THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2003
THERE THEY WENT AGAIN: At first, when it happened, we blamed it on Fox. Tuesday morning, we were watching (and taping) Fox & Friends, the most hideous TV news program ever broadcast. We wanted to see how the friends would react to Al Gores impending endorsement of Deanand sure enough, we werent disappointed. Instantly, the friends played the poor Joe Lieberman boo hoo hoo card; by that night, it was Requisite Spin, required of all Fox performers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03, to revisit Susan Estrichs reading). But then, as the Friends crew began to sign off, we saw what we thought was a Fox News original. As the gang began taking its leave, clowning co-host Steve Doocy said this:
DOOCY (12/9/03): You know, its interesting, Al Gore, the man who once took credit for inventing the InternetFor the record, Doocys statement was so stupid that a bit of Fox history occurred: One of his co-hosts, E. D. Hill, interrupted and said he was wack! Thats a misnomer (sic), she saidbut Doocy, a half-wit, just kept on going. The fatuous co-host is paid large sums to peddle his well-scripted brand of buffoonism. So never mind what Hill had said. Doocy reprised his performance:
DOOCY: No, he took credit once for inventing the Internet, has thrown his weight behind this man who is using it to raise millions of dollars!Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Well, that does it for a very interesting Fox & Friends, Hill replied. She pretended to scold her dumb-assed friend with her eyes, and mercifully, the program was over.
As we said, we chalked it up to Fox. Al Gore said he invented the Internet? After all, this inane bit of spin is so discredited that even E. D. Hill called it bogus! We marveled that Doocy would still clown this way, and we spent the day in Deep Pundit Thought. Had Gore endorsed Dean to get back at Clinton? Or was it really his hatred of Kerrys big hair? Like all top observers, we pondered Gores motivesand ignored the things Gore really said.
But Al Gore said he invented the Internet would end up a growth stock this day. Members of your simpering press corps would stroke their thighs with the classic old groanerindeed, some had already used Doocys joke, even before Doocy did! Lets repeat: The pleasing claim is so discredited that even E. D. Hill renounced it! But you know those major pundits, with their Millonaire Pundit Values. Simpering ciphers gave the tale one more runand they made a rank joke of your discourse.
It all began on Monday night. Readers, remember when you still respected Joe Klein? On Monday, Klein turned up on Paula Zahn Now. He performed for the beautiful Paula:
ZAHN (12/8/03): Ive heard people say tonight, Joe Klein, that the fact that Al Gore is perceived as such an insider sort of detracts from Howard Deans effort to be perceived as an outsider.Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Klein clowned for the ravishing Paula. And the next morning, Steve Doocy did not stand alone. Remember your faded respect for Jeff Greenfield? Tuesday morning, Greenfield appearing on CNNs American Morning. The clever man enjoyed an old trick. He didnt actually say it himself. No, he just read someones e-mail:
GREENFIELD (12/9/03): And the third thing I would mention, and Im not being flipJack Cafferty read us an e-mail about somebody who said well, of course Gore likes an Internet-based campaign, he invented the Internet!Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Meanwhile, that afternoon, on Live from CNN, Miles OBrien interviewed Ken Rudin. Remember he invented the Internet, which helps Howard Dean, Rudin quipped. In reply, OBrien scolded Gore for his mismanners and rude behavior toward Lieberman. But he didnt say a word about Rudins dumb-assed misstatement.
By now, we were beginning to rethink our first take on Fox. Indeed, four different hosts had been offered The Joke, and only Hill had dared to correct it! And dont worryother Major Mainstream Pundits would soon join in the clowning. For example, Clarence Page had a column to write. The famous pundit sat and pondered. Wednesday morning, all Chicago read this:
PAGE (12/10/03): Gore, the techno gadget freak, must be impressed with how well Dean's new-wave campaign machine rides on the cutting edge of technologies adapted to populist politics. Deans ability to draw crowds, organize local campaigns and raise funds has broken all expectations by his use of the device Gore once inaccurately claimed to have invented, the Internet.Truly, these creatures cant be human. Weve told you this many times in the past. Perhaps now you finally believe it.
But how inane will your press corps be? If you thought we were through, your faith still runs deep. Two more sightings cry out for special mention.
Sighting one: Wednesday morning, Linda Feldmann and Liz Marlantes discussed the endorsement in the Christian Science Monitor. Yes, incredibly, they did write these words. And yes, that is their punctuation:
FELDMANN/MARLANTES (12/10/03): If you understand the Internet, you understand that this is the coming to fruition of the full potential of the Internet, and that Dean has used it to transform politics, says Elaine Kamarck, an adviser to Gore who teaches at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.Good Lord! In a syndrome weve discussed before (links below), Feldmann even put invented inside quotes. Good Lord! Its the one word Feldmann put inside quotesand its the one word which Gore never said!
But we saved our favorite sighting for last. How inane are your Millionaire Pundits? Yesterday morning, the e-mails began appearing. Tim Russert had guested on Letterman Tuesday night, andhere, let one e-mailer tell you:
E-MAILER (12/10/03): I caught a bit of Tim Russert on David Letterman [last night]. I found their crocodile tears for poor Joe Lieberman quite pathetic. That was the themedo these guys get together on this or what? Russert again claiming that Gore envied Dean since he invented the internet but Dean figured out how to use it. As you say, the clowning was pathetic.No one seems to have written up Russerts appearance, and no, Letterman doesnt do transcripts. But we received five separate e-mails, all complaining that Tim told The Joke.
