Supplemental: The Clintons earn too much money again!

SATURDAY, AUGUST 30, 2014

Adopting Fawn Brodie’s procedures:
Early next year, our nation will embark on it latest White House campaign.

The two-year campaign will be endless. Increasingly, the coverage of these campaigns is built around journalistic cartoons.

Did we see one such cartoon growing again in today’s New York Times?

Chelsea Clinton is leaving her post at NBC News. This is a strikingly trivial matter.

That said, did we spot a certain cartoon in the Times? Headline included, Amy Chozick’s news report started like this:
CHOZICK (8/30/14): Chelsea Clinton to Leave Well-Paid NBC News Job

Less than three years after she embarked on a new and lucrative career as an NBC News special correspondent,
Chelsea Clinton said on Friday that she would leave that position.

In a letter posted on her Facebook page, Ms. Clinton said she had decided to depart NBC News to focus on philanthropic work at the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. She and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are also expecting their first child this fall. At the same time, her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is mulling a presidential bid in 2016.
In the headline and in the first paragraph, readers were instantly told that Clinton’s position at NBC was “lucrative” and “well-paid.”

Such statements can’t be said to be false. Nor is it clear why this assessment appears right in the headline.

Is Chozick extending the newest cartoon? Before long, she composes a passage which does strike us as misleading or false:
CHOZICK: Ms. Clinton’s tenure at the news outlet was not a smooth one, less because of her feel-good reports than because a media-shy first daughter was hired as a television journalist earning a six-figure salary. (In 2009, NBC News hired Jenna Bush Hager, a daughter of former President George W. Bush, as a special correspondent for the “Today” show, drawing similar criticism.)
That paragraph makes suggestions and claims which strike us as inaccurate:

To some, that passage may suggest that the criticism of Clinton’s tenure came at the point of her hiring. In fact, the criticism which Chozick is surfing came several years later, when it was reported, without confirmation, that Clinton was being paid $600,000 per year.

As far as we know, there has been no “similar criticism” of Jenna Bush, which is fine by us. In a quick and yet still tedious search, we found no news reports about Bush’s salary, and very little speculation about that tedious subject.

Chelsea Clinton was paid too much money! As we noted yesterday, a cartoon seems to be forming around the potential candidate who is Clinton’s mother.

Candidate Gore just couldn’t stop lying. It’s beginning to seem that a Candidate Clinton is going have too much dough.

As everyone knows (but careerists won’t say), the press corps’ cartoon about Candidate Gore ended up changing world history. By way of contrast, this growing cartoon about Candidate Clinton may have no major effect.

That said, our major journalists certainly love their cartoons! In March 2000, the Washington Post’s ombudsman, E. R. Shipp, used a different terminology to describe this low-IQ process.

We’ve quoted this passage many times. Needless to say, the entire press corps ignored it (headline included):
SHIPP (3/5/00): Typecasting Candidates

[...]

The Post provides its share of "who's winning the horse race" stories and those that dissect a candidate's strategy—the "insider" stuff that many readers tell pollsters they could do without, thank you.

But The Post has gone beyond that kind of reporting in favor of articles that try to offer context—and even conjecture—about the candidates' motives in seeking the office of president. And readers react—sometimes in a nonpartisan way, more often not—to roles that The Post seems to have assigned to the actors in this unfolding political drama. Gore is the guy in search of an identity; Bradley is the Zen-like intellectual in search of a political strategy; McCain is the war hero who speaks off the cuff and is, thus, a "maverick"; and Bush is a lightweight with a famous name, and has the blessings of the party establishment and lots of money in his war chest. As a result of this approach, some candidates are whipping boys; others seem to get a free pass.
In that passage, Shipp described the way the Post was fashioning four cartoons, one of which made a “whipping boy” of the Democratic front-runner. (The headline called this “typecasting.”)

As Shipp continued, she described some ways in which the Post had portrayed Gore as a “delusional” liar. She explicitly cited erroneous news reports in the Post.

That portrait of Gore was a deadly cartoon. Routinely, it was built out of blatantly inaccurate reporting. People are dead all over the world because the Post (and the rest of the corps) behaved that way for two years.

The “Clinton has too much money” cartoon seems tame by comparison. But make no mistake—Chozick has started to push that cartoon into her news reports.

When did this culture of cartooning take hold in the national press? In the last few days, we’ve continued to marvel at this culture as we’ve perused a pair of high-profile books.

