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Print view: Stupendous foolishness has been all around as liberals slag Newt, Jon and Sarah
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THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT! Stupendous foolishness has been all around as liberals slag Newt, Jon and Sarah: // link // print // previous // next //

Nexis needs a new pair of shoes: In the next year, we will be adding to our on-line book, How He Got There. (Subtitle: The press corps’ war against Candidate Gore: How George W. Bush reached the White House.) This history does need to be told.

Most likely, we’ll also examine the press story we find most interesting at this point: The development of the new liberal news orgs.

For now, our second non-annual fund drive continues. You can’t record the press corps’ coverage of Campaign 2000 unless you have access to Nexis—and Nexis needs a new pair of shoes! To help out through PayPal or by writing a check, you know what to do—just click this.

For now, we recommended our newly completed chapter 5 (just click here). This chapter describes the ludicrous conduct Paul Krugman later described as the press corps’ “campaign about clothing.” Tomorrow, we’ll preview chapter 6—in which the die was cast.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT (permalink): Can we talk? Kick-off speeches for White House campaigns don’t really mean a whole lot.

How much do you recall about Candidate Kerry’s kick-off speech in 2003? Do you recall the kick-off speeches delivered by Bush and Gore? Where and when did Candidate McCain kick off his 2008 campaign? Do you recall what Candidate Edwards said in either of his kick-off speeches?

(You may recall Candidate Obama’s kick-off speech, delivered in February 2007. MSNBC was already working hard to defeat the hated Hillary Clinton. For that reason, the channel dispatched Matthews and Fineman to cover the Saturday morning event. They gushed and fawned for several hours about the transplendent performance.)

Kick-off speeches don’t mean a whole lot—especially when they get covered in the mindless way perfected by sites like Politico. On Tuesday, Jon Huntsman delivered his kick-off speech right across from the Statue of Liberty, just the way Ronald Reagan did, many long years in the past.

At Politico, Maggie Haberman displayed the types of observational skills which the mainstream press has perfected over lo, the past many years. With a very good eye for trivia, she ran through Huntsman’s mishaps:

HABERMAN (6/21/11): [W]hile every campaign rollout comes with logistical challenges, especially in the 24-hour news cycle, there were an unusually high number of mishaps for a rollout for a candidate whose campaign-in-waiting has been prepping for months.

There were the press cards that misspelled the candidate's first name—there's no "H"—and journalists directed initially to the wrong plane. The Statue of Liberty, the sole reason for declaring in New Jersey was—thanks to riser placement—not visible in the TV shots.

All the cable networks cut away from Huntsman mid-speech thanks to his low-octane delivery and content. And the campaign's website wasn't listed on the placard affixed to the podium.

And some supporters who came all the way to meet him complained afterward that the candidate didn't stick around to shake hands with actual voters—he departed the dais, then went straight to a Sean Hannity interview, and then right to his car, with a scrum surrounding him.

Maggie’s report mentioned other flubs, but gaze on a few of these groaners! Journalists were directed “initially” to the wrong plane! The cable networks cut away from the speech! And Huntsman did a major interview instead of shaking a few voters’ hands! Beyond that, “the campaign’s website [address] wasn’t listed on the placard affixed to the podium!”

How can anyone run for the White House when “mishaps” like these are observed?

In the long run, none of the “mishaps” Haberman chronicled will make the slightest difference in Huntsman’s run for the White House. Do the mishaps of the day suggest that Huntsman’s staff is inept? It’s possible—but then again, everything is.

The modern “press corps” loves its trivia! Do you mind if we go back four years? In the Washington Post, remarkably stupid questions were raised after Candidate Obama’s kick-off speech. Needless to say, Kornblut did the asking:

KORNBLUT (2/11/07): Raising questions about his judgment and risking the ire of the national press corps, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) held fast on his first major campaign decision: to conduct his announcement speech in the frigid outdoors here on Saturday.

And so, as much as it was a political story, the Obama event became a weather story.

"I guess the Arctic Circle wasn't available this morning," said Chris Matthews, quivering during his live interview on NBC's "Weekend Today" as he ruefully noted that anchor Campbell Brown was usually the one outside doing cold-weather reporting.

Even by the standards of the wintry spells in New Hampshire and Iowa that political reporters and candidates ritually confront, it was a brutal morning in the Illinois capital—sunny but subfreezing, especially in the shady corners where hundreds of supporters had to stand. Medical teams were on hand in case anyone collapsed. A local television station ran a report on preventing hypothermia, aimed at people planning to attend the Obama event.

