WORLD WITHOUT FACTS, AMEN: Kate Zernike builds a script!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 2, 2014

Part 3—The way our press corps works: It’s startling to observe the intellectual norms of our modern, upper-end “press corps.”

Consider Carter Eskew’s piece about the Mastro report. The piece appeared on the op-ed page of yesterday’s Washington Post, in its hard-copy editions.

Eskew began with a warning about Chris Christie’s claim that he knew nothing about Fort Lee. “If he is lying, the prevarication would be worse than the action,” the upright Eskew said.

From there, it was straight downhill for Eskew and his concern for the truth. Let’s ignore his logical wanderings. Soon he was saying this:
ESKEW (4/1/14): As others have noted, the report is sharply personal in its depiction of Kelly's supposed emotional state and its contribution to her actions. It describes her as having been dumped by one of the other figures in the scandal, Bill Stepien, and “looking upset” and seeming to have been “crying.”

Many commentators have described the report's language as sexist,
but what's more important is what Kelly thinks about it. Christie's reaction indicates he doesn't care what she thinks; the case is closed. Whatever professional or personal reasons Kelly had to remain loyal to the governor are gone. And, to use a metaphor that Mastro might understand, the U.S. attorney is a strong shoulder for Kelly to cry on if she has any tears left.
Given his opposition to sexism, Eskew ends in a rather odd way. But you know. Whatever!

The highlighted passages can be defended as (almost) technically accurate. The report does say that Kelly had a “personal relationship” with Stepien, Christie’s campaign manager in 2013. The report also says that the relationship “had cooled, apparently at Stepien’s choice, and they largely stopped speaking” by the time Kelly sent her now-famous email to David Wildstein in August 2013.

Among liberals, it quickly became the norm to paraphrase as Eskew did, using “dumped” to heighten the sense that Christie and his defenders have been speaking in “sharply personal” ways about Kelly. For the record, the word “dumped” doesn’t appear in the Mastro report. By law, it appears in every liberal paraphrase of the Mastro report.

How about the rest of that passage? Does the Mastro report also “describe Kelly as...‘looking upset’ and seeming to have been ‘crying?’”

Technically yes, it does—but that has nothing to with the claim that Kelly got “dumped” by Stepien. In the Mastro report, four different Christie staffers say that Kelly looked or seemed upset on December 13, when Christie is shown insisting that staffers come forward with anything they know about the lane closings.

One of those staffers, Deborah Gramiccioni, says “it looked as if [Kelly] had been crying” at one point later that day.

Did Kelly look or seem upset on December 13? Was she crying at some point?

We have no way of knowing! We do know that Eskew’s account may tend to be misleading in its portrayal of these events. We also know that it follows a widely-pimped script—a script in which the Mastro report is said to be “sharply personal in its depiction of Kelly's supposed emotional state” in a way which is sexist.

Is that true? Is the Mastro report “sharply personal in its depiction,” in a way which is sexist?

For ourselves, we’d lean toward no, especially given the supersized claims churned by many partisans. But we aren’t here to judge Mastro’s report. We’re here to evaluate the work of the upper-end press corps.

To judge the work of the upper-end press, let’s look at Kate Zernike’s report in the New York Times. Rather plainly, Zernike’s report helped give this script its start.

The Mastro report is more than 300 pages long. It was released last Thursday.

By Thursday evening, Rachel Maddow was on the air with an error-riddled, snark-infested account of the report. Tomorrow, we’ll look at her work, and at the gruesome, ridiculous work which has emerged from Chris Matthews.

For today, let’s consider Zernike’s report, which appeared in the New York Times Friday morning.

Zernike is one of the worst reporters we have ever covered. Below, you see the start to Friday’s report, headline included.

