Supplemental: Millionaire’s Christmas in July!

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014

Watching the liberal mind crumble: We humans love to be programmed.

We love to be told that our tribe is the best. We then go rampaging through the streets in support of this insight.

For an example of what we mean, read the New York Times news report which bears this remarkable hard-copy headline:

“3 Killed in Facebook Blasphemy Rampage.”

The New York Times did a news report on a “Facebook blasphemy rampage?” Good lord, what a phrase!

In fairness, this horrible news report comes from Pakistan. To our ear, that phrase sounds like a description of the work being done each day at Salon.

(Did you hear the one about the scores of right-wingers spitting at the kids?)

The liberal mind is backsliding hard in this age of partisan corporate news. Last night, Rachel Maddow provided the latest example on her corporate cable TV show.

Maddow was creaming, as she frequently does, about the thought that “former Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia and his wife [are] facing basically life in prison.” As you may have noticed, Rachel Maddow likes it a lot when The Others suffer and die.

To our eye, Maddow played the fool last night. To understand the depth of the clowning, you have to start with Sunday’s report in the Washington Post by the exceptionally dour Rosalind Helderman, who guested on Maddow’s program.

Helderman (Harvard 2001) has been keeping it rather unreal. On Sunday, her front-page preview of the McDonnell trial burned 2500 words.

We’ve got a feeling we aren't in Cambridge any more! Here’s how the former bright young kid began her heavily tabloid report, hard-copy headline included:
HELDERMAN (7/27/14): McDonnells’ court drama: ‘It’s going to be ugly’

The star witness is a flashy dietary supplement executive who boasted of friendships with Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. A manicurist, a party planner and a yet-to-be-named public official from another state also could take the stand.

In their much-anticipated federal corruption trial set to begin Monday, former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, will seek to win acquittal on multiple charges and restore their honor in the eyes of the law.

But over the course of the trial in a Richmond courtroom, expected to last five weeks, the McDonnells also will submit themselves to a potentially humiliating spectacle that will showcase an intimate view of their frayed marriage and odd personal relationships.

"It's going to be ugly," said L. Douglas Wilder, another former governor, who is friendly with McDonnell and has followed the case. "The more you read, the more sleaze develops. It's not going to be nice for anyone.”
Question: How big a role will Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton play in this “court drama,” with its intimate view of the McDonnells’ marriage?

Based upon Helderman’s tabloid report, it doesn’t sound like they’re destined to play a very large role at all. But there they were in her opening sentence! What peculiar news judgment!

That said, Helderman’s piece was tabloid glop from its start to its finish. We’ll assume she once was a bright young kid. Today, this is all that’s left.

We mention Helderman for a reason. Last evening, Maddow’s messy self-abuse was built around her heavily tabloid report.

Maddow devoted two segments of her show to this rather insignificant trial. Believe it or not, this is the way she started the second of these segments:
MADDOW (7/28/14): This is from the Washington Post today [sic]. This is amazing.

"In their final days in the governor’s mansion, Governor McDonnell was consumed with completing his final budget, highlighting the accomplishments of his administration and girding for the indictment that by then seemed inevitable.

"Maureen McDonnell, though, was pressing to enjoy the final perks of office.

“According to several state employees familiar with her requests, she pushed to stay at the executive mansion as long as possible, even asking for access to the historic home after her husband ceded office to the new governor, Terry McAuliffe on January 11th. She reasoned that her husband had been elected to a four-year term and had not taken office until January 16th, four years earlier. So they should be allowed to stay five more days.

“In the end, the couple departed the mansion only on the morning of Terry McAuliffe’s inauguration, breaking a recent tradition in which first families have vacated the premises days in advance to allow state employees time to prepare for the new occupants.”

And now, get this!

“About a month before the McDonnells’ exit, the first lady also stunned members of the mansion’s advisory council when she asked if she could have as keepsakes four shoeboxes full of Christmas ornaments, one from each year that the family occupied the mansion. That’s according to two people directly involved with the council.

“The Citizens Advisory Council for Furnishing and Interpreting the Executive Mansion had raised the money to buy the ornaments and had donated them to the mansion, making them state property. They offered to let her pay for them. She declined.”

Remarkable reporting from the Washington Post, which, of course, is the paper that first broke the news of the Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell corruption scandal...
Can we talk? That’s news for the sick and the stupid.

At some length, Maddow read the silly material with which Helderman, Harvard Class of 2001, chose to end her lurid, tabloidized news report.

