Supplemental: Same as it ever was!


Same con games, fifteen years back: Major pundits are rarely forced to discuss their own conduct.

Last week, it happened on Morning Joe—twice! All this week, we’ve discussed the faux discussions which ensued among those Morning Joe panels.

On several occasions, we’ve mentioned a bit of journalistic history. Back in 1999, when the press corps’ War Against Gore was taking shape, the same discussions happened, twice, on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

To his credit, Howard Kurtz had started discussing the coverage of Gore in June of that year. At that time, he wrote a lengthy piece in the Washington Post about the “harsh coverage and punditry” being dished to Candidate Gore.

For our initial report on Kurtz’s piece, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/23/99.

Four months later, it was still happening. On two occasions, Kurtz asked panels on his CNN show to explain why it was happening.

How odd! Those discussions were perfect mirrors of last week’s evasions on Morning Joe.

No one on Kurtz’s panels disputed the fact that Candidate Gore was getting horrible coverage. But the various pundits scratched their heads about the reason for the horrible coverage.

They seemed to be completely puzzled by the conduct of their colleagues. They simply couldn’t explain the conduct of their own news orgs and friends.

Those were faux discussions. It’s an indictment of the liberal world that those very same pseudo-discussions can still be occurring now.

Starting in March 1999, a twenty-month War Against Gore sent George W. Bush to the White House. In the main, that war was run by the mainstream press, not by the RNC. If you think it couldn’t happen again, you’ve got your head stuck up your ascot.

You may prefer Elizabeth Warren over Hillary Clinton. That’s perfectly fine, of course. That said, this is the problem:

Back in 1999, many liberals preferred Bill Bradley over Gore. That too was perfectly fine.

But because those people preferred the straight-talking Bradley of Newsweek covers, they sat around and twiddled their thumbs as the massacre of Gore unfolded. When Bradley himself began to broadcast the lies, they didn’t complain even then.

It’s a dumb, dishonest way to do politics. People are dead all over the world because the liberal world kept its trap shut as the war against Gore gained purchase.

We first discussed those CNN panels in November 1999. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/30/99, with a link to the previous day’s report.

Of all the pundits on those panels, Roger Simon was the worst. We’d say his conduct was quite instructive. Here’s why:

Back in June, Kurtz had interviewed Simon for his report in the Post. Simon was one of several reporters who seemed to say that the trashing of Gore was tied to the press corps’ loathing of Bill Clinton.

As usual, Diane Sawyer was piddling around with the silly dumb piddleshit. Here’s part of Kurtz’s report:
KURTZ (6/25/99): The tone of the early interviews [with Gore] is revealing. While the vice president has stressed specifics, such as improving education and health care for the elderly and curbing suburban sprawl, the media have pursued other subjects.

On ABC's "20/20," Diane Sawyer asked about the perception of Gore as boring, whether Hillary Rodham Clinton was "bigfooting" him by running for the Senate, and about his defense of the president during the impeachment process. Gore said that Clinton's behavior with Lewinsky was "inexcusable."

CBS's Bob Schieffer also pressed the vice president about backing his boss, saying at one point: "But he turned out to be a liar."

NBC's Claire Shipman asked: "Are you worried that you will pay the ultimate price for Bill Clinton's impeachment?"

Roger Simon, chief political writer for U.S. News & World Report, defended the focus on Lewinsky: "It's still the story that has shaped our time. We want to hear him say what a terrible reprobate the president was, while defending his record. We're going to make him jump through the hoops. I don't think there's anything wrong with that."


Simon and others say it is easier for journalists to criticize Gore because he is part of a 6 1/2-year-old administration, while most are unfamiliar with the details of Bush's record in Texas. "We know more about Gore, and maybe that's part of it," said the [Chicago] Tribune's [James] Warren. "We're sort of bored with Clinton, and many of us think Clinton's a moral scum, and probably subconsciously, at a minimum, we taint Gore by virtue of his association.”
“We’re going to make him jump through the hoops?” Simon should have been fired that day; Warren’s statement wasn’t much better. But at that point, it seemed pretty clear what the trashing of Gore was about.

By the fall, pundits had apparently realized that they couldn’t say such things in public. Perhaps for that reason, Simon seemed to have reinvented his outlook. Here he was, speaking to Kurtz on Reliable Sources:
KURTZ (10/16/99): Roger Simon, if you took all of the positive and negative coverage of Bradley and put it on a scale, I don't think there's any doubt that it would be wildly unbalanced on the plus side. Why is that?

SIMON: He's not Al Gore. [Laughter] He's doing well in the polls. He's a fresh face...The Gore campaign feels that it's the victim of a vast press conspiracy that goes something like this—because the media were unable to get Bill Clinton, they're going to try to get Al Gore. I don't believe that for a second.
As we noted at the time, Kurtz gave Simon a bit of a pass on Reliable Sources. He didn’t ask Simon about his apparent change in position since his remarks back in June.

That said, don’t miss Simon’s obvious snark. “Vast press conspiracy” was a snide play on Hillary Clinton’s famous 1998 statement. We’d call it a bit of a whistle.

It’s very hard to understand just how dishonest these people can be. That includes the many career liberals who avoid discussing their colleagues’ behavior in order to maintain and advance their own overpaid careers.

