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The Pro-Trump Double Standard



The punch-pulling continues:

But in selling his case, Mr. Trump stretched the truth, saying that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has no such plan of her own and “never will.”

“Stretched?” That sounds like a basically accurate claim that is perhaps somewhat misleading or imprecise or something. But…

Mrs. Clinton issued her plan more than a year ago, and it guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for a newborn or a sick relative, financed by an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. On Twitter, her campaign posted a link to her plan after Mr. Trump’s remark.

This isn’t “stretching the truth.” This is “lying.” The claim about Clinton was just out-and-out false in every possible way. It’s nice that the story points this out, but their unwillingness to accurately describe it is another indication of the felt need to portray Trump as a fundamentally normal candidate. And, as Krugman says, this is effectively pro-Trump. And while Clinton will still probably win, it’s succeeding in making the election closer than it should be.

[via Maloy]

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  • So what, if anything, can be done about the press throwing their support behind a fascist? They won’t respond to liberals who work the refs the way they have when wingnuts have done it. They won’t steer themselves back to sanity — these are people who’ve looked at the choices and decided they want the white-supremacist authoritarian maniac, and they’ll support that same kind of candidate next time. What can be done to fix this problem?

    • Karen24


    • Lord Jesus Perm

      Given that fixing the problem would require us asking why an overwhelmingly white media corps has decided to mainstream such utter, almost oafish, racism, I’m inclined to believe that the answer to this question is “nothing.”

      • efgoldman

        FWIW (probably very little) some NYT subscribers are cancelling their subs on the phone and explaining to the phone reps (who probably work for third party contractors) exactly why.

        • howard

          The best way for it to make a difference is not to yell at underpaid sales reps on the phone, it’s to write [email protected] and explain to Sulzberger why.

          I myself send an email a day encouraging the firing of Liz Spayd.

          • twbb

            I wanted to cancel my online subscription in a huff but I need their archive for my research. The problem with criticizing them is the Times desperately wants to be the paragon of newsly virtue they consider themselves so every attack, especially from the left, is Proof of their Valorous Speaking of Truth to Power. Calling for the firing of Spayd probably makes her position even stronger.

            Mocking people in headlines, a la DailyKos, might be a better approach.

            Instead of calling it the Times or (even sarcastically) the paper of record, could we be more overt and just call it “the paper of Jayson Blair” and “the paper of Judith Miller”?

    • NewishLawyer

      Nothing without going against democracy and civil liberty except waiting for the old guard to retire and/or die.

      • Duvall

        Old guard? The reporters writing this stuff aren’t exactly old.

        • twbb

          Exactly! I MISS the old guard.

      • I assume that’s a joke. Editors and publishers can hire and fire whoever they like; those are organizations that operate separate from democracy.

    • Linnaeus

      A start would be supporting media outlets that don’t do this.

      • The Lorax

        I’m canceling my NYT subscription.

        • lunaticllama

          I wrote a stream of letters to the editor explaining that I would cancel my subscription if they kept this up – today was the last straw and I cancelled as well.

        • Linnaeus

          I’m going to do the same thing.

          Beyond that, though, it’s also important to read and patronize other media sources that do a better job than the NYT, et. al.

    • Sly

      these are people who’ve looked at the choices and decided they want the white-supremacist authoritarian maniac, and they’ll support that same kind of candidate next time. What can be done to fix this problem?

      Wait until white people are no longer capable of being an effective voting majority to the extent that white voters alone can determine the election of such a candidate. This is also true of the newsmedia; reporters write stories for an audience, and outlets that carry water for white reactionaries are placating a dying one.

      Generational attrition is not a happy solution, and certainly not an expedient one, but its reliability is ironclad.

    • Manny Kant

      But this is not what they’re doing. They want a close race to keep ratings/sales high. They don’t want Trump to win, nor do they think Trump will win. If it looks like Trump will win, they will in fact steer themselves back to sanity. They were perfectly sane right after the GOP Convention, when they were briefly terrified Trump would win. They will be sane again if it starts to look like Trump will win.

      It may not be enough, but they certainly haven’t decided that they want Trump to be president.

      • kayden

        That’s not necessarily true because right now it looks as if Trump could win. He has eliminated the gap between himself and Clinton in nation-wide polls.

        • Manny Kant

          It does look that way. We’ll see if the coverage changes. I think we’ll see a big anti-Trump spurt of press coverage at some point in the next few weeks if things stay close.

      • Halloween Jack

        They want a close race to keep ratings/sales high.

        Was that their rationalization in ’00? Say, how’d that work out?

        • Manny Kant

          I think they actually kind of preferred Bush in 2000, or didn’t care.

    • twbb

      Libel lawsuits?

      Clinton, for example, has an ironclad case against the AP for that false Clinton Foundation tweet.

      Hmmm, maybe the Clinton Foundation ITSELF can sue?

    • MDrew

      Go back in time and nominate someone we don’t know going in would face the disadvantage of running against the tide of the wrath of a press who hates her.

  • Karen24

    And if she does lose, every single pundit will blame her for being a terrible candidate instead of noting that the press failed utterly to report on Trump’s awfulness.

    For anyone who wants to mention the debates, forget it. He’s buried the bar he has to clear five miles into the mantle, so that if he manages to avoid farting audibly or drooling, he wins regardless of her performance.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      what was scary, and someone with time/google skills can find it, was the article about how focus groups simply aren’t taking Trump at his worst seriously. He’s just another tv guy to them

      to some degree, places like Josh Marshall’s might end up deserving a portion of the blame if Clinton were to lose. Most every time I go around there they have four or five articles/headlines about the latest Trump outrage and not a whole hell of a lot about what Clinton is doing or saying. And then people complain because she’s invisible

      • efgoldman

        focus groups simply aren’t taking Trump at his worst seriously. He’s just another tv guy to them

        This actually isn’t a surprise. A couple of years ago, a similar thing was done with the Granny Starver’s budget, and the focus group didn’t believe they could possibly be real proposals.

      • NewishLawyer

        This is a good point. The liberal press needs to do more HRC/Dem positive stories.

      • Who DO they take seriously? The interviews I’ve read, they think something like: we need a leader, (as we are always told) businessmen are leaders of the community and the decisionmakers, he is (purportedly) a businessman. That was what Perot’s supporters thought, that was what a good portion of Romney’s supporters thought, and for that matter Scott Brown’s.

        They’re not prepared to make finer-grained decisions than that, and a lot of them say that outright. They want someone else to make the decisions. Where it looks like they’re talking about issues, in a lot of cases those are things they “worry” about, not things they expect someone to consult their opinion on.

        • efgoldman

          and for that matter Scott Brown’s.

          Well, Cosmo-boy was at least a state senator.
          Not that that made him qualified to do anything but drive a pickup truck.

      • JMV Pyro

        It was a politico article I believe. And yeah,that does concern me a bit. Apathy to Trump is just as bad as support of him.

      • cleek

        four or five?

        back before it got too depressing to do, i used to count the number of stories on news websites about Trump v those about Clinton. TPM (Trump Promotion Machine) was always the most heavily slanted towards Trump.


        i exchanged some emails with Marshall about this and he just said, in effect “Trump makes news. Clinton is standard candidate running a standard campaign.”

      • Halloween Jack

        places like Josh Marshall’s might end up deserving a portion of the blame if Clinton were to lose. Most every time I go around there they have four or five articles/headlines about the latest Trump outrage and not a whole hell of a lot about what Clinton is doing or saying. And then people complain because she’s invisible

        I haven’t heard anyone complain that she’s “invisible.” Getting the word out about her policy positions and so forth is her campaign’s job, not Josh Marshall’s.

    • advocatethis

      And if she does lose, every single pundit will blame her for being a terrible candidate instead of noting that the press failed utterly to report on Trump’s awfulness.

      Hell, a significant portion of the commenters here will do that.

      • (((Malaclypse)))

        “Ghostship + Phil” =/= “a significant portion”

        • advocatethis

          Okay, then; a vocal minority.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Don’t forget King Goat…

          • Manny Kant

            Dilan, I assume. Throttle Jockey, probably.

    • nemdam

      Spoiler alert about media reaction to the debates:

      Clinton, Trump exchange sharp insults. Can the race sink any lower?
      Clinton says Trump supported the Iraq war, but Trump contends that he didn’t (substitute for any fact)
      Trump looks poised and presidential, while Clinton still can’t fight her perception of dishonesty/secrecy/unlikeability

      • xq

        I suspect media coverage of the debates will be in Clinton’s favor. Despite people’s issues with Lauer, coverage of the Commander-In-Chief Forum generally favored Clinton (with a side story of Lauer being too easy on Trump, which will hopefully influence the debate moderators in a positive direction). Lots of mainstream outlets pointed out that Trump lied about his Iraq support. The media has a lot of bad habits, but I think people here seriously overstate the extent to which it is pro-Trump.

        • Karen24

          Which made no difference in the perception of the race, and they immediately came back to blast her for accurately describing Trump’s supporters and getting sick.

          • nemdam

            Exactly. Even if she wins the debate, Trump will do some stunt like giving a “foreign policy” speech where he says Putin and Russia have done some things he doesn’t agree with and that he will talk to Putin about it if he becomes president. The media will then gush about how he has “pivoted” on his Putin love affair, and any positive Clinton spin from the debate will evaporate.

            I just turned on CNN for a few minutes to see how disgusted I could get in 5 minutes, and there was a panel talking about his Dr. Oz appearance. I shit you not, one of the panelists said that this was good for Trump because at least he has done a public interview with a doctor while Clinton has not. Another panelist said it was a win for Trump because it made him seem more transparent than Clinton by citing the fact that she didn’t have her press pool during her feinting incident. The host then noted that Trump doesn’t even has a press pool. Everyone giggled and moved on.

            I don’t know how to respond to this.

            • Karen24

              This is really appalling, because CNN’s website is leading with a piece showing that all economists not actually on Trump’s payroll think his economic policies are catastrophic. So, the TV watchers get Dr. Oz and only the web surfers get real content.

          • Thrax

            Well, sure. Other subsequent events stepped on her debate performance. Doesn’t mean it’ll happen again.

            I’m cautiously optimistic about the debates. Yes, Trump mostly avoided making a fool of himself in the Republican primary debates, but (a) there were a lot more than two candidates on stage, (b) the questions tended to be softer, and (c) the other candidates were nothing to write home amount, policy-knowledge-wise. I think it’ll be much more obvious that he’s faking it.

            The first and third debates are in the six-topic format, where there’s a single topic for 15 minutes at a time, and candidates can challenge and respond to each other directly. Outside of maybe immigration and trade, Trump doesn’t have seven and a half minutes of talking points on any topic of importance, and Clinton is going to be able to take his dumb non-answers apart. I don’t think that format favors him. The second one is “town-hall” style, and while the questions can vary a lot in quality, the moderator (Martha Raddatz) can follow up on the answers. Sure, in all three debates, Trump will lie, Clinton will point it out, and 0.1% of the audience will read the fact-check piece saying Clinton was right. I still think it’ll be obvious that Trump is bullshitting.

            And yes, I know, Chris Wallace is the moderator for the third debate. I still suspect there will be an overall bump for Clinton.

            • nemdam

              This is the one thing that can make this look like a win for Clinton, and I hope this is how she’s preparing. The goal will be not to necessarily fact check Trump to death, it will be to challenge him in a way so that he looks like a complete dumbass. It’s a subtle difference, but it will all be in, and I hate to use this word, the “optics”. If she can make Trump look like an idiot on a pure gut level, then the actual facts or moderators won’t matter. Because the one thing about the polls that bodes very well for Clinton is that she consistently wins the question about basic fitness for the presidency by 20+ point margins. If she can remind people of this quality, I think it will bode well for her.

              • Thrax

                Right, and I think she’s well equipped to do this. Point out in 20-30 seconds that what Trump said makes no sense, then pivot to a coherent explanation of the topic that makes her look competent and well-informed.

                Clinton’s a pretty good debater–arguably better than Obama, who has a tendency to give long, discursive answers.

                And I’m confident that the Trump “say obnoxious things to get under my opponent’s skin” approach from the primaries will have no effect on her; as she pointed out recently, being female in the public eye makes you very good at emotional control. She can let all of those go by, then say in her closing statement, “Mr. Trump has given you name-calling and dumb taunts. I’ve given you answers,” or words to that effect.

              • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

                But many Trump supporters agree that he’s an idiot, and that’s what they want because they hate smart people.

                This isn’t unique to Trump. America has always had a significant anti-intellectual bias.

                • efgoldman

                  many Trump supporters agree that he’s an idiot

                  Trump supporters are not HRC’s target. They’re lost to the Dems. They’ll either vote for who they vote for, or stay home.

                • ASV

                  For the purposes of the election, that doesn’t matter; his current supporters are not enough to win and his core is nowhere close.

                • twbb

                  That isn’t unique to America, actually.

            • xq

              Yep. Media runs on narrative. Media narrative on Clinton is that she’s shady and corrupt, so, yeah, they gave negative coverage on pneumonia because she wasn’t 100% open about it immediately. But media narrative on Trump is that he’s a clueless, incompetent racist, and I think the debates will reinforce that, because he simply has no knowledge about issues, nor any ability to fake it.