Hours later, the Daily Beast was copying from Zernike’s report; her piece was widely quoted elsewhere. In that sense, this was the start of the script about the “sharply personal” treatment of Kelly:
ZERNIKE (3/28/14): Irate Friends See Sexism in Report on Former Christie Aide

She “seemed emotional.” She was “habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor.” A boyfriend had ended a relationship.

Bridget Anne Kelly has been the center of blame in the George Washington Bridge lane closing scandal since early January, when it was revealed that she sent an email calling for “some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Gov. Chris Christie, seeking to stanch the damage the scandal had caused to his political fortunes, fired her as his deputy chief of staff after that, calling her “stupid.” But the report commissioned by Mr. Christie and released Thursday doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous, weeping frequently and dependent on men for approval and stability.

Though the lawyers who wrote the report did not interview her, they explain her conduct in unusually personal terms—she is out of the office attending to a family member who had been hospitalized; a brief relationship “had cooled” at the “behest” of the man, Mr. Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien.
According to Zernike, the Mastro report explains Kelly’s conduct “in unusually personal terms.” Yesterday, Eskew noted that “many others” beside himself had offered this critique.

Zernike was one such scribe. How strong was her analysis?

Let’s start with a flat misstatement. Despite what Zernike wrote, the Mastro report does not portray Kelly “weeping frequently.”

Indeed, Kelly is never shown weeping in the Mastro report. Zernike’s statement helped drive a script, but it was flatly false.

That said, let’s look at Zernike’s first paragraph, where she does get something right. The Mastro report does say that Kelly “seemed emotional.” It makes that statement at one lone point, on page 99.

Is that a marker of sexism in the Mastro report? Careful! The report applies the term “emotional” to Christie’s behavior in five or six different passages!

On page 10, the report says this: “It was an emotional session, in which the Governor, welling up with tears, expressed shock at the revelations...” Other such descriptions of an emotional, teary-eyed Christie appear on pages 11, 103, 131 and 132.

How odd! Christie is described behaving in an “emotional” way much more often than Kelly! But so what? Zernike selected the single reference to Kelly, thereby defining her script.

Let’s continue in paragraph one. Does the Mastro report really say that Kelly was “habitually concerned about how she was perceived by the governor?”

Yes it does, again at one lone point. But is that statement a marker of sexism? At another point, the report describes David Wildstein “express[ing] his concerns about his future, his position at the Port Authority, and how he was viewed in the Governor’s Office (something with which Wildstein was preoccupied).”

Warning! Zernike was building a script this day. And alas! When our journalists build preferred scripts, they will sometimes make flat misstatements (“weeping frequently”). More often, they’ll carefully pick and choose the facts they decide to bring forward.

Zernike was already picking and choosing in her first two paragraphs. In paragraph 3, we meet a rather strange claim about the Mastro report—a strange claim which keeps the script building.

Zernike asserts that the Mastro report “doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as duplicitous.” That’s a very strange way to put it, although it feels helpfully gendered.

Can we talk? The Mastro report says that Kelly lied to her superiors on several occasions about her knowledge of the lane closings.

Rather than report that finding in a straightforward manner, Zernike chose to reframe the finding. The report “portrays Kelly as duplicitous,” Zernike says. This is where script comes from.

As we move to paragraph 4, we get some comic relief.

Zernike was building a script this day. And when our journalists build their scripts, they’re rarely troubled by the specter of self-contradiction. They seem to understand their guild’s low intellectual standards.

Consider the point where Zernike introduces the notion that, in Eskew’s copy-cat phrasing, “the report is sharply personal in its depiction of Kelly's supposed emotional state.”

By now, everyone has said that! Once again, this is the place where Zernike created that meme:
ZERNIKE: Though the lawyers who wrote the report did not interview her, they explain her conduct in unusually personal terms—she is out of the office attending to a family member who had been hospitalized; a brief relationship “had cooled” at the “behest” of the man, Mr. Christie’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien.
Question: Why is it “unusually personal” when the Mastro report states the reason for Kelly’s absence from the office on a key occasion? We have no earthly idea.

