Supplemental: Key points concerning Biden-told-Dowd!


A fascinating episode:
Friend, are you intrigued by the way the mainstream “press corps” scripts our White House campaigns?

If so, you’re in luck! Yesterday’s claim that “Biden-told-Dowd” is a hundred-year opportunity to see the nation’s pundits in action discussing the work of their guild.

Last night, we thought E. J. Dionne was worst-in-show as various cable pundits discussed the meaning of the affair. That said, Jonathan Alter wasn’t far behind. Joan Walsh, newly released from Salon, turned in the top cable performance.

Chris Matthews offered the most fascinating comment. We’ll post that comment below.

That said, let’s postpone our discussion of the various pundits. For today, let’s establish some basic points to keep in mind as you watch our pundits discuss, or pretend to discuss, this latest magical mystery.

Once again, we don’t know if Biden was the source for Maureen Dowd’s column about the dying son's last words. For ourselves, we'd always assumed the most likely source was Biden’s other son, Hunter Biden, although of course we had no way to know.

If Biden actually was the source, we don’t know how much the horrific Dowd “improved” what he actually said. Given Dowd’s appalling history, it’s entirely possible that she embellished whatever it is she was told.

Did Biden tell the story to Dowd? If so, the story was profoundly self-serving by the time it reached print. You should keep the following points in mind as you watch the pundit discussions, real and feigned:

The ugly Clinton-hatred: The idea that Beau Biden wanted Joe to run didn’t start with Dowd’s column. The Wall Street Journal had reported that claim five weeks earlier.

The ugly new twist which appeared in Dowd’s column concerned its implied Clinton hatred. In Dowd’s telling, the dying man loathed the Clintons so much that he used his last few nouns to slime them one last time, even as he lay dying.

That made the story an ugly story. It remains an ugly story today. That also turned it into a story many of Dowd’s colleagues would love. It made that column the latest chapter in Dowd’s apparently endless book of disordered Clinton/Gore-hatred.

Not for attribution: Was Joe Biden really Dowd’s source? If so, we note an important point—he spoke to her on a “not for attribution” basis. As she told her startling story, Dowd didn’t identify her source.

Last night, a range of pundits said that this was just Joe-being-Joe—this was Joe just talking to folks, as he always does.

Sorry. If Biden actually was the source, this wasn’t Joe-just-talking-to-folks. This was Joe talking to the nation’s most venomous Clinton-hater on a not-for-attribution basis.

When Biden spoke to Stephen Colbert, he did so on network TV. Whoever spoke to Maureen Dowd spoke to her in secret.

The New York Times cited no source: The publication of Dowd’s column constituted another milestone in the journalistic disintegration of the New York Times.

Good God! Dowd was telling a remarkable story about the Democratic front-runner and the sitting Democratic vice president. But Dowd provided no source—none!—for her remarkable tale.

On the front page of that same day’s New York Times, the repeatedly ludicrous Amy Chozick made matters that much worse. She told the story of the dying man’s last nouns as part of a front-page news report. She “sourced” her report to Dowd’s “reporting”—to reporting on that very day's op-ed page, reporting which stated no source.

This has nothing to do with anyone in the Biden camp. But will public editor Margaret Sullivan explain this odd procedure? It’s time for her to try.

(In fairness, Chozick’s ludicrous front-page report did earn one distinction. It replaced the Times’ 4400-word report about the Clintons’ scary uranium deal as the most ridiculous piece of journalism this year.)

Importantly, the column triggered a narrative: In his muck-raking piece at Politico, Edward-Isaac Dovere said the column provided a service to possible candidate Biden.

“It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column,” Dovere wrote. “People read Dowd and started reaching truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.”

Whoever the source may have been, we’ll assume the column did have that effect. But it had a second important effect—it triggered a Standard Group Story among the nation’s pundits, a story which was very sympathetic to Biden and very unhelpful to Clinton.

From that day to this, reams of pundits have repeated the Standard Official Group Story. They’ve gushed about Biden’s authenticity while histrionically feeling his pain.

They’ve said that his somewhat erratic behavior was a sign of his grief—and of his vast authenticity. We’ve seen no one raise the possibility that Biden was perhaps behaving badly in some way as he surfed the tale about the dying son who used his last few nouns to attack the heinous Clintons.

