Sunday Outlook watch: Clinton and Bush and an iron law!

MONDAY, JULY 23, 2012

The press corps won’t tell you the truth: We’ve shared this iron law for years:

The press corps never tells you the truth about the work of the press corps!

Yesterday, in the Outlook section, the Washington Post published a brilliant example of this Hard Pundit Law. In Outlook’s featured front-page piece, Marc Fisher pretended to explain where our campaign controversies come from.

The following passage is jammed with misinformation. Fisher suggested that “the voters” produce our campaign controversies. He then gave two crazy examples:
FISHER (7/22/12): These are not random campaign controversies. Almost without exception, squabbles over a candidate's resistance to release personal documents reflect some essential doubt that voters have about the politician. The clamor for George W. Bush's draft records grew out of questions about whether he was a lazy son of a privileged politician or had the smarts and drive to serve in high office. The long search for documents detailing the Clintons' real estate doings in Arkansas was part of an effort by voters to figure out whether Bill Clinton's bad-boy behavior was limited to his personal urges or had leached into his political dealings.
Good God! The press corps never tells you the truth about its own conduct. But that passage is especially rich.

Please! Was “the long search for documents detailing the Clintons' real estate doings” really “part of an effort by voters?” As Gene Lyons and Joe Conason documented in two separate books, that decade-long pseudo-search was an effort by the RNC—an effort which was uncritically adopted by the mainstream press.

By the Washington Post! For years!

Please! That “long search” wasn’t "an effort by voters!" But please remember our iron law: The press corps never tells you the truth about its own conduct and culture.

Second example: Did “the clamor for George W. Bush's draft records” “reflect some essential doubt that voters had” about him? Maybe! Almost inevitably, any such effort will “reflect” some concern on the part of some voters.

But many voters had doubts about Bush’s draft records during Campaign 2000—and there was no clamor about those records during that fateful campaign. In fact, the press corps worked extremely hard to avoid this rather obvious topic, even after obvious problems surfaced in a major Boston Globe news report. (Links below.)

CBS did pursue the topic in 2004—and they managed to bungle it badly. But did this mainly reflect some new concern on the part of the voters? Crackers, please! Even Fisher can’t think that!

Remember what we’ve always told you: The press corps will always attribute its own bungled conduct to somebody else. Sometimes they’ll blame “the late-night comedians.” Sometimes they’ll blame the political parties.

In this case, Fisher says “the voters” are the prime movers of our campaign controversies. How dumb is that claim?

This was the recent example he was trying to explain:
FISHER: For many months, President Obama resisted releasing his birth certificate to prove that he was born in this country. When he finally did so last year, many Americans who had been skeptical of the president's origins had their doubts allayed…

But doubts about Obama's "American-ness" persist. Just this past week, former New Hampshire governor John Sununu, speaking on behalf of Romney on a campaign conference call, said, "I wish this president would learn how to be an American." Sununu later apologized, but his comment was hardly a slip of the tongue: The same day, on Fox News, he said that Obama "has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn't be surprised about that because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia."

These are not random campaign controversies. Almost without exception, squabbles over a candidate's resistance to release personal documents reflect some essential doubt that voters have about the politician...
Of course, many voters do retain an essential doubt about Obama’s American-ness. But in this case, it’s clear who the prime mover was—the prime mover was Sununu, along with others in Romney’s campaign.

Sununu was trying to keep doubt alive—and it’s clear that Fisher knows this. But so what! In the very next paragraph, Fisher seems to attribute such controversies to “the voters.” In the case of the controversies involved Bush and Clinton, this lets him wipe away the role that was played by the press.

Can we talk? All during the Clinton years, the press corps took a dive for RNC cant concerning those “real estate doings” (and three hundred other topics). In Campaign 2000, the press corps took a dive about Bush’s draft records—even as it pushed two years’ worth of RNC nonsense concerning Candidate Gore.

Fisher doesn’t want to say such things—and so he drags in a helpmate. It was the voters who created these controversies, he says.

It’s an iron law: The press never tells you the truth about the work of the press corps! Fisher’s passage about Clinton and Bush is a rich example of this unyielding fact.

The fight to avoid those draft records: During Campaign 2000, the press corps worked quite hard to avoid the topic of Bush’s draft records. That explains why CBS was still trying to examine the topic in 2004, during Bush’s re-election campaign. Along with everyone else, CBS had ignored this topic during Campaign 2000.

Bush got vetted about the draft records during his re-election campaign! (And even that effort was bungled!) For a four-part report from 2003, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/8/03, with links to prior reports.


  1. The Iron Law Broken!
    Well, Sort of.

  2. Birthers, however, are ignoring this:

  3. Back in the "Silly Season" of August 2008, I did a little research. Here are few excerpts
    from an email I sent.

    'The image that all these bloggers are looking at is not the certificate. It is graphic image presented on their computer screens of a digital encoding of an optically scanned document. After being scanned with TWAIN software on a machine, stored in a buffer, compressed, transferred by wire to a computer, it is then compressed and stored in a format such as JPEG, GIF, TIFF.
    It is not a certificate, it is not acopy of a certificate. It is a screen image created from millions of electrons and holes. Nothing more. I wouldn't be surprised if half the images on the internet have been manipulateded by some form of Adobe software.
    There is no way of knowing how many times this has been compressed and expanded. Details are lost every time this happens. The map is not the territory.

    The space for Father's Race on the birth certificate states "African". The bloggers claim this "proves" the document is a forgery because such a phrase would never be used in 1961. They say African is a nationality, not a race, and the only terms in common use than would be Negro or "Colored". Of course, they have absolutely no way of knowing if this is true, and have not checked any other sources to verify this claim. So their claim is without merit.

    However, I do have a way of checking. A good friend of mine here was born in Hawaii. His mother was Hawaiian, but his father was Filipino. There are many ethnic groups in the Philippines, but only a few races. On my friend's Hawaiian birth certificate, in the space for Father's Race it says...drum roll...Filipino. Filipino in a nationality, not a race. It is clear that the Hawaiians do, in fact, use nationalities for race on birth certificates when the parent is not a citizen. So much for that "proof.""

    Joe Arpiao is a liar but not a fool. His problem is that he is incapable of admitting error, and thus incapable of learning and changing.
    He remains in office because so many voters in Maricopa County are fools.

    Yesterday, the fool Russell Pearce declared the Aurora massacre could had been stopped if a citizen with a concealed weapon had been in the theatre when Holmes started shooting.

    Arizona used to be a nice place to raise a family until the Tea Party took over the State Government. They did it with only the slightest resistance.