Part 5—We tell the truth every nine years: On September 14, 2015, Matt Yglesias told a remarkable story:
“The formative experience of my political life was the 2000 presidential campaign, in which the media mercilessly persecuted Al Gore over a series of trivial exaggerations and now-forgotten pseudo-scandals...”
As best we can tell, Yglesias had waited fifteen years to describe this formative experience. Still, his brief account of the coverage of Candidate Gore was perfectly accurate—and it alleged astounding journalistic misconduct.
Nine years earlier, Ezra Klein had told the same remarkable story.
Yglesias told the story at the start of a lengthy report for Vox. In April 2006, Klein had told the same remarkable story at the start of a cover piece for The American Prospect:
“The address was the keynote for the We Media conference...In attendance were Tom Curley, president of the AP, Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, all leading lights of a media establishment that, five years earlier, had deputized itself judge, jury, and executioner for Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, spinning each day's events to portray the stolid, capable vice president as a wild exaggerator, ideological chameleon, and total, unforgivable bore.”
More than nine years have passed since Klein made those remarkable charges. As best we can tell, he has never told that remarkable story again.
In their fleeting but aggressive accounts, Klein and Yglesias have accused the elite mainstream press corps of astounding misconduct. According to these twin accounts, the press corps “persecuted” and “executed” Candidate Gore in the fateful, history-changing 2000 White House campaign.
That is an astounding charge—and the charge is perfectly accurate. But how strange! As far as we know, Klein has never revisited this astonishing claim. As far as we know, Yglesias waited fifteen years to describe those events, which were formative.
Nine years passed between the publication of those reports. Meanwhile, can you name a single career journalist who fleshed out those astonishing, accurate charges in the time which passed?
Offhand, we cannot. That too is an astonishing fact.
Citizens! When you look at those brief accounts, you’re looking at liberal samizdat! On rare occasions, we briefly whisper a muffled account of astoundingly important events. But because our story is forbidden, years will pass before the next scribbled note is passed, then quickly erased and discarded.
Klein and Yglesias told the same story. Last weekend, on CNN, a well-known fellow told a more encompassing version of their forbidden tale.
We refer to William J. Clinton, a well-known former president.
Klein and Yglesias described astounding journalistic misconduct in one campaign, Campaign 2000. In the main, Clinton was discussing the press corps’ scandal-driven coverage of his wife, the current Candidate Clinton.
But citizens! Even as his host pretended not to hear, Clinton expanded on what the youngsters had said. He said this type of journalistic misconduct happens every time:
CLINTON (9/27/15): This is just something that has been a regular feature of our presidential campaigns—except 2008, for unique reasons. Ever since Watergate, something like this happens...For ourselves, we’d say we’ve seen more expended on less. That said, Clinton was making a wider claim about the work of the mainstream press. He went to amplify a pair of claims about their typical campaign work. They get bored discussing matters of substance, he said. And he suggested that they try to drag front-runners down because they “want a race.”
The other party doesn’t want to run against her and if they do, they'd like her as mangled up as possible. And they know that if they leak things, say things, that that is catnip to the people who get bored talking about what’s your position on student loan relief or dealing with the shortage of mental health care or what to do with the epidemic of prescription drugs and heroin out in America, even in small towns of rural America. Or how are you going to get jobs into coal country, given how much they’ve lost in the last twenty years?
So that just happens. It always happens. We’re seeing history repeat itself. And I actually am amazed that she’s borne up under it as well as she has. But I have never seen so much expended on so little.
Whatever! If Clinton’s general accusation is true, the press corps’ conduct toward Candidate Gore would simply be a leading example of their repeated misconduct. It always happens, he said, except in 2008.
Could President Clinton defend that claim? We’ll never know! Fareed Zakaria pretended that he hadn’t heard Clinton’s allegations concerning the press corps. Elsewhere, leading “journalists” rushed to reject his claim out of hand.
(“Preposterous,” Joe Scarborough said to his paper-trained amen chorus.
In the Sunday New York Times, Amy Chozick said that Clinton had “conjured up” his claim—and yes, she made that dispassionate statement as part of a “news report!”)
Can President Clinton defend his claim? We’d love to see him asked to speak in detail! But two things are clear at this point:
In various ways, the current coverage of Candidate Clinton echoes the coverage of Candidate Gore. In our view, the coverage of Gore was crazier than the current coverage. But the echoes are numerous, and the current coverage feeds on the past.
Second point: The liberal world’s silence about the coverage of Gore makes it hard for people to see the problems with the scandal-obsessed coverage of Candidate Clinton. Over the past many years, our liberal stars have opted for silence and samizdat every step of the way. For that reason, liberal and centrist voters are ripe for another kill.
“I have never seen so much expended on so little?” We’re inclined to disagree with President Clinton on that point.
That said, there’s a great deal to criticize in the obsessive coverage of Hillary Clinton by newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times. But because of long-standing liberal silence, voters have never heard the back-story to this year’s events.
When he spoke on CNN, Clinton omitted one part of that back-story. It’s obvious why the omission occurred, but it makes clear vision hard.
What point did President Clinton omit? He failed to note that we’re caught in a long-standing war between the mainstream “press corps” and the demon Clintons. The “persecution” of Candidate Gore during Campaign 2000 was part of this larger, long war.
