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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 
Media Declares War

by dday

Just to follow up on Tristero's piece on Rev. Wright, I completely agree that this is an attempt to silence liberal voices and make them an automatic political problem. That's certainly what we saw yesterday. Forgetting the fact that the revelation in Wright's weekend remarks was actually that the media misinterpreted practically everything he said, and taking the position that any appearance of the former Trinity Church pastor is simply incedniary regardless of content, the cable news was pretty much an uninterrupted parade of concern trolls warning that this independent individual's public appearances would be like death to Obama's presidential campaign. Because the speech was at the National Press Club in Washington it became real for the Village. He came to the center of THEIR universe, and dared to assail the media for their actions. In short, he trashed the place.

Hardball was of particular note. Tweety was breathing fire, jumping on these appearances, talking about how damaging they were without even really referring to them, asserting bluntly that Wright is now "the lead surrogate for the Obama campaign." His main point of contention was that - get this - Wright has a "raging ego." And he even brought on black minister Rev. Eugene Rivers, without of course mentioning that Rivers has been working with George Bush for the past two terms and wants to be the new voice of the African-American community of faith (he got particularly incensed when Wright deemed the attack on him as "an attack on the black church" - that's of course his role to speak for all black people of faith).

After about 45 minutes of this, Ryan Lizza finally spoke up with a point that I've seen Ezra Klein make (can't find the link right now):

LIZZA: There should be a principle in these cases in this campaign. There is no guilt by association. This guy has one set of views, Obama has another set of views. If the views match up, then it's fair game. But the guy's been in politics since the mid-90s. He has a record in the State Senate in Illinois. He has a record in the US Senate. He's laid out an agenda as a presidential candidate. Where do his views match up with Jeremiah Wright's? And why as journalists are we confusing the two? It seems to me totally unfair that this guy is getting smeared with the views of someone just because he's his former pastor.


This whole time there's this shit-eating grin on Tweety's face, as if to say, "Oh, you dear boy." Tweety of course thinks Lizza is being naive, but he's making the very simple point that journalists shouldn't keep pretending Obama and Wright are somehow the same person given that they've charted vastly different visions and worldviews.

Then Tweety goes on to do just that, opening with one of his typically unintentionally hilarious moments:

MATTHEWS: Let me give you the proper way of putting it in literary terms. It's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde... who was the bad guy, Dr. Jekyll was the good guy, Mr. Hyde was the bad guy, right?

LIZZA: I'll trust you on that...

MATTHEWS: I think so.


Mr. Literary Allusion, Tweety is. Not that he knows anything ABOUT Jekyll and Hyde other than some snippet he saw on late-night cable after coming in from yet another cocktail party, but he's so urbane, no?

MATTHEWS: So every time you have a problem with Barack, because you don't really know him and he seems a little foreign to you, you think of him as both these guys. They're different faces of the same guy. Jeremiah Wright to a lot of people is Barack Obama. They've become the same Chicago character running for President. One is the good doctor, the other is the monster that shows up at night.

LIZZA: Look, I think there's a danger of that happening. But as journalists I think there's a responsibility to make it clear...

MATTHEWS: OK, carve it apart, separate the two. Try.

LIZZA: This guy went to a church. This guy is the pastor of that church. Now one of those guys is running for President and has laid out a vision that is radically different than anything his left-wing pastor had to say. Yes, it tells you something about who he is, it tells you something about the community where he came from. But it doesn't tell you anything, and nobody should confuse one with--

MATTHEWS: Do you think it might be hurting a good man like Mitt Romney and his family, and good members of the LDS Church, that they're being embarrassed by this breakaway group down in Texas in the last couple weeks? You don't think that story hurts Mitt Romney's chances of being on the ticket? Yes it does. So I'm saying, these associations, fair or unfair, birds of a feather, it's the way people think.


My favorite passage. "Fair or unfair." In other words, I know I'm talking bullshit, but this is my impression of what the unwashed masses think, so, you know, I'm going with it.

Jill Zuckman chimed in, calling Lizza "a little high-minded," Tweety went on to call "GOD DAMN AMERICA" one of the greatest quotes in history, and it went on from there. Lizza, of course, kept his Village standing by calling Wright a "doctrinaire left-winger." And then Matthews launched into his defense of his profession for continuing to harp on meaningless trivialities - it's apparently the Democrats' fault.

MATTHEWS: For years the Democratic politicians have been lambasting Republicans for hanging around with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. And now they're going after Pastor Hagee. This is the way politics is played, you get the guy's associates.


The difference, of course, is right inside Lizza's original comment - Falwell and Robertson's policy prescriptions did indeed "match up" with the conservative Republicans who associated with them, whereas in the case of Obama, he's charted his own policy course. There's also the fact that Falwell/Robertson associations never got more than a half-hour's worth of coverage on something like Hardball at all, and never without a spokesman rebutting anything negative (remember, Falwell GUEST-HOSTED Crossfire back in the day). Wright is some "character from Chicago" but Falwell and Robertson were media members in good standing.

This is about the media Heathers using their limited view of politics to make sure that Obama is slapped on the wrist every time Jeremiah Wright speaks. The learned response is that any "doctrinaire left-winger" is radioactive. That's certainly the effort being made here. Usually how a John McCain reacts to something like this on his end is to completely ignore it. Liberals are of course not afforded that luxury.


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