Part 2—What Maureen Dowd said: What’s the word for Bob Schieffer’s performance on yesterday’s Face the Nation?
Speaking with his beloved Saint McCain, Schieffer may have set a world record for servile distortion of fact. But first, let’s consider the column by Maureen Dowd which appeared in yesterday’s New York Times.
Dowd’s column helped set the horizon within which Schieffer worked. For decades, her work has helped define the boundaries of mainstream mandarin chic.
Yesterday, Dowd reeked of her famous old loathing of liberal women. Her column spilled with relentless illogic.
But then, Dowd was writing about Susan Rice. Could the outcome have been in doubt?
Dowd has conducted a terror campaign against liberal/Democratic women for the past several decades. For our money, her most heinous columns remain the ones she wrote about Judith Steinberg Dean, Howard Dean’s doctor-lady wife, whose mousy clothing infuriated Dowd during Campaign 2004.
But Dowd has trashed Democratic women, large and small, in hiss-spitting columns for many years. Has she treated any Republican woman that way? We’re not sure. See our appendix.
But in all those years, through all those assaults, only one major figure in the big mainstream press has called Dowd out for this disturbed conduct. At the end of this post, we’ll remind you who that lone wolf was.
Back to yesterday’s column:
In typical fashion, Dowd let readers enjoy some cat fights involving Rice and the other women Dowd loathes. Darlings, it was delish!
At one point, Dowd hiss-spat at Rice’s “pal Valerie Jarrett.” A bit later, she let us enjoy a remark Samantha Power made in 2002 about a remark Rice allegedly made in 1994!
We were taken back eighteen years for one alleged statement which helps us to hate! We even got to enjoy a suggestion that Rice had been set up by “the wily Hillary.” And needless to say, Rice is too ambitious, with her “bull in a china shop reputation.”
Breaking! It may well be that Rice is ambitious; many people in Washington are. But this is a very familiar theme when Dowd starts trashing Democratic women—a point which has been mentioned once within our top-end “press corps.”
Dowd’s loathing of Democratic women—and of the men who foolishly marry them—has been relentless down through the years. It leads her to the lapses of logic which littered yesterday’s column.
Could a major newspaper column possibly get any dumber? In the following passage, Dowd explains what Rice should have done when she appeared on the September 16 Sunday programs.
Yes, Dowd actually wrote this:
DOWD (11/18/12): Intelligence officials suspected affiliates of Al Qaeda and named them in their original talking points for Rice, but that information was deemed classified and was softened to “extremists” as the talking points were cycled past Justice, State, the National Security Council and other intelligence analysts.Rather clearly, this is what Dowd is saying in that passage:
As The Times’s Eric Schmitt wrote, some analysts worried that identifying the groups “could reveal that American spy services were eavesdropping on the militants—a fact most insurgents are already aware of.”
Rice was given the toned-down talking points, but she has access to classified information. Though she told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the extremist elements could have included Qaeda affiliates or Al Qaeda itself, she mostly used her appearances to emphasize the story line of the spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Muslim video. She disputed the contention of the president of Libya’s General National Congress, who called the attack “preplanned” when he talked to Schieffer just before Rice.
Some have wondered if Rice, who has a bull-in-a-china-shop reputation, is diplomatic enough for the top diplomatic job. But she would have been wise to be more bull-in-a-china-shop and vet her talking points, given that members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities and sources in news accounts considered it a terrorist attack days before Rice went on the shows. (The president and his spokesman also clung to the video story for too long.)
Rice had access to classified information. She should have gone on the Sunday shows and released some of that classified information! In particular, she should have told the helpless old Schieffer that intelligence officials suspected affiliates of Al Qaeda of being involved in the deadly attacks.
According to Dowd’s own account, that information was classified. But so what? Rice should have gone on TV and blabbed it all around!
That argument is astonishing enough. But look at the various factual claims with which Dowd toys in that passage:
Concerning the role of Al Qaeda: Could Dowd get dumber and live? According to Dowd, intelligence sources only "suspected" that "affiliates of" Al Qaeda had been involved in the attack. And she notes that Rice directly told Schieffer that the attack may have been staged by "al Qaeda itself." But so what? She still seems to say that Rice was somehow holding back from the tired old fellow.
Concerning the issue of preplanning/premeditation: Dowd complains that Rice didn’t agree with the president of Libya’s General National Congress, who called the attack “preplanned” when he spoke to Schieffer. But that man said the attack had been preplanned for several months. Acording to Saturday’s Washington Post, that still isn't the view of the intelligence community, even now, even today.
