Contents:
Companion site:
Contact:

Contributions:
blah

Google search...

Webmaster:
Services:
Archives:

Daily Howler: A question occurs to Colbert King. Herbert and Rich, not so much
Daily Howler logo
TWO CHEERS FOR KING! A question occurs to Colbert King. Herbert and Rich, not so much: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, AUGUST 3, 2009

When multimillionaires lie in your faces: We strongly recommend Glenn Greenwald’s post concerning the apparent cessation of the BillO/KeithO feud. Long story short:

According to Brian Stelter’s report in the New York Times, the TV hosts’ corporate owners (Murdoch and Immelt) decided their feud was counterproductive. Greenwald’s summary: “According to the NYT, both CEOs agreed that the dispute was bad for the interests of the corporate parents, and thus agreed to order their news employees to cease attacking each other's news organizations and employees.” More Greenwald: “Though Olbermann denies he was part of any deal, the NYT says that there has been virtually no criticism of Fox by Olbermman, or MSNBC by O'Reilly, since June 1 when the deal took effect.”

“That isn’t entirely true,” Greenwald says, noting Olbermann’s criticism of Fox on June 17. “But a review of all of Olbermann’s post-June 1 shows does reveal that he has not ever criticized (or even mentioned) Bill O'Reilly since then and barely ever mentions Fox News any longer.”

Two words: Classic KeithO!

Let’s start with one correction: Citing Stelter, Greenwald says that Charlie Rose “tried to engineer an end to the ‘feud.’ ” Stelter’s report just doesn’t say that. Since we linked you, we’ll warn against that.

Now, a few reactions:

For the most part, we should probably thank the liberal gods for an end to this silly, fake feud. Olbermann’s attacks on O’Reilly were often the dumbest, fakest part of his very dumb, very fake program. Over the weekend, we read back through his “worst person” reports on Mr. O in April and May, before the truce apparently took effect,. Even we were amazed by the emptiness of the bulk of the work. Olbermann’s staff must have spent thirty seconds per day constructing these brainless items. This was very, very dumb feed. Keith would throw it to us in the herd.

More significant is the way Olbermann seems to have dismounted from this shock jock-style feud. The deal took effect on June 1, Greenwald notes. And by complete and total coincidence KeithO announced, that very night, that he would be quitting BillO! The reason he gave didn’t make much sense; it was tied to O’Reilly’s profoundly ill-advised comments, down through the years, about the recently murdered Dr. George Tiller. But Olbermann devoted his program’s last segment to his plainly heartfelt dismount. We strongly suggest that you read the full segment. But here’s how his heartfelt cri de coeur ended on that heartfelt night:

OLBERMANN (6/1/09): Fox News Channel will never restrain itself from incitement to murder and terrorism, not until its profits begin to decline, when its growth stops. So not so much a boycott here as a quarantine, because this has got to stop.

That I have a commercial conflict of interest here is obvious. So I’ll make the first symbolic contribution to this quarantine. One of my pleasures, obviously, is constantly criticizing him [O’Reilly] in that Ted Baxter voice. It is the idea of laughter as a social sanction against inflexible behavior.

But this is no time for laughter. This is serious. Serious as death. As serious as George Tiller’s death. So as of this show’s end, I will retire the name, the photograph, and the caricature. The words may still be quoted in the future as developments dictate. The goal here is to get this blindly irresponsible man and his ilk off the air.

We’re only in the television news business, a profession that is at times about two inches up from carnival barking. We must again separate it, television, from terrorism. And we must again make the world safe for people condemned by the Fox News Channel.

That‘s Countdown for this, the 2,223rd day since the previous president declared mission accomplished in Iraq. I’m Keith Olbermann. Good night and good luck.

We strongly suggest you read the whole segment, understanding as you do that Olbermann is apparently lying right in your faces the whole Fox News-hatin’ time.

No, that cri de coeur didn’t exactly make sense. BillO had sinned as never before—so KeithO would no longer criticize him! (We know—that isn’t quite what he said. But, according to Greenwald’s review, all criticism of O’Reilly ended that night, not just the silly-bill clowning.) But then, very few things this big hack says ever make a whole lot of sense. If Stelter’s report is accurate, we now know the actual reason KeithO quit BillO that night. And we know he was lying right in your liberal faces as he wept, emoted, moaned and wailed all through that inaccurate segment.

