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“Heads She Loses, Tails She Loses”: Clinton Coverage Goes Off The Rails — Again

“She shouts,” complained Washington Post editor Bob Woodward last week on MSNBC, deducting points for Clinton’s speaking style. “There is something unrelaxed about the way she is communicating, and I think that just jumps off the television screen.”

“Has nobody told her that the microphone works?” quipped Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough, who led a lengthy discussion about Clinton’s voice (the “tone issue”). Scarborough and his guests dissected Clinton’s “screaming,” and how she is supposedly being “feisty” and acting “not natural.”

Over on Fox, Geraldo Rivera suggested Clinton “scream[s]” because she “may be hard of hearing.” CNBC’s Larry Kudlow bemoaned her “shrieking.”

During last week’s debate, Bob Cusack, editor of The Hilltweeted, “When Hillary Clinton raises her voice, she loses.” (Cusack later deleted the tweet and apologized.) During a discussion on CNN about Clinton’s volume, David Gergen stressed, “Hillary was so angry compared to Sanders.”

The New York Times’ debate coverage pushed the same “angry” narrative, detailing “The ferocity of Mrs. Clinton’s remarks,” and how she appeared “tense and even angry at times,” “particularly sensitive,” and was “going on the offensive.” (By contrast, her opponent “largely kept his cool.”)

Media message received: Clinton is loud and cantankerous!

But it’s not just awkward gender stereotypes that are in play these days. It’s a much larger pattern of thumb-on-the-scale coverage and commentary. Just look at what seemed to be the press’ insatiable appetite to frame Clinton’s Iowa caucus win last week as an unnerving loss. Pundits also inaccurately claimed that she had to rely on a series of coin tosses to secure a victory.

As I’ve noted before, these anti-Clinton guttural roars from the press have become predictable, cyclical events, where pundits and reporters wind themselves up with righteous indignation and shift into pile-on mode regardless of the facts on the ground. (And the GOP cheers.) The angry eruptions now arrive like clockwork, but that doesn’t make them any less baffling. Nor does that make it any easier to figure out why the political press corps has decided to wage war on the Democratic frontrunner. (And publicly admit that they’re doing it.)

Sure, the usual nutty anti-Clinton stuff is tumbling off the right-wing media branches, with Fox News suggesting her campaign was nothing more than “bra burning,” while other conservatives mocked her “grating” voice.

But what’s happening inside the confines of the mainstream media is more troubling. Rush Limbaugh advertising his insecurities about powerful women isn’t exactly breaking news. Watching Beltway reporters and pundits reveal their creeping contempt for Clinton and wrapping it in condescension during a heated primary season is disturbing. And for some, it might trigger bouts of déjà vu.

It was fitting that the extended examination of Clinton’s “tone” last week unfolded on Morning Joe. As Think Progress noted, that show served as a hotbed for weird gender discussions when Clinton ran for president in 2008: “Scarborough often referenced the ‘Clinton cackle’ and another panelist cracked a joke that Clinton reminded everyone of their ‘first wife in probate court.'” (The crack about probate court got lots of laughs from Scarborough’s all-male panel at the time.)

The toxic put-downs during the heated Democratic primary in 2008 were everywhere. (i.e. Candidate Clinton was a “hellish housewife.”) At the time, Salon’s Rebecca Traister detected among male pundits “a nearly pornographic investment in Clinton’s demise.”

And that was not an understatementFrom Dr. Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University:

She was referred to as a “white bitch” on MSNBC and CNN; a blood-sucking “vampire” on Fox; the “wicked witch of the west” on CNN; and “everyone’s first wife standing outside of probate court,” a “she devil” and the castrating Lorena Bobbitt, all on MSNBC.

That Clinton was unfairly roughed up by the press in 2008 isn’t really a question for debate anymore. Even the man who campaigned against her, President Obama, recently noted that “there were times where I think the media probably was a little unfair to her” during their Democratic primary battle.

I wonder if Obama thinks the press is once again being unfair with its primary coverage.

For example, as the press continues to focus on the issue of Clinton’s speaking fees as a private citizen, the New York Times reported, “The former secretary of state has for months struggled to justify how sharing her views on global affairs could possibly fetch $225,000 a pop from banks. ”

The former secretary of state can’t justify her large speaking fee, even though former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, and former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, among others, have all pocketed large, six-figure speaking fees?

