Saturday Night, Monday morning: Last Wednesday night, one major policy point popped from that first debate.
We refer to Romney’s tax proposal, a murky proposal the mainstream press corps has chosen to duck for months.
In August, the Tax Policy Center did a major report on the Romney proposal. As we noted at the time, the Washington Post and the New York Times treated this report like a minor distraction.
Last Wednesday evening, the tax plan popped, trailing a massive amount of confusion. The mass confusion has continued in subsequent pundit discussions.
But so what? As best we can tell from our searches, the New York Times still hasn’t done a full report on the Romney tax plan—on the basic question of what Romney is proposing.
By way of contrast, what was featured on the front page of yesterday’s New York Times? This agonized, minutely-detailed report about the creation of the skits on last weekend’s Saturday Night Live.
On page one, the report spread-eagled across four columns, advertised by a color photograph featuring Big Bird. Inside the paper, the report ate the entire top half of A16, swollen by three more photos.
All by itself, the silly, sycophantic report by Bill Carter ran more than 1300 words.
The New York Times still hasn’t told readers what Romney has proposed on taxes. But the Times does want its readers exposed to consummate nonsense like this:
CARTER (10/8/12): But the debate itself turned out to be a challenge. There were no big gaffes or obvious springboards for comedy. Instead, the first debate of this election offered up a blizzard of policy details and a lackluster performance from President Obama.Let’s be clear. It isn’t Jim Downey’s fault that the Times composed this consummate nonsense, featuring it on the paper’s front page.
At home Wednesday night, Seth Meyers, one of the show's head writers, watched with increasing concern.
''It's boring enough when they're talking about all this and how it will affect Americans, but when you're sitting there trying to pull comedy out of it, it's really bad,'' Mr. Meyers said. ''There were people on Twitter saying: 'You must be really happy, there's so much in this debate. This is writing itself.' I was like: what debate are you watching?''
The job of turning the debate into comedy gold fell to Jim Downey, the longtime ''SNL'' writer who has created the show's debate parodies since the 1970s. This one, he said, was the hardest he had ever dealt with.
But Carter treated the invention of those skits in the same way other newspapers treated the killing of bin Laden. In his puerile, ass-kissing tick-tock, we stay with Downey as he fights the pressure involved in creating his deathless skits.
As the pressure grows, so does our concern! Will the operation come together in time? Meanwhile, readers of this empty pseudo-newspaper still don’t know what Romney has proposed for our federal taxes.
Do you understand what Romney has proposed? Over the weekend, we began to realize that we ourselves do not! The Washington Post has been saying one thing—and the New York Times, in its fleeting references, has been saying something different.
Tomorrow, we’ll review the clash in what the two newspapers have said. In the meantime, the Times wants you to know about the pressure on Downey last week. (And no, it isn't Downey's fault that the Times created this nonsense.)
Go ahead—make yourself read that whole report! No modern nation can hope to survive with journalistic “elites” of this type.
Dare to struggle, dare to win: Back in April 2003, we had a multiple brush with greatness.
We took part in a “Symposium on Political Humor” at the University of Virginia. Larry Sabato was our host—and Downey was one of our fellow panelists. The discussion aired on C-Span!
At one point, Downey played SNL’s skit on the first Bush-Gore debate, citing it as one of his greatest productions. In yesterday’s report, Carter was still kissing Downey’s ass about that famous skit.
Our evaluation was different.
We’ve never watched this panel ourselves. If you want to do so, just click here. Downey was a very good sport this evening—and we genuinely mean that. That said, his famous skit from October 2000 was—let’s be frank for once—standardized, scripted junk.
For once, somebody spoke back to power that night! As we skillfully said a bit later that evening, the college kids finally got to see a real debate!
In yesterday’s front-page report, Bill Carter kissed all the mandated asses. Increasingly, that’s what our upper-end “press corps” is for.
But by the way: What has Romney proposed on taxes? As best we can tell, the New York Times still hasn’t managed to do that report.
More on that question tomorrow. Just a guess: You may not be sure.