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Daily Howler: The Times' twin stooges, Dowd and Rich, predictably swung into action
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TWIN TOWERS! The Times’ twin stooges, Dowd and Rich, predictably swung into action: // link // print // previous // next //

POST DOES IT AGAIN: On Sunday, the Post put another elementary school on its page, hailing its “remarkable results.” Tomorrow, we review that school’s actual test scores. Will this paper ever learn? Or is this done on purpose?

SATURDAY NIGHT JIVE: When the Village acts, it acts in concert. Last Tuesday, the famous “Lost Boys” of NBC News went after Candidate Clinton quite hard. This always happens, they and their stool pigeons said; as always, they were lying (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/2/07). But even we found it hard to believe the way they extended their quest this past weekend. Indeed, even Katherine “Kit” Seelye seemed to think it was odd. She reports in this morning’s Times:
SEELYE (11/5/07): ''Saturday Night Live'' has relentlessly mocked Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and this weekend allowed Senator Barack Obama, a chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, to join in the skewering.

The comedy show portrayed Mrs. Clinton dressed as a bride at a Halloween party, while the actors playing Bill Clinton and some of the other Democratic candidates called her a witch. All the candidates were lampooned except Mr. Obama, extending what some rival campaigns privately complain is a glut of positive news coverage.
Huh! Obama was allowed to gaze nobly about while other people called Clinton a witch. “All the candidates were lampooned except Mr. Obama,” Seelye coolly noted. “Obama's lines...echoed his refrain that he is more genuine than Mrs. Clinton is,” she said, getting quite near the point.

For full details on the witch-burning skit, you can read Seelye’s report. But even this vigilant media watch-dog failed to report the oddness involved in a later part of the hilarious program.

Handsome NBC anchor Brian Williams guest-hosted the show. “[T]here was considerable preshow discussion about whether his appearance would compromise his journalistic integrity,” Seelye writes, perhaps attempting some humor herself. In the Post, Tom Shales describes another segment from the program:
SHALES (11/5/07): Among the other highlights [sic] of the show were yet another appearance by Poehler, this time as the elfin Dennis Kucinich during a spoof of the recent Democratic debate at Drexel University, which Williams did in fact moderate...
But this “spoof” struck us as odd—and as oddly instructive. In the skit, we saw the male Democratic candidates, before the debate, conspiring together to go after Clinton. But it was odd! Mike Gravel absent from Tuesday’s debate) was suddenly present on SNL—and high-minded Barack Obama was not! Yep! You saw the other candidates conspiring against Clinton—everyone except high-minded Obama! (Even Richardson, who refused to take part in Tuesday’s auto-da-fe, was shown taking part on SNL.) Meanwhile, guess who else was missing from this “spoof?” Of course—Brian Williams himself, the man who (along with Tim Russert) played the lead role in Tuesday’s attacks against Clinton. To state the obvious, what happened last Tuesday could not have occurred if Russert and Williams didn’t direct it. But SNL disappeared Obama from the conspiring—and their own ten-million buck man.

It’s only Saturday Night Live, you say—and in saying that, you’re perfectly right. But this war is going to build from here. And the journalistic instigators of this war will always, by law, disappear.

Special report: Welch’s at war!

READ EACH THRILLING INSTALLMENT: Last Tuesday night, at that Dem debate, Jack Welch’s famous “Lost Boys” went to war. Why not read each installment?
PART 1: Russert’s concern about dishonesty extended to no one but Clinton. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/07.

PART 2: This always happens, the pundits have said. As always, their statement is false. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/2/07.
In Part 3, two Great Big Dopes present their familiar viewpoints:

