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Cillizza’d

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The Washington Post acquitted itself better than a lot of mainstream outlets during the 2016 campaign, if only because of David Farenthold and David Weigel. But they really shouldn’t be let off the hook, either, because they continued to publish one of the most ridiculous purveyors of the Clinton rules, Mr. Chris Cilizza. Cillizza was, even by Beltway hack standards, consumingly obsessed with the EMAILS! non-scandal. In itself, this is damning.

But in addition to the bizarre priorities, Cillizza’s work was a near perfect-embodiment of the Clinton Rules while also being incompetent. Consider this story about an alleged “quid pro quo” between the State Department and FBI. Cillizza bungled every important fact in the story — there was not only not a quo, there wasn’t a quid and the State Department didn’t raise the issue with the FBI — in a way that was slanted against Clinton. And even sillier is his treatment of utterly banal and ubiquitous disputes between federal bureaucracies over which material should be classified as evidence of the unique perfidy of Hillary Clinton, which is ultimately the core premise of the whole EMAILS! non-story.

Needless to say, Cillizza applied the same approach to the Clinton Foundation. Here’s Cillizza’s reaction to the infamously botched AP story about Clinton’s meetings as Secretary of State:

But, COME ON, MAN. It is literally impossible to look at those two paragraphs and not raise your eyebrows. Half of all of the nongovernmental people Clinton either met with or spoke to on the phone during her four years at the State Department were donors to the Clinton Foundation! HALF.

It is literally impossible to read this and not wonder how Chris Cillizza could be paid to write about politics. The framing of the AP story, which Cillizza swallows without a hint of skepticism, was so misleading the AP had to delete its tweet promoting it. I mean, COME ON MAN. The “more than half the meetings” premise was transparently wrong. The denominator used by the AP was ludicrously low, not only arbitrarily excluding government officials but excluding various meetings with non-government officials. And without that attention-grabbing distortion of the facts, there is nothing at all to the story — there was nothing inappropriate about these meetings and no reason to believe Clinton behaved differently than any other Secretary of State. Does Cillizza then use the aspersions he casts on Clinton based on the AP’s fake news to make presumptions of bad faith in re: EMAILS!? I think you know the answer. But, hey, Hillary Clinton, WHAT A BITCH, amirite?

Still, in writing fact-challenged stories that embody the Clinton Rules, Cilizza is hardly unique. So my favorite Fix moment of the campaign was Cillizza’s assertion that “the image of the FBI…has been sterling.” Cillizza cited two figures who embodied the FBI’s universally acknowledged history of rectitude. The first, Clarice Starling, is a fictional character who had intimate relations with a cannibalistic serial killer. The second, Eliot Ness, did not work for the FBI (although I would bet that Cillizza wasn’t thinking so much about Eliot Ness as “Eliot Ness,” the character in the DePalma/Mamet film The Untouchables, who also did not work for the FBI.) Omitted from Cillizza’s narrative about the “sterling” reputation of the FBI — serial illegal wiretapper among many other things J. Edgar Hoover.

I would like to unilaterally award Chris Cillizza LGM’s coveted “hack of the year” trophy for 2016. But other nominations are welcome.

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  • humanoid.panda

    One of the greater mysteries of life is how Fahrentold and Weigel manage to work in the same newsroom with Cillizza and manage the patience required not to strangle him to death.

    • randrewmaffei

      One of the greater mysteries of life is how the hell anybody in the office can tell Dana Milbank and Chris Cillizza apart. Bet they switched chairs and robes every episode of Mouthpiece Theater just to throw people off! Assuming there was more than just the one.

  • yet_another_lawyer

    Oddly enough, these days Clarice Starling probably isn’t even the most famous fictional FBI agent, Mulder & Scully are. So I guess the FBI’s reputation is sterling because apparently they prevented the alien invasion of 2012. Checkmate, libs.

    • Scott Lemieux

      I’m surprised he didn’t also cite this documentary showing how the FBI singlehandedly ended Jim Crow.

      • CP

        UGGGGHHHHH. That fucking movie.

    • Sly

      They really fucked up that standoff with terrorists at Nakatomi Plaza, though.

      • Brownian

        “You asked for miracles, Donald, I give you the F.B.I.”

        • I just rewatched that movie (it’s still great) and I loved Rickman’s contemptuous delivery of “efff beee eye”.

