There was a large house on Nantucket!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 13, 2013

Mark Leibovich makes forbidden remarks: We haven’t yet read This Town, Mark Leibovich’s tattletale opus about Insider Washington.

Still, we’ve read the pages permitted on-line. In those pages, Leibovich says several naughty things—naughty but instructive.

By law, these forbidden remarks must be ignored by the rest of the “press corps.” So you can read these statements somewhere, we’ll reproduce them here.

Let’s start with this, a snapshot from Tim Russert’s memorial service in June 2008, the scene which opens the book. As she enters the cathedral, Hillary Clinton ignores a pitch from a Countdown producer:
LEIBOVICH: “It is a pleasure to meet you,” Clinton responds to the eager producer, while the smile stays tight and she keeps right on walking. Hillary has a memorial service to attend: the memorial service of a man she and her husband plainly despised and who they believed (rightly) despised them right back.
Say what? The late Tim Russert despised the Clintons? Given Russert’s massive importance during the Clinton/Bush years, that is a striking assertion.

Have you seen that statement debated now that it’s been advanced in a much-discussed book?

A few pages later, Leibovich gives that remarkable claim some context, although he doesn’t say that’s his intention:
LEIBOVICH: Tim liked his seat in the corporate boardroom and his large home in Nantucket, “The House That Jack Built,” as the sign outside identified the Nantucket house—Jack being Jack Welch, the longtime CEO of NBC’s corporate parent, General Electric. Russert and Brokaw attended Ronald Reagan’s funeral as guests, and then walked outside the Washington National Cathedral to anchor the coverage for NBC.

Tim lived in the sweet spot of the big, lucrative revolving door between money, media and politics. He also died there. Every wannabe, is and has-been in Washington was issuing statements.
We’ve never read that Russert’s $7 million summer home bore that sign, although we’ve often urged readers to follow the money to that home just over the dunes from Welch’s crib. Here’s why:

Welch wasn’t just the CEO of GE. He was also a near-billionaire conservative Republican, as was his perfect right, of course.

But when you see Leibovich say that Russert despised the Clintons, you might want to link that claim back to the oodles of money he gained from employment by his mentor, Welch. We’ve long suggested that you make that connection, especially when you consider the poisonous coverage of the Clintons, then of Candidate Gore, that came from Russert and Chris Matthews, whose summer home on that same Nantucket cost just $4.4 million.

Russert and Matthews got wealthy through Welch, as that jocular sign suggested. They also savaged the Clintons, then Candidate Gore, during the era in question.

The career crowd has always refused to discuss this! That said, the way this pair chased Welch all the way out to Nantucket has always been a funny story. Journalists would have beaten that story to death if it hadn’t involved their own.

But it did involve their own, and it involved their own interests. For that reason, through all these years, they have kept you from hearing that story. You haven’t been allowed to think about the possible role played by Welch.

Russert’s house on Nantucket was called “The House That Jack Built?” Assuming that’s true, we’ve never heard anyone mention that before. In this third excerpt from This Town, that silence gets explained:
LEIBOVICH: [Russert] was indeed adored—in that unmistakable vintage of Washington “adored” that incorporated fear and need and sucking up. You needed to be on Meet the Press to be bestowed with a top-line standing in what Joan Didion called “that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life.” You needed to be friends with Tim, the closer the better...
What explained the poisonous coverage aimed at the Clintons, then at Candidate Gore, by Welch’s young men from Nantucket? We’re not sure, but their coverage changed world history, and it involves a very funny story, with Russert and Matthews huddled on the island with the extended family of East Coast Irish Catholics Welch hired to run NBC News.

This is a very funny story. It’s also an important story about modern world history.

We’ve pushed this story for many years. No one else is willing to tell it, for the reasons which emerge in that third excerpt. No one is going to go near that story.

Dearest Darlings! It just isn't done!

41 comments:

  1. Christopher Hitchens took a back seat to no one in his hatred of the Clintons. To adapt the old stockbroker joke, where was his Nantucket summer home? He had to write a book savaging God to make a decent buck.

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    Replies
    1. This is the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent.

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    2. Hitchens career took off--he went completely mainstream--when he started cheerleading for war after 9/11. The MSM loves a man who used to be on the far left and then becomes a flag-waving warmongering supporter of a rightwing President. They eat that stuff up.

      As for Bob's post, we're not supposed to notice that affluent people in the press have the same interest in staying affluent as the affluent people in politics and the super affluent people who run corporations. It's considered Marxist or something, though on this particular point you don't have to agree or even know about anything Marx ever wrote (I don't know much myself). It's just common sense.

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  2. "with Russert and Matthews huddled on the island with the extended family of East Coast Irish Catholics Welch hired to run NBC News." - brahmin bob

    i dont see somerby complainiong about any other group hiring members of their own group, though we all know that goes on extensively. but somerby is so anxious to show irish-bad, he will use exemplars who are english via a northern irekland ancestry father who was protestant in mathews case, and of german ancestry in russerts case. see their wiki pages.
    ----------

    welch has been retired from general electric for 12 years and ruseert has been dead for five years. why would the press corp be so shy about talking about them now if they saw a good and fair story? and mathews i just see as hustler who noone would be scared of, as there is little there there, no principles aside from seeking the middle, imo. did you miss the way john stwerart took it to him on his show?

