Point. Click. Search.
by Bob Somerby
E-mail This Page
A companion site.
Site maintained by Allegro Web Communications, comments to
||GORE WAR! The fight for the soul of the press corps is on as Target One heads back on stage:|
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2002
HOW TO SPIN GORE (PART 1): On the Thursday before the election, Al Gore appeared with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend at a Maryland get-out-the-vote event. In the next days Washington Times, Bill Sammon limned Alberts performance. Mr. Gore played stand-up comedian and turnout booster to a mostly black audience of several hundred at Bowie State College, Sammon said. According to Sammon, that audience could not stop laughing during his speech. Over at the Baltimore Sun, Stephanie Desmon told the same tale. Gore may have a future in stand-up, she wrote; he sure got a lot of laughs. Like Sammon, Desmon recorded a string of Gores jokesthe same jokes he used on last Fridays Letterman. At Bowie, a comedian was on hand to warm up the crowd, not that they needed it, Desmon said.
For the record, that unneeded comic was San Francisco democrat Will Durst, whom we had driven to the event. Indeed, our entire staff was on hand with ol Will; for that reason, we can confirm the jocular nature of Gores remarks. Gore rattled a string of jokes about Election 2000and the college kids somehow figured that out. But a group of Big Pundits, spinning large, were oddly unable to do so.
Thats right, kids. On the next evenings Special Report, the stars had some Big Spin to sell. Tony Snow played tape of one of Gores jokes. The official Fox transcript records audience [LAUGHTER]. But how did the all-stars spin the veeps mood? Gores a bitter man, they all said:
KONDRACKE (11/1/02): You know, whats happened is that Al Gore announced that he was going to let it rip. And so anything he feelsand anything he says, he is going to come out, you know? And soand obviously, what burns him still is Florida. He thinks he deserves the presidency, that people were disenfranchised, that he was robbed. And so
Phew! It just doesnt get any dumber. Gore is a bitter man, the shrinks said. According to Sammon, the audience couldnt stop laughing at Gore. At Fox, they wiped the grin off his face.
SNOW: A bitter man.
JEFF BIRNBAUM: Yes.
And guess what? Last Friday, the doctors were IN again, reacting to more news of Gore. The Washington Post had excerpts from two recent interviews about the 2000 election. According to Dan Balz, Gore had said that his loss was a crushing disappointment (surprise!); that the Supreme Courts 5-4 decision was completely inconsistent with the Courts philosophy; had said I believe that if everyone in Florida who tried to vote had had his or her vote counted properly, that I would have won; and had said, But I respect the rule of law, so it is what it is. At Fox, the shrinks swung into action. Gore is now out complaining bitterly, Dr. Snow said. Dr. Mort had a better wordventing:
KONDRACKE: Al Gore has announced the new, new, new, new, new, new, new Al Gore is going to let it rip and say what he really, really, truly feels. And that concession speech [CROSSTALK] Its obvious Florida sits in his craw. He is furious about it and he is letting it out. You know, hes venting. And its amazing becausewell, if you read the quote, he said, I believe that if everyone in Florida who tried to vote had his or her vote counted properly, I would have won. Thats true. But the fact is that the surveys have shown that the recounts, the newspaper recounts expensively done, showed that ifthat all those people that properly voted and had their votes properly counted in Florida, he would have lost. And he cannot accept that.
Dr. Mortagreeing that what Gore said was true, and working from a couple of edited quoteswas ready to limn the state of the soul of the new new new new new new Gore.
One thing that isnt new in all this? That would be Kondrackes stale, shopworn spin. (Al Gore is always reinventing himself. In Campaign 2000, it was hard press corps dogma.) And something else that isnt new? The pundits stale, dim-witted blather. Is there any other professional cohort that feels free to be so inane out in public? And is any cohortexcept movie actorspaid so well to recite Approved Lines?
The crowd just couldnt stop laughing, Sammon said. At Fox, that meant that Gore is bitter. But then, the fight for the soul of the press corps is on as Al Gore returns center stage. In Campaign 2000, this press corps spun the nation blue as it conducted a twenty-month borking of Gore. Kondracke shows that the nations pundits remember their old old old scripts. Will the press corps make a joke of this election, as they made such a joke of the last White House race? The fight for the soul of the press corps is on. Will the empty vessels who steward our discourse walk away from their old old old blather?
Note: Howard Fineman is also reciting the bitter man script. More on this spin-point tomorrow.
