Part 4—Is met with massive indifference: Long ago and far away, in the summer of 2014, Hillary Clinton made news.
Rather, it was said that she had made news.
Clinton, not yet a candidate, had traveled to Oakland, where she'd discussed the lives and interests of low-income kids. A local NBC station said that she had made news.
In truth, that local station was wrong. But here's how its report started:
BHATTACHARJEE AND HERNANDEZ (7/23/14): President Barack Obama isn't the only one making news in the Bay Area.The report continued from there. As you can see, that well-intentioned news report could never be accepted or replicated on the national level.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also in town Wednesday to roll out a new community partnership aimed at bridging the reading gap in children.
Clinton helped launched the "Talking is Teaching, Talk Read Sing" campaign at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland which encourages parents and caregivers to tackle the achievement gap by talking, reading and singing to kids from low-income families.
The campaign—created in partnership with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of San Francisco-based Next Generation and the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation—focuses on the "word gap"—a difference of about 30 million words between children from the wealthiest and poorest families.
The kisses of death were several. For one thing, this local report could be taken to mean or suggest that the Clinton Foundation was doing good work in the world. As early as July 2014, any such indication had been banned at the top of the national discourse.
A second problem could be spotted in the headline atop this local report. Inexcusably, that headline said this:
"Talk, Read, Sing": Hillary Clinton Launches Reading Campaign for Oakland's Low Income ChildrenEspecially with its reference to singing, that headline suggested a possible love of the world. Within the frameworks of our modern journalistic elites, love of the world is embarrassing and it must be disappeared.
(Put another way, the headline didn't concern sexy playtime with a disordered porn star. This too was a kiss of death.)
These suggestions of good works and love of the world were obvious kisses of death. Even worse, Clinton was discussing the lives and interests of low-income kids, concerning whom nobody cares.
Was Hillary Clinton "making news" that day in Oakland? Not in the New York Times or the Washington Post! As best we can tell, neither newspaper mentioned the news Clinton was said to have made that day. The Associated Press managed a 277-word news report under this perhaps peculiar headline:
Clinton launches baby-talking campaign in OaklandClinton had launched some baby-talking! So life with the children goes.
Please understand! It isn't like the New York Times was ignoring pre-candidate Clinton at this point in time. The Times had assigned the ludicrous Amy Chozick to "the Clinton beat" all the way back in 2013, one of the many repulsive decisions this newspaper made with respect to the last, disastrous campaign.
The ludicrous Chozick had been covering Clinton in approved ways, as we'll discuss in the next few weeks. These are some of the headlines atop her published, hard-copy reports:
Clinton Takes Responsibility for BenghaziAt that point, Chozick went on vacation, a vacation she would dumbly describe in this subsequent, self-pimping "Times Insider" post.
May 31, 2014; 477 words
Amid Questions on Health, Hillary Clinton Sets Vigorous Pace
June 6, 2014; 1214 words
Sales of Hillary Clinton's New Memoir Drop Sharply in 2nd Week
June 26, 2014; 645 words
Wall Street Offers Clinton a Thorny Embrace
July 8, 2014; page 1A, 1393 words
Clinton Defends Her Handling of a Rape Case in 1975
July 8, 2014; 290 words
Following Her Parents' Lead, Chelsea Clinton Takes Stage as a Paid Speaker
July 10, 2014; 1014 words
A Provocateur's Book on Clinton Overtakes Her Memoir in Sales
July 11, 2014; page 1, Business section, 1014 words
For the record, the questions about Clinton's health (June 6) had come from medical expert Matt Drudge. In its report about Chelsea Clinton's obscene speaking fees, the Times was playing catch-up to the Washington Post, which had launched a long series of misleading reports about Hillary Clinton's paid speeches at colleges.
That "provocative book on Clinton" had been written by Edward Klein, a leading crackpot of the right. Nor did the drumbeat fail to resume when Chozick returned from la plage:
Remarks Were Not an Attack, Hillary Clinton Tells ObamaOther pre-candidates weren't being covered at all. You can perhaps discern the prevailing tone of the pre-candidate Clinton coverage by the ludicrous Chozick. (More on that to come.)
August 13, 2014; 384 words
Is This Island Big Enough for Clinton and Obama?
