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BATTLING TRENT! This week your pundits are all chasing Lott. Last week, they couldn't care less:


ALL TAPPED OUT: Why was the press corps slow to react to Lott’s remark? At THE HOWLER, we really can’t say. We have said this: It’s hard to believe that the corps is spilling with “liberal bias” when it drags its feet on a story like this. When Andrew Sullivan has to badger NPR on this topic, just where is the corps’ liberal bias?

Once again, liberal bias seemed to be missing in action. Indeed, as the flap about Lott keeps unfolding, we can’t even find liberal worldviews at well-known “liberal” sites! On Wednesday, TAPPED explained the corps’ slow reaction. Try to believe that they said it:

WILL LOTT GO? It’s amazing to Tapped that this story almost went away. (InstaPundit is correct that the incestuousness of Washington politics and media is largely to blame. Everybody here knows everybody.)
Why did the corps go slow on Lott? TAPPED endorses Instapundit, who says it shows that everyone is too buddy-buddy inside Washington. Amazingly, it doesn’t even occur to TAPPED that the press tends to bow to conservative power, especially when “dirty secret” segregation groups are involved. Does TAPPED’S buddy-buddy theory make sense? For example, did the corps ignore the Georgia flag flap because it was just so chummy with Peach State participants? Plainly, that story did not involve an insider class—but the pundit corps punted there, too.

Pathetic, isn’t it? In citing Insta, TAPPED recites Andrew Sullivan’s line (Insta voiced it first). Here was Sullivan’s take on this topic—an interpretation which preserves the idea that “liberal bias” is ruling the media:

SULLIVAN: Howie Kurtz notices how much quicker on the draw the blogosphere was on the matter of Trent Lott’s declared regrets for the passing of Jim Crow. I’m still stunned at how little the New York Times made of it (although Krugman seems to have drawn from lots of blogosphere arguments for his column today). Why this discrepancy? I don’t really know. One thought I have is that the media bigwigs really do operate socially in Washington and find it hard to pounce on people they know, like, respect or need as a source.
Sully says that “DC socialization” explains the pundit corps’ lazy response. Thank goodness! This way, he doesn’t have to voice an unwelcome thought. He doesn’t have to say that Washington’s pundits may not be so liberal after all.

This view makes perfect sense—from Sullivan. But TAPPED buys it hook, line and sinker. Readers, where oh where is liberal bias? We suffer from such a brainwashed insider clique that even liberals can’t seem to imagine that the pundit corps bows to con power.

THE FRENZY IS ON: In today’s Times, historian Joseph Crespino discusses a topic we mentioned on Wednesday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/11/02). “Sound bites pitched toward the racist right have been the dirty little secret of the Republican Party for four decades,” he writes. As an example, he cites Candidate Reagan’s 1980 appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Here is his closing nugget:

CRESPINO: Historians can debate just how central Senator Lott’s kind of doublespeak has been to Republican success in the South. They can also debate how central the South has been in the Republican Party’s success nationally. But the fact that racial appeals have played a role in the success of the modern Republican Party is not under debate. It is irrefutable.
On the same Times op-ed page, Paul Krugman alleges the same two-sided conduct, then wonders why we’ve heard so little about it. “What prevents reporters from explaining to the majority the coded messages that are being sent to the minority?” the scribe asks. Krugman continues: “How many readers ever heard about the flap, several years ago, over Mr. Lott’s association with the racist Council of Conservative Citizens? The scandal was actually worse than his remarks last week—but it just got buried.” Did the CCC affair really get buried? Krugman overstates a tad. But a press corps which now professes its shock didn’t dig very deep on that matter. Nor did it dig deep in Georgia last month. And it really did bury John McCain’s tangy race man. What ever happened to liberal bias when Naomi Wolf is viciously mocked, and Richard Quinn’s views seem so normal?

On the other hand, some of what is now occurring is a standard press feeding frenzy. They may have been slow coming out of the gate, but now, the pundit corps loves this story; it gives them easy topics for columns and easy TV segments. We’re reading about what Lott did in college. And in Krugman’s piece (and in many others), we’re reading about this outrage:

KRUGMAN: The great majority of Americans don’t share Mr. Lott’s views. For example, he opposed declaring Martin Luther King day a holiday, telling Southern Partisan magazine that “we have not done it for a lot of other people that were more deserving.” Most Americans, I think, believe that King was pretty deserving.
Outrage is getting a bit selective. Many others opposed the MLK Day; John McCain voted against it, for example. But how many pundits ever said that McCain’s vote reflected on him?

