Karen Tumulty talks about Trump!


But also describes the press corps:
We happen to know Karen Tumulty just a tiny tad.

We even lunched with her one-on-one once. We know her a tad, and we like her. We even admire her for something she did.

Back in the day—roughly speaking, back at the birth of liarism—Tumulty was involved in several consequential news reports about Vice President and then Candidate Gore. In our view, she was perhaps at fault in one of these instances. We thought she and Michael Duffy got over their skis in their report for Time, in November 1999, about Naomi Wolf.

That report helped launch the disgracefully ugly and stupid "month of Wolf," which consumed the small minds of the mainstream press all through November 1999. For a reasonably full account of that episode, we recommend Chapter 5 at our companion site.

Prepare to shower when done.

In our view, the Tumulty/Duffy report for Time displayed some poor journalistic judgment. Having said that, why do we even admire Tumulty? In late 1997, she was one of only two reporters who actually heard what Al Gore said about the feature film, Love Story, in a rambling conversation which lasted more than two hours during a late night plane ride.

Here's what happened next:

Tumulty's colleagues began to turn Gore's pointless remark into the first example in the "liarism" crusade they would pursue for three years. When they did that, Tumulty did something few journalists ever do:

She pushed back against her colleagues in the mainstream press.

Tumulty had actually heard what Gore actually said. She gave interviews saying that her colleagues were being dumb and unfair in their brainless screeching about his pointless remark. (Maureen Dowd devoted two columns to the nonsense. Inevitably, Frank Rich savaged Gore in another.) And her opposition didn't end there. In March 1999, when her colleagues began to beat the Love Story drum all over again, she told us, telephonically, that we could quote her on how stupid it was.

"Liarism" wasn't the first of the recent crusades which have made our discourse so dangerously stupid. Before that, we had "murderism," the endless insistence that Bill and Hillary Clinton were connected to endless murders.

(The ludicrous, disgraceful Candidate Trump was singing that song all over again when he posted this tweet in December 2013: "How amazing, the State Health Director who verified copies of Obama's 'birth certificate' died in plane crash today. All others lived." In that stupid, ugly tweet, Trump was connecting his own birtherism to the earlier murderism. For a news report about the plane crash, click here.)

In the 1990s, the American public discourse was assaulted by murderism. Later in that decade, the virus of liarism sent George W. Bush to the White House.

Starting in 2011, Donald J. Trump established himself as king of birtherism. Only now, at this very late date, the mainstream press—and the liberal world—have begun pushing back against it.

Of those three viruses, we the liberals have been able to identify only one. To this day, we seem to have no earthly idea that birtherism was preceded by the two earlier viruses.

The cause of our blindness is fairly clear, but let's leave that for another day. Today, let's discuss Tumulty's piece in today's Washington Post.

Tumulty writes about Candidate Trump; her front-page piece is called a POLITICAL DEBRIEF. Below, you see the (accurate) way her essay begins.

Tumulty is describing Trump. But she's also describing the mainstream press, including its internal brigade of career liberal enablers:
TUMULTY (9/17/16): What makes Donald Trump such a singular figure—in modern politics and, perhaps, ever—is his refusal to take ownership of the outrageous things he has said and done.

It is the essence of his leadership style, the defiance that exasperates his foes and makes his supporters love him all the more. The one thing that is consistent about him is inconsistency.

Not only does Trump refuse to apologize, he blames others for his own actions.
We can't say that's wrong. Fairly clearly, Candidate Trump does "refuse to take ownership of the outrageous things he has said and done." Fairly clearly, he does "blame others for his [outrageous] actions."

We can't say that Tumulty's wrong in that description of Trump. But when we read her piece today, we couldn't help thinking this:

Those are also good descriptions of the mainstream press corps. Especially of its destructive work over these murderous decades.

As she continues, Tumulty describes the "funhouse-mirror fashion" in which Trump behaved yesterday. That said, our culture has been deep in the funhouse at least since the rise of murderism, a long, viral episode led by the late Jerry Falwell.

When he became king of murderism, Falwell was every bit as prominent as Donald Trump was when he made himself king of the birthers. Within the conservative world, Falwell was very prominent.

It was the start of the abject craziness which is now so common. But the press corps largely ignored what Falwell did at that time. In August 1999, Chris Matthews gave Gennifer Flowers a full half hour to talk about all those murders on the funhouse cable show, Hardball.

(At that time, the program was devoted to crazy attacks on both Clintons and especially on Candidate Gore. You've never seen a single journalist describe the astonishing conduct in which Matthews engaged all through 1999 and 2000.)

Murderism was a product of the crackpot right. Liarism was a product of the mainstream press corps.

Their liarism went on for years. Virtually alone among mainstream journalists, Tumulty actually challenged it, especially at the time of its birth in 1997.

The press corps' ludicrous liarism eventually sent Bush to the White House. To this day, the mainstream press and its many enablers have "refused to take ownership of the outrageous things it said and did."

