SOLD THROUGH EBAY! McCain got fooled by Palins claimpresumably, as Palin intended: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2008
KURTZ JUMPS INTO THE TANK: Howard Kurtz is deep in the tank as he begins todays report. Youll rarely see a reporter recite a political partys line quite the way Kurtz recites the GOP line as he opens:
Truly, thats quite a statementand its the straight Republican line. Palin was mauled and manhandled by an openly skeptical media establishment, Kurtz says. But go ahead! Just try to find Kurtzs support for that remarkable statement. His effort begins in paragraph 6 (out of 20), with this remarkable presentation:
That is simply stunning. In this passage, Kurtz claims that mainstream outlets have been asking questions about these matters, not writing actual reports. But for unknown reasons, he seems to treat these (alleged) inquiries as a journalistic offense; in the process, he simply accepts the McCain campaigns claims about the volume of inquiriesand about its own motives. Soon, he voices a complaint about that campaign. But Kurtzs accurate complaint applies to his own report:
That observation is accurate, of course; the McCain campaign has been lumping media and tabloids together, for obvious reasons of propaganda. But thats exactly what Kurtz himself does right at the start of this piece. It isnt until paragraph 13 (out of 20) that Kurtz offers examples of mainstream journalists (not tabloid organs) dissing the poor abused Palinand the examples he offersw are relatively minor and tedious. Yes, there have been media dimwits. For example, heres Keith Olbermann describing the Palin pick with the Hail Mary language to which Kurtz objects late in his piece:
No, you cant get dumber than that. (In what way is Palin fanatically pro-gun, for example?) But did this sort of thing reach the level portrayed by Kurtz in his opening paragraphs? We would have to say, no, it did notand Kurtz doesnt even come close to justifying his portrait, which pimps the straight GOP line. But the GOP stamped its foot at the press last weekand many puppies will fall into line.
In his opening grafs today, Kurtz recites the GOP line, dotting their is and crossing their ts. He even promotes an astounding new line: Mainstream news organs will now be savaged if they dare to ask.
SOLD THROUGH EBAY: Last Tuesday night, Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-MN) appeared on Larry King Live to pimp the wonders of Sarah Palin. (In the past year, Bachman has become one of the GOPs most frequent TV spokesmen.) King asked a standard questionand he got a standard reply:
Instantly, Bachman claimed two achievements for Palin as governor. Palin said no to the Bridge to Nowhere. And Palin took the former governors plane and sold it on eBay.
Bachmans claim about the bridge was pure nonsense; the way Palin states it, its just a lie. But the claim about the ex-governors plane was largely bogus tooand, by the end of last week, McCain was baldly misstating those facts. Heres what the famous straight-talker said in a rally last Friday:
For the record, the luxury jet was 23 years oldand it doesnt seem to have been all that luxurious (more below). But no: Palin didnt sell the jet on eBayand she didnt make a profit. Indeed, she lost money for the state of Alaska when she tried to sell the jet on eBaya procedure that had long been the norm when the state sold its assets.
In short, the eBay story is basically bogus, like the tale of the Bridge to Nowhere. But these stories exist for an obvious reason; they exist to define Palin as a woman with a lot of gutswith a ton of hockey-mom savvy. These stories are effective politicsbut then too, theyre basically lies.
That brings us back to our basic question: Why can Republicans tell such tales? For two solid years during Campaign 2000, the press corps invented such embellished tales, then pretended that Gore had said them. They then savaged Gore for his vast dishonesty. How can Palin herself pimp such tales, with barely a peep from the press?