Why not, some asked, just move the speech indoors?


Though a trifling matter, the insistence on staying outside raised questions about the Obama message. Was he trying to prove his mettle? Distancing himself from his upbringing in Hawaii—where he was recently photographed in his bathing suit? Subtly appealing to flinty Northerners who pride themselves on enduring the cold?

Obama dropped few clues, though he did acknowledge the temperature.

For the record, did Candidate Obama and his staff have everything buttoned down this day? Rolling Stone later reported that, on this day, he made a last-minute decision to drop Jeremiah Wright from the program. By the way: Like Huntsman, Obama shook hands with no voters this day. Like Huntsman, he hurried off to an event in an early primary state.

As you may have heard, Obama went on to win his party’s nomination. Later, he won the White House.

Pitiful, isn’t it? In the Washington Post, the temperature in Springfield that day “raised questions about Obama’s judgment.” Beyond that, the candidate had “risked the ire of the national press corps,” much as Huntsman may have done when journalists were “initially” directed to the wrong plane. But then, you really can’t get dumber than they are in the modern mainstream press corps.

When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way? For the modern mainstream press, it’s like that when it comes to The Stupid.

Does Huntsman have an inept campaign team? It could turn out that way, but we wouldn’t place any large bets. In the Washington Post, Nia-Malika Henderson restricted herself to a single paragraph about the day’s technical glitches—although she weirdly quoted two Republican strategists, each of whom trashed the event. (Theme: Jon Huntsman is no Ronald Reagan.) Over at the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg actually focused on the things Huntsman said, some of which were somewhat noteworthy—though he too interjected a single paragraph claiming that Huntsman’s campaign “for the most part lived up to its early reputation for expert stage management.”

Given the fact that there were some glitches, we don’t know why he said that. By the way: In each paper, you will see that the color photo included the Statue of Liberty.

Rutenberg actually focused on the actual things Huntsman said! For better or worse, liberals weren’t asked to waste their time on such trivia as they watched that evening’s Rachel Maddow Show. The host burned 19 minutes from the start of her program with an utterly stupid report on the day’s various technical glitches. She began her report decked out in dark glasses, banging away on a bongo drum, pretending to be “super-embarrassed” by her own silly-girl conduct. (Has any broadcaster ever staged so many faux apologies?) Then came the Shatner clip.

We strongly suggest that you watch the first twelve minutes or so, to see the depths of The Dumb—and the self-adoration—which are increasingly on display on this declining program. To watch the full segment, click this. By the way: Here is Maddow, describing one of the day’s many problems:

MADDOW (6/21/11): One early sign that the stars were a little crossed for Jon Huntsman`s presidential campaign launch today came twelve and a half minutes minutes before the event was due to start.

This note came across our internal system, internal news system, from one of our NBC producers at the event. Quote, "The riser generator provided by the Huntsman campaign has died. The head on riser has no power nor does the podium mike."

Again, that was about 12 minutes before the presidential launch. It was about 15 minutes before that Circle Line tour boat trundled into place right in the slot where the candidate’s head was supposed to be.

The riser generator died? Like you—presumably, like Maddow—we have no real idea what that means. But was that perhaps the riser on which the TV cameras would sit? Did that note perhaps explain why the camera angles were wrong? Like you, we have no earthly idea. In the course of a 19-minute dose of nonsense, boy howdy! Rachel Maddow didn’t try to explain.

It’s getting very dumb on our liberal channel—and yes, Maddow’s report was very dumb this night. Presumably, many of Maddow’s viewers didn’t understand that fact—and therein lies a problem. As liberal brains get turned to mush by this sort of “campaign reporting,” your nation is sinking into the sea. This foolishness is entertaining, especially to tribal liberal viewers. Presumably, the foolishness helps build cable ratings, thus justifying seven-figure cable salaries. But increasingly, Maddow is playing the fool in her ridiculous “campaign reporting”—playing the fool in ways designed to entertain and please liberal viewers. But then, stupendous foolishness has been all around us in the past few days.

Stupendous foolishness has been on display with regard to Newt Gingrich’s jewels. (Have you ever seen anyone explain why you’re supposed to care about this?) Stupendous foolishness has been on display with regard to Palin’s bus tour. (Pundits clowned before they had any idea if the tour had really been cancelled. There is still no way to know.) Last night, Chris Matthews performed his one public service. As he sometimes does, he explained why this stupendous dumbness has been all over the air:

MATTHEWS (6/22/11): Well, I think this— This Tiffany’s story is a lot easier to report than anything else around. This is going to be all over the place.

