Kevin Drum makes a very good catch!


A professor’s long nap in the woods: For all we know, Andrew Gelman is the nicest guy on earth. More on this point below.

But Gelman is also a professor—a political science professor, no less. We’ll grant you, he teaches at a lesser school.

But still.

Yesterday, Gelman offered a truly remarkable post at his Monkey Cage blog. Kevin Drum spotted Gelman's post. And he posted about it!

Gelman’s post shines a hot blinding light on a basic part of our political world. We’ll offer a full post on this topic tomorrow or Monday. Just so you’ll know, we got dinged by Kevin for our “obsession” with the press coverage of Campaign 2000. At least one (otherwise) well-informed commenter offered the same assessment.

So you’ll know, “obsession” is a bit like “shrill.” In modern parlance, it’s a term applied by those who were wrong to those who were right from Day One.

It’s considered obsessive to be right all along. Psychiatrically, it’s considered more balanced to discover the truth twelve years later!

Whatever! Kevin made a very good catch—and Gelman’s post is highly instructive. The wages of group silence are vast—willful group silence by “liberals.”

Just click here. Marvel at the basic idea one professor had never encountered! Our question:

If professors have never heard these things, what hope is there for the public?

As we said above: For our money, Gelman may be the world’s most honest person. In the face of pushback from his commenters, he quickly said that he may be wrong.

On this topic, the professor was wrong. But how in the world did that happen?


  1. A week ago, Bill Clinton gave one of the best speeches of his life.

    First thing I thought of was he could've given a speech like that for Gore,
    but Al wasn't thinking very clearly back in the summer of 2000.

    First, Gore rightfully said Clinton had been a great president (I forget the exact words)
    but then some on the Right mocked him for saying that, even tho Clinton tripled the
    stock market, created 23M new jobs, balanced the budget and, perhaps his greatest
    achievement, never sent a man into battle who didn't come home alive.

    But Al Gore wanted none of that.

    Al Gore wanted to "be my own man," but what was Gore without Clinton?

    Then he chose Kissyface for VP and pundits saw that as a slap at Clinton because
    Kissyface was Clinton's most outspoken Democratic critic during impeachment.

    Gore ran a horrible campaign, almost as bad as John Kerry's disasterous campaign.
    There are a hundreds of reasons why Gore lost (to an idiot who couldn't form sentences)
    but most people point to the fact the he lost his home state, Tenneesee, and Arkansas.

    If Gore had allowed Clinton to campaign for him, maybe in just those two states,
    he would've won but, he wanted to be his own man more than he wanted to win.

    The the shit hit the fan in Florida and Gore surrenedered AGAIN, telling Democrats
    to stay away from Florida so all the TV viewers saw were angry Republicans who
    demanded that Der Monkey Fuhrer be installed against the wishes of the voters

    Al, you made one stupid decision after another and that nearly destroyed America.

    But, you got to be your own man and that's what's important, right?

    1. I knew this was Bart at paragraph three.
      You the man, dawg.

    2. My thought at the time was that if they, corporate/"mainstream" media, can so shamelessly "put their thumb on the scale" this time around, then they can sure as hell do exactly the same when it involves any good candidate or cause I might care about in the future. All the more likely considering that clearly millionaire media and myself seem to share no interests, least of all regarding economic/class issues.

      NAFTA and Lieberman disqualified Gore from getting my vote. The issue that remains however is a fundamentally and indisputably broken "high end" media culture. They aint no friend of mine.

  2. "If Gore had ... he would've won"

    Wheeee, counterfactuals are fun!!

    "If Gore had ... the press would have beat him even harder, made up other, different lies about him, and he still would have lost the election (due to the Supremes)"

    Wheeee, my counterfactual beats yours. Go home, ace.

  3. "We got dinged by Kevin for our obsession with the press coverage of Campaign 2000." [diatribe ensues, ending with "Whatever."]

    Full quote: "I've told Bob Somerby before that I think he obsesses too much over the 2000 election, but I GUESS SOMEONE NEEDS TO if the media's treatment of Gore in the 2000 campaign still isn't common knowledge." Then Drum cites specific instances of Gore's mistreatment by the press.

    Sounds to me like Drum is admitting he was wrong.

    Disclaimer: not a Kevin Drum fan.

    Just sayin'.

    1. I read Drum's remark the same way. Seems like Somerby is being a bit thin-skinned if he thinks that's getting "dinged."

