Supplemental: It just keeps coming at the Post!


Who the heck is Alexander Becker: It just keeps coming from the Washington Post.

Granted, the piece in question only appears at the paper’s “Post Politics” blog. It hasn’t appeared in the hard-copy paper.

Nor do we have any idea who Alexander Becker, the author of the piece, is. He seems to be new to journalism, and to the Post, in the past few months.

In fact, he seems to be new to the world, based upon Google and Nexis searches. Unless he’s the guy from Siena.

That said, Becker’s piece is being pimped on the front page of the Post’s site. It’s the latest attempt by the jihadist paper to figure out how much money Hillary Clinton has.

We’ll also say this—whoever Alexander Becker is, he does know how to parrot a guild or company line.

Headline included, this is the way he begins his piece.
Do you catch the drift of his instant explanatory framework?
BECKER (7/30/14): $5 million, $50 million or even more—just how rich is Hillary Clinton? Here’s why we don’t know.

Ever since Hillary Clinton drew attention to her finances by claiming her family was "dead broke" when they left the White House, speculation has focused on a seemingly simple question: Exactly how rich are the Clintons?

The answer, at least for the time being, is that there's no way for the public to know.
These kids today are good!

Why is Becker exploring the question of Clinton’s wealth? The gentleman pre-explains his motive as he opens his piece.

According to Becker, Hillary Clinton “drew attention to her finances” when she uttered the words “dead broke!” Why is the Post on its jihadi quest?

Easy! As Mayor Barry might have said, bitch pretty much set them up!

This same narrative was lurking in last week’s pseudo-discussions on Morning Joe. Tomorrow, we’ll show you how Julie Pace worked this framework into her discussion of the millionaire press corps’ wonderful work concerning Clinton’s wealth.

For today, we’ll only note the startling obsession which consumes the spear-chuckers at the Post. And we’ll help you think about why that question of motive is so central.

Why is Becker, and everyone else at the Post, obsessed with the question of Clinton’s wealth? We ask because there’s really no precedent for this type of pre-emptive coverage.

At some point in every White House campaign, the personal wealth of the various candidates does in fact get reported. In some cases, personal wealth may even get over-reported.

That said, no campaign is currently under way. Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate. Neither is anyone else.

We know of no journalistic precedent for this relentless pre-sliming of a major non-candidate. The Washington Post is off on a quest which has no apparent precedent and no apparent innocent explanation.

We don’t know who Journalist Becker is. His piece hasn’t appeared in the hard-copy Post. That said, his famous paper is pimping the piece on the front page of its web site.

This is a deeply peculiar state of affairs. But as in March 1999, so too today—the career liberal world will tool along, pretending this isn’t occurring.

Journalistic careers move through the Post. This fact helps create a major code of silence.

Rachel Maddow won’t question this highly peculiar jihad. At Salon, a string of the site’s famous “blasphemy rampages” will drown this topic out.

A very strange movement is underway. Your various watchdogs, teeth in jars, are barking about John Boehner.

Brzezinski acknowledges being shallow!


Interlude—Two things they’re permitted to say: When the press corps pretends to discuss its own conduct, ranking pundits are permitted to make at least two different claims:

They’re permitted to say that they try to create competitive White House elections. Beyond that, they’re allowed to chuckle about how silly and shallow they are.

Last week, on two Morning Joe programs, Mark Halperin made some rather unpleasant claims about the press corps’ long-standing treatment of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

According to Halperin, Hillary Clinton “is destined is get horrible coverage if she runs for president.” Halperin said the national press corps “loves to cover her hard.”

last week, two different Morning Joe panels pretended to discuss those claims. As they did, pundits ran to each of their permitted self-descriptions.

Let’s start with the claim that they try to create competitive White House campaigns.

Several pundits said Clinton is going to get beaten up because she’s a prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. Below, you see a statement by Donnie Deutsch in the second Morning Joe discussion. Deutsch is piggy-backing on something David Gregory had just said:
DEUTSCH (7/25/14): But the troubling thing, and I believe in addition to what David and Mark laid out very articulately are her problems, is just simple fatigue. It's just, you know, you see her picture, and do you want to turn the page at this point? Has there been, is it 22 years? And beyond the fact of her very, very, very contentious relationship with the media, it's just, are Americans just tired of looking at her—I don't mean from a physical point of view—and I think that's the big issue.

And if that is the issue people are not picking up the book, that's going to be difficult. So if you couple that with the media laying in wait because she is so formidable and laying in wait because there is no story if she just continues this march, on top of consumers’ fatigue, the right Republican candidate can beat her.
Could the right Republican candidate heat her? We’d be inclined to say yes, although we don’t make predictions.

At any rate, Deutsch turned to possible “Clinton fatigue” as he tried to explain the disappointing sales of Clinton’s book. At the same time, he accepted Gregory’s description of standard press corps conduct:

The press is “laying in wait” for Clinton, Deutsch said, because “there is no story if she just continues this march” to the nomination and the White House.

Pundits routinely offer this account of their guild’s behavior. In late September 2000, Howard Fineman offered this explanation for the way his colleagues had just invented two new “lies” by Candidate Gore, who seemed to be pulling away from Candidate Bush in the national polls at the time.

Fourteen years later, Deutsch used Fineman’s specific language about the way the press corps tries to interrupt easy “marches” to the White House. Let’s recall what Fineman said to Brian Williams in September 2000:

“I don't think the media was going to allow, just by its nature, the next seven weeks and the last seven or eight weeks of the campaign to be all about Al Gore's relentless triumphant march to the presidency,” Fineman told Williams on September 21 of that year. “We want a race, I suppose. If we have a bias of any kind, it's that we like to see a contest, and we like to see it down to the end if we can.”

Is that why the press corps invented those “lies,” causing Gore to tumble back to even in the national polls? We have no idea, though it’s abundantly clear that the press corps had a much larger “bias” in that race than the one Fineman described.

That said, it’s interesting that Fineman felt free to describe the press corps’ motive that way, since he was describing overt journalistic misconduct as he did so.

To state the obvious, it’s not the business of the press corps to engineer closer White House campaigns. In tilting coverage to produce that end, a journalist would be engaging in obvious misconduct.

In the case of Campaign 2000, Fineman’s colleagues tilted the race so far back that Candidate Bush ended up in the White House. According to Fineman’s real-time analysis, people are dead all over the world because his colleagues “weren’t going to allow the last seven weeks of the campaign to be all about Al Gore's triumphant march to the presidency.”

Fineman was describing murderous conduct by his colleagues in the press. But so what? Journalists always seem to feel free to describe their motives in the way Fineman did.

Gregory and Deutsch, and several others, followed suit on last week's Morning Joe panels. Clinton is getting trashed, they said and implied, because their colleagues “aren’t going to allow the next several years to be all about Hillary Clinton’s triumphant march to the presidency.”

It’s amazing to see the ease with which major journalists cop to this type of conduct.

The Morning Joe panels also engaged in that second permitted statement concerning their own behavior. At the end of last Friday’s pseudo-discussion, Mika Brzezinski and Donnie Deutsch engaged in a bit of misdirection about how silly and shallow they and their colleagues are.

Brzezinski is brilliant at this phony brand of self-denigration. As the pundits’ feigned discussion neared its end, she and Deutsch imagined a happy ending to the recent trashing of Clinton for her damnable speaking fees.

They pictured Clinton rising about the “negative coverage” which, the show's pundits all seemed to agree, has been occurring for several decades. Pitifully, this misdirection occurred:
DEUTSCH: She needs her Bill Clinton/Arsenio sax moment. I mean, she needs—you used the word “reset.”

BRZEZINSKI: Yes! I think she can do that!

DEUTSCH: There needs to be— And by the way, there’s so much— By the way, do a great thing with Jimmy Fallon—

BRZEZINSKI: And you’re done!

DEUTSCH: There are so many opportunities—

BRZEZINSKI: Front page! We’re shallow!
Instead of discussing their own behavior, the pundits were now explaining what Clinton should do in response. As it turns out, she needs to have an Arsenio moment, preferably with Jimmy Fallon!

If you have such a moment, “you’re done,” Mika cried! We’ll put your triumph on the front page! We’ll do that because “we’re shallow!”

In fairness, there is no doubt that Brzezinski is one of the shallowest members of this dishonest brigade. Just consider her statement about what Clinton should have said about her speaking fees—fees which have multimillionaires like Brzezinski so worried/troubled/upset.

We return to last Tuesday’s pseudo-discussion. In the exchange shown below, Halperin drops one of his bombs about the Clinton coverage.

Somewhat coherently, Mika wanders toward an account of what Clinton should have said. To watch that whole segment, click here.

Try to believe that she said it:
HALPERIN (7/22/14): [The Clintons] are held to a different standard. Look, you could go scrutinize the personal wealth of a lot of other people thinking of running for president. But it’s just not happening now.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, no, we did, with Mitt Romney, and it was different. And I’ve actually, you know, felt rather conflicted because I’ve had some reactions—

We react on this show very transparently to the news as it comes past us. And mine hasn’t been positive completely about her speaking fees.

