No one could answer the question: Is Maureen Dowd really concerned that Chelsea Clinton is being drawn into “the rapacious, gaping maw of Clinton Inc.?”
If so, should she be concerned? Is that a sensible view of the conduct of Bill and Hillary Clinton?
We don’t know how to answer the first question. Dowd’s loathing of All Things Clinton has been apparent for some time. It has taken an array of peculiar forms.
During Campaign 2008, the public editor at the New York Times finally savaged Dowd for her virulent anti-Clintonism. He said her work could easily have been included in a New York Times report about sexist treatment of Candidate Clinton. Here’s how Clark Hoyt started:
HOYT (6/22/08): Some supporters of Hillary Clinton believe that sexism colored news coverage of her presidential campaign. The Times reported in a front-page article on June 13 that many are proposing boycotts of cable news networks and that a ''Media Hall of Shame'' has been created by the National Organization for Women.That last paragraph was a body blow. It plainly suggested that Dowd was making the whole New York Times look bad to its readers.
The Times itself, however, was barely mentioned, even though two of its Op-Ed columnists, Maureen Dowd and William Kristol, were named in the Hall of Shame.
...I think a fair reading suggests that The Times did a reasonably good job in its news articles. But Dowd's columns about Clinton's campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work.
''I've been twisting gender stereotypes around for 24 years,'' Dowd responded. She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns. She often refers to Barack Obama as ''Obambi'' and has said he has a ''feminine'' management style. But the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1—left many readers with the strong feeling that an impermissible line had been crossed, even though, as Dowd noted, she is a columnist who is paid not to be objective.
Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman's potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd.
Pitifully, Dowd defended her deranged treatment of Candidate Clinton by pointing to her ridiculous treatment of Candidate Obambi, “the diffident debutante.” Then too, there was her deranged coverage of Candidate Gore, who was “so feminized he was practically lactating.”
In November 1999, her long-standing hatred for Naomi Wolf spilled over, in ugly ways, into her treatment of Gore. But then, what else is new?
Maureen Dowd has seemed unwell for a very long time now. That said, her snark, her indolence and her indifference to serious policy questions have virtually come to define modern upper-income “journalism,” within whose inner sanctum she holds a privileged place of extremely high regard.
When Dowd criticized the rapacious Chelsea Clinton for accepting speaking fees, then donating them to the Clinton Foundation, Media Matters did a report about Dowd’s speaking fees, which she turns over to herself. We were struck by the questions posed by one early commenter.
A reader named Timothy offered the following comment. He then defended his point of view under attack from other readers:
TIMOTHY (7/13/14): Why is this story here? What does Maureen Dowd's dislike of the Clintons have to do with Media Matters' mission statement?Dowd is not a conservative in any recognizable sense. Nor is she a liberal. She seems to have very few policy views.
Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.
What does Dowd have to do with the conservative movement in America? And their misinformation?
We would say that her irrational personal venom seems to have been disproportionately aimed at Democrats, with Democratic wives and daughters receiving special abuse. But it would be silly to think that Dowd was a “conservative” in any normal sense.
Timothy was asking a sensible question. We were struck by the inability of other readers to give him an answer. This was first Q-and-A as readers began pushing back:
COMMENTER: This goes along with her Clinton hatred spiel of last week. But we get it. Concern troll is, well, concerned.The commenter didn’t know how to answer, so she name-called: “Concern troll!” This is the level of competence being developed on the left as money-grubbing media orgs pander and fawn to our tribal vanities in the dumbest possible ways.
TIMOTHY: Yes, I get that she dislikes the Clintons. But what does that have to do with Media Matters? She isn't Hannity or Rush. If Media Matters just wants to become cheerleaders for the left, I would prefer they do it for someone like Liz Warren. Otherwise just stick to their job.
Timothy was being a bit literal in the way he challenged Media Matters to stick to its mission statement. But as other commenters took him on, our tribe’s occasionally low intellectual level became abundantly clear.
Timothy’s next challenger called him a “concern troll” too. Beyond that, he had nothing to offer. The third challenger simply said this: “It’s weird you think you get to decide.”
It was a strikingly empty non-response.
After that, this challenge arrived: “I suspect Timothy's real issue is that he agrees with Dowd, and that he doesn't care for the Clintons.” We had proceeded from name-calling to mind-reading. They're the twin tools of the pundit corps and of course the twin tools of Dowd.
The exchange continued through several more rounds. No one seemed to know how to answer Timothy’s initial questions:
Timothy’s initial questions:Granted, comment threads have burst a long-treasured liberal bubble. For years, we liberals listened to talk radio and laughed at the dumbness of those in the other tribe.
What does Maureen Dowd's dislike of the Clintons have to do with Media Matters' mission statement?
What does Dowd have to do with the conservative movement in America and their misinformation?
Alas! Through the spread of comment threads, we have been able to see the tremendous lack of sophistication which is often found over here, on our own tribal side.
In our view, liberals and progressives need to know how to answer Timothy’s questions. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the long-standing interaction between Dowd (and her ilk) and the conservative world.
We’ll also discuss a second topic—the familiar sounds of silence which have greeted Dowd’s column. As always, the vassal liberals have kept their pretty traps shut very tight. This helps explain why those commenters didn’t know what to say to Timothy’s questions, which scream for explication.
Will liberals ever come to see the way the way the insider “press corps” actually works? Almost surely, the answer is no. Too much money is sloshing around, and the vassals know too many tricks.