    2. Also note that Drum provides a link to "How He Got There," Somerby's still unfinished opus, 12 years later.

  4. A basic question that eats at me - and is relevant to a thorough examination (obsession?) with Gore's loss to Bush in 2000 - is why Gore never pursued the question of the Florida vote within the courts more than he did. With all that he did wrong, it's clear that he still won the election and it was stolen in what amounted to a coup. So for me perhaps the deepest unanswered question that remains, is why Gore didn't pursue this to the ends of the earth and demand justice. I would like to see Mr. Somerby address this question.

    1. He pursued it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the game was rigged. Then for the sake of the nation and with no where else to go (unless you can think of a higher court), he graciously ended the fight and conceded.

    2. I remember what was being written in the papers & talked about on TV & it was all about how Gore was a big sore loser & spoil sport and on and on.....& then after the fact & years later they all complain that he should have kept fighting

    3. "it was all about how Gore was a big sore loser & spoil sport and on and on.....& then after the fact & years later they all complain that he should have kept fighting"


  5. There were so many factors leading to the Bush victory of 2000 it's hard to lay it decisively on the press's undeniable bear-baiting of Gore. But it's also hard to imagine a candidate more press-bashed than Bush once things went bad in 2003, but still he pulled it off -- maybe with a little help from his friend the Ohio Sec of State. How did Dukakis mess up a 17-point lead in just a couple of months? If Reagan had beat Ford in '76 and won the general and had to be President in the late seventies, would his have been the failed presidency of OPEC, hyperinflation, and the Ayatollah? Somehow I doubt it.

    For his part, Gore IS a dork (ask Tipper). There were a lot of perfect storm things that sunk him. Including this: I've come to the point where I refuse believe this country has the will to elect an intelligent Democratic president until I see it happen. That includes this year. My operating assumption is that the Republican will somehow pull it off whether by hook or crook. Any opposite result always surprises the hell out of me. The fact that these Republicans do as well as they do confirms by deepest fears about the American electorate.

    1. "hard to imagine a candidate more press-bashed than Bush"

      Now, just what *were* the stack of lies about/by Bush, endlessly repeated by the mainstream press?

      Oh yeah, nuthin'

      But maybe you've got more imagination than you hint at?

    2. I am having a hard time remembering a president who was fawned over more than G.W. during the runup to the invasion of Iraq.

      Good grief, compare that to the way Clinton was treated.

    3. The press didn't turn against Bush until after Katrina. The press was fully behind him all through the 2004 election.

  6. I wish someone will obsess about the 2008 democratic primaries

  7. First we should note that internet jester Bartcop forgets that using Bill Clinton in 2000 was a considerably dicier matter than using him in 2012; maybe it shouldn't have been that way but it's a weird world. Even today, Salon gets out the wet noodle to flog us for liking Bill too much, that budget balancing bastard.

    That said, most of what he says is A) true and B) not much of an excuse for the mind boggling lapses of judgement committed by the Press Corp in 2000 (it was not just Fox News, as TDH has correctly reminded us). Doe The Daily Howler go to the Gored Card too often? At this point, probably. But it is also true, it's a story of Press Arrogance which has still never properly been told.

    1. There are a couple of things to remember.

      1. It is always dicey for a sitting vice president to attach himself at the hip to the president he is seeking to succeed. This does not mean he has to divorce himself from the policies of his predecessor, but at some point, he has to prove he is his own man with his own vision.

      Please note that Bush I didn't exactly join himself at the hip to Ronald Reagan.

      2. While Clinton's job approval ratings were pretty solid in 2000, his favorability ratings were in the tank. Voters liked the president, but not the man. And that has changed dramatically in the 12 years since.

    2. True, but let's face it, the Lewinsky Affair had created obvious problems, with no simple solution for Gore.

  8. Some people need to (re?)read Chapter 1 of "How He Got There." The press corps hounded Gore non-stop over how he felt about Clinton; his calling Clinton's behavior "inexcusable" and saying that he was "disappointed" weren't enough. The press corps all but outright demanded he distance himself from Clinton. In that environment, it's hard to see how tying himself to Clinton would have been a winning strategy.

  9. I hope Bob writes about today's "eyebrow raising" comment by Romney who is so out of touch he said "middle income" is $250,000 and less.

    Obama said the same but leave it to the moronic Obots to work themselves up over something, anything.

