The source of our own cluelessness: We sure are sorry we saw that report about the happiness gap.
For background, see yesterday's post.
Don’t get us wrong! On balance, we think it’s sad that a gang of professors have been chasing that nonsense for all these years.
More strikingly, it’s amazing that the New York Times would regard this small happiness gap—a gap which may not even exist—as a suitable topic for a full-length news report. Our big papers are really dumb, and are dumbing us down, when they make such absurd news judgments.
That said, we’re sorry we mixed that foolishness in with yesterday’s main question. Here’s what that question is:
Why do we liberals remain so clueless about the press corps’ long-running war against both Clintons and Gore?
By now, it’s fairly clear that this 23-year-old war will infest the coverage of Hillary Clinton’s presumptive White House campaign. Two early pieces of evidence:
No one would care about these emails if some other pol were involved. (Case in point: Jeb Bush’s email server.)
No candidate’s speaking fees have ever been flogged in the way the Washington Post flogged Clinton’s speaking fees all last year. (Case in point: Candidate Giuliani’s large speaking fees in the years before Campaign 2008.)
For ourselves, we would have thought this destructive war had ended with Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2008 Democratic nomination race. Clearly, that impression was wrong.
Why do we liberals remain so clueless about the basic structure of this ongoing mess? In part, because we’re confronted with a giant code of silence within the mainstream press corps. Consider two representations which were made on the cable show Hardball on Wednesday evening, March 4, as the email flap was taking form.
First, consider something Chris Matthews said about Hillary Clinton’s political history. He spoke to the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig:
MATTHEWS (3/4/15): I think all of us here at this table do expect Hillary Clinton to make an announcement for president...But here’s the question. Is there—I always look at these stories and I say, “Well, there’s got to be a backstory here. There’s something that suggests a fuel to this story beyond what’s being reported.”That passage includes a fascinating remark.
Is it this supposition on the part of her critics, and maybe stand-by critics, just people watching her over the years, that she is very private about her person—not wrongdoing or something like that, she just doesn’t like to be totally exposed in what she does every day? It’s her instinct, based upon perhaps years of being attacked by the right when she was down in Arkansas and since then, a built-in instinct for self-protection, a built-in instinct for privacy which this displays? I just wonder if that is isn’t coloring this story and the news interest in it, Carol.
In that passage, Matthews speculates about the “backstory” to Clinton’s handling of her emails—about the reason why she might have wanted to have her own email server. He suggests it may be due to the way she has been attacked “by the right” down through all these years.
Truly, that’s remarkable. In fact, Matthews himself was the press corps’ most virulent Hillary-hater from the late 1990s through the 2008 campaign. He was also the press corps’ most virulent and influential Gore-hater from March 1999 through November 2000.
Today, Matthews pretends that the attacks on Clinton have been launched “by the right” down through all those years. He does this knowing that no guest on his cable program will ever challenge such comments.
Matthews is almost pathologically dishonest. He was pathologically dishonest in his virulent attacks on Candidate Gore. He was pathologically dishonest, and openly misogynistic, in his years of attacks against Hillary Clinton, the vile first lady and Senate/White House candidate.
Within the mainstream press corps, everyone knows this—and no one is going to say it! You see, they want to appear on Matthews’ show. It’s good for their careers!
After 2008, Matthews flipped on Hillary Clinton. He became one of her most fawning devotees, presumably in reaction to changing policy at the cable channel which pays him $5 million per year.
In the past week, he has sometimes seemed to be flipping back toward his old loathing of Clinton. But on the occasion cited above, he was busy misinforming his viewers—encouraging them to think that the wars against the Clintons have been conducted “by the right.”
At best, that’s grossly misleading. Matthews knows that, and so do his guests. But no one will ever inform his viewers. A code of silence forbids this.
Matthews is pathologically dishonest; Carol Leonnig isn’t. But note a second type of misdirection which occurred that same evening’s show.
