FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2002
TECHNICAL TORMENT: At present, our e-mail is like that old Roach Motel; e-mails come in, but they dont go out. Were getting your missives, but we cant respond. Sorry. Were trying to fix it.
THE SHAPE OF THE FUTURE: Was there ever a week when it became so clear that our national discourse is simply fixed? Here are the signs that grabbed us:
Were going to tale you back one more time to Blankleys amazing article. Yes, internal combustion was just a minor spin in the RNC/press war against Gore. But we remain appalled at the way the press has permitted this nonsense to stand.
- Tony Blankley takes a treasured distortion about Al Gore into a stunning tenth year of service. He is free to do so even after the Bush Admin signs on to Gores general outlook (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/21/02).
- Ann Coulter dreams of Timothy McVeigh blowing up a well-known New York building. Even in post-9/11 America, the press corps knows that it mustnt say Boo (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/22/02).
- Coulters crackpot, best-selling book finds its latest gong-show reviewer. The New York Observer joins the New York Times and Los Angeles Times in their PlaySkool approach to our public discourse. The Observer counts Coulters footnotes and uses the number as an emblem of the books presumed accuracy.
- What does have the pundit corps shorts in a wad? A ludicrous piece in the Washington Times accuses the NEA of blaming America first (see below). The usual suspects on cable TV rush to assail your kids teachers.
Did Gore present crackpot ideas in Earth in the Balance? The RNC wanted you to think so, and internal combustion became the principle way it conveyed this notion to citizens. In the process, the RNC stood the truth right on its head. Instead of simply acknowledging the truthGore was right about a point of technologythe RNCs spinners have repeatedly said that Gore put forward another wacky idea. And the world is full of normal Americans who dont know that theyve been deceived on this matter. They simply dont know that Rush has deceived them. They dont know that Jim Nicholson deceived them as well. And when they read Blankleys appalling column this week, they didnt know he was deceiving them too. These citizens have heard this gong-show script-point for years. They simply dont know that the tale is untrue.
And why are these citizens still in the dark? Because the mainstream press corps allows their deception. The insult to our system is vast. American democracy ceases to function when citizens can be so routinely deceived. But deception is now a basic building-block of our corrupted press culture. And this same gong-show culture is all around us as we debate the war on Iraq, our most ambitious military effort since Vietnamperhaps since World War II.
Its now clear: Our public discourse is thoroughly fixed. When we go to watch the Washington Generals, the names on their jerseys says SHIELDS, HUNT and GERGEN (see yesterdays HOWLER). And its clearthese stars are prepared to stand silently by as long as the paychecks keep coming.
SCAIFE IS THE HEAVIEST WAVE IN THE WORLD: Why do good guy pundits stand silently by? Presumably, they dont want all the trouble. Scaifethe heaviest wave in the worldcrashes on those who dissent. Why on earth did the L. A. Times publish that ludicrous Slander review? Its safer, by far, than telling the truth. Editors head for their weekend homes knowing that turmoil wont intrude.
What is the state of the mainstream press corps? In the aftermath of the first Bush-Gore debate, Margaret Carlson painted a stunning portrait of an uncaring, millionaire press corps. Why were pundits stressing minor factual errors by Gore and ignoring massive policy blunders by Bush? Appearing on Imus, Carlson revealed the soul of the corps, and no, were not making this up:
CARLSON (10/10/00): Gores fabrications may be inconsequentialI mean, theyre about his life. Bushs fabrications are about our life, and what hes going to do. Bushs should matter more but they dont, because Gores we can disprove right here and now
You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator or you look at his record in Texas. But its really easy, and its fun, to disprove Gore.
Those emphases were strictly by Carlson. Its fun to disprove Gores errors, she saidand its easier than trying to work with Bushs more significant blunders. Carlson took her troubling presentation through one more weird iteration:
CARLSON: I actually happen to know people who need government and so they would care more about the programs, and less about the things we kind of make fun of
But as sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us. And we can disprove it in a way we cant disprove these other things.
To Carlson, talking about that school desk in Florida was a form of entertainment and sport. Though she even knows people who need those programs (Medicare; Social Security), she and her cohort quite plainly do not. In their treatment of Bush-Gore I, they went after what was fun, easy, sport and entertainment.
Incredibly, Carlson actually said those things. And that explains why Blankleys deception has now lasted ten full years. It also explains why American citizens have no idea that theyve been so deceived.
