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Tilting at Windmills

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September 4, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GORE AND THE PRESS....Evgenia Peretz writes in this month's Vanity Fair about media coverage of Al Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign. In the following passage she talks about the often vicious coverage of Gore by Kit Seelye in the New York Times:

As with all campaigns, the coverage of the 2000 election would be driven by a small number of beat reporters. In this case, two women at the most influential newspapers in the country: Seelye from The New York Times and Ceci Connolly from The Washington Post.

A prominent Washington journalist describes them as "edgy, competitive, wanting to make their mark," and adds that they "reinforced each other's prejudices."

....The disparity between [Seelye's] reporting and [Frank] Bruni's coverage of Bush for the Times was particularly galling to the Gore camp. "It's one thing if the coverage is equal — equally tough or equally soft," says Gore press secretary Chris Lehane. "In 2000, we would get stories where if Gore walked in and said the room was gray we'd be beaten up because in fact the room was an off-white. They would get stories about how George Bush's wing tips looked as he strode across the stage." Melinda Henneberger, then a political writer at the Times, says that such attitudes went all the way up to the top of the newspaper. "Some of it was a self-loathing liberal thing," she says, "disdaining the candidate who would have fit right into the newsroom, and giving all sorts of extra time on tests to the conservative from Texas. Al Gore was a laughline at the paper, while where Bush was concerned we seemed to suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations."

It's a pretty good piece. It covers fairly familiar ground for most blog readers, I think, but does a nice job of summarizing Campaign 2000 for magazine readers who haven't heard all this stuff before. It's worth revisiting.

Kevin Drum 12:43 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (71)

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"Some of it was a self-loathing liberal thing," she says, "disdaining the candidate who would have fit right into the newsroom, and giving all sorts of extra time on tests to the conservative from Texas. Al Gore was a laughline at the paper, while where Bush was concerned we seemed to suffer from the soft bigotry of low expectations."

Hear, hear.

Posted by: Swan on September 4, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

In other shocking news, scientists discover that rock stars are more than twice as likely to die an early death....

Posted by: Disputo on September 4, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

As bad as the coverage was, it was worse that neither Gore nor Kerry had much of a meaningful response to it.

Posted by: Nemo on September 4, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Ceci Connolly was terrible even now when she was on TV or radio or PBS.

We already see the trend this year where Mitt Rommney is flip-flopping on everthing but he is not being called a flip-flopper. Can you image if Hillary, Obama or Edwards are doing what Romney is doing?


Posted by: bob on September 4, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

How is one supposed to respond when the refs keep making bad calls? Do you bring Bobby Knight into your campaign?

Posted by: Disputo on September 4, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

The question now is, what can we do to keep it from happening again - especially since it already is?

It's already happening at any number of levels. For instance, the MSM seems to have time for positive portrayals of several GOP candidates (now, with new and improved Huckabee!) yet they decided early on that the Dem contest was strictly a two-player game, with Edwards rarely getting coverage for anything besides gaffes.

Or if we're going to get into cheap-shot territory, why can't Giuliani's repeated cross-dressing get a fraction of the attention Edwards' haircut has gotten?

Sheesh.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 4, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

And as far as liberal self-loathing, you can already see that asserting itself in this cycle as the supporters of a POTUS candidate viciously attack the other candidates on the most ridiculous of issues.

Posted by: Disputo on September 4, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

sadly, low-tech, there is nothing we can do to keep this from happening: donald graham and pinch sulzberger are still signing the checks at the wapo and nytimes. seelye and connolly are still working at those two papers. on what basis should we expect anything to change?

Posted by: howard on September 4, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

"I woulda won! I woulda! I woulda!" (fades slowly into oblivion...)

Posted by: Al "Trelane" Gore on September 4, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Hasn't Somerby been writing this story for seven years now?

Posted by: martin on September 4, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

These smug, lying Heathers are still in the media and still writing crap. The fact that their editors never bothered to correct any of their misstatements and outright falsehoods exposes the corporatist media for the right wing tool it is.
The same crew is printing the same distortions and slant today. Clinton's donor Hsu is a media headline; Romney's finance co-chair Fabian is being ignored despite his indictment.

Posted by: Mike on September 4, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

"Renegade liberal" or "nasty ex-liberal" makes more sense than "self-hating liberal".

I have been convinced for a long time that management at the Times and the Post is completely comfortable with their papers' wretched and biased coverage of major political questions (Gore-Bush, Whitewater, and Ira. It seems quite likely to me that management turned first, and the bylined reporters turned later when they realized what was wanted (based on decades-long patterns of hirings, firings, and promotions).

My surmise is that the Times / Post management people are neocon conservatives mostly on low taxes and military and foreign policy. Their weak liberalism on cultural issues doesn't really amount to much.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 4, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

A good piece; it rightly makes many of the media "stars" look like idiots. Glad to see the shout-out in the piece to Bob Somerby, since he truly has been the definitive compiler of this nonsense.

