THEIR OWN HARRY POTTERS! Barnicle didnt seem to have heard that a treasured old novel was fiction: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, JULY 23, 2007
OLBERMANN PUSHES BACK INSTANTLY: For ourselves, were not fans of Countdown in the way some folk are; several reasons are offered below. But we thought Keith Olbermanns special comment last Thursday was the most significant event of the week. Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman had written a letter to Hillary Clinton; he said that her (perfectly sensible) inquiry about troop withdrawal from Iraq "reinforces enemy propaganda. At the start of the program—right out of the gate—Olbermann blasted back at Edelman for his outrageous and ominous conduct.
As stated, were not giant fans of Countdown. We think Olbermann tends to overstate what he knows and sometimes simply misleads his audience. (As in his deceptive treatment, last Wednesday and Thursday, of Bill OReillys recent interview with Miss New Jersey, Amy Polumbo. If you didnt see the actual interview, please dont insist that were wrong.) Beyond that, we think his insistence on mocking young blonde women makes him one of cables worst players on gender issues. But that instant push-back on Thursday night is exactly what was often missing, among Dems and liberals, over the course of the past dozen years. If anything like that had happened in 1999 and 2000, George Bush would never have entered the White House. The U. S. Army is in Iraq because we didnt push back, quick and hard, when the press made its ludicrous claims about Gore.
We were also pleased when the Clinton campaign pushed back against OReillys comments concerning The Daily Kos. Some of OReillys work is perfectly reasonable, but the deceitful way he attacks his critics is simply astounding to see. On Thursdays show, we were glad when Jane Hall made this statement in the weekly segment she shares with Bernie Goldberg:
O'REILLY (7/19/07): Now, hate sites. As we reported, JetBlue now wants their name off the Kos website. What do you think about this, Jane?Yes, thats only a start. But in the previous week, OReilly had taken a few random comments from the Kos site and used them in a blatantly dishonest way, baldly deceiving his viewers in the process. In matters like this, OReillys intellectual method is a sick, stunted joke; his degree of invective is a blight on the nation. And his viewers have little way to know that theyre being deceived.
Why are OReillys viewers ripe for deception? In part, because the mainstream and liberal press establishment have winked at this sort of thing for years. First with Rush and Coulter, now with OReilly: There is nothing the crackpots of the right can say that will bring a word of rebuke from mainstream or liberal press elites. The most absurd example of this endless submission was Janet Maslins New York Times review of Coulters ludicrous pseudo-book, Slander ( see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/22/02.) But the mainstream and liberal press elites have walked away from this cesspool for years. Result? Were left with OReilly misleading his viewers—and aggressively comparing mainstream people to the KKK and the Nazis. At long last, Mr. O, have you no shame? Within our powdered press elites, such words never seem to get written.
Last Thursday, we saw instant push-back from Olbermann; on our sprawling campus, everyone cheered. Meanwhile, on The Factor, we were seeing the depths to which our discourse descends when such push-back is missing. Again, such rebuttal was almost wholly absent during Campaign 2000. What happens when liberals and Dems dont push back? Keep reading! Last Friday night, a remarkably instructive bit of theater was played out on the cable show Hardball. On Hardball, we got a good look at what occurs when liberals and Dems dont push back.
THEIR OWN HARRY POTTERS: Children love their Harry Potter—but the press corps has its own treasured novels. Last Friday, Naomi Wolf guested on Hardball—and we saw the remarkable way favorite stories take hold when liberals and Dems dont push back.
Instantly, guest host Mike Barnicle recited from a treasured press classic. Like everyone else in his high pundit class, he seemed to know the old story by heart:
BARNICLE (7/20/07): Naomi, lets start with you. Continuing with Hillary Clinton, the Washington Post this morning, a front page piece in the Style section about Mrs. Clinton showing cleavage on the Senate floor. You once encouraged Al Gore to wear, what, earth tones, to soften his image as—Omigod! Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones! By now, our analysts were screaming and covering their ears. But we decided to watch the whole thing—and the exchange which followed was deeply instructive. Heres what happened when Naomi told Mike that this treasured old novel is fiction:
WOLF: Mike—Mike, let me just stop you right there.Thats not what were talking about, Barnicle said. But it was the first thing out of his mouth, eight years after the novel was written. Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones! He remembered the details as clear as a bell—although the things he said he remembered hadnt really occurred.
