Supplemental: The culture of cartooning!

TUESDAY, AUGUST 26, 2014

Looking ahead to the next unbearable race:
Hillary Clinton has too much money! Mitt Romney strapped his dog to the roof of his car!

Candidate Gore is the world’s biggest liar! He perspires too much, like Nixon!

It’s official! Next Tuesday, we’ll be starting our award-winning series, “The Houses of Journalist County.” The series represents our reaction to the press corps’ deep concern, expressed in June and July, that the Clintons 1) get paid too much for speeches and 2) own way too many houses, more specifically two.

Back in June, Diane Sawyer kick-started this heartfelt theme—she of the $80 million reported net worth. As the Washington Post turned this theme into the press corps’ latest cartoon, we decided to take a look at the way our big “journalists” live!

In our award-winning series, we’ll explore three or four different themes. We’ll review the wealth of a few journalistic leaders, especially as seen through the lens of their various “cottages.” We’ll also be asking a basic question:

What kind of journalism can we expect from people who live as they do?

For comic relief, we’ll explore the ways these multimillionaires try to convince us the rubes that they’re really just like us. For a recent sample of this art form, see Parade Magazine’s profile of Meredith Vieira, which appeared last Sunday.

“I want people to see the real me,” Vieira says on the hard-copy cover. Inside, and in a few other profiles, we find a few of the most laughable cons we’ve ever seen from a major celebrity journalist.

In our new series, we’ll also discuss an interesting strain of modern journalism. Over perhaps a dozen years, a few daring scribes critiqued the “buckraking” which produces the modern journalist’s wealth.

In our experience, Jacob Weisberg started this discussion in 1986. See his challenging piece for The New Republic, written when he was still just a lowly senior at Yale.

It’s a bit ironic that Weisberg started this thread. We say that because, in the present day, the gentleman seems to be firmly ensconced in The Houses of Journalist County.

We’d have to say it shows in his work, the very pitfall he discussed in the winter of 86. Having said that, we believe The Houses of Journalist County may pull “Jake” out of his rut!

Our current interest in this topic dates to the cartoon the Post began shaping about the Clintons’ vast wealth.

Don’t get us wrong—a candidate’s wealth can certainly be a legitimate point of concern. Nor is Hillary Clinton our idea of the ideal candidate.

That said, we began to worry about journalists’ wealth in the fall of 1999. It happened when Mary McGrory (and quite a few others) made a mockery of the first Gore-Bradley Democratic debate.

For the most part, the debate concerned the two candidates’ health care proposals. But so what? In the Washington Post, McGrory spent the better part of her next two columns mocking Gore’s funny clothes.

A speculation popped into our head. McGrory already had outstanding health care—and she didn’t seem to care if we the lesser folk do.

As the corps has become more rich, it has become more fatuous. We recommend Simon Malloy’s piece about Maureen Dowd’s latest cartoon.

(We’re recommending Salon!)

We aren’t crazy about Hillary Clinton either. But we reject the horrible Sawyer as the arbiter of the nation’s political judgments and choices. In the wake of Sawyer’s purring at Clinton about her deeply troubling wealth, the Washington Post began to construct the press corps’ latest campaign-ready cartoon.

Next week, we’ll start our deathless series on this award-winning topic. Starting tomorrow, we’ll briefly return to Rick Perlstein’s cartoon of Richard Nixon in Nixonland’s Chapter Two.

(For our previous post on the subject, just click here.)

The culture of cartooning has started to drive the coverage of our White House campaigns. Next week, we’ll examine the wealth which makes our “journalists” want to waste their time composing these stupid cartoons.

In the meantime, two books about Nixon help us see the way this kind of cartooning looks. A modern nation can’t run on cartoons.

Nor should its citizens want to.

A note about Nixonland: Perlstein’s book examines deeply important historical themes—themes which help define our politics right through the present day.

Nixonland explores extremely important themes, but it also includes a bizarre cartoon. It amazes us that Perlstein wanted to draw it.

We think the culture of such cartooning is toxic. Tomorrow, we’ll see how it looks.

38 comments:

  1. Yes, the vile Sawyer had the temerity to ask Hillary -- making the media rounds to push her book for which she was paid an eight-figure advance -- if middle-class America could relate to six-figure speaking fees she was commanding.

    It was a softball question that Hillary could have knocked out of the park. Instead, she came up with "dead broke and in debt" which further opened for examination how the Clintons rose so rapidly from a negative net worth to nine-figures positive while Hillary was serving in the Senate and State Department and Bill was busy raising more gazillions for the family foundation to do great work all over the globe.

    But lets ignore all that lest we are tempted to hold Hillary accountable for her own words.

    Lets instead examine the real estate holdings of celebrity journalists! It is the most burning issue of the day!

    Bob, I am truly looking forward to this. Every time I think that you can't get more petty and ridiculous, you prove me wrong.

