Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Shoot 'em all

With the exception of Dan Abrams, the conduct of every "analyst" at MSNBC has been appalling this primary season. When I'm in a contrary, "the media can't tell me who to vote for" mood, the conduct of MSNBC is almost enough to turn me into a Clinton supporter. Chris Matthews just informed us that it was Hillary Clinton who twisted the meaning of John Kerry's joke about getting stuck in Iraq into an insult of the troops, referring to it as a Nixonian tactic to force Kerry out of the race. Howard Fineman concurred, adding that her "Sixty Minutes" interview was "Machiavellian*." And I've lost all respect for Keith Olbermann, but I'll finish later.

Finished version:

Frankly, Keith Olbermann often makes me cringe when he talks about conservatives. When I hear somebody go out of his way to be judgmental, I don't think, "Wow, listen to him speak truth to power. He really has the courage of his convictions," even if I agree with most of he says. But in this election, he's played by the Clinton rules every bit as much as any of MSNBC colleagues. He's not the warped misogynist that Chris Matthews is, but he's equally unfair in his criticisms of "the Clintons" -- a pet phrase of both Olbermann and Matthews.

I won't bother searching MSNBC transcripts for examples, instead, I'll challenge anybody to explain the January 29th edition of Countdown. If anyone can justify Olbermann's criticism of Bill Clinton for mentioning Jesse Jackson instead of John Edwards, I'll plead guilty to being the judgmental one.

First off, it was just plain stupid for Bill Clinton to downplay the importance of South Carolina by saying that Jesse Jackson won it twice. It's understandable that one's initial reaction would be that Clinton was trying to equate Jackson and Obama. Even if you knew that Jesse Jackson and John Edwards were the only two Democrats to win the South Carolina primary without winning the nomination, you could argue that Clinton was engaging in race baiting rather than spin. However, only a fool or a knave, would suggest that Clinton should have downplayed the significance of South Carolina by reminding voters that even John Edwards carried South Carolina. At least, I've never heard anybody suggest that the best way to win elections is to alienate supporters of the third place finisher. But how did Olbermann begin the Jan. 29th Countdown?
If that wasn't marginalizing Senator Obama or there wasn't a racial undertone to it, why did Mr. Clinton invoke Jesse Jackson, instead of another, perhaps more obvious choice?

I was going to ask, rhetorically, if anybody really believes that the Cornell-educated Olbermann is a fool, but maybe he is. After making it clear, on Jan. 29th, that he thought it totally out-of-bounds for Bill Clinton to mention Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama in the same conservation, who does Olbermann bring on to discuss Obama on Feb. 25th? Jesse Jackson.

I no longer respect Keith Olbermann.

Also of note:
More than any other maneuver, this one has brought Clinton into disrepute with important portions of the Democratic Party. A review of what actually happened shows that the charges that the Clintons played the "race card" were not simply false; they were deliberately manufactured by the Obama camp and trumpeted by a credulous and/or compliant press corps in order to strip away her once formidable majority among black voters and to outrage affluent, college-educated white liberals as well as college students. The Clinton campaign, in fact, has not racialized the campaign, and never had any reason to do so. Rather the Obama campaign and its supporters, well-prepared to play the "race-baiter card" before the primaries began, launched it with a vengeance when Obama ran into dire straits after his losses in New Hampshire and Nevada--and thereby created a campaign myth that has turned into an incontrovertible truth among political pundits, reporters, and various Obama supporters. This development is the latest sad commentary on the malign power of the press, hyping its own favorites and tearing down those it dislikes, to create pseudo-scandals of the sort that hounded Al Gore during the 2000 campaign. It is also a commentary on how race can make American politics go haywire. Above all, it is a commentary on the cutthroat, fraudulent politics that lie at the foundation of Obama's supposedly uplifting campaign.

I agree with the sentence that I've put in bold, but question the italicized sentence. Though the quoted passage sounds similar to some thoughts that I've expressed recently, I don't believe that Obama manipulated the press corps -- the "Clinton rules" were in effect long before this election began. However, it is interesting that the TNR piece quoted above was published on the same day as this YRHT post. I think Oyster was a little too sanguine.

*My personal view, hardly mine alone, is that the transcript reads that way, but the tape doesn't play that way.

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