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MISLEADING OURSELVES! You know what happened on Sunday’s shows—unless you dropped by the lake: // link // print // previous // next //

MISLEADING OURSELVES: Actually, no—he isn’t! Wall Street Journal reporter John Harwood simply isn’t “a rightwinger,” and it’s utterly silly to say that he is. But that’s the self-pitying tale we liberal web types were telling ourselves in the wake of Sunday’s talking-head programs (just click here to see for yourself). But then, that same post—at a big liberal site—also made this absurd claim about This Week’s panel segment:
The This Week roundtable featured a former Republican Senator and ABC employee (Fred Thompson), balanced out by two Republican reporters (Cokie Roberts and Joe Klein). Klein suggested that Dems could successfully use the Hamdan story by running a commercial featuring that man of principle, John McCain. The rest of the roundtable was more of the same. George Stephanopolous ended the program by wishing Bush a happy birthday, and claiming that Bush had told him he (Bush) was able to maintain a heartrate of 140 over an hour and 40 minutes worth of exercise.
But Klein and Roberts aren’t “Republicans;” that’s a childish way to discuss the enduring problems with their work as pundits (problems we have discussed for years). More specifically, as anyone who watched This Week would know, that post completely misrepresents what actually occurred in Sunday’s roundtable. In fact, Klein took some version of the Democrat/liberal stance in every single thing he said. (Click here to watch the podcast.) For example, here were his first remarks; they concerned the Bush Admin’s attacks on the New York Times for publishing the banking surveillance story:
KLEIN (7/2/06): I mean, you know, in this case, first of all, the reality is that this wasn't a huge story. A lot of the details of this program—have been out for a long time. In Ron Suskind's new book The One Percent Doctrine there are far more details about this financial stuff.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In fact, the UN Security Council had a report given to it back in 2002 outlining a lot of the details, as well.

KLEIN: Right, and, you know, God, I sense some politics here, you know—this full-throated assault on the New York Times by the President, the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense.

ROBERTS: And the Congress.

KLEIN: You know, the interesting thing about this and the NSA program and for that matter, the Guantanamo case, is that in all of these cases, these have been very effective programs. Not Guantanamo, but the NSA and the financial transactions—but they could have been made legal if the Bush Administration had just gone to the Congress and asked for the appropriate legislation. The bigger story here is the unchecked, you know, movement toward executive power in the Bush Administration.

That is not the “Republican” talking-point—and neither was Klein’s ironic suggestion about running an ad which featured McCain. By the way—here’s the second thing Klein said. It concerned Valerie Plame:
THOMPSON: Look, here—the Times is not without resources in this political battle. They have the, their publisher delivering the commencement address to children more or less apologizing for the world that George Bush has visited on them. They say this is a wonderful leak, but the leak on Valerie Plame’s name is a terrible thing and should have criminal prosecution with regard to that. So their credibility—

KLEIN: Well, it should have. She was a non-official cover.

That isn’t the “Republican” talking-point either. In fact, it’s the standard position of the liberal web! But if you went to the liberal site which posted this summary, you were told that it was too odious to discuss what was said on this program because it was all so Republican-scripted. We have no idea why such nonsense was written. But in this manner, progressives who came to this site in good faith were baldly misled, misinformed.

We liberals can’t afford to make ourselves stupid. There are foolish people all over the pseudo-con web, but their efforts fit inside a larger framework—a web of effective, adult-run think- and spin-tanks which have been in operation for the past forty years. There is no similar superstructure overseeing and shaping liberal/progressive argument. If liberals and progressives are going to be effective, it will have to come from the bottom up. It’s hard to see how that will result from such willful, feel-good distortions.

Here at THE HOWLER, we’ve watched pseudo-con and mainstream journalists mislead average voters for years. But readers who went to this liberal site were vastly misled about Sunday’s programs—in a way designed to make them feel good about their massive victimization. In truth, it would be hard to compile a more absurd account of Sunday’s This Week than the one we have linked to. In the long run, we can’t imagine how nonsense like this can serve progressive interests.

THE RULE OF THREE: Here’s the third thing Klein said on This Week. This is not the Republican talking-point:

KLEIN: I think that the NSA case, the domestic surveillance case was a far tougher question for the New York Times. In fact, they delayed it for over a year. Go back to Cokie's point, this is politics, and I am—you know, this administration has played politics over and over and over again on a matter of war and peace. And I think that that is the big problem that we're facing here. That's why—that's why the New York Times responds the way it does.
Repeat: The summary which we post above completely misinformed liberal readers. Why do we want to do this to ourselves? How can this form of self-deception possibly serve our real interests?

THE SUMMARIES: Here’s the first paragraph of the post we have linked to. It summarizes the troubling day on the Sunday programs:

This week’s Heads in Review is a bit briefer than usual because—well, it’s a beautiful day. The subjects of the day were Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Administration-endorsed charges of treason against the New York Times. The panels were loaded with Republicans and Republicans-posing-as-journalists, and I didn’t want to spend too much time transcribing G.O.P. talking points.
And here’s the summary of the Meet the Press panel:
In the usual MTP fair and balanced roundtable, three rightwingers (Bill Bennett, Bill Safliar and John Harwood of the Wall Street Journal) met with one reporter (Dana Priest). Bennett, the Hindenburg of the sabbath gasbags, lied that NYT banking story had undermined the war on terror. Bill Safliar supported his employer, comparing the insane Peter King (R-NY) to the insane King George III. Harwood mentioned Bush’s September 24, 2001 Rose Garden speech when he disclosed his plan to obtain international banking records to track terrorists.
But the panels were not driven by “GOP talking-points”—and no, John Harwood is not “a right-winger.” On both the Meet the Press and This Week roundtables, the Bush Admin was roundly battered for its assault on the New York Times. Anyone who watched these shows knew it. Only readers of this liberal site weren’t allowed to know.