised. Although Hillary Clinton could correct Bill because she had the backmail.
Soon, Matthews remarkable Clinton-loathing began to express itself more fully, in his trademark weird manner. The Clintons had recently purchased their home in Chappaqua, but they hadnt moved into it yet. After an inane discussion about Hillary Clintons choice in home decor and lack of a New York drivers license, Matthews began to offer his thoughts about a statement she had made concerning New York City homelessness policy. A taped statement by Clinton began his next segment. Mitchell snarked along with her host after that:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Clinton was talking about the homelessand she didnt even have a home yet! And then, things went from bad to worse. Jack Welchs favorite fruitcake decided to say a few weird things about his own interactions with the homeless:
All roads on this network, coherent or not, seemed to lead back to such judgments. Hillary Clinton was dumbly mocked for her comments on homelessness policy. But Matthews blather served to remind us that Rudy really gets that.
Again, it should be clear by now that there was one tone on Hardball for major Republicansand a quite different tone for Gore and Clinton. Could Jack Welch have done the show better himself? But now, Matthews and Mitchell switched their topics. Its hard to say that they didnt just lie in your faces. Russert sat one mile away.
December 3Back to the tarmac: At this point, Matthews switched his field, following Mitchells lead. We were on our way to LaGuardiaand to some bald-faced deception:
Tell me about the plane, Matthews cried. This led the pair to a story so foolish that it had been completely ignored everywhere else on cable. Everywhere but Friday nights session of Hardball, where Mitchell and Matthews flogged it hardand quite frankly seem to have lied.
The background: Matthews referred to a pseudo-flap Giuliani had ginned up two days earlier. On that very Friday morning, Elisabeth Bumiller had described the nonsense in a New York Times news report. The silly flap was also reviewed in New Yorks tabloidsbut no one disagreed with the basic facts as Bumiller laid them out. In fact, except for Matthews and Mitchell, nobody ever would.
Heres the background on the bull-roar the pair now decided to churn:
Long (spectacularly stupid) story short: That Tuesday afternoon, there had been delays at LaGuardia. On Wednesday, Giuliani seemed to claim that the delays had been caused by preferential treatment of Hillary Clintons plane. It soon became abundantly clear that Giuliani had no idea what he was talking about. And the FAA said, in some detail, that his claim had simply been wrong:
In short, Giuliani didnt know what he was talking about. And the FAA had denied all the claims. Clintons plane had itself been delayed, the agency said: "There were no special services provided for that aircraft." Gothams tabloidsthe Post and the Daily Newsreported the same sets of facts.
Indeed, this unfounded claim was such consummate nonsense that it was ignored all over cable. On Friday night, the late Barbara Olsen appeared on Hannity & Colmes, introduced as the author of Hell to Pay: The Unfolding Story of Hillary Rodham Clinton. But even this veteran Clinton-hater didnt mention this stupid tale, which had mainly embarrassed Giuliani. In fact, according to Nexis archives, no cable show ever mentioned this nonsenseexcept for the crackpot cable show Hardball, where Matthews and Mitchell said the following. Its hard to find a way to say that the pair werent basically lying:
Matthews mind began wandering again. But its startling to see the way Mitchell and Matthews told the tale of the airport delays. Well, the campaign denies it, you should know that, Mitchell saidfailing to mention the more salient fact that the FAA had repeatedly denied it! Failing to note that there was no evidence whatever for the tale Giuliani had started. It's not been absolutely confirmed that that happens for the first lady's plane, except that airport officials say it's true? Most likely, Mitchell would have said that she meant that this could have been true, in particular circumstances, as a matter of theory. But lets say it againeven Hannity and Olson avoided this turkey; according to Nexis records, no one on the whole Fox News Channel so much as mentioned this mess. But Matthews seemed to say that the FAA had affirmed the storyand Mitchell carefully avoided correcting him. One mile away, Tim Russert sat. Brilliantly raised by the nuns and the Jesuits, he loved the truth more deeply than we mortals could grasp. Playing around at the end of a show, his team had seemed to affirm a pseudo-scandalagain. Giuliani had been full of old shoes. On Hardballand on Hardball alonethe old shoes came back on Clinton. Soon, Matthews and Mitchell discussed how the Clintons were putting in Secret Service protection at Chappaqua and building a little guard house for them...probably putting in a perimeter. Just like Nixon in the old days, Matthews said. Oh, you bet, said Mitchell.