    By the way, will the digs of Hannity and O'Reilly be included in your thorough examination? How about Megyn Kelly?


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    1. You don't think "dead broke and in debt" wasn't a home run???

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    2. Actually, I still crack up over Jon Stewart's "Poor-Off" between Hillary and Joe Biden.

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    3. Stewart on the Cartoon that is White (Bob) Culture

      http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/jon-stewart-ferguson

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  2. Goody, goody, goody. This will be the bestest series since we paraded through puff pieces to find Rachel believed in ghosts and may have read newpapers as a toddler in the warm glow of black and white TV.

    With this kind of promo, how could it be postponed yet again?

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    1. A preview:

      "Alas, poor Milbank! We simply must have him visit the sprawling campus of THE DAILY HOWLER's spectacular World Headquarters, nestled in the rolling foothills of Baltimore County's horse country, state-of-the-art in world press critique web sites! Like some others in the Washington press, he identifies THE DAILY HOWLER with this fellow Bob Somerby, the humble messenger who simply types up the critiques which our analysts bring him!"

      Hope that will tide you over.

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  3. Looks like Bob is giving up on the dead black kid lying in the street.
    Nobody cares except his commenters.

    Sorry you aren't crazy about Hillary. That rules out a promising explanation but everyone will keep looking for the source.

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  4. "Nor is Hillary Clinton our idea of the ideal candidate."

    "We aren’t crazy about Hillary Clinton either."

    So when did you decide to drop the water buckets, Gunga Din?


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    1. Is Dennis the K still available? Or will he lose his FOX contract like Sarah P if he throws his his cap in the ring?

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  5. Will Chucky be back? Even in a cameo?

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  6. "Looking ahead to the next unbearable race". Just the words I've been thinking for some time now.

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  7. Bob might appreciate Terry Gross' interview with John Oliver. Short version: you made a joke about Sting. But what if you ran into Sting at a party? Wouldn't that be awkward?
    JO: that is why it's really important to never go to a party that Sting might be at!
    Terry laughed, but JO went on at great length about how that would screw up his ability to do his job and how he can't believe that if he, as a comedian, gets that, why can't journalists grasp it?

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    Replies
    1. Because, as his career booster John Stewart said once to a woman with big orange clown shoes, Being a comedian is not the same as being in the news business.

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    2. I wonder what kind of paychecks Jon Stewart and John Oliver command, and what kind of digs they live in.

      But I will say this. Many years ago, Somerby once picked up the theme that James Fallows wrote about more than 20 years ago as he worried about the growing class of "celebrity journalists" and their habit of socializing with the very people they were supposed to be covering in the incestuous Beltway society.

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    3. There is nothing wrong with being rich or living in luxurious digs. Hanging out on regular basis at cocktail parties with people you are supposed to make fun of and/or commit journalism on, however, does not make for good comedy or journalism.

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  8. I sure hope the Never Trust Anyone Over 30 answer doesn't get in the way of the House Tour! It was supposed to be here today. Instead we got two doses of the old coot oil and a ukaranian irony tablet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should cancel your subscription. Please, cancel your subscription.

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    2. Again, be careful what you wish for, CMike. The daily traffic on this blog has already sunk so low that the only reason for its continued existence is the vanity of the blogger.

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    3. That is very easy snark for you CMike. You are probably not one of those who comes back based on Bob's teasers.

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    4. @10:44 AM,

      To keep from getting frustrated you should turn the tables and start playing hard to get. Instead of checking in a couple times a day at this site, come by just once a week to see if the Somerby post you want is up.

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  9. Calling out corporate media aristocrats. This one is certain to make the local "libs" squeal!

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    Replies
    1. I think the squealing will at least be regional if not semi-national.

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  10. Meredith Vieira? It's about time somebody took her down!

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    Replies
    1. If I could only count the good that Parade magazine could have done in its lifetime but hasn't.

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    2. Leave America's sweetheart alone!

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    3. I find it hard to understand why, in a land with such diversity, we don't have more Portugese-American role models.

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  11. Atrios today links to this interesting article on the Philly riot of 1964:

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/Gathering_.html

    It discusses the role of false rumors in fueling the riot and also the selective nature of the looting. The aftermath was that white businesses left the area and haven't come back to this day. It also discusses the prevalence of anti-white epithets, described in a study of anti-semitism done afterward -- anti-Jewish epithets were not heard.

    The police force in Philly was relatively integrated. There was frustration about police stop and frisks, but many of the looters expressed the feeling that they were "getting theirs" by taking things they felt they would not have the chance to acquire under any other circumstances. The rumor that a pregnant woman had been shot by police (untrue) started the rioting. It may make sense to view such riots not as civil rights activities but as a reaction to poverty. We may be seeing this now because poverty levels have reached lows common during the 60s and hope of improvement is low. The triggering event may be the excuse, not the cause of protests that turn into riots.

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