Supplemental: Same as it ever was!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 1, 2014

Same con games, fifteen years back: Major pundits are rarely forced to discuss their own conduct.

Last week, it happened on Morning Joe—twice! All this week, we’ve discussed the faux discussions which ensued among those Morning Joe panels.

On several occasions, we’ve mentioned a bit of journalistic history. Back in 1999, when the press corps’ War Against Gore was taking shape, the same discussions happened, twice, on CNN’s Reliable Sources.

To his credit, Howard Kurtz had started discussing the coverage of Gore in June of that year. At that time, he wrote a lengthy piece in the Washington Post about the “harsh coverage and punditry” being dished to Candidate Gore.

For our initial report on Kurtz’s piece, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/23/99.

Four months later, it was still happening. On two occasions, Kurtz asked panels on his CNN show to explain why it was happening.

How odd! Those discussions were perfect mirrors of last week’s evasions on Morning Joe.

No one on Kurtz’s panels disputed the fact that Candidate Gore was getting horrible coverage. But the various pundits scratched their heads about the reason for the horrible coverage.

They seemed to be completely puzzled by the conduct of their colleagues. They simply couldn’t explain the conduct of their own news orgs and friends.

Those were faux discussions. It’s an indictment of the liberal world that those very same pseudo-discussions can still be occurring now.

Starting in March 1999, a twenty-month War Against Gore sent George W. Bush to the White House. In the main, that war was run by the mainstream press, not by the RNC. If you think it couldn’t happen again, you’ve got your head stuck up your ascot.

You may prefer Elizabeth Warren over Hillary Clinton. That’s perfectly fine, of course. That said, this is the problem:

Back in 1999, many liberals preferred Bill Bradley over Gore. That too was perfectly fine.

But because those people preferred the straight-talking Bradley of Newsweek covers, they sat around and twiddled their thumbs as the massacre of Gore unfolded. When Bradley himself began to broadcast the lies, they didn’t complain even then.

It’s a dumb, dishonest way to do politics. People are dead all over the world because the liberal world kept its trap shut as the war against Gore gained purchase.

We first discussed those CNN panels in November 1999. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/30/99, with a link to the previous day’s report.

Of all the pundits on those panels, Roger Simon was the worst. We’d say his conduct was quite instructive. Here’s why:

Back in June, Kurtz had interviewed Simon for his report in the Post. Simon was one of several reporters who seemed to say that the trashing of Gore was tied to the press corps’ loathing of Bill Clinton.

As usual, Diane Sawyer was piddling around with the silly dumb piddleshit. Here’s part of Kurtz’s report:
KURTZ (6/25/99): The tone of the early interviews [with Gore] is revealing. While the vice president has stressed specifics, such as improving education and health care for the elderly and curbing suburban sprawl, the media have pursued other subjects.

On ABC's "20/20," Diane Sawyer asked about the perception of Gore as boring, whether Hillary Rodham Clinton was "bigfooting" him by running for the Senate, and about his defense of the president during the impeachment process. Gore said that Clinton's behavior with Lewinsky was "inexcusable."

CBS's Bob Schieffer also pressed the vice president about backing his boss, saying at one point: "But he turned out to be a liar."

NBC's Claire Shipman asked: "Are you worried that you will pay the ultimate price for Bill Clinton's impeachment?"

Roger Simon, chief political writer for U.S. News & World Report, defended the focus on Lewinsky: "It's still the story that has shaped our time. We want to hear him say what a terrible reprobate the president was, while defending his record. We're going to make him jump through the hoops. I don't think there's anything wrong with that."

[...]

Simon and others say it is easier for journalists to criticize Gore because he is part of a 6 1/2-year-old administration, while most are unfamiliar with the details of Bush's record in Texas. "We know more about Gore, and maybe that's part of it," said the [Chicago] Tribune's [James] Warren. "We're sort of bored with Clinton, and many of us think Clinton's a moral scum, and probably subconsciously, at a minimum, we taint Gore by virtue of his association.”
“We’re going to make him jump through the hoops?” Simon should have been fired that day; Warren’s statement wasn’t much better. But at that point, it seemed pretty clear what the trashing of Gore was about.

By the fall, pundits had apparently realized that they couldn’t say such things in public. Perhaps for that reason, Simon seemed to have reinvented his outlook. Here he was, speaking to Kurtz on Reliable Sources:
KURTZ (10/16/99): Roger Simon, if you took all of the positive and negative coverage of Bradley and put it on a scale, I don't think there's any doubt that it would be wildly unbalanced on the plus side. Why is that?

SIMON: He's not Al Gore. [Laughter] He's doing well in the polls. He's a fresh face...The Gore campaign feels that it's the victim of a vast press conspiracy that goes something like this—because the media were unable to get Bill Clinton, they're going to try to get Al Gore. I don't believe that for a second.
As we noted at the time, Kurtz gave Simon a bit of a pass on Reliable Sources. He didn’t ask Simon about his apparent change in position since his remarks back in June.

That said, don’t miss Simon’s obvious snark. “Vast press conspiracy” was a snide play on Hillary Clinton’s famous 1998 statement. We’d call it a bit of a whistle.