Eugene and Julie—Eugene first. I’m just wondering, because in retrospect there was one thing I thought about that actually made me feel really good about the amount of her speaking fees that she was raking in. I’m just wondering if she could have deflected positively, Eugene, and said something like, “Well, aren’t you, aren’t you happy for me as a woman? Aren’t you glad that a woman can command such unbelievable speaking fees? And what men can do that, by the way? We are in a new era and I’m at the front of that line.”

What would be wrong with talking about the role of women in society, equal pay, and also women doing as well as men and sometimes outrageously well?
“Mine hasn’t been positive completely about her speaking fees?” When discussing her own behavior, Mika tends to move to a personal version of pigeon English which spews the gorilla dust.

As she continued, Mika mused about the mammoth fees Clinton has been “raking in.” In the process, she offered an utterly ludicrous thought about what Clinton should have said.

Go ahead—watch the tape! According to Mika, Clinton should have said this:

“Aren’t you glad that a woman can command such unbelievable speaking fees? And what men can do that, by the way? We are in a new era and I’m at the front of that line.”

We rarely ask you to imagine possible outcomes. But surely, we all know what would have happened if Hillary Clinton, of all known humans, had made a statement anything like that.

Alas! This is the type of pseudo-discussion major pundits constantly stage when their own conduct has been called into question. Tomorrow, we’ll show you how Robinson answered that ridiculous question from Mika. And we’ll show you what Julie Pace, age 30, said when Mike Barnacle, age 70, asked her to explain his own long-standing behavior concerning the Clintons. (For background, see yesterday’s post.)

By the time Pace was done, Mika and Mike were ironically praising her comments. Julie Pace, a young guild member, was earning her stripes this day in the latest pseudo-discussion staged by this lawless band.

Tomorrow: Pace earns her stripes

Middle-class Mika: As of 2012, it was being widely reported that Brzezinski was being paid $2 million per year for her “shallow” conduct on Morning Joe.

That’s how much Brzezinski “rakes in.” Needless to say, she has been troubled by the news that Clinton rakes in even more.

Supplemental: Drum does “they love to cover her hard!”


We wait for The One Liberal Channel: Exactly as we predicted, Kevin Drum has gone on the record concerning the Clinton coverage.

In yesterday’s post, he quotes an interesting observation by Slate’s Dave Weigel, whose overall work on this subject strikes us as being quite poor.

We’ll discuss that observation tomorrow. For today, this is Drum’s conclusion about Mark Halperin’s recent statement that Clinton is “destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president”—that “the press loves to cover her hard:”
DRUM (7/29/14): The media's preoccupation with the Clintons' wealth won't last forever. Even for the Washington press corps, it's too transparently silly to pretend that it's somehow surprising that a presidential candidate is wealthy. But Somerby and Halperin are right: it's a sign of things to come. The press has never liked Hillary, and she's never liked them, and that's that. If she decides to run for president, this is going to be one of her biggest problems—or maybe her biggest, period. She's just never going to catch a break.
Will Clinton ever catch a break if she runs for president? We wouldn’t make a hard-and-fast prediction, although the Washington Post’s recent jihad has been remarkable and sobering.

We also wouldn’t be sure that “the media's preoccupation with the Clintons’ wealth won't last forever.” In the past, they have shown that they will maintain lunatic claims for years at a time, unless and until they are somehow made to stop.

We don’t know what the press will do if Clinton enters the race. We do know this—the indolence of the liberal world concerning the press corps’ recent behavior is a major sign of our essential fecklessness.

We simply aren’t bright or serious people. Good God, but we’re easy to play!

How many times does this sort of thing have to happen before we liberals start to resist? Before we start demanding that our fiery leaders resist?

If a Republican front-runner was being beaten up this way, the screaming would have been heard from coast to coast by now. But on the One True Liberal Channel, the millionaire children have all been silent. At Salon, not a word has been said.

The silence is deafening, just as it was in March 1999, when the mainstream press corps started its twenty-month war against Candidate Gore.

We’ve explained the economics of this ridiculous “liberal” silence many times. MSNBC is loaded with people whose incomes depend on their silence about the recent past.

Liberal careers run through the major mainstream organs, like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Conservative careers do not.

Meanwhile, two of MSNBC’s prime-time hosts have been involved in the endless wars against the Clintons and Gore. So were several of the channel’s major “contributors.” No one did more to send Bush to the White House than the flagrantly lunatic Chris Matthews, who has now reinvented himself to suit the new corporate line.

For these reason, the people you love have never told you about what happened in Campaign 2000. They will never discuss the ridiculous coverage of Candidate Clinton in the 2008 Democratic nomination campaign, which was won by Candidate Obama.

They will never challenge the lunacy of Maureen Dowd, who remains quite influential. If you want to advance through the New York Times, you do not challenge Dowd.

In this major respect, the people you see on The One True Channel are taking you for a ride. For these reasons, regular liberals have never been exposed to the actual journalistic history of the past twenty-plus years. In comments to Drum’s post, we were struck, as we often are, by the various liberal commenters who are reciting MSM narratives about campaigns of the past. We liberals are easy to script because our leaders keep playing us.

How crazy is the emerging world of the corporate liberal press? On Monday night, we saw Chris Matthews fawning in favor of Hillary Clinton again.

If you've been alive for the past twenty years, this sort of thing is astounding:
MATTHEWS (7/28/14): Remember last week, when we told you Darth Vader had a higher approval rating than all of the current potential 2016 presidential candidates? Well, Hillary Clinton showed her savvy, I think, on why she lost to the villain.

FAREED ZAKARIA: One final question, and then we’re done. What do you make of the fact that Darth Vader is polling ahead of every potential presidential candidate? What’s the deeper meaning of this?

CLINTON: Oh, I think the deeper meaning is that people love fantasies. (LAUGHTER)

And sometimes, when we are so frustrated with the gridlock in Washington, we would like some deus ex machina figure. Darth wouldn’t be my choice, but somebody of perhaps a slightly more positive attitude in his presentation to come in and just fix it.

MATTHEWS: If you don’t like that Hillary, go find yourself another candidate! That’s Hillary at her best. She is great! And that’s what she’s really like.
Really? So she isn't really like Nurse Rathched or Evita Peron? They were the comparisons of choice when Matthews was serving Jack Welch.

Matthews’ silly fawning in favor of Clinton is truly a sight to behold. From the late 1990s right through 2008, Matthews relentlessly savaged Clinton in openly misogynistic ways.

It’s stunning to see him playing the fool in the other direction. It’s stunning to see the liberal world letting him clown in such transparent ways.

That said, Joan Walsh and them suckle at Matthews’ large teat; they will never discuss his decades of ugliness and outright deception. They will never tell you what happened in earlier White House campaigns. For that reason, the liberal world is susceptible to having it happen again.

We’re glad to see Drum, our favorite blogger, discuss what Halperin said. But the silence is deafening everywhere else. We liberals are often deeply clueless. Thanks to the silence of our leaders, we are quite easily conned.

Like earth girls, we liberals are very easy. The conservative world would never tolerate what the Washington Post has been doing. The conservative world would never accept the lunacy of a hustler like Matthews, the craziness of Dowd.

Robinson and Barnacle baffled!


Part 3—Insiders can’t figure it out: Last week, on two different Morning Joe programs, Mark Halperin delivered a stinging indictment of the mainstream press corps.

For background, see yesterday’s post.

Halperin is a major insider. He understands the insider press. He knows the other insiders.

But uh-oh! According to Halperin, Hillary Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president,” at least as matters stand.

“The press loves to cover her hard,” Halperin memorably said.

As Halperin voiced his full indictment on last Tuesday’s Morning Joe, he even said what follows. He was responding to a question from a thoroughly baffled insider:
HALPERIN (7/22/14): The press loves to cover her hard. The momentum is all against her right now.

BARNACLE: Why is that, Mark?

HALPERIN: About the press?

BARNACLE: Yeah. [Chuckling]

HALPERIN: The Clintons have tried to figure that out for several decades. I don’t know. But they’re just—


HALPERIN: They’re held to a different standard. Look, you could go scrutinize the personal wealth of a lot of other people thinking of running for president. But it’s just not happening now.
The Clintons “are held to a different standard,” Halperin alleged. A deeply puzzled Mika Brzezinski basically seemed to agree. (To watch this whole segment, click here.)

Is it true that Halperin “doesn’t know” why this double standard exists? We’ll guess the gentleman could have said more this day.

That said, Halperin described gross misconduct on the part of the mainstream press during last week’s discussions. And how odd! None of the other major pundits really seemed to disagree with the claims he was making. They just couldn’t seem to explain their own long-standing conduct!

What was Halperin claiming? According to Halperin, a major American politician is likely to receive “horrible coverage” if she runs for the White House. On last Friday’s Morning Joe, he plainly implied that this “horrible coverage” might well get her defeated.

