Pundits suffer MHL—Mandated Hearing Loss: Yesterday morning, Mark Halperin made a striking statement about the press coverage of Candidate Clinton.
Halperin was appearing on ABC’s This Week. He made a striking remark about the press corps’ attitudes.
Halperin spoke out, but how strange! Guest host Martha Raddatz didn’t seem to hear what he said:
HALPERIN (10/11/15): [Clinton] comes into this with some positives, some momentum. Her Saturday Night Live appearance was very good. And Kevin McCarthy did more to help her presidential campaign than James Carville or Paul Begala combined.Say what? According to Halperin, if Clinton makes a single mistake in tomorrow’s debate, that single mistake will become the press corps’ “only story.”
But she’s under extraordinary pressure. David Brooks represents the view of the media at large, which is one mistake by Hillary Clinton in this debate will be the only story. She knows that.
RADDATZ: OK, let’s go beyond the debate, maybe way off—way beyond the debate [to] Joe Biden possibly jumping in, possibly making a decision this week, clearly not in time for the debate...
What could Halperin mean by that? What a shame—we never found out! Apparently, Raddatz didn't hear that part of what he said! She moved right to the next topic!
Actually, Shirley, we jest! Pundits routinely suffer hearing loss when certain statements are made about their guild's behavior. We saw it happen again this morning, during the Morning Joe propaganda hour.
Here’s the background:
Last evening, Barack Obama appeared on 60 Minutes. At one point, he discussed the focus on Candidate Clinton’s emails:
OBAMA (10/11/15): I don't think it posed a national security problem. I think that it was a mistake that she has acknowledged and—you know, as a general proposition, when we’re in these offices, we have to be more sensitive and stay as far away from the line as possible when it comes to how we handle information, how we handle our own personal data.Basically, we agree with Obama. We think the “issue” is legitimate, if less than deeply compelling. What’s striking about the topic is the obsessive focus it has occasioned—the way it has been ginned up.
And, you know, she made a mistake. She has acknowledged it. I do think that the way it's been ginned up is in part because of, in part because of politics.
And I think she'd be the first to acknowledge that maybe she could have handled the original decision better and the disclosures more quickly. But this is one of those issues that I think is legitimate. But the fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season.
How obsessive has the focus been? How much gin has been consumed? With respect to that question, Obama, please!
“The fact that, for the last three months, this is all that’s been spoken about?”
Obama, please! We’re now in the seventh month of this endless fandango. On Morning Joe, they still obsess about the topic virtually every day!
This morning was no exception. In the opening segment, Joe played tape of what Obama had said. At that point, the program's Big 3 took turns reciting their lines.
We thought Willie Haskell-Geist Jr. was especially unctuous today. He unctuously told us what Obama would say if he were speaking in private!
(That said, no one recites his master’s lines quite the way Haskell-Geist does. In the historical context, we put him right up there beside the faithful dog Argus!)
Mika, Joe and Eddie Will took turns reciting their lines. Regular viewers of the show have heard them a thousand times.
But how odd! Even though they played the tape of Obama’s comment about “the last three months,” nobody seemed to hear it! No one said a word about his complaint concerning the way nothing else gets discussed.
Was Obama perhaps discussing them when he made that remark? We’ll never learn what the pundits thought! To appearances, none of them had been able to hear that part of Obama's comment!
Pundit, hear no evil! When press corps behavior is called into question, it’s the Mandated Pundit Reaction. A few weeks ago, Bill Clinton offered a more direct complaint about the press corps’ treatment of the emails. In that instance, it was CNN’s Fareed Zakaria who suffered hearing loss:
CLINTON (9/27/15): It was always going to happen. The other party doesn't want to run against her. And if they do, they'd like her as mangled up as possible. And they know that if they leak things, say things, that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about what's your position on student loan relief or dealing with shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America even in small towns in rural America, or how are you going to get jobs in the cold country given how much they've lost in the last 20 years.Sadly enough, we’ve seen more expended on less. That said:
So that just happens. It always happens. And we're seeing history repeat itself. And I actually am amazed that she's born up under it as well as she has. But I have never seen so much expended on so little.
What happened? The presidential campaign happened. And the nature of the coverage shifted from issue based to political. And it happened. You can't complain.
This is not—this is a contact sport. They're not giving the job away. And people who want a race wanted her to drop some. And the people in the other party desperately wanted it because she's already put out more positions on more issues and said how she would pay for them, I think, than all the others combined based on the two—the Republican, the two debates I saw.
ZAKARIA: You think it’s a Republican plot, really?
Rather plainly, Clinton was discussing the GOP—and the mainstream press corps! The mainstream press corps, which finds it boring to write about issues and very much wants a race.
Zakaria only heard the part about the GOP! Suffering standard hearing loss, he only heard one part of what his famous guest said.
Tomorrow, Candidates Clinton and Sanders debate, with three other figures on stage to kill time. We’ll have a few remarks about coverage of the pair.