This just in from Fallows, with an acidic flahback: In this post, James Fallows discusses the matter of yesterday's insufficient 54 votes.
We weren’t being facetious in our earlier post. After reading Jonathan Weisman’s jumble of verbiage in today’s New York Times, we no longer felt we knew why 54 votes weren’t enough on the gun bill.
After reading Fallows today, we’re still not completely sure we know. But let these points be clear:
In this morning's Washington Post, one person after another failed to explain, in any way, why 54 votes weren’t enough. The Post took a pass on the topic.
In this morning's New York Times, the editorial didn’t explain. Neither did Gabrielle Giffords, in her op-ed column.
One person did seem to offer an explanation. That person was Weisman, but alas—his collection of words was basically indecipherable. All his words were drawn from English. But assembled in the order he chose, they didn’t seem to have a recognizable meaning.
The incompetence of the upper-end press corps is simply astounding. Truly, our intellectual and journalistic elites are sad, inept, broken, dishonest. If we might adapt Lord Russell’s riposte about the turtles all the way down:
In modern intellectual culture, it’s mediocrity all the way up! Mediocrity, or something much worse.
Speaking of Fallows and sub-mediocrity: A few weeks back, Fallows posted this affectionate remembrance of Michael Kelly on the anniversary of his death in Iraq in 2003.
Because Kelly was such a terrible journalistic force in the years before his death, some people pushed back against Fallows’ piece. Ta-Nehisi Coates was one. This led to a follow-up post by Fallows, in which he politely lamented some of Kelly’s work.
We thought Fallows’ response was, to borrow a phrase from Kelly, “dishonest, cheap, low.” We were struck by the fact that Coates, and almost all his readers, had no idea this was so.
What was wrong with Fallows’ second post? As part of his backtracking, Fallows regretted something Kelly wrote about Al Gore in 2002. This is part of what Fallows wrote in his response to Coates:
FALLOWS (4/6/13): In September, 2002, Al Gore gave a speech arguing against the impending invasion of Iraq. I considered it brave and sensible at the time, and I think it only looks better in retrospect. This was Michael Kelly's response in his Washington Post column:As Fallows continued, he said that Kelly, as Atlantic’s editor, helped him write an antiwar piece, even though Kelly supported the war. We were struck by the things Fallows didn’t say about Kelly and Gore—and about Fallows himself.
“[The speech] distinguished Gore, now and forever, as someone who cannot be considered a responsible aspirant to power. Politics are allowed in politics, but there are limits, and there is a pale, and Gore has now shown himself to be ignorant of those limits, and he has now placed himself beyond that pale.
“Gore's speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts—bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.”
Michael's judgment was not merely wrong. It was "dishonest, cheap, low." And it had impact. It is hard now to convey the drumbeat of arguments for the war and also of ridicule and impatience for anyone who lacked war fever. That is what you see in Michael's contemptuous dismissal of Gore.
Sorry, Charlie! Kelly didn’t start sliming Gore in the fall of 2002. He was a balls-out crackpot on the subject from at least 1997 on. And here’s what Fallows forgot to say in his slick response to Coates:
In the summer of 2000, as the Bush-Gore election was drawing near, Fallows and Kelly joined forces in a reprehensible way to slime Candidate Gore in a high-profile cover story in Atlantic.
Alas! Fallows’ judgment in that Atlantic cover story was not merely wrong. It was “dishonest, cheap, low.” And it very much had impact!
As he discussed what Fallows wrote about Kelly, Coates showed no sign of knowing that. Neither did the many commenters to his posts about Fallows and Kelly. That isn’t surprising, of course.
The liberal world has aggressively disappeared the mainstream journalistic wars which were conducted against both Clintons, then against Gore. People like Coates and his readers truly don’t know what people like Fallows did to send George W. Bush to the White House.
Based on that April 6 post, it’s abundantly clear that Brother Fallows has no plans to tell them.
In the summer of 2000, Fallows joined forced with Kelly to become a major part of the ongoing War Against Gore. In part because of its cover art, the Atlantic cover piece was very high-profile. Beyond that, it formed the primer for mainstream hacks who wanted to know how to deal with Gore in the upcoming debates.
The instructions from Fallows and Kelly were clear: You should call Gore a liar.
Despite the misdirection he handed to Coates, Fallows helped send Bush to the White House through his collaboration with Kelly, an inveterate Clinton/Gore-hater. But then, these are terrible people.
For our weeklong report on the Fallows/Kelly collaboration, just click here, then scroll back to the week of July 11, 2000. For part 1, just click this. (Our headline: “The Atlantic’s cover shows the schoolboy level to which our discourse has fallen.”)
Yes, those five reports were done in real time. That said, our efforts weren’t enough, and everyone pretends today that none of this ever happened. (In later years, through more research, we learned more about how bogus Fallows' claims against Gore really were in that lengthy takedown.)
Fallows is upset by Kelly’s attack against Gore in 2002! Truly, such bullshit is rich.
We didn’t want to mention Fallows today without recording the con he ran in his April 6 response to Coates. These people will never admit what they did, let alone explain why they did it.
If they must play people like Coates, play them they will—every time.