Go ahead, read that whole segment. Don’t say we haven’t been telling you.

About KeithO and Dr. Tiller: KeithO was veryextremely upset about O’Reilly’s past comments on Tiller. This is unusual, because until the time of Dr. Tiller’s murder, KeithO had never said a word about O’Reilly’s ill-advised comments. KeithO was right about one thing; O’Reilly had gone way over the line in his past comments about Dr. Tiller. Unlike most of the bullsh*t KeithO pimped, this was an actual, serious offense. O’Reilly should have been criticized for it, especially if you were running a show where you whomped on him every durn night.

Sorry. Although he battered BillO incessantly, KeithO had never mentioned Tiller (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/12/09). Why not? We have no way to know. But again, a bit of a guess: When you get to make up silly sh*t—silly sh*t it takes ten seconds to prepare; silly sh*t designed to please rubes—why would you waste your time on such a substantive, complex matter? KeithO tended to hand us rubes silly sh*t about O’Reilly. In the process, he completely missed this very serious area of real concern.

Classic KeithO.

Bottom line: Fox News does tons of horrible work. (Some of its work is OK.) The world would benefit if some competent, serious newsperson constructed a real critique of this work—perhaps with ideas about how to combat it. But Olbemann has long performed like a clown, the charge he laid on O’Reilly.

Two clowns fought on the edge of a roof. On June 1, both jumped off.

TWO CHEERS FOR KING: Let’s start with two cheers—or maybe just one—for the Washington Post’s Colbert King. Over the weekend, he joined two other heavyweights (Bob Herbert, Frank Rich), weighing in on the Gates/Crowley matter. Also appearing: New York Times reporter Helene Cooper, who got the chance to interview Gates. To see her solicit and sift Gates’ views, you know what to do—just click here. (Text below.)

Why the two cheers for King—maybe one? Of all these mammoths, only he even dared suggest some imagined dissatisfaction with recent judgments by Gates. For ourselves, we don’t know how to assess Gates’ actions—in part because of reporters like Cooper. But in the passage which follows, King was at least willing to suggest, ever so vaguely, the distant imagined possibility that Professor Gates might have made the slightest error in sitting down for a good cold beer with his new friend, Officer Crowley. Two cheers for King—maybe one:

KING (8/1/09): George Washington University law professor John F. Banzhaf III argues that Gates should not have socialized at the White House. Instead, he says, Gates should sue the Cambridge police for arresting him without legal justification.

I'm not sure I would go that far.

But Gates, it seems to me, has an obligation in the search for common ground to do more than sip beer and munch peanuts with the prez and the cop who busted him.

The professor and I don't share the same circles.

But this I know: Henry "Skip" Gates is well positioned to take a public stance against the police practice of arresting people for exercising their constitutional rights. It happened in his case. It happens far too often in this country, especially to the poor, the politically unpopular and people too financially weak to stand up for themselves. And it is a practice that cries out for correction.

Lowering the temperature over the Gates arrest is fine. Papering over the offense and treating it as if it were just a matter of two cool guys getting hot under the collar is not.

Two cheers for King! It strikes him as imaginably odd that Gates would sit down for peanuts and beer with a man who had recently arrested him “for exercising [his] constitutional rights.” (That’s King’s view of what happened.) Somewhat daintily, King shaves down the meeting’s possible oddness, failing to note the very serious charges Gates has made against Crowley—claims which may well be accurate. Should Gates sit down for peanuts and beer with someone who recently filed an arrest report which was “an act of pure fiction?” A report which was, “from start to finish,” such “pure fabrication” that Professor Gates “was astonished at the audacity of the lies?”

Should Gates have sat down with a man who did that? We don’t know, in part due to Cooper. You see, when Cooper was granted an interview with Gates, she completely forgot to ask him about those very serious charges! In the aftermath of last Thursday’s beer blast, Gates didn’t take questions from the rabble, as his working-class counterpart did. Instead, he submitted to questions from Cooper. This is the piffle we got:

COOPER (7/31/09): Professor Gates said in an interview, “I don't think anybody but Barack Obama would have thought about bringing us together.”

The two men [Gates/Crowley] and their families first encountered each other in the White House library while each group was on individual tours of the White House on Thursday afternoon.

