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HOWARD’S END! E. D. Hill slimed a favorite target. Anyone seen Howard Kurtz?


TODAY’S LEADING PRESS STORY: In today’s New York Times, Hair Club member Adam Nagourney says that Gore may not run. Here’s part of the reason:

NAGOURNEY: Many of Mr. Gore’s associates said he had been disturbed in the last month by what one described as “the baggage he has with the media.” Mr. Gore is distressed, one associate said, by a new round of news reports, echoing questions from the 2000 race, about whether he is reinventing himself for a presidential run. This associate described Mr. Gore as convinced that Mr. Bush could be defeated in 2004 but wondering whether another Democrat might be a stronger challenger.
Duh. We discussed this aspect of the coverage several weeks ago (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/19/02 and 11/23/02). More on this topic tomorrow.

Maybe it’s possible to be more obtuse, but if so, we haven’t yet seen it. On Tuesday evening’s Hannity & Colmes, Terry Jeffrey of Human Events tried a bit of misdirection. He wanted to get the focus off Lott. Try to believe that he said this:
JEFFREY: I remembered something from reading David McCullough’s excerpts of the biography of Harry Truman. Just to make sure I got it right I went back and read it about five times today. Because what I’m going to say is very shocking, but if people want to check it themselves, look on page 164 in McCullough’s book about Harry Truman. When Harry Truman first ran for office, Jackson County judge in Missouri in 1922, he was concerned about the Ku Klux Klan vote. So you know what he did, according to McCullough?

COLMES: You’re obfuscating and changing the subject. We’re not talking about Harry Truman in 1922.

JEFFREY: Harry Truman, a Democrat hero, Alan, according to David McCullough, ponied up $10 to join the Ku Klux Klan.

Did Harry pony up the dough? We’ll flesh out the answer below. But we couldn’t help chuckling at Jeffrey’s attempt to obfuscate and, yes, change the subject. Readers, the flap this week has not concerned Thurmond’s conduct in 1948. Instead, the flap concerns a statement made by Trent Lott just last week. At THE HOWLER, we’re not big fans of Great Big Flaps, and we hold no view on the state of Lott’s soul. But Jeffrey’s performance was something to see. When did Terry Jeffrey become a high priest of “moral equivalence?”

Most conservatives simply said that Lott made a dumb statement. But others were trying to change the subject. Sean Hannity, of course, is always prepared. As we’ve long told you, Sean happens:

HANNITY: Here’s what I want to focus on today….What bothers me the most is the double standard by Democrats Sharpton, Jackson. Let me give you an example. We have back in October of this year, William Jefferson Clinton, in Arkansas saying wonderful things, what a remarkable man J. William Fulbright, former senator from Arkansas is—a known segregationist. He gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, a known segregationist, one of 19 senators who issued a statement entitled “The Southern Manifesto,” condemning the ’54 Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. Board of Education, defending segregation. Why hasn’t anyone condemned Bill Clinton for doing far worse than what Trent Lott has done here?
Why hasn’t anyone condemned Bill Clinton? Duh! Because he didn’t say we’d be better off if Brown had been repealed. But Hannity had other targets to slime. As always, of course, there was Gore:
HANNITY: It’s interesting. I never heard Al Gore criticize his father, who in the most important vote of his life, was nowhere to be found for the Civil Rights Act of ’64.
He hasn’t? Gore’s father led in civil rights throughout his career; his vote against the 1964 act was the one notable exception. But although it’s completely irrelevant to the matter at hand, Gore’s biographers describe the way he opposed his father’s decision. Here’s a nugget from David Maraniss (The Prince of Tennessee):
MARANISS: [Gore and his father] had several arguments in 1964, when Gore Sr. opposed that year’s federal civil rights act, disappointing his son, and after that vote, which the senator called “the biggest mistake” of his career, he listened more attentively to young Al’s advice. Six years of bold outspokenness made Gore Sr. a folk hero among liberals and antiwar activists, but also a marked man back home.
As usual, Hannity was simply spinning. He engaged in an old hobby, sliming Gore.

A lesser breed was sliming Dems. And no one did it like the Fox & Friends crew—the gang who run the worst “news” show in the history of American television. A three-hour reading of con agit-prop, the program is a daily reminder of how low our “press corps” has fallen. On Tuesday morning, reliable loudmouth E. D. Hill made things even dumber than Terry. And she made things meaner than Sean:

HILL: Of course, Al Gore was sued by four Secret Service agents who said that he didn’t promote them and he didn’t do anything about it. And his family’s black maid says that she was forced to sit in the hot Gore car outside whites only restaurants and no one did anything about it. But I do think that what Trent Lott said was wrong.
“Of course,” Hill said—and then she recited a pair of bogus stories. Start with her comment about the lawsuit. Filed in early 2000, the suit alleged misconduct by the Treasury Department, not by Gore. (Among other things, the lawsuit claimed that the Secret Service had quotas for agents guarding Clinton and Gore.) Gore was sued by four Secret Service agents? At best, Hill was just reading spin; at worst, she was simply lying. And just how nasty can E. D. Hill be? Let’s take a look at that poor black maid—and marvel at the remarkable conduct which goes on each morning at Fox.

