WORST. AD WATCH. EVER. Howard Kurtz—and the New York Times—got busy enabling Rudy: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2007
WORST. WEEK. NEVER: We liberals refuse to come to terms with the way this system works. Saturday, at TPM, Steve Benen offered the following headline. All the facts in Steves piece were right. But we think his headline was wrong:
[C]an we all agree that Rudy Giuliani has seen the worst week of any candidate in recent memory? Steve asked. Then, he (correctly) listed the parade of horribles experienced by Giuliani last week.
But despite all that, no—we cant agree that Giuliani had the Worst. Week. Ever. Without question, Giuliani had a bad week. But worst week ever? Worst in recent memory? Sorry. If you want to know why that judgment is wrong, you simply have to read the transcript of yesterdays Meet the Press.
After a segment with Senator Webb, Tim Russert assembled a standard panel for the weekly predictions and churning of scripts. But uh-oh! Even though Steve is right in one way—last week was filled with disastrous revelations about Giuliani—Russert began as he always does, churning the tired old travails of the Dem front-runner.
In short, before we heard a word about Rudy, we got to hear, for the ten millionth time, about the failures of Clinton. For the ten millionth time, we heard about her performance in that debate, I guess it was in Philadelphia, a few weeks ago (Gene Robinson, instantly bringing it up, though it has actually been five weeks)—about what her answer appeared to be on the driver's license questions in the debate in Philadelphia (David Gregory, serving as echo). And we heard about the way even members of her own, Hillary Clinton's own campaign staff got upset at Bill Clinton last week. (That was Russert. He then picked-and-chose a quote from 2003 to exaggerate Bill Clintons blunder.) It was only after this long and familiar thrashing that Russert turned to the GOP. And by the time Russert got to Giuliani, he skipped past last weeks problems quite quickly. (Huckabee and McCain came first, with each man praised for his brilliance.) Did Rudy have the Worst Week Ever? Believe it or not, heres the full discussion of that week from yesterdays Meet the Press. By the way, note how Russert frames this matter. On Meet the Press, when Rudy has a very bad week, we hear about Clintons integrity:
That was the entire discussion. With that cheerful speculation about Rudys momentum, Russert changed the topic.
In short, there was virtually no discussion of the matters Steve listed at TPM. The vast bulk of Steves issues were never mentioned. Meanwhile, Gregory seemed to think the problem here was Rudys estrangement from his children; Robinsons sole contribution was a joke about Kerik. And lets face it: If you didnt understand the facts of this matter before the show, you didnt learn them from Russerts synopsis. A bunch of trees fell in the forest last week—and as far as Meet the Press was concerned, they didnt make much of a sound.
I dont know when we liberals plan to discover the way the world works. Did Rudy have the worst week in recent memory? Good grief! Here on this planet, Clinton had the worst week in memory when Russert finally bagged her, five weeks ago, with that question about drivers licenses. (After spending nearly two hours trying. That week has transformed the Dem campaign. It may well cost Clinton the expected nomination.) But we liberals said nothing about Russerts conduct back then, and well almost surely say nothing about his priorities now.
WORST. AD WATCH. EVER: Incredible. In a new campaign ad, Giuliani makes the Dumbest Statement Ever. Heres the partial text of his ad:
Yes, thats the dumbest statement ever. Unless, that is, youre Howard Kurtz, conducting a Washington Post Ad Watch. Heres what Kurtz wrote about Giulianis claim on Sunday. For the record, Kurtzs name appears in the hard-copy Post, but not on the papers web site:
And not only that! An infinite number of monkeys were given type-writers, and one of them made this claim too!
This may very well be the Dumbest Ad Watch Ever. Indeed, Kurtzs assessment is especially striking, given the semi-decent editorial the Post had published just one day before. The headline on the editorial said this: Mr Giuliani and the Tax Fairy. The editors discussed that same inane claim. They started by saying this:
The editorial then quotes a string of Bush Admin honchos as they debunk that famous claim. But so what? The very next day, Kurtz dragged the crackpot Kudlow out of the bushes and insisted theres a fierce dispute among economists about what Rudy said.
For our money, by the way, that Post editorial was fairly weak brew. In it, the editors were polite enough to pretend that Giuliani actually believes this claim (obviously, he doesnt believe it)—and they failed to name the other Big Republicans who have been making this same inane statement. (Last Tuesday, John McCain lied about this to Charlie Rose—and Charlie just sat there and took it. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/30/07.) Obviously, the editors know this is a crackpot claim—and that no Big Republican really believes it. But as we told you last Friday, the Post has long refused to confront the world from which such claims emerge. Even as they corrected Giulianis ad, they refused to confront this world once again.
But good God! One day later, Kurtz pretended to be the Biggest Fool Ever, dragging Kudlow out of the crypt where these crackpots go for air. And guess what? The New York Times ad-watched this same ad on Friday—and Julie Bosman fact checked this ad without even mentioning Giulianis statement! Confronted with Rudys classic groaner, Bosman pretended it just wasnt there.
Did Giuliani have the Worst Week Ever? Please! As the week ended, the Post was defending one of his ludicrous statements, and the Times was pretending it just wasnt there. But this is the way the world has worked over the past fifteen or twenty years. Question: When will our friends at TPM come to terms with this Worst. Press Corps. Ever.? Steve was right about every point—except about how the press works.
TOMORROW—PART 1: Howard Kurtz writes endless PR in a gruesome—and troubling—new book.