MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2003
IF YOU MUST ASK, NORTH OF BOSTON: Were going out to clean the pasture spring, and may not return until after New Year. But were leaving presents under the tree for those who seek seasonal amusement. When we return, we hope to roast our pundit of the year, Morton Kondracke, for his recent episode involving Madeleine Albright. And we plan to announce our Spin of the Year. Perhaps you can guess what it is.
We wont be checking our e-mail often, although well try to do so on occasion. Well try to post our year-enders before New Years Eve, but this may be it until January.
STILL MISSING: An e-mailer notes that the Washington Post did print a letter criticizing the op-ed column in which Charles Krauthammer, noted psychiatrist, called Howard Dean a Great Big Nut. We add it to the letters we posted on Saturday (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/20/03):
The Washington Post, 12/11/03Apparently, the Post received no letters from Vienna itself, and had to settle for Prague. At any rate, the Post still hasnt published any letter about the more serious problem with Krauthammers columnits blatant misstatement about something Barbra Streisand (never) said, and its ludicrous editing of a Hardball transcript to make Dean sound like a nut.
As we noted at the time, Krauthammers psychiatric musings in the Post were offered in tongue-in-cheek fashion. But on Fox, he continues peddling diagnoses of Big Demsafter identifying himself as a shrinkwithout a hint of irony or humor. His latest offense occurred Thursday nightand as of Monday at 10 A.M., Nexis still hasnt posted the transcript. Transcripts for Wednesday and Fridays Special Reports have been posted, but Thursdays program is missing in action.
In his conduct, Krauthammer joins an unlicensed colleague, Dr. Kondracke, in repetitive on-the-air quackery. Fox should publish Thursdays transcript so we all can see what Krauthammer said. (We watched the program, but dont have a tape.) And the Post still owes its readers a correction of Krauthammers dissembling from December 5. To prove that Dean is a Great Big Nut, Krauthammer doctored what Dean said. But he did it on the op-ed page, where no rules apply. See below.
BEARD BRAIN: Michael Getler included an interesting item in yesterdays Post ombudsman column. Columnist Al Kamen was lightly spanked for recent clowning concerning Al Gore:
GETLER: Al Kamens always informative and irreverent In the Loop column on Wednesday featured what Kamen undoubtedly viewed as a funny suggestion that former vice president Al Gore might want to let his beard grow again because other guys on the lam have them. With a photo of a bearded Gore ran pictures of Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski. Several readers were not amused. A sick sense of humor and beneath contempt was the way one put it. Yellow journalism was also mentioned.Getler also criticized the Post for under-reporting Gores substantive comments at the time he endorsed Howard Dean.
But lets get back to beard-brain Kamen. We noted his item when it appeared, but magisterially decided to skip it. Indeed, we find it odd that Getler comments on this item, but ignores Krauthammers December 5 piece, where the offense is much greater. Apparent explanation: In the aftermath of the Krauthammer column, we saw an e-mail Getler sent to a reader; he doesnt cover the Post op-ed page, the Post ombudsman said. How convenient! People like Krauthammer can fake facts all they want. Meanwhile, Getler can straighten out small-fry like Kamen and ignore the Big Scribes with real power.
Beyond that, we chuckled at Kamens belated comeuppance. Four years ago this week, Kamen penned one of the most ludicrous items in all of Campaign 2000 (and that is really saying something). On December 24, 1999, Kamen led his Post column with a five-paragraph item criticizing the Gore familys Christmas card! (Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, the column appeared on Christmas Eve.) The card showed how phony Gore really is, Kamen said (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/24/99). Readers, has any candidate ever been savagedon Christmas Evefor the family photo on his Christmas card? We doubt it. But by this time four years ago, the Post had already invested nine months in its War Against Gore, and Kamen was clowning for his colleagues, just as he clowned last week when he tied Gore to Saddam and bin Laden.
Rememberif they didnt exist, you couldnt invent them. Four years ago this very week, Kamen let the word go out to all nations: Gore was a major phony because of his familys Christmas card. Four years too late, a Post ombudsman lightly scolds himand gives us a chance to help you revisit the soul of the Washington press.
By the way, how good is life in the insider press corps? Before an ombudsman can lightly scold you, he knows he must first tell world that your column is always informative.
FAUX DEMS ON THE MARCH: We should move on from Tammy Bruce, but her clowning is just too delicious. A reader sent us one of Bruces recent columns, written for the progressive site, NewsMax. Lets give credit where credit is dueBruce has her shtick down stone-cold:
BRUCE (12/2/03): Most of you are aware of the disintegration of the intellectual discourse on our college campuses. David Horowitz in particular (www.frontpagemag.com) continues his extraordinary work to expose and reverse the disaster leftist academics are making of our universities.I shouldnt have been surprised, Bruce writes. But then, no one should be surprised by Bruces clowning. As usual, Bruce identifies herself as a Democrat. Then she trashes College Dems and praises the conservative movement.
