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Tilting at Windmills

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December 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

BARTLETT ON THE WINGOSPHERE....This is hilarious. Texas Monthly interviews former White House flak Dan Bartlett in its current issue and the conversation turns to bloggers. Who would you give an interview to if the choice were between Chris Cillizza, who blogs for the Washington Post, or Dan Balz, who writes for the print edition of the Post? At first Bartlett says the answer is Balz, but then he adds a third option:

Now, the question might not be as much Chris versus Dan as maybe, "Is it Dan Balz or one of the guys at [the conservative blog] Power Line?"

Yeah, or what if [conservative blogger] Hugh Hewitt called?

That's when you start going, "Hmm . . ." Because they do reach people who are influential.

Well, they reach the president's base.

That's what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It's a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we've cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.

Italics mine. What makes this especially precious is that it comes right before Bartlett argues that the Bush White House didn't really treat Fox News any better than any other news outlet. So the right-wing blogosphere now has a new motto: Even more credulous and slavish than Fox News. It's a proud moment for them.

Via TPM.

Kevin Drum 6:13 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

Kevin - Chris Cillizza is online reporter for Washington Post - formerly political reporter for Roll Call

Posted by: lemma on December 5, 2007 at 6:20 PM | PERMALINK

lemma: Right you are. Brain fart. Fixed now.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on December 5, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them.

Yeah, sure, but they think that's a feature, not a bug.

Posted by: jrw on December 5, 2007 at 6:27 PM | PERMALINK

efficient spreading of lies is the new "journalisim"?
Who knew?

Posted by: jay boilswater on December 5, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

I think bloggers like Hewitt should be called "Exact Regurgitators" from now on.

Posted by: dogfacegeorge on December 5, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's just me, but isn't he really saying that they actually quote you accurately and give your full comment, rather than excerpting and taking your words out of context? I'm no fan of Hugh Hewitt and that may not accurately describe what he does, but that seems to be Bartlett's description.

Posted by: Shelby on December 5, 2007 at 6:39 PM | PERMALINK

The market works!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on December 5, 2007 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

White House flaCk. "Flak" is anti-aircraft fire.

Posted by: Lionel Hutz, attorney-at-law on December 5, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Bartlett mentioned Powerline by name? Hahaha, I love it!

I wonder if Bartlett dictated this gem from Powerline:

It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can't get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

Posted by: kc on December 5, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

When Inkblot becomes president January 2009, I presume Kevin will regurgitate exactly what the nation's highest puss has for dinner every night.

Inkblot might look forward to this actually, since I suspect Kevin might prefer to regurgitate things like fresh shrimp or salmon, as opposed to the same ol' nibblies, Inkblot may actually have a much more varied and upscale diet.

Posted by: optical weenie on December 5, 2007 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

Ah Kevin, it seems you've been bamboodled. What more proof do you need! You're an exact regujutator for the Daily Kost.

U.S.A. U.S.A. U.S.A.

Posted by: fake al on December 5, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Shelby writes: Maybe it's just me, but isn't he really saying that they actually quote you accurately and give your full comment, rather than excerpting and taking your words out of context? I'm no fan of Hugh Hewitt and that may not accurately describe what he does, but that seems to be Bartlett's description.

Actually Shelby, when I reread the reference cited article, I agree with you that is what Bartlett means. Appears he's basically commenting on the issue that other media may extract comments and apply their own judgment or context on what the excerpted words mean.

Kevin may be correct in his perception but this reference is weak support for his contention.

Posted by: pencarrow on December 5, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Shelby/pencarrow: The word "regurgitate" is not normally one that's used to praise someone's accuracy. I think "slavish stenographer and cheerleader" is the better interpretation here.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on December 5, 2007 at 7:35 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: The word "regurgitate" is not normally one that's used to praise someone's accuracy

Possibly, but when you combine the words "regurgitate exactly" wouldn't you say it suggests a high level of accuracy?

Posted by: pencarrow on December 5, 2007 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

pencarrow, I fail to see what you're contributing to the conversation.

Posted by: absent observer on December 5, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Is it significant whether the bloggers are precise or not? I believe the large point of ---

[WH communications operative thinks the right-wing blogs are a good avenue for spreading memes because those blogs are unscrupulous and will repeat exactly whatever we tell them to say.]

--- is more significant.

Posted by: absent observer on December 5, 2007 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

... other media may extract comments and apply their own judgment or context on what the excerpted words mean.

Exactly. Powerline & Hewitt lack both judgment & any sense of context.

Posted by: junebug on December 5, 2007 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives have long argued that the media twists what they're trying to say and "filters" the news, and that FOX and the right-wing blogs give them a chance to get their message out "unfiltered". What the True Believers fail to recognize is that "unfiltered" is a misnomer; "pre-filtered" would be a better description.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on December 5, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK

when you combine the words "regurgitate exactly" wouldn't you say it suggests a high level of accuracy?