Kelly was helping a sick family member that day; this paints her in a sympathetic light. It’s quite a stretch to include that in the indictment of the Mastro report, especially if you plan to quote this passage from the report only three paragraphs later:
ZERNIKE: Even when Ms. Kelly was promoted, the report notes it was “though she lacked Stepien’s expertise and background.” It narrates her boss’s story with more heroic details: “Having canceled a planned trip to Florida with his wife for her birthday, Governor Christie returned to Seaside Park, New Jersey, to meet with business owners affected by the boardwalk fire.”
Go ahead—try to explain it! In paragraph 4, Zernike says it’s “unusually personal” when the Mastro report mentions the fact that Kelly was helping a sick family member. Three paragraphs later, it isn’t “unusually personal” when the report mentions Christie’s vacation plans with his wife!

Readers, you’re right—that doesn’t make sense. But this is the way your “press corps” works when it’s busily building a script. This is the sort of clownish work Times editors wave into print.

As she continued last Friday’s report, Zernike quoted unnamed friends of Kelly making strange complaints about the Mastro report. One example:

“If you’re going to throw her under the bus, she shouldn’t be alone under the bus,” one unnamed friend complains. This friend has apparently never heard of David Wildstein, who is very much under the bus in the Mastro report.

In a similar vein, a Democratic consultant is quoted saying that Christie “is throwing every sexist slur at Kelly while needlessly and aggressively injecting details about her personal life.”

Whatever you think of the Mastro report, that statement is quite hyperbolic. But from that quoted statement, and from statements by some reporters, it’s hard to miss a possibility: That seems to have been the initial Democratic narrative about the Mastro report!

On Monday night’s Hardball, the Wall Street Journal’s Heather Haddon said that Democrats had been “really fixating” on that line. Last Friday, Zernike was pimping this narrative forward through some gong-show journalism.

No, Virginia! The Mastro report doesn’t portray Kelly “weeping frequently.” And we’re worry, but no: Whatever you think of the Mastro report, it really doesn’t “throw every sexist slur at Kelly,” though that claim may start seeming true by the time Zernike finishes with her selective presentations.

Is the Mastro report sexist at all in its treatment of Kelly? If so, how sexist is it?

Having seen the work of people like Olbermann and Matthews down through the years, we’d have to say the report isn’t gigantically sexist. This brings us to one last point:

According to Zernike, the Mastro report “doubles down on a strategy of portraying Ms. Kelly as...dependent on men for approval and stability.”

If you’ve read the Mastro report (most pundits haven’t), you almost have to laugh. In its pages, Kelly is constantly chewing out various men who work beneath her. She’s also trying to fry a certain mayor’s ascot for dinner.

As Rachel Maddow noted last Thursday before she knew what the narrative was, Governor Christie is weeping and bawling all through this freaking report. Bridget Kelly is carrying on a bit like Vlad the Impaler.

We can’t say what the truth may be, but those are the portraits in this report. Only a clown—and Zernike is one—could emerge from the Mastro report with that pitifully preconceived script, the script from which the Daily Beast would cut-and-paste a few hours later.

What is the truth about Kelly’s behavior? We can’t tell you that. Beyond that, there’s a great deal to criticize in the Mastro report.

Most of it has gone unmentioned by our pitiful “press corps.” And there’s a reason for that:

For at least the past several decades, our “journalism” has turned on scripts—inventions dreamed by people like Zernike, who pick and choose among the facts to produce the story they like.

In our view, Eskew’s account in yesterday’s Post tended to be quite misleading. The Mastro report doesn’t describe Kelly “looking upset” and seeming to have been “crying” because she’d been “dumped” by Stepien.

But that’s the impression a reader would take away from Eskew’s piece. It feeds the official story-line, in which the report is overly personal, sexist.

