Supplemental: Is the press corps eager to “take Clinton down?”

MONDAY, MAY 11, 2015

What Dylan Byers said:
Friend, do you think it would be OK to have a President Walker?

If not, you need to start wondering, right this minute, about the attitudes toward Hillary Clinton within the national press.

Four cycles back, the liberal world just sat there and took it when the press corps staged a twenty-month war against Candidate Gore which sent George Bush to the White House. Are we liberals really prepared to roll over and take it again?

We’ll be discussing that question all week. For today, you might want to consider what Dylan Byers said.

Byers writes about the media for Politico. Last Thursday, he expressed the view we highlight below:
BYERS (5/7/15): Let's be honest with ourselves for a second: This is Hillary Clinton's election to lose.

On Nov. 8, 2016, Clinton will start—start—with a minimum 247 of the 270 electoral votes she needs to win. If you give her Colorado and Virginia—which many political strategists would, given the Hispanic population in one and the rising influence of the northern-centered population in the other—she'll start with 269. That means Clinton doesn't need Ohio or Florida. She just needs one small state like Iowa, Nevada or New Hampshire to put her over the edge.

[...]

The conventional wisdom among Clinton's supporters is that Clinton is invincible, because she has already weathered all the storms of media scrutiny. She has been in the public eye for 25 years and endured countless controversies, from Whitewater to Lewinsky to Benghazi. The book has been thrown at her, and the book lost.

This argument overlooks two important factors: First, the national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate). Even before she announced her presidential bid, The New York Times alone had published more than 40 articles related to her private email account, spurring other stories across the national print, digital and television media. Since announcing her bid, the national media have spent the bulk of their time investigating potential lines of influence between Clinton Foundation donations/speaking fees and Clinton's actions as secretary of state. The Times, The Washington Post and others even struck deals for early access to anti-Clinton research.
Byers goes on from there. The obvious nugget was this:

“The national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate).”

Byers didn’t attempt to explain the stance he attributes to the press corps. Today, we’re simply suggesting that you need to consider the possibility that his perception is accurate.

It happened during Campaign 2000. The liberal world just sat and stared.

Byers says it could happen again. All week long, we’ll be discussing the lack of liberal pushback.

Trust us! Unless you force them to act, your favorite liberals are going to sit there and take it all over again. You’ll have to make these people fight, a point we’ll discuss all week.

We don’t want to see a President Walker. How do you feel about that?

One more perspective: For Boehlert on Byers, click here.

60 comments:

  1. What is wrong with Byers? The rules of the guild have always been clear. For professional and social reasons, you can’t afford to tell the truth about the work of dominant orgs like the Times. Beyond that, you can’t tell the truth about the work of the mainstream press as a whole.

    According to those unwritten rules, members of the upper-end press corps aren’t allowed to tell the truth about the patterns and practices of major mainstream news orgs like the Times. In a larger sense, they know they mustn’t discuss the actual way the upper-end press corps works.

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    1. What is wrong with you? Is this a big joke to you?

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    2. Damn. I could have sworn it was just two months ago that the New York Times was breaking its own New York Times rules with this headline:

      Early in 2016 Race, Clinton’s Toughest Foe Appears to Be the News Media

      Of course that was before Bob Somerby named the New York Times rules.

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    3. Well, thanks to Uncle Boehlert, I learned others seem to be hell bent on breaking the rules too. This from "The Week" right about the same time:

      The mainstream media hates Hillary Clinton.
      She should make nice with the liberal media.


      http://theweek.com/articles/542750/mainstream-mediahates-hillary-clinton-should-make-nicewith-theliberal-media

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    4. Yes, this single headline offsets the many articles about her email servers and the Clinton Cash book and her voice and Dowd's garbage. In fact it contradicts Somerby and Byers so effectively that none of us need to be concerned about bias at the NY Times.

      What is wrong with you? Are you a moron?

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    5. You think Somerby is making it up about what the press did to Gore and how it favored Obama over Clinton in 2008 and how it aided in swiftboating Kerry?

      You think we should all sit back and laugh at Somerby for being Chicken Little because you found a couple of echoes of his concern? What is wrong with you? WHAT is wrong with you?

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    6. I followed the link to Boehlert. He concludes the Clinton Rules are still in effect but the rules Bob Somerby says are unwritten rules don't seem to apply any more. The press is openly discussing its contempt.

      Perhaps a fresher approach will keep me more informed.

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    7. Ken Aueletta did a piece about this a year ago in the New Yorker.

      The Hillary Show
      Can Hillary Clinton and the media learn to get along?


      http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/02/the-hillary-show

      The Howler didn't cover it as best as I can remember. He did write something once about Auletta's skin. It reminded me of what people wrote about John Edwards's hair.