And not only that! Halperin seemed to say that this politician—and her husband, a former president—have been held to this “different standard” for “several decades” now! The press corps “loves to cover her hard,” this major insider said.

Different people will assess these claims in different ways. We’d say those claims have a lot of merit—especially if you add in the “horrible coverage” extended for two solid years to Candidate Gore, Bill Clinton’s chosen successor in Campaign 2000.

The era of Whitewater pseudo-scandals? The lunatic coverage of Candidate Gore? The misogynist trashing of “Nurse Ratched/Evita Person” in the 2008 Democratic primaries?

These manifestations all emerged from the mainstream press corps, more than from the RNC or the “right-wing noise machine.” The same is true of the current jihad about Hillary Clinton’s deeply troubling speaking fees, a jihad which jumped from the Washington Post to Maureen Dowd’s latest name-calling screed.

Have the Clintons been held to a “different standard” for “several decades” now? Is Hillary Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president?”

Different people will assess those claims in different ways. But please note this very important point:

None of the major insiders on Morning Joe seemed to dispute what Halperin said! Instead, they did what they always do when their conduct is called into question. The pundits began to shuffle along, scratching their heads and puzzling hard about the reasons for their own long-standing behavior.

We first described this conduct in 1999, when Howard Kurtz asked two panels of pundits to explain the trashing which was being delivered to Candidate Gore. (That trashing soon got worse.) Last week, this same shambolic, baffled behavior was acted out by the master thespians on these Morning Joe programs.

Let’s start with the Washington Post’s Gene Robinson. Last Tuesday, Brzezinski turned to him first after Halperin delivered his accusations.

Poor Mika! As she began, she offered a ridiculous thought about what Clinton should have said about her speaking fees. (We’ll offer that ridiculous text before the week is done.) At that point, she threw to Robinson.

What explains the Clinton coverage? Without disputing the claim of the double standard, this major insider quickly fell into the passive voice. He seemed to be completely puzzled by the Clinton coverage—by the coverage from his own colleagues over the past twenty years:
ROBINSON (7/22/14): You know, it is kind of ironic, the scrutiny of the Clintons’ personal finances. You know, they—she was born to not great wealth, but she was comfortable growing up, but not fantastically wealthy or anything.

The Clintons have worked very hard and have made a lot of money and that’s supposed to be something I thought that people respected and admired. It’s the American way. Yet, they’re the Clintons. And you know, if you look up the phrase “lightning rod” in the dictionary, I suspect you see pictures of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Yet, they’re the Clintons,” Robinson said, implying that the double standard actually does exist.

Indeed, if you look up “lightning rod” in the dictionary, you’ll see photos of the Clintons! So this insider said.

In this way, a master dissembler completed a practiced dodge. According to Halperin, it’s Robinson’s own insider cohort which has made “lightning rods” out of the Clintons. It’s Robinson’s colleagues and friends who hold them to that different standard.

Robinson never addressed that claim in his weirdly halting remarks. Instead, he acted like a baffled visitor from a distant preserve. He observed the oddness of the coverage, but made no attempt to explain it. He seemed to have no idea why the Clintons are “lightning rods.”

Make no mistake—Robinson was dissembling. In June 1999, he was editor of the Washington Post’s Style section. Under his guiding hand, the Post ran three mocking profiles of Candidate Gore that month, timed to coincide with the formal announcement of his candidacy.

His owners wanted Gore covered that way; Robinson provided the coverage. This helped make him the major insider he is today—a man who gets to go on TV and scratch his head and baldly dissemble in defense of the guild.

Mike Barnacle emerged from the clown car next. His clowning was even more perfect.

First, a quick bit of background:

Barnacle has been a major pundit insider since the dawn of time. He was already a major cable presence in November 2000, when he worriedly said that his worried grandchildren needed Candidate Gore to drop his Florida challenge.

Barnacle has been a major insider for decades. He knows all the other insiders. If the Clintons have been treated in the manner described, he would surely have an insight into why this has occurred.

Barnacle speaks from within the tent—but on this day, he clowned. Even as he extended Halperin’s portrait, he threw to Julie Pace, a youngish AP reporter (Northwestern class of 2004), asking her to explain the conduct of his own insider guild.

Mika seemed thoroughly baffled too, a stance she adopts with great ease. In what follows, you see world-class clowning by a pair of master dissemblers:
BARNACLE (continuing directly): Julie, I don’t want to put you on the spot. You know, you’re a reporter. And I don’t want to really put you on the spot...

But I’m wondering if you have any sense of why, or how, everything about Hillary Clinton, in terms of media coverage—That’s us! That’s you and me, it’s Mark, it’s Willie, it’s Mika—seems to have like a negative—

BRZEZINSKI: Twist, yeah!

BARNACLE: —note contained in it.
You’re looking at world-class dissembling. Let’s get clear on what was said in that absurd exchange.

In that passage, Barnacle and Brzezinski accept and extend the general thrust of Halperin’s withering portrait. Barnacle even goes so far as to name the people who keep introducing a “negative note” to all the coverage of Clinton.

Who introduces the “negative note” to all the Clinton coverage? According to Barnacle, Willie Geist does it, and so does Mika. Halperin does it, Barnacle claims—and so does Barnacle himself!

Mika seemed to agree with this general notion. When Barnacle paused in his assessment, she threw in the idea that major pundits introduce a negative “twist” whenever they discuss Clinton.

Rather plainly, these insiders were agreeing with Halperin’s withering portrait. Rather plainly, they seemed to agree that they themselves have covered the Clintons in this constant “negative” way.

But how odd! Rather than explain his own conduct, Barnacle threw to Pace, a young reporter for the AP who isn’t a major insider. Sidestepping in a practiced manner, he asked Pace if she could explain why he and his cohort have behaved in this way for the past several decades.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what Pace said, for which she was applauded. For today, we want you to focus on the world-class dissembling by the old white guy, the admirable black guy and the upwardly striving, equality-seeking woman.

All the insider press corps “types” came spilling out of the clown car this day. When they did, they dumped their baggage on Pace.

No one disputed Halperin’s portrait. But as always, the pundits pretended that they were baffled by their own decades of misconduct. We described this very same pundit behavior in the fall of 1999.

These are deeply dishonest players. They’ve played this game for decades now.

Through their clowning, they seek to let their guild maintain its control of the national discourse. When in the world will liberals insist that this clownish dissembling must stop?

Tomorrow: Pace is applauded

To watch these Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

Last Tuesday’s discussion featured Barnacle’s clowning—and his throw to Julie Pace. To watch that full segment, click this.

On Friday, Halperin said that Hillary Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.”

How long do liberals plan to accept this? To watch that whole segment, click here.

Supplemental: Millionaire’s Christmas in July!

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014

Watching the liberal mind crumble: We humans love to be programmed.

We love to be told that our tribe is the best. We then go rampaging through the streets in support of this insight.

For an example of what we mean, read the New York Times news report which bears this remarkable hard-copy headline:

“3 Killed in Facebook Blasphemy Rampage.”

The New York Times did a news report on a “Facebook blasphemy rampage?” Good lord, what a phrase!

In fairness, this horrible news report comes from Pakistan. To our ear, that phrase sounds like a description of the work being done each day at Salon.

(Did you hear the one about the scores of right-wingers spitting at the kids?)

The liberal mind is backsliding hard in this age of partisan corporate news. Last night, Rachel Maddow provided the latest example on her corporate cable TV show.

Maddow was creaming, as she frequently does, about the thought that “former Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife [are] facing basically life in prison.” As you may have noticed, Rachel Maddow likes it a lot when The Others suffer and die.

To our eye, Maddow played the fool last night. To understand the depth of the clowning, you have to start with Sunday’s report in the Washington Post by the exceptionally dour Rosalind Helderman, who guested on Maddow’s program.

Helderman (Harvard 2001) has been keeping it rather unreal. On Sunday, her front-page preview of the McDonnell trial burned 2500 words.

We’ve got a feeling we aren't in Cambridge any more! Here’s how the former bright young kid began her heavily tabloid report, hard-copy headline included:
HELDERMAN (7/27/14): McDonnells’ court drama: ‘It’s going to be ugly’

The star witness is a flashy dietary supplement executive who boasted of friendships with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. A manicurist, a party planner and a yet-to-be-named public official from another state also could take the stand.

In their much-anticipated federal corruption trial set to begin Monday, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will seek to win acquittal on multiple charges and restore their honor in the eyes of the law.

But over the course of the trial in a Richmond courtroom, expected to last five weeks, the McDonnells also will submit themselves to a potentially humiliating spectacle that will showcase an intimate view of their frayed marriage and odd personal relationships.

"It's going to be ugly," said L. Douglas Wilder, another former governor, who is friendly with McDonnell and has followed the case. "The more you read, the more sleaze develops. It's not going to be nice for anyone.”
Question: How big a role will Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton play in this “court drama,” with its intimate view of the McDonnells’ marriage?

Based upon Helderman’s tabloid report, it doesn’t sound like they’re destined to play a very large role at all. But there they were in her opening sentence! What peculiar news judgment!