It’s very hard to understand just how dishonest these people can be. That includes the many career liberals who avoid discussing their colleagues’ behavior in order to maintain and advance their own overpaid careers.

The press corps’ loathing of the Clintons one of the strangest artifacts of modern American politics. It’s hard to know why it ever started. By now, it’s fairly clear that it won’t ever end. But if you think they can’t send another Republican to the White House through a war against Hillary Clinton, we think you may have your head in the asparagus patch.

Don’t worry—the career liberal world will maintain total silence. We have never seen a group of people quite as dishonest as our liberal leaders. But then, we’ve never seen a group as easy to con as us, the liberal rubes.

Rachel signals that she’s our friend. We want so much to believe her!


“DESTINED TO GET HORRIBLE COVERAGE:”
Julie Pace earns her stripes!

FRIDAY, AUGUST 1, 2014

Part 4—Young scribe showered with praise: When pundits are forced to discuss their own conduct, they rarely try to say what they actually know or believe.

Instead, they throw the gorilla dust, attempting to obscure the behavior of their colleagues and friends. This helps explain what happened last week on two different Morning Joe programs.

Breaking the rules of pundit decorum, Mark Halperin offered a stinging portrait of the way the press covers Hillary Clinton.

You aren’t supposed to do such things. Halperin did it twice!

“She has a lot of positive attributes that are currently just being overwhelmed by all this negative coverage,” Halperin said on Tuesday, July 22. “And it’s going to keep going...The press loves to cover her hard.”

Three days later, Halperin extended his indictment. According to Halperin, Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.”

Pundits aren’t supposed to say such things about the work of the press! And so, on Tuesday morning’s program, other scribes swung into action.

No one really disputed the claim that Clinton gets negative coverage. Indeed, Mike Barnacle and Mika Brzezinski rather explicitly seemed to agree with this unpleasant assessment (for text, see below).

That’s when the gorilla dust started to fly! Morning Joe pundits feigned incomprehension as to why they include “a negative twist” in all their coverage of Hillary Clinton. The pundits seemed baffled by their own conduct!

Early on, though, Mika Brzezinski took a different tack.

How faux will the pseudo-discussions be when pundits pretend to assess their own conduct? As we noted yesterday, Brzezinski made an absurd suggestion as to how Clinton could have overcome the negative treatment of her speaking fees.

Brzezinski made an absurd suggestion. Let’s recall what she said:
BRZEZINSKI (7/22/14): Eugene and Julie—Eugene first.

I’m just wondering, because in retrospect there was one thing I thought about that actually made me feel really good about the amount of her speaking fees that she was raking in. I’m just wondering if she could have deflected positively, Eugene, and said something like, “Well, aren’t you, aren’t you happy for me as a woman? Aren’t you glad that a woman can command such unbelievable speaking fees? And what men can do that, by the way? We are in a new era and I am at the front of that line.”

What would be wrong with talking about the role of women in society, equal pay, and also women doing as well as men and sometimes outrageously well?
According to Mika, that’s what Clinton should have said about the monstrous fees she has been “raking in.”

Can we talk? Clinton has a slight tin ear when it comes to such discussions. But even Clinton would never make a statement as absurd as the one Mika suggested.

To state the obvious, the pundit corps would massacre Clinton if she made such a statement. No sane person would be so dumb as to say what Mika suggested.

Mika’s idea was completely absurd. Rather than say so, Gene Robinson chose to obey the rules of upper-end pundit culture.

Indeed, Robinson went for the hat trick this day. Let's preview his steps:

First, he agreed with Mika’s absurd suggestion. Then, he introduced a “negative twist” of his own about Clinton.

He ended by feigning incomprehension about the press corps’ view of the Clintons. Robinson is thoroughly bright. This passage is thoroughly faux:
ROBINSON (continuing directly): I think that certainly would have been a better line than the one she’s taken, which is just to kind of be buffeted around by it and pretend that she’s not making all that money, which she is. You know, it is kind of ironic, the scrutiny of the Clintons’ personal finances. You know, they—she was born to not great wealth, but she was comfortable growing up, but not fantastically wealthy or anything. The Clintons have worked very hard and have made a lot of money and that’s supposed to be something I thought that people respected and admired. It’s the American way. Yet, they’re the Clintons. And you know, if you look up the phrase “lightning rod” in the dictionary, I suspect you see pictures of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
What should Hillary Clinton have said about her speaking fees? In the way Barnacle later described, Robinson added a “negative note” in his response to Mika.

First, he pretended that Mika’s suggestion made good sense. But then, he added a bogus claim about what Clinton was saying.

As of July 22, it was absurd to say that Clinton was “pretend[ing] that she’s not making all that money, while she is.” But so what? Robinson added that “negative twist” as he deferred to Mika.

He then feigned incomprehension about the reasons for the Clintons’ negative coverage. They’re lightning rods, the pundit said, forgetting to say why he and his colleagues react to the Clintons that way.

Robinson had gone for the hat trick. It’s important that we grasp an essential point:

Robinson wasn’t being sincere when he offered that statement. He wasn’t saying the actual things he thinks, knows and believes.

He was keeping viewers in the dark about the conduct of his guild—and this was deliberate conduct. This is how pundits always behave on the rare occasions when they’re forced to pretend to discuss their own conduct.

