Roger Simon | Media Matters for America

Roger Simon

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  • After Parsing Her Every Word, Press Now Demands Hillary Clinton Be Less Scripted

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

    The Beltway media's theater critics posted their latest Hillary Clinton notices after she appeared at a political event in the important swing state of Iowa over the weekend. Bypassing substance as they now routinely do, scribes focused on style and many found it lacking: Too scripted!  Clinton, the commentators complained, didn't come across natural enough. She lacked the charm of her husband, her body language was off, and so were her fashion choices.  

    "She cautiously enunciates each word from her prepared text, even the jokes," wrote Roger Simon at Politico. "She is careful, modulated, meticulous. She is Hillary." (Simon suggested Hillary's outfit was too formal for the Iowa event, as well.)  

    MSNBC morning host Joe Scarborough denounced Clinton as a "robot" with "no creativity, no spontaneity, nothing from the heart." Daily Beast editor John Avlon said on CNN that while Clinton was "urgent, important, and well-scripted," she nonetheless has to worry about "the connection question" and paled in comparison to her husband: "It's the natural versus the professional."

    There's something deeply ironic about Hillary's drama coaches in the press doling out direction for her public appearances. It's ironic because some of the people and outlets hounding Hillary to be less scripted today -- to be more candid - were among those who spent the summer bemoaning Hillary's unscripted and candid comments. They're the same ones who dissected her every utterance and announced them to be both lacking and deeply troubling.  

    Recall the dominant theme of the media's gaffe-obsessed coverage from Hillary's book tour was, quite often, 'Oh my God, I can't believe she just said that.' And now they're deducting points for Clinton not being open enough?

    The summer coverage continued the Beltway press' long tradition of parsing portions of Clinton comments often taken from hours worth of long-form interviews, spinning one phrase in the most unappealing way, and then announcing Clinton's word choice and "tone" was all wrong. (CNN even altered a Hillary quote this summer to make it more incriminating and newsworthy.)

    It's sort of the Goldilocks approach to campaign journalism: 'Hillary's too hot. No, she's too cold. Why can't she just get it just right?'

  • Politico Columnist Claims Obama "Ignored" Immigration Issues He Already Tried To Address


    Politico's Roger Simon distorted President Obama's record to claim that his request for emergency funding to deal with the recent flood of unaccompanied minors crossing the border was tantamount to waking "from a deep slumber ... to fight a problem he has ignored for years." In reality, Obama has supported legislation in the past that addressed many of the underlying issues but the legislation has been blocked by the GOP.

  • Right-Wing Media's Latest Embarrassment: Obama Lied About Birthplace To Get Ahead

    Blog ››› ››› SOLANGE UWIMANA

    On the heels of what some in conservative media circles are heralding as a "breakthrough" story and "journalism in its purest form" -- the piece highlighting a 1991 pamphlet that erroneously listed President Obama's birthplace as Kenya -- Rush Limbaugh entertained the "thought-provoking theory" on Friday that Obama is actually the one who started the birther conspiracies to take advantage of an "affirmative action opportunity that was available only to those born in Africa."

    Limbaugh stated that he agreed with this premise and that the final takeaway from all of this was that "the guy" -- Obama -- "will exaggerate, make it up, lie, what have you. That's the lesson to be learned here."

    It's unclear where this "theory" originated, but Limbaugh was referring to a piece posted at Pajamas Media on Friday by Roger Simon, who purported to guide readers through the "mystery of the Kenyan birth" and offered several "explanations" for why the pamphlet, published by Obama's former literary agency in 1991, said Obama was "born in Kenya." He ultimately concluded that "the agent's source for Obama's birthplace was... Barack Obama." Simon went on to write:

    Why would he lie about where he was born?

    Well, he might have wanted to glamorize his past, but if that's so, it's pathetic. I suspected there was a more substantive reason, one that would cause him to leave his African birth place in place in the bio. But to take the risk of being found out, it would have to be strong.


    What if, we thought, as others have suggested, the reason Obama's school records have not surfaced is that he enrolled, at one of those institutions at least, as a foreign student -- a Kenyan?

    But why would he choose to do that? Well, maybe for a grant, a subvention, a scholarship that was available uniquely to students from Africa or similar locales.

    Yes, I know that's not "fair," in the lexicon of the Lord of Fairness, to have adopted a phony identity and deprived others of an opportunity they may have more richly deserved. But it would certainly fit with Obama's early need to be recognized as a Kenyan by his agent and, presumably, his publisher. As we all know, it's not the crime, but the cover-up. (In this case, actually, it's both.)

    As time went on, of course, college drifted away and politics reared its head. The Kenyan identity became less necessary, even a liability, so it was dropped.

    I don't know about you -- but this makes sense to me. It also fits with the tomb-like silence around his college years.

    But I could be wrong.

    The conservative Powerline blog, which Limbaugh cited, jumped on Simon's thread, calling the theory "intriguing" and "thought-provoking."

