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Daily Howler: On the front page of the Washington Post, Ceci Connolly nails an old story
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CONNOLLY GETS IT RIGHT! On the front page of the Washington Post, Ceci Connolly nails an old story: // link // print // previous // next //

Connolly gets it right: This morning, our analysts behaved like a soccer team which had just scored the only goal of a very big game. Actually, more like a soccer team which had just scored its only goal of the year.

They exchanged high-fives, then ran all around. They peeled off their jerseys, then formed a pig-pile. After all these years, they could finally say it:

On the front page of the Washington Post, Ceci Connolly got it right! And her news report is very important.

Good God! Can you believe it? An ugly disinformation campaign has been in the works. Connolly describes that campaign today—and even says who’s behind it! She doesn’t warn seniors against reading “fliers,” as President Obama did this week (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/31/09). Starting right in its front-page headline, Connolly’s news report identifies the source of these ugly, bogus stories. Sending the analysts into a frenzy, Ceci Connolly gets it damn-straight right:

CONNOLLY (8/1/09): Talk Radio Campaign Frightens Seniors/Counseling Pitched as ‘Death Care’

A campaign on conservative talk radio, fueled by President Obama's calls to control exorbitant medical bills, has sparked fear among senior citizens that the health-care bill moving through Congress will lead to end-of-life "rationing" and even "euthanasia."

The controversy stems from a proposal to pay physicians who counsel elderly or terminally ill patients about what medical interventions they would prefer near the end of life and how to prepare instructions such as living wills. Under the plan, Medicare would reimburse doctors for one session every five years to confer with a patient about his or her wishes and how to ensure those preferences are followed. The counseling sessions would be voluntary.

But on right-leaning radio programs, religious e-mail lists and Internet blogs, the proposal has been described as "guiding you in how to die," "an ORDER from the Government to end your life," promoting "death care" and, in the words of antiabortion leader Randall Terry, an attempt to "kill Granny.”

Who has been spreading this garbage around? This morning, Post readers are told, again and again. In the headline, they are told that it’s being done by “talk radio.” In paragraph 1, things get more specific; they’re told that it’s “conservative talk radio.” In paragraph 3, the malefactor is named once again. It’s “right-leaning radio programs.”

There’s not much in this report about “fliers.” You do get a glimpse of the way the Democratic Party has handled this sort of thing since 1992, when the active promulgation of crazy stories began destroying American politics—eventually changing world history:

CONNOLLY: After letting the controversy simmer on talk radio and the blogosphere, expecting that it might blow over, Democrats have begun to respond.

The allegations of mandatory counseling and euthanasia "are blatantly false,” Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) And Sandser M. Levin (D-Mich.) wrote colleagues. The accusations are "as offensive as they are untrue.”

To their credit, Blumenauer and Levin finally spoke, at least a bit. But when it comes to these disinformation campaigns, Democrats have been “expecting that it might blow over” for at least the last seventeen years! So have the high liberal lords who have served liberal interests so poorly during that period (as cable pundits and at liberal journals). Thanks to all those years of lethargy, a sitting president—in this case, Obama—has to be careful how he speaks when asked about such ugly, vile conduct. His party—and our liberal “leadership”—haven’t invented the frameworks or the public understanding that allow him to speak more directly.

No, it really can’t start with a president. Will somebody please tell Bob Herbert?

Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve said it for years: When public figures disinform the public, that is major news. Liberals should insist it get treated like news—and liberals should actively tell the public that they’re being disinformed. (They should tell the public who is deceiving them.) You have to build an ongoing story, so voters will start to see the pattern. You have to say, as Ronald Reagan once did: There they go again! They lied to you (for example) about Clinton—then Gore! And they’re lying to you again!

Very few people enjoy being lied to. But you have to tell voters that this is occurring. (Not all of them will believe you, of course.) You can’t let the “controversy” simmer as you wait for things to blow over. And you can’t assume that voters will somehow figure out the pattern themselves.

And this has to be done by liberal leaders, in liberal journals and on TV. It can’t be done by sitting presidents. It can’t be done by major candidates in the midst of a major campaign.