That said, Helderman’s piece was tabloid glop from its start to its finish. We’ll assume she once was a bright young kid. Today, this is all that’s left.

We mention Helderman for a reason. Last evening, Maddow’s messy self-abuse was built around her heavily tabloid report.

Maddow devoted two segments of her show to this rather insignificant trial. Believe it or not, this is the way she started the second of these segments:
MADDOW (7/28/14): This is from the Washington Post today [sic]. This is amazing.

"In their final days in the governor’s mansion, Governor McDonnell was consumed with completing his final budget, highlighting the accomplishments of his administration and girding for the indictment that by then seemed inevitable.

"Maureen McDonnell, though, was pressing to enjoy the final perks of office.

“According to several state employees familiar with her requests, she pushed to stay at the executive mansion as long as possible, even asking for access to the historic home after her husband ceded office to the new governor, Terry McAuliffe on January 11th. She reasoned that her husband had been elected to a four-year term and had not taken office until January 16th, four years earlier. So they should be allowed to stay five more days.

“In the end, the couple departed the mansion only on the morning of Terry McAuliffe’s inauguration, breaking a recent tradition in which first families have vacated the premises days in advance to allow state employees time to prepare for the new occupants.”

And now, get this!

“About a month before the McDonnells’ exit, the first lady also stunned members of the mansion’s advisory council when she asked if she could have as keepsakes four shoeboxes full of Christmas ornaments, one from each year that the family occupied the mansion. That’s according to two people directly involved with the council.

“The Citizens Advisory Council for Furnishing and Interpreting the Executive Mansion had raised the money to buy the ornaments and had donated them to the mansion, making them state property. They offered to let her pay for them. She declined.”

Remarkable reporting from the Washington Post, which, of course, is the paper that first broke the news of the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell corruption scandal...
Can we talk? That’s news for the sick and the stupid.

At some length, Maddow read the silly material with which Helderman, Harvard Class of 2001, chose to end her lurid, tabloidized news report.

For a person like Maddow, that delicious passage was Christmas in July! According to Helderman’s imitation of news, this is what occurred:

At the end of McDonnell’s term, his wife asked if she could keep four boxes of Christmas ornaments, presumably for sentimental reasons. She was told she would have to pay for the ornaments.

In the end, she didn’t do so. Helderman doesn’t say why.

To Maddow, that was “amazing” stuff! In a world where people are suffering and dying in very large numbers, she wasted everyone’s time making herself cream about the embarrassments of the hated.

Maddow wasted almost two minutes reading that consummate argle-bargle. It’s embarrassing that Helderman wrote that dreck, and that the Post chose to publish it. It’s a problem for progressive values when multimillionaire “liberal” leaders cream over such worthlessness.

Like Maddow, we have no idea what actually happened regarding those meaningless ornaments. Helderman’s reporting was a bit thin on some of the basic facts.

But please understand what you’re being handed when Maddow hands you such world-class piddle. You’re watching a person who gets paid $7 million per year chuckling over the idea that an outgoing first lady couldn’t afford to buy some ornaments which had sentimental value.

Governor McDonnell behaved very foolishly in accepting several hundred thousand dollars from businessman Jonnie Williams. On the other hand, we’d have to say he didn’t really do all that much to help Williams’ ventures along.

How many professional corners does Maddow cut to maintain the $7 million she accepts from her corporate directors? How many topics does she skip? How much bullshit does she air to keep us rubes entertained, so we’ll keep tuning in?

You’re not supposed to think such thoughts as you watch the TV stars of corporate news perform.

The liberal mind is melting down under the weight of corporate “news.” (They ruined conservatives first.) In the process, the mainstream press corps is gearing up to elect a Republican again.

The Washington Post seems to be leading the way in this project, just as it did for two solid years in the war against Candidate Gore. But Rachel will never tell you that, not in a million years.

Is the Washington Post conducting a jihad about Hillary Clinton? Actually yes, it is. But Maddow writes a monthly column for the august newspaper. She will never challenge their work or their culture, not in a million years.

Suggestion: When you pay people $7 million per year, you often turn them into scrambled-egg jokes. In our view, Our Own $7 Million Hack has become a public embarrassment.

Tomorrow: Stunningly feckless

If you have thirteen minutes to waste: Last night, Maddow aired two segments about this insignificant trial.

To watch the first segment, click this. Warning! Maddow will waste your time talking about Aaron Burr. (Excitement! There was a duel!)

To watch the second segment, click here.
It’s Christmas in July for cable news millionaires!

Halperin’s theory in full!

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014

Part 2—Gregory starts to explain: If Hillary Clinton runs for president, is she “destined to get horrible coverage?”

We can’t answer that question, although events of the past few months make it a plausible theory. So do events of the past several decades, as David Gregory, and other insiders, mumblingly noted last week.

Let’s start at the beginning! Last Tuesday, Mika Brzezinski introduced a segment on Morning Joe about Clinton’s White House prospects. Needless to say, she also discussed Clinton’s troubling wealth, then asked a stupid question:
BRZEZINSKI (7/22/14): Meanwhile, a new study by Bloomberg shows that Clinton earned at least $12 million since she stepped down in February of last year. That figure includes the advance from her new memoir along with speaking fees which are said to command 200 grand per appearance.

I’m curious about these numbers. All the fees go to the Clinton Foundation? Some of them?
Say what? Was Mika kidding? As everyone knows, Clinton doesn’t donate all her fees to the Clinton Foundation. We can’t tell you why Brzezinski pretended she didn’t know that.

But in response to that silly question, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin began to outline his theory about the way Clinton will be covered if she runs for the White House. If you care which party holds the White House, you ought to be concerned by his views:
HALPERIN (continuing directly): They’re not totally transparent, but a lot of them do. But some critics say, you know, they control the foundation.

She’s lost control of her public image. It’s the worst thing that can happen to somebody thinking of running for president and it’s a time when she should be in command. She had a book tour, she can control the message. Her operation is playing defense on a lot of stories. And it’s fine—she can recover from it. But right now, she’s lost control of how people are thinking about her, how the media’s covering her.
According to Halperin, Clinton has “lost control of [the way] the media’s covering her.” This was the start of a theory he laid out in two different segments on Morning Joe last week.

If you care which party holds the White House, we think Halperin’s theory is well worth considering—is well worth considering now. We also think you should consider the way two panels of big-name journalists reacted to his assertions.

This morning, we’ll lay out Halperin’s theory in full, exactly as it was expressed on those Morning Joe programs. We’ll also review a reaction from David Gregory, kingpin of Meet the Press.

For now, let’s return to last Tuesday’s program.

After Halperin made the statements we've posted, Willie Geist Jr. jumped in with a typical Willie Geist question. In response, Halperin fleshed out his views:
GEIST (continuing directly): Would it have been better, in hindsight, if Hillary Clinton had not written this book and gone out on a book tour? Because look where she was when she was out of the fray. No one was talking about her in terms of politics, just in terms of how she’d done as secretary of state.

She’d have less money. That’s true.

HALPERIN: I think so. I think on balance it’s pretty clear that the timing of the book, the way the book went for her political aspirations, wasn’t a good thing.

But she has a lot of positive attributes that are currently just being overwhelmed by all this negative coverage. And it’s going to keep going. The momentum—there’s, there’s— The press loves to cover her hard.
Whatever his various merits may be, Geist is the Peck’s Good Boy of the celebrity press corps. According to Geist, things would go fine for Hillary Clinton if she just wouldn’t write any books or make any public appearances.

As he ended, Geist threw in a snide remark about Clinton’s quest for money. That is the very narrative to which Halperin was referring when he cited the way the press corps is covering Clinton.

Whatever! As he replied to the Geist, Halperin further defined his theory:

The “negative coverage” of Clinton is “going to keep going,” he said. “The press loves to cover her hard.”

Is that true? Does the national press corps “love to cover her hard?” Halperin was alleging gross misconduct on the part of the national press. As we’ll see, he extended this theory three days later, also on Morning Joe.

Is it true? Does the national press “love to cover Clinton hard?” At this point, insider pundit Mike Barnacle jumped in—and quite clearly, Barnacle seemed to agree with this general claim. At the same time, he seemed completely baffled as to the reasons why he and his colleagues cover Clinton in this negative manner.

Tomorrow, we’ll review the silly, disingenuous exchanges Barnacle generated, with help from the Washington Post’s equally puzzled Gene Robinson. For today, let’s skip ahead three days, to last Friday’s Morning Joe, where Halperin extended his theory about Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

Three days had passed, and Mika Brzezinski was discussing Clinton’s prospects again. She quoted something Clinton had said, then threw to Halperin.

In response to Brzezinski’s toss, Halperin made his most dramatic prediction:
BRZEZINSKI (7/25/14): Former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is admitting she may have some work to when it comes to media relations. Clinton has frequently clashed with the press, including during her 2008 presidential campaign and her recent book tour.

