Supplemental: At Salon, the children are not all right!


But neither are the professors:
It’s very hard for people to grasp the sheer incompetence of our upper-end press corps.

Beyond that, many people don’t understand the extent to which the upper-end press is willing to dissemble and lie about its own conduct and attitudes.

Our journalists are incompetent and dishonest. These problems are very clear when our scribes try to discuss, or pretend to discuss, the coverage of Hillary Clinton.

Consider two recent examples.

Over at Salon,
one of the youngsters expressed concern about the possible coverage of Clinton. But uh-oh! Along the way, Elias Isquith offered this peculiar account of the press corps’ relationship with the newly-declared hopeful:
ISQUITH (4/13/15): [W]hile many of my colleagues are worried about dealing with the notoriously media-phobic Clinton, I’m not particularly concerned with how the former secretary of state will treat the press. I’m much more worried about how a grumpy press will cover the campaign.

I’ve written about this once before already, but there’s something about Hillary Clinton that brings out the worst in the media. It’s as if her association with the relatively calm and peaceful 1990s causes those who were journalists at the time to succumb to their worst instincts. Her presidential campaign’s launch is less than 48 hours old, but you can see the embrace of frivolity happening already.

Take New York magazine’s new cover story on whether she’s “good at running for president,” for example. As Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan rightly pointed out, the piece is like a “platonic ideal” of superficial, horserace journalism. Clinton’s policy views and record as secretary of state are essentially ignored...
To his credit, Isquith voiced concern about the press corps’ instinctive reactions to Clinton. That said, we were thoroughly puzzled by his attempt to describe those reactions.

“It’s as if her association with the relatively calm and peaceful 1990s causes those who were journalists at the time to succumb to their worst instincts?” We have no idea what that might mean, or why the young salonist would say something like that.

Isquith seemed completely unaware of the poisonous history which exists between the press corps he may hope to enter and the Clintons. After voicing his concern about possible press corps reactions, he stated a generic complaint, pounding New York magazine for writing a “horse race” piece.

Isquith is in his fourth year out of Bard. Like many of the youngsters at Salon, he seemed completely clueless about this particular topic.

Sadly shaking our heads, we clicked over to New York magazine. At that site, Jason Zengerle had written a perfectly defensible piece about Clinton’s skill, or lack of same, as a candidate.

At one point, Zengerle did something unusual. He suggested the press corps might have an animus toward Candidate Clinton!

He even suggested that the press corps’ negative coverage might tip the race against Clinton. No really—here's what he said:
ZENGERLE (4/5/15): [C]overing the regular Clinton is often a drag. She’s been around too long, and reporters know her story too well, to get much of a thrill from it; even if she were a fresh face, her particular political talents don’t lend themselves to a riveting narrative. The Republican strategist Stuart Stevens likens political skill to figure skating: “It’s an endeavor entirely judged by a jury with no empirical metrics.” Alienating the jury is a dangerous thing. “I am in the Bill Clinton camp on this,” Stevens says. “For multiple reasons, Obama has been judged differently by the jury than Hillary.”

In small ways, Clinton could repair the relationship. Most important, the same charm offensive she waged on the Obama White House could work on the press pack, too.
But it’ll need to be an effort sustained not only in Washington but also in the dog days of Virginia and Colorado, Ohio and Florida.

If she can’t, that will only encourage reporters to cover her critically—maybe even, as Clinton and her allies suspect, more critically than they do other politicians—which in turn could be enough to tip the race in favor of her opponent...
Could Candidate Clinton tame the press corps with a charm offensive? We can’t answer that question.

That said, Zengerle was prepared to picture Clinton receiving inappropriately critical coverage. Like Isquith, he did little to fill in the background, which stretches all the way back to early 1992, when the New York Times invented the Whitewater pseudo-scandal.

As he continued, Zengerle tried to offer one piece of background. When he did, we marveled at the general incompetence surrounding such discussions.

Good lord! Zengerle actually spoke with Professor Sides about the negative coverage of Candidate Gore! But when he did, Professor Sides said this:
ZENGERLE (continuing directly): If she can’t, that will only encourage reporters to cover her critically—maybe even, as Clinton and her allies suspect, more critically than they do other politicians—which in turn could be enough to tip the race in favor of her opponent. “To the extent that the news media wants to dissect her, that could affect perceptions of her if that kind of criticism is a sustained feature of news coverage,” says Sides. He points to Al Gore’s experience in 2000, when the press’s repeated hyping of a series of small misstatements and minor exaggerations by Gore increasingly led voters, even Democrats, to conclude that he was untrustworthy. “Can we say that had Gore been perceived as honest in October, as he was in July, that that would have given him the race?” asks Sides. “Not necessarily. But it could have.”
It’s a rare day when anyone discusses the press corps’ hostile treatment of Gore. That said, we were struck by the sheer incompetence of Professor Sides’ presentation, which Zengerle left unchallenged.

Good grief! Reading the statement by Professor Sides, a reader would think that Candidate Gore was attacked as dishonest at some point after July 2000.

