THE DANIEL DALE EXPERIENCE: That was then and this is now!


How much have the basics changed?
Long ago and far away, Daniel Dale appeared as a guest on CNN's Reliable Sources, a weekly, hour-long program.

Dale is a full-time Trump fact-checker for the Toronto Star. As for Reliable Sources, CNN describes it as follows:
Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter examines the media world—telling the story behind the story—how the news gets made.
We agree with your observation; that's just barely written in English. This may be part of the overall point toward which we're slowly proceeding.

Way back when, CNN's description of Reliable Sources parsed a bit more smoothly. In the late 1990s, Howard Kurtz, then the program's principal host, would open each week's show like this:
KURTZ (11/13/99): Welcome to Reliable Sources, where we turn a critical lens on the media. I'm Howard Kurtz, along with Bernard Kalb.
In those days, Kurtz and Kalb served as the program's co-hosts. According to Kurtz's weekly intro, Reliable Sources was the program which "turned a critical lens on the media."

You may recall an observation we made at that time. In what way was Reliable Sources "turning a critical lens on the media?"

How was it turning a critical lens? It was doing so in this unusual manner:

CNN had hired two members of the upper-end mainstream press to serve as the program's co-hosts. (At that time, Kurtz was the media reporter for the Washington Post.)

CNN would then assemble panels of upper-end mainstream reporters and pundits with whom its two mainstream press corps hosts would "turn a critical lens" on the industry, or dare we say on the guild, of which they were all a part.

As we noted at the time, if any other industry was discussed this way in a weekly program, the program would be described as an infomercial, not as a TV news show. Try to imagine a weekly show on the banking industry which was cast this way, with no one appearing on the show except rotating groups of banking executives being interviewed by other banking executives.

Any other such weekly program would have been laughed off the air.

This doesn't mean that the old Reliable Sources was completely worthless. At the time, Kurtz was sharper than the average media bear. He sometimes raised highly relevant questions about the mainstream press corps' behavior, as he did two separate times on Reliable Sources in the fall of 1999.

On those occasions, he asked two separate panels of mainstream reporters why Candidate Gore was getting such negative treatment within the mainstream press. In late June of that year, Kurtz had written a lengthy analysis piece for the Post in which he raised that same question. Now, four and five months later, he raised this important question again, on two separate Reliable Sources shows.

What happened was highly instructive:

None of his panelists disagreed with Kurtz's basic premise. They all agreed that Candidate Gore was getting highly negative coverage, compared, for example, with the fawning coverage being dished to Candidate Bradley, Gore's sole opponent for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

No one challenged Kurtz's premise—but then again, how odd! None of the panelists seemed to be able to say why Gore was getting this coverage.

The panelists worked for the very news orgs which were producing this negative coverage. But they seemed baffled by the reason for the negative coverage. In this way, a basic fact of life was put on display:

What happens in the mainstream press corps stays in the mainstream press corps! Our upper-end journalists maintain a code of silence which would put the Mafia to shame.

No one seemed to able able to tell Howard Kurtz why Gore was getting that coverage. During calendar year 2000, Kurtz finally stopped asking the question and the negative coverage grew.

As everyone above a certain age within the mainstream press corps knows, this negative coverage ended up sending George W. Bush to the White House. In that sense, it also sent many children in Iraq to their deaths.

Breaking every rule in the book, Kurtz inquired about the negative coverage on three occasions in 1999. He got no help from his guests and his interview subjects, and he basically agreed to it play dumb about this matter himself.

Especially for the children who died (along with the many others who died), that negative coverage changed the course of world history. But right to this very day, that code of silence has been maintained. Meanwhile, a new generation of 24-year-old pundits crowd the cable screen.

Just a guess. Many of these very young pundits are being selected for televising because they're conventionally attractive. But however their owners may judge their appearance, these young people don't know what happened back then.

Those who do, by rule of law, are never going to tell.

