The Times turned it into soap opera: Yesterday afternoon, thanks to cable, we happened to see Candidate Clinton giving a rather good speech.
We're not sure when we've seen her give such a good speech. In Miami, she spoke about climate change. She delivered an informative speech with a good deal of natural energy.
Candidate Clinton discussed climate change. Unless you read the New York Times, where a lengthy non-report news report gave you a pile of soap opera.
You see, Candidate Clinton was accompanied by former Vice President Gore. In 2007, Gore actually won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change.
Rachel Maddow didn't seem to know that last night. She offered an amazingly strange recitation of Gore's post-White House career, in which she seemed to have no idea what Gore had done in that time. (We'll post her transcript later today.)
In this morning's New York Times, Matt Flegenheimer did know that Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. But when it came to the challenge posed by climate change, he didn't much seem to care.
What the heck is Matt Flegenheimer? After reading his soap operatic report, we finally decided to check.
As it turns out, Flegenheimer graduated from Penn in 2011, just five years ago. At Penn, he had been a sports writer! At the Times, that's background enough to be sent on the trail as the world's most important topics are being discussed.
In this morning's report, Flegenheimer finally mentioned what Candidate Clinton said about climate science. More accurately, he mentioned a tiny part of what she said, starting in paragraph 29!
How did he kill the rest of his space before boring us silly with a tiny bit of serious talk? Simple! He wasted our time with silly soap opera musings from the Clinton White House years and from Campaign 2000.
How did Hillary and Al get along long ago, in their "fraught relationship?" Working from standard press corps tales, the silly lad was puzzling hard. But good God! By paragraph 17, he was even typing the first highlighted claim:
FLEGENHEIMER (10/12/16): After Bill Clinton's 1992 election, Mr. Gore and Mrs. Clinton quickly established themselves as rivals for Mr. Clinton's ear—a pair of policy wonks seeking influence in a new administration.Flegenheimer failed to provide the scores from those bowling outings. Regarding the claim that Bill Clinton was compelled to pick Gore to run for VP because he reminded him of his wife, the claim dates to this soap operatic news report from October 2000. The initial claim came from the pen of Melinda Henneberger, with extremely light documentation.
It was their similarities, at least in part, that seemed to compel Mr. Clinton to choose Mr. Gore in the first place. ''He reminds me of Hillary,'' Mr. Clinton told a former top aide, Paul Begala, according to Mr. Begala. ''When he gets hold of something, he never lets loose.''
Together with the vice president and his former wife, Tipper, the Clintons shared dinners and concerts, White House bowling outings and nights at Camp David.
Henneberger was exploring the soap opera of the moment—the claim that Gore and Bill Clinton were on the outs as Campaign 2000 neared its end. The reporting on that opera continued after the November election, and after the election's outcome was finally decided.
By happenstance, we happened to gain a tiny first-hand insight, on the night in December when Gore conceded, into that highly fraught tale. It's how we ended up on page 934 of Clinton's slender memoir, My Life, identified only as "a friend [of Gore's] who was a professional comedian."
Can we talk? However fraught their relationship was, the principals were swapping jokes by trans-Atlantic phone on the evening of Gore's concession. (President Clinton was winging his way home from England.) To read about the way Bill Clinton emerged from the cabin of Air Force One to repeat the joke in question to the press that night, just read the final page of Roger Simon's deathless book about Campaign 2000, Divided We Stand.
(One week later, we went through the receiving line at a White House cattle-call Christmas party. Clinton repeated the joke to all around. "There's a great deal of truth to that joke," the president wisely declared.)
How fraught was that particular opera in December 2000? We have no idea, but the boys were swapping jokes on the night when Candidate Gore finally had to concede. For reasons like that and a million more, we're never strongly inclined to believe the manicured personality tales young fellows like Flegenheimer recite. That said, this is the type of silly, low-IQ, non-challenging stuff the New York Times simply adores when it pretends to report on domestic politics.
Clinton gave a good speech yesterday about a very important issue. Unless you read the New York Times, in which case you got diverted onto twenty-year-old bowling dates. And needless to say, when Gore's remarks in Miami were mentioned, Flegenheimer was required to hand you this, by the tenets of Hard Pundit Law:
FLEGENHEIMER: Mr. Gore, too, held forth on the cause of his postpolitical life, making his case as if reading from a slide show projection. He quoted Thomas Edison, warned of rising sea levels and lurched into a discussion of comparative solar energy commitments.It was required by Hard Pundit Law. According to its tenets, Flegenheimer knew he had to tell you how boring it is to hear the statements of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who's discussing a very serious topic. It's amazing how quickly These Kids Today are able to learn!
''Massachusetts installed more solar energy last year alone than Florida has installed in its entire history!'' he said.
''Ridiculous!'' someone yelled back.
''Yes, it's ridiculous!'' Mr. Gore said. ''That's exactly right.''
By then, some students had buried their heads in their phones.
Can we talk? In the course of his political career, Gore committed the ultimate sin. He focused on a serious issue, and he got it right.
Within the addled realms of our upper-end "press," there's no greater sin than 1) being serious about something and 2) being right. They deeply resent the burdens thus placed on their silly childish heads, on silly heads which much prefer to muse about bowling dates.
Clinton gave a very good speech. A bright young fellow who wrote sports at Penn knows how to handle such trials.