I'm afraid I'm going to say something weird, Matthews had said at the start of the program. In fairness, we give him high marks for self-knowledge. At any rate, this was just one day in the lifefollowing two consecutive programs where Matthews had simply murdered Gore. Candidate Bush had been quite impressiveand Hillary Clinton had been stopping planes. Russert sat a mile awayor maybe hed flown to Nantucket.
Before we move on, though, just a few questions. Does any of this resemble the pictures you were handed all last week, when Chris, Mike and Patrickand so many otherstold us how Russert adored the plain truth? Told us how they loved the truth, just like Tim, because of their own special upbringing? Does this resemble the propaganda which rolled down from the hills last week? It was recited endlessly for us rubes. Does this sound like what you heard?
Monday, December 6The dark side of his Irishness: If its Monday, it must be Gail Sheehy! Americas mind-reading pseudo-psychiatrist had now published Hillarys Choice, an unflattering biography stuffed full of so much blather that it was getting extremely weak reviews, even in Clinton-hating newspapers. Shrink-Wrapped, said the headline on the Washington Posts eye-rolling later review of the book. Even Gail Collin couldnt quite stomach the blather in her formal review in the Times. The book is a handy compendium of all the previous reporting on the Clintons' marriage, and people who have been trapped in a mine for the last few years might find it useful, she wrote as she ended her piece. But for most of the country, reading Hillary's Choice will provide a fuller insight into the meaning of Clinton fatigue.
But there was no Clinton fatigue on Hardball. Trashing both Clintonsand their lying spawn Gorewas the programs reason for being. Result? When Sheehy showed up for the first half-hour of the December 6 Hardball, even she seemed a bit startled by her randy hosts opening query:
No particular point of view there, in that opening, tough-as-nails question! Sheehy recovered from her surprise, saying that Hilary Clinton had offered Bill Clinton good advice in the 1999 Kosovo matter. Disappointed, her host asked for moreand introduced a construct:
Dont worry: It would soon become quite clear that Matthews was quite unimpressed with that resume he would keep citing. Indeed, his trashing of Clinton was so extreme that he turned Sheehy, the mind-reading Clinton-semi-trasher, into a bit of a Clinton-defender. Here was the next major question he asked as he quickly turned his guest. By the way, does any of this sound a bit familiar?
He screwed around; she covered up. Eight years later, a few Dems would finally start to complain about this sort of tone. And yes, Matthews would eventually make it sound like Vince Fosters death was Vile Hillarys fault. (Matthews, later in this program: The Vince Foster horror, where poor Vince Foster was trying to protect her and him, and he felt tremendous responsibility. You point out that wonderful story that he watched A Few Good Men the night before he committed suicide, and it's about a guy who committed suicide as a matter of honor. She put all this pressure on people.) She put all this pressure on people, he complained. (And of course, Classic Matthews: That wonderful story! ) But Matthews stupidity would surface this evening sooner than his animal loathing of Clinton. After some blather from Sheehy about the way she really didnt know who she was in college, Matthews displayed the circus-clown approach he takes to such matters. Try to believe that he said this:
You almost had to feel sorry for Sheehy, asked to respond to such ludicrous frameworks. Had Sheehy ever done a show where the host was so much more wacky than she? God bless hershe courageously tried to respond. But when she did, the name-calling started:
By now, Sheehy seemed so surprised by Matthews tone that she adopted a tone of defense. This drove her host straight back to thoughts of the bunny slope:
Why on earth would anyone think he didnt like Hillary Clinton? He just wanted to understand her thoughts about falling on soft snow out on the bunny slope! As she tried to continue, Sheehy bungled her understanding of what Bill Bradley had proposed about health care (she described Gores position; Bradleys went farther). But trust us, Chris didnt know either.
A question: Should the nations discourse lie in the hands of people who reason in such bizarre ways? Who reason by way of the bunny slope? Each person can answer that question himself. But soon, Chris began unveiling his own thoughts about health careand he called Clinton Evita. By now, Sheehy may well have been glancing around, furtively checking for the door:
In this tortured fruitcakes weak mind, Clinton was thinking they're going to have to thank me for it, and bring flowers to me like I'm Evita. As Irish Catholics ourselves, can we talk? The nuns and the priests were in Chris weak head at this pointand this time, they werent urging love for the truth. By the way, Chris had eye-rolled Eleanor Roosevelt on Friday too, when he explained why Clinton might win her senate race: Here's this sort of latter day Eleanor. Not that Eleanor Roosevelt does much for me, but for a lot of New Yorkers, I think it still has that big picture magic.