You've never seen a journalist describe the twenty-month war against Candidate Gore. Even worse, the liberal world can barely bring itself to notice the fact that these earlier viruses existed.

We act as if our funhouse era started with birtherism. Manifestly, it didn't. We'd been locked in the funhouse for years when birtherism began.

Today, the press corps continues to blame Hillary Clinton for its own actions over the past several years. They had to beat the emails to death! The Clintons made them do it!

Until this very week, these very same people walked away from Candidate Trump's birtherism. He told them he didn't want to discuss it. Chastened, they slithered away. They had emails to flog!

As a nation, we've been in the funhouse for twenty-plus years. We've suffered at least three major viral episodes in that hall of mirrors. But to this day, the Jonathan Chaits won't tell you the truth about the way this cultural illness has worked. Read his most recent post about the press and ponder the role of this kind of denial in the culture's downward spiral.

(Truly, Chait is amazing when it comes to discussing the press.)

Murderism was a virus. The liberal world ignored it.

After that, we got liarism. It sent George Bush to the White House. Many of our most prominent liberals played active roles in that scam.

The current assault on Candidate Clinton began in the summer of 2014. She tried to tour in support of a book about foreign policy.

The Diane Sawyers of the world weren't going to talk about a subject like that, not even in a critical way. Instead, they flogged her speaking fees. Diane Sawyer told the world that Clinton was too rich!

We liberals accepted all that. Meanwhile, as they pounded away at the speaking fees and then at the endlessly troubling emails, the mainstream press corps averted its gaze from Trump's birtherism. He stamped his foot and they ran!

This week, the mainstream press has finally managed to notice the third of these viral episodes. How hopeless is our own tribe? So hopeless that we still seem to think this episode was the first!

Cable news drinking game: Candidate Obama released his official birth certificate in 2008. As you watch cable news this weekend, see how many cable stars seem to say something different, in line with inaccurate TrumpSpeak.

Drain a glass each time they do. By Sunday, you'll have no idea what happens on Meet the Press.


  1. The press corps is upset because the Clintons security people blocked off her Chappaqua street (cul de sac) while she had pneumonia and won't let them park in front of her house any more.

  2. Who is worse, Maureen Dowd or Ann Coulter? There are striking similarities between the two, not least that both have written books timed to influence the election (or profit off it).

    1. "Who is worse, Maureen Dowd or Ann Coulter?"


  3. Over the past 48 hours, MSNBC has been wall to wall about Trump lying, about the birth certificate being produced years ago, about Trump's failure to apologize for five years of deliberate lies (a headline in the horrible Times), about his lie that birtherism began with Hillary. "Debunked!" they've declared repeatedly.

    Over at Fox they have more important stories to cover, like Brown U admitting illegals tuition free, and other isolated incidents aimed at pissing off their audience of deplorables, but that's to be expected.

    I'm getting very little news from this blog that I haven't seen first on our very own channel and the horrible Times. Chris Matthews was so exercised over the issue Friday I feared one more interruption would cause Eugene Robinson to throttle him.

    2000 was 16 years ago. And let's face it, Gore was kind of an ass. Shall we keep recalling that 160 years ago the press likened Honest Abe to a baboon?

  4. Honest Abe got elected. Gore got screwed.

    And this isn't a "news" blog.

    All this hostility towards Bob Somerby in the comments section. It never ends.

    What gives?

  5. What gives?? Wingnut welfare what else. Little trolls who get paid to show up on liberal forums usually anonymously and either act like concern troll Dems, Drumpf voters or something in between. But always there is a dig at a liberal or either liberalism as a whole. Roger Stone is more than likely their boss--that should answer every question.

  6. "You've never seen a single journalist describe the astonishing conduct in which Matthews engaged all through 1999 and 2000."

    Wouldn't Matthews simply respond by saying that he's an entertainer and not a journalist. An entertainer trying to compete with Fox News and talk radio blowhards. How did GE's stock do under Bush? Pretty well I would bet. Bush offered bigger tax cut than Gore for high earners--such as GE execs. Figure it out man, trashing Gore was an order from the highest levels.

    1. GE stock - when Bush took office is was in the high 40's. When Obama took office it was under 15.

    2. GE execs along with the rest of the super rich Americans received the most benefit from the Bush tax cuts.

      $520,000: The average tax cut received by the top 0.1 percent of Americans, those making more than $3 million a year.

      If I'm an owner of a major media outlet why wouldn't I trash Gore knowing the enormous tax windfall that awaits after a Bush victory?

  7. Isn't it a conflict of interest when the NY Times gives a good review to Maureen Dowd's new book?

    1. You haven't been keeping up on current events.

  8. Trump didn't start the whole birther thing. Hillary's campaign was peddling that story - and the secret muslim story back in 2007. MSNBC even called her out on it after Obama said it was racist. Trump used it to his advantage by claiming he could could get Obama to release the birth certificate. When it was released Trump - and the media - claimed he forced Obama to release it. No one ever explained how this was accomplished tho. Obama was in the WH, and it was apparent he would remain there until the end of his second term.

