TUESDAY, AUGUST 12, 2003
WHAT ALAN DOES BEST: Chris Matthews knew what Gore had said. Al Gore was the former vice president of the United States. Less than three years ago, he received over 50 million votes for presidenthalf a million more than his opponent. And what had Gore said in last Thursdays speech? According to Matthews accurate account, Al Gore said today that George W. Bush has basically deceived the American people with false reasons for war, with false economic information. Al Gore accused the president of basically lying about the reasons for the war. And not only that: I agree with all of it, Matthews said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/03).
Just imagine! Matthewsa knowledgeable, experienced press corps insidersaid he agreed with Gores claims. He said he agreed with the startling claim that Bush had deceived the American people about a war. You might even think that such startling claims would trigger widespread press corps attention. But if you thought that, you were thinking about the American democracy you read about in your civics text. You werent thinking about the store-bought clowns who now run your celebrity press corps.
You werent thinking about the hapless Gwen Ifill, who hosts the PBS show Washington Week when she isnt off shilling for Condi Rice. Last Friday night, Ifill spent one segment of Washington Week reviewing Gores startling speech. Remember Al Gore? the witty host quipped. You know, tall guy, bad dancer, describes himself as the guy who used to be the next president of the United States? He stepped back into the spotlight this week with a toughly worded indictment of the man who now holds the job he wanted. George W. Bush, he said, is guilty of misleading the American people about war and about peace.
Ifill knew what Gore had said: Bush had misled the American people. But do you think she tried to examine this charge? Of course not! Here was her question:
IFILL: Karen [Tumulty], I read that speech and that I watched portions of it and I was, II couldnt get the answer to my question, which is: What was he doing? What was hewas he giving a road map to Democrats on how to behave or was he hinting around that he wasnt going to run?Amazing, isnt it? What was Gore doing? Ifill asked. Was he hinting around that he wasnt going to run? It didnt seem to occur to Ifill that Gore was accusing Bush of gross misconductwas making a set of serious charges that her panel should review and consider. It didnt seem to occur to Ifill that Gore was making a serious charge he actually believed to be true. Were Gores remarkable charges true? Ifill didnt seem to care. And just that quickly, one of her panelists, CNBCs Alan Murray, began to mind-read Gore:
MURRAY: I cant help but think that somewhere in the back of his mind is the scenario where none of the nine [Democratic candidates] really break out and distinguish themselves, and you get to a convention, then theres a true split of delegates and thenWe do this every four years, Ifill said. Its totally unrealistic, Murray replied. But there they were, wasting timeas they do every four yearstrying to figure out what may be somewhere in the back of [Gores] head. Meanwhile, Gores serious charges went unexploredunlisted, unchallenged, unsupported, undiscussed. Could you really find such mindless conduct anywhere else in the animal kingdom? In the human realm, is any other professional class is so deeply sunk in such dysfunction?
But then, all throughout the Pundit Kingdom, tree-swinging primates knew what to do. They were far too scaredand too store-boughtto discuss the things that Gore had said. So instead, they ran for higher ground, looking for ways to avoid that discussion. Fred and Mort simply lied in your faces (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/8/03). Matthews stumped his Hardball guests with bizarre remarks about Gore (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/03). But Ifill and Murray swung to the tree where they try to mind-read Gores motives. Why was he saying it? Ifill askedavoided the things Gore had said.
But then, Murray had taken the same approach on Capitol Report one night earlier. Incredibly, Murray never reported what Gore had saidthat Bush had deceived the American people. No, he only asked if Gores Big Speech meant that he might run for office. And to insure that the segment would be totally vacuous, he featured the half-witted Kellyanne Conway. Soon, the reigning queen of worthless comment was making remarks like this:
CONWAY: Al Gore seems to be a former everything and a current nothing. I mean, one is hard-pressed to know what exactly his day job has been for the last two and a half years. He looks like the same angry guy, same boulder on his shoulder. He reminded everyone again why they didnt like him. And one of the most popular phrases we have heard in the last almost two years now is, Could you imagine if Al Gore had been president on 9/11, or Thank God Al Gore wasnt in charge in 9/11. This is not the kind of leader the countrys looking for now. Look, I hope he jumps in the race, ultimately, because he just is such fodder for the Republican Party. The big slogan for Al Gore should be, Al Gore, Action Figure Sold Separately. He looks like the same old Al Gore.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Whew, what a brilliant discussion!
How good does it feel when that cable money is stuffed deep down inside your pants? That cable money must really feel for Murray to degrade himself with this nonsense. And Conway, of course, was just getting started. Take a look at the empty soul of Modern Pundit America:
CONWAY: Lets be very clear about where Al Gore was today and, more to the point, where he was not. He took his case to that hotbed of conservative ideology, New York, Manhattan. He didnt give his speech at Vanderbilt University in his home state of Tennessee, which he lost to Al Gore [sic] handily in 2000. Hes in New York. Hes at New York University in Manhattan, which arguably is the most left-of-center place. And I split my time between Manhattan and DC. Its the most left-of-center place on the globe. Hes going to where it is very safe, where you can stack an audience in your favor, and I think he deserves that, because heres a guy who really is down and out and marginalized from his party. Why is he not giving that speech in the heartland?In Alan Murrays America, we dont discuss the things Gore says. We trash the city where he makes them.
Cable money must spend real good for Murray to embarrass himself this way. Make no mistakeMurray knew what Gore had said. He also knew that his cable paymasters didnt want you to know it.
TOMORROW: Who will dare speak? And a bit of HOWLER HISTORY: Gwen Ifill, 10/4/00!