But I noticed that in the quotes Evgenia has from the reporters, there's an awful lot of passive voice and "reporters did this" or what have you. Not much in there showing any belief that any of them personally contributed to the problem. And thus, they will be the problem again, no doubt.

By the way, is Evgenia adopted or something? Hard to believe that Marty Peretz could turn out a child who actually can put two thoughts together in such a coherent fashion.

Posted by: Glenn on September 4, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Howard: Coverage of the impending Iran War is as dishonest and slanted as the pre-Iraq War coverage was. Graham and Sulzberger have had plenty of time to figure out what's been going on, and a lot of people have been trying to tell them, but they're fine with what they're newspapers have done and will continue to do.

People always go to the bylined reporters and blame tham, but they're flunkies. Policy is made at a higher level. Management manages.

Posted by: John Emerson on September 4, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The article was a good start, and does a great job outlining the Internet/Love Story/Love Canal trifecta of media lies, but it could have been better. I think one of its main problems was that it didn't distinguish enough between "news" writing and opinion writing. It used the old Coulter trick of saying "the New York Times" called Gore this or that name when it was actually Dowd-- the graphic where Dowd's column about Gore being "practically lactating" is shown undercuts the point by also calling Bush "the Scarecrow." And I'm sure I've read more damning excerpts from Connolly and Seelye's articles on the Howler. So it could have made a stronger case-- but overall, it's far far stronger than anything else on this subject we've seen in a major mag so far.

Posted by: Algernon on September 4, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Gore is a smarty-pants. He made the reporters feel stupid. Bush made them feel superior.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 4, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

I've been calling him the Resident (or Resident Evil) for a while now. But maybe I should call him the Press-ident?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 4, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

[deleted]

Posted by: mhr on September 4, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

For all the hallucinations about the "Bush-loving media" here, in the past six years Bush has gotten fifty times the abuse from the media and popular culture than Gore has gotten during his entire political career. A lot of it deserved. A lot otherwise.

Still waiting for him to start whining about it to the extent Gore does.

"Modern politics seems to require and reward some capacities that I don't think I have in abundance," says Gore, "such as a tolerance for … spin rather than an honest discussion of substance.… Apparently, it comes easily for some people, but not for me."

Oh, yes, Gore is just too virtuous and wise for politics. It's as though his entire career prior to 2000 has just been wiped from our collective memory.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

Why does this all sound familiar? Because if you read The Making of the President 1960 by Teddy White it's exactly the same thing Richard Nixon went through with the press which began the "hate the media" mentality that exists among conservatives. This misunderstandings, misquotes, taking things out of context, hatred between both sides, it's no different. Likewise, it's the 2000 camapaign that spun the liberal blogespere, because liberals realized that their so-called "friends" in the press really were not that at all. They may very well be liberals but they don't act like they are part of a movement unlike conservatives and thus didn't treat Gore with deference at all the way a conservative journalist would have treated Bush II (which is why you don't see many conservative journalists in mainstream publication because they are such poor journalists).

Running for President as the Vice-President is very difficult which is why few VPs ever make it to the top rung and part of that difficulty is providing a narrative for the presidency to continue. Like Nixon, Gore was boxed in by his boss and by the issues of the campaign. Trivial stuff dominates a preisdential contest when a candidate cannot offer a message the media finds as compelling and that Gore, like Nixon, can only blame on himself, not the press.

Although it certainly doesn't stop them from doing so.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on September 4, 2007 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Gore is a smarty-pants. He made the reporters feel stupid. Bush made them feel superior."

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08

"I've been calling him the Resident (or Resident Evil) for a while now. But maybe I should call him the Press-ident?"

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State

"Vicious coverage of a liberal Democrat by the NY Times? I feel faint- quick, the smelling salts- that is SO unfair!"

Posted by: mhs

Only one of these comments is considered immature "trolling" and unworthy of this venue. See if you can figure out why.

[All mhr comments are deleted. --Mod]

Posted by: bart on September 4, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

(which is why you don't see many conservative journalists in mainstream publication because they are such poor journalists)

Yeah, that's gotta be it. Crikey.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Please don't feed the trolls.

Posted by: MaxGowan on September 4, 2007 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

elmendorf at 1:50 PM:

I'd like to see some links to the "abuse" Bush took from the mainstream media (as opposed to comedians, or avowedly liberal publications like this one) before his popularity started slipping, before the war started going so badly that even Fox News had to stop chirping about it.

Al "Trelane" Gore at 1:08 PM:
"I woulda won! I woulda! I woulda!" (fades slowly into oblivion...)
He did win.

Posted by: thersites on September 4, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

I'd like to see some links to the "abuse" Bush took from the mainstream media (as opposed to comedians, or avowedly liberal publications like this one) before his popularity started slipping, before the war started going so badly that even Fox News had to stop chirping about it.