For a person like Maddow, that delicious passage was Christmas in July! According to Helderman’s imitation of news, this is what occurred:

At the end of McDonnell’s term, his wife asked if she could keep four boxes of Christmas ornaments, presumably for sentimental reasons. She was told she would have to pay for the ornaments.

In the end, she didn’t do so. Helderman doesn’t say why.

To Maddow, that was “amazing” stuff! In a world where people are suffering and dying in very large numbers, she wasted everyone’s time making herself cream about the embarrassments of the hated.

Maddow wasted almost two minutes reading that consummate argle-bargle. It’s embarrassing that Helderman wrote that dreck, and that the Post chose to publish it. It’s a problem for progressive values when multimillionaire “liberal” leaders cream over such worthlessness.

Like Maddow, we have no idea what actually happened regarding those meaningless ornaments. Helderman’s reporting was a bit thin on some of the basic facts.

But please understand what you’re being handed when Maddow hands you such world-class piddle. You’re watching a person who gets paid $7 million per year chuckling over the idea that an outgoing first lady couldn’t afford to buy some ornaments which had sentimental value.

Governor McDonnell behaved very foolishly in accepting several hundred thousand dollars from businessman Jonnie Williams. On the other hand, we’d have to say he didn’t really do all that much to help Williams’ ventures along.

How many professional corners does Maddow cut to maintain the $7 million she accepts from her corporate directors? How many topics does she skip? How much bullshit does she air to keep us rubes entertained, so we’ll keep tuning in?

You’re not supposed to think such thoughts as you watch the TV stars of corporate news perform.

The liberal mind is melting down under the weight of corporate “news.” (They ruined conservatives first.) In the process, the mainstream press corps is gearing up to elect a Republican again.

The Washington Post seems to be leading the way in this project, just as it did for two solid years in the war against Candidate Gore. But Rachel will never tell you that, not in a million years.

Is the Washington Post conducting a jihad about Hillary Clinton? Actually yes, it is. But Maddow writes a monthly column for the august newspaper. She will never challenge their work or their culture, not in a million years.

Suggestion: When you pay people $7 million per year, you often turn them into scrambled-egg jokes. In our view, Our Own $7 Million Hack has become a public embarrassment.

Tomorrow: Stunningly feckless

If you have thirteen minutes to waste: Last night, Maddow aired two segments about this insignificant trial.

To watch the first segment, click this. Warning! Maddow will waste your time talking about Aaron Burr. (Excitement! There was a duel!)

To watch the second segment, click here.
It’s Christmas in July for cable news millionaires!

Halperin’s theory in full!

TUESDAY, JULY 29, 2014

Part 2—Gregory starts to explain: If Hillary Clinton runs for president, is she “destined to get horrible coverage?”

We can’t answer that question, although events of the past few months make it a plausible theory. So do events of the past several decades, as David Gregory, and other insiders, mumblingly noted last week.

Let’s start at the beginning! Last Tuesday, Mika Brzezinski introduced a segment on Morning Joe about Clinton’s White House prospects. Needless to say, she also discussed Clinton’s troubling wealth, then asked a stupid question:
BRZEZINSKI (7/22/14): Meanwhile, a new study by Bloomberg shows that Clinton earned at least $12 million since she stepped down in February of last year. That figure includes the advance from her new memoir along with speaking fees which are said to command 200 grand per appearance.

I’m curious about these numbers. All the fees go to the Clinton Foundation? Some of them?
Say what? Was Mika kidding? As everyone knows, Clinton doesn’t donate all her fees to the Clinton Foundation. We can’t tell you why Brzezinski pretended she didn’t know that.

But in response to that silly question, Time magazine’s Mark Halperin began to outline his theory about the way Clinton will be covered if she runs for the White House. If you care which party holds the White House, you ought to be concerned by his views:
HALPERIN (continuing directly): They’re not totally transparent, but a lot of them do. But some critics say, you know, they control the foundation.

She’s lost control of her public image. It’s the worst thing that can happen to somebody thinking of running for president and it’s a time when she should be in command. She had a book tour, she can control the message. Her operation is playing defense on a lot of stories. And it’s fine—she can recover from it. But right now, she’s lost control of how people are thinking about her, how the media’s covering her.
According to Halperin, Clinton has “lost control of [the way] the media’s covering her.” This was the start of a theory he laid out in two different segments on Morning Joe last week.