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said she believed the former first lady expected the press, especially female journalists, to be loyal to her. And now Hillary Clinton is responding, saying, quote:

“I think maybe one of the points Jill was making is that I do sometimes expect perhaps more than I should and I’ll have to work on my expectations. But I had an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years and enjoyed working with them, and whatever I do in the future, I look forward to having the same kind of opportunities.”

Mark Halperin, your thoughts.

HALPERIN: Well, I don't ever like to overstate the media's role, but the media has a pretty big role in the presidential process. I think she's talking about what is the most important issue determining whether she'll be president right now. She'll raise the money, she’ll have policy positions. She needs to find a way—we talked about this the other day—to change the narrative about how she's being covered.

Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.
Halperin completed his theory, making a startling prediction. Unless Clinton can change the way she’s being covered, she is “destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.”

Rather plainly, Halperin said this horrible coverage could cause Clinton to lose the race. If you care which party holds the White House, you ought to be concerned about this prediction.

Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage?” The theory is perfectly plausible, as events of the past two months, and the past few decades, make abundantly clear.

Events of the past few decades? At this point, Brzezinski threw to David Gregory. Below, you see what Gregory said about Halperin’s theory:
HALPERIN: Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.

BRZEZINSKI: So how did that happen, David Gregory?

GREGORY [chuckles]: You know, I mean I just think this goes back a long time. One of the downsides to being in the public eye as a political figure for so long is that there's just a lot of baggage associated with that, that goes back now twenty-plus years. And relationships and views about the press and situations you've been in, I think that's very difficult to get out from under.

I think there's always been, if you go back to her presidential runs, what has surrounded her is the idea that she’s this formidable and perhaps unstoppable force. And I think the media will always look to kind of pick that apart, especially if there’s vulnerability and if you don't live up to expectations. I think that's part of what happened in 2008.

And I think if you don't make—if there's open disdain for a lot of the media culture, and members of the media, you're not able to kind of forge new relationships. I think the only way that can change is if there's a real effort to sort of, to sort of create new relationships.

And I think there, I mean, I think there was a kind of a deft comment, which is almost like, you know, “I'm sorry I care so much—”

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, my gosh!

GREGORY: “I'm sorry my expectations are so high,” you know, that they’ll never be met.
Instantly, Gregory said the situation “goes back a long time.” And uh-oh! Rather quickly, he suggested a link to Clinton’s alleged “open disdain for a lot of the media culture and members of the media.”

We don’t know why Gregory seemed to think that Clinton has made previous “runs” for the White House (plural). But we were struck by his instant reference to that alleged “open disdain.”

Some of what Gregory said this day made perfect sense. In the statement quoted by Brzezinski, Clinton did display her political tin ear, in something like the way Gregory burlesqued.

Clinton knows a lot about matters of substance. This has been clear in recent weeks in the TV interviews where she was asked about the affairs of the world.

In sessions with the likes of Diane Sawyer, she tended to reveal a shortfall in the realm of deft/glib political speech.

Having said that, let us also say this: By the laws of the upper-class press corps, you are not allowed to display anything like an open disdain for members of the media or their wonderful media culture. If the lords and ladies think you’ve done that, you will almost surely be treated in predictable ways.

The situation in question goes back a long ways, the chuckling Gregory said. Three days earlier, Halperin had made a similar statement to Brzezinski.

Most of the pundits on these programs seemed to agree that Halperin was talking about an actual state of affairs. They seemed to agree that Hillary Clinton does receive negative coverage.

That raises an obvious question: Why? Tomorrow, we’ll show you a very familiar manifestation:

Does Clinton get tons of negative coverage? With Mike Barnacle taking the lead, we’ll show you the way these disingenuous pundit panels pretended they really can’t explain why this problem exists.

Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage?” For two years, Candidate Gore did get horrible coverage. It led to a very bad end.

If you care which party holds the White House, we think you should be concerned by Halperin’s prediction of more to come. You also ought to be concerned by the silly faux behavior of major millionaire inside players like Robinson, Barnacle, Mika.

They can never explain their own misbehavior. Or at least so they pretend.

Tomorrow: Thoroughly baffled, Barnacle throws to Pace!

To watch these Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Clinton’s press coverage.

For our money, Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his clowning tomorrow. To watch that whole segment, click here.

On Friday, Mark Halperin made a startling prediction—and Gregory discussed the Clintons’ “open disdain for media culture.”

David said more than the law allows. To watch that full segment, click this.

All this week: The culture of “horrible coverage!”

MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014

Also, the culture of silence: If Hillary Clinton runs for president, she may well get her party’s nomination.

If she does, is she “destined to get horrible coverage” from the mainstream press corps?

Last Friday, Mark Halperin made that prediction on Morning Joe—and he stressed the word “horrible.” Three days earlier, he had made a similar statement on the same program.

For fuller background, see this morning’s post.

We’ll look at last Tuesday’s Morning Joe in tomorrow’s principal post. For now, here are some excerpts from Halperin’s statements that day:
HALPERIN (7/22/14): She’s lost control of her public image. It’s the worst thing that can happen to someone thinking of running for president.


She has a lot of positive attributes that are currently just being overwhelmed by all this negative coverage. And it’s going to keep going. The momentum, there’s, there’s— The press loves to cover her hard.
As we’ll see, the other Morning Joe pundits feigned incomprehension concerning the reasons for the negative coverage. But according to Halperin:

“The negative coverage is going to keep going...The press loves to cover her hard.”

As we noted this morning, those are very unusual statements from a press insider. Beyond that, it seems to us that Halperin’s predictions and statements make sense.

All this week, we’ll explore the ways the other pundits on Morning Joe reacted to Halperin’s statements. This involves the culture of horrible coverage, a culture extending back many years.

But it also involves the culture of press corps silence.

As you’ll see, the other pundits feigned incomprehension about the reasons for this “horrible coverage.” Other journalists did the same thing in October and November 1999, when Howard Kurtz asked two different pundit panels why Candidate Gore was attracting so much “harsh coverage and punditry.”

Guess what, marks? Big pundits always feign incomprehension when challenged about their conduct. And just so you’ll know, this culture of silence extends all the way down to your favorite liberal stars.

Your darling Rachel will never tell you the things we’ll be telling you all this week. Chris Hayes has a horrible tendency to start reciting mainstream narratives when people like Susan Rice or Hillary Clinton start getting trashed by the powers that be.

Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews? They were major players in the two-year war against Candidate Gore. In part for such reasons, other career liberals simply can’t tell you the history of those years.

Drum and Dionne understand the history, but there’s little chance they will ever discuss it. You will not hear from your favorite players in the career liberal world.

All week, we’ll discuss that prediction of “horrible coverage” for a Candidate Clinton. We’ll also discuss the culture of silence which has obtained for all these years, dating to Kurtz’s dumbfounded panels in 1999.

In our supplemental posts, we’ll look at other horrible journalism coming from some of our fiery liberals. Good lord, our work can be poor!

For many years, the liberal world was essentially silent. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, the liberal web began taking form.

Now, liberal and progressive voices are widely, easily heard. Sometimes, we wonder if progressive values were better served when we all kept quiet.

Starting in March 1999, Candidate Gore was treated to twenty months of “horrible coverage.” In the main, that coverage came from the mainstream press corps, not from the RNC.

To state the obvious, that horrible coverage sent Bush to the White House. Halperin says it could happen again.

To watch those Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

We thought Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his comments on Wednesday. To watch that whole segment, click here.

On Friday, Halperin made his prediction. To watch that segment, click this.

But why?

MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014

Part 1—Halperin's striking prediction: Last Friday, a gaggle of pundits on Morning Joe were discussing the White House campaign.

At the present time, of course, there is no a White House campaign. According to almost all the experts, our next presidential election takes place in November 2016.

That’s well over two years away! At present, there is no campaign.

No one is currently running for president! But major parts of the mainstream press corps love discussing White House campaigns, including those which aren’t yet occurring.

Our upper-end “journalists” love to kill time in this fashion. They also love to fashion the frameworks within which they will discuss a campaign.

In part, that explains what happened when Hillary Clinton launched her recent book tour.

Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, concerns her four years in the State Department. The book discusses a wide array of events from around the globe. It’s a type of discussion our upper-end press corps finds insuperably boring.

At the same time, it’s widely assumed that Clinton will launch a White House campaign next year. For that reason, many interviews on her book tour raced in that direction.

Multimillionaire TV stars asked if voters would support a person as wealthy as Clinton. In response to Clinton’s answers, some of the nation’s most famous pundits launched their famous “gaffe culture.”

The Washington Post even launched a front-page jihad concerning the size of Clinton’s speaking fees. In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd assailed Clinton for her “rapacious” behavior and her “wanton acquisitiveness,” which she was said to be passing along to her daughter.

In some quarters, these events have sparked minor discussions about Clinton’s relationship with the press. Last Friday, a major pundit on Morning Joe offered a startling assessment.

Mika Brzezinski quoted a recent statement by Clinton about her relationship with the press. At that point, she threw to Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.