You must have been on a desert island in 2000. They threw everything in the book at him, including all the crap on his National Guard service and that last minute "DUI" business. What makes it funny is they fired all the exact same salvoes in 2004, and couldn't figure out why it didn't work twice.

You didn't have to watch a lot of network news election coverage to figure out which side the anchors were on.

Incidentally, I can find plenty of leftists who think Kerry won in 2004, too.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

i really want to thank elmendorf for providing us a textbook example of the delesional nature of the bush-enabling right-winger.

so yes, elmendorf, let's assume that i was on a desert island: do please show us how the "book" was thrown at bush. with real examples. please: be sure to highlight the many ways in which bush's lies about the "four dollars" that he held up in his hand at campaign stop after campaign stop were exposed; be sure to emphasize the detailed coverage that bush's so-called national guard service got in 2000; don't fail to note the many ways in which bush's record as governor of texas was delved into; of course we'll all want to be reminded of how the media went after bush for the slimy things his campaign did against mccain in south carolina.

really, we're dying to be reminded of all that exstensive coverage that you assure us existed in 2000: it's so easy to forget.

Posted by: howard on September 4, 2007 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

How did you learn all about these things, howard? Telepathy?

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a hint: In 2008, spend a bit more time coming up with policies, and a bit less time coming up with excuses about why the "unenlightened" won't vote for you.

Prediction: If Hillary loses, the CW is going to be because Amerikan trogs wouldn't vote for a woman, not because she's a socialist with few fixed principles other than that.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Elmerdork, the DUI was only "last minute" because Bush's pet lawyer (Gonzales) managed to get it covered up until then. The notion that Bush's dereliction of duty got massive play is just laughable.

Bush got a pass on his background. He had accomplished nothing on his own and was the figurehead governor of a weak governor state. Hell, his great claim to fame was that he was "the first governor of Texas to be elected to two successive four year terms." Never mind that many people had served longer, that was before they went to four year terms.

Nearly everything Bush said was a lie and his performance in the debates was appalling. His ignorance about the issues rivaled even yours. Even though those who saw the debates noticed his tiny stature the press held the bar so low that all he had to do was pronounce his own name correctly and they proclaimed him the victor.

Even after his massive failure to protect the American people on 9/11 the press gave him a pass and never even bothered to ask what he had done to prevent the attack.

When he decided to assault the Iraqi people the media ignored the elephant in the room - that this would undermine national security.

Sorry dork, the facts simply aren't on your side.

Posted by: heavy on September 4, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

You must have been on a desert island in 2000. They threw everything in the book at him, including all the crap on his National Guard service and that last minute "DUI" business.

The difference is those were all true things. Bush did walk out on his cushy National Guard service which his Daddy got for him, and he did in fact drink and drive. This is compared to many of the charges against Gore which were, quite simply, made up out of whole cloth.

By the way, why the scare quotes around "DUI"? (I mean, I know why, it's to minimize the charge's seriousness, but I just want to hear your explanation of it for my amusement).

Posted by: Stefan on September 4, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

So Bush skips out on National Guard service. That is a story about Dan Rather. Al Gore says something true, and the reporters misquote him and call *him* a liar. Yes, elmendorf, that is fair. And all the past 6+ years, the reporters have sure been tough on BushCo's lies. Always fact-checking everything, especially the serious business of going to war. Got far more coverage than Gore's clothes.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on September 4, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

"How did you learn all about these things, howard? Telepathy?'
Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 2:43 PM

LOL!

Posted by: jamrat on September 4, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"Hasn't Somerby been writing this story for seven years now?"

Yes. The sad thing is that the Dems and much of the liberal blogosphere it seems, still don't want to admit that this actually happened.

I would say that Somerby's theory on this is basically that young liberal writers don't want to piss in the punchbowl of a party they're all secretly hoping to be invited to.

That's the party where you like George Stephanopoulus, etc., etc. become one of the high-paid elite that gets to go on TV and pretend to support the liberal cause all the while you're making more cake than Betty Crocker.

And yes, the same thing is still happening, will still happen in 2008 and will still be happening in 2012 as long as we're afraid to confront it. Please read Somerby's piece today at the Daily Howler for yet another example of how the Washington Post rushes innuendo and snark into print whenever they have a chance to take a potshot at a leading Democratic candidate, while letting even more obvious chances for innuendo and snark pass unnoticed when they involve Republican candidates.

All the Elmos in the world can't argue against Somerby's many examples of this.

Posted by: JR on September 4, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

"We already see the trend this year where Mitt Rommney is flip-flopping on everthing but he is not being called a flip-flopper. Can you image if Hillary, Obama or Edwards are doing what Romney is doing?
"


http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh082707.html


As Somerby pointed out above, in some cases, the media is even giving Romney "credit" for re-inventing himself!!

It would be funny if it weren't so not funny.

Posted by: JR on September 4, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the bottom line in how the press treated Bush vs. Gore: it was egregiously, unconscionably, despicably wrong about who would have been a better President.

Nothing else matters. Even if the press treated them "evenhandedly", it was absolutely wrong to act as though they were equals. Beyond serious dispute, they were not equals. Gore would have made a perfectly fine President. Bush has turned out to be the worst President in history. His potential for that level of incompetence, arrogance, radicalism, and stubbornness was quite knowable by the press before he was elected. They pretended that those problems didn't exist, or, worse yet, had no clue that they did.

How can the national press be excused for this incompetence and deceit?

Answer: It can't be.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 4, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

May be why they are dying a slow death.Before long there will be no NYT WaP.So to them I bid a fare ado.

Posted by: john john on September 4, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

So let me see if I get this: Bob Somerby is the Gold Standard for professional journalism around here?

Add Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann, two other favorite liberal news sources, and we see the problem.

No wonder the Post and NYT fall short. Not enough comedians and sportscasters.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

One point by elmendorf should be addressed--the coverage of Bush's TANG service during Campaign 2000.

Why was Dan Rather covering (and bungling) this topic in September 2004? Because the MSM assiduously refused to cover it in 2000. The story of Bush's "missing year" broke in the Boston Globe in May 2000. But other news orgs--prominently including the New York Times and CNN--refused to discuss it at all.

This is discussed, in detail, in the Daily Howler archives (search on "Turnipseed"). But it's a simnple story: Bush was getting "vetted" in 2004--as he ran for re-election!--because the nation's biggest news orgs had refused to do so in 2000.

Posted by: bob somerby on September 4, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

I note elmendorf's most recent question, above. On certain topics, the answer is yes. But to understand that, dear brutus, you have to examine the actual work--you can't just recite your childish preferences. And alas! You have to be able to follow chains of fact and reason. Put more simply, you have to be willing to go where the big boys and girls--not the Drudges--have traditionally lingered.

Posted by: bob somerby on September 4, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

Add Jon Stewart and Keith Olbermann, two other favorite liberal news sources, and we see the problem.

This from someone who gets his "news" from Fox.
Nevermind that Stewart and Olbermann are not viewed as news sources but as entertainers or pundits who have Bush absolutely pegged and both rightly noticed that O'Hanlon was a tool not a "war critic".

Posted by: ckelly on September 4, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I read this and respected the piece, but felt it danced around the issue of WHY. I sent them this letter

I appreciated Evgenia Peretz article about the differential coverage of the press in 2000, but there seems to be an important component missing. Why? Not just why Gore, whose inefficient team seemed to lay itself open for press-generated wounds, but why do democrats in general get measured by a different ruler than republicans? Why is Hilary taking money from a criminal worse (and more likely to be headline news) than Romney's taking money from a criminal (only visible on the blogs). Why is the cost of Edwards' haircut reported without comparative information about the cost of the other 17 candidates haircuts? Although they have suffered expensive losses over the years, perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the GOP this: to convince the world into fearing "a liberal media" so terrifying that reporters are afraid to play fairly for fear they will be called biased. I fear the tune hasn't changed and will not be changed until media ownership is decentralized.

Posted by: shrink in sf on September 4, 2007 at 4:09 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Somerby is the Gold Standard for professional journalism around here?

Yes. This has been another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions. (h/t Atrios)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 4, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

nice to see bob somerby himself show up and help put elmendorff in his place, but let me answer the poor idiot's question:

how did i know about the lies bush told with the 4 dollar bills in his hand? because his policies made no sense and the numbers didn't add up - not because it was being pounded home by the media.

how did i know about bush's incomplete national guard service? because (as bob somerby has already noted) the boston globe (basically in a single column by walter robinson) broke the story in 2000 - and then had it roundly ignored.

how do i know about bush's record as governor of texas? well, i don't know much about bush's record as governor of texas, because it wasn't delved into, but i do know the tiny bit that was printed about bush's shockingly cavalier attitude towards an execution - another hint at bush's real "character" that was ignored.

as for bush doing slimy things in south carolina? yes, off on the periphery, there was some coverage of same, but the media did not go after bush: it regarded his turnaround in south carolina as some brilliant political achievment (and don't watch the sausage being made).

in short, i didn't need telepathy, but then again, i wasn't helped by the media, but you're the one, elmendorff, who insists on how the coverage went in 2000, so i say to you again: show us.

PS. of course, anyone stupid enough to think that hillary clinton is a "socialist" doesn't know shit from shinola, much less reality from right-wing fantasy....

Posted by: howard on September 4, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, hell. Bob doesn't need my help. Good on ya, Bob. You keep telling the truth to thousands, and I'll keep repeating it to a couple of hundred...One of these days, that damned boulder will roll down the other side! (And probably right over that pony I've been waiting for for 45 years.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 4, 2007 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

howard, you needn't answer in detail every example. The bottom line is that the truth is out there, for those who have the time, patience and desire to seek it. For the most part, however, the MSM is not covering the truth.

Posted by: Disputo on September 4, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

elmendorf, your political self-indulgence is such that it renders you a self-deluding fool.

The Boston Globe was the only major publication of significance that covered Bush's AWOL story in any depth or detail during the 2000 campaign -- no other major publication or network pursued it. And Bush's DUI scandal, such as it was, in fact only became a story when it was patently obvious that his own campaign was going to rather extraordinary lengths to suppress such damaging personal information about the candidate.

What's truly sad about reading your posts is that you refuse to acknowledge reality, and thus you are simply not being honest with yourself. Hillary Clinton is probably a great deal of things, some good, some not -- but I would offer that "socialist" is certainly not one of them.

If you approach the major decisions in your personal life in the same cavalier and uninformed manner that you apparently do in your politics, I can only surmise that you are probably just an unhappy camper who's compelled to lash out at others in compensation for your own self-perceived inadequacies.

Peace, brother -- and learn to be real. You'll be a lot happier.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 4, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

The Vanity Fair article appears as if it has been taken word-for-word from Robert Parry's excellent new book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.

Parry goes through, in detail, the many lies and misstatements by Bush in the 2000 election campaign and debates that got little or no media attention, while Gore got excoriated for saying simple statements like "he exploited the opportunities for creating the Internet". He never said that he invented the Internet. But that is how the media portrayed it. Trent Lott once said that he had "built the shipping industry in Mississippi", but no one took him to mean that he was out there with a pipe wrench and an arc welder, physically constructing the shipping industry infrastructure. But the media did that to Al Gore.

Meanwhile, Bush never even told the American people in 2000 how many times he has been arrested (four times that we know of, possibly five). He refused to answer the question and the press didn't bother to even follow up! Can you imagine a Democratic politician not answering that question? They would have been ripped to shreds by the media! How can a man be elected President of the United States twice, without revealing how many times he has been arrested?!? That is preposterous!!!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on September 4, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Howard (and others) are just extending the "telepathy" question. Unless by some coincidence all of you happen to subscribe to the "Boston Globe," I don't think there was any lack of exposure to these pieces of information. If you think nobody sees it unless it's in the New York Times, you're a bit behind the technology.

Somberby's theory used to be that the media was destroying Gore to pay back Clinton. I suppose that makes some sense somewhere. This crusade has pretty much been a part-time career for him for a few years now.

Oddly, neither Bush nor Gore is likely to be running in 2008 (although there's an interesting bit of Gore telegraphing in the Vanity Fair article). This isn't about politics, it's about way too many people who left a piece of their brain in Florida. Good luck with all this.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Bush's career as governor of Texas was completely knowable in 2000, due to Molly Ivins's damning Shrub. Molly called it exactly -- the stubbornness, the childish petulance, the ignorance, the sense of entitlement, the positive glee in breaking rules and kicking opponents asses with impunity.

Far too few read it.
Far too many of those that read it dismissed it as a partisan screed, when actually it was reporting.

Go read it now, if you haven't. And weep.

Posted by: joel hanes on September 4, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

Howard (and others) are just extending the "telepathy" question. Unless by some coincidence all of you happen to subscribe to the "Boston Globe," I don't think there was any lack of exposure to these pieces of information. If you think nobody sees it unless it's in the New York Times, you're a bit behind the technology.

You seem to be ignoring (deliberately, of course, since you're nothing but a paid GOP mouthpiece) the issue that was the Globe reported was true. You claim that the media bashed Bush. How does accurately reporting the undisputed fact that Bush failed to complete his service to his country (or at least his state) qualify as bashing? You, of course, would prefer this to all have been swept under the rug, but then again as a Republican you don't exactly care for the truth, do you?

Posted by: Stefan on September 4, 2007 at 7:44 PM | PERMALINK

My great great grand pappy told me bout' a liberal press once...

Posted by: mrwatson on September 4, 2007 at 8:13 PM | PERMALINK

The reason those who comment on Washington Monthly knew about Bush's failure to serve and the rest of his manifold, manifest lies, is that they are generally intelligent consumers of the news elmerdork. See, in out of the way places like Salon all of this information was readily available. In addition, there were people like Bob Somerby who scoured the news and reported back on the important facts.

That's why these same people were not taken in when Bush was lying about the threat Iraq posed to our national security. And that's why, dork, we are the reality based community and you are an idiot trying to feed us regurgitated RNC spin.

Posted by: heavy on September 4, 2007 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody famously pointed out that what happened in Vietnam was that we were playing chess (and we won), but they were playing go (and, um, THEY won).

I think that's what's going on here: Gore got bad press that he didn't deserve, and Bush got good press that he didn't deserve.

So what?

Note that most folks aren't claiming that particular stories, like Bush's service record, were WHOLLY unreported.

They're just bitching that these stories (and there are a lot of 'em) didn't get treated with the repetitive seriousness that THEY think the stories warranted.

I think they DID deserve better coverage, and from personal experience I think guys like Declan McCullough (whom I think was actually the first to 'report' that Gore claimed to have invented the Internet) are full of shit.

But that just says: "hey, you're playing a different game than we are!"

I suppose the great break point of all this was David Stockman in 1982. Some folks learned from that -- and some didn't.

For ego reasons of his own, Stockman famously revealed that all the 'supply-side' theology was a crock, a Trojan horse to lower taxes on rich people: that it was never intended or expected to actually generate more revenue. In fact, the opposite was true -- tax cuts for rich people would cause deficits that would strangle social spending: the whole stated premise of "Reaganomics" was a lie.

And when the Atlantic article came out, naturally, there was a huge stink. Reagan had Jim Baker tell Stockman what he was going to do -- and Stockman played it brilliantly: the narrative, he realized, wasn't that the Reagan administration has lied about ruining the economy. The narrative was that he -- a brilliant young man -- had betrayed Reagan, the forgiving but stern old man.

Thus, Stockman's counter-metaphor: a 'trip to the woodshed'. Once Stockman (at Baker's menacing direction) gave the media the woodshed metaphor, the REAL story evaporated.

THAT's the game, folks: metaphor and narrative.

Stop bitching, and learn to play.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 4, 2007 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

Stop bitching, and learn to play.

That can be difficult when the pieces are in the hands of people who are playing a different game. Take the first debate between Bush and Gore which Mr. Somerby reports As pundits ignored Bush’s laughably phony facts, the press corps worried about that school desk in Florida.

How about Frank Bruni of the NYT in his book(2002): By any objective analysis, Bush was at best mediocre in the first debate
But here's Bruni in 2000 the day after the debate: It was not enough for Vice President Al Gore to venture a crisp pronunciation of Milosevic.....It was more like oratorical intimidation, an unwavering effort to upstage and unnerve an opponent whose mind and mouth have never behaved in a similarly encyclopedic fashion.

Or you could look at the polls which showed Gore with a large lead in September 2000 and he won the debates (if you watched them) but if you read the reporting in the NYT, WaPo etc or watched TV you'd swear Bush, who lied about his budget and made up other #s in the debate, had clearly beaten Gore's "fuzzy math".

What we need are more scribes to stand up and tell the facts not their asinine judgment as to why Hillary said what she did.

In my line of work, restructuring loans, I tell the "clients" what I wish I got from the media, there is only news, I'll decide if it's good or bad.

Posted by: TJM on September 4, 2007 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK


"...while letting even more obvious chances for innuendo and snark pass unnoticed..."

This is actually quite humorous. LOL

Posted by: majarosh on September 4, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Stop bitching, and learn to play.

Good luck on that one, too. The incessant, petulant whining of the Left about the "unfairness" of pretty much anything you care to name shows an emotional maturity on the level of an eight-year-old.

As far as the Left is concerned, no Democrat ever legitmately lost an election. The sense of constantly-thwarted entitlement, not to mention an incredibly inflated idea of their own superiority, is another common sign of stunted maturity. So is constant obscenity.

Favorite so far: "Intelligent consumers of the news" who get it from Salon. Haw!

Stefan, I wish I was getting paid for this. But frankly, nobody thinks it's worth it.

[In the last twenty-four hours you have posted 26 times under no less than nine different handles.

elmendorf
rnc
monkeybone
harry (benson)
bart
ein
maryjane
Al "Trelane" Gore
Dingleberry

If you're not receiving a paycheck it's certainly not for lack of effort. Choose a handle and cut out the trolling or be banned again -- mod.]

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 10:57 PM | PERMALINK

In fact, now that I look at it, the views of Bush joel described look more like projection than anything else.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

And remember it was a New York Times reporter who decided that Gore had said "I invented the Internet," when he said no such thing. The reporter belatedly admitted that Gore had never actually said it but that he meant it. The RNC happily picked up the "quote" and the rest is history. Even today, you see the claim repeated by some jabberwocky on some two-bit paper in some Last Picture Show town who wouldn't know how to verify a fact even with the Internet itself as an aid. All because of a sloppy but arrogant Times reporter.

Posted by: timestalk on September 4, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

The sense of constantly-thwarted entitlement, not to mention an incredibly inflated idea of their own superiority, is another common sign of stunted maturity. So is constant obscenity.

Go fuck yourself.

Posted by: Dick Cheney on September 4, 2007 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

i never get over how so many morons like elmendorf learned how to type.

the blithering fool began by stating - sans evidence, of course - just how egregiously the press mistreated bush in 2000. when i (and others) noted how many issues the press had simply ignored about bush in 2000, elmendorf thinks it's a response to note that we heard of said issues!

oh well: i content myself that the mindless dead-enders like elmendorf, as recently as 3 years ago a majority, now only constitute 1/4 of the american public: the true dead-enders, so to speak. simultaneously delusional and arrogant, ill-informed and opinionated, full of sound and fury and signifying....

well, we all know that one, don't we?

Posted by: howard on September 4, 2007 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

i never get over how so many morons like elmendorf learned how to type.

For one thing howard, I learned how to use the shift key.

I'm assuming, of course, that you aren't a distant relative of archy.

Posted by: elmendorf on September 4, 2007 at 11:21 PM | PERMALINK

I think that commenters are right to note that the press did not attack Bush the way they attacked Gore. The failure to cover his arrest record and service record would be good examples.

But, really, I think that these failures are actually only symptoms of the deeper problem. The true and profound problem was that these idiots in the press provided no clue that Bush might become the worst President in history.

That was a failure for which there should be no forgiveness. They were as wrong in not predicting how badly he would turn out as they were at predicting the outcome of the Iraq war. The signs were there; for people capable of dispassionate analysis of politics and policy, the stubbornness and dishonesty were always present and obvious. Paul Krugman saw them from day one.

The NYTimes and its reporters failed us all, and failed us miserably on the most crucial issues of all.

Posted by: frankly0 on September 4, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

You know, this "worst president in history" mantra is a bit weird. Unless you were born about ten years ago, or have never read a book, how do you make that call?

Iraq? Vietnam killed well over ten times the Americans Iraq has, never mind the slaughter of Southeast Asians in far greater numbers than the loss of Iraqis. And that one we lost. Is this the criteria we're going by? What does this make Kennedy or Johnson?

The economy? Carter and Ford would have killed for any of the numbers we're seeing now.

Loss of freedoms and rights? Most of this exists only in people's imaginations. What MIGHT happen. You can count the actual unfairly imprisoned Americans under the Patriot Act on one hand. How many Americans did Roosevelt throw into prison camps?

This kind of statement just makes people sound foolish.


[In the last twenty-four hours you have posted 26 times under no less than nine different handles.

elmendorf
rnc
monkeybone
harry (benson)
bart
ein
maryjane
Al "Trelane" Gore
Dingleberry

If you're not receiving a paycheck it's certainly not for lack of effort. Choose a handle and cut out the trolling or be banned again -- mod.]

Posted by: harry on September 4, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

harry,

Some useful articles by actual historians (who have read a book or two):

Worst President 1
Worst President 2

Posted by: frankly0 on September 5, 2007 at 12:15 AM | PERMALINK

Apparently someone made us a project.

Ban away. What's that leave you with? Egbert and Al? Or is that what you want?

Posted by: Whitman on September 5, 2007 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin (or Paul Glastris): kindly give up the current banning rules. (are there rules?) They're not applied consistently, and they're a distraction.

Back to the point: granted, the way we pick Presidential candidates is extraordinarily odd, as if there is some connection between actually running the Federal government, and raising $300 million a few thousand at a time without promising anything while staging fake events with real crowds of union members or NRA locals in places that national politicians NEVER visit unless they are running for President.

But seriously, I don't blame the media as much as I hold Gore himself responsible for his bad press. And I hold Democrats responsible for nominating him, just like I hold Democrats responsible for nominating Kerry. Nobody FORCED us to have this dumbass primary system, and nobody forced us to nominate two lousy candidates.

In my experience, there is one hugely significant difference between the political culture that surrounds conservatives up the pyramid, and the one surrounding progressives on the same slope up to the Candidates: conservatives are MUCH more attuned to what the public will react to than progressives are.

Progressives tend to scoff that the public SHOULDN'T fall for something false or stupid, which puts the blame on the public (or the media).

Conservatives tend to exploit whatever the opportunity was.

Take two examples: Gore and the Internet, and Bush and his National Guard service.

IIRC, Gore's initiative was the legislation that opened the DARPANet backbone of what is now the 'Net to commercial traffic. It really WAS the single most important LEGAL step that made the Internet possible.

But the knucklehead didn't TELL us that, in any kind of evocative imagery or clear language. He set HIMSELF up for 'claimed to have invented the Internet' because he never told a better alternative story. It was as if he expected the media and the public to LEARN what he had done -- and, of course, there's the fall back that the public shouldn't have fallen for 'claimed to have invented the Internet' -- which blames the very people we're trying to persuade, through the media which we are hoping to use for that persuasion.

How fucking stooopid is THAT?

Consider Bush and his National Guard service: his principal vulnerability was the contrast with Kerry (and, earlier, with Gore). So conservatives did TWO things -- they made the contrast less vivid, by attacking Kerry's own service. That was easy to do, because everybody who knows Kerry finds the guy insufferable, and because he tried very hard to have it both ways: yeah, he served in Vietnam -- and he also compared our troops there to Genghis Khan. He took home movies of himself going into combat. In a hundred ways, he was set up for his service to be dissed, e.g., the purple heart bandaids. ALL of that, the Swiftboating stuff, was vulnerable to a better communications strategy by the Democrats: remember, the emotional reason Americans love vets is because we're patriots. Describing our guys as 'reminiscent of Genghis Khan' undercuts that.

So Democrats didn't HAVE a better communications strategy, a better story to tell. It was all about how stupid the public is. I talked to the late, lamented David Halberstam at the time about Kerry's recollection of Christmas in Cambodia, a small instance on which folks rightly tore Kerry's tattered public image into smaller shreds. I pointed out to Halberstam that it was likely that Kerry was simply conflating Christmas 1968 with Tet 1969 -- only a few weeks apart, but the latter was when Kerry would have heard the Buddhist Vietnamese firing into the air in celebration, and thus, THAT was surely the time he remembered being in Cambodia. Hell, he probably still had Christmas decorations on the damn boat.

He replied, hey it doesn't matter: he was there, Bush and Cheney weren't, people are going to realize that .... Yeah, that must have been why Kerry won the election.

The other thing that conservatives did with Bush's National Guard service was to keep focusing on ever smaller details (sorta like we're arguing about body counts in Iraq) until finally somebody screwed something up in the case against Bush, so they could say: ah-HA! See, there's nothing to ANY of this...

Conservatives want to be part of a MOVEMENT. Progressives want to be right. Both 'tudes have the defects of their virtues.

Counter the defects on OUR side, say I: learn to tell better stories more EFFECTIVELY.

Posted by: theAmericanist on September 5, 2007 at 8:47 AM | PERMALINK

theAmericanist,

Well said.

There are dogmatists on both sides of the spectrum. I believe there is a difference between the two sides as to what drives their opposition.
IMO, the Left opposes the "who", redardless of what they say or do, while the Right opposes the "what", regardless of who says or does it.

Please excuse my use of Left/Right to describe the opposing sides. Just trying to keep it simple.

Posted by: majarosh on September 5, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Good job elmendorf. Playing the sock puppet is a really great way to let everyone know what a clown you are.

Posted by: mpowell on September 5, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

And to keep banging the same drum, no pun intended, I commend Bob Somerby's follow-up column today which again points out how "Shhhh..." seems to be the basic reaction of many liberals to criticism of the media elite such as that discussed in the Vanity Fair piece.

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh090507.shtml

Posted by: JR on September 5, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK
In my experience, there is one hugely significant difference between the political culture that surrounds conservatives up the pyramid, and the one surrounding progressives on the same slope up to the Candidates: conservatives are MUCH more attuned to what the public will react to than progressives are.

Progressives tend to scoff that the public SHOULDN'T fall for something false or stupid, which puts the blame on the public (or the media).

Conservatives tend to exploit whatever the opportunity was.

This is not merely a difference in political culture that happens, incidentally, to align with ideology, it is a manifestation of the fundamental ideological difference between the left and the right. That's not to say the left couldn't do a better job selling its position and packaging its criticisms to be less more palatable, but fundamentally liberals seek to empower--to liberate--people broadly, and challenging them to exercise good independent judgement rather than to accept what's handed to them top-down by propaganda mills is, ultimately, an essential part of that. Conversely, conservatives seek to protect--to conserve--the power of elites enshrined by religious, nationalist, and cultural tradition; opportunistic exploitation of anything that can scare the public into submission to the strong father is, likewise, an essential part of that.

Liberalism and conservatism aren't fundamentally distinguished by disagreement about narrow policy issues, they are fundamentally distinguished by disagreement on the distribution of power in society. There are certainly things that can be improved in the tactics on the left, and certainly things that can be learned from the tactics that work on the right; but not all the tactics that work on the right can be applied by the left, because some are fundamentally conservative, and when used always serve to narrow power and distance the broad public from it. "Left" and "Right" (and note I don't say "Democrat" and "Republican" here; the statement may well not hold for the major parties in the SU) aren't just two different tribes with arbitrary membership, they have fundamentally different goals and the means that work to advance one don't necessarily work to advance the other.

Posted by: cmdicely on October 23, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK
Back to the point: granted, the way we pick Presidential candidates is extraordinarily odd, as if there is some connection between actually running the Federal government, and raising $300 million a few thousand at a time without promising anything while staging fake events with real crowds of union members or NRA locals in places that national politicians NEVER visit unless they are running for President.

Since the only nationally elected offices are the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, are there any actual real "national" (rather than merely "federal") politicians aside from those running for one of those offices?

Posted by: cmdicely on October 23, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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