In our view, the alleged sexism of the report has been overstated. But from its first paragraph forward, it’s hard to overstate how bad Zernike’s journalism is.

No, Virginia! Kelly isn’t shown “weeping frequently” in the Mastro report. In fact, she isn’t shown weeping at all, though mighty Christie is shown in tears in five different passages.

Kelly isn’t shown weeping at all! But Zernike’s false statement went spanning the globe, along with the rest of her piddle.

This is the way our “press corps” works. It has worked this way for decades now. People are dead all over the world because of similar conduct.

The Drums, the Chaits, the Marshalls and others will not speak up to insist that this stop. This will continue on and on, presenting a challenge to each of us.

Tomorrow: Propaganda from Matthews and Maddow

58 comments:

  1. OMB (Talking for the Record With What Technically May Be BOB)

    Can we talk? Warning.

    For the record:

    1) when BOB says something "may be," it also might not be.

    2) when BOB says something "seems" or "tends" to be X it could be Y or Z, but BOB's script has it as X so he throws in "seems" or "tends" to make himself "technically" not lying.

    As BOB accuses others of propaganda, we'll explore from time to time, the fascinating way he manages truth twisting on his own.

    And BOB, we still note it's not necessarily sexist to leave out that a male "Asian tiger" who cowrote an article you have now savaged three times. It is just an act of disappearing a fact which doesn't fit your meme.

    KZ

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  2. Yesterday, Somerby turned "personal relationship" into "romance." No problem.

    Today, he rails against those who turn "at the behest of" into "dumped." A crime against our deteriorating culture.

    Interesting how Somerby's own lizard brain works in such highly predictable patterns.

    And interesting how he is defending the very report he once called an "oversold dud." But again, when his favored targets do it, it's an unforgiveable sin.

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    1. Your Trolls Get Results!

      BOB did not refer to the non-work related interactions between the two recent victims of bus "tossing" as a "romance" today.

      Rather than suggesting such poor conduct continues, as you do in your comment, you should note the change, then claim credit for your much maligned but thread dominating tribe.

      It's what the OTB would do.

      KZ

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    2. But Bob's lizard brain is incapable of remembering the lessons from one day to the next. He will be back to calling it a "romance" very soon since it neatly fits into the "they weren't talking to each other after the behesting" narrative Mastro is selling and Bob is buying.


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    3. To my knowledge, Somerby has not endorsed the truth of Mastro's report. He has been focused on press reporting of its contents. You trolls seem to be (1) trying to add Somerby's name to the title page of the report, and (2) trying to portray Somerby as sexist because he points out that the evidence supporting claims that the Mastro report is sexist is a bit thin.

      By this logic, a lawyer defending a murderer in court is de facto a murderer too, because he is providing a defense to the accused person.

      When I was little, my mother used to tell me that if I frowned my face would freeze that way. I find myself wondering whether the mental contortions the trolls exhibit in their smears of Somerby's posts will cause permanent damage to their ability to think clearly. If you warp your thinking to generate endless numbers of nonsensical comments (for pleasure or pay), will you be able to think well in other situations? I think practicing a bad tennis swing on purpose would weaken your game, so why wouldn't practicing bad thinking weaken the ability to think clearly over time?

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    4. I agree with KZ. BOB is the Palin of bloggers. Maddow great in both content and quality.

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    5. Bob Bad, Maddow Good. About the level of trolling we have come to expect here.

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    6. Watch the show! It's excellent. I don't know what's Bob's problem is. He never makes his point clear.

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    7. Looks like 5:25 may qualify as a paid Bob countertroll. KZ has never had much to say in the way of praise for Maddow. Unless you think his constant comparing of Bob to maddow is praise. 6:38 on the other hand is just another of Bob's rubes.

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  3. "Can we talk? The Mastro report says that Kelly lied to her superiors on several occasions about her knowledge of the lane closings."