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    8. Yes, it's all Hillary's fault she and the press don't get along. What's wrong with you?

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    9. No. I'd say in Hillary's case it is a two way street of mutual dislike.

      You may think she shares none of the blame. If so I could return your question verbatim.

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    10. Why should the feelings of the media matter? Their job is to report news, period. The more the media expect to be courted by candidates, the bigger whores they are. It is to Clinton's credit to be disliked, but it is majorly unprofessional when a reporter's feelings dictate their coverage. The media have no excuse for their behavior.

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    11. You have to be one of the largest chumps on the planet next to the author of this blog.

      Why not say "why should the feelings of the voters matter?"

      "It is to Clinton's credit to be disliked." Not if she or any other politician wants to be President of the United States.

      If candidates comes across as dislikable, dishonest, pompous, or preposterous, no human being covering her them will be unable to avoid reflecting that in their coverage.
      And if they don't they do a disservice to their fellow human beings who are voters. Because all of us have to live with the government delivered by the humans we elect.

      You prescribe a world which doesn't exist. I cannot imagine how you function at work.

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    12. I don't trust our millionaire press corp or our cable news stars as to what their personal judgements are. Don't care about their likes and dislikes. They're challenged enough just getting proven facts straight. I'm not buying that lazy media malarkey as any service to humanity.

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    13. And our "millionaire" press corps obviously doesn't trust our "millionaire" politicians when "cover your ass" responses prove dubious at best or avoid an answer to a simple question.

      You demonstrate a suspicious personality, and in explaining you to others I am sure I would pass that tip along. Because I am human, not because I am serving anyone.

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    14. "Our millionaire press corps" is yet another Somerby myth that his fans willing swallow whole, without even bothering to chew.

      Yes, indeed, all our "press corps" lives in fancy Nantucket houses. The vast majority of them are NOT people living from paycheck to paycheck, hoping to dodge the next round of layoffs, or if they are slightly luckier, early retirement buyouts.

      Let's devote an entire Somerby "series" dissecting the Parade magazine profile of Meredith Vieira and pretend that:

      1. All our "millionaire press corps" lives like that.

      2. Vieira herself is a powerful molder and shaper of public opinion.

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    15. Spellbound in TrollvilleMay 12, 2015 at 11:13 AM

      I love it when Bob's favorite spammers not only show up, but show up in the middle of a comment thread instead of the end.

      Anyone see any patterns?

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    16. Whoever loves it dealt it. Is that what you mean by pattern?

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  2. Warning to casual readers of this blog: These comments are unmoderated. They are infested by one or more trolls who routinely attack the blog author in a variety of ways, rarely substantive. Such attacks are not an indicator of the level of interest of other readers, the validity of the content posted nor of the esteem in which the blog author is held by others.

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  3. Yes, it's true that the media did everything possible to vilify Al Gore back in the presidential election of 2000. It's also a fact that Gore ran one of the worst, most criminally incompetent campaigns in modern U.S. history. This blog often provides a much-needed insight into the biases of establishment journalism and the self-justifying narrative traps that political liberals and progressives can embrace at their own risk. However, at a certain point we also have to be honest with ourselves. Making a career out of blaming the media for Gore's loss is a tired excuse for his egregious failures as a candidate.

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    1. The press did not elect George Bush. The Supreme Court did.

      The vote was 5-4.

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    2. What 5:09 said. It's also true that the media did everything possible to vilify Nixon, Reagan and Bill Clinton, all of whom were elected twice, the second time by impressive margins. Some people have political talent, some don't. And anyway, liberals need to get their story straight: Did Gore win or lose in 2000?

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    3. What 5:22 said too.

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    4. Actually, yes, the press did elect Gore.

      Press coverage does have an impact on popular opinion and on voting.

      Gore barely "lost". Absent the constant, pervasive, hideous and well-demonstrated savaging of Gore in the media, he'd have "won" outright.

      Your opinion (for that's all it is, an opinion ) of the quality of Gore's campaign isn't worth a damn next to that.

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  4. Why did the Howler leave this out of what Beyers wrote?

    "Such a controversy would have to be far bigger than a secret email account or questionable Clinton Foundation donations. The inconsequence of those stories can be seen in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, which found that "Americans now view Mrs. Clinton more favorably and more see her as a strong leader than they did earlier in the year, despite weeks of scrutiny about her ethics.

    [....]

    The media can cover every minor process development and chase Hillary to every Chipotle, but without an unforeseen controversy of truly epic proportions and/or a transformational Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton will waltz to the nomination and enter Election Day with a significant advantage over her challenger."