Not that Eleanor Roosevelt does much for me! Dont worry, Chris! No one will ever think you admire some ratty old woman!
At any rate, Matthews was now worked up pretty good. Soon, he was making Sheehy hear his ur-theory of Clinton and Clinton. In this passage, you see the tortured soul that has driven this mans inexcusable work for a decade:
By now, youre seeing a full-blown fruitcake of the old school, acting out in the old manneras we might say, a born Coughlin! According to Matthews, Bill Clinton was a born cover-up artist who can't even turn in an honest golf score. Hillary Clinton? She thinks she's always right about everything, that shes better than us morally, politically, culturally, and intellectually and every other way. Last week, this fruitcakes wife said, on Hardball, that we want to purge the dark side of our Irishness. For e-mailers who asked us what she meant, youre seeing what she meant, right here. And uh-oh! As our ranting fruitcake went to his breakwe were only half-way through this interview!he learned that Bill Clinton confessed his sexual indiscretions to Hillary Clinton in August 1998. Needless to say, he knew what that meant:
Of course! It meant she had a hell of a resume coming into the New York Senate race! But then, as Matthews had said to Mitchell, Boy, you've got a tough job being an objective reporter in a race like this..
The second chunk of Matthews half-hour with Sheehy was almost as fruity as the first. For the sake of brevity, lets move to the place where Matthews confronted Hillary Clintons far-left left-wing leftishness:
Dont worryMatthews was ready for that one. Well be honestwe dont understand his German reference. But it did seem to have him quite scared:
Classic dark side of our Irishness! Why would we want a great social service system? Why would we loathsome, yelled-at-by-nuns-since-birth sinners wantor deservesuch life-affirmation? (E-mailers: This is what Kathleen Matthews meant.) But you see, you cant be a bigger crackpot than Matthews. His loathing came spilling out again as he closed out with The Big Question:
What did dark side of our Irishness mean? Just reread those closing words by this resentful, misogynist nut-case. I mean, I have to wonder. This woman seems to think that she should be president, he said.
So there you see two days in the life. And lets understandthis was only two days in the life, two day out of thousands. Matthews kicked the tar out of Gore for two solid years, dissembling and name-calling as he went. As he lied, and insulted, and vented his spleenas he invented tall tales about tarmacsthe masterful Russert sat one mile away. This lunacy occurred on his watch.
By happenstance, we reviewed these old Hardball programs last week, as we listened to all the propaganda. Perhaps you can see why we were so struck by the gap between the truth and the industry tale. These programs start to show you the truth about what actually happened on Tim Russerts watch. You can listen to all that bull-roar they spew. Or you can look at what actually happened.
This went on, night after night, year after year. George Bush reached the White House because of this crap; this lunacy explains why were in Iraq. And go aheadjust name the career liberal who challenged this conduct! We agreethere are a few. A very few people complained.
But readers, this is the actual network Welch built. This is the network Russert watched over. What universe were they describing last week? A universe dreamed on an island.
For the record: The very next nightDecember 7Matthews consummate nonsense continued. That was the night when Howard Wolfson tried to do a segment on Hardball. (He didnt appear on the program again for five years.) Weve posted a large chunk of this lunatic program before; see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/20/06. If you review it, remember one thing: No one complained about this conduct. But then, no one complained as this consummate nutcase spent two years savaging Gore.
The dead of Iraq stare up from the ground. As they do, they look at the people who lounged around, in 1999 and 2000, at your fiery liberal journals.
Go ahead! You explain how this went on so long, with barely a peep of liberal protest. And remember: To this day, no liberal journal has ever published a serious review of Chris Matthews work. And again, this all happened on Russerts watchRussert, who adored truth and fairness.
He could have been happy in a cabin. But somehow, he ended up in that very large house. In that house, on that island, with Jackand almost no one on your side complained. Go aheadyou explain it. You explain how this lunacy happened.
ENCORE/MAESTRO: One statement deserves a final look:
That Friday happened nine years ago, Nine years later, little has changedexcept someone may have conquered his fears.