Analysts scold favorite uncles: The Des Moines Register has conducted its latest poll for the upcoming election.
We refer to the upcoming 2016 election. In our view, the numbers look bad for a possible Candidate Clinton.
We’re discussing voters in Iowa only. But Mitt Romney is outpolling Clinton in the state, 44 to 43. Clinton beats Paul Ryan by one point, Rand Paul by only three.
Those numbers don’t look real good to us. When Clinton left the State Department, the tools at MSNBC guffawed and haw-hawed for a few weeks about what a shoo-in she was going to be in 2016.
At the time, Clinton was riding a non-political wave from her years at non-political State. Judging from the Iowa poll, that era is already over.
Meanwhile, who else is on the Democratic bench? Do you see someone electable there? Truth to tell, we do not, not even when we squint at those whose politics we like.
On the bright side, it isn’t clear that any Republican could get nominated and elected either. As our national culture disintegrates, Obama may have to stay on the job another four years for lack of a successor.
All last week, we talked about the way the press corps has sometimes used negative “storylines” to shape its campaign reporting. Based on recent history, a candidate named Hillary Clinton would be especially susceptible to such negative framing.
If that were to happen, it’s unlikely that voters would notice. Would anyone in the liberal world tell them that those negative storylines were being used again?
Not necessarily! The worst example of such reporting occurred in the twenty-month war against Candidate Gore, the war the mainstream press corps waged during Campaign 2000.
To this day, the liberal world has agreed to pretend that those astounding, history-changing events never occurred.
Whatever! Wrapping up last week’s reports, we wanted to visit two of the analysts’ favorite uncles. They came to us crying when their Uncle Boehlert recently offered this:
BOEHLERT (10/3/14): Ever since 2000, when Vice President Al Gore got run over by a campaign press corps way too eager to wallow in Republican spin about what a phony exaggerator the candidate was, Democrats and progressives have been weary of campaign journalism that doubles as GOP spin; campaign dispatches that seamlessly echo efforts to push narratives about inauthentic Democratic candidates. And journalism that sets aside substance in order to focus on thin, bogus anecdotes that pass as supposed "gaffes," or proof of a character flaw.Now they’ve even got Boehlert! At least their uncle was trying, we told them. That said, can you spot two factual problems with Boehlert’s account of the war against Gore?
We can. And yes, these errors matter:
First error: Candidate Gore did not get run over in 2000. The major storyline which sent Candidate Bush to the White House—Al Gore is a liar, like President Clinton!—was firmly in place in March 1999.
It was revived, and sent in stone, in early December 1999, when a completely accidental misquotation of Gore created the final crowning example:
Al Gore said he discovered Love Canal!
As we noted above, the misquotation which created that new “lie” was, of course, completely accidental. That said, the war against Gore was waged non-stop for two years, not just one—and yes, such details actually matter.
Only we liberals ever do what Boehlert did in that account! Only we liberals start our complaints against the press by reducing the amount of press corps misconduct by half.
As we’ve long said about the way the two tribes critique the press:
Conservatives won’t stop saying things which are false. We liberals refuse to say what’s true. And when we try to lodge a complaint, we start by wiping away half of the press corps’ offense!
The analysts still love their Uncle Boehlert. (For his second error, see below.) So too with their Uncle Drum, although they’re still peeved about something he said concerning those “storylines.”
Back on September 25, Chris Cillizza quoted Bill Clinton discussing those storylines. As you’ll recall, Clinton had made these accurate comments all the way back in April:
“If a policymaker is a political leader and is covered primarily by the political press, there is a craving that borders on addictive to have a storyline. And then once people settle on the storyline, there is a craving that borders on blindness to shoehorn every fact, every development, everything that happens into the story line, even if it’s not the story.”
We’ll be danged if that isn’t the way they cover some White House elections! Precisely for that reason, Clinton’s provocative comments generated no discussion at all. It’s as we’ve told you for many years:
These matters cannot be discussed!
Back on September 25, Uncle Drum broke the rules. He linked to the Cillizza post, quoting Clinton’s remarks about those “storylines.”
He even got on Cillizza’s case, noting that he had shoehorned (and omitted) certain facts to advance a “storyline” about how crazy the Clintons are.
