JOSH SHOWS UP TEN YEARS LATER! Josh Marshall, throwing hay to the rubes, finally shows up—ten years later: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2008
FRONT-RUNNER FOLLIES: Omigod! Even when Saint John McCain seemed to lie, Russert failed to follow up! It seemed to us that something had changed since October 30. More to follow.
By the way: McCain and Giuliani have paraded about, saying that lower tax rates produce higher revenues. Thats like saying the earth is flat. How did you like it when Russert and Williams held their feet to the fire about that one? But then, you pretty much knew how Tim and Bri would react to such scripted deception.
JOSH SHOWS UP TEN YEARS LATER: Simply put, there are no words. Unless someone has hacked into TPM, John Marshall offered this remarkable post at 10:39 PM. Last night:
His headline: CHRIS MATTHEWS ON CATNIP
Simply put, there are no words. Its hard to find the words to explain—well, there are few words with which we can explain our reaction to that paragraph.
A bit of background: Our opinion of Josh has dropped and dropped over the past several years. In our view, he was out there in the summer of 2002, saying things he knew were untrue, and he has refused to tell you, over the years, about the real shape of your politics. (Todays post in an example.) With growing surprise, weve watched him turn himself into the Inconsequential Republican Blow-Job Police, presumably as a way to throw bones to his readers, whom he apparently takes to be dimwits. (If we may borrow from the Steinbeck: Whenever an inconsequential state senator gives someone a blow job, Josh will be there.) A few months ago, we reviewed his work from 1999 and 2000, and we were truly stunned by its brilliance—stunned because wed grown accustomed to the dumbed-down version of Josh wed been reading over the past several years.
But last nights post really does take the cake for disingenuous running of rubes. With this post, Josh sends his readers a message: Hey, you big dumb f*cking rubes!
Heres some background to Joshs post—and to our reaction:
In the past few weeks, liberals and progressives have discovered Chris Matthews. But as Josh has always known, Matthews loathsome Clinton-hating has been abundantly, crazily clear for at least the past decade—for roughly the past dozen years. (Thanks to careful leaders like Josh, we liberals catch on very slowly.) It took its most destructive form in Matthews endless trashing of Candidate Gore during Campaign 2000—something Josh knows all about. We documented this in real time—and weve continued to do so, in almost insane detail, in the years since that campaign ended. And yes, Matthews insults and lying were simply stunning during this history-changing war. One example: In July 2000, the Project for Excellence in Journalism released this startling if bungled study of the way the character issue was being covered in the spring of 2000, as the War Against Gore reached full fury (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/20/02). Candidate Bush was getting massively better treatment than Candidate Gore, the Project said it had found. And surprise! At one point, the Project went out of its way to cite the work of just one cable gong-show:
Two years later—two years too late—Josh ran onto CNN to make an accurate statement about the press corps attitudes in this campaign. I think deep down most reporters just have contempt for Al Gore. I dont even think its dislike. Its more like a disdain and contempt, he said. And this was, you know, a year-and-a-half before the  election, I think you could say this. In fact, the trashing of Gore started twenty months out; but aside from that minor book-keeping point, Joshs statement was perfectly accurate—right straight on the money. And no one played a bigger role in this remarkable story than Matthews, who had transferred his earlier, blatant Clinton-hating into his vicious Gore-trashing. And by the way: If you think Josh somehow didnt know this, we have a yellow brick road to the Bridge to Nowhere that wed be willing to sell you.
Basic history: Matthews was an overt Clinton-hater long before the War Against Gore. Like the rest of his dumb, trashy cohort, he simply transformed his Clinton-hatred into that open contempt for Gore. Josh has known this all these years—and, for reasons we cant explain, he has been massively quiet about it. (By the way: In 2004, some voters swallowed the swift-boat campaign about Kerry because they hadnt ever been told about the swift-boat campaign against Gore.)
Silent during Campaign 2000. And silent about Campaign 2000 in the critical years which followed. Silent about Matthews gender-based trashing of Hillary Clinton during 2007. Why, Josh even kept quiet as he live-blogged the October 30 debate, as Russert and Williams pig-piled on Clinton, completely transforming the Dem White House race; somehow, he just failed to see it. And now, because its finally safe and completely conventional, Josh is handing his readers this snark. Of Matthews Clinton-hatred, he now says this: I know you thought he'd given it full rein before—failing to tell them how long ago he himself could have warned them about it.
We cant tell you why Josh has played this game, but his persistent failure to lead has been deep and consequential. But then, Josh has hardly been alone in this gut-bucket conduct. A very long line of housebroken good liberals have kept their delicate traps tightly shut about the mainstream press corps conduct over the past dozen years. Theyve done whats safe; theyve protected their careers. And they gave you the dead of Iraq.
This morning, E. J. Dionne—a higher-placed version of Josh—shows what we mean by that.
Omigod! Finally, E. J. is ready to tattle about the press corps irrational Clinton hatred! But omigod! What cowards they be! He does so only as a throw-away in a safe and conventional column about the Clintons vile conduct. After typing some perfect conventional wisdom, E. J. the Brave hands you this:
We offer a chunk of E. J.s piece—but its the highlighted section we ask you to ponder. As we do, well suggest that you note the Clintonian way E. J. brings down his rough judgment.
Finally! Ten to fifteen years later, E. J. finally notices something about certain parts of the media. Omigod! Fifteen years after the Whitewater hoaxings; fifteen years after the murder charges (later rerun on Hardball, of course); eight years after the war against Clintons vice president (the one whos now honored all over the world); after a full year of rank gender-trashing; E. J. finally notes a few facts about certain parts of his cohort! Finally! The press is tougher on Hillary Clinton than it is on Barack Obama, he finally tells us; the old, irrational Clinton hatred is alive and well in certain parts of the media. But isnt it just like a gut-bucket coward? Absent-mindedly, E. J. completely forgets to tell readers which parts of the media he is discussing! He doesnt tell them he means Chris Matthews (on whose show hes a regular guest); he doesnt say that he means Maureen Dowd—or perhaps the sneering, simpering Kornblut, of his very own newspaper. Like so many others before him, E. J. simply forgets to say who hes actually talking about! And many readers will therefore think this: Surely, he must mean Fox—and Rush! He must mean the right-wing press corps.
Irrational Clinton-hatred? It had been locked into place by the mid-1990s—but just like Josh, E. J. watched his cohort go after Gore, and he chose to keep quiet. And just like E. J., Josh has kept his mouth shut about this matter right up to this dying day. And now, in historys most disingenuous paragraph, he runs to catch up with conventional wisdom. Let us marvel, once again, at how disingenuous a paragraph can be:
Thats cute. Yes, I know, Josh tells his readers. In fact, Josh has known for a very long time; he just didnt choose to tell. Years of careful silence are masked by the gentlemans statement.
Well suspend further operation today so you can gaze on the way your world works. Have you ever seen a paragraph so fake? In which a leader ran so hard to get in front of his restive admirers?
AN IMPORTANT POINT TO CONSIDER: None of what follows is meant as a criticism of Clinton or Obama; this is about the work of the press corps. But Dionne cites a second important fact, even as he forgets to say who hes talking about. Focus again on this statement: Hillary Clinton gets hit harder when she criticizes Obama than Obama does when he goes after her.
Huh! No, really—thats intriguing! What could he mean by that?
This isnt a criticism of Obama or Clinton; this is a comment about the way the press corps rations your information. Wed planned to explore that very matter today—but we think Josh deserves special attention. Well plan now to start there on Monday.
To what might E. J.s statement refer? Well enthusiastically support Obama or Clinton. But if you want to know how the world works, we think E. J. has made an important point—a point that deserves explication.
NOW ALLEGEDLY COMING MONDAY: As Paula Poundstone used to say: Apparently, we cant have nice things! Now coming Monday: A special Monday edition of Philosophy Fridays. Next Friday: A first brush with greatness.