Part 2—You aren’t allowed to say this: Within the mainstream Washington “press corps,” it’s simply never done.
Despite that fact, it happened last Sunday! On the Fox News Channel’s Media Buzz, Julie Mason explained the latest jihad by the press corps’ guild.
Mason’s career includes twenty years at the Houston Chronicle. From there, she moved to Politico. Last Sunday, she spoke with her host, Howard Kurtz.
What you see next is never done. Frankly, this isn’t permitted:
MASON (6/29/14): Hillary Clinton has a very prickly relationship with the press; that's always been the case. She hasn't been able to mend that. There's also been some great reporting by Bloomberg, Richard Rubin, who did a great story about their avoidance of the estate tax to help amass their wealth.“The media just doesn't like Hillary Clinton?” As everyone in the press corps knows, you aren’t allowed to say such things! Statements like that can’t be said!
So there's been all this reporting, but you can't say it's like a “liberal media” thing. The media just doesn't like Hillary Clinton.
Initially, Kurtz steered away from this unallowable statement. Eventually, though, he tiptoed back—and Lauren Ashburn, his trusted blonde shadow, said the same darn thing:
KURTZ: But is this a legitimate vetting of a probable presidential candidate who has amassed a lot of money and seems to talk about it in ways that rubs some people the wrong way? Or is this, as some people are suggesting, you know, a certain dislike or disdain for the former first lady?To appearances, Kurtz wasn’t willing to say that his own guest (not “some people”) had flatly asserted (not “suggested”) that there is a major dislike for Clinton within the mainstream press.
ASHBURN: I think it's both. I think a lot of people don't like her. A lot of people who watch Fox don't like her. And a lot of people in the media don't like her.
Despite his shading, Ashburn spoke directly. “A lot of people in the media don't like her,” she directly said.
Readers, can we talk? Everybody in the press corps knows the rules of this game. This sort of thing can never be said within the insider press corps!
If you wish to belong to the insider press, you aren’t allowed to say that! You aren’t allowed to state the world’s most obvious fact: For more than twenty years, a major part of the mainstream press corps has conducted a string of jihads against both Clintons and Gore.
Everybody knows this is true, but you aren’t allowed to say it. Kurtz largely steered away from this point when Mason unexpectedly raised it. But good lord:
People watching his program this Sunday heard two different journalists say it!
“The media just doesn't like Hillary Clinton!” The fact that you never hear this said is perhaps the most remarkable fact we know about the modern “press corps.”
Kevin Drum isn’t going to say it. E. J. Dionne will never write it in one of his thoughtful columns in the Washington Post.
You won’t hear this said on MSNBC. No one has said at Salon as the new jihad has spread.
You simply aren’t allowed to discuss this long-running jihad. This has been the rule since forever—and no one understands this fact any better than Kurtz.
This is why we say that:
Way back in 1999, Kurtz tried, on two separate occasions, to generate a pundit discussion concerning the jihad the “press corps” was plainly conducting against Candidate Gore.
On each occasion, he had assembled a panel of pundits on his CNN program, Reliable Sources. He asked these people—working journalists all!—to explain the “harsh punditry and coverage” being directed at Gore.
(Earlier, Kurtz had used that phrase in the Washington Post as he described the press coverage of Gore.)
On that pair of CNN programs, none of the pundits could do it! None of the pundits disputed the fact that Gore was getting trashed in the press. And yet, none of these journalists could explain why they and their colleagues were engaged in this obvious conduct!
After these two attempts, Kurtz abandoned the hopeless task of asking insider mainstream journalists to explain their own corrupt conduct. Everyone knew that it mustn’t be done; everyone knows that it can’t be done now.
For that reason, you almost never see a journalist making the world’s most obvious statement:
“The media just doesn't like Hillary Clinton.” Everyone but the freewheeling Mason knows that it mustn’t be said!
You almost never see a journalist making the world’s most obvious statement. This weekend, Fox viewers saw two different journalists break this key rule of the guild!
Two people had offered the same explanation for the pundit corps’ thrilling new jihad! And sure enough:
Just two nights before, on CNN, the eternally hapless Erin Burnett had been pushing the jihad along on the low-IQ nightly show for which she is paid $2 million per year.
As everyone knows, Erin Burnett is on the air because she’s stunningly telegenic. That doesn’t mean she can’t memorize script or read from prompter. On Friday evening, she offered these teases for what was becoming her regular segment of Hillary Clinton wealth-bashing:
BURNETT (6/27/14): More than $100 million! That is what Bill Clinton made in speaking fees alone. So we actually drill down in the numbers. Are the Clintons out of touch?Are the Clintons “majorly” out of touch? That’s what she actually said!
BURNETT: Outfront next: Bill Clinton earned more than $100 million in speaking fees alone. That doesn't count the books and everything else. So— Are the Clintons majorly out of touch?
For the third time in the week, a segment followed in which the tag team of Hoover and Hostin explained how “offended” they are by the troubling things Hillary Clinton has said about her wealth.
(Hoover took part in all three “discussions”—on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday nights. Hostin was dragged out on Wednesday and Friday to pimp the new jihad along.)
Please understand: In theory, it’s possible that a wealthy broadcaster, aided by two overpaid pundits, could ask perfectly sensible questions about a politician’s wealth.
Is this what happened on Burnett’s program? We’ll offer excerpts from these discussions in today’s “Supplemental” post.
For now, we’ll only say that, in our view, these discussions came straight from the clown car. They were part of the press corps’ latest jihad, part of an extended performance which stretches back more than two decades.
On Fox, two journalists said a very strange thing this weekend. They said this new jihad is occurring because “the media just doesn't like Hillary Clinton.”
Elsewhere, everyone knows that this mustn’t be said. It wasn’t said or discussed on Burnett’s three gong-shows. It wasn’t said in 1999, when Kurtz asked two panels of pundits to explain the harsh coverage and punditry being directed at Candidate Gore.
Even then, everyone knew they had to play dumb—that mainstream journalists weren’t allowed to state the world's most obvious facts! None of the pundits denied the fact that Gore was getting trashed by their colleagues and friends. They just had to pretend they had no idea why this was occurring.
They couldn’t figure why they and their colleagues were behaving that way! Two different panels put on a good show. They were just majorly stumped!
What kinds of people behave in such ways? Who engages in this sort of primitive conduct?
It would almost take an anthropologist to explain the behavior of this guild, which is really a wealthy but primitive tribe. And with that said, we’re all in luck! In the past two years, two such figures have sallied forth with startling descriptions of these primitive people—descriptions offered from within this highly primitive tribe.
These observers were living and working within the press corps itself! You might even call them “anthropologists from within.”
Tomorrow, we’ll start reviewing their work. It’s a rare day when figures emerge from this Stone Age tribe prepared to discuss its rank conduct.
Tomorrow:: The “vivid archaeology” of the late Michael Hasting
Coming later: The anthropology of Mark Leibovich! Also, James Fallows and Teddy White