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.


  1. It's all Hillary Clinton's fault she is getting trashed. She is too formidable so they have to take her down, says David Gregory. She isn't exciting because her march forward is so inevitable. She has been around forever and people are tired of seeing her (not in a physical sense they hasten to add). She is an institution. Where is the energy? Where is the excitement?

    These people make me sick.

    1. She does get an awful lot of money for just one speech though.

    2. She's one of the most famous and powerful women in the history of the world. Those types are rare and get paid a lot.

    3. People pay to see .. what, the second or third most powerful woman in the world - speak. It's not like she's some broadcaster.

    4. So who's the most powerful woman in the world? Angela Merkel? Maybe she'll earn a few euros after she steps down.

  2. It's Hillary's fault because she has lost control of her public image. She shouldn't have written a book and gone on a book tour. She needs to control how the press chooses to cover her (according to Halperin). 32% say Clinton did a poor job as Secretary of State (Benghazi supposedly had no impact on that -- it is all a mystery why people think this when they don't even know who the Secretary of State is). She answers questions the wrong way. It is her fault for being the frontrunner.

    How can it be her fault for dealing with the press poorly when she had no similar problems dealing with the press while in the State Dept and this has arisen since leaving office, with a possible president run looming?

    They want to take her down. The question is why? Who is directing this effort?

    1. They! Why? Who?

    2. I want to know who. Who do readers think is behind this?

      Who are today's power brokers? Obviously conservatives with money don't want the Clintons in power -- they were the ones behind the vast conspiracy before (which is documented). Who is doing it now? Who supported Obama? Wall Street, Bill Gates, Adelson, who else? She demonstrated an ability to play ball while Secretary of State, but who still hates her and has power? Saudi's? Who? Suggestions would be interesting to read.

  3. The mainstream press is the right-wing noise machine.
    What else you got?


    1. What more do you need? Does it not trouble you that our supposedly free press is actually controlled by plutocrats who manipulate the outcome for elections?

    2. Does it not trouble you that our supposedly free press is actually controlled by plutocrats who manipulate the outcome for elections?
      Sure does.
      Also, the press isn't free, it's paid for by the same corporations, which pay for the fake two-party system.
      That's why we have distractions about corporate lackeys, like the Clintons, being called "liberals".

      What more do you need?
      Anything beyond Bob making believe there's more to it than the obvious (the game is rigged).
      How do we fix it?


    3. As long as we are provided with a steady stream of bread and circuses, the American people really don't care that much who runs the country. Politics is just part of the entertainment. We need to make seriously participating in politics more than just an option. I'm in favor of heavily taxing the income of citizens who don't vote.

    4. Yes. Taxing them is the fix.

  4. All the time this discussion went on, pictures of Clinton were shown with text superimposed saying "32 percent think she did a poor job as Secretary of State". If people didn't think that before their segment, more would think it afterward. No discussion of whether she actually did a good job or not. Just an extended smear. Why is Clinton being treated so harshly by the press -- because she did a poor job as Secretary of State and now nobody wants to buy her book. What a crappy person that Clinton is -- this supposed exploration is part of the smear. If you were paying only casual attention to a TV running in background mode, as many do during morning shows, the overwhelming verbal and visual message is that Clinton did something wrong and no one likes her. And so it goes.

    1. I feel like a crappy person for not buying the book. But seeing her picture there smiling with results like that right in front of her. Knowing that 32% thought she did a poor job, I, too shifted from the "Good" to "Only Fair" camp. Fortunately reading this brought me back.

    2. Women read her book (and Madeleine Albright's) because they empathize with someone female who managed to realize her full potential. They take vicarious enjoyment in her success and feel hopeful and a little more empowered knowing what she did and how she did it. These books are important to us, if not to male readers here or trolls. We hope that someday someone like Clinton, a woman in a position of authority, will be commonplace and not an anomaly requiring a book to document her efforts.

  5. David Gregory says Hillary has a reputation of being too formidable.
    Is that PC for "pushy broad?"
    Where did she get that reputation?
    Could it have come from a script slavishly followed by the MSM?
    Naaaah! These guys and gals are professionals, and their work is all "Fair and Balanced."

