Part 1—Halperin's striking prediction: Last Friday, a gaggle of pundits on Morning Joe were discussing the White House campaign.
At the present time, of course, there is no a White House campaign. According to almost all the experts, our next presidential election takes place in November 2016.
That’s well over two years away! At present, there is no campaign.
No one is currently running for president! But major parts of the mainstream press corps love discussing White House campaigns, including those which aren’t yet occurring.
Our upper-end “journalists” love to kill time in this fashion. They also love to fashion the frameworks within which they will discuss a campaign.
In part, that explains what happened when Hillary Clinton launched her recent book tour.
Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, concerns her four years in the State Department. The book discusses a wide array of events from around the globe. It’s a type of discussion our upper-end press corps finds insuperably boring.
At the same time, it’s widely assumed that Clinton will launch a White House campaign next year. For that reason, many interviews on her book tour raced in that direction.
Multimillionaire TV stars asked if voters would support a person as wealthy as Clinton. In response to Clinton’s answers, some of the nation’s most famous pundits launched their famous “gaffe culture.”
The Washington Post even launched a front-page jihad concerning the size of Clinton’s speaking fees. In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd assailed Clinton for her “rapacious” behavior and her “wanton acquisitiveness,” which she was said to be passing along to her daughter.
In some quarters, these events have sparked minor discussions about Clinton’s relationship with the press. Last Friday, a major pundit on Morning Joe offered a startling assessment.
Mika Brzezinski quoted a recent statement by Clinton about her relationship with the press. At that point, she threw to Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.
What were Halperin’s views about this? Halperin, a major insider, made a striking prediction:
BRZEZINSKI (7/25/14): Mark Halperin, your thoughts.“We talked about this the other day?” Halperin referred to a discussion which occurred on the Morning Joe program of Tuesday, July 22. For links to both discussions, see below.
HALPERIN: Well, I don't ever like to overstate the media’s role, but the media has a pretty big role in the presidential process. I think she’s talking about what is the most important issue determining whether she’ll be president right now. She'll raise the money, she’ll have policy positions. She needs to find a way—we talked about this the other day—to change the narrative about how she's being covered.
Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.
Citizens, can we talk?
Halperin is a major press corps insider. He knows all the other press corps insiders.
He attends the cocktail parties where media narratives slur their way into shape. Mark Halperin understands the way the press corps works.
Keeping those credentials in mind, let’s make sure we’re perfectly clear about what Halperin said:
According to Halperin, “the most important issue determining whether” Clinton can get elected to the White House will be her press coverage. She’ll be able to raise the money, he said. She’ll be able to articulate her stands on the various issues.
But Clinton needs to find a way “to change the narrative about how she’s being covered,” Halperin said, somewhat clumsily. And that’s when he made his startling prediction:
As matters stand, Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president!” So Mark Halperin said.
That is a remarkable statement, for at least several reasons.
For starters, insider pundits rarely speak in such awkward ways about the insider press. Halperin made a starting suggestion—he suggested the press corps’ coverage of a major candidate could determine the outcome of our next White House campaign.
Plainly, that’s what happened in Campaign 2000, when a twenty-month war against Candidate Gore let George Bush reach the White House. In the main, that war was conducted by the mainstream press corps, not by the RNC.
The press corps’ poisonous war against Gore let Bush reach the White House. But it’s a basic law of the guild: Major journalists never suggest that the behavior of their own guild could have such startling effects.
As such, Halperin’s remarks on Morning Joe were extremely unusual. They broke the most ironclad code of silence in American culture—the silence the mainstream press corps maintains about its own views and behaviors.
How potent is that code of silence? To what extent are its strictures observed? To anyone with eyes to see, it’s perfectly obvious that the “horrible coverage” of Candidate Gore was “the most important issue determining” his failure to get to the White House.
But so what? Right to this day, even “liberal” members of the mainstream press corps refuse to discuss this history-changing fact.
Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage” if she runs for president? Plainly, that’s what happened to Candidate Gore as our most corrupt elite transferred its post-impeachment enmity to Bill Clinton’s chosen successor.
That recent journalistic history has been disappeared. You aren’t supposed to discuss that history. Nor are pundits supposed to say the sorts of things Halperin said.
Can we talk? When Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination in 2007 and 2008, her coverage was rather horrible too.
Major figures in the press corps ridiculed her as “Nurse Ratched” and as “Evita Peron.” In a rare manifestation, the New York Times published a news report about the horrible coverage she had received, though only after the race was done.
In June 2008, the Times’ public editor savaged that same Maureen Dowd for “the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1.” But through all these trials and tribulations, careerist members of the press corps have obeyed their guild’s code of silence, pretending there’s “nothing to look at” in the way the Clintons and Gore have been covered.
This has gone on for a very long time. They buried Gene Lyons’ 1996 book, Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater. In 1999 and 2000, they pretended they had no idea why Candidate Gore was getting such horrible coverage.
When the Post began its most recent jihad last month, career liberals sat and watched in silence, just as they and their successors have always done. Some launched their own peculiar assaults on Clinton, as was the case with Gore.
Last Friday morning, Halperin made a rather startling prediction. It came in the second of two semi-remarkable discussions on Morning Joe.
On each of those programs, high-ranking national pundits played a familiar game. They pretended they had no earthly idea why they themselves, and their colleagues and friends, were giving Clinton some premature horrible coverage.
They’ve played this game many times in the past. If they’re allowed, they will continue to play it.
Do you want to see a Republican president? That choice is up to each voter, of course.
But “horrible coverage” of Candidate Gore did send Candidate Bush to the White House. Halperin issued a clear prediction:
Hey rubes! It could happen again!
Tomorrow: What David Gregory said
To watch the Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.
For our money, Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his comments on Wednesday. To watch that whole segment, click here.
On Friday, Halperin made a startling prediction. Mika threw to David and Donny. To watch that full segment, click this.