About the way they’re getting it wrong: Last night, in Hardball’s opening segment, Howard Fineman addressed his fellow pundits with a hint of disgust in his voice.
What had Howard so annoyed? After a joke about Candidate Trump, he discussed the way the major news orgs were discussing no one but Candidate Trump.
Howard almost seemed disgusted by the focus on Trump. He offered a pair of examples from Tuesday, the day before:
FINEMAN (7/22/15): Chris, he is the sort of weird orange-haired Maypole—“I agree,” Matthews replied. “I turn on XM radio coming in this morning. I flick all the stations, Fox, CNN, us, everything. They’re all on the same topic. He’s dominating.”
FINEMAN: —around which everybody is dancing at this point. And an example of it is yesterday, [speaking of] the thing with the cell phone. John Kasich, a serious, substantive guy, governor of Ohio—
MATTHEWS: Actually a good guy.
FINEMAN: —head of the Budget Committee, you know, the real deal as a potential president, announces his campaign. Does anybody pay much attention? No. The number one story on CBS Radio News, at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, the most strait-laced news broadcast that there is, recent winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award—
MATTHEWS: Is Keith McBee still doing that?
FINEMAN: I don’t know. But who do they— Who do they talk about? What presidential candidate do they talk about at 4:00 o’clock?
FINEMAN: Donald Trump! No mention of Kasich!
To watch the full segment, click here.
To appearances, Fineman was peeved with CBS Radio News. He’d caught them discussing Candidate Trump and ignoring Candidate Kasich!
As Fineman spoke, of course, he and the rest of the Hardball gang were discussing Candidate Trump! They discussed “the weird orange-haired Maypole” for the whole opening segment.
On the previous evening, Tuesday night, Hardball played it like CBS Radio. The whole first segment was Candidate Trump. Only then did “good guy” Kasich’s announcement get discussed.
Fineman almost seemed to suggest that CBS hadn’t discussed Kasich at all. We don’t know of any source for CBS Radio transcripts, so we can’t check that claim.
We aren’t even saying that Hardball is wrong to be spending so much time on Candidate Trump. That said, a fair amount of the discussion was utterly silly last night. A few minutes before Fineman spoke, Susan Page rolled back the curtain on the values of her class:
MATTHEWS: Yesterday, Donald Trump gave out Senator Lindsey Graham’s personal cell number, as we saw, in retaliation for Graham calling him a jackass. And today, Senator Graham tried to outdo that stunt by teaming up with the conservative news site IJ Review. They put out this video entitled, “How to destroy your cell phone with Lindsey Graham.”Candidate Graham attracted some coverage by making a silly videotape. With perfect accuracy, Page defined the guild’s basic focus:
Let’s watch. [Laughing]
[VIDEOTAPE OF CANDIDATE GRAHAM DESTROYING HIS CELL PHONE]
MATTHEWS: Who came up with using The Four Seasons as the music there? I got to tell you, that was— Is that pathetic or is that clever? He stayed up all night producing this thing.
PAGE: In what other circumstances—
If Lindsey Graham gave a speech about the Iran nuclear deal, would we be talking about it? No! He got himself—
You know, he’s at 2 percent in the polls. But he got himself into the story.
“If Lindsey Graham gave a speech about the Iran nuclear deal, would we be talking about it? No!”
We’ve explained what follows before:
Why do our presidential campaigns start so amazingly early? Various interests are involved, including New Hampshire motel owners. But from the standpoint of the press corps, a presidential campaign gives the children a chance to discuss a raft of personalities for the better part of two years.
Page described the culture quite well. The children would jump off the Wilson Bridge before they’d discuss a speech on Iran. When such topics must be discussed, they tend to get discussed in terms of what politician is getting insulted.
(Frequently, it’s Obama.)
Candidate Trump makes this press culture simpler to perform. It’s personal insults all the way down, with no attempt to pretend that anything else is involved.
Candidate Trump is clownish and faux. Truthfully, though, so is almost everyone else in the contemporary political and journalistic worlds.
Candidate Trump does faux straight. His appeal to voters seems fairly obvious. In a world where everyone is faux, he doesn’t bother affecting a pretense or a disguise.
By the way, we’re not sure Matthews is keeping up. The Keith McBee to whom he seems to have referred died in 1993.
He may have meant his question to Fineman as another joke. Politics is nothing but fun when Candidate Trump is involved.
Shorter Page: Note to presidential candidates:
Don’t discover a cure for cancer with Candidate Trump in the race!