Wolf was right—she had gone on TV to refute this claim, when the press corps was staging its latest jihad about the fake/phony Gore. More specifically, she went on ABCs This Week (11/7/99), where she told clucking Cokie Roberts, I am not a fashion consultant. As far as we know, this was the only TV program on which Wolf discussed the earth tones flap—but Barnicle thought he could clearly recall Wolf confirming the story! As such, this session provides an instructive example of the way our discourse works when the press is allowed to craft favored tales, without sufficient liberal/Dem push-back.
Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones! Barnicle offered a perfect example of the press corps love of classic fiction. Lets review the chain of events when the press corps invented this novel:
A speculation: The claim that Wolf told Gore to wear earth tones began with a speculation, by Dick Morris, reported by the Washington Posts Ceci Connolly (11/1/99). No, no one ever confirmed this speculation. But so what? CNN was reporting the speculation as fact within hours of Connollys report.We saw the result of all this nonsense on last Fridays Hardball. Here at THE HOWLER, we take Barnicle at his word; well guess that, as of Friday afternoon, he had never even heard that there might be a problem with this treasured press story. As the years have gone by, liberals and Dems have made little effort to discuss the press corps treatment of Gore. In part as a result, this particular narrative is still widely cited by mainstream journos (recent examples below). In 1999, we didnt push back—and the press corps composed a classic novel which journalists love to this day.
On Thursday night, we saw Olbermann pushing back hard. One night later, watching Barnicle, we saw what happens when push-back is missing. Americas children love Harry Potter—but the press corps has its favorite tales too. Naomi Wolf told Gore to wear earth tones! The story never made much sense, but flyweight journalists loved to tell it—and Barnicle still believes every word.
Indeed, wed have to say thats the difference. Children know Harry Potter is fiction. But when our journos invent favored tales, they cling to them, thinking theyre fact.
YOU NEVER FORGET YOUR FAVORITE NOVELS: Once these fictions get established, our journalists never seem to forget them. Ugh! Heres Guy Trebay, writing about campaign chic in yesterdays New York Times:
TREBAY (7/22/07): Voters will be hearing a lot about authenticity in the coming months. Mr. Carrick, the Democratic strategist, called it ''the one thing you've got to worry about.'''Trebay seems to think he remembers the earth tones too. Meanwhile, for a third, especially egregious example of false memory syndrome, you know what to do—just click here. Be sure to read the last paragraph.
As weve told you, journos are now allowed to say this: Al Gore never said he invented the Internet. But they never explain why they told us the opposite for so many years—and they still peddle these other fake tales. This is what happens when Dems dont push back. Like Pepperidge Farm, we should remember.
ITS A GIVHAN: Many liberals have misconstrued Robin Givhans recent piece about cleavage. Givhan is impossibly arch when she pens these silly Style pieces about the wardrobes of big politicians; they read like parodies from The Onion. But Givhan has written these pieces for years, about pols in both major parties; there is no sign that theyre meant to be partisan. It was Givhan, for example, who wrote the much-criticized, excessive piece about Katherine Harris excessive make-up (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/22/00). And guess what? In November 1999, Givhan was virtually alone in the mainstream press. Omigod! She challenged the trashing Gore was getting about those troubling earth tones:
GIVHAN (11/2/99): If presidential politics were a playground brawl, the churlish scrutiny of Al Gore's personality would be akin to getting trapped inside the monkey bars. Gore has been cornered by a pack of taunting bullies. The tormentors are calling him names: prosaic, stiff, boring.As it turned out, Givhan had purchased several Bad Facts from that churlish gang of bullies; for example, she seemed to think that Gore had just started wearing cowboy boots, one of the blatantly bogus claims her fellow journos were loudly bruiting. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/4/03, for a full discussion of this particular bit of trivia.) But she alone, in these Ground Zero precincts, said how silly this trashing really was.
Its a Givhan! This scribe is going to write absurd pieces about the wardrobes of major pols. But in the wake of her latest effort, many liberals rushed to complain about the Posts bad conservative bias. In matters like this, it wouldnt hurt if we knew whereof we spoke.
REFLEXIVE SEXISTS: We cheered the New York Times A. O. Scott when he reviewed Georgia Rules back in May. This passage captures one of our problems with Countdown:
SCOTT (5/11/07): But the movie really belongs to Ms. Fonda and Ms. Lohan, actresses whose formidable skill is often underestimated and overshadowed by off-screen notoriety. Ms. Lohan in particular has been subjected recently to the prurient, punitive gaze of an Internet gossip culture that takes special delight in the humiliation of young women with shaky discipline and an appetite for fun.Special delight in the humiliation of young women is all over cable, of course. But it galls us when were asked to buy it each night as part of a liberal news package.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Naomi Wolf told Al Gore to wear earth tones! Weve told this gruesome tale in five parts. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/7/03, with links to all five reports.