Author Carl Bernstein said at CNN, “Now, you’ve got a situation with these transcripts, a little bit like Richard Nixon and his tapes that he stonewalled on and wouldn’t release.”

Over the past week, media outlets have been trying to explain how Clinton’s hard-fought win in Iowa wasn’t really a win.

During the run-up to the vote, Iowa was often described as a state that Clinton absolutely had to win (electorally, it wasn’t). And so then when she won, what did some in the press do? They claimed she didn’t really win Iowa, and if she did it was because of lucky coin tosses.

False and false.

“Even if he doesn’t actually win, this feels like a win for @BernieSanders,” tweeted Associated Press reporter Lisa Lerer the night of the Iowa vote, echoing a widespread media talking point. The New York Times repeatedly referred to her Iowa victory as a “tie.”

Note the contrast: In 2012, when Mitt Romney claimed to have won the Iowa Republican caucus by just eight votes, The New York Times announced unequivocally that Romney had, in fact, won Iowa. (Weeks later a recount concluded Rick Santorum won the caucus by 34 votes.)

Why was Iowa dubbed a loss by so many for Clinton? Because Sanders “was nowhere a few months ago,” as CNN’s Wolf Blitzer put it the night of the vote.

Actually, if you go back to last September and October, polls showed the Iowa race was in flux and occasionally veered within the margin of error. More recently, CNN’s final Iowa poll before the caucus had Clinton trailing by eight points in that state. So the idea a close Iowa finish was “surprising,” or constituted a Clinton collapse, doesn’t add up.

Meanwhile, did you notice that when the Clinton campaign accurately predicted that it had the votes to win the caucus, members of the press were quick to mock the move. Even after Iowa officials declared her the winner, the Clinton campaign was attacked as being “disingenuous” for saying she was the winner.

And then there was the weird embrace of the coin toss story, which was fitting, since so much of the Clinton campaign coverage these days seems to revolve around a very simple premise: Heads she loses, tails she loses.

 

By: Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America, February 8, 2016

February 13, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Mainstream Media, Political Reporters | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Cranking Up For 2016”: Pledging Allegiance To Charlatans And Cranks

Scott Walker, the governor of Wisconsin, is said to be a rising contender for the Republican presidential nomination. So, on Wednesday, he did what, these days, any ambitious Republican must, and pledged allegiance to charlatans and cranks.

For those unfamiliar with the phrase, “charlatans and cranks” is associated with N. Gregory Mankiw, a professor at Harvard who served for a time as George W. Bush’s chief economic adviser. In the first edition of his best-selling economics textbook, Mr. Mankiw used those words to ridicule “supply-siders” who promised that tax cuts would have such magic effects on the economy that deficits would go down, not up.

But, on Wednesday, Mr. Walker, in what was clearly a rite of passage into serious candidacy, spoke at a dinner at Manhattan’s “21” Club hosted by the three most prominent supply-siders: Art Laffer (he of the curve); Larry Kudlow of CNBC; and Stephen Moore, chief economist of the Heritage Foundation. Politico pointed out that Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas, attended a similar event last month. Clearly, to be a Republican contender you have to court the powerful charlatan caucus.

So a doctrine that even Republican economists consider dangerous nonsense has become party orthodoxy. And what makes this political triumph especially remarkable is that it comes just as the doctrine’s high priests have been setting new standards for utter, epic predictive failure.

I’m not talking about the fact that supply-siders didn’t see the crisis coming, although they didn’t. Mr. Moore published a 2004 book titled “Bullish on Bush,” asserting that the Bush agenda was creating a permanently stronger economy. Mr. Kudlow sneered at the “bubbleheads” asserting that inflated home prices were due for a crash. Still, you could argue that few economists of any stripe fully foresaw the coming disaster.

You can’t say the same, however, about postcrisis developments, where the people Mr. Walker was courting have spent years warning about the wrong things. “Get ready for inflation and higher interest rates” was the title of a June 2009 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal by Mr. Laffer; what followed were the lowest inflation in two generations and the lowest interest rates in history. Mr. Kudlow and Mr. Moore both predicted 1970s-style stagflation.

To be fair, Mr. Kudlow and Mr. Laffer eventually admitted that they had been wrong. Neither has, however, given any indication of reconsidering his views, let alone conceding the possibility that the much-hated Keynesians, who have gotten most things right even as the supply-siders were getting everything wrong, might be on to something. Mr. Kudlow describes the failure of runaway inflation to materialize — something he has been predicting since 2008 — as “miraculous.”

Something else worth noting: as befits his position at Heritage, Mr. Moore likes to publish articles filled with lots of numbers. But his numbers are consistently wrong; they’re for the wrong years, or just plain not what the original sources say. And somehow these errors always run in the direction he wants.

So what does it say about the current state of the G.O.P. that discussion of economic policy is now monopolized by people who have been wrong about everything, have learned nothing from the experience, and can’t even get their numbers straight?

The answer, I’d suggest, runs deeper than economic doctrine. Across the board, the modern American right seems to have abandoned the idea that there is an objective reality out there, even if it’s not what your prejudices say should be happening. What are you going to believe, right-wing doctrine or your own lying eyes? These days, the doctrine wins.

Look at another issue, health reform. Before the Affordable Care Act went into effect, conservatives predicted disaster: health costs would soar, the deficit would explode, more people would lose insurance than gain it. They were wrong on all counts. But, in their rhetoric, even in the alleged facts (none of them true) people like Mr. Moore put in their articles, they simply ignore this reality. Reading them, you’d think that the dismal failure they wrongly predicted had actually happened.

Then there’s foreign policy. This week Jeb Bush tried to demonstrate his chops in that area, unveiling his team of expert advisers — who are, sure enough, the very people who insisted that the Iraqis would welcome us as liberators.

And don’t get me started on climate change.

Along with this denial of reality comes an absence of personal accountability. If anything, alleged experts seem to get points by showing that they’re willing to keep saying the same things no matter how embarrassingly wrong they’ve been in the past.

But let’s go back to those economic charlatans and cranks: Clearly, failure has only made them stronger, and now they are political kingmakers. Be very, very afraid.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, February 20, 2015

February 23, 2015 Posted by | Economic Policy, GOP Presidential Candidates, Scott Walker | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Mitt’s Time”: The Romney’s Display A Remarkable Sense Of Entitlement

I found Ann Romney calling the Hilary Rosen controversy “a birthday present” a little odd. The outrage machine ginned up the culture war to defend Ann’s “choice” to stay at home, but she’s telling us she enjoyed it? She wasn’t really hurt and offended? If the president had declared a “war on moms,” as Republicans claimed, could she really experience that as “a birthday present”? Is it really all about Ann?

On “The Ed Show” last night I said it revealed Ann Romney’s sense of entitlement, that she would call such apoplexy “a birthday present.” But I hadn’t even heard the most entitled part of her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, in which she exclaims, “It’s Mitt’s time. It’s our turn now.” In the same interview, her husband told Obama to “start packing,” rather presumptuously (who orders around the president?), but Ann Romney declaring “It’s our turn now” is even worse. Ann, the voters will decide that. Don’t order the car elevator for the White House quite yet.

On CNBC Tuesday night, the candidate himself sat down with former Reagan staffer Larry Kudlow for a mostly admiring interview. Although it was interesting that after Romney got through slamming the Obama administration for “scaring” American businesses and generally wrecking the economy, Kudlow asked him to explain why the stock market is soaring. “Right now what you’re seeing in stock prices is the fact that businesses are profitable,” Romney acknowledged. Despite Obama, of course.

But Romney had one of his great Romney moments when Kudlow asked him if he thought the gains would continue. He tried to quote Yogi Berra, you know, like a regular Joe. Here’s how it came out:

I’m not going to predict the direction of the stock market. I–you know, I always like to quote the Yogi Berra line or as close to it as I can, which is that Yogi Berra said, in effect, that he doesn’t like making predictions, particularly if the future’s involved.

“Yogi Berra said, in effect” is a perfect example of how not to quote Yogi Berra. That’s old Mitt winging it.

 

By; Joan Walsh, Editor at Large, Salon, April 17, 2012

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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