Connolly is reporting important news. She reports it on her paper’s front page, which is exactly where it belongs. But this is just the latest episode a long, disgraceful, seventeen-year story—a period in which endless crazy tales were invented, then spewed to an unknowing public. During the bulk of that time, your liberal leaders grandly sat, waiting for various things to blow over. In much of that period, in fact, your liberal leaders played active roles in spreading this garbage around!

(Good God. As late as October 2000, the Duke of High Tinseltown, Lord O’Donnell, went on The McLaughlin Report and told the public what a big liar Gore was, citing one of the three million things Gore had in fact never said. In fact, our high lord found a very obscure non-lie lie this day—and he engaged in this astounding conduct a mere three weeks before that election! (His claim was utterly bogus.) Why on earth do people like us still accept people like him in high places? Why in the world do rubes like us accept the reign of such lords?)

Connolly reports important news. And she actually names the wrong-doers, from her headline on down. She doesn’t hide behind the word “fliers.” Ceci Connolly gets it damn right!

The lady reports important news—but it’s part of (at least) a seventeen-year story. And the irony here is rich, of course. In 1999 and 2000, no one spewed these stories more aggressively (or more consequentially) than Connolly did. She did this in the Washington Post—often on its front pages.

In the twenty-month trashing of Candidate Gore, the two most consequential players were Connolly and Chris Matthews. Why would our liberal leaders agree to be such great friends with the latter? We’ve asked that question for quite a few years. No one seems to explain.

Connolly trashed Gore for twenty straight months, inventing all manner of bogus story. Liberal leaders ran off and hid, too afraid (or uncaring) to speak or complain. They were waiting for it to blow over—and some were dreaming of the day when they might work for the Washington Post! Someday, they might be wealthy, influential, famous—and defended by others who are!

To her vast credit, Ceci Connolly gets it damn-straight right in this morning’s Post. Her story today is very important—and other such stories should follow suit. But this does represent a large change in the weather. Who knows? Perhaps a disgraceful period of “liberal”/press lethargy has finally begun to blow over.

One inconsequential example: In late June, Digby recalled one of Connolly’s “errors” from Campaign 2000 (click here). We were struck by Digby’s choice; the error she chose has always struck us as perhaps the meanest of Connolly’s many “errors.” This error wasn’t consequential, as many of Connolly’s “errors” were. (Some of her errors and “misquotations” virtually defined the campaign’s coverage.) It was just a small, snide insinuation, of a type which littered Connolly’s work. No one picked it up and ran.

But it was just so small and so mean.

In this error, Connolly gave the impression that Gore only volunteered for the army in 1969 because he’d gotten a low number in the draft lottery—because he knew he’d be drafted anyway. Plainly, this is bogus. Gore went into the army in August 1969. The draft lottery wasn’t held until December. The lottery wasn’t even planned at the time Gore volunteered.

Digby linked to our own real-time report, from April 14, 2000. But uh-oh! A few weeks after we posted that real-time report, we learned something we didn’t know at the time. In the innocuous public discussion from which Connolly drew her insinuation, Gore had affirmatively said that he didn’t think the draft lottery had even happened at the time he volunteered. Connolly should have fact-checked that anyway, of course, before she published her insinuation. But Gore had actively alluded to this fact that very day. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/05/02, for a full report of the case. (For our real-time update, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/25/00.)

It takes a special kind of scribe to invent an insinuation like that. Connolly did that sort of thing for two years. George Bush ended up in the White House.

(In the same ball park: Richard Berke’s suggestion, in October 2000, that Gore may be such a big fat liar because his elderly mother had been such a big liar too. Simply astounding.)

Our high lord O’Donnell never complained. To him, the nominee was the troubling liar, not the scribe; he was still grandly announcing this fact in October 2000. But so what? He’s still a highly honored lord, especially in the grand duchy of Far La-La Land. Have you ever seen him asked why he did this? Good God, but we “liberals” are easy!

Our liberal lords were on the side of the liars for most of the 1990s, right up to and including Campaign 2000. But all well-mannered “career liberal” climbers knew they must defer to such lords. For this reason, the public has never been told how badly they’ve been deceived—or how long it’s been going on. Connolly’s report today is important. It’s part of a much longer tale.

Voters deserve to be told that they’ve been deceived. They deserve to know who deceived them.