    No, Bob. The Mastro "report" never fucking mentions "lane closings". Get your facts straight. Why are you purposely avoiding using the actual language in the report? It's "lane realignment" now, Bob, according to the MILLION DOLLAR + Mastro cheap novel. You have to be more accurate than that Bob else no one will trust anything you say.

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    1. Really, Bob? How many "occasions" are "several"?

      Once again, Somerby lacks the integrity to stick to standards he condemns others for not adhering to.

      But of course, rules are meant for lesser, non-Harvard educated mortals.

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    2. Loser. You are trying to divert attention. What is important is that BOB has not referred to closures to the bridge. In any eventm traffic to the blog has not been affected. Or effected for that matter. The tide goes in and the tide goes out and what time it is on the moon can be tied to Matthews and Maddow if you get my drifts.

      KZ

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  4. Somerby, are you even capable of seeing the forest?

    The citizens of New Jersey just got stuck with a big bill for an "investigation" that "exonerates" Christie while attacking the character and mental stability of the two people it sticks the entire blame upon -- the very two people who will also be key witnesses if push ever comes to shove.

    So instead of parsing transcripts for words that don't appear in the report and calling your favorite targets your favorite names, why not admit that Christie stuck taxpayers with the bill for the initial phase of his defense, then read the commentary in that light to see if they go beyond the bounds of logical assessment and fair comment.

    It might also help what's left of your credibility for you to admit that you couldn't have been more wrong about this whole Fort Lee thing from the first thing you wrote.

    But apparently, you lack both the character and intelligence to do so.



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    1. Clearly, he lacks intelligence.

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    2. What I don't understand is why someone of Bob's intellect, wit, talent and perseverance isn't basking in his laurels at this stage in his illustrious career.

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    3. Your comment only makes sense if you assume that Christie is behind this. That hasn't been established yet.

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  5. And for the third straight day, Somerby remarkably disappears the name "David W. Chen" from the byline he shared with Zernike, then pretends he knows that Zernike and only Zernike is responsible for writing the passage he finds so offensive.

    Well, Bob, it "seems" as if it "could" have been written by Chen. We don't know. You don't tell us. You won't even acknowledge his name in the byline.

    And this isn't the first time you've tried to pull this little gimmick.

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    1. And you ignore the response I made to this complaint yesterday -- that Zernicke is the common denominator in several bad reports with different coauthors. Further, since the names are not alphabetical in order, the first author is the one who did the original writing and the lion's share of the work -- by tradition. Second author is someone who contributed but did not hold primary responsibility. Why blame Chen when Zernicke seems to be at fault? Because that narrative is better for portraying Somerby as sexist?

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. "If you’ve read the Mastro report (most pundits haven’t) . . ."

    And how do you know for an absolute fact what "most pundits" have and have not read?

    Here is a "pundit" who not only read the report, but actually called up Mastro to give him the opportunity to defend himself against what she called "slut-slamming."

    http://www.americanlawyer.com/id=1202648997783/The-Careerist:-Randy-Mastro-Says-He's-No-Sexist?slreturn=20140302140106

    I find this piece interesting for two reasons:

    1. Every single one of Mastro's "talking points" are dutifully repeated here by Somerby. In fact, this isn't the first instance of Somerby waiting for talking points before he really gets into gear, which helps explain why it is taking him a full week to get to Rachel Maddow's take.

    He didn't have his "talking points" yet.

    2. After talking to Mastro and reading the report, Vivia Chen isn't buying the "I treated Wildstein and Kelly exactly the same" bullshit. Her conclusion: 'As much as I'd like to say that Mastro convinced me otherwise, I'm afraid the report itself left me with an uncomfortable sense that Kelly had been typecast as an unstable woman."

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    1. Totally dutifully!

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    2. Did you mention the article calling seasoned lawyer Mastro a sexist was written by someone named Chen? No!

      Can we talk! Zernike's silent partner in crime was also named Chen, as the trolls point out. Coincidence? Who knows.

