SAME OLD STORIES: Christie curses, Clinton gets fluffed!

MONDAY, MAY 25, 2015

Part 1—Also, Frank Bruni’s successor:
On this Memorial Day, we’ll have the naming of points.

Our first point: The first thing about our pseudo campaign is its amazing length.

President Kennedy announced he was running in January of the election year. President Clinton’s announcement came in October the year before.

Here it is, late May of the year before, and the gang of candidates and pseudo-candidates have been tramping New Hampshire for months. It’s how we pretend to do it now.

As a system, it doesn’t work.

Journalistically, this system permits the “press corps” to waste its time on an endless series of personality-based distractions. It lets them avoid the thing they hate most—discussion of actual matters of substance which are important right now.

That leads us to our second point: Inevitably, the amazing length of the pseudo-campaign leads to amazing inanity. Just consider the campaign reports in last Friday’s New York Times.

Chris Christie is one of the hopefuls the children don’t like. As a result, we got pure piddle from Barbaro/Haberman about his relentless cursing.

In the last campaign, Barbaro established his greatness with his front-page report about Candidate Romney’s hair dresser. On Friday, he and Haberman recoiled from all the troubling language at an annual, just-for-fun New Jersey event.

Here’s how the children started:
BARBARO AND HABERMAN (5/22/15): Gov. Chris Christie ridiculed New Jersey’s largest newspaper, The Star Ledger of Newark, suggesting it provided a refuge for “angry drunks.”

He joked about a reporter who was involved in a car accident a few hours earlier, seemingly wishing that the vehicle had contained more of the journalists who cover him.

And he profanely taunted a reporter with a French surname, saying he would not pronounce it correctly—not because it was difficult, but because he could not be bothered.

The annual New Jersey Legislative Correspondents Club Show is always a mischievous affair, full of off-color skits and envelope-pushing humor. But even by the standards of veteran attendees, Mr. Christie’s curse-filled speech Wednesday night was unexpectedly unplugged, unfiltered and uncensored.
Good lord! He ridiculed a leading newspaper; he even insulted the French! But most of all, the uncouth candidate engaged in unfiltered cursing.

The children even counted the curses in the “curse-filled speech.” In this passage, a careful reader might get a sense of what was being discussed:
BARBARO AND HABERMAN: Mr. Christie swore, gratuitously and enthusiastically, at least nine times in his speech, rendering many one-liners unprintable in this publication.

At one point, Mr. Christie joked that he was not the “heartless bastard I was portrayed as tonight,” according to the audio recording from the International Business Times.

Mr. Christie told the crowd of reporters that he would by no means return to the dinner in 2016, no matter how badly he was doing in the presidential campaign.

“Anything that gets me off this stage next year,” he said, deploying a curse to describe the stage. “I’m willing to do anything.”

He added: “Why do you think I might run for president?”

He repeatedly told the group that he did not give a darn—about them or the show—but used a more colorful expression.
Christie cursed “at least nine times,” the troubled youngsters reported. If you read that passage carefully, you can perhaps discern that “damn,” a word he used “repeatedly,” may have provided the bulk of the profanities in his curse-filled speech.

The candidate also joked that he wasn’t “a heartless bastard.” It seems that was counted too.

The children built an entire report out of this inanity. On the same page, Michael Schmidt discussed the hot new set of Hillary Clinton emails, which had been leaked to the Times and didn’t seem all that hot.

How pointless was this campaign report? By paragraph 4, the fearless young reporter was informing the world that the emails in question “offer occasional glimpses into the private side of Mrs. Clinton’s life, such as her public-radio listening habits and the fact that she was complimented for how she looked in a photo that appeared on the front page of The Times.”

Schmidt never explained his pointless remark about Clinton’s NPR habit. Before long, though, he was providing a fuller sense of the way such a person gets fluffed:
SCHMIDT (5/22/15): The emails show that even those at the highest levels of government engage in occasional flattering of those above them. In March 2011, Mrs. Clinton received an email from Ann-Marie Slaughter, the director of policy planning for the State Department, who was leaving her position.

“Gorgeous pic on the front page of the NYT!” Ms. Slaughter said, referring to a photo of Mrs. Clinton. “One for the wall...” Ms. Slaughter then moved on to more serious matters, including her opposition to arming the rebels in Libya.
Ms. Slaughter “moved on to more serious matters?” On the whole, Mr. Schmidt didn’t.