The column triggered a group recitation. Those recitations have uniformly built Biden up and helped tear Clinton down. Our mainstream “press corps” behaves like that, especially when the horrible Dowd floats new Clinton-hatred

East Coast Irish Catholics of the world, unite: Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve long discussed the disproportionate role We Irish have played in the press corps’ endless wars against the Clintons and Gore.

This cultural problem reached a somewhat comical zenith when Jack Welch reinvented NBC News as an East Coast Irish Catholic preserve, with the island of Nantucket serving as its Vatican City. But make no mistake—the most disordered Clinton/Gore-haters have tended to come from the disproportionate numbers of We Irish within the mainstream press.

Joe Klein once noted this same phenomenon. For the most part, you’ll never see this cultural phenomenon discussed within the press corps.

Last night, Chris Matthews almost went there! He offered his thoughts to a trio of pundits who had exactly nothing to say about the awkward story which had emerged within their guild.

As we start, USA Today’s Heidi Przybyla is making an irrelevant comment, as our pundits tend to do at such awkward moments. All in all, Matthews seemed to think that Biden probably had spoken to Dowd. He offered some cultural context:
PRZYBYLA (10/6/15): You have to talk to people who are close to Joe Biden as well. There’s no one who doesn’t believe he was genuinely grieving at that time. And I don’t doubt as well that he didn’t have a conversation with Maureen Dowd in that context. She’s known him for many years.

MATTHEWS: Let me suggest an ethnic connection here, too. We don’t have a term like “lantzman,” but there is a connection among the Irish. And Joe Biden always has the breakfast on St. Patrick’s Day with a bunch of people. I’m in the larger circle, I’m not in the inner circle, but I’ve always been friendly with that family. And I think he feels very comfortable with Maureen.

And I think that they do talk about that old sad Irish thing that you share. It’s very much an Irish thing!
You sort of grieve—everybody else doesn’t grieve! But I can see him in the middle of a conversation with Maureen, telling the story of what Beau said, without some plan.
In this moment, Matthews briefly drew the curtain back from the social workings of the upper-end mainstream press corps.

Within that press corps, it has also been “very much an Irish thing” to savage the Southerners, Clinton and Gore. Until his reinvention in 2008, Matthews was one of the most virulent and unscrupulous Clinton/Gore attack dogs.

Dowd has long been queen of that guild. Originally, she was accompanied by her childhood friend, the late Michael Kelly, a crazoid Clinton/Gore hater.

Why have We Irish played the leading roles in this long peculiar jihad? We could offer two principal speculations. But in that passage, Matthews is telling you that the Irish Catholic pol, Joe Biden, enjoyed a long-standing connection to the Irish Catholic Clinton-hating columnist, Dowd. Matthews could see them getting together to do our sad Irish thing.

That doesn’t mean that Biden was the source for the column. However, please note this:

Matthews said he can picture Biden talking to Dowd in the sad way We Irish do, “without some plan” for his political gain.

We can picture that too! But if Biden spoke to Dowd about this, he did so on a not for attribution basis. If this was Joe just being Joe, why did he do that?

We saw no pundit address that point last night. It was constantly ignored.

Was Biden the source for the column? We have no way of knowing. It only matters to the extent that it helps us see the way the press corps builds narratives around our White House campaigns, in which they praise the pols they love and savage the pols they hate.

That said, Matthews’ rumination about We Irish is well worth considering. It offers us a tiny look at the million things which determine the way our presidential campaigns get spun—a tiny look at the million things you aren’t normally permitted to know.

Dowd and Matthews are rich and famous. In truth, they aren’t obsessively honest, and people below them won’t talk.


  1. What happened to "We Irish" when Dowd ran the plagiarism story on Biden?
    Maybe it's full circle time, time to atone for wrongs done in rash youth. And it could be an all-too-perfect alignment of targets: making it up to old Joe by giving him a heartrending story to run on and at the same time a wonderful way to scuttle the campaign of the hated Hillary.
    When a girl has nothing to do with her evenings, do you expect her sit there and play Solitaire?