      Bob hasn't told us about either. So think it is not important. But it may be. Later we'll discuss. But Maddow's report will be a week old when Bob gets to it so minor details can wait.

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    3. Are you Chen's mother? He is second author because he didn't write the article. Somerby knows this -- why don't you?

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    4. Anon @ 6:41. Did you read All the President's Men by Woodward and Woodward's mother? Bob wrote a great review of it back in the day. Bob knew that Bernstein was listed second becaused he didn't really write anything.

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    5. When authors contribute equally, their names are alphabetical in order. When they contribute unequally the name of the person doing the larger share of the work goes first. All the President's Men is a book about the experiences of the two reporters. Early editions of the book show Bernstein's name first and Woodward's second.

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  7. OMB (The OTB Hears Your Prayers, Too!)


    "Question: Why is it “unusually personal” when the Mastro report states the reason for Kelly’s absence from the office on a key occasion? We have no earthly idea......

    Go ahead—try to explain it!.....

    Readers, you’re right—that doesn’t make sense."

    Are you one of those who scratch yourself on the head and/or hindquarter and say, "But BOB, I hadn't even answered yet"? Shame on you. The Orange Clown Shoed Satan has already gotten her propanda in your head as BOB noted before the DUD dropped.

    For the BOBfan, rest assured this means BOB does not need to read your comments but keep them coming. He already knows what you are thinking. And you are right to agree with him.

    For you damn trolls, we can see the passage about Kelly depicts stress and putting personal needs above her professionaly responsibility to the people and her Governor. And we can see the passage about Christie depicts him sacrificing the personal needs of his wife to devote himself to the downtrodden of his state. If you see it too, please leave. You are scaring thoughtful people away.

    KZ

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    1. I agree KZ. You have made a good point here.

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    2. And don't forget.

      When Mastro depicts Kelly weeping, it is because she had been "behested" and had a sick kid in the hospital.

      When Mastro depicts Christie weeping, those are the tears of a hero, diligently digging for the truth and sad, so sad, so very, very sad that those close to him would lie and hide the truth from this champion of all that is good.

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    3. Thanks. See ya.

      KZ

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    4. As a very long-time TDH reader and one-time Bob admirer, I'm seriously beginning to question whether he hasn't been engaged in a very long April Fools' joke, or maybe an experiment in mass psychology or something.

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    5. It's possible. We don't know.

      But I would apply Occam's Razor and guess that it is merely his blind hatred of Rachel, et al, that has turned Somerby into such a waterboy for Chris Christie.

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    6. "As a very long-time TDH reader and one-time Bob admirer, I'm seriously beginning to question whether he hasn't been engaged in a very long April Fools' joke, or maybe an experiment in mass psychology or something."

      He has a mind that thinks by analogy. He is very smart and makes connections to things that may come across as personal (especially if not fully explained). He is writing mainly for himself, not for you or me, and definitely not for the trolls. He doesn't read the comments (as far as I can tell) and he doesn't care what you or others think of his ideas. This epitomizes the vanity blog. It is self-expression, just as stand-up is self-expression (and so is teaching to an extent).

      If you don't find his thoughts interesting, that is personal to you. Others clearly do. I would enjoy having a conversation with him on any number of topics, but it is the nature of the internet that this medium is not interactive. I will read whatever he posts because it is interesting and generally suggests ways of seeing things different than I would have come up with myself. That is sufficient. He doesn't have to be right about everything, adhere to progressive talking points, support my candidates, etc. for his views to be interesting.

      I do wish the trolls would grow up (best case) or wither away. They make it hard to share thoughts with others here. Their purpose is clearly disruptive. I would hate to see you join their chorus.

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    7. Please, 6:47. Can you think of others who think by analogy. I would like to enjoy their work .