Hill’s story truly does stand out, both in its rank contempt for the truth and in the nastiness which it reveals. The Gores’ maid says she was forced to sit? In fact, the incident in question dates from 1939, and there is no sign that the person in question has said much about it lately. Here is the passage from the Maraniss bio. What a shame that people like Hill hold stewardship over our discourse:

MARANISS: The Gores personally felt the evils of segregation during the long car trips they began making in 1939 between Carthage, Tenn., and Washington after [Al Gore’s father] was elected to Congress. They took along a black nanny, Ocie Bell Hunt, to look after their young daughter, Nancy. On the first drive, according to historian Tony Badger, they could find no restrooms for Hunt to use and had an exhausting time searching for a motel that would lodge an interracial traveling party. Finally they came upon a little motel in east Tennessee that would allow the Gores and Hunt to stay overnight, provided they arrived after dark and left before other guests in the morning. The trips continued in this humiliating fashion year after year, until well after Al Gore Jr. was born in 1948. He said in a recent interview that he thought he had some early memory of those incidents, but added that perhaps he merely remembered being told the stories so many times. “That was a lesson in injustice that was driven home,” he said. “And it was reinforced by frequent commentary from my parents.”

Racial injustice was a common theme in the conversations of Pauline Gore, who friends say was the one who fed the family’s convictions…

Hume and Barnes said that Lott should explain. Spinners like Hill took a different approach. And guess what? This conduct has driven your discourse for years, largely ignored by your “good guy” reporters. Howard Kurtz would rather eat live worms on Survivor than “report” on this kind of press conduct.

What kind of person behaves this way? Answer: The kind of dissembler who now drives your discourse. Too bad Howard Kurtz doesn’t care.

TALKING TURQUE-Y: Here is Bill Turque’s account of “the hot Gore car” from his bio, Inventing Al Gore:

TURQUE (page 12): [Al Gore’s father] hadn’t lacked for vivid personal encounters with segregation. On the family’s car trips between Tennessee and Washington, the Gores were routinely denied accommodations because they traveled with Nancy and Al’s black nanny, Ocie Bell. Gore eventually found a hotel owner near the trip’s halfway point willing to put them up if they arrived after dark. And he clearly signaled his belief that the South needed to change; in 1956 he refused to sign Strom Thurmond’s so-called Southern Manifesto…“Hell, no,” Gore said, loud enough for supporters in the press gallery to hear when Thurmond presented him the document on the Senate floor.
Somehow, Turque, like Maraniss, failed to uncover Hill’s tale of “the hot Gore car.”

ZELNICK SPEAKS: Sean Hannity is spinning each night, telling his viewers that Gore’s late father needs censure from Gore about civil rights. As we’ve long told you, Sean happens! What was Gore Senior’s real record on civil rights? Sean Hannity will deceive his viewers, and Alan Colmes will sit by politely. But here is Bob Zelnick’s account from his bio, Gore: A Political Life. The book was published by Regnery, the well-known conservative house:

ZELNICK (page 34): The ringleader behind the [Southern Manifesto] was Senator Strom Thurmond…[Gore’s father] examined the manifesto and concluded it was, as he would recall years later, “the most spurious, insane, insulting document of a political nature claiming to be legally founded that I had ever read.” Not content with Gore’s private refusal, Thurmond sought to embarrass him on the Senate floor, alerting the press corps that he planned to approach Gore during the afternoon of March 11, 1956. With the press gallery bulging with witnesses, Thurmond stepped toward Gore on the floor, handed him the document, and said, “Albert, would you care to sign our Declaration of Principles?”

“Hell no,” said Gore, returning it to Thurmond.

The actions of Gore, [Sen. Estes] Kefauver, and, at the state level, [Gov. Frank] Clement, and their courage and decency on the civil rights issue, would be more a source of political trouble than benefit in Tennessee, though none of the three ever lost an election because of his position, at least until Gore’s defeat in his 1970 campaign. Each reelection would be challenged and each man would be accused of being “out of touch” with sentiment in the state, or worse yet, a traitor to his region, his heritage, and his people. None of the three ever backed down. None ever engaged in racial demagoguery. None would ever require sympathetic chroniclers to explain that his conduct had to be judged in the context of his time and its political exigencies. Their courage would inspire later generations of southerners who sought to purge the region of its terrible racial heritage.

That’s the way Gore’s father was described in the Regnery bio. But at Fox, a slimy man with a big, big mouth is spinning viewers blue on this subject. In the morning, Hill is inventing her nasty tales—nasty tales that degrade a fine family.

Readers, what ever happened to liberal bias? At CNN, Bruce Morton politely says that Strom never meant a word he said. Over at Fox, an outstanding family like Gore’s is routinely trashed. And spinners like Hill can lie as they please—because Howard Kurtz would eat live worms before he’d say one word about it. Quite literally, this spinning and dissembling has gone on for years. So has the cowardly silence of Kurtz. Readers, what ever happened to liberal bias? Anyone seen the beast lately?

WHAT WOULD HARRY DO? Sadly, Jeffrey took some liberties too. He seems to have missed the following section, where Truman gets his ten dollars back:

MCCULLOUGH (page 164): Harry refused at first, but then gave Hinde $10 for membership. “Jones” insisted on meeting Harry privately at the Baltimore Hotel and Harry agreed. But when at the meeting “Jones” told him he would get no support unless he promised never to hire Catholics if elected, Harry ended the discussion. He had commanded a mostly Catholic battery in France, he said, and he would give jobs to whomever he saw fit. Apparently the $10 was returned.
Of course, none of this has a thing to do with the statement made by Lott last week. But why did Jeffrey read the book five times if he didn’t plan to say what was in it?