Yes, but Are they Anti-Semantics?

27 Feb

Before last night, I respected Tim Russert as a legitimate, objective journalist. But last night he was pissing me the eff off.

First, it was the endless hypotheticals. Mrs. Clinton, let’s make-believe that Iran and North Korea conspired to take over Jordan and thereby launch a zweifrontenkreig with Iran against Iraq. Do you have a plan for that? It would have been nice for Tim to hit on actual, genuine issues. He did get in a Buffalo reference, asking Clinton how she plans to create 5 million jobs as President when she couldn’t create 200,000 for Buffalo. Clinton gave her standard response about how she made that promise in 2000 and expected Al Gore to be President; since Bush’s economic program was different.

Then there was were the Farrakhan questions.

Russert’s questions were significantly longer, to my ears, than Obama’s answers, but Russert challenged Obama to react somehow to Farrakhan’s endorsement. Obama, I thought, gave an excellent answer, saying he didn’t solicit or appreciate Farrakhan’s support of him, and denouncing Farrakhan’s long history of anti-semitic remarks. Then, wanting fireworks, Russert started to quote some of Farrakhan’s most despicable comments. Obama handily cut him off and repeated his denunciation.

Then, it was Hillary’s turn. She explained that she rejected the endorsement of New York’s Independence Party when she first ran because there were anti-Semites involved with it; she knew that she might take a hit for that, but thought it important to stand on principle.

It was a classless hit on Obama, and it was comparing apples to oranges.

Obama, to his credit, handled the question beautifully. He chuckled at Clinton’s semantics and said that, if it made everybody feel better, he would both “denounce” and “reject” Farrakhan’s support, and that he “conceded the point”. In other words, Tim – take your stupid question, and Hillary – take your stupid semantic argument, and shove them up your collective recta.

The apples and oranges? Well, Farrakhan is a retired anti-Semitic preacher who once led the Nation of Islam, but doesn’t anymore. He has no political organization, and his endorsement doesn’t amount to a whole lot.

On the other hand, the Independence Party is a political party. Minor thought it may be, it has influence through New York’s unique and anachronistic system of electoral fusion. If the IP didn’t back Hillary, it would have backed Lazio in a tight race.

I thought Hillary’s callback to the SNL skit last week where the press is treating Obama with kid gloves fell flat. You’re a candidate, not a comedian. Spare us the attempts at humor.

I thought the final question, where Brian Williams asked each candidate what the other needed to prove before they’d be qualified to be nominated, was trite and jejune. Each candidate handled it with aplomb, singing the other’s praises.

TPM was really incensed with Russert;
Andrew Sullivan disagrees, and thinks Obama didn’t handle the Farrakhan questions well.

33 Responses to “Yes, but Are they Anti-Semantics?”

  1. peter scott February 27, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    I thought Russert was very tough to watch last night…

    I can’t imagine how he could have handled the Farrakhan questions better…Sullivan is way off on this, in my opinion.

  2. Edgard February 27, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    “20th Debate – and the Last?” I sure hope so! It’s starting to get tired and Hillary looks more ridiculous each time.

  3. dougk February 27, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    tell me hrc doesn’t remind you of the drunk at the end of the bar with her pall malls, shooter and a short beer, rambling on about one thing or the other in a whining wiskey voice, baby boomer amy winehouse

  4. steve February 27, 2008 at 10:05 am #

    After so many debates it appears that the moderators are running out of things to ask, which is just remarkable.

    Sadly, I think Russert is becoming a bit of a caricature of a real journalist these days. The long, convoluted hypothecticals and the pressing on minor issues strikes me as a “look at me, I’m a journalist” plea.

  5. Eric P. February 27, 2008 at 10:32 am #

    I have long thought of Pumpkinhead Russert as a Republican Shill of the lowest order. To me, his softball interviews with Rumsfeld and Cheney were truly nauseating proof of that. I also wish he would shut up about Buffalo – he thinks it makes him sound like such a “regular guy”. Russert is an asshole.

