TED AND COLIN, SITTIN IN A TREE! Koppel makes a joke of your interests when he pals with the people he covers.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2004
SANGER GETS IT RIGHT: Standing forlorn on his Malibu hilltop, Michael Kinsley stares out to sea, hemmed in by his orders conventions. But in the mornings New York Times, David Sanger moves those conventions ahead. In his report on Bushs speech in New Jersey, Sanger tells you, in almost-simple English, that parts of the speech ignored elements of Mr. Kerry's record and stated positions in a way that paints an incomplete or distorted portrait of his approach. As bad as the coverage of this election has been, reports like Sangers and those of Jim Vandehei have moved the press corps conventions forward. When candidates make misleading statements, reporters have simply started to say so. This is a vast improvement in journalistic method. This morning, Kinsley still weeps bitter tears into his wine. But at the Times, David Sanger gets it right.
TED AND COLIN, SITTIN IN A TREE: Ted Koppel had purchased his latest fast car. And he wanted to show this new baby off. And then he had it! He knew what hed do! Hed show it off to one of the worlds most powerful men—one of the men he allegedly covers. Indeed, well let Colin Powell take the story from there. Powell was speaking at a roast Thursday night. His remarks were transcribed and presented in Saturdays Post. Every American should read them and ponder their meaning:
POWELL (10/14/04): Every couple of years, Ted will come by my house on the spur of the moment and we'll sit in the back yard and have a cup of coffee. And he's usually driving one of his hot cars. He always has a fast car of some kind. And so about, oh, four or five years ago, he came by the house and he had this real muscle car, and after we had a cup of coffee and chatted for a while, he says, You've got to take it out and drive it, Colin. You've just got to drive this thing. I want you to feel that power.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Everyone laughed at the fatuous story, because the tale had been told by a powerful man. And by the way, in answer to Powells question, how much are they paying Koppel at ABC? Theyre paying him millions of dollars—and he makes a joke of his responsibilities by driving around in his fast muscle cars, playing best buddy with the powerful people whom he allegedly covers.
Leave aside the embarrassing spectacle of Ted Koppel, alleged grown man, showing off his latest fast car. Some little people just never grow up, and Koppel may be one of their number. But couldnt Koppel have had the decency—sorry, lets say it; the personal integrity—to drive around and show off his car for someone who isnt a Bush Admin honcho? Someone he doesnt allegedly cover? For example, would it have killed poor Ted to show off his car for some other vacuous press corps member? To drive it over to Russerts house and make him pretend to be interested?
Good God! What makes it amazing is the way these people discuss this conduct right out in public! We dont make a point of collecting these items; for example, we didnt bother discussing that McCain birthday party which compromised member of your press corps attended during the GOP convention (more below). But people like Koppel are so blatant about their conflicts that they do become a bit hard to ignore. Examples? Over the course of the past few years, weve discussed Bob Schieffer playing golf with George Bush; Gwen Ifill giving home-cooked meals to Condi Rice; and Tim Russert off at Don Rumsfelds Christmas party, loudly telling all in attendance about his dreams of the previous night (links below). All of these people then go on the air and pretend to cover the people they pal with. Are you really surprised when a flunkee like Ifill goes on the air and rolls over for Condi? Or when all the rest of her compromised cohort pretend that the session was boffo?
Marie Antionette had a gang like this—besotted fools drunk with their income and power. And oh by the way: What else did Koppel do Thursday night, after he left the Powell roast? When Powell stood to speak, he explained: Ted had to leave. He's got to do this late-night show that nobody watches. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Everyone laughed at the fatuous quip because a plupotent fellow had told it. But yes, thats right—Koppel left the roast to do Nightline. And maybe thats why he was so unprepared when the show went on the air—when John ONeill lied in his face that night. Earlier that day, Koppel had found plenty of time to pal around with the people he covers—and no time for some simple background reading. Maybe thats why he didnt know jack when John ONeill lied in his face.
Marie Antoinette surrounded herself with Ted Koppels; today, we suffer under his reign. He has plenty of time to drive around in fast cars. He has plenty of tiome to roast his pal Powell. But he doesnt have time to prepare himself to talk about your White House election! Thats right, kids: Ifill rolled over when she interviewed Rice, and Koppel failed to prepare for ONeill. At ABC, they pay him millions of dollars—and we get the result that largesse always brings. We get insolence, ineptitude, conflict and compromise—we get the fruits of Koppel unprepared. When will this silly man leave us alone and drive around in his fast cars all day?
THANK GOD ITS THURSDAY: A few of our readers wrote to say that ONeill looked stupid with Koppel last Thursday. That may be true, but Koppel was vastly unprepared, and ONeill persistently made false statements that his host left uncorrected. And yes, we pay a price for such incompetence. For example, heres part of an e-mail we got about Thursdays show:
E-MAIL (10/15/04): ABC is claiming that by interviewing some Vietnamese they are able to debunk the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Now, I know you disagree with these guys, but I think that it is important to note that ABC is actually debunking John Kerry! The Swifties have been making the point that Kerry's own interview with the Boston Globe contradicts the citation he received for his Silver Star. Shall I repeat that? The Swifties point out that the Boston Globe story differs from the citation account. So ABC has been able to debunk the Boston Globe story, NOT the Swifties. Additionally, ABC has been able to debunk the David Brinkley biography of Kerry, which also contradicts the citation account.Our e-mailer drew an obvious conclusion from Koppels session with ONeill. Repeatedly, he saw ONeill make a striking claim: The Boston Globe and Douglas Brinkley agree with ONeill on the Silver Star matter! That claim by ONeill was blatantly false, but Koppel, unprepared, never challenged it. Why wouldnt a reasonable observer assume that this claim was correct?
