MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2003
TUCKER SPEAKS: We have a tough schedule this week; postings may be erratic. But we recommend Tucker Carlsons interview in Salon, especially the section about Carlsons 1999 Talk magazine piece on Candidate George W. Bush. In that article, Carlson reported a few unflattering facts about his interview with Bush. He reported that Bush had mocked Karla Faye Tucker during the session; Tucker was a convicted murderer who was executed in Texas while Bush was governor. Carlson also reported that Bush used repeated profanity during the interview. But when Carlsons profile of Bush hit the streets, the Bush campaign said that Carlson had invented those claims. The press corps surely knew they were lying, but the press corps knew something else as wellthey knew they had to pretend not to notice. Reason? The corps had a Mighty Script for Campaign 2000and in that script, Al Gore was the liar! The fact that the Bush campaign was lying through its teeth simply couldnt be mentioned. It was par for the course during Campaign 2000: Throughout the campaign, the press battered Gore for invented lies, and ignored real misstatements from Bush. This press corps pathology is startling to see. This was a good example, one that is well worth recalling.
Meanwhile, Carlsons interview is also intriguing for his remarks about Gary Condit. I just thought it was totally unfair to assume Condit killed Chandra Levy, Carlson says. There was never evidence, and now its obvious that he was completely railroaded, mostly by the press. In fact, it was obvious at the time that Condit was being railroaded, although few pundits will ever say so. The Washington press corps controls the press. Its own misconduct, however shocking, is simply not fit for discussion.
Indeed, the pundit corps conduct was simply astonishing in the Condit matter. During the summer of 2001, cable pundits invented two claims which made it seem that Condit may have killed Levy. They invented the claim that Levy may have been pregnanta claim which gave Condit a motive for murder. And they invented the claim that Condit had told Levy not to carry ID when she came to visita claim which made it seem that Levy had gone to visit Condit on the day she died. There was never any evidence supporting these claims, but the pundit corps flogged them all summer long. And when it became clear that these claims were false, the press corps simply refused to tell you. Of course, we reported these facts in real time (links below)although the pundit corps all knew not to notice. For the record, the late Barbara Olson played the lead role in this repulsive, repugnant affair. But many, many cable pundits sat around and pretended not to notice. For example, Larry King eternally disgraced himself in the course of this astounding affair.
Of all the press corps gross misconduct over the course of the past dozen years, the railroading of Condit is in some ways the most shocking. But always remember: Your Washington press corps is deeply dysfunctional. They display an astounding pathology, andbecause they control what you see in the pressthat pathology is almost never discussed. The facts about these two bogus claims became crystal clear by late summer 01. The pundit corps conduct was reprehensibleno, worse. Were glad to see Carlson recall it.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: The pundit corps lied about Condit all summer. By late August, the facts were perfectly clearand the pundits all knew to suppress them. See THE DAILY HOWLER 8/27/01, 8/28/01, 8/29/01 and 8/30/01. The treatment of Condit didnt change human history. But the modern press corps stunning pathology has never been more crystal-clear.
TOMORROWHOWLER HISTORY: Shortly after mocking Karla Faye Tucker, Bush clowned at a somber memorial service. Frank Bruni told youin his book. In real time, the press corps all knew to keep still.