What were Halperin’s views about this? Halperin, a major insider, made a striking prediction:
BRZEZINSKI (7/25/14): Mark Halperin, your thoughts.

HALPERIN: Well, I don't ever like to overstate the media’s role, but the media has a pretty big role in the presidential process. I think she’s talking about what is the most important issue determining whether she’ll be president right now. She'll raise the money, she’ll have policy positions. She needs to find a way—we talked about this the other day—to change the narrative about how she's being covered.

Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.
“We talked about this the other day?” Halperin referred to a discussion which occurred on the Morning Joe program of Tuesday, July 22. For links to both discussions, see below.

Citizens, can we talk?

Halperin is a major press corps insider. He knows all the other press corps insiders.

He attends the cocktail parties where media narratives slur their way into shape. Mark Halperin understands the way the press corps works.

Keeping those credentials in mind, let’s make sure we’re perfectly clear about what Halperin said:

According to Halperin, “the most important issue determining whether” Clinton can get elected to the White House will be her press coverage. She’ll be able to raise the money, he said. She’ll be able to articulate her stands on the various issues.

But Clinton needs to find a way “to change the narrative about how she’s being covered,” Halperin said, somewhat clumsily. And that’s when he made his startling prediction:

As matters stand, Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president!” So Mark Halperin said.

That is a remarkable statement, for at least several reasons.

For starters, insider pundits rarely speak in such awkward ways about the insider press. Halperin made a starting suggestion—he suggested the press corps’ coverage of a major candidate could determine the outcome of our next White House campaign.

Plainly, that’s what happened in Campaign 2000, when a twenty-month war against Candidate Gore let George Bush reach the White House. In the main, that war was conducted by the mainstream press corps, not by the RNC.

The press corps’ poisonous war against Gore let Bush reach the White House. But it’s a basic law of the guild: Major journalists never suggest that the behavior of their own guild could have such startling effects.

As such, Halperin’s remarks on Morning Joe were extremely unusual. They broke the most ironclad code of silence in American culture—the silence the mainstream press corps maintains about its own views and behaviors.

How potent is that code of silence? To what extent are its strictures observed? To anyone with eyes to see, it’s perfectly obvious that the “horrible coverage” of Candidate Gore was “the most important issue determining” his failure to get to the White House.

But so what? Right to this day, even “liberal” members of the mainstream press corps refuse to discuss this history-changing fact.

Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage” if she runs for president? Plainly, that’s what happened to Candidate Gore as our most corrupt elite transferred its post-impeachment enmity to Bill Clinton’s chosen successor.

That recent journalistic history has been disappeared. You aren’t supposed to discuss that history. Nor are pundits supposed to say the sorts of things Halperin said.

Can we talk? When Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination in 2007 and 2008, her coverage was rather horrible too.

Major figures in the press corps ridiculed her as “Nurse Ratched” and as “Evita Peron.” In a rare manifestation, the New York Times published a news report about the horrible coverage she had received, though only after the race was done.

In June 2008, the Times’ public editor savaged that same Maureen Dowd for “the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1.” But through all these trials and tribulations, careerist members of the press corps have obeyed their guild’s code of silence, pretending there’s “nothing to look at” in the way the Clintons and Gore have been covered.

This has gone on for a very long time. They buried Gene Lyons’ 1996 book, Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater. In 1999 and 2000, they pretended they had no idea why Candidate Gore was getting such horrible coverage.

When the Post began its most recent jihad last month, career liberals sat and watched in silence, just as they and their successors have always done. Some launched their own peculiar assaults on Clinton, as was the case with Gore.

Last Friday morning, Halperin made a rather startling prediction. It came in the second of two semi-remarkable discussions on Morning Joe.

On each of those programs, high-ranking national pundits played a familiar game. They pretended they had no earthly idea why they themselves, and their colleagues and friends, were giving Clinton some premature horrible coverage.

They’ve played this game many times in the past. If they’re allowed, they will continue to play it.

Do you want to see a Republican president? That choice is up to each voter, of course.

But “horrible coverage” of Candidate Gore did send Candidate Bush to the White House. Halperin issued a clear prediction:

Hey rubes! It could happen again!

Tomorrow: What David Gregory said

To watch the Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

For our money, Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his comments on Wednesday. To watch that whole segment, click here.

On Friday, Halperin made a startling prediction. Mika threw to David and Donny. To watch that full segment, click this.

Supplemental: Is Alexandra Petri a twit?


Potentially conformist minds don’t seem to want to know: Yesterday, we mentioned William Deresiewicz’s rumination about the Ivy League.

The former Yale professor’s piece appears in The New Republic.

By this morning, we were already regretting the fact that we were so snarky about the publication of the piece. Then, we read Alexandra Petri’s treatment of the piece in the Washington Post.

We have no way of judging Deresiewicz’s overall portrait of today’s Ivy League students. From our perspective, his portrait did make us think of the lazy, conformist work being produced by the many Ivy League 20-somethings being hired to replace the outgoing Sam-and-Cokies.

The Sam-and-Cokies (and the Chrisses, the Maureens and the Tims) have created a deeply horrible journalistic legacy. We can’t say we see a lot of pushback emerging from the new hires.

One such hire is Petri, Harvard 2010 (sic). Pretty much straight outta Harvard, she was hired by the Post to do a weekly semi-humorous column and a regular blog.

As always, we hate to be negative. But basically, at the tender age of perhaps 25, Petri is already Art Buchwald.

This morning, Petri discusses the Deresiewicz piece. As she starts, so does the snark, for better or worse.

This is the way the piece begins in the hard-copy Post. For the on-line version, click here:
PETRI (7/26/14): You need to stop sending your kids to Ivy League schools.

In brief, according to a piece in the most recent New Republic by William Deresiewicz, who taught at Yale for 10 years, the students who are sent there are conformist, over-privileged overachievers. They emerge from homogeneous backgrounds and grow up to be elitist little twits. (He also went to an Ivy League school, but he is different now.)


When they get in, they learn nothing because they are too terrified of failure to study things they do not already know. They develop the firm conviction that, if you march to the beat of a different drummer, you are doing something wrong. We are all listening to this drummer for a reason. Your drummer must be screwing up.

When they get out, they are obsessed with status and give society less than they might have. Or something. The point is that the education is not value-added. If anything, it is value-subtracted. It produces conformist, unimaginative people who are desperate for outside approval.
Was Deresiewicz once an elitist twit? Is it possible that he is different now?

As she starts, Petri seems to snark at these possibilities. Later, her use of the phrase “Or something” signals that she can’t make out what the former Yale prof is saying.

In truth, the former Yale prof is making a plea that tracks at least to Thoreau. But if you read Petri’s entire piece, you’ll see that she’s having a difficult time taking his premises seriously.

How accurate is Deresiewicz’s portrait of these (Ivy League) kids today? We have no way of knowing.

His portrait did make us think of the lazy, conformist work which is frequently being done by the press corps’ large collection of Ivy League 20-somethings. With that in mind, let’s speculate about Petri herself for a moment:

We have no doubt that Petri is a perfectly decent person. In our experience, most people are.

That said, she certainly comes from a “privileged” background. Before she went to Harvard, she prepped at Washington's National Cathedral School. She was growing up in D.C. because her father, Wisconsin congressman Tom Petri, has been serving in the House since 1979.

Obviously, there’s nothing “wrong” with any of that. But let’s put Deresiewicz’s portrait to the test:

Is it possible that Petri is perhaps a bit of a “conformist,” even perhaps a tiny bit of an “elitist twit?” Much more to the point, is it possible that she is currently “giving society less than she might have?”

To state the obvious, we’re all giving society less than we might have. This morning, though, Petri seems to be having a very hard time conceiving of the possibility that her elite upbringing may have channeled her in an “elitist/conformist” direction.

We went to Harvard too, in the street-fighting Class of 1969. In those days, of course, we kids were so busy stopping a war that we had no time to acquire the undesirable traits described by Deresiewicz.

It’s also true that, at that time, Harvard was experimenting (we’ve been told) with admission procedures which were more working-class friendly. Of our own nine-member roommate group, we only know for sure that two of the nine had parents who went to college.

(The number could be as high as six out of nine. If we had to guess, we would guess that the number was four or five.)

Plainly, we Ivy League kids were better then. That returns us to the travails of these Ivy League grads today.

Many news orgs are loading up on 20-something Ivy grads, preferably from Yale. In a mark of contempt for the lives and interests of low-income kids, they throw them right onto the public school beat, despite their lack of experience and their obvious lack of technical competence.

Are today’s Ivy League grads “conformist,” perhaps a smidge “elitist?” On the whole, we have no idea.

Within the upper-end press corps, though, we’d say that portrait tends to fit the work of these highly-credentialed, less than brilliant journalists. This morning, Petri seems to be having a difficult time coming to terms with such unlikely ideas.

Still writing for the Crimson: This May, Petri wrote a piece for the Harvard Crimson. In best tongue-in-cheek manner, she advised today’s Harvard kids on the best ways to deal with an impending problem:

In the future, how should they deal with the highly visible successes of other Harvard grads? This was the inevitable problem Petri chose to explore.

