Supplemental: How does Dowd connect to the right?


No one could answer the question: Is Maureen Dowd really concerned that Chelsea Clinton is being drawn into “the rapacious, gaping maw of Clinton Inc.?”

If so, should she be concerned? Is that a sensible view of the conduct of Bill and Hillary Clinton?

We don’t know how to answer the first question. Dowd’s loathing of All Things Clinton has been apparent for some time. It has taken an array of peculiar forms.

During Campaign 2008, the public editor at the New York Times finally savaged Dowd for her virulent anti-Clintonism. He said her work could easily have been included in a New York Times report about sexist treatment of Candidate Clinton. Here’s how Clark Hoyt started:
HOYT (6/22/08): Some supporters of Hillary Clinton believe that sexism colored news coverage of her presidential campaign. The Times reported in a front-page article on June 13 that many are proposing boycotts of cable news networks and that a ''Media Hall of Shame'' has been created by the National Organization for Women.

The Times itself, however, was barely mentioned, even though two of its Op-Ed columnists, Maureen Dowd and William Kristol, were named in the Hall of Shame.

...I think a fair reading suggests that The Times did a reasonably good job in its news articles. But Dowd's columns about Clinton's campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work.

''I've been twisting gender stereotypes around for 24 years,'' Dowd responded. She said nobody had objected to her use of similar images about men over seven presidential campaigns. She often refers to Barack Obama as ''Obambi'' and has said he has a ''feminine'' management style. But the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1—left many readers with the strong feeling that an impermissible line had been crossed, even though, as Dowd noted, she is a columnist who is paid not to be objective.

Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman's potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd.
That last paragraph was a body blow. It plainly suggested that Dowd was making the whole New York Times look bad to its readers.

Pitifully, Dowd defended her deranged treatment of Candidate Clinton by pointing to her ridiculous treatment of Candidate Obambi, “the diffident debutante.” Then too, there was her deranged coverage of Candidate Gore, who was “so feminized he was practically lactating.”

In November 1999, her long-standing hatred for Naomi Wolf spilled over, in ugly ways, into her treatment of Gore. But then, what else is new?

Maureen Dowd has seemed unwell for a very long time now. That said, her snark, her indolence and her indifference to serious policy questions have virtually come to define modern upper-income “journalism,” within whose inner sanctum she holds a privileged place of extremely high regard.

When Dowd criticized the rapacious Chelsea Clinton for accepting speaking fees, then donating them to the Clinton Foundation, Media Matters did a report about Dowd’s speaking fees, which she turns over to herself. We were struck by the questions posed by one early commenter.

A reader named Timothy offered the following comment. He then defended his point of view under attack from other readers:
TIMOTHY (7/13/14): Why is this story here? What does Maureen Dowd's dislike of the Clintons have to do with Media Matters' mission statement?

Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.

What does Dowd have to do with the conservative movement in America? And their misinformation?
Dowd is not a conservative in any recognizable sense. Nor is she a liberal. She seems to have very few policy views.

We would say that her irrational personal venom seems to have been disproportionately aimed at Democrats, with Democratic wives and daughters receiving special abuse. But it would be silly to think that Dowd was a “conservative” in any normal sense.

Timothy was asking a sensible question. We were struck by the inability of other readers to give him an answer. This was first Q-and-A as readers began pushing back:
COMMENTER: This goes along with her Clinton hatred spiel of last week. But we get it. Concern troll is, well, concerned.

TIMOTHY: Yes, I get that she dislikes the Clintons. But what does that have to do with Media Matters? She isn't Hannity or Rush. If Media Matters just wants to become cheerleaders for the left, I would prefer they do it for someone like Liz Warren. Otherwise just stick to their job.
The commenter didn’t know how to answer, so she name-called: “Concern troll!” This is the level of competence being developed on the left as money-grubbing media orgs pander and fawn to our tribal vanities in the dumbest possible ways.

Timothy was being a bit literal in the way he challenged Media Matters to stick to its mission statement. But as other commenters took him on, our tribe’s occasionally low intellectual level became abundantly clear.

Timothy’s next challenger called him a “concern troll” too. Beyond that, he had nothing to offer. The third challenger simply said this: “It’s weird you think you get to decide.”

It was a strikingly empty non-response.

After that, this challenge arrived: “I suspect Timothy's real issue is that he agrees with Dowd, and that he doesn't care for the Clintons.” We had proceeded from name-calling to mind-reading. They're the twin tools of the pundit corps and of course the twin tools of Dowd.

