The freedom from being challenged: We’ve been visiting friends in the Hudson Valley over the Independence Day weekend. Reading yesterday’s Washington Post, we were reminded that “independence” can take many forms.
For a case in point, consider Chris Cillizza’s weekly feature in the Sunday Outlook section, “Worst Week in Washington.”
Each Sunday, Cillizza names the Washington figure who had the worst week. Yesterday, he chose Hillary Clinton.
Below, you see his full presentation, headline included. As we read Cillizza's piece, we thought a familiar old freedom was hiding right in plain sight:
CILLIZZA (7/6/14): Who had the worst week in Washington? Hillary ClintonForget the weekly drop in book sales. There was never any reason to think that people were going to break down the doors to read about foreign affairs. And true to the standards of his profession, Cillizza makes no attempt to place those numbers in the context of the normal drop in sales for a much touted book.
When “Hard Choices,” Hillary Rodham Clinton’s memoir of her time at the State Department, came out in early June, the book—and subsequent book tour—were touted as the first steps in the inevitable 2016 presidential bid by the nation’s former top diplomat. If that’s what they are, Clinton may be in for some tough times.
The past few days tell the story. Even as Clinton was prepping for the European leg of her book tour, she was dogged by two recurring and not-so-good headlines.
The first involves the large speaking fees she has accepted from universities since she left the State Department. On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that Clinton had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year from eight universities—four of which are public—for speeches. That includes a $225,000 address she will give at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas this fall. Leaders in the university’s student government have asked Clinton not to accept the money.
Then there is the question of just how well Clinton’s book is actually selling. According to Nielsen BookScan, sales of “Hard Choices” this past week dropped by 46 percent from the week prior, which was down 44 percent from the week before that. Seeking to squash the book-isn’t-selling story, Correct the Record, a pro-Clinton outside group, released a memo Wednesday night noting that the book was No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list for the third straight week and blaming the “right wing” for pushing out false information.
Actually, maybe the book tour is a perfect encapsulation of what a Clinton campaign might look like. And for that, Hillary Clinton, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.
Clinton’s book is number 1 for the third straight week, Cillizza is forced to admit, as he explains why Clinton just had the worst week in Washington. The Washington “press corps” has reasoned this way for a very long time.
Forget about the book sales. Instead, focus on Cillizza’s remarks about those speaking fees. Focus especially on this statement:
“Actually, maybe the book tour is a perfect encapsulation of what a Clinton campaign might look like.”
Is that analysis, or is that a threat? This is why we ask:
We agree that Clinton has had a very bad run in the press corps in recent weeks. Cillizza’s own paper, the Washington Post, has been squarely at the heart of the sudden new jihad about Clinton’s disturbing wealth and speaking fees.
The paper has behaved very strangely. Rather baldly, this jihad is aimed at the possibility that Clinton might run for the White House several years from now.
In yesterday’s feature, Cillizza gives a highly selective account of the flap surrounding the speaking fees. Although he mentions the Post, he obscures the paper’s peculiar behavior over the past few weeks.
When he makes that closing statement, we’d have to say it sounds like a warning. If Clinton decides to run for the White House, her campaign might look like the few weeks?
A cynic could read those words this way: If Clinton decides to run for the White House, her campaign might generate endless jihads from newspapers like the Post.
Is Cillizza making a threat? We have no idea; we would assume his statement has been taken that way within the Clinton camp. This brings us to varying meanings of “independence.”
Over the past twenty years, mainstream newspapers have pursued their jihads against the Clintons and Candidate Gore secure in the knowledge that they were protected by a large Code of Silence. No matter how odd their conduct gets, they know their conduct will not be discussed by others in the press.
This “freedom from fear” is extended to those in no other sector. In other sectors, peculiar behavior gets widely discussed. In the past, this hasn’t happened when the press corps waged its wars against the Clintons and Gore.
The silence of the “career liberal” lambs has been an essential part of this corrupt arrangement. It would almost take an anthropologist to explain this repellent behavior, which has soiled the landscape for roughly twenty years.
Tomorrow, we’ll start to discuss that remarkable “liberal” silence. In 1999 and 2000, the silence sent George Bush to the White House. If you think it couldn’t happen that way again, you need stronger medicine than anything an anthropologist can provide.
We’ll start our discussion with this remarkable tape by MSNBC's Krystal Ball. It would take an anthropologist to explain such familiar conduct, which dates in this case to June 17.
The Cillizzas seem ready to do it again. Same as it ever was, the Balls seem ready to help.