These same discussions occurred in 1999, when Howard Kurtz asked two panels of pundits to explain the “harsh coverage and punditry” being dumped on Candidate Gore.

Then as now, no one disputed the claim that the “harsh coverage” was occurring. But the pundits were completely unable to explain the behavior of their colleagues and friends!

These pseudo-discussions are utterly faux. Consider what happened on Morning Joe when one of the insider pundits put Julie Pace on the spot.

Mike Barnacle is 70 years old. He has been a major insider since the dawn of time.

Julie Pace (Northwestern 2004) is maybe 31. She’s a youngish reporter for the AP. To judge from her many cable appearances, including on Fox, she’s very much on the way up.

After Robinson’s presentation, Barnacle put Pace on the spot. He agreed that he and his colleagues do in fact add a “negative note” whenever they discuss Clinton.

Surely, Barnacle must have some idea as to why this misconduct occurs. But instead of stating his view on the matter, he asked the much younger AP reporter to explain his own misbehavior.

Sure enough! When Barnacle put Pace on the spot, the young scribe knew what to do. In this passage, a young reporter who’s on the way up can be seen earning her stripes:
BARNACLE (continuing directly): Julie, I don’t want to put you on the spot. You know, you’re a reporter. And I don’t want to really put you on the spot...

But I’m wondering if you have any sense of why, or how, everything about Hillary Clinton, in terms of media coverage—that’s us! that’s you and me, it’s Mark, it’s Willie, it’s Mika—seems to have like a negative note contained in it.

BRZEZINSKI: Twist, yeah!

PACE: Well, I would say one thing first. When she was secretary of state, she actually did get quite favorable coverage. And her team has talked about this, how they enjoyed working with the State Department press corps, they felt like they were a serious group of reporters, they focused on policy.

You know, she is shifting from diplomatic press to political press, and those are different stories. They’re different reporters, and they’re just different story lines.

And I think that, in terms of the coverage of her wealth in particular, we have to remember that a lot of this goes back to the way that she responded to the questions. We all knew that the Clintons had a lot of money—that they were raking in big speaking fees. But it was the way that she approached the topic, the way that she tried to explain it to people, that started to draw a lot of the criticism.

Also, you know, this is politics. This is how politicians are covered. At this point on the Democratic side, she is the clear front-runner. On the Republican side, it’s a wider field. So as that field starts to narrow, I think you’re going to see similarly intense coverage of those candidates.
Barnacle completely agreed with Halperin’s stinging indictment. Then he threw to the much younger Pace and she explained it away!

Pace began by saying that Clinton got favorable coverage when she was secretary of state. That may or may not be true, but the question concerns the way she’s being treated as a presumptive candidate.

Pace had an answer for that. The political press has “different stories. They’re different reporters, and they’re just different story lines.”

It’s not entirely clear what that means. But Barnacle had just finished saying that the political press, himself included, adds “a negative note” to all its coverage of Clinton.

Pace didn’t respond to that statement. But in regard to the treatment of Clinton’s wealth, Pace knew how to explain that away: Clinton had made them do it!

“A lot of this goes back to the way that she responded to the questions,” Pace said. “It was the way that she approached the topic, the way that she tried to explain it to people, that started to draw a lot of the criticism.”

Pace repeated Mika’s language about the way the Clintons are “raking in” big fees. She didn’t explain why questions about personal wealth were being asked in interviews concerning a book about the State Department.

Why were questions being asked about Clinton's wealth at all? Why have press reactions to Clinton’s one statement been so widespread and so extreme?

Clinton made us do it, Pace said. But Pace had one more thing to say about the way Clinton is being covered:

“This is politics,” she said. “This is how politicians are covered.”

In fact, we know of no politician who has ever been covered this way, especially when she wasn’t an actual candidate and no campaign was occurring. Consider a recent example:

In 2007, Rudy Giuliani was a declared presidential candidate. The campaign was fully underway. Giuliani was the runway front-runner in the Republican polls.

But how odd! The press corps paid almost no attention to Giuliani’s very large speaking fees, or to the plainly inaccurate things he had said about them. Plainly, this isn’t the way politicians were covered in that recent instance. (For links, see below.)

Julie Pace had given the press corps a clean bill of health! In effect, she disagreed with everything Mike and Mika had just finished saying.

Mike and Mika, two major insiders, had seemed to say that they and their kind add “a negative twist” whenever they discuss Clinton. Moments before, the baffled Robinson had seemed to provide an example.

Julie Pace washed their sins away! And if you review the videotape, you’ll hear the ironic applause from Mike and Mika as her statement ended.

You can hear their tone on the videotape. As Pace completed her whitewash, they offered ironic praise:
BRZEZINSKI (continuing directly): Well handled, Julie! All right, still ahead on Morning Joe—

BARNACLE: Good job! Yeah!
Their irony wasn’t cloaked or disguised. If you listen to the tape, you can hear the irony from the old pros as the youngster who’s on the way up earned her stripes this day.

Mika is paid $2 million per year to stage these phony discussions. Needless to say, she is concerned about the large fees Hillary Clinton is raking!