But doggone it! As he closed, their Uncle Drum said this:
DRUM (9/25/14): Don't get me wrong. I don't actually have any doubt that the Clintons do, in fact, have a pretty tortured relationship with the press. After the way the press treated them in the 90s, it would be remarkable if they didn't. It might even be "dark and paranoid." That wouldn't surprise me too much either.Kevin Drum is very bright. By now, he must understand a basic, obvious fact—a central organizing principle of the national press corps.
Nonetheless, I wish Cillizza would at least try to analyze his own tribe's behavior with the same care that he analyzes the Clintons'. In any fair reading, the press has legitimate grievances about its treatment by the Clintons, but the Clintons have some legitimate grievances about the obsessive shiny-toy-feeding-frenzy nature of modern political press coverage too. Unfortunately, all Cillizza manages to say about the hostile atmosphere of Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign is that reporters weren't "entirely innocent in the whole thing."
Nobody should take this as a defense of the Clintons. High-profile politicians have always gotten klieg-light treatment, and they have to be able to handle it. At the same time, there ought to be at least a few mainstream reporters who also recognize some of the pathologies on their own side—those specific to the Clintons as well as those that affect presidential candidates of all stripes. How about an honest appraisal—complete with biting anecdotes—of how the political press has evolved over the past few decades and how storyline reporting has poisoned practically everything they do?
Here it is:
No one in the national press corps will ever do the things he requests in that passage! Chris Cillizza will never do those things. Neither will anyone else!
No one in the national press corps is ever going to “recognize,” let alone discuss, “some of the pathologies on their own side—those specific to the Clintons as well as those that affect presidential candidates of all stripes.”
No one in the national press will ever “try to analyze his own tribe's behavior with the same care that he analyzes the Clintons’.”
We’ve been telling you since the late 1990s: No one in the national press corps will ever do such things! The press corps, our most dishonest elite, does not discuss its own conduct or motives, except to hand you cover stories when its hand is forced.
The press corps does not discuss the press corps! The analysts cried like babies when they saw their uncle write this:
“How about an honest appraisal—complete with biting anecdotes—of how the political press has evolved over the past few decades and how storyline reporting has poisoned practically everything they do?”
On what planet does Uncle Drum live? the worried analysts asked us.
When you see someone as bright as Drum offer a pleading like that, we’ll suggest that you may be looking at Potemkin commentary. No one in the national press will ever do anything dimly like that, until they’re forced to do so by pressure from outside and from below.
In that passage, Uncle Drum seems to suggest that someone might perform those functions. But people! No one will ever do any such thing until he, Uncle Drum, stands up and names their names and details their past misdeeds.
Alas! That can be fatal for press corps careers. This explains why fifteen years have passed in total and absolute silence since the War Against Gore took shape.
Six exceptionally informative chapters are sitting at our companion site. No one has ever cited that remarkable work, and, as we long ago came to see, no one ever will.
“How about an honest appraisal, complete with biting anecdotes?”
We’ve done precisely that, for fifteen years! Along with all the rest of the gang, Uncle Drum keeps refusing to bite.
Their Uncle Boehlert’s second mistake: Let’s return to the basic text:
BOEHLERT (10/3/14): Ever since 2000, when Vice President Al Gore got run over by a campaign press corps way too eager to wallow in Republican spin about what a phony exaggerator the candidate was, Democrats and progressives have been weary of campaign journalism that doubles as GOP spin; campaign dispatches that seamlessly echo efforts to push narratives about inauthentic Democratic candidates. And journalism that sets aside substance in order to focus on thin, bogus anecdotes that pass as supposed "gaffes," or proof of a character flaw.Can you spot their Uncle Boehlert's second mistake? Here it is:
On balance, that really wasn’t Republican spin. On balance, that was a war of the MSM, not of the RNC.
In December 1999, it was Ceci Connolly and Katharine Seelye who inadvertently misquoted Gore, completely by accident of course. They worked for the Washington Post and the New York Times, not for the RNC.
Very few voters have ever heard that. They aren’t going to notice a thing when it starts happening to Clinton.
The other party lambastes the press. To appearances, our party’s Potemkin warriors “would rather black the boots of success than enquire whose soul dangles from his watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both parties.”