Bruce, of course, is a screaming fake, the most comical of all the current faux Democrats. But faux Democracy looks like a growing movement. For example, does anyone think that Zell Millers recent snarling reinvention makes even a lick of sense? Wed love to know the back-story to Ol Zells reinvention as a Tammy Bruce Democrat (and yes, wed assume that there probably is one). Beyond that, we continue to chuckle at Susan Estrichs work as an official Fox Democrat. In recent months, Fox keeps dragging Estrich on the air to correct misstatements she has aimed at some Hollywood liberal (for example, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 12/10/03). Like fellow liberal feminist Bruce, Estrich noted that she didnt care about the Schwarzenegger groping allegationsand, like Bruce, Estrich now serves on the Schwarzenegger transition team! Comical, isnt it? Every time Fox drags a Dem on the air, she works for a major Republican!
Other names come to mind. Well offer an incomparable challenge to one apparent faux Dem early on in the new year.
SULLYING BILL: We couldnt help chuckling when Andrew Sullivan hammered Bill OReilly last Friday. Heres part of Sullys Weekly Dish for the Washington Times.
SULLIVAN: Youve got to love it when the holiday spirit rises anew among your favorite media mavens. Last week, Matt Drudge of the online Drudge Report did the unthinkable and published the latest rankings for best-seller books in 2003, recorded by Nielsens BookScan. Mr. Drudge was being a little naughty, as is his custom. On Monday, Fox News star Bill OReilly had bragged to NBCs Today Show that Weve outsold that guy [Franken] all over the place. Were running against Hillary for most copies of non-fiction books sold this year! The results, alas, showed that Bill OReillys oeuvre, Whos Looking Out For You, was easily bested by Al Frankens screed Lying Liars and way behind Senator Clintons largely unreadable account of meeting lots of African prime ministers, Personal History. What was Mr. OReillys response to being caught out in an inaccuracy? He called Mr. Drudge a threat to democracy. But he didnt deny the facts because he cant.According to BookScan, Clintons book has sold 1.1 million copies. OReillysupposedly hot on Hillarys heelshas sold 430,000. (Weve got a real shot at overtaking Mrs. Clinton, Bill said on December 15.) Franken, who Bill has outsold all over the place, has sold 674,000. According to OReillys publisher, Random House, BookScan doesnt account for sales at Wal-Mart, Sams Club and other retailers where the book has performed exceptionally well. And who knows? That stirring defense of OReillys claims could even be technically accurate!
Meanwhile, it seems that Sully has just gotten cable. And he got a big surprise when he saw Mr. O every night:
SULLIVAN: So, now I get to see OReilly consistently for the first time as well. Suddenly, you see why he reacts so obtusely to simple criticism. Hes unhinged! Alarmingly, I find myself agreeing with him on many issues. But he is so obnoxious, so transparently phony, so gung-ho in a crude populist know-nothing kind of way that Im almost embarrassed to be on the same side much of the time. Does anyone say I may be wrong more disingenuously? Is there anyone more aggressively watchable because he is so awful? Bill OReilly is so compellingly odious you almost cant take your eyes off him.Thats Sullys incomparable view, not ours. But then, much of the conservative world has been taken over by this same fake, phony pseudo-conservatism. For example, have you ever read Sullys site? Sully is a very bright dude. Have you noticed how often he hides it?
DARKNESS FROM NOONAN: Speaking of pseudo-conservative clowning, many readers noted Chris Matthews pummeling of Peggy Noonan on last Thursdays Hardball. Why do so many Americans still believe that Saddam was personally involved in 9/11? Chris kept asking Peggy that questionand that Peg-of-his-heart kept avoiding his query. The transcript cant replace the tape, but it makes for must-read TV. Matthews dogged Noonan through two program segments. Dont miss it. Indeed, just click here.
Meanwhile, though Matthews duel with Noonan was priceless, we will complain about Lawrence ODonnells feigned surprise at the publics ignorance. As weve told you in the past, information surveys make it perfectly clearthe American public is always factually ignorant, no matter how seminal a topic may be. The press corps knows this, but hates to discuss it. Watch ODonnell play dumb for you here.
SCHIEFFER MADNESS: Finally, Bob Schieffer was at it again on yesterdays Face the Nation. The Texas Christian was still deeply troubled by Al Gores disturbing behavior:
SCHIEFFER: And finally today: scenes from the TV screen. Al Gore stabs his loyal running mate, Joe Lieberman, in the back, endorses Howard Dean and sets off a debate about whether it was good politics. Would a better question be: Is that the kind of thing one person should do to another?The pious pundit was clearly concerned. Nine days earlier, of course, Schieffer had baldly lied through his teeth as he trashed Gore in a radio segment (see THE DALY HOWLER, 12/13/03). But no matter! On Face the Nation, Schieffer rued the conduct of two other pols, one of whom, former senator Bob Smith, had plainly done nothing wrong whatsoever. He then drew his heartfelt conclusion:
SCHIEFFER: Politics is supposed to be about selecting the best among us and then looking to them to set examples for the rest of us. But what these examples show is simply the widening gap between the values of the professional office-seekers, who have come to dominate our politics, and all the rest of us. They have had nothing on their minds for so long but seeking and holding office that they no longer realize how different they have become or how poorly they come off to the rest of us. No wonder more and more people want nothing to do with any of them.Amazing, isnt it? Read the part of the sermon we have set off in bold. Could anyone make a clearer statement about people just like Bob Schieffer?
Nine days earlier, Schieffer slandered Goreand lied to the public. But now he was troubled by Gores trashy character! In this holiday season, remember those who stand in harms way, he intoned. Well do thatand well also think of another group. Well also think of those afflicted by pious frauds like Bob Schieffer.