You do not criticize Dowd: Maureen Dowd wrote a column last Sunday trashing Chelsea Clinton. As she went on, she trashed Hillary Clinton too.
Dowd’s invective level was high. Her information level was low. In large part, the column was defined by the information Dowd chose to suppress.
Dowd has been like this forever. In 2008, she even got trashed by the Times’ public editor for “the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on [Candidate] Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1.”
Maureen Dowd hates All Things Clinton. But when Media Matters pushed back at Dowd’s recent column, one commenter posed a question.
He accepted the fact that Dowd hates the Clintons. But since Dowd isn’t a conservative, he didn’t understand why Media Matters was challenging her work.
What does Maureen Dowd have to do with the conservative movement? With right-wing disinformation?
In comments, that reader kept asking those questions. Other readers of Media Matters didn’t know how to answer.
Luckily, we do.
What does Maureen Dowd have to do with conservative disinformation? Ever so briefly, let’s return to January 2000.
One week before the New Hampshire primary, RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson appeared on CNN. In a very familiar way, Big Jim let it rip:
NICHOLSON (1/25/00): I think the story, Bobbie, is why are Gore and Bradley losing to our Republican candidates? And the reason is that Al Gore cannot be trusted. The American people know they cannot trust this guy. He's claimed to have invented the Internet. He's claimed to be the object of the book, Love Story. He's claimed to have discovered the Love Canal.Unfortunately, Nicholson was a good TV performer. On this show, he recited a standard list of bogus charges, all of them aimed at Gore.
He said the other day that he wrote the speech for Hubert Humphrey. None of that is true.
But there is one thing that he did invent. He invented Willie Horton in 1988 campaign. He cannot be trusted.
You're looking at the script that sent George Bush to the White House. It got its start in December 1997, thanks in large part to Dowd and Frank Rich, who played giant roles in inventing a bogus claim:
Al Gore said he inspired Love Story!
It doesn’t matter that Clinton/Gore-haters like Rich and Dowd aren’t conservatives themselves. Dowd and Rich, and others like them, have played important roles in inventing and driving the hateful, misleading, inaccurate rhetoric that has fueled the RNC down through these many vile years.
By the time of Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial, it was hard to distinguish the rhetoric of the RNC from that of the mainstream press corps. Two weeks later, in March 1999, Campaign 2000 began, and the hatred was transferred to Gore.
Aggressive Clinton/Gore-haters like Rich and Dowd were especially helpful to the RNC/GOP cause. Rich and Dowd aren’t conservatives themselves—but that’s exactly what made them so useful to the right during Campaign 2000. Every time they opened their traps, they served the RNC cause.
Dowd’s relentless Clinton-hatred has endlessly served the interests of the right-wing disinformation machine. Why didn’t readers at Media Matters know how to explain that point?
In large part, they didn’t know because of the code of silence.
Within the establishment press corps, you do not criticize Dowd. Because of her popularity and her prominence, she’s a privileged being at the Times—and the New York Times plays an important role in journalists’ careers.
Beyond that, Dowd is deeply tied to powerful figures at MSNBC, another important engine of press corps careers. You do not criticize Maureen Dowd. Everybody in the press corps knows and follows that code.
Dowd wrote a rather dishonest column last Sunday. Among career liberals, we’ve seen no one criticize her for it.
The fiery Joan Walsh hasn’t said a word. Digby hasn’t said a word—and won’t.
Quite literally, the whole of Salon hasn’t said a word. What about the fiery figures on The One True Channel?
According to Nexis, Dowd has been mentioned on MSNBC just once since her column appeared. Rachel didn’t challenge the column. Lawrence and Chris didn’t challenge it either.
Chris Hayes didn’t challenge the column. The column has been mentioned by Jonathan Capehart and by no one else.
Capehart was guest-hosting for Steve Kornacki last weekend. In our view, his mention of Dowd was quite revealing, in two or three different ways:
CAPEHART (7/13/14): OK, so we can’t have this conversation about populism and bringing in Elizabeth Warren, who people hope will run for president, without talking about Hillary Clinton. And people trying to pit the two against each other.“Even Maureen Dowd” was attacking Clinton! Can you imagine that?
And I don’t want to talk about Hillary Clinton’s wealth in particular. It’s a big issue Republicans are attacking her on. And there are all the stories about her speaking fees and those of her family. Even Maureen Dowd spends an entire column in the New York Times today talking about this.
Assuming Hillary Clinton opts to run for president again, how will these stories harm her connection with working class and middle class voters?
I mentioned Maureen Dowd’s column today. And she has this line here, “Hillary doesn`t see the disconnect between expressing grave concern about mounting student loan debt while scarfing six-figure sums from at least eight colleges and counting.”
According to Capehart, “Republicans” had been attacking Clinton about her wealth. In fact, it was Capehart’s employer, the Washington Post, which had been leading this charge.
Capehart will never tell you that, not in a million years. This standard dissembling has kept the public from understanding a basic fact about Clinton/Gore-hatred—the fact that this weirdly viral public disease has largely come from major figures within the mainstream press.
Beyond that standard type of dissembling, please note Capehart’s reference to Elizabeth Warren, whose politics we like. There's a key echo here:
Back in 1999, some liberals were hoping that Bill Bradley would get the Democratic nomination instead of Gore. There was nothing wrong with that preference.
But Bradley ended up repeating every slimy RNC charge in his attempt to defeat Gore, including the ridiculous charge about Gore “inventing Willie Horton” (see text of Nicholson statement). “Progressives” stood aside and let him do it. This helped send Bush to the White House.
It’s fine to support Elizabeth Warren, whose politics are superb. It’s fine to lobby for a contested Democratic primary race.
It isn’t fine to let Maureen Dowd spread her poison and her endless derangements around. She played a key role in sending Bush to the White House. In her free-floating craziness, she could certainly play a similar role again.
Joan Walsh could rather jump off a bridge than criticize or challenge Dowd. Nor has she ever breathed a word about Chris Matthews' disgraceful role in the two-year War Against Gore, back when Chris was making his millions in service to owner Jack Welch.
Walsh has never discussed that history. Fiery and fearless as Joan is, why do you think that is?