PART 3—TWIN TOWERS: Three cheers for Digby, for penning this highly salient post! She links to eriposte, who discusses the latest bit of “journalistic malpractice” (Digby’s term) committed by Nantucket nabob Tim Russert in last week’s Democratic debate. (This bit of “journalistic malpractice” involves Russert’s apparently bogus claims about the National Archives. Yes, this pretty much started with Sally Bedell Smith, the purring, pearl-wearing heiress from Hell whom the Village has dragged from its attic.) Noticing the strange double standards Russert is suddenly employing, Digby pictures what will occur if a Democrat wins the White House next year:
DIGBY: Grab the Maalox kids because I can feel it in my gut... Come 2009, if a Democrat wins the presidency, the Village press will finally wake up from its 8 year somnambulent drool and rediscover its "conscience" and its "professionalism." The Republicans will only have to breathe their character assassination lightly into the ether—the Village gossips will do the rest. And if this new president resists in any way, a primal scream will build until he or she is forced to appoint a special counsel to investigate the "cover up" and grovel repeatedly in forced acts of contrition in response to manufactured GOP hissy fits and media hysteria. We're going forward into the past (and judging from the haircut nonsense we've already seen, it isn't confined to Clinton.)
Nor will the trashing likely be confined to Clinton as a candidate in the general election. Yes, Russert and company are targeting Clinton now, and are therefore lobbing softballs to Edwards and Obama. But if you think they won’t turn on them in a general campaign—well, we won’t make a firm prediction. But as Digby says: The Village assigned a crackpot pseudo-conservative minder to the last Democratic president, just eighteen months into his first term. If you think they won’t do that (or something like it) again, we don’t know where you’ve been living over the past fifteen years.

And the Times’ Twin Stooges, Rich and Dowd, will surely be there to help. Dowd is a crackpot, Rich just a snob; but this has translated into a decade or more of attacks on Dem leaders’ characters. In the case of Rich, a President Obama would be a less likely target; Dowd will play the fool in all cases. (She has already hissed and spat at Obama’s troubling wife—just as she hiss-spat Dean’s vile wife during the 2004 primaries.) But their brainless skills were on full display as they trashed Clinton in yesterday’s paper. Readers, let’s start with the one you still love. Let’s start with village idiot Rich.

Will liberals and Democrats ever tire of getting played—talked down to—by this big dope? He has hated the Clintons and Gore with a passion. Even after Gore’s brilliant film was released last year, Rich still ran to his brilliant friend, Imus, to tell him how fake and phony Gore is. (Needless to say, Gore was just doing this as a way to run for president, Rich assured us.) You can’t get dumber and still draw breath—nor can you be a bigger phony yourself. But readers, be honest! Don’t you tire of being talked down to like this:
RICH (11/4/07): In 2002 Senators Clinton, Biden, John Kerry, John Edwards and Chris Dodd all looked over their shoulders at such polls. They and the party's Congressional leaders, Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt, voted for the Iraq war resolution out of the cynical calculation that it would inoculate them against charges of wussiness...

We know how smart this strategic positioning turned out to be. Weeks later the Democrats lost the Senate.

This time around, with the exception of Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic candidates seem to be saying what they really believe rather than trying to play both sides against the middle. Only Mrs. Clinton voted for this fall's nonbinding Kyl-Lieberman Senate resolution, designed by its hawk authors to validate Mr. Bush's Iran policy.
“Analysis” can’t get dumber. Let us explain the principle here: When pols disagree on the merits of something, you say that the pols who share your view “seem to be saying what they really believe.” (The pols who don’t share your view are just faking.) There simply can’t be honest disagreement. In Richville, the pols who agree with you are honest. The other pols, sadly, are not.

No: Commentary can’t get dumber. Readers, don’t you ever tire of getting handed this crap by Frank Rich ?