  6. It is all Hillary's fault for having too high expectations of the press. She expected to have a good relationship, similar to the relationship she developed while Secretary of State. But these are not the same reporters and they don't want to treat her fairly. So foolish Hillary -- it is all her fault for expecting the political press to be the same as the press covering diplomatic issues. Even her admission that her expectations were incorrect is greeted as a sign of her arrogance. She deserves to be trashed because she exected not to be. Silly Hillary!

    1. Yeah, they are not the same reporters.
      Watch the video segments. These people remind me of a scene from The Caine Mutiny:
      Lt. Barney Greenwald: And now we come to the man who should've stood trial. The Caine's favorite author. The Shakespeare whose testimony nearly sunk us all. Tell 'em, Keefer!
      Lieutenant Tom Keefer: [stiff and overcome with guilt] No, you go ahead. You're telling it better.
      Lt. Barney Greenwald: You ought to read his testimony. He never even heard of Captain Queeg!

  7. Hillary is shown smiling and perky while the narrator says derogatory things about her. That juxtaposition suggests she doesn't know when people are attacking her, is clueless and unaware of the larger game being played -- something women are assumed to be.

    Then there is the comparison of her weekly book with one by Ben Carson. His is a political book, hers is a memoir. She has stature, he does not. Her book is exactly the sort written by Madeleine Albright or any other Secretary of State upon leaving that position. Carson's book is political propaganda. Most egregiously, the comparison neglects that Carson's book may be purchased with campaign funds and given free to donors while hers has cumulative sales of over 180,000 so far. His will sell briefly. Hers will continue to sell slowly to those interested in foreign affairs. The fact of that comparison reveals the motives of the so-called press. Its bias and unfairness tell us more than Somerby about what the press has done and continues to do to Clinton.

    It is wrong to shrug and say what else is new. This is wrong and we need to say so, as Somerby, to his great credit, continues to do in his blog.

    1. "Most egregiously, the comparison neglects that Carson's book may be purchased with campaign funds and given free to donors while hers has cumulative sales of over 180,000 so far."

      Anon, I've heard this said about Ann Coulter, Glenn Beck and others.
      I'm sure it's true.
      Is there any way to look this up and verify it?

      BTW. Back in 1964 I got my copy of 'None Dare Call it Treason' by John A. Stormer (Which we renamed 'None Dare Call it Reason" by John A. Stormtrooper).
      It was given to me by the John Birch Society.

  8. "How long do liberals plan to accept this?"

    Are we a people or are we just tribes? But ranking liberals never attack such major mainstream players. In accordance with established guild rules, it simply isn’t done. We liberals get to hear silly stupid shit on a near-nightly basis now too. This kind of dishonest stupid conduct makes it harder for us to function as one people—us.

    We are a very dumb, very gullible people. With the stewardship of Cronkite gone, we the people have been freed to be just as dumb as we want! Obvious crackpots get TV shows now—and we're free to believe all the twaddle they are quite eager to hand us.

    That said, we the people are amazingly dumb. In truth, we don't know squat from squadoosh; squadoodle is light-years beyond us. For that reason, we're prone to believing every damn-fool claim that comes down the pike.

    Have you ever seen people like us?

    Have you ever seen people like us? Our tribe refuses to broadcast the truth. Then we complain that those stupid rubes think the press corps is against them!

    We are truly horrible people. Our self-impressed tribe is lazy and dumb beyond all human compare.

    1. ***One might ask if the above response, with it's peculiar, contrived wording, sounds in any way like an actual comment from a genuine reader? Clearly the answer is no.

      The immediately corollary question becomes whether this carefully crafted response could possibly be the work of a genuine, albeit borderline mentally ill, reader - not being paid to create static at this site, but rather, infected by anger at Somerby's position; such that he would go to the the admittedly skillful effort of writing a response that slavishly imitates Somerby's tone and phrasing. I don't buy that option, either.***

    2. If he worked for Buzz Feed you could fire him for plagiarism.

  9. Where, oh where is KZ to distract me from this?

    "[Robinson's] 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."

    Oh KZ, please explain why Somerby's tics are the more important thing for me to mull.