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    8. 6:47, I find those who reach for analogies to explain complex situations to be more clever than smart. And it doesn't even rise to the level of clever if the analogies they use are more complicated and even less well known that the situation they are attempting to explain. And it also helps if the analogies they use are, well, analogous.

      For instance, Bob reaches for the 17th Century Dutch tulip bulb speculation to explain CNN's wall-to-wall coverage of the search for the Malaysian airliner.

      Say what? Even today, the tulip mania defies rational explanation and has been the subject of theories and counter-theories for centuries.

      Now I suppose if you find that analogy "interesting" then good for you. But are you open to the possibility that others who find it not so interesting do so not out of "personal tastes," but that they find the analogy rather stupid on its face.

      It's one thing to be enamored by out of the box thinking that runs counter to "conventional wisdom" and even scripts and narratives.

      It's quite another to descend into "whatever Rachel Maddow says, I'm against." That's not thinking. That's knee-jerk reaction which has colored Bob's "thinking" if you can call it that on not only the Fort Lee story, but every single story Bob takes up.

      Remember Gov. Ultrasound? Bob once attempted to minimize his alleged crimes by saying Rachel Maddow makes millions of dollars. Say what?

      Again, you might find the "analogy" between the alleged bribes the governor of Virginia took that resulted in a 14-count federal indictment and the contract that Maddow signed with MSNBC to be "interesting."

      But can you possibly see how others might find it to be idiotic?

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  8. Her reckless actions strongly suggest an unstable personality. Perhaps a more polite term for the partisan political identity crowd might be to refer to her as a flake.

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    1. Soft hearted but determined executive of major mid atlantic governmental body seeks single flaky mother of four for sensitive position interacting with elected officials. Promotion above a level of remote competence possible. Benefits subject to change.

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    2. She was Bully Boy's chief enforcer. Of course she was a power tripping twisted freak.

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  9. Or . . . Christie ran an office that exacted a price from anyone who didn't do exactly what he wanted them to do. And Kelly's actions were right in line with that operating philosophy.

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    1. And she was fired for embarrassing Christie when her emails became public.

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    2. Or . . . Christie threw her under the bus and tried to pin the whole thing on her and Wildstein, whom he barely knew, when it became evident that the order to shut down the access lanes came from the governor's office in Trenton.

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    3. It seems highly unlikely someone in Christies position (with his aspirations) would engage in petty stuff at that level (mayor of Ft Lee). Hopes of pinning this on Christie must be fading. Seems to me progressives are willing to settle for tarring his administration as hopelessly sexist -- as if that will peel off any of his conservative supporters. Maybe they hope to drive off his moderates or make him seem untouchable but most conservatives make much more blatantly sexist statements without any noticeable political repercussions, so I'm not sure how this helps anything except by making progressives feel self-righteous.

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    4. At one time about four decades ago, it also seemed "highly unlikely" that a President of the United States well on his way to a landslide victory would be stupid enough to be involved in the burglary and bugging of the opposition party's headquarters.

      And then, later try to explain it all away with, "If the president does it, it's not illegal."

      Never under-estimate the power of arrogance and the arrogance of power.

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  10. "It’s startling to observe the intellectual norms of our modern, upper-end “press corps.”

    Consider Carter Eskew’s piece about the Mastro report."

    It is startling indeed since Carter Eskew is a lobbyist/political consultant best known as the message strategist for Al Gore in 2000.

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    1. As Bob notes "Eskew ends in a rather odd way." So did Gore 2000.

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    2. He won an election but declined to assert his victory for the good of the country -- to spare it a divisive and protracted court battle and ensure smooth transition of leadership. While I disagreed with his actions, I have always admired that he put the needs of the country ahead of his own interests. It saddens me that we missed out on having someone capable of that as our president.

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    3. I'm not so sure. I used to think that. But cleary an upper-end press corpsman with startling intellectual norms like Carter Eskew would have gotten a plum position in the OPOTUS. Lord knows how many average Americans he would have alienated.

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