In the first excerpt posted below, Matthews insists that the New York Times and the Washington post couldn't possibly have an animus against Clinton. In the second except, Leonnig agrees with that claim:
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, why do you think...Why do you think the New York Times is leading with this in its major front page placement here again and again this week? The Washington Post, USA Today—all front-page treatment of this thing. They are not anti-Hillary Clinton. You can’t tell me the New York Times has got a case against Hillary Clinton.In that passage, Matthews ridicules the idea that the New York Times or the Washington Post could have an animus against Clinton. Leonnig seconds this notion.
LEONNIG: You know, really, there’s no partisanship at the New York Times and the Washington Post in our news decisions. It’s really because she’s a presidential candidate and because this, and because it’s a huge deal. It’s a huge deal. And you may remember the missing e-mail case in federal court in D.C. involving Karl Rove’s e-mails and these vanished e-mails, and people thought that was a huge deal because why? Because our government is supposed to be open.
We’re not suggesting that Leonnig was being disingenuous. That said, the New York Times and the Washington Post have always lay at the heart of the press corps’ wars against the Clintons and Gore.
This dates back to the Whitewater pseudo-scandal, which got its start through bungled reporting on the front page of the Times. It runs through the 20-month War Against Gore, which sent George Bush to the White House.
At this point in time, do people at the Times and the Post have an animus against Hillary Clinton? We can’t exactly answer that question. But the historical record is blindingly clear.
Quite literally, Gene Lyons wrote the book on the Whitewater matter. It bore this title—Fools for Scandal: How the Media invented Whitewater. “The media” to which Lyons referred were mainly the Post and the Times.
Today, people like Matthews assure the public that liberal orgs like the Times and the Post couldn’t possibly have an animus against Clinton. Matthews know much better than that. But he also understands the press corps’ code of silence.
Twenty-three years into this mess, we liberals remain amazingly clueless about the way this syndrome has worked. It’s amazingly easy to get us to think that it surely must be “the right” which is driving these wars.
We’re amazingly clueless, and some of us aren’t especially honest. Sadly, some of us have been happy to let Democratic candidates get slimed in these ways if there’s some other Democratic candidate we prefer.
In 1999 and 2000, Bradley supporters let Candidate Gore get slimed in remarkable ways. Indeed, by December 1999, the Bradley campaign was playing an active role in creating the mainstream press corps’ bogus claims against Gore. (Al Gore introduced the American people to Willie Horton!)
In 2007 and 2008, some Obama supporters took the same approach to Matthews' misogynistic sliming of Candidate Clinton. On balance, this approach has worked out very poorly for us liberals. Over the course of the next twenty months, it may do so again.
There is one more group which must be cited here. We refer to the “liberal” sycophants who have formed around Matthews.
People like David Corn and Joan Walsh have done great things for their own careers by becoming courtiers to this profoundly dishonest man. For this reason, they will never discuss the actual history of the past twenty years. In such ways, liberal voters are kept barefoot and clueless.
Most horrifically, the press corps’ war against the Clintons and Gore sent Candidate Bush to the White House. In their search for wealth and fame, people like Corn and Walsh could easily do it again.
There’s every chance that it could happen—that they will give us a President Walker, Rubio, Bush or Paul. But make no mistake. Under any circumstance, their code of silence will prevail.
We will be told that it must be “the right” which is driving the attacks. We liberals will swallow this claim. We’ll continue along in our own clueless way, merrily laughing about how dumb the other tribe’s voters are!
We love hating The Others so much that we can’t figure out who The Others are! We got fooled all through the War Against Gore. And yes, it can happen again.
The fellows who wrote the books: In 1995, Gene Lyons wrote the book on the Whitewater pseudo-scandal. For his column about the email hunt, you can just click here.
In 2000, Joe Conason joined Lyons for a second book, The Hunting of the President. For Conason’s column about the emails, you can just click this.