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THE TWO ANTOINETTES! Who keeps disinforming Kristof’s friend? Why won’t anyone say? // link // print // previous // next //

A world in which Bernie gets to be right: Bernie Goldberg became a press critic with his hapless 2001 best-seller, Bias. In real time, we interviewed him for the full hour on Washington’s WMAL-AM (with our guest-hosting partner, Howard Mortman). We hadn’t yet done the full work on his brand-new book, but we did draw out a claim which Bernie was making at that time: The liberal media will trash major pols of both major parties, as had been clear with their treatment of Bill Clinton. (For a quote from Bernie’s book on this subject, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/25/03.)

In those days, Bernie said that the press corps didn’t toe any party line when it came to trashing Big Pols. He said their bias was put on display in their treatment of social issues. Eventually, Bernie reinvented his views to fit in better on Fox. But even in Bias, his claims were often comically awful. We’ve always loved the outrage he voiced about Natalie Angier’s anti-male bias—a bias she had allegedly shown in a New York Times news report about insect reproduction (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/12/02). As we later learned, Bernie had swiped Angier’s outrageous quote about “males” from the MRC’s clownish web site. We would guess he had no idea what Angier’s report was really about—that the “males” she rudely dissed had actually been male insects.

We did a lot of work in the day, detailing Bernie’s nonsense. We couldn’t have dreamed that the world would become so strange that even Bernie would get to be right. But MSNBC has become such a joke that we’re forced to admit it: Basically, Bernie was right in what he told Mr. O on last night’s O’Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY (11/3/10): All right. Now you—we gave Bernie the assignment to watch the others [on election night]. And I'm not bragging here, but the Fox News Channel won huge last night in the ratings. We beat CNN and MSNBC combined, just blew them away. I didn't watch any of their coverage, because I was working here. What did you find out?

GOLDBERG: Well, I thought Fox and CNN did a professional job. And they covered it the same, broadly speaking the same way. They had real journalists anchoring the news. And then they had commentators from the left and from the right giving their opinions about the news. That's the way you do it.

MSNBC, on the other hand, jumped the shark last night. They broke the cardinal rule of journalism. You don't have partisans covering hard-news events and certainly not when the hard news event is the biggest news story of the year, a national election. You just don't do that.

And, yet, they had five liberal commentators on in the studio all night, having some fun at Republican expense, making fun and this and that. I thought I was watching The View without Elisabeth Hasselbeck.

And, and as bad as they were, the real villains are the executives who make, at MSNBC, who make no pretense any more. I mean, there is just no pretense any more that MSNBC is a serious, honest news organization.

Because when, when you take a national election and have five liberal commentators being snarky all night with their comments and giggling like school girls half the time, the shark has been jumped. It's over.

O'REILLY: Well, you know, Comcast takes over soon. I think they're going to change that whole thing over there. That's what we hear anyway.

We have no idea what Comcast will do when it becomes the new corporate owner. But we’d have to say Bernie was basically right in his description of Tuesday’s performance on the One True Channel, and in his condemnation of the suits who run the net.

The children did giggle and play Tuesday night, throwing sweet hay to us liberal rubes. It’s amazing to see that we live in a word where Bernie gets to be right.

THE TWO ANTOINETTES (permalink): Michele Bachmann wouldn’t answer the question.

Anderson Cooper asked her to say what kind of federal spending she’d cut. In line with her party’s standard approach, she offered an utterly foolish reply, along with a flatly bogus claim about Obama’s grotesque new spending.

As usual, Bachmann was making it up, disinforming those who trust her. We’ll look at that interview tomorrow, pairing it with Gene Robinson’s latest column. Today, let’s look at the way two giants of our journalistic elite have responded to Tuesday’s events. Why is your nation doomed to flounder ahead in the dark? In large part, because of the cowardice of “intellectual leaders” like Gail Collins and Nicholas Kristof.

In today’s Times, Kristof is thinking hard about what Obama should do. He pretends to take the president’s side—but not before making his own life safe with this piece of Classic Kristof:

KRISTOF (11/4/10): My feeling is that the country has gone too far on blaming its economic distress on Mr. Obama, failing to give him credit for averting another Great Depression among other achievements. But it seems as if Michelle and I may be the only ones who think that way.

I plumb the national disappointment when I return to my hometown in rural Oregon. One friend who has struggled to get health care and will benefit hugely from Mr. Obama’s health plan is indignant at Mr. Obama—partly because of incorrect scare stories he has heard about the health reform. Others are aghast at the economic stimulus, even though it provided desperately needed jobs. In short, Mr. Obama hasn’t mustered an argument that resonates even among the beneficiaries of his policies.

