Supplemental: Barbaro transforms himself at the Times!


Seems to be identifying as the younger Frank Bruni:
Everyone is asking the question! Can Rachel Dolezal transform herself from “white” to “black?”

In our view, the answer is no, unless she wants everyone to think she’s constantly lying. That said, a seamless bit of transjournalism seems to be taking place at the New York Times.

Michael Barbaro seems to have started identifying as the younger Frank Bruni! Today, Barbaro’s fawning profile of Candidate Bush seems to come straight from the work of Bruni in 1999 and 2000, when he was raving about that era’s glorious Candidate Bush.

In today’s profile, Barbaro stresses Candidate Bush’s wonderful sense of “ease” on the trail. Where have we seen this before, we flawlessly asked.

Hard-copy headline included. A definite blast from the past:

BARBARO (6/17/15): Now Official, Bush at Ease on Trail in New Hampshire

On his first day as a full-fledged, no-longer-just-thinking-about-it candidate for president, Jeb Bush called his adopted hometown Miami “a crazy, wacky place.” He spoke of the trauma of discovering that a hacker had published personal emails he had written about the health of his father.
He gave a long, emotional hug to a woman who told of her decades-long struggle with mental disabilities.

And he confessed to a rookie error.

Grabbing back the microphone after wrapping up an event here, Mr. Bush, a former Florida governor—who has not held public office in eight years—asked for a do-over. “I blew it,” he said, before revealing his mistake: He had somehow forgotten to ask his audience to vote for him.

Unencumbered by the artifice and awkwardness entailed in not quite campaigning for the last six months, Mr. Bush on Tuesday seemed a different kind of presidential candidate: disarmingly playful and noticeably relaxed, quick to joke and eager to connect.
Where had we seen that before, we flawlessly asked. And then, of course! We had it at last! Bruni wrote the same profile of the previous Candidate Bush in November 1999. In fact, he wrote it several times!

No, really! Let’s compare combs! Hard-copy headline included:
BRUNI (11/27/99): Levity Is at the Soul of Bush, the Puck In the Political Pack

As George W. Bush loped through the headquarters of the Timberland Company here, he might have been any candidate in the hunt for votes, any pol on the path toward the presidency.
He tirelessly shook hands, dutifully took questions and let a multitude of promises bloom.

But there was something different about Governor Bush's approach, something jazzier and jauntier. It came out in the way he praised a 20-year-old man for his "articulate" remarks, then appended the high-minded compliment with a surprising term of endearment.

"Dude," Mr. Bush called his new acquaintance.
In each case, the Times reporter was blown away by the natural air of his era’s Candidate Bush. As Barbaro continued his profile this morning, he let us see how skillfully the current Candidate Bush is able to joke around with the folks:
BARBARO (continuing directly from above): As he spoke at a town hall-style meeting here, he noticed that a young woman he had met earlier in the day—who had complained about her crippling student-loan debt and ill-advised psychology major in college—was sneaking out of the room.

As she neared the door, Mr. Bush mischievously singled her out. “You’ve left!” he said.

“Sorry,” she replied, “got to work.”

Mr. Bush’s wry response: “Well, I’m glad you got a job.”

The audience erupted into laughter and applause.
Sixteen years earlier, Bruni captured the same playful spirit. Candidate Bush is mischievous now. He was vaguely naughty back then!
BRUNI (continuing directly from above): It emerged again when Mr. Bush crossed paths with an elderly employee, and she told him that he had her support.

"I'll seal it with a kiss!" Mr. Bush proposed and, wearing a vaguely naughty expression, swooped down on the captive seamstress.

Mr. Bush's arm curled tight around the shoulders of other voters; he arched his eyebrows and threw coquettish grins and conspiratorial glances their way.
It was campaigning as facial calisthenics, and Mr. Bush was its Jack LaLanne.
Back then, Bruni captured Candidate Bush’s kisses and hugs. This morning, Barbaro does the same:
BARBARO (continuing directly from above): One of those who queried Mr. Bush was a woman with developmental disabilities who told Mr. Bush that “doctors told my mother to put me away.” Instead, she said, her mother refused, and the woman now holds down a job helping children like her.