In the case of Giuliani: Is this “how politicians are covered?” Pace’s whitewash to the side, we’d pretty much have to say no.

In 2007, this isn’t the way Candidate Giuliani was covered. He too had gained a lot of wealth from very large speaking fees. In his case, he had made overt misstatements about his speaking fees.

Unlike Clinton, he was a declared candidate in a race which was fully underway. He was way ahead in the GOP polls—and the press corps barely batted an eye about his speaking fees.

We covered this topic on July 17. To read that report, click here.

On July 22, Eric Boehlert went into a bit more detail at Media Matters. Our analysts love their Uncle Eric. To read his report, click this.

A few hours earlier, Pace had said that all politicians get covered this way. We’d say her statement was rather shaky—although, on the brighter side, she did earn her stripes that day.

Supplemental: It just keeps coming at the Post!

THURSDAY, JULY 31, 2014

Who the heck is Alexander Becker: It just keeps coming from the Washington Post.

Granted, the piece in question only appears at the paper’s “Post Politics” blog. It hasn’t appeared in the hard-copy paper.

Nor do we have any idea who Alexander Becker, the author of the piece, is. He seems to be new to journalism, and to the Post, in the past few months.

In fact, he seems to be new to the world, based upon Google and Nexis searches. Unless he’s the guy from Siena.

That said, Becker’s piece is being pimped on the front page of the Post’s site. It’s the latest attempt by the jihadist paper to figure out how much money Hillary Clinton has.

We’ll also say this—whoever Alexander Becker is, he does know how to parrot a guild or company line.

Headline included, this is the way he begins his piece.
Do you catch the drift of his instant explanatory framework?
BECKER (7/30/14): $5 million, $50 million or even more—just how rich is Hillary Clinton? Here’s why we don’t know.

Ever since Hillary Clinton drew attention to her finances by claiming her family was "dead broke" when they left the White House, speculation has focused on a seemingly simple question: Exactly how rich are the Clintons?

The answer, at least for the time being, is that there's no way for the public to know.
These kids today are good!

Why is Becker exploring the question of Clinton’s wealth? The gentleman pre-explains his motive as he opens his piece.

According to Becker, Hillary Clinton “drew attention to her finances” when she uttered the words “dead broke!” Why is the Post on its jihadi quest?

Easy! As Mayor Barry might have said, bitch pretty much set them up!

This same narrative was lurking in last week’s pseudo-discussions on Morning Joe. Tomorrow, we’ll show you how Julie Pace worked this framework into her discussion of the millionaire press corps’ wonderful work concerning Clinton’s wealth.

For today, we’ll only note the startling obsession which consumes the spear-chuckers at the Post. And we’ll help you think about why that question of motive is so central.

Why is Becker, and everyone else at the Post, obsessed with the question of Clinton’s wealth? We ask because there’s really no precedent for this type of pre-emptive coverage.

At some point in every White House campaign, the personal wealth of the various candidates does in fact get reported. In some cases, personal wealth may even get over-reported.

That said, no campaign is currently under way. Hillary Clinton isn’t a candidate. Neither is anyone else.

We know of no journalistic precedent for this relentless pre-sliming of a major non-candidate. The Washington Post is off on a quest which has no apparent precedent and no apparent innocent explanation.

We don’t know who Journalist Becker is. His piece hasn’t appeared in the hard-copy Post. That said, his famous paper is pimping the piece on the front page of its web site.

This is a deeply peculiar state of affairs. But as in March 1999, so too today—the career liberal world will tool along, pretending this isn’t occurring.

Journalistic careers move through the Post. This fact helps create a major code of silence.

Rachel Maddow won’t question this highly peculiar jihad. At Salon, a string of the site’s famous “blasphemy rampages” will drown this topic out.

A very strange movement is underway. Your various watchdogs, teeth in jars, are barking about John Boehner.

“DESTINED TO GET HORRIBLE COVERAGE:”
Brzezinski acknowledges being shallow!

THURSDAY, JULY 31, 2014

Interlude—Two things they’re permitted to say: When the press corps pretends to discuss its own conduct, ranking pundits are permitted to make at least two different claims:

They’re permitted to say that they try to create competitive White House elections. Beyond that, they’re allowed to chuckle about how silly and shallow they are.

Last week, on two Morning Joe programs, Mark Halperin made some rather unpleasant claims about the press corps’ long-standing treatment of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

According to Halperin, Hillary Clinton “is destined is get horrible coverage if she runs for president.” Halperin said the national press corps “loves to cover her hard.”

last week, two different Morning Joe panels pretended to discuss those claims. As they did, pundits ran to each of their permitted self-descriptions.

Let’s start with the claim that they try to create competitive White House campaigns.

Several pundits said Clinton is going to get beaten up because she’s a prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination. Below, you see a statement by Donnie Deutsch in the second Morning Joe discussion. Deutsch is piggy-backing on something David Gregory had just said:
DEUTSCH (7/25/14): But the troubling thing, and I believe in addition to what David and Mark laid out very articulately are her problems, is just simple fatigue. It's just, you know, you see her picture, and do you want to turn the page at this point? Has there been, is it 22 years? And beyond the fact of her very, very, very contentious relationship with the media, it's just, are Americans just tired of looking at her—I don't mean from a physical point of view—and I think that's the big issue.

