TUESDAY, MAY 27, 2003
BEND IT LIKE BORGER: Clowning pundits pretend to be shocked by Jayson Blair and his ludicrous conduct. They can strike this pose for an obvious reason; the press corps is filled with Jayson Blairswith a whole string of fakers and phonies. Theyve never heard of the Whitewater hoax; theyve never heard of Jeff Gerths major faking. Nor did they voice a peep of dissent when the press corps legion of fakers and frauds made a joke out of Campaign 2000. For years, these overpaid pundits have bent it like Jayson. And, of course, like all such frauds, theyre prepared to pretend that they havent.
How disingenuous will your pundit corps be? Lets look in on Gloria Borger, a pundit who bends it like Blair.
Readers may recall an earlier visit. On 7/8/00, Broger and her Face the Nation co-host, Bob Schieffer, spent the full hour on CNBCs Russert, where they engaged in ludicrous spinning about Bush, Gore and Campaign 2000 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/11/00). Most laughably, Borger and Schieffer puzzled hard over why Bush had visited Bob Jones University during the South Carolina primary. Of course, every American knew the answer to that; rightly or wrongly, Bush had gone to BJU to appeal to conservative Palmetto State voters. But Schieffer said that he couldnt imagine why Bush had ever done such a thing, and Borger managed to go him one better, saying the visit had been caused by bad staff work! Showing steely professionalism in the face of this nonsense, Russert managed to keep a straight face as his honored guests bent it like Blair.
But Borger was bending it even better when she interviewed Sidney Blumenthal last Thursday (CNBC, Capitol Report). Readers, treat yourselves to some good, solid laughs as you review Borgers feigned incomprehension:
BORGER: Well, and thats where the right-wing conspiracy theory comes up, which Hillary Clinton, of course, talked about with Matt Lauer that fatefulon the Today show. And you actually were the person who talked to her about that. And wasnt that just one way of trying to absolve everyone of this, of this mess? Wasnt it kind of a, sort of a way to explain it away?Go ahead and laugh out loud at the pundits consummate clowning. I dont get that part, Borger saidspeaking about the troubling claim that her cohort had misbehaved in these matters. Of course, theres nothing new about Blumenthals thesistheres nothing new about the claim that many reporters and major news orgs engaged in an orgy of spin about Clinton. Indeed, Blumenthals book includes many examples. But somehow, pundits like Borger just never quite get it. They find such notions utterly puzzling; despite their best efforts, they cant grasp whats been said. Go ahead and chuckle again as Borger plays dumb for the herd:
BLUMENTHAL (continuing directly): No, Im certainly not accusing you, GloriaNo, but Im serious, Borger said, lying in Blumenthals face.
The truth? Borger was bending it, not unlike Blair. But then, your press corps always knows to pretend that its own cohort is pure as the snow. Borger was bending itbending it good. All week, Borgers colleagues will follow.
TOMORROW: We discuss Paul Krugmans important column in this mornings Times. Also: Bend it like Cohen!
OUR SECOND-EVER MOVIE REVIEW: In fact, we recommend Bend It Like Beckham, a simpler but deeply good-hearted version of last years transplendent Blue Crush. Two-thirds through, we thought that Bend It was too simple-minded, but director/co-writer Gurinder Chadha delivers a marvelous, good-hearted ending. Our audience laughed very hard; applauded at the end; and stayed to watch every bit of the credits. What a shamethat people who long for decency so are stuck with this wreck of a press corps.
Desson Howe, the Washington Post: Bend It Like Beckham is a ball-juggling charm, a multicultural Cinderella tale about a female teenager in South London who dreams of goal-scoring glory.
But by the time of Campaign 2000, Murray had backslid quite hard. In September 2000, Independent Counsel Robert Ray issued the OICs final report. No charges would be brought against the Clintons in any matter, Ray said. On the September 22 Washington Week, a panel of pundits discussed Rays report. And on that program, Murray offered a scolding account of What Bill Clinton Shouldnt Have Done. He chatted with Times Michael Duffy:
DUFFY: What this means is, obviously, for Hillary Clinton, whos running in the Senate race in New York, she doesnt have to worry about Whitewater anymore, if she ever did. But its also a reminder of just what a bad law the independent counsel statute wasRight, Duffy said, applauding Murray for an iconically inaccurate statement.
Indeed, one doesnt know whether to laugh or cry at Murrays remarkable rendering. When Gene Lyons published Fools for Scandal in 1996, it became abundantly clear that those New York Times articles were built on howling errorsand it became almost as clear that the Jeff Gerth pieces had been prepared in bad faith. But four full years after Fools for Scandal, Murray was still praising the articles; repeating their errors; and saying that the bogus pieces told us everything we know about Whitewater! What was wrong with Murrays summation? Duh. Despite what those NYT articles said, Clinton wasnt governor when he entered that land deal, and Jim McDougal, Clintons partner, wasnt running a savings and loan (or any other regulated business). But so what? Eight years later, Murray was still repeating Gerths iconic errors, and was praising the NYT for its brilliance! Rememberto the press corps, the press corps is always right. Major pundits will never discuss the harm that their colleagues have done.
Today, Murray is Borgers co-host on Capitol Report. Borger, of course, is deeply amazed when someone finds fault with the press corps.
[Many thanks to AMM for directing us to this jaw-dropping transcript.]