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  • Why can't Chris Matthews quit the Clintons?

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Here's what the New York Post reported in terms of Matthews trashing Clinton while recently riding the Amtrak Acela [emphasis added]:

    "I don't understand it," Matthews bellowed. "Why would he pick her? I thought we were done with the Clintons. She'll just use it to build her power base. It's Machiavellian. And then we'll have Bill Clinton, too. I thought Obama didn't want drama. He'll have even more drama with her. She's just a soap opera. If he doesn't pick her, everyone will say she's been dissed again, we'll have to live through that again."

    You'll note that Matthews exasperation ("I thought we were done with the Clintons'") was matched nearly word-for-word by Maureen Dowd, another celebrity Clinton hater, in her Sunday column. And you can see that same deep sense of anger here as Christopher Hitchens advertises Clinton Derangement Syndrome on national television.

    We've said it before, but we fear we're going to have to make this point many more times in the coming weeks. It's now clear that a portion of the opinion press viewed the historic 2008 campaign through the extremely narrow lens of getting rid of the Clintons; of driving them off the national stage and humiliating the highest profile Democrats of the last 15 years. That's what the campaign was about for them. Not politics or policy or the future of the country. It was about them not liking the Clintons. The campaign represented some sort of deliverance from them.

    But now that it's becoming clear that the new Obama team does not necessarily share that deep-seated disdain, and now that it's clear that the media's CDS is not being embraced by a new generation of Democratic Party leaders, some afflicted pundits are very, very angry. What was the point of that election, they demand.

    On Hardball this week Matthews appeared visibly annoyed at the idea of Clinton becoming Secretary of State. More to the point he was confused about Obama's overture to her: "Why does he want drama"? Matthews demanded.

    So far, according to news reports, Obama has made an overture to Clinton about being SOS. In a few days we will likely find out if she accepts. Where exactly is the drama?

    Answer: The drama, has mostly been man-made, it's been manufactured, by the press which loves the "soap opera" storyline.

    There was a great diary posted at Daily Kos recently, about the media's, and especially cable TV's, naked attempt to gin up the "drama" surrounding the Clinton story. Not because it's newsworthy and not because it's accurate. But because that's what the Beltway press wants to do. That will be worth keeping in mind in coming days and weeks.

    UPDATE: We just found this quote that Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, gave during the pimary season [emphasis added]: "The press hates Hillary. There's a real glee over the prospect of being done with the Clintons."

  • Bill Kristol and the NYT's failed experiment, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    George Packer at The New Yorker notes that Kristol's one-year contract is up for renewal:

    The real grounds for firing Kristol are that he didn't take his column seriously. In his year on the Op-Ed page, not one memorable sentence, not one provocative thought, not one valuable piece of information appeared under his name. The prose was so limp ("Who, inquiring minds want to know, is going to spare us a first Obama term?") that you had the sense Kristol wrote his column during the commercial breaks of his gig on Fox News Sunday and gave it about the same amount of thought.

    In other words, in hiring Kristol, the Times lowered its bar--its editorial standards--and Kristol crawled under the bar all year.

    Gee, we're shocked.

  • Matthews: "You don't need elections for this crap."

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Like clockwork (and as predicted) Chris Matthews chimes in with inane commentary about reports that Eric Holder will be the next Attorney General:

    "This is what you do when you don't have elections: you simply promote the people ... who had the deputy jobs... you can do this in any bureaucratic state; you can do it in the old Soviet Union. ... you don't need to hold elections to promote deputies to the top jobs ... you don't need elections for this crap."

    Someone should tell Matthews that Eric Holder worked in the Justice Department during the Clinton administration, not the Bush administration. If there wasn't an election, it's a pretty safe bet President Bush wouldn't name Holder AG.

  • Paging Little Green Footballs

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We have a major, war-related scandal involving photos being digitally altered, please engage. Please engage!!

    We'll wait for the LGF and the rest of the warblogging brigade to work itself into a frenzy, just like they did in 2006 when some Reuters photos from the Middle East were marginally altered to add more plumes of smoke rising from bombed-out Beirut . For the warbloggers, the photoshopping scandal was a huge deal; more proof that the liberal media was arrogantly trying to distort the news and mislead the public.

    Well, now AP has uncovered another round of military photos being doctored. Except this time, they're being gussied up by the Pentagon, which is why LGF couldn't care less.

    We hate it when double standards get in the way of a good bout of indignation.

    (h/t CJR)

  • Change

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    In light of reports that Clinton administration alums Eric Holder and Peter Orszag will be Attorney General and Budget Director, respectively, in the Obama administration, we're likely in for yet another round of media snark about the supposed conflict between campaiging on "change" and then hiring Clinton alums.

    This is absurd.

    First, the suggestion that hiring Clinton administration alums is inconsistent with "change" is dependent upon the belief that the Clinton and Bush administrations were identical. Nonsense.

    Second, the suggestion is predicated on the assumption that the Clinton administration was a monolith; that everyone who served in the administration has the same opinions and approach to policy and to politics. This, again, is nonsense: thousands of people served in the Clinton administration -- some of whom supported and worked for Barack Obama's campaign.

    If the media chatterers want to claim that Obama isn't making good on his promise of "change," they're going to have to do better than simply pointing to the hiring of Clinton administration alumni.

  • Rupert Murdoch clings to Memogate glory

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    In comments that have generated lots of buzz online, Murdoch recently blamed the press for its own woes and declared that newspapers faced a glorious future. We'll see how that pans out.