And if that is the issue people are not picking up the book, that's going to be difficult. So if you couple that with the media laying in wait because she is so formidable and laying in wait because there is no story if she just continues this march, on top of consumers’ fatigue, the right Republican candidate can beat her.
Could the right Republican candidate heat her? We’d be inclined to say yes, although we don’t make predictions.

At any rate, Deutsch turned to possible “Clinton fatigue” as he tried to explain the disappointing sales of Clinton’s book. At the same time, he accepted Gregory’s description of standard press corps conduct:

The press is “laying in wait” for Clinton, Deutsch said, because “there is no story if she just continues this march” to the nomination and the White House.

Pundits routinely offer this account of their guild’s behavior. In late September 2000, Howard Fineman offered this explanation for the way his colleagues had just invented two new “lies” by Candidate Gore, who seemed to be pulling away from Candidate Bush in the national polls at the time.

Fourteen years later, Deutsch used Fineman’s specific language about the way the press corps tries to interrupt easy “marches” to the White House. Let’s recall what Fineman said to Brian Williams in September 2000:

“I don't think the media was going to allow, just by its nature, the next seven weeks and the last seven or eight weeks of the campaign to be all about Al Gore's relentless triumphant march to the presidency,” Fineman told Williams on September 21 of that year. “We want a race, I suppose. If we have a bias of any kind, it's that we like to see a contest, and we like to see it down to the end if we can.”

Is that why the press corps invented those “lies,” causing Gore to tumble back to even in the national polls? We have no idea, though it’s abundantly clear that the press corps had a much larger “bias” in that race than the one Fineman described.

That said, it’s interesting that Fineman felt free to describe the press corps’ motive that way, since he was describing overt journalistic misconduct as he did so.

To state the obvious, it’s not the business of the press corps to engineer closer White House campaigns. In tilting coverage to produce that end, a journalist would be engaging in obvious misconduct.

In the case of Campaign 2000, Fineman’s colleagues tilted the race so far back that Candidate Bush ended up in the White House. According to Fineman’s real-time analysis, people are dead all over the world because his colleagues “weren’t going to allow the last seven weeks of the campaign to be all about Al Gore's triumphant march to the presidency.”

Fineman was describing murderous conduct by his colleagues in the press. But so what? Journalists always seem to feel free to describe their motives in the way Fineman did.

Gregory and Deutsch, and several others, followed suit on last week's Morning Joe panels. Clinton is getting trashed, they said and implied, because their colleagues “aren’t going to allow the next several years to be all about Hillary Clinton’s triumphant march to the presidency.”

It’s amazing to see the ease with which major journalists cop to this type of conduct.

The Morning Joe panels also engaged in that second permitted statement concerning their own behavior. At the end of last Friday’s pseudo-discussion, Mika Brzezinski and Donnie Deutsch engaged in a bit of misdirection about how silly and shallow they and their colleagues are.

Brzezinski is brilliant at this phony brand of self-denigration. As the pundits’ feigned discussion neared its end, she and Deutsch imagined a happy ending to the recent trashing of Clinton for her damnable speaking fees.

They pictured Clinton rising about the “negative coverage” which, the show's pundits all seemed to agree, has been occurring for several decades. Pitifully, this misdirection occurred:
DEUTSCH: She needs her Bill Clinton/Arsenio sax moment. I mean, she needs—you used the word “reset.”

BRZEZINSKI: Yes! I think she can do that!

DEUTSCH: There needs to be— And by the way, there’s so much— By the way, do a great thing with Jimmy Fallon—

BRZEZINSKI: And you’re done!

DEUTSCH: There are so many opportunities—

BRZEZINSKI: Front page! We’re shallow!
Instead of discussing their own behavior, the pundits were now explaining what Clinton should do in response. As it turns out, she needs to have an Arsenio moment, preferably with Jimmy Fallon!

If you have such a moment, “you’re done,” Mika cried! We’ll put your triumph on the front page! We’ll do that because “we’re shallow!”

In fairness, there is no doubt that Brzezinski is one of the shallowest members of this dishonest brigade. Just consider her statement about what Clinton should have said about her speaking fees—fees which have multimillionaires like Brzezinski so worried/troubled/upset.

We return to last Tuesday’s pseudo-discussion. In the exchange shown below, Halperin drops one of his bombs about the Clinton coverage.

Somewhat coherently, Mika wanders toward an account of what Clinton should have said. To watch that whole segment, click here.

Try to believe that she said it:
HALPERIN (7/22/14): [The Clintons] are held to a different standard. Look, you could go scrutinize the personal wealth of a lot of other people thinking of running for president. But it’s just not happening now.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, no, we did, with Mitt Romney, and it was different. And I’ve actually, you know, felt rather conflicted because I’ve had some reactions—

We react on this show very transparently to the news as it comes past us. And mine hasn’t been positive completely about her speaking fees.

Eugene and Julie—Eugene first. I’m just wondering, because in retrospect there was one thing I thought about that actually made me feel really good about the amount of her speaking fees that she was raking in. I’m just wondering if she could have deflected positively, Eugene, and said something like, “Well, aren’t you, aren’t you happy for me as a woman? Aren’t you glad that a woman can command such unbelievable speaking fees? And what men can do that, by the way? We are in a new era and I’m at the front of that line.”

