THE TIMES, IT MAY BE A CHANGIN! As their own love affair sadly dies, they picture their love with another: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 29, 2008
STILL TANGLED: Our machine is still tangled up a bit. So well postpone Philosopher Friday. Next week, we plan to review the Wilt Chamberlain parable. Our larger question will remain: With philosophical giants striding the earth, why is our discourse inane?
Meanwhile, well again suggest that you see 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days. We struggled with a friend this week, trying to figure how youd explain what occurs in this movie. For us, this thought has come into mind: Unlike any other, this film somehow enters a world, in the sense of the term in this poem.
To each his world is private,Not people die but worlds die in them. That link gives only part of the poem. But its the part we have in mind.
Special report: Sexing up McCain!
READ EACH SEXY INSTALLMENT: Has the New York Times cooled on a great love affair? Be sure to read each sexy installment:
Why has the New York Times flipped on McCain? Today, we review one more recast tale—then engage in a brief speculation:
PART 4—THE TIMES, IT MAY BE A-CHANGIN: For many years, Saint John McCain has long been the mainstream press corps main darling. So how will the press corps treat him now, as presumptive GOP nominee?
In last Thursdays front-page report, the New York Times ardor seemed to be fading. Working with a cast of thousands, Jim Rutenberg gave major play to an alleged sexy-time romance—a romance for which he had little real evidence. And not only that: The Times treatment of McCain and the Keating Five seemed to have been reinvented—and substantially darkened in the process. Meanwhile, Rutenberg put a negative cast on a McCain fund-raiser from Campaign 2000—an event which had been cheerfully portrayed by the Times in real time, when the press corps love was still young.
And then, theres the matter of the Paxson letters—the letters McCain sent the FCC on behalf of a campaign contributor. Vicki Iseman, McCains alleged sexy-time girl friend, was a lobbyist for Paxson Communications. In 1999, McCain sent two letters to the FCC about a matter involving this firm. Rutenberg ended his piece with this story—a matter his paper had widely reported in January 2000. Wed have to say he darkened his newspapers past reporting about this matter too:
Rutenberg ended his lengthy report this way—almost suggesting that McCain had copped to a plea of hypocrisy. In this way, reporters tend to signal their own brilliant outlook at the end of a news report.
Rutenbergs account is accurate as far as it goes—but he omits two or three basic parts of the story. He makes it sound like Paxson (and therefore McCain) were impatiently pushing the FCC for a swift decision. In the process, he fails to note two basic facts—facts which appeared in paragraph 5 of the original Times report. Stephen Labaton was fairly tough in his real-time report; to our taste, he tipped the scales against McCain just a tad. But he did include two basic facts:
Was Paxson impatient for FCC approval, as Rutenberg said last week? Did he want a swift decision? In fact, by the time McCain wrote his letters, a swift decision was no longer possible; the FCC had delayed its decision for more than two years, a basic fact which was widely explained when this matter was first reported. Meanwhile, Rutenberg makes it sound like McCain came up with this explanation years later, recalling the episode in his memoir. Wed have to call that grossly misleading. In fact, McCain discussed this two-year delay at great length in real time, as Labaton noted. In this passage, he recorded McCains remarks at a New Hampshire town meeting:
This story changes if you tell readers that a decision had been pending for over two years—and if you tell readers, as Labaton did, that McCains letters did not tell the commissioners how to vote on the license transfers, only that they should get off their keisters and make a decision. Both points were stressed by reporters in real time—but were AWOL from Rutenbergs report.
For our money, Labatons tipped the scales a bit when he reported this tale in real time. But Rutenberg, in last weeks report, left out two basic parts of the story—and he seemed to go out of his way to imply that McCain only came up with his explanation years later, in his memoir. Beyond that, he mentioned what the FCC chairman said about McCain—but not what McCain had been saying about the FCC chairman. McCain had been feuding with the agency, calling it the worlds worst bureaucracy. Thats a bit of context that Labaton included—and Rutenberg disappeared.
Example? One day after Labatons report, Alison Mitchell wrote a cheerful profile of McCains reaction to the Paxson flap. Perhaps Not the Best of Days, but McCain Wears a Smile, the cheerful headline said. And Mitchell kept on the sunny side as she reviewed a saints conduct. John McCain smiled his way through his campaign's first crisis, she began—and the good cheer continued in paragraph two. (McCain was right back in his accustomed seat in his Straight Talk Express campaign bus this morning, she wrote, bantering with reporters and showing off his thick-soled lucky shoes.) Two days later, James Risen gushed about McCains remarkable display of openness:
Theres no perfect way to report this story. But in last weeks front-pager, Rutenberg left out several key points—key points which cut in McCains favor. As in other parts of his sexy time tale, the Times seemed to have its thumb on the scale—in a way which tilted against an old lover. But then, the world is like that sometimes: While one romance was being pimped, another romance seemed to die.
Rutenbergs story began with romance—a romance for which he had no real evidence. But in almost every part of this front-page report, Rutenbergs reporting tilted away from prior Times models—tilts which cut against McCain. This is only one report, of course—albeit a very high-profile front-pager. But if the Times has cooled on a lengthy romance, inquiring minds will certainly wonder: Why has the newspaper turned on the man it once favored—the man it once chose to exonerate?
About that, we can only speculate. (Other elements at the Times may soon tilt in other directions.) But we wonder: If some personnel at the New York Times might have cooled on foreign wars—might have decided that their former love is not the right man for this season. Is that why this report tilted so much? That would be one speculation—although we have no way of knowing.
Some liberals have gloomily been predicting that the press corps will swing against Obama—as soon as he has been used to dispatch the one they truly loath, Vile Clinton. In some precincts, that may well occur; weve been troubled by murmurs this week on Tucker Carlsons cable program, for example (see below).
But an Obama-McCain campaign may put some journalists under real stress. Its clear that the press corps loathes Clinton so much that they will never allow her to prosper; if she wins the Dem nomination, theyll hound her to the gates of hell, as they did with her husbands vile consort, Al Gore. But some in the press corps probably do like Obama—and some may fear McCains dogs of war.
Yep! A certain solon looked good eight years ago, when the talkin was straight and the donuts were gooey. During that campaign, McCain in effect ran a Vietnam fantasy camp; boomer-aged male journos crowded aboard, openly saying how guilty they felt that they werent locked up in the seventies too. You laugh and laugh, Richard Cohen (and a cast of thousands) said, describing the fun—and the vastly unprofessional conduct—on the solons big white bus. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 2/25/00. Prepare for some real embarrassment.)
War was just a game back then, when McCain was sharing his wonderful jokes about his tipsy stripper ex-girl friends. But Rutenberg makes us think a wild thought—the New York Times, it may be a-changin! Who knows? Today, the prospect of war with Iran may be costing a sanctified solon some votes from his leading constituents! Like us, youve seen it a thousand times: As their own rapt love affair dies, they picture their love with another.
ON THE OTHER HAND, HERES AN OLD STORY: On the other hand, weve heard a troubling line of thought on Tucker this week. Jeanne Cummings voiced it on Wednesday night. Trust us—these people actually are this short on basic professionalism:
Carlson had said the same thing several times this week, at one point citing this Politico story. Uh-oh! The press corps is annoyed with Obama because he doesnt spend time with them.
In the fall of 1999, Candidate Bradley could do no wrong in the eyes of the mainstream press corps. (To see a thrill run up Chris Matthews leg, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/13/07. Cover the eyes of the kids.) But uh-oh! By mid-January 2000, Saint McCain had jumped up in Republican polls—and the press corps ardor for Bradley was plainly cooling. The Post and the Times both wrote front-page stories claiming, with little real evidence, that Iowa voters were being turned of by Bradleys gruff, aloof manner. We were puzzled by these vague reports—until we heard Brit Hume and Morton Kondracke explain the actual problem (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/21/00). See if this doesnt sound like Cummings complaint about Obama: http://www.dailyhowler.com/h012100_1.shtml
Mara Liasson quickly agreed—Bradley hadn't been playing well with the other children:
Lets translate: Bradley wasn't telling great jokes to the scribes on his bus, so the scribes had been turning against him! Surely, youre thinking that Mara was dreaming. But Jonathan Alter said the same thing the next morning, talking to Imus. Good grief! Imus had mentioned the change in Bradleys coverage, saying that Margaret Carlson thinks it's because Bradley has gotten snippy with the press:
Later, Alter said it's "pathetically self-indulgent for the press to judge a candidate by the way he relates to us. I mean, I guess we do that with McCain."
Lets review. McCain told them jokes, gave them free donuts and even claimed that he thought they were smart. (Jack Kennedy used to do the same thing.) Bradley didnt, which made him aloof. Its hard to believe that they function this way. But then, theres the burden of recent press history—the history career liberals dont discuss.
Did you hear what Matt Drudge said about Clinton? Thats what your toilet-trained leaders discuss—and it may cost you again.