When Kristof seeks to humanize himself, he cites Yamhill, his humble home town. Returning there in some fashion, he finds a friend who is “indignant at Obama”—“partly because of incorrect scare stories he has heard about the health reform.” But from whom has this friend heard these incorrect stories? Kristof isn’t enough of a mensch to say. Same old Kristof! At no point in this morning’s column does he name the names of the actual people who have told his friend these false, scary tales. Kristof knows who these people are, of course—but he also knows that they are aggressive and powerful. People like Kristof never name the names of powerful people who will lash out in reply.

This is Classic Kristof. To see him fail to name Sean Hannity’s name—to see him target a powerless player instead—see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/20/10. Simple story: With friends like Kristof, you need new friends, and America needs a new “press corps.”

Before he is done, Kristof pretends to be taking Obama’s side (text below). But first, let’s look in on the high Lady Collins, offering quips about Tuesday’s events. Collins, a monster of unconcern, starts today’s column like this:

COLLINS (11/4/10): O.K., you poor little Democrats. Stop sobbing. Lift up your little liberal heads and shout. There’s gonna be. ...


Harry Reid! There’s gonna be more Harry Reid!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh gosh, that’s really good! Let’s enjoy more of her quips:

COLLINS: Harry Reid! There’s gonna be more Harry Reid! Nobody thought it could happen, but the charisma-challenged Senate majority leader won another term, decisively defeating Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favorite who had claimed that American cities were run by Sharia law and who had ingratiated herself to a roomful of Hispanic teenagers by telling them that they looked Asian to her.

Yes, the Titanic went down, but Harry Reid got a lifeboat. I know you were hoping for someone more Leonardo DiCaprio, but right now you’d better take what you can get.

In her concession speech, Angle congratulated herself for having “inspired once more,” which was certainly one way of putting it.

There were awful speeches from all sides on Tuesday night, but I liked Christine O’Donnell’s adieu. (“We’ve got a lot of food. We’ve got the room all night. So God bless you. So let’s party!”) That girl is so on her way back to cable TV. Although this time around they will have to pay her.

Meanwhile, over at his victory party, Reid said that “balloons and ballrooms are not my thing.” Which we sort of guessed.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! No, really—that’s clever.

In fact, every word of that passage is fatuous, including the brain-dead words in which Collins returns to the well, one more time, at which she found Christine O’Donnell (and Angle). Last night, the hacks on Our One True Cable Channel were also playing the O’Donnell card, offering solace to us rubes—and dooming us to dumbness.

On MSNBC, a disaster has occurred—but who cares? Christine O’Donnell is dumb!

We can all be glad that Collins didn’t live in the 1940s; readers were spared her whimsical quips about the way Germans love ovens. By now, one thing is fairly clear: Nothing will make this New Elite care about the world around her. Collins made this point fairly clear when she pretended to discuss a real issue after the joking was done. The lady simpered about earmarks a while—without telling readers why it’s inane when Eric Cantor (and Obama) talk about so tiny a part of the federal budget. (And no, readers don’t know this already.) Then, she reached the Bush tax cuts, serving this perfect dreck:

COLLINS: The earmarks were a welcome break for Cantor, who spent most of his election night yelling at interviewers who asked him whether he still proposed keeping all the Bush tax cuts.

“There’s no tax cuts! There’s no tax cuts!” he shouted on MSNBC, insisting that the soon-to-expire temporary tax reductions should be seen as reality as we know it, a part of our history and tradition that was locked in place forever, as sacred as Social Security.

Sacreder, actually. Way, way sacreder.

Those Bush tax cuts were, of course, given an expiration date because there was no money to pay for them. The first order of business for the lame-duck Democrats is going to be to try to make sure the cuts only get extended for nonwealthy families. The Republicans want to keep them for the rich, too, thus blowing a new hole in upcoming budgets. Which they will fill by getting rid of earmarks.

Trade you a pocket full of bridges and highway exits for $700 billion in lost revenue.

That’s a very lite discussion, especially given all the crap we had to wade through to reach it. Collins tells readers that extension of the tax cuts for wealthy families will “blow a new hole in upcoming budgets”—a hole which totals $700 billion. She doesn’t say that the rest of the tax cuts—the cuts Obama already wants to extend, even before further compromise—will “blow a hole” of $3.1 trillion in those same federal budgets. Do you think her readers know that? Do you think they know how to compare the size of that $700 billion “hole” to the size of our upcoming deficits? We don’t think her readers know such things, but this is a column designed to make life easy. In this, her standard column, she jokes a bit at her nation’s plight—then pretends to discuss a policy issue, while letting readers see that she’s on Obama’s side.

