Jody Warrick sees the poignancy in the lady’s sad fall: Jody Warrick’s report in this morning’s Washington Post includes a few striking formulations concerning the Petraeus affair.
The front-page headline—presumably, an editor wrote it—would be our first example. This is the headline which appears in our hard-copy Post:
“With Broadwell, general let his guard down”
The headline suggests that poor Petraeus had been guarding against such people for years. In fairness, that isn’t what Warrick’s copy says.
But that’s how an editor read it.
We were even more struck by a formulation from the pen of Warrick herself. Describing Broadwell’s crackpot behavior, Warrick sees the poignancy in the outcome this conduct produced:
WARRICK (11/11/12): For Broadwell, who is also married, the startling turn of events has reportedly been painful as well. After writing a best-selling and highly laudatory book about Petraeus, she appears to have initiated the series of events that led to his public humiliation. Investigators say threatening e-mails from Broadwell to another woman led to the discovery of the affair between the biographer and her subject. It is an outcome made more poignant because she has been—and remains—zealous in her devotion to the general, friends and colleagues say.In those paragraphs (and others), Warrick describes crackpot, borderline criminal conduct. She is describing the conduct of a crackpot and a zealot.
“She was relentlessly pro-Petraeus,” said a longtime Afghan policy expert who met Broadwell in Kabul. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte.”
Put aside the threatening e-mails. Warrick is also describing a person who can’t have a sensible discussion about the subject of a book she is writing, so blinded is she by her feelings. You'd almost think a journalist might be repelled by this conduct.
But Warrick seems to sympathize with the crackpot behavior she describes. She describes Broadwell’s behavior as a form of “devotion”—and she finds a “poignant” strain to the unfortunate outcome.
Why does Warrick sympathize so? Perhaps because Paula Broadwell, minus the sex, is the mainstream press corps! Minus the sex, this is precisely the way Warrick’s own tribe has behaved for the past twenty years.
Broadwell was writing a book about Petraeus. But she was so emotionally involved with her subject that “there was no room for a conversation” concerning his shortcomings.
Tell us how that isn’t like the work of Warrick’s tribe! Consider their recent crackpot affairs, affairs which came minus the sex:
In 1999, the press corps conducted swooning love affairs with two presidential candidates—John McCain and Bill Bradley. Their behavior toward McCain was so absurd that it was routinely described as “the swoon.”
The behavior toward Bradley, a long-time crush object, was every bit as ridiculous. Whatever one may think of Bradley, the sycophancy of the press corps was a journalistic disgrace.
Once McCain and Bradley were dispatched from the race, the press corps’ affections were largely transferred to the plain-spoken man who was comfortable in his own skin, George W. Bush. No, they didn’t swoon over Bush to the extent they had done with McCain and Bradley.
But the flirting and the affection were widely described. You may recall Fred Barnes’ review of the situation as early as October 1999.
Writing in the Weekly Standard, Barnes revealed who his colleagues loved best:
BARNES (10/4/99): Puff DaddyAlmost surely, Barnes was cleaning up some of the motives behind these inappropriate love affairs. But even then, Barnes said the press corps had a “liking problem” when it came to Candidate Bush.
Mike Kinsley, while editor of the New Republic, had a half-serious piece of advice for his writers. If you're doing a story about a politician or public official, don't interview him. You might like him, or her. Mike was onto something. Actually liking the person you're writing about—or holding forth about on TV—happens often enough that it's one of the dangers of Washington journalism. And there are other dangers I'll get to shortly.
First, the liking problem. Reporters pretend to be tough-minded and aloof, but of course they're not. Gathered in a pack they can be cruel and unfeeling, but not when they're on their own. They're softies, easily schmoozed, ever susceptible to being fooled by appearances.
At the moment, the likability award is shared by George W. Bush and John McCain, rivals for the Republican presidential nomination. Bush is fun to be around, gives everyone, including reporters, a nickname, and is something of a wise guy, which gets him in trouble from time to time but appeals to journalists. McCain is legendarily accessible to the media and spins reporters so cleverly that he seems candid and often actually is.
By the time the Barnes piece appeared, the fawning over McCain and Bradley was a transparent disgrace. But according to Barnes, Warrick’s tribe already had "a liking problem" when it came to Bush as well!
“Journalists” who fall in love in these ways will also act on unreasoning hatreds. In fairness, sometimes these hatreds are manufactured to serve a corporate boss.