The press corps’ loathing of the Clintons one of the strangest artifacts of modern American politics. It’s hard to know why it ever started. By now, it’s fairly clear that it won’t ever end. But if you think they can’t send another Republican to the White House through a war against Hillary Clinton, we think you may have your head in the asparagus patch.

Don’t worry—the career liberal world will maintain total silence. We have never seen a group of people quite as dishonest as our liberal leaders. But then, we’ve never seen a group as easy to con as us, the liberal rubes.

Rachel signals that she’s our friend. We want so much to believe her!


  1. "We first discussed those CNN panels in November 1999. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/30/99, with a link to the previous day’s report."

    We take the bait and follow the link:

    Here is the opening line:

    "Our analysts came up with a new favorite this weekend—Rich Lowry, editor of National Review."

    Lowry had called the press adolescent, which BOB found quite nice in 1999.

    Love at first sight? I'm sure Bob's not the only blogger in America who, when Lowry first agreed with him, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, "Hey, I think he just winked at me."

    By 2001 he was describing him as "Little Rich" "Little Richie" and complaining of his work:

    "Lowry’s inner reptile was thrashing about. If you don’t agree with the things he believes, that means you "think the country is a bastion only of nasty tendencies and racism and oppression." .....

    That’s right, folks. At times of stress, our littler guys start speaking from prehistoric places, looking for ways to silence those whose views they plain flat don’t like. And talk about "cowardly"—it’s truly amazing that guys like Lowry start shoveling that term: "anti-American." Bigmouth cowards like Little Rich Lowry have waved that shirt all through our years. This time, maybe we won’t lock up the "Japs," and President Bush has gone to the Islamic Center. But cretins like Lowry still know what to do. At times like this, they make their move. Cowards and creeps—reptilian to the core—they see their nation going to war, and they get a great idea: they can rule you."

    1. What on earth does this have to do with anything Somerby said today? Does this comment deny that the press is targeting Hillary Clinton just as they did Gore?

    2. Apparently I'm missing the point. Are you saying that once someone says something reasonable then any and everything they say henceforth is beyond criticism? Sorry, that says more about you than it does about Somerby.

      Too bad the members of our upper end press corp weren't voicing that same unvarnished dissent of which you quoted Somerby. Nope, they were too busy going along to get along with the murders and fools.

    3. 2:21 I don't get your point.

    4. Sorry to those who responded. I have been away. I am sorry you didn't get it. Neither did Somerby at first.

  2. The Clintons were outsiders, as was Jimmy Carter. The press was just awful to Carter too in 1979-80. He could do nothing right in their eyes. Reagan got a clear pass, while Carter got blamed for everything in the world, including inflation and gas lines, which had actually been worse under Nixon.

    So this press favoritism is nothing new-- the modern-day media clearly favors Republicans.

  3. blogger, please die.

  4. I'm not quite sure what Bob expects us to do about the ritual trashing of Hillary Clinton. There's already a very well funded organization, Ready for Hillary, that's aggressively truth-squading news reports about the non-candidate. Liberal disinterest, or just general viewer disinterest is about to cost David Gregory his job on Meet the Press. And, the ratings for the various MSNBC offerings are, sub par at best.

    The MSM is going to proffer their version of team liberal. I can't get on the phone and ask a booker not to call the latest canned liberal from The Times or The Post.

    What would Bob have us do?

    1. Bob doesn't want to "do" anything. He just wants to kvetch.

    2. He is doing something. The question is what should we do.

    3. As soon as these people realize what they did in 1999 they will apologize and it won't happen again.

    4. Yes, he is doing something. He almost wrote a book about it.

    5. "The question is what should we do."

      That's up to you to decide for yourself, and for no one else.

    6. That said, as Somerby notes: Major pundits are rarely forced to discuss their own conduct. Minor pundits are forced to repeat theirs over and over. Alas. He didn't say the latter part. He just does it.

  5. We do not want to believe Rachel is our friend. We want someone who is Rachel's co-worker to show they are her friend by taking her away for help.

    As liberal rubes we will not be conned again. We will know by their total silence our liberal leaders are out to trick us again. Those who are the most successful have been the most dishonest.

    It is perfectly fine to be for someone other than Bill Clinton's annointed successor if you do not let liberal leaders and others speak ill of them unfairly of let others get away with doing so. Bob will guide us on what is and is not unfair.

    1. So when Rachel is honing like a laser beam on the botched executions occurring across the country -- an issue few others are willing to train a natonal spotlight upon -- should she be taken away for help?

      How about when she was covering the voter suppression efforts underway in GOP-controlled state legislatures? Or when she produced special reports, based on documents released under FOI, that the Bush Administration knew it was lying about WMDs? Or her special report on nuclear proliferation under Ike's "Atoms for Peace" policy? Or when she wrote a book how, contrary to the system that the Founding Fathers carefully set up, the legislative branch has been steadily ceding its once-exclusive war making powers to the executive branch? While at the same time privatizing our military for the profit of corporations?

      Or how about the times she has pointed to the dangers of drone warfare? Or highlighted the needs of combat veterans who return home and can't get the medical or psychological help they need?

      Or how about the time she was spot on about Govs. Christie and Ultrasound, while Bob went off on loony "legitimate traffic study" and "taking bribes isn't so bad" theories? Who needed the help then?

    2. Obviously her cuteness tricks work on those unwilling to see that while she pretends to care about the cruel executins of convicted murderers, she has never spoken about the evils done in the War on Gore and has even praised its most vile perpetrators.

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