So lets review Ted Koppels big day. He wasted time at a fatuous dinner haw-hawing with the people he covers. He left, and drove his fast car to the studio—and was vastly unprepared when he got there! He hadnt done his background reading, and ONeill was able to play him for a fool. Result? All over the country, reasonable people drew a reasonable—but bogus—conclusion.
Marie Antoinette was surrounded by Koppels. Teds values? He doesnt want his neighbors McMansions to get bigger than his, and he wants to show off his fast muscle cars to the powerful—to the people he allegedly covers. The French got rid of Antoinettes friends. The Koppels, being deeply entrenched, will be a bit harder to move.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: In the midst of a deeply controversial war, Russert showed off his brilliance at Rummys big party (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/16/03 and 12/17/03). Ifill gave home-cooked meals to Rice, then rolls over for Rice on the NewsHour (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/11/03). Schieffer played golf with his best buddy Bush—then threw him a softball about his religion (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/14/04). And Koppel was disturbed by the size of his neighbors McMansions (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/3/03). Who are the people who steward your discourse? Read that HOWLER about Koppels real values. Then make a tough choice. Laugh or cry.
EXTRA CREDIT: Jim Lehrer spends his time writing novels and attending chic parties—then says he wasnt smart enough to ask the most obvious pre-war questions. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/17/04.
THUS COMMENCED CAMPAIGN 2008: The night before the GOP convention in New York, John McCain threw himself a big party. All the usuals knew what to do. Richard Leiby told all in Reliable Sources:
LEIBY (8/31/04): Sen. John McCain tended to his political base Sunday night: the entire national media. The maverick Arizona Republican, once (and future?) presidential aspirant and press secretary's dream, hosted a hyper-exclusive 68th birthday party for himself at La Goulue on Madison Avenue, leaving no media icon behind. Guests included NBC's Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert, ABC's Peter Jennings, Barbara Walters, Ted Koppel and George Stephanopoulos, CBS's Mike Wallace, Dan Rather and Bob Schieffer, CBS News President Andrew Heyward, ABC News chief David Westin, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, CNN's Judy Woodruff and Jeff Greenfield, MSNBC's Chris Matthews, CNBC's Gloria Borger, PBS's Charlie Rose—pause here to exhale—and U.S. News & World Report publisher Mort Zuckerman, Washington Post Chairman Don Graham, New York Times columnists William Safire and David Brooks, author Michael Lewis and USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro. They and others dined on lobster salad, loin of lamb, assorted wines, creme brulee, lemon souffle and French tarts...All the usuals inhaled McCains wine. But then, if youve followed their work, you wont be surprised by their groaning state of conflict. Thus commenced Campaign 2008, the Posts Leiby mordantly said.
ERIC BURNS SHOULD RETRACT IT: As usual, we said what would happen. Bob Schieffer, host of the third debate, is a long-time personal friend of George Bush. Despite that, we told you what would surely occur; we told you that conservative hacks would yell liberal bias about Scheiffers performance! So now, lets cue the latest such hack. Three days after the Scheiffer debate, Cal Thomas fulfilled our prophecy on Fox News Watch. Neal Gabler said the rise of the Internet made it harder for the media to spin the winner of such debates. Thomas offered a quick reply—and his statement was utterly bogus:
THOMAS (1/16/04): Well, that doesn't keep them from trying. CBS declared that the presidency was slipping from George W. Bush. Some of the questions—Of course, Schieffer also asked Kerry if its a sin to vote for someone like him, while tossing Bush a big squishy softball about his own religious outlook. But never mind! It was just as we so sagely foretold! Bush was being questioned by his best golfing buddy—but Thomas was eager to tell the world that Schieffers questions had betrayed liberal bias! (Note: None of the panelists mentioned the fact that Bob Scheiffer and his brother Tom are long-time Bush friends and associates.)
But lets ignore Thomas view about those questions; lets consider what he said about the CBS analysis. CBS declared that the presidency was slipping from George W. Bush, he told Eric Burns—and his statement was blatantly false. Burns does an excellent job on this program; that said, we defy him to go through the CBS transcript and find anything that even dimly resembles the comment Thomas alleges. Who knows? Maybe Cal was just having a vision. Or maybe he lied in Burns face.
Sorry, readers—we cant link you to the CBS transcript. Someone has to pay Schieffers salary, so CBS wants you to pay for its transcripts. (We will give you excerpts; see below.) But we told you last week what would happen. Liberal bias is the most potent political propaganda point of Americas past half-century. Hacks like Thomas yell it always—even when the moderator is a friend of Bush! But Thomas claim about CBS was simply, plainly, blatantly false. So we plan to do something we rarely do. We plan to e-mail Burns (not his fault!) and insist he retract this fake comment.
EXCERPTS: During the CBS post-debate broadcast, Dan Rather asked two correspondents for their opinion. Here was his first exchange, with Jim Axelrod:
RATHER (10/13/04): Let's go now to Arizona and CBS News correspondent Jim Axelrod. Jim, high point, low point of this joint appearance?No, Axelrod didnt declare that the presidency was slipping from George Bush. In fact, he displayed the type of defiant balance we have commented on before. Rather then threw to correspondent John Roberts. For once in his life, Roberts guessed at a winner. But he didnt make Cals fake claim either:
RATHER: Now, John Roberts, high point and low point of the debate so far as you could see it here.Roberts said he would probably say that Kerry won (a judgment that was validated by the overnight polls) although it was a really tough one to call. But he quickly said that probably not a whole lot would change as a result of the evening.
Sorry, readers—it just didnt happen. In the half-hour CBS program, no one declared that the presidency was slipping from George W. Bush. In fact, no one said anything dimly like that. Cal was just making up stories again. He yelled liberal bias, just the way we predicted—and Eric Burns needs to retract it.