What would be wrong with talking about the role of women in society, equal pay, and also women doing as well as men and sometimes outrageously well?
“Mine hasn’t been positive completely about her speaking fees?” When discussing her own behavior, Mika tends to move to a personal version of pigeon English which spews the gorilla dust.

As she continued, Mika mused about the mammoth fees Clinton has been “raking in.” In the process, she offered an utterly ludicrous thought about what Clinton should have said.

Go ahead—watch the tape! According to Mika, Clinton should have said this:

“Aren’t you glad that a woman can command such unbelievable speaking fees? And what men can do that, by the way? We are in a new era and I’m at the front of that line.”

We rarely ask you to imagine possible outcomes. But surely, we all know what would have happened if Hillary Clinton, of all known humans, had made a statement anything like that.

Alas! This is the type of pseudo-discussion major pundits constantly stage when their own conduct has been called into question. Tomorrow, we’ll show you how Robinson answered that ridiculous question from Mika. And we’ll show you what Julie Pace, age 30, said when Mike Barnacle, age 70, asked her to explain his own long-standing behavior concerning the Clintons. (For background, see yesterday’s post.)

By the time Pace was done, Mika and Mike were ironically praising her comments. Julie Pace, a young guild member, was earning her stripes this day in the latest pseudo-discussion staged by this lawless band.

Tomorrow: Pace earns her stripes

Middle-class Mika: As of 2012, it was being widely reported that Brzezinski was being paid $2 million per year for her “shallow” conduct on Morning Joe.

That’s how much Brzezinski “rakes in.” Needless to say, she has been troubled by the news that Clinton rakes in even more.

Supplemental: Drum does “they love to cover her hard!”

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014

We wait for The One Liberal Channel: Exactly as we predicted, Kevin Drum has gone on the record concerning the Clinton coverage.

In yesterday’s post, he quotes an interesting observation by Slate’s Dave Weigel, whose overall work on this subject strikes us as being quite poor.

We’ll discuss that observation tomorrow. For today, this is Drum’s conclusion about Mark Halperin’s recent statement that Clinton is “destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president”—that “the press loves to cover her hard:”
DRUM (7/29/14): The media's preoccupation with the Clintons' wealth won't last forever. Even for the Washington press corps, it's too transparently silly to pretend that it's somehow surprising that a presidential candidate is wealthy. But Somerby and Halperin are right: it's a sign of things to come. The press has never liked Hillary, and she's never liked them, and that's that. If she decides to run for president, this is going to be one of her biggest problems—or maybe her biggest, period. She's just never going to catch a break.
Will Clinton ever catch a break if she runs for president? We wouldn’t make a hard-and-fast prediction, although the Washington Post’s recent jihad has been remarkable and sobering.

We also wouldn’t be sure that “the media's preoccupation with the Clintons’ wealth won't last forever.” In the past, they have shown that they will maintain lunatic claims for years at a time, unless and until they are somehow made to stop.

We don’t know what the press will do if Clinton enters the race. We do know this—the indolence of the liberal world concerning the press corps’ recent behavior is a major sign of our essential fecklessness.

We simply aren’t bright or serious people. Good God, but we’re easy to play!

How many times does this sort of thing have to happen before we liberals start to resist? Before we start demanding that our fiery leaders resist?

If a Republican front-runner was being beaten up this way, the screaming would have been heard from coast to coast by now. But on the One True Liberal Channel, the millionaire children have all been silent. At Salon, not a word has been said.

The silence is deafening, just as it was in March 1999, when the mainstream press corps started its twenty-month war against Candidate Gore.

We’ve explained the economics of this ridiculous “liberal” silence many times. MSNBC is loaded with people whose incomes depend on their silence about the recent past.

Liberal careers run through the major mainstream organs, like the Washington Post and the New York Times. Conservative careers do not.

Meanwhile, two of MSNBC’s prime-time hosts have been involved in the endless wars against the Clintons and Gore. So were several of the channel’s major “contributors.” No one did more to send Bush to the White House than the flagrantly lunatic Chris Matthews, who has now reinvented himself to suit the new corporate line.

For these reason, the people you love have never told you about what happened in Campaign 2000. They will never discuss the ridiculous coverage of Candidate Clinton in the 2008 Democratic nomination campaign, which was won by Candidate Obama.

They will never challenge the lunacy of Maureen Dowd, who remains quite influential. If you want to advance through the New York Times, you do not challenge Dowd.

In this major respect, the people you see on The One True Channel are taking you for a ride. For these reasons, regular liberals have never been exposed to the actual journalistic history of the past twenty-plus years. In comments to Drum’s post, we were struck, as we often are, by the various liberal commenters who are reciting MSM narratives about campaigns of the past. We liberals are easy to script because our leaders keep playing us.

How crazy is the emerging world of the corporate liberal press? On Monday night, we saw Chris Matthews fawning in favor of Hillary Clinton again.

