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THE JOY OF FAKE FACTS! Brownie should never have held his job. But so too with most of the press corps: // link // print // previous // next //

INTRODUCTION—THE JOY OF FAKE FACTS: Darn it! Yesterday, we almost gave him the Nobel Prize. Then, he had to go and say this:
SCARBOROUGH (9/9/05): FEMA Director Mike Brown has been sent back to Washington, but not fired, we’re told by the Homeland Security Department, after the outrage over his handling of this disaster and his suspect qualifications for the job. His reaction today was this, quote: “I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep.”

Now let’s bring in Louisiana congressman Bobby Jindal from Baton Rouge, who probably hasn’t had a good night’s sleep or a margarita since this storm hit!

What was wrong with what Joe Scarborough said? For our taste, he had toyed with that quote just a bit. Here’s what “Brownie” actually said. Joe—whose “qualifications for the job” aren’t all that great either—knew just which part to leave off:
BROWN (9/9/05): I'm going to go home and walk my dog and hug my wife, and maybe get a good Mexican meal and a stiff margarita and a full night's sleep. And then I'm going to go right back to FEMA and continue to do all I can to help these victims.
It was a stupid thing for “Brownie” to say, given the way the press corps works—and Scarborough knew which part of his statement to drop. But then, so it has gone, for the past seven years, as we’ve watched our lords and ladies pile on the latest Vile Player, tilting the facts to make stories more fun. No, “Brownie” should never have held his job. But then again, neither should most of our “press corps.”

Because let’s face it—everyone knew which part of Brownie’s statement had to be deep-sixed, dumped, dropped. Right at the start of last night’s Hardball, Chris Matthews—the world’s fakest man—also gave you the shortened statement. It let him pretend that he, Chris Matthews, is finer than Michael Brown, finer by far. If you’ve watched Matthews over the course of the years (if you understand the harm that he has done), you know how false that pleasing claim is. But this week, it’s cool to be a pseudo-liberal, to pretend that you care about the dispossessed poor. Result? After years of bowing to pseudo-con verities, Matthews was right there, switching sides. I’m upset with Michael Brown, he pretended. To prove it, he shortened Brown’s quote.

And yes, Maureen Dowd gives you Brown’s shortened statement in her column this morning. But then, Dowd also employs the week’s reigning fake fact—the one we’ll explore for you Monday. Of course, Dowd is the virtual queen of fake facts; it was she (and Frank Rich) who invented Love Story, the first of all the Gore fake facts—the first of the endless string of fake facts which put George W. Bush into office. Dowd has never shied from fake facts. Today, she runs with this one:

DOWD (9/10/05): The breakdown in management and communications was so execrable that the president learned about the 25,000 desperate, trapped people at the New Orleans convention center not from Brownie, who didn't know himself, but from a wire story carried into the Oval Office by an aide on Thursday, 24 hours after the victims had been pleading and crying for help on every channel. (Maybe tomorrow the aide will come in with a wire story, "No W.M.D. in Iraq.")

"Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult," a White House aide told The Times's Elisabeth Bumiller. Not if you had a TV.

All around your vacuous press corps, it has been the week’s hottest fake fact. “Brownie” and Chertoff were so out of touch that they didn’t know about the Convention Center, “24 hours after the victims had been pleading and crying for help on every channel.” Darlings, everyone has pleasured himself with that claim—even though it just isn’t true. For our money, Andrea Mitchell gave the best recitation yet, faking with Matthews on last evening’s Hardball. But Koppel, Wallace, Dowd, Rich, Mitchell? Darlings, everyone has taken a turn reciting the bogus “fact” this week. As we’ve recorded for the past seven years: When the tribe has turned on a guy, they all know the law—you embellish.

No, Brownie should never have held that job. But then, George Bush should never have held his job either—and these flyweights and frauds, with their strings of fake facts, worked for two years to put him in office. For two years, they invented fake facts about Vile Gore—and pleasing habits like that will endure. "Getting truth on the ground in New Orleans was very difficult," someone told Bumiller. But darlings! Getting the truth from your “press corps” is harder!

No, Brownie should never have held his job. But then, the same is true of Dowd. Chris Matthews? Don’t even ask!

DIGBY NAILS IT: We think Digby did an excellent job capturing the emptiness of Matthews’ reaction to New Orleans. It would be hard to have fewer thoughts and reactions to such a monumental event. But Matthews just couldn’t get outside his “who’s up/who’s down in Washington” framework. While several cable heads rose to the occasion, Matthews sat and self-stroked all week. Who will be the president’s viceroy? Little else seemed to matter. To see this perfumed cipher in action, you know what to do—just click here.