Beware the passive voice: "In turning to Mr. [Rahm] Emanuel and [John] Podesta, Mr. Obama sought out two of the hardest-hitting veterans of President Bill Clinton's administration, known for their deep Washington experience, savvy and no-holds-barred approach to politics," The New York Times' Peter Baker and Jeff Zeleny report. "Neither is considered a practitioner of the 'new politics' that Mr. Obama promised on the campaign trail to bring Republicans and Democrats together, suggesting that the cool and conciliatory new president is determined to demonstrate toughness from the beginning." That's here. Let us note the fact that nowhere in the article do the writers support their description of Podesta, as opposed to Emanuel. Of course, they don't have to because they simply pulled it out of thin air, which is what the passive voice allows ostensibly objective reporters to do. For the record, I don't think it's true of Podesta at all. He's a terribly reasonable fellow who likes to see trains run on time. All of a sudden, that is being interpreted as "hardest-hitting" and "no-holds barred" as if it were incumbent on Obama to turn his transition over to Oprah -- or perhaps Karl Rove -- to make the MSM happy.
Some of you might have found Howard Wolfson's Election Day op-ed in The New York Times, here, a little familiar. Well, so did everyone who read his New York magazine profile or the short part we excerpted here. Remember? Well here's a little refresher:
When Hillary Clinton needed a campaign song, "I took it incredibly seriously," Wolfson says. "We had this elaborate committee set up." Wolfson lobbied hard to use KT Tunstall's "Suddenly I See." But the song ultimately got blackballed because it had the word hell in it. The campaign defaulted, over Wolfson's strenuous objections, to what he calls "the lowest common denominator" of Celine Dion. "I said then, 'We're going to lose because of this.' "
George Zornick writes: In today's Think Again, we quoted Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard trying to sell CNN audiences on the idea that the mainstream media was in the tank for Barack Obama. He said that "reporters by and large are generally more sympathetic with the world view that Barack Obama has campaigned on in the campaign and less sympathetic than with that of John McCain."
That interview was last week, and Hayes was simply a guest -- but, on Monday, he was officially added to the network's roster of political contributors:
"Steve is a well-respected and knowledgeable journalist who already has become a natural part of CNN's political coverage," said Sam Feist, CNN's political director. "As part of the 'Best Political Team on Television,' Steve will help CNN in its commitment to go beyond political spin and present viewers with the most in-depth and bipartisan insights."
This, as our faithful readers know, is a guy who wrote The Connection: How al Qaeda's Collaboration with Saddam Hussein Has Endangered America. We've pointed before to Spencer Ackerman's excellent article about how Hayes, along with Jeffrey Goldberg, then of The New Yorker and now The Atlantic, amplified the lie that Hussein and Al Qaeda were conspiring against America, long after any even remotely plausible supporting facts disintegrated. He also wrote a hagiographic biography of Dick Cheney, Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President. If you have any doubt about the book's attitude towards its subject, the back cover features enthusiastic blurbs by Rush Limbaugh, William Kristol, and Paul Gigot. (Ackerman also reviewed that book, here).
In short, Hayes is not an idea man. He's a party man. As Matt Yglesias writes, "To the best of my knowledge, Hayes has never made a single good analytic point on any subject, or introduced any useful new information into the public debate. Nobody outside the deepest recesses of the conservative cocoon has ever been impressed by a Stephen F. Hayes article."
Still, the SCLM has again promoted a conservative with extremist positions and virtually no intellectual merit to the highest echelons of commentary, just as Goldberg was promoted up to The Atlantic after his Saddam/al-Qaeda promotional effort. It's a problem for CNN, and a problem for our national debate. But it strikes me, perhaps, as also a problem for conservatives -- do they want the extreme, Cheneyesque wing representing the conservative viewpoint on CNN? Apparently so.
(Also, it will be interesting to see if Hayes remains enamored with the virtues of executive power in the years to come...)
I am reluctant to even bring up the Rashid Khalidi affair now that the election is over; it's something I think we all -- especially Mr. Khalidi -- would like to forget.
But in case you had any lingering doubts that conservatives really believed their case for making that tape public -- that it might have revealed something important, or that the LA Times was doing wrong by hiding it -- and that the whole thing was not simple anti-mainstream media demagoguery, consider this: in January, Obama gave an interview to the San Francisco Chronicle about the economics of coal plants. The right-wing blog NewsBusters found the audio, but falsely claimed it had been "been hidden from the public" and "kept under wraps until this time." Drudge and company picked up the story, and even Sarah Palin said, "Now a couple points on this: One is that here again, why is the audio tape just now surfacing? This interview was given to San Francisco folks many, many months ago. You should have known about this, so that you would have better decision-making information as you go into the voting booth." Palin said this at a rally, as shouts of "liberal media!" could be heard from the crowd.