If you've been alive for the past twenty years, this sort of thing is astounding:
MATTHEWS (7/28/14): Remember last week, when we told you Darth Vader had a higher approval rating than all of the current potential 2016 presidential candidates? Well, Hillary Clinton showed her savvy, I think, on why she lost to the villain.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAREED ZAKARIA: One final question, and then we’re done. What do you make of the fact that Darth Vader is polling ahead of every potential presidential candidate? What’s the deeper meaning of this?

CLINTON: Oh, I think the deeper meaning is that people love fantasies. (LAUGHTER)

And sometimes, when we are so frustrated with the gridlock in Washington, we would like some deus ex machina figure. Darth wouldn’t be my choice, but somebody of perhaps a slightly more positive attitude in his presentation to come in and just fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: If you don’t like that Hillary, go find yourself another candidate! That’s Hillary at her best. She is great! And that’s what she’s really like.
Really? So she isn't really like Nurse Rathched or Evita Peron? They were the comparisons of choice when Matthews was serving Jack Welch.

Matthews’ silly fawning in favor of Clinton is truly a sight to behold. From the late 1990s right through 2008, Matthews relentlessly savaged Clinton in openly misogynistic ways.

It’s stunning to see him playing the fool in the other direction. It’s stunning to see the liberal world letting him clown in such transparent ways.

That said, Joan Walsh and them suckle at Matthews’ large teat; they will never discuss his decades of ugliness and outright deception. They will never tell you what happened in earlier White House campaigns. For that reason, the liberal world is susceptible to having it happen again.

We’re glad to see Drum, our favorite blogger, discuss what Halperin said. But the silence is deafening everywhere else. We liberals are often deeply clueless. Thanks to the silence of our leaders, we are quite easily conned.

Like earth girls, we liberals are very easy. The conservative world would never tolerate what the Washington Post has been doing. The conservative world would never accept the lunacy of a hustler like Matthews, the craziness of Dowd.

“DESTINED TO GET HORRIBLE COVERAGE:”
Robinson and Barnacle baffled!

WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2014

Part 3—Insiders can’t figure it out: Last week, on two different Morning Joe programs, Mark Halperin delivered a stinging indictment of the mainstream press corps.

For background, see yesterday’s post.

Halperin is a major insider. He understands the insider press. He knows the other insiders.

But uh-oh! According to Halperin, Hillary Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president,” at least as matters stand.

“The press loves to cover her hard,” Halperin memorably said.

As Halperin voiced his full indictment on last Tuesday’s Morning Joe, he even said what follows. He was responding to a question from a thoroughly baffled insider:
HALPERIN (7/22/14): The press loves to cover her hard. The momentum is all against her right now.

BARNACLE: Why is that, Mark?

HALPERIN: About the press?

BARNACLE: Yeah. [Chuckling]

HALPERIN: The Clintons have tried to figure that out for several decades. I don’t know. But they’re just—

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah.

HALPERIN: They’re held to a different standard. Look, you could go scrutinize the personal wealth of a lot of other people thinking of running for president. But it’s just not happening now.
The Clintons “are held to a different standard,” Halperin alleged. A deeply puzzled Mika Brzezinski basically seemed to agree. (To watch this whole segment, click here.)

Is it true that Halperin “doesn’t know” why this double standard exists? We’ll guess the gentleman could have said more this day.

That said, Halperin described gross misconduct on the part of the mainstream press during last week’s discussions. And how odd! None of the other major pundits really seemed to disagree with the claims he was making. They just couldn’t seem to explain their own long-standing conduct!

What was Halperin claiming? According to Halperin, a major American politician is likely to receive “horrible coverage” if she runs for the White House. On last Friday’s Morning Joe, he plainly implied that this “horrible coverage” might well get her defeated.

And not only that! Halperin seemed to say that this politician—and her husband, a former president—have been held to this “different standard” for “several decades” now! The press corps “loves to cover her hard,” this major insider said.

Different people will assess these claims in different ways. We’d say those claims have a lot of merit—especially if you add in the “horrible coverage” extended for two solid years to Candidate Gore, Bill Clinton’s chosen successor in Campaign 2000.

The era of Whitewater pseudo-scandals? The lunatic coverage of Candidate Gore? The misogynist trashing of “Nurse Ratched/Evita Person” in the 2008 Democratic primaries?

These manifestations all emerged from the mainstream press corps, more than from the RNC or the “right-wing noise machine.” The same is true of the current jihad about Hillary Clinton’s deeply troubling speaking fees, a jihad which jumped from the Washington Post to Maureen Dowd’s latest name-calling screed.

Have the Clintons been held to a “different standard” for “several decades” now? Is Hillary Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president?”

Different people will assess those claims in different ways. But please note this very important point:

None of the major insiders on Morning Joe seemed to dispute what Halperin said! Instead, they did what they always do when their conduct is called into question. The pundits began to shuffle along, scratching their heads and puzzling hard about the reasons for their own long-standing behavior.

We first described this conduct in 1999, when Howard Kurtz asked two panels of pundits to explain the trashing which was being delivered to Candidate Gore. (That trashing soon got worse.) Last week, this same shambolic, baffled behavior was acted out by the master thespians on these Morning Joe programs.