HOW TO SPIN GORE (PART 2): Sometimes we wonder if they even know that theyre mouthing old RNC spin-points. Last Friday, Anthony York limned the Dems for Salon. And when York talked turkey about Hopeful Gore, was there even one sentence that wasnt stale spin? Did Rip Van Winkle churn out this cant? Why on earth cant Salon do much better?
YORK: Nobody wants to be the next Al Gore this time around, including Gore himself. In an effort to erase memories of his lockbox-toting, Buddhist-temple fundraising, truth-stretching, no-controlling-legal-authority invoking former self, Gore is taking a different approach. Friday, Gore begins a soft launch to his presidential campaign. First hell appear opposite Barbara Walters (Gore aides assure us that no tears were shed), then hell stop in with David Letterman.
Incredible, isnt it? And beyond that, what a tragedy. York strung a string of the tired old spins that our journalists made us sit through the last time. Yes, he did say it: Lockbox-toting!
Do these programmed fellows really plan to hand us their spin-points all over again? And how on earth can this consummate crap be the best that our press corps can muster? For twenty straight months, they sold us their tales, making a joke of Election 2000. Question: Do the script-reading junkies who steward our discourse really plan to recite once again?
HOW TO SPIN THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE: York is still pushing that ol Buddhist temple. But sometimes we wonder how much pundits know about this well-flogged event. After all, there were very few topics in Campaign 2K where the press corps struggled and strained so hard to keep basic facts out of view. Here are three elementary facts which were widely concealed in their work. It is virtually impossible to learn these facts from the blizzard of shopworn, scripted old stories published during Campaign 2000:
Perhaps York even knows these facts. But during Campaign 2K, the press corps struggled, strained and strove to keep these facts from view. And some punditsChris Matthews by far the worstactively worked to distort them. The dissembling on Hardball was simply egregiousan active assault on the American public interest. When Hsia was convicted in March 2000, Matthews struggledfor weeks on endto link his target, Gore, to her crime. For months, the talker worked as hard as he could to mislead Americas voters.
- A free lunch: There was no charge to attend the temple luncheon. Thats right, kids. The worlds most famous fund-raising luncheon was free of charge. No cost to attend.
- Separation of temple and state: Plans to charge a fee were dropped when the temple became the venue. When the luncheon was going to be held at a restaurant, Dems planned to charge a large fee to attend.
- Who knew? Was Gore involved in Maria Hsias illegal conduct? Pshaw! In open court, Hsias prosecutor, Eric Yaffe, said that neither Gore nor the DNC knew what Hsia had done.
How egregious was Matthews dissembling? Hsia received laundered contributions from nuns and monks on the day after the luncheon. During her trial, Yaffe said that neither Gore nor the DNC knew. But here was Matthews on March 2, 2000, the day Hsia was convicted:
MATTHEWS: Lets talk about the bonanza today, the incredible incursion of politics into religion. Why does Al Gore face the, what I look to be the favorite status in this race for president, given the fact that he was at the heart of a huge fund-raising effort to raise 100,000 bucks, and now the chief agent in that scam, Maria Hsia, has been convicted of five counts, felony counts? She faces 25 years in jail, and hes out there dancing around doing the Gore dance as if hes not even involved, when it was his fund-raising event, when those nuns were writing those, ripping off those checks for 5K apiece, and he was the beneficiary. There he is. [VIDEO of Gore.] There hethere he is! There, you see it! And hes not had a scratch on him today by your Republican Party. When are you guys going to start hitting hard?
Matthews spoke with William Kristol, who didnt correct the misstatements.
On Hardball, this sort of thing went on for weeks. Repeatedly, Matthews asked why Gore wasnt being prosecutedeven though Yaffe had said in court that the veep was uninvolved in Hsias conduct. And Matthews persistently pictured the nuns ripping off checks at the luncheon. On March 6, for example, he referred to this Buddhist temple embarrassment, where the vice president of the United States was out there, you know, dancing for money, and he was taking money from nuns, they were whipping off $5000 checks, it was ludicrous. Astonishing, isnt it? But Matthews misled his viewers for weeks, engaging in inexcusable conduct. There used to be a name for such demagogues: Enemies of the people. Now theres a new name: Millionaires.
Incredibly, Hardball viewers were never told what Yaffe said in open court. So heres a question: If York wants to yak about Buddhist temples, why dont he yak about pundits like Matthews? Oh, thats right. We almost forgot. Josh Marshall will be handling that!
(Sorrywe couldnt resist a little good-natured joshing. For the record, Marshall did superlative work on the South Dakota senate race. If we gave awards, this dude would get one.)