MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2004
OUR MINNIE PEARL OF THE NEW YORK TIMES: Jodi Wilgoren had the goods on what some Democrats were fearing. John Kerry was going to spend the Fathers Day weekend at his home on Nantucket. But uh-oh! [S]ome Democrats were concerned about the image of their wealthy candidate frolicking among the fabulously wealthy here on an island where the average home sells for $1.4 million, the scribe reports in this mornings Times. And guess what? Wilgorens article proves that Dems really had something to fear in this matter. Were Democrats afraid of the image of Kerrys wealth? In her latest clowning piece, Wilgoren throws this image in readers faces at every conceivable turn.
The scribe warms up in her opening paragraph, in which she reports that Kerry spent the weekend at his wifes seaside retreat here in one of the nations most exclusive summer playgrounds. But soon, the clowning gets started in earnest. On Saturday, Kerry tried to go kite-surfing. And Wilgoren starts to play Price Is Right:
WILGOREN (pgh 3): The wind died, Mr. Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told reporters as he cruised by on the 32-foot Contender, a gentleman's fishing vessel said to cost about $150,000.Did Kerrys boat really cost that much? Wilgoren doesnt know, but thats what is said. And dont worry—the scribe has price-tags for every outing. For example, she notes what Kerry spent for his fancy-pants dinner on Saturday night:
WILGOREN (4): Mr. Kerry and his family did dine out Saturday night at the Pearl, where sauteed yuzu-dusted day boat sea scallops go for $36, with his fellow senator from Massachusetts, Edward M. Kennedy, his wife, Vicki, and her parents. But on Sunday afternoon, he canceled a beachside brunch at one of the island's most expensive restaurants, with aides explaining that his two adult daughters preferred a quiet meal at home.Wow! This guy must really be rich! By the way, how much does his wifes seaside retreat really cost? Wilgoren has that for you also:
WILGOREN (7): Mr. Kerry has been coming here regularly since at least 1995, when he married the ketchup heiress Teresa Heinz at the three-story, five-bedroom house she owns on Brant Point, where the clothing designer Tommy Hilfiger also has a home and H. Wayne Huizenga, the owner of the Miami Dolphins, recently sold one. Valued at $9 million in 1995, the house...has a large screened-in porch, decorative columns, and a green-and-white love-seat swing on its sandy front lawn.Readers, that sounds like something you cant have, costing $9 million and all! No wonder some Dems were so upset when Kerry dared to take his vacation! Indeed, when Wilgoren announced the Dems concern, she quickly threw in one more price-tag:
WILGOREN (9): Though some Democrats were concerned about the image of their wealthy candidate frolicking among the fabulously wealthy here on an island where the average home sells for $1.4 million, Mr. Kerry insisted not only on coming, but also on trying to kite-surf, a dangerous combination of waterskiing and parasailing with basic equipment costing about $2,500.Her clowning today is endless and obvious. In the law, its called more prejudicial than probative. In journalism, of course, its called propaganda, and Wilgoren is proving to be a master at the format she adopts this morning. How does it work? First, she notes some image the Kerry camp fears—then crams that image right down readers throats! Does Kerrys gang fear the image of wealth? Wilgoren says, Let them eat price-tags.
Readers, when Minnie Pearl played this silly game, she did so as a crowd-pleasing joke. She stuck that silly price-tag on her hat—where it plainly didnt belong—and wore it around as a bit of self-mockery. Today, Wilgoren puts tags where they dont belong, too—but she does so to go after Kerry. But alas! This is the state to which the Times had descended in the past several White House campaigns (a fact you wont often read in them perfessional fellers web sites). In Wilgorens crabbed mind, Kerry simply has way too much money. Today, the Times crusading crackpot sets out to punish him for it.