Let’s start with the Washington Post’s Gene Robinson. Last Tuesday, Brzezinski turned to him first after Halperin delivered his accusations.

Poor Mika! As she began, she offered a ridiculous thought about what Clinton should have said about her speaking fees. (We’ll offer that ridiculous text before the week is done.) At that point, she threw to Robinson.

What explains the Clinton coverage? Without disputing the claim of the double standard, this major insider quickly fell into the passive voice. He seemed to be completely puzzled by the Clinton coverage—by the coverage from his own colleagues over the past twenty years:
ROBINSON (7/22/14): You know, it is kind of ironic, the scrutiny of the Clintons’ personal finances. You know, they—she was born to not great wealth, but she was comfortable growing up, but not fantastically wealthy or anything.

The Clintons have worked very hard and have made a lot of money and that’s supposed to be something I thought that people respected and admired. It’s the American way. Yet, they’re the Clintons. And you know, if you look up the phrase “lightning rod” in the dictionary, I suspect you see pictures of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Yet, they’re the Clintons,” Robinson said, implying that the double standard actually does exist.

Indeed, if you look up “lightning rod” in the dictionary, you’ll see photos of the Clintons! So this insider said.

In this way, a master dissembler completed a practiced dodge. According to Halperin, it’s Robinson’s own insider cohort which has made “lightning rods” out of the Clintons. It’s Robinson’s colleagues and friends who hold them to that different standard.

Robinson never addressed that claim in his weirdly halting remarks. Instead, he acted like a baffled visitor from a distant preserve. He observed the oddness of the coverage, but made no attempt to explain it. He seemed to have no idea why the Clintons are “lightning rods.”

Make no mistake—Robinson was dissembling. In June 1999, he was editor of the Washington Post’s Style section. Under his guiding hand, the Post ran three mocking profiles of Candidate Gore that month, timed to coincide with the formal announcement of his candidacy.

His owners wanted Gore covered that way; Robinson provided the coverage. This helped make him the major insider he is today—a man who gets to go on TV and scratch his head and baldly dissemble in defense of the guild.

Mike Barnacle emerged from the clown car next. His clowning was even more perfect.

First, a quick bit of background:

Barnacle has been a major pundit insider since the dawn of time. He was already a major cable presence in November 2000, when he worriedly said that his worried grandchildren needed Candidate Gore to drop his Florida challenge.

Barnacle has been a major insider for decades. He knows all the other insiders. If the Clintons have been treated in the manner described, he would surely have an insight into why this has occurred.

Barnacle speaks from within the tent—but on this day, he clowned. Even as he extended Halperin’s portrait, he threw to Julie Pace, a youngish AP reporter (Northwestern class of 2004), asking her to explain the conduct of his own insider guild.

Mika seemed thoroughly baffled too, a stance she adopts with great ease. In what follows, you see world-class clowning by a pair of master dissemblers:
BARNACLE (continuing directly): Julie, I don’t want to put you on the spot. You know, you’re a reporter. And I don’t want to really put you on the spot...

But I’m wondering if you have any sense of why, or how, everything about Hillary Clinton, in terms of media coverage—That’s us! That’s you and me, it’s Mark, it’s Willie, it’s Mika—seems to have like a negative—

BRZEZINSKI: Twist, yeah!

BARNACLE: —note contained in it.
You’re looking at world-class dissembling. Let’s get clear on what was said in that absurd exchange.

In that passage, Barnacle and Brzezinski accept and extend the general thrust of Halperin’s withering portrait. Barnacle even goes so far as to name the people who keep introducing a “negative note” to all the coverage of Clinton.

Who introduces the “negative note” to all the Clinton coverage? According to Barnacle, Willie Geist does it, and so does Mika. Halperin does it, Barnacle claims—and so does Barnacle himself!

Mika seemed to agree with this general notion. When Barnacle paused in his assessment, she threw in the idea that major pundits introduce a negative “twist” whenever they discuss Clinton.

Rather plainly, these insiders were agreeing with Halperin’s withering portrait. Rather plainly, they seemed to agree that they themselves have covered the Clintons in this constant “negative” way.

But how odd! Rather than explain his own conduct, Barnacle threw to Pace, a young reporter for the AP who isn’t a major insider. Sidestepping in a practiced manner, he asked Pace if she could explain why he and his cohort have behaved in this way for the past several decades.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what Pace said, for which she was applauded. For today, we want you to focus on the world-class dissembling by the old white guy, the admirable black guy and the upwardly striving, equality-seeking woman.

All the insider press corps “types” came spilling out of the clown car this day. When they did, they dumped their baggage on Pace.

No one disputed Halperin’s portrait. But as always, the pundits pretended that they were baffled by their own decades of misconduct. We described this very same pundit behavior in the fall of 1999.

These are deeply dishonest players. They’ve played this game for decades now.

Through their clowning, they seek to let their guild maintain its control of the national discourse. When in the world will liberals insist that this clownish dissembling must stop?

Tomorrow: Pace is applauded

To watch these Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

Last Tuesday’s discussion featured Barnacle’s clowning—and his throw to Julie Pace. To watch that full segment, click this.

On Friday, Halperin said that Hillary Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.”

How long do liberals plan to accept this? To watch that whole segment, click here.