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Daily Howler: We give up! There's just no way to describe this fatuous press corps
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EXPOSING THE HAIRCUTS OF A CLASS TRAITOR! We give up! There’s just no way to describe this fatuous press corps: // link // print // previous // next //
FRIDAY, JULY 6, 2007

THE DEATH OF THE FACT: Let’s face it: Within the modern mainstream press corps, the very notion of the “fact” barely survives. And so it was that David Rivkin got a free turn on last night's Hardball. Rivkin was defending the Libby commutation. As he debated with Melanie Sloan, his host let him rattle the script:
SLOAN (7/5/07): Going after Joe Wilson would have been fair. That would have been a totally reasonable thing to do. But to endanger national security by outing a covert CIA operative for political purposes—

RIVKIN: She was not a covert—she was not a covert operative.

SLOAN: The CIA says that she was.

RIVKIN: The CIA has never said—

MATTHEWS: Well, we are going to have to find out whether they knew at the time that she was covert. And we`re also going to have find out whether the battle here wasn’t between the CIA and the hawks in the White House, and that Valerie Wilson was seen by the hawks in the White House as a combatant in this fight...
“Well, we are going to have to find out whether they knew at the time that she was covert,” Matthews said. We don’t have the slightest idea what he could have meant.

Readers, we know what you’re probably thinking: Surely, Matthews knows about Patrick Fitzgerald’s court filing in May, in which he said “it was clear from very early in the investigation that [Plame] qualified under the relevant a covert agent.” For what it’s worth, we’d guess that Matthews does know about that—although it’s possible that he doesn’t, given the way this press corps works. After all, his class deals in narrative, not fact—and it deals in deference to conservative power. Matthews has taken the anti-Bush stance all through the long debate about Plame. Last night, perhaps as a bit of make-up, he let Rivkin voice the treasured script: Plame was not covert.

But then, it’s stunning to see the way the “press corps” substitutes narrative for logic and fact. And as we said in yesterday’s post, liberal elites routinely fail to challenge this remarkable process. In this morning’s Post, for example, Gene Robinson and E. J. Dionne both caterwaul nobly against the Libby commutation. But neither gentleman bothers to challenge the arguments conservatives routinely hear in defense of the commutation. Plame wasn’t covert, they hear. And: Richard Armitage was the real leaker. This morning, Dionne and Robinson thunder nicely—but fail to discuss these ubiquitous points. For that reason, many readers will find their columns unconvincing. They’ll think the columnists are slickly avoiding the facts which made this prosecution so vile.

But so it goes in a money-drenched era, when famous liberals don’t bother to challenge the narratives that drive our lives. Dionne and Robinson write wonderful columns—if you already like their conclusions. And yes, the “fact” has largely disappeared in the world of this lazy, undisciplined cohort. Valerie Plame was not covert! Yesterday, we saw Rebecca Roberts sit and stare while Stephen Moore said it (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/5/07). A Californian e-mailed about his/her frustration when he/she heard the NPR program:
E-MAILER (7/5/07): I heard Rebecca Roberts’ extended exchange with Stephen Moore too, and could not believe my ears. For the brief time I had a chance to listen while in transit, it sounded as if he were her co-host. I was so upset that his misstatements of fact were allowed by this woman to go unchallenged that I had to switch stations to keep from escalating into the realm of road rage.

And now to find out—Thank You!—that she is Cokie Roberts’ daughter! It makes me want to throw up. The legacy placements in our national news media are more pervasive than in Ivy League schools.

For the record, intermarriage within this cohort is more extensive than most of us realize. It seems nothing can stop them from reproducing. Not that there’s anything wrong with it!

At any rate, Rebecca Roberts is hardly alone in her failure to challenge this script, which looks quite weak after Fitzgerald’s statement. Your press corps isn’t drawn to facts, and makes little effort to learn or recall them. And let’s face it—these facts just aren’t hard to learn. As we saw yesterday, John in Oregon knew what Fitzgerald said; so did Bob in Minneapolis. Our e-mailer knew about Fitzgerald too—and almost crashed when a “professional journalist” didn’t. But most mainstream journos don’t know this fact—or are prepared to act like they don’t. Roberts is silent; Matthews is silent; Dionne and Robinson fail to address the way this claim keeps driving the discourse. But then, the very notion of the “fact” has long dead to this odd group; instead, this group is fueled by narrative. Overpaid liberals tell us our tale—and let Moore and Rivkin tell theirs.

ROBERTS FAMILY VALUES: It’s very much “like mother, like daughter” inside the fact-averse mainstream press corps. How thorough is this group’s insouciance when it comes to acquisition of facts? On December 5, 1999, Cokie Roberts was blissfully clueless about the size of Candidate Bush’s tax cut proposal—the central proposal of his campaign. (Deftly, George Stephanopoulos covered for Cokie, helping obscure the size of her howler.) On the other hand, Cokie was simply brilliant this day when it came to reciting the anti-Gore scripts which were already shaping our future. Gore had a “Pinocchio problem,” she said. And then, the great journalist laughed.

We strongly suggest that you review THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/6/99; Roberts’ performance is well worth recalling. Note well: This sort of thing has gone on for a very long time within this multimillionaire cohort. These people don’t care; don’t work; don’t read; don’t study—and they don’t embarrass easily. And when their children take over their jobs, they act out their family traditions.

