THE BLOG

Tabloid Tactics: It's Open Season on Gore, Clinton, Kerry...

05/25/2006 09:23 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Folks, it's open season on Democrats. Rightwing extremists and various media cohorts are ratcheting up their anti-Dem offensive. Not content with revisiting the Clinton bedroom, rightwingers are going after their favorite targets: Al Gore and John Kerry. Media Matters tracks the anti-Gore assault. The Daily Howler adds perspective: "Al Gore was right about global warming -- way back in the 1980s. He was also right on internal combustion. And oh yes, he was right on Iraq, in a prophetic speech in September 02 -- a speech Joe Klein praised at the time. In a rational world, this would make Gore a reigning star -- but we live in the world of a millionaire press corps, and we suffer, every day, from its judgments."

A new journalistic low (if that's possible) was reached with Patrick Healy's sneak peek into the Clinton bedroom, a crass attempt at tabloid journalism. Healy, for those who don't recall, was the one of the chief traffickers of anti-Kerry narratives.

Arianna blogs about this new phase of Dem-bashing, as does Eric Boehlert and Christy at FDL, who writes, "According to David Broder, panty sniffing is all the rage in the Beltway. Not the Chastity Beltway, mind you -- that's somewhere else entirely, as evidenced by Fornigate, among other stories currently making the rounds...but I'm talking full-on, lemon yellow pantsuit hyperventalation, with marital speculation at the juicy gossip level disguised as "news."

I posted this take on Broder at The Grit:

Boy, they're coming fast and furious lately. You swat one down, two more take their place. I'm referring to 'elite' reporters of course, specifically those who've decided that Bush's poll numbers aren't incentive enough to stop belittling and berating Democrats.

Joe Klein, Mark Halperin & co., Elisabeth Bumiller, Patrick Healy, Tim Russert, the list goes on. Joining the crowd is David Broder, who isn't content with Healy's puerile peek into the Clinton bedroom. Broder wants more:

"The article, by Patrick Healy, was anything but unsympathetic. It touched only lightly on the former president's friendship with Canadian politician Belinda Stronach. It documented that despite their busy separate schedules, the Clintons had managed to spend two-thirds of their weekends together during the past 18 months.

The closing anecdote concerned a December fundraiser where Clinton praised his wife and bestowed a kiss on her forehead, after which she recalled their 30 years together and said, "I'm so grateful to you, Bill."

But for all the delicacy of the treatment, the very fact that the Times had sent a reporter out to interview 50 people about the state of the Clintons' marriage and placed the story on the top of Page One was a clear signal -- if any was needed -- that the drama of the Clintons' personal life would be a hot topic if she runs for president."

Mr. Broder, here's an easy question: who determines what is and isn't a hot topic? When cable news nets spend countless hours discussing a missing girl in Aruba, is it a hot topic because the viewers want it or because it's been shoved down their gullets? When Swift Boat liars are given an unlimited forum to smear a decorated vet, was it a hot topic to begin with or does it become one after the fact? And when Patrick Healy decides to dissect the Clinton marriage, was it a hot topic before he wrote it or is it a hot topic now that people like you amplify his filth?

"The very fact that the Times had sent a reporter out to interview 50 people about the state of the Clintons' marriage" says one thing alone: damn the polls and damn the public, the media want to suck up to Bush and stomp on the Dems, to sanctify McCain and slander Hillary, to re-Gore Al and to celebrate Rudy, to mock Kerry and to laud Bill Frist.

Mr. Broder, the "elephant in the room" you refer to at the conclusion of your piece has nothing to do with the Clintons. It's this: that you and your ilk are prisoners of your own storylines, hustling your wares to a public that has moved past you.

UPDATE: More on Broder here.