              And Clinton is good at debates.

              • efgoldman

                And Clinton is good at debates.

                And Trumplestiltskin won’t have his advisors cooing sweet nothings in his ear or duct-taping his mouth shut. Maybe one of them can hide under the podium with a cattle prod.
                I can’t see Combover Caligula not rising to the bait, especially if Obama, Biden, and Warren spend the next couple of weeks softening up his oh, so thin skin.

                • John Revolta

                  Trumplestiltskin won’t have his advisors cooing sweet nothings in his ear

                  I don’t know why you’d assume that. W was using an earpiece in at least one debate.

                • (((Hogan)))

                  W didn’t think he was smarter than his handlers.

              • Barry_D

                “But media narrative on Trump is that he’s a clueless, incompetent racist,…”

                No, they’ve spent vast effort obscuring the obvious fact that he is.

                • xq

                  Nah. You can say they’ve underplayed the extent to which he’s a clueless, incompetent racist due to the media’s tendency towards false balance. I’d agree with that. But the media has not covered up his incompetence or his racism. They gave him very negative coverage on his Curiel remarks, and his Khan remarks, and when he implied that someone should assassinate Clinton if she won, and numerous other times through the campaign. Now that he’s said all those outrageous things the threshold is high for scandal-level coverage, and in the last month Trump has toned down a bit and thus avoided that sort of coverage, but the narrative still lives, and it still affects all stories on Trump.

            • Donalbain

              Yes, Trump mostly avoided making a fool of himself in the Republican primary debates

              During the Republican debates, he literally bragged about the size of his penis. And yet, the message people take away from that is that he didn’t make a fool of himself. That is where the bar rests for the upcoming debates. Anything slightly more presidential than “I have a bigger penis than Mrs Clinton” will be considered a win.

              • Karen24

                This. He’s spent 70 + years showing that he’s an ignorant bully and boor. What makes anyone think 90 minutes more is going to make a difference?

              • Thrax

                I did say “mostly,” and at any rate making a fool of yourself for a Republican primary audience and making a fool of yourself for a general audience are much different things. That was my point. (Also, that came after Rubio had already, uh, gone there. Tiny hands, etc.)

                I’m also not convinced that the expectations game actually matters. A lot of low-information voters tune in to watch the debate but skip the other coverage, so it’s not necessarily significant that cable-news talking heads compare Trump’s performance to expectations. And not that much of the coverage in recent years has been about whether this or that candidate exceeded expectations–it’s been about this admission or that criticism, how the candidates will follow up, etc.

              • efgoldman

                Anything slightly more presidential than “I have a bigger penis than Mrs Clinton”

                Another lie!

              • Phil Perspective

                During the Republican debates, he literally bragged about the size of his penis. And yet, the message people take away from that is that he didn’t make a fool of himself.

                He literally trolled the Village’s anointed GOP front-runner right out of the race. And the media wanted Jeb! because the only thing that would sell better than the present race was a Clinton/Bush match-up.

                • Thrax

                  True! But if he thinks that sort of trolling is going to work for a general election audience, I’m guessing he’s wrong.

            • I think there are real questions about Trump’s ability to handle the length and intensity of these debates. He got through the primary debates mostly by insulting one or two of his opponents in the first 15-20 minutes, then slinking back into the shadows for the remainder of the broadcast. He won’t be able to do that now (sidenote: I think Cruz knew this, which is why, toward the end of the R primary, he repeatedly called for a one-on-one debate with Trump, to no avail).

              That being said, I am one of the people who is of the opinion that Trump’s constant speculation about Clinton’s health and stamina is 100% projection on his part.

              • Phil Perspective

                He got through the primary debates mostly by insulting one or two of his opponents in the first 15-20 minutes, then slinking back into the shadows for the remainder of the broadcast.

                Why would he do anything else? When he trolled Jeb! so effectively, why step on the message?

                • As I said, that strategy won’t be open to him in a one-on-one, (presumably) issues-based debate.

              • bender

                If the media do not praise Trump’s performance in the first debate, he is likely to refuse to do any others.

                Trump’s entire campaign consists of doing things that give him emotional gratification.

        • Karen24

          And I also think you’re being exceptionally naive about the press.

          • LosGatosCA

            That Mass Media is out there.

            It can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with.

            It doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear

            and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

            • so-in-so

              “Good news” is that the Mass Media isn’t as hale and hearty as it once was.

              Bad news is even if it is on life support, it’s heirs aren’t so much of an improvement.

      • The Lorax

        This is so accurate and so maddening.

      • Richard Gadsden

        Just give me one “Please proceed, governor” moment where the moderator fact-checks Trump and not Clinton.

    • Even if she wins, pretty much every pundit will blame her for not getting (sufficient) control of Congress, and for everything else. as well.

    • LeeEsq

      May I take a half position on Hillary Clinton. I think that the press is failing massively and that Hillary Clinton was the only plausible Democratic candidate for office. She still isn’t doing as well as she should against Trump just like Sanders did better than he should have against Clinton during the nomination process. Sanders should have been toast at the same time as everybody else but managed to put up a very decent fight until the near end.

      Trump is better at the attack dog thing than Clinton but he also promises big things. Clinton offers realistic things and that might lead to less disappointment but it does not motivate. Trump is seemingly a master at negative and positive motivation. Sanders would probably have Ben eaten alive during the general election but his style of campaigning might have worked more effectively against Trump. He would not have disappeared for a week to deal exclusively with very rich donors but would try to be in the eye. His attacks against Trump would seem more real and vicious than Clinton’s but he would have also offered very big I’d completely unrealistic inspiration. Sanders might have had the outage that Clinton does not have.

      • efgoldman

        Sanders might have had the outage that Clinton does not have.

        What makes you (or anyone) think the RWNJ noise machine and the Village would have been any kinder to Bernie? They would have pulled every goddamned thing from his past, and made him out to be a commie just short of Stalin.

        • ASV

          Bernie couldn’t staff up a PAC without people quitting en masse; his campaign would’ve been a disaster.

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          I guess the debate is whether they hate Clinton that much, but are cool with Bernie (but we never saw Bernie get the frontrunner treatment)… Or whether they hate Democrats that much… or if the horserace is just that important to them.

          In the latter two cases, I don’t see things going that great for Bernie. He had a message that resonated with a core group of lefty supporters, and he was a man who was not Hillary, which resonated with the Hillary haters. But when it became apparent he needed to change things up to win over black voters (and to a lesser extent Hispanic voters)… he pretty much failed.

          So yeah, I’m skeptical he’d necessarily be doing a lot better. There’s definitely a chance he could be doing better. Maybe he’d even be crushing Trump. Maybe. But if he encountered problems, I think he’d have problems pivoting just like he did during the primaries. I think people are underestimating Trump in terms of the ability to go after Sanders and I’m not sure Sanders would necessarily hit back at Trump as effectively as Clinton’s team (I mean, the Khan speech was a masterstroke… here’s hoping they’ve got some other ideas like that up their sleeves).

      • MDrew

        and that Hillary Clinton was the only plausible Democratic candidate for office

        …Wait, what?

    • DilbertSucks

      And if she does lose, every single pundit will blame her for being a terrible candidate instead of noting that the press failed utterly to report on Trump’s awfulness.

      It’s possible for Clinton to both be a terrible candidate running a lackluster campaign AND for the media to be derelict in its duty in its coverage of Trump. These are not mutually exclusive.

      For example, would a smart campaign, observing how damaging the coverage of the Clinton Foundation has been to HRC, allow such a stunningly tonedeaf decision as this?


      The problem is that this is not an isolated incident with the Clintons. It’s a pattern, and it explains why her actions like voting for the Iraq War (which I grant many other Democrats did) stick to Clinton so much. She’s constantly reopening these old wounds, e.g., by hobnobbing with Henry Kissinger and neocons like the Kagans instead of trying to assuage concerns among her base about her hawkish foreign policy record (which is what a better candidate would’ve done). These decisions of hers can’t be blamed on shoddy media coverage, and they contribute to decreased enthusiasm among her base and a tightening of the polls.

      • Dilan Esper

        I think these media bias claims are precisely the opposite- HRC supporters looking for a scapegoat while their chosen candidate takes on water.

        • a_paul_in_mtl

          It is as if the original post said absolutely nothing of note. Either that or, as I suggested on a previous thread, you are saying that nothing about how the media presents stories and frames issues has any real world influence or significance whatsoever. How else could anyone claim that there is nothing more to this than scapegoating?

          • LeeEsq

            Blaming it entirely on the media presents everybody who does not agreed with your diagnosis as weak willed.

          • Dilan Esper

            Either that or, as I suggested on a previous thread, you are saying that nothing about how the media presents stories and frames issues has any real world influence or significance whatsoever.

            I would not say “no influence”. Rather, I would say “nobody’s proven that it actually has significant influence, and there’s reasons to think that most claims of media bias are a form of motivated reasoning”.

      • randy khan

        It’s certainly possible for her to be a terrible candidate running a lackluster campaign, but the evidence actually goes the other way. She’s invested heavily in GOTV, she’s running good ads, the ad buyers seem to know what states to target and when to invest in particular places based on the polls, she’s out-fundraising Trump and the GOP significantly ($143 million to $90 million just in August), she got a much bigger convention bump than Trump, etc., etc.

        Against that we get people complaining that there’s occasional tone deafness that makes the base less than perfectly happy. To be blunt, while I wish she were less hawkish, those issues matter in any real way to only a tiny fraction of the people who actually are likely to consider voting for the Democratic candidate (no matter how loud they are, there just aren’t that many of them). She’s pitch-perfect in most other areas – civil rights (including LGBT rights), education, abortion rights, etc. And since a completely perfect campaign is never going to happen, I’d say that the criticism is, to put it as nicely as I can, overblown.

        • Phil Perspective

          She’s invested heavily in GOTV, she’s running good ads, ….

          What the hell are you watching? I don’t know what state you live in but I live in one where her ads, as well as Ferret-head’s, are on constantly. Her ads, and one in particular, stink.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        If you accept the premise that the Clinton Foundation is corrupt, that looks bad.

        If you accept the premise that it’s a quality charity that does a lot of good in the world, then holding a fundraiser for it to continue that work would seem to be a good thing to do.

        I agree that the coverage has been damaging, even though the coverage has also been almost complete bullshit.

        So the argument is, I guess, to shutter a charity that helps millions of people, because keeping it funded looks bad to our idiot media. The cost-benefit analysis might be that that’s the correct move, given how awful Trump is and how much better Clinton is. And sometimes hard, pragmatic decisions like that need to be made. But I get annoyed at the people who act like it’s just a hobby or a social club that the Clintons belong to, and that it should clearly be shut down and they could only possibly want to keep it open for their own selfish reasons.

        The irony is that shutting down charitable work just in case it looks bad for the media and costs an election is actually the “Clintonian” (cynical, politically calculating) move here.

      • The base doesn’t give a shit about Henry Kissinger, and they don’t know who the Kagans are. The number of votes that will hinge on any of that will be a rounding error.

        Also, oh no, Bill Clinton is having a birthday party.

        This is some weak shit.

        • Richard Gadsden

          The only Kagan I can think of is the Supreme Court justice.

        • Yeah, this is a tell now.

          Kissinger is a historically awful person who should be in jail or shunned by all society. He is, however, a luminary in good standing pretty much across the FP establishment. There’s no daylight between Kerry and Clinton on Kissinger and Kerry is clearly way on the dovish Sid doc things.

          The notion of candidate and campaign quality has to be carefully operationalised. There’s a real tendency to substitute personal feelings about the person and fears about outcome for any sort of real analysis. The tendency to over focus on the person and overestimate campaign effects strengthens this tendency.

          Trump is a joke by any normal metric as a possible president. This era republican control of all three branches of government is catastrophic for us all. Finally, he seems uniquely dangerous to our democracy itself. The right outcome is that he was never a candidate. The next right outcome is that he wasn’t the nominee. The next right outcome is that polls like Jeb over the course of the campaign then loses every state. The next is that he hit 30% and 100+evs but loses the house and senate as well. THEN there’s him losing by a significantly bigger margin than normal. THEN there’s losing by a kinda normal margin.

          We’re somewhere in the last two. That’s very far from the no brainer right situation. So, people who understand this are experiencing a lot of loss and distress (I sure am). We have powerful cognitive drives to make sense of this with a bias toward salient actor centric blaming.

          This a terrible epistemically position from which to determine the causal role of a candidate or campaign. Even gathering qualitative data is extremely tricky now.

          This is esp true given other, more invisible forces and the multifaceted nature of candidate and campaign strength (our biases favour mono salient causes) and the lack of a clear baseline.

          Plus, in the end, the actual causal story doesn’t matter unless it can be used to successfully intervene. Thus, the motivation to get it right rather than reveal feelings is extra low.

    • Manny Kant

      Media framing matters less for the debates, because people actually watch them.

  • Lit3Bolt

    The country must burn, because the press needs eyeballs.

    So it goes.