Before she had even asked her question, Mr. Bush walked over and gave her a firm hug.

“The limits people may have,” he told her, “pale by comparison to the joy they can bring.”
We’re sorry, but those are the same freaking profiles! Rachel Dolezal thinks she’s black. Barbaro thinks he’s Frank Bruni!

This isn’t Barbaro’s first fawning profile of the new Candidate Bush. On Saturday, he did everything but shine the candidate’s shoes on his brilliant trip to a dazzled Europe.

In this case, the fawning involved the repeated claim that Jeb is better than the previous Candidate Bush. People, whatever it takes! Scripted headline included:
BARBARO (6/13/15): In Europe, Leaders Take Note: Jeb Bush Isn’t His Brother

After emerging from a 45-minute meeting here with Jeb Bush, the foreign minister of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told colleagues that what struck him most about the American was not the strength of his opinions but something simpler: the depth of his curiosity.

Mr. Bush, who will declare his candidacy for president on Monday in Florida, had impressed Mr. Steinmeier, a veteran of European policy and diplomacy, with a wide range of pointed questions about the Middle East, Ukraine and Greece. It was, declared a German official involved, “a broad tour d’horizon.”

When Mr. Bush’s brother George first ran for president, he erroneously referred to Greeks as “Grecians,” flubbed the name of India’s leader and confused Slovenia with Slovakia, offering the world an unabashed portrait of provinciality.

But across Europe this week, Jeb Bush revealed himself to be a very different kind of Bush: well traveled, almost encyclopedically knowledgeable about foreign countries, and possessing the genuine inquisitiveness that his brother had so notably lacked.
The Candidates Bush have changed on the fly. At the Times, the fawning continues.

During Campaign 2000, Bruni endlessly fawned to Candidate Bush. Does Barbaro plan to follow suit?

We don’t know how to answer that. But these two profiles by Barbaro are straight outta the younger Frank Bruni.

Bush is so relaxed, so sharp! Where have we heard that before?

How Candidate Goofus was profiled: Is Barbaro planning to fawn about the new Candidate Bush for seventeen months?

We can’t answer that question. “Panchito” fawned so much during Campaign 2000 that a few people actually noticed!

Meanwhile, Candidate Gore was being profiled in an equal but opposite manner. Where Bruni was stressing how natural his candidate seemed, Katharine Seelye kept helping us see that Candidate Gore was a fake and a phony.

This profile from late October 1999 is a good example. Seelye constantly notes the artifice involved in Gore’s every move.

As always, a baby (almost) cries when the hopeful draws near!
SEELYE (10/27/99): Mr. Gore has not only revamped his campaign—rejiggering his staff and moving his headquarters to Nashville—but he is trying to overhaul himself as well. With Mr. Bradley projecting the persona of an independent nonpolitician, Mr. Gore is trying to make himself appear more casual and less scripted.

This calls for serious attention to detail: not only khakis and cowboy boots and a PalmPilot clipped to his belt, but changes in body language and careful word choice. Instead of letting his arms hang limply at his sides, Mr. Gore gestures. Instead of telling people he went to Vietnam, he makes a point of saying he "enlisted," a word that strategists say strikes a chord with listeners.

Instead of just cooing at babies, he now picks them up. This did not amuse one little girl here who looked at him with some alarm. "I'm not too scary!" the Vice President tried to reassure her. "I'm not too scary!"

Perhaps the biggest change is in his campaign appearances. He is making fewer speeches on podiums to vast audiences, instead making himself available to small groups of voters to press his case one on one. He is even campaigning door to door. Last night he ducked into a few houses here, spending several minutes with surprised families. ("The house is a mess," grumbled Tom Mulligan, who said the visit was "totally unexpected.")
Candidate Gore was reinventing himself! He was no longer letting his arms hang limply at his sides!