August 14, 2014; page 1A, 1174 words
Chelsea Clinton to Leave Well-Paid NBC News Job
August 30, 2014; 467 words
Hillary Clinton's Gay Rights Evolution
August 31, 2014; page 1A, 1531 words
Within this horizon, there was no room for any thoughts about the lives and interest of low-income kids, or for the possible positive role of singing in this, our enduring world.
Concerning one point, there can be little doubt; in the modern journalistic framework, low-income kids don't matter. That's true at the top of the mainstream press. It's true within the world of our "corporate liberal" TV stars, like Rachel, Lawrence and Chris.
Within the upper-end mainstream press, the school lives of low-income kids couldn't be discussed at that time, except in brief soundbites designed to advance certain "education reform" narratives. And make no mistake:
You never hear about low-income kids from your favorite corporate liberal stars. The lives of those low-income kids don't count. You're never required to endure the mountains of boredom accompanying any discussion of their interests and lives.
"Talk, Read, Sing" from "Too Small to Fail" was a program aimed at those children. Whatever one may think of the research and claims on which the cheerful-sounding program was based, it was designed to address this passage from Nikole Hannah-Jones' lengthy report about Tuscaloosa's Central High:
HANNAH-JONES (May 2014): D’Leisha [Dent] arrived at Central in 2010, the same year as its new principal, Clarence Sutton Jr....A year later, the district hired a new superintendent, Paul McKendrick.According to Hannah-Jones' report, 80 percent of the kids at Central High "were not on the college track." Data like these suggest the size of the achievement gaps which stand in the way of so many American kids:
Sitting in his office, at a desk six inches deep in papers and reports, McKendrick, a bespectacled man, quiet but forceful, said the black, mostly poor kids of the West End had been separated and written off. A recent audit of Central had found that 80 percent of students were not on the college track. The low test scores that have plagued the school don’t stem from “a child problem,” he told me. “You may have some children that have special needs or cognitive issues, but you are not going to say a whole group of kids” has “lost intelligence in some way.”
Where the average student stood:Those data come from Professor Reardon's recent nationwide study. According to his calculations, the achievement gap between the average kid in Mountain Brook and the average kid in Birminghan stood at 4.8 years, probably at or near the start of sixth grade.
Mountain Brook, Alabama.: 3.0 years above grade level
Birmingham, Alabama: 1.8 years below grade level
Mountain Brook is a wealthy suburb of Birmingham. According to Reardon, the median family income of Mountain Brook kids stood at $170,000, as compared to $30,000 for students in Birmingham. That income gap was large. The achievement gap was huge.
How did so many kids in Birmingham get so far behind? Remember, that figure from Reardon's study represents the standing of the average Birmingham student. Something like half the kids would be even farther behind.
Our achievement gaps are extremely large. What can we do to address these gaps? Pre-candidate Clinton was addressing that questions in Oakland that fine summer day.
On the national level, she made no news at all. Neither did Hannah-Jones, when her mammoth report about Tuscaloosa appeared in The Atlantic, and in ProPublica as well.
According to Nexis, Hannah-Jones has never appeared on the Maddow Show, despite her voluminous work about low-income schools.
Low-income kids don't exist on that show. As liberals, you won't be asked to subject yourselves to the tedium of such discussions.
We aren't inclined to agree in all ways with the points of view Hannah-Jones tends to bring to her work. We'll be discussing those points of view on the weeks ahead.
That said, Hannah-Jones writes about one major chunk of the people we have to waste. On corporate cable, the stars don't care about those kids. You aren't allowed to know how much these stars get paid to maintain their indifference and silence.
In closing, an upbeat note. D'Leisha Dent did get to go to college. As we noted in this report, she got to go to Miles College in Fairfield, Alabama, where she planned to run track and play volleyball as she reached out into the world.
Concerning kids like Dent, we'll only say this—you'll rarely go wrong betting on their dedication, devotion and goodness.
Concerning the massive indifference of the upper-end mainstream and liberal press, we'll only hope that all the celebrity and all the wealth are enhancing the lives of our stars.
"Talk, Read, Sing," a big star said. She met with major indifference that day—you might say, with massive resistance.