3 November 2000
Our current howler: Driving While "W"
Synopsis: The crackpot culture of the celebrity press corps gets played out in the DUI uproar.
Long-time readers will know our view. We think that elections
should not be about decades-old deeds by the hopefuls.
We don't think that Bush's DUI is a defining event. And we don't
think it's odd that he kept it quietalthough it seems clear that
he has not been forthcoming.
But then, we didn't think it was odd that an Arkansas gubernatorial
candidate didn't brag about drugs back in 1978. We didn't think
it was odd that a White House hopeful finessed the same topic
fourteen years later. But what is exceptionally odd, boys
and girls? The press corps' wildly varying standards. In this
race, Gore has been trashed, all up and down, for various gimmicked
examples of "lying." Now we seem to have an event where
Governor Bush has been less than truthful. And what does the mainstream
press corps do? It starts looking around to find out who squealed.
It doesn't matter when "W" lies; that isn't the way
this is scripted.
The celebrity press corps has broken its back to keep Bush's
past in the closet. Even now, the pundits simply refuse to talk
about those missing years in Alabama. Plainly, Bush seems not
to be telling the truth about his last two years in the National
Guard. But that doesn't count, 'cause it's W, kids! Invented lies
about doggy pill prices? Now them's the kind of fibs that really
This race was scripted to fit the corps' crackpot outlookBush
is stupid, but Gore is dishonest. They have written that story
again and againand they will punish those who offend against
it. The news that came out of Portland last night doesn't fit
the press corps' invention. So a young reporter who did her job
well will be challenged and hectored by millionaire anchors. This
morning's exchange between Lauer and Fehlau shows you too a massive
conflict in cultures (see HOWLINGS, 11/3/00). One of the cultures
is the old press corps culture, in which reporters try to present
basic facts. The other culture is the new press corps culture,
in which insiders simply script preferred stories.
The press corps has engaged in crackpot conduct over the past
twenty months. They have gimmicked a string of oddball stories
to make it seem that Gore is dishonest and troubled. Meanwhile,
they have broken their backs to look away from Bushto look away
from his recently-revealed "missing summer" (in Alaska);
to ignore his missing 18 months in Alabama; to ignore his howling
misstatements at the debates; and to pretend his new ads, which
call Gore a liar (doggy pills), aren't fudging the plain facts
themselves. (Of course, the press corps also gimmicked those facts.
Reason? They wanted a closer race, Feinman told us.) (Joe Klein,
of course, can't recall.)
There are two ways to play this DUI story. The press corps
can say it reflects ill on Bush; or the press corps can say it
reflects ill on Gore. (They could have ignored it and stuck to
real issues. But the press doesn't write about them.) To get to
that second talewhich fits the scriptthe pundits will ask who
released the info, and will focus in on his vile motives. That
approach was all over the airwaves last night. Look to see whether
Cokie Roberts is exploring "dirty tricks" Sunday morning.
As we wrote on SpeakOut earlier this week: We will never know
what it would have been like to have this election reported by
grown-ups. The celebrity press culture is deeply dysfunctional.
In our view, George Bush and Al Gore are total prizes compared
to the crackpots who write all about them. They are dishonest;
self-impressed; incompetent; corrupt; and they put their interests
ahead of yours every time. As the celebrity press corps spins
and feints to avoid the fact that The Dub has been fibbing, say
hello to your crackpot press corps, everybody. Our guess? Governor
Bush will most likely get off. He'll get by on a DWW"Driving
SCORECARD: We heard all about the doggy pills. We heard
all about that union lullaby. We heard all about the kid with
the desk. We heard how long Westmoreland spoke.
See now if you hear about:
1) Driving into the hedges (not "driving slow")
2) What Bush said in '98 to Wayne Slater.
And see if you even hear a word about two missing years in
We repeatit's a shame that the crackpot Washington press corps
has created its oddball standards for hopefuls. But create those
standards they clearly have. Watch now as they try to escape them.