THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2003
EXPERTS AT CLOWNING: Amazing, isnt it? Amazing to think that the Washington Monthlys panel of experts judged that a trivial private JOKE was actually George Bushs fifth biggest lie! But this is the clowning our nation is handed by the Monthlys fatuous Mendacity Index (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/3/03). We dont even know what Bush said in his JOKE, and his comment, after all, was only a JOKE, voiced in private to only one person. But according to the Monthlys Index, this private JOKEthey dont know what Bush saidwas more serious than his groaning misstatements from the fall of 2000, the widely-repeated public misstatements which helped put the Texan in office. How in the world did the Monthly manage to hand us such consummate nonsense?
The answer, dear readers, lies not in the starsit lies in the list of the experts. Why on earth did the Monthlys Index skip the misstatements of Candidate Bush? Good news! One of the experts is Margaret Carlson, and she explained, back in real time, why those misstatements by Bush were ignored. Weve reported this grisly story before, so well move through it quickly this time.
On Tuesday, October 10, 2000, Carlson appeared on Imus in the Morning to discuss press coverage of Bush and Gores first debate. As she noted, Gore was being slammed as a liar because of a few exceptionally trivial misstatements. (To state the obvious, most of Gores alleged misstatements werent misstatements at all.) Much larger howlers were being ignoredmisstatements by Bush about policy matters. Speaking with Imus, Carlson explained the corps double standard. Here was Carlson, explaining why Bushs groaners were being ignored:
CARLSON: Gores fabrications may be inconsequentialI mean, theyre about his life. Bushs fabrications are about our life, and what hes going to do. Bushs should matter more but they dont, because Gores we can disprove right here and now. We cant disprove that theres going to be a chicken in every pot.According to Carlson, the press had focused on what was easy to disprove. She went into gruesome detail:
CARLSON: You can actually disprove some of what Bush is saying if you really get in the weeds and get out your calculator or you look at his record in Texas. But its really easy, and its fun, to disprove Gore.It was easy and fun to disprove Gores errors! Carlson took her presentation through one more appalling iteration:
CARLSON: I actually happen to know people who need government, and so they would care more about the programs, and [less] about the things we kind of make fun of But as sport, and as our enterprise, Gore coming up with another whopper is greatly entertaining to us. And we can disprove it in a way we cant disprove these other things.What an astonishing presentation! According to Carlson, the press was pursuing Gores trivial errors because it was greatly entertaining to do so. Meanwhile, they were ignoring Bushs more serious errors because they werent as easy to disprove! According to Carlson, Candidate Gore was being flogged because it was entertaining and fun. The coverage was sport, Carlson said.
Most of what Carlson said this day was completely disingenuous, of course. In fact, there was nothing especially hard about disproving Bushs Debate I errors; the press corps simply preferred not to do so. For example, Bushs basic presentation about his budget plan was baldly inaccuratebut Paul Krugman had already explained this point three separate times in his New York Times column. It was easy to explain this misstatementbut the press corps chose not to do so. For reasons only they can explain, the corps had gone in the bag for Bush. And, as their work makes abundantly clear, the press corps was gunning for Gore.
But why were Bushs groaning misstatements MIA in the Monthlys Index? Why did the Index flog a JOKE and ignore the misstatements which put Bush into office? Simple! In real time, the Washington press corps went in the bag when Bush made these groaning misstatements. It was fun and entertaining to go after Gore, and so they ignored Bushs errors. And now, they dont intend to look back. Thats right, gang! The Washington Monthly continues to con you, covering up what their cohort did in the fall of 2000. That part of your history has been disappeared. Youre handed total nonsense instead.
How deeply dysfunctional is your Washington press corps? How deeply corrupt are its honored members? Just look at that clowning Monthly feature. It helps you see where their expertise liesand it helps you see the screaming contempt in which they hold every normal American. Yikes! What in the world could make bright young scribes sing the praise of such consummate clowning?