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Daily Howler: Arianna fakes about Miller--as she once faked about Gore
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THE WAY SHE WAS! Arianna fakes about Miller—as she once faked about Gore: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2005

THE PLAGUE YEARS (PRESS CORPS VERSION): How hapless is the Post’s Richard Cohen? Today, he offers a “clarification” about last Thursday’s column:
COHEN (10/18/05): A clarification: A number of readers, some of them formerly of the CIA, got the impression from my last column that I don't consider the outing of a covert employee a serious matter. I do.
But if Cohen does think such an outing is serious, his previous column makes no sense at all. Just click here for the gory details. Sic semper mainstream columnists.

Meanwhile, the Times’ John Tierney tells us today that the outing of Plame wasn’t especially serious. Reason? There was little chance it would get her “harmed or killed,” he says. But is it possible that the outing of Plame compromised U.S. security interests? Tierney saves his argument by failing to address this concern.

But so it has gone, in our mainstream “press corps,” over the course of the past fifteen years. For ourselves, we’d be inclined to consider the “no harm, no foul” rule in a matter like this. But was harm done when Rove arranged to out Plame? We’ve seen no journalistic effort to examine that obvious question. As always with our mainstream press, the most obvious questions of all never quite come into range.

In the wake of Sunday’s reports in the New York Times about the Judith Miller matter, many observers have clucked about the paper’s, dysfunctional conduct. But the Times has been a dysfunctional mess for years—at least back to its still-unexplained Whitewater stories, which began in 1992. In fact, the perfumed stars of our mainstream “press” have been weirdly dysfunctional for years. We’d guess that that’s the inevitable result of too much fame and too much money—but the clownishness has been standard for years. For some reason, most career liberals kept their mouths shut when this clowning was aimed at Clinton and Gore. Now, liberals sometimes protest a bit too much—and profess an amazing amazement at the press corps’ dysfunctional habits.

SPEAKING OF STANDARD DYSFUNCTION: Speaking of those who protest too much, here was excitable Chris Matthews, opening last evening’s Hardball:

MATTHEWS (10/17/05): Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews. Two summers ago, Vice President Dick Cheney was under attack. A former diplomat had published an article in the New York Times that he—the number two man in the government—had let the president to take us to war on bad intel, that there was no deal to buy uranium from Africa and the vice president knew about it, yet let the president tell the country there was. Did the vice president take steps to discredit the charge being made against him, or did he sit there and take it? Did he tell his staff to get on the case of knocking down the diplomat`s story and the diplomat with it, or did Cheney`s staff do that on its own?
To his credit, Matthews did good work in the run-up to Iraq. After a fumbling start, he opposed the war, and he produced some of the only skeptical work on cable in the months before war began. But now, he’s in Standard Excitement Mode; last night, our analysts rolled their eyes at the statement we highlight above. No, President Bush didn’t “tell the country” that Iraq had made “a deal to buy uranium from Africa.” But as we’ve explained again and again: If you want to preserve the sense that Joe Wilson debunked Bush’s troubling State of the Union, you have to shave the facts somewhere. Here, Matthews pretends that Bush “told the country” that a uranium deal had been made. Bush, of course, said no such thing. But here’s how Chris would have had to proceed if he’d offered real accuracy:
MATTHEWS REVISED: Good evening, I`m Chris Matthews. Two summers ago, Vice President Dick Cheney was under attack. A former diplomat had published an article in the New York Times suggesting that he—the number two man in the government—had let the president take us to war on bad intel, that there was no deal to buy uranium from Africa and the vice president knew about it, yet let the president tell the country that Niger had “sought” uranium from Africa. No, the diplomat’s report didn’t actually contradict what Bush said, but the press corps acted as if it did anyway. Did the vice president take steps to discredit the charge being made against him...
As you can see, Matthews’ opening loses some bite if he reports what actually happened. But so it has gone for more than two years, all through this high-profile episode. Mainstream scribes have had to shave facts to create contradiction between Bush and Wilson. So that’s exactly what they have done, over and over again, from the start. Tomorrow, we’ll try to show you how it is that the press corps bought into this false contradiction. But it’s easy to see what happened last night. Matthews misstated what Bush really said to create some high-octane excitement.