    1. No, Hillary's campaign was not doing that. This claim has been investigated and debunked. For background about where the claim came from, see Cannonfire (Sept 16):

      "In an earlier piece, I demonstrated at some length that Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign had nothing to do with the growth of the birther mythos. I can lay claim to some expertise here, since this humble blog played a fairly prominent role in the PUMA movement. Throughout that year, my ear was keenly attuned to all of the latest anti-Obama scuttlebutt.

      It's simple. Nobody in PUMA-land heard the Big Lie about Obama's birth certificate until August. At that point, the Clinton campaign was shut down.

      Understand? There was no Clinton campaign when birtherism became a matter of public discussion. Hillary had conceded in June. By August, she was giving speeches on behalf of Obama. The chronology proves Trump a liar.

      As I have demonstrated in my earlier posts, birtherism began (IN AUGUST) with a small conspiracy of rightwingers who had infiltrated the PUMA movement in order to sow dissent among the Democrats. (These infiltrators spread other myths, such as the "Whitey" rumor.) The real PUMA writers -- Riverdaughter, Kat Huff, the late Lori Starfelt -- never promulgated the birther myth. In fact, Lori was the one who found Obama's birth announcement in an old Hawaiian newspaper.

      We should be very clear on one point: None of these people can fairly be described as Hillary's "henchman" -- not the fake PUMAs like Larry Johnson and not the real PUMAs like Riverdaughter. They all stood well outside the Hillary campaign. I can assure you that nobody from the Clinton campaign ever contacted me -- hell, they would not even return my calls or emails. Hillary kept the entire PUMA movement at a rather severe distance.

      But that's not all. Trump transforms his Big Lie into a HUUUUUGE Lie.

      Trump links to a document which -- he claims -- proves his contention that the 2008 Clinton campaign begat the birther mythos. At the other end of that link you will find a genuine Clinton campaign document written in 2007 by Mark Penn (Hillary's campaign manager), in which Penn outlines potential strategies to be used against rival candidate Barack Obama.

      Trump is hoping that most people won't bother to read the text. I, of course, did.

      There is nothing -- nothing nothing NOTHING -- in that document which suggests that Penn wanted to spread rumors about Barack Obama's citizenship.

      Instead, Penn offers very predictable lines of attack. Not one of his proposed actions can fairly be described as "fighting dirty." Penn's missive contains absolutely nothing that one would not expect to see in such a document.

      Yet Trump wants his followers to believe that this text contains "proof" that birtherism began with Hillary Clinton! "

      He goes on to discuss additional allegations. The Sidney Blumenthal one, for example, is not promoting the birther theory but asking that it be investigated.

    2. ... is not promoting the birther theory but asking that it be investigated.

      They're the same thing. I don't think Trump ever said that Obama was definitely born outside the US. By just continuing to raise the question, Trump was promoting the false story.

    3. No, they are not the same thing at all.

      Reporters are supposed to investigate and people give them tips all the time. Some pan out and others do not. Asking a reporter to check something out is not the same as telling someone you know something for a fact.

      Trump's odd phrasing (wink, wink, nod, nod). I don't know whether Obama was born in the USA but something is fishy about him. That kind of innuendo is promoting birtherism.

    4. AnonymousSeptember 18, 2016 at 8:35 PM -- whatever Trump said about Obama's birthplace was deplorable, in my opinion. But, I don't know what his odd phrasing was. Can you provide it? Thanks

    5. @ 8:35 - I wouldn't waste your time providing this troll with anything

    6. "I don't think Trump ever said that Obama was definitely born outside the US."

      You know he has. You are a liar.

  9. “the birth of liarism”

    Born because of the end of the fairness doctrine. Evidenced by the rise of right-wing talk radio ten years before Gore’s presidential campaign. The Jerry Falwell distributed murder film was 1994. Fox News began in 1996. Did you know that Pat Robertson’s network broadcasts in 97% of US media markets?
    Liarism is protected by the first amendment.

    No use complaining about the corporate press for act of unfairness against non-far right candidates. Did you know that most newspapers endorsed FDR’s opponents, yet he won four times?

    The answer is to build your own pro-democracy media just like the pro-plutocratic forces have done. And, of course, you need candidates like FDR who aren’t afraid to fight.

    1. Strange name, non sequiturs, ancients references, idiotic reasoning...

      Is that you KZ? Is this me?

    2. KZ may have left when everyone else did.

    3. ancient references...yes. I forgot that history began in Jan. 2009 in Wingnutland. Perhaps you should return there and avoid scary contact with history, logic, truth, etc.

  10. I should also add that Bob's a good egg and a good writer who is also very funny at times. Though it's easy to nitpick, I support him as part of the broad force for good and truth. Thank You for what you do.

  11. Chris Matthews was so exercised over the issue Friday I feared one more interruption would cause Eugene Robinson to throttle him.

    - slither io -

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