WHAT WEVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT! Walker has lost, a cable host said. The very next day, he acted: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2011
Three cheers for Digbys down payment: Someone named Parton shot and scored with this op-ed piece in The Hill, a newspaper which is widely read by Capitol Hill insiders.
That someone, of course, is Digby (click here). In large part, her piece concerned the Millionaire Pundit Values which have helped make a joke of our national discourse for a good many years.
I'm wondering how Digby ever got this past the editors at The Hill, one commenter sensibly wondered.
We think its great that Hill readers were exposed to this biting presentation. That said, we also commented on one pointon Digbys claim that Americans almost certainly have no trouble understanding that anyone who makes a living on national television is nowhere near average in income.
Do voters really understand the wealth of the press corps opinion leaders? Beyond that, do they understand the circles in which these duckies swim? We doubt itin part, because the press corps works so hard to keep such matters obscured.
The obvious first example:
The late Tim Russert always sold himself as a humble, working-class kid from Buffalo. This helped the public learn to admire himand to trust his factually-bungled crusade about the need to rein in Social Security. Very few voters ever heard that Russert summered in a $6 million home on Nantucketthat he hung out there with the NBC gang, including near-billionaire Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric and the mentor who built Russerts career. Welch is, and was, a conservative Republicanand he was Russerts island pal, along with the rest of the NBC island gang.
Did voters know these things? Of course not! They didnt know because the press corps itself would never tell themand because career liberal journalists sell their souls to further their own careers.
The story of the Jack Welch crowd is an amazing journalistic nugget. Its very funny and very revealing; almost certainly, it helps explain how George W. Bush ended up in the White House. But so what! This striking story has never been toldnot even in liberal journals.
Over the past dozen years, the rules of engagement were fairly clear. Liberals were allowed to rail about Rupert Murdoch. The Jack Welch thread disappeared.
That said, the Nantucket gang is still out and aboutalong with the players who always agreed to look the other way.
Just this week, weve watched career liberals help the repurposed Chris Matthews batter Newt Gingrich around. (Some of his rants have been right on the mark. Yesterday, he staged a rant which was badly inaccurate, in classic Matthews fashion.) Unfortunately, Matthews was part of the Jack Welch island crowd too, though his cottage only cost $4.4 million. And how odd! For two solid years, when Welch was the boss, he was savage and profoundly dishonest in his attacks against Candidate Gore.
As you may recall, Candidate Gore (a man-like object) didnt have his gender straight. Matthews was endlessly troubled by this protean new person, this new man-woman, whatever the hell hes trying to become. The most remarkable insults rained down for two years, and then well beyond. (Weeks after 9/11: He doesnt look like one of us, Matthews told Don Imus. He doesnt seem very American, even.)
With apologies, Joan Walsh never said boo about any of that. David Corn, whom the analysts love, simply sat and stared. (Today, of course, Matthews hates all that talk about people who dont seem very Americanas he always should have.)
Today, Walsh and Corn honored cable players; theyre invited to go after Gingrich with the repurposed Matthews, who is no longer owned by Jack Welch. Then too: How many Iraqis lie in the ground? How many American soldiers?
Matthews savaged Gore for two years, in the ugliest possible ways. Why did so few liberals speak? Do we still have to ask?
In one way, Millionaire Pundit Values have become outmoded. Increasingly, our discourse is run by billionaires, a point well discuss next week. (The Kochs are just one part of this story.) That said, Digbys piece was a wonderful start to an ugly, much larger storythough many people have agreed that we mustnt tell that tale.
Many people continue to surprise their commenters, playing appropriate Village games. The pay-offs are extremely largemuch larger than folk have been told.
WHAT WEVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT (permalink): Tuesday evening, Rachel Maddow thought she knew what was what.
Governor Walkers office had released some e-mails. They seemed to show that Walker was willing to compromise on his plan to slash collective bargaining rights for many Wisconsin state workers. All over MSNBC, the various massively overpaid hosts didnt seem to see that this story didnt exactly make sense. In fairness, it wasnt just Maddow.
All over MSNBC, overpaid hosts misconstrued these eventsbut no one was more certain than Maddow, the Sister Aimee Semple McPherson of liberal TV hosts. As she frequently does, she went on the air and stated her view with absolute certainty and self-assurance. We liberals got plates of warm comfort food.
And of course, Maddow was wrong:
Embarrassing, but typical. According to Maddow, Governor Walker had started to crumblehad started to do what he said he would never do. She played tape of Walker, several weeks earlier, saying there was no room to negotiate on the attempt to balance the budget. Then, she continued her dance:
Can we just take a second to let that sink in for a moment? Maddow theatrically asked. Then, she paused to let it sink in, making a cooing noise, theatrically staring to the heavens and letting us ponder her greatness. (To watch this full segment, click here.)
Wisconsin, you won, Maddow exulted. (By Wisconsin, she meant those residents who shared her position.) With great certainty, she told viewers that Walker had started to crumblethat a bunch of e-mails show[ed] him caving on key parts of his big union-stripping bill.
He lost this one, Maddow announced. Twenty hours later, Walker stripped Wisconsin public unions of bargaining rights, pushing his bill through the state senate by a vote of 18 to one.
Question: Had Walker really started to crumble? Did those e-mails really show him caving on key parts of his big union-stripping bill? Were his offers begrudgingly e-mailed? Like Maddow, we have no idea if Walker ever contemplated making concessionsbut we did know there was something odd about the release of those e-mails. Tuesday night, all over MSNBC, overpaid hosts gave the impression that Walker had been forced to release those e-mailsthat he surely wouldnt want you to see their very embarrassing contents. No one seemed to recognize how unlikely that story washow unlikely it is that a governor can be forced to release such e-mails in real time, as negotiations continue.
Why had Walker released those e-mails? Yesterday, we clicked around for half an hour, trying to figure out what had happenedwhy those e-mails had been released. We never found a definitive account, but MSNBCs overpaid hosts had already announced a pleasing conclusion, with Maddow trumpeting loudest. As of today, do you think their conclusion was accurate? Or did Walker perhaps release those e-mails to soften the blow of what was comingto create a narrative in which he had actually tried to compromise?
Like the hosts on the One True Channel, we have no idea. But they thought they knew on Tuesday night, with Maddow seeming most certain. Walker had started to crumble, she pledged. Those e-mails showed that he had lost! And sure enough: One night later, after Walker struck, she seemed to be completely surprised by the way he had done it.
Wisconsin had voted on a new bill. This new bill contained the original bills provisions about collective bargaining, nothing more; this allowed the Wisconsin senate to proceed without a 20-member quorum. The possibility of this maneuver had been widely discussed, for at least a week (see below). But so what? One week later, despite her 17 staffers, Maddow seemed utterly clueless:
Sad. Moments later, Wisconsin state senator Jon Erpenbach explained to Maddow that yes, they could have done this from the very beginningbut this fact had been widely discussed for a week. For one example, see this detailed report from the Daily Beast, in which John Avlon explained this possible approach. Avlon quoted a string of Wisconsin officials and experts who noted that Walker could take this legislative route.
Avlons report was posted on March 2a full week before Walker acted. But one week later, the massively self-assured Maddow had no earthly idea:
Clicking around in our feety pajamas thingy, we knew about that a week ago. Maddow, with her 17 staffers, was thoroughly kerflubbled last night, as she went on the air.
Were tired of banging Sister Semple around, but we thought this was worth presenting. Maddow is a very charismatic performer, and shes creeping up in the ratings. Beyond that, she gave a good overview at one point last night of where things must go from here. But her political judgment is really quite weak; routinely, her certainly vastly outstrips her knowledge. Tuesday, she gave you a nice warm feeling. Sadly, though, she was wrong.
What do those staffers do all day? Plan those poll question thingies?