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    1. Because it is irrelevant.

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    2. Only to an imbecile or someone with a narrative.

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    3. Whistle past the proverbial graveyard if you will, I wouldn't be so quick to underestimate the power of a full saturation billion dollar political campaign, the best PR and advertising "science" money can buy, and an in-cahoots profit-driven corporate mass media to influence the public, even enough to sway a "lock" Presidential election.

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    4. Here's something else you should never underestimate.

      Never underestimate the right-wing's ability to overplay every hand they are dealt, and quite often through a "full saturation billion dollar political campaign."

      They often wind up preaching to the choir and alienating the congregation.

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    5. I don't see myself whistling. I think I posed a question, following the questioning theme of this post.

      Somerby asked if the press was "eager" to take down Clinton, because Byers presented him with a "nugget" saying they were "primed" to do so. Somerby said Byers never explained his "stance" but in fact, Somerby never directly answered his own question. He may be trying to infer that "primed" means "eager."

      Perhaps Somerby answered his own question by stating that what happened in 2000 could happen again in 2016. As best I can tell from Somerby's posts and unfinished history of that old election, he believes the press transferred a group hatred of Bill and Hillary Clinton en masse to Al Gore leading to Mr. Gore not winning the Presidency.

      I would certainly agree with Byers that the press is "primed" for a Clinton "takedown" just as they have been "primed" for the takedown of any number of front runners for the Presidency over my lifetime. However, Byers notes that the press has fired some pretty good shots at Clinton, who is not only the front runner but the only serious runner on the Democratic side at this point and has been a major focal point for press attention since 1992. And he offers the view that these shots seem not to have dented Clinton a bit. Bob chose the "shots fired" nugget. He ignored the "not dented" and "unlikely to further dent at this caliber" nuggets. We asked why he ignored those nuggets.

      Do I underestimate that Clinton can be defeated by a combination of a Republican and bad press coverage? No. Bob points to the history of 2000. I'd point to the history of 2008 when the nomination was Clinton's for the asking and she lost a contest to someone whose compelling candidacy came virtually out of nowhere. I don't blame the press for that. I credit Obama and blame Clinton for their respective campaigns.

      Does Clinton have a history of bad relations with the press? Yes. Did her answer to legitimate questions about her income reflect she understands that? Did her use of a private e-mail server for official business indicate she learned much from the criticism of her efforts to reform health care as First Lady? Did her answers to the press when that became an issue reflect a sensitivity to her ongoing press problem? Has the issue of foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation been a press concern since 2008? Did they make an effort to solve the problem then, or just make it worse? More importantly, are they repeating the same pattern in dealing with it today? None of these questions involved who Bill Clinton was or was not having "sexual relations" with. They involve the conduct of public policy.

      Hillary Clinton wants to win election to the highest public office in our country and we have a press which is free to write anything they damn well please about her for whatever reason they choose. If she wants to succeed she better both understand the history of the press as an institution and the history not only of others in dealing with it but her own.

      Philosopher bloggers who think they have made a major discovery by observing the ongoing operation of the press will not help Clinton a bit with that. Such observers are not just the blind squirrel who has found the acorn, they are the blind squirrel who, after finding the acorn does a celebration dance for two decades and curses others for not finding his acorn as amazing as he does.

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    6. blame.the.victim

      This is like saying that anyone who is robbed cannot complain about it because thieves have always stolen stuff and they should have known their possessions were only on loan to them by those who like to take other people's things.

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    7. If you want to compare Freedom of the Press to theft, and election to public office as a private possession, you will be the blind squirrel who gets whatever portion of the nut the blind squirrel who found it passes your way after he chews it dances on it, and while giving you your crumb he will chatter that your companions are dumb, lazy, disliked, and have bad morals.

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    8. The problem with an analogy is that it relies on the reader to find the points of similarity. You apparently are unable to do that. I cannot tell via the internet whether that represents disability of willful misunderstanding. In either case, sucks to be you.

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    9. The problem with that analogy is that it sucks to copy Bob Somerby's analogies.

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    10. Too Stupid To Be BelievedMay 13, 2015 at 7:03 AM

      "The press wants to take down Clinton, but it isn't working, so it doesn't matter and isn't bias."

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  5. The point is that they are trying to take her down, not whether they can succeed.

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    1. But here's where Bob's pleasing tale falls apart. Especially these days with the explosion of "information age" Web sites, every candidate is going to be put under the microscope. Some candidates will handle that better than others.

      But Bob's narrative is that only the candidates he prefers are treated so harshly, and so if they lose, he's got a rather handy excuse.

