Media Matters

Closed Broders

Now the Clintons have really done it.

By 2.27.08

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Suddenly the mainstream and conservative media press critics are in agreement -- and not just about the shoddy journalism at the New York Times.

Now that they suspect Hillary Clinton is going down for the count, they feel emboldened to say it: she is not very nice and neither is her staff. Imagine. In particular they do not like the way they have been treated. Tucker Carlson lets on:

They're awful to the media: let's be totally blunt. They're awful to the press. They treat the press like enemies. [Clinton Communication Director] Howard Wolfson's always calling around threatening people. Threatening people! News organizations! They do that! People hate you if you do that. I mean, they've earned the enmity of the press, in my view. They have. I mean, it's been hard but they've done it.

He is not alone. Dana Millbank of the Washington Post, who usually reserves his venom for conservatives, wrote a play-by-play account of a recent press conference. Describing an angry exchange between Clinton staffers and the press over the Drudge Report published photo of Barack Obama in Somalian garb, Millbank commented:
The brief moment explained everything about the bitter relations between Clinton's campaign and the media: [Campaign spokesman Phil] Singer taunting the likes of [David] Broder, who began covering presidential politics two decades before Singer was born, with a comedy sketch that showed debate moderators fawning over Obama.

Well, conservatives can laugh heartily that the media has finally discovered the politics of personal destruction. After years of training their guns on Republicans, impugning the motives of their opponents and smearing the gals who Bill Clinton left in his wake, now the Clintons have really done it. They've insulted David Broder.

THE LIST OF NEW critics of Hillary reads like a who's who of liberal pundits. Their criticisms are varied and their tone ranges from the helpful suggestion of Jonathan Alter that she should exit the race in high style to Richard Cohen's more blunt assessment: "Should Clinton come on strong? Should she go negative? Should she be upbeat and positive? Here's my answer: Stop campaigning."

Fellow Postie Eugene Robinson bristled at the notion that unfair press coverage was her biggest problem, noting that it "wasn't the media that decided she should take for granted all those states that Barack Obama has been winning." Even her hometown columnists Maureen Dowd had to remind Mrs. Clinton of "some truisms of politics that her husband understands well: Sunny beats gloomy. Consistency beats flipping. Bedazzling beats begrudging. Confidence beats whining."

And in words that could have been penned by any conservative blogger, Frank Rich wrote, "This is the candidate who keeps telling us she's so competent that she'll be ready to govern from Day 1. Mrs. Clinton may be right that Mr. Obama has a thin resume, but her disheveled campaign keeps reminding us that the biggest item on her thicker resume is the health care task force that was as botched as her presidential bid."

THE PUNDITS NOW SEE the object of their great sympathy and affection, Obama, as the target of what the New York Times described as a "kitchen sink fusillade" directed against favored candidate. Suddenly, the Clinton tactics are intolerable, dishonest and, they hope, inept.

There are some lessons to be learned here, aside from the obvious confirmation that the press has been enabling the Clintons in their behavior for years and that this media revolt really must mean the fall of the Clintons is upon us.

First, much of the reaction is intensely personal. If you treat people like dirt, they are not going to cut you much slack, at least once they are reasonably certain you won't be president. When the press starts grumbling this week, as they started to do, that Obama is not as accessible or not as interesting to chat with as they would like, loud alarm bells should go off in the Obama camp.

Second, when a hated figure falls from grace there is no one to break her fall. Many politicians lose and many stories are written in advance of defeat predicting their demise, but there are few instances one can recall in which media figures took such delight in predicting, analyzing and even trying to hasten a politician's demise. The closest example: Richard Nixon.

Finally, conservatives should be under no illusions. We are entering the general election and it would be nice to think that the media, having thrown Clinton under the bus, will now begin an exhaustive and probing appraisal of Obama's record.

With pressure from conservative and new media there will no doubt be increased scrutiny but the liberal media, having dispensed with the villainess in their drama now has their prince charming. If there is a case to be made against him it will be up to John McCain and conservative media.

The MSM, for now, is done with attacking Democrats.

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