MONDAY, JANUARY 16, 2012
Part 1—Planet of the scripts: In Sunday morning’s Washington Post, Dana Milbank jumped the shark. After that, he jumped the cage the shark is kept in!
In the process, he created a remarkable learning tool—a roadmap to the behavior of the folk we still describe as our “press corps.”
Milbank is one of the emptiest, and most disingenuous, members of that guild. We used to call him “Lord Dowdinpantz,” to give you a rough idea.
Milbank is genuine waste meat. Yesterday, the lad wrote one his silliest columns (click here)—but it's also highly instructive. You see, Milbank described the way the mainstream “press corps” covers our presidential campaigns—and he did so with considerable accuracy. In essence, he describes the way our presidential campaigns have been covered since the rise of the primary system forty years ago.
On-line, Milbank’s column carries this headline: “Mitt Romney’s Al Gore problem.” (In the hard-copy Post, it bore this sadly stupid banner: “Who does Romney remind me of? Sighhh!") You see, when Milbank gazes on Candidate Romney, he is reminded of Candidate Gore! Given the framework of yesterday’s column, this lets him recall the long, long list of press corps scripts which once sent George Bush to the White House.
All week long, we’ll examine the conduct Milbank describes in this piece—the conduct on the part of his guild, the mainstream so-called press corps. His shark-jumping column poses as a critical profile of Candidate Romney. But at its heart, it’s a profile of the modern “press,” the people who have made a joke of our White House campaigns for the past forty years.
Muskie wept—and Al Gore lied! These were just two of the many scams advanced by our modern “press corps.”
Milbank rattles a list of the novelized schemes his colleagues have used as they've pretended to cover past White House campaigns. (Candidate Kerry wind-surfed! Gore wore three-button suits!) There’s a great deal to ponder in his piece. But his most instructive passage involves a key word: “Shorthand.”
“The media tend to assign each candidate a character flaw as a form of shorthand,” Milbank writes, describing a very peculiar process—a process which would get a real journalist fired. And uh-oh! Once that shorthand character flaw has been assigned, “reporters...are perpetually on the lookout for new examples” of these alleged flaws, Milbank correctly notes.
Milbank is too empty to see the depth of the problem with the conduct he describes. But this conduct has ruled our campaigns for four decades now—and it once sent George Bush to the White House.
All week long, we’ll examine Milbank’s scratchings, along with a few other columns and posts on the same general subject. (Example: Did Paul Krugman tell you the truth in this recent blog post? The whole truth, as he understands it? We find that hard to believe.) Because Milbank says he thinks of Candidate Gore when he gazes on Candidate Romney, his column comes at a propitious time for us:
Next Monday, we will be posting chapter 6 at our companion site, How He Got There. In this chapter, we describe the way the press corps’ most punishing “shorthand” about Candidate Gore finally locked into place. That “shorthand” was the punishing script which said that Candidate Gore was a LIAR.
Gore was a liar, just like Bill Clinton! The “press corps” struggled and schemed to churn “new examples” to fit that “shorthand,” even as they worked to advance other “shorthand” claims about Gore. At one point, Milbank seems to suggest that they had a similar “shorthand” for Candidate Bush. It’s a nice try, and “journalists” constantly make it. But it’s patently false.
Milbank describes a massive form of press corps misconduct—a type of misconduct the career liberal world has tolerated down through the years. When the “press corps” agrees, as a group, to advance “shorthand” themes about major candidates, it grants itself tremendous power—the power to define the basic parameters of our White House campaigns. In this manner, they've done tremendous harm in the past. But these empty, ridiculous children keep playing these same stupid games.
(Although no—Candidate Romney will not be pursued in the way they once pursued Gore.)
Milbank is one of the emptiest souls in the whole sorry guild. But his column does describe the way this guild has functioned, with “liberal” consent, over the course of the past forty years.
We will examine his column all week. Next Monday, chapter 6.
Tomorrow: Milbank “cringed”