So lets see. E. D. Hill knew the comment was bogusbut Russert ran on TV to recite it! Of course, you know why the self-impressed superstar would have done such a thing. Its all because of the way he grew up! You may recall what he told Bernie Goldberg (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/1/03):
RUSSERT (page 80): Bernie, theres not a moment when Im sitting there on Meet the Press when Im not thinking about my dad Its the way our dad engaged usalways give the other guy the benefit of the doubt but hear him out. Hear him out. And dont dismiss him, and dont brand him as anything.Or maybe Russert clowned for Dave because of those schools he attended:
RUSSERT (page 79): I also believe that going to the schools I didSt. Bonaventure school, Canisius High School, John Carroll Universitythese are not fashionable, elitist schools. These are schools where you learn to read and write and learn right from wrong.No wonder Russerts so wonderful! And dont forget where he picked up that one basic value:
RUSSERT (page 79): Ive worked on garbage trucks. I drove a taxi. I tended bar. I delivered pizzas. I worked with liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites; thats how you grew up in this interesting world, and people were always simply judged on their quality as a person: Did they tell the truth?Did they tell the truth! Tuesday morning, E. D. Hill did. But Doocy, her partner, kept right on clowning, and soon Much Bigger Clowns were mocking their dads and making a joke of your discourse.
HEATHERS: If they didnt exist, you couldnt invent them. All around the Celebrity Press, those Millionaire Pundit Values are showing. Whats the real story behind Gores endorsement? Pundits have decided that question: The real story is the way Al Gore was incredibly rude to Joe Lieberman! Check out Richard Cohens column in this mornings Post, for example. According to Cohen, Gore betrayed and trashed Lieberman, knifed him in his back, and showed how squalid politics can be. Dont misunderstand me, Cohen says. Gore was under no obligation to endorse Lieberman. But even though Cohen mentions the war in passing, he soon is wondering why Gore really did it. Readers, these people just cant help themselves. Cohen was puzzling hard:
COHEN: [O]verwhelmingly, I am left with the impression that policy was wed to the personal in this case Was Gore taking a swipe at Bill Clinton, who some think favors the candidacy of Wes Clark? Was he somehow positioning himself to take on Hillary Clinton in 2008? Was he simply chafing to get back in the arenaand what better way than to do the unexpected?Or maybe it was Kerrys hair! Lets have someone check with Mickey! Meanwhile, read David Broders accompanying column. The headline reads: Gores Puzzling Intervention. And guess what? As Broder explores the puzzle of Gores endorsement, he pulls a brilliant Susan Estrich. Thats right! As he puzzles the reason for Gores endorsement, he never mentions the reason Gore gaveDeans opposition to the war in Iraq. Broder skips Gores own explanation. Instead, he cites a pointless survey and says it makes Gores action strange:
BRODER: Kohuts national poll of Democrats showed four candidates bunched within the margin of errorDean, Clark, Lieberman and Gephardtwith none having more than 15 percent support In the light of that survey and others like it, Gores decision to intervene earlyand especially his call on Dean's rivals to close ranks behind the governoris one of the more eccentric developments in modern political history.There isnt a mention of Gore-on-Iraq in the entire column. Not one.
Why wont they even mention Iraq? Trust usthese people dont give a shit about war in Iraq! They arent going to die in the desert, and they dont give a good flying fig if you do. Is Al Gore right about Iraq? Is he right about the war on terror? That, of course, is a matter of judgmentbut you wont see those questions discussed in these pages. These people are Heathers, Paris Hiltons, with Millionaire Pundit Values, and they dont give a shit about wars or Iraq. Instead, they care about phone calls to poor Joseph Lieberman! Its all they understand; its their only concern; and its the one thing theyre willing to ponder. They puzzle Gores motivesand omit what he said! If they didnt exist, you couldnt invent them. But how do we oust them from power?
TOMORROW: The Mother of All Heathers, Andrea Mitchell, does Gore with Don Imus. Be prepared. (Well post quite late on Fridaymaybe Saturday.)
BAD KOPPEL: If you didnt see it, yesit was bad. The second time Kucinich told Koppel to shut up, he got a long ovation from a frustrated audience. Ditto Kerry, moments later, telling Ted where to put his questions. At one point, we really thought that the audience might start heckling Ted. Too bad! Polite to a fault, they did not.
Koppel, of course, has those Millionaire Pundit Values. After Bush and Gores first debate, he couldnt explain the simplest facts about Bushs tax planbut hes willing to bust his ass to learn the size of his neighbors McMansions (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/3/03). For a summation of Koppels performance this week, we refer you to Will Saletan, who captured it well in his opening paragraphs. Dan Kennedy has also weighed in. You know what to do. Just click here. Also here.
One last pointdo read that profile by Howard Kurtz (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03). Watch Koppels staff as they proudly assemble the questions for which he was ridiculed.
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: No, Gore didnt say he invented the Internet. For the fullest account we have posted, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/3/02.
WHERE THEY GOT IT: It seems that Klein was first with The Joke. But on Tuesday morning, The Joke was a headline in the widely-read Hotline. Most likely, other clowns cadged it there:
HOTLINE HEADLINE (12/9/03): DEAN I: THE GUY WHO INVENTED THE INTERNET ENDORSES THE CANDIDATE MADE BY THE INTERNETHa ha ha ha ha ha ha! Yes, weve worked hard with the Hotline boys in the past. But today, all our work lies in shambles.