Is Clinton saying what she thinks about Kyl-Lieberman? We don’t have the slightest idea. Nor do we have any idea if the other hopefuls considered the politics of their votes, or their subsequent positions. (Duh. Clinton cast the less popular vote in terms of primary politics.) But Frankly, the merits seem to be less clear here than Rich would have us rubes believe. Instantly, he compares the Kyl-Lieberman vote to the October 2002 vote on the war resolution (in our view, the worst vote in Senate history). But here’s what this great good man doesn’t tell you: He doesn’t tell you that many Democratic senators who voted against the war resolution also voted for Kyl-Lieberman. These men and women aren’t running for president; they weren’t shaping their votes on that basis. Just for the record, here they are—ten Democratic senators who voted “no” on the war resolution, but later voted “yes” on Kyl-Lieberman. (Cardin and Menendez voted “no” on the resolution while still in the House.):
1) Daniel Akaka, Hawaii
2) Ben Cardin, Maryland
3) Kent Conrad, North Dakota
4) Dick Durbin, Illinois
5) Carl Levin, Michigan
6) Robert Menendez, New Jersey
7) Barbara Mikulski, Maryland
8) Patty Murray, Washington
9) Jack Reed, Rhode Island
10) Debbie Stabenow, Michigan
Durbin, of course, is an Obama supporter. He voted “yes” on Kyl-Lieberman—after voting “no” on the war resolution. Did he cast his vote on Kyl-Lieberman for the vile reasons Rich attributes to vile Clinton? Or how about our own senators, right here in Maryland? In 2002, both Maryland senators (Mikulski and Sarbanes) had the good sense to vote “no” on the war resolution—along with Cardin, then in the House. Last month, Cardin and Mikulski voted “yes” on Kyl-Lieberman. It’s hard to believe they did that for electoral reasons; Cardin won’t run again until 2012, Mikulski is a state institution. So tell us: Why did Mikulski and Cardin (and Durbin; and Levin) cast “yes” votes on Kyl-Lieberman? Were they just being dishonest too, the way Rich tells you Clinton was? For ourselves, we’d have to guess that the merits of this amendment may be less clear than Rich wants us rubes to believe. But don’t worry: The merits will never be explored in the press. Exploring the merits is boring.

Meanwhile, there was Dowd, hiss-spitting at her favorite target—and helping Russert get disappeared. Dowd knew what her cohort must say. And she knew she must say it snidely:
DOWD (11/4/07): I must rush to a sister's defense.

Women need to rally to support Hillary and send her money because there are men, men like Tim Russert, who have the temerity to ask her questions during a debate. If there are six male rivals on stage and two male moderators and heaven knows how many men manning lights and boom mikes, the one woman should have the right to have it two ways.

It's simple math, really, an estrogen equation.
No, you can’t get dumber than Dowd. But despite her bouts of the screaming mimis, she knows her cohort’s current script. She’s part of the gender-disordered, 50s-era, Irish-Catholic crowd which has made such a mess of so much modern journalism—and she knows what she is required to say about last week’s astounding debate: Her soul-mate, Tim Russert, did nothing unusual. He just “ha[d] the temerity to ask her questions,” Dowd says. Translation: This always happens.

But then, all around the mainstream press, you see Williams and Russert being disappeared as pundits discuss last Tuesday’s debate. As we tried to show you in Friday’s post, there has never been a presidential debate that even dimly resembled last Tuesday’s—and it was the moderators who broke from all known precedent, thereby turning the evening’s proceedings into an auto-da-fe. Russert and Williams targeted Clinton in a way no hopeful has ever been targeted; the only comparison we could offer would be Judy Woodruff’s gruesome work in the last Gore-Bradley New Hampshire debate. But so what? Village denizens like Dowd will struggle to keep you from knowing such things. Tim was just asking questions, they’ll say. Dearest darlings: This always occurs!

Our advice? Go back to Friday’s post; check the questions Russert asked Bush when Bush was his party’s big front-runner. There, you’ll see how you’re being played when the press spreads its latest bull-roar. Last Tuesday’s debate was simply astounding, an open attempt to take out Clinton. It always happens, the press corps will say. And oh yes—we can tell who is honest!

TOMORROW—PART 4: Were Edwards, Obama, Biden, Dodd being honest? How in the world can we tell?

WEDNESDAY—PART 5: Puffing Russert

MORE DATA: In October 2002, twenty-one Democratic senators voted “no” on the war resolution. (As a general matter, “yes” votes were cast by red-state Dems—and by White House hopefuls.) Sixteen of those solons remain in the senate; eight of the 16 voted “yes” on Kyl-Lieberman. (Cardin and Menendez make it ten.) Whatever you might judge the merits to be, this was not a rogue vote by Clinton. And this involves a lot of the more liberal Dems—the ones who voted “no” at the start.

Eight of the 16 voted with Clinton—including a big Obama supporter. Apparently, they’re all dishonest too. Frankly, we’ve learned this from Rich.