    1. Sure thing Anon. 4:49, at your command.

      The lesbian girl touched herself and creams. The House Negro
      pleases his owners by scratching his balding nappy head and says, "Sho nuf Miz Mika, I'se doan know."


      That and BOB disappeared exactly what we predicted he would yesterday.

    2. Are you calling Eugene Robinson a "house negro"? That is shaky ground, even for a troll.

      Posting as a sockpuppet to ask for your own return to comments is bad form too. No one misses you when you are gone. Please stop commenting here and leave everyone alone. You are a piece of crap, the kind of person who uses "house negro" as a term to further some attack against another person, utterly ignoring the history and negative associations such terms have for 12%+ of our population. Just shut up and go away.

    3. 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.

      You did call us a troll and a piece of crap. That's two names.

      Overall your comment is that of an idiot. But perhaps you are having an off day.

      When you are having a better one you might think about coming back and apologizing to @ 4:49.


    4. Wow. I think today is the day that KZ finally jumped the shark.

      You can imply all you want, but Somerby said no such thing. You did.

  10. Somerby refers on a daily basis to various corporate media insiders (notably those working at MSNBC, both past and present) - Russert, Matthews, et al - as doing the bidding of their "owners."

    By no means has this metaphor ever been used in a limited or reserved way. Rather it is the universal construct Somerby employs to illustrate the de facto relationship that exists between those who do the hiring, and those who do the heavy lifting.

    It is KZ's effort to smear Somerby's latest column that has him resort to what Somerby frequently refers to as the only weapon in the laziest "liberal's" arsenal - charges of racism by those whose general discourse otherwise shows no real concern for the subject.

    1. KZ should be ashamed and he should apologize but I'd be happier if he just went away.

    2. Volt61 we would be quite prepared to acknowledge our error if your recollections were correct and our reaction to the quote used in the comment to which we responded ignored a long standing history of BOB's use of that term.

      Unfortunately, a search for "Russert owner" quickly turned up the following:

      "These frightening bromides date to the time when the late Tim Russert pimped long and hard for his near-billionaire CEO owner, Nantucket baron Jack Welch."

      "Matthews' salary went from $1 million to $5 million during this period. At that time, he was being paid by his conservative Republican owner, Nantucket's “Ole Massa,” Jack Welch"

      "At the time, he was being paid $5 million per year by his owner and CEO, the conservative Republican Ole Massa Welch.

      It seems the master-slave relationship is pretty clearly rooted somewhere in the fertile brain of BOB when he throws the term "owner" around in a derogatory manner.

      On a happier note, we could also say your comments make you a "spear-chucker" for BOB were we to use a, what did you call it, "universal construct Somerby employs" be we won't. We know what that term means and suspect BOB does as well. He's used that a few times too many as well.

      Now, before you, cacambo and "Go Away" get your heads further up your own socks, you will recall I was specifically asked to respond to a quote from BOB hours before getting around to doing so.


    3. You are a piece of crap. If you cannot tell the difference between a plantation analogy and calling a black person a "house negro" you have no place here. Just go away.

    4. The house Negro usually lived close to his master. He dressed like his master. He wore his master's second-hand clothes. He ate food that his master left on the table. And he lived in his master's house--probably in the basement or the attic--but he still lived in the master's house.

      So whenever that house Negro identified himself, he always identified himself in the same sense that his master identified himself. When his master said, "We have good food," the house Negro would say, "Yes, we have plenty of good food." "We" have plenty of good food. When the master said that "we have a fine home here," the house Negro said, "Yes, we have a fine home here." When the master would be sick, the house Negro identified himself so much with his master he'd say, "What's the matter boss, we sick?" His master's pain was his pain. And it hurt him more for his master to be sick than for him to be sick himself. When the house started burning down, that type of Negro would fight harder to put the master's house out than the master himself would.

      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.

      But then you had another Negro out in the field. The house Negro was in the minority. The masses--the field Negroes were the masses. They were in the majority. When the master got sick, they prayed that he'd die.

    5. If you do not understand why it is not OK to call Eugene Robinson a "House Negro" you do not belong here. Go away.

  11. The only time I ever heard the word "spear-chucker" before this, it was the name of a character in Mash. I had no idea it was a racial slur.

    1. It was just coincidental he was the only black character.