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Daily Howler: Three cheers! Todd and Milbank frankly describe their cohort's outright corruption
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OUTRIGHT CORRUPTION! Three cheers! Todd and Milbank frankly describe their cohort’s outright corruption: // link // print // previous // next //

OUTRIGHT CORRUPTION: We’ll congratulate NBC’s Chuck Todd for doing what is expressly forbidden—for telling the truth about the press corps while appearing on cable. On Hardball, Chuck’s red-faced and excited host was cheer-leading hard for a famous old saint. Asked to offer his response, Chuck described his cohort’s corruption:

MATTHEWS (1/2/08): Chuck, do you see the same results? If McCain pulls a third and Huckabee wins [in Iowa], then John McCain goes right to New Hampshire and perhaps to the nomination?

TODD: Yes. You know, I hate to be existential here, but you know, the media—and I say this as if I’m not a member of it—but the media does seem to be ready to will John McCain out of Iowa. It is a stunning thing. And if I were Mitt Romney or Giuliani or Mike Huckabee, I’d be like, “Wait a minute! You’re going to take a third place finish and somehow use that to catapult this guy, free media—


TODD: .—and get him the victory in New Hampshire?” But frankly, that is what’s going to happen. There’s a reason John McCain—


TODD: —is sort of the king of sort of working the media.

Matthews signed off quickly—but good for Chuck! He did what the good boys never do. In this case, he stated the obvious about the way his cohort is re-pimping their beloved old saint, John McCain. Speaking frankly on cable TV, he described his cohort’s corruption.

Has the press corps started to re-pimp McCain? They began to pimp him very aggressively in December 1999, when McCain finally registered in New Hampshire state polls as a potential primary winner. And in recent weeks, they’ve been climbing back on the familiar bandwagon as McCain’s numbers have started to move up again. But let’s review what Chuck said about the press and McCain. “Frankly, that is what’s going to happen,” he said. According to Chuck, the press corps is “going to take a third place finish [in Iowa] and somehow use that to...get him the victory in New Hampshire.”

Scribes aren’t supposed to say such things—to describe their own cohort’s bald-faced corruption. But omigod! Dana Milbank did the same thing on last weekend’s Reliable Sources! We’re not big fans of Milbank ourselves. But just in case some future generation is more willing to deal with such matters than ours is, Milbank’s comments to Howard Kurtz deserve to be widely recorded:

KURTZ (12/29/07): When the votes are counted and we decide who did well—for example, Hillary Clinton. Let's say she doesn't win Iowa. Let's say she gets edged out by 1,000 votes. Is the press going to savage her as a loser?

MILBANK: The press will savage her no matter what, pretty much.

KURTZ: If she wins?

MILBANK: Well, obviously if she wins by any great margin—the press with Hillary Clinton, it's a poisonous relationship. And I visited the various campaigns out there. It's a mutual sort of disregard. And they really have their knives out for her, there's no question about it out there. So—

KURTZ: And to what extent do you think that is affecting the coverage of Senator Clinton?

MILBANK: I think it unquestionably is. And I think Obama gets significantly better coverage than Hillary Clinton does, and given an equal performance he'll come out better for it.

KURTZ: Is this because journalists like Obama better than Hillary or—

MILBANK: It's more that they dislike Hillary Clinton. There is a long history there, her antagonism towards the press. It's returned in spades. And it is a venomous relationship that I see out there.

KURTZ: Interesting. All right.

Milbank is a major press corps insider. And in his view, the press corps is going to savage Clinton no matter what happens tonight. “Interesting,” Kurtz blandly said, as his guest described outright corruption.

But there you see a familiar story, told by two major press corps insiders. Tomorrow, we’ll offer a fuller reaction to what Milbank and Todd have importantly said. But this is a remarkably familiar story—an obvious echo of Campaign 2000. And uh-oh! Career liberals shut their traps about this conduct back then, and have rarely stirred themselves to mention it in the eight years since.

Reading what Todd and Milbank have said, we see the shape of the liberal world’s reward for our own leaders’ bald-faced corruption. More on these comments tomorrow.

SHEER STUPIDITY: Outright corruption is one of their hallmarks—but then too, we should mention their stunning stupidity. Cable pundits have spent the past week doing the one thing they can’t hope to do—attempting to predict the outcome of tonight’s caucuses. Dumb as rocks, and proud to show it, they seem to revel in their cluelessness. They cherry-pick the polls they like, then pretend they’ve never heard of the vagaries of sampling. But then again, some of these people are so dead-dog dumb that they actually may not have heard.

Margin of error? Most of them have heard of the concept—but few of them show any real sign of understanding that polls provide approximations of possible outcomes. Small hint: On the Democratic side, the Iowa race has been a three-way tie going all the way back to the spring. But these people are proud to be dumb. They’re proud to pretend they don’t know this.

THESE TRAITS CONJOINED: How stupid are “journalists” willing to be? Consider Robert Novak’s newest column, in which he rails against Vile Clinton for her vile “triangulation.” Indeed, your scribes are so high-on-life this week that Bob even starts with a sex joke:

NOVAK (1/3/08): Sen. Hillary Clinton faces tonight's Iowa caucuses not as the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee but seriously challenged by Sen. Barack Obama, thanks in no small part to committing a strategic error: premature triangulation. The problem is reflected by what happened to a proposal for a simplified, though sweeping, health care plan.

Premature triangulation! What did we do to make the gods punish us with rule by such dim-wits?

At any rate, everyone knows that “triangulation” is code language for Clinton’s fake phony falseness; in this column, Novak has decided to take one last shot at tipping a few votes in Iowa. And this is where the sheer stupidity of our discourse comes in again. What are Novak’s examples of Clinton’s vile conduct? His first example (of two) is health care. Human beings can’t get dumber than this:

NOVAK (continuing directly): One longtime Democratic consultant, not involved in any campaign this time, suggested that Clinton propose a genuine universal health care scheme. Everybody would be covered by Medicare, except people who chose to retain their private health insurance plans. The consultant gave the idea to somebody close to the senator, but the intermediary refused to pass it on to the candidate. He said it never would get beyond Mark Penn and his strategy of triangulation.

Penn, a professional pollster who was political adviser to President Bill Clinton, is chief strategist for the Clinton campaign. He has embraced triangulation—coming over as a third force somewhere between liberal and conservative poles. To many Democratic operatives, Penn's triangulation prematurely introduced a general election strategy, when in fact the party nomination was still in doubt.

What’s so stupid about that passage? Just this: Novak forgets to say that Candidates Obama and Edwards also decided not to propose this “genuine universal health care scheme!” Were they “triangulating” too? Playing his readers like absolute rubes, Novak doesn’t ask this obvious question—and his editors allow him to do it.

But then, his second example of Clinton’s “triangulation” is just as dumb as the first. Now the tired old fixer gets busy with that Kyl-Lieberman vote:

NOVAK: Clinton was even more obviously engaged in triangulation in September, when she voted for a resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. The other three Democratic senators seeking the presidential nomination—Obama, Joseph Biden and Christopher Dodd—all opposed the resolution on grounds that it would give President Bush a pretext for invading Iran (though Obama was not present for the vote). Clinton, while attacking Bush's Iraq policy, did not want to seem soft on Iran's Holocaust-denying president, who has vowed to destroy Israel.

Penn's strategy from the start was predicated on the inevitability of Clinton's nomination, so the real concern was to position her to run against the Republicans by making clear that she was no more a hard leftist than her husband had been.

Note how tired old fixers work. Novak mind-reads Clinton’s vote; it’s “obvious” that she voted insincerely, with her eye on the general election. Question: Is it possible that Dodd, Biden, Obama and Edwards adopted their own stances insincerely, with an eye to the primary vote? Not in the world of this column it isn’t! We’re told that Clinton’s vote was fake—and we aren’t invited to ponder the others. Further example: Obama’s leading senate supporter, Dick Durbin, cast his vote the same way Clinton did. Was he “triangulating” too? Readers aren’t invited to ask. (For more on the way senate liberals voted, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/5/07.)

Todd and Milbank described the corruption—and then, a fixer acted it out. But then, here was Matthews, cheerleading openly at the start of last night’s Hardball. This is what Broadcaster Coughlin said before Todd offered his comments:

MATTHEWS (1/2/08): Every few generations, America makes up its mind to change things. We decide we’re in a rut. We decide to get ourselves out of that rut and we take the necessary leap. That’s what we did when we were stuck in the Great Depression in 1932 and picked Franklin Roosevelt. That’s what we did in 1952, when we were stuck in Korea and picked Dwight Eisenhower, what some of us did in 1980, when we were stuck with double-digit inflation, double-digit interest rates and double-digit hostages stuck in Iran and chose Ronald Reagan.

Barack Obama on the eve of Iowa is the very name tonight, the very statement, the very being of the word "change." If I sit here tomorrow night reporting that he has won the Iowa caucuses, the world will hear it and the world will be stunned because the United States of America, despised by so many for lording it over the world these days, for dictating regional solutions by virtue of our military power, will be saying, “No more. No more of invading countries. No more of dictating a war Americana. No more our way or the highway. No more Bush doctrine. No more Bush.”

On the other side, let’s talk John McCain. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s something real here, courage to endure repeated disappointment, unexpected failure, shattering defeat. That’s what people respected in Britain’s Winston Churchill, and it’s so much who John McCain is in this second and final run for the presidency. There’s something genuine here, something selfless, even quietly grand in his campaign. If he can win enough votes in Iowa tomorrow and win in New Hampshire on Tuesday, he might be the wild card in this political Super Bowl.

What a child. Obama is Ike! And McCain is Saint Churchill! Matthews went on to pimp his standard blend of cherry-picked polls and overt, open insults. (A few minutes later, Todd spoke up.) As we told you months ago, this program has become a remarkable study in pure press corps propaganda. Todd and Milbank described the corruption. Matthews keeps acting it out.