    1. Or she could just be diddling herself as she lay on her shag, making the novel up.

    2. Biden serves Dowd's purposes now.

  2. But will public editor Margaret Sullivan explain this odd procedure? It’s time for her to try.

    I have the sense that the public editor at the NY Times is am impotent powerless token position. They humor her but really don't change a thing. They have hardly missed a step with their relentless war on Secretary Clinton even after the public editor assured their readers they would play fair. In any real professional organization that actually cared about behaving ethically, Michael Schmidt would be out pounding the pavement.

    1. @mm

      Don't worry. HRC's latest SNL appearance actually guaranteed that she can always get a job as a bartender at the Newark Airport Holiday Inn.

  3. So what are the two principle speculations?

    1. Our guess?

      1) If there was talk, and we don't know if there was, we have no way of knowing, it was “not for attribution” and further it was "not-for-attribution" and they "spoke to her in secret... but if Biden spoke to Dowd about this, he did so on a not for attribution basis."

      2) Dowd is "horrific" with an "apalling history" and "the nation’s most venomous Clinton-hater" and the "horrible Dowd floats new Clinton-hatred" and the Irish Catholic pol, Joe Biden, enjoyed a long-standing connection to the Irish Catholic Clinton-hating columnist, Dowd.

      Actually the last part is not specualtion. Bob Somerby often attacks Chris Matthews, but Matthews is Irish Catholic so he is close to all the other Irish Catholics and knows how well connected they are. Plus they all think alike. Just like liberals. Who are so dumb they used to sleep in the woods.

  4. Over the weekend in reponse to Bob's post about Biden and authenticity somebody mentioned that Colbert had Biden on his show and they both are Catholic. I wrote"

    "It IS like religion with those press people. And so many are Catholic too. I know Bob Somerby once wrote a post about how that influenced unfair treatment of the southern Protestants Gore and Clinton."

    This caused commenter mm to write:

    "Are you able support that claim, or do you just prefer to change the subject with misdirection and bullshit pulled out of your ass?"

    Another commenter said I had not proven the attack was because they were Protestant instead of because they wre southerners. Then he/she suggested that due to Puritanism, with upper class Irish it was a caste thing.

    Whatever. Today Bob writes:

    "Within that press corps, it has also been “very much an Irish thing” to savage the Southerners, Clinton and Gore."

    1. There is no contradiction between what Somerby said and the previous comments. They are a rich, powerful Irish cabal, but that says nothing about why they hate Clinton. It explains why they stick together.

    2. Who said it contradicted anything?

  5. "For ourselves, we'd always assumed the most likely source was Biden’s other son, Hunter Biden, although of course we had no way to know."

    Bob Somerby, finally telling readers today a tale his analysts never leaked for two months.

    "Has Biden been playing a game involving the death of his son? We don’t have any way of knowing, but the thought has often crossed our mind that he may be behaving badly."

    Bob Somerby seeming to hint that thoughts other than Hunter being the source were crossing his mind while writing this weekend about a photo of Biden "seeming" to pray.

    "The use to which Dowd’s novel was quickly put is more astonishing still."

    Bob Somerby suggesting Dowd's entire tale could be fiction right after its August 1 publication, even suggesting Dowd's writing technique involved "Diddling herself as she lay on her shag."

  6. Anybody else catch Matthews almost begging Joe(!)Biden to run, tonight?
    He said that Joe could run as the “minority candidate”
    David Corn looked like he’d swallowed his teeth.
    The reason that Matthews gave is that Joe(!) is loved by African Americans.
    Okay, so a minority by proxy candidate will excite the base but an actual minority candidate will not????
    What’s in Tweety’s chardonnay?

    1. Chris Matthews offered the most fascinating comment. Matthews is telling you that the Irish Catholic pol, Joe Biden, is loved by African Americans. That said, Matthews’ rumination is well worth considering

    2. From what I can see, African American women love and get Hillary (think Stephanie Tubbs Jones, RIP) both she and Bill are held in high esteem by the black community despite the best efforts of some people.
      If Tweety told me I was a woman, I'd check down my pants.

  7. For today, let’s establish some basic points to keep in mind.....

    This is how Bob Somerby characterizes the column written by Maureen Dowd:

    "The ugly new twist which appeared in Dowd’s column concerned its implied Clinton hatred. In Dowd’s telling, the dying man loathed the Clintons so much that he used his last few nouns to slime them one last time, even as he lay dying."

