It's a bit astonishing to watch the real-time narrative construction that went on at last night's debate. I must have heard the term "meltdown" in reference to Hillary 65 times. And I talked to reporters who would literally say, "I thought she did okay, but I just misjudged it" -- the aggregate conclusion of the corps became some sort of objective, or at least agreed-upon, truth that the outliers measured themselves against. Very, very odd. Particularly because the part that much of the press liked least -- her heated recitation of the programs she's fought for -- came off, to me, as one of her best moments. (Am. Prospect)
What's even more amazing is how the repetition of such fact-substitutes still persuades us, and when I say "us," I mean "me." I continually forget about this when I read the news. Thank God for video clips.
But it does amaze me how an idea can---through mindless repetitious---begin to present itself as a "fact." In a comment on Klein's piece, Kevin Drum writes:
"[P]ack journalism at work...isn't pretty. Nickel version: If some other reporter says Hillary Clinton melted down because she displayed a flash of emotion in last night's debate, then she melted down. After all, who are you going to believe, the spin room or your own lyin' eyes?"...Am I feeling bitter? You bet. Not because Hillary Clinton seems more likely than not to lose — I can live with that pretty easily — but because of how she's likely to lose. Because the press doesn't like her. Because any time a woman raises her voice half a decibel she instantly becomes shrill. (Political Animal)
'K, here's the video. (You've got love the expression on Edwards' face---bear in mind that he's my candidate--- at the start.).
I thought she seemed irked---she was, as The New York Times reported, being double-teamed. I don't think she melted down or was especially shrill. In fact, she wasn't shrill at all.
But as Kevin Drum acknowledges, God forbid a woman show any signs of irritation when she's being attacked. So here's Jennifer Parker giving you her opinion framed as a prediction about what the "pundits" will say:
She was bickering with Sen. Barack Obama about their differences on health insurance, and whether Obama's plan leaves millions of Americans uninsured.
And then she … well … she got angry.
Frankly, I don't even really understand what she was saying. What I was getting was how angry she is. Not about an issue, so much, as about the fact that Obama is beating her.
The clip, I predict, will be played again and again and again.
Pundits will say that her tone made male voters recoil. And led some female voters to sneer. (Political Punch, ABC News)
Chris Hayes at The Nation shared his thoughts on why journalists are essentially a flock of sheep, except of course when they're being a pack of dogs.
[W]hen you go to one of these events as a reporter, there's part of you that's aware that you don't really belong there. You're an outsider, standing on the edges observing the people who are there doing the actually stuff of politics: listening to a candidate, cheering, participating. So reporters run with that distance: they crack wise, they kibbitz in the back, they play up their detachment. That leads to coverage that is often weirdly condescending and removed from the experience of politics. I'm convinced that some of the worst features of campaign reporting emanate from the kinds of psychological defenses that reporters erect to deal with their insecurities. (The Nation)
Which makes me wonder if it will not soon be time for the journalists through whom our version of the "facts" is filtered to become obsolete. Why bother with the middlemen at all if we're getting our information filtered through their "insecurities"?
Libby at The Newshoggers, re Hillary and her alleged "meltdown":
I didn't watch the whole thing but I saw the 'damning' clip and she didn't look that pissed to me. I thought she came across as more real and less calculating than usual. Impassioned and candid, almost. That's what I would have reported, which is why I suppose the WaPo isn't going to invite me to join their Washington bureau any time soon. Independent thought is not welcome under today's journalistic 'standards.' (Newshoggers)
Libby at Newshoggers again re: the suckitude of the press coverage. (After all, what good are they if they're not any good at what they do?)
In a way I'm surprised that the press corps has devolved into such a mindless flock of stenographers....Time was when a journalist would distinguish themselves in the field with original thinking, superior investigative skills and thoughtful prose. Today, the rule is enforced homogeneity which leaves no room to stand out in the bleating crowd. It just doesn't make sense to me that a true reporter would settle for that kind of mediocrity, but I guess that's the only way to keep a job these days. It's too bad, because we all suffer when the press allows their role to be so diminished. (Newshoggers)
So Clinton’s flash of anger was a “meltdown” because the group of reporters collectively decided that it was. And they all reported on it the same way, because they knew to do otherwise would make put them outside the group. (The Carpetbagger Report:)
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