We refer to Rick Perlstein’s 2008 best-seller, Nixonland. Also to Fawn Brodie’s 1981 “psychobiography,” Richard Nixon: The Shaping of His Character, one of Perlstein’s principal sources.

We’ve been amazed by Perlstein’s portraits of the young Nixon and his parents, but Brodie’s cartooning came first. Because she was a major figure, it’s amazing to see the ludicrous ways she arrived at her various judgments—which, to be fair, were often less demonized than those of her successor.

At some point, we’ll be returning to the portraits penned by these two writers. To our surprise, we do see an important theme in Brodie’s book which transmigrated into the coverage of Candidate Gore, eighteen years later.

Quite routinely, on page after page, Brodie’s work in her bio of Nixon was blatantly absurd. It’s stunning to think that journalistic and academic elites tolerated such ludicrous chains of reasoning in real time. It’s even more surprising to see Perlstein hailing Brodie thirty years later.

Cartoons abound in both books. Unless it’s entertainment we seek, this is a dangerous culture.

68 comments:

  1. Her work was criticized at the time. How much criticism is necessary before you can say it was not tolerated?

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    Replies
    1. No amount of contemporary criticism could have deterred Somerby once he found transmigration of themes from Brodie to the War against Gore.

      If only Bob had found out 18 years after Brodie wrote her book Iraq might have been spared.

      Delete
    2. anon, 1:59, and yet you're still here, lapping up every word, perhaps for the sheer joy of serving up these snarky putdowns

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    3. After Mystery Science Theater 3000 wnet off the air I tried real cartoons. Then I found TDH.

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  2. "To our surprise, we do see an important theme in Brodie’s book which transmigrated into the coverage of Candidate Gore, eighteen years later."

    To nobody else's surprise Bob found something in a revisitation of a six year old book that led him to a 33 year old book that he can connect to a 14 year old election that has, for him a greater hold on the cosmos than earth itself did for the Catholic Church for hundreds of years after Gallileo.

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    Replies
    1. So, I guess you don't recognize that the effects of the Iraq War are still with us. A smarter person than you might wonder what new troubles might be avoided by learning from the past and avoiding its mistakes.

      Personally, I worry that letting the mainstream press undermine the next progressive candidate may result in electing a climate change denier who will delay measures to mitigate climate change, or a "starve the government" fanatic who will ignore rebuilding our infrastructure and supporting education. It matters what happened before because we must not let it happen again.

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    2. People who begin a comment saying "So, I guess" indicate they are not necessarily smarter than me but are perfectly positioned intellectually to be fans of Bob Somerby.

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    3. Excess literalism is a symptom of mental illness or brain injury. All normal thinking involves inference and supposition.

      This black and white thinking that requires people to either be a fan of Somerby or hate him is ridiculous. Most of us agree or disagree with various things he says, often within the same article, and don't feel strongly about him as a person one way or the other. Of course, I am not speaking for the trolls.

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    4. The most ardent of Somerby's critics divide human history into two eons, the first one is shrouded in the mists of faint memory which makes it fortunate that nothing that is relevant to us today occurred during its distant past, the second eon, the one we're living in now, began December 8, 2008 with The Rachel Maddow Show debut.

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    5. Excess literalism is a symptom of mental illness or barin injury. That said, I literally repeat this phrase in excess as a symptom of my original thinking.

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    6. An interesting observation CMike, since none of the comments you decided to join in here with mention Maddow, but rather start with a comment about an election held eight years before the date you cite.

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    7. So sad about your brain injury.

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    8. Thanks. Your concern reminds me of the nice things Karl Rove said about Secretary Clinton.

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    9. Anon 2:26 -- I guarantee you that the next President will not take meaningful steps to mitigate climate change, just as President Obama and the EPA have not taken meaningful steps to mitigate climate change. The EPA program that President Obama presented so forcefully is utterly inadequate. Based on the climate models, this plan would reduce the temperature in year 2100 by an insignificant .018 degree C. Meanwhile, CO2 increases in the rest of the world will increase the global temperature by somewhere between 2 and 6 degrees C, according to the latest IPCC projections.

      We may not like it, but atmospheric CO2 will keep growing until we have developed a cheap source of non-carbon-based energy that can replace almost all of the carbon-based energy that's currently being used throughout the world.

      Meanwhile it's vital that we focus on adapting to the changes in climate that will be occurring -- building dikes, strengthening infrastructure, etc.

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    10. Actually @4:12 PM, @2:14 PM (whoever that might be) said:

      ...a six [count'em six] year old book that led him to a 33 year old book that he can connect to a 14 year old election...

