If there's a silver lining to the dark cloud that is Game Change, it's that the nastiest campaign gossip book in years has inspired several amusing and creative denunciations of the both book and its authors, Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.
Don Imus, for example, referred to it as "a 450-page version of Page Six," according to Halperin.
The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins -- who notes of the authors' sourcing rules: "It's too charitable to simply call this shady" -- adds:
What you will get from this tome is the experience of being dragged through a great, teeming, gossipy Superfund-sized pile of shit, lovingly accumulated by two authors who have basically allowed anyone willing to offer nasty hearsay, trash-talk, or score-settling to dump away.
It's all in the service of utter, black venality. I am honestly depressed to be have so much of this book yet to read. My only comfort is that I wasn't the one who chose to masticate, digest, and regurgitate this shit in the first place.
There is nothing in the book that will deepen your understanding of the information beyond what others regurgitate about it. In fact, it's possible that actually READING the book will make you dumber. You certainly will learn more about how Washington works from reading what people say about the book than from the book itself.
(And, bonus Ana Marie Cox: "Washington has a scab. Game Change is the horrible oozing infection that comes after you pick at it.")
Bob Franken, on H/H explanation of the ground rules they used for interviews:
That's the most convoluted explanation I've heard in a long time. There's one thing that you have to remember in Washington: You don't burn sources. You don't burn them not because it's the right thing to do, it's because you don't get any information the next time around. And I really believe that what we might see is that these guys are not going to be welcome when they're talking to different people who might provide them information in the future.
[I]f the authors were concerned with accuracy they might have checked their reporting with people on the Vice President's staff. They did not.
(Ok, that one isn't all that amusing -- until you remember that Carney worked with Halperin at Time before joining Vice President Biden't staff.)
A book based on backstabbing gossip from disgruntled campaign aides and pissed off rivals is about as reliable a six year olds playing a game of telephone. When you combine these nasty little tidbits with the Villager sensibility and biases of the writers, you end up with a docu-drama rather than a work of non-fiction.
I'm sure Heilemann and Halperin are very proud to be the top, tabloid journalists in the country providing much shaudenfreude for the Villagers and entertainment for everyone else. They'll sell a lot of books
it's human nature to like mean, nasty gossip
and this one looks like it gives TMZ a run for its money.
Notably, the Edwards scandal was relentlessly pursued and first "broken" by The National Enquirer, and I defy anyone to read the book excerpt on Edwards (to the extent you can even get through it) and identify any differences between the book's tone, content and "reporting" methods and those found in the Enquirer.
Just when you think the news cycle can't get any stupider, Mark Halperin publishes a book.
But perhaps the most damning reaction to Game Change is this: Politico ran at least 16 articles and blog posts about the book before it had been in book stores for 48 hours.
Alaska governor-turned-Facebook terror analyst Sarah Palin made her first appearance as a Fox News contributor last night on the O'Reilly Factor. The financial terms of Palin's agreement with Fox News have not been disclosed, but it's safe to assume that she isn't working for peanuts. With that in mind, it's worth pointing out that Palin spent much of her Fox News debut defending her own record and reputation, hawking the biography she pretended to write, and promoting the Tea Party convention at which she is being paid to speak (though she claimed that the money she makes from the event will go towards campaign donations). The rest of her "analysis" consisted of conservative bromides about the evils of government and tired attacks on the media. She was essentially paid by Fox News to put on an informercial for herself.
Here are just a few quotes from her appearance last night, retrieved from Nexis:
PALIN: They don't like the message. They don't like the common sense conservative solutions that I think I represent and I articulate as I explain what I believe are some solutions to the great challenges facing America. They don't like to hear it.
PALIN: Well, it's pretty made up, too. I -- I think that these reporters -- who were not in any part of what I was doing there as a V.P. candidate, I think I explained a lot of this in "Going Rogue," in my book.
PALIN: Yes, that surprised me. I hadn't seen the "60 Minutes" and I -- I had been warned, you know, don't -- don't watch. It's a bunch of B.S. from Schmidt (INAUDIBLE) and those guys...
PALIN: See the -- these reporters were not there. And I think that these are the political establishment reporters who love to gin up controversy and spin up gossip. The rest of America doesn't care about that kind of crap.
PALIN: They need to read my book, "Going Rogue," then.
PALIN: I think he's basing this on an anonymous source. So all that kind of gossipy anonymous accusations, I really don't pay it any mind, because, again, Bill, I know what's important. I know what the priorities are.
PALIN: But I am so thankful for this Tea Party movement, for people having a place for their voice to be heard. I can't wait to do this event. And there are a lot of Tea Party events.
PALIN: There will be other speakers, too, though. But I can't wait to get to hear from those who are so concerned about our economy and about our national security issues and share with them what I believe the solutions are.
Palin and Fox News are making me look prophetic.