This is the dreck that defines the discourse for upper-end “liberal” readers. In these scribblings, we laugh at how dumb the other tribe is. Then, we get dumbed down ourselves.

Meanwhile, back in Yamhill, Kristof is helping you see how a New Elite builds a personal brand. In this passage, he poses as a friend to Obama, the way a Rhodes Scholar does:

KRISTOF: My hunch is that Mr. Obama is also capable of learning lessons and growing as a president. And the Republican-majority House will offer a fine target for improved messaging—especially if its first priority will be to worsen the budget deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Or consider Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, freshly re-elected and the godfather of the Senate’s Tea Party faction. In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Mr. DeMint advises new Tea Party members of Congress not to be co-opted and adds: “Put on your boxing gloves. The fight begins today.”

That’s a fight that should end with a knockout for Mr. Obama. Over the years, Mr. DeMint has spoken out against not only gay teachers but also female teachers who have sex before marriage. After a rally on Oct. 1, the Spartanburg, S.C., newspaper paraphrased him: “An unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.”

Mr. DeMint later clarified that this is an issue best left for local school boards. But I think most Americans seek a moral leadership that isn’t about wagging fingers at women who have sex with boyfriends. The moral imperative should be getting Americans jobs, decent schools, access to doctors and a measure of opportunity.

Mr. Obama has a far better product to sell than Tea Partiers like Mr. DeMint. But Mr. Obama needs to connect better with American voters. He needs to lose the cool and start sweating—and slugging.

If he can do that, and if the economy comes back over the next couple of years, he can still be remembered as one of our great presidents. One who served two terms.

It’s a happy ending! Along the way, Kristof advises Obama to sweat a bit—and to come out slugging. (He also pleases liberal readers by helping them see, at some length, that he isn’t a southern conservative.) But he forgets to tell you why it’s hard for liberals or Democrats to “improve messaging” in this new world, which is so full of so much disinformation. And he doesn’t name the powerful players who keep disinforming his friend in Yamhill, and tens of millions of others just like him. He opposes DeMint on a tangential matter—and pretends that Obama gets to slug and sweat in a basically rational world.

Kristof favors Obama’s success. But New Elites put New Elites first—and gods like Kristof play it safe in the face of aggressive power. We’re allowed to hear that Jim DeMint has weird views about sexual matters. We aren’t told why tens of millions of people are “indignant at Mr. Obama,” even though they “will benefit hugely from Mr. Obama’s health plan.”

Who has disinformed these people? Kristof doesn’t say. Never does.

In our view, Kristof is a classic New Elite. He’s very good at schmoozing a board; he’s very good at playing the rubes in the course of building his personal brand. And oh, by the way: In Sunday’s column, he finally told you the truth. Though he did so eleven years later:

KRISTOF (10/31/10): In politics as in finance, markets overshoot. Traders and voters swoon over stocks or politicians one week, and then rage at them the next.

That’s why I’m feeling a bit sorry for President Obama as we approach a midterm election in which he is poised to be cast off like an old sock. The infatuation with Mr. Obama was overdone in 2008, and so is the rejection of him today.

So here’s my message: Give him a chance.

The sourness toward Mr. Obama reminds me of the crankiness toward Al Gore in 2000. We in the news media were tough on Mr. Gore, magnifying his weaknesses, and that fed into a general disdain. So some liberals voted for Ralph Nader, and George W. Bush moved into the White House.

Interesting! Let’s see if we are following this! According to Kristof, the mainstream press corps went after Gore, thus sending George Bush to the White House!

A moral being might have mentioned this in real time. But back then, Kristof was playing a minor part in the game he now describes (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/24/03). Indeed, as late as January 2003, he was still vouching for “the kind of honesty that won Mr. Bush the respect of many journalists” during Campaign 2000. (Translation: On the verge of war with Iraq, Bush was riding high among Serious People—and Kristof was pimping his narratives.) In short, Kristof tells you the truth very slowly. Eleven years from now, he may even name the names of those who have lied to his friend.

This is the way our New Elites work. This helps explain why your country—and Kristof’s friend—are currently sliding toward the sea, drowning in the disinformation whose sources Kristof won’t name.

Life is hard in Yamhill, but good at Versailles. Go ahead—just read the latest columns from this pair of well-twinned Antoinettes. From the finest rooms in the palace, we get handed Potemkin discussions—discussions which dumb us all way down while dooming our nation to fail.

Who keeps disinforming Kristof’s friend? Why won’t anyone say?

Tomorrow: Bachmann and Robinson