Imagine all the pushback!


PART 4—OUR CHILDREN JUST WON’T TELL THE TRUTH: Courageous Intelligent Honest Paul Ryan!

The invention of this fictional figure has been one of the press corps’ serial scams.

Before they novelized Ryan this way, they novelized John McCain as the world’s most honest man. During Campaign 2000, they novelized Candidate Bradley in much the same way.

By way of contrast:

During that same campaign, they novelized Candidate Gore as the world’s biggest liar. (Just like Bill Clinton!) But then, they had invented similar novelized treatments of Clinton and Clinton during the preceding years.

The liberal world just sat there and took it as these serial scams unfolded. Career liberals still won’t discuss these scams, right to this very day.

Career liberals still won’t discuss it! You can see that in Jonathan Chait’s recent post, where he forgot to discuss the press corps’ treatment of Ryan. By way of contrast, Paul Krugman was forthright about this matter—but Baby Boy Jonathan ran and hid. And then, he lied in your faces (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/16/12).

He presented the most ridiculous claim ever made. No, he doesn’t believe this:
CHAIT (8/12/12): Now, adopting a persona of high-mindedness does not have a perfect track record in American politics. But it’s not a hopeless gambit, either. George W. Bush in 2000 successfully convinced the campaign press corps that Al Gore was a serial liar, and when the press pack suddenly decided in October of that year that Al Gore’s lies were the story of the race, his poll numbers fatally swooned. Many undecided voters pay little attention to the issues and simply form impressions of the candidates, rooted in broad personal appraisal.
In his lengthy post, Chait forgot to mention the way the press has novelized Bold Honest Ryan. Then, he pretended that the corps’ misconduct in Campaign 2000 only occurred in the final month of that twenty-month campaign.

It came up “suddenly,” Chait lyingly said. Suddenly That Autumn!

Chait even pretended that Candidate Bush “convinced” the press that Gore was a liar! It wasn’t Chris Matthews, or Dowd and Rich. It wasn’t Ceci and Kit; it wasn't Margaret Carlson. It wasn’t all those punishing profiles Gene Robinson published in Style, back in June 1999. It was Bush who somehow convinced the press—but not till the campaign’s last month!

These are the ludicrous claims Chait made. And no, he doesn’t believe them.

You will never be lied to more baldly. Oddly, a few of the other children have been toying with this same theme in recent weeks. Their statements don’t exactly matter, except as a marker of the remarkable way the liberal world has refused to discuss the press corps’ behavior in the past twenty years.

As anyone with a brain can see, this refusal to tell the truth works against progressive interests. On the bright side, the lying and silence help our careerist children get good jobs—at very good pay!

Who else has been playing around with this story? The whole thing started when Noam Scheiber profiled Stuart Stevens in The New Republic.

Stevens was a major Bush aide in Campaign 2000. He is now working with Candidate Romney. Discussing Scheiber’s profile of Stevens, Salon’s Kid Pareene wrote this:
PAREENE (8/9/12): Scheiber says Stevens, who helped craft George W. Bush’s media image in 2000, is still operating as if the political press hasn’t dramatically changed since 2000, when—well, when they were awful. The mainstream campaign press had a bad habit of swallowing any bullshit campaign spin, repeating untrue assertions, and happily pushing “narratives” put forth by the Bush campaign. Stevens’ job was to make Bush seem affable and regular and to make Gore seem like an aloof, lying, robotic girly-man elitist. The press followed his lead, and the liberal blogosphere was basically born as a response to the horribleness of 2000 campaign coverage (and it grew up in response to horrible Iraq war press coverage). The Internet has since made fact-checking both easier and more popular, and it’s gradually eroded the ability of a campaign to push a misleading attack without being challenged on its merits.
It’s certainly true that the mainstream press swallowed boatloads of bull from the Bush campaign—although that happened long after they invented Gore as the world’s biggest liar. (The press corps invented that narrative, not Bush. It's completely absurd to say different.) But good God! “The liberal blogosphere was basically born as a response to the horribleness of 2000 campaign coverage?” What could have inspired Pareene to make this peculiar statement?