Meanwhile, does anyone shave the facts like Arianna? Sadly, here’s the way she concluded her session with Keith Olbermann on Countdown last night:

HUFFINGTON (10/17/05): We reported in The Huffington Post last week, before the story was out in the New York Times, that Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal were working on stories tying the vice president to Plamegate. So no, the way that the vice president is being investigated by Fitzgerald precedes the report in the New York Times.

Obviously as Judy Miller herself wrote in her account, she was asked by Fitzgerald during her questioning whether she thought that the vice president was knowledgeable about what her conversations with Scooter Libby were about. And she actually replied, No. I have no idea how she knew what the vice president knew and didn`t know. But she said, No.

OLBERMANN: It gets thicker and thicker. Arianna Huffington of The Huffington Post, who also has an article on the state of the Democratic Party coming out in "Radar" magazine next week, thanks for your time tonight, Arianna.

“It gets thicker and thicker,” Keith said. Was he referring to his guest’s growing bullsh*t? How could Miller have known what Cheney knew? Arianna drew the net around Miller with these purring closing remarks. But it’s obvious what Miller meant in the part of her article under review here. As is obvious from reading Miller’s piece, Miller said “no,” Scooter Libby didn’t tell me what Cheney knew about these matters. Yesterday, Harry Shearer explained this point on Arianna’s own site, although the matter would have been clear to people familiar with English.

Yep! Whichever way the pendulum swings, there’s one great constant in our sad discourse. The hacks and the flunkees will torture the facts, improving the drama and scorching their foes. Sic semper Chris and Arianna—and your bizarre, broken “press corps.”

THE WAY SHE WAS: But then, here’s Arianna in the year 2000, helping send George Bush to the White House. At the time, she was supporting Bill Bradley—and she was willing to do and say anything about Gore. In real time, we cadged her comments from the Washington Times—a paper which was only too happy to publish her account of Gore’s “chronic deception” (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/17/00). She rattled off the Official Approved Tales, helping put Bush in the White House:

HUFFINGTON (2/6/00): He invented the Internet, discovered Love Canal, and was the inspiration for "Love Story." He lives on a farm, and was always "pro-choice"...
Embarrassing, isn’t it? All the Standard Idiot Stories, delivered straight from the great liberal’s mouth! (By the way, Gore always was pro-choice, as was Mario Cuomo.) But then, why not read the whole freakin’ thing? Every bit of it is fake, base, malformed. But so what? Gore had “displayed a gift for spinning, double talk and out-and-out lying of which [Bill Clinton] would be proud,” Arianna wrote. Go ahead—read the whole thing, as she recites the dim-witted tales which eventually put Bush in the White House.

But then, just a few months earlier, Arianna had even pretended that Gore was campaigning in troubling four-button suits! “It's just not the way Americans dress,” she complained, playing the consummate fool for Geraldo (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/12/00). Idiot then, idiot now—it’s simply the way of your fake, phony “press corps.” Today, the idiocy is put to the service of liberals—but as we examine Arianna’s past, we see that her tendency to fake and mislead helps explain how Bush got in office. Arianna’s clowning helped elect Bush. Now she clowns about the things which have happened since he’s been there.

THE GALSTON OF IT ALL: Of course, if you’re Kamarck and Galston, you’ll pretend it happened a different way. “In 2000, the Bush campaign very successfully painted Al Gore as someone prone to exaggeration,” you’ll say (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/13/05). No, that isn’t what actually happened—but good career liberals all know to pretend. They know to cover for Arianna—and for Kit, and for Chris, and dear Ceci.

TOMORROW: Why did the press corps miss the problem with Wilson’s “contradiction” of Bush? (Note: None of this means that the outing of Plame may not have been a real crime.)