Mike the Mad Biologist

It’s simple–as long as one doesn’t criticize the press corps from the left (doing it from the right is ok and accepted–you get to be the house liberal. Bob Somerby:

For starters: We of course have no way of knowing why the Post has dumped Dan Froomkin. Let’s repeat that: We simply don’t know.

But if we were going to write a novel, as Rosen did–if we wanted to pretend that we knew–our novel would look like this:

Dan Froomkin criticizes the press corps. In the press corps, if you’re a liberal, that just isn’t done.

Duh. We’ve explained this bone-simple point for years. If there’s one thing you’ll never see Dionne or Robinson do, it’s criticize their cohort–the coven, the clan. Dionne established this point quite brilliantly all through Campaign 2000. Of course he knew that his cohort was talking all manner of bullsh*t about Gore. (On one or two very tiny occasions, he even tinily said so.) But in the mainstream press corps, liberals don’t discuss the mainstream press. That’s the price of getting those (very good) jobs. It’s also the price of holding them.

We have been telling you this for years. Year after year after year.

This brings us around to the recent hiring of Ezra Klein, a smart young liberal who just may know how to keep his big trap shut. (Froomkin doesn’t do that.)

A few years ago, Ezra broke all the rules! Behaving much like Froomkin himself, he actually wrote something highly important–and perfectly accurate–about the mainstream press corps.

By now, what Ezra wrote that day has become a part of history. But when he wrote it, it was still extremely relevant to an upcoming White House campaign. And omigod! He even wrote it right at the start of an American Prospect cover story! (To read Ezra’s piece, just click this.)

In his cover story, Ezra was trying to figure out if Gore might run for the White House again, in 2008. As he started, he described a recent speech by Gore. We told you then what we tell you today. By the rules of the Washington mainstream press, this simply cannot be done (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/21/06):

KLEIN (4/06): The address was the keynote for the We Media conference, held at the Associated Press headquarters in New York last October and attended by an audience that included both old media luminaries and new media innovators. In attendance were Tom Curley, president of the AP, Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News, and New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, all leading lights of a media establishment that, five years earlier, had deputized itself judge, jury, and executioner for Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign, spinning each day’s events to portray the stolid, capable vice president as a wild exaggerator, ideological chameleon, and total, unforgivable bore.

Good God. He’d broken the largest rule in the book! Right at the start of a Prospect cover story, he accurately described what the “media establishment” did in Campaign 2000! He even named three famous news orgs! We don’t know why he picked the three he did; NBC News, and the Washington Post, had been much more culpable. But name three orgs he did.

Every establishment journalist knows it: This simply isn’t allowed. You’re not allowed to tell the truth about what the coven has done.

Ezra was just a kid in those days; he may not have understood. At any rate, we yodeled and yelled about what he had done, praising him for his bad etiquette. And you may recall what happened next. Ezra went on C-Span’s Washington Journal to discuss his cover story. And sure enough! He didn’t say a freaking word about the way his story began.

Ezra’s statement was perfectly accurate. It was also highly relevant to any possible run by Gore. (At the time, we said Gore almost surely wouldn’t run, precisely because of what Erza described.) But Ezra’s statement was also highly relevant to a run by Hillary Clinton. If she had become the Dem nominee, she would quite likely have faced the same treatment Gore got in Campaign 2000.

Voters deserved to be told about that. But so what? On C-Span, Ezra didn’t repeat what he’d said–and he never discussed it again.

Go ahead: Reread what he wrote. In a rational world, is that remarkable statement the sort of thing a person says just once?

In our novel, here’s what had happened: Someone took this bright kid aside and told him he was crazy. You can’t write things like that, they said, if you want to advance in this press corps!

That what happens in our novel. It may not have happened in real life. But why is Ezra at the Post? This is what it says in our novel: Ever since making that rookie mistake, he’s kept his big trap shut.

Liberals get to write about policy. They aren’t allowed to tell the truth about the “mainstream” press corps’ conduct. Dionne and Robinson know that rule. They know they must never disrespect it.

Froomkin never played by that rule. Today, he’s on the street.

In our novel, that’s why Froomkin is gone. Unlike the good professor from Neptune, we won’t huff and puff and thunder and roar and assert that we actually know that.

But if you think it doesn’t work that way, you may be from a far planet too. Reread the remarkable thing Ezra wrote. What he wrote was blatantly accurate. Why does no one say it?

I have noticed that since Klein has started writing for The Washington Post, his criticism of media coverage has plunged and become much less caustic. Unfortunately, given the ludicrously important role of the Gang of Five Hundred, discussing policy without discussing media coverage doesn’t get you very far in terms of meaningful analysis.

I hope it pays well….

Comments

  1. #1 Dunc
    June 30, 2009

    This is also exactly why you will never see any serious discussion of Herman & Chomsky’s Propaganda Model (presented in Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media) in the press, and why, if anybody else should dare to mention it, everyone pretends that they’ve never even heard of it.

  2. #2 Suzan
    June 30, 2009

    Another example of someone who tells the truth in his blog, but tries to offend Rethuglibots as little as possible in his regular column – although he will call them on lies, is Paul Krugman:

    Republicans Who Say Ni

    (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/republicans-who-say-ni)

    Via dday at Digby: Give them a shrubbery, and they start saying Ekke Ekke Ekke:

    Schumer said Finance Republicans had rejected several proposals designed to beef up the suggested nonprofit insurance co-ops. These included setting up a national structure for the co-ops, $10 billion in government seed money, power to negotiate payment rates to medical providers nationwide and creation of a presidentially appointed board of directors.

    The essential point here is that Republicans don’t want any competition for private insurers. It’s not about free-market principles — in many cases, insurers are in effect monopolists. It’s about protecting the vested interests.

    Thanks for your fine reporting.

    S

  3. #3 llewelly
    July 4, 2009

    This is one of many reasons why whenever I hear traditional papers like the Post, the NYT, and many others, are suffering, I shake my fist in the air and cheer. Democracy can’t be rid of them fast enough.

  4. #4 magic.
    August 8, 2009

    very thanks for article