STODDARD KNOWS SCRIPT! A. B. Stoddard recited a script—a script with a long, ugly history: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2007
STODDARD KNOWS SCRIPT: Modern pundits are quick to affirm their cohorts Approved Standard Narratives. Case in point: The Hills A. B. Stoddard is a fast-rising darling. Yesterday, she knew what to do when the Wall Street Journal wrote about Candidate Clinton.
Stoddard knew what she had to do. She raced to apply Approved Script.
Quick background: On Tuesday, the Journal published this highly speculative report; it suggested the possibility that six members of a Daly City, California family may have made illegal contributions to Hillary Clintons Senate and White House campaigns. Under this theory, the Paw family may have donated someone elses money; such pass-through contributions have long been a violation of federal law. The evidence in the Journal article is all circumstantial and speculative; Media Matters has noted basic problems with the reports procedures (click here, for example). For the record, fairly small sums of money are involved. Since 2005, the six members of the extended Paw family have contributed a total of $45,000 to Clintons two campaigns.
Have the Paws made illegal contributions? Its always possible that they have—and of course, its possible that they havent. Simply put, the Journal doesnt know. Meanwhile, midway through his highly speculative report, Brody Mullins made a key point, in passing:
MULLINS (8/28/07): For the 2008 election, individuals can donate a maximum of $4,600 per candidate—$2,300 for a primary election and $2,300 for a general election...Uh-oh! Presidential candidates often dont know when they receive such contributions. (For examples from recent campaigns, see below.) In short, Mullins simply doesnt know if the Paws have done something wrong. And if they have, he doesnt know if the Clinton campaign knew about it.
Did the Paws do something wrong? The Wall Street Journal doesnt know. But so what? Stoddard, a rising young media darling, did know the Official Narrative suitable for serving on such an occasion. On last nights Tucker, she showcased the way her reckless young cohort will reflexively act in such settings.
Has Hillary Clinton done something wrong? A. B. Stoddard doesnt know. But so what? On Tucker, Stoddard was quick to offer her thoughts about what this murky story could mean. Heres how her discussion of the topic with Carlson began. People like this should be kept away from cameras or open microphones:
CARLSON (8/28/07): It is very distressing. Hillary Clinton will accept huge amounts of money from people whose money that may not be, according to the Wall Street Journal—Good God! No word of caution; no bits of context. No correction of Carlson, who started with the insinuation that Clinton has knowingly taken illegal money. (Obviously, he doesnt know that.) Instead, Stoddard went directly to the Planet of the Scripts. I think that this is exactly the kind of thing that could take her down, she said. Moments later, just like that, she amplified her Approved Narrative:
STODDARD: The problem is, this kind of feeling that Obama and Edwards are stoking among die-hard Democrats. Many people think she is the most capable or experienced, there is still a sour taste in their mouth about the financial transgressions of the Clintons, which have filled books and will continue to. I think that this, if it turns into something, will be a huge problem for her.Just like that, the magic word: If. Stoddard has no idea if these donations were illegal. If they were, she has no idea if the Clinton campaign knew. But she was quick to start pimping script about what could happen if this turns into something. Many people still have a sour taste in their mouth about the Clintons financial transgressions, she said, forgetting to say what those alleged transgressions were. To state the obvious, these many people include the media losers who have invented tales about the Clintons and Gore over the past fifteen years.
According to Stoddard, theres an idea about in the land—an idea that the Clintons cannot stop taking money from illegal sources. Thats the script—and shes sticking to it! Has Clinton done anything wrong in this case? Stoddard doesnt know—but she does know the rules. You dont clarify, caution, apply brakes or explain. You dont correct your hosts misstatements. You dont warn your viewers about the shortcomings of a highly speculative report. You dont offer context from recent history. (We do—see below).
No! Instead, you crank script. And by the way, script may vary depending on the candidate! In situations where this type of conduct was shown to occur, Candidate Dole got a total pass—and Candidate Gore got lied about, viciously, for years. With Candidate Clinton, the chase is back on. Yesterday, Stoddard helped prove it.
HOWLER HISTORY—DOLE V. GORE: Youve never heard of Simon Fireman, finance vice chairman to Candidate Dole in the 1996 White House campaign. But uh-oh! Before the whole shebang was over, everyone had heard of Maria Hsia, a minor Democratic fund-raiser.
No one ever heard of Fireman; everybody heard about Hsia. Which is odd, because Fireman and Hsia were alike in one way; each made illegal, pass-through contributions during Campaign 96. In July 1996, Fireman pleaded guilty to funneling $69,000 in illegal donations to the Dole campaign. (He had directed his employees to make the contributions, then reimbursed them with his own money.) In February 2000, Hsia was convicted of funneling illegal pass-through contributions to the DNC in 1996—contributions she received at the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple, one day after Gore appeared there for an iconic event.
Fireman was close to Dole—a major player. But there was never any evidence that Dole knew about his illegal conduct—and for that reason, quite correctly, Dole was never dragged through the mud. By contrast, Hsia wasnt close to Gore; during her trial, federal prosecutors explicitly stated that Gore didnt know about her conduct. But so what? Gore was trashed all through Campaign 2000 by those who simply chose to pretend that he had conspired in her conduct. In this matter, the conduct of Hardballs Chris Matthews was especially egregious—quite hard to believe. There are no words for the relentless way Matthews kept deceiving his viewers (links below).
We can draw two lessons from these historical tales:
First: Candidates are often unaware of illegal conduct on the part of donors. There was never any sign that Dole or Gore knew about these pass-through contributions—the very type of contribution the Journal says the Paws may have made. In a rational world, people like Stoddard would warn the public about this basic reality.
Second: Players like Stoddard know script. In the mid-1990s, the Washington press corps dumbly decided that the Clintons were the worlds least honest known humans. So tribunes like Matthews lied about Gore all through the course of Campaign 2000—and players like Stoddard are eager to apply this Familiar Old Script in exciting new contexts. Stoddard has no earthly idea if the Paws have done something wrong; if they have, she has no idea if Clinton knew about it. But so what! Rather than offer these points of caution, she handed viewers a pleasing old script. Darlings, theres a sour taste out there—and an idea is afloat. A young tribune ran to promote it.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: As with Dole, so with Gore; federal prosecutors said, in open court, that he didnt know about Maria Hsias conduct. But so what? Matthews simply pretended he did, for weeks on end, on Hardball. Its hard to describe the extent of the lying—of the damage that was done to world history. In other professions, people who behave this way go to jail. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/18/02. For a real-time report about Matthews misconduct, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/17/00.
Matthews conduct was simply astounding. Have you ever heard anyone mention it?
DOLE SI, CLINTON NO: Did the Paws make illegal pass-through contributions? The Journal doesnt know. But in 1996, Simon Fireman did make such illegal donations—and he was Doles finance vice chairman! But Dole wasnt trashed for Firemans conduct because there was no sign that he knew about it. For the record, Fireman pled guilty in July 1996. Here are the opening grafs from Charles Babcocks report in the Post:
BABCOCK (7/11/96): A former top fund-raiser for Republican Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign has agreed to pay $6 million in personal and corporate criminal fines and face a possible prison term for illegally funneling $120,000, mostly through his employees, to the campaigns of Dole and others since 1991.