Cases in point:
At the time the Barnes piece appeared, the press corps was in the midst of a long, ugly series of wars against both Clintons and Gore. Although she herself is now an object of widespread mainstream fawning, the press corps’ war against Hillary Clinton extended into 2008, when Chris Matthews finally ran into trouble for the ugly misogyny he had long directed against her.
Finally, Matthews got into a bit of trouble—when he was rescued by Darling Rachel! Just so you’ll know who you’re dealing with here:
One week after rescuing Matthews, Maddow signed her first contract with MSNBC. She is now wealthy and famous.
Over the past twenty years, the press corps has carried on a series of unreasoning swoons and undisguised hatreds. Minus the sex, this is the precisely the type of conduct Warrick attributes to Broadwell.
Are you surprised that Warrick finds the poignancy in this dear person’s sad fall?
One final historical note: Every step of the way, the big-dollar stars of the career liberal world have agreed to pretend that these past events never happened.
They looked away, or played active roles, in the endless wars against the Clintons and Gore. To this day, you can’t get these self-serving hustlers to acknowledge that these wars even occurred.
Joan Walsh won’t tell you; neither will David. Today, they sit at the right hand of the father—the father our Dear Rachel saved.
Even the fawning to McCain/Bradley/Bush was largely allowed to pass under radar. The press corps never discusses the press corps:
It’s the oldest tale in a very sad and very destructive old book.
What your lizard brain says: Your lizard brain keeps telling you that these events just couldn’t have happened.
If these events happened, your lizard brain says, David and Joannie would tell!
So . . . now we know what "embedded" really means!ReplyDelete
Right, Bob. The first thing I thought of when I read Warrick's profile about a truly pathetic person was how the "press corps" fawned all over McCain and Bradley 13 years ago.ReplyDelete
Everything is always about the Campaign of 2000, isn't it?
Fair enough points about the weaknesses of today's press corps. But the relevance to the Broadwell story? Talk about tenuous. I assume that Jody Warrick's sympathy for Broadwell (and perhaps, implicitly, for Broadwell's children and husband -- or maybe I'm just projecting; so the heart goes out to Holly Petraeus, too) is based on a woman's, any person's, understanding of human fraility. (And maybe some sympathy is order for the general himself, even if one is far from being among his fans.)ReplyDelete
Maybe what the press corps needs is more reporters with a little generosity and imagination and intelligence about the complexities of people's characters, situations, and actions, and a lot less high-school level snark.
Sorry, Broadwell is a fucking kook, who wrote a sycophantic book about one of the most important, and potentially controversial, figures of our era and disguised it as journalism. She then went out and tried to squeeze every penny and minute of fame out of it, started fucking the guy, despite him and her being married with children, then threatened someone who had nothing to do with the whole thing because she was jealous (or maybe she thought her future was being threatened, see below). Those are, quite literally, the facts, they're ugly as hell, and anyone who could feel, or thinks it's appropriate to express, sympathy for that nut has something seriously wrong with them.Delete
I remember seeing her on Stewart's program about a year ago, and when Stewart asked her about Petraeus running for president, a little smile popped on her face, which she quickly stifled. I thought then she was thinking about all the money she would make if he became the president, since there'd be plenty more book deals in it for her s long as she kept her access, but now I wonder what was going on in that thing's mind. Whatever it was, it doesn't deserve sympathy, I can tell you that.
To me, this whole bizarre, sordid tale is yet another example of "a little learning is a dangerous thing."Delete
What we do know about this whole thing and the people involved pales in comparison to what we don't know, but then again, that has never prevented anybody from making their minds up about everything and everyone involved.
From the very little I have learned about Broadwell, there could be some indication that this is a person who, and I say this very sincerely and non-judgmentally, needs professional help. So I will refrain from judging her character.
You know, just for a MINUTE there I thought TDH might be going to write about how the Press handles Defense Issues. Anyone who read the NYT's Thomas Rick's bizarre mash note to Petraeus, "The Gamble", which was very respectfully reviewed, might note the mild treatment The General has received for his massive failure in War as opposed to the drubbing he is taking in matters of the heart!ReplyDelete
But, The Daily Howler doesn't do Defense.
