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Daily Howler: Clinton leads Rudy in ten of twelve polls. Guess which two Russert presented?
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RUSSERT PICKS CHERRIES AGAIN! Clinton leads Rudy in ten of twelve polls. Guess which two Russert presented? // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JULY 30, 2007

EIGHT YEARS TOO LATE: If this nonsense hadn’t changed world history, you could just throw your head back and roar! Yesterday, only eight years too late, the New York Time finally corrected. Cover the eyes of the children and pets. Sit down when you read this:
NEW YORK TIMES CORRECTION (7/29/07): An article last Sunday about politicians' choice of clothing while campaigning referred incorrectly to the role of Naomi Wolf in Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign. She was a consultant on women's issues and outreach to young voters; she was not Mr. Gore's image consultant and was not involved in his decision to wear earth-toned clothing.
Naomi Wolf “was not involved in his decision to wear earth-toned clothing,” the Times finally proclaimed (our emphasis). And it only came eight years too late!

(To review our own treatment of last Sunday’s piffle, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/23/07.)

Naomi Wolf “was not involved in his decision to wear earth-toned clothing” (our emphasis). We offer the following comments:

As we have long pointed out, there was never any evidence supporting this inane, pointless story; the whole thing came from a “speculation” voiced by consultant Dick Morris (printed in the Washington Post by—who else?—Ceci Connolly). But the New York Times played a special role in the month-long lunacy which followed. Morris was an unreliable source—but darlings, the Times just adored the new story! So Maureen Dowd quickly pretended that Time magazine had actually reported this pleasing new claim about Wolf. In reality, Time had done a full report on Wolf’s role in the Gore campaign—but hadn’t said a word about earth tones. But darlings, what difference did that make? Dowd wanted to have some good solid fun—and so, she simply lied to Times readers, as she has done so many times in the past. And presto! Instead of a “speculation” by Morris, this nonsense became a “fact,” a fact reported by Time! Pathetically, Howell Raines quickly said the same thing in a New York Times editorial, and other major scribes followed suit (links to our prior reporting below). But so it went all throughout the press corps’ two-year War Against Gore. Speculation was constantly turned into fact in the press corps’ drive to punish Gore—to punish the man who wouldn’t renounce the vile miscreant, President Clinton.

Darlings, the New York Times helped invent a rich tale! It became a key part of the War Against Gore: Al Gore doesn’t know who he is! He hired a woman to pick out his clothing! “It's deliciously Byzantine,” the idiot Dowd quickly wrote. “Mr. Gore, whose shot at the presidency is in jeopardy because Mr. Clinton had a preoccupation with sex, has turned to an author with a preoccupation with sex to save him.” (For the record, Dowd had already had a long feud with Wolf, who was smarter than Dowd—and much better-looking. And by way—enjoy a good laugh as you see the sex-obsessed Dowd complain of the trait in Bill Clinton.)

At any rate, the nonsense about Wolf consumed the “press corps” for the full month of November 1999. There are no words to describe the nastiness—or the sheer stupidity—with which the darlings pursued their new nonsense. (Nothing going on today is even dimly comparable.) And yes: Given the narrow way this election was decided, we are in Iraq today because Maureen Dowd had all that good solid fun.

And now, eight years later, the Times has corrected! Two more remarks about that:
First, we have no idea what the Times means when it says, even now, that Gore made a “decision to wear earth-toned clothing.” When is Gore supposed to have done this? We don’t have the slightest idea. It’s clear that Gore was wearing earth tones on the trail (and non-earth tones) ever since his campaign started in March 1999. Duh! Most people wear earth tones! It’s also clear that, in real time, no reporter thought there was anything odd about Gore’s wardrobe pallette—not even Ceci Connolly! When is Gore supposed to have made the “decision” to which the Times still refers? As we explained last week, we don’t have the slightest idea. We have studied this topic for years; we’ve never seen the allegation explained. But then, in the “journalistic” climate of 1999, stories like this didn’t need explanation. They just needed to please the darlings who made up your “mainstream press.”

Second, you have to laugh almost any time you watch the New York Times try to reason. Today, the paper happily tells us that Wolf “was not involved in his decision to wear earth-toned clothing” (our emphasis). But how can the newspaper possibly know that? Candidates do get wardrobe advice; it may be that Wolf did give such advice to Gore. If she did, it would have been a perfectly normal thing. Candidates take such advice all the time. Today, the Times confidently says that Wolf didn’t do this. But they offer no evidence supporting this claim. Given the problems with proving a negative, it’s hard to know how they could think that such a claim could be knowable.