If you care which party holds the White House, we think Halperin’s theory is well worth considering—is well worth considering now. We also think you should consider the way two panels of big-name journalists reacted to his assertions.

This morning, we’ll lay out Halperin’s theory in full, exactly as it was expressed on those Morning Joe programs. We’ll also review a reaction from David Gregory, kingpin of Meet the Press.

For now, let’s return to last Tuesday’s program.

After Halperin made the statements we've posted, Willie Geist Jr. jumped in with a typical Willie Geist question. In response, Halperin fleshed out his views:
GEIST (continuing directly): Would it have been better, in hindsight, if Hillary Clinton had not written this book and gone out on a book tour? Because look where she was when she was out of the fray. No one was talking about her in terms of politics, just in terms of how she’d done as secretary of state.

She’d have less money. That’s true.

HALPERIN: I think so. I think on balance it’s pretty clear that the timing of the book, the way the book went for her political aspirations, wasn’t a good thing.

But she has a lot of positive attributes that are currently just being overwhelmed by all this negative coverage. And it’s going to keep going. The momentum—there’s, there’s— The press loves to cover her hard.
Whatever his various merits may be, Geist is the Peck’s Good Boy of the celebrity press corps. According to Geist, things would go fine for Hillary Clinton if she just wouldn’t write any books or make any public appearances.

As he ended, Geist threw in a snide remark about Clinton’s quest for money. That is the very narrative to which Halperin was referring when he cited the way the press corps is covering Clinton.

Whatever! As he replied to the Geist, Halperin further defined his theory:

The “negative coverage” of Clinton is “going to keep going,” he said. “The press loves to cover her hard.”

Is that true? Does the national press corps “love to cover her hard?” Halperin was alleging gross misconduct on the part of the national press. As we’ll see, he extended this theory three days later, also on Morning Joe.

Is it true? Does the national press “love to cover Clinton hard?” At this point, insider pundit Mike Barnacle jumped in—and quite clearly, Barnacle seemed to agree with this general claim. At the same time, he seemed completely baffled as to the reasons why he and his colleagues cover Clinton in this negative manner.

Tomorrow, we’ll review the silly, disingenuous exchanges Barnacle generated, with help from the Washington Post’s equally puzzled Gene Robinson. For today, let’s skip ahead three days, to last Friday’s Morning Joe, where Halperin extended his theory about Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

Three days had passed, and Mika Brzezinski was discussing Clinton’s prospects again. She quoted something Clinton had said, then threw to Halperin.

In response to Brzezinski’s toss, Halperin made his most dramatic prediction:
BRZEZINSKI (7/25/14): Former secretary of state and possible 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is admitting she may have some work to when it comes to media relations. Clinton has frequently clashed with the press, including during her 2008 presidential campaign and her recent book tour.

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson said she believed the former first lady expected the press, especially female journalists, to be loyal to her. And now Hillary Clinton is responding, saying, quote:

“I think maybe one of the points Jill was making is that I do sometimes expect perhaps more than I should and I’ll have to work on my expectations. But I had an excellent relationship with the State Department press that followed me for four years and enjoyed working with them, and whatever I do in the future, I look forward to having the same kind of opportunities.”

Mark Halperin, your thoughts.

HALPERIN: Well, I don't ever like to overstate the media's role, but the media has a pretty big role in the presidential process. I think she's talking about what is the most important issue determining whether she'll be president right now. She'll raise the money, she’ll have policy positions. She needs to find a way—we talked about this the other day—to change the narrative about how she's being covered.

Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.
Halperin completed his theory, making a startling prediction. Unless Clinton can change the way she’s being covered, she is “destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.”

Rather plainly, Halperin said this horrible coverage could cause Clinton to lose the race. If you care which party holds the White House, you ought to be concerned about this prediction.

Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage?” The theory is perfectly plausible, as events of the past two months, and the past few decades, make abundantly clear.

Events of the past few decades? At this point, Brzezinski threw to David Gregory. Below, you see what Gregory said about Halperin’s theory:
HALPERIN: Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.

BRZEZINSKI: So how did that happen, David Gregory?

GREGORY [chuckles]: You know, I mean I just think this goes back a long time. One of the downsides to being in the public eye as a political figure for so long is that there's just a lot of baggage associated with that, that goes back now twenty-plus years. And relationships and views about the press and situations you've been in, I think that's very difficult to get out from under.

