THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2003
DONT STEAL THIS BOOK: We got lucky last weekend in one major way. Eric Altermans book, What Liberal Media?, arrived here in the Saturday mail, one day ahead of the pile-driving snow. For that reason, we can now say it without hesitation: Its your duty as citizens to buy this book, read it, then read it again. The book isnt perfectno book isand well limn it in more detail next week. But Altermans book must be bought and read. Please purchasethen studythis book.
WHEN HARDBALL MET SALLY: Do you want to know how badly Chris Matthews deceived Joan Walsh in last Fridays Salon? We refer to the following part of the interview, where Matthews pimps his brilliant insights at the time of Bush-Gore Debate 3. (The ellipses appear in Salons text. Do they signal deletions? We arent really sure.):
WALSH: [I]s the media liberal?In this exchange, Matthews seems to say that the coverage of Bush-Gore Debate 3 shows you how liberal the media is. Matthews says he knew that Bush won the debate, but that the liberal media chose Gore as the winner. He cites William Safire as one example. And he makes another claimthe people picked Bush as the winner, he says. In his final statement, Matthews makes an utterly ludicrous claim He seems to say that the media all liked Gore more than Bush.
As usual, Matthews was making it up. Lets take a look at the record.
Did Matthews know Bush won Debate 3 (held on 10/17/00)? If so, he kept the news to himself. Here he was the following evening, on CNBCs Business Center:
RON INSANA (10/18/00): Chris Matthews talks to us tonight as he does just about every night as we approach Election Day Do you think the debate last night changed anyones mind either in the [electoral] college or out there amongst average citizens?Thats an odd way to say that Bush won the debate. Indeed, Matthews seemed unimpressed with Bushs performance. He told Insana that Gore had been over-aggressive, then gave this review of Bush:
MATTHEWS: I also have to counter that with the fact that I thought that, that Governor Bush was lethargic last night, that he lost, he seemed to run out of gas about 45 minutes into the debate, as he did in the first debate. He seems to do better when hes sitting down. He stays awake longer. I mean, theres a real choice here between an over-aggressive guy and an under-aggressive, passive guy. And you have to decide which personality you like.Which personality would voters like? Matthews told Insana that he didnt know:
MATTHEWS: [T]here are voters and there are scorekeepers. The scorekeepers are saying Gore won last night. The voters, I think, may still be drawn to the personality of George W. Bush more than they are to Al Gores. The next three days or four days will tell us who won this debate. We dont know yet.We dont know who won the debate, Matthews said. And he expressed this general view on other programs. Earlier, the talker had spoken with Matt Lauer on Today. And hed called the debate a draw:
MATTHEWS (Today, 10/18/00): I think that people are going to see Gore as a Clinton guy, as a government man, as the incumbent, and theyre going to look at the other guy as not the most trained guy to be president, and probably not the perfect candidate. But they do want a changeand I think thats what its aboutdo you want to hold the course or change? And I think its about 50-50, thats why it was a draw last night. The American people are going to have to make the decision. And its about 10 percent of the people who are going to make that decision, including people like me, that havent made up their mind yet.Did Matthews think that Bush had won? On that evenings Hardball, he once again seemed to say that he didnt know who had won the debate. After citing poll results from debate-watchers, he said this: So likability is going for Bush; articulation is going for the vice president, Al Gore. Well have to see which way it all works its way out in the next couple of days in the real head-to-head polling.
And guess what? Two days later, some changes had occurred in that head-to-head polling. Once again, Matthews appeared on Business Center. And Insana noted that two major polls had shifted toward Gore post-debate:
MATTHEWS (10/20/00): Well, youve got to decide which poll youre going to believe I think this race could be, could be moving towards Bush; it could be moving towards Gore. I think the debate had no impact. Thats my hunch.I knew Bush won, Matthews told Walsh. As usual, he was making it up.
TOMORROW! PART 2! GRAND FINALE: Matthews was wrong about everything else. But Joan Walsh was just playing softball.
MATTHEWS (10/20/00): Thanks a lot, Ron. Its good to be on. Were in San Francisco right now.Oops! Gore won California by 1.3 million votes (12 percent). Matthews had no idea how the race was movingand he didnt tell Insana, or anyone else, that George Bush had won the debate.
How will we pick out failing schools? Try to believe this buffoonery:
DILLON: The law says that every racial and demographic group in each school must score higher on standardized tests every year; if any group fails to advance for two consecutive years, a school is labeled needing improvement. A school that does not shed the label by improving students scores may have its principal and teachers replaced and face other sanctions, including closing.Thats a stupid idea on its face, but this next part really does seal the deal:
DILLON: [The laws] formula will generate some staggering statistics, because it doesnt distinguish between schools that fall short by just a little and those that miss the mark by a mile, said Michael E. Ward, president of the Council of Chief State School Officers and the superintendent of schools in North Carolina, where officials estimate that at least 60 percent of schools will be designated under the law as needing improvement. I support the legislation, but I dont want it to collapse of its own negative weight.Even in the benighted world of public ed, its hard to believe that public officials can possibly be this stupid. As everyone knows, variation is normal in educational testing. If School As fifth graders are tested this weekthen given an equivalent test next weektheir group score may well be somewhat lower (or higher). That would not necessarily mean that any negative (or positive) instruction had intervened. Beyond that, School A may have a stronger group of fifth graders this year, and a weaker group of fifth graders next year. If next years score is lower than this years, it doesnt mean that School A is providing weaker instruction.
Just how stupid is this law? In recent weeks the top education officials of many states have complained that the federal regulations will eventually lead to labeling a majority of Americas 90,000 public schools as failing, Dillon writes. He describes Bush praising a school for its obvious excellencewith the school tagged as failing three months later. And please understand one further problem. Schools will cheat their keisters off to avoid this laws reach. The law will fail to ID our troubled schools. But it will further compromise our public school testing.
Meanwhile, whats the frightening part of this story? Public ed was supposed to be the area where Candidate Bush was quite sharp. According to all the relevant propaganda, hed had all kinds of brilliant success in Texas, where hed engaged in caring, hands-on work. But the same brilliant man who brought us this law will soon be leading us into a war. And foreign affairs, you may recall, is the area where Bush was judged weakest.
For a further report on the effects of this law, you know what to do. Just click here.