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.


  1. I think people who say they are tired of seeing Hillary Clinton's face (so-called consumer fatigue) are actually saying they cannot stand to see Hillary Clinton in any position of authority or respect. They are like Glen Beck who said her shrill voice reminds him of his wife's nagging. They cannot stand to see a woman like her in a position of power. That is sexism and it needs to be identified for what it is.

    If your impulse on hearing or seeing Clinton is to turn her off, you need to be thinking about where that compulsion comes from. It is not rational. It is visceral and these sorts of feelings are part of what it means to be a prejudiced person. They are not legitimate political opinion.

    1. We make her paint her face and dance.

    2. Have you noticed how foreign affairs have gone to hell now that Kerry is Secretary of State?

    3. Kinda tracks his war record, eh?

    4. Or, maybe, they're sick of Team Clinton's predatory neoliberalism. And, yes yes, I know the Bill didn't trash the working and middle-classes by stumping for NAFTA. he had a whole legislature filled with corporate Democratic assholes, like Bob Kerrey to help with that.


    5. You may have something S. I mean, even Argentianians got tired of the Perons. Too bad we are not like England.
      They have had the same queen for half a century and they never seem tire of her and her wonderful clan.

    6. You don't know what predatory neoliberalism is, if you think it is represented by Hillary Clinton.

      I suppose you approved the special communication Obama sent Canada that he wasn't really going to touch NAFTA? That was just multidimensional chess, right?

  2. Covering Clinton "hard" seems to be some sort of sports metaphor, like it is part of good play to go after someone hard defensively. It is harder to object to such behavior when it is characterized implicitly as part of fair play. It also places Clinton (and nearly all women) outside the arena in which sports are played and gives the impression that if Clinton were to complain about her treatment, she is thereby incapable of playing with the boys, needs special rules or cannot compete on the real playing field.

    I think it is telling that journalists consider politics to be a game. For most of us the effects of politics are real and impact our lives in ways that go far beyonjd fun and games. To reduce life and death to a game is morally wrong, in my opinion. It adds another dimension of offensiveness to current press behavior toward Clinton.

    1. "Seems" is a favorite word around here except when applied to the meandering thoughts of the locals. Not that I am implying anything.

    2. You are incoherent. No one wants you here KZ. Just go away.

  3. Mika likes to say she's the dumb member of her family. She'll get no argument from me, although the rest of them are not geniuses.

  4. "Instead of discussing their own behavior, the pundits were now explaining what Clinton should do in response."

    Bob, if a candidate is going to count on the leopards in the press to change their spots, well, the're going to have a long a long wait and a very uncomfortable campaign.

    They can only control what they can control, and that would be their own response.

    So you can whine all you want about the mean things Maureen Dowd writes about Hillary. It will keep you in business for the next 15 years.

    But suggesting that Hillary needs to find and hit a "reset" button and take back control of her own image and message is pretty sound, basic advice, and not really all that new and radical.

    1. Hitting reset and trying to take control of something beyond her control will do little to improve her press. This is more blaming her for a situation she hasn't created.

    2. What part of "she can't control the press" do you not understand.

      And wrong we are to blame her for her words that come out of her mount.

    3. She rides a talking horse? Wow!

    4. It is a sparkling pony in the mind's eyes of her followers, eager to saddle up for another sally at the glass ceiling in '16.

    5. That paints such a humorous picture. Women on ponies trying to reach a goal forever beyond their grasp. Why is this funny to you and not something important to be accomplished? Our culture is diminished because it keeps half of its citizens in a second-class status that denies them the opportunity to participate fully in self-governance, contributing to what we all become in a shared future. When you keep women down, you diminish men and our entire society by making it less than it could be. We are behind other nations in this respect, in a way much more important than educational test scores or other measures of social progress. You deride this as a "sparkling pony" ridden in a hopeless quest. This is sad, not clever or funny.

    6. At a time when America needs a Man on a White Horse
      why bother with a Lady on a Sparkling Pony. Especially one who wants more than 77 cents on the dollar.

  5. It would be sound advice if there were any evidence that the media is trying to be fair to her. Halperin and others have already admitted this is not so. Any effort by her to try to take back control of her image would bring on accusations of being scripted and calculating. The media is playing "Heads, we win, tails, you lose".

  6. Clinton is not being "covered hard," she is being bullied. That seems natural to lots of people because girls routinely are bullied when they venture into boy territory. Bullying is always the victim's fault for being so vulnerable. This is an ugly dynamic.

    1. What’s the matter with the term “rape culture?”

    2. Ha ha ha ha this is big joke to you. If you joke I will laugh too. It is so funny!!!!!! Even rape is big joke!!!!

  7. OMB (Lessons learned from the OTB)

    So Candidate X, with a big lead, says something stupid. Let's pick something ridiculous that would piss off most everybody but his or her most ardent admirers.

    "We the people are amazingly dumb. In truth, we don't know squat from squadoosh. For that reason, we're prone to believing every damn-fool claim that comes down the pike," candidate X said today in response to a question about the weather from MSDDT anchor Shallow Waters.

