WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2003
BILL MAKES A RACKET: Deep inside his No-Spin Zone, Bill OReilly was deeply troubled. An 11-judge panel from the Ninth Circuit had overturned an earlier decision; Californias recall election could proceed, the panel now said. And OReilly knew why they had so ruled. He chatted with the Fox News Channels alleged former judge, Andrew Napolitano:
NAPOLITANO (9/23/03): Look, it is rare that a court would come down with a unanimous decision.OReilly couldnt name the judges, and hed surely never studied their work. But somehow hed gotten inside their heads, and announced they were racketeers. Napolitano agreed, as expected.
But something else was bothering Billthe deadly decline in our public discourse. Judges were acting like racketeersand Democrats were making rude comments! Moments after his racketeer comment, he opened another segment like this:
OREILLY: In the Personal Story Segment tonight, trashing your opponents.And no, this wasnt a comedy segment. The racketeer-profiling wraith, OReilly, really did seem to be serious:
OREILLY: Joining us now from Madison, Wisconsin, is Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, a liberal publication, and, from Washington, Stephen Hayes, a writer for The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine. Mr. Hayes, I thought it was bad under Bill Clinton. I mean, obviously, he gave his critics ammunition, but, you know, they demonized and vilified him all day every day. But its worse now under Bush. Do you agree?Needless to say, Hayes did agree. Absolutely, the pleasing scribe said. I mean, Bill, youre right in your set-up to say that both sides do this, and, you know, when people cross the line, I think, people on both sides, good-spirited people on both sides should call even their allies when they step over the line.
To Stephen Hayes, Bills always right. Its what gets him back on the program.
At any rate, by the time the hand-wringing segment was finished, Hayes had shown his deep concern for a civil discourse, referring to comedian Al Franken as a punk whos not even funny anymore, who just seems to spew this hatred and this vitriol that doesnt even make sense half the time. The night before, OReilly had also showcased his civil side, referring to this self-same Franken as an emotionally disturbed person.
Yes, OReilly seems to come and go in his love of civil discourse. Butironic for someone in a No-Spin ZoneOReillys basic take was the perfect expression of Prevailing RNC Spin. As complaints about Bush have begun gaining traction, conservative spinners have begun to offer a neatly scripted (and ludicrous) spin-point. They insist that the criticism aimed at Bush is much, much worse than that aimed at Clinton. The Bush-haters are worsemuch, much worsethan the Clinton-haters were, they agree.
Scripted butt-boys who wont stop reciting, they run to sing the latest song. But just how clown-like are their lyrics? Tomorrow, we recall some Clinton-hating that occurred right there on Bills network.
NO, WERE NOT MAKING THIS UP: Here were Bills first two examples of that deeply disturbing public discourse:
OREILLY: In the Personal Story Segment tonight, trashing your opponents.Thats right, folks. Bill was deeply troubled by Doonesbury, and by Robert Scheers column in yesterdays Times. But just how unfair was the far leftist? At length, Scheer quoted Schwarzeneggers comments about the pleasures of dunking actress Kristianna Loken into a toilet. He also quoted Schwarzeneggers remarks about the silly who-knows-what groups that might object to such a scene in a movie. Heres part of Scheers troubling critique:
SCHEER: The issue here is not puritanism, and I am on record as having defended Schwarzenegger in 2001 in this column when Gray Davis consultant, Garry South, made too much of a largely unsubstantiated and irrelevant Premiere magazine article concerning the actors alleged sexist and crude behavior on movie sets.Should voters be troubled by Schwarzeneggers remarks? That is a matter of judgment. But Scheer notes that he has defended the actor on similar matters; says there is no simple answer to his questions; and defends the values of the Christian right as well as those of feminists. (He doesnt call Schwarzenegger a punk or disturbed. He merely says that the Oprah Winfreys should ask about Schwarzeneggers comments.) But to the deeply disturbed OReilly, this exceeds what was done to Bill Clinton! We like a fair hunk of OReillys work, but on these matters he is deeply, deeply strange. And oh yeshes reciting Pure Spin. Much more on this topic tomorrow.
HOWLER HISTORYNO JOKING MATTER: Was Wes Clark joking when he said that Karl Rove wouldnt return his phone calls? Thats what Clark says, but certain spinners dont seem to want you to know it. Yesterday Andrew Sullivan kept readers in the dark on this point. Today, he says that he shouldnt have done it.
Was Wes Clark joking? We dont have a clue. Neither, of course, does Sullivan. But make no mistake: The Washington press corps will lie about jokes. On Monday, Media Whores linked to a DAILY HOWLER from October 2000; it concerned Candidate Gores fateful joke about the union lullaby. It was perfectly clear at the time that Gore had told a joke to his union audience. But Walter Shapiro got his shorts in a wad, and soon the press made it Gores Latest Lie. They hooked it up to Walter Robinsons groaner about the cost of doggy-pills, and soon the election turned around once again. More on that point at the end.