    Apparently a lot of New York Times journalists want to live in interesting times…

    I hate to break it to them, but that’s a terrible solution to ennui.

    • BiloSagdiyev

      We should offer them alternative solutions, like a cattle prod.

      • Colin Day

        How about letting them report from Somalia?

      • MyNameIsZweig

        What’s wrong with tumbrels all of a sudden?

  • Juicy_Joel

    Is anyone else beginning to get the feeling that Trump is going to win?

    • Lord Jesus Perm

      Nah. Even with the press shirking its responsibility, it’s difficult for me to see a man with literally no campaign apparatus winning the election. However, I do fear that a more capable version of Trump can and will win in the future, because the Pandora’s Box that he’s opened isn’t simply going to vanish when he loses.

      • However, I do fear that a more capable version of Trump can and will win in the future, because the Pandora’s Box that he’s opened isn’t simply going to vanish when he loses.

        Chas. Pierce has a piece today expanding on your insight.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          I’m less worried about a more capable version. Even today, his supporter’s are unhappy when he stops being extreme for a few days. Even today we have a GOVERNOR, for God’s sake, talking about it being necessary to start killing people if Hillary wins.

          In another 4 years I expect the right will have moved so massively to the right that David Duke will be too liberal for them. I’m not sure when we hit bottom, but I don’t think it’s 2016 or 2020.

          • ASV

            I’m not sure there even is such a thing as a more capable version. If what’s driving Trump’s ability to make this work (such as it is) is his clownish nature, a more capable version will be undercut. It’s sort of hard to imagine anyone who had ever won a lower-level election doing the campaign that Trump is doing.

        • JMV Pyro

          I like Charlie, but…

          Americans are bored with their democracy and they don’t have the democratic energy to do anything about it, so they’ll settle for an entertaining quasi-strongman. When they decline, democracies get the dictators they deserve. A country mired in apathy and lassitude gets a dictator who can’t even put in the hard work of becoming very good at it.

          This whole “Decline of American Democratic Values” thing rings a bit, for lack of a better word, white to me. Pierce has a bad habit of waxing nostalgic about a nation that I don’t think ever really existed. Maybe it did for people like him, but certainly not for the various groups Trumpism is trying to target.

        • Schadenboner

          I want to kick whichever editor went with “The Great American Surrender” rather than “The rise of El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago” as a title. Talk about burying the goddamn lede!

          Mr. Pierce is, as ever, a master of the craft.

      • Barry_D

        “Nah. Even with the press shirking its responsibility, it’s difficult for me to see a man with literally no campaign apparatus winning the election. However, I do fear that a more capable version of Trump can and will win in the future, because the Pandora’s Box that he’s opened isn’t simply going to vanish when he loses.”

        As is being pointed out,it’s likely that Trump will end up with 45% or more of the national vote. This will be McCain/Romney territory.

        Trumpism + normal campaign competency would have won. Heck, if Trump had been willing to put up $200 million of his own money in campaigning, he’d be winning now (especially as this would have caused more big donors to kick in).

        GOP politicians will note that.

        The press will not. So far as they ‘know’, they did a real bank-up job, and will happily pull out all of the old Clinton ‘scandals’ from their archives, reprint them and take three hour lunches.

        • Barry_D

          ‘bang-up job’, althought they did make bank on it.

    • Karen24

      I do think exactly that. He’s suddenly “Presidential” based on having gone three weeks without having his gaffes and insults covered in the press. He’s said just as many stupid things, but the press won’t announce them.

      • Manny Kant

        I think he’s been somewhat less gaffe-prone and more disciplined since Conway and Bannon came in. Not up to “normal political candidate levels,” but back up to Lewandowski levels. Manafort really just seems to have had no ability to rein Trump in.

      • Brad Nailer

        I’ve heard a couple of press-types say that there are just too many lies, gaffes, and misstatements for them to keep up with.

        Well, that’s just bullshit. How about: “Trump lies about economy, military, Clinton programs in latest speech” and then you run down all the things he said that just aren’t true. Fact-checking can’t take that long, or maybe you just take an extra day if necessary.

        But this “we can’t keep up” thing is a dodge. How many reporters does a big news org have on Trump? Two?

        • so-in-so

          Right, how about “pick lie one a day, you even have options to choose from!”

    • NewishLawyer

      Well there was the horrible news out of Ohio today. Bouie is trying to be reasonable. But others are in a five-alarm panic.

      • efgoldman

        Well there was the horrible news out of Ohio today.

        Go read Sam Wang and relax. He still says HRC’s win probability is 90%.
        Do I have to go find my Saturday rants and repost them? You won’t like it.

      • Schadenboner

        I’m going to have to start brushing up on my Canadian.

        Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck! Fuckity fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck, eh?

    • Linnaeus

      I’m with Lord Jesus Perm here. There’s no Trump ground game and that makes a big difference.

      • Joe Bob the III

        Depends on how you define big. In states where Clinton’s ground game dramatically outperforms Trump’s it could net her 1-3% of the vote. She’s not going to win states where she’s down by 5% or more because of ground game.

        • Manny Kant

          She’s not currently down by 5 or more in any battleground state that will decide the election, and I think she’s unlikely to be down by 5 or more in such states on election day. I think right now (perhaps continuing to first debate or so) is a low point, and that things will start getting better from September 26 onwards.

          • Bufflars

            Right. Trump can win NC, GA, FL, OH and even NV and still not win. He’d have to get all of those states plus WI to get a win. So basically win every even-close-to-battleground state. Not going to happen.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              FL, NC, GA, OH, and the heart of the Confederacy, Virginia, gives Trump a win. (I know people think VA is safely blue. I don’t – Trump is exactly the kind of candidate the Confederates have been waiting for.)

              • Manny Kant

                There’s not enough “Confederates” in Virginia for Trump to win.

    • Murc

      Is anyone else beginning to get the feeling that Trump is going to win?

      I’m less worried about this year than I am 2020.

      If Hillary were up against a conventional Republican this year I think she’d be getting slaughtered; she’s rarely been above fifty percent, never for long, and if you pull the exaggerated support Johnson is getting back to a Republican she’d be consistently behind.

      Whatever theocrat or white nationalist gets nominated in 2020 is not going to be nearly as bad at this as Trump is and will face just as favorable a media environment as he is, if not more, because there’d have been a Demmycrat in power for 12 years and everyone will have forgotten the mess the Republicans made the last time we let them in.

      But this year? Not too worried.

      I will say that this years election has been more stressful for me than previous ones. I’m straight-up preparing to cut people out of my lives if they vote for Trump, including family members. Voting for Trump makes you a racist. Not just a little racist, either. And I’ll not willingly stop pointing that or asserting it makes you a bad person.

      • nemdam

        Note that Johnson is pulling almost as much from Clinton as Trump.

        I think against a conventional Republican, we would have a conventional race, and Hillary would actually be able to like, talk about her policies occasionally, and the media wouldn’t be as hyper focused on blowing up bogus Clinton scandals to even out all of Trump’s nonsense so the race would be very close.

        And I actually think Clinton will do fine in 2020 (knock on wood). It’s a pattern that when she is running for a new office she is much less popular than when she is actually in office. The research I’ve read says this is frequently the case for female politicians. (It was true for Elizabeth Warren. A lot of the same stuff that is said about Hillary was said about Warren when she ran for Senate.) If this is even half true, assuming no major blunders, I think she will be a in a strong position in 2020 since this means she will be fairly popular in office.

      • Duvall

        and if you pull the exaggerated support Johnson is getting back to a Republican she’d be consistently behind.

        Johnson is pulling more support from Clinton than Trump, though. In any case, if voters wanted to elect a conventional Republican, wouldn’t they have voted for one?

      • SNF

        If we don’t win big in 2020, there’s a decent risk that we won’t get the House back for another decade, what with gerrymandering and all.

        • Murc

          Not sure I follow this logic. The 2020 elections will take place with the 2010 apportionment, and the congress doesn’t control redistricting at all; that’s a state thing.

          • SNF

            Winning the House in the 2020s will be very difficult if Republicans control the redistricting process again. So we need Democrats to be doing way better in the states in the 2020 election.

            Of course if Hillary fails to win re-election or just barely wins I doubt downballot Democrats would do well enough.

            • Murc

              Ah, I see. This makes sense.

          • Manny Kant

            State legislature elections in 2020 are going to pretty much go exactly the same as congressional elections, because nobody knows fuck all about state politics.

    • Just_Dropping_By

      No, Trump is not going to win. It might not be the landslide for Clinton I had been expecting (the health stuff this past week seems to have gotten a lot more traction in the public consciousness than I anticipated and Trump has been more dialed in lately), but she’ll do at least as well in the EV count as Obama in 2012.

      • Murc

        I don’t often agree with JDB, but I agree with JDB.

      • Manny Kant

        I still think it’s more likely she does better than Obama 2012 than that she loses. The current numbers aren’t great, but I think they’ll get better, I think Johnson and Stein will collapse and most of their votes will go to Clinton (as will most current undecideds), and she’ll win comfortably. There’s a lot of people saying they don’t want to vote for Clinton, but who clearly think Trump is a menace. I really think they’ll mostly end up voting for Clinton when all is said and done.

    • Sly

      This country has too much melanin for Trump to be President. Targeted voter suppression of blacks and Latinos is the overriding GOP strategy for a reason.

    • cleek


    • Halloween Jack

      No. I think that it’s a combination of the awfulness of Trump and the election looking a little tighter than we’d hoped. When you’re driving along the lip of the abyss, going from a foot from the edge to 11″ from the edge isn’t significant in objective terms, but you’re still closer than you’d like.

    • It’s entirely about turnout. If she turns out the people who voted for Obama in 2012, she wins. If Trump/the media successfully depress turnout, she might lose.

    • Redwood Rhiadra

      I’ve been dreading it since May.

  • nemdam

    I’m a millennial and pretty new to politics so I don’t have the perspective of many others on this blog. But the media coverage of this election has just made me numb. I mean, what the hell is going on? There’s not even a pretense of an equal standard for the candidates. Trump boasts about how he is going to release his medical info after the supposed Clinton “scandal” of not revealing a common, treatable disease until it affected her work schedule. But he has now done this by releasing a summary of a physical on a reality TV show, and the media breathlessly reports this as legitimate as though they aren’t getting completely played by Trump. And Clinton has released a detailed medical report of her health since she began running, in addition to a summary of her health history, but the media shrugs and says she still has a transparency problem. And this all happens on a day when Newsweek publishes a story showing the infinite conflicts of interest Trump’s businesses have with foreign entities that would make even the most vocal critic of the Clinton Foundation blush.

    Am I alone in being totally unable to comprehend how the media is covering this election? It’s hard to believe that my faith in the media could get any lower.

    • Alex.S

      I agree.

      There are a lot of theories why. The easiest one is that a lot of people in media think that Hillary will win, therefore it’s pointless to investigate or factcheck Donald.

      There’s also the liar-storm effect of Donald — he says so many lies and ridiculous things that it’s difficult to catalog them. Analysis paralysis sets in, so it’s just easier to report what he says in a single report and just shrug and move on.

      But it’s maddening. I think the media broke me when the New York Times had seven stories or whatever on Clinton’s illness and Politico had a slideshow of Hillary drinking water.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Was it elitist water?

      • Barry_D

        “There are a lot of theories why. The easiest one is that a lot of people in media think that Hillary will win, therefore it’s pointless to investigate or factcheck Donald.”

        It’s easy, but it’s wrong. The media have had it in for her since she first appeared on the national stage. That was in 1992.

        And note that in 2000 the media never had a ‘he’s going to win, so let’s trash him’ bias against Dubya, even after he ‘won’.

    • Linnaeus

      I mean, what the hell is going on?

      Follow the money, and I’d wager that would explain a great deal.

    • The Lorax

      It’s the same sort of stupidity that brought us the epically incompetent GWB rather than the competent Al Gore because the press would rather have a beer with GWB and Gore sighs a lot.

      • Manny Kant

        The press doesn’t actually like Trump, and doesn’t want him to win. They just don’t like Clinton either, don’t think Trump will win, and want the horserace to be close for ratings purposes.

        • Phil Perspective


    • MyNameIsZweig

      It’s nothing new. I hate to say that to someone who self-describes as being new to party politics because I hate to discourage you, but I’ve been watching since 1984 and this is, more often than not, just how it is.

    • Halloween Jack

      It’s simple: the media is willing to let themselves be bullied. GWB got this brilliantly; after he’d kicked a couple of reporters off his campaign jet for offenses that they weren’t even very clear on, the rest of them fell in line. Trump goes one step further and chews them out on the stump. There’s also the factor that he’s a celebrity; there’s a few people that may still think that it’s below them to treat him seriously, and then there’s jumped-up entertainment reporters such as Matt Lauer who have themselves been promoted well beyond their level of incompetence and may have a certain amount of sympathy and/or admiration for him.

    • twbb

      The problem is because the media has overall run more negative stories about Trump, they’ve convinced themselves they’re not favoring Clinton. Which, of course, is false.

  • Lamont Cranston

    And while Clinton will still probably win, it’s succeeding in making the election closer than it should be.

    And the close election will be used (endlessly) to undermine her agenda.

    • advocatethis

      I don’t see how she can govern without a mandate. She probably should resign on January 21.

      • Lamont Cranston

        She won’t – must be hubris.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Why? Why won’t she meet the let’s-eat-a-flaming-tire-with-anthrax crowd halfway?

          • Breadbaker

            A smoldering tire with only a small amount of anthrax?

      • “Clinton’s failure to preemptively resign raises questions about her administration”

        “Clinton’s rejection of the GOP agenda casts a shadow on her administration”

        • Karen24

          The fact that there has been serious coverage of the idea that she should withdraw from the race at this point rather stomps on your satire.

        • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

          I remember about a month after Bill was elected, and over a month before he was sworn in, the press was filled with stories of “the failed Clinton administration”.

          That was the moment I knew the press was irretrievably broken.

      • StellaB

        Which would be the day before the House is planning on beginning impeachment proceedings for Benghazi, concealed upper respiratory infections or somesuch.

  • The anti-Clinton bias in the press these days is starting to remind me of how I felt in the run-up to the Iraq War. I’m constantly screaming internally at how something could be so obvious to me and just go unremarked on by so many people.

    • advocatethis

      Rarely is the question asked; is our press learning?

      Remember how when 9/11 came on the heels of the summer of Gary Condit everybody talked about how from now on we’d have a more serious national dialogue? Remember how after the Bush administration lead the nation by the nose into Iraq we were going to have a less credulous press?

      Third time’s a charm?

      • I just remember that when people started having to admit they were wrong about Iraq, they transitioned seamlessly to the truly important point: how they were wrong for the right reasons, not like those damn hippies.

      • Bill Murray

        Remember when our press promised, in the runup to Iraq in 2003, that they wouldn’t get taken in by false stories like they had in 1991

        • Just_Dropping_By

          No, I don’t remember that, at least from any mainstream media outlet.

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            I don’t remember the press acknowledging that they had gotten taken in by false stories in 1991, or any other year.

            The press cannot fail, it can only be failed.

  • DrDick

    Everyone knows that speaking the truth about conservatives generally and Republican politicians in particular is the worst kind incivility and cannot be tolerated.

  • Davis X. Machina

    The Church of the Savvy is going to destroy this republic..

    Politics is for dorks. None of the media cool kids takes all this ‘politics’ stuff seriously. Those who know, know it’s all a shuck. A joke. It’s the apex of bad taste to be seen worrying about the content of politics, and not the form.

    Along comes a candidate — Trump — whose every speech and every action displays that same attitude… Of course they’re in love with him.

    Trump’s racism and intolerance is lagniappe. The fact that he doesn’t give a shit, loudly and proudly, about governance, is Trump’s unique selling proposition, and his bond with the media.

    It’s too bad, but irony will kill a republic just as dead as tyranny.

    • NewishLawyer

      This is a really good essay.

      I suspect that the press does want to see itself as a world-weary, seen it all, no ideals, “sophisticates” who dislike the earnest kids.

      This explains the 42-year old reporter who is the very definition of Establishment but still wishes to be all about Shock the Middle Classes111

      • They’re okay there, though. Because you know who else was easily shocked?

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Ethel Rosenberg?

          • Schadenboner

            Too soon, bro.

      • LeeEsq

        If this were high school, liberals would be the nerds who wanted to do well, conservatives the jocks and cheerleaders, and the press the kids that hated the nerds, wanted to be with the jocks but could not and decided to cultivate apathy to compensate.

        • The Lorax

          And all the “nerdprom” labels for the correspondent dinner is so far off. Those people are largely gossip reporters and aren’t smart enough to do the nerdy policy stuff.

          • Davis X. Machina

            If they can’t do it, if they find it borrrrr-ring, can’t be very important, now can it?

    • piratedan

      well, he’s the perfect candidate for them… he simply says what he thinks, doesn’t do the work, doesn’t think he HAS to do the work and just lies his ass thru everything. Treats anyone else not in his circle as being “less than”. See how that telescopes with a large number of today’s stenographers… not my job to tell people the facts, no need to discuss policy, its all about optics… he’s the perfect candidate for them. Drives all the smart kids crazy but they don’t look as nice as I do, that’s why I am in front of the camera.

      It’s an old American tradition to confuse style as substance.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        It’s an old American tradition to confuse style as substance.

        I’d say that’s it’s an old American tradition to prefer style over substance.

        An awful lot of voters vote for the guy they’d like to have a beer with, though of course that guy would never have a beer with them in a million years. Vote for the person who can do the best job – that’s crazy talk.

  • Alex.S

    So what’s your favorite undercovered Trump story?

    Me, I’m still amazed that he said he would force China to “disappear” Kim Jong Un by asking them really forcefully.


    • Karen24

      Mine was his announcement that he was going to renegotiate the NATO treaty and renege on our sovereign debt.

    • nemdam

      Show him this video and ask him to respond.

      The video is a set of clips of Trump praising Clinton’s tenure at Secretary of State in 2012 followed by him ripping it. And yes, I know Trump would just spew nonsense in return, but if a reporter would actually press him on this with follow ups to actually get him to give some sort of a coherent answer, I think it could be epic. I basically think his final answer would be “Look, I’m running for president so I attack my opponent, OK? That’s how this works!”

      The media would then have a panel about emails to reassure the public that it’s actually Hillary who is the dishonest one though.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        I’ve just decided to make a significant charitable donation if Trump is forced to give a coherent answer.

        I will be quite surprised if I have to pay up. Once you eliminate his sentences that are bragging about himself, most of his remaining sentences are verbal Rorschach tests.

  • Mark Field

    Serious question Scott: why do you continue to read the NY Times? It has demonstrated over the course of at least 25 years — from Whitewater until today — that it’s incapable of covering the Clintons with anything remotely resembling fairness or even basic accuracy. Its official statements show no awareness of the problem, but double down on the stupid.

    So shouldn’t you be cancelling your subscription (I’m assuming you have at least an on line one) and using this blog to encourage everyone else to do the same?

    • Socrets

      Someone has to take one for the blog and stay on Dowdwatch 24/7. I guess when the bloggers divided up who would cover what stoopid, Lemieux got the Grey Lady beat.

    • wjts

      I can’t speak for anyone else, but I get it for free at the university where I teach and I like the crossword.

    • SNF

      Protip: if you use incognito mode/private browsing, the paywall doesn’t work. Deleting your cookies from the site also circumvents the paywall.

      So if you don’t want to support them but still want to read some articles, you can.

    • (((Hogan)))

      Know your enemy. Especially the enemy who pretends to be your friend.

    • Sly

      I’m reminded of the old Noam Chomsky joke.

      Noam Chomsky goes to the dentist severe tooth pain. The dentist checks him out and says “You’re grinding your teeth really bad. Have you noticed?” “No,” replies Chomsky. The dentist assumes he must be grinding his teeth in his sleep, so gives him a mouth guard and tells him to put it in before he goes to bed. Chomsky agrees and leaves the office.

      The next morning, the dentist answers the phone and it’s Mrs. Chomsky, who tells him that Noam is in unbearable pain. “Did he go to sleep with the mouth guard?” The dentist asks. “I’ll find out,” she responds. A few moments later, Mrs. Chomsky returns on the line. “Yes, he wore it. But I don’t think that’ll do any good.” She says. “Why not?” asks the dentist. “Because he doesn’t grind his teeth in his sleep.” She says. “He’s grinding them now, like he does at this time every morning.” “What? Why now?” asks the dentist.

      “Because now,” she replies, “is when he reads the New York Times.”

      • Brad Nailer

        You hear it all the time, mostly from editors: “If we’re pissing people off, we must be doing something right.”

        That’s a dodge posing as an ethic. I really don’t know how some people sleep at night.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          Massive piles of money is a great sleeping aid.

  • a_paul_in_mtl

    Even fairly liberal Canadian newspapers have to get in the “Both Sides Do It” false equivalency act. Take an article in today’s Toronto Star. True, it starts off focusing on Trump’s propagation of conspiracy theories, including the idea that Clinton is at death’s door and a body double is taking her place. But then:

    Research by University of Miami professor Joe Uscinski and others suggests conservatives are no more likely to buy into conspiracy theories than liberals. During the George W. Bush presidency, Uscinski noted, conspiracies swirled on the left about former vice-president Dick Cheney and about oil-services firm Halliburton.

    And he said that top Democrats have themselves floated conspiracies. Bernie Sanders, he noted, called the entire economic system “rigged” and accused billionaires of “buying elections.” A Clinton ad in August suggested that Trump praises Russian leader Vladimir Putin because of hidden personal ties to Russia.

    See? Any allegation of fishy business by anyone in office or running for office, and any allegation of systemic injustice in the political or economic system, is a “conspiracy theory”!

    Therefore: Both Sides do it!

    • Linnaeus

      The Globe & Mail does this shit, too. I don’t know why they continue to employ people like Margaret Wente.

    • During the George W. Bush presidency, Uscinski noted, conspiracies swirled on the left about former vice-president Dick Cheney and about oil-services firm Halliburton.

      Uh, such as… Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton before being Vice President? And Halliburton got a lot of work from the Iraq War? That conspiracy theory?

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        Some say he was CEO, other say he wasn’t. We’ll have to leave it there.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        I know, it’s right up there with crop circles and lizard people, innit? Silly leftists!

  • Yankee

    I remember watching the polls in 2000, when Gore was leading right up until he lost. I got bored trying to find a tracking poll, but I did learn that on this date in history, McCain was +2, 47-45, so that’s encouraging.

    • Karen24

      That was McCain’s convention bounce, so it’s more comparable to the polls at the end of July,

    • XTPD

      I remember watching the polls in 2000, when Gore was leading right up until he lost got robbed in a horseshit SCOTUS decision.


      • Yankee

        Like I said he lost, the loser.

  • a_paul_in_mtl

    This isn’t “stretching the truth.” This is “lying.” The claim about Clinton was just out-and-out false in every possible way.

    Ah, but as I’m sure the editor of The Times would say, it’s not up to journalists to point out that he’s lying. No, the journalist should just report on all the claims being made and let voters draw their own conclusions. Anything more would be the imposition of ideology on journalism. Just saying that “he stretched the truth” is already getting a tad “paternalistic”- smacks of spoon feeding the reader with “conclusions”.

    • nemdam

      You’re just a partisan! Therefore, your critique is invalid.

      Unless you’re a conservative.

    • (((Hogan)))

      STEWART: Here’s what puzzles me most, Rob. John Kerry’s record in Vietnam is pretty much right there in the official records of the U.S. military, and haven’t been disputed for 35 years?

      CORDDRY: That’s right, Jon, and that’s certainly the spin you’ll be hearing coming from the Kerry campaign over the next few days.

      STEWART: Th-that’s not a spin thing, that’s a fact. That’s established.

      CORDDRY: Exactly, Jon, and that established, incontrovertible fact is one side of the story.

      STEWART: But that should be–isn’t that the end of the story? I mean, you’ve seen the records, haven’t you? What’s your opinion?

      CORDDRY: I’m sorry, my opinion? No, I don’t have “o-pin-i-ons.” I’m a reporter, Jon, and my job is to spend half the time repeating what one side says, and half the time repeating the other. Little thing called “objectivity”–might wanna look it up some day.

      STEWART: Doesn’t objectivity mean objectively weighing the evidence, and calling out what’s credible and what isn’t?

      CORDDRY: Whoa-ho! Well, well, well–sounds like someone wants the media to act as a filter! [high-pitched, effeminate] “Ooh, this allegation is spurious! Upon investigation this claim lacks any basis in reality! Mmm, mmm, mmm.” Listen buddy: not my job to stand between the people talking to me and the people listening to me.

  • NewishLawyer

    1. A lot of my liberal friends are posting articles on how Trump’s parental leave policy is a joke and underfunded.

    2. This might be true but it is irrelevant. The point of announcing the policy is to win back just enough GOP leaning white women who loathe Trump but don’t see themselves as Democrats or liberals either. Molly Ball had a good post on these women. Sample quote:


    “I am usually a Republican, but I am not a big Trump fan,” she told me. “I just don’t feel confident that he can be the leader of our country. But I’ve never voted for a Democrat in my life, and I’m not sure whether I’m ready to do that, either.” She was hoping the debates would help her make up her mind.

    3. These women want a candidate with a family leave policy but it doesn’t have to be a perfectly progressive one. They might not even like the idea of parental leave because of their traditionalism and like that it is maternal leave only.

    4. Most people are not political or news junkies so they only here about things in snips and bits. Hearing a little about a lot of Trump scandals and lies probably feels balanced to them.

    5. I also suspect that Trump’s constant stream of lies and half-truths and misinformation do have a numbing effect per Matt Y. It makes people jumping up and down look like chicken littles. Now there is a very good reason to be a chicken little when it comes to Trump but the visual is not appealing.

    6. Long-term demographic trends might favor the Democratic Party but I think short-term trends will favor the GOP with dying gasps. States like Arizona and George and North Carolina are becoming blue/purple at much slower rates than state’s like Iowa are becoming red. Demographics might or might not save the Democrats this time.

    7. The polling news out of Ohio today was depressing.

    8. I’ve made snide comments about how Trump is a vulgar person’s idea of how the rich should live. My main snide was aesthetic but I wonder if it goes deeper. I wonder if people wish they can scam like Trump scams and see no problem with it.

    • At the convention, Ivanka also dog-whistled women who want tax breaks for being a mother but think liberals and feminists denigrate their way of being women. I don’t know if they were really gettable though.

    • Yankee

      To reassure anybody who did read [the paternal leave policy], he said he will pay for it by eliminating waste and fraud in the family services. “Certainly young moocher, you get your benefit as soon as the Inspectors get done certifying the interior of your labia.”

      • Yankee

        well that doesn’t make as much sense as I’d hoped, but you get the idea.

    • Joe Bob the III

      Trump’s funding for his maternity leave plan is to come from “eliminating fraud in unemployment insurance.” This isn’t even particularly clever bullshit. It’s the old standby of waste, fraud, and abuse, which translates to: We have no real plan to fund this program and will never make more than a half-assed attempt to appropriate funds for it.

  • MilitantlyAardvark

    Has Trump ever even tied Clinton in the national polling averages? I don’t believe he has – and until he manages that for more than a week, I decline to join the cries of panic. Clinton’s had an unnecessarily bad week or two, remains a mediocre candidate and needs to forget any idea of running out the clock, but she still has more paths to a win than Trump, she has more money, more ground game and is going to rip him a new one when the debates come around. Add in the quality of her surrogates, Obama’s popularity, the economy being halfway to decent and I think she’ll win this by a solid 4-5 points.

    At this point, I am more worried about the Senate, where the recent polling news has generally been negative.

    • Karen24

      May I address this “mediocre candidate” bit? She’s not perfect, but then perfect doesn’t exist. Obama, when he ran the first time, was a one-term Senator who won his Senate seat thanks to his Republican opponent getting caught in a really gross sex scandal. Obama had his own problems — see “clings to guns,” etc — but ran a good campaign and then let everything go at the 2010 midterms. Clinton has four decades in public life, which is both a giant point in her favor as well as providing fodder for her opponents. She isn’t going to give stemwinder speeches because for lots of terrible sexist reasons, most people reject women who speak like preachers. Her faults get outsize coverage and her advantages get minimal coverage.

      • Murc

        May I address this “mediocre candidate” bit?

        In every competitive race she’s ever been in, which I define as “has a serious opponent, well-funded” she consistently under-preforms where you’d expect her to be, even when she wins. (I’m aware this is a controversial claim re: 2000 but I’m prepared to argue the point.) At some point, you do have to wonder if that can all be chalked up to factors outside her control or if she really is a middling candidate at best.

        I’m more open to the possibility that this all is, in fact, due to factors outside of her control than I used to be, but I still think she’s just middling as a candidate and campaigner. This is of course separate from her actual skills in office; those are two different skillsets.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          under *per* form

          I’m sorry. I have very few grammar/spelling nazi feelings except for that and people’s names

        • That’s a controversial claim for 2008, too. She fought to a near tie with the generation’s most successful Democratic politician, with a nearly identical platform and while being on the wrong side of a recent controversy for the base (the Iraq War vote).

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            She started with huge advantages in name recognition, funding and endorsements in 2008. “Fighting to a near tie” in those circumstances hardly makes her campaign a model of strategic or tactical acumen.

            • My point is not that she ran an amazing campaign. My point is that it can’t be used as an example of her underperforming without an adequate argument. I think Obama would have won the 2008 primaries in a walk if Clinton hadn’t run.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                Clinton fairly clearly did underperform in 2008 – and for much the same reasons that Sanders scared the crap out of her this time around. You may not like it, but when a candidate goes into the race with massive advantages and loses to a relative unknown, there’s no way to call it anything but an underperformance.

                • OK, Obama gave the keynote at the DNC. He was already a high-profile figure in the party in 2008 and had been playing coy with the media about running for president for months. He was less of a “relative unknown” than Bill Clinton in 1992.

                • Breadbaker

                  He’s also, let’s face it, Obama. He has some natural advantages like the best self-discipline of any politician ever, a completely scandal-free (if you have to dredge up Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright and that’s all you got, you got nothing) life, a natural constituency, a good speaking style and he’s a match for Hillary in smarts.

                  Bernie, let’s not forget, lost (although one of my Facebook friends is still on the “it was rigged, Bernie really won” tangent; I’d love to know what he’s smoking).

          • Murc

            She fought to a near tie with the generation’s most successful Democratic politician,

            This is true… now.

            But what is also true is she was beaten by a guy who, four years earlier, had been an nationally-unknown member of the Illinois lege, and who had only been in politics as a whole for twelve years. She had colossal name recognition, a huge war chest, massive institutional backing, a record of accomplishments (and, to be fair, of failures) as long as my arm, and had been intimately involved with numerous winning national campaigns before.

            And she lost. To me, that says “under-preformed.”

            Now, a lot of that is because Barack Obama was a once-in-a-generation political talent. But I think a lot of it is also because she isn’t super-strong (which is not the same as weak) as a candidate. The reasons for that lack of strength are complex, of course; in 2008 the millstone around her neck was that she’d fucked up what is likely to have been the most important policy and moral question of her whole life.

            • she’d fucked up what is likely to have been the most important policy and moral question of her whole life

              Whether the Iraq War resolution would pass 77-23 or only 76-24?

              • Murc

                The fact that it would have passed without her is wholly irrelevant to the fact that she either thought it was a good idea, or was so politically skeered of Bush and his Permanent Republican Majority she voted for it anyway.

                It is the single largest reason she did not become President in 2008.

                • An action without policy and moral outcome cannot be the most important policy and moral question of her life. Perhaps it was the most important political question of her life.

                • Murc

                  Interesting. Hillary Clinton was one of a hundred people who got to decide whether to give C-Plus Augustus his shiny new war or not. She chose “yes.” But because other members of that hundred people also chose yes, it means that her choosing yes wasn’t at all a moral or policy question that her position on bears weight.

                  I don’t think it works that way.

                • Nick056

                  An action without policy and moral outcome cannot be the most important policy and moral question of her life. Perhaps it was the most important political question of her life.

                  The AUMF was the Senate proxy for voting to declare war, and Clinton voted to declare war on Iraq.

                  This is not a critical political and moral question for the people who voted for the AUMF, yes, all of them?

                  You have put a marker down for the Blameless Brigade in the Senate, who do not want to concede their responsibility for Iraq, a group I thought all good liberals loathed. I hope that once this election passes you come back to your senses.

                  This is not “Clinton is a corporate warmonger” pablum. This is simply noting that the AUMF is the modern replacement for declaring war, and of COURSE declaring war has significant moral and political weight.

                • Don’t be ridiculous. She shouldn’t have voted for it. None of the Democrats should have. But if the most important policy and moral decision of the life of someone who has been Secretary of State is joining a veto-proof majority in the Senate, that’s a pretty sad reflection on the rest of her life.

                  To be clear, I’m perfectly willing to accept that the invasion of Iraq is probably the most important policy and moral decision made during her career as a politician. What I am contesting is that her decision to vote yes was the most important policy and moral decision of all such decisions that she made.

                  And I’m not a “good liberal”, thanks. I’m neither.

                • Murc

                  But if the most important policy and moral decision of the life of someone who has been Secretary of State is joining a veto-proof majority in the Senate

                  Phrasing it that way makes it sound like it was some sort of inconsequential procedural vote.

                  It was not. It was a colossal failure in either judgment, morals, or both on her part. She looked at the Bush Administration and decided “yeah, these guys can totes handle a war of choice that they’re selling using lies and are planning to operate on a complete shoestring” and then voted accordingly.

                  I don’t see her facing a bigger test of judgment than that one anytime soon.

                  What I am contesting is that her decision to vote yes was the most important policy and moral decision of all such decisions that she made.

                  What’ve you got that’s bigger, then?

                • 1) Deciding to support Bill Clinton’s electoral ambitions

                  2) Any given key decision leading to the implementation of SCHIP

                  3) Deciding to run for president in 2008

                  4) Accepting Obama’s offer to be Secretary of State

                  5-*) Any number of choices as Secretary of State we’re likely not even privy to

                  *+1) Deciding to run for president in 2016

        • LeeEsq

          Clinton seems to be more comfortable with the actual work of politics and behind the scenes type stuff than electoral campaigning. You get politicians like that at times. She isn’t the worse example but you need to get elected.

          • twbb

            She has terrible natural instincts as a campaigner.

        • petesh

          Uh, this one ain’t over. Let’s hold off the autopsy in case the patient recovers. The critical part of the campaign is just beginning.

          • Murc

            Uh, this one ain’t over.

            Obviously I cannot include things that haven’t happened yet in my data set, yes.

            • petesh

              Actually, you are so doing. By denigrating Clinton’s prowess in campaigning, during the campaign, you are (in some minuscule manner) affecting the fucking campaign. So are those Bernie dead-enders who still complain that the nomination was stolen from them. So is everyone who at this point focuses on what we might poetically call the mote in Clinton’s eye and ignores the fucking beam in Trump’s.

              • Murc

                By denigrating Clinton’s prowess in campaigning, during the campaign, you are (in some minuscule manner) affecting the fucking campaign.

                What this has to do with my ability to see the future and include that in my analysis of the past, I haven’t a clue.

                So is everyone who at this point focuses on what we might poetically call the mote in Clinton’s eye and ignores the fucking beam in Trump’s.

                In what way have I ignored the beams in Trumps?

                • petesh

                  I admit that I may have been unfair to you personally, but I am getting very annoyed with people who claim to be leftist/progressive and are giving the mushy middle reasons not to vote for Clinton. Are we really going to be reduced to “Vote for the chick, it’s important“?

                • Murc

                  As someone who won’t stop giving those people shit (I am never, ever going to let TJ forget the fact that he declared that even if he were in a swing state, he wouldn’t vote for Clinton, and this makes him a Trump voter) I agree with you on this.

                • petesh


                • twbb

                  How does “Clinton is a terrible campaigner” give people an excuse to not vote for her. If anything it’s suggesting “give her a chance; she will be better at governing than campaigning.”

        • Incontinentia Buttocks

          I agree with Murc on this. She’s a mediocre candidate in the sense that she consistently underperforms expectations. Like Murc, too, I think that some of the factors that lead to this are beyond her control (e.g., the press’s Clinton Rules). But these factors are nonetheless predictable and consistent. Some of her underperformance is also probably the result of pervasive misogyny. But if, e.g., female candidates cannot be effective public speakers due to misogynistic attitudes (fwiw, I don’t agree with this, but it’s often offered as an explanation for Hillary Clinton’s being a relatively less effective speaker than Bill Clinton or Obama), that’s an explanation of why she’s less effective as a candidate than, e.g. Obama. It’s not a refutation of the claim that she’s less effective. If you think that a female candidate literally cannot be as effective as a male candidate (and, again, I don’t think this), that’s not an argument for the effectiveness of any particular female candidate.

          • Schadenboner

            This. And if the conclusion is that a manifestly qualified Democratic woman cannot be elected POTUS that is an outrage and a shameful statement about the political culture of the US, but it is less bad than POTUS Trump? I don’t know.

            At a certain point “unfairly smeared” becomes a run-time condition and has to be taken into account when making a decision.

            Is it fair that Hillary has been subject to 25-odd years of insane monomaniacal focus by the Right? No, of course it isn’t. It also isn’t fair that non-entertainer women in the public eye are judged as if they were entertainers.

            But neither of these were unknown facts. The party still decided to run her. And that decision might give us POTUS Trump. And if that happens, I sincerely believe that the US may not survive as a free nation.

        • randy khan

          I’m not sure what your standard is for “serious opponent, well-funded,” but in 2000 she faced Rick Lazio, who was a sitting Congressman who was considered a rising star in the Republican Party in New York. She trailed him early on, then steadily increased her lead and eventually won 55-43.

          In 2008, she lost to someone who most people agree in retrospect is one of the most gifted politicians in the last 50 years.

          In 2016, she basically dominated the Democratic presidential race, winning 34 contests and around 57 percent of the vote. Sanders certainly was a serious opponent, and was well-funded as well. (For comparison, Trump won about 45 percent of the GOP vote.)

          • cleek

            she killed Sanders in the primary.

            the only reason it looked close is due to proportional delegate allocation – every time she won a state, he’d get a few delegates, too. but, as everyone who was watching the race knew , after about halfway through, the gap between her and Sanders was so large that Sanders was going to have to win all the remaining states by huge margins to even come close to beating her.

            if the Dems had winner-take-all allocation, nobody would even think of calling Sanders a serious opponent.

            • randy khan

              If you think that Sanders wasn’t a serious candidate (and no disagreement here on how badly she actually beat him in voting), then the sample size of seriously contested races is 2.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Karen, you aren’t addressing what makes Clinton mediocre – which is consistently poor judgment. Yes, she gets mauled unfairly by the press at times – but the press didn’t make her say embarrassingly stupid things about Obama and white voters in 2008. The press didn’t make her try and run out the clock this month. The press didn’t make her screw up her email situation and then make a hash of explaining herself so it dragged on for months. The press didn’t make her give a series of speeches for egregiously high rates of compensation and then refuse to reveal the content of said speeches. These are unforced errors – and Clinton keeps making them. It’s not a matter of perfection or bust – it’s a matter of not doing stupid things unnecessarily. Good candidates learn from their screw-ups – and Clinton seems to do so very slowly and with the minimum amount of gracious good humor. You can turn a mistake around, if you do it the right way, but simply hunkering down and blaming everyone else isn’t going to cut it. When you screw up, you need to fix the screw-up, be open about it and take your medicine quickly enough that the problem doesn’t drag on. A candidate who hasn’t learned that after multiple decades of public life is a candidate who is going to remain mediocre. We should thank whatever deity is out there for giving Clinton Trump as an opponent, because she would be on course to lose to a halfway convincing Republican at this point.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          christ. all this and you couldn’t come up with someone better for us to look at? Of the three people I had to choose from, Clinton was the only fucking one of them I could see doing the actual fucking job

          • petesh

            See, for instance, the Science Debate.

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            Well, that’s a point that goes to the failure of the Democratic party to win locally and build a solid bench of candidates over time. I wouldn’t have chosen any of the three choices if I could construct a candidate of my own, but when you walk into a diner and you get a choice of shit sandwich, yesterday’s bagel and fungi of uncertain provenance, you go with the bagel out of self-preservation. Doesn’t mean you like bagels, doesn’t mean you’ll give it a glowing review – but there’s not much point in pretending to yourself that it’s the best thing you ever ate in your life either.

            • Are you a registered Democrat?

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                I am going to pretend you didn’t just ask that monumentally stupid question, Matthew.

                • petesh

                  “We’re not talking about that.” — D. Trump.

                • No, seriously. If you’re a registered Democrat, then “the Democratic party” is you. What are you doing to strengthen the bench? Are you running for office? Are you helping recruit candidates?

                  If so, seriously, thank you. And since you’re obviously my brother, since he’s the only person who calls me “Matthew”, you do! Because he does all that. He’s a much better person than I am.

                • If you’re a registered Democrat, then “the Democratic party” is you.

                  On the other hand, if you’re a member of the British Labour party, you probably shouldn’t also be a registered Democrat…

                • @Lee: If that’s meant to be a hint, I have no idea who any of you people are.

                • jim, some guy in iowa

                  stepped pyramids: MilitantlyAardvark is a British citizen, I believe. If you recall from the Brexit/Corbyn threads he/she does a wonderful job of dissecting Jeremy Corbyn as an ineffective and basically useless politician who needs to go away and yet has no answer as to how to make that happen or why the people who voted for Corbyn are just supposed to say, “okay, MA, you run the show now”

                  the belief that if the bad stuff in front of us goes away then good stuff naturally fills in the space is a pretty common thing, I think- it has a lot of appeal- but I’ve never had much reason to believe it *works* in politics

        • OK, I’m officially adding “unforced errors” alongside “optics” on the list of electoral cliches people need to stop using immediately.

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            So, what’s your replacement for “unforced errors”?

            • “Error”? “Mistake”? “Poor decision”? “Careless choice”? Something that isn’t yet another sports term reused as a meaningless political cliche?

              Put another way: what would be a “forced error”?

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                A forced error is where an opposing player makes a play on the ball that causes the player with it to fumble or something similar. Hence “forced error”. The term is more precise and useful than your suggested alternatives, so I am going to keep using it. Y’all have a nice day now.

                • So a forced error would be if Clinton had stumbled because Martin Shkreli shot her with a tranq dart? Okay. Definitely something we need the rhetorical space for.

                • This is all just inside baseball.

                • ForkyMcSpoon

                  Trump’s response to the Khan’s would be a forced error, in this terminology, I suppose? Or the pneumonia stuff… she had the choice between reinforcing Trump’s bullshit narrative about her health, or taking the chance that she recovers without it becoming a thing vs. reinforcing the “secretive” narrative (altho you have to apply Clinton rules for that). She chose to gamble and lost, but either way, she was going to take some shit.

                  Trump’s “punishment” answer on abortion was an unforced error, created by his ignorance of basic pro-life talking points.

          • Murc

            … why should they?

            I disagree with a few of the items on MA’s list (the email thing especially; that’s not an error on Clinton’s part, that’s her being held to a different standard) but it’s a useful term that means something.

            Hell, the “take a shit-ton of money to give America’s corporate overlords tongue baths a couple years before you plan to run for President as leader of a coalition that is at least nominally anti-corporate” is an error that’s been pointed out on the front page of this blog.

            • MilitantlyAardvark

              To clarify: the unforced error in the email situation is partly her incompetence when dealing with the system that was in place, but much more importantly just assuming that she could offer no real response or a partial response and people would accept this. She could have held a press conference when the story began, laid out the situation, made clear that no damage was done and apologized. It might even have been possible to present it as her trying to go above and beyond the requirements in order to maintain security. Instead, we have seen months of partial responses, recent attempts to blame it on Colin Powell – and a general, persistent inability to handle the story, clean up the mess and move on to hammering Trump.

              • SNF

                She has apologized, though. The press just won’t accept the apology.

              • She has apologized and said no damage was done, and the “no damage was done” part is routinely construed as Yet Another Clintonian Deception.

                • Taylor

                  But what if it’s true that “no damage was done”?

                • Schadenboner

                  If the Clinton name is irretrievably smeared to the point that she cannot operate and cannot win then Hillary should not have run. The history books are full of could-have-beens and should-have-beens, Hillary’s addition to their ranks would be as much of a tragedy as it ever is, but it need not have led to POTUS Trump.

                  The question becomes whether or not this smearage-into-impossibility should have been predictable during the invisible primary when every potential opponent was convinced not to run.

                • Which candidates were convinced not to run, why, and by who?

                • Schadenboner

                  Everyone but my man O’Malley?

              • randy khan

                I’m getting pretty annoyed at all of the people who say she should just “handle” the email story. It was a non-story from the start, as the year-long FBI investigation (likely one of the biggest wastes of time in FBI history, ranking up there with D.B. Cooper) proved, she has apologized repeatedly, and she has answered questions repeatedly, and still the press keeps wanting more from her. Personally, I wish that just once she would say “Ask the NSA why they thought it was appropriate to say that the Secretary of State couldn’t have a secure Blackberry” and I’ll get back to you after they answer that question.”

                I’m also getting pretty annoyed at people who think that she was “incompetent” at dealing with IT issues that 99% of the population also couldn’t handle. She.is.not.an.IT.professional. Expecting her to act like one is silly. Instead, she relied on advice from other people who knew more than she did, which is what most intelligent people would do.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  No one even knows anymore whether the story was supposed to be “Hillary was mishandling classified information” or “Hillary did a thing she wasn’t supposed to do because she thinks the rules don’t apply to her.” For that matter, they’ve never really even been clear, from Comey on down, whether the problem was that she herself sent classified stuff of some sort, or if other people did it and she was a recipient.

        • Morse Code for J

          You can turn a “mistake” around. Even if it isn’t an actual mistake. Well, if you are allowed to do so, by your critics who will not describe the act or the aftermath dishonestly or out of context. You know, if you’re not Hillary Clinton.

          You can give a speech for money and not be accused of anything improper for so doing, unless you’re Hillary Clinton.

          You can carry out official business on your private email, which in fact is no less or possibly more secure than your government email, based on what your peers and aides have told you. Unless you’re Hillary Clinton.

          • MilitantlyAardvark

            What you miss out is Clinton’s response or non-response in those situations. For example, no-one cares that she gave a speech for money – what bothers them is that apparently this totally innocent series of speeches simply can’t be made public.. why? Once you go down that path as a politician, it’s going to be very hard for people to take you on trust.

            • mpavilion

              How many politicians make those speeches public? That’s what she said in the primaries — she would release them if others did, but it was only being demanded of her.

              • MilitantlyAardvark

                How many speeches had Sanders given to Wall St for cash and refused to disclose?

                The reason it was being demanded of her was that she was the only one who had given such speeches – and was trying to present herself to the voters as committed to Wall St reform. The voters, reasonably enough, wanted to see what she had said to Wall St.

                It’s not in the least unreasonable to ask for more transparency in that situation. What is unreasonable is for Clinton to expect to be taken on trust while refusing to be open about what she actually said.

                • Sanders has been continually in office for many years, so he hasn’t had the opportunity to make such speeches. In any case, I don’t think junior senators from states the size of postage stamps are in particularly high demand. I’m sure Jeff Merkley might do a commencement speech or two after he retires, but that’s about it.

                • petesh

                  Where are Sanders’ current tax returns? Where did he get the money to buy a spiffy vacation home? Who benefited from the commissions on his TV ads? Enquiring minds would kind of like to know.

                • mpavilion

                  The demand for “transcripts” was a stupid red herring, because to Sanders and his crew, the very fact that she made the speeches was the crime. It didn’t matter what she actually said; that was just another cudgel to use against her.

                  Remember, it was also reported that Sanders initially decided not to bring up the speeches (“how she makes money is her business”) — until she began attacking his VOTING RECORD on guns, and he decided he needed new “ammunition.”

                • FlipYrWhig

                  Besides, the whole stupid SPEECHES!! story was mostly a way for people who were already willing to say that Hillary Clinton was “corporate” to say the same thing a new way. No one thought, hmm, I didn’t think Hillary Clinton was corporate before, but now that I’ve heard that she got paid to give speeches either to or by some investment banks, I’ve changed my mind and I’m now outraged.

                • ForkyMcSpoon

                  Are we speaking of this as a current issue, or as an example from the primaries?

                  Because Trump has given paid speeches, and claimed to get paid a lot more than Clinton ever did.

                  Nobody in the media has asked him to release his transcripts, to my knowledge.

            • Morse Code for J

              No one cares, but they need to have a transcript of the speech if an audio recording is unavailable, a list of persons in attendance, and any questions or comments of significance made by guests to Clinton. Like they did for literally no other presidential candidate I can think of, even though corporate honoraria have been a part of our political landscape for a century or more.

              If Clinton provided them, there’d just be something new that leaves the press under the shadow of a cloud of people asking questions. She’s satisfied the FBI about her emails and their legality, but it’s still a huge conspiracy to the Republicans. Why, the press simply must take them at their word when they say how concerned they are about these emails, only for reasons of national security or judgment or whatever other excuse works today. Her charity’s books are open, and the only investigations into trading favors for contributions have yielded one request to move seats around at a State Department dinner fielded by Huma Abedin. She has pneumonia, and the press works itself into a lather making sure that we have a complete physical laid open to the public telling us no more than what she has already disclosed. What the fuck.

            • Search on YouTube and you’ll find at least one. I’d provide link but it’s a pain with my Android.

            • randy khan

              No. No. No. No. No.

              (1) In the real world, there’s a very good chance there’s no real text or any transcript or recording of the speeches. A lot of time the contracts specify no recording or the like because that’s standard practice in the business. (I have a friend who sells speakers for a living – I’ve learned a lot of fascinating things from her.)

              (2) The original demand was made to embarrass her, not because Sanders thought there was anything in those speeches. Clinton correctly did not release them (to the extent there was anything to release) because it would just have led to more demands, pretty much endlessly.

              (3) It’s really kind of an unprecedented demand anyway – name someone else who’s been a candidate who’s been asked to provide the texts of speeches to private groups. You can say it’s because she got a lot of money, but Mitt Romney was on the speaker circuit for a while, Reagan basically made his living giving speeches for years, and there are others who gave speeches for money, too. It’s just another Clinton rules thing.

            • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

              I see no difference between her refusing to release her speeches and Obama’s refusal to release his college transcripts. Both are examples of refusing to be forced to do something by your enemies.

          • nemdam

            You can also get sick with a treatable, common illness on the campaign trail and simply be given time to rest. Unless you’re Hillary Clinton.

            • Joe_JP

              Unless you’re Hillary Clinton.

              Then, you are a lousy candidate.

              it’s also a self-fulfilling prophecy. She overcorrects sometimes, imho, but you know, I get why. The fact the race is close is aggravating. The fact the alleged sane people keep on applying Clinton Rules here is almost worse. But, then, it’s a bit precious to think we are better than “those” people out there. We “know better” right?


              • nemdam

                But then what has Clinton done that is so lousy to invite such a ridiculous standard? This is where I don’t get the Hillary is a bad candidate arguments. Yes, there are critiques of how she’s handled stuff, but that is a side issue. The main issue is that Clinton is held to arbitrary standards, and I don’t know why that is. It is my belief that it has little to do with how she has actually handled critics/the press because whenever she meets their standard or plays by their rules, they just invent new ones to attack her with. If any candidate had to deal with that, they would look like a bad candidate.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  She was the first First Lady to have had a career, and she said snippy things to people who appeared to fault her for it. This led her to be tagged as a calculating, careerist, stuck-up feminazi biyotch in about 1991 and the media and professional Republicans decided they’d never let her get past it.

                  Then “the left” decided she was conservative and corporate when she became a senator in her own right because of flag-burning, video games, and then the Iraq War vote.

                  The “bad candidate” shtick is said chiefly by people who think the sure path to victory is to be more liberal because something something activist base, meaning she should be catering to the whitest and most educated liberals, and because Hillary Clinton doesn’t do that, clearly she’s candidate-ing badly.

                • MyNameIsZweig

                  The “bad candidate” shtick is said chiefly by people who think the sure path to victory is to be more liberal because something something activist base, meaning she should be catering to the whitest and most educated liberals, and because Hillary Clinton doesn’t do that, clearly she’s candidate-ing badly.

                  This is disingenuous. There have been other rationales put forth in this very thread that have nothing to do with catering to the educated while liberal segment of the party. You’re not wrong in that there are some people who mean exactly this when they say she’s a poor candidate.

          • mpavilion


            I’m reading “Hard Choices,” HRC’s book about her time as SoS. Near the beginning, when she talks about coming around to accepting Obama’s offer to serve, she writes:

            “I also did not want to do anything that would limit the life-saving work Bill was doing around the world through the Clinton Foundation. Much was made in the press about possible conflicts of interest between his philanthropic efforts and my potential new position. That problem was quickly dispatched after the Presidential Transition Team vetted the Foundation’s donors and Bill agreed to disclose all their names.”

            I found this very poignant, in hindsight, for obvious reasons. (As if mere transparacy would be enough to prevent the press’s beloved “clouds” and “questions” arising from the Foundation!)

            • nemdam

              It’s almost like she’s 100% aware of her reputation and tried to preempt any questions about transparency and conflicts of interest. That worked out well.

              • efgoldman

                Holy shit. One of the worst things that Democrats/Progressives do is re-litigating the past, again and fucking again, when we/they should be looking to the future.
                That, and always – ALWAYS – letting our fucking inner Eeyore out.
                What’s done is done. HRC is the candidate, and by any reasonable standard, a good one. She’s facing probably the worst natiional candidate in the history of the republic, and all you turkeys can do is argue that she’s doing it Wrong, and she did a bad thing FOURTEEN FUCKING YEARS AGO.
                It wouldn’t have changed anything then, it won’t change anything now. Dismount from your fucking purity ponies and get to work.

                • sonamib

                  This comment looks like it’s in the wrong subthread.

                • nemdam

                  Hmm, maybe my comment didn’t come out right. I’m saying it doesn’t matter what Clinton does, she will get attacked for dishonesty/lack of transparency no matter what. And that opening up the foundation unsurprisingly did nothing to stop this. IOW, the people saying Clinton brings this on herself are almost completely wrong.

        • cleek

          The press didn’t make her give a series of speeches for egregiously high rates of compensation

          oh for fuck’s sake. there is absolutely nothing egregious about the rates she gets for speeches. she’s a Secretary Of State, Senator and First Lady. literally nobody has that resume, but those who come close (former SoS’s, former Fed chairmen, former Presidents, etc) get speaking fees in the same range.

        • Halloween Jack

          But why are these “mistakes”? The email thing wasn’t a “mistake” until the GOP decided that it was; it wasn’t when any number of Republicans did it. Ditto for making big-ticket speeches or now, fuck me Agnes, getting pneumonia. The Trump Foundation’s corruption is being deliberately ignored. You’re blaming the schoolyard bully’s latest victim for not learning kung fu beforehand.

  • XTPD

    Right after the Indiana primaries, Jeb Lund* wrote a fucking horrible piece for Rolling Stone that said that, even acknowledging Trump as a giant sentient teratoma, the fact that Hillary’s taken opposite positions on specific issues throughout the years totally meant she was Mendacious $hill-Bot Boss Tweed B(!!%#) 2016 and therefore BOFF SIDES DO IT in treating the vox pop like goldfish…and then had the gall to complain of Broderism & principles, It was glib, shit-eatingly smug, nihilistic, and utterly contemptuous of the idea that people should give a shit about Fuckface von Clownstick’s candidacy – in short, the perfect example of the media’s campaign coverage over the summer, four months before the new Ohio polls.

    Liz Spayd, Patrick Healy, Amy Chozick, and pretty much all the enablers of the Brachydactyloid Gigantopithecus Candidacy should be publicly impaled on the National Mall.

    *And before kped says anything, I’m aware that the end of the primaries have mostly broken Matt Taibbi’s worth as a columnist. A key difference, though: He actually gives a shit about what the election means, and even given his awful Clinton coverage he’s made it rather clear that he views a Trump presidency as an apocalyptic disaster. (Of course, that sincerity means his gradually more brogressive analyses will likely stay broken for the immediate future).

    • mpavilion

      Rolling Stone’s political pieces feel like an attempt to indoctrine someone’s (Wenner’s?) idea of the mag’s pot-smoking teenage lumpen-protleteriat readership with a smug, puritanical, nasty, “strident leftist” p.o.v. You can practically feel the contempt for the reader’s intelligence dripping off the caricatures that accompany the articles (never mind the strident tone of the articles themselves)…

      • XTPD

        Are you talking about the print magazine, the RollingStone website, or both? Because generally speaking the website’s political posts aren’t much nastier than an average lefty blog, and while that point’s a valid criticism of the print coverage, “contempt for the reader’s” IQ might be a bit too strong). And the thing is, Jeb’s piece isn’t even leftist; it’s just gleeful nihilism.

        • mpavilion

          The print mag (or what I see of it). And maybe I’m taking my description a step too far, but I’m really allergic to whatever it is.

          • XTPD

            That attitude definitely comes off in Tim Dickinson’s National Affairs columns, which I could never get into. (And while I think Taibbi’s writing is and was rather decent, it’s his ideas that have increasingly take a turn for the derp).

      • Matt McIrvin

        Do young people actually read Rolling Stone? I figured their readership was eligible for AARP discounts by now.

    • D.N. Nation

      Jeb Lund is a doughfaced, lazy doofus, as is that sniveling Bro Pair tool who rips off his schtick. Their redneck cosplay article for Jacobin where they went to the GOP Convention and just really understood the locals, maaaaan, was a master class of masturbatory gibberish.

  • Alex.S


    OK, so when it comes to same-sex—

    So it’s meant to benefit, whether it’s in same-sex marriages as well, to benefit the mother who has given birth to the child if they have legal married status under the tax code.

    Well, what about gay couples, where both partners are men?

    The policy is fleshed out online, so you can go see all the elements of it. But the original intention of the plan is to help mothers in recovery in the immediate aftermath of childbirth.

    So I just want to be clear that, for same-sex adoption, where the two parents are both men, they would not be receiving special leave for that because they don’t need to recover or anything?

    Well, those are your words, not mine. [Laughs.] Those are your words. The plan, right now, is focusing on mothers, whether they be in same-sex marriages or not.

    OK, I just wanted to make sure I understood. In 2004, Donald Trump said that pregnancy is an inconvenient thing for a business. It’s surprising to see this policy from him today. Can you talk a little bit about those comments, and perhaps what has changed?

    So I think that you have a lot of negativity in these questions, and I think my father has put forth a very comprehensive and really revolutionary plan to deal with a lot of issues. So I don’t know how useful it is to spend too much time with you on this if you’re going to make a comment like that. My father obviously has a track record of decades of employing women at every level of his company, and supporting women, and supporting them in their professional capacity, and enabling them to thrive outside of the office and within. To imply otherwise is an unfair characterization of his track record and his support of professional women. So the policies at our company reflect that, and the diversity of our workforce, from a gender perspective, and in all perspectives, reflects that. So my father has been a great advocate for the women in the workforce, and that’s part of why he recognized that reform is so necessary.

    I would like to say that I’m sorry the questions — you’re finding them negative, but it is relevant that a presidential candidate made those comments, so I’m just following up.

    Well, you said he made those comments. I don’t know that he said those comments.

    This is quoted from an NBC [interview] from 2004. I definitely did not make that up. I do want to talk to you a little bit beyond the plan, as well—

    I think what I was — there’s plenty of time for you to editorialize around this, but I think he put forth a really incredible plan that has pushed the boundaries of what anyone else is talking about. On child care specifically, there are no proposals on the table. He really took ownership of this issue, and I really applaud him for doing that. I hope that, regardless of what your political viewpoint is, this should be celebrated.



    • NewishLawyer

      Cosmo pointing this out gives me more hope than HuffPost pointing it out.

    • Karen24

      When Cosmo does a better job at questioning a candidate than the New York Times we are definitely living in a weird world.

      • Alex.S

        Surrogate actually — it’s Trump’s daughter Ivanka. Of course, the maternity leave plan is her big policy idea and she helped introduce it.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        That’s because people at Cosmo haven’t been indoctrinated in the “correct” way to report on politics.

        I don’t think this is the first time I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the quality of a Cosmo article, but I can’t remember what it was. Probably something about politics and abortion or contraception.

        • sonamib

          There’s someone on the Internet* who used to do a monthly “cosmocking” feature, making fun of their weird sex articles and terrible advice to women. The mocking stopped when the blogger realized the articles were actually getting good.

          So yeah, Cosmo running good articles is not a recent development.

          *Cliff Pervocracy, I think.

  • Joe_JP

    Reference is made to “the story.”

    The article. It’s a typical usage. But, “the story” often is something applying to something fictional or at least partially so. Sometimes, I am a bit uncomfortable using the word. But maybe not. Like here when it says that Trump is stretching the truth.

    Read someone reference the deplorables comment on another blog and say something like “even if” it is true that roughly half of his supporters (well, the person misconstrued her remark and said 1/4 of the American public) are “bigots” (also not the word she used) it would be shocking. Shocking a quarter of the public is somehow bigoted on some issue? How else is Trump here?

    Well, softening his edges helps. It might go over the top with the front pages at times, but for sanity’s sake, it is sometimes helpful to look at the NY Daily News’ coverage of Trump. They realize both on the op-ed and news pages he is a clusterf.

  • Nick056

    So … I guess I’m going to be the obligatory contrarian here. But I actually have no problem with the quoted section of the Times piece, and I think asking for more is working the refs.

    First, let me say I think the NY Times Spayd piece from a few days ago was terrible. Hugely bad and creating, as Josh Marshall said, a false choice between forced balance and partisanship. You can not want to make ideological judgments in reporting and yet simply make factual judgments and tell people the truth. There’s no contradiction there. And the piece two weeks ago by Patrick Healy, writing that Trump “shelved” his deportation plan, was journalistic malpractice. Then, you have the various foundation boondoggle stories where trying and failing to get credentials for a diplomatic mission of mercy related to hostages in North Korea is dark and shadowy pay-for-play. So there’s plenty of reason to scrutinize everything the Times does in the context of how bad they suck and indeed their suckery is a finely aged twenty-five year vintage varietal when it comes to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

    But let’s look at the piece:

    But in selling his case, Mr. Trump stretched the truth, saying that his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, has no such plan of her own and “never will.”

    Mrs. Clinton issued her plan more than a year ago, and it guarantees up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for a newborn or a sick relative, financed by an increase in taxes on the wealthiest Americans. On Twitter, her campaign posted a link to her plan after Mr. Trump’s remark.

    The Times prefaces Trump’s lie about Hillary by saying he “stretched the truth” and then immediately corrects the record, going so far as to link to her website. Yes, they don’t use the word “lie.” Two things about that. One, it involves weighing whether Trump knew about Hillary’s plan and intentionally misled his audience. I cannot blame a reporter for feeling that’s beyond the ambit of this story, although of course a diligent reporter would contact Trump’s camp for comment as to the widely reported existence of Clinton’s plan. That’s a judgment call. I tend to think that by noting Trump was “stretching the truth” the reporter walked right up to the line of calling the candidate a liar and then provided all the material readers need to see his claim effectively rebutted. And in case I didn’t mention it before, the story rebuts Trump by directing readers to Hillary’s website.

    But more important than that, the readiness to call Trump a liar about this case is really not something anybody wants, is it? Hillary repeatedly claimed that, with respect to her email server, she did the same thing Colin Powell did. But of course she did not really do “the same thing,” because she in fact had her own private server. Do you want the NYT saying Clinton lied about her email server, in print, as a matter of the historical record? I don’t. That wouldn’t be fun to watch. I’m not aware of the Times doing so. Do you really want the Times to call Trump and Clinton liars every time they seem reckless with respect to the truth? Again, I don’t. Some people, I guess, argue that the press should forcefully call politicians liars in straight news when they appear to intentionally mislead or be reckless regarding the truth of their statements. But I think simply telling readers the truth is sufficient. Indicting pols for lying really creates a maelstrom. An omission of relevant facts can also be a lie. Did Hillary “lie” about pnemonoia by not frankly admitting it prior to her near-fainting-spell?

    The Times fucks up all the time. This story does not strike me as a great example of that phenomenon.

    • Joe_JP

      You make a good case here but if they can’t use “lie” because they don’t know, what does “stretched the truth” mean? Sounds like agency to me. Does someone who unknowingly says a falsehood “stretch the truth”? It isn’t really how I’d use that word.

      Seems like “lie” or my often preferred “bs” (or some equivalent — a recklessness disregard for caring about the truth) cannot be bluntly said. It’s in bad form or something. This does help round off some of Trump’s edges.

      It’s true (putting aside many aren’t going to click on the links) they provide enough info to show he’s full of it. So, it’s credible journalism. Still, I can see the concern.

      If Hillary Clinton actually lies or b.s., I sort of would like her called out by it. I don’t think she does that to the level of Trump. Some discretion can be made there for some reasonable level of what people expect. But, Trump crosses some line; he doesn’t warrant any more softening in that respect. And, “the same” there is that margin of error. It isn’t the “same” as Trump saying Clinton doesn’t have a plan when he does. It’s a question of what specifically she meant.

      Unless Trump simply didn’t know, and on that level “bs” would be appropriate, how can we explain away what he said here? I guess trusting the press to know nuance there does warrant hesitance.

      Ditto the “Did Hillary “lie” about pnemonoia by not frankly admitting it prior to her near-fainting-spell?” Lie how? Not being upfront about being sick? Like loads of people do? I guess if it means also calling out Trump’s lies, that might work.

      Then, again, the whole point is we can’t trust the press to evenhandedly report the news here. So, maybe you are right that using “liar” would hurt Clinton more.

      • Breadbaker

        Is there any possible journalistic malpractice in stating, “Trump incorrectly claimed Mrs. Clinton has no family leave plan ‘and never will.’ In fact, her plan was issued more than a year ago and” etc.?

        • Nick056

          For me, no, I think that’s a perfect phrasing, better than “stretch the truth” which is kind of calling Trump a liar but in an indirect way that just sows more confusion.

          • Breadbaker

            To me, what it does is, without making a judgment about the degree of Trump’s mendacity, informs the reader that Trump is wrong and Hillary has a plan with the noted characteristics.

      • Nick056

        I think my reply to Linnaeus gets into this, to a degree. I think the Times is absolutely ascribing agency to Trump and using a softer version of “he lied,” which is why folks are feeling that the Times is pulling its punches. But if you can accept that the piece means to say Trump is stretching the truth about the attributes of his own plan by calling it the only plan being proposed, then I think it’s a felicitous phrase. My biggest problem with it is honestly the implicit concession that the plan even really exists — it’s all bullshit. It exists in the same sense my candidacy for Supreme Leader of the Moon exists: I just announced it right here.

        Instead of necessarily being eager to call Trump a liar, the press should really interrogate, intensely, the policy reality of his plans, rather than transcribing his sales job. My own dislike of the political press has long been that they are too lazy to really care about policy; they think their job is to interview people who know things, instead of actually coming to know things for themselves.

        As a final thought: I worry, genuinely, and not in a concern troll way, that calling out reporters for poor coverage even when they effectively provide a factual rebuttal for Trump’s most egregious bullshit (and I use the intensifier knowing there is no real peak bullshit), only serves to make reporters more jaded about critical feedback.

        • Breadbaker

          they think their job is to interview people who know things, instead of actually coming to know things for themselves.

          It’s a false dichotomy (and they absolutely don’t hold to it consistently). You don’t need an expert to tell you that an event ascribed to the Obama Administration happened under Bush. Your own media outlet probably has a lot of the information that contradicts falsely asserted facts, let alone the availability of the internet. If you can’t get an interview with an “expert” on, say, the deficit, you can’t simply let a complete falsehood go unchallenged simply by saying, “Well, the news is Trump said it. It’s someone else’s job to point out it’s a complete fabrication.”

          • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

            It’s someone else’s job to point out it’s a complete fabrication.

            And we won’t report that “someone else’s” statements because we’re too busy running 7 articles on Hillary’s health. In fact, we’ve covered Hillary’s positions so sparsely that if our readers are solely dependent upon us, they have no idea she even has positions on many issues facing our country sorry, all actual issues are being ignored this year.

            • Breadbaker

              The issues Trump emphasizes, whenever he emphasizes them, get coverage regardless of whether he actually says anything new (see Mexico) or says anything at all (see “family leave plan”).

              Hillary puts out comprehensive positions and her proposals are covered in cobwebs before they are dry.

              And my Berniebot friends all say “she hasn’t said anything”.

      • Loofah

        It’s like the press are all a bunch of philosophers acting out the problem of other minds. You know, you can’t call Trump a liar because for all you know he is a zombie who doesn’t have any beliefs at all. You can’t prove he isn’t a zombie.

        I call bullshit on the eliminativist media. A candidate for presidency of the U.S. has an obligation to put their beliefs to the test of evidence and to not make assertions that go beyond the evidence. Whether Trump actually “knows” he is making false statements does not matter to me. If he doesn’t he is still recklessly and negligently making statements about things he does not know and that’s bad enough. If his campaign is going to go around saying Hillary doesn’t have a plan when she obviously does, this is bad enough to be called a lie.

        • farin

          for all you know he is a zombie who doesn’t have any beliefs at all.

          This is probably one of the more accurate takes on the election.

        • lizzie

          This is a good point. Trump did lie, because one of these two things is true:

          (1) he knows she had a plan and falsely claimed she didn’t; or

          (2) he doesn’t know whether she had a plan, but he falsely represented that he did know by making an assertion about it, in a context in which his listeners would absolutely expect, and have a right to expect, that he would know.

    • Linnaeus

      The thing is, Trump didn’t “stretch the truth” because there was no truth to his statement at all. If he knew that Clinton had a family leave plan, but said otherwise, then he lied. If he didn’t know that she had a plan and stated that she didn’t, then he was wrong. “Stretch the truth” makes it sound as if there is some element of truth to what Trump said, when there is none.

      • Nick056

        I interpret the phrase “stretch the truth” as signaling readers that he is, in fact, bullshitting. I’m not sure the reporter put much more thought into it than plucking a euphemism for “lie” from his head.

        However, I think the phrase is defensible in context of the piece. It describes Trump’s plan, and him doing a salesmanship presentation on his plan. Then it notes he “stretched the truth” with regard to one element of his presentation — Clinton’s plan. If someone is selling you a used car, and they’re describing it accurately, and being truthful so far as it goes, and then they say you cannot get that car anywhere else in town at that price even though you can … Well, “stretch the truth” is accurate if the “truth” is in reference to the attributes of the car. The car exists, they were mostly honest about it — but they lied about one thing. In a similar vein, if Trump is selling you on his family leave plan, and he’s describing it honestly (which, screw him, he’s a liar) and then he says Hillary has no plan, he’s “stretched the truth” about HIS plan by saying saying not only is it great, it’s the only one on offer. So essentially if you say he stretched the the truth about Hillary’s plan, obviously it’s an inapposite phrase, but if you view it as him stretching the truth about the virtues of his own plan (it’s singular) then it’s an acceptable description.

        • “Stretch the truth” puts Trump in the same moral category that virtually all politicians occupy, though. Everyone knows politicians are dishonest. Clinton’s claim to have done the same thing Colin Powell did is a perfect example — yes, there are meaningful differences, but it is also true that both of them used a private email server. Whether the differences make her claim false or not is a matter of how you interpret the facts. On the other hand, it is plainly false, as a matter of objective truth, that Clinton does not have a plan. And Trump either knows he’s making a false claim or knows he’s making a claim he does not know the truth of but could trivially find out — and the latter is as much a lie as the former.

          • Nick056

            See, and that’s where this gets difficult. Clinton said her conduct was equivalent to Colin Powell’s. That she just objectively did the same thing.

            Sorry. That’s false. Interpreting it so that her conduct and his are indistinguishable is just, for lack of a better word, spin. She set up a server over which she had complete control. It’s not the same. Whether that’s actually PREFERABLE from a public service standpoint to what Powell did is a matter of interpretation and a separate question with arguments on each side.

            Now, the degree and blatancy of the lies is different, but then you’re talking about quantifying the brazenness and nature of the untruth, what it reveals about the candidates. I really want to emphasize I’m not drawing an equivalency between Trump and Clinton. Her prevarications to me reveal a disdain for the press and a classic, familiar lack of sense for what simply looks bad.. It reminds me of the BOLO lists the IRS generated. Not actually a case of political persecution but utterly removed from the reality of public perception. His prevarications reveal a narcissist madman.

            My point is merely that a politically incorrect statement (in the literal meaning of the term) opens up lots of completely, analytically separate judgments. In this case, the Times basically judged the statement to be inaccurate, decided to call Trump a liar, used a softer word for it, and immediately corrected his misstatement in the same article. I can’t see that as “objectively pro-Trump.”

      • It doesn’t matter whether he knew or not. He was obligated to know. So I’m happy to say he’s a liar undear a strict liability model. Indeed, I think you need to do this. The nuances of when he’s lying, bullshiting, merely stretching, merely in error etc is really beside the point. The sheer volume of stuff he puts out makes it impossible and misleading to present that nuance. It’s all part of the general lie that is his candidacy.

        So I think the most accurate assessment you can make in general is that he’s a liar. The cases where you out to break don’t the particular status of a particular utterance are fairly rare.

        • Nick056

          He was “obligated” to know as part of a strict liability model?

          Again, that’s a point of view, a normative assessment. Reporters feel Clinton is obligated to hold more press conferences, as a basic feature of her candidacy, and punish her for not doing it as an issue. Demanding that the press decide what candidates are obligated to know or do under a strict liability model is a fool’s errand. Demanding that the press report on what is historically normal for candidates to know, and where Trump’s body of knowledge departs from that, is appropriate: “Trump said Clinton had not, and would not, propose her own paid family leave legislation. However, she proposed X on Y date. It is unprecedented for candidates to be unaware of the existence of their opponents’ policy proposals. To date, Mrs. Clinton has not made a similar error with respect to Mr. Trump.”

          • lizzie

            Yes, if he’s going to make assertions about something that is so easy to find out, then he is obligated to know before he shoots his mouth off about it.

    • brewmn

      What part of ““Stretched?” That sounds like a basically accurate claim that is perhaps somewhat misleading or imprecise or something.” are you missing? The point being made, one that I agree with despite not being able to verify to a scientific certainty that it is in fact the case, is the shoehorning of this remarkably dishonest and unqualified nominee into standard campaign narratives.

      All politicians misrepresent the positions of their opponents; in this case, since it is such a blatant lie, pulled directly out of Trump’s ass with no basis in reality, why even report it? But, if you must report it, why must you soften it with a euphemism that makes it sound innocuous, or at least as run of the mill political rhetoric?

      • efgoldman

        All politicians misrepresent the positions of their opponents; in this case, since it is such a blatant lie, pulled directly out of Trump’s ass with no basis in reality, why even report it?

        How many Villagers can dance on the head of a pin?
        The Times is the Times. They haved special rules for the Clintons and have since the early 90s. Maybe they’re still bummed that WaPo brought down a president and they haven’t been able to do the same. Maybe they’re just ignoramuses, Maybe they’re all closet McCarthyites. I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter. They’re not going to change, certainly not in this cycle, and wasting several thousand pixels parsing what the meaning of “is” is, is a waste of time and effort.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      But even in that case, “stretched the truth” is not accurate. It was simply not true. It had not a kernel of truth to it.

      Whether it was a mistake (he thought it was true), bullshit (he didn’t know or care whether it was true), or a lie (he knew it was untrue) is indeed another matter. But he didn’t “stretch” something that had some truth to it.

      They could simply say “In selling his case, Mr. Trump said some things that are plainly untrue”.

      That is accurate and does not make a claim about his internal knowledge. Of course, I find the explanation that he made an honest mistake to be quite implausible (bullshit is the most likely).

      Of course, if Trump were Al Gore, there wouldn’t be so much of a problem in getting them to call him a liar…

  • Someone at Jezebel linked this good Storify of a conversation between Norm Ornstein and a NYT writer a week or so ago. What i found most illuminating was this:

    Norm, we can’t ignore these Clinton issues — the “bleached” emails, the coziness with super-rich…

    (2)..the blurred lines at the Foundation, the air of dynastic entitlement, the “no” to press conferences

    (3) Whatever we may think of Trump and I think I’ve made clear what I think. Hillary’s got big issues.

    Of these five issues, I count two which amount to “this seems hinky” (emails, Foundation), one which is laughable considering her opponent (coziness with the super-rich), and two which basically boil down to “I don’t like her” (“air of dynastic entitlement”, for fuck’s sake!! and also the press conference nothingburger).

    Frankly, all of them come down to a subjective assessment. Is it seriously a scandal for a presidential candidate to be friendly with rich people? Only if you assume there’s corruption there. These are only “big issues” if you read them through the lens of “Hillary is mean and corrupt and I don’t like her”.

    • That seems to be how the press conceives its function right now. It presses hard on certain points that are “generally agreed” to need airing out right now. It isn’t interested in considering how its actions function in context or what their later consequences might be, beyond a vague trust that all the stuff in society fits together and if everyone works hard at their job (and recognizes journalists’ jobs as super-important) things will work out.

  • The press should not say “Trump is lying”. This infers intention, and opens up the entertaining but distracting issue of lies versus BS. They should simply write, in the next sentence, “This is untrue”.

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