    Naturally the press jumps all over it. It dominates news cycles for a week. The YNC puts out a press release reminding the press Candidate X was on the Squat team in college. The XNC points to legislation X sponsored which was responsible for adding Squadoosh to the Common Core. Bloggers note that prior to this legislation serious analysts of test scores indicate American 8th graders fared very poorly in their knowledge of Squadoosh but now those test scores have gone up several rough thumbs. The Sunday talk shows are filled with former failed candidates tsk tsking about whether Candidate X is responsible for the rise in Squadoosh scores or, conversely if the rise in scores means Candidate X is a serial exaggerator.

    Candidate X drops 20 points in the polls and trails Candidate Y. Fortunately the election is six months away. As the election nears, X has reversed fortunes in the polls and leads by a solid 7 points.

    Candidate X addresses a group of children. One asks, "what can students do to restore American exceptionalism so our PISA scores can top those homogeneous Poles and foolish Finns again?"

    Candidate X recounts a letter from a school girl whose Daddy she said, was so alarmed at her test scores he was "sucking his thumbs so hard he dropped dead." He told of his search for Americans as smart as a Pole or foolish as a Finn and his pioneering hearings on test scores. You don't have to worry he told the kids "We found kids that were light years ahead of knowing squadoodle. Our self-impressed tribe may be lazy and dumb beyond all human compare. But those kids who did know more than squadoodle, they were the ones who proved we are not horrible people."

    Two reporters misquoted candidate X as saying "I was the one who proved we are not horrible people." Pundits said squadoodle reminded them of squat and squadoosh, and that Candidate X already struck them as kind of a douche.

    Candidate X won the election but had it stolen. His admirers blamed the press; their misquote about horrible people, their resurrection of the squat and squadoosh controversy, and their high incomes. The press, appearing on the rare TV show where they gaze at their navels applauded themselves for "keeping it a horse race."

    Candidate X went off, got fat, grew a beard, and lost the Love Story of his life. But he correctly warned the world of the coming squash blight and made a fortune in squash futures. He ended up purchasing a Professional Squash team and made a bundle selling it to an Arab media conglomerate.

    Lesson: When mom tells you squash is good for you, she does know diddly squat.

    Lesson: If you plant your seeds in shallow soil you may grow up to be a rich TV host but you will have mental problems.


    1. Now Bob (aka 1:25), if you don't like criticism, why did you launch a combox?

    2. 1:25 usually writes two word sentences. That is not Bob.

    3. Well, keeping track of the accusations, we find that we have been accused of writing 75% of the comments.

      According to Anon. @ 2:56, another 16% are African American.

      That means at best less than 9% are sane white Americans.


    4. For the record, at 8:43 pm yesterday, in response to your first accusation along these lines, "Go Away", we wrote:

      "Anon: @ 8:16 perhaps you missed it. We didn't call Robinson a House Negro. We pretty plainly implied BOB did. A bald headed scratching one to boot."

    5. And for the record, here are Somerby's offensive paragraphs about Robinson.

      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 [emphasis added] 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."


      Clearly, it is not outside the realm of fair criticism to note what "his owners" mean when speaking of a black male.

      2:56 might not interpret it the same as KZ, but that doesn't make KZ wrong.

    6. Stop referring to yourself in the 3rd person, KZ.

      Just go away. No one wants to read what you write here. No one cares that you hate Somerby. Just pack up and go away. You are scum and no one here likes you, cares about you, or gives a damn about your concerns. You are a waste of everyone's time -- especially your own.

    7. We don't refer to ourselves in third person. We use BOBtense. We learned all our English at the Howler.

      PKA KZ

  8. “Mine hasn’t been positive completely about her speaking fees”? When discussing her own behavior, Mika tends to move to a personal version of pidgin English which spews the gorilla dust.

  9. One thing I'm grateful to Mika for. She got the hour-by-hour coverage of Paris Hilton shut down by refusing to ever mention her again.

    1. So she could be using her powers for good but chooses not to.

    2. Ah yes. The vast powers of an early morning talk show sidekick.

    3. Hey, you're the one who said she got Paris Hilton shut down.

    4. Is the Paris Hilton near the Eiffel Tower? Might be a good place for Big liberal pundits to stay before their leap to avoid mentioning black kid test score gains.

    5. Yes, she single-handedly shut down hour by hour coverage of Paris Hilton all over the U.S.A. with just a few, well-chosen words. Probably did the same with Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, too.

      Unfortunately, we now have hour-by-hour coverage of Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. Where are the immense powers of Mika when we need them?

  10. Hey Bob!
    I'm going to make a suggestion. Could you find a way to isolate the "comments" that amount to alternative (generally Howler bashing) troll columns in their own section, so that those interested in honest discussion don't have to scroll through all the nonsense? Honestly, I'm sick of all the lazy idiots who piggy-back your blog with their daily inanity.

    1. Yours is a mighty fine suggestion. Perhaps you could visit
      the spellcaster who comments almost daily. He/she might have some suggestions you could pass along to Mr. S.