  6. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 11:15 am #

    my observations on the race here over the past couple of months have been the result of an examination of press coverage, and reaction to that coverage on these bloggie thingees.

    for the record, i did not vote for hrc in the primary, and said early on that i would vote for whoever the party nominated. had everyone else taken a similar position, we would be going into the general election with a unity party, one on whose ticket would appear the certainly unbeatable names of obama and clinton.

    alas, what we have instead is a party divided, and a tough row to hoe in november. many of the same people who thought there was no difference between gore and bush and threw their support to ralph nader are now in the obama camp, ready to work their magic again.

    chris smith speaks of the “useful idiot,” thinking that the real race here was obama-clinton and that victory over the gop will be a cakewalk. the useful idiots are people such as himself, who did the republicans’ work for them.

    and eric, you’re right. russert actually is a piece of dick cheese who wouldn’t know real journalism if he happened to trip over it one night in an alley.

  7. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 11:59 am #

    anybody who is actually interested in the disgraceful smear campaign accompanying obama’s turban picture would do well to check out today’s DAILY HOWLER. they provide all the links as well as some useful commentary on the “liberal” blogosphere that set about spreading the biggest made-up story of the young century.

    http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh022608.shtml

  8. Chris Smith February 27, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    Mike, I am surprised by your continued ignorance of Campaign Politics 101. Do you really think anyone in the Clinton camp would admit ownership of it? You need Wolfson to come out and say “Yup, we did it. We tried to make Obama look like Osama since our campaign is horribly floundering. Our bad, didn’t think it would get everyone so upset.”

    When in the history of politics has anyone ever admitted to something like that? Is this your standard for reporting? Logical conclusions based on a lengthy record of similar behavior should not be drawn?

    Or are you a subscriber to the theory that there is a vast right wing conspiracy that meets in Masonic Halls to coordinate how to make the Clintons look stupid?

    In the end, it’s a non-issue and we are simply arguing over what standards you use to determine what is a story or is worthy of discussion on an opinion blog. In six months, no one will remember the photo and it will be nullified as a general election issue due to it coming out now.

  9. Greg February 27, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Russert proved himself to be an idiot to me the other week when on his show that wben broadcasts the audio of at noon on sundays he said “Hillary’s home state of NY”
    No, NY is her “use it as a stepping stone state” not her home. She moved here solely to use us, nothing else

  10. Rob February 27, 2008 at 12:54 pm #

    So, to sum up, that the Clinton campaign circulated the photo is shown by:

    * The fact that Drudge didn’t really say they did,
    * The complete absence of any evidence that they did,
    * The fact that Rep. Tubbs-Jones denied that they did, and
    * The fact that Clinton’s spokesman strongly denied any involvement or knowledge.

    Furthermore, if you deny this, you believe in conspiracy theories.

    Gotcha.

  11. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 1:04 pm #

    chris…i’ve been reporting on local, state, national and irish politics since you were in the fourth grade. if your confused little brain is convinced clinton did it, fine. all i said is that you can’t possibly know that, just as i can’t possibly know she didn’t. i’ve been willing to let it go at that. you have not. your complete igorance of psy ops, which drudge is a master of, astounds me. you actually seem to believe your own bullshit.

    i don’t know what you do for a living, but pundit is an attorney and there is no question he could not prove clinton did it in a court of law, which is the standard.

    you continued assertion of opinion as fact is a disservice to your readers, and goes a long way towards explaining why, in a current advertisement for an op-ed writer at the cleveland plain dealer, the first two words are NO BLOGGERS!

    congrats on the coming of your second child. and don’t quit the day job.

  12. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 1:14 pm #

    and, as a mason (niagara frontier lodge 132) i must strongly object to your use of the words “conspiracy theory” in the same sentence as that hallowed institution.

  13. Buffalopundit February 27, 2008 at 1:15 pm #

    Mike, you’ll also know that if one media outlet makes a factual allegation, it’s not uncommon for other media outlets to repeat the same factual allegation, or at least report on its being said. Also, given ethical considerations of confidentiality, it’s quite rare that a journalist could ever truly prove in court the truth of a supposed fact that was passed along by a confidential, unnamed source.

    As for the ad for an op-ed writer, it would seem to me to be somewhat counterproductive to ab initio exclude from the search people who offer their opinions for free, regardless of their qualifications, their ability to write coherently, or their backgrounds.

