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Daily Howler: Margaret Carlson visited Tucker--and gave him the dope on the press
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BOX OF ROCKS, TOGETHER AGAIN! Margaret Carlson visited Tucker—and gave him the dope on the press: // link // print // previous // next //

TOMORROW—PHILOSOPHER FRIDAYS: If we hadn’t seen it ourselves, we wouldn’t believe it could have happened. But it’s true! In one short week, “Philosopher Fridays” has become the most controversial feature anywhere on the Net! Defenders of the current order have e-mailed us their urgent complaints. Tomorrow, we’ll look at what they have said. Next Friday: Our first “brush with greatness!”

When will our brightest “logicians” step forward to help a nation which so badly needs them? From their aeries, their defenders complain. Tomorrow, we return to the fight!

CLEARLY, MCCAIN’S TIME HAS COME: You just know they’ll hammer McCain tonight! You know—tonight? At the Republican debate? The debate which will be moderated by Tim Russert and his “trophy wife,” Brian Williams?

You see, this is the first time in this campaign when either one of these famous “Lost Boys” has hosted a Republican forum. Up till now, they’ve sent Chris Matthew to do such events—and Chris has pandered, smooched and fawned, praising the wonderful Reagan legacy and asking all the GOP hopefuls if they’ll amend the constitution to let Saint Arnold seek the White House. Meanwhile, Tim and Brian have taken turns kicking the Dems all over the lot. Indeed, the campaign’s first question came from Brian—and it included an instant reference to Harry Reid’s troubling “treason.”

That’s the way the debate season started—with Jack Welch’s Big Dumb Storebought citing Democratic “treason.”

And uh-oh! On October 30, Tim and Bri-Bri spent two hours kicking Hillary Clinton around. (Edwards and Obama embarrassed themselves, rushing to take full advantage.) Afterwards, all the pundits rushed to tell us why these two great men had done this; why, we always do this to the front-runner, a long string of big pundits said! And that’s good! Because John McCain is now the front-runner. And Tim and Brian will swing into action at tonight’s big debate.

Of course, back in October, we told you the truth, even as big pundits lied in your faces. In fact, no moderators have ever behaved the way Tim and his better half did that night; no front-runner has ever been mauled the way Clinton was mauled for two hours that evening. In fact, there has never been a presidential debate which even dimly resembled that gang-bang. And tonight, we’ll all get the chance to see that what we told you was right.

Because guess what? Timmy and Brian will not behave the way they behaved on October 30. In fact, nothing they do will dimly resemble the conduct they put forth that evening. Saint John McCain will not be treated the way the Dem front-runner was treated. Nothing will even dimly resemble the event we saw back in the fall.

You see, the pundit corps simply lied in your faces after that stunning October debate—and the whole liberal-Dem world just sat there and took it, as we have done for the past sixteen years. Tim and his trophy wife mauled our front-runner—and our biggest and bravest “leaders” pretended that they hadn’t noticed.
Yep! Leahy and Daschle are brave boys today—but they just sat there and took it last fall. But then, they’ve played this game for years. They just sat there and took it during the 90s—and they kept their traps shut during Campaign 2000. These boys are very brave today—because this time, Tim and Brian happen to be on their side.

Tonight, Saint McCain’s treatment will be fair-to-fawning. And guess what, readers? He’s the front-runner! Remember what they told you back then when you see this happen tonight. And remember the way your fiery “leaders” agree to just sit there and take it.

Also, your brave liberal “bloggers.”

BOX OF ROCKS, TOGETHER AGAIN: During Campaign 2000, they met each week, matched up on CNN’s Inside Politics. They were often dumb as a big box of rocks; we’ll give an example below. And so, the analysts leaned forward, highly expectant, when Margaret Carlson stopped by yesterday’s Tucker, together again with her old pundit partner. As you’ll see, they weren’t disappointed by the hijinks which ensued.

Yep! Carlson and Carlson, together again, descended to their standard fare. But in the process, Margaret Carlson gave us a valuable look at the current attitude of the insider “press corps.” What follows here has nothing to do with Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Instead, the comments which follow concern the “press corps.” They give you a framework for understanding the way this campaign has been covered.

Here’s what happened when Margaret Carlson was asked about the press corps’ outlook. Her comments deserve to be pondered:

TUCKER CARLSON (1/23/08): What percentage, would you say, of liberal—I hate to use the term, but “opinion makers,” columnists, reporters, people who, you know, throw their opinions out there and try to convince others—are for Obama and mad at the Clintons?

MARGARET CARLSON: Well, I’ve never seen tough, hard, mean press people be so taken at an event as they are at an Obama event when he gives one of his really good speeches. I mean, you can`t help but be—have you been at them?

TUCKER CARLSON: Yes, I have. Yes.

MARGARET CARLSON: And how do you feel?

TUCKER CARLSON: I feel like, as someone who’s not going to vote for him because I don’t agree with him on the issues, I feel impressed by his inclusive tone. I don’t think he hates me for my ideas and I appreciate that.

MARGARET CARLSON: Yes. And he didn’t hate Reagan.


MARGARET CARLSON: By the way, the Clintons hate him for not hating Reagan.

TUCKER CARLSON: No. No. No. Margaret Carlson of Bloomberg, thank you for coming on. I appreciate it.

Much of that is perfectly silly. (Presumably, Tucker also appreciates the fact that Obama won’t castrate him—a fear he’s expressed several times about Clinton.) But Margaret Carlson’s description helps us understand the way the Democratic campaign has been covered. She showed no sign of understanding that her remarks might seem a bit “unprofessional”—her description of a swooning press corps, or the tone of voice with which she asked Tucker how he feels at Obama events. During Campaign 2000, pundits often spoke unapologetically about their cohort’s “swoon” for McCain. Yesterday, Margaret described another such “swoon.” You can’t help but be taken, she inanely—but revealingly—said.

If you want to understand the shape of the current Dem campaign, we’ll suggest you consider those remarks.

MARGARET’S HARD-CORE OBSESSION: Needless to say, Margaret Carlson had been invited on the program to voice the Insider Press Corps’ views about how vile the Clintons are. Her racial “analysis” was so sad and inane that we won’t stoop to reproduce it (more on this topic tomorrow). But here’s a clip from her latest column—a clip which helps us recall the type of nasty sex-obsession which has long driven this cohort:

MARGARET CARLSON (1/23/08): With Bill [Clinton]'s promise to go “church to church” in South Carolina, it seems obvious that the campaign, if not the potential presidency to come, is two for the price of one. The candidate herself left South Carolina to her husband, the “first black president,” for three days while she headed to California to campaign.

It just might help. He gets above-the-fold coverage for his attacks on Obama and her forays into being the first black first lady haven't played that well. Her full-throated, thickly accented rendition of the old spiritual, “I Don't Feel No Ways Tired,” at a Selma, Alabama, church last March was widely imitated—and not as the highest form of flattery.

As for her husband, who would have thought that the silver-haired philanthropist would do more damage as a politician than a playboy? The campaign had discounted the trouble a bimbo eruption could cause. Anything less than sex under the nose of his daughter and wife, and any less proof of it than a stained blue dress, would be overlooked by a public beyond being shocked. A would-be Gennifer Flowers would have to come armed with DNA results or be dismissed as a deluded stalker imagining an affair with Clinton.

“Anything less than sex under the nose of his daughter!” These are truly nasty people—as they were in 1998, as they were for two years after that as they punished Clinton’s successor, sending George Bush to the White House. The obsession expressed during that campaign have put the dead of Iraq in the ground. But this obsession will never change—their hatreds will only get harder.

Today, they can’t help feeling it at Obama’s events. And just as in Campaign 2000, it does show up in their “coverage.”

None of this has much to do with either Clinton or Obama. This is about the insider press—about the way they cover campaigns, including Clinton/Obama.

CARLSON AND CARLSON ON HEALTH CARE, BACK THEN: During Campaign 2000, they met each week, matched up on CNN’s Inside Politics. Their resemblance to a box of rocks was clear, even back then. On the afternoon of Gore and Bradley’s first debate, for example, they assured their baffled host, Judy Woodruff, that the evening’s event would be all about style—that substance just wouldn’t matter. They didn’t care about anything real, much as Bill Clinton just said.

What would that evening’s event be like? It was going to be “the debate of the dull and duller,” Margaret Carlson said, following up on Tucker’s assertion that Bill Bradley is “a person who really sort of comes off like he’s been smoking a lot of pot…Have you seen him? Oh, it’s unbelievable!” (“I know,” a giggling Margaret Carlson quickly replied.) But Carlson and Carlson felt pretty sure that the dullness that evening would favor Bradley, because “Bradley is more comfortable being dull” (Margaret). “And the idea tonight is to connect with people, and the person who is more comfortable is the one who is going to connect.”

To her credit, Woodruff seemed puzzled by these fatuous comments. “So you’re saying that we’re not really talking issues here,” she asked, in apparent surprise. “It’s going to be: How are they relaxed? How are they comfortable?” And sure enough! Carlson and Carlson quickly agreed that the forum was all about style. “There’s no time in these formats to really marshal an argument,” Margaret Carlson said. At this point, Tucker Carlson offered a view that surely deserves special Hall of Fame status. His sheer stupidity helps define the shape of the modern “press:”

TUCKER CARLSON (10/27/99): Well, sure, and if you want—I mean, if you want a detailed examination of their positions, the candidates’ positions on things, you can read a newspaper, you can call the campaign and get one. I mean, people who are really interested in what the candidates think on specific issues probably already know by now. I think really it’s absolutely the bottom line is appearance and form and temperament, etc. Those are the things that really count.

Those are the things that really count! After all: According to the palace pool boy, if you want to know what a candidate thinks about health care, you can call the campaign and find out!

What a load off the press corps’ mind that pronouncement must have been! Journalists were free to talk about “style” because substance could be gleaned on the phone! And in a truly improbable statement, Carlson said that most people who care about candidates’ stands “probably already know by now.” In fact, according to reliable polling, barely half of American adults could even name a White House candidate at the time Carlson made this comment. Simply put, Tucker Carlson was so out of touch he may as well have just phoned in from Mars.

In fact, that night’s Gore-Bradley debate was all about substance; several dozen New Hampshire residents asked a string of detailed questions, dealing with a wide array of serious policy matters. Most strikingly, the two hopefuls debated their health care plans, starting a three-month policy dispute the press corps would endlessly bungle. But readers! How did Margaret score the event, three nights later on Capital Gang? Here’s a taste of the box-of-rocks style which was already driving your “press corps:”

MARGARET CARLSON (10/30/99): At this stage, people are liking Bradley not being negative and not being aggressive and his way, which is to channel the insouciance of Dean Martin and the iciness of John Malkovich is appealing. [Crosstalk] That's very appealing right now and Bradley seems to be saying, “I will let you make me president, it is my moment and I will let you do it.” And the Eddie Haskel Energizer Bunny of Al Gore is not as appealing at the moment. Maybe in September when people are really concentrating, the sweaty guy who wants it more might work in those debates.

“The sweaty guy” was Gore—and yes, that’s what she actually said. By the way, polls had already shown that New Hampshire Dems who watched the debate had scored the event a draw. Carlson said they were finding Bradley more appealing for an obvious reason—at that time, her press corps was pimping hard for Bradley, as they were swooning for Saint John McCain, as they now “can’t help feeling it” when they see Obama.

Margaret never said a word about the two men’s health care debate. She did manage to criticize Gore for allegedly trying to be like Bill Clinton—for example, when he got off his chair:

MARGARET CARLSON: You know, I would say he [Gore] looked over—he looked over-anxious. You know, one of the things is, because they don't differ on issues, as you say, that we are spending a lot of time talking about the shade of blue in their shirts and, you know, like there's the Center for the Study of Budget Priorities and there's now schools of thought studying boredom and stiffness and who is going to cope with it better. And in this forum, Bradley comes across as more authentic than Gore does because he's been told to adopt some of the Clinton personality tics—getting off the stool, asking for the name and that's the last, that worked in the last election.

Let us translate: According to Carlson (and a long string of magpies), Gore was trying to seem like Clinton—for example, when he got off his stool to answer citizens’ questions! (And when he addressed these people by name!) Yes, many others made these scripted remarks. Nowhere can humans be this dumb—except in the insider press corps.

One year later, Margaret Carlson would tell Don Imus why the press was trashing Gore for trivial errors—and ignoring Bush’s large lies about policy. It was a matter of “fun,” “entertainment” and “sport,” the vacuous sex-addict said.

TUCKER CARLSON ON HEALTH CARE, RIGHT NOW: They didn’t give a fig about health care back then. And they don’t give a fig about it now, as Tucker Carlson showed on yesterday’s program. How dumb is this guy when it comes to the health care debate? First, he asserted that Clinton has said that she can provide universal health care without added cost. That is flatly untrue, of course—but Hilary Rosen and Bob Franken seemed unable to say so. And then, Tucker offered the comments which follow. Gaze on the soul of the foppish guard which lives inside that palace:

CARLSON (1/23/08): If [Clinton] can do that for no cost, she’s magic. Honestly, she’s magic.

FRANKEN: Quite frankly, just about any company that has a bloated bureaucracy can often times cut into that bureaucracy and still maintain the same kinds of services. Whether she can do that or not, the bureaucracy has defied our entire history. But that’s what she’s suggesting she would do.

CARLSON: Boy, I want to be slimmer and younger. If she has those magical powers—

ROSEN: You wouldn’t actually argue that somebody has tried to do this and failed, would you?

CARLSON: I would say you can’t point to a single socialized— [crosstalk] Name a country with socialized medicine that delivers it more efficiently, cheaper and more effectively than ours?

ROSEN: We’re not talking about—

CARLSON: Of course we are.

ROSEN: No, we’re not. We’re talking about helping employers in a more realistic way provide health care.

FRANKEN: This country delivers good medical care. The problem is, in this country, it’s not delivered to everybody. How many people can’t count on good medical care? Forty-seven million.

CARLSON: I would love to see a model society. We could point to Sweden. Do they do better? Canada? UK? No, no, no.

We’re out of time.

They’re out of time—and we’re out of luck. Absurdly, Carlson said there is no country which provides health care more cheaply than we do. Neither Franken nor Rosen challenged this comment—a remark which is box-of-rocks stupid.

By the way, is any press script dumber than this one: “This country delivers good medical care. The problem is, in this country, it’s not delivered to everybody.” Jesus God, that’s just super-dumb. But every one of them says it!

But then, these people don’t care about health care, since they and their families already have it. They care about “fun, entertainment and sport”—and they’ve long cared about hating the Clintons. They pimped for Bradley for that reason—and today, they can’t help “feeling it” when they go to Obama’s events. (This is not a comment about Obama. It’s a comment about the press corps.)

That said, Margaret Carlson provided a service when she described her cohort’s feelings. Just as it was during Campaign 2000, so it is during Campaign 08. They hate the Clintons—and don’t care about you. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the way this syndrome has helped shape this year’s race.