In the nearly twenty years which have passed, partisan preference patterns have changed within the mainstream press. Back then, the mainstream press was waging war on President Clinton and those to whom he was tied. Yesterday, in a column which was accurate in all its basic respects, Frank Bruni offered this absurd account of the way his guild viewed Candidate Gore:
BRUNI (11/14/18): He wasn’t always easy to like. He could be patronizing and stiff. He exaggerated. His judgment wobbled. He let his disgust with Bill Clinton’s conduct eclipse his need for Clinton’s help.
The era's scripts are plentiful there; the silence is being maintained. That said, consider this complaint:

"He let his disgust with Bill Clinton’s conduct eclipse his need for Clinton’s help."

In that passage, Bruni recites a standard post-election script, one in which Candidate Gore was pleasingly blamed for his own defeat:

He was so disgusted with Clinton's misconduct he didn't let him campaign!

That is one of the basic scripts the silence-mongers agreed to recite. That said, another one of their basic scripts ran to the equal and opposite:

He refused to denounce Bill Clinton's misconduct!

Candidate Gore had refused to denounce President Clinton's misconduct! This script was humping everything that moved as of June 1999, when Kurtz first raised his important question about Gore's negative coverage. And while we're looking for contradictions, let's not forget another script which ran full-blown for two years:

Al Gore would lick the bathroom floor to be president!

That was a favorite of Chris Matthews; it was an especially colorful version of the more basic script, in which it was said that Candidate Gore was willing do and say anything. Somehow, this all-purpose script coexisted with the claim that Gore loathed Clinton's conduct so much that he threw the election away by refusing to let him campaign. When the children go to war, they aren't fazed by self-contradiction.

When the children go to war, they're liable do and say anything! They'll wallow in pleasing self-contradiction, as E. J. Dionne pointed out on the one tiny occasion when he dared to issue a peep about what his guild was doing:
DIONNE (9/24/99): The Gore apparatus can point to a couple of good weeks on the campaign trail and genuine enthusiasm among some key supporters...The Gore camp also has reason to complain that national political commentary treats the vice president with about as much respect as the Russian economy.

If he wears a suit, he's a stiff guy in a suit. If he wears an open shirt, he's a stiff guy in a suit faking it.
He gets no credit for Clinton's achievements, inherits all the baggage—and finds his political skills compared unfavorably with Clinton's. To paraphrase an old Chicago political joke, if Gore walked on water, the headlines the next day would read: "Gore Can't Swim."

Unfair? Absolutely. But that's the way of presidential campaigns.
As Dionne correctly observed, Candidate Gore was getting attacked no matter how he dressed. Why was his wardrobe getting frisked at all? Dionne knew enough not to ask.

"That's the way of presidential campaigns," Dionne quickly said, reverting to patterns of silence. But that isn't the way of presidential campaigns. That's the way of presidential campaigns when the press corps' boys and girls have selected a target.

Today, the mainstream press corps is strongly opposed to Donald J. Trump. We agree with their general assessment of Trump, though not with their various ways of reacting.

(We also respect the fact that tens of millions of our neighbors and fellow citizens have a different view at this time.)

On Sunday morning, November 4, Brian Stelter spoke to a panel of mainstream pundits about Trump's latest behaviors. Everyone agreed with what everyone else said, as is now quite often the way when the boys and girls spend an hour on the screen with "their favorite reporters and friends."

The panel was soon dropping its bombs; along the way, Daniel Dale picked out an obvious "lie." But how did he know that this lie was a lie?

We think major lessons lurk there. Tomorrow, we'll finish this series.

