Political Animal


November 21, 2012 12:48 PM The Dastardly Tactic of Drawing Attention to Idiocy

By Ed Kilgore

Ah, Mark Halperin is at it again. On Morning Joe today, he accused what he likes to call the “Left-Wing Freak Show” of progressive new media outlets of leaping on Marco Rubio’s incoherent answer to a question about the age of the Earth in an interview to “define” poor Marco before he can get a presidential campaign rolling:

[I]t’s doing this thing that Democrats failed to do in 2000, to stop George W. Bush, which is really, really early on using the left-wing Freak Show to define anyone who’s thinking of running for President, as quickly as possible, in negative terms on Twitter, on cable, on the Internet. They’re all over this Rubio thing because they want to control his image in a negative way and they did it this cycle too. They went after Romney early, it really hurt him.

Oh brother. On a slow, post-election news day, a guy who’s been getting a truck-load of bouquets from both the conservative media and the MSM as the potential savior of his anglocentric party says something very dumb, in a very dumb way, in an interview with a major magazine. So yeah, “the freak show” wrote about it. Should we ignore it? And for that matter, Halperin might want to consider that most of the nasty things us crafty lefties said about Mitt Romney early in the 2012 campaign were clearly true, at a time when Romney himself was asking people to elect him president because he was such a fine businessman.

If people are making up stuff about Rubio or anyone else, or at a minimum digging around in his part for ammunition, then maybe it’s fair to characterize such coverage as politically motivated. But when a potential POTUS drops a big fat bag of Stupid right in our laps, then yeah, we’ll write about it.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • trh on November 21, 2012 12:57 PM:

    Halperin is a joke - a real journalist would know, or would have discovered, that Obama was asked (and successfully answered) that same question on April 13, 2008.

  • matt on November 21, 2012 12:58 PM:

    The people pointing and laughing at the right wing freakshow are the 'left wing freakshow' to Halperin? Christ on a stick, what a hack.

  • Zorro on November 21, 2012 1:01 PM:

    But when a potential POTUS drops a big fat bag of Stupid right in our laps, then yeah, we’ll write about it.

    Therein lies the nub: the ability to drop "a big fat bag of stupid" is considered a qualification for high office in today's GOP.


  • c u n d gulag on November 21, 2012 1:07 PM:

    And the mature, calm, dispassionate, Right Wing MSM outlets, treated Gore, Kerry, and Obama with respect and dignity, from Day 1 - right, Mark?
    And it's not like when the RW MSM jumped on them, it was over some manufactured outrage.

    What an insipid @$$hole.

  • DJ on November 21, 2012 1:11 PM:

    Halperin is a joke

    He's also a dick.

    In other news, water is wet.

  • Kathryn on November 21, 2012 1:22 PM:

    Can't improve on Halperin comments, good job all.

  • Ron Byers on November 21, 2012 1:29 PM:

    The silver lining is there is now a real "left wing freakshow" right wing pundits pretending to be main stream media reporters have to account for when rolling out righty memes. In years past the left was sooooo deep in a defensive crouch Halperin could polish the image of a turd like Rubio without fear he would be called out.

  • arkie on November 21, 2012 1:36 PM:

    How many pounds of smelling salts does a Beltway pundit go through in a week?


  • Martine on November 21, 2012 1:43 PM:

    I really hope 'big fat bag of stupid' catches on.

  • T-Rex on November 21, 2012 2:01 PM:

    Damn shame Democrats DIDN'T succeed in characterizing Bush as the incompetent idiot we now know that he certainly was. The country might have been spared a lot of damage, possibly including the 9/11 attack. But when Democrats or the supposedly "left wing" media call any negative attention at all to a candidate's stupidity, it's tantamount to voter suppression, according to Rove. When the GOP swift-boats Kerry, that's just politics as usual.

  • Rick B on November 21, 2012 2:02 PM:

    Either Mark Halperin is so tightly wound into the fictional conservative worldview that he does not recognize the utter stupidity of Rubio's pandering remark or Halperin is already in his normal function of defending the electability of the top tier of Republican potential candidates. I'd say it was the latter and that Halperin is already angling for a job with the Rubio campaign.

    The conservative/Republican political operatives at Halperin's level do not concern themselves with the rational arguments about policy. It's all about power and electability to them.

  • Mike on November 21, 2012 2:03 PM:

    People who believe in a scientific fact that was established in the 19th century are freaks, obviously.

  • Mike on November 21, 2012 2:04 PM:

    Also, what is Halperin's opinion on the raging debate over phlogiston?