I think there's always been, if you go back to her presidential runs, what has surrounded her is the idea that she’s this formidable and perhaps unstoppable force. And I think the media will always look to kind of pick that apart, especially if there’s vulnerability and if you don't live up to expectations. I think that's part of what happened in 2008.

And I think if you don't make—if there's open disdain for a lot of the media culture, and members of the media, you're not able to kind of forge new relationships. I think the only way that can change is if there's a real effort to sort of, to sort of create new relationships.

And I think there, I mean, I think there was a kind of a deft comment, which is almost like, you know, “I'm sorry I care so much—”

BRZEZINSKI: Oh, my gosh!

GREGORY: “I'm sorry my expectations are so high,” you know, that they’ll never be met.
Instantly, Gregory said the situation “goes back a long time.” And uh-oh! Rather quickly, he suggested a link to Clinton’s alleged “open disdain for a lot of the media culture and members of the media.”

We don’t know why Gregory seemed to think that Clinton has made previous “runs” for the White House (plural). But we were struck by his instant reference to that alleged “open disdain.”

Some of what Gregory said this day made perfect sense. In the statement quoted by Brzezinski, Clinton did display her political tin ear, in something like the way Gregory burlesqued.

Clinton knows a lot about matters of substance. This has been clear in recent weeks in the TV interviews where she was asked about the affairs of the world.

In sessions with the likes of Diane Sawyer, she tended to reveal a shortfall in the realm of deft/glib political speech.

Having said that, let us also say this: By the laws of the upper-class press corps, you are not allowed to display anything like an open disdain for members of the media or their wonderful media culture. If the lords and ladies think you’ve done that, you will almost surely be treated in predictable ways.

The situation in question goes back a long ways, the chuckling Gregory said. Three days earlier, Halperin had made a similar statement to Brzezinski.

Most of the pundits on these programs seemed to agree that Halperin was talking about an actual state of affairs. They seemed to agree that Hillary Clinton does receive negative coverage.

That raises an obvious question: Why? Tomorrow, we’ll show you a very familiar manifestation:

Does Clinton get tons of negative coverage? With Mike Barnacle taking the lead, we’ll show you the way these disingenuous pundit panels pretended they really can’t explain why this problem exists.

Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage?” For two years, Candidate Gore did get horrible coverage. It led to a very bad end.

If you care which party holds the White House, we think you should be concerned by Halperin’s prediction of more to come. You also ought to be concerned by the silly faux behavior of major millionaire inside players like Robinson, Barnacle, Mika.

They can never explain their own misbehavior. Or at least so they pretend.

Tomorrow: Thoroughly baffled, Barnacle throws to Pace!

To watch these Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Clinton’s press coverage.

For our money, Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his clowning tomorrow. To watch that whole segment, click here.

On Friday, Mark Halperin made a startling prediction—and Gregory discussed the Clintons’ “open disdain for media culture.”

David said more than the law allows. To watch that full segment, click this.

All this week: The culture of “horrible coverage!”

MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014

Also, the culture of silence: If Hillary Clinton runs for president, she may well get her party’s nomination.

If she does, is she “destined to get horrible coverage” from the mainstream press corps?

Last Friday, Mark Halperin made that prediction on Morning Joe—and he stressed the word “horrible.” Three days earlier, he had made a similar statement on the same program.

For fuller background, see this morning’s post.

We’ll look at last Tuesday’s Morning Joe in tomorrow’s principal post. For now, here are some excerpts from Halperin’s statements that day:
HALPERIN (7/22/14): She’s lost control of her public image. It’s the worst thing that can happen to someone thinking of running for president.


She has a lot of positive attributes that are currently just being overwhelmed by all this negative coverage. And it’s going to keep going. The momentum, there’s, there’s— The press loves to cover her hard.
As we’ll see, the other Morning Joe pundits feigned incomprehension concerning the reasons for the negative coverage. But according to Halperin:

“The negative coverage is going to keep going...The press loves to cover her hard.”

As we noted this morning, those are very unusual statements from a press insider. Beyond that, it seems to us that Halperin’s predictions and statements make sense.

All this week, we’ll explore the ways the other pundits on Morning Joe reacted to Halperin’s statements. This involves the culture of horrible coverage, a culture extending back many years.

But it also involves the culture of press corps silence.

As you’ll see, the other pundits feigned incomprehension about the reasons for this “horrible coverage.” Other journalists did the same thing in October and November 1999, when Howard Kurtz asked two different pundit panels why Candidate Gore was attracting so much “harsh coverage and punditry.”

