MONDAY, JUNE 9, 2003
HUMEAN, ALL TOO HUMEAN: Everyone knows how stupid she was to believe what the president said about Monica! In Living History, Hillary Clinton says she was finally told on August 17, 1998 that Bill Clinton had, in fact, had a sexual relationship with Lewinsky. She says this was the first time she knew. And press corps lackeys all know how to judge this. This is stupidalmost surely a liethese script-reading stooges all say.
But then, we warned you last Thursday about what would be coming. A mountain of bullroar will land on your head as you watch the discussions of Clintons new book. Some of the pundits wont know basic facts. Some of the pundits will simply be lying. But endlessly, the public will be misinformedand Clintons character will be savaged. Here, for example, was the hapless Brit Hume, living large on yesterdays Fox News Sunday:
HUME: Look, the thing in this book that strikes everybody, I think, is her saying that she was floored and devastated when, a few days before his grand jury testimony, he finally told him the truth, that something had gone on with Monica Lewinsky.Comical, isnt it? The rest of the world believed instantly and without any doubtso Clinton should have done that too! As other pundits pondered hard, the hapless Hume continued:
HUME (continuing directly): Now, I believe she may have been upset when she first heard about this. But she clearly had made a decision that she was going to stick with him for all kinds of reasons, and I doubt that at that stage it had a whole lot to do with his personal dynamism. It had to do with the fact that he was the president of the United States, and she didnt want to see him go down and, with him, her future prospects as well.Its not a credible story, Hume said. But theres no one less credible than this sour, hapless man, as he proved once again with this bungled story. As we see from this latest rant, his mind-reading skills are second to none. Too bad Hume is too inept to get straight on the simplest facts.
As noted, Mrs. Clinton says she was told by her husband on August 17, 1998. (Pundits know to feign surprise, although this account is at least four years old. More tomorrow.) The hapless Hume thinks this is just stupid; indeed, the DNA test had already shown that Lewinsky had landed her man! But as usual, Hume was talking through his hat. Is it true? Had the stain on the dress come up positive? On August 20, 1998three days after Mrs. Clinton says she was toldJames Bennet filed this report in the New York Times:
BENNET (pgh 1): Prosecutors have demanded a sample of President Clintons genetic material to establish forensic proof that his relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky was sexual, a lawyer familiar with the request said today.In short, the DNA sample had not been tested at the time Mrs. Clinton says she was told. At best, Brit Hume had bungled again. At worst, the great newsman was lying.
This would be a minor point, of courseexcept for Humes attack on Clintons character. Humes conclusion was preordainedso he simply rearranged a few facts. But in the course of the next few weeks, pundits will issue many attacks which fly in the face of basic facts. Some of these pundits will be misinformed. Some of these pundits will simply be lying. But all of these pundits will help us see the pathology of the Washington press corps.
TOMORROW: Bend it like Carlson! Margaret Carlson hopes youll hate Hill. So she bends it real good in her book. Also: Covering for Willey.
CLUELESS, ALL TOO CLUELESS: Hume returned to the DNA test later in the FNS segment. As he thundered at Mara Liasson, his innocence of the facts had no end:
HUME: I dont think theres any reason to think she didnt care if he was philandering.Seven months after the rest of the world had seen all the evidence! In fact, the press corps reported, all through the summer, that the FBI had not found a stain on Lewinskys dress. The stain-on-the-dress only came back into play in early August. And it wasnt tested until after the president acknowledged his conduct. Humewho is supposed to be a newsmandoesnt know what hes talking about. Liasson didnt have a clue either:
LIASSON (continuing directly): When you are so invested in someone and love them, in the way she did, however mysterious that might be to the rest of the world, when he says to you over and over again, This was a relationship that was misconstrued; I just tried to help her, in order to maintain her own self respect, on some level she had to believe him, I think.Meanwhile, heres what these people will never tell you: Mrs. Clinton knew that many other sexual accusations had turned out to be bogus. Liasson, Hume and the rest of their cohort had kept you from knowing that fact all along. Starting tomorrow, well review the ways the Washington press corps covered up for shaky accusers. Long after Clinton accusers were discredited, the pundit corps kept you from knowing. Mrs. Clinton, of course, did know all these facts. Meanwhile, Liasson and Hume have no current plan to inform you about these matters, even now. For their cohort, the story has been set in stone. Youll have to come here for your info.
The Daily update
JIM AND CALS EXCELLENT RECITATIONS: Finally! We finally heard a major pundit describe the shape of the press spin campaign. On Saturdays Fox News Watch, pseudo-conservatives Jim Pinkerton and Cal Thomas took turns reciting the Standard Approved Spin-Points. I dont believe any of it, Thomas advised, speaking of the new Clinton book. The well-prepped Pinkerton jumped in there too. Im sure theres some true stuff in it, like what year she was born, the witty wag said. The book is fake and lawyered, the observant pair said. It contradicts two other books, and someone should go talk to Kathleen Willey! (For notes on the sheer absurdity of this suggestion, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/6/03. Or see tomorrows DAILY HOWLER.) Pinkerton even remembered to cite those three ghost-writers Hillary employed. Finally, amid all the pleasing recitations, Neal Gabler broke every known rule. Gabler said something that was accurate:
GABLER: Here weve had an example of the media reception to the book The Republican spin machine is saying its all phony and its just part of her campaign. These are the two receptions to the book Actually, John LeBoutillier, former Republican congressman, said, Having not read the book, I can already tell youas Jim just did, who has also not read the book, as far as I knowthis whole thing is false. So we have this whole spin machine at work right now in the media.Indeed, Pinkerton hadnt read the book; didnt know what was in it; and showed no sign of knowing much about the one issue that had been discussed (more on his gong-show remarks about Willey tomorrow). But the pseudo-con caddies did know one thingthey knew their cohorts Standard Approved Spin Points. They recited those Standard Points with aplomband quite stupidly, as well show you tomorrow.