          • Brownian

            He could do such great things with just three letters. Of course, Comey did such harm with only one.

          • Rob in CT

            Alan Rickman was great.

            Goddamnit, 2016.

        • Scott Lemieux

          As the liberal blogosphere’s preeminent disseminatior of that Hans Gruber meme, I’m embarrassed I didn’t think of that in the context of Comey. I may have to later originate that for the next post…

          • Brownian

            Nicely done.

    • Mellano

      Somewhat forgotten these days, but a paragon of virtuous public service nonetheless, was Agent Polk, who brought down the notorious high-stakes con artist, Henry Gondorff.

    • CP

      Note that while Scully, Mulder, and Skinner were generally honorable FBI agents, if I recall the show correctly, they were literally the only people in the Bureau of whom that was true.

      (Except for their later replacements maybe, but I didn’t watch that far).

      • yet_another_lawyer

        Haven’t seen the show since it first aired, but I think most of the Bureau in that fictional universe was just indifferent to the entire project and didn’t believe in aliens, demons, etc. They did occasionally play the corrupt agent card, though, as just about every show with law enforcement characters eventually does.

        • CP

          IIRC, it wasn’t so much “corrupt agent” as “the people running the Bureau, and the rest of the government for that matter, are all in the pocket of the Cigarette-Smoking Man and his friends.” Skinner being the exception. And the worker bees mostly just doing whatever they were told – Scully and Mulder being the exceptions.

    • jamesepowell

      It is telling that he did not cite Special Agent Dale Cooper or Albert Rosenfield, FBI men whose integrity is without tarnish.

      • The Lorax

        Or Gordon, in Bend, OR.

  • ThrottleJockey

    The Washington Post acquitted itself better than a lot of mainstream outlets during the 2016 campaign, if only because of David Farenthold. But they really shouldn’t be let off the hook, either, because they continued to publish one of the most ridiculous purveyors of the Clinton rules, Mr. Chris Cilizza. Cillizza was, even by Beltway hack standards, consumingly obsessed with the EMAILS! non-scandal. In itself, this is damning.

    The WaPo couldn’t have been more anti-Trump if they had been fully bought and paid for by the Democratic Party. Their entire pundit slate opposed him.

    • Gwen

      Aside from their idiot editor who made that statement the other day about not calling lies as-such, I fully expect the Washington Post to continue to be fairly anti-Trump.

      I suspect that Bezos, who is not a moron, knows there’s money in that banana stand.

      • Warren Terra

        That was an editor for the Wall Street Journal, wasn’t it?

        • Murc

          It was.

          I am somewhat sympathetic to the idea that lying requires intent to deceive rather than merely stating an untruth. (For example, Obama wasn’t lying when he said “if you like your coverage, you can keep it” even though that absolutely was not true.)

          But that guy took it one step further, literally arguing that it wasn’t the responsibility of his paper to make a critical judgment as to whether or not someone was lying, ever, in its reporting, because that might be construed as taking sides.

          • Crusty

            I’m also sympathetic to the idea that lying requires some kind of intent, but am also confident in attributing that intent to Trump, most of the time. He will say untrue things for his own benefit. He lies. That is plain as day.

            • witlesschum

              It’s not clear to me Trump knows whether he’s lying or telling the truth at any particular time. He’s indifferent to the truth, is my impression.

              • Domino

                Wasn’t the point of “On Bullshit” that people who BS don’t care if what they say is true or not? With Trump it’s near impossible to tell at a distance whether he doesn’t believe what he says, or has deluded himself into believing his own BS.

                Not like it really matters – who in his inner circle calls him on his BS?

                • thebewilderness

                  He has that in common with Cillizza then doesn’t he.

              • Crusty

                Purposely indifferent. Which makes him a liar. Or, lying sack of shit, if you prefer to be more formal.

          • sam

            It’s fine to argue that “lying” requires some sort of intent to deceive.

            But then journalists/newspapers/etc. still have an obligation to point out when something is simply not true.

            the WSJ doesn’t want to call trump a “liar” because they don’t know what is in his heart of hearts? (other than, of course, a lump of misshapen coal?) Fine. Then simply, continually, regularly, consistently call him WRONG.

        • Gwen

          Ahh, OK. My only excuse is “they both begin with a W”

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      TV news doesn’t get its stuff from the op-ed page- it’s the front page that ends up counting with the voters

    • Arouet

      Well, they could have fired Chris Cillizza. Preferably out of a cannon, into the sun.