There is no doubt that the liberal blogosphere grew in reaction to the press coverage of Iraq. But the liberal blogosphere has very rarely discussed “the horribleness of 2000 campaign coverage.” It’s absurd to say that this sphere was born as a response to a topic it rarely discussed—a topic it avoids like the plague.

Dave Weigel was equally fanciful in his response to Scheiber’s profile. The children truly love to imagine! Weigel imagines a better world in the highlighted passage:
WEIGEL (8/7/12): In The Big Enchilada, his memoir of the Bush campaign, Stevens remembers—many times—how Team Bush was able to throw the press off of ugly stories. Any minor Gore exaggerations would be used to portray Gore as a liar, someone whose attacks on the Bush record must be bunk. "We needed to communicate to voters that the same guy who exaggerates his own record would surely do the same when it came to his opponent's," wrote Stevens. "If we could help voters make that connection, it would go a long way toward 'blowing up the aircraft carrier instead of shooting down the planes,' as it was known in political circles."

In a chapter about the first Gore-Bush debate, Stevens recalls how his team spun Gore's sighs and minor misstatements, like a tale about a girl having to stand up in an under-funded classroom, into a character story.


This was what liberals and media monitors came to hate about the 2000 election. It wasn't that the press was insufficiently pro-Gore. It was that the press was too easily distracted by meaningless crap and spin. In 2012, there's an army of truth-monitors ready to hit the WFT button every time a candidate makes an odd and misleading policy claim—like Romney and welfare, to pick an example from today. The "on-the-other-hand" reporting of 2000 no longer drives the coverage.
To be sure, parts of that highlighted passage are inspiring (though other parts make little sense). It’s pretty to think that “liberals and media monitors” “came to hate” the way the press corps covered Campaign 2000.

But when did “liberals and media monitors” develop this alleged hatred? More to the point, when was this hatred ever expressed? The truth is, journalists and career liberals have fought like dogs to avoid discussing the press corps’ misconduct during Campaign 2000. This has enabled later press scams, such as the ongoing novel about Courageous Smart Ryan.

Here at THE HOWLER, we have worked on Campaign 2000, with few breaks, since March 1999. We have no idea when “liberals and media monitors” ever came to hate the way the press corps covered that race. And by the way: Weigel is using his widdler in place of his brain when he describes the problem with the coverage of Campaign 2000. “It wasn't that the press was insufficiently pro-Gore?” As everybody surely knows, though no one is allowed to say, the actual problem was massively different:

The mainstream press was virulently ANTI-Gore all through Campaign 2000! All these silly children know it, but they also seem to know that such things can’t be said. And so, they imagine a prettier world, in which “liberals and media monitors” came to hate the coverage of Gore, although they’ve never quite managed to say so. Chait even imagines a world in which the press corps didn’t make Gore a liar until it “suddenly” happened in October 2000—and only then because they were “convinced” by the vile Candidate Bush.

That last portrait is completely absurd, as Jonathan Chait of course knows.

Imagine all the pushback! Chait and Pareene and Weigel have imagined a prettier world; eventually, so did Scheiber himself, in his response to Weigel. In his profile of Stevens, Scheiber made none of these silly claims about the way our liberal forebears found themselves repulsed by the coverage of Gore. But in his response to Weigel, even Scheiber went there:
SCHEIBER (8/8/12): As it happens, I don’t disagree with this. I just think Weigel is reading me too narrowly. I’m not suggesting that a handful of crazed left-wing bloggers directly upended the way campaigns had been run. The causality isn't nearly as clean as that. What upended the media landscape for campaigns is the overall backlash against the tactics Bush used in 2000. That backlash gave rise to both the lefty bloggers and (eventually) the mainstream fact-checkers.
Imagine all the disgust! In this passage, even Scheiber seems to say that “the lefty bloggers and (eventually) the mainstream fact-checkers” arose as a “backlash against the tactics Bush used in 2000.” (Explicitly, he’s discussing the Bush campaign’s tactics with the press during the campaign itself. He is not discussing Bush’s tactics during the Florida recount.) But when have lefty bloggers or mainstream fact-checkers ever discussed the way the press took cues from Team Bush in the second year of Campaign 2000, long after the press corps itself invented the GORE LIAR narrative?