''Nobody knew what to do,'' Professor Gates said. ''So I walked over, stuck out my hand and said, ‘It's a pleasure to meet you.’ That broke the awkwardness.”

Sergeant Crowley added that the families ''had continued the tour as a group while the beer talk commenced.'' He described the interaction between families as very cordial.

Professor Gates concurred, saying: ''We hit it off right from the beginning. When he's not arresting you, Sergeant Crowley is a really likable guy.”

We have no idea what was actually said in the course of Cooper’s interview. But here’s what emerged in her report: Gates fawned to Obama; was gracious about Crowley; and of course lauded himself. But why in the world did he meet with Crowley, whom he has accused of gross misconduct—presumably, of a serious crime? As we told you last week, skillful players in Cooper’s journalistic class will know they mustn’t ask.

So it goes when our “press corps” swings into action! At Crowley’s press conference, no one asked about the apparent factual errors in his official report (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/31/09). And then, when Cooper interviewed Gates, she didn’t ask about his very serious claims against Crowley.

To his credit, King was willing to suggest the possibility that Gates has been slacking a bit. But then, he seems to say in his piece that he doesn’t know Gates (pause for astonishment); elsewhere, among those who do, the pander was more thorough. On the op-ed page of the Times, Rich as usual played the buffoon—and Herbert offered the kind of reaction which helps explain how liberals tend to lose ground in debates like this. Much of what Herbert says, about the wider society, may well make perfect sense. But this passage, about his friend Gates, simply doesn’t:

HERBERT (8/1/09): Mr. Gates is a friend, and I was selected some months ago to receive an award from an institute that he runs at Harvard. I made no attempt to speak to him while researching this column.

The very first lesson that should be drawn from the encounter between Mr. Gates and the arresting officer, Sgt. James Crowley, is that Professor Gates did absolutely nothing wrong. He did not swear at the officer or threaten him. He was never a danger to anyone. At worst, if you believe the police report, he yelled at Sergeant Crowley. He demanded to know if he was being treated the way he was being treated because he was black.

You can yell at a cop in America. This is not Iran. And if some people don’t like what you’re saying, too bad. You can even be wrong in what you are saying. There is no law against that. It is not an offense for which you are supposed to be arrested.

Professor Gates “did absolutely nothing wrong,” Herbert says—seeming to mean that he did nothing illegal. “There is no law against” yelling at cops, Herbert explains, even if what you’re yelling is wrong. “It is not an offense for which you are supposed to be arrested.” That’s certainly true, at least up to a point; there is a law against yelling in public, if your behavior becomes “tumultuous.” But that is a question of what is legal, and Herbert sounded off about what is “wrong.” We liberals frequently conflate these questions, especially when such acts of conflation suit our interests, or those of our friends. Example: President Clinton did nothing illegal with Monica Lewinsky. But did he do something wrong? That’s a different question. Herbert was in such a frenzy here that he seemed not to notice or care.

Rich, of course, was pandering even harder, to Obama and to liberal readers. Frankly, the man is incurable. He may be the dumbest, most defiantly unbalanced writer in American pseudo-letters.

RICH (8/2/09): I’ll return to the larger picture, but before the battle of Cambridge fades entirely, let’s note that the only crime Obama committed at his press conference was honesty (always impolitic in Washington). He conceded he did not know “all the facts” and so wisely resisted passing judgment on “what role race played” in the incident. He said, accurately, that “separate and apart from this incident” there is “a long history” of “African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcing disproportionately.” And, yes, the police did act “stupidly in arresting”—not to mention shackling—“somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home.” If Obama had really wanted to go for the jugular, he might have added that the police may have overstepped the law as well.

The president’s subsequent apology for his news-conference answer was superfluous. But he might have used it to acknowledge the one exemplary player in Cambridge, Lucia Whalen, the white passer-by whose good deed of a 911 phone call did not go unpunished.

“Superfluous?” We don’t know what that word means here either. But no one tells a one-sided story quite the way this big oaf does. Has someone accused Obama of a “crime?” Rich is a master at spinning tales up through such silly language. Meanwhile, he forgets to say it was “liberals” like him who did the punishing of Whalen, by doing the thing we liberals love best—by attacking her as a racist. And of course, don’t forget the meaning of High Pundit Language. When Rich says this: Obama spoke honestly, he really means this: Obama said something with which I agree. It’s one more way Pundits Like Him play the fool—and make us dumber.