      But hours later I would expect some confusion about what went on, that's your point isn't it? Better always to be focusing only on the present

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    11. Not here in Bobville CMike. Here it is always best to connect both the present and the past to 1999-2000.

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    12. David, if there's a need for dikes and infrastructure, free enterprise will provide them.

      Delete
    13. ... here in Bobville CMike... it is always best to connect both the present and the past to 1999-2000.

      @ 6:29 PM,

      O.K., you've mentioned that a hundred or so times in the last several months. And why exactly would you say that that keeps you in such a constant state of agitation? Is dailyhowler.blogspot.com the only url that works with your computer's one browser? Maybe what you really have is just a tech problem and not an organic one. That would be wonderful.

      Delete
    14. You are doing a good job avoiding the fact you were criticized for trying to interject maddow into a comment thread and post where she was not mentioned.

      I do applaud you for having Bob's ability to inflate counts, however.

      Delete
    15. Anon @ 12:14 AM you may have shown up in these threads at The Howler only recently and not know what's going on with this guy but take it from me, day after day for Anon @ 2:14 PM it's always about the honor of Scholar Maddow, that and his irritation at Somerby's persistence in referencing Election 2000 even after everything changed for 12:14 PM with Barack Obama's election in 2008, thinking as PM does that everyone else in the world wide blogosphere should have mirrored his cathartic response to that stimulus..

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    16. If it is always about the honor of Maddow, how come he didn't mention her? And how do you know what changed for 12:14? Where does he mention Obama?

      Seems to me he makes an interesting point. Bob is talking about two biographies, one written in 1981 and one written in 2008 and he is trying to connect them to press coverage of an election fourteen years ago. Seems like a reach to me.

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    17. CMike, I think you are arguing with a troll not a newbie.

      Delete
    18. CMike needs help from a veteran who has filed more comments to this post in the last two hours than Chelsea Clinton filed stories with NBC in the last six months.

      Delete
    19. @ 1:05 PM,

      The possibility that there be trolls here had never crossed my mind and now that you've mention it I find that it is Sunday which requires me to extend my fellow guests here, both @ 12:14 AM and the newbie, @ 08/31 12:10 PM, the courtesy of treating them as sincere people as I am an atheist ever trying to blend into the Christian fabric of America.

      @ 08/31 12:10 PM,

      Why didn't @2:14 PM mention Maddow if it is always about her honor? That's a fair question if you're a newbie to these threads. @ 2:14 PM is such an incessant commenter here at The Daily Howler web log that for those of us who read through what he writes it comes off as one continuous, endless tirade so generously sprinkled with explicit defenses and celebrations of Scholar Maddow that even when She is not named in a particular comment it is only due to a rare failure by @2:14 PM to be redundant.

      On your second point, Somerby thinks it is a sad state of affairs when the supposed scholarly analysis of historians present the subjects of their biographical studies as characters who are driven largely by a particular virtue or a flaw which the scholar has exaggerated so as to turn it into a cartoon like characterization. If readers who suppose themselves to be thoughtful will accept these fictions from academics, it is small wonder then that they will find themselves in an environment where pop political culture intellectuals, i.e. pundits, do the same thing along with reporters who end up promoting the same story lines.

      An undeniably clear and highly consequential example of pundits and reporters engaging in these deadly to democracy practices can be found by studying the 2000 presidential election cycle. But you knew all that and are just funning with me, right? Oh, you're a card.

      Delete
    20. I hadn't thought of all that CMike. Do you suppose those who favor the academic biographies of Fawn Brodie probably disliked Nixon as much as she, and probably were not persuaded to vote for Bush over Gore based on misreports of his serial lying?

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    21. Brodie's other biographies (Joseph Smith, Thomas Jefferson, Thaddeus Stevens, Richard Burton) won awards and were highly respected. Her bio of Nixon is her worst book and not representative of her scholarship.

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    22. Right, those who enjoyed the Fawn Brodie Nixon and Jefferson biographies were not likely ever to vote for Bush 43. However, those who celebrated Brodie's biography of Nixon were abetting a standard that allowed self-styled objective journalists to skew their take on things and in the 2000 presidential campaign that corrupt journalistic standard ended up being one of several decisive factors that determined the winner of that election because of the role it played in persuading the persuadable either to vote for Bush and/or to not vote for Gore.

      And thanks for the softball @4:52 PM, it's so gracious of you to play the humble inquisitor.