The exchange continued through several more rounds. No one seemed to know how to answer Timothy’s initial questions:
Timothy’s initial questions:
What does Maureen Dowd's dislike of the Clintons have to do with Media Matters' mission statement?
What does Dowd have to do with the conservative movement in America and their misinformation?
Granted, comment threads have burst a long-treasured liberal bubble. For years, we liberals listened to talk radio and laughed at the dumbness of those in the other tribe.

Alas! Through the spread of comment threads, we have been able to see the tremendous lack of sophistication which is often found over here, on our own tribal side.

In our view, liberals and progressives need to know how to answer Timothy’s questions. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the long-standing interaction between Dowd (and her ilk) and the conservative world.

We’ll also discuss a second topic—the familiar sounds of silence which have greeted Dowd’s column. As always, the vassal liberals have kept their pretty traps shut very tight. This helps explain why those commenters didn’t know what to say to Timothy’s questions, which scream for explication.

Will liberals ever come to see the way the way the insider “press corps” actually works? Almost surely, the answer is no. Too much money is sloshing around, and the vassals know too many tricks.


  1. Of course if liberal life long politicians like Hillary Clinton knew how to wait for Diane Sawyer's questions, then how to answer them, liberal commenters in the NY Times might not have to debate Hillary's speaking fees.

    But it is good to know Somerby gets off the campus once and a while and into the on-line commentary of the real world.

    1. It is, of course, Clinton's fault that she is so roundly trashed everywhere. She doesn't know how to answer questions that no one else gets asked. Isn't it obvious? Why doesn't she answer questions she doesn't like or seem unfair the way media darling, Chris Christie used to before the GW bridge got in the way. She could command her interlocutors to shut up. If that doesn't work, call them names. The media declared him authentic and overlooked the bullying way he did business, publicly and privately. Oh wait! I have a feeling that wouldn't work for a woman, least of all one named Hillary Clinton.

    2. Yes, Hillary just fell off the turnip truck. How could she possibly expect to be asked tough questions?

    3. Even worse, those hard core Media Matters comment regulars were blind sided by tim and could only respond to criticism of their favorite site by calling him a troll.

    4. Nice reply, @4:42, to what I didn't say. What I did say was that Clinton routinely gets asked questions others are not asked and is allowed a narrower range of acceptable answers. The whole Terry Gross kerfuffle demonstrates this well.

    5. Imagine Chris Christie pre-bridge doing the Gross interview and pushing back on a question as Clinton did. She was called "testy" for a calm measured response. Christie would have bitten Gross' head off and been declared an authentic, straight shooter.

    6. Yes 5:03 and she always gets asked first!

    7. @ 5:03 and 5:08

      You two should watch more O'Reilly. He knows how Hillary should have dealt with Terry Gross.

      In "October 8, 2003, interview with Fox News television host Bill O'Reilly, who walked out of the interview because of what he considered were biased questions, creating a media controversy fed by the ongoing presidential campaign. Toward the end of the interview, O'Reilly asked Gross if she had been as tough on Al Franken, who had appeared on the program two weeks before O'Reilly."

      That's from Somerby's favorite, Wikipedia.

    8. "Clinton routinely gets asked questions others are not asked"

      Thanks for regurgitating a favored Somerby narrative, but unfortunately, it isn't true at least as far as "Speechgate" goes.

      Turns out, as we discovered in today's other thread, that these very same questions were asked of possible candidate John Edwards way back in 2007, and Bob's response was "Why are they covering up Rudy's speaking fees?"

    9. And, of course, we all know Terry Gross was being remarkably unfair by singling out Clinton for pressure on the LGBT rights front.

      Again from Bob's favorite source:

      A February 9, 2005, interview of Lynne Cheney, conservative author and the wife of then–US Vice President Dick Cheney. The initial focus of the interview was on Cheney's latest history book, but Gross moved on to questions about Cheney's lesbian daughter Mary and her opinion of the Bush administration's opposition to same-sex marriage.[15] Cheney declined to comment on her daughter's sexuality, but repeatedly stated her opposition to a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which was being endorsed by President George W. Bush. Cheney declined to discuss the matter further. Later, when Gross brought the interview back to issues of gay rights, Cheney again refused to comment.

    10. The difference is of course that this Lynne Cheney interview wasn't followed by 17,000 replays with shitheads hyperventilating while discussing the meaning of it all and having orgasms speculating about how this could be the end of Hillary Clinton. But you already knew that.

    11. The difference is of course that this was the comment we were answering:

      "What I did say was that Clinton routinely gets asked questions others are not asked and is allowed a narrower range of acceptable answers. The whole Terry Gross kerfuffle demonstrates this well."

      But you are too tribal to figure that out.

    12. Yeah, you're right. Lynne Cheney/Hillary Clinton - the media treats them exactly the same.

    13. Well, if Cheney ever becomes a First Lady, then U.S. Senator, then Secretary of State, then frontrunner for her party's nomination for president, I'm sure she'll face more media scrutiny.