Schmidt did include a suggestive and misleading statement about Benghazi, the truth of which actually matters in our ongoing politics: “The emails also show that Mrs. Clinton was circulating information about the attacks in Benghazi that contradicted the Obama administration’s initial narrative of what occurred.”

Schmidt never explained what he meant by that suggestive statement. He devoted half of one sentence to that topic, two paragraphs to the photo-based fluffing which seemed to have him concerned.

This is what the children will be discussing for the next seventeen months, thanks to the pseudo-campaign’s absurd and amazing length. They’ll thrash about in piles of piddle, looking for personality-based trivia they can share and tilt.

That said, the most amazing campaign report that day appeared at the top of the page which bore the Christie/Clinton reports. This campaign report concerned Candidate Bush—and it was an obvious rerun.

The report was written by Nick Corasaniti, who's basically new to this game. In hard copy, it was bannered across the top of the page.

To an amazing degree, it told the same old story—a story the New York Times told us once before.

Corasaniti is a bright young fellow who seems to have studied Frank Bruni’s work. We say that because, sixteen years ago, Bruni—then a bright young reporter himself—wrote the exact same story about that year’s Candidate Bush!

In fact, he wrote it several times. But then, so did other Timesmen, including the late Johnny Apple. Beyond that, endless versions of this story were written about Candidate McCain.

Corasaniti graduated from [Ithaca College] in 2008.
Initially, it looks like his background was in sports. But then, Bruni wrote about movies before he began his famous fluffing of that year's Candidate Bush.

Whatever! Last Friday, Corasaniti wrote the same “news report” Bruni wrote in 1999. Along with the amazing length of the pseudo-campaign and the sheer inanity of the reporting, you’re being handed the same old stories you consumed in predecessor campaigns.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at Corasaniti’s faithful rewrite of Bruni’s fatuous work. As the week proceeds, we’ll examine several other “same old stories” which popped up over the weekend in the Post and the Times.

On the whole, those stories should be rejected. So should the silly children who write them.

That process should start right now. As we all understand, it won’t.

Tomorrow: Channeling Bruni


  1. Not to make excuses for the press, but they haven't created endless campaigns, it's our campaign finance laws. Unannounced candidates can coordinate with their PACs. It therefore be hooves them to run early, unannounced.

  2. What made the Christie article even worse is that his words were jokes!

    I don't usually rush to defend someone who calls me an angry drunk, but I'm making an exception today.

    The crack came from Gov. Chris Christie, and it was part of a good-natured roast at an annual dinner where journalists and politicians trade jabs while raising money for a good cause....

    My concern is not for Christie's campaign. If he becomes commander in chief, I'm building a bomb shelter and investing my money in gold bullion. Scary. He regards me now as something akin to toe fungus. But he feels free to joke, and I feel free to laugh.

    But this event, the Legislative Correspondents Dinner, just suffered a wound that could be mortal. And that's a pity. This is one night a year when we all put down our weapons and share a drink and a few laughs.

    1. Chris Christie Teases New Jersey News Media With Profanity, Jokes and Taunts (for Charity)

      NYTimes headline

      No, DinC, what makes things worse is what Bob leaves out of the article, including the headline, which makes it clear the point you whine about is conveyed to readers.

      The reporters do, however, follow the Somerby standard of Journalistic Practice by using the verb "seems" a lot.

      But what can you do? Our silently esteemed blogger goes on to chide one reporter for "repeating" an article written by someone else in 1999. He calls it a rerun and promises more on the topic. Coming from a guy who has rerun that same article as yet uncounted times since 1999 himself, that is a damning accusation.

    2. "What made the Christie article even worse is that his words were jokes!"

      Because it's so funny to behave as though you thought you were Tony Soprano. Hehehe!

      This episode got virtually no notice by political press, as they were too busy reading Hillary's emails. Close your eyes and imagine it was Hillary Clinton dropping f bombs on reporters and imagine the non-stop hysterical reactions we would have heard.

  3. "Our first point: The first thing about our pseudo campaign is its amazing length.
    Here it is, late May of the year before, and the gang of candidates and pseudo-candidates have been tramping New Hampshire for months. It’s how we pretend to do it now."

    Bob Somerby

    First thing: Bob Somerby pretends to repeatedly criticize the media for practices he regularly engages in.

    Cherry picking: Somerby picks two campaigns which were shorter in duration than the current one to give the false impression that something is different now.

    Fact Disappearance: Several candidacies began well before the current ones in between the cherries served up by Somerby.

    George McGovern announced his candidacy on January 18, 1971 for the election in November 1972.

    Jimmy Carter announced his candidacy on December 12, 1974 for the election in November 1976.

    Al Gore announced his candidacy on April 11, 1987 for the election in November 1988. Texan Rick Perry, who at the time was a Democrat, campaigned for Gore during the primaries. During his service in the primaries Gore took the initiative in creating the Massachusetts prison furlough issue which Republicans later invented as the Willie Horton ad.

  4. Kids these days!

    Maggie Haberman is 42
    Michael Barbaro is 35
    Michael Schmidt is 31

    But that Corasanti pup. Now it is possible he might be under 30. Unfortunately he went to Ithaca College, not Cornell.

    But when Bob is adding trivia in his complaints about the children covering trivia, why bother with accuracy. It's trivia, after all.

  5. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Five comments in and Bob's spambots can already identify the two pics of oily Diane Sawyer's oleaginous meat load sandwiches.

  6. Why didn't the trolls get Memorial Day off like everyone else?

    1. You and the other guy only only comment at work?

  7. "The candidate also joked that he wasn’t “a heartless bastard.” It seems that was counted too."

    I presume Bob thinks he was joking because Christie is a heartless bastard?

  8. If you care to endure more shameless NYT Hillary bashing, treat yourself to this garbage:

    It recaps the strawman:

    “Cool Kids for Hillary.” You may be able to imagine it on a campaign button, but would any of them wear one?

    (no NYT. Anyone older than 10 does not imagine that upon a button, but perhaps you can ask a few?)

    And then even tosses in the standard "technically" accurate lie:

    "Ms. Ramirez said that while the prospect of a female president was exciting, she supports Senator Bernie Sanders because he has said he would not accept super PAC money."

    Perhaps the NYT editor doesn't know that super PAC money is forbidden to all candidates, and thus allows the error.

    Or, as TDH would say, "whatever!"

    1. Bernie Sanders is the new Ralph Nader, with the same potential to spoil the general election.

    2. If he runs as a third-party candidate in the general and manages to get his name on the ballots in most of the 50 states, including key swing states.

    3. ". . . super PAC money is forbidden to all candidates . . ."

      Yes, that's why none of them seek such largess. No way around that ironclad rule. (sarcasm alert.)

      Wake up and smell the coffee.

    4. STEPHANOPOULOS: You are the longest serving independent in Congress, as I said, and when you announced Thursday, you said you'd remain an independent. But now you are prepared to file as a Democrat?

      SANDERS: No. In my heart, I am an independent. I have been an independent for 30 years. But I am seeking the Democratic Party nomination for President of the United States. And obviously I'm going to follow all of the rules and regulations to get on the ballot as a Democrat.

      STEPHANOPOULOS: So if you lose in this nomination fight, will you support the Democratic nominee?

      SANDERS: Yes. I have in the past.

      STEPHANOPOULOS: Not going to run as an independent.

      SANDERS: No, absolutely not. I've been very clear about that.
      So 11:09, what's the next reason you got for why Democrats should always vote neo-liberal, even in the primaries?

    5. "Perhaps the NYT editor doesn't know that super PAC money is forbidden to all candidates, and thus allows the error."

      Perhaps Bobcommenters overlooked the fact the NY Times was quoting a potential voter, not correcting that voter.

    6. "Perhaps Bobcommenters overlooked the fact the NY Times was quoting a potential voter, not correcting that voter."

      And thus is was "technically" accurate, as Bobcommenter pointed out.

      And yes, A@6:41, we all know super PAC is a ruse, but that's precisely why the quote from Ms. Ramirez is suck a load of crap.

      Can you smell the coffee brewing at the NTY yet? BTW, that's not coffee you're smelling...

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. The length of the campaign is causing Bob to meaninglessly reveiw meaningless coverage. But other things ARE going on in the world....
    Mark Shields was on and on about how, for reasons he never quite clarified, Democrats can NOW be rightfully blamed for the disaster in Iraq.
    Even a college kid can figure out that W invented ISIS, why can't Mark?

    But, I guess we can file such matters in the "O"Reilly Gets a Pass" file......

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