      Delete
    23. You call youself an atheist but it appears, CMike, you believe in the cloud fairies being promoted by Bob Somerby.
      But be careful. You border on blasphemy when you say "one of several decisive factors."

      Chris Matthews did it all by himself.

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  3. "It's time to embrace American royalty," Glenn Greenwald wrote yesterday in reaction to Jenna Hager Bush's hiring as a correspondent for the Today Show. As far as rants go, it is heated and a bit unhinged, but not without insight. He opens:


    They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from."

    http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2009/08/embracing-american-royalty/27120/

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    1. This doesn't mention her salary or complain she is making too much money. It complains about nepotism.

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    2. Nor does it mention Jenna being "media shy." So mere criticism of a first daughter being hired as a television journalist fails to mention all four critical elements.

      But then Bob says Chozik only "suggests" things "to some." So to you he suggests the criticism of Jenna must be equal in all elements in order to match Chozick's description of "similar."

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    3. "Clinton’s move into the news arena came after President George W. Bush’s daughter Jenna Bush Hager was brought on by NBC as a “Today” show correspondent. While Hager’s earnings remain undisclosed, a well-placed insider said her hiring in August, 2009 caused some upset.

      “When Jenna got the gig, NBC correspondents in smaller markets who had been waiting years to get promoted to New York were outraged. They couldn’t understand what media credentials Jenna had (other than her father being a former president) that gave her the right to take a position in the newsroom,” the insider said. “And Chelsea is the same. She’s a smart woman, but that doesn’t give her the training to write, produce and appear in news stories.”

      http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2014/06/21/sources-nbc-not-concerned-about-chelsea-clintons-alleged-overpriced-salary/

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    4. His point is that the script about the Clintons having and being paid too much money extends to Chelsea. The other details are irrelevant.

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    5. Shouldn't Bob's script extend to all of them have too much money? Why isn't he placing a pox on all their houses?

      Oh, that's right, big salaries, even petty graft among political celebrities is mere trivia compared to outrageously paid people like Ms. Chozik.

      What was it Ms. Chozik makes again? At least 600 K right? Because she works full time and isn't limited to interviewing the GEICO gecko. My only regret is we won't get to see the follow up with Flo from Progressive.

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    6. His point that this follows the scrip about the Clintons having and being paid too much money would be made if Chozik actually wrote anything even remotely connected to that idea.

      Sorry, but the daughter of the former President and the possible next president just lost her job at NBC News after not producing, well, not a whole heck of a lot that went on the air.

      That's news. But no matter how it was reported, Bob would spin it his way to say what he wanted it to say, even if it was said only in his imagination. Count on it.

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    7. We don't know why she is leaving her job, but why assume she was fired, except out of malice?

      She may want to spend more time with her new baby and certainly has no financial reason to keep working there.

      The point is that Chozick, not Somerby, chose to emphasize her lucrative salary, just as the press emphasized her large speaking fees last month. This isn't Somerby's imagination.

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    8. In the course of a nine-paragraph article, Chozick mentions "lucrative salary" in the lead, then midway says that it was $600,000.

      I suppose in the mind of a true believer, a nine-paragraph item that mentions her pay twice is "emphasiz(ing) her lucrative salary."

      And of course, should People Magazine report that Chelsea shopped for baby clothes at Bloomingdale's, Bob will run to his keyboard to type: "Ah Ha! See? More evidence that the script is alive!"

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    9. Only if they say "Chelsea Clinton, who earns lucrative six-figure speaking fees, shopped at Bloomingdale." See the difference?

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    10. To be accurate, Chelsea Clinton's speaking fees are only five figures. You must be mistaking her with ther mother.

      "To create a bit of perspective, the amount in question [$170,000 in gifts and loans to the McDonnell's] represents roughly one week’s salary for cable stars who are paid $7 million per year."

      To create a bit of perspective, Chelsea's top fee for a speech is reported to be $ 75,000. That is a trivial two times the amount of base annual salary for a Mississippt public school teacher with a Master's Degree and five years of experience.

      Delete
    11. Once again, you missed the point.

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    12. Once again you think there is only one point.

      Delete
    13. When someone hijacks a thread to focus on what they want to discuss, especially when it is inevitably to criticize the blog author, it is just trolling.

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    14. Hey 9:34, you are the hijacker. I started the thread yesterday. The only one off point in over 24 hours was you.

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    15. Somerby starts the thread. You guys are never responsive because for you the only topic is how bad Somerby is.

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  4. My personal preference would be to have each TV journalist wear a large placard around their neck announcing how much they make from that gig.