  • Rathskeller on November 21, 2012 2:14 PM:

    I think you have the wrong take on this. The issue is not just that he said something stupid, but more that this leading candidate for 2016 is hemmed in by what the GOP base will accept. Even four years in advance, he's afraid of what they will say about him.

  • DRF on November 21, 2012 2:15 PM:

    But who pays attention to the progressive media outlets other than progressives? So how could these media outlets define Rubio for the general electorate?

    As we all know, Romney was defined in large part through the efforts of his own party and his primary opponents.

  • Gummo on November 21, 2012 2:30 PM:

    Ah, DRF, you're not thinking like a winger: anything media that isn't Limbaugh or Fox is the "progressive" media.

    Any media that still believes in the primacy of facts is the progressive media.

    Any media that doesn't accept ReThug propaganda at face value is the progressive media.

    etc. etc....

  • MuddyLee on November 21, 2012 2:33 PM:

    Left wing freak show? Too bad Halperin wasn't worried about the lies of the Bush-Cheney administration prior to the Iraq invasion, the disastrous Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the swift boat lies about Kerry, Bush's failure to get Osama bin Laden, McCain's incredibly stupid choice of a VP candidate (who has had her own freak show ever since), the 2012 republican primary freak show starring Trump, Newt, Cain, Bachmann, Perry (please show me the left wing equivalents to these idiots), and the contempt shown for the majority of people (not corporations) exhibited by Paul "Ayn Rand" Ryan and Mitt "47 Percent" Romney. I would like to see/hear all media interviews with republican candidates for office start with the question "how old do you think the world is?" from now on.

  • Leopold von Ranke on November 21, 2012 3:39 PM:

    Halperin's Cat --

    So. You put Mark Halperin into a box . . ..

  • sick -n-effin-tired on November 21, 2012 4:12 PM:

    There is a reason Halperin won the # 1 Hack of the year last year at Salon
    Congratulations to the world's laziest dispenser of conventional wisdom

  • giantslor on November 21, 2012 4:15 PM:

    So if you understand and trust science, and expect politicians to do the same, you're a Left Wing Freak Show. Is that the conventional wisdom these days? I find that hard to believe.

  • Peter C on November 21, 2012 4:18 PM:

    Ah, so the poeple he calls the 'left wing freak show' shouldn't call other people bad names because that's 'being impolite'.

    Do we take advice from impolite poeple? He seems to be calling us bad names!

  • Rick B on November 21, 2012 5:32 PM:

    Rubio's statement is IMO not so much a statement of his own belief as it is a test of what the media will let him get away with as he panders to the base of right-wing religious crazies. Halperin is floating an effort the manipulate the media in order to give Rubio more room for base-pandering statements. If Halperin can get the media to step back and let Rubio pander, then Rubio has room in 2015 to avoid much to the negative media attention that Romney got for his right-wing-pandering.

    It's an early test of how idiotic the political media is going to be. If the media can be forced to back off reporting on Rubio's panders then he has a lot more media space to pander in. If the media has learned anything this year then Rubio and Halperin both have learned where the line will be drawn.

    I have little confidence that the media will avoid being snowed again. But I'm not Rubio's ignorant or religion-bound target audience.

  • biggerbox on November 21, 2012 9:14 PM:

    Wait, so Rubio giving an interview to a major outlet is somehow not an effort to define himself in the media, but people on the left taking notice of that interview and responding to it is?

    How dare those left-wingers point out the flaws in a candidate's self-positioning!!

    Halperin is a buffoon.

  • jhm on November 22, 2012 9:03 AM:

    Now Ed, calling a (fellow?) member of the fourth estate a great big bag of stupid, is hardly cricket.

  • James M on November 23, 2012 12:51 AM:


    Thanks so much for posting this! I was dying to comment on this. It is a good thing that we haven't yet figured out how to do telekinesis, otherwise I would have slapped Mr. Halperin through my computer screen! The comment was so inappropriate and totally out of left field (as the above commenters have already noted) that I was dumbfounded.

    The one thing I would point out that the other commenters have not mentioned is that Mr. Halperin seems to have a visceral dislike of BO. I remember that he was previously temporarily suspended from MSNBC for making disparaging remarks concerning the President. During the run-up to the election it seemed that he could barely bring himself to mention the President's name, and it was clear that he hoped that BO would lose.

    But, anyway, if you, TPM, Salon, etc. do represent some kind of 'left wing freak show', I just hope you keep the freak coming!