And not only that! When he tried to pick up a baby, the baby looked at him “with some alarm.” Needless to say, Tom Mulligan “grumbled” about that unexpected visit from the annoying Gore.

Without explicitly saying so, Seelye made it sound like Mulligan was pissed. It was strange to see the way a different reporter described that same visit, using explicit language.

The reporter was Timothy Connolly of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette. In this passage, he speaks with Tom Oliphant of the Boston Globe:
CONNOLLY (10/27/99): Vice President Albert A. Gore, who has slipped below Bradley in the polls, is trying to revive his campaign with retail politics—he is canvassing neighborhoods and talking to people in their living rooms.

"After one stop, this guy named Mulligan said he was impressed with Gore," Oliphant said. "When I asked why, Mulligan said, "He's the first presidential candidate to knock on my door.' "

Only in New Hampshire.
For the record, Candidate Gore ended up winning the state over Candidate Bradley.

The Los Angeles Times also described the Mulligan visit as a successful interaction. But so what? At the New York Times, Seelye spent two years putting a negative spin on every move Gore made.

In Seelye’s world, the babies never stopped crying when Candidate Gore drew near! Incredibly, this was the closing passage of Seelye’s final campaign report:
SEELYE (11/4/00): Despite the nerve-racking closeness of the election, Mr. Gore showed uncharacteristic spontaneity with the crowd of thousands huddled in a sports stadium. The vice president focused suddenly on one baby, bundled up in a pink snowsuit and held aloft by a man. "Hold your baby up one more time," Mr. Gore yelled out. "What is your baby's name?" he asked.

The answer drifted back across the crowd, "Christina."

"Let me tell you," Mr. Gore shouted. "This entire election is about Christina's future. Will we have the best schools? Will she have opportunity in her life?"

Christina started to bawl.

"Will she stop crying?" the vice president called out affectionately. "Yes, she will," he said. "Hi Christina," he said, giving her a small wave.
Incredibly, that was the end of Seelye’s last campaign report.

Seelye and Bruni never quit during that long, disastrous campaign. Barbaro is out on the trail as we speak with a new Candidate Bush.

Does he plan to pander to this Candidate Bush all through this campaign? We’re only asking because that’s what happened the last time this show came to town.

(We can’t find links to the last two reports. We’re using the Nexis archive.)


  1. Hillary Clinton made many promises in her campaign speech last weekend, including a vow to “make the economy work for everyday Americans, not just those at the top.” Unlike many politicians who cast the income-and-wealth gap as a result of impersonal forces, Mrs. Clinton rightly noted that growing inequality also comes from “choices we’ve made as a nation, leaders and citizens.”

    Clinton also promised to create new jobs by developing clean energy and financing projects to improve the nation’s roads, railways, bridges, airports, ports and broadband system, although they would require a Congress willing to help. If Clinton’s policy statements, when they come, are as powerful as her promises, they would amount to a meaningful economic agenda.

  2. "But while Mr. Bush was courting the crowds, his campaign staff spent much of the day dealing with an onslaught of questions about Mr. Bush's admission the day before that he had been convicted 24 years ago for driving while intoxicated in Kennebunkport, Me.


    Until this week Mr. Bush had spoken only in general terms about past problems with alcohol and said he had once been ''young and irresponsible.'' He had also talked about his decision after his 40th birthday to stop drinking. He was grilled in the summer of 1999 when he was fresh on the campaign trail.

    Ms. Hughes, in an impromptu news conference, said that the one time that Governor Bush had been asked whether he had ever been arrested for drinking was in October of 1996, and he replied, ''I do not have a perfect record as a youth.'' For a second day, she said he had not been more explicit because he wanted to be a role model for his daughters.