The problem? The audio tape has been online since January, and the McCain campaign had it:
"How can anyone suggest that we hid an interview that we did, immediately put up on the web -- and advertised to our readers," said editorial page editor John Diaz Sunday, regarding his hosting of Obama at the session. "We promoted it like like hell...and I'm sure the Clinton campaign and the McCain campaign scrubbed it. You can still find the whole 48 minutes and 33 seconds on line."
This came up about 24 hours before voting began, so obviously time was short -- but conservatives didn't even bother to pick a tape that was actually being withheld. They abandoned a flimsy pretense that they never really believed in, and that was beside their point this whole time.
April 26, 2007, Democratic debate in South Carolina :
BRIAN WILLIAMS: Time has expired. Staying on the notion of the environment, which somewhat unbelievably is where that question started, what in your personal life, Senator Obama, have you done personally to make for a better environment? Personal life...
OBAMA: Well, you know, we just had Earth Day. And we actually organized 3,000 volunteers to plant trees, which...
WILLIAMS: I mean, like light bulbs...
I thought the tree thing was pretty good.
WILLIAMS: Well, yes, but...
OBAMA: We've also been working to install lightbulbs that last longer and save energy. And that's something that I'm trying to teach my daughters, 8-year-old Malia and 5-year-old Sasha.
Late May 2007, in a Washington, D.C., conference room:
OBAMA: I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me ... answer it'... So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I f
ing changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."
I thought the CNN hologram was dumb, too - then I found out that the holographic image isn't even visible in the studio -- Wolf is just talking to empty space, not the virtual correspondent we see. (Explanation here). Now it looks really, really, dumb.
Eric Boehlert writes: In comparison with the other candidates, Joe Biden received very little press coverage. Yet what little coverage Biden generated seemed to be devoted exclusively to the trivial pursuit of his so-called gaffes. In other words, the gaffe coverage didn't represent some of the Biden coverage. It was the Biden coverage.
Read more here.
I know you are but what am I?
This is funny:
Chris Matthews: "I Want To Do Everything I Can To Make This New Presidency Work"
Joe Scarborough: That's Not Your Job As A Journalist
We agree it's not Matthews' job as a journalist. But I guess it was Scarborough's job as a journalist, back in 2004, to appear on the podium in a show of support for George W. Bush, something of which his bosses at MSNBC later defended. So nobody at MSNBC is really a "journalist," but it's OK when it's done on behalf of George W. Bush ...
Does Barack Obama's victory mean a new and permanent political alignment in American politics? Bill Moyers speaks with Kevin Phillips about how America has changed since Phillips penned The Emerging Republican Majority 40 years ago. Also on the program, Moyers sits down with Columbia University professor Eric Foner, who specializes in political and African-American history, and University of Wisconsin history professor Will Jones, who specializes in 20th century America, to discuss the historic implications of electing Barack Obama.
Tom Engelhardt starts his latest post with the first email he got on Tuesday morning -- from a friend in a long line at a polling place in, of all places, New York City (where the election outcome was a foregone conclusion), and makes his way in quite a personal fashion through the last 36 hours in which the Obama juggernaut swept a landscape already devastated and devalued by the Bush administration -- but in which another juggernaut that swept over all of us came to an end, and its new version (the one aiming at the election of 2012) began to gear up.
He discusses the Internet "tics" of his -- and many others -- that developed into an election obsession/addiction and what it tells us about our world -- and he discusses that other election run by the media (I call it the "elecular") that seemed anything but democratic or individual. He writes:
So let me just ask: What was that? What just happened? I don't mean Barack Obama entering the Oval Office on January 20, 2009. I mean to me. I mean to us. I mean, what were all those talking heads on MSNBC, and CNN, and FOX doing? What were those bizarre feedback loops and YouTube videos of "events" you've already long forgotten? What were the gazillion ads and the gazillion discussions of them, and really, what were all those polls, hundreds and hundreds of polls, more polls than humanity has probably ever seen? What were they all about?