    1. I hope Bob doesn't waste his time on this one.

      Today's online Boston Globe reports:

      "Obama also has set his definition for 'middle class' as families with income of up to $250,000 a year.
      Romney’s comments came an interview broadcast Friday on ABC’s 'Good Morning America.
      'No one can say my plan is going to raise taxes on middle-income people, because principle number one is (to) keep the burden down on middle-income taxpayers,' Romney told host George Stephanopoulos.
      'Is $100,000 middle income?' Stephanopoulos asked.
      'No, middle income is $200,000 to $250,000 and less,' Romney responded."

      Well, you could say that with this reply Romney has only made the same claim Obama has made on numerous occasions, if you had a really tin ear for language and the important nuances of argument. Obama (the Globe reports Obama's statements on this subject accurately, according to my memory) is clear that $250,000 is an UPPER LIMIT middle income for families (note the "up to"). In stark contrast, Romney appears to be objecting to $100,000 as a middle class income at all (note the "No") and to be offering $200,000-$250,000" as some sort of norm (note the rhetorically weak addition of "or less").

      I am sure that, in speaking to Stephanpoulous, Romney had the same facts and figures in his head as Obama ($200,000 for individuals, $250,000 for families as the upper limit of "middle class" incomes as set by some government agency or bureau or other), but equally important are the differences in the emphasis each man chooses to make and in the ability of each man to articulate a rather basic position.

      As I said, I hope Bob doesn't waste his time on this one.

      Btw, note also Romney's "argument" that, as an empirical fact, his plan won't raise taxes on middle income people "because" it's a matter of principle with him not to raise those taxes. (How did this guy get through Harvard Law?) Once again, he asks us to trust that he will enact elaborate policies in accordance with "principles" that, as he enunciates them (elsewhere), are so general and vacuous as to be almost meaningless, while at the same time he refuses to get into anything the least bit specific about his actual policy plans. Well, if I am to trust him because he means well and is competent, I wish his rhetoric revealed some inclination to mean well for people who aren't wealthy and his ability to construct an argument revealed an iota of competency.

    2. Sorry, but I don't see that setting a higher tax bracket on incomes above $250,000 is quite the same as saying that a person making $249,999 is "middle class."

      But nice try anyway.

    3. Obama (the Globe reports Obama's statements on this subject accurately, according to my memory) is clear that $250,000 is an UPPER LIMIT middle income for families (note the "up to"). In stark contrast, Romney appears to be objecting to $100,000 as a middle class income at all (note the "No") and to be offering $200,000-$250,000" as some sort of norm (note the rhetorically weak addition of "or less").

      Romney objected to $100,000 as not middle class, OBVIOUSLY believing that the question was whether it was that figure and less, since he then said it was $250,000 and less.

      HOW does someone read "upper limit" and "...and less" as two different things? How is "and less" rhetorically weak, it's one of the clearest ways of describing an UPPER LIMIT.

    4. I doubt there's any hope of reaching Anonymous(es), but here goes:

      "HOW does someone read "upper limit" and "...and less" as two different things? How is "and less" rhetorically weak, it's one of the clearest ways of describing an UPPER LIMIT." Well, one reads "upper limit" and "and less" as two different things in the way your very own next sentence suggests, in terms of rhetorical effect and emphasis. Perhaps "and less" (despite its weak position in this sentence -- to expound on that would not be worth the effort, but let's just say that Peggy Noonan would know what I mean) wouldn't seem so weak, not to mention downright confused and confusing, if Romney hadn't begun this part of his exchange with "No." Now, in beginning his response with "No," I don't believe Romney actually meant to reject $100,000 as within the range of a middle class annual income (as I said in my previous comment, I am sure he had in mind the same technical definitions of economic "middle class" that Obama relies on), but in his response of "No" he might well have seemed to be rejecting it. At the least, clumsy of him.

      Romney's poor use of the English language, combined with his evasion of specifics about his policy plans and his poor argumentation (vapid appeals to principle do not an empirical assurance provide) -- habits of speech and mind he has exhibited frequently and not just here -- inspire confidence in neither his honesty nor his competence (beyond his obvious competence at doing whatever he did at Bain, for what that kind of competence is worth in being an effective President of the United States).