Concerning the role of the anti-Islamic video: At the end of that pssage, Dowd snarks at Obama as well as Rice for “clinging to the video story for too long.” But according to Saturday’s Post, intelligence sources still believe that the attack was propelled by anger at the video, or at least in reaction to protests against the video in Cairo that day.
Is that true? Did anger about the video lead to this deadly assault? We have no idea—and neither does Dowd. She only knows the current scripts she hears at the cocktail parties where mandarin chic gets devised.
Astonishing, isn’t it? According to Dowd, Rice should have released classified information—and she should have agreed with a Libyan pol when he said something which disagreed with U.S. intelligence! How foolish is Dowd when it comes to such matters? Here's one more part of her column, paired with a piece of reporting from Saturday’s Washington Post:
DOWD (11/18/12): An Africa expert, Rice should have realized that when a gang showed up with R.P.G.’s and mortars in a place known as a hotbed of Qaeda sympathizers and Islamic extremist training camps, it was not anger over a movie.Why can't it be anger over a movie? Dowd forgets to explain. But according to Saturday’s Washington Post, the CIA currently thinks that the militants in Libya were reacting to the protests against the video—and that the deadly attack was “quickly mobilized” in response to those protests.
DEYOUNG (11/17/12): [T]he CIA and other intelligence analysts have settled on what amounts to a hybrid view, suggesting that the Cairo protest sparked militants in Libya, who quickly mobilized an assault on U.S. facilities in Benghazi.
In fact, Rice didn’t express a view on those points on the September 16 shows. But Dowd seems to think these facts have been settled in a GOP-scripted way.
As far was we know, they haven’t. It doesn’t seem to occur to Dowd that Rice, “as an Africa expert,” might know more about these matters than she and the punch-drunk friends from whom she has gotten her conception of what must have happened that day.
The bizarre illogic of Dowd’s piece is matched only by its cavalier treatment of unresolved facts. And by her loathing of Democratic women, a loathing which rages on.
Only once has a major figure denounced that loathing in the big mainstream press. That boom was lowered by Clark Hoyt, public editor of the Times in 2008.
In a scathing denunciation, Hoyt savaged Dowd for “the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on [Hillary] Clinton.” This is the way his column began:
HOYT (6/22/08): Some supporters of Hillary Clinton believe that sexism colored news coverage of her presidential campaign. The Times reported in a front-page article on June 13 that many are proposing boycotts of cable news networks and that a “Media Hall of Shame” has been created by the National Organization for Women.That column was long overdue when Hoyt wrote it. He wrote it because, as the Times public editor, he wasn’t standing in line, hoping for future employment at the great newspaper.
The Times itself, however, was barely mentioned, even though two of its Op-Ed columnists, Maureen Dowd and William Kristol, were named in the Hall of Shame.
Peggy Aulisio of South Dartmouth, Mass., said, “A real review of your own stories and columns is warranted.” I think so too. And I think a fair reading suggests that The Times did a reasonably good job in its news articles. But Dowd’s columns about Clinton’s campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work.
His distinguished career was largely behind him. He could write things which were true.
In our final post today, we will list some of the names who won’t criticize Dowd's conduct tonight. In the meantime, yesterday's column is really one for the ages! The loathing of major Dem women returned, as Dowd helped readers enjoy some good cat fights.
But good God! The logic of that piece! If the New York Times was a real newspaper, it would be greatly ashamed.
According to Dowd, Rice should have gone on network TV and released classified information. And not only that! When a Libyan pol made a wild statement, she should have agreed on the spot!
How dare our United Nations ambassador disagree with a Libyan pol?
Who except the world’s craziest people reason the way Dowd did in this piece? Dowd has long been one of those people—although you won’t hrear that obvious judgment on your TV machine tonight.
Tomorrow: Dowdinpantz writes the same column!
Two categories of women: Early in yesterday’s piece, Dowd passed judgment on the state of Susan Rice’s soul:
DOWD: Our Rice is better than your Rice.Did Susan Rice “rent her soul” on those talk shows? As we’ve noted, Dowd employs some very strange logic in support of that claim.
That’s the argument Democrats are aggressively making against Republicans.
And it’s true. Condi Rice sold her soul. Susan Rice merely rented hers on the talk shows one Sunday in September.
But how about Condoleezza Rice (no relation to Susan)? Dowd was even tougher on Condi, saying she sold her soul during her service to Bush.
Question: Did Dowd ever say such a thing in real time? Or does she only write columns like this about Democratic women?
We don’t know the answer to that. In a quick search, we couldn’t find anything resembling that statement in the years when Condoleezza Rice was warning us about mushroom clouds. Again and again and again and again, Dowd's judgments were massively muted.
Yesterday, Dowd said Condi sold her soul—but she only said it as a route to the soul of Susan Rice. Your Thanksgiving assignment, should you choose to accept it:
Has Dowd ever attacked a Republican woman in the highly personal ways she routinely does with Democrats? You’ll have to research this for yourself:
As you know, your darling friends on The One True Channel will never help you with this topic. Dearest darlings, it just isn't done! Ginormous careers are at stake!
"astonishing, isn't it?"ReplyDelete
Why no, it isn't.
"A bit later, she let us enjoy a remark Samantha Power made in 2002 about a remark Rice allegedly made in 1994!"ReplyDelete
Allegedly? Has anyone ever denied it?
Further, it is routine for the Howler to go back to 2002 and beyond to make arguments...that is part its immense appeal.
Dowd's columns are awful, and in particular they are unfair to leading Dems--both men and women: that's true. But if the president called it a terrorist attack on Sep 12, as the Howler claims he did, then why didn't Rice refer to it that way later? Pres Obama didn't seem to be releasing any classified info when he gave his Rose Garden speech. Dowd's point that Rice was privy to more info than just the talking points just makes clear that she is not a scapegoat sent out in front of hostile TV cameras with an incomplete understanding of the facts.
Whether Dowd wrote negatively about Condi Rice in real time is not relevant to whether the media should criticize Susan Rice for attempting to spin an Obama-friendly version of events in the midst of an election campaign.
The US media needs more skepticism toward gov't issued talking points, not less. How could one live through the last 10 years and not see that?
"The US media needs more skepticism toward gov't issued talking points, not less."Delete
If your distillation of what this is about includes the inference that Somerby is implying that government pronouncements shouldn't be doubted, you are quite insane.
That's nowhere to be found in this essay.
Also nowhere to be found: Your evidence for what exactly was "spun" by Rice. In fact, Somerby's essay put holes through most of that GOP-friendly, fact-free blather.
You might not like that, but it's embarrassing to see you pretend that, though you're wrong on known facts, the righter position is your own noble "skepticism" toward the government.
This is so absurd it's disgusting. Her presentation was absolutely perfect, exactly fitting what was known -- there is a difference between "known" and "suspected" -- and permitted by intelligence considerations. She said it was done by "extremists," expressly agreed with the possibility that the extremists were or were supported by al Qaeda, and expressly said that the actions were separate from any demonstrations believed at the time to have occurred. The President had called it an "act of terror" a few days before that because, well, it was an act of terror.Delete
This is one of the most absurd pieces of manufactured media frenzy I have ever seen. Once again, the major media, including at least Bob Schieffer and David Gregory, have made complete asses of themselves. But it goes far beyond them. It's a disgrace that NBC, ABC, CBS, the New York Times, AP and the Washington Post let Fox News do their editing and write their news copy. Never have the most prominent members of the mainstream news media -- OK at least since the Clinton-Gore years and the Iraq War -- been more deserving of complete contempt than now. I doubt any of them or their minions have the guts to read this blog, but if any of them do they should know how little respect we have for them.
Tinbox. Perhaps there was some political defense at work in the "talking points" Rice was given, though I'd like some evidence for that claim. Seems unlikely on the face of it. If it was politically advantageous for Rice not to call these attacks definitively "terrorist" (or whatever the precise claim is), then why would Obama have been so politically foolish as to indicate they were terrorist attacks several times over the next few days? I don't see your logic.ReplyDelete
I admit to forgetting some of the details and claims in this whole story rather easily because my brain has better things to do than to worry about a manufactured controversy of this kind. If you're looking for people who thought they stood to profit by blowing a whole lot of smoke on others (on Rice, Obama), and then by claiming that where there's smoke there must be fire, consider McCain and Graham (whose vitriol seems quite personal), and at other Republicans looking for ways to discredit Obama's foreign policy in the midst of an election campaign.
They have neither facts nor any remotely plausible theory to support any of their allegations, and they know they don't, but they do not care because the press will keep the story alive for ratings and refuse to call them out on it.Delete
I would love to see Obama figure out a way to take on the media and beat them. (TDH isn't making much headway.) A virtually complete changing of the guard is necessary.