    During the news conference at the airport in Grand Rapids, Mich., Ms. Hughes several times repeated that Mr. Bush's arrest was an episode from his youth. She was asked if 30 years old, which was Mr. Bush's age at the time, qualified as young.

    The news of Mr. Bush's troubles reverberated in Texas today. At the request of news organizations, an Austin judge, David Crain, ordered the release of a jury questionnaire filled out by an aide to Mr. Bush in October 1996 when Mr. Bush was called for jury duty. On the form, several questions were left blank, including one that reads: ''Have you ever been accused in a criminal case?'' There was a space next to the word ''accused'' that was to be checked if the answer was ''yes.''

    Dan Bartlett, a Bush campaign spokesman, said the questionnaire was filled out by the governor's personal assistant, Israel Hernandez. He said Mr. Hernandez left questions, including Mr. Bush's Social Security number, blank because he did not know the answers and handed the form to the governor shortly before he arrived for jury duty.

    Mr. Bush was excused from serving on the jury after his lawyer, Alberto R. Gonzales, argued that the governor could be asked someday to pardon the defendant.

    Even at the end of the long day, Mr. Bush appeared unbowed at a boisterous rally here in Morgantown, summoning a fiery voice to tell West Virginia residents that he was on a path to victory even here, a state that traditionally votes Democratic in presidential elections.

    ''Who would have thought, five days to go, that the Republican candidate for president would be able to say this -- I'm going to carry West Virginia,'' he thundered.

    As the crowd chanted ''No More Gore,'' Mr. Bush told supporters, ''I want to thank you and urge you to keep going for the next five days. Work as hard as you can.''

    1. What parts were written by Alison Mitchell?

    2. Hard to say.

      But since Somerby is suggesting "transjournalism" involving the two gay men, let's compare work from two women working for the Times:


      THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE POPULIST APPEAL; The Inside Outsiders Behind John McCain

      Published: February 6, 2000



      Hillary Clinton’s Vows to ‘Fight’ Evoke a Populist Appeal and a Contrast With Obama

      By AMY CHOZICK JUNE 15, 2015

    3. Populism covers a lot of ground.

  3. The Howler has continually done a great service when it comes to detailing these types of biases, and I remember being appalled "in real time" by the horrible treatment of candidate Gore. But at the risk of entering "conspiracy theory" territory, I'd be interested in knowing Somerby's thoughts on CIA "Operation Mockingbird"-like influences on the media, despite this from Wikipedia: "In February 1976, George H. W. Bush, the recently appointed Director of the CIA, announced a new policy: 'Effective immediately, the CIA will not enter into any paid or contract relationship with any full-time or part-time news correspondent accredited by any U.S. news service, newspaper, periodical, radio or television network or station.'" Yeah, sure. It seems like there is often a concerted effort to drive public opinion that can't be chalked up to just coincidence ("narrative all the way down"). I remember it seemed fishy when so many news anchors and pundits all started using "gravitas" when describing Cheney when Cheney selected himself as W's veep. Some of these memes seem to have origins in right-wing think tanks (like turning "liberal" and "politically correct" into perjoratives). Maybe the only thing to do is call out on an individual basis, as Somerby does, but it may be systemic and not simply many individual cases of "bad journalism" like the many "lone nuts" who've altered America's political landscape.

  4. Bob seems to have a problem with the "fawning" gay men the NY Times assigns to cover Republicans compared to the "crackpot reporting" of the woman "assassin" they assigned to poor dear Al.

    1. In a more serious nation, there would be rioting in the streets about the New York Times' pitiful child, Michael Barbaro....the pitiful child is asked to report Romney's Meet the Press appearance....At the Washington Post, Bill Turque, a big-boy reporter, did a much better job with this topic. He explained the hollowness at the core of Romney's pledge, in the way a big boy would.

    2. Scare quotes because you think it really wasn't crackpot reporting.

      "Poor dear Al" because the only reason you can see to mention the coverage is a personal attachment to Gore.

