For a while now, David Gregory has been trumpeting alarm over Obama's prospects with little cause, often uncritically repeating Republican talking points to do so. Still, trying to tag the Edwards affair on Obama is quite a stretch and a new low. As Media Matters reports, on Friday, 8/8/08, Gregory said:
"Tonight, more on Edwards and the fallout from his admission today about a sexual affair: Is this another skeleton in the Democratic closet that Barack Obama must struggle to overcome?" Gregory also said that, "now, questions about his [Edwards'] future abound in the party and whether this creates another shadow over Barack Obama as he gets ready for the conventions."
Of course the Edwards affair is going to be covered. But this treatment is weak, insipid stuff worthy of the sex-obsessed David Broder or Maureen Dowd, and sure seems to be an attempt to try to justify covering a tabloid story as legitimate campaign news, when of course it isn't. Meanwhile, it just happens to smear the entire Democratic Party and their nominee. Gregory's approach is symptomatic of a wider problem.
It's funny, because for just one example, during the Mark Foley scandal, the press sure covered it, but I don't remember many of them pointing out the legitimate issues absent with Edwards: that Foley was abusing power since he had been overseeing pages he was hitting on, that the Republican leadership knew about this and did nothing, and that Dennis Hastert and his office issued contradictory lies in rapid succession. Most of all, I don't remember the press dwelling on the scandal as indicative of widespread corruption in the Republican party (although for some voters, it was the final straw).
In reaction to Gregory, John Amato came up with a good list of his own:
From the email inbox:
David Gregory just said young people were inspired by him and are let down…and questioned whether it will have “broader implications for the party.” during the election. This week, Ron Suskind’s book revealed the Bush team knew Iraq didn’t have WMD, forged letters, paid hush money, and lied us into war. (Chirp, chirp…) Any broader implications for the Republican party there? How about instead of us buying into all the clamoring to analyze Edwards betrayal (wait, no, BETRAYAL!) we analyze the absurdity of a media culture where THIS is what passes for holding politicians accountable.
Broader implication for the party. OK, let’s talk party.
McClellan said that FOX News got talking points from the White House
Bush authorized rendition.
Bush authorized torture. Yes, that means waterboarding.
Bush authorized a war based on lies resulting in millions of innocent Iraqi and Afghani civilian deaths as well as an ethnic cleansing.
Thousands of our troops have been killed or seriously injured.
The US dollar is in the tank.
The housing/mortgage crisis has almost caused a depression.
How about the trampling of our Constitution with warrantless wiretapping?
Laptops are being confiscated at airports and the border.
Under Bush, oil companies are raking in record profits while Americans suffer.
The US attorney scandal.
A health care epidemic.
A standing ovation in Congress for David Vitter’s return.
Military TV Analysts/Generals scandal.
Larry Craig’s bathroom adventure.
And many, many more.
Would any of this have “broader implications” to the Republican party during the election if the media did its job?
Newt Gingrich STILL gets on TV every other day and everyone KNOWS he had affairs, even dumping his wife right after cancer surgery. And yet all these MSM types are wringing their hands about what this means to the Democratic Party. Ridiculous. Throw a stone in DC and try not to hit some one with a little something on the side, and that includes those in the press corps.
And they have the nerve to talk about betrayal of Edwards to the media and his wife — in that order. Why aren’t they more outraged about the betrayal of the White House to get us into a war?
What screwed up priorities.
Let's see, then there's bourgeois concern troll Cokie Roberts attacking Obama for spending a brief vacation in Hawaii where he grew up and where his grandmother lives versus going to Myrtle Beach. There's Fred Hiatt's selective quoting to claim that the Bush administration didn't lie in making its case for war, a claim so blatantly divorced from reality he should have been fired or put on leave immediately. There's Richard Cohen and other hawks still claiming they had it right on Iraq, and Broder and Cohen justifying McCain's reversals (repeatedly), with Cohen even asserting that McCain's stint as a P.O.W. makes it all excusable.
Moving to the "Dean of the Press Corps" Broder alone, his most recent column, "Rivals in Search of Trust," examines whether Obama and McCain like each other .(Who gives a shit? It might be of some interest, but Broder won't cover their policy differences.) Meanwhile his piece before that argues that McCain's been forced to go negative against Obama against his will because he hasn't been getting coverage through town hall debates, or some such bullshit. Earlier this year, Broder argued that the key difference between the Republican and Democratic candidates was a lack of executive experience on the part of the Democrats, implicitly arguing that the massive differences between their policies were irrelevant. (But then, Broder always seems to come up with novel ideas for why you shouldn't vote for a Democrat.) Broder also wrote about the Clinton marriage less than a month after saying he wouldn't. Perhaps worst of all, Broder's also claimed that most of the public doesn't care about the Bush administration's pre-war lies, ignoring evidence to the contrary, and still asserts that Clinton should have resigned for office over his affair, but that Bush shouldn't be impeached. That really says it all about his intellect, perception and moral compass. What screwed up priorities, indeed.
It's no surprise the Edwards affair is being covered. I don't begrudge that. But sadly, it's also little surprise that Gregory would cover it in such ridiculous fashion, since our so-called "liberal" corporate press has a long pattern of such "reporting." It's galling enough to think that these people possess positions of power and are paid large sums of money despite being twits, but even more galling to realize they possess positions of power and are paid large sums of money to be twits. Even so, that would be merely annoying if it weren't for the dire consequences these people have enabled and in some cases the horrendous policies they've advocated for. There are reporters who do feel differently than Broder, Gregory, Dowd, Cohen, Cokie Roberts and their ilk, but it's that crowd who dictate the Beltway chattering class' conventional wisdom, which is almost unfailingly shallow and off the mark. No respect is due to people who still have no real problem with a war of choice, with lying to the public to start a war, with war profiteering, with unprecedented fiscal mismanagement, with spying on Americans without a warrant, with holding innocents for years without charges, with torturing people, and myriad of other assaults on core American values. As HTML Mencken puts it, they care about incivility, but not indecency. As many liberal bloggers have put it in various words (including Blue Gal, Driftglass, Thers, Digby, Atrios), they obsess about obscene language but are very accepting or even defensive about obscene actions. It would also be nice if this crew at least actually tried to justify their positions with, y'know, facts, or a coherent argument, versus merely asserting le droit de seigneur. If I or other bloggers occasionally despise this crew, it's because they are, in fact, despicable. They'll continue to stay mute about blatant villainy, unnecessary death and torture, but fuck someone without their permission, and their goddam heads explode.
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)