    This is the entirety of the sliming and loathing contained in Dowd's column. Watch carefully for the implied Clinton hatred.

    "He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values."

    1. Now consider this Dowd column in the context of the ones she has written in the past. You are taking this one column out of context to make a point that is untrue.

    2. Dowd isn't a Clinton hater! Proved!

    3. @ 12:10 my comment did not address Dowd's feeling for Clinton. My comment addressed no past work or even most of the column being discussed. It addressed Somerby's characterization of what was contained in the quote from Beau Biden.

      @12:02 says I am taking one column out of context to make a point that is untrue. I am showing verbatim Bob's description of Beau Biden's comment and verbatim what Dowd attributed as a quote to Beau Biden which is the only thing in her column which refers to anything Beau Biden said about the Clintons. When someone disputes the truth of direct quotes that are right in front of them in this very blog, the person is an idiot.

      If that is a problem for you, your problem is with Somerby. Unless you can magically produce some other quote Dowd attributes to Beau Biden about one or more Clinton.

    4. What the f*k are Biden values? Is that where you suck money from the credit card companies and then do their bidding using your trusted position?

      I guess Beau didn't have any problem with those infamous Clinton values when both President Clinton and Senator Clinton were busting their asses running around the country campaigning for Holy Joe in 2008.

      If you can't see the problem here with the intimation in Beau's supposed plea to Holy Joe, then I would say you're not very perceptive.

    5. @mm

      Obama Administration and liberal media outlets have joined the "vast right wing conspiracy" in derailing HRC's presidential aspirations. HRC just can't get along with anyone except Lorne Michaels.

  8. Once again @ Bob Somerby employs his magical disappearing act, the one he deplores when he accuses others of using it. Here is how he describes the opening of the discussion that he has chose to display from "Hardball."

    "As we start, USA Today’s Heidi Przybyla is making an irrelevant comment, as our pundits tend to do at such awkward moments."

    Bob disappeared this earlier comment from Przybla:

    "I kind of assumed when I first read the story that Joe Biden might have been the source for it, it was such a personal story."

    This disappearing act is performed after Bob Somerby informs us of his own thoughts, revelaed for the first time two months after Dowd's column appeared:

    "For ourselves, we'd always assumed the most likely source was Biden’s other son, Hunter Biden, although of course we had no way to know."

    So Bob Somerby leaves out the youngish female reporter demonstrating her assumptions were better than Bob Somerby's, then slimes her comments as irrelevant, furthering the implication of cluelessness with which he often paints scribes.

    1. If Somerby had included the sentence (despite it being peripheral to his point) you would be here complaining that he didn't also note that this discussion took place during a full moon (hence your yowling). He excerpts in order to focus on the point of his post. That means he is necessarily selective. Inclusion of irrelevant comments (whether they agree with him or not) would distract from the topic he has chosen to discuss. It is his right to choose the topic -- it is his blog, not yours.

    2. "Inclusion of irrelevant comments (whether they agree with him or not) would distract from the topic he has chosen to discuss."

      So says the idiot who commented @ 12:01, apparently unable to read the very words of the blogger of her/his sycophancy.

      "As we start, USA Today’s Heidi Przybyla is making an irrelevant comment"

      Bob Somerby chose to include the irrelevant comment, which you say distracts from the topic. I just didn't quote it myself as Bob did. Sorry he distracted you.

      Bob chose to disappear a comment that was relevant that it addresses the whole issue of the post and gives a view of a reporter on a topic in which Bob had previously chosen to reveal his own view...who each of them assumed was the source for Dowd's column.

  9. Good question: What exactly are Biden values? Is it the plagiarism? Maybe screwing women and children with bankruptcy legislation that benefits political benefactors. Or it could be pawing women in public secure in the knowledge your buddies in media (Irish and not) will never say a word. I guess these are all Biden values along with stabbing your "very good friend" the Dem frontrunner in the back to try to make yourself a viable presidential candidate. And don't forget covering up for Clarence Thomas by joining GOP in trashing Anita Hill. Gotta live those Biden values!


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