EXPOSING THE HAIRCUTS OF A CLASS TRAITOR: After the attacks of 9/11, they swore that everything had changed. No more silly stuff, they pledged. From now on, we plan to get serious.

In yesterday’s Post, we saw how they’ve changed. In 1998, they spent a year on oral sex. This year, they’re deep into hair cuts.

For ourselves, we won’t even try to describe how deeply foolish this long report really is. (It was accompanied by this ludicrous graphic, showing two different Edwards coiffures and a list of his various haircuts, by date.) Let’s leave it at this: Solomon, an investigative reporter, has clearly spent a good deal of time getting the facts—about John Edwards’ haircuts. Understandably, the Post was embarrassed to run this in its news pages. It was banished to the front page of Style.

But so what? Last night, the story drove a good deal of cable (although CNN pretty much took a pass). As usual, the facts themselves didn’t have to be right; they just had to service the narrative. Indeed, do they ever get their facts right? Here was Tucker Carlson, introducing a foolish segment about this deeply troubling problem. In his opening comment, he stares at video of Edwards as he combs his hair:
TUCKER (7/5/07): Boy, that is just unbelievable.

He has taken more heat about his hair than anyone this side of Donald Trump. From Rush Limbaugh calling him the Breck Girl to the flap over his $400 haircut, John Edwards continues to get scalped for his grooming habits. Now Edwards’ stylist tells the Washington Post, he charged over $1200 for the latest haircut because he had to fly to Atlanta for the trim.

Can Edwards still run as a populist when he’s spending that much on his personal grooming? Back again, we welcome the Chicago Sun Time’s Lynn Sweet and Democratic strategist Peter Fenn.
In fact, this “latest haircut” took place in 2004. But so what? No one corrected Carlson’s groaner, and Sweet was soon swearing that the real “problem with what happened” was the fact that “a wealthy man [would] have the campaign pay for a personal expense like a haircut.” Did she realize that Solomon’s detailed research showed that Edwards had paid for all but two of these haircuts? (The campaign initially paid for two, then said it had been a mistake.) Who knows? And beyond that, what could it possibly matter? This cohort’s devotion to the utterly fatuous had never been made quite so clear.

In honesty, there’s simply no way to describe the determined dumbness of these chimps. For example, what can you can say when George Stephanopoulos is willing to clown as he did with Kate Snow on yesterday’s Good Morning America? We do suggest that you read this in full. This is the soul of your “press corps:”
SNOW (7/5/07): What about John Edwards? Because, nationally, he's third, but he's doing well in Iowa.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He has been ahead in Iowa ever since the beginning of the campaign, but it's been getting closer over the last several weeks. And as you know, Kate, he's been fighting these stories about the $400 haircut for the last several weeks.

SNOW: Yeah, I wonder if that's—if that's a struggle for him again.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It hadn't been. In fact, he and Elizabeth Edwards have been joking about it. But just yesterday, the hairdresser comes out—a guy named Joseph Torrenueva. This is your worst nightmare if you're a candidate. Apparently, this is a Beverly Hills hairdresser, he used to cut the hair of Marlon Brando, Bob Barker. He's been cutting John Edwards' hair since 2003. And he said he got very hurt when Edwards seems to dismiss him, said that, “Oh, I'm disappointed, I do feel bad. If I know someone, I'm not gonna say I don't know them. When he called me 'that guy,' it hurt." And so he's gone out and detailed—

SNOW: This is the hairdresser saying this?

STEPHANOPOULOS: This is the hairdresser, and he's gone out and said, Listen, I cut the guy's hair sixteen times since 2003. One haircut cost, not $400—$1250, because it involved travel to Atlanta. The Edwards campaign says, Listen, Edwards didn't know how much this cost, a personal assistant dealt with it. But this is gonna hurt.

SNOW: Right, because he's saying this wasn't just one isolated time. This was, “I met him time and time again. I was his hairdresser.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Over a period of, over a period of several years and we had a relationship. I gave him some advice, and you know, he hasn't paid back.

SNOW: So, do you think that hurts Edwards?

STEPHANOPOULOS: It does, because, you know, he's tried to make his campaign around the idea of two Americas and we have to make sure that the poor in America have, have access to the American dream. And this makes him seem more of an elitist. But even more than that, it seems a little callous to be sort of pushing off on the hairdresser. When the hairdresser comes back and says, “Wait a second, I was a friend of yours, I worked hard for you," it can't help. More—more haircut headlines are not good news for John Edwards.

SNOW: Not good news. George Stephanopoulos, thank you so much, as always.
“But even more than that, it seems a little callous to be sort of pushing off on the hairdresser.What can a citizen possibly say when confronted with nonsense like that?

Here at THE HOWLER, we simply surrender. The sheer stupidity of that exchange defies our poor powers to add or detract. For the record, though, the segment ran with this searing graphic: EDWARDS' HAIR STYLIST SPEAKS OUT.

There are no words. There’s nothing to say. Sensible people have to go to the public and help them see what this gang of chimps has done—what they will continue to do, until trainers force them to stop.