    But we were belatedly struck by Murdoch's comments about bloggers, and how the mainstream media has, he said, foolishly, and arrogantly, dismissed their work. On that, we're in heated agreement. But the shining example that Murdoch used to praise bloggers and shame the press was laughable, not to mention woefully out of date: 2004's Memogate.

    Here's CNET's account:

    To make his point, Murdoch criticized the media reaction after bloggers debunked a "60 Minutes" report by former CBS anchor, Dan Rather, that President Bush had evaded service during his days in the National Guard.

    "Far from celebrating this citizen journalism, the establishment media reacted defensively. During an appearance on Fox News, a CBS executive attacked the bloggers in a statement that will go down in the annals of arrogance. '60 Minutes,' he said, was a professional organization with 'multiple layers of checks and balances.' By contrast, he dismissed the blogger as 'a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.' But eventually it was the guys sitting in their pajamas who forced Mr. Rather and his producer to resign.

    First as a side note, CNET's reporting is a bit shaky. Bloggers did not "debunk" Dan Rather's report that Bush evaded National Guard service. Nobody has debunked that, because it happens to be true. (Bush was a no-show for almost two solid years.) What the bloggers did was raise questions about the documents in Rather's report.

    Secondly, Murdoch's claim that "the establishment media" did not toast the right-wing bloggers back in in 2004 is pure fantasy. The press, always anxious to prove its non-liberal ways to rightwing critics, nearly tripped over itself toasting the media-hating bloggers. (Time named one Memogate site its Blog of the Year.)

    Third, it's a curious time for Murdoch to be celebrating the bloggers' work attacking CBS when so many questions are being raised about the "independent" panel the network appointed to investigate the story.

    And fourth, wasn't it Fox News' favorite governor, Sarah Palin, who just last week also accused bloggers of being irresponsible and typing away in their pajamas?

  • Politico overreaches

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    We're not sure Ben Smith really came up with the goods to back up Politico's provocative headline, "Cabinet post for Clinton roils Obamaland."

    The entire piece only quotes one person on the record who raised doubts about Clinton as a possible Secretary of State, and that person's not even connected with the campaign. Even the anonymous quotes are pretty tame.

    We suspect If Obamaland (i.e his campaign and legions of supporters) was truly roiled, than Smith would have found more people who were willing to give better/more passionate quotes.

    It makes us wonder whether the article was just the latest example of Politico pushing the media's beloved Obama/Clinton "soap opera" narrative.

    UPDATE: As Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic notes today: "It's kind of amazing, if you think about it, that Obama, according to reports, is a step away from picking his chief political rival to be Secretary of State, and not one hint of serious anxiety about the choice has gotten out."

  • The media's Obama double standard, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    NPR has a piece online about the incoming Obama administration and how the press is nervous the new White House won't be open with the media.

    All White House beat reporters raise the same concerns each time a new team arrives in town, and it's a legitimate one. But the comments included in the story from the press left us wondering.

    For instance, Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times, comparing the current closed-off access to Obama, remembered when Obama was a state senator from Illinois and how he was a "one-man show" in terms of being open with the media and handling his own press. And that as a freshman U.S. senator he was, as NPR put it, "expansive with reporters in Washington - particularly during the short shuttle rides between the Capitol building and his office building."

    That's fine. But what's that have to do with being president of the United States? What reporter would expect the Commander in Chief to maintain the same relationship with the press as he did when he was a local politician? The comparison strikes us as a bit unrealistic.

    It also reminded us of another incoming president who was known for being open with the local press, and for even handing out nicknames to the local scribes: George W. Bush. And looked at what happened when he arrived in the White House. His communication team practically installed a hermetically sealed wing of the White House where Bush remained impenetrable from the press. (Regular press conferences with reporters? Think again.)

    Our point isn't that since Bush was inaccessible to the press so that means Obama should be. It's that news consumers ought to be reminded of what the recent context has been with Bush. NPR did make mention of Bush's lack of press conferences. But the Bush team's effort to pretty much neuter the White House press corps went far beyond that. So if reporters are going to ponder how the Obama White House will operate in terms of the press, we ought be reminded of how the Bush one did.

  • Still waiting for the Rightroots movement, cont'd

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    Boy, the press sure seems interested in right-wing blogosphere, even though it just got done embarrassing itself in the general election and still finds itself badly out manned by their liberal online counterparts. But as we noted yesterday, the press always thinks conservative bloggers are more interesting (and influential) than liberal ones.

    Joining Newsweek this week in toasting the ineffectual bloggers is The Hill. "Right-wing bloggers see their chance," reads the headline. The mag quotes lots of GOP Internet players who suggest it's all a question of tactics and approach and that once conservatives make the right tweaks, the Rightroots movement will take off.

    We're not so sure. We're more inclined to believe that the biggest stumbling block for conservative bloggers to date has been their tendency to make stuff up. Like, all the time. Or as Glenn Greenwald once wrote:

    They are wrong over and over and over -- and not just in error, but embarrassingly so, because so frequently their claims are transparently, laughably absurd, and they spew the most righteous accusations without any sort of evidence at all...They are exposed as frauds and gossip-mongerers on an almost weekly basis. The only thing that can compete with the consistency of their errors is the viciousness of their accusations and their pompous self-regard as "citizen journalists.

    Once that's fixed, they might stand a chance.