Over the years, we’ve pointed out that there was no evidence supporting this pointless story, and that Wolf and Gore both flatly denied it. But how does the Times know the story is false? Honest to God—like kids standing over a jellyfish, you just want to poke them with sticks when you watch their slow minds try to “reason.”

Bottom line: These are very slow minds—but they drive your national discourse. Back in 1999, they pursued this nonsense to punish Gore—to make him pay for the troubling Clinton, who he wouldn’t renounce strongly enough. And because they wanted to punish Gore, they turned a “speculation” into a fact, then pretended that Time had reported it. (They had been doing this to Gore for eight months by the time this nonsense broke. Liberal writers stood by, saying nothing, hoping for jobs at the Time and the Post.) Today, for some reason, they want to stand down—so they make another assertion they can’t really support. But so it goes when these hapless darlings try to run your discourse.

Simply put, this story was never worth talking about. It was invented to punish Gore—to visit the press corps’ full fury on Clinton. And the Times, which is full of weak, empty minds, played a key role in the trashing, as always. Eight years later, they finally relent. But instead of saying what would be true—we never had any basis for reporting this nonsense—they now pretend that they know something else! Yes, these are very feeble minds. And they’re in charge of your discourse.

We humans don’t reason especially well. We’re very easily fooled—and distracted by trivia. But eight years later, the Times has relented on a nonsensical story that changed the world’s history. Answer a question which comes to mind at such moments: Tell us why we chase these people and yell at them, out in the streets.

VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: The Wolf nonsense consumed the darlings for a full month; there are no words for the depth of their smutty misconduct. Long ago, we told this story in five parts—but even then, we had to leave things out. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/10/03, for our full report. There are no words for their smutty misconduct, which explains why we’re now in Iraq.

RUSSERT KEEPS PICKING THOSE CHERRIES: In this morning’s New York Times, Paul Krugman has naughty things to say about George Bush’s “immoral philosophy.” According to Krugman, “it has taken the fight over children's health insurance to bring the perversity of this philosophy fully into view.”

If this is true, what can we say about Tim Russert’s philosophy? Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Russert could have devoted a bit of time to the looming battle over children’s health care. Instead, he assembled six pundits and wasted the hour in a silly, tedious, sooth-saying exercise about the possible outcomes of next year’s primaries. The discussion would have been utterly silly one week before the Iowa caucuses (which are notoriously hard to predict). Rendered now, six months out, it stood as a testimonial to the devolution of Millionaire Pundit Morés.

To all appearances, the Russerts don’t care about children’s health. In Margaret Carlson’s words, they care about fun, entertainment and sport—and about the sound of their own brilliant voices. But one part of yesterday’s snoresome session does deserve some special analysis. Uh-oh! Fighting for consciousness, our analysts came right out of their chairs when Russert took a look at some national polls. Was it our imagination, or was the millionaire Nantucket boy-toy picking sweet cherries again?

Sorry—let’s put that a bit more directly: Was the famous Nantucket nabob baldly misleading the voters?

Uh-oh! After three weeks of self-denial, Russert returned to some deeply troubling polls—polls which were troubling for Clinton, that is. Here’s what Russert told his viewers on yesterday’s program:
RUSSERT (7/29/07): And we're back. Let's look at some interesting polls. The generic question: “Are you going to vote for a Democrat or a Republican for president of the United States?” And look at these [pro-Democrat] margins in their question: 51 to 27 in the Hotline poll. Battleground poll, 49-38.

And then, when you match up specific front-runners, Giuliani, in both polls, beats Hillary Clinton! You match Giuliani against Obama, Giuliani wins in one poll, 49-45; Obama wins in another poll. Then take Fred Thompson. Thompson loses to Clinton in one, ties in another. But Obama does much better against Thompson than Hillary Clinton does, winning handily in both those races. What does that mean to you, Chuck Todd?

TODD: Well, I think that she's having a problem of electability.
There on the screen, the data were clear. Giuliani was beating Clinton in two different polls—the most recent Gallup and the Battleground. (Not the Hotline, which didn’t do head-to-head match-ups.) Conclusion? “I think that she's having a problem of electability,” our old friend Chuck Todd said.

What was surprising about that presentation? According to PollingReport.com, those are the only two polls in the past seven weeks where Giuliani has beaten Clinton. (For polling results, click here.) But uh-oh! In ten other polls (including the most recent), Clinton has beaten Giuliani! That’s right: In head-to-head match-ups, Clinton has beaten Giuliani in ten of the last twelve polls, including the most recent (basic data below). But so what? Russert cherry-picked the two polls Clinton lost—and Todd chimed in with the pleasing claim that she’s having electability problems.