Tomorrow: Anthropological lessons


  1. Some things Somerby has conveniently forgotten: (1) Gore chose Lieberman as his running mate, someone not well liked by many Democrats; (2) Gore let Tipper attack the music industry, including a memorable interview with Frank Zappa, then dying of prostate cancer, which furthered Gore's image as a hypocritical prude, among younger voters; (3) Gore had his own mini-scandal involving fund-raising within the White House and acceptance of contributions from Chinese donors; (4) Gore expressed his dismay that Clinton had lied to him about his affair with Monica Lewinsky, saying he would not have as vigorously defended him if he had known the truth, thereby alienating those who liked Clinton and thought Clinton should have been defended aggressively against Republican attacks. Gore also downplayed his climate activism, one of his stronger selling points. That made people wonder what his strengths were, other than as a tepid inheritor of Clinton's success.

    At the same time, George Bush was lying about his own views and portraying himself as a moderate Republican. That narrowed the distinction between Gore and Bush and made it seem like there was no difference between the two. Bush was more likable because Gore was concealing much about himself, trying to pretend to be an extrovert while actually being an introverted techie. Bush's lies about himself were less obvious. Gore made little use of the scandals against Bush, his DUI and draft evasion, and then the fake letter put forth by Dan Rather made Bush appear to be a victim of Democrat scheming. Gore mishandled that.

    So, there were a lot of reasons why Gore lost, aside from snide remarks about his clothes.

    1. To say nothing that Gore would have won, if the recount in FL hadn't been ordered to stop. Quite inexplicably.

  2. Yesterday Trump said that Democrats are putting on disguises and reentering polling places in order to vote multiple times. Is that a lie? Of course it is. How do we know? Well, we cannot prove a negative, but it is so patently ridiculous that it is obviously a lie. Do we have to prove that Trump is knowingly making up shit to call this a lie? I don't think so. No sane person would believe this is happening and anyone with half a brain can see it is made up, fabricated, so that Trump can claim there is voter fraud (while not knowing exactly what is meant by that term). It is the kind of thing a stupid person would say if they didn't know what fraud was but wanted to give an example of Democrat wrongdoing. So, of course it is a lie -- a big fat sloppy lie.

    But Somerby will choose something like this to use to defend Trump from being called a liar -- even though everyone knows he lies from every orifice of his body. Because that's what Somerby does here, these days.

  3. No one cares about anybody's 'general assessment' of Gore or Trump, Bob.

    Normal, ordinary people already have their own general assessment of politicians, and it's unflattering, highly unflattering.

    The only thing normal (non-zombie) people care about, is what these politicians are going to do for them, Bob.

    The Wall - yes. Renegotiating NAFTA - yes. Tariffs on Chinese goods - yes. No more liberal interventionism - yes.

    And OTOH:
    Lock-box? New trust funds? Homosexual "rights"? Sorry, Bob, no one cares about any of this.

    1. The Wall is a resounding 'yes', is it? Fascinating.

    2. You're fascinated easily, dear.

      Do you have a door in your house? With a lock? Fascinating.

    3. I usually don't lock it, just like my car. Your flare for misguided, irrelevant analogies is also fascinating. Can you spot why your analogy is remarkably inapt?
      However, as a statement of fact, most Americans don't give two shits about the wall. Unless, of course, they are members of the Trump's death cult for zombies. See what I've done here?

    4. Why, thank you for your opinions, that appear to be well-aligned with your idiosyncratic customs. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    5. Tariffs cause prices to rise. Normal people love that. And normal people are pissed off at how the liberals started the Iraq war, and how present POTUS is seeking to bring chaos to Iran.

    6. What's with the word-salad? If you fancy this sounding sarcastic, you're sadly mistaken, dembot.

    7. AC/MA -- tariffs are one of many issues that the majority dislike a little while a minority likes them a lot. These issues tend to get enacted, because the minority pursues them, while the majority isn't interested enough to oppose them. In short, special interests generally win. :(

    8. O Trumpbot, you're so mixed up. Dembots like tariffs, at least more that GOPers.

    9. Oh, god. The essence of the comment you're replying to is this: "The only thing normal (non-zombie) people care about, is what these politicians are going to do for them".

      People flocked to Trump rallies not because of something goebbelsian establishment journos wrote about him, but because they like what he was saying.