      Right now, I'm kinda glad that she, her husband, and her family have sort of dropped from the public eye.

  2. 42 & counting re: the Clark Hoyt reprimand. Every day is a new day.

  3. I cannot believe our beloved Bob Somerby is saluting a troll and dissing the intelligence of those calling him out for his trollery.

    As a rube who has been taken out late, run hard, and brought back wet, I can't believe this affront to those who toil here daily defending Bob against trolls and demanding their dismissal.

    1. People who use metaphors about overworked horses should learn more about them. The problem is not that the horse is wet -- that is just sweat. The problem is that the horse is "put away" wet, not cooled down or rubbed down before being put where it lives. Any athlete needs to cool down after a workout -- it isn't the work that is the problem.

  4. Why does the Times retain Dowd? Is she popular or is there some personal reason why Pinch Sulzberger doesn't get rid of her? Sad to say, I think she does have a following. I base this on a sample of 1. My wife's college roommate, a highly intelligent woman, is a fan of Dowd. God knows why!

    1. Some people like soccer. Some people like gymnastics. Some people like Dowd.

    2. Why does Fox retain Hannity? Is he popular or is there some personal reason why Roger Ailes doesn't get rid of him? Sad to say, I thinks he does have a following. I base this on a sample of 1. the cartoon birds fluttering around my head whispering pearls of wisdom akin to that proffered by David in Cal, a highly intelligent man who is a fan of Sean. God knows why!

    3. I actually like David in Cal's ingenuous question. I think the NYT probably feels stuck with her. Can you imagine the uproar if they didn't renew her contract? They're probably hoping she'll retire sooner rather than later.

  5. I like the way Somerby elevated "timothy" a frequent and always lower case commenter over at Media Matters into "Timothy" and edited his comments to provide proper capitalization.

    I am sure all of us look forward to Bob taking a whole post to answer a comment, even if it was from a reader other than his own. Or will he, like the Fallows post which never came, forget about it.

    1. As of this writing, about 24 hours later, it looks like TDH didn't have an answer to "timothy" quickly at hand either.

  6. SOMERBY: Media Matters did a report about Dowd’s speaking fees, which she turns over to herself.

    STRUPP: Dowd did not respond to a request for comment seeking to determine whether she donates her speaking fees to charity.

    Did Bob "embellish"? Say it ain't so!

  7. If Bob doesn't start mellowing out about the likes of Dowd, Clinton's Presidential Run is going to land him in a mental institution.

    1. We have said a number of times we know him from the day room. He cheats us at Checkers and does not believe we rule on Doom. This may be because he still insists Zarkon is a planet. Zarkon is not a planet. Hillary is. We read it in an Amy Chozick article in the New York Times.

      Are we telling the truth or is this a bungled effort in bad faith.
      We know. We just aren't telling.


    2. Dowd writes a gossip column. Yes, her subjects are political figures and yes, at least in my opinion, it's not a very good gossip column. But that's what it is.

      Gossip columns have been a staple of newspapers since newspapers were invented (or created). That's because gossip has been a staple of human existence since language was created (or invented). Otherwise, Moses would have only brought down nine commandments.

  8. O Lucky Man, Bob Somerby.
    He doesn't get trolls commenting on his blog!
    (Not that he would mention it, even obliquely.)
    BTW. I listened to the Terry Gross interview when it was aired, and O'Reilly was an arrogant, lying hack. When he discovered he was going to be asked more questions about his radio show, he looked for the switch to kill Gross's mic.
    When he realized he didn't have one, he declared that the interview was supposed to be about his newest book, which he called the most popular book in America, and not about his show, which he called the most popular talk show in America (yes, he said it). Then he stormed out of the studio.
    O'Reilly is a douche bag that can dish it out, but can't take it.

  9. It seems to me that anything giving aid and comfort to the conservative movement, such as nasty remarks about the Clintons, would fair game for Media Matters' scrutiny and fall within the scope of their mission statement, even if the author of such remarks could not be identified as formally a part of that movement.

    Further, if it can be suggested that Dowd has no consistent policy views, why assume her views on people are any more heartfelt?

    Maybe she sees her job as that of skewering mercilessly anyone in power, no exceptions. If she's not such a great policy thinker, perhaps she was told at a delicate age that a pose of unbridled cynicism would at least put forward the illusion that she was. Maybe she has no more against the Clintons than anyone else. Like a great white shark chomping down on a screaming victim, it's nothing personal; it's just what she does.

    And when this kind of faking results in Pulitzer Prizes, best-selling books, and fat speaking fees, how does one keep feeding the monster once it's been created?