Part 3—Elsewhere, the silence persists: Was Matt Yglesias talking through some sort of partisan hat?
On June 1, Yglesias made the following statements at Vox. Trust us! The vast majority of American voters have never heard anything like this:
YGLESIAS (6/1/15): Journalists don't like Hillary Clinton.“Among journalists, Clinton is one of the least popular politicians,” Yglesias wrote, a bit later in the same piece.
But the press hates to admit this. For Clinton, good news is never just good news. Instead it's an opportunity to remind the public about the media's negative narratives about Clinton and then to muse on the fact that her ratings somehow manage to hold up despite these narratives.
Is there any chance that his statements are actually accurate?
Please note. In itself, it doesn’t matter if major journalists don’t like Candidate Clinton. It only matters if their personal feelings show up in their work.
According to Yglesias, their personal feelings do color their work. According to Yglesias, even when Clinton gets good news, journalists treat it as “an opportunity to remind the public about [their] negative narratives” about the hopeful they hate.
Is there any chance that this assessment is accurate? It’s safe to say that most American voters have never heard such allegations, let alone seen them discussed.
Yglesias sounded off at Vox. By way of contrast, consider what the public hears from higher-ranking journalists writing at much larger news orgs.
As an example, consider what Gene Robinson wrote at the start of yesterday’s column in the Washington Post. Upbeat headline included:
ROBINSON (6/9/15): Republicans might as well pound sandAs he continued, Robinson made a somewhat tortured claim. He said the “pounding” Clinton has taken in recent months hasn’t damaged her candidacy, despite some sagging poll numbers.
After months of trying to weaken Hillary Clinton by pounding her with everything they’ve got, the amount of progress Republicans have made is pretty close to zero.
The GOP seems to have forgotten the central fact about the Clintons: That which does not kill them makes them stronger.
In our view, Robinson’s middle name seems to be Pollyanna. That said, we were struck by his account of where the “pounding” of Clinton has come from.
According to Robinson, the pounding of Clinton has come from one source. The pounding has come from “Republicans,” from “the GOP.”
Is Robinson’s basic statement true? Has the GOP been “pounding Clinton with everything they’ve got?”
At this point, we’d call that an exaggeration. But note whose conduct went down the memory hole as Robinson offered this this familiar standard account.
Without any question, Republicans have been pounding Clinton to some extent in recent months. In our view, a more remarkable pounding has come from a different source:
Starting at the time of her 2014 book tour, Clinton has also been pounded, often in rather unusual ways, by journalists at the Washington Post—by Robinson’s own newspaper! But by the ancient rules of the guild, such poundings will be disappeared by scripted employees like Robinson.
The pattern here is ancient. We’ve described this pattern again and again in our writings about Campaign 2000.
Alas! The journalistic patterns in that disastrous campaign were very similar to those which are emerging in our new endless race for the White House.
During that twenty-month campaign, journalists routinely engaged in a great pretense. They constantly pretended that the war they were waging against Candidate Gore was actually being waged by Gore’s “political opponents.”
What Yglesias said about Candidate Clinton was also true about Gore. But because of the code of silence maintained by major scribes like Robinson, few voters ever heard it said that a journalistic war was being waged against Gore.
On the higher journalistic levels, this code of silence persists to this very day. Elsewhere, though, behavior has started to change. Ever so slowly, liberal practice is starting to turn with respect to this code of silence.
Yglesias isn’t the only liberal scribe who has started dunking his toes in the stream of accurate statement. In 1999 and 2000, it was virtually impossible to read about the mainstream press corps’ manifest loathing of Candidate Gore—or about the disgraceful ways they were acting on their loathing.
Ever so slowly, the climate it is a-changin’. Yglesias has hardly been alone in his recent conduct at Vox. Complaints have also begun to emerge among political scribes at Salon.
Last Saturday, Salon's Andrew O’Hehir described himself as “morbidly fascinated with the Hillary Clinton campaign and its dysfunctional relationship with the news media.”
As he continued, O’Hehir heightened his description of the situation. In the process, he named three colleagues who have found fault with the work of the press in this area:
O’HEHIR (6/6/15): As my colleagues Jim Newell, Heather Digby Parton and Elias Isquith have variously observed, the political media has a long-term relationship of mutual hatred with Hillary Clinton, and appears determined to cover her 2016 campaign (which is a historic event by any measure, love her or hate her) as a story of low-rent Freudian conflict between the candidate and the press corps. Maybe that’s really how the reporters for Politico and Slate and the big dailies experience their interaction with her campaign; I wouldn’t know. It’s evidently what they believe will be most illuminating and entertaining to their readers.Is it true that “the political media” is locked in a “mutual hatred with Hillary Clinton”—has been so engaged for a long time? We’ll promise you that very few voters have ever heard any such claim.
O’Hehir linked to reports by the three colleagues he named. And dear lord! On June 3, his colleague Newell had even named a pair of high-ranking names!
NEWELL (6/3/15): The natural order of Clinton press coverage is this: The Clinton campaign and its allies absolutely hate the press and will try to deny it as much information as possible; the press, when given information from the Clinton campaign, will write dumb things about it.Breaking every rule in the book, Newell named two high-ranking names—Russert and Todd. He then posted a chunk of Todd’s “asinine commentary” and proceeded to critique it.
This is true of the relationship between most major politicians and the press, but it reaches comical new frontiers of mutual trolling when Hillary Clinton is involved.
Now, on to the political press corps: what do they do with the information that they are given? The Clinton campaign announced earlier this week that it would hold its first rally on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Time to bitch about how inaccessible Roosevelt Island is! NBC News’ Luke Russert tweeted that the island is “only accessible by tram, subway and bridge from Long Island City.”
Only three ways to get there, folks. What is with these Clintons?
Meanwhile, no less a figure than “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, who is supposed to be the sage political mind at NBC News, shared this extraordinarily asinine commentary Tuesday morning:
Ever so slowly, the weather has turned for those who still read Salon. In recent weeks, they’ve seen allegations of poisonous conduct by the press corps toward Candidate Clinton.
Some Salon readers resent these claims, thinking they cut against Candidate Sanders. But if you still read that publication, you’ve started to hear widespread complaints alleging “long-term hatred” toward Candidate Clinton from the mainstream press.
You will never read such things in a column by Robinson. Nor are you likely to hear such allegations discussed on The One True (Corporate) Liberal Channel, where Robinson, Todd and Russert are all high-ranking employees or contributors.
Liberal conduct has started to change, but it’s changing ever so slowly. Tomorrow, we’ll discuss the things you’ll never hear in columns at the Washington Post—or when you watch the endless, disgraceful campaign clowning which is now a regular part of the increasingly ridiculous Maddow Show.
Conservatives trash the mainstream press. At our highest ranking news orgs, our most influential liberals still disappear its conduct.
The electorate is thus gravely misled. Ever so slowly we turn!
Tomorrow: The well-informed people you’ll never see on your liberal TV machine thingy