Major journalists will sometimes acknowledge the existence of this long-standing discord. But career liberal journalists have relentlessly agreed to play nice about this important matter. Nowhere has their silence more striking than in their long-standing refusal to discuss the press corps’ “persecution” and “execution” of Candidate Gore.
Why have our heroes stayed silent? Liberals, please! In the case of Campaign 2000, the war against Gore was principally waged by these news orgs: The Washington Post; the New York Times; NBC News and its cable arms.
This was a war of the mainstream press; Fox News played almost no role. That said, liberal careers run through major orgs! If the young Ezra Klein had told the full truth about the “execution” of Gore, he couldn’t have had his years at the Post—years which helped fuel his career. Similarly, if David Corn and Joan Walsh had ever told the truth about the “persecution” of Gore, they couldn’t be Chris Matthews’ caddies today, the high-profile positions they hold.
Amazing silence has obtained over the past sixteen years. (The undisguised war against Candidate Gore began in March 1999.) That silence constitutes an act of gross journalistic misconduct, just like the original reams of events our stars have agreed not to notice.
Our silence and our samizdat are setting us up for another kill. In closing, a brief personal note:
Without any doubt, Yglesias is right in what he wrote. From March 1999 through November 2000, the mainstream press corps did in fact “mercilessly persecute Al Gore over a series of [non-existent] exaggerations and [conjured] pseudo-scandals.”
As he continued, Yglesias described the same distorted journalistic values Bill Clinton described last weekend. According to Yglesias, “political reporters” in Campaign 2000 found important matters of substance “much less interesting than snarking about Al Gore’s wooden speaking style and complaining that his ‘demeanor’ was disrespectful during a debate exchange in which Bush repeatedly attacked Gore with bogus math.”
That’s true—and that’s the same disdain for substance Bill Clinton cited last weekend.
Yglesias also said this:
“Harping on the fact that Bush was lying about the consequences of his tax plan was shrill and partisan. Commenting on style cues was okay, though, so the press could lean into various critiques of Gore’s outfit.”
Did Candidate Bush lie about the consequences of his tax plan? Personally, we wouldn’t be inclined to say that. But from September 1999 through February 2000, the press corps harped on virtually every aspect of Candidate Gore’s deeply troubling wardrobe—his boots, his suits, his polo shirts, the number of buttons on his suits (three).
The height at which he was hemming his pants. The color of one of his suits (brown, a troubling earth tone).
They considered the psychiatric meaning of his various wardrobe choices. Was he sending sexual signals to female voters with the three buttons on his suits?
Crazily, Matthews wanted to know that.
Obsessively and crazily, Brian Williams had the same reaction, night after night, concerning Gore’s troubling polo shirts, which he crazily said were being worn to fool female voters. In the smuttiest part of this brain-damaged nonsense, our journalists aimed an ugly month of misogynistic slanders at Naomi Wolf, who, they agreed to pretend, had convinced Gore to wear those troubling earth tones.
Liberals agreed not to notice this crazy, disgraceful behavior. People are dead all over the world because Matthews and Williams and Margaret Carlson acted this way.
Vastly understating what happened, Yglesias correctly said that the press corps “leaned into various critiques of Gore’s outfit.” Curious, we decided to click the link he provided—and oh our God! We never thought we’d see such a thing! It was a link to our abandoned companion site, the invaluable How He Got There!
We quit on that invaluable history after writing and posting six lengthy chapters. Simply put, we couldn’t take the silence any more. Imagine spending so many years compiling so much invaluable information and seeing every word ignored as part of a silence campaign.
It hit us after we posted Chapter 6, which is truly invaluable work. People who do eight posts a day couldn’t spare a single link to announce work of that caliber? We’d already started on Chapter 7, but at some point, the sheer absurdity of the situation told us we had to stop.
(We’ve tried to return to Chapter 7. But we know that would be absurd.)
What did the mainstream press corps do in Campaign 2000? This:
In an astonishing, endless group effort, they invented the story that Candidate Gore wasn’t “trustworthy and honest.” They invented endless scenarios designed to show the world that he wasn’t “authentic.”
These same stories are now being pushed about Candidate Clinton. They slide down especially easily because they echo so much work which was successfully done in the past—disgraceful “journalistic” work which went down without a peep of protest from the Corns and the Walshes.
Today, some liberals prefer Candidate Sanders, a choice which makes perfect sense. Back then, some liberals preferred Candidate Bradley, which was also perfectly sensible—until the Bradley campaign went to work pushing tired old right-wing lies about Candidate Gore.
(Candidate Gore was now said to be the man who gave the world Willie Horton! Last week, we were told that Candidate Clinton is the woman who started the Obama Muslim rumors. On Morning Joe, they played pointless videotape of her, no tape of Birther King Trump at all. The world has seen this movie before, but our silence has left it undiscussed.)
People! Whatever one’s ultimate preference may be, it’s dumb for liberals to tolerate trashing of Candidates Clinton/Gore in the hope that it will help Candidates Sanders/Bradley. Example: On page one of today’s Washington Post, the sliming of Candidate Sanders has begun.
It’s a remarkable news report. But decades of liberal silence concerning the Post will help its hook slide down.
Every nine years, one of the kids pens a brief samizdat about what happened in Campaign 2000. Nine years from now, some other youngster will briefly note what the press corps did in the twenty disgraceful months which changed the history of the world.
After that, liberal silence will prevail once again. People! It’s the Post and the Times! It’s cable news!
Dearest darlings, please use your heads! It’s good jobs at good wages!