Guess what, marks? Big pundits always feign incomprehension when challenged about their conduct. And just so you’ll know, this culture of silence extends all the way down to your favorite liberal stars.

Your darling Rachel will never tell you the things we’ll be telling you all this week. Chris Hayes has a horrible tendency to start reciting mainstream narratives when people like Susan Rice or Hillary Clinton start getting trashed by the powers that be.

Lawrence O’Donnell and Chris Matthews? They were major players in the two-year war against Candidate Gore. In part for such reasons, other career liberals simply can’t tell you the history of those years.

Drum and Dionne understand the history, but there’s little chance they will ever discuss it. You will not hear from your favorite players in the career liberal world.

All week, we’ll discuss that prediction of “horrible coverage” for a Candidate Clinton. We’ll also discuss the culture of silence which has obtained for all these years, dating to Kurtz’s dumbfounded panels in 1999.

In our supplemental posts, we’ll look at other horrible journalism coming from some of our fiery liberals. Good lord, our work can be poor!

For many years, the liberal world was essentially silent. In the aftermath of the war in Iraq, the liberal web began taking form.

Now, liberal and progressive voices are widely, easily heard. Sometimes, we wonder if progressive values were better served when we all kept quiet.

Starting in March 1999, Candidate Gore was treated to twenty months of “horrible coverage.” In the main, that coverage came from the mainstream press corps, not from the RNC.

To state the obvious, that horrible coverage sent Bush to the White House. Halperin says it could happen again.

To watch those Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

We thought Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his comments on Wednesday. To watch that whole segment, click here.

On Friday, Halperin made his prediction. To watch that segment, click this.

But why?

MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014

Part 1—Halperin's striking prediction: Last Friday, a gaggle of pundits on Morning Joe were discussing the White House campaign.

At the present time, of course, there is no a White House campaign. According to almost all the experts, our next presidential election takes place in November 2016.

That’s well over two years away! At present, there is no campaign.

No one is currently running for president! But major parts of the mainstream press corps love discussing White House campaigns, including those which aren’t yet occurring.

Our upper-end “journalists” love to kill time in this fashion. They also love to fashion the frameworks within which they will discuss a campaign.

In part, that explains what happened when Hillary Clinton launched her recent book tour.

Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, concerns her four years in the State Department. The book discusses a wide array of events from around the globe. It’s a type of discussion our upper-end press corps finds insuperably boring.

At the same time, it’s widely assumed that Clinton will launch a White House campaign next year. For that reason, many interviews on her book tour raced in that direction.

Multimillionaire TV stars asked if voters would support a person as wealthy as Clinton. In response to Clinton’s answers, some of the nation’s most famous pundits launched their famous “gaffe culture.”

The Washington Post even launched a front-page jihad concerning the size of Clinton’s speaking fees. In the New York Times, Maureen Dowd assailed Clinton for her “rapacious” behavior and her “wanton acquisitiveness,” which she was said to be passing along to her daughter.

In some quarters, these events have sparked minor discussions about Clinton’s relationship with the press. Last Friday, a major pundit on Morning Joe offered a startling assessment.

Mika Brzezinski quoted a recent statement by Clinton about her relationship with the press. At that point, she threw to Time magazine’s Mark Halperin.

What were Halperin’s views about this? Halperin, a major insider, made a striking prediction:
BRZEZINSKI (7/25/14): Mark Halperin, your thoughts.

HALPERIN: Well, I don't ever like to overstate the media’s role, but the media has a pretty big role in the presidential process. I think she’s talking about what is the most important issue determining whether she’ll be president right now. She'll raise the money, she’ll have policy positions. She needs to find a way—we talked about this the other day—to change the narrative about how she's being covered.

Right now, she's destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president.
“We talked about this the other day?” Halperin referred to a discussion which occurred on the Morning Joe program of Tuesday, July 22. For links to both discussions, see below.

Citizens, can we talk?

Halperin is a major press corps insider. He knows all the other press corps insiders.

He attends the cocktail parties where media narratives slur their way into shape. Mark Halperin understands the way the press corps works.

Keeping those credentials in mind, let’s make sure we’re perfectly clear about what Halperin said:

According to Halperin, “the most important issue determining whether” Clinton can get elected to the White House will be her press coverage. She’ll be able to raise the money, he said. She’ll be able to articulate her stands on the various issues.