Exactly! Newt’s jewels are easy—and they’re fun! The multimillionaires play you for fools when they hand you this crap.

(By the way: The story doesn’t seem that “easy to report.” Last night, Matthews persistently misstated the facts as he discussed the Tiffany’s matter. But then, the gentleman’s prep time seems to begin around 4:55 each night.)

The progressive project lies in ruins, as anyone can see by looking around. But so what? On cable, we liberals are handed endless silly tales. But then, that’s entertainment—and nothing else!

As your nations sinks in the sea, cable hosts want to have fun.

Camera angles, then and now: Some types of silly time-wasting simply never get old.

In 1999, Brian Williams was concerned by the camera angles when Candidate Gore gave his kick-off speech. That night, the handsome anchor vented on his eponymous cable program:

WILLIAMS (6/16/99): Political advance men and women will be handicapping today's announcement and its pitfalls for some time. Little things that took on huge importance, like the camera platform that was too low, so Gore's actual announcement was hidden from view of most cameras by his own people holding up his own signs. There was the occasional sentence that came out backwards, there were the AIDS activists who blew whistles marring the early part of the speech, and all the while, amid a speech on home, family values and children, the doubt, even among some Democrats privately, about their once-anointed one.

For the record, no sentences “came out backwards” this day. Regarding those fiendish camera angles: On June 21, Bri-Bri went there again! He read the part of Roger Simon’s report in U.S. News which dealt with those infernal angles. Williams’ viewers were being treated like pitiful fools once again.

In fact, “political advance men and women” didn’t discuss that day’s “pitfalls for some time.” As it turned out, the camera angles really hadn’t taken on “huge importance.” Gore went on to win every single primary—the first Democrat in history to do so—and he won the popular vote in November 2000. Williams spent a lot of that time trashing Gore’s troubling clothes, especially his polo shirts.

On liberal cable, you can now enjoy these journalistic values for very large chunks of the evening. Stupendous foolishness is still on display. This time, it’s aimed at the GOP.

In this way, liberal brains become mush—and Rachel gets to shove $2 million into her pants. This is the way our cable discourse works, no matter how much we deny it.

Simon said: Roger Simon recorded the kick-off gaffes made by Bush and Gore. None of this was worth discussing. But it did kill a column:

SIMON (6/28/99): But for all the attention to detail in last week's rollout, both the Gore and Bush campaigns are still capable of some considerable gaffes. It is virtually written in stone at the Clinton White House that at outdoor events the stage is never less than 4 feet high so sign-waving crowds won't block the TV cameras. But the stage in Carthage was only about 3 feet high, and during much of his speech, Gore's face was obscured by waving signs. "We wanted the stage 3 feet high so the backs of people's heads would be in the medium TV shot," a Gore aide says. "But signs were supposed to be banned!"

The Bush campaign also screwed up: It allowed its candidate to get tired. Bush was visibly fatigued when he set out from Austin, Texas, to Iowa. "I only got six hours' sleep last night," he said, with a weary shake of his head. "I need more than that." He was lucky to get the six. Typical of new-campaign infighting, the fund-raising people had grabbed the day before the announcement speech and scheduled two closed fund-raisers for Bush, one in St. Louis and one in Chicago. The events would end up raising $ 1.5 million, but the Bush press staff was not pleased.

"We didn't think it was a good way to start the campaign to have him going to two fat-cat fund-raisers that excluded the press on the day before he announced," one aide says. A compromise was worked out: Bush would go to the fund-raisers, but he would also go to a reading center and a baseball game. Then somebody told the candidate about it. "What you're telling me is that because you guys f- - - up, I got to break my ass all day and won't get home until midnight?" Bush said. "We're going back to Plan A." The reading center and baseball game appearances were canceled, but Bush still didn't get back to Austin until 11 p.m., resulting in a tired candidate and a nervous staff.

"When you have such a large lead, people expect you to perform twice as well," said a senior Bush staffer on announcement day. "There'll be some slips. We know we'll get good reviews today—the press has given us today--but sooner rather than later, there will be tough times ahead."

Williams read the part about Gore, skipped the part about Bush.

Special report: Greed became good!

PART 3: Coming tomorrow.