Betsy McCaughey's return: Trumpism was dominant long before Candidate Trump came along. Today's youngish reporters may not always know this.
Each point is illustrated by this new report at TPM. The report appears beneath this headline:
"Meet The Anti-Obamacare Myth-Maker Trump Just Named To His Economic Team"
The report is about Betsy McCaughey, the "anti-Obamacare myth-maker" in question. That headline is rather striking, though, because McCaughey most consequentially made her stripes by taking down Hillarycare in 1993 and 1994, long before Obama or Obamacare came along.
TPM's Tierney Sneed explains that fact in her report. McCaughey was part of the culture of Trumpism long before anyone had dreamed of a Candidate Trump:
SNEED (8/12/16): McCaughey's biggest success was her role in the defeat of the health care reform initiative led by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, an achievement that makes her entry into this current electoral cycle all the more fitting. In what started as a Wall Street Journal op-ed, McCaughey pushed the inaccurate assertion that the Clinton legislation would ban health care consumers from paying doctors for services outside their government plans.McCaughey's essay for the New Republic was (take your pick) grossly misleading or just plain wrong. Still, it was aggressively pushed by editor Andrew Sullivan at the supposedly liberal journal, and it joined the torrent of anti-Clintonism then emerging within the organs of the allegedly mainstream press.
Her "no exit" claim landed her a cover story at The New Republic that won a National Magazine Award, even though the bill itself clearly stated that "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the following: (1) An individual from purchasing any health care services" (an editor of the magazine would later recant that story). McCaughey's allegation nonetheless provided Republicans an easy talking point as the legislation stalled in Congress, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called her writings the "the first decisive breakpoint.”
Little pushback occurred in real time. TPM's headline remembers McCaughey's attacks on Obamacare. But long before that, McCaughey's incompetent piece in the New Republic was a very important part of the Trumpist culture then seizing the mainstream press.
Trumpism was the mainstream press corps' dominant culture long before Candidate Trump came along. Consider a pair of high-profile claims:
August 2016: "Barack Obama was the founder of ISIS."Neither statement was true. Each statement involved a dramatic false claim aimed at a public figure.
March 1999 through November 2000: "Al Gore said he invented the Internet."
This week, the claim about Barack Obama met with a wave of pushback. In 1999 and 2000, the mainstream press kept repeating the claim about Candidate Gore until Candidate Bush had squeaked his way into the White House.
Did Al Gore say he invented the Internet? Well actually no, he did not. But timorous children like Josh Marshall all ran off and hid in the woods in the face of the long-running wars against both Clintons and Gore.
The claim was repeated again and again, for almost two years, by a Trumpist mainstream press corps. Almost no pushback occurred.
Trumpism was running rampant in the press long before Candidate Trump came along. We're talking about the mainstream press, including its biggest stars.
You'll never hear this history discussed on MSNBC. Several of its biggest stars played key roles in those long-running wars. Younger stars on the corporate channel know they mustn't tell.
Few things could be more obvious. Few codes of silence are stronger.