But Clinton needs to find a way “to change the narrative about how she’s being covered,” Halperin said, somewhat clumsily. And that’s when he made his startling prediction:

As matters stand, Clinton “is destined to get horrible coverage if she runs for president!” So Mark Halperin said.

That is a remarkable statement, for at least several reasons.

For starters, insider pundits rarely speak in such awkward ways about the insider press. Halperin made a starting suggestion—he suggested the press corps’ coverage of a major candidate could determine the outcome of our next White House campaign.

Plainly, that’s what happened in Campaign 2000, when a twenty-month war against Candidate Gore let George Bush reach the White House. In the main, that war was conducted by the mainstream press corps, not by the RNC.

The press corps’ poisonous war against Gore let Bush reach the White House. But it’s a basic law of the guild: Major journalists never suggest that the behavior of their own guild could have such startling effects.

As such, Halperin’s remarks on Morning Joe were extremely unusual. They broke the most ironclad code of silence in American culture—the silence the mainstream press corps maintains about its own views and behaviors.

How potent is that code of silence? To what extent are its strictures observed? To anyone with eyes to see, it’s perfectly obvious that the “horrible coverage” of Candidate Gore was “the most important issue determining” his failure to get to the White House.

But so what? Right to this day, even “liberal” members of the mainstream press corps refuse to discuss this history-changing fact.

Is Clinton “destined to get horrible coverage” if she runs for president? Plainly, that’s what happened to Candidate Gore as our most corrupt elite transferred its post-impeachment enmity to Bill Clinton’s chosen successor.

That recent journalistic history has been disappeared. You aren’t supposed to discuss that history. Nor are pundits supposed to say the sorts of things Halperin said.

Can we talk? When Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic nomination in 2007 and 2008, her coverage was rather horrible too.

Major figures in the press corps ridiculed her as “Nurse Ratched” and as “Evita Peron.” In a rare manifestation, the New York Times published a news report about the horrible coverage she had received, though only after the race was done.

In June 2008, the Times’ public editor savaged that same Maureen Dowd for “the relentless nature of her gender-laden assault on Clinton—in 28 of 44 columns since Jan. 1.” But through all these trials and tribulations, careerist members of the press corps have obeyed their guild’s code of silence, pretending there’s “nothing to look at” in the way the Clintons and Gore have been covered.

This has gone on for a very long time. They buried Gene Lyons’ 1996 book, Fools for Scandal: How the Media Invented Whitewater. In 1999 and 2000, they pretended they had no idea why Candidate Gore was getting such horrible coverage.

When the Post began its most recent jihad last month, career liberals sat and watched in silence, just as they and their successors have always done. Some launched their own peculiar assaults on Clinton, as was the case with Gore.

Last Friday morning, Halperin made a rather startling prediction. It came in the second of two semi-remarkable discussions on Morning Joe.

On each of those programs, high-ranking national pundits played a familiar game. They pretended they had no earthly idea why they themselves, and their colleagues and friends, were giving Clinton some premature horrible coverage.

They’ve played this game many times in the past. If they’re allowed, they will continue to play it.

Do you want to see a Republican president? That choice is up to each voter, of course.

But “horrible coverage” of Candidate Gore did send Candidate Bush to the White House. Halperin issued a clear prediction:

Hey rubes! It could happen again!

Tomorrow: What David Gregory said

To watch the Morning Joe discussions: Last week, Morning Joe panels staged two discussions of Hillary Clinton’s press coverage.

For our money, Mike Barnacle was the star of last Tuesday’s discussion. We’ll discuss his comments on Wednesday. To watch that whole segment, click here.

On Friday, Halperin made a startling prediction. Mika threw to David and Donny. To watch that full segment, click this.

Supplemental: Is Alexandra Petri a twit?


Potentially conformist minds don’t seem to want to know: Yesterday, we mentioned William Deresiewicz’s rumination about the Ivy League.

The former Yale professor’s piece appears in The New Republic.

By this morning, we were already regretting the fact that we were so snarky about the publication of the piece. Then, we read Alexandra Petri’s treatment of the piece in the Washington Post.

We have no way of judging Deresiewicz’s overall portrait of today’s Ivy League students. From our perspective, his portrait did make us think of the lazy, conformist work being produced by the many Ivy League 20-somethings being hired to replace the outgoing Sam-and-Cokies.