Oh yes, one final point: The scribe mentions Bushs vacation home at one point in her clowning piece:
WILGOREN: The weekend was Mr. Kerrys first real holiday since the week he spent at his wifes Sun Valley, Idaho, home in March, where he was widely photographed snowboarding. It was reminiscent of President Bill Clintons vacations in borrowed houses on nearby Marthas Vineyard, and a sharp contrast to President Bush's frequent brush-clearing forays on his sweltering ranch in Crawford, Tex.Weird, isnt it? When Kerry sleeps at his wifes house, it is reminiscent—for Our Sweetheart of Pure Propaganda—of Bill Clinton in borrowed homes.
Of course, reminiscence is in the mind of the reminiscer; propagandizing pundits reminisce about the things they want their readers to recall. But one thing didnt come to Wilgorens mind—the price tag on Bushs ranch in Texas. The ranch is sweltering, Wilgoren says, but to all appearances, it must have come free. She sticks price tags on everything else. But Minnie Pearls always know their crowd—and this one knows you dont mess with Bush.
OUR MINNIE PEARL OF THE AP: Meanwhile, at the Associated Press, the endlessly egregious Nedra Pickler was belting this ballad out too. In this campaign, Pickler has distinguished herself as one of the nations most awful journalists. Incredibly, here is the start of her report on Kerrys rich/wealthy/rich weekend:
PICKLER: After a week of campaigning for the less fortunate, John Kerry went on vacation with the fabulously wealthy.Inevitably, youll think we made this up—but Picklers plaint goes on and on. Kerry is a rich man, she plainly says. And oh yes—hes also a phony.
But make no mistake. Pickler is belting out pure propaganda—but so is the egregious Wilgoren. Some weeks ago, our Minnie Pearl of the Times penned a front-page report about John Kerrys glorified valet. In case you missed the point that day, she yodels more clearly this morning.
BORGERS RETREAT: Gloria Borger is there to be lied to. As the gang at FAIR pointed out this weekend, Dick Cheney made a bald misstatement to Borger last Thursday when he appeared on Capitol Report. Clearly, Borger knew that Cheneys statement was wrong. But did Borger challenge what Cheney said? Please! Her reply to the veep was: OK!
Cheney appeared on Borgers show to offer the Administrations view about ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. At one point, Borger quoted (or tried to quote) something Cheney once said about Mohammad Atta:
BORGER: Well, lets get to Mohamed Atta for a minute because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, pretty well confirmedFrom the transcript, it isnt clear if Borger got to finish her statement. But she was clearly referring to something Cheney said on the December 9, 2001 Meet the Press. Did Atta, one of the 9/11 pilots, meet with Iraqi agents in Prague before 9/11? Heres what Cheney told Tim Russert:
CHENEY (12/9/01): What we now have thats developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that—it's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack. Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don't know at this point, but that's clearly an avenue that we want to pursue.Clearly, thats the statement to which Borger referred. But Cheney insisted he hadnt said it. Here is the fuller exchange:
BORGER: Well, lets get to Mohamed Atta for a minute because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, pretty well confirmedClearly, Cheney was wrong about this. To all appearances, Borger knew it. So what did the fearless TV host do? Of course! She said OK, and then changed the subject! Grinning TV entertainers like Borger make a joke of your national discourse. To read the full transcript of Borgers Retreat, see the entry at FAIR.
FOR THE RECORD: Regarding that much-bruited meeting in Prague, there seems to be no ironclad evidence concerning Attas whereabouts. James Risen described the matter in last Thursdays New York Times:
RISEN: In its report on the Sept. 11 plot, the commission staff disclosed for the first time F.B.I. evidence that strongly suggested that Mr. Atta was in the United States at the time of the supposed Prague meeting.Does that evidence strongly suggest that Atta was in the US on April 9? That is a matter of judgment. To state the obvious, the April 4 photograph is totally worthless; as everyone on Earth surely knows, its possible to be in Virginia on April 4 and in Prague five days later. Only the phone records are relevant here, and they seem to be inconclusive. Attas phone was in use—but was Atta using it? The FBI doesnt seem to know—and this evidence really cant tell us.