In such humble-bragging ways, grads like Petri, tongue in cheek, reinforce the very values Deresiewicz was critiquing.

Today, Petri can’t quite make out what Deresiewicz was saying! So it eternally tends to go as the world eternally turns.

Supplemental: Digby does Dealey Plaza!

FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014

The work of the new Salon: Should progressive and liberal news orgs ape the conduct of Fox?

In our view, the answer is no. In our view, you can’t create a progressive politics by misleading progressive voters. Beyond that, we can’t imagine a good outcome from teaching liberals to hate.

More and more, though, the methods of Fox seem to pop up at Salon. That brings us to Digby’s new posts.

Doggone it! The analysts burst into tears when they read her post about Rick Perry. That’s because they had already read the news report to which Digby linked right at the start of her post.

Doggone it! In the highlighted passage, Digby is conning her readers:
DIGBY (7/22/14): Everyone has undoubtedly noticed that Texas Governor Rick Perry is suddenly sporting a pair of hipster glasses which his advisers clearly think make him look so much smarter than he was in 2012, when he could barely remember his name in the Republican primary debates. (In fairness, he has since admitted to being high on drugs at the time.) Much like his fellow Texan George W. Bush, Perry is a guy who does love to sport a costume. For instance, this fetching Halloween get-up in the character of Doug Neidermeyer from Animal House. (Again, in fairness, this was his actual uniform in the corps of cadets at Texas A&M.)

Now that he’s off drugs and wearing some sharp Warby Parkers, Perry is making another run at the presidency. And as the Texas governor (for what seems like the last century) he’s milking the refugee crisis at the border by remembering the Alamo and standing his ground against the hordes of “illegal” children and nursing mothers who are invading his state. He said yesterday that he “will not stand idly by while our citizens are under assault and little children from Central America are detained in squalor.”

It looks like the geek specs haven’t improved his verbal clarity. One can’t be sure who it is he thinks is assaulting the American people but by process of elimination one can only assume it must be the little children.
Did Perry mean that “the little children” are the ones who are “assaulting America?”

As she quoted Governor Perry, Digby linked to this Washington Post news report. If you read its first five paragraphs, you can see that Digby was misrepresenting what Perry actually said.

(Note the reference in paragraph 2 to “preventing criminal activity by Mexican drug cartels on the Texas side of the border.” Also note this sentence: “Perry did not outline any role for them [the guardsmen] in dealing with the unaccompanied children at the border.”)

What Perry proposed may have been fairly dumb. For some reason, Digby seemed to feel the need to make it crazier, almost perverse.

Hannity has done this sort of thing ever since roughly forever. In fairness, Digby was giving us a wonderful way to hate Perry even more.

But can you build a progressive politics by misstating basic facts in such obvious ways? We’re going to say that you cannot, and that the “decent people” for whom Digby claims to speak wouldn’t want her to do so.

Yesterday, Digby took a different tack. In this overwrought post about overwrought people, she fell back on her fainting couch concerning the demons of Dealey Plaza.

Yesterday morning, this was the featured report at Salon. Let’s get clear on the situation which had Digby clutching her pearls.

She started with a rather detailed history of the killing of President Kennedy. Reading it, you’d have no idea that Kennedy was killed by a rather crazy person whose politics came from the left.

Conservatives often claim that liberals distort the history of Kennedy’s death this way. Until yesterday, we’d never seen anyone torture the story in precisely the way conservatives like to mock.

Digby’s history was rather strangely told. As she continued, she focused on a bunch of people who apparently conduct a monthly demonstration at Dealey Plaza.

We watched the tape Digby provided. By our lights, the people staging this demonstration express silly, overwrought views.

That said, there seemed to be maybe eight of these people—and while they seemed rather foolish to us, they weren’t threatening anyone.

We’re talking about a tiny handful of people. Still and all, these were Digby’s words as she fell back on her couch:
DIGBY (7/24/14) Unfortunately, the venom, the incoherent conspiracy-mongering, the visceral loathing still exist. In fact, in one of the most obliviously obtuse acts of sacrilege imaginable, Dealey Plaza is now the regular site of open-carry demonstrations. That’s right, a group of looney gun proliferation activists meet regularly on the site of one of the most notorious acts of gun violence in the nation’s history to spout right-wing conspiracy theories about the president while ostentatiously waving around deadly weapons.

Travelers from other nations who come to Dealey Plaza to pay their respects are undoubtedly startled to see yahoos carrying guns and passing out extremist literature very much like the literature that was distributed in Dallas in the fall of 1963. In most places in this world, such contempt for national hallowed ground would be frowned upon by decent people. But in America, armed men and women marching around spouting hatred for the president at the very spot where a former president was assassinated is business as usual. We are “free” here to carry guns in public and dare others to argue with us. But that doesn’t make it any less vulgar and profane to do it in a place of national grief—and what should be a monument to right-wing ignominy.

On the 50th anniversary of the assassination, historian Darwin Payne, who was a journalist in Dallas in 1963, said, “You could feel it in the air. When I hear some people express hatred for Obama, it feels the same. But I never have felt we are on the verge of anything like the events I witnessed back then.” Let’s hope he’s right. There are a whole lot of people with a political ax to grind who are wandering around our streets armed to the teeth. As Mrs. Doyle said in her letter, “These people are crazy, or crazed, and I’m sure that we must realize that their actions in the future are unpredictable.”

Here’s the video of the Dealey Plaza open carry event.
Go ahead—watch the tape. Virtually no one is there!

We think that handful of people hold rather silly views. We think Digby is possibly being sillier.

You might call it “the Pawnbroker syndrome.” A person can become so obsessed by the bad acts and vile thoughts of The Other that they can’t live without finding the latest example.

If the latest example involves eight people demonstrating once a month, that bad act will have to do. The offended party will shriek about the eight bad people, hoping to get everyone else in the tribe riled up.

We feel sorry for those eight people, who seem to be lost souls. They're showing bad judgment in our view, but they don’t seem especially dangerous.

We feel a bit less sorry for Digby, who is way too smart to be behaving these ways.

Last week,
it wasn’t true that “scores of people” were spitting at those kids. This week, that isn’t what Perry said—and that dream fugue history of JFK’s death comes straight from conservative fever dreams about what “The Liberals” do.

It was Dr. King’s explicit bottom line: You will not force me to hate you. Dr. King is remembered, revered throughout the world because of that bottom line.

At some point, tribal players start needing the hate. Has the hate started swallowing Digby?

People! No one was spitting at the buses. And that isn’t what Perry said!

NEW KIDS ON THE LAWN: Rachel Maddow’s dream!

FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014

Part 4—A trio of self-appraisals: Is Bryce Covert being a bit disingenuous when she discusses the gender wage gap?

We don’t know how to answer that question. But the question helps us ponder the work of the highly credentialed young journalists now working for partisan news orgs.

An older generation of Sam-and-Cokies are shuffling off the stage. As this so-called “worst generation” exits, they are often being replaced by highly credentialed young journalists who went to the very best schools.

Covert, still 29, is Brown 2006. Her jumbled writing about the wage gap seems to reflect a discouraging trend, in which writers and broadcasters at liberal sites ape the journalistic conduct pioneered by Rush and Sean and the people at Fox.

In yesterday's post, we reviewed some recent work in which Covert had a lot of trouble with a very basic question: What percentage of the gender wage gap may be due to discriminatory behavior?

That is a very basic question about a major policy matter. Covert’s attempts to deal with that question were remarkably murky. Sadly, though, this has been a familiar pattern in recent years as bright young liberals seem to obscure the basic points surrounding this policy question.

In a two-day stretch in 2012, Rachel Maddow produced the most ridiculous example of this pattern, with a liberal policy expert helping her fling the gorilla dust around. That said, this pattern is very familiar. It allows liberals to continue suggesting that the entire 23-cents-on-the-dollar income gap is due to discrimination, a claim no specialist makes.

Covert seemed to be extending this confusion in her recent pieces. Is this “new kid on the lawn” creating this confusion on purpose, in the way Sean Hannity has done, for so many years, with so many tax issues? Was Maddow creating confusion on purpose when she staged her bender in 2012?

We can’t answer those questions! That said, it’s depressing to see the ways in which the new generation at liberal news orgs sometimes seem to be aping the practices of Fox.

We’re thinking of much of the work at Salon. We’re thinking of too much of the work we see on MSNBC, where good work is sometimes done.

In our view, a large amount of slipshod work is being done at our liberal orgs. Today, though, as our series ends, we thought we might consider the ways our new generation of journalists seem to see themselves.

They’re young, and they come from the finest schools. Around the press corps, they are replacing the stars of the so-called “worst generation.”

Their diplomas may seem impressive; their actual work is often quite poor. How do these young journalists view themselves? Let’s start at The New Republic, which has been publishing Covert’s murky work concerning the gender wage gap.

