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 Washingtons WMAL-AM (with our guest-hosting partner, Howard Mortman). We hadnt 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 Bernies book on this subject, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/25/03.)
In those days, Bernie said that the press corps didnt 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. Weve always loved the outrage he voiced about Natalie Angiers anti-male biasa 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 Angiers outrageous quote about males from the MRCs clownish web site. We would guess he had no idea what Angiers report was really aboutthat the males she rudely dissed had actually been male insects.
We did a lot of work in the day, detailing Bernies nonsense. We couldnt 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 were forced to admit it: Basically, Bernie was right in what he told Mr. O on last nights OReilly Factor:
O'REILLY (11/3/10): All right. Now youwe 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 wed have to say Bernie was basically right in his description of Tuesdays 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. Its amazing to see that we live in a word where Bernie gets to be right.
THE TWO ANTOINETTES (permalink): Michele Bachmann wouldnt answer the question.
Anderson Cooper asked her to say what kind of federal spending shed cut. In line with her partys standard approach, she offered an utterly foolish reply, along with a flatly bogus claim about Obamas grotesque new spending.
As usual, Bachmann was making it up, disinforming those who trust her. Well look at that interview tomorrow, pairing it with Gene Robinsons latest column. Today, lets look at the way two giants of our journalistic elite have responded to Tuesdays 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 todays Times, Kristof is thinking hard about what Obama should do. He pretends to take the presidents sidebut 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. Obamas health plan is indignant at Mr. Obamapartly 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 hasnt 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 Obamapartly because of incorrect scare stories he has heard about the health reform. But from whom has this friend heard these incorrect stories? Kristof isnt enough of a mensch to say. Same old Kristof! At no point in this mornings 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 coursebut 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 Hannitys nameto see him target a powerless player insteadsee 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 Obamas side (text below). But first, lets look in on the high Lady Collins, offering quips about Tuesdays events. Collins, a monster of unconcern, starts todays column like this:
COLLINS (11/4/10): O.K., you poor little Democrats. Stop sobbing. Lift up your little liberal heads and shout. Theres gonna be. ...
Harry Reid! Theres gonna be more Harry Reid!
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh gosh, thats really good! Lets enjoy more of her quips:
COLLINS: Harry Reid! Theres 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 youd 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 ODonnells adieu. (Weve got a lot of food. Weve got the room all night. So God bless you. So lets 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, reallythats 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 ODonnell (and Angle). Last night, the hacks on Our One True Cable Channel were also playing the ODonnell card, offering solace to us rubesand dooming us to dumbness.
On MSNBC, a disaster has occurredbut who cares? Christine ODonnell is dumb!
We can all be glad that Collins didnt 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 whilewithout telling readers why its inane when Eric Cantor (and Obama) talk about so tiny a part of the federal budget. (And no, readers dont 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.
Theres no tax cuts! Theres 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.
Thats 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 budgetsa hole which totals $700 billion. She doesnt say that the rest of the tax cutsthe cuts Obama already wants to extend, even before further compromisewill 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 dont 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 nations plightthen pretends to discuss a policy issue, while letting readers see that shes on Obamas 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 messagingespecially 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 Senates 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.
Thats 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 whos sleeping with her boyfriend she shouldnt 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 isnt 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 sweatingand 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.
Its a happy ending! Along the way, Kristof advises Obama to sweat a bitand to come out slugging. (He also pleases liberal readers by helping them see, at some length, that he isnt a southern conservative.) But he forgets to tell you why its hard for liberals or Democrats to improve messaging in this new world, which is so full of so much disinformation. And he doesnt 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 matterand pretends that Obama gets to slug and sweat in a basically rational world.
Kristof favors Obamas success. But New Elites put New Elites firstand gods like Kristof play it safe in the face of aggressive power. Were allowed to hear that Jim DeMint has weird views about sexual matters. We arent told why tens of millions of people are indignant at Mr. Obama, even though they will benefit hugely from Mr. Obamas health plan.
Who has disinformed these people? Kristof doesnt say. Never does.
In our view, Kristof is a classic New Elite. Hes very good at schmoozing a board; hes very good at playing the rubes in the course of building his personal brand. And oh, by the way: In Sundays 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.
Thats why Im 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 heres 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! Lets 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 Peopleand 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 countryand Kristofs friendare currently sliding toward the sea, drowning in the disinformation whose sources Kristof wont name.
Life is hard in Yamhill, but good at Versailles. Go aheadjust read the latest columns from this pair of well-twinned Antoinettes. From the finest rooms in the palace, we get handed Potemkin discussionsdiscussions which dumb us all way down while dooming our nation to fail.
Who keeps disinforming Kristofs friend? Why wont anyone say?
Tomorrow: Bachmann and Robinson