  14. Chris Smith February 27, 2008 at 1:23 pm #

    I am not asserting my opinion as fact, I am defending my opinion, there is a difference, but I don’t gather that you are a big fan of nuance.

    I continue to find it interesting that you protest so loudly when people draw logical conclusions from a situation based on context, history, and personal knowledge.

    I also find it interesting that I am being scolded about the dangers of hyperbole and my lack of “journalism ethics” from the editor of the most hyperbolic print media outlet in the region.

    I like you Mike, I do, but I think you’re missing the point of the entire exercise on the Clinton issue and you fundamentally don’t understand the purpose of new media. We discuss shit and try to get people involved in the process. Occasionally, we stumble onto some news and we try and report it as best we can. We don’t pretend to be anything more.

    Also, I would never apply for a job at the Cleveland Plain Dealer because I don’t pretend to be a “journalist”, as if that actually means anything anymore.

  15. Chris Smith February 27, 2008 at 1:33 pm #

    The masons let you in? You’re comfortable with the religious overtones and proclamations of temperance of such a group? I find your membership to be quite odd.

  16. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    pundit…as rob has pointed out repeatedly and apparently to deaf ears, DRUDGE DIDN’T “FACTUALLY ASSERT” THE PIC CAME FROM THE CLINTON CAMP. the fact is that it is an old associated press photo and could have come from anywhere. you didn’t say, “according to drudge,” in any event. you said something to the effect of “clinton is an odious human being and here’s what she’s done now.” as far as drudge’s ethics, that’s pretty comical. do you really believe that if he had actually gotten the pic from a clinton staffer he wouldn’t have given the person up in two seconds? or at least said “i extended a promise of confidentiality to this source that i must now protect”? now who’s being naive, alan?

    and chris, whether you “like” me or not is of zero consequence. what are we, in high school? i said nothing about hyperbole in any of my posts. what i said is that if you’re going to print something as fact, you need to make sure that it is indeed factual. simply putting “i think” at the beginning of a sentence that ends with “hillary clinton perpetrated this dastardly deed” would suffice. at the reporter, we label such writing as “analysis” or “opinion,” which is a simple thing to do and in the world of “real media” as opposed to that of “new media” is often the difference between a successful libel suit and an unsuccessful one.

    finally, as to my membership in the masons, the national rifle association, the archaelogical society of ohio etc., there are more things in heaven and on earth, dude, than are thought of in your philosophy…

    oh yeah, a couple of really important things: the great william f. buckley passed away this morning. he was an amazing thinker and writer who would have demolished your “hillary did it” conspiracy theory in far less time than it took me. news of his death somewhat mars, for me, the long-awaited release of my second book, “diary of a punk,” which is available right this minute at the book corner in niagara falls.

  17. hank February 27, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    Eric P is showing his youth again

    Eric P. Says:
    February 27th, 2008 at 10:32 am
    I have long thought of Pumpkinhead Russert as a Republican Shill of the lowest order.

    REALLY? So I guess when he lived in Buffalo and worked as a Staffer for Daniel P Moynihan, and later when he worked as a staffer for Tip O’Neill, Russert forgot he was a South Buffalo Democrat from the instant of Conception?

    Read your history book, Sonny. Russert was a Democrat Party Operative, and the son of a Democrat Party Operative, “Big Russ” as he was known in the 1st Ward.

    You’re a funny man!

  18. steve February 27, 2008 at 2:34 pm #

    mike hudson — in the last paragraph of your most recent post, you referenced “a couple of really important things.” I get the death of William F. Buckley. What was the other thing?

  19. Rob February 27, 2008 at 2:36 pm #

    Right, and since Russert started as a Dem operative it’s impossible for him to have become a Republican shill. C’mon, Eric, next you’ll be claiming that a Marxist somehow morphed into a neo-con.

  20. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 2:57 pm #

    funny one steve….the other thing was the release, today, of my second book, “diary of a punk”! i know it doesn’t seem possible, but it’s even better than my first book, “niagara falls confidential,” which came out just six months ago to universal praise in the “old” media and is going into its second printing!

    as wfb himself once noted;

    “I am, I fully grant, a phenomenon, but not because of any speed in composition. I asked myself the other day, `Who else, on so many issues, has been so right so much of the time?’ I couldn’t think of anyone.”

  21. Rob February 27, 2008 at 3:06 pm #

    Congrats on the new book.

  22. Buffalopundit February 27, 2008 at 3:08 pm #

    pundit…as rob has pointed out repeatedly and apparently to deaf ears, DRUDGE DIDN’T “FACTUALLY ASSERT” THE PIC CAME FROM THE CLINTON CAMP.

    Yes, he did.

    Here’s what Drudge posted on Monday:

    CLINTON STAFFERS CIRCULATE ‘DRESSED’ OBAMA

    Then, clicking through, one reads:

    With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a “dressed” Barack Obama.

    The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya.

    The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

    “Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?” questioned one campaign staffer, in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

    Hudson continues:

    the fact is that it is an old associated press photo and could have come from anywhere. you didn’t say, “according to drudge,” in any event.

    Well, first of all, I used the word “circulate”. I didn’t use “release” Furthermore, although I didn’t link to Drudge, I linked to a blogger for the Sun-Times who links to Drudge. On the internet, that’s attribution. I don’t have to write “according to Drudge”. I can link to the source of my information, and you’re welcome to click there, or not.

    you said something to the effect of “clinton is an odious human being and here’s what she’s done now.”

    No again. I said, “So why, pray, did the Clinton campaign circulate it?” I didn’t call her an odious human being or any other pejorative.

    as far as drudge’s ethics, that’s pretty comical. do you really believe that if he had actually gotten the pic from a clinton staffer he wouldn’t have given the person up in two seconds?

    Yes, I do, assuming he’d like to enjoy the privilege of obtaining more background information from that person.

    or at least said “i extended a promise of confidentiality to this source that i must now protect”? now who’s being naive, alan?

    Really? You’re attacking Drudge’s ethics or lack thereof, and by extension mine. Yet you’re misstating basic facts about my post itself, you’re misstating what Drudge did and didn’t do, and you’re making just as many assumptions as you’ve accused me of making.

    So, tell me again what I did wrong?

  23. Bill Altreuter February 27, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

    Where’d you get the idea that Tim Russert was a journalist? As far as I can tell he has never done any sort of shoe leather reporting, and his interview skills, or interrogation chops, or whatever, are really next to non-existent. I can’t think of the last time I saw him ask a decent follow-up question. So he’s a Bills fan, so what? He brings no insight, no real background, and no ability to the party.

  24. Russell February 27, 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    If Russert has no skills or abilities, as you all declare, then it must be the only reason he got the job was because of his Democrat credentials. That brings up a whole other subject.

  25. Rob February 27, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    Colbert weighs in.

  26. Rob February 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm #

    LOL at Russell’s comment. Because no-talent

    hacks who only have Republican credentials never get far in the mainstream media, right.

  27. Eric P. February 27, 2008 at 5:36 pm #

    Hank says, “Eric P is showing his youth again”

    Eric P. Says:
    February 27th, 2008 at 10:32 am
    I have long thought of Pumpkinhead Russert as a Republican Shill of the lowest order.

    To which, Hank replies “REALLY? So I guess when he lived in Buffalo and worked as a Staffer for Daniel P Moynihan, and later when he worked as a staffer for Tip O’Neill, Russert forgot he was a South Buffalo Democrat from the instant of Conception?

    “Read your history book, Sonny. Russert was a Democrat Party Operative, and the son of a Democrat Party Operative, “Big Russ” as he was known in the 1st Ward.”

    Sorry, Hank – Russert has been a Teevee Talk Show Guy since the mid- 1980’s. Punkinhead really only began to realize his full potential after 2000, when he became a cheerleader for the Bush and the Right Wing. I’m not talking about what he may heve been in the past (Democratic Party pedigree, and all that)- I’m talking about what he is now and has been for the past 7 years. He’s now a fully entrenched, sweaty GOP tool. Ask Scooter Libby. Shit, Cheney has even commented on what a great mouthpiece for the Right Russert has been (I forget the actual quote, but who gives a shit).

    Big Russ, my ass. More Likely, Timmy is “Big Puss”.

    (BTW, Hank – while I am showing my youth again, I will have you know that I am 48 – but I read at a 53 year old level).

  28. mike hudson February 27, 2008 at 6:29 pm #

    pundit….your simple-minded reading of the following is truly astonishing.

    “With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a “dressed” Barack Obama.

    The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya.

    The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

    “Wouldn’t we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?” questioned one campaign staffer, in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.”

    so you somehow construe that as meaning he obtained the photo from the clinton people? i mean, for god’s sake, drudge isn’t even defending this anymore. why should he when his got seemingly oblivious liberals such as yourself carrying his water for him?

    face it, there are 100 different ways drudge could have obtained this photo and, because you don’t like hillary clinton while obama makes your little heart go pitter patter you think hillary’s people gave it to him. fine. where you went wrong is when you said hillary’s people definitely gave it to him, an assumption i’d imagine you wouldn’t like to have to prove in court.

    if you are going to begin using drudge — who in his book proudly said that he “gets it right about 70 percent of the time” — as a reliable source and then make up some ridiculous crap about how the new media doesn’t have to check things out the way the old media does that’s fine too. you should post that fact at the top of your column every morning and allow people to decide for themselves how seriously they want to take the “reporting” that follows.

    say what you want about the reporter, but if you read that vince anello took an under the table no interest loan from a local developer and failed to report it, you can bet your house on it being true.

    70 percent isn’t good enough. it’s not nearly good enough.

    for an actual journalist, anyway.

  29. Chris Smith February 27, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    and chris, whether you “like” me or not is of zero consequence. what are we, in high school?

    No, it was an effort to be civil and not be a self aggrandizing dickbag with delusions of grandeur as some self referential mix of Hunter Thompson and William Buckley and arbiter of good journalism. But, I don’t like to roll that way…

    If you’re going to print something as fact, you need to make sure that it is indeed factual.

    This is the core of the problem, I didn’t state anything as fact. I stated an opinion that based on common sense and an analysis of the situation that the act of releasing the picture was enough for ME to decide that she or someone on her campaign had something to do with it. You want to make this an issue about the disreputable nature of bloggers and lazy fact checking when in the end, this is opinion and discussion. No one here pretends to be William F. Buckley.

    You don’t understand what participatory media is all about. It is about discussion, contributing, and sharing. It is not traditional enterprise journalism, nor does anyone here claim that it is. New media exists because we all have our own opinions and we enjoy outlets on which we share them. Most people are tired of windbag editors and reporters who think they are doing the lord’s work as defenders of liberty. In the end, most reporters spend more time drinking their own bathwater and uncovering their interpretation of truth.

    finally, as to my membership in the masons, the national rifle association, the archaelogical society of ohio etc., there are more things in heaven and on earth, dude, than are thought of in your philosophy…

    You don’t know the first thing about my philosophy nor anything about me, chief. You shouldn’t deign to make judgments on my character. After all, I’m not the one pimping my own “accomplishments” to a group of people who I obviously disdain. Does coming here to badger a bunch of people about their opinions make you feel better about your tabloid paper with the circulation of the local Pennysaver?

    I’m sure you have important gonzo memories to rehash to create some sense of relevance for you in today’s world. I’ll leave you with this paraphrasing of a great Buckley quote…

    “Journalists claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”

  30. Russell February 28, 2008 at 8:10 am #

    Rob, those are not journalists, they’re commentators. They’re supposed to have a bias because they’re paid for their opinion. A Bureau Chief for a major network in one of the most important new cities in the world is an entirely different situation. Don’t confuse editorials with news.

  31. Rob February 28, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    I look forward to Obvious Liberal Shill Russert forcing McCain on “denounce and reject” Rev. Hagee, who endorsed McCain and who is as much of a bigot as Farakkhan, if not a bigger one.

  32. Rob February 28, 2008 at 9:59 am #

    to “denounce and reject”, that should have been.

  33. Rob February 29, 2008 at 9:38 am #

    McCain’s proud of and honored by his endorsement by Hagee. That should help St. John a lot with Catholic voters. The Catholic Church is the “whore of Babylon”????

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