The latest perfect example: Cokie Roberts has started to bleat about Hillary Clinton's illness. Ed Kilgore discusses this at New York magazine:
KILGORE (9/12/16): Cokie Roberts, the longtime reporter thought to have impeccable insider Democratic contacts, is already reporting on NPR that influential donkeys are “very nervously beginning to whisper about her stepping aside and finding another candidate.” That is less than 24 hours after the story of Clinton’s illness first broke. The Clinton campaign is now saying it will have more information on the candidate’s condition “within a few days.” Is there any chance the woman might be left alone for “a few days” under any circumstances? I sure wouldn’t bet on it.At this late day, "another candidate" would very likely lose. That said, Roberts is the perfect example of the type of high-ranking establishment star whose conduct the liberal elites have always tolerated.
We've done our most extensive work on the press coverage of Campaign 2000. Roberts was an embarrassing, upper-end mess all the way through that history-changing campaign.
In the fall of 1999, she and her husband, Steve Roberts, did the standard mandated column about the (ridiculous, invented) problems with Candidate Gore's deeply troubling clothes. Why in the world was he wearing those boots? Did he wear boots when he was a high school student at St. Albans? When he lived in the fancy hotel?
When Candidate Bush released his large tax-cut proposal, Cokie bungled badly. Four days later, she made a groaning mistake about the size of the plan on ABC's This Week. George Stephanopoulos skillfully covered for her mistake, but it was stunningly obvious that she didn't know the basics of the proposal.
Her most memorable role came near the end of the campaign. In the wake of the first two debates, some major Democrats finally began to complain about the crazy way Gore was being covered. At the Washington Post, Howard Kurtz turned to Cokie to explain how the press corps works.
After the first debate, Gore had been trashed for a few inconsequential factual mistakes. (He had surveyed a certain fire in Texas with the unknown deputy to the unknown James Lee Witt, not with the unknown Witt. Gore had toured other disaster sites with Witt himself.) Meanwhile, Bush had made a series of gigantic misstatements about his own prescription drug proposal. Very few newspapers even reported that Bush had made wrong, and Gore had been right, in the lengthy, acerbic discussion about the Bush proposal.
Why was the press corps behaving this way? To his credit, Howard Kurtz asked. Here's what Roberts told him:
KURTZ (10/15/00): The broadcast networks all played up Gore's mistakes after the first debate, as did major stories in the New York Times ("Tendency to Embellish Facts Snags Gore") and The Washington Post ("GOP Homes In on Gore's Credibility")...Just try to believe that she said it! Sadly enough, we can.
"The story line is Bush isn't smart enough and Gore isn't straight enough," said ABC correspondent Cokie Roberts. "In Bush's case, you know he's just misstating as opposed to it playing into a story line about him being a serial exaggerator." If another politician had made [Gore’s] mistake [about attending the fire with Witt], "people wouldn't have paid any attention," Roberts said.
Assuming Roberts was quoted correctly, her answer was horrific. Our journalists had their "story lines," she memorably said. Journalists were simply sticking to their standard pre-approved narratives.
According to their "story line," Candidate Gore was "a serial exaggerator." Therefore, that's how they played his tiny errors, Cokie apparently said.
In fact, Cokie's statement made no sense, even on its own terms. Bush had made a gigantic set of mistakes about his own prescription drug proposal in that first debate. He had called Gore every name in the book, even as Gore described the prescription drug plan correctly.
If the press corps had a "story line" which held that Bush "wasn't smart enough," they'd still be discussing his string of howlers right to this very day. Instead, they buried his remarkable errors.
At any rate, Cokie had been the go-to guy to explain the press corps' conduct. In the wake of the final debate, she and Sam Donaldson clowned about the funny names Dingell and Norwood, in a way which should have gotten both the big cockatoos fired.
Gore had tried to pin Bush down about his stance on the Dingell-Norwood bill, which sought to establish a patient's bill of rights. But because Gore had said those funny names in the course of the debate, Cokie and Sam laughed and clowned, overriding Stephanopoulos' attempts to make them discuss the substance of what Gore had said.
See THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/8/06. Click the link to the previous day's report, which gives you the relevant transcript from the debate. Just don't let your children see what Sam and Cokie did. And by the way:
People are dead all over the world because of what they did. Surely, everyone knows that.
Within the press corps, Roberts has always been the perfect representative of the sneering, snooty insider elitism which was rather quickly turned against Clinton, Clinton and Gore. But because she's always been a powerful, highly placed press corps insider, career liberals have always agreed to look the other way.
Now the horrible insider doyenne seems to be at it again. At long last, someone's complaining, even if only a tad. But the liberal world has enabled this mess for the past twenty years. Our team has been hopelessly weak, and of course we've been morally lost.
Sam and Cokie laughed and laughed; Candidate Bush ended up the White House. Sixteen years later, we liberals are getting nervous. For that reason, we in the liberal world have boldly begun pushing back!