The New Republic has always featured the “new kids on the lawn.” Traditionally, such younger writers have marinated at TNR on their way to starring roles among the Sam-and-Cokies.

The current editor, Franklin Foer (Columbia 1996), first became editor in 2006, when he was 31. For whatever reason, Foer has been publishing Covert’s murky work about the wage gap.

In those pieces, a pair of Ivy League grads have joined forces to extend a ball of confusion. How do such well-credentialed scribes view themselves when they perform such crummy work?

In the current edition, Foer has published a brutal attack on his own kind by William Deresiewicz, a former professor at Yale.

Oof! The views which follow belong to Deresiewicz, not to us. As we see these views published by TNR, we almost want to step in and stop the self-loathing:
DERESIEWICZ (7/21/14): These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.

When I speak of elite education, I mean prestigious institutions like Harvard or Stanford or Williams as well as the larger universe of second-tier selective schools, but I also mean everything that leads up to and away from them—the private and affluent public high schools; the ever-growing industry of tutors and consultants and test-prep courses; the admissions process itself, squatting like a dragon at the entrance to adulthood; the brand-name graduate schools and employment opportunities that come after the B.A.; and the parents and communities, largely upper-middle class, who push their children into the maw of this machine. In short, our entire system of elite education.


It is true that today’s young people appear to be more socially engaged than kids have been for several decades and that they are more apt to harbor creative or entrepreneurial impulses. But it is also true, at least at the most selective schools, that even if those aspirations make it out of college—a big “if”—they tend to be played out within the same narrow conception of what constitutes a valid life: affluence, credentials, prestige.
For ourselves, we have no opinion about the wide range of students at places like Stanford and Yale. But as we review the shoddy, sometimes dishonest work being produced by the “new kids” within the upper-end press, we sometimes think we may be seeing a bit of the soulless climbing described in this TNR piece.

TNR has issued a cry for help. A different spirit obtained in a recent post at Slate.

In that post, a long list of writers shared their thoughts about David Plotz, who is stepping down after six years as editor. Plotz (Harvard 1992) is a bit long in the tooth to be described as a “new kid.” At any rate, his staffers had many good things to say about him.

As far as we know, Plotz is a thoroughly decent person. We know of no reason to think anything else. That said, Slate has been a very pedestrian news org.

We scan Slate's headlines every day, looking for items to read. We sometimes wonder if anyone ever reads any of its offerings.

Sometimes, decent work by decent writers is presented at Slate. But Slate is a general interest publication, and it’s owned by the Washington Post. It tends to color within the lines. Its young journalists aren't inclined to push back in serious ways against the horrible journalistic culture they are inheriting.

On the whole, Slate is the type of publication which exists to give the impression that debate and discussion are occurring. Can you name a single thing you know because Slate has existed for all these years?

We can think of nothing important which has emerged from Slate. That’s why we were struck by the tone which emerged from its writers’ recollections of Plotz.

Very few people talked about the journalism performed by Slate. Many people talked about the games that are played within Slate’s offices or on its various company outings.

There seems to be little self-loathing at Slate! Indeed, John Swansburg (Yale 2000) expressed a very different point of view about the brilliant stars who produce all that piddle at Slate.

Gack! Swansburg is describing the people around him. Presumably, though, he's also describing himself:
SWANSBURG (7/14/14): The Plotz moment I keep coming back to occurred at last year’s retreat upstate. Dinner had just concluded, and we had all retired from the dining room to the bar. I happened to walk into the room with Plotz. As we waited to catch the bartender’s eye, he surveyed the room, looking at the group of people he had brought together to put out this magazine. I’d seen David proud before—of a great piece we’d published, of a killer headline someone had written, of having won a contentious debate, of having invented a new string of curse words of Iannuccian complexity to lob at his beleaguered laptop. But I’d never seen him beam with this wattage. He turned to me and said, “This is the most talented group of people Slate has ever had.”

With all the pressures Plotz bore as editor—putting out a great magazine, pushing it to keep ahead of the curve and the competition, growing its audience, making it profitable—it was always Slate’s people who came first. Plotz liked to say he had a no assholes policy, but that was a misleading name for it: His policy wasn’t not to hire assholes. It was to affirmatively seek out smart, funny, creative, ambitious, industrious people with big hearts to match their big brains. Those are rare birds, but Plotz has an incredible knack for finding and nurturing them. It was astonishing to look around the room that night and see so many talented people so happy in one another’s company...
Swansburg didn’t identify any of the “great pieces” which had emerged from this “great magazine.” For ourselves, we can think of no breakthrough work which has emerged from all those “smart, funny, creative, ambitious, industrious people with big hearts to match their big brains.”

For ourselves, we’d have to say that Slate has been a highly self-satisfied plodder. That said, the young scribes working there seem to think that they’ve been doing great work.

What would great work actually look like? Let's consider the situation faced by younger journalists:

As younger journalists enter the fold, they confront a broken and broken-souled journalistic culture. The nightmares of ongoing mainstream press culture has been there for all to see.

Some of these nightmares involve the lazy or dishonest treatment of policy matters. Some involve the crazy ways in which the Sam-and-Cokies have felt free to burlesque our major public figures, often working as a group (link below).

The world has been full of journalistic atrocities for younger scribes to reject. Very little of that spirit has seemed to obtain at Slate.

This leads us to our third self-appraisal. It came to us last night through Rachel Maddow’s Dream.

We’re so old that we can recall when “Bob Dylan’s Dream” was new! Last night, Maddow described the dream that haunts her sleep. To share in the sharing, click here:
MADDOW (7/24/14): Ever have that anxiety dream? You’re back in school—

I have this anxiety dream like three times a week.

You’re back in school. It’s the last day of school. You have not done any of the coursework. You’ve not done any of the reading. You’ve not, in fact, attended any of the classes and you know nothing about the subject matter.

But finals are today! And now, naturally, you will fail and you will not graduate.

I have that dream three times a week. But that, in real life, is sort of happening right now in the U.S. Capitol. It’s finals week at the Capitol, and nobody has apparently done the work and the panic is starting and some of it happened on tape today, and that is next.
“You know nothing about the subject matter?” The analysts exchanged sly glances as Maddow described her torment.

We can’t say that we blame Maddow for having that dream! We were watching, two years ago, when she threw the gorilla dust all about the gender wage gap—when, to be perfectly honest, it seemed she really must be lying in some of her representations.

In the wider sense, we've watched the self-promoting, not-always-obsessively-honest work of the so-called “new kids on the lawn.” Sometimes, Maddow and others do good work. More often, we think we're seeing something else.

The Sam-and-Cokies are shuffling away, leaving a broken culture behind. Are you happy with their replacements?

On balance, we’re sorry—we aren’t. We were struck by the portrait which came from that former professor at Yale—and by the air of self-satisfaction found in the memoirs at Slate.

The culture they invented: To see Sam and Cokie at their worst, review the transcript you will find within this post.

The sounds of their laughing and chuckling haven’t been included. As they clowned around, a history-changing election was just two weeks away.

George Stephanopoulos gets some credit for pushing back against their clowning that day. But that appalling journalistic culture largely rules our world.

They were mocking Candidate Gore that day, a game which ended very badly. Last month, the Washington Post started in on the Clintons all over again.

Wherever those highly-credentialed new kids were found, silence pervaded the land. We're sorry to say it, but in our view, the kids are not all right.

Supplemental: Scholar addresses Baltimore club!


Baltimoreans unveil their concerns: We’ve returned from a chic luncheon address to the ladies of The Hamilton Street Club, one of Baltimore’s great institutions.

In the group’s former stable turned salon, Baltimoreans unveiled their concerns.

We were pleased to see that a number of ladies were willing to volunteer the thought that Maureen Dowd is perhaps just a bit overwrought.

Yesterday, the New York Times expressed that thought in a slightly different way. The paper announced, at the bottom of page A25, that Maureen Dowd is “off.”

We were even more struck by a conversation before the luncheon began. One of the Hamilton Street gang had read today’s earlier post. She had even clicked through to our post from last November about the substantial rise in test scores among the nation’s black, white and Hispanic students.

Why hasn’t the public heard about this? This person was puzzled by the fact that she has constantly heard a different narrative, in which our schools are stagnant and failing, in which nothing has worked.

It doesn’t take a lot of prompting to get us talking about this matter; we regard it as the greatest mystery of modern pseudo-journalism. That said, we were struck by this woman’s sense of surprise concerning the facts she hasn’t heard. She has constantly heard a different narrative, a gloomy narrative which flies in the face of those basic facts.

Again, we regard this as one of the greatest mysteries of post-journalistic culture. Why are people constantly told that nothing is working within our schools, when our most reliable test scores tell such a different story? Why is it that even liberals and progressives refuse to report this good news?

We were pleased to meet a person who was troubled by this state of affairs.

The so-called “new kids on the lawn” could correct the record, of course. What a shame! That these Ivy grads are too busy reciting the tales their owners seem to prefer!

To review the score gains by our American kids, go ahead: Just click here. Why aren't those score gains ever reported in our major newspapers?