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.“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.
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.”
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?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.
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.
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!