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Daily Howler: Observers thrilled to the latest news--about a high school senior
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DADDY DUMBEST! Observers thrilled to the latest news—about a high school senior: // link // print // previous // next //

DADDY DUMBEST: We’re off on a mission of national import. But before we hit the road this day, another quick note about trivia.

How great do things get in the dog days of August? With the nation’s journos off at the beach, the nation’s news is invented by college students, writing about high school seniors.

“Daddy Dearest,” said the headline at Wash Post West. Yesterday, it was sad to see the nation’s liberals debating this piece of inane, perfect trivia in the web’s comment sections.

But then, there are no smart crowds in American politics—or in world politics or culture, for that matter. That’s just not how our human race works. Yesterday, it was proven again.

What was happening over the weekend while Slate got ready to post its big scoop? On Sunday morning, it was Daddy Dumbest, on stage in Iowa, telling the public that 1) you can raise more revenue by lowering taxes and that b) European-style health care is a socialist disaster (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/6/07). But then, pseudo-conservatives have spread this pair of flat-earth tales over the course of the past twenty years, while we liberals (and our various orgs) sat around and stared into air. Result? On Sunday, Rudy went out there and spread them again. On Monday, we giants sat around and diddled, discussing his teen-aged daughter, who describes herself as a liberal.

For our money, the foolishness reached its zenith on Hardball. Chris Matthews was chatting with Harold Shaitberger, head of the International Association of Firefighters. After denouncing Giuliani’s policies, Shaitberger said he thought the recent journalistic focus on certain candidates’ wives was “a pretty sad situation.” This conversation ensued:
SCHAITBERGER (8/6/07): Chris, I think it’s a pretty sad situation. You know, we’ve got good American jobs that are leaving our country. We have 47 million Americans that don’t have health care coverage. You know, we have schools that are in disrepair. We have an infrastructure, as we’ve seen most recently in Minnesota—

MATTHEWS: Yes, but we know that.

SHAITBERGER: And you know, to focus on the spouses—

MATTHEWS: But the problem—

SHAITBERGER: —of candidates as opposed to a focusing on the really core issues—

MATTHEWS: Right. But the front pages are filled with the news of that bridge falling down. Everybody knows you had a problem of repairing bridges. The tabloids of New York, The New York Post, page after page of stories of bridges that are falling down. It’s not like you have to choose between an interesting story, a juicy story about people’s wives and these more substantive stories.

I disagree. I don’t think it’s an either/or story. I think there is going to be a lot of focus on who these guys are married to. Anyway, thank you, Harold Shaitberger.
According to Chris, you can enjoy the “really juicy” stories—and you can get the real news too. Later in last evening’s show, he got around to Rudy’s daughter.

Chris is right. Once a bridge has fallen down, front pages are filled with the news. (Assignment: Apply this to Bush and the war in Iraq.) But Shaitberger had mentioned health care—and when Michael Moore did Hardball last month, Chris forgot to mention the most basic facts on the face of the earth; instead, he focused on how fat Michael is (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/25/07). Daddy Dumbest got to offer that bullsh*t about health care last weekend because of big newsmen like Matthews.

Chris Matthews likes the juicy stuff! “I think there is going to be a lot of focus on who these guys are married to,” he said. We have no doubt that his statement is accurate. Our suggestions? As long as we thrill to Daddy Dearest, Daddy Dumbest will be free to mislead us.

TOMORROW: Smart crowd, demon lobbyists. Also: Tom Daschle about single-payer!