You won't see these questions addressed: We were struck by the featured editorial in Saturday's Washington Post.
In Sunday's featured editorial, the editors said that Candidate Trump is all wet about several topics. But uh-oh! On Saturday, they said the same thing about Candidate Sanders concerning the Panama Papers and the Panama trade deal.
Are the editors right in what they said? We have no idea. That said, their editorial ran under this headline:
"The Panama Papers prove Mr. Sanders was wrong about a trade pact with Panama"
As they closed their review of the facts, the editors voiced this judgment: "To us, it looks like the Obama administration’s diplomacy resulted in real progress, and that if anyone’s entitled to say 'I told you so' about that, it would be Ms. Clinton."
Are the editors right in the various things they said? We have no idea—and most likely, we'll never find out. Similarly, we aren't like to find out if Paul Krugman was right about these claims, in in last Friday's column:
KRUGMAN (4/8/16): The easy slogan here is “Break up the big banks.” It’s obvious why this slogan is appealing from a political point of view: Wall Street supplies an excellent cast of villains. But were big banks really at the heart of the financial crisis, and would breaking them up protect us from future crises?Is Krugman right in that analysis? You're very unlikely see that discussed. You also won't see much debate about the claim which emerged last week—the claim that Sanders bungled a series of substantive questions during his interview with the board of the New York Daily News.
Many analysts concluded years ago that the answers to both questions were no. Predatory lending was largely carried out by smaller, non-Wall Street institutions like Countrywide Financial; the crisis itself was centered not on big banks but on “shadow banks” like Lehman Brothers that weren’t necessarily that big. And the financial reform that President Obama signed in 2010 made a real effort to address these problems. It could and should be made stronger, but pounding the table about big banks misses the point.
Yet going on about big banks is pretty much all Mr. Sanders has done. On the rare occasions on which he was asked for more detail, he didn’t seem to have anything more to offer.
Why won't you see these questions discussed? In large part, because they're questions of substance.
The bulk of our press corps longs, above all, to avoid all discussion of substance. Especially on "cable news" channels, this is the most basic part of their flyweight culture.
You won't see such questions discussed; in cable culture, such questions are judged to be disqualifyingly "hard." Instead, you'll see the constant frisking of the latest polls, along with pointless discussions of naughty words said long ago, perhaps on one occasion.
There's a second reason why you won't see such questions discussed. It isn't simply a matter of culture; it's also question of narrative.
In the narratives controlling the current election, Candidate Clinton is the one who's inauthentic, dishonest, untrustworthy. It flies in the face of this decades-old, memorized story to suggest the possibility that someone else may be slip-sliding along in some way or other.
That narrative explains something else. It explains why Candidate Sanders was able to stage this absurd exchange on yesterday's This Week.
To watch that exchange, click here:
STEPHANOPOULOS (4/10/16): We saw that exchange you had with Cecilia Vegas over whether or not Secretary Clinton is qualified. You said this week once that she was unqualified. Did your emotions get the best of you there?Fellow citizens, please!
SANDERS: Well look. You know what I think, it's very clear and I'm sure you got the press releases and the memos from the Clinton people.
After we won Wyoming, there was a change in tone on the part of the Clinton people. And essentially, they said we're not going to be very nice to Bernie Sanders any more. We're getting beaten every week, we're going to start beating him up when we go to New York City.
And that's what they have done. Their tone has changed. They used the word, or their surrogates have used the word, about whether or not I am qualified.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It was a headline. She didn't say you were unqualified.
SANDERS: Well, she didn't quite say that. But her surrogates implied that.
Candidate Clinton didn't quite say that? Her surrogates implied that? They used the word, or their surrogates have used the word?
With apologies: Four days after his rather dumb remark, Candidate Sanders was still being a bit "Clintonesque," at least in that part of his discussion, not unlike his wife before him.
In fairness, Candidate Sanders is running for office. Understandably, he probably didn't want to say that he simply said one thing that was inaccurate and another thing that was dumb.
But as the person who's been cast as "authentic," he gets to shimmy around quite a bit in resolving matters like this, in the manner of Candidates Bradley and McCain before him. He is allowed to be "Clintonesque." Candidate Clinton is not.
(Candidate Clinton didn't quite say that? Earth to dude, four days later: she didn't say it at all!)
Inevitably, a candidate will say dumb things in the course of a long campaign; in this instance, Candidate Sanders said something that was basically dumb. But because he's been cast as the official "authentic" candidate, he gets a lot of leeway in spinning such matters. And, because of prevailing press corps culture, no one is going to examine that other question:
When he's pushed on matters of substance, is it possible that Candidate Sanders doesn't exactly know what he's talking about?
We don't know the answer to that. Because of the culture of the "press," we don't expect to find out.
Just for the record: Candidate Clinton has said some things along the way which are just flatly bogus. We'll post a few striking examples by the end of the week.
That said, narrative rules above all! Even she is allowed to misstate in certain pre-approved ways. It all depends on what type of inaccurate thing has been said!