    Sadly, there is nothing "intriguing" or "thought-provoking" about entertaining conspiracies that are being pulled, as far as I can tell, from the air -- especially when so many holes have been poked into this particular birther bubble:

  • Will media flip out over Sen. Coburn's "die sooner" claim?

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Remember how the media flipped out when Rep. Alan Grayson said the GOP's health care plan was: "Don't get sick, and if you do get you do get sick, die quickly"? NBC Nightly News covered it, with anchor Brian Williams calling the comment "incendiary" and noting that Republicans wanted him to apologize. Politico's Roger Simon said Grayson is "like a guy on crack who is always searching for a bigger high."

    CNN's Howard Kurtz claimed Grayson benefitted from a "media double standard" -- that Grayson's comment drew less criticism than GOP Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst during President Obama's address to congress.

    Well, if Kurtz is right about media double standards, there should be a huge media firestorm over Republican Sen. Tom Coburn's statement yesterday that under the Democratic health care plan, seniors will "die sooner." Seems pretty unlikely to me, but we'll see.

  • Roger Simon needs a new pro-Palin talking point. His is broken.

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Politico's Roger Simon continues shilling for Sarah Palin on Hardball, where, among other things, he defended her from criticizing for quitting by pointing out that "Bob Dole quit."


    That was a dumb point when Simon first made it nearly a month ago, and it remains dumb.

    Let's recap:

    Bob Dole left the Senate after he had already wrapped up the Republican presidential nomination, and with just a few months remaining before the general election. Sarah Palin quit Alaska's governorship nearly three years before the first 2012 primary will occur. Bob Dole had served Kansas in Congress for more than 30 years. Sarah Palin had been governor for 2 years. They just aren't comparable situations.

    And after Dole quit, he lost the general election.

    So what, exactly, does saying "Bob Dole quit" add to the conversation?

    UPDATE: It gets dumber. Simon, later in the broadcast: "Bob Dole gave up his US Senatorship in 1996 to run for president. The party didn't care... he got the nomination."

    Once again: Bob Dole had already wrapped up the nomination when he resigned. Roger Simon, who was "standing right there" when Dole did it, should probably know that.

    UPDATE 2: And just for the record, a lot of people think, and thought at the time, that Dole made a mistake in giving up his Senate seat, because it eliminated his ability to make news in an official, rather than political, capacity. That's a Dole-Palin comparison that makes logical and factual sense (which doesn't mean Palin's resignation will play out the same way.) Simon's comparison of the two does not; it's the kind of false and nonsensical line you see a politician's supporters make when they don't have any good arguments. Except in this case, it's journalist Roger Simon who keeps pulling it out.

  • Better political columnists, please

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    Politico's Roger Simon, suggesting Sarah Palin is the victim of some sort of double-standard:

    But you can see why some in the media were shocked and dismayed. Imagine abandoning your office! Imagine quitting and deserting the voters who elected you!

    Though this is what Bob Dole did in 1996, didn't he? Dole resigned his Senate seat to run for president. I remember it. I was standing right there when he did it. And I don't recall anybody accusing him of being a quitter.

    Well, I do. But even if I didn't, it wouldn't take long to find that example: it's the second result you get when you search Yahoo for "Dole quitter."

    Besides, the comparison is insane. Dole quit the Senate so he could devote his full attention to the last few months of a presidential campaign in which he had already wrapped up the Republican nomination. Sarah Palin quit Alaska's governorship to ... to do what? The Republican nomination won't even be decided for three years. She hasn't said what she's doing next.

    So the two situations are pretty much nothing alike. And people did call Dole a quitter. Other than that, Roger Simon's suggestion that the situations are the same and that nobody called Dole a quitter is spot-on.

    More Simon:

    Doesn't she know that the highest form of political communication today is to exactly regurgitate a speech written for you by a speechwriter who has crafted, vetted and polled every phrase, line and word?

    But listen to Palin. Listen to how "rambling" and "disjointed" she is. Once upon a time in American politics, this was known as being "plain-spoken," but that time has gone. An entire industry of political consultants has grown up to make sure politicians are never plain-spoken.

    Oh, come on. Nobody is criticizing Palin because her quitting speech didn't soar like Mario Cuomo's 1984 Democratic convention speech. They're criticizing her because her speech didn't make any sense. She wasn't "plain-spoken," she was nonsensical. She mixed metaphors. She denounced the "quitter's way out" while quitting. She claimed to have explained why she was quitting after having done nothing of the kind. Her speech was marked by circular logic, an aggressive hostility to the English language, and a stilted delivery that suggested she was struggling to remember the proper order of a series of disjointed phrases -- except that it turns out that was the way she wrote the speech.

    If Palin had been "plain-spoken," people would have known what she was saying -- why she was quitting, what she was doing next. That's an essential element of being plain-spoken.