Rich is the master of ludicrous claims designed to please an audience. For example, who else would write something as foolish as this: “Crowley portrayed Whalen as a racial profiler by saying she had told him that the two men at Gates’s door were black.” (So that’s who caused all the trouble!) Almost certainly, Whalen didn’t say that. But why would she have been a “racial profiler” if she actually had? No one says things as stupid as that—no one but Rich, talking down to an easily buffaloed class. And of course, this same silly class is happy to read scripted tripe like this:

RICH: Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox News, where Brit Hume last Sunday lamented how insulting it is “to be labeled a racist” in “contemporary” America. “That fact has placed into the hands of certain people a weapon,” he said, as he condemned Gates for hurling that weapon at a police officer. Gates may well have been unjust—we don’t know that Crowley is a racist—but the professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home.

“We don’t know that Crowley is a racist,” Rich grandly proclaims. He then finds way to excuse any possible “overreaction” by Gates (Obama’s judgment) with this: The professor was provoked by being confronted like a suspect in the privacy of his own home. Such blather makes our tribe feel good, but it ignores an obvious fact: At the point of first contact, the famous professor actually was “a suspect in the privacy of his own home!” And if he had an ounce of sense (and he does), he would have known why he was! The newly-sainted Whalen had called to say that two men may have broken into the home. When Officer Crowley arrived at the scene, Professor Gates was the man he encountered.

(By the way: On last Monday’s On the Record, Whalen’s lawyer told Greta Van Susteren that Whalen “does not believe the police acted inappropriately” in making the arrest. If that’s correct, is Whalen still saintly? Or is she a racist again—now that she has disagreed with an Approved View of our tribe?)

Rich will always play the fool, spinning us rube liberals hard. In the process, he makes us massively dumber—as he did all through the 1990s, when he bought every peck of the right-wing/MSM bullsh*t about both Clintons, then Gore. (In an astonishing act of incomprehension, he managed to maintain the sh*t about Gore right through 2006! He only began to kiss Gore’s keister as the Nobel Peace Prize neared.) But Rich knows a rule of modern discourse: If you start a paragraph with certain key words (“Ground zero for this hysteria is Fox”), you can then type any bullsh*t you want. We rubes will stand and applaud you.

Two cheers for King—or perhaps only one—for wondering why Gates isn’t pushing back harder. (There may be an answer, if someone would ask him.) Our question: Was Professor Gates telling the truth when he made those remarkable charges? If so, we aren’t real clear why he sat and drank beer with his new friend, the one who committed the crimes he describes. But then, we aren’t real sure why Obama did either. Presumably, though, his did what he did because of an excess of honesty. When fakes like Rich starts to pander on race, that’s all you’ll ever hear.

Clowns like Rich will always behave like he thinks our collective IQ is 9. Over and over, we will thank him. We’ll ask him to do it again.

Frankly, they’re all Joe the Plumber: That said, the following passage may be Rich’s finest. He praises Cooper, who somehow knew she mustn’t ask the world’s most obvious question. And then, he reveals how a man as great as himself actually sees the world:

RICH: As Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Helene Cooper of the Times have pointed out, a lot of today’s variation on the theme is class-oriented. Some whites habituated to a monopoly on the upper reaches of American power just can’t adjust to the reality that Obama, Sotomayor, Oprah Winfrey and countless others are now at the very pinnacle, and that they might sometimes side with each other just as their white counterparts do. Threatened white elites try to mask their own anxieties by patronizingly adopting working-class whites as their pet political surrogates—Joe the Plumber, New Haven firemen, a Cambridge police officer. Call it Village People populism.

See that? To Rich, they’re all Village People! The firefighter and the cop—and of course, Joe the Plumber. To Frank Rich, Frank Ricci is Joe the Plumber. Savants like us don’t notice such taunts. Other voters do—and should. This is how wealthy buffoons like Rich used to behave toward blacks.

Rich is a deeply stupid fellow, the Mr. Collins of our time—a man who worked to put Bush into power. (Bush and Gore? Two peas in a pod!) From his very high Gotham perch, he surveys the rest of the world. If we might borrow from Professor Russell: It’s Joe the Plumbers, all the way down.