  10. I had a problem with Krugman's statement. It ascribes motives rather than describing behaviour. To talk about what the press corps actually did - engaged in a war on Gore, is factual. To claim they did it for a specific reason, seems to involve mind reading - they did what they did because they did not like Al Gore.

    Myself, I ascribe it to policy. If you look at what the great socialist LarryO said, it may be clearer. He said that he did not like Gore's tax plan - because HE, his socialist self, would not get any benefit from it. Going to my website of basic tax data I click on the link comparing rates before and after Bush (to propo up my failing memory). The top rate alone was cut from 39.1% to 35%, a 4.1% savings. Suppose, like Chris Matthews, you make $5,000,000 a year. After itemizing deductions you might pay the top rate on your last $4,000,000 of income. So a cut in that rate by 4.1% would save you $164,000 per year.

    What person they liked, in my theory, was not as important as how much they liked the money. Ideologically, they may be liberal (on social issues) but in terms of class, they were part of Bush's base - the haves and the have mores, and they knew it.

    But that is just my theory, I am not stating it as an obvious fact.

    1. Very interesting theory, that different people might have different motives, and even, perhaps, multiple motives.

      Not sure how well it fits into the narrative around here -- that Gore was besieged upon because mean reporters simply didn't like him and wanted to punish him for the sins of Clinton.

    2. "The narrative around here" I take to be driven by liberal critiques of liberals, particularly of liberals as they are represented in the NYT, WaPo, cable news, and a few other places and by those who may sometimes naively go along with the journalistic/pundit habits of those sources. (And I mean pretty mildly "liberal," not "left" at all.) That people who are simply hostile to liberals and liberal positions increasingly comment here, disrupting what could be productive self-criticism, saddens me. (I do wonder sometimes if it's "accidental," though.)

    3. "because mean reporters simply didn't like him and wanted to punish him"

      That's the narrative straw man.

      The narrative is that the "meanness" and the lies and the "punishment" happened. They happened and they mattered.

      It is in fact true, however, that certain active participants in the media have stated openly that they disliked Gore, that they liked Bush, that they weren't going to "allow" Gore to walk away with the election, etc.

      That's all true. But irrelevant, really.

      Why they did it? I agree with the statement that we enter into mind reading when we try to figure that out.

      I tend to agree with the mind-reading that says " in terms of class, they were part of Bush's base and they knew it."

      But it really doesn't matter.

      The war against Gore was real, was mainstream, and was influential.

    4. It’s considered obsessive to be right all along. Psychiatrically, it’s considered more balanced to discover the truth twelve years later!

      Or to be right when the evil person's ox is getting gored, and continue to be right when the saintly person's ox is getting gored. Obsessive.

  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Anonymous writes:

      >>>>>To talk about what the press corps actually did - engaged in a war on Gore, is factual. To claim they did it for a specific reason, seems to involve mind reading - they did what they did because they did not like Al Gore.

      Myself, I ascribe it to policy....<<<<<

      Maybe Anonymous is right, maybe this is the way the press core would express disdain for anyone proposing a tax policy with which, near unanimously, its members disagreed:

      Daily Howler November 11, 1999

      [CMike note: Hanover was the site of the first Al Gore-Bill Bradley debate. See this WaPo report to see whether Gore distanced himself from Clinton.]

      ...[A]s we leave our Hanover musings, one point must be revisited. We must return to the mystery phone call we received on the night of the forum. You remember—a mystery caller, in the Hanover press room, offered a striking description of CelebCorps' decorum [link omitted]. It was not unlike remarks by the Hotline's Howard Mortman which we heard just a few days later:

      >>>>>MORTMAN: I phoned in to Bob, to be fair to Bob, I do stick by the story that the media groaned, howled and laughed almost every time Al Gore said something—

      BOB SOMERBY: I think that's amazing. I think that's amazing.

      OTHER VOICE FROM PANEL: What happened with Bradley?

      MORTMAN: Stone silence. Really.<<<<<

      A note from a reader has asked us to explain why we have concentrated on Democrats in our media critiques, and we will discuss the question in the next several days. But Mortman's report did seem to confirm a suspicion we've reported here for months.

      Has the press corps perhaps made some group selections—chosen up sides in the hopefuls' struggles? We don't know. But Mortman's description could hardly raise confidence in the professionalism of this great press.

      And then, it happened! Confirmation at last! A whistle-blower coolly stepped forward and confirmed the things Mortman had said! It was Eric Pooley, in the pages of Time, reporting on the Hanover happenings.