Background on the jet: Quick background on the jet plane story:
The jet was purchased by unpopular Republican governor Frank Murkowski; it had become a major issue in Alaska politics years before Palins ran for governor in 2006. (The jet was already an active issue in the 2004 state campaign.) During her gubernatorial campaign, Palin did pledge to sell the planebut so did the other major candidates, in both major parties. (Murkowski finished a distant third in the 2006 GOP primary, behind Palin and John Binkley. Binkley had also pledged to sell the plane. In the general election, Palins Democratic opponent, Tony Knowles, had pledged he would sell the plane too.) Meanwhile, trying to sell the plane on eBay wasnt a hockey moms savvy idea; it was standard practice in Alaska. According to Nexis, the first mention of eBay in this context came after the campaign was over, when Palin formally put the jet up for sale. This was part of Kyle Hopkins report in the Anchorage Daily News:
Selling assets on eBay was standard practice for the state; it wasnt the hockey moms kitchen-table-in-a-small-town idea. And uh-oh! In this case, the eBay gambit turned out to be a bad idea for the state. No suitable bid came in for the jet, and Palin changed course in April 2007, putting the plane up for sale through a conventional airplane broker. The plane was finally unloaded in August 2007at a substantial loss. (Murkowski had purchased the plane for $2.6 million. McCains latest howler to the side, it sold for $2.1 million.) Meanwhile, the state had continued to pay a $62,500 quarterly note on the plane during the months when Palins eBay gambit failed. Using eBay had sometimes worked in the past, but it failed when the hockey mom tried it for this major asset; the pitbull in lipstick forgets to say that when she pimps her brilliant maneuver. And McCain misstated the basic facts when he pimped Palins brilliance last week. No, she didnt sell it on eBay. And no, it wasnt sold at a profit.
Just for the record: It isnt clear that the luxury jet was really all that luxurious. The plane was already more than twenty years old when the unpopular Murkowski bought it. Indeed, in Hopkins report, the former governor offered a bit of a warninga warning which proved somewhat prescient:
For the record, the Daily News had editorialized against selling the jet, saying a state as big as Alaska needed a jet for official purposes. The paper suggested the sale of the jet was an act of silly political symbolism. Maybe the state should just hold an exorcism to rid the plane of Murkowskis cooties, Paul Jenkins even proposed in a column. Let's face facts, Jenkins wrote, we could arrange a knock-down, drag-out exorcism for the hundreds of thousands of dollars we are going to lose if we dump the Westwind as an act of political lunacy. Jenkins turned out to be a prophet; the state did lose a sack of dough during Palins eBay gambit.
To state the obvious, none of this was worth discussing last weekuntil this episode was disingenuously used to define Palins hockey-mom savvy, to help define her as a woman with a lot of guts who knows to root out corruption and evil. But thats how this nonsense was used last week, as soon as Palin was picked by McCain. One week later, McCain was baldly misstating the facts of this pointless casemisstating to (cheers, applause).
Fund speaks: Did McCain know his statements were bogus? We dont have the slightest idea. But this silly story was being pimped as soon as Palin was picked by McCain, for those obvious reasons. One day after Palins selection, John Fund explained the whole thing to Paul Gigot on Fox News Channels Journal Report. Fund, a major conservative pundit, explained why the largely pointless eBay story was being widely pimped:
You cant beat political symbolism like that, Fund saidthus explaining why you keep hearing this silly story. Almost everyone had favored selling the planeand eBay had long been the way the state sold its assets. But so what? This would now be packaged as the brilliant ploy of a pit bull in lipstick. Indeed: By the end of Palins first week in the national spotlight, the king of straight-talkers was out on the trail, misstating the basic facts of the case.
By the way: Even as he made this obvious statement about the reason for pimping this story, Fund misstated elementary facts concerning another symbolic matter. In fact, Palin fired the official state chef for the governors mansion in late June 2007, almost eight months after taking officeand only for that part of the year when the state legislature wasnt in session, when Palin doesnt live in Juneau. (The Anchorage papers said Plain had made a decision to downsize chef time.) Letting the chef go may have made good sense, but the making sandwiches bull-roar was largely BS. But so what? Even as Fund explained one bit of silly symbolism, he misstated the facts of another.
Do you mind if we repeat a basic point? Gore was savaged, for two solid years, for allegedly misstating facts in this way. In that case, of course, the press kept inventing the bogus claims, then pretending that Gore had made them.
Hacks like Cokie: John Fund, of course, is a movement conservative. But members of the mainstream press were already peddling this eBay BS before he got his chance to speak. Palin was named on Friday, August 29. In the 11 AM hour, as the choice was being announced, NPRs endlessly hapless Steve Inskeep decided to tell the world about Palin. To do so, he played tape of a two-year-old broadcast by Elizabeth Arnolda broadcast which had been weirdly misleading at the time Arnold originally aired it. Through Arnold, Inskeep pimped the eBay blatherand bungled the Bridge to Nowhere tale. Inskeep replayed Arnolds 2006 broadcast last Friday. NPR victims heard this:
With hapless ninnies like Arnold about, Palin knew whereof she spoke! The canceled road (an 11-mile pioneer road out of Juneau) had nothing to do with the Bridge to Nowhere, and no one had called it a road to nowhere until Arnold blundered into town on a jet from dimwitsburgh. One or two local voices had recommended that Palin return the congressional money for the Bridges to Nowherebut we can find no sign that anyone expected her to, and much of the money had already been spent. And of course, she never did so. But so what? Two years later, Inskeep simply replayed this puzzling old tape, pimping the silly eBay story and the Bridges to Nowhere nonsense.