The Sam-and-Cokies (and the Chrisses, the Maureens and the Tims) have created a deeply horrible journalistic legacy. We can’t say we see a lot of pushback emerging from the new hires.

One such hire is Petri, Harvard 2010 (sic). Pretty much straight outta Harvard, she was hired by the Post to do a weekly semi-humorous column and a regular blog.

As always, we hate to be negative. But basically, at the tender age of perhaps 25, Petri is already Art Buchwald.

This morning, Petri discusses the Deresiewicz piece. As she starts, so does the snark, for better or worse.

This is the way the piece begins in the hard-copy Post. For the on-line version, click here:
PETRI (7/26/14): You need to stop sending your kids to Ivy League schools.

In brief, according to a piece in the most recent New Republic by William Deresiewicz, who taught at Yale for 10 years, the students who are sent there are conformist, over-privileged overachievers. They emerge from homogeneous backgrounds and grow up to be elitist little twits. (He also went to an Ivy League school, but he is different now.)


When they get in, they learn nothing because they are too terrified of failure to study things they do not already know. They develop the firm conviction that, if you march to the beat of a different drummer, you are doing something wrong. We are all listening to this drummer for a reason. Your drummer must be screwing up.

When they get out, they are obsessed with status and give society less than they might have. Or something. The point is that the education is not value-added. If anything, it is value-subtracted. It produces conformist, unimaginative people who are desperate for outside approval.
Was Deresiewicz once an elitist twit? Is it possible that he is different now?

As she starts, Petri seems to snark at these possibilities. Later, her use of the phrase “Or something” signals that she can’t make out what the former Yale prof is saying.

In truth, the former Yale prof is making a plea that tracks at least to Thoreau. But if you read Petri’s entire piece, you’ll see that she’s having a difficult time taking his premises seriously.

How accurate is Deresiewicz’s portrait of these (Ivy League) kids today? We have no way of knowing.

His portrait did make us think of the lazy, conformist work which is frequently being done by the press corps’ large collection of Ivy League 20-somethings. With that in mind, let’s speculate about Petri herself for a moment:

We have no doubt that Petri is a perfectly decent person. In our experience, most people are.

That said, she certainly comes from a “privileged” background. Before she went to Harvard, she prepped at Washington's National Cathedral School. She was growing up in D.C. because her father, Wisconsin congressman Tom Petri, has been serving in the House since 1979.

Obviously, there’s nothing “wrong” with any of that. But let’s put Deresiewicz’s portrait to the test:

Is it possible that Petri is perhaps a bit of a “conformist,” even perhaps a tiny bit of an “elitist twit?” Much more to the point, is it possible that she is currently “giving society less than she might have?”

To state the obvious, we’re all giving society less than we might have. This morning, though, Petri seems to be having a very hard time conceiving of the possibility that her elite upbringing may have channeled her in an “elitist/conformist” direction.

We went to Harvard too, in the street-fighting Class of 1969. In those days, of course, we kids were so busy stopping a war that we had no time to acquire the undesirable traits described by Deresiewicz.

It’s also true that, at that time, Harvard was experimenting (we’ve been told) with admission procedures which were more working-class friendly. Of our own nine-member roommate group, we only know for sure that two of the nine had parents who went to college.

(The number could be as high as six out of nine. If we had to guess, we would guess that the number was four or five.)

Plainly, we Ivy League kids were better then. That returns us to the travails of these Ivy League grads today.

Many news orgs are loading up on 20-something Ivy grads, preferably from Yale. In a mark of contempt for the lives and interests of low-income kids, they throw them right onto the public school beat, despite their lack of experience and their obvious lack of technical competence.

Are today’s Ivy League grads “conformist,” perhaps a smidge “elitist?” On the whole, we have no idea.

Within the upper-end press corps, though, we’d say that portrait tends to fit the work of these highly-credentialed, less than brilliant journalists. This morning, Petri seems to be having a difficult time coming to terms with such unlikely ideas.

Still writing for the Crimson: This May, Petri wrote a piece for the Harvard Crimson. In best tongue-in-cheek manner, she advised today’s Harvard kids on the best ways to deal with an impending problem:

In the future, how should they deal with the highly visible successes of other Harvard grads? This was the inevitable problem Petri chose to explore.

In such humble-bragging ways, grads like Petri, tongue in cheek, reinforce the very values Deresiewicz was critiquing.

Today, Petri can’t quite make out what Deresiewicz was saying! So it eternally tends to go as the world eternally turns.