The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

How the press sank Gore in 2000-- now with free Clinton jokes!

I'm glad to see the Daily Howler has continue to chronicle the press' role in the disastrous 2000 election. It's pretty much vanished down the memory hole for most people, but it was astounding to watch-- and the consequences have been dire.

The piece starts off with an article about Barack Obama by NYT reporter Katherine Seelye, who-- like so many talentless comedians and hardcore Republicans out there-- can't seem to update her material.

And what does the addled scribe choose to emphasize? Of course! The fact that Bill Clinton once said—fourteen years ago—that he “didn’t inhale!” Yes, Obama apparently gave her the opening. (. . .)

''When I was a kid, I inhaled,'' Obama apparently said in his interview, before an audience of magazine editors. (We say “apparently” because Seelye has a history of “accidentally” “quoting” folk wrong.) The obsessive script-reader typed it from there:
SEELYE: The direct admission was in contrast to Mr. Clinton's denial in his 1992 campaign for president that he had smoked marijuana.

''I didn't inhale,'' Mr. Clinton said, cementing the idea that he liked to have things both ways.
“Cement,” of course, is the perfect word for discussing Seelye’s range of “ideas.” Fourteen years and one large war later, it’s still stuck in cement in her head. She still can’t get over the troubling thing the troubling Bill Clinton once said:
SEELYE: Since Mr. Clinton's statement, the question of drug use has become a standard one for politicians, sometimes as a test of their ability to be straightforward. If the politician has used drugs, conventional wisdom says it is best to try to get the question out of the way early.
Of course, as everyone (including Seelye) knows, the question of drug use was quite standard for White House candidates in 1988 as well. But as with obsessives of every stripe, Seelye “remembers” what she wants to remember—and forgets almost everything else. For example, gone are the memories of Candidate Bush’s evasive responses to this question, eight years after Clinton’s answer supposedly made this a measure of “straightforward” politics. Bush’s evasions have flown from her head. But she can’t stop obsessing on Bill.

Next in the post, a further look at the role wisecrackin' reporters (notably the very same Seelye) played in the 2000 election-- the mood they created so infectious that even Dan Rather, scourge of the right, was making smart remarks about Gore on national television.

Deep inside their important but deeply flawed book, John Harris and Mark Halperin tell an astonishing story about the most important political event of the past twenty years. How did George W. Bush reach the White House? In the following passage, Harris and Halperin refer to the “Gang of 500"—roughly speaking, to “the group of columnists, consultants, reporters and staff hands” (page 24) who constitute Insider Washington:
HARRIS/HALPERIN (page 129): A number of members of the Gang of 500 are convinced that the main reason George W. Bush won the White House and Al Gore lost was that Gore’s regular press pack included the trio of Katherine “Kit” Seelye (of the New York Times), Ceci Connolly (of the Washington Post), and Sandra Sobieraj (of the Associated Press).
Simply put, that’s an astonishing statement—but it appears as a minor aside, buried deep inside a very long book. In this passage, Harris and Halperin—major press corps insiders themselves—say that some of their well-placed colleagues believe that George Bush reached the White House because of the work of just three Gore reporters!

Highly recommended reading.