      Even when you point out all of the outrageous stuff said about Obama, before and after his election, well, he still wasn't treated as badly as Hillary was, because the press said mean things about Bill, too.

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    2. Has Obama been impeached? No? Then shut the fuck up!

      Did any other candidate on the campaign trail visibly give Obama the finger? No? Then shut the fuck up!

      Were members of any other candidate's campaign staff photographed groping a lifesize cardboard poster of Obama's genitals? No? Then shut the fuck up!

      Will Obama leave office broke and over $100,000 in debt because of the trumped up legal charges he has had to defend against while in office? No? Then shut the fuck up!

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    3. It makes no sense to argue about who has been treated worse by the press when it isn't the press's job to treat anyone badly. They are supposed to cover the news. When they aid and abet the efforts of one political party to take down the candidates of another, they are not doing their job. It is journalistic malfeasance. Somerby is right to point it out.

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    4. Exactly when, in a country where the first amendment to its constitution put freedom of the press on the same plane with your free speech rights to complain about the press and the government, did someone write a job description for the press?

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    5. Dear "Then shut the fuck up",

      As one of our favorite bloggers has been telling us for years,
      "Our guess? Such cluelessness from Clinton supporters may represent her “biggest problem.”

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    6. Journalism is a profession with a set of ethics. It is not bound by the looseness of the First amendment but by its own ideals.

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    7. I rather saw it as a calling that even a failed comedian could adopt and declare himself expert in.

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    8. Yes, anyone with training and motivation can become expert in any profession. Why do you call Somerby "failed" when he demonstrably supported himself for years as a comedian?

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    9. anon 11:01, I think you are way too deferential to the press. The overwhelming majority of the coverage is about the horse race. where do they get off assessing body language, how comfortable someone is in her skin, or how 'authentic' someone is? Coverage should be about what the candidate's position is, and who would benefit and who would be hurt if what the candidate advocates becomes a reality. Hey, I voted for Obama (twice) but his promise to bring "change" couldn't have been more vapid.

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    10. Spreading disinformation and false accusations is not a very "liberal" position, even if you strongly defend the first amendment. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn't make it right to do it.

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  6. The media is not treating the Clinton's as badly as they treated Republicans. This
    blog post provides several example where the media blasted Republicans for "appearance of impropriety", based on actions less suspicious than Bill and Hillary's.

    Nor did the media treat Gore worse than Bush. Gore was unfairly dinged for the supposed internet claim and "Love Story" claim. Bush was unfairly portrayed as dumb and ignorant.

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    1. I think Gore foolish stated his role in the internet after seeing what happened when he overstated the case for Love Story. Bush was and still is dumb and ignorant.

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    2. The media played up Bush's infallible "gut instinct", the irresistible charm, and that he was a working cowboy who tended a brush clearing operation down in Crawford Texas.

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    3. If you go back and look, Love Canal was probably the most disgraceful. Gore praised a young girl for impressive, positive activism that I don't think anyone could argue with. An "elite" journalist belittled both for their efforts and the pack ran with it. All in the name of a good smear.

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    4. Well @ 1:40 you have just jumped in and performed exactly as you claim the press performed.

      The press did not belittle the girl nor Gore for praising the girls effort. The press misquoted Gore and coupled that misquote with his line that "I called for a congressional investigation and a hearing. I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hearing on that issue.... "

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    5. If I say I found an interesting article in the NY Times yesterday, does that mean I discovered it and no one else was aware of it before me?

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    6. No. Nor does it mean you belittled me or my little girl for asking.

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    7. @12:01 Except that is not what the press did to Gore. They accused him of claiming he had discovered Love Canal. He did no such thing and didn't claim to have done it. It was a made up story about a "lie" he never told.

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  7. Why can't this blog be moderated?

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  8. You suggest the spellcasters are different from the very crazy letter patterns and bad pictures of sushi. Perhaps you imply no analysts chuckle back a few crocodile tears when hitting the "publish" button.

    We are Anonymous.
    We have no answer.
    Infest with us.

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  9. Coming Soon To A Howler Near You

    Host Moved To Tears When Son Surprises Her During Mother’s Day Special

    http://www.inquisitr.com/2082606/meredith-vieira-tears-host-moved-to-tears-when-son-surprises-her-during-mothers-day-special/

    With all those tears she's gonna need a new mop there in Journalist County.

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  10. Anti-tribal Bob in a nutshell: The liberal media isn't tribal enough.

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    1. And on those rare occasions when the "liberal media" does push back against the right wing echo chamber, they stand accused of alienating the tender sensibilities of the Tea Partiers.

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