The most recent poll (Clinton up 5) disappeared. So did all the others.

Is Clinton having electability problems? Or is Russert having a problem with the truth? Whatever it is, we think it’s time for Democrats to reject this appalling misconduct. With sixteen months left before November, we think it’s time to tell NBC that this sort of thing just has to stop.

Because readers, this is the second time this month that Russert has served you this big bowl of cherries. Think back! We saw him do the same thing—no, worse—when he reviewed the Clinton-Giuliani head-to-head polls on his July 1 program (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/2/07).

Let’s be fair, as is our custom. On July 1, Russert was confronting a major problem: Clinton was leading Giuliani in every current poll! But so what? On that day’s Meet the Press, Russert simply skipped the then-current Cook Report poll—a poll in which Clinton led Giuliani. Instead, he presented an earlier Cook Report poll—one where the hopefuls were tied.

We’d never seen anyone cherry-pick polling data so baldly. Yesterday, he did it again.

By the way: Why did Russert return to these questions on yesterday’s program, after that mortified, three-week contrition? Simply put, we can’t say. But there were no polls at all, all through July, where Giuliani was beating or tied with Clinton. But presto! As soon as Rudy won two polls, Russert threw them on the air—and deep-sixed all the others.

For the record, here are July’s six Clinton-Giuliani match-ups, followed by our old friend’s comment:
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics: Clinton, 46-41 (July 17-18)

Battleground: Giuliani, 49-43 (July 15-18)

Gallup: Giuliani, 49-46 (July 12-15)

Zogby: Clinton, 47-41 (July 12-14)

New York Daily News: Clinton, 40-33 (July 10-12)

USA Today: Clinton, 45-39 (July 6-8)
In July, Clinton has won four of six match-ups—but Russert selected the two polls she lost. “I think that she's having a problem of electability,” our old friend Chuck then said.

We think Chuck’s a superlative guy. Regarding Russert, we’ll make a sad statement: Jack Welch may have known what he was buying when he brought Tim home from the store.

THE DOG DAYS OF JUNE: Here are the last six match-ups recorded in June. Again, just click here, then scroll down, for recent polling results:
Fox News/Opinion Dynamics: Clinton, 39-37 (June 26-27)

CNN: Clinton, 49-48 (June 22-24)

Cook Report: Clinton, 45-44 (June 21-23)

Newsweek: Clinton, 51-44 (June 20-21)

NBC: Clinton, 48-43 (June 8-11)

Quinnipiac: Clinton, 45-44 (June 5-11)
Since June 11, Clinton has won ten of twelve match-ups with Giuliani. Yesterday, the other two match-ups were put on the air. They were the “interesting polls,” we were told. Russert had picked some cherries again—and misled NBC’s viewers.

Final question: Six major pundits sat around Russert’s table. Our question: Could it be true? Did none of these pundits know what we knew—that Clinton has been leading Giuliani in most major polls in the past several months? None of the six major pundits said boo. Our question: Readers, why was that?

OUR LATEST SAVIOR SAVANT: Heaven help our Democrat Party [sic] if Drew Westen is really our next savior savant. In yesterday’s Post, Westen started with his usual excellent point—most people vote with their hearts, not their heads. But right after that, Oh. Our. God! In paragraph 4, he offered the following groaning account of what Democratic voters are saying. No, we swear—you have to believe us. We did not make this up:
WESTEN (7/29/07): Now, perhaps you're sure you're a rational voter and you think that it's just uneducated people who vote with their gut. Well, listen over the next few days to your most educated friends' explanations of why they prefer one candidate over another. "I find him inspiring," they gush about Sen. Barack Obama. "He tells it like it is," they say about Edwards. "He's boring," they sigh about Gov. Bill Richardson. "She knows her stuff, but I just don't like her," they mutter about Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now those are reasonable arguments.
God almighty on heaven on earth! No, we didn’t make that up. Yes—it said that in the Post, under Westen’s by-line.

Westen, of course, is being slick, not unlike Brer Gonzales. Presumably, the phrase which makes that passage technically accurate is the key phrase, “most educated.” But how do you like it when your party’s new guru treats you like a big honking rube? At present, Clinton is leading in polls of Dems, as many people have surely noticed. But so what? She knows her stuff, but I just don't like her! That was the nonsense readers got handed in paragraph 4 of this Post Outlook piece.