Carlson, of course, is still drawing big checks. That explains why she doesnt need those boring government programsand it helps explain why her well-heeled cohort doesnt want Scaife crashing down on their heads. Scaife is the heaviest wave in the world. Why spoil all the fun with a wipe-out?
HATE THE TEACHERS WELL: When CARLSON suits up for the Washington Generals, others are free to say what they please. Consider Ellen Sorokins consummate clowning on page one of this Mondays WashTimes. NEA delivers history lesson, the headline said. Tells teachers not to cast 9/11 blame. Here was the opening paragraph.
SOROKIN: The National Education Association is suggesting to teachers that they be careful on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks not to suggest any group is responsible for the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people.
Really? Teachers shouldnt suggest any group is responsible for September 11? Sounds strange, but what did that clipped statement mean? Did it mean that al Queda wasnt responsible for September 11? That would be a very strange thought. Or did it mean that Muslims as a group werent responsible? That, of course, would be perfectly accurate. Sorokin showed no sign of knowing what the NEA said or meant; her article was marked by the truncated quotes which tell us that spin is in progress. But no matter. The nations screamers took to the airwaves, teaching Americans to hate teachers well.
By Monday evening, the NEA website had been posted, but Mike Barnicle showed no sign of having reviewed it. On Hardball, he simply read the truncated quotes from the Times, then began to state the dimwitted points his paymasters want him reciting:
BARNICLE: Whats the NEA thinking about, talking about September 11 in this manner? Are they nuts?
What moral relativism can we draw from September 11? They seem to be trying to do that. We have to think of what was in the minds of these hijackers. Lets figure out what was on their minds. We know what was on their minds! They wanted to kill us!
If an engineer mocked facts the way Barnicle does, hed be fired in a Chris Matthews minute. But in todays press corps, this PlaySkool punditry is quite routine. Ka-ching! Can you hear Mikes fat paycheck passing?
That same evening, Sean Hannity was hammered by the NEAs Jerald Newberry. (Hannity also showed no sign of having looked at the NEAs site.) Here is a bit of the exchange:
HANNITY: Mr. Newberry, welcome to the program. Lets see here, all right, so you suggest to teachers to be careful not to suggest any group is responsible for the terrorist hijackings that killed 3,000 people
Is that your position?
But no matter. On Tuesday morning, the astonishing gang on Fox & Friends continued reciting the Times truncated quotes, making no reference to the extended discussion on their network the previous night.
NEWBERRY: Thank you for having me on the show. Actually, that [article] was written before our web site went up this morning. And no one who wrote that had ever even seen what we, what our position was. And thats absolutely the opposite of our position. Our position is that Usama bin Laden created this crises, that his terrorist network is responsible for the crises, and we want teachers and parents to have the information to help educate their children.
HANNITY: What do you mean it was written before it went up on the web site?
NEWBERRY: That article was written yesterday. And the web site went out this morning. They had nothe people who wrote that had never seen our web site.
HANNITY: Yes, so youre saying that the Washington Times got it wrong?
NEWBERRY: Not only wrong, they got opposite message of whats in our web site.
Lets hope the Generals enjoy their beach homes. Americas discourse has become a sick joke as their fun/sport/entertainment continue.
STILL CRUSHIN: The Post continues its righteous work in support of the deserving Blue Crush. In this morning's capsule review, Michael O'Sullivan goes one wave farther. He cites a plot event which wasn't mentioned in either of the Post's rave reviews (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/19/02):
O'SULLIVAN: The most telling moment in the Oahu-set "Blue Crush" comes during the climax, a surfing contest called Pipemasters in which the heroine
gets egged on to greatness not just by her on-shore posse, but by her competitor. It's this sense of universal sisterhoodwell, that and the awesome shots of righteous babes riding killer wavesthat busts open the dreary cliches of the summer movie.
Is the help her competitor gives Anne-Marie the most telling moment in Blue Crush? We’ll vote for the closing speech of Anne-Marie’s younger sister. ("That’s my sister! That's my sister!") But O'Sullivan is right. Blue Crush "is both a hip anthem of female empowerment (subtext: love and personal fulfillment are not mutually exclusive) and an eye-popping celebration of 'riding the pipe.' " If you support the people instead of the powerful, we hope you'll go check out this movie.
CORRECTION: In an earlier posting, we misidentified the author of that capsule review. Forget all about that other guy. O'Sullivan is the one.