More accurately, it suggests verbatim transcription. Of course that is highly accurate insofar as it is exactly what was said, but that doesn't make it useful or true, nor does it involve anything approaching journalism. The job of journalists is to point out the fact that the words being regurgitated are just a load of crap.

Posted by: billy on December 5, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

The job of journalists is to point out the fact that the words being regurgitated are just a load of crap.

Except that in modern-day America, that's called "editorializing"...

Posted by: dr sardonicus on December 5, 2007 at 8:56 PM | PERMALINK

It's odd how certain sites - I won't mention any names - occasionally opine on subjects about which they know little but - oddly enough! - take positions in line with the Party. Odd, that.

Posted by: The annoying LonewackoDotCom on December 5, 2007 at 9:21 PM | PERMALINK

pencarrow: Possibly, but when you combine the words "regurgitate exactly" wouldn't you say it suggests a high level of accuracy?

I might do, if I believed the ethical and competent practice of journalism involves copying sentences on the blackboard a la Bart Simpson.

Seriously, you're just having us on. No one could seriously be arguing that Bartlett was unreservedly complimenting these puds. What's funniest is that, not being an idiot (although he has many, many other traits worth criticizing), Bartlett knew his "praise" was showing open contempt for the very people who slavishly print the press release rather than doing their jobs. Great stuff.

Posted by: shortstop on December 5, 2007 at 9:26 PM | PERMALINK

New troll alert! New troll alert!

Actually Shelby, when I reread the reference cited article, I agree with you that is what Bartlett means. Appears he's basically commenting on the issue that other media may extract comments and apply their own judgment or context on what the excerpted words mean. Posted by: pencarrow

Unless you are discussing someone's ability to get poison out of his system in an efficient manner, regurgitate rarely has a positive connotation.

Bartlett means exactly what anyone with more than three brain cells to rub together (which, of course, excludes most Rethugs) assumes him to mean - "the base" can be trusted to stay on message and repeat whatever outlandish or unsupportable shit Rove or Shrub may have said or may say because 99.99999% of the base is too stupid to think for themselves. Lots of good Germans out there in the Heartland.

Posted by: JeffII on December 5, 2007 at 10:09 PM | PERMALINK

If it is true that those that will not hear, can not hear, and they are in the majority, what can we do?

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O/F in 08! on December 5, 2007 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

Why isn't Bartlett serving in Iraq? He's under the enlistment age, and he advocated sending plenty of husbands and fathers his age or older to fight and die in Iraq.

Posted by: croatoan on December 5, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

If it is true that those that will not hear, can not hear, and they are in the majority, what can we do?

Presume that we are in the majority, and act accordingly. When everybody was telling their side back in the 60's that conservatism was dead, they refused to believe it, and that attitude laid the foundation for their successes of the past 25 years.

Posted by: dr sardonicus on December 6, 2007 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

Lots of good Germans out there in the Heartland.

Lot's of us politically trying to emulate the French Resistance, too.

Why isn't Bartlett serving in Iraq?

I believe his son is, and that is part of what inspired his exit from the administration.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on December 6, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

"regurgitate" seems like so precisely the right word.

Posted by: craigie on December 6, 2007 at 1:06 AM | PERMALINK

Shelb: Maybe it's just me, but isn't he really saying that they actually quote you accurately and give your full comment...

Yeah, that is exactly what they mean. But when those right wing bloggers write those exact quotes they should really put quote marks around the quoted statement and attribute them to their source instead of pretending they are writing from their own deep insight.

Posted by: patrick on December 6, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

BG RS, I would be very surprised if Bartlett had a son in Iraq - he's only 36 (and married in 2000). Maybe some other relative - a brother?

Posted by: JohnTh on December 6, 2007 at 5:13 AM | PERMALINK

Oh come on Drum... are you kidding us? No one here seems to realize that the liberal blogs do this exactly as much (if not more) than conservative ones. Markos Moulitsas (Daily Kos) is a huge VIP at Democratic functions even though he has never run for office or worked in mainstream journalism. If there's any talking point that's the least bit anti-Republican/pro-Democrat, you can guarantee that Kos, Media Matters, Crooks & Liars, Democratic Underground, Huffinton Post, etc, will be all over it in minutes. In fact, sometimes Democratic politicians just cut out the middle man and post to these blogs themselves. Don't kid yourselves here.

Posted by: John Rohan on December 6, 2007 at 5:18 AM | PERMALINK

"No one here seems to realize that the liberal blogs do this exactly as much (if not more) than conservative ones."

Well, mostly because that statement is demonstrably false. Progressive bloggers aren't even remotely afraid to criticize Democratic politicians. Kos is a classic example. He's absolutely anti-Republican but if you actually read his posts, he's been highly critical of Pelosi, Reid, Clinton, and others. Contrast this with the slavish devotion to Bush on the right.