But then, your lives have been played that way in the Post for the past fifteen years. And much of what Westen presents in this piece is equally foolish—or just flat-out wrong. As in his new book, he offers a piece of good advice: Dem hopefuls should appeal to the voters’ hearts. But as in his book, Westen weds this bit of good advice to absurd accounts of our recent politics. Soon, he offers his standard account of recent White House campaigns:
WESTEN: Think Michael Dukakis. Think Al Gore. Think John Kerry. They all ran on laundry lists. They never told coherent stories about themselves or their opponents. I can't for the life of me remember the narratives any of them laid out about why we should vote for them instead of their opponent. But I remember clearly the stories their GOP rivals told. That's what advertisers call "memorability," and if it isn't memorable and emotionally compelling, it doesn't sell.

Armed with nothing but laundry lists, all three Democrats got taken to the cleaners. It didn't matter that the public agreed with them on most of the "issues." While the Republicans were impugning their characters (think Swift boats or Willie Horton), all three nominees took the high road. They refused to wipe themselves clean of the attacks for fear of "dignifying" them—and refused to air the genuinely dirty linen of their foes. We clean the stains out of our clothes. We should do the same in politics.
All three candidates “got taken to the cleaners?” As many readers may have heard, Candidate Gore won the popular vote! (The narrative he laid out? I favor the people; Bush favors the powerful.) Meanwhile, Westen persists in pushing the misleading, unhelpful claim that it was “Republicans” who “impugned Gore’s character” during Campaign 2000. Republicans did do that, of course—but another, unnamed group did so much more. But many major Democrats—perhaps even Western—choose to become rich and famous by kissing the butts of that unnamed group, and therefore persistently choose not to name them. In the process, average Democrats—played for fools—fail to grasp the real shape of our politics.

Westen goes on to offer an unflattering portrait of Candidate Bush—a portrait he thinks the Gore campaign should have pushed. Of course, we can always imagine what would have happened if Candidate X had adopted Strategy Y. But first in his book, and now in this column, Westen displays no earthly idea of the problems with the strategy he suggests. But good God, readers! God bless our poor Democrat Party [sic] when saviors like Westen feel free to type paragraphs about what our brightest voters are saying. Your brightest friends think Clinton’s an ass! So it goes as your interests get burned by your latest press-approved savior savant.

For the record: If the primary were held today, we don’t know who we’d vote for. If the general election were held today, we’d vote for the Democrat.

The group that dare not speak its name: Surprise! Gore was trashed for Willie Horton too—by Bill Bradley (he’s a Democrat) and by the mainstream press corps! (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/02, for a detailed though incomplete history.) This was one in an endless string of attacks on Gore’s character by this particular group—by the group Westen never seems to name. No, Gore had nothing to do with Horton. But voters were told different, again and again—by the group our latest savior savant is too dainty, too slick, to name. Lucky ducky! Due to his silence, a major division of that group now prints his insult of Clinton!

But so it has gone in the Washington Post for a very long time. “Gore prefers the cut-and-thrust of traditional politics and has often defined himself by criticizing his opponents,” Dan Balz wrote on December 20, 1999. “It was Gore, after all, who in 1988 introduced Willie Horton into the presidential campaign.” That claim was patently, baldly false—but pretty much every good journo had typed it during this stage of their War Against Gore. Meanwhile, the claim that Gore is nasty and negative (“has often defined himself by criticizing his opponents”) helps explain why it was hard for Gore to go after Bush directly. Lawrence O’Donnell—who trashed Gore right up to November 2000—explained this strategy—this press corps strategy—on Hardball in May 2000. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/14/00, for O’Donnell’s explanation of a key part of Campaign 2K.

Westen shows no sign of understanding this problem—of understanding the special challenge the Gore campaign because of this press corps strategy. But don’t worry! He knows exactly what Gore should have said! And he knows not to mention the press corps! It was Republicans who impugned Gore’s character, we get told for the ten millionth time.

Final point: Westen gives some very good global advice. We’d suggest that Dem candidates listen—and forgive him when he trashes Dems who lead in polls and win popular votes. As we all know, a certain type of modern Democrat just adores trashing Big Major Dems. In his book, and in this column, Westen proves himself to be one of the worst. Dem voters hate Clinton! (She’s ahead in the polls.) And Gore, who won the popular vote? Taken to the cleaners!

Westen won’t mention Dowd, or Balz, or O’Donnell, or Raines, or even the ludicrous Ceci Connolly. No, it’s Gore this savant loves to trash! And how odd! He ends up in the Post!