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.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:
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.”
E-MAIL FROM WOODWARD TO SPERLING (3/23/13):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.
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.
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.”