Posted by: PaulB on December 6, 2007 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

I'd have to disagree with Mr. Rohan. As a minor example, the left blogosphere has spent weeks trashing Congressman Al Wynn, an incumbent Democrat, and raising money for his primary opponent. This is despite the fact that Wynn has the unabashed support of the party leadership.

Contrast that with the right wing blogs slavish devotion to Republican elected officials unless and until the party leadership signals it's time to abandon them. Mark Foley was a victim until the leadership dropped him. Duke Cunningham was a war hero who was being attacked by liberals until the leadership realized his crimes were too great to cover and on and on.

Bartlett was speaking the truth - that the traditional media at its most sycophantic will still allow an opposition view to filter into its reporting (though frequently after maligning that opposition view) while, with the right wing blogs, you have absolute confidence that what the White House says is treated as the one and only holy truth and disagreement equals treason.

Posted by: JP on December 6, 2007 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

The left blogosphere has its Koufax Awards. As a friendly gesture to our colleagues on the right, perhaps we could organize a competition in projectile vomiting at targets for them? The Powerline guys are from Minnesota--in their honor, one event could be a Biathlon--target vomiting on skiis. We could give the winners Miyazawa Awards, in recollection of the older Bush's celebrated encounter with the Japaneese Prime Minister . . .

Posted by: rea on December 6, 2007 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

New name for right-wing blogs:

Regurgisphere!

Though wingnutosphere still is appropriate for the Atlas Shrugs, Mark Noonan and Gun Counter Gomer fringe.

Posted by: Not the senator on December 6, 2007 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Amazing.

I'll bet Broder, Novak, WaPo White House beat reporters and all the rest are savoring Bartlett's words.

By saying the rightwing blogosphere regurgitates White House spin, Bartlett makes Big Media come off as heroic, insightful, critical and skeptical as those hacks flatter themselves they are.

After seven years of servicing Republican cock, Big Media finally gets a handjob from Bartlett.

For which it is pathetically grateful.

Posted by: Auto on December 6, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Lionel: "White House flaCk. "Flak" is anti-aircraft fire."

Flak is correct. A flak is someone who takes flak for his/her boss. The media term is derived from the anti-aircraft term, and from the flak jackets that airmen wore.

Posted by: Morley on December 6, 2007 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them.

IOW they don't think. If you think too much for yourself, the terrorists win.

Posted by: haha on December 6, 2007 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

The thrill with which the left blogosphere has responded to this quote shows their ignorance and immaturity. I would hope a wiser blogger like Kevin Drum would avoid this pitfall. This is why I, a conservative, am a faithful reader of Political Animal. I don't get some liberal's fantasy about what the world is like, I get an honest thought out viewpoint.

Rather than take the time to read Powerline and Hewitt and see where they regularly criticize the White House, liberal bloggers are jumping on an interpretation of the quote which feeds into their beliefs about the authors of these sites. One of the marks of an intelligent person, is he does not let his fantasy about what the other people are like guide his conclusions. Smart people can be found on both sides of the blogosphere. To shut off Powerline and Hewitt because their ignorant fantasies dictate that anyone who disagrees them must be some mindless sycophant, shows the liberal bloggers' immaturity and own lock step thinking. Kevin, this post is beneath you.

Posted by: John Hansen on December 6, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

New troll alert! New troll alert!

Rather than take the time to read Powerline and Hewitt and see where they regularly criticize the White House, . . . Posted by: John Hansen

Do us all a favor and fuck-off back under whatever rock you crawled out from under.

Powerline is just a more literate version of the same shit that gets thrown around by the chimps at LGF and FreeRepublic. The only time any of these idiots criticize Shrubco is when they aren't quite ruthless and stupid enough.

Bartlett meant exactly what he said - the base is stupid and programed and can be counted on to tow the party line every time. Rove made more or less the same remark when characterizing the "religious" right as useful idiots.

Posted by: JeffII on December 6, 2007 at 12:50 PM | PERMALINK

Bartlett let the cat out of the bag. Anyone with a brain already knew the truth of what he said. Hewitt, Powerline, Instrackracker--straight from Karl Rove's asshole to their blogs.

That John Howard and his ilk try to spin this any other way is a sure sign of deep mental illness.

Posted by: Cole Sear on December 6, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Do us all a favor and fuck-off back under whatever rock you crawled out from under.

What an intelligent rejoinder. I wish I was as smart as you obviously are.

Posted by: John Hansen on December 6, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

What an intelligent rejoinder. I wish I was as smart as you obviously are. Posted by: John Hansen

Someone like you would be lucky to be just half as smart as I am.

Posted by: JeffII on December 6, 2007 at 4:52 PM | PERMALINK

As indicated by the comments, Kevin's post is pretty weak and a reach to criticize Bartlett. He is trying to make something out of nothing and putting an extreme meaning on the words.

Posted by: brian on December 6, 2007 at 8:41 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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