In fact, the basic theme of Campaign 2000—AL GORE, LIAR—was firmly locked into place by the press in the spring of 1999.

That all-caps headline appeared in the New York Post in June 1999, when Candidate Gore made his formal announcement. But the theme was already several months old at that time. It had already been widely bruited all through the mainstream press corps.

These professors today! Assuming he was quoted correctly, Professor Sides offered this clueless thought:

“Can we say that had Gore been perceived as honest in October, as he was in July, that that would have given him the race? Not necessarily. But it could have.”

To us, that seemed to make little sense. And so we decided to look it up! For all Gallup data, click here.

Sure enough! In late October 2000, Gallup showed Candidate Bush with a clear advantage over Candidate Gore in the area of honesty. At that very late date, 47 percent of voters said they considered Bush to be the more honest and trustworthy candidate. Only 33 percent said they favored Gore in this area.

Unfortunately for the future of the world, the numbers had been the same in late July 2000. At that time, 49 percent of respondents said that Candidate Bush was more honest and trustworthy. Only 34 percent favored Gore.

Absent this perception, would Candidate Gore have reached the White House? Quite possibly so! That said, the press corps pounded away at this theme for twenty straight months, starting in March 1999. From week one of that campaign, this constituted the basic framework for the coverage.

Our journalists kept inventing bogus statements, kept insisting that Gore had made them. Rather plainly, their disgraceful conduct sent Candidate Bush to the White House.

Based on what Zengerle wrote, Professor Sides seems to have little idea about the actual shape of that campaign. In fairness, neither does Zengerle, who is older than Isquith.

The American public has never been told about the press corps’ astounding behavior in that history-changing campaign. Thanks to folk like the three we’ve named, voters will never learn what happened. The public won’t be on alert for similar conduct this time.

Are these life-forms actually human? We’ve asked that question for many years. We still can’t give you an answer.


  1. Yes, Bob, unfortunately the press corps are all-too-human. Despite their salaries and pedigrees, they are neither bright nor hardworking, and they respond to the enormous incentives to write/say anything that draws attention, whether or not it's wrong or misleading.

    I question whether there ever was a "golden age" when the press performed better. As far as I can tell, the media's reaction to the Vietnam War was pretty similar to their reaction to the Iraq War - support it until things went bad, and then act like they never supported it.

    Unfortunately, there are no consequences for media members who are repeatedly wrong about serious matters, and in fact the only punishment usually is meted out to those who have the audacity to be right about issues.

  2. The meme now seems to be that Hillary is a hawk. I have heard that repeatedly, even from supposedly liberal people. Hillary voted identically to Obama on all Iraq votes (except the ones Obama skipped). She got us involved in no wars or military actions while Secretary of State. She has never expressed any warlike ambitions or agreed with bombing Iran (she has supported Obama's negotiations) or done anything to suggest she is a hawk. Why do people keep saying she is a hawk?

    I think it comes from Obama folks trying to justify their support for him over her. Clinton consistently made stronger statements than Obama about ending both wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) and closing Guantanamo. She was stronger against NSA spying and reigning in the intelligence community. How then is she a hawk?

    I agree with Somerby that these memes cannot be allowed to become entrenched. We need to be pushing back, as individuals and as people who want to elect a Democrat and not Ted Cruz (who is a genuine hawk).

    1. Huffpost says Hillary is "building a tech army." Sounds hawkish to me.

    2. I seem to remember some actions similar to military actions in Libya undertaken while Hillary was SoS. She should be proud- after all, she and Obama showed that you can fuck up a Mid East country for pennies on the dollar, compared to Iraq.

    3. Libya isn't one if the hotspots relatively speaking but grasp at any straw to knock her, why dontcha.

      Bush's major screw-ups mean conservatives have no standing to complain about the middle east. Sort of like blaming Obama for the economy in 2009.

    4. Hillary voted to allow Bush to start a war with Iraq. Most democrats voted against that. She made a whopper of a mistake - arguably the biggest foreign policy mistake in the last 50 years. That alone, i my view, makes her unfit for the president.

      How about as SoS?

      " As Secretary of State, Clinton backed a bold escalation of the Afghanistan war. She pressed Obama to arm the Syrian rebels, and later endorsed air strikes against the Assad regime. She backed intervention in Libya, and her State Department helped enable Obama’s expansion of lethal drone strikes. In fact, Clinton may have been the administration’s most reliable advocate for military action. On at least three crucial issues—Afghanistan, Libya, and the bin Laden raid—Clinton took a more aggressive line than Gates, a Bush-appointed Republican."

      Then, let's talk about her views on Ukraine...

    5. This is nonsense. Most Democrats voted the same as Hillary on Iraq. Only a few opposed the authorization which was not to start a war, as you described it. Use of language like that reveals bias. As SOS she carried out Obama's policies. Portraying her as Hawkish is propaganda aimed at peeling away Democrat votes.