Or you could just see Warrick's use of the word "poignant" as a sign of a limited vocabulary. I've noticed journalists don't seem to have large ones.ReplyDelete
2000 was the moment the US became a Banana republic. In 2008 it turned into Zimbabwe.ReplyDelete
you couldnt have chosen a much less apt country to bash pres. obama with. for starters:
-- pres. obama has bent over backwards to not show favoritism to black americans.
-- president obama has mostly white cabinet secretaries, department heads, etc.
-- the american president is term limited.
-- the usa is 72% white. zimbabwe is approximately 1% white and 99% black.
-- american blacks are disproportionately underrepresented in the other federal branches of government as well as in the state governments and in the high ranking leadership of the military.
Mark my words.Delete
It's Obama (ZANU)
For example Romney got no votes in 59 polling areas in Philly. I find this to beDelete
a rather interesting harbinger of our new overlords and how they play their game. Whites vote 50/50 every other group 75-100% votes Dem. it's disgusting.
cross that bridge later.ReplyDelete
stupid for voting our interests as we see them?
well, that's not the "only thing" Obama's re-election gets the left. it also gets four more years of Obama instead of four (or eight) years of Romney, which means, among many other things, affordable insurance for tens of millions more Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions; the preservation and strengthening of Medicare; a fairer tax code; stronger regulations on business; less raping and pillaging of the environment; less of a chance of another senseless full-fledged war (say, with Iran); faster development of green energy; a more humane immigration policy; no chance of the privatization of Social Security; no chance of yet another extreme conservative Supreme Court judge being appointed which would give the extreme conservatives a 5:4 majority and probably lead to the over-ruling of Roe v. Wade and many other disastrous rulings like Citizens United; etc., etc., etc.. hey Dan, talk about your fckn retards -- look in the mirror.ReplyDelete
Joby is a guy. You refer to the reporter as "she."ReplyDelete
Surely you don't expect Somerby to get the gender of the journalist he is mind-reading and criticizing correct, do you?Delete
After all, even though Jody Warrick has been writing about national security issues for the Post for quite some time, how was Somerby to know that a person who could right so sympathetically about Broadwell could possibly be a man?
"One week after rescuing Matthews, Maddow signed her first contract with MSNBC. She is now wealthy and famous."ReplyDelete
So what did your write about this back in 2008?
"Did Maddow run and lie about Matthews so she could land this big, brilliant plum? We don’t have any way of knowing—but we’ve seen this gruesome movie a million times by now."
Right. "We don't have any way of knowing" but let's pretend that we do and keep saying it for years and years.
FYI, you might be surprised to know that Maddow actually signed "her first contract with MSNBC" back in 2005, when she was signed as a regular panelist on the long-forgotten "Tucker" while still doing her Air America gig. Not surprised that you don't know about this, Bob. Nobody else watched "Tucker" either.
Her champion at MSNBC was never Chris Matthews. If you cared to notice, you'd see that they are seldom in the same room together even to this day.
Instead, it was Keith Olbermann, whose "Countdown" was already the highest rated show MSNBC ever had, and who was pushing MSNBC to become the "liberal" Fox with Olbermann, of course, taking the role of Bill O'Reilly.
Realize that MSNBC wasn't even all politics at that time. Following Olbermann in the lineup was the seldom watched "Verdict with Dan Abrams," a trial and legal affairs show modeled loosely on the lines of Nancy Grace but without the hysteria. And there was a huge dropoff in ratings from Olbermann to Abrams.
Looking for their own Sean Hannity to Olbermann's O'Reilly, the MSNBC brass auditioned Maddow that summer as a replacement host on "Countdown" while Olbermann went on vacation and she passed the text. That August, MSNBC announced that the new "Rachel Maddow Show" would replace "Verdict" in the time slot following "Countdown," with a rerun of "Countdown" following Maddow, and Matthews eventually segregated to an early-evening, non-primetime slot and banished from the
"panel" to the great outdoors, interviewing crowds at conventions and political rallies.
MSNBC had suddenly found its niche.
Please note that MSNBC is continuing to bring in fresh, new, and young talent, and I know how much that galls Somerby when somebody younger than he is becomes rich and famous.
I think it is only a matter of time until Chris Hayes is given his primetime slot, replacing probably Ed Schultz as the lead-in to Maddow, or Maddow going up against O'Reilly and Hayes taking on Hannity as MSNBC reaches for a younger demographic.
As a matter of fact, I can very well see MSNBC putting all its older hosts out to pasture -- and that includes Matthews and loose cannon Lawrence O'Donnell.
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