      You following, dembot? Do you have a problem with that?

      Your personal opinion of the Wall, the tariffs, or the lock-boxes is irrelevant. You're not a blue-collar stiff from the rust belt, who lost his factory job. Get it?

    10. Goebbelsian establishment journos keep telling me people flocked to Trump's rallies, despite, not because of Trump's bigotry.

    11. for "Dembots like tariffs", you must be the last idiot in the world who believe them, your cult leaders. The psycho-witch and Barry the demigod were tripping over themselves to convince everyone that each of them hates NAFTA more than the other.

      Then Barry the demigod got elected and that was the end of that, of his hating NAFTA.

      Actions have consequence, dembot. And no, they can't fool all the people all the time.

    12. Mao, I said Dems like tariffs more than the GOP. I didn't say anything about Obama and NAFTA. As usual - not a responsive response. I personally don't even know if Trump's tariffs will be good or bad overall - maybe good for some, bad for others. I don't recall the GOP congress during Obama's term fighting for tariffs. For what it's worth many years ago I did work in factories (American Can Co and Anderson Power Products) (as a worker, not in management). As much as I have antipathy for Trump, for various reasons, if his policies create decent jobs, long term especially, that's good and he'd deserve credit. Obama is far from a demigod (I don't believe in gods or demigods, whatever they are). It also seems to me that dems aren't complaining about the tariffs, for the most part. How much effect Trump's NAFTA renegotiation will have overall isn't known to me - do you know? GOP has always been free trade, pro right to work laws, cut taxes for the rich, etc. They are probably going to aim to cut Medicaid, medicare, and social security. I disagree with your view of Trump as a demigod.

    13. The Donald is God, mister. Not a lousy demigod a-la Barry O.

    14. Trump is the God of Establishment Elites. It's why he lets them poison the air, land and water of the real people in the heartland of America, so they can have another nickel of profits.
      "GOP has always been free trade..."

      Bullshit. Like Trump and the rest of the Right-wing elites, they want longer and stronger global patent protection. There is nothing "free trade" about patents.

    15. Hey butthurt dembot. It is amazing that your butt still hurts since 2003, when "Conservatives" called you a traitor. Like it happened yesterday, eh? I suspect this might be a Guinness World Record, dembot.

    16. It's not 'amazing" that Conservatives support treason against the United States of America, despite calling me "a traitor". Amazing would be at least a tiny bit surprising. Conservatives supporting treason against the United States of America, is the exact opposite of that.

  4. Al Gore was falsely accused of being a liar.

    Trump *is* a liar.

    1. I admire Al Gore. He's not a liar, but IMHO he had a tendency to slightly exaggerate his achievements. E.g., he did support or sponsor legislation that helped lead to the internet, but the lion's share of the credit should go to the technical people who actually did create the internet. Gore's mild exaggerations made it easy for people to exaggerate his claims further and make them sound ridiculous.

    2. That's ridiculous. Gores comments were obviously made in the context of his achievements as a congressman. He recognized the internet as something important and worked towards funding the research. The people who worked on developing first networks are long gone and forgotten. The wave of opportunists, e.g. venture capitalists, who showed up once the going got good, became fabulously rich. No one begrudges them their fortunes, I guess.

    3. The Internet grew out of DARPAnet, which was funded by the Dept of Defense. The people who worked on it don't get credit because the project was most likely secret.

      Gore didn't exaggerate because he didn't say the things attributed to him by the press. That has been Somerby's point here forever.

    4. According to wikipedia, Gore said, "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet. I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country's economic growth and environmental protection, improvements in our educational system."

      As Ilya points out, this was essentially true, and Gore's comment was made in the context of his achievements as a congressman. However, Gore's comment allowed the pulling out the phrase, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." In retrospect, Gore might have said, "I took the initiative in HELPING TO CREATE the Internet."

    5. The whole proposition was always absurd. Why would a public figure intentionally make an outlandish claim that could be disproven in 5 seconds? (By the very medium that was the subject of the claim.)