    6. 11:42. It was a resolution authorizing force against Iraq. Call it what you will, that is what it was. Democrats in the house voted 82 yeas and 126 nays. In the Senate they voted 29 yeas and 21 nays. Which means 111 Dems voted yea on the bill and 147 voted nay. Last i checked 147 was larger than 111.

      Now, i don't blame you for getting this wrong; as the pro-Hillary script seems to be "most dems were for the resolution." Which doesn't "seem" to be the case, at least for the dems who could actually vote on the matter.

      On your second point a SoS has a say in presidential decisions, traditionally (but not always) that has been to promote diplomacy over war. According to Gates HRC was more hawkish than he was in the debates on Lybia, Syria and Afghanistan as well as entering Pakistan to get bin Laden.

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    8. Thanks 1:10 PM for saying what needs to be said, probably over and over going forward in response to those for whom party is more important than policy.

    9. Hey, 11:41, so Libya isn't a failed state in your world, hasn't exported Islamists to Mali, isn't an al Qaeda stronghold, and isn't the source of the folks who, fleeing, drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. What color is your sky?

  3. Don't sweat the, "relatively speaking," small stuff. USA! USA!:


    20 Feb 2015

    Islamic State loyalists have claimed responsibility for three car bombs which rocked the Libyan mountain town of Qubbah on Friday, killing at least 40 people and derailing the divided country’s sputtering peace process.

    Militants called the attack “revenge for the bloodshed of Muslims in the city of Derna”, signing their statement “Cyrenaica province”, one of the metastasising group’s Libyan branches.

    The group said one of the bombers was from Saudi Arabia, the clearest indication yet that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) is able to deploy foreign militants inside Libya.

    It said the attacks targeted forces of General Khalifa Haftar who launched a bloody campaign in May last year to rid Libya of Islamist militias who have thrived since an uprising more than three years ago.
    Qubbah, the site of Friday’s attacks, has been dominated by tribal militia since November. They are broadly loyal to Gen Hiftar, a military commander backed by Libya’s beleaguered Tobruk government....


    [END QUOTE]<<<


    Apr. 19, 2015

    Up to 700 African migrants [a U.N. estimate from 4-21 is 850 African migrants] were feared dead on Sunday when their boat capsized off the coast of Libya overnight, the Times of Malta reported.

    Twenty eight people were rescued in the incident, which happened in an area just off Libyan waters, 120 miles south of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa, the newspaper's website reported.

    The emergency was declared at about midnight. The boat is believed to have capsized when migrants moved to one side of the vessel when a merchant ship approached.

    If confirmed, the disaster would be one of the worst seen during the decades-long migrant crisis in the southern Mediterranean and would bring the total number of dead since the beginning of the year to more than 1,500.

    "At the moment, we fear that this is a tragedy of really vast proportions," Carlotta Sami, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told SkyTG24 television.

    Last week, 400 migrants were presumed dead in the sinking of another ship near the Libyan coast. The deaths have raised calls for a more robust search and rescue of the seas between Libya and Europe amid a surge in migration between the Middle East and Africa toward Italy....


    [END QUOTE]<<<

    Thank you [strike]Boosh[/strike] Mrs. Clinton (for having had the courage to advocate for throwing gasoline on someone else's fire before moving on to deal with more topical matters).

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  5. Bob...I usually disagree with you about Rachel Maddow, but last night, her diatribe against nitrogen in capital punishment was ridiculous. I don't even favor capital punishment except in rare cases, but a totally painless, even euphoric (see "hypoxia"), method, that is literally being humanely "put to sleep", fulfills the ideal that forfeiting the rest of one's life is the "penalty", and not the pain of a tortured killing.

  6. The American public has never been told about the press corps’ astounding behavior in that history-changing campaign. Poor Somerby is a tired old fellow of trying to set the world record straight about these servile distortion of facts of fact. His efforts sow no impact on these youngsters whose humanity can and is questioned by helpless old Somerby.

    Could Bob Somerby tame the press corps with a charm offensive? Like the very humanity of the children at Salon, it is a question we cannot answer.

    1. I get it. Since his efforts have little effect on liars and novelists, and you and other rubes like you are fine with distortion, Somerby should give up his effort.

    2. Hardly. Bob Somerby's yeoman work goes unheeded. The story of these servile distortions must be imparted to the children to prepare them. How did we ever get this way? Is there a way to attone? These questions must be asked and Somerby has. Can he better ask them in the limited time he still has? Or will the children be condemned to exude a moral squalor and follow in out dumb footsteps?

    3. @12:53 What socially detrimental condition does Bob have that you can use to impugn him? Wrong race? Sex? Sexual orientation? Region of residence? Country of origin? Physical disability? Scandalized ancestors? Anything dehumanizing will do, for you have an agenda to promote and must separate the good humans who think the right thoughts from the sub-humans who don't. Looks like you've settled on advanced age.

    4. How has @ 12:53 done anything other than praise the messenger, echoes his concern that the word is still not out, and look for ways to carry the message onward on behalf of our beloved children who must carry on the fight innocent but ignorant?