We’ve worked on these topics since March 1999, since the week the press corps’ war began. We have no idea what Scheiber refers to here.

Children love to imagine! In this case, Scheiber, Pareene, Weigel and Chait have all imagined a far better world. In this prettier realm, liberals and journalists did push back against the press corps’ behavior in Campaign 2000. Or at least they came to hate it at some later point.

That would be a pretty world—but that world has been imagined. In fact, the liberal world has busted its ass to avoid discussing the coverage of Candidate Gore. Some are baldly lying about it, right to this very day!

Paul Krugman is right to be concerned about the novelization of Ryan. These novels retain a great deal of power, in part because the liberal world has refused to behave in the upright ways the children love to imagine. The public hasn’t been told about the coverage of Candidate Gore, or about the corps' other novels. This leaves us in the exposed position Lawrence discussed last night.

Poor Lawrence! Rush Limbaugh had been working the refs, putting pressure on the journalists who will serve as moderators for this year’s debates. Rousing his tiny, dishonest mind, Lawrence began to imagine the way we liberals could respond:
O’DONNELL (8/16/12): Rush is accusing them of being far left-wing liberal Democrats because he is trying to intimidate them now, right now. He wants the debate moderators waking up every morning thinking about how they can prove in these debates that they are not far left wing liberal Democrats...

Rush is going to keep saying this. And other Republicans are going to echo it. It`s called working the refs in sports. The coach argues every call the refs make, even the obvious fair ones, to try to psych the refs into thinking twice about calling a foul or a penalty on their team.

Now, if the Democrats had an irresponsible liar with a big microphone like Rush Limbaugh on their side, they could try to work the refs this way, too. They could say Jim Leher, who has moderated more presidential debates than anyone in history, is a far right-wing conservative Republican. They could say Bob Schieffer is a far, far right-wing conservative Republican.

They could say that about Candy Crowley. They could say that about Martha Raddatz. But it would, of course, be a lie, a Limbaugh-style lie.
Poor Lawrence! He imagined our tribe telling lies. Due to his small ugly brain, he has always been too dumb to imagine us telling the truth.

He’s too disordered to picture liberals telling the truth to the public! Telling them about the fraud conducted against Candidate Gore. Telling them about the frauds conducted on behalf of others, including Courageous Ryan.

Lawrence of course played an active role in conducting that fraud against Gore. The host of Hardball was massively worse; he was the worst of all the people who worked to slime Candidate Gore.

Chait and the other children could tell this true story whenever they want. But somehow, they just keep forgetting, even as they imagine a liberal world repulsed by this vile conduct.

If we liberals had told that story down through the years, voters might be a great deal more savvy about the novelization of Ryan. But any career liberal telling that story will have a price to pay. He won’t get on Lawrence’s show! He will never play Hardball!

There’s a good chance his career will be ruined! Darlings, it just isn’t done!

We liberals love to tell the tales in which we bravely push back. But our leaders are liars; they’re dumb and dishonest. And our impressive young climbers seem disinclinced to tattle.

Digby and Drum and Joan and David aren't going to tattle either. Krystal and Chris are kissing keister, watching themselves move on up.

The career liberal world deserves to lose—has deserved to lose for a very long time. What a shame, that so many others are compromised by their misconduct.


  1. What?



    The New Republic?

    It is my considered opinion that you only talk about Maddow, MSNBC and the New York Times and are therefore irrelevant.

    Thank goodness you returned to MSNBC there at the end -- otherwise I might've looked stupid...


  2. "the liberal world has busted its ass to avoid discussing the coverage of Candidate Gore"

    Does me coming here to tell you off every time you mention Gore also count?

    Yeah, it probably should.

  3. On MSNBC, only Toure of The Cycle tells it straight.

    On Thursday’s edition of MSNBC’s The Cycle the group discussed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney‘s assertion that President Obama should “take [his] campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago.” Co-host Touré saw what he believes to be explicit racial connotations beneath what Romney was saying, calling it the “niggerization” of the campaign.

    “That really bothered me,” he said. “You notice he said anger twice. He’s really trying to use racial coding and access some really deep stereotypes about the angry black man. This is part of the playbook against Obama, the ‘otherization,’ he’s not like us.”

    “I know it’s a heavy thing, I don’t say it lightly, but this is ‘niggerization,’” Touré said to the apparent shock of his co-panelists. “You are not one of us, you are like the scary black man who we’ve been trained to fear.”

    1. Yep.

      We've got to call what most people are going to perceive as tough campaign talk a "racist code."

      That's the way we're sure to win!

    2. Just like Biden's play on words about Wall Street really means "Ryan is going to put all you Blacks back in chains."

      At least it shows that it isn't just liberals that play the race card.

    3. Evidently Touré believes that "division and anger and hate" are black characteristics. If weren't black, his comment would considered racist.

    4. Anger and hatred make for good ratings...right.

    5. Two serious responses:

      1. "Chain" is a dictionary synonym for "enslave." It's no stretch to imagine that Biden's phrase "put y'all back in chains" meant "enslave you."

      OTOH no dictionary says that "division and anger and hate" have racial characteristics. Criticizing Obama's policies or his political ads is no more anti-black than is criticizing Ryan's policies anti-Irish.

      2. For a moving response to Touré's comments from a young black woman, see

  4. "Chait and the other children could tell this true story whenever they want."

    That's the Howler. Always wants to bring a knife (truth) to the gun fight.

    Why can't we just lie like Rush?

    Everything has to be just the way the Howler wants it or liberals "deserve to lose."

    Any reasonable person realizes you have to go to battle with the craven, money-worshipping "liberals" you have, not the righteous truth-telling liberals you wish for.

    So given that, what should Chait and "the children" do?

    I don't know -- whatever they want, I guess.

    But criticizing them for being craven, money-worshipping frauds is out of the question, Bob.

  5. Bob reminds me of Dana Carvey's angry old man on Saturday Night Live. Or Robert Duvall's character in "Slingblade". I guess as long as he's just typing away here on his blog (since 1999 no less) he can't hurt anybody so just leave him be.

    1. The Anonymous IdiotAugust 17, 2012 at 1:55 PM

      I know I never read blogs or get upset about what I find there when I don't read them!

  6. Bob is a principled liberal. He thinks most conservative media is not. He believes in that the liberal media in the last 20 years (at least) is not principled,that they have lowered themselves to "conservative" levels.He believes that the current state of "liberal " media does little good,if not harm to the liberal cause. I agree w/ him on that, and hope no other lib does! Now go back to your warm bath of liberal affirmation in Kos/MSDNC/Huff/Pacifica blah-blah-blah.
    Oh,no,you can't ,because no disagreement is allowed in liberalism anymore(because if you do, you're racist/homo-phobic/stuu-pid/lizard-brained)
    Ignore him,Pleeeease,....

  7. Frankly, I think Gore bore the brunt of media disgust at themselves for all the ways they protected Clinton by making his cover-up purely a matter of sex.

    1. I really hope I don't understand what you're implying about the media coverage of Clinton. Other than his affair with Lewinsky, what was Clinton trying to cover up?

    2. Protected Clinton? Seriously? More than half of all newspapers in this country called for his resignation over the Lewinsky Affair?

  8. He was trying to cover-up what is ground zero evidence in a sexual harassment suit (an open-ended discovery process that he endorsed prior to his becoming a defendant): a history of looking for love in the office place.

    1. That doesn't make much sense at all.

  9. As I read (for the millionth time) your incomparably true account of how our liberal media leaders refuse to hold the likes of Matthews to account for their squalid war on Gore, I have a laugh as I remember the time (maybe the first, certainly the last) when Stephanie Miller appeared on Hardball and called Matthews a "right wing tool" to his face. Matthews didn't know what to think. Still one of my favorite TV moments of all time.

    1. Awesome! Can you provide the link?

    2. That Miller did, but then, immediately, pathetically, and too late to do her cable television career any good she tried to disown the comment.