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    1. Why? Because it conflicts with the idealistic portrait of the press as the disinterested representative of the people, the essential voice that makes democracy work by informing citizens. It implies that our country does not have a functioning democracy in which the will of the people is enacted by duly elected representatives. It would undermine the charade that we are self-governing and not subject to rule by a power elite that appoints our government, including elected officials.

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    2. daft,

      "why would the press corp be so shy about talking about them now if they saw a good and fair story?"

      If you have to ask this question, then you're not paying attention.

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    3. daft bunk asks: "why would the press corp be so shy about talking about them now if they saw a *good* and *fair* story?"

      >>> because theyre all 'mobbed up', so to speak, themselves, but with 'godfathers' who arent egocentric loudmouthes like welch was 12 years ago. . . . woulpdnt be *good* for their careerrs as glorified pr agents for the moneyed and entrenched interests.

      second, the real journailsts wouldnt talk about somerbys ancestral 'irish-catholic' 'enemies' because, contrary to somerbys propaganda, they know that the vast majority of the bosses of media organizations are not and have not been americans of irish catholic heritage. and that the vast majority of the media company front people ('journalists') are not and have not been americans of irish catholic heritage. it would not be *fair*, and their readers would likely know that it was unfair.

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    4. I never saw Somerby say, or imply, that "the vast majority of the bosses of media organizations are of Irish Catholic heritage."

      Neither did you.

      So you claiming that bullshit is "Somerby's propaganda" is your usual unfair bullshit.

      Of course, your readers likely know it's unfair.

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    5. he rarely ever mentioned a media boss besides welch. that does imply that americans of irish catholic heritage are dominant managers of the media in america.

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    6. similar to how he never criticizes another 'ethnic goup' by name besides americans of irsh catholic heritage. this implies that they are the problem with america.

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    7. "he rarely ever mentioned a media boss besides welch. that does imply that americans of irish catholic heritage are dominant managers of the media in america."

      No, just (C)NBC.

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    8. "No, just (C)NBC."

      >>> he would treat welch as infectious like dowd. so regardless of how limited their reach is comparatively, they are, according to somerby, so insidiously influential among their peers . . . and in welchs case also influential by the super-influenbtial(according to somerby) people he (supposedly) hired over 12 years ago, that they dominate(d) the media despite having a very limited audience relative to the entire media universe.

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    9. Nope, you're full of shit.

      Like always.

      And if you had a quote (you don't) that showed Somerby implied Americans of Irish Catholic heritage are the "dominant managers of the media in America" you'd post it. You didn't. You can't. It's crap.

      STFU and go away, louse.

      Delete
  3. I can't wait until Matthews and others Liebovich skewers get wind of the HUD plan to move section 8 housing into their neighborhoods.

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  4. Russert may have worked for a Republican, but he himself was a Democrat. Russert worked as a special counsel, and later as chief of staff, to U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan, a Democrat from New York. In 1983, he became the counsel to New York Governor Mario Cuomo, also a Democrat.

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    Replies
    1. This is irrelevant when judging Russert's actions re the Clintons and Gore.

      It maybe has relevance to Russert's overall career and status as a liberal/progressive if you want to argue that his earlier work mitigated the later.

      It also has some relevance if you want to argue that enough money can make a person do or say anything.

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    2. David in Cal:

      You are right. Tim's work as an enabler of Moynihan and Cuomo cannot be overlooked. They were both of Catholic natiopnal stock.

      rick

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  5. I thought he was unbearably egotistical and self-aggrandizing as a reporter and interviewer. It was like watching someone play a role: "regular guy, straight-shooter"

    Are people so desperate for "authenticity" that they would BUY his fake persona? I guess they are.

    It really sucks that they're all so wealthy, too. We get an incredibly skewed version of the world, because let's face it: these folks don't live in the same one we do.

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  6. “that handful of insiders who invent, year in and year out, the narrative of public life.”

    I miss her, too. She should write more. I just read her 1990's piece on Bob Woodward last year and it was great. She had his number 20 years ago.

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  7. Assuming something nasty in Mark Leibovich’s tattletale opus about Tim Russert is true requires us to set aside all we know about the laziness of the NYTimes: the things it waves into print, the nothingness it writes about, its cavalier attitude toward factsalong with inventions of same. Then there is its willingness to disregard or undercorrect errors. How could such a truthteller emerge from years of their employ? And before that, the Washington Post.


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    1. Yes, you are correct, we should not believe these thigh-rubbing stories. I guess we're all just trying to understand why Mr. Russert seemed to use his historically important post to keep information from the public and allow the very powerful to shape the conversation. He gave up Sunday morning to the oligarchs.

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  8. There once was a man from Nantucket
    Had a rep, and he just couldn't shuck it.
    .... He would stick to a track
    .... And, he sure did know Jack
    And, you didn't like it, go fudge.

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  9. Russert and that Buffalo Bills business. ugh. The sports team stuff is the epitome of the smarminess and unseriousness among the big media people.

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  10. Russert and Brian Williams, his assistant, did a lot to change the 2008 election with their hit on Hillary at the October 30 2007 debate. If Hillary despised him, it's with good reason.

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  11. Russert's "I'm just a blue collar guy from Buffalo" shtick always made me want to puke. Yes, he occasionally asked a tough question, and for that watchers of Meet the Press loved him, but there was nothing admirable about the man. I did not weep when he left this Earth.

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  12. Chris Matthews doesn't have the clout of Williams or the late Russert, but he was the most outrageous.

    He criticized the HRC campaign as using racially charged tactics and was especially egregious toward Clinton supporter Geraldine Ferraro.

    ReplyDelete
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