Seeming to resurrect a favorite paranoid conspiracy of the 1980s, Shawn Carter, who goes by the stage name “Jay-Z” and is out with an autobiography, Decoded, about the origins of rap music, suggested on Tuesday's Late Show that “Reaganomics” and “Iran-Contra” put crack into urban neighborhoods.
The actual voting results are just part of what makes for an Election Night in today’s mass media world. Perhaps as important — in some years, more important — are journalists’ first stab at interpreting the results, telling audiences what they voted for (and against).
If history is a reliable guide, listen for: smug journalists slamming “angry” or stupid voters; claims that there’s no mandate for conservative policies; slams that the Republican winners are “extremist” or “radical;” and arguments that the Democrats failed to follow through on their liberal agenda. Oh, and don’t forget the racism.
Sixteen years ago, the Republicans picked up 54 seats in the House of Representatives, taking control of that chamber for the first time since the 1950s. So how good were the media’s predictions back then? Trolling through the MRC’s archives, I came across these quotes from coverage just before the 1994 vote:
The Washington Post is apparently an easy mark for someone selling 19-year-old sex allegations – or in this case pornography allegations against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In 1991, during the Hill-Thomas hearings, Lillian McEwen kept quiet. But now, she has a memoir she's "shopping to publishers." The Post splashed her face across the front of Friday's Style section. The headline was “I have nothing to be afraid of,” leaving out “and a book deal to gain.” The subhead was “Nineteen years after his turbulent confirmation, Lillian McEwen opens up with telling details about her intimate relationship with Clarence Thomas.” But are the “telling details” true or false?
Reporter Michael Fletcher (co-author of a critical biography of Justice Thomas) downplays that McEwen was a Democrat and lawyer for Senator Joe Biden on the Judiciary Committee. In their 1994 anti-Thomas book Strange Justice, reporters Jill Abramson and Jane Mayer quote Sukari Hardnett (another Thomas accuser) claiming Thomas discussed his personal life with her, complaining that McEwen viewed him as “a puppet of the Republicans.”
Appearing on CNN's "American Morning" Thursday, McCain criticized the current state of the Republican Party, which she believes is too conservative and narrow-minded to include more moderate and independent thinkers like herself. This focus, McCain warned, will cut down on the number of party voters.
When the subject of "RINOs" (Republican-In-Name-Only) surfaced, McCain asserted that conservative icons Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan "would both be called that today." In addition, McCain had dark predictions for the GOP in the "next election," predicting a party purge of sorts. "I'm scared of a bloodletting in the next election," McCain worried.
CNN co-anchor Kiran Chetry did not challenge McCain's questionable claims, but rather set up the podium for her to criticize the Republican Party. "Are you afraid that the party is changing or going in a direction that's going to leave it in the dust when it comes to attracting young people?" Chetry asked.
"It seems so short-sighted, just because the Republicans were upset that FDR was President for four terms," Scarborough complained of the 22nd Amendment, ratified during Truman's second term but passed out of Congress four years earlier in March 1947. Republicans did control both houses of Congress then, but the amendment would have excluded then-President Harry Truman and was supported by some Democrats.
Co-hosts of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski conducted a glowing interview of the former president at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City.
Co-host Mika Brzezinski was taken aback when the panel had to discuss Carlson's piece for The Daily Beast, "Watch Your Back, Sarah." She silently mouthed the word "bitchy" to Carlson to describe the article, adding that it was "searing."
Carlson's piece focuses on the emergence of the Republican Delaware Senate nominee as the next Sarah Palin protege, predicting a political catfight of sorts between the two female GOP stars. Carlson labeled O'Donnell an "obvious knockoff" of Palin, "hawking her wares on the shores of the Delaware."
Appearing on "Morning Joe" Wednesday, Carlson sneered that O'Donnell lacks a "fully-functioning human brain."
Of course, there was a time when she smiled upon the emergence of female Senate candidates.
Noting an “image of ‘a failed President’ haunts the Carters,” Stahl trumpeted: “Carter argues that despite the image of failure, he actually had a long list of successes, starting with bringing all the hostages home alive,” as if that wasn’t because of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration. Stahl proceeded to tout as a success his installation of “solar panels on the roof of the White House.”
Absolving Carter of responsibility, Stahl contended he “was cursed by a dismal economy, poor relations with Congress, and a nightmarish standoff over 52 Americans held hostage by Iran.” Yet, “when all is said and done, and many will be surprised to hear this,” Stahl insisted, “Jimmy Carter got more of his programs passed than Reagan and Nixon, Ford, Bush 1, Clinton or Bush 2.” She empathized with his treatment from an unappreciative public: “And yet, as I say, there's the sense that you were a failed President.”
"It'd be hard not to point to George W. Bush as having done a lot of damage," Bennet asserted. Bush, he added, "created a lot of programs that costed us a huge amount of money, without a lot of regard for what the effects are going to be on the folks that are going to have to pay for those for many years."
Bennet also blamed President Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich for failed policies. However, Bennet was quick to reference the "surpluses as far as the eye could see" at the end of the Clinton administration, as a counterweight to Clinton's damage while in office. He bafflingly lauded President George H.W. Bush's tax hike as "politically brave" and which helped create the prosperity of the Clinton years.
On Tuesday, Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz publicized a forthcoming book by former TV producer/reporter Mark Feldstein on syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, a big star in the media firmament in the 1960s and 1970s. (He was an early featured player in ABC's Good Morning America.) Kurtz relayed how Feldstein found Anderson engaged in blackmail and bribery to get scoops, often designed to provide maximum embarrassment to Republicans.
People whose version of media history only includes the Woodwards and Bernsteins taking down Richard Nixon (for nothing more than their sheer love of country) might want to see just how Anderson worked hand in glove with Democrats, and cut a series of ethical corners:
Anderson's questionable tactics were visible as early as 1958, when he and a Democratic congressional investigator were caught with bugging equipment in the old Sheraton-Carlton Hotel, surreptitiously recording the businessman who bribed Sherman Adams, later forced to resign as President Dwight Eisenhower's chief of staff. This was a big break for Anderson, who was then the chief legman for columnist Drew Pearson.
Williams introduced the September 13 segment by marveling:
We can’t remember a sitting justice on the U.S. Supreme Court ever stopping by our studios here, but it happened today. We spent some time with Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Clinton and residing on the liberal side of the court. Justice Breyer is out with a new book today. It’s about how the court works, including mistakes the court has made over the years. I started out by asking Justice Breyer, given his love of the Supreme Court, if he's concerned that just one percent of those Americans polled, in a recent survey, knew his name?
For the American Spectator online, Quin Hillyer, one of the speakers, wrote an informative piece on what he described as “the single best compendium of American conservative movement beliefs” and its adoption at a gathering of about 90 college students and a few 30-something “elders” (including MRC President L. Brent Bozell III's father) at William F. Buckley Jr.’s home in Sharon, Connecticut.
In a piece in Friday’s Investor’s Business Daily, “The Magnificent Legacy of the YAF,” K.E. Grubbs Jr. recalled “M. Stanton Evans was charged with drafting a statement of principles” and observed: “The Sharon Statement would last as the late 20th century's single most elegant distillation of conservative principles.”