Jody Warrick sees the poignancy in the lady’s sad fall: Jody Warrick’s report in this morning’s Washington Post includes a few striking formulations concerning the Petraeus affair.
The front-page headline—presumably, an editor wrote it—would be our first example. This is the headline which appears in our hard-copy Post:
“With Broadwell, general let his guard down”
The headline suggests that poor Petraeus had been guarding against such people for years. In fairness, that isn’t what Warrick’s copy says.
But that’s how an editor read it.
We were even more struck by a formulation from the pen of Warrick herself. Describing Broadwell’s crackpot behavior, Warrick sees the poignancy in the outcome this conduct produced:
WARRICK (11/11/12): For Broadwell, who is also married, the startling turn of events has reportedly been painful as well. After writing a best-selling and highly laudatory book about Petraeus, she appears to have initiated the series of events that led to his public humiliation. Investigators say threatening e-mails from Broadwell to another woman led to the discovery of the affair between the biographer and her subject. It is an outcome made more poignant because she has been—and remains—zealous in her devotion to the general, friends and colleagues say.In those paragraphs (and others), Warrick describes crackpot, borderline criminal conduct. She is describing the conduct of a crackpot and a zealot.
“She was relentlessly pro-Petraeus,” said a longtime Afghan policy expert who met Broadwell in Kabul. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte.”
Put aside the threatening e-mails. Warrick is also describing a person who can’t have a sensible discussion about the subject of a book she is writing, so blinded is she by her feelings. You'd almost think a journalist might be repelled by this conduct.
But Warrick seems to sympathize with the crackpot behavior she describes. She describes Broadwell’s behavior as a form of “devotion”—and she finds a “poignant” strain to the unfortunate outcome.
Why does Warrick sympathize so? Perhaps because Paula Broadwell, minus the sex, is the mainstream press corps! Minus the sex, this is precisely the way Warrick’s own tribe has behaved for the past twenty years.
Broadwell was writing a book about Petraeus. But she was so emotionally involved with her subject that “there was no room for a conversation” concerning his shortcomings.
Tell us how that isn’t like the work of Warrick’s tribe! Consider their recent crackpot affairs, affairs which came minus the sex:
In 1999, the press corps conducted swooning love affairs with two presidential candidates—John McCain and Bill Bradley. Their behavior toward McCain was so absurd that it was routinely described as “the swoon.”
The behavior toward Bradley, a long-time crush object, was every bit as ridiculous. Whatever one may think of Bradley, the sycophancy of the press corps was a journalistic disgrace.
Once McCain and Bradley were dispatched from the race, the press corps’ affections were largely transferred to the plain-spoken man who was comfortable in his own skin, George W. Bush. No, they didn’t swoon over Bush to the extent they had done with McCain and Bradley.
But the flirting and the affection were widely described. You may recall Fred Barnes’ review of the situation as early as October 1999.
Writing in the Weekly Standard, Barnes revealed who his colleagues loved best:
BARNES (10/4/99): Puff DaddyAlmost surely, Barnes was cleaning up some of the motives behind these inappropriate love affairs. But even then, Barnes said the press corps had a “liking problem” when it came to Candidate Bush.
Mike Kinsley, while editor of the New Republic, had a half-serious piece of advice for his writers. If you're doing a story about a politician or public official, don't interview him. You might like him, or her. Mike was onto something. Actually liking the person you're writing about—or holding forth about on TV—happens often enough that it's one of the dangers of Washington journalism. And there are other dangers I'll get to shortly.
First, the liking problem. Reporters pretend to be tough-minded and aloof, but of course they're not. Gathered in a pack they can be cruel and unfeeling, but not when they're on their own. They're softies, easily schmoozed, ever susceptible to being fooled by appearances.
At the moment, the likability award is shared by George W. Bush and John McCain, rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush is fun to be around, gives everyone, including reporters, a nickname, and is something of a wise guy, which gets him in trouble from time to time but appeals to journalists. McCain is legendarily accessible to the media and spins reporters so cleverly that he seems candid and often actually is.
By the time the Barnes piece appeared, the fawning over McCain and Bradley was a transparent disgrace. But according to Barnes, Warrick’s tribe already had "a liking problem" when it came to Bush as well!
“Journalists” who fall in love in these ways will also act on unreasoning hatreds. In fairness, sometimes these hatreds are manufactured to serve a corporate boss.
Cases in point:
At the time the Barnes piece appeared, the press corps was in the midst of a long, ugly series of wars against both Clintons and Gore. Although she herself is now an object of widespread mainstream fawning, the press corps’ war against Hillary Clinton extended into 2008, when Chris Matthews finally ran into trouble for the ugly misogyny he had long directed against her.
Finally, Matthews got into a bit of trouble—when he was rescued by Darling Rachel! Just so you’ll know who you’re dealing with here:
One week after rescuing Matthews, Maddow signed her first contract with MSNBC. She is now wealthy and famous.
Over the past twenty years, the press corps has carried on a series of unreasoning swoons and undisguised hatreds. Minus the sex, this is the precisely the type of conduct Warrick attributes to Broadwell.
Are you surprised that Warrick finds the poignancy in this dear person’s sad fall?
One final historical note: Every step of the way, the big-dollar stars of the career liberal world have agreed to pretend that these past events never happened.
They looked away, or played active roles, in the endless wars against the Clintons and Gore. To this day, you can’t get these self-serving hustlers to acknowledge that these wars even occurred.
Joan Walsh won’t tell you; neither will David. Today, they sit at the right hand of the father—the father our Dear Rachel saved.
Even the fawning to McCain/Bradley/Bush was largely allowed to pass under radar. The press corps never discusses the press corps:
It’s the oldest tale in a very sad and very destructive old book.
What your lizard brain says: Your lizard brain keeps telling you that these events just couldn’t have happened.
If these events happened, your lizard brain says, David and Joannie would tell!