Monday, October 13, 2008

Stocks (Sort Of ) Rebound, Campaign Trail Economic Talk, The Politics Of Hate Presented With Fake Balance, And Phil Gramm Named A Collapse Culprit

Hi everybody. Happy New Week! I'm going to kind of forge through some of tonight's segments on double-speed, so that I can spend some extra time on the campaign rally hate coverage. Because, oh my, there's some stuff that needs to be said. Anyway, we're kicking things off with good news. Honest to God good news! Stocks closed way up today--936 points to be exact, which was a record breaker in terms of point jump. But don't break out the balloons and streamers yet; the market still has more than halfway to go to make up what was lost lately.

We've got Ali Velshi at the wall as per usual and then Andy Serwer joins us to talk about how the U.S. is combating the financial crisis versus how the Europeans are tackling the problem. It seems the folks across the pond are big-spending more than us. Andy then says something that makes my head want to explode: "For those who suggest that, earlier in the year, we should have headed this thing off at the pass, you know, that may be a bit of a red herring, because no one foresaw exactly how bad this was going to be." First of all, after what this country has seen, any variation on the phrase, "no one could have known," should never ever be uttered again. Perhaps I'm not understanding his context, but there is always someone somewhere who gets it right and that's no different with this crisis. In fact, the Huffington Post has a whole list. And, um, I'd say Paul Krugman's shiny new Nobel Prize is a bit of evidence as well.

Transitioning now to a Candy Crowley piece that follows Obama laying down some new economic proposals on the campaign trail. And it's not all "let's throw out those greedy crooks" talk either--he notes that the whole country has been living beyond their means. My God, we might actually end up with a president who does more than urge us to go shopping. On the other side of the partisan divide, an Ed Henry piece informs us that the McCain camp has a new message. I believe this is number 563, for those keeping score at home. Apparently, McCain is never going to give up. He's a fighter! Grr! Yeah, whatever Mr. Maverick--just fix the economy, mmkay? Even the perpetually-wrong Bill Kristol thinks McCain's campaign is so dysfunctional that people need to fired. Of course, you know what that means, don't you? The far right Kristol is clearly in the tank for Obama. I swear, people; you can't make this stuff up.

The night's inevitable "Strategy Session" is being rocked by David Gergen, Ed Rollins, and Roland Martin and they begin by talking about how McCain has yet to lay out new economic ideas (though he's set to tomorrow). Anderson Cooper reads us a quote that Ed posted to a blog: "And you said that James Carville's famous slogan to Bill Clinton about, it's the economy, stupid, should now be replaced with -- quote -- 'You morons, what have you done with my money, my life, and my kids' future?'" I might have used a stronger word than "morons," but yeah, that's about right.

We then get played a clip from an interview that Dana Bash did with McCain. Wow, I guess he's talking to CNN again. Anyway, in the clip, Dana asks why he'll bring up Bill Ayers, but not Reverend Wright. McCain says it's because Ayers is an unrepentant terrorist, which is a pretty big dodge. Dana then tries again and gets nowhere. It's a good question though. Roland thinks McCain is channeling Hillary Clinton's primary run, with all the "I'll fight for you" talk. Hm, I didn't notice that, but he's right. Of course, we all know how that worked out for her. The Gerg tells us that he's disagreed with a lot of what the McCain campaign has done, but ultimately it's up to the candidate to be the leader. He thinks Obama has run the better campaign. Damn straight. Have I mentioned lately that I love The Gerg?

Okay, now onto some of the stuff that has completely ticked me off. Anderson intros a Gary Tuchman piece by noting that there has been a lot of discussion about the mood at McCain and Palin rallies recently and there have been "a number of edited videos on YouTube with interviews with people at these rallies." First of all, I'd say a good portion of YouTube videos are edited in some way. There is no reason to use the word unless you are implying that there is a possibility of deliberate spin involved. I mean, seriously watch this video (and this one) and tell me how a phrase like "commie faggots" could be taken out of context.

"But are they fair?" asks Anderson, referring to the videos. I don't even know how to take that. Are they fair? What the hell does that even mean? We're talking about hate here. Is there a time when hate is fair? Anyway, he tells us that they sent Gary to follow Palin in Virginia to find out. Now, Gary covering the Palin campaign is obviously a legitimate story, but we're being told he went specifically to investigate the hate claim (which has been documented repeatedly by journalists over the past week) and that seems pretty pointless. Not many people are going to go all crazy-hate when there's a news camera pointed their way, as evidenced by this infamous video from CBS. A hidden camera investigation might have caught a more accurate portrayal.

You know, I have to admit, I loves me the Gary, so I was really cringing in fear that I would hate his piece. But it turns out I got my cringe on for nothing; the piece was good. We learn that the campaign got country singer Hank Williams to stoke up the crowd with lyrics about the "left-wing liberal media." I bet Gary is feeling the love. Apparently Palin has toned down the Ayers talk a bit, but she's keeping mum on that recent abuse of power finding. Gary also notes that "her political antenna may be a bit frayed." See, some of her supporters couldn't hear her, so they yelled, "louder," prompting Palin to mistake them for protesters and do a little berating. In another context, I'd give her a pass on this (I've been to rallies and it is hard to hear what people are saying), but since she's been spewing hate recently I find it deliciously hilarious. And don't you love how quick she was to smack down perceived protests, but doesn't say a peep about her supporters booing and yelling things about Obama?

In contrast, today Obama smacked down some McCain inspired booing with a quick and simple, "we don't need that." Of course, his supporters are a lot easier to control since he hasn't been inciting them with hate. Just saying. Gary talks to a supporter that has the "Obama palled around with terrorists" talking point drilled into her brain. Another man created a big board/sign thingee that, of course, contains the name Hussein. Gary asks him about it. "It sounds like you're just on a hate campaign to be honest with you," he says. Thank you! Hate is standing before Gary's eyes and he calls it what it is. That is how you do it. I'm looking at you Anderson Cooper (but more on him later). Anyway, the guy claims it's not hate and starts getting on Gary, asking him who he's for. "I'm for honest journalism," says Gary, which is quite possibly the most perfect answer he could have given.

After Gary's piece, we're back with our panel and Anderson brings up Representative John Lewis' recent remarks about the McCain camp inciting hatred. Lewis referenced George Wallace (though did not compare McCain to him) and now McCain is outraged OUTRAGED! Ed thinks the comments were over the line. This ALWAYS happens. Someone makes a reference that is mostly true, but could admittedly be seen as hyperbolic, and suddenly it's all about the controversy and not the original issue. Then Anderson reads a statement from some GOP chairman who compares Obama to Bin Ladin. Classy! The Gerg agrees with Ed regarding Lewis, but says, "All sorts of people are going over the line in this campaign in recent weeks." Then he goes on to ask when McCain and Palin are going to reject the comments made at their rallies, which he quotes. You go, Gerg!

From here we get played a weird clip of a McCain pastor giving a truly bizarre and offensive prayer. Roland is angered he has the audacity to question the faith of other Christians and thinks McCain should be responsible for stopping that stuff from happening. Anderson asks if all this hate is just isolated incidents and Ed infers that both campaign's rallies have intense people, which is an attempt at ridiculous fake balance. Roland talks a bit about people chanting "USA!" and how that implies the other side is anti-American. "Now, they did chant "USA," also, at the Obama acceptance speech a the Democratic convention," says Anderson. Sure, challenge Roland, but not Ed's BS balance claim. I'm not saying Anderson should have let Roland's point go; it's good he called it out. I'm beginning to wonder about him though.

So, I imagine it's fairly clear at this point that I'm not happy with a lot of this coverage, and I have to (sadly) say, I'm really pretty disappointed in Anderson right now. As I said before, I understand his need and desire to be impartial; I really do. Holding tight to that value is something I find admirable about him. But there are not two sides to every story. This is about hate, plain and simple. There are some things that you don't play the balance game with, and this is one of them. I do not understand why he finds it okay to take a stand against the financial collapse culprits (his words: "Both candidates have said that now is not the time to talk about blame. Frankly, that's what politicians always say. The truth is now is exactly the right time to talk about blame. People deserve to know how we got into this mess and who should be held accountable.") and snark about Palin (yes, it's fairly clear he's got at least some negative views towards her), but when it comes to something that could literally lead to violence, he and the show play the bullshit balance game.

What the McCain/Palin campaign is doing is dangerous. I don't come at this from a place related to politics or partisanship or whatever. I'm viewing what I see as a student of psychology and history. Good people can do incredibly bad things and it all depends on the situation. We're living in a country right now that for all intents and purposes has completely gone down the tubes, and now we're in an economic crisis. People are scared. People are hurting. And some people are looking for a scapegoat or someone to project their frustrations on, and it seems McCain and Palin have been happy to offer up Obama and his supporters. If this continues and Obama wins, what happens? How would you feel if your life was going badly and then the country you loved was taken over by someone you perceived to be a terrorist sympathizer? Where do we go from here? Because I tell you, I can see what's coming down the line. I fear for not only Obama, but our whole country. McCain has the power to stop this now. If he was truly about putting country first, he would.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope in the future my readers will be able to regard this post as the time when Eliza had her silly freakout and not something that turned out to be prescient. As for Anderson, I guess I'm being particularly hard on him because he knows this stuff. This is a guy who covered the aftermath of Rwanda, a genocide incited by hate speech. Yes, it's a hyperