WASHINGTON AWOL (PART 2)! Alas! Lithwicks fine cohort would never do what a judge and a brain doctor did:
TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 2005
WASHINGTON AWOL (PART 2): Dahlia Lithwick was shocked—just shocked!—to see her press cohort gone AWOL (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/4/05). But then, she knew why her colleagues stared off into air as Mark Levins new gong-show best-seller polluted the American discourse. They did so because they were serious, high-minded and fine—because it hurt them just to say Levins name. (Jeff Rosen probably had to swallow hardtwicebefore even referencing Men in Black, she lamented.) And yes, among career typists, all good boys know to play this dumb game; indeed, see the Monthlys Kevin Drum as he gushes about Lithwicks brilliance. This is why I love Dahlia Lithwick, he writes, about Lithwicks column. And dont worry, Kevin. One fine day, the well-puffed Lithwick will say she just luvvs your work too.
But uh-oh! In fact, Lithwicks cohort has been AWOL for years, even if she likes to say that they bravely debunked those Swift Boat claims, and even if she feigns shock—shock; shock!—to see them hand Levin their latest free pass. Yes, they went badly AWOL on the Swift Boat matter, as a trip to our archives incomparably shows; but then, its what theyve done for the past several decades as the pseudo-right built a pseudo-con discourse on cable TV and talk radio. Not for them the nasty work of tackling Rush or Sean—or those rude, uncouth, frightening Swifties. As Lithwick notes, theyre just too fine to dirty their hands discussing the clowning of men like Levin. Lithwick is right to scold them now. But her class has been AWOL on these matters for years, a point she agrees not to notice.
Indeed, its so rare to see the Dumb Bunch challenged that its treated like news when it happens. Last Monday, neurologist Ronald Cranford had heard enough as he watched the latest Scarborough Country discussion of Terri Schiavo. Joe doesn't have any idea what he is talking about, he rudely ranted to NBCs Lisa Daniels. And you don't have any idea what you're talking about, he added to the shocked scribe. On and on the nattering neurologist went—and Media Matters gave it large play. And Matters was right—this was indeed news. Indeed, its so rare to see anyone say the obvious about Scarboroughs nightly cable clowning that it did deserve a word of mention when somebody finally shattered the code. In particular, Dahlia Lithwicks high-minded class would never dirty its hands fighting Scarborough. It would hurt too much to mention his name—and they want to appear on other NBC programs! And so the clowning of Scarborough—and of Chris Matthews before him—has persisted for years without complaint.
No, Lithwicks high-minded class of serious journalists know not to dirty their delicate hands with the men who are actually shaping our discourse. But lets give brief tribute to somebody else who broke the mold last week. That would be Court TV anchor Catherine Crier, who hammered her host all over the lot on last Wednesdays Scarborough. Joe was bashing those activist judges. And Crier, a former judge, fought back hard:
CRIER (3/30/05): Joe, Joe, you—you are a lawyer. You understand they are going there are going to be disputes, and judges will come down on one side or the other, ultimately. This is not one court, but judge after judge, hearing after hearing. They have evaluated the evidence. They have looked at the presentations on both sides. They have made the—Ouch! Crier did what Lithwicks cohort wont—she directly told Scarborough that he was faking. Her aggressive performance went on and on—we strongly suggest that you read the full transcript. But like Cranford, she did what the good boys and girls never do—she directly attacked the host of one of our gong-show cable programs. And why does conduct this seem so amazing? Why was it news when Cranford did it? Because the fine boys and girls of Lithwicks high class have spent two decades refusing to do this. It took a comedian, Al Franken, to write the book which tackled Rush Limbaugh. And it took a neurologist, Ronald Cranford, to go on TV and tackle Scarborough. The fine boys and girls of Lithwicks high class all know they mustnt behave so uncouthly. Result? They said nothing, for year after year, while Chris Matthews staged his long War Against Gore—and they said next to nothing while the wild uncouth Swifties conducted their jihad against Kerry last summer. Even now, it isnt Lithwicks class that confronts this clowning cable TV host. No, its a medical doc and a Court TV anchor who finally say they cant take any more. By contrast, Lithwicks serious journalists would stare into air for the next dozen years before theyd ever challenge this host. And out there on the careerist web, Kevin Drum would be cheering them on.
Lithwicks high class has been AWOL for years. Theyve been too dainty to dirty their hands challenging Joe, and Chris, and the others. But Lithwick doesnt seem to have heard. Career typists tend to be like that.
TOMORROW—PART 3: AWOL on Campaign 2000
THURSDAY: Bungling Rather—grand climax!
MARSHALLS PLEDGE: Also this morning, Josh Marshall gives you his pledge—he wont involve himself in the repeated and convulsive expression of more or less contrived outrage, the way so many uncouth fellows now seem to do on the web. And not only that, he wont become an outrage-addict, in which the outrage is not contrived, but more of an addiction. This is the gentlemans puzzling way of introducing a post about Texas senator John Cornyn—another fellow to whom Lithwicks cohort long ago gave a big pass.
So why not visit our incomparable archives? In May 2000, Cornyn—then Texas Attorney General—committed an act of world-class clowning when a deeply shaky death penalty case came center stage during the Bush-Gore campaign. But how did our serious journalists act? Of course! They handed Cornyn their Standard Free Pass—and they gave such a pass to Bush as well, praising the Texan for the fine suit of clothes he wore when he made a fact-free announcement about the cases disposition. Five years later, Marshall scolds Cornyn for his latest weird conduct, being careful to tell the world that we wont ever see him express contrived outrage. But see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/6/02, for an account of this prior remarkable story—a story in which your serious journalists gave Cornyn and Bush a free pass.
Lets say it again—Lithwicks cohort has been AWOL for years, as Mark Shields made all too clear by his ludicrous punditry RE Bush and Cornyn back in May 2000. Or are we engaging in the repeated and convulsive expression of more or less contrived outrage when we dare remind our readers of how Lithwicks cohort really behaves in serious matters like this? Youd certainly have to hunt high and low to find career journalists willing to discuss it. Go ahead—read about that prior case again, ands tell us why someone would have to contrive a spot of outrage regarding John Cornyn.