      Pooley started out explaining how "cheesy" the music is at Gore events. Then he compared the "sweating" VP to a man begging with a woman for sex. The VP has had "a near-death experience," Pooley said, which explains his recent "frenzied attempt to connect." But the press corps ain't buyin', Pooley relates. Here's his account of what went on inside the corps' vaulted chambers:

      >>>>>POOLEY: Last week the ache was unmistakable—and even touching—but the 300 media types watching in the press room at Dartmouth were, to use the appropriate technical term, totally grossed out by it. Whenever Gore came on too strong, the room erupted in a collective jeer, like a gang of 15-year-old Heathers cutting down some helpless nerd.

      Poor Gore. For months the press has been hammering him for taking the nomination for granted and not showing emotion. Now it's hammering him for trying too hard and showing too much...<<<<<


    2. The November 11, 1999 Howler continues...

      Indeed—it's just as we've told you with this sorry crew. Once they've decided you're not part of the crowd, you're danged if you do—and you're danged if you don't. Pooley himself says the press corps behaved like a bunch of teen-agers running in a pack.

      But how does it feel, fellow lovers of discourse, to know the press corps behaves this way—to know the scribes have so little respect for their role in our all-important public discourse?

      And make no mistake, this press corps knows not to tell us about their strange conduct. Three hundred "media types" in the room, and to our knowledge only Pooley, among correspondents, came out and described these events! Do you really doubt that it's news, dear readers, to know that the press corps behaved this way? But 300 reporters, right there on the scene, knew enough not to say what had happened....

    3. Daily Howler, December 14, 1999

      ...[Y]esterday morning... Jake Tapper, Salon's post-modern man-about-town, was lead guest on Washington Journal... [r]esponding to a charge of liberal bias in the media, Tapper became the third major scribe to describe what went on in that press room at Hanover:

      >>>>>TAPPER: Well, I can tell you that the only media bias I have detected in terms of a group media bias was, at the first debate between Bill Bradley and Al Gore, there was hissing for Gore in the media room up at Dartmouth College. The reporters were hissing Gore, and that's the only time I've ever heard the press room boo or hiss any candidate of any party at any event.<<<<<

      Remarkable—and the public has a right to know that the press corps conducts itself so. Earlier, we have described Time's Eric Pooley saying that the press room "erupted in jeering" during Gore's responses that night [link omitted].

      We have described the Hotline's Howard Mortman saying that the scribes "groaned, laughed and howled" at almost everything Gore said [link omitted]. But hundreds of journalists were in the room, and no one—repeat, no one; no one at all—has complained about the press corps' odd conduct.

  12. I's odd that Krugman would ascribe the MSM conduct to a personal dislike of Gore, or an admiration of Bush, when he has been accusing the MSM of slavishly following scripts.

    The scripting of news was more a result of laziness, incompetence, and indifference than of animosity or favoritism.

    The "reporters" didn't really care what happened as long as they had a "horse race" down to the wire. That way they could turn in copy and get by-lines with the least amount of effort.

  13. There were lots of things wrong with the Gore campaign--passing on help from Clinton, the terrible VP choice--although I will never be able to prove it, I believe that he would have given the CIA briefings his full attention and prevented the successful attacks on 9/11. It follows that the U.S. would not have invaded Iraq. Even if 9/11 had taken place, it is unlikely that we would have invaded Iraq. Thousands of families lost their children, husbands and wives. Avoiding this would have been worth electing a dork. Also, Joe Lieberman (I can't stand him) was a much better choice that Dick Cheney.

    1. There have been "lots of things wrong" with every losing presidential campaign since I've been alive. Every single loser was a bad candidate, ran a terrible campaign, never should have been nominated, blew a sure thing, and so on. Conversely, the winning campaigns have usually been brilliant, groundbreaking, re-writing the book on elections, etc. Carter was a genius in 1976 for camping out in Iowa early, but a dunce in 1980 for ... a variety of reasons. At some point, you come to realize that it's the perception of the candidates being swayed by the outcome, rather than the candidates shaping the perception. That doesn't stop, of course, allthe internet geniuses for passing judgment on the candidates from the safety of their easy chairs. Makes them feel really smart, and allows them to avoid thinking about the actual things that decide elections, many of which are outside of a candidate's control, and would require said geniuses to get up out of said easy chairs.

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