Whatever it was, it was supersized, a Big Maclection. It glued eyes to TV sets and the Internet, and, above all else, it -- what we kept insistently calling an "election" -- was bloated beyond belief. Like, say, the Pentagon. It was, in short, imperial.
Name: Larry Howe
Hometown: Oak Park, IL
The scene at Grant Park: the crowd was generally upbeat leading up to the moment. But when the California polls closed and Obama was instantly projected as the winner, the jubilation erupted unlike anything I've ever seen. People were crying, hugging, jumping up and down, all brimming over with a sense of fulfillment for an election unlike any other. We see public enthusiasm like this at an event like the World Series, but the difference is that the relevance of an election -- and especially one of this magnitude -- endures long after the moment of celebration. When your favorite baseball team wins, you're happy, but it really doesn't have anything to do with you -- politics has been like that a lot in recent decades. This time, as Barack kept pointing out throughout the campaign, it was about us. And we in our various ways made it happen.
Barack Obama is our President-elect in part because of your efforts to discern the truth and share it with the world. We have officially entered a newer, much brighter era. Thanks for all that you have done, and will do, to make this and so much more realizable.
I have been in a daze since I woke up this morning and verified that Obama had won the election.
I got jolted out while surfing the net during my lunch break. HuffPost had a photo of Dr. King's sister on her reaction that Obama had been declared the winner.
I thought about the days of the early 1960s, when we kids visited my Mom's family in Richmond, Va. While stopping for lunch at a local Drug Store Grill, one of my aunts told me I was not supposed to sit at the seat I had chosen because it was for Blacks Only.
Now, 40+ years later, we have this nation first Black President. Only slightly younger then me. Who 40 years ago, could not sit at the same counter at as me.
I also thought of those who marched at Selma, the Freedom Riders, and those people, black & white who fought and in some cases died to assure that ALL Citizens are Equal before the law.
Then I got slightly blurry eyed.
I'll just blame that on allergies I guess.
I can saw that of all the History I have witnessed in my lifetime. This counts only second to the Moon Landings as the most awe inspiring.
Eric, I am thrilled beyond belief by Obama's victory last night. This morning I spoke to my mother, and she got a bit teary, wishing her mother was alive to see this day, as she was active in the civil rights movement in Oklahoma City in the 1950s and 1960s.
I have been a close follower for years now but I finally felt the need to correspond. As I laid in bed last night watching Grant Park erupt on the news of President-Elect Barack Obama I felt nothing but deep awe and speechlessness. It is a scene that, despite never living through the civil rights era, moved me more than any other I can think of at this moment. Thanks for fighting the good fight and never forget, Yes We Can.
Even though I am in a liberal leaning state (no more red and blue per the commander-in-chief elect), my workplace is rife with conservative leaning people. Over the years from your MSNBC days to now I have always been able to use your site as a reference when discussions came up involving MSM. They quickly learned that parroting catch phrases to me was not a good way to discuss things. They tended to ignore facts and data at first but over time they have realized that before they talk to me they should probably at least "Google" a few things. The conversations are much more adult now and a couple of them have even admitted that they did vote for Obama. Of course there are many that still didn't but it is a start. Many Thanks!!
Just wanted to give this email "high five" and say that, from rock-ribbed red state land that I've appreciated reading your blog for the better part of the past eight years (I believe I first ran across your site on MSNBC in '03) and it's armed me well against the usual local tirades and assumptions that come from an area of the country where they believe in a two party system: Republicans and Conservative Republicans.
Obama's election being very, very, VERY significant, I still feel like this is hardly an "end game." Knowing from personal experience, there are still plenty of people who distrust the President-elect, and certainly a little something like a rousing electoral victory (one considerably less close than the ones their one-time hero George W. won) ISN'T going to change their minds and, if anything, will only steel their resolve to undermine it.
While I won't echo the "First time I've been proud of my country" sentiment here (you can find pride in this country if you look hard enough!),but I will say that, at long last (and credit on this phrase goes to the invaluable Jon Stewart, who crystallized this perfectly)we are a country that is having a "Show, don't tell" moment in regards to the kind of hopes, dreams and promises for people of accomplishment.
Rock on! And THAT'S something to feel some deep pride in. Let the Penn. Ave. sweep begin!
Four years ago, weeping at our loss, I thanked you and your 'guys' for all the wonderful hard work. This time, I want to thank you personally for keeping a moral compass on this page, through these four years. When many bloggers and writers got caught up in the minutiae of who said/did what, when, etc., you never took your eyes off the bigger issues. Reminding us that Americans don't torture or abandon habeas corpus without paying a price. And that these were serious matters. That's what I want to thank you for lad.
