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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Media Clowns 

Daily Howler hits the nail right on the head in his column today about the press corps coverage of Kerry's medals thing and the peanut butter thing, not to mention previous mentions of the botox thing, the hairstyle thing, etc etc
Their focus on trivia is an addiction --a raging, millionaire's mental illness. Their opinion leaders are multimillionaires, and they do behave like a perfumed court- like Marie Antoinette's inner circle. As they've long shown, they are impervious to serious thought, as their class has always been. And they continue to clown at a dangerous time, at a time that imperils the world."
On Hardball last night, Matthews asked Bill Mayer about the medals thing and Mayer responded "Why are you covering this?" Matthews' face showed he was taken aback at first, he thought Mayer was joking. When he realized that Mayer was serious, he didn't have any defense. Here's the somewhat-edited transcript:
MATTHEWS: Bill Maher, what do you make of this fight over whether he threw ribbons or medals in 1971, a third of a century ago?
BILL MAHER, HOST, “REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER”: Why are you covering this? Why are you taking this bait, seriously? Why are you even letting them bait you into covering this complete nonissue? This guy has medals. This guy has ribbons. The other guy didn‘t go. That‘s the whole story.
The other guy is a draft dodger. They were both rich kids in the ‘60s. One of them went to where the bullets were flying and one of them found a way not to go and then he lied about that. Stop covering the medals.
MATTHEWS: All right, I did have to cover it because he had a lot to say last night. Apparently, John Kerry wanted to go on and make clear something where he—maybe he should have shut up about it, but he wanted to make clear that he was being truthful because he said medals and ribbons mean the same to a guy who actually served in the military.
MAHER: Look, one guy went into the National Guard, which back then was a way of getting out of it. .. .
MATTHEWS: Well, he did say in a recent press conference with everyone watching—apparently, 30 million people watched this press conference recently—the president was asked if he ever made any mistakes, and he said he hadn‘t made any.
MAHER: He was drunk until he was 40. That‘s not a mistake?. . .
MATTHEWS: Well, why is he going up in the polls? We got a Pew Research poll. We could show you any poll. They all show him moving up, where he was behind. So what is President Bush doing the last month that‘s so good and what‘s so bad, I guess you would have to say, about John Kerry‘s performance the last month or so? What‘s going on?
MAHER: Well, for one thing, he‘s getting the media to cover this nonsense about John Kerry‘s medals. So Joe Public, as President Bush would call him, sits home and goes, well, gosh, there was a controversy with Bush‘s military history and now there‘s a controversy with John Kerry‘s military history. I don‘t know who to vote for. It‘s nonsense. It is nonsense. One guy actually has honor and integrity, although I will admit that John Kerry certainly is not burdened with charisma, and the other guy only has the words honor and integrity. He‘s never connected them to anything. And he never connects anything
MATTHEWS: What can John Kerry do? Life is unfair, as Jack Kennedy once said, but what happens when you have got a guy like George Bush who may be a swell, who may have gotten breaks to get into Yale, breaks certainly to get into the National Guard, all his life were breaks, maybe to make a ton of money with a baseball team? But he comes off, fairly or not, as sort of a regular guy, whereas John Kerry, who was the balls-out guy, went to war, did the job for the country, won the three—earned, you would have to say, the three Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, saved lives, killed the enemy, he comes off as kind of cold. And then the American people are like thermometers. If the guy is warm, they like him. If he‘s cold, they don‘t. Is that fair?
MAHER: And, also, this is something I said before, but I think it bears repeating in this instance to your question. The true axis of evil in America is the brilliance of our marketing combined with the stupidity of our people.
George Bush has $180 million to spend. With that kind of money, he could convince Americans to drink paint, and he probably will.
. . . I‘m just saying, with enough money, you can convince people of anything. And that is what George Bush does. He is one of the most cynical presidents we‘ve ever had, I believe, because with that kind of money, he plays on people‘s fears, he plays on people‘s ignorance, and he plays on people‘s shortsightedness . . . you know, in the days before television, people didn‘t judge presidents on whether he was sunny or warm or likable. They judged on whether he was the best man for the job. I would like to bring that criteria back now that we‘re at war.
MATTHEWS: It must be great not to have to be fair and balanced, Bill.
Thank you very much, Bill Maher. Good luck.

Notice that Matthews really does know the difference between the Bush record and the Kerry record, but then recoils from where this leads by talking about how people "like" Bush -- actually, millions of Americans distrust him and dislike him intensely, which is why democratic turnout at the primaries was over the top. Then right at the end, he gave Maher a little dig, implying that RNC talking points need to be given airtime so that the media can prove it is "fair and balanced".

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