Kathleen Parker airbrushes one of the e-mails!


Not unlike Pravda of old: Yesterday morning, we reviewed a deeply clueless piece at Salon concerning the boob song of Seth MacFarlane. To read that post, just click this.

Yesterday afternoon, we spent some time puzzling over Ezra Klein’s latest column. See our previous post.

Our public discourse is a rolling clown show, a reliable forum for incomprehension, improbable tales and manifest disinformation. That said, we were also struck by the column Kathleen Parker wrote concerning poor Bob Woodward and his persistent night sweats.

Parker has been a bit of a weathervane over the past twenty years. During the Clinton-Gore and early Bush years, she was reliably center-right. She would advance the standard narratives and group judgments, although she was much less nasty in her Clinton/Gore-bashing than “liberals” like Maureen Dowd were.

As Bush’s presidency began to collapse, so did Parker’s orientation. With the arrival of Obama, she seemed to reinvent herself, adopting a posture which was much more centrist to center-left.

Now, the Washington Insider Crowd has started to turn against Obama. And sure enough! In yesterday’s Washington Post, Parker offered a Pravda-esque piece about the Woodward flap.

On the Sunday TV programs, major players, including Tom Brokaw, rolled their eyes at Woodward’s recent ridiculous cries de coeur. By way of contrast, Parker produced one of the greatest kiss-up columns of all time.

She sang the praises of poor Woodward’s greatness—and she seemed to say that Woodward had been threatened by the goons in the White House. On-line, the word “threat” still appears in the headline. This reflects the early part of Parker's column, where she says that Gene Sperling’s recent e-mail “appeared to be a veiled threat aimed at one of the nation’s most respected journalists.”

This was very scary stuff! Why can't we all get along?

Parker told a frightening tale. That said, can you spot the part of the story which got airbrushed from her frightening piece, much as they once did at Pravda?
PARKER (3/3/13): To recap: Woodward recently wrote a commentary for The Post that placed the sequester debacle on Obama’s desk and accused the president of “moving the goal posts” by asking for more tax increases.

Before his piece was published, Woodward called the White House to tell officials it was coming. A shouting match ensued between Woodward and Gene Sperling, Obama’s economic adviser, followed by an e-mail in which Sperling said that Woodward “will regret staking out that claim.”

Though the tone was conciliatory and Sperling apologized for raising his voice, the message nonetheless caused Woodward to bristle.

Again, Woodward’s kneecaps are probably safe, but the challenge to his facts, and therefore to his character, was unusual, given Woodward’s stature. And, how, by the way, might Woodward come to regret it? Sperling’s words, though measured, could be read as: “You’ll never set foot in this White House again.”
Poor Woodward! He bristled when he read the e-mail which appeared to contain a veiled threat! But how strange! Parker forgot to mention the e-mail Woodward sent to Sperling in reply—the e-mail which went like this:

You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today.

Best, Bob
Does it sound like Woodward felt threatened? Does it sound like he "bristled" at what Sperling wrote? Actually no, it doesn’t! For that reason, this e-mail was airbrushed out of Parker's column. Parker's frightening story collapses if she simply tells her readers what poor Woodward actually wrote.

To read both e-mails, just click this. To see the current state of American journalism, just read every word of Parker’s column.

Parker typed a frightening novel. As in the good old days of Pravda, this required a bit of airbrushing.

But then, the product which poses as journalism is virtually defined by work of this type. This product is composed of novels, scripts and tribalized tales along with the two basic types of facts—zombie and forbidden.

We rubes still treat this product as news. If our society wants to function, this product must be blown up—“reformed.”


  1. Wait, I thought the problem was McArdle's mandarins? Parker is over 60 and went to Florida State.

    1. She's actually the weathervane mandarin.

    2. There can only be one problem? Has Bob ever said that there is only one problem? Even implied it?

    3. Why yes, he has now that you mentioned it. Western Civilization as we knew it ended that fateful day in December 1999 when the press booed buddy Al Gore. And he's got all sorts of stories about bad stuff that happened 13 years ago, when he ever gets around to writing that book that will re-align the planets and stars and set earth back on is axis, bold as love, again.

  2. Never mind that, 12:52. Bob's MO is to stick his broad brush into whatever tar pot is available and proclam that it is typical of all media.

    Thus, Parker's nonsense is an example of how awful all media is, days after Woodward's story has been blown so far apart that this once mighty journalist now stands before us as a complete fool.

    Note also Bob demands names be named, but the only "McArdle Mandarin" he has named so far is UCLA-educated Ezra Klein.

    Yep, Ezra Klein has a blog and facetime on TV. How will Western Civilization possibly survive?

    1. You would think Western Civilization on the mend when you read this Meet the Press transcript:


      We had a very nice, polite discussion, but I had asked the president and Senator Reid to come with a plan to replace the sequester. Now listen, we've known about this for 16 months. And yet even today, there's no plan from Senate Democrats or the White House to replace the sequester. And over the last 10 months, House Republicans have acted twice to replace the sequester. There are smarter ways to cut spending than these automatic across the board...


      But Mr. Speaker that's just not true. They've made it very clearly, as the president just did, that he has a plan that he's put forward that involves entitlement cuts, that involves spending cuts, that you've made a choice as have Republicans to leave tax loopholes in place. And you'd rather have those and live with all these arbitrary cuts...

      Apparently that doesn't fit the TDH narrative...

    2. Wow! No that certainly does not fit the TDH narrative.

      But hey, let's not talk about the Speaker of the House getting taken down on live, national TV. Let's talk about Kathleen Parker and Ezra Klein instead.

  3. "the challenge to his facts, and therefore to his character, was unusual, given Woodward’s stature"

    Journalism and the endless quest for the truth in 2013. If the end isn't nigh, it should be.