ON LOAN FROM FOX! Fox has advanced a silly claimbut even the HuffPo has bought it: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2009
Defining Bachmann down, Will edition: On October 15, the New York Times did a large, two-part, front-page profile of Republican lightning rod Michele Bachmann (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/20/09). According to the Times Monica Davey, Bachmann is loathed by many Democrats for her outrageous claims and her reckless lies. But a reader would have had a hard time understanding why, so thoroughly did Davey soften Bachmanns various speeches and statements.
Davey defined Bachmanns odd statements down. On Sunday, George Will continued the process in this Washington Post op-ed column.
(To this day, Wills column is headlined thusly on-line: Bachmann: the GOPs petite pistol.)
After a foolish opening narrative which turned Bachmann into a naïf-of-the-people, Will examined twoCount em, two!of the ladys statements. In this passage, Will admits that Bachmann can sometimes misspeak. But he defines her misspeaking down nobly:
Will seemed to acknowledge that the GOPs petite pistol had gone off half-cocked on Hardball. But he defined Bachmanns mistake down quite nobly, suggesting that she had been baited by Matthewsand that shed simply taken his bait. If so, she took his bait again and again during the lengthy Hardball segment, in which she repeatedly said and suggested that Obama and various members of Congress hold views which are very anti-American. (Her words.)
Sadly, this was the only mistake Will would ascribe to Bachmann. As he continued, he said Bachmann has been criticized for supposed excesses which werent excessive at all:
Whatever one thinks of this statement by Bachmann, it simply isnt one of the speeches or statements for which she has been most heavily criticized. (We find no sign that Media Matters has ever critiqued this statement, for example.) Heroically, Will defended a straw man hereand he considered no other statements or speeches by Bachmann at all.
Was Bachmanns Hardball appearance really her only mistake? What would Will say about her long, fantastical speech in which she said and implied that the House health reform bill would put school sex clinics in every schoolsex clinics which would be run by Planned Parenthood, where 13-year-olds would get abortions without anyone telling their parents? (For the text, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/21/09.) Was Bachmann baited, or was this speech admirable? Davey soaped the speech way down. Will simply chose to avoid it.
Davey defined Bachmanns statements way down, using soft soap to make them seem milder. Will came along and defined the problem down further. If you read both the Post and the Times, you have little idea what the fuss is about when it comes to Bachmanns speeches and statements. Forget about whether theyre right or wrong: Why do some Democrats loathe Wills pistol? Given the pitiful state of our press corps, elite news consumers cant say.
Defining Carlson down too: As he closed, Will mentioned Bachmanns long-standing personal tie to Foxs Gretchen Carlson. Readers got to chuckle softly about that right-wing conspiracy crap:
Mentioning Carlson for no apparent reason, Will chuckles at the idea of a right-wing conspiracy. His column omits a related human-interest fact: When Bachmann defended one of her constituents, whose dealership had been in the family for 90 years, she was defending Carlsons parentsfurther advancing the heated claims Carlson herself had made on Fox! The Anoka dealership which led to the gangster government speech was, in fact, Carlson GM. The business has been in Carlsons family since 1919. For background, just click here.
No, it isnt especially relevant. But the analysts chuckled at the selective way Will evoked Carlsons greatness.
PART 1ON LOAN FROM FOX: Sunday was a very dumb day on cable. Howard Kurtz, who plainly isnt dumb, was especially dumb on Reliable Sources, entertaining a string of trivial topics which ended up in a long, tasteless discussion about the hot new sex scandal involving Steve Phillips.
Say what? Who is Steve Phillips, you ask. To which we say: Exactly! Phillips is a thoroughly minor media playerbut he apparently got it on with an underling at ESPN, forgetting to tell his wife in the process. This allowed Howie and two fevered pals to waste a good chunk of valuable time talking about Hot Monkey Sex. Where did their fevered discussion end? Let's be honest. The biggest reason this is in the news is because she's not real good looking, one of Kurtzs panelists said, at the end, referring to the unknown Phillips even less-known gal pal.
But so it goes in the endless wasteland described as cable news.
But the dumbest part of this program came first, when Kurtz and a Gang of Three discussed the recent White House complaints about Fox News. Guess what, people? Your press corps is deeply conceptually challenged. This point became clear, once again, when conservative pundit Amanda Carpenter held forth in defense of Fox:
With no challenge from Kurtz whatsoever, Carpenter voiced the thoroughly standard, numb-nutted theory: Its silly to complain about opinion programs.
News shows? Sure! You can gripe about them! But Glenn and Sean? Thats just opinion! The White House is acting like they dont know the difference, Carpenter numb-nuttedly said. And just like that, HuffPos Nico Pitney jumped in to accept her distinction:
Pitney seemed to buy Carpenters theory. Rather than say her distinction was bunk, he seemingly rushed to advance it. Rather than challenge her numb-nut distinction, he said that Foxs news programming has a slant too. To all appearances, he was upset about what had been said about that gay staffer because it was said by an anchor.
The conservative said it, the liberal bought itand the host didnt utter a word of challenge. But then, the first person who purchased this worthless theory was the programs professor--our semi-buddy, Jane Hall. Hall has done some very good work through the years. But early on, at the top of the segment, she bought the claim too. And look where the claim started out!
Uh-oh! In this early exchange, Kurtz attributed this distinction to Fox, where it got started a few weeks ago. And Hall said you do have to buy it.
Its just opinion, Fox keeps saying. It doesnt make sense to criticize that! This is an utterly silly claim. But all sectors of the press and pundit corps seem to keep on buying it. Your press corps is deeply conceptually challenged. As always, you pay the price.
This is an utterly silly claim. In the current dispute, it came from Fox. Their claim doesnt make a lick of sense. Last Friday, our Rhodes Scholar bought it.
TomorrowPart 2: Rachel too.