The endless obsession with process, the horse race, the "math," what they're eating, what they're wearing, what they're playing, runs on and on as if it tells us something truly important about what the citizens want and whether these candidates are giving it to them. Meanwhile we have a war, an energy crisis, global warming, economic dislocation, crumbling infrastructure, fifty million uninsured and huge debt both personal and public among many other things that government must tackle in the next four years due mostly to the massive failure of conservative governance. Apparently, the press feels that whether they wear lapel pins or misremember some event from a decade ago are the best means of finding out what the candidates do about those things. Or maybe they just don't give a damn and are entertaining themselves with high school story lines.
We may not always say what we mean, but we always mean what we say. And the speaker continued giving an example of a parent talking to a child: "and if you EVER do that again, I'll smack you again, you little bastard. You know I have to, because I love you."
The following comments come from the transcript of CNN's Reliable Sources which aired May 11, 2008:
HOWARD KURTZ, HOST (voice over): End game. The media referees declare the Democratic race over and are trying to take the ball away from Hillary Clinton. Are journalists again tilting the outcome toward Barack Obama or just blowing the whistle on a contest that has run its course?
KURTZ: But even as Obama declines the crown and Hillary vows not to bow out, the great media machine continues to send one message -- it's over.
KURTZ: Roger Simon, you were not exactly delicate in your column. You referred to Hillary Clinton as a dead woman walking.
ROGER SIMON, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO.COM: I laid back on that a little. Russert declaring that it was over was like Cronkite turning against the Vietnam War. You know, it made it official.
KURTZ: Why is that? Is Russert so influential that everyone else follows his lead?
SIMON: Russert is very influential. And he's a mainstream media figure. He is considered to be a guy who concentrates and speaks seriously.
KURTZ: So were the media just waiting for the official tally to come in so they could say what they wanted to say all along?
SIMON: Yes, I don't think so, because she violated the 12th commandment in Indiana, which is you can never fail to meet media expectations. The polling had come in at 5 percent; she only won it by 1.4 percent. And that just added to the story line that she was through.
KURTZ: And speaking of media expectations, here's some of what was said on the air as that night went on and the next morning. And boy, it makes you wonder about how original journalists sometimes can be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID GERGEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It wasn't just a quick question whether this might be a game changer. For Hillary Clinton, it had to be a game changer.
FRED BARNES, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it turned out this was a game changer tonight.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN: Is there anything you're seeing at this stage that will make tonight a game changer?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A game changer? No.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: There's no way to spin this. This was not a game changer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Karen Tumulty, the Clinton people feel that media have been trying to push her out since predicting that she would lose New Hampshire, which, of course, she did not. Are we seeing some of that?
TUMULTY: Yes, but I think that they laid the seeds for this themselves, because the narrative that they set out at the beginning of this campaign was inevitability. So, when that game changes, it becomes -- it becomes an irresistible story line. And I think, you know, again, had they not set this as the bar themselves, I don't think that they would have been quite in this situation.
KURTZ: Roger, I think Hillary got some grudging respect in recent weeks for being a fighter and maybe, you know, finding her voice, to use another journalistic cliche. But basically, journalists seem to have had very little sympathy for her in this campaign compared to what some would describe as the swooning over Barack Obama.
SIMON: Well, that's how she and her supporters certainly see the race. And I find that if you go into Hillary crowds, the anger you find on the part of her supporters, especially women supporters, is directed not against Barack Obama, but against the media.
There is a real deep hatred for how the media has treated Hillary Clinton. We've treated her unfairly, they say. We've been sexist. The debates of male-dominated media have beaten her up, have given her tougher questions. She complains she got the first question.
This actually makes it easier for Obama to unify the party. They're not angry at him. They're angry at the media.
KURTZ: So you all seem to be acknowledging without quite saying it that there is something to the notion that Hillary Clinton has not been treated with exactly the greatest respect by the press.
SIMON: Every now and then we have an obligation to tell the truth. And the fact is, there was more chaos in Hillaryland than Obamaland.
TUMULTY: I might say though that the great irony here is that Hillary Clinton campaign, having traveled with both of them, I can tell you, is by far, especially after she started losing, by far the more media friendly. She comes back on the plane much more often than Barack Obama does. She talks to the media a lot more. And, so, you know, there is some double irony here, too.
SIMON: That's the sign of a loser. They talk to the media because they need the exposure.
SIMON: ... I think Hillary Clinton -- however, one of the reasons the press reaction is so strong is, as Karen says, there was this inevitability, but then she seemed to do basic things wrong. As you said, she didn't have a plan for Super Tuesday.
On the other hand, the Obama campaign got it from the beginning. After Super Tuesday, you win 12 in a row, you get a pledged delegate lead that can't be overturned. He got the math. She didn't get the math. Why?
KURTZ: Winning 12 in a row certainly helps in your press coverage, because we love winners and we also love to kick around losers.
SIMON: That was the fascinating thing to me about his interview with Brian Williams that you just showed. A lot of candidates are too smart for the game and see through the game.
Obama also wants to win the game. So instead of just complaining that we overemphasize the bowling pictures, which is a legitimate complaint, then he goes out and plays basketball. He knows how to use the media.
It's a real difference between his complaints and Hillary's complaints. Hillary complains about the rules of the process. That caucuses are undemocratic, Michigan and Florida should be seated. He complains about the media and the media coverage.
KEITH OLBERMANN, MSNBC: Should Senator Clinton have been more careful in not leaving the impression that her electability argument boils down, in effect, to working class white Americans are not ready to vote for a black American president?
DICK MORRIS, FOX NEWS ANALYST: She's using race to win the election. She is using the identification of whites, vis-a-vis blacks, to polarize the society racially and win the election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KURTZ: Joining us now to talk about the controversy and other interviews with the candidates and their family members, Clarence Page, columnist for "The Chicago Tribune," and Amanda Carpenter, national political reporter for townhall.com.
Clarence Page, was this a terrible racial remark for Hillary Clinton to make about white voters?
CLARENCE PAGE, "THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE": Well, it was not good political etiquette. I can't remember when I have ever heard a candidate speak so candidly. It's normally your operatives, your surrogates, your consultants who talk like that, or us, the pundits.
KURTZ: But that's not to say that -- but that's the point. It's not to say that it's not true. In fact, she is quoting an Associated Press article.
PAGE: Truth is only part of the game here, Howard. We're talking about politics, after all.
And we're talking about a candidate who up front says, well, my opponent is weak with white voters. So I'm going to go out and get them.
You know, race is still too sensitive a topic in this country for you to just blindly say that as if we're talking about, say, Catholic voters, say, during the 1960 campaign with JFK.