With the announcement that Palin's joining the FNC team, and with it yet more confirmation that Fox News has transformed itself into a purely political entity, it seems that a prediction I made last year is looking more and more like an emerging reality.
Here's what I wrote last November, following the botched, Tea Party candidacy of Doug Hoffman in Upstate N.Y. [emphasis added]:
Looking forward, it's inevitable that during the 2012 GOP Republican primary season, there will be, for the lack of a better term, a Fox News Candidate in the field. There will be a far-right darling of the Tea Party movement (cough, cough, Sarah Palin) who has both the official (Limbaugh, Beck, Malkin) and unofficial (Fox News) endorsement of the right-wing media.
But will that do any good in the real world? Ask Doug Hoffman.
The right-wing media now run the Republican Party. It will be interesting to watch this novel arrangement play out.
UPDATED: As we we stressed last year, Fox News is now the Opposition Party.
Remember back in September when the right-wing completely freaked out over "SHOCK VIDEO[S]" of elementary school children singing songs about President Obama as part of Black History Month activities? Conservatives, including Fox News hosts, declared that the videos, in the words of Glenn Beck, show "indoctrination" that "should horrify the American people."
I can only hope for their sakes that none of those people were watching Bill O'Reilly tonight:
O'REILLY: Now the mail. Got a nice note from Terry Cash, who teaches phys ed at the J.F. Burns school in Kings Mills, Ohio. Kids in Terry's class are big on the Factor Word of the Day, "pernicious" being one of their favorite, and of course, the students are not pernicious. Good job, guys, that was very cute.
While O'Reilly spoke, Fox News aired a photo of the teacher with her elementary school students, who are holding signs that say "Pernicious Free."
Somehow, I doubt conservatives will be comparing this teacher to Castro or Mao.
Posted on The Fox Nation January 12:
On his radio show today, Glenn Beck noted and took issue with the fact that the Federal Reserve reportedly made a profit of $45 billion. This, as Beck said, made him "so angry", that it became the main topic of his daily newsletter. Titling his newsletter "The record profits government won't confiscate," he included a link to transcript from today's program, and wrote that "President Obama is again threatening the banks with a massive tax to penalize those evil bankers for any profits they make. But what happens when news breaks that The Fed had a record breaking year and made more in windfall profits than Exxon Mobil? You guessed it. Silence."
The only problem with Beck's outrage about this? All of the profit from the Federal Reserve is transferred to the U.S. Treasury.
To put it in terms that Glenn Beck can understand: The government is "confiscating" the entire $45 billion.
The Washington Post article on this (where he probably got the information from, given that the calculations were done by the Post), makes this explicitly clear in its second paragraph:
The Fed will return about $45 billion to the U.S. Treasury for 2009, according to calculations by The Washington Post based on public documents. That reflects the highest earnings in the 96-year history of the central bank. The Fed, unlike most government agencies, funds itself from its own operations and returns its profits to the Treasury.
Of course, if Mr. Beck feels we're treating him unfairly for correcting this rather glaring example of stupidity, he could always give us a call.
Eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred of white people." Here are his January 12 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
For many years, Media Matters and others have documented the mainstream media regularly substituting false balance in news stories in lieu of doing actual reporting. In a story on the Obama administration's policy towards Osama Bin Laden, ABC News' Huma Khan elevates a wild conspiracy theory to just one side of a story.
Some conspiracy theorists have said the U.S. government created the most recent bin Laden tapes. Others have dismissed his tapes as fake, but no one has been able to say with certainty if the world's most-wanted terrorist is still alive.
The idea the the U.S. government faked tapes with Osama Bin Laden is a pretty serious charge that, if true, would have amazingly complex implications for every single American citizen, and the world. The problem is, it is a conspiracy theory in the same class as faked moon landings and alien abductions. There is no actual, factual evidence to back up such an assertion. ABC elevates these claims by making it just one competing narrative in a "fair and balanced" news story that leaves us all less informed.
From a January 12 Western Journalism Center article:
Bob Somerby, the one-man "team" behind the influential media criticism outpost, The Daily Howler, launched a new site today. Called, How He Got There, Somerby's addition will detail the pivotal 2000 campaign.
Writes Somerby, via introduction:
In the coming months, this site will present a book about one of the most consequential elections in American history–the 2000 White House campaign between George W. Bush and Al Gore. At issue is an historical question:
How did George W. Bush reach the White House? How in the world did he get there?
More specifically, How He Got There will explore the mainstream press corps' poisonous coverage of this history-changing campaign. This book thus discusses a remarkable episode in modern press history–an episode the liberal world has generally failed to explore.
Also, for the first time, Somerby is accepting reader donations to support The Daily Howler, his ground-breaking, 11-year-old site, which helped cultivate a new generation of left-leaning, online media critics.