HOW TO SPREAD RUMORS! Huckabee writes a classic textbook--and the Post chimes in: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2007
TOMORROW, OUR SERIES CONTINUES: Howard Kurtz does Brian Williams! Tomorrow, Part 3: No respect.
SPINNING BIO: Youre dying to know: How does John McCain dress? This morning, the Washington Post profiles its fourth Front-Runner—and Robin Givhan is sad to say that the solon simply will not dress his age. John McCain dresses like Mr. Rogers, she writes—and before shes done, she also compares McCain to Captain Kangaroo, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh. Since you asked us, no—humans cant get dumber. Here is a key bit of wisdom:
But then too, McCain has a dress-shirt problem compounding the sweater conundrum.
Let us repeat a basic point: These beyond-inane presentations by Givhan are one part of her papers four-part report on each of the leading hopefuls. Each morning, we get a fashion analysis of one of the candidates. And nothing about his proposals!
This morning, we also call your attention to the Posts biographical profile of McCain, penned by Michael Ruane. Please note: This isnt biography—its a novel. Journalists have shaped McCains story this way many times, and theyll do so many times again. (The boxed account of his divorce is especially cleaned up for public consumption.) This is a criticism of the Post, not of McCain, and none of this is dimly relevant to the choices voters must make. But beware! When journalists hand you a hopefuls life story, most often theyre just spinning bio.
FRANKLY, COLLINS FLIPS: Joining her colleague Frank Rich, Gail Collins has also flipped on Mike Huckabee. This morning, she opens her column with standard disdain for those idiot voters—the ones supporting Huck. When will these idiots get it right? What could they see in Mike Huckabee?
As always, Collins expresses disdain for two despised groups—the politicians and the public. (That is to say, for everyone who isnt herself.) Sadly, she forgets to say that she herself was praising Huckabees manifest virtues only a few weeks ago:
In fairness, Collins also gave the downside that day. On the downside, I think he'd be a terrible president, she wrote. He doesn't know beans about foreign affairs, he wants to replace the income tax with a national sales tax, and his positions on social issues are far to the right of the general populace. But she focused on Huckabees massive decency—as displayed in the Wayne DuMond case! Why do the leaders of the religious right keep sidling away from a Baptist minister whose greatest political sin seems to have been showing compassion to a prisoner who appeared to deserve it? she tearfully asked. If we may paraphrase her remarks, Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo.
Back then, way back in late October, Huckabee had been a pretty good governor—in a tough situation. He was extremely inclusive, had a good sense of humor, and his one great sin was his massive compassion. But today, it all seems so different to Collins! What is it that voters love so much about this guy? she mockingly asks.
What might voters like about Huckabee? To state the obvious, some of those voters dont share Collins views on those social issues. They may not agree with her take on Huckabees knowledge of domestic policy. (Well promise you this: He knows more about many such matters than Collins.) They may think that national sales tax is a good idea; its not like newspapers like the Times waste any time discussing it. Why wouldnt they vote for the great decent man she herself praised only six weeks ago? But today, Collins forgets to mention that piece—forgets to explain why shes flip-flopped.
No, this isnt as absurd as Richs 48-hour cure, achieved in the wake of Sundays column (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/12/07). But today, Collins flips on Huckabee too. As is her wont, she ridicules the stupid rubes who see the gentleman just as she did, way back when—in October.
HOW TO SPREAD RUMORS: The Washington Post is still spreading rumors. Today, the papers pimps a rumor for Huck.
A bit of background: In the aftermath of the flap about the Obama rumors, its hard to believe that the Post would do something like this again. But in Michael Shears news report on yesterdays debate, the Post shows us how to spread rumors:
Absolutely incredible. In this passage, Shear repeats the question about Jesus and Satan—the question Huckabee apologized for asking. He then quotes Huckabee calling this a point of faith for Romney. But is this a point of faith for Romney? Do Mormons believe what Huckabee said? Shear forgets to speak to that question. In doing so, he writes a textbook—a textbook called How To Spread Rumors.
For the record, Wolf Blitzer did much the same thing in the interview Shear cites. Here is the original Q-and-A about the governors apology:
To Blitzers credit, he did evaluate the matter which Huckabee raised: Now, as you know, Mormons say that's a canard, they don't believe that. But Huckabee went on to call it a point of [Romneys] faith, and Blitzer didnt challenge him or try to clarify further. (Fuller text below.) This morning, the point of faith characterization appears in the Post, without any attempt at evaluation. This shows us how a pol can throw out a rumor, then watch the rumor spread.
Yesterday, we saw many broadcasters do this same thing, principally on MSNBC. They first repeated what Huckabee had said, then reported that hed apologized for saying it—without making any attempt to say if his statement was accurate. Mormons think x, y and z. It was repeated all over the air.
Weve seen various accounts of Mormon belief on the point which Huckabee raised. But yesterday, Huckabee wrote a new textbook: How To Spread Rumors. Today, Shear became a co-author. (For fuller Huckabee-Blitzer exchange, see below.)
NOT FROM THE PARISH: Immediately after yesterdays debate, Chris Matthews was back on one of his cuckoos nest themes: Will the public elect a guy with a funny (southern) name like Huckabee? Yes, he has raised this point before. Yesterday, it formed his first post-debate reaction. (Like her tribal mate, the late Mary McGrory was never slow to show her disdain for those people.)
We Irish! Sometimes Chris is so much like our sainted close relatives (back in the 1950s, of course) that fleeting Proustian moments occur. Of course, only Chris could be so comically dim: In a race where one major front-runner is named Barack Obama, Chris is wondering if the public will ever go for a guy with a weird name like Mike.
We Irish! Sometimes we could be a bit parochial—way back when, in the 1950s (and 60s). About eight of us still walk around that way. Theyre all giant stars in the press corps!
FULLER EXCHANGE: Heres the fuller exchange with Blitzer. Note Blitzers failure to clarify when Huckabee referred to the point he had raised as a point of [Mormon] faith. In this passage, you see a pol who is being exceptionally slick:
Blitzer let Huck slip one in. This morning, the Post made things worse.