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THE MAGIC ELLIPIS! Brent Bozell is a long-standing fake. But then, he’s had many enablers:


DAYS OF BERNIE: Tomorrow, we’ll return to our work on the clowning clown Goldberg. But for today, some entertainment! Today, we take a look at the first public posting of that ludicrous Howell Raines “shoelaces” quote (for background, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/18/03 and 11/19/03). Prepare to emit those low, mordant chuckles—and prepare to gaze at the utter corruption of your challenged American discourse.

QUITE A STRETCH: Let’s have E-Mailer Joe explain it! Just how great is the MRC’s clowning? Here’s the message our e-mailer sent—after he explored the origins of that Howell Raines “shoelaces” quote:

E-MAILER JOE (11/19/03): One more note on the “shoelaces” quote that Goldberg lifts from the MRC.

The Howler from today notes: “As we noted, the MRC is pathologically dishonest; the influential org holds every world record for pulling ‘quotations’ out of any sane context.” Luckily, the magic of the Internet gives us the tools to put that thesis to the test.

The earliest cite of the shoelaces quote delivered by the MRC’s own search engine comes from May 5, 1994. In its long-running “Notable Quotables” feature, the MRC shows us Howell Raines’ unspeakable bias:

“Then one day in the summer of 1981 I found myself at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine. I was a correspondent in the White House in those days, and my work—which consisted of reporting on President Reagan’s success in making life harder for citizens who were not born rich, white, and healthy—saddened me…My parents raised me to admire generosity and to feel pity. I had arrived in our nation’s capital [in 1981] during a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness…Reagan couldn’t tie his shoelaces if his life depended on it.” —New York Times editorial page editor (and former Washington Bureau Chief) Howell Raines in his book Fly Fishing Through the Midlife Crisis.

However, having read my Howler regularly and taken its lessons to heart, I questioned that last ellipsis. The logic of the passage doesn’t seem to flow very well from “a historic ascendancy of greed and hard-heartedness” to “Reagan couldn’t tie his shoelaces.” So what’s missing in between? Nothing much—just 28 pages of text! The portion of the “quote” before the ellipsis occurs on page 56 of Raines’ book. The “shoelaces” reference appears on page 84. What do the journalistic stylebooks say about this rather loose abuse of three little dots?

What do the stylebooks say? Here at THE HOWLER, we don’t really know. Most likely, writers of those journalistic stylebooks never dreamed of such total fakery—never dreamed that they’d have to confront such startling attempts at deception. At any rate, E-Mailer Joe is far too kind when he refers to this “rather loose abuse.” This “quote” which the MRC stitched together is typical of that org’s endless clowning. As we’ve seen, the “shoelaces” quote (from page 84) concerned Reagan’s fishing, and it wasn’t even spoken by Raines. But Brent Bozell didn’t want you to know that. So he and his gang—well, they made quite a stretch! Their ellipsis stretched across 28 pages—and it showed their contempt for your discourse.

No, dear readers, you simply can’t use a “magic ellipsis” to stitch together two different statements which might as well come from two different books! But as you emit those low, mordant chuckles, please take note of the larger point. It’s easy to laugh at the Brent Bozells—corrupted men who take aim at your discourse. And it’s easy to laugh at “rubes” Bozell fools (although it’s easy to see why these folks are misled). But who should Americans really despise? Those affable, overpaid “good guy” journalists—the ones who have sat on their thumbs for ten years while the Bozells and the Goldbergs made a joke of your discourse. Where, oh where, was E.J. Dionne? When will we hear from the brave Peter Beinart? The clowning which E-Mailer Joe describes is an arrow aimed at the heart of democracy. But Bozell is powerful; Bozell is well-funded; and if mainstream pundits took Bozell on, the mountain called “Scaife” would come down on their heads. It’s safer, and easier, to avoid taking notice. And your “good guy” pundits are quite good at that! They accept the clowning from Brent Bozell—and from his cut-and-paste flunkey, Bernie Goldberg. Just find a reviewer or TV host who takes note of Bernie G’s endless clowning.

What kind of nation do we now inhabit, when this clowning proceeds for years without a word of comment or challenge? Brent Bozell’s conduct speaks for itself. But let’s ask the obvious questions again: Why is Brent Bozell still in business? Why are his conservative readers still being misled? Why does Fox News put this man on the air? And most important: Why do your “good guy” pundits sit silent? Bozell and Goldberg have many enablers. More on that matter next week.

TOMORROW: Bernie get your gun!