      • Bruce B.

        It actually takes a lot of energy to do that, since you have to cancel out all of Earth’s speed rotating around the Sun before he can fall in on the thing. It’s much more energy efficient to just shoot him up way high up to sub-orbital or low orbital height, fall back to Earth, suffering a great deal of damage in the process, and scoop up him and do it again and again until you can no longer find enough ashes to make it worth doing.

        • brettvk

          Good sir, I praise the cut of your jib.

    • (((max)))

      Their entire pundit slate opposed him.

      While three quarters of them trashed Obama as being weak for not invading Syria. They really take their bombing all the countries world conquest Russophobia foreign policy seriously over on the Post opinion page.

      Why just the other day Richard Cohen was explaining how Obama was a big pussy and that Trump was terrible but at least he yells a lot and metaphorically waves his micro-penis.

      I suspect that’s why high-muckety muck Democrats thought appealing to ‘moderate’ Republicans was a winner. All those people at the Post perhaps represent the thoughts of millions…

      max
      [‘Well, no, hundreds, and if you push it, thousands.’]

      • Arouet

        Are you really going to make the case in this day and age that it’s wrong to view Russia as an enemy?

        • liberal

          Not fond of Russia meddling in the election, even if I think it was much weaker than other plausible factors beyond the Democrats’ control. Though I view it more of a matter of Republican perfidy.

          Not fond of Russia’s internal politics, but that’s internal to them, which doesn’t make them an enemy. (Do you view, say, Saudi Arabia as an enemy?)

          Re Syria, the choice is between Sunni whackjobs and Assad (apart from a reasonable third choice, “get uninvolved”). There’s no “moderate” opposition of any import. Given those choices, I’d rather support Assad.

          As for Ukraine, there was no compelling US interest in trying to pull them out of the Russian sphere of influence. Yeah, yeah, Stephen Cohen Putin apologist blah blah blah. Is Meersheimer a Putin apologist?

          Get back to me when we can witness the US’s reaction when China tries to make Mexico part of what the US government considers a member of a hostile alliance.

          • witlesschum

            This is along the line of where I am. I think Russia is mostly an unpleasant actor, though no in any way a uniquely evil one. Mainly, I don’t think U.S. foreign policy in any way needs to be organized around countering them or worrying about what they’re up to 24-7.

          • Arouet

            This rather misses the point, especially on the election and Ukraine.

            On Ukraine, the issue isn’t them trying to keep Ukraine in their political sphere of influence through permissible forms of coercion, on which I have no real opinion. It’s that they were allowed to make war against Ukraine and Georgia for the purposes of territorial enlargement with hardly more than symbolic objection, which does possibly fatal damage to the basic institutional structure of the post-WW2 global order.

            On the election, Russian interference was one factor of many, but it’s not the outcome that matters, it’s the fact that they felt comfortable intervening more or less openly in our domestic political affairs. That’s at the very minimum a hostile act, and one that the people of other countries have rightfully rejected as such when the United States has done it in the past. It’s unacceptable, and a country that does that can only be defined as an enemy.

            Russia may not be a “uniquely evil” actor in the sense of morality, but they’re definitely a “uniquely revisionist” actor, which is just as bad for U.S. interests. The sooner liberals recognize that the better, because their influence is not going to get less pernicious for our goals.

            • Arouet

              Also, it’s ironic that you’re quoting Mearsheimer here. He’s a realist, which as an ideology is no friend to the liberal international order. He’s not a Putin apologist, but neither is he particularly opposed to Putin as long as Russia stays in its corner. Who cares about the people or principles that get subjected in the process, right? His logic is internally consistent, but it dismisses almost entirely peoples’ interests in self determination and in being able to build and maintain open societies. Any liberal internationalist is appalled in extremis at what we’re about to allow to happen.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              it’s the fact that they felt comfortable intervening more or less openly in our domestic political affairs. That’s at the very minimum a hostile act, and one that the people of other countries have rightfully rejected as such when the United States has done it in the past. It’s unacceptable, and a country that does that can only be defined as an enemy.

              I’m pretty sure Putin would endorse this message and say that’s why what he did was justifiable retaliation against an enemy.

              • Arouet

                Putin, however, would be wrong, except if by interfering you mean “openly expressing our opinion that he should respect human rights and not rig elections.” If that’s what Russia did, no problemo.

                Moreover, at least he identified the power taking actions he viewed as opposed to his interests and set out to do something about it.

            • CDT

              In the post-WW2 institutional structure, Ukraine and Georgia were on the Soviet side. They are even today not members of the expanded NATO. Wake me when Russia invades a NATO ally. Until then, we are not all Georgians now.

          • Bitter Scribe

            Given those choices, I’d rather support Assad.

            I agree with your reasoning but not your conclusion. Assad is a monster who literally slaughters children to cling to power.

            That said, if Obama had aided Assad’s overthrow, with a no-fly zone or something like that, the Charles Krauthammers of the world—who now of course blame Obama for what Assad is doing—would have been beside themselves with indignation over how Obama helped “Islamist” terrorists.

            “Get uninvolved” may not have been the best choice, but it certainly was a reasonable one.

          • randy khan

            I have two separate thoughts here:

            1. I see the Russian intervention in the election as a hostile act, and am concerned that the Russians found, ah, incriminating material on Republican servers that they chose not to release generally. This is somewhat different than saying Russia is an enemy; more along the lines of recognizing that Russia saw electing Trump as being in its interests, likely because it was against the U.S.’s national interest vis a vis Russia.

            2. My concern about the Trump tilt towards Russia is that I think it’s stupid. Russia is becoming less relevant to the world in all sorts of ways (other than its big military) and has very few allies or other countries sympathetic to it, not to mention that the Russian economy is heavily dependent on fossil fuel extraction, which is likely to be a declining business over time. Meanwhile, our economy is heavily intertwined with China’s and Asia – particularly China – is an area where a lot of economic growth is occurring. Tilting towards Russia and away from China seems to me to be a really bad decision in that context.

            • Downpuppy

              My concern about Trump’s subservience to Russia is that the President of the United States is not supposed to be subservient to a foreign power, and that we have no real information on why he is.

              I only have about 3 hairs on top of the head or they’d be on fire.

              • ExpatJK

                $$$$$ is my assumption here. I imagine he owes them, bigly.

                • smott999

                  Actually Matt Miller ex-DOJ mentioned that….the most obvious explanation for all the Trump BS over Russia, and ignoring the US IC, is that Russia have him by the short hairs. Whether that is through the mob or simply huge financial debts (probably that mean mob anyway) hardly matters.
                  Trump is owned by Russia/Putin.

                  You’ve gotta hope that tax returns or other financial records get leaked somehow.

                • brettvk

                  I think that’s probably the leading reason, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump feels like white guys gotta stick together to oppose the yellow hordes.

          • ThrottleJockey

            Based on electing Trump Russia is National Security threat #1. Bar none.

      • The fact that Richard Cohen is still being published is exhibit 1 in the case for the irrelevance of op-ed pages.

      • CP

        While three quarters of them trashed Obama as being weak for not invading Syria. They really take their bombing all the countries world conquest Russophobia foreign policy seriously over on the Post opinion page.

        When I moved back to DC from grad school about a year ago, I started going to events at some of the local universities and think tanks, and I remember “Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy” being the theme of the year, seemingly, everywhere I went (with the specific theory that Obama had gone too far in withdrawing from the world and left it leaderless).

        And no, it wasn’t always that way: I was doing things like this before I left DC in 2012, and while you’d find people of all sorts of different opinions, some agreeing with Obama and some not, there was nothing like the consensus I found in 2016. Made me groan quite a bit. “All right, eight years’ distance from Bush is long enough. Fire up the Project for a New American Century again!”

    • malraux

      Wait, wasn’t that pretty universally true across virtually all newspapers?

    • Roger Ailes

      By the same token, the Post could not have been more anti-Dylann Roof if it had been fully bought and paid for by the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

  • Gwen

    I remember back about a year ago, I thought that some new development in the Clinton scandals was sufficient to vindicate HRC. I made a Facebook post along the lines of “well I guess Chris Cillizza needs to get a new job.”

    Man o man was I naive.

    The NY Times also must have had some interesting newsroom drama, since it seems that they were also a bit schizophrenic with regard to the Clinton Rules.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Hell, Cilizza is the hack of the fucking decade. So you’ve got my vote.

    • Nobdy

      I still have room in my heart for Liz Spayd. Mostly because her whole job is to listen to reader input and represent the readers in the administration of the paper, and after careful consideration the conclusion she drew was “we need to be nicer to Trump supporters.” For all his horribleness Cillizza can hide behind “I am not doing a comparison just reporting a legitimate story l, and as a reporter I cannot consider that kind of comparative context.”

      Spayd’s whole job is to consider context and she is so bad at it I have actually wondered if she is on Putin’s payroll.

      • sam

        Yeah – Liz Spayd was a whole new level of hackery this time around.

        The Times always hated having to institute a public editor – it only did so under duress after the numerous scandals it had perpetrated (everything from the plagarism of Jayson Blair to the Judith Miller fiasco), and the first two public editors were…middling at best.

        Then Margaret Sullivan came along and showed what a good public editor could be. That’s not to say she was perfect, but she did a really good job, elevated the role significantly in the public’s eye, and all of a sudden it looked like the Times might actually be stuck having to deal with this ombudsman thing forever.

        So when Sullivan’s most recent term was up and she went to the Post, they had a choice – they could find someone who would fill Sullivan’s shoes, or they could find someone who was SO BAD that by the end of her term, the very readers that she was supposed to be representing would be lining up to demand that they just get rid of the role entirely rather than subject us to more of this crap.

        She spends all of her time doing nothing but defending the paper against reader complaints, which is literally the opposite of an ombudsman role, and the one time she should have defended reporters – in that mess where some right wing nutjob (tucker carlson?) was reading out of context twitter posts from some reporters, she completely threw them under the bus. Never mind that two of the three tweets were literally auto-generated content from the NYT articles themselves.

  • Davis X. Machina

    If he wins, Chris “Trump White House Press Secretary” Cillizza’s plaque will go up next to Ron “McCain White House Press Secretary” Fournier’s plaque in a special wing of the Hack HoF.

  • smott999

    I’d encourage all to make subscription to WaPo contingent upon Cilliza being off the payroll, and to tell them so. As good as the 2 Daves are, we’re at the point where we can’t enable the Cillizzas anymore. Sadly the Farentholds/Weigels must understand that too.
    I continue to tell WaPo this about once a month, usually whilst referring to the latest Fix nonsense. I encourage all to do the same, it can be cathartic!

  • King Goat

    The conservatives have relentlessly worked the ref for so long. Many in the press want to show that that caricature of them is false and so they strain to show they’re ‘objective’ by putting as much time into covering something like Clinton’s molehills to the mountains that a walking dumpster fire of a human being like Trump had available.

    • The Lorax

      This is exactly it.

  • Nobdy

    Just reading about the secretary of state “conflict of interest” stuff makes me pretty angry all over again, seeing how Clinton was replaced by Rex Freakin’ Tillerson, who the media has sort of shrugged at and moved on.

    Tillerson just cashed out for $180,000,000, which to be fair, he did to avoid conflicts of interest, but that only serves to point TOWARDS Trump’s refusal to divest.

    The whole Trump administration is nothing but nested conflicts of interest, and yet he won the election at least partially because Clinton was perceived as corrupt, even though tens of thousands of man-hours of investigation turned up nothing.

    I realize I am preaching to the choir/barking at the moon, but I feel like this point has been buried under the mudslide of bullshit Trump has already caused, prior to taking office.

    This is also part of why I have no time for alleged liberals who are STILL going after Clinton. I get it, some people don’t like Clinton and that’s fine. I don’t like mushrooms but if the choice was between eating a bowl of mushrooms and having Jeff Sessions as attorney general I would gobble that fungus with gusto.

    Trump isn’t just worse in every way he’s a totally different type of horrible than she is, even if you draw all possible negative inferences about her.

    • Davis X. Machina

      He’s not a scary woman. You’ve got to concede me that point.

    • King Goat

      I think we could have nominated a better candidate, but self styled liberals who refused to support her against Trump? That’s equal parts incomprehensible and reprehensible.

      • Exhibit 1, a letter to the editor in the latest issue of The Nation:

        I voted Green, so I have a clear perspective on Hillary Clinton’s defeat. What’s not to like? We avoided the privatization of Social Security, the Clinton neoliberal agenda, and probably World War III, plus we got in a good kick in the testicles of the oligarchs who funded this debacle. The Clintons should go back to Arkansas, and ponder the enormous damage they’ve done to the Democratic Party. People, peace, planet—go Green.

        Dean Guthrie
        Kansas City, MO

        Incomprehensible: check. Reprehensible: check. A good kick in the testicles, indeed. Gaaaaah.

        • JustRuss

          Packs a lot of stupid into a few sentences, could have a spot in the Trump administration. I hear they’re hiring. They’re always hiring.

    • efgoldman

      if the choice was between eating a bowl of mushrooms and having Jeff Sessions as attorney general I would gobble that fungus with gusto.

      But only certain kinds of the really, really good mushrooms.

  • He’s got my vote. There are a lot of writers who have shown their asses over the last two years, but Cillizza never had anything useful to say in the first place. He’s just a smarmy nihilist.

    Bizarrely, his coworker Jennifer Rubin, who was Romney’s most loyal supporter in 2012, has seemed to come to terms with reality:

    Remember that “repealing insurance and cost-sharing” and “repealing Medicaid expansion” mean tens of millions of people lose coverage — 23 million to be exact. Without the mandate penalties, many young, healthy people will flee the exchanges, accelerating the so-called death spiral and chasing insurers (which means the single remaining insurer in some exchanges) out of the system.

    When Rubin makes you look like a lazy hack, you should really do some reflection.

    • Arouet

      I believe in giving credit where it’s due: I find Rubin’s policy positions repulsive, but she has been consistent and vicious in her excoriation of Trump and his GOP enablers.

      • liberal

        Mostly agree, but how much of that is because she (correctly or not) perceives Trump to be a threat to her neoconservative agenda?

        • Arouet

          I think it’s probably some of that, sure, but if her ideals are sincerely held it’s probably tough to disentangle that in her own mind (I know it can be for me, too). There are a very few conservatives who have impressed me with the vigor of their opposition, which at least shows they’re firmly committed to their principles rather than hypocrites blindly pursuing power on the backs of whatever beast will bear them, and she is one of them.

          I can deal with fighting out policy with neocons because it’s a fair fight and I’m confident our ideas will triumph in the end, but I can’t abide Trumpism. I’ll take whatever allies I can get there.

          • Phil Perspective

            There are a very few conservatives who have impressed me with the vigor of their opposition, which at least shows they’re firmly committed to their principles rather than hypocrites blindly pursuing power on the backs of whatever beast will bear them, and she is one of them.

            What a sucker you are. Do people not remember 4 years ago, for starters?

            • Arouet

              You’d think this election would have brought with it some sense of proportion…

        • If Rubin sincerely believes in anything other than self-aggrandizement and power that makes her more authentic and human than 99% of all GOP figures. Avik Roy also seems to have some residual humanity left. Virtually all of the remaining “never Trump” figures have already decided that wealth, access, and the idea of watching poors and liberals eat shit outweighs their supposed principles. I’d rather be opposed to people who are sincerely, genuinely wrong than the cynical humanoids that are in power now.

          • Arouet

            The one place that doesn’t appear to be true is the national security community, though admittedly that could have something to do with the fact that these people were blacklisted from the Trump administration long ago for their opposition. Some examples that pop to mind off the top of my head include Kori Schake, Tom Nichols, Eliot Cohen, Max Boot…

      • witlesschum

        So far so good, so it’s like you say. We’ll see once Trump gets excited about bombing someone whether Rubin doesn’t get into line.

        • Arouet

          Definitely fair. Iran being the obvious candidate, I suppose.

          • rea

            Possibly Estonia, however.

            • Arouet

              I can see Trump being excited about bombing Estonia because it would get him belly-rubs from Vlad, but I can’t see many in the commentariat outside of the Hannity fever-swamps supporting it.

              And yes, there are degrees of right-wing fever swamps.

      • ColBatGuano

        but she has been consistent and vicious in her excoriation of Trump and his GOP enablers.

        I thought Trump’s strong defense of Bibi and his lunatic choice for ambassador to Israel would have mollified her by now.

    • JKTH

      but Cillizza never had anything useful to say in the first place.

      Yeah, I mean not only did he traffic in all the Clinton bullshit this cycle, his whole shtick is basically just being a purveyor of political CW that was shredded to bits last year.

      • nemdam

        Not only that, he thinks he’s extremely clever when he does it! It’s the worst combination of hackery. Blindly repeat all the dumbest bits of conventional wisdom but think you’re really smart and witty for doing so.

        • Scott Lemieux

          What was grimly amusing is the number of people who consider themselves tough-minded lefties who analyzed the campaign in a way that Mark Halperin himself got get behind. “It’s out there” isn’t just for Cokie Roberts anymore.

  • CrunchyFrog

    In 2016 the US news media was like the all-time Dream Team of hackography. How can anyone choose just one for the annual award?

    • Origami Isopod

      Even on a Dream Team, you have your MVPs.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      “How can anyone choose just one for the annual award?”

      Steel cage death match, that’s how.

    • XTPD

      I’ll plug Lord Sparkling Glibturd as my choice for Hack of the Year (but of course), as his shtick this year was basically becoming “Chris Cillizza, but evil,” and playing stenographer for every bit of the media’s chickenfucking. It’s also worth noting that he’s the only pundit I’m aware of who treated Trump & George Wallace‘s respective rises solely in terms of media SUPERGENIUS.

      • Doesn’t he write for Politico, though? Being the biggest hack at Politico is like being the stinkiest turd in the sewer — it’s theoretically quite a high bar, but who’s going to make the judgment?

        Cillizza actually writes for what is supposed to be a respectable publication.

        • XTPD

          Ioffe, Gold, Scher and Grunward were proof that the Chestnut Knights’ coverage did not, necessarily, have to be morally bankrupt horseshit.

          • They should get jobs somewhere that doesn’t suck.

            • XTPD

              Scher was only an infrequent contributor, and Ioffe’s gone to The Atlantic.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        I don’t read Jack Shafer.

        What’s notable about Cilliza is how gleeful he seemed to be at reporting that there was something happening with emails or whatever.

        It didn’t matter what “something” was, it was bad for Clinton and it made him tremble with excitement.

        They could report “FBI says Hillary Clinton still uses email to communicate with family, friends and staffers” and he would’ve creamed his pants and then written about how HRC just can’t shake the email story.

        • Scott Lemieux

          There is new evidence that Hillary Clinton emailed Huma Abedin! Who is married to a creepy pervo! This CASTS SHADOWS and RAISES TROUBLING QUESTIONS about her email management, the CLinton Foundation, and Mena Airport.

          • XTPD

            But that is perfectly legitimate analysis, because Alfred Wegener.

            • nemdam

              OMG. I’ve never seen that. This has to be an elaborate hoax right? There’s absolutely no way that’s real. If you were constructing the most hackish story possible, this would be it. This has it all. Vapidity, sanctimony, and delusions of grandeur by defending he said/she said journalism on the grounds that it helps shift scientific paradigms.

              I still give Cillizza the award for a more consistent level of hackery, but this has to be the hackiest piece of 2016, and maybe all time.

              • XTPD

                It’s absolutely typical of his output during the election cycle (peep the above linked articles, natch). I don’t recall him being anywhere near this terrible during the 2000s – as a writer, not an editor – and I still have no explanation for WTF happened.

        • A huge amount of EMAILS coverage wasn’t about the emails, it was about the controversy over the emails. Which, of course, is self-perpetuating — if reportage on a scandal is considered evidence that it’s still live, reporting on it keeps it alive forever. If Clinton had won, we’d probably still be hearing about EMAILS in 2020.

          • ForkyMcSpoon

            “Hillary Clinton’s email woes continue as clouds hang over the existence of the column I’m writing right now. Why can’t she stop me from writing this column? Surely this very sentence being expressed in words raises ethical concerns about Clinton’s email practices. Clinton’s silence in response to this latest column raises the question: what is she hiding?”

            • nemdam

              But if Hillary didn't have the horrible judgment to continue her predecessor's practice of using private email about which no wrongdoing was found despite exhaustive investigations, then there would've been no clouds hanging over her or troubling ethical concerns. No sir, this was all driven by objective reporting regarding email practices and nothing about wanting to write a preconceived narrative to appease the right.

              • Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape chlamydia.

                And she should have known that and let Fortinbras run.

                • Hogan

                  But he only became a Dane at the last minute!

  • Judas Peckerwood

    The Washington Post acquitted itself better than a lot of mainstream outlets during the 2016 campaign…

    Talk about setting a low bar…

  • liberal

    I don’t see how anyone could read Cilizza and not come away with the conclusion that “this guy isn’t very bright.”

  • permafrost

    If I was king, we’d be changing the name of Chlamydia to ‘Cilizza’.

    • jeer9

      Speaking of kings and venereal diseases, I once had a student misread a line from Hamlet as:

      Ay, there’s the rub,
      For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
      When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
      Must give us pause. There’s the respect
      That makes chlamydia of so long life.

      Ay, there’s the rub indeed.

  • Taylor

    Please, Clarice Starling did not have “intimate relations with a cannibalistic serial killer.”

    In Silence of the Lambs, she reveals some of her inner life to draw out Lector’s advice, and wins his respect.

    If we must consider Hannibal, which told me more than I wanted to know about the author, in the book she is reduced to a zombie eating an FBI agent’s brains, while in the movie with one leap she’s free. Er, spoiler alert.

    However what this election reveals, with the Keystone Cops defense of the political system from foreign (Russian!) interference, is that the archetypal FBI agents are Agent Johnson and Agent Johnson (they’re not related).

    • CrunchyFrog

      According to the Wiki summary she did near the end of the Hannibal book.

      • Yes, Harris has Lecter do some stale Freudian b.s., and Starling becomes his devoted lover, startling him with the discovery that some things are at least as much fun as eating people’s brains.

        This is why Foster turned down the film version & why major rewrite was required. Talk at the time was that Harris wrote the awful ending as a deliberate fuck-you to Foster.

        • She eats the brains first though. I think. I read the book in one sitting one night, which is probably the best state in which to read it.

          • efgoldman

            which is probably the best state in which to read it.

            I thought the best state in which to read it was Texas.

        • ExpatJK

          Ugh. I watched maybe 5 min of the sequel and it was 5 min too many. What a pathetic follow up to a good movie, and well done Jodie Foster for refusing that garbage.

        • witlesschum

          Jonathan Demme and that cast just made a hell of a movie out of an okay book. I haven’t seen the TV show which people love.

  • Bruce Vail

    I agree with you 100 percent on Cillizza, Scott.

    Dana Millbank not far behind…

    • Scott Lemieux

      I don’t claim to have read him regularly, but based on my sampling Milbank seemed greatly improved this time.

  • swiftfox2

    He clearly did his reporting during the six hours a week he spends mugging on Tony Kornheiser’s radio show (now a podcast that I don’t have the effort for anymore).

    • Scott Lemieux

      Jesus, does that sound unlistenable. I’m surprised Fox hasn’t recruited him for All Takes Matter yet.

  • nemdam

    Not only should Cillizza be nominated, the honor should be renamed the Chris Cillizza award.

    My jaw still hasn’t come off the floor about the fact that Cillizza had written about Clinton’s emails 50(!) times before the first Democratic primary debate.

  • CP

    The framing of the AP story, which Cillizza swallows without a hint of skepticism, was so misleading the AP had to delete its tweet promoting it. I mean, COME ON MAN. The “more than half the meetings” premise was transparently wrong. The denominator used by the AP was ludicrously low, not only arbitrarily excluding government officials but excluding various meetings with non-government officials.

    Okay, what?

    When listing the people that Hillary Clinton met in her capacity as Secretary of State, we’re going to exclude from the list the principal category of people that it would be her job to meet with?

    “Liberal media” my shiny white ass.

    • Scott Lemieux

      Right. It’s not even a clever distortion.

  • jamesepowell

    I despise Chris Cillizza and would recommend he be sent to the FEMA re-education camps as soon as we take back the White House.

    But he is nothing – nothing – compared to the New York Times’ editorial policy of following – nay, inventing – the Clinton Rules. They publish every leak with breathless anticipation of her indictment – any day now, we have it on good authority. They treat every faux scandal as if it were proved when made.

    Without the NYT’s anti-Clinton program for the last 20 years, none of the other stuff would have mattered.

    • Davis X. Machina

      The Post, a third-rate paper, a company paper in a one-industry town, brought down Nixon. That was the Times‘ kill.

      The Times gets to bring down an administration, and until it does, all bets are off, and there are no rules. Cost to the Republic be damned — they’re the Times.

  • Peterr

    Mark Halperin certainly gives Cillizza a run for the Hack of the Year honors in my book.

    ETA: Yeah, I’m late to the party. Still, had to give Halperin a well-deserved shoutout.

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