      Thanks, tells us what we need to know about you, Anonymous 4:22.

    3. Quotation marks because I was quoting the terms used by Bob Somerby to describe the reporters and/or their work.

      Your assumption they were anything other tells us all we need to know about you. Except you pretend to watch trolls instead of consoling crying analysts. But we got that from the name you chose.

    4. Riiiight.

      Just quoting.

      Not brimful of trollshit.

      Such an assumption!

      Mmm hmm.

  5. I think it's obvious that the NY Times is putting their chips down on Jeb (!). The Bush mob Family are like the Borgias - they will do whatever it takes to win. That is their history.

    1. Which is why, of course, Pope George H.W. Bushia lost two races for the U.S. Senate, the primary race for the Republican nomination in 1980, and the Presidency he inherited from Ronaldo of Santa Barbara after a single term.

    2. I didn't say it always worked, but I wouldn't bet against Jeb (!). That crime family can get pretty nasty when they feel some heat. Ask John McCain.

    3. 10:41 AM,

      You're under the impression that the Borgias handed down the bishopric of Rome from one family member to the next in uninterrupted succession for decades. You ought to check with Wikipedia before delivering any more zingers.

    4. I don't know, CMike, "Ronaldo of Santa Barbara" is a pretty decent zinger, notwithstanding.

    5. CMike, don't be so literal. It was just an expression.

    6. Checking with Wikipedia as instructed by CMike:

      "Love Story (novel)

      From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

      This article is about the novel. For the film, see Love Story (1970 film). For the musical, see Love Story (musical). For the radio play, see Juliet Ace#Love Story

      Love Story is a 1970 romance novel by American writer Erich Segal. .....

      Al Gore has often stated that the plot is based on his life at Harvard; in 1997 Segal explained that "only the emotional family baggage of the romantic hero... was inspired by a young Al Gore. But it was Gore's Harvard roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, who inspired the half of the character that was a sensitive stud, a macho athlete with the heart of a poet". Erich Segal had met both Mr. Jones and Mr. Gore at Harvard in 1968, when he was there on sabbatical.[2] Despite these claims, the book is essentially an updating of The Lady of the Camellias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, which was also the basis of Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata."

      So I am under the impression Al Gore and his friends cannot even get Wikipedia to correct the one exaggeration "that started it all."

      Anything else you want me to check at Wikipedia?

    7. 12:04 PM,

      For all things Al Gore, Wikipedia is unreliable- too soon. Search The Daily Howler, instead. Just be sure, like Somerby and his analysts, to ignore anything posted in the comment section there.

  6. Can he answer "female" if someone asks if Caitlyn Jenner if he is a male or a female? No, unless he wants everyone to think he's constantly lying.

  7. "For the record, Candidate Gore ended up winning the state over Candidate Bradley."

    Yes, the War on Gore was not successful in New Hampshire.

    For the record, Candidate Gore ended up winning the nation over Candidate Bush. But he lost New Hampshire due to a number of voters who clearly saw him as "evil" and voted for Ralph Nader, whose life work Bob Somerby admires to this day.

    For the record, I got to witness Al Gore speak at very close range in 1988 when he first sought the Presidency. I found him stiff. Wooden. Dull. And politically phony in an effort to portray himself as the conservative Democrat with a southern Super Tuesday strategy.
    I have seen little in the coverage of Kit Seelye reproduced here in the Howler that differed from the impression Mr. Gore left me with in person.

    For the record, I got to work with George Bush when he was Governor and Frank Bruni's portrayal is an accurate reflection of the person I worked with. One could, and I did, detest and oppose his policies without being put off by him personally.

    For the record, I had two college friends who became involved with Ralph Nader's Public Interest Research Group. To describe them as self righteous and possessed during that period would be an understatement.

  8. Bob to "Press Corps": Be More Tribal! Hate the Other Side More!