The frenzy’s on. You’ll hear what Lott did at age 19. You’ll hear about votes which the press corps’ favorites cast, too. But here’s what you almost surely won’t hear: You won’t hear anyone ask whether this has affected Lott’s performance in office. Does any of this have a thing to do with anything Lott has ever done? That, of course, involves policy matters—and to your press corps, such matters are boring. Trust us: Your press corps doesn’t give a fig about issues which may be involved in this matter. Your press corps loves an easy column, and your press corps loves to run with the herd. This week, your press corps is suddenly helping you see just how bad ol’ Strom really was. Last week, CNN’s Morton was loudly swearing that gentle old Strom never meant it.

Your press corps mainly likes one thing. It likes the recite the CW.

Tomorrow, we’ll review a recent column about a topic which deeply affects the lives of black children. Your press corps ignored this topic in Campaign 2000, and they’ll keep ignoring it now. Don’t be fooled. Your press corps loves a spirited chase (as long as everyone else is doing it). They love their careers, and their cocktail parties. But your Washington press corps couldn’t care less about the actual lives of black children. We’ll try to help you see that fact in our incomparable piece on the morrow.

WHO MAKES E. D. HILL POSSIBLE? Try to believe that you live in a world where E. D. Hill is even possible. On Tuesday and Wednesday mornings, Hill engaged in her usual conduct, sliming Gore—and his parents—on the egregious Fox & Friends (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/12/02). Hill wasn’t content to debate Lott’s comment; she was hot to trash some vile Dems too. So she falsely claimed—repeat: falsely claimed—that “Al Gore was sued by four [black] Secret Service agents who said that he didn’t promote them.” And much more nastily, she also concocted a phony tale in which Gore’s parents mistreat a black employee. Try to believe that you live in this world—a world where fakers like Hill can trash decent people without the slightest fear of any consequence or criticism.

Why does Hill behave as she does? Because she’s paid to do so. And why is she free to engage in this conduct? Because she knows that our “media reporters”—let’s mention Howard Kurtz—would rather eat live worms in a pit on Survivor than comment on her kind of work. As everyone knows, dissemblers like Hill have been inventing these tales about Gore ever since March 1999. Hill’s nasty invention about Gore’s mom and dad is the latest in a long list of entries.

But has Howard Kurtz ever spoken up? Has he ever debunked a single one of these tales? On Monday, we start to discuss that. Where in the world is liberal bias when this great man is always so silent?

One final point—don’t bother looking for Fox & Friends transcripts, even on Nexis. Fox doesn’t want you to know what they say. Like Rush, these friends leave no tracks.

WHO MAKES DEBRA SAUNDERS POSSIBLE? Don’t worry—you won’t hear a word about Debra Saunders’ latest column from Howard Kurtz. But on Thursday, the egregious pundit was at it again, dissembling in the San Francisco Chronicle on a tired old subject. Maybe you thought we were kidding when we said that this slander campaign has gone on for four solid years. Saunders recited another bogus spin—Gore really gave us Willie Horton:

SAUNDERS (pgh 1): When a Massachusetts prison mistakenly gave a weekend pass to convicted murderer Willie Horton, it released a chain of events that reverberate through America today.

(2) The first result was the brutal 1987 torture/rape of a Maryland woman in front of her hog-tied fiance.

(3) The second result was political. Then-Sen. Al Gore, and later an independent campaign supportive of then-Vice President George Bush, ran TV spots on Horton during the 1988 presidential election. Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis lost.

The claim about Gore is utterly false—a long-standing, bogus RNC spin-point (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 11/1/02 and 11/4/02). Gore never “ran TV spots on Willie Horton,” although RNC fakers from Lee Atwater on have peddled this phony story. Before he died, Atwater apologized for his conduct regarding Horton. Thanks to dissemblers like Debra Saunders, the work he disavowed lives on.

Saunders’ statement is patently false; with Debra Saunders, that’s hardly news. But it’s strange. Her conduct occurs in the open air. Her Chronicle readers are persistently deceived. And Howard Kurtz has never said Boo. Why do you think he’s so docile?