Everyone pretended that Gores statement was serious. But just how plainly had Gore been joking? We didnt have Nexis in October 2000, so we couldnt perform the full research. Of course, every Washington journalist didand the press corps chose to lie in your face about what Gore had said.
Quick review: On September 18, 2000, Gore told the Teamsters convention that he had been sung Look for the Union Label as a lullaby in his youth. Brilliant historians like Shapiro discerned that the song wasnt written until 1976; they loudly complained that the troubling comment was surely Al Gores Latest Lie. Gore explained that hed only been joking. (That was a joke, he told a press conference. You know? Nobody sings a lullaby to a little baby about union labels?) He also said that he often told the joke to union audiences. Indeed, on the tape of the Gore speech, you could see Teamsters laugh at his comment. But the press was determined to make Gore a liar, and so they feigned a deep concern about his latest troubling comment (just as they do now with Clark). Indeed, the New York Times never even reported Gores explanation; incredibly, they never even told their readers that Gore had said hed been joking. See Richard Berkes astonishing voice-mail in which he defended his utter fakery. (Question: As citizens, why do we tolerate journalists like Berke, even for the shortest New York minute?)
But just how plainly had Gore been joking? Earlier this year, we entered Gore AND union label in the Nexis archives. And guess what? Just six weeks before this fake, ginned-up flap, Joel Siegel of the New York Daily News had interviewed Evy Dubrow of Greenwich Village, who thought that her thirteenth time as a Democratic National Convention delegate may be the best of all. Dubrow88 years old, and a former union lobbyisthad known Gore since his childhood. Indeed, when she worked in Washington in the 1950s, Dubrow occasionally baby-sat Gore. Al jokes that when he was a little boy, I used to sing him the Union Label song, Dubrow said, right there in the Daily News. And lets make sure we understand that time-line: Dubrow said this to the Daily News on August 14, 2000six weeks before the union lullaby flap. But so what? Six weeks later, your deeply destructive Washington press corps did the thing they always did best. They took Gores meaningless joke to the teamsters and turned it into Gores Latest Lie. For the record, Gore had begun to pull away in the polls at the time of the flap. The press corps newest GORE LIAR flap began to pull Bush back to even. (See Finemans comment below.)
Every scribe had access to Nexis. A search would have turned up Dubrows comment within minutes. But all of them knew to suppress what Dubrow had saidand Siegel kept his mouth shut, too. Your Washington press corps is worse than ineptyour Washington press corps is deeply corrupt. Its a cancer growing on our democracy. The obvious question comes to mind: How do we plan to destroy it?
WHY IT HAPPENED: Youre going to think that were making this up. But on Thursday, September 21, 2000, Howard Fineman explained why the press had turned on Gore in the lullaby/doggy-pill lunacy.
On that evening, Fineman appeared with Brian Williams on The News. Gore was still ahead in that days tracking polls, but it was clear that his fortunes had turned. Gore had experienced his worst week in a month and a half, Claire Shipman reported that night on the NBC Nightly News. She reviewed the doggy-pill/lullaby flaps, then played tape of biographer/pseudo-psychiatrist Bill Turque talking about Gores tendency to take a pretty good story and try to make it a little better by embellishing. Gore aides admit its been a choppy week, Shipman said as she closed her report.
Fineman offered the same assessment. Bush has really had probably the best week hes had since his convention speech, he told Williams, and Gore has had his worst. It was too early to write obituaries for Bush, Fineman warnedand he reminded Williams that the media pendulum swings. Williams, asking a very good question for once in his life, wanted to know why that was.
Why had the media pendulum swung? Why was the press corps again trashing Gore? In response to Williams questions, Fineman made one of the most remarkable statements of the 2000 campaign:
FINEMAN (9/21/00): I dont think the media was going to allow, just by its nature, the next seven weeks, the last seven or eight weeks of the campaign, to be all about Al Gores relentless, triumphant march to the presidency. We want a race, I suppose. If we have a bias of any kind, its that we like to see a contest and we like to see it down to the end if we can.Fineman made an astonishing statement. According to Fineman, the coverage had changed in the previous four days because the press corps didnt want Gore to run away with the race, as it seemed that he might be doing. According to Fineman, the Washington press corps was tearing Gore down because they wanted an exciting, close race.
According to Fineman, thats what this lullaby flap was about. And thats why all the fake, phony pundits suppressed what they found under Gore AND union label when they checked it out on Nexis. Readers, do you see why we speak of the press as we do? And do you see why we, as American citizens, have to take aggressive action against these rank thieves of our birthrights?
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: To read our real-time work on this fake, phony flap, enter lullaby in the search engines. Other work appeared in our Howlings columns for SpeakOut.com, but those archives are no longer living.