Fox News' Charles Krauthammer didn't like Bill Clinton's convention speech. At all.
While so many commentators, including Republicans, praised the address as perhaps the best Clinton had ever given, the conservative columnist reassured Fox News viewers that not only had former president's "self-indulgent" speech failed to soar, it had actually flopped "beyond the hall."
According to Krauthammer, Clinton made his speech extra long just to annoy Obama; just to get back at him for defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary.
It was that kind of week in the right-wing media. As Democrats gathered in Charlotte to officially nominate Obama, the conservative press tapped into its bottomless reservoir of resentment and slowly came undone, while all the time insisting the Charlotte production was a big failure.
Packed with strange public pronouncements about "slave blood," imprisoning the president, vaginas, aborting people, as well as rancid race-baiting, the right-wing Week in Review captured the unhinged element that powers the conservative movement on the eve of the final election push. And oh yeah, Fox's Dick Morris said Bill Clinton actually wants Obama defeated but won't say so because his "wife is a hostage" and "they'll kill her" if Obama loses.
The reason the meltdown matters is because of the conservative media's outsized influence within the GOP. Since Obama's inauguration, the conservative movement has become, first and foremost, a media-based one. The Republican Party and its presidential campaign now take commands from the far-right press. And don't forget, in May, Romney met for two hours with conspiracy-minded GOP bloggers to map out how the group could help his campaign.
This week, those conservative guiding lights couldn't contain their visceral contempt for all things Democratic. And they didn't even try. Rather than provide analysis (even the sharp-elbowed variety), commentators routinely stooped to embarrassing lows in an effort to tout their hatred.
There was CNN contributor Erick Erickson's off the wall, anatomical convention comparison:
CNN's Dan Loesch, wondering whether Democratic activist Sandra Fluke had been "aborted" from the convention lineup (she was not):
Accuracy in Media's Don Irvine, tweeting misogynistic taunts, also aimed at Fluke:
Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Jenifer Rubin opted for juvenile name-calling instead of analysis.
Then there was Rush Limbaugh, the proud Voice Of The GOP.
Has trolling for shock-value relevance ever been more awkward or more unsightly?
Another telltale element of the conservative coverage this week was the eager embrace of delusion; a very weird compulsion to misstate simple facts as a way to prop up the preferred GOP Noise Machine narrative that the Obama campaign is in free fall. (Nate Silver, the respected polling data-cruncher at the New York Times, currently gives Obama a 77 percent chance of being re-elected; not exactly the portrait of a campaign in decline.)
At Breitbart.com, Mike Flynn rushed in this week to announce that "not many people saw" Michelle Obama's convention speech and that the Democratic convention was attracting a drastically smaller audience, as compared to 2008. Flynn saw that as more proof that Obama's campaign faced a "a very significant enthusiasm gap."
Right, except none of Flynn's claims about the convention audience reflected the reality that 26 million viewers tuned in on the night Michelle Obama addressed the delegates, compared to the roughly 22 million who watched on the night Ann Romney spoke at the GOP convention. And instead of a shrinking audience this year, Democrats over the first two nights in Charlotte actually grew their convention audience as compared to 2008, according to rating estimates.
At Breitbart.com, the story being sold to partisan readers was that the Obama convention was a ratings flop. Nielsen numbers confirmed the opposite was true.
That type of obfuscation goes beyond loyal spin and enters a realm of aggressive delusion.
It was that kind of week for the right-wing press.