      He underestimated the venality and stupidity of people and the press when he said that.

    6. Let me help you out here David, you lying bastard.

      However, Gore's comment allowed the pulling out the phrase , "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." by ginormous lying freakish assholes

      And as you well know, David you fucking lying sack of shit, the phrase quickly mutated into Gore saying "I invented the internet" by your party of lying sacks of shit.


      As a young congressman, Gore began introducing bills to create a “data highway” as early as 1979. (In the late 1980s, he coined the term “Information Superhighway,” helping raise public and political awareness of the Internet’s potential. At the time, the Net was the province of research scientists. It was virtually unknown to the public.) In 1986, as chair of a Senate subcommittee, he passed legislation creating five super-computer centers; this led to National Science Foundation grants linking the centers to other universities. (At the time, there were only about 20,000 computers within the existing network.) In 1990, Gore offered a series of speeches and op-ed columns about the possibility of turning the Internet into a research tool for students. That same year, he offered legislation to create the high-speed National Research and Education Network. In 1991, when Gore’s bill finally passed, the Los Angeles Times described its scope. “The project would...replace the slower Internet, a group of 2,000 commercial, academic and government networks,” the Times reported.

      In his 2000 biography of Gore, Bill Turque said this $1.7 billion measure “expand[ed] the capacity of the information highway to connect government, industry, and academic institutions” and “directed the National Science Foundation to assist colleges, universities and libraries in connecting to the new network.” At the time Gore was doing this work, the Internet bore little relation to the entity we know today–an entity which developed in substantial part due to Gore’s congressional efforts.

    7. Al Gore said he invented the Internet! In the Nexis record, this formulation first appears on March 11 and 12, voiced by three Republican members of Congress. But in the days amd weeks which followed, the mocking formulation was repeatedly featured in RNC press releases–and in reports by the national press.

      I've been a long time reader of TDH, so I am well aware of how complicit the mainstream media was. But, to be fair, I believe it was initially invented by the republicans.

      My point to David was clear. There was nothing inevitable about the way Gore's words were twisted. Once again, David, representing the party of personal responsibility, blames the victim.

      The mainstream press always types up the story the republicans tell them to. Every damn time.

      In 2016, email management was the only thing they wanted to talk about.

    8. Once again, David, representing the party of personal responsibility for minorities and the poor, blames the victim.

      Fixed it for you.

  5. I looked for a critical report on the Bush vs Gore election. They said most economic models would show a strong vote for the favorable economy, and a veto of its opponents. Gore indeed won the popular vote, and came in so close in Florida it was taken to the Supreme Court. Bush was stronger in spending and in image. He outspent Gore by a third, and four times over on the recount. He also presented a better image to voters.

    The authors go on to describe the general format of presidential campaign coverage:

    From "The Irony of Democracy, An Uncommon Introduction to American politics." (2009)

    Page 175:
    Today’s media-oriented campaigning, emphasizing direct television communication
    with individual voters, reduces the mediating function of parties and groups. Media
    campaigning emphasizes candidate image—personal qualities such as leadership,
    compassion, character, humor, and charm. As independent and middle-of-the-road
    identifications among voters have grown, the personal characteristics of candidates
    have become central to many voters. Indeed, the personal qualities of candidates are
    most important in the decision of less partisan, less ideological voters. Candidate
    image is more important in presidential than congressional contests, inasmuch as
    presidential candidates are personally more visible to the voter than candidates for
    lesser offices.

    (Link for the book by Dye and Ziegler here)

  6. The two parties are exactly the same except for a few social issues. Both party's policies on social security, campaign-finance reform, and everything else really is dominated by money from powerful interests, not the will of the people. Neither party truly has our interests in mind. The endless wars both parties wage rage on abroad with so, so many people dead as we citizens sit by concerned with first lady's hats, tweets and what's new this month on Netflix.

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