And may an old lady add, you don't show Elvis enough respect.
I have read Altercation since its inception. It has often provided a sense of connection to other like minded individuals. It has never been easy to have progressive ideas and live in a very red state. Right now I am euphoric, though. I couldn't be more proud of the people of Indiana for delivering this state to Barack Obama. It's nice to know that two of those votes came from my household and that we have contributed, in a small way, to a brighter future for this country.
Is it possible to imagine, even for a moment, that President Barack Obama will give his first press conference and arrogantly proclaim to the American people that he earned political capital in the election, and now he plans to spend it? No, thank goodness, it is not possible to imagine such a thing. That is why on January 20, 2009, a true leader, who possesses the humility and dignity that the office demands, will assume the presidency from the dangerous charlatan that has been there for eight years.
I wrote the following in 1968 while I was stationed at the U.S. Naval Base at Subic Bay in the Philippines. The election results prompted me to search for it in my archives. Of course, I have no illusion that racial equality has now been achieved, but still...
April 15, 1968
Something like Martin Luther King's murder should stir the consciences of self-satisfied people and remind us that "justice for all" is still a long way off. Whitney Young was on the radio tonight, saying that rather than dissolve our society, the recent events may prove to be the impetus we have needed to get whites and black to work together. We can only hope so. Some people here actually thought it was the greatest thing in the world when Martin Luther King was shot. My personal feeling is that real racial equality is twenty or more years away.
Dr. Alterman --
After watching Rep. John Lewis speaking so eloquently about the people who paved the way for Senator Obama's election last night, but are no longer with us (Dr. King, Bobby Kennedy, etc.), I wanted to remember someone who is still with us as well.
I found my box filled with buttons from past Presidential campaigns, and put on my button from George McGovern's 1972 campaign. How many of us were first inspired to become politically involved by his campaign, and stay involved regardless of what happened in the end? It was one of the best times in my life.
Hopefully, Senator McGovern is in good health today -- that's the most important thing, of course. Beyond that, I also hope that he is very happy today, and derived a great deal of satisfaction over what happened last night. A great man like him deserves that.
Somehow, it seems like a lot of things in the world were set right yesterday. Thanks, Senator Obama.
Obama has won a great victory and a great opportunity is before us but there is also much that can go badly. The war, the economy, the concentrations of corporate power (especially media control) and ideological zeal for culture war issues will not all be quickly tamed. For all the damage of last few years, the Republicans only lost by a few percentage points. Liberals must rise to the occasion with argument, evidence, explanation and historical context to support the new administration. Jimmy Carter was a bright, well intentioned president. What the conservatives did to him was not exactly "Country First".
Now that we've all taken a little time to savor the election of a President and Congress who will be more inclined toward Liberal causes than we've seen for a good, long time (do I hear a Hallelujah?) we can all go back to work, this time with a smile on our faces. Don't think the world of Conservatism will slink away quietly to lick its wounds and reminisce about better times. Already there are people working overtime to destroy the legitimacy of the new government and prevent any progress on the problems that so desperately plague the country. Already pundits are claiming America is a "center right" nation, ignoring all facts to the contrary.
As much as during the election season we still need to point out lies when they reach our ears, complain to the media when they don't do their job, and fact check everything we see and hear. The culture warriors, deregulators, and neocons aren't going to give up until the larger society relents to their crazy vision. The rest of us can't give up until they are relegated to an insignificance that is in keeping with the other kooks and cranks in our society.
On Tom Brokaw's land-area-majority for McCain theory: I didn't know an acre could vote. Does my co-op square footage qualify?
On the possibility of O'Reilly leaving for Ireland: Why couldn't he have made the offer a day sooner? Franken could have used the extra votes ...
Joe Jackson in Tarrytown was awesome last night. Small venue, although shitty (old) seats. He played piano, with a bass and drums. Sound was great. Very bluesy/jazzy.
Did a great cover of Abba's "Knowing Me, Knowing You."
At one point he said, "Ahhh, what to play next?" The audience screamed out random songs. He said, "Yeah, we don't do requests. That's so Holiday Inn bandish."
Kinda great concert, actually:
Fools in Love
For your Love
Take It Like a Man
On the Radio
Knowing Me, Knowing You
Good Bad Boy
Different for Girls
You Can't Get What You Want
One More Time
Is She Really Going Out With Him?
A Slow Song