Of course, these defining tales of Palins savvy were destined to be widely pimped. No one is dumber than Cokie Roberts; here she was, on that evenings Nightline, sharing the main thing about Palin. As you can see, the medias vicious liberal bias was once again showing through:
Thats spectacularly stupid, of course. But then, Roberts has been like this forever; here she is in 1999, pimping a different set of defining personality tales. In this part of her nationally syndicated column, she is talking about two rumored presidential candidatesDonald Trump and Jesse Ventura. She compares them favorablywith Gore:
Its almost impossible to be stupider than thator to show the evil of banality more clearly. Roberts repeated such swill for two years, putting George W. Bush where he is. Just for the record, Gore had worn cowboy shirts and open-necked polo shirts throughout his political career; Roberts was reciting a set of scripts, not responding to facts. (Beyond that: As a native Washingtonian, she of course understood that the Fairfax Apartment Hotel had not been a fancy hotel.) But in this way, killers like Roberts punished Gore, the disgraceful Bill Clintons disgraceful vice president. Two Fridays ago, she repeated equally inane personality tales. This time, though, the silly tales came from Sarah Palin herselfand cast her in a favorable light.
It would be hard to list all the media lightweights who pimped the eBay/Bridge to Nowhere tales. But clearly, someone was selling these tales to the media, even before Palin herself mentioned the eBay blather. Palin began misstating about the Bridge to Nowhere in her initial August 29 speechbut she didnt mention the eBay foolishness until Wednesday nights convention speech. But somehow, pundits already knew how to pimp it. Here was the gruesome Glen Beck on CNN, an hour after Palins unveiling:
That was pure, unadulterated, Palin bullsh*t. It was offered in the 1 PM hour on the day the hockey mom was unveiledbefore Palin herself had said a word (in public) about selling that jet plane on eBay.
Someone was pimping these hero tales hardand dimwits like Roberts would quickly repeat them.
Why are you hearing about that jet plane? As Fund said, its political symbolism. And Bachman explained what the symbol is supposed to mean: Palins a woman with a lot of guts who knows to root out a lot of corruption and evil. Less crazily, the eBay parable is supposed to show that Palins a savvy hockey mom with small-town, kitchen-table instincts. The actual story is much more blandand McCain is misstating the facts.
Bottom lines? She didnt sell the plane at a profit. All the candidates had vowed to swell it, not just the bold hockey mom. And it wasnt her idea to sell it on eBay; this was SOP in Alaska. And she lost money for the state when she tried to extend the eBay gambit to the point of selling a jet. Time and money were lost by the state as her gambit failed.
Selling McCain: None of this is actually worth discussing; its all pure/perfect BS. But understand: Palin has baldly misstated her role in the Bridge to Nowhere matter. Last Friday, McCain baldly misstated the facts about her eBay gambit. Presumably, he was misled by Palins carefully constructed statement about this pointless matter. Palin herself was very careful in what she said about that jet at the GOP Convention. Here was her spunky, self-glorying statementa statement intended to mislead the public without misstating the facts:
The audience roared at the hockey moms savvy. Two days later, McCain falsely claimed that she sold the plane on eBayfalsely saying it sold at a profit. But then, thats almost surely what voters were intended to think when they heard the hockey moms parsed statement. Palin had carefully measured her words. Two days later, McCain blurted out what most people thought she had said.
Al Gore was savaged for (alleged) crap like thisfor tedious errors the press corps tortured out of extemporaneous comments. Today, Palin deliberately tells bogus talesand crickets sing all through the press.
Hacks get played: Nothing is simpler than selling this piffle to your mainstream press corps. Just watch three hacks get played. First, the Posts Amy Goldstein:
That helped show that Palin was very upfront! How about Newsdays inept Sophia Chang, listing Plains career highs?
Pitiful. Back at the Times, the hapless Tim Egan seemed to want to out-bungle the others:
Pure garbage, sold to hapless hacks. And even as this nonsense ran, the GOP prepared its great cry: Liberal bias! Much more tomorrow.