EVER SO SLOWLY WE TURN: They’re shoveling hard at the Washington Post!

MONDAY, JUNE 8, 2015

Part 1—Who will tell the people:
The front-page follies continued in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Eight days earlier, on May 30, the New York Times started the current run of follies with a puzzling front-page report alleging a “quid pro quo”—a quid pro quo involving You Know Who’s greedy husband.

Kevin Drum said he was puzzled by the front-page report. For reasons we discussed last week, we thought the report was vile.

The Post took over from there! On Thursday, June 4, a similar front-page report criticized You Know Who’s greedy husband for accepting a charitable donation from a Qatari businessman in 2010 because—

Well, that part of the Post’s complaint is rather hard to explain.

Last Saturday, June 6, the Post published a ludicrous, fawning, front-page report about the glorious Candidate Perry. It focused on the skillful way the candidate winks at voters. His skillful winking makes it almost impossible to dislike him!

Yesterday, the Post returned to the Clinton-bashing in its front-page follies.
In an utterly silly front-page report, it discussed the purchase of snow shovels by the Clinton campaign in December 2007.

David Fahrenthold’s ludicrous piece ran beneath the latest disparaging hard-copy front-page headline. The front-page follies were thus extended one more day:

“In Iowa, Clinton aims to avoid another flurry of campaign gaffes”

Did Candidate Clinton commit a “flurry of campaign gaffes” during the 2008 Iowa caucuses? At present, is she somehow “aiming to avoid” another such flurry of gaffes?

There is no sign of either phenomenon in Fahrenthold’s absurd report, which quickly adopts the current framework: Exploiting her vast financial resources, the bloodless Candidate Clinton tried to buy success!

(“Last time around, Clinton tried to win over Iowans with bloodless logic, touting her résumé and her grinding work ethic. When that fell short, Clinton's well-funded campaign—unable to buy her love—started buying everything else.” On-line, this passage has been used to form the Post's headline.)

Fahrenthold teases 2100 words out of an utterly silly premise—Clinton wasted a boatload of money buying a bunch of shovels! Concerning this consummate nonsense, we’ll only say this: According to Nexis, no one treated this pointless matter that way in real time.

In theory, campaign volunteers were going to use the troubling shovels to get elderly supporters to the caucuses in the event of snow. In one report, a guy from New York named Bill de Blasio said he was ready to shovel!

For full text, see below.

Using Nexis, we find no sign that anyone mocked this purchase in real time, although the purchase of the shovels was widely noted in passing. One day before the statewide caucuses, an Iowa news service treated the matter like this:
WOODWARD (1/2/08): The campaigns will pull out all the stops to ensure their candidates' supporters show up Thursday night.

Many likely attendees will receive reminder phone calls, while some campaigns will offer free transportation to and from precincts.

Should it snow, Hillary Clinton's campaign, for example, plans to shovel Iowans out of their homes.

These efforts, inevitably, help boost attendance, University of Iowa political science professor and caucus expert David Redlawsk said.

"Any kind of physical on-the-ground effort to get people out to vote is going to be at least partially successful, no matter what it is," Redlawsk said. "It's one thing to call people. It's another thing to go to their door and say, ‘Hey, it's time. Let's go.' "
The next day, that material appeared in the New York Post under Maggie Haberman’s byline. According to Nexis, the Washington Post mentioned the shovels just once:
SHEAR AND KORNBLUT (1/3/08): [T]he campaign will be decided on the ground.

The Clinton campaign has distributed more than 600 snow shovels to prepare for a potential weather surprise Thursday night. It has delivered bushels of salt to its field offices in case of ice.
And about 4,500 people are ready to drive others to caucus sites, said Iowa state director Teresa Vilmain.

Romney's campaign made 25,000 telephone calls from the state headquarters on Wednesday, hoping to blunt Huckabee's impassioned support with a superior organization designed to make sure his voters show up at their designated caucus.

And for those Iowans who did not leave the warmth of their homes because of the single-digit temperatures, the campaigns barraged them with recorded telephone messages so they didn't feel left out.
In real time, that was the only mention of this trivial matter in the Washington Post. Yesterday, the Post used this pointless, ancient event to pound You Know Who again, extending its recent run of front-page follies with a 2100-word report about her “flurry of gaffes.”

On a journalistic basis, yesterday’s front-page folly was pure propaganda. So was the ludicrous paean to Perry’s brilliant winking, which ran on the Post’s front page the day before.

That said, the propaganda has been general as the pseudo-campaign moves ahead. Consider the work of a undisguised Clinton-hater in yesterday’s New York Times.

The hater in question is Frank Bruni, who was once the ludicrous lover of Candidate Bush. We’ll recall some of Bruni’s apparently less honest past work before the week is done. Yesterday, he screeched and wailed about “Hillary the Tormentor,” at one point typing this:
BRUNI (6/7/15): [T]he Clintons facilitate a thrilling scenario only to pollute it. They come wrapped in shiny folds of promise and good intentions, then the packaging comes off, and what lies beneath are emails from Sidney Blumenthal, shakedowns of Petra Nemcova.
Bruni’s indictment proceeds from there. But on a journalistic basis, that highlighted passage is simply astounding

You’ll note that Bruni feels no need to explain his accusations. What is supposed to be wrong with receiving an email from Blumenthal, a lifelong friend of Candidate Clinton?

Pseudo-journalists like Bruni feel no need to explain. That said, the unexplained statement about the “shakedowns of Petra Nemcova” is more remarkable still.

As you may recall, Nemcova was the subject of the front-page report which Kevin Drum found so puzzling. Nemcova runs the Happy Hearts Fund, a charitable organization. Last year, Bill Clinton headlined her annual fund-raising gala in return for a $500,000 donation to the Clinton Foundation.

Nemcova got the world’s most famous person to headline her event. As part of the deal, the two orgs agreed they would spend the $500,000 on joint projects in Haiti.

Last Saturday, the Times kicked off the current front-page follies with a screeching “news report” which used the puzzling tern “quid pro quo” to describe this agreement. In the process, Deborah Sontag sexually slimed Nemcova pretty good in a type of Creeping Dowdism.

Drum said he was puzzled by the report. Even after “racking my brain,” he said he couldn’t see what was supposed to be wrong with this deal, a deal the Times had weirdly described as a “quid pro quo.”

Yesterday, Bruni went that term one better. He said Nemcova had been “shaken down,” offering no explanation for his use of the ugly term.

He even pluralized the term, referring to “the shakedowns of Nemcova!” This is your mind on hate!

There’s more to Bruni’s column; we expect to return to it as the week proceeds. But the same old question came to mind as we read that silly front-page report in yesterday’s Washington Post—as we read Bruni’s ugly shakedown charge:

Who will tell the liberal world about this ongoing conduct?

An obvious jihad is underway at the Post and the Times—a familiar old jihad which stretches back twenty-plus years.

During most of that time, the career liberal world sat silently by, saying nothing about the wars against both Clintons and Gore. Ever so slowly, with glacial speed, this conduct seems to be changing.

In the past few weeks, it’s suddenly OK to state an obvious fact—the press corps hates Candidate Clinton! Matt Yglesias said it straight out in this piece at Vox:
YGLESIAS (6/1/15): Journalists don't like Hillary Clinton

But the press hates to admit this. For Clinton, good news is never just good news. Instead it's an opportunity to remind the public about the media's negative narratives about Clinton
and then to muse on the fact that her ratings somehow manage to hold up despite these narratives.
It’s hard to think those claims are wrong. In the past week, a number of people have said or suggested as much over at Salon. In an amazing departure, some have even named the names of some major press figures!

That said, the higher up the ladder you go, the less likely it is that you will see these obvious facts expressed. If you get high enough, it becomes extremely unlikely that you see actual names get named—that you will see your favorite liberals name a name like Bruni.

Darlings, it simply isn’t done! Careers hang in the balance! So does social standing!

Here’s a guarantee:

When you watch Rachel Maddow tonight, you won’t see her discussing the ongoing front-page follies. You won’t even see her mocking the Post for that clownish front-page profile of the marvelous Candidate Perry.

Instead, you’ll see her clowning about the way she can’t tell the difference between former governor Ehrlich (of Maryland) and former governor Gilmore (Virginia). You’ll see her serving tribal porridge as she pretends to discuss the campaign—as she insults the intelligence of her viewers through these endless wastes of time.

Who will tell the liberal world about the press corps’ ongoing conduct? Who will name the following names:

The New York Times and the Washington Post?

For decades, conservative voices have screamed and complained about the press corps “liberal bias.” People like Maddow keep hiding the truth from the liberal world—from the public in general.

Ever so slowly, this pattern has started to turn. Four cycles back, these endless follies gave us our second President Bush.

President Walker is waiting to follow. When will liberals stop accepting the silence of people like Maddow?

Tomorrow: Voices at Salon

A future mayor was ready to shovel: Using Nexis, we found no one mocking the purchase of those shovels in real time. Nor was it the kind of purchase that could break the bank.

Yesterday, the Washington Post used this consummate trivia to extend the current propaganda campaign. In real time, the New York Observer said this:
PAYBARAH (1/1/08): Bill de Blasio is prepared for anything on caucus day. "I am in our meeting room at the Clinton headquarters, on Fifth Avenue South, in Clinton County, with my hand on our group of six shovels," said the manager of Hillary Clinton's 2000 Senate campaign, who is currently campaigning with her in Iowa.

"The race is going to be close," he added, "and it's been snowy. And you can't afford to have your car get stuck.”
This was always a trivial matter. Yesterday, on its front page, the Washington Post put this consummate, eight-year-old trivia to a current use.


  1. Bruni for Breakfast Part 1

    How often have you read a line similar to this one from Bob Somerby when asserting that liberals will never "name names"?

    "Darlings, it simply isn’t done! Careers hang in the balance! So does social standing!"

    Bob prides himself on the use of Nexis. I challenge any of his admirers to use his own search engine and provide one example in which Bob backs up this all too frequent claim.

    1. I think Bob is generally on solid ground with this. Most tirades from the chattering class, Bill Maher or whoever, carefully avoid any uncomfortable calling out of their fellow gasbags. Occasional exceptions noted..... Bob, it might be also pointed out, has his occasional polite blind spots. "O'Reilly gets a pass!!" We might now ask of him ..."do you still pass your wife beaters?"

    2. O'Reilly is not on the left. Somerby's complaint is that our so-called liberal media (NY Times and Post) is carrying on a vendetta against Clinton and our liberal and progressive leaders are ignoring it, pretending it isn't happening. He does say this is changing but it needs to change faster if we are not to let this election slip away.

    3. Let's see. The challenge was for somebody to find an example of Somerby naming the name of someone whose silence was caused because their career or social standing was hanging in the balance.

      Bill Maher, who dared suggest the 911 hijackers couldn't accurately be described as cowards, is hardly someone you would describe as risk averse, but in any case he was not so cited by Bob Somerby, who is the one who makes the frequent claim.

    4. You are more or less asking someone to prove a negative. No,
      one single act of benign omission can not be shown as a definitive act of infotainment sheepishness, on which ones whole career rests. But the short supply of balls Bob speaks of cannot be brazenly denied with a very straight face.

      On Maher: on a fairly recent show he chastised a congressman in the most brutal terms for leaving his job to go into hard right radio. Bill provided a list of the overwhelming number of A holes who do said shows. Thing is, somebody was missing, that being his old tribal friend, fellow show biz smart ass Dennis Miller, one of the worst of this breed for years. This strikes me as a gargantuan pass anyway you slice it.

      Rachel Maddow's career making blessing pass of the Chris Matthews has been well documented here. Although I think it's spoilsport of Bob not to give Maddow credit when She deserves it, it's rather hard to refute.

      I read a book called "Snark" by the critic David Denby where he spends much time bemoaning how the brilliant Mo Dowd sometimes gets out of hand in the catty department; as if he were talking about a writer who was worth a damn in the first place.

      Whatever, the fairer challenge would be to give an example of any media figure really breaking ranks and calling out a fellow hack. So Kevin Drum calls out the Times. But it's such a rarity Bob has to keep mentioning it over and over.

  2. Bruni for Breakfast Part 2

    "For decades, conservative voices have screamed and complained about the press corps “liberal bias.” People like Maddow keep hiding the truth from the liberal world—from the public in general."

    Bob Somerby, once again challenging liberals to be like conservatives. Except when they do. Then he will criticize them for being dumb and tribal.

    1. "Bob Somerby, once again challenging liberals to be like conservatives."

      Troll, once again proving reading comprehension ain't his thing.

    2. I agree with Bob. It is time to stop accepting Rachel Maddow's silence. I say take her to the Village square and dunk her.

    3. I tried to find some way to contact her on her webpage but couldn't. How does one complain directly to her?

  3. Bruni for Breakfast Part 3

    "You’ll note that Bruni feels no need to explain his accusations. What is supposed to be wrong with receiving an email from Blumenthal, a lifelong friend of Candidate Clinton?"

    Actually I'll note Bob Somerby hasn't mentioned Blumenthal since 2005. And that mention was to attack Hillary's "lifelong friend".

    "Sidney Blumenthal, we even compared him to sainted Sandburg (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/31/03)" had committed the sin of using "sexed-up facts!" to criticize Bush's famous 16 words on Saddam Husseing's attempt to buy uranium in Niger.

    OUR SANDBURG, SANDING THE FACTS! Aarrgh! Our favorite, Sidney, sexed up the facts Somerby "screeched and wailed" in his Howler headline.


    1. He is criticizing Blumenthal's actions in a single specific context (assuming you haven't taken his words out of context yourself). That doesn't mean there is something wrong with Clinton receiving emails from Blumenthal.

    2. Dude, you got way too much time on your hands.

  4. Well at least Hillary doesn't have a Brooklyn accent. Bob has declared a person like that would seem to be unelectable.

    Bob's fair, i'll give him that.

    1. Would it be easier for Sanders to lose his accent or Hillary to get the press to stop being so unfair to her?

      Hopefully Bob will weigh in on this!

  5. Bruni for Breakfast Part 4

    Yes, the jihadist (scary, almost Cold War adjective) Post, in its War on Clinton (like BillO's War on Christmas) is using a bad example to relive the 2008 Clinton loss in Iowa Bob Somerby tells us.

    Why in real time, the snow shovels were hardly mentioned. Except, of course, in real time the reporters were covering multiple candidates in two party caucuses and yet the Clinton campaign found time to tout its shovels to the press, which dutifully reported their efforts. Does this prove the press was not biased in 2008? We don't know.

    We do know that Bill de Blasio, a New Yorker in Iowa being covered by a minor New York publication, touted the shovels in case your car got stuck, making us wonder why the Clinton campaign did not also spring for snow chains for their volunteers as well.

    And we also know the Washington Post's theme, which Somerby seems to overlook, is that the well heeled campaign, which seemed to think of and pay for everything, lacked the key to winning a caucus: having voters emotionally fired up for a candidate.

    So we wonder, what if the current Post article had visited the article about Bill de Blasio touting the shovels back in 2008? Might that prompt them to write something that Bob Somerby would find even more disturbing in today's "real time?"

    Mayor de Blasio still won’t endorse 2016 bid of former boss Hillary Clinton


    1. Does di Blasio's current endorsement make those shovels in 2008 a bad idea? Why should those shovels be mocked today, why do they constitute buying an election in a greedy way, as currently implied?

      Troll garbage day-in and day-out. How do you find the time?

    2. Considering you had the time to type responses to each of the four part (and counting) series, perhaps the time was found in the same the same place you found yours. Or the place Bob Somerby finds his. Perhaps we are all school teacher with summer on my hands. You don't know. Nobody does for sure.

  6. Are You A Troll? Take Our Quiz!June 8, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    -- Your mainstream (some folks' "liberal") media have for some time been engaged in -- continue to be engaged in -- a campaign to vilify Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

    -- Bob Somerby has for some time been documenting that -- relentlessly. Repeating himself, even. He just won't let it go!

    Which is the worse sin?

  7. In most people's experience, they have identified an association between wealth and corruption, power and corruption, fame and corruption, and politics and corruption. Since the Clintons fall into all these categories, most people will profile them as corrupt for a combination thereof. The notion of a wealthy, powerful politician with an ex-president husband, who is also a tireless and caring person whose interest in the presidency is strictly altruistic, will not compute for most people and probably shouldn't. If Clinton loses the election, it's likely a similar candidate without this kind of inherent baggage would have done better.

    1. All of the people running for president are some combination of wealthy, powerful and/or famous. Singling the Clintons out for that uniquely doesn't compute.

      Most people tend to identify with the wealthy, powerful and famous, wish to emulate them, wish to be part of them in some way. They don't automatically assume they are venal as you suggest.

      The "baggage" you refer to is the enmity of the press. It is corrupt, morally wrong, a perversion of our system for the media to attempt to determine the outcome of an election as they have been doing.

      If Clinton loses the election, it will be because we didn't make that clear to the electorate.

    2. I wouldn't defend the press for character assassination by insinuation. They do it every election and most partisans are happy to see it happen when it benefits their candidate. It's hard to believe that by now this manipulation is not obvious. The press is held in low esteem according to polling, but if the electorate nevertheless allows itself to be manipulated by the idiocy of elections coverage, it's on them. We get the government we deserve. But if a political party understands what the press and the public "do" election after election, it makes some sense to choose less vulnerable candidates.

    3. There is no way to be "less vulnerable" when vulnerability is defined as who the press does and doesn't like. The Clintons have not done anything wrong to justify the way they are being treated. You seem to think they have made themselves vulnerable in some way. Seems to me their main vulnerability is that they are candidates. Everything investigation instigated by political enemies has come up empty-handed because they are squeaky clean.

      I could argue they are the least vulnerable because they have been so thoroughly vetted and the worst anyone can come up with is this crap. They don't even have speeding tickets!

  8. Let's see. The challenge was for somebody to find an example of Somerby naming the name of someone whose silence was caused because their career or social standing was hanging in the balance.

    Bill Maher, who dared suggest the 911 hijackers couldn't accurately be described as cowards, is hardly someone you would describe as risk averse, but in any case he was not so cited by Bob Somerby, who is the one who makes the frequent claim.

    1. Obviously posted in the wrong spot. Redirected to the right one.

  9. "Drum said he was puzzled by the report."

    Yes, that's what he said.

    His next column will be about how "I'm shocked that there is gambling in this establishment."

    Evidently, Drum kind of missed the last 25 years of political history in this country.