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  5. Bob wrote more than 1,000 words to analyze an article that was less than 500 words long.

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    1. Another example of excess literalism. I thought our trolls were malicious, but I am changing my vote to mentally ill, probably autistic.

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    2. Another example or excess repetition, a sure fire symptom of the eBoba virus, known to stifle creativity and provoke anger at those who count words like the Bobster.

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    3. Yes, a play on words involving a deadly illness devastating Western African countries is always appropriate.

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    4. But the lack of empathy does support the autism speculation.

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    5. You forget there are multiple syndromes that share similar symptoms. The most we can probably say is something is clearly wrong.

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  6. "To create a bit of perspective, the amount in question [$170,000 in gifts and loans to the McDonnell's] represents roughly one week’s salary for cable stars who are paid $7 million per year."

    That means $600,000 a year for Chelsea Clinton represents five weeks salary, using the same measuring stick. How many stories did she do which were broadcast?

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    1. About 5 week's worth.

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    2. From Eric Wemple's blog in the Washington Jihadi Post:

      "What’s the pay scale for a rookie network news correspondent with no news experience whatsoever?....

      If that name hadn’t been connected to American royalty, she could have expected to rake in between $100,000 and $200,000 as a first-year network correspondent, a job that people from less-high-profile families snare only through years and years of tireless work covering the news. That salary range is confirmed by several people familiar with the compensation levels at major network news outlets....

      A network correspondent job can be a nonstop experience. A Nexis byline search for “Tom Costello” on NBC News transcripts in the period since Chelsea Clinton started at NBC News fetches 413 hits. A Nexis byline search for Chelsea Clinton herself over that same time period fetches 20 hits."

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2014/06/13/what-did-nbc-newss-chelsea-clinton-do-for-her-600000-salary/

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  7. One of Somerby's neighbors compares Chelsea and Jenna:

    "So, Friday night, again came Chelsea on "Rock Center," one of the sorriest and most compromised newsmagazines in the history of network television -- and that's covering a lot of territory. Only now after only 14 months, she isn't profiling some hard-working, struggling, philanthropic enterprise in an inner city, she's interviewing the multi-millionaire author, Judy Blume, in Key West.

    So much, for the "purposefully public," I-just-want-to-help-those-who-do-good-by-helping-others explanation for her so-called TV career. Now she's on the celebrity author beat.

    And help me out here because I'm confused, but I thought Jenna Bush, the other I-need-a-job ex-president's daughter, had the children's book beat covered with her fine, fine work for NBC News on the "Today" show. (This being the web, I guess I better say right here I am being sarcastic about "fine, fine.")

    Bush only joined NBC News, by the way, after her fine, fine and short career teaching reading to children in a Baltimore school. (Really, the lies the media goes along with about these grown presidential children are astounding. Why do we do it?)"

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-03-02/entertainment/bal-chelsea-clinton-rock-center-nbc-news-judy-blume-20130302_1_chelsea-clinton-nbc-news-purposefully-public-life

    I urge everyone to read the whole thing. It reads like the Howler of old.

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    1. You guys don't seem to understand that the main qualification for working on TV is the ability to attract viewers. Clinton and Bush were offered jobs because it was hoped they would be watched. Clinton gets big speaking fees because people will buy tickets to hear her speak. I think she quit to spend time with her baby, but it could be she didn't like the work or didn't attract an audience or any number of reasons. The point is how she is now being covered in light of her mother's imminent campaign, not what Somerby said about her in the past. But hey, trolls gotta troll.

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    2. Good read. There is also the related practice of corporate America just giving away stock holder money to the rich and to some of their dunning, not-so-rich relations through board seats and other sinecures. In the case of the relatives of government officials and the permanently or temporarily retired government officials, themselves, these windfalls are less of a flat give away of money and more on the lines of payment for services rendered, or to be rendered, so in those cases it really isn't a complete rip-off of the stock holder class.

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  8. We can do better. Better living for a bettwer world. We're all sharing these fees together.

    http://thedailybanter.com/2014/08/hillary-clinton-praises-obama-cops-delayed-ferguson-reaction/

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  9. Good to know, according to the Howler, that a $600,000 per year part time job media should not be characterized as lucrative.

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  10. I look forward to the follow up on this.

    I want to know what the "procedures" of Ms. Fawn Brodie were. And, of course, who adopted them.

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    Replies
    1. Using random anecdotes from Nixon's life as the basis for attributing negative motives and personality traits supported by a flawed understanding of psychoanalytic theory. It is a bankrupt methodology.

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete