The fraudulence of Our Own Press Corps: For fraudulence and sheer inanity, it would be hard to top yesterday’s piece by Salon’s Joan Walsh.
According to Walsh, the mainstream press is promoting Candidate Sanders. Below, you see the way her piece began. Her claims are absurd, even ugly, in fairly obvious ways:
WALSH (7/2/15): If only the great Michael Harrington had lived to see this. So many brave Americans fought in vain to spread socialism in the United States, but it’s advancing in the summer of 2015 thanks to an unlikely vanguard: lazy and apolitical political reporters who love horse races and hate the Clintons.Is the mainstream press “working hard” in some way to “make sure that Sanders is taken seriously?”
Yes, the MSM is making sure that socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders is taken seriously in his uphill run against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s surging in Iowa and New Hampshire, polls tell us, and attracting 10,000 people at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Wednesday night.
This lifelong lefty who attended Madison is thrilled to see it—and yet a little cynical, too.
I mean really, folks: If Sanders had a chance to become president, Mark Halperin would be the first in line to red-bait him, rather than shaming Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Clinton supporter, into doing it on Morning Joe.
That strikes us as a ludicrous claim. Walsh presents exactly one example—the claim that Halperin “shamed” McCaskill into “red-baiting” Sanders on Morning Joe last week.
It’s an ugly claim; it’s also manifest nonsense. This was the first Q-and-A in McCaskill’s stumbling, incompetent appearance on Morning Joe:
BRZEZINSKI (6/25/15): Joining us now from Capitol Hill, Democratic senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. Claire, great to have you back on the show...To watch the whole segment, click here.
Joe and Halperin here. I’ll start.
Bernie Sanders is doing quite well in the polls. And I guess we’re wondering. We know you’re “ready for Hillary.” Do you think there’s any concern there?
MCCASKILL: No, I think the media is giving Bernie a pass right now. I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist.
I think everybody wants a fight, and I think they are not really giving the same scrutiny to Bernie Sanders that they’re giving to certainly Hillary Clinton and the other candidates...
McCaskill noted that Sanders identifies as a socialist in the first words out of her mouth. She said the press rarely mentions this fact, a demonstrably ludicrous claim.
In her second question, Brzezinski asked McCaskill about the “massive crowds” Sanders has been getting. McCaskill said “it’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.”
Scarborough jumped in at that point, saying this: “So you think Bernie Sanders has an extreme message?” In her answer, McCaskill noted again that Sanders is “a socialist.”
If “red-baiting” occurred in this session, that’s where the baiting occurred. Plainly, McCaskill wasn’t “shamed into” any such conduct.
As for Halperin, he hadn’t even spoken yet. McCaskill had already dropped two S-bombs on Bernie’s head.
When Halperin did jump in, he asked McCaskill an obvious question, given what she had already said: “Name three specific positions he holds that you think are too far left, too socialist, to be elected.”
McCaskill stumbled and fumbled around trying to answer the question. For better or worse, she isn’t a skillful red-baiter.
There will be a lot of aggressive red-baiting if Sanders wins nomination. We’ll hear that he honeymooned in the Soviet Union, that he wanted to hang with Fidel.
That said, Walsh’s piece was absurd, and even ugly, right from the start. It was also an obvious piece of propaganda—but then, that pretty much describes everything Walsh writes at this point.
In this case, Walsh was pimping for Candidate Clinton. Down through the years, Walsh has been willing to pimp for various sides.
So has her mentor and benefactor, cable talker Chris Matthews.
In line with current corporate arrangements, Matthews currently pimps for the Democrats and their wonderful national leaders. Under previous corporate owner Jack Welch, he savaged Clinton, Clinton and Candidate Gore in reprehensible ways.
No one distorted and dissembled any harder in the mainstream press corps’ two-year push to send George Bush to the White House. People are dead all over the world because of the things Matthews did.
(He was more influential back then.)
Currently, Walsh’s mentor is paid to pimp on Our Own Liberal Side. That doesn’t mean he has any idea what he’s talking about. Consider the astounding exchange he conducted on Hardball last night.
We’ve often noted the amazing way Paul Krugman’s work is ignored by the rest of the mainstream press. Last night, discussing Obama’s economic greatness, Matthews produced the perfect example.
Matthews said he was “defending this president as a major force in history.” Incredibly, he posed the question shown below to a youngish, three-pundit panel.
He spoke first with Time magazine’s Jay Newton-Small. His question was extremely basic—remedial, even. It concerned a topic Krugman has discussed a million times:
MATTHEWS (7/2/15): Do you know economics? Do you?Would an austerity program have worked after the economic collapse in 2008? How many thousand columns has Krugman devoted to this general topic?
NEWTON-SMALL: Of course.
MATTHEWS: OK, let me ask you an economic question, because I don’t know the answer. That’s why I’m asking. It’s not a rhetorical question.
If you’d gone with an austerity policy like the Brits did—you know, like Cameron did over there, in the conservative party. Would this have gotten back the economy the way it has? If he had said, “I’m going to squeeze everything down, we’re going to stop spending, we’re going to tighten the belt.”
Would have worked, based on history right now?
We’ve often noted that Krugman’s work gains no purchase anywhere else—produces no wider discussion. Here was Matthews, saying he has no idea how to approach this topic—the topic Krugman has written about again and again and again.
Newton-Small was clueless too. So was Francesca Chambers, White House reporter for The Daily Mail:
NEWTON-SMALL (continuing directly): That’s a huge debate to have and clearly, Republicans would say no and Democrats would say absolutely. I’m sorry—Republicans would say yes, and Democrats would say—Michael Tomasky sat this one out, saying nothing about this super-basic question. At this point, Matthews rushed ahead to his next topic.
MATTHEWS: But is there any anecdotal evidence of that, Francesca? That a tightened-belt, conservative policy, rather than his expansionary policy, would have worked? He had a policy. And it worked!
CHAMBERS: Well I will say, I agree. I think it’s difficult to get into counterfactuals here.
But it’s undeniable that the president had a really good week. He’s having a really good month. I mean, it is undeniable that the unemployment rate went down significantly since he took office, like he said today. It was nearing ten percent at the beginning of his presidency. Now, it’s down to five percent.
Would an austerity program have produced an economic rebound? Remarkably, Matthews stressed the fact that he didn’t know how to answer the question which has launched a thousand columns by Krugman.
Newton-Small and Chambers didn’t seem to have the slightest clue either. The two parties disagree, Newton-Small unhelpfully said. Chamber warned against exploring counterfactuals, then quickly changed the subject, turning to a discussion of Obama’s week.
Tomasky offered no thoughts. Matthews hurried away from the scene.
Krugman has written about this topic again and again and again and again. The faux nature of our “national discourse” is amazingly hard to compute or comprehend.
You’d never know it, but: We were unfamiliar with Chambers, a very personable young woman. So we ordered a team of analysts to run a background check.
Chambers graduated from Kansas in 2009. In 2008, she was editor of The Daily Kansan.
Here’s the part we found surprising—Chambers describes herself as a young conservative!
You’d never know it from the way she gushed about Obama’s week, month and career. But before she went to The Daily Mail, Chambers was “founder and editor and publisher of Red Alert Politics, a publication by young conservatives and for young conservatives, from the parent company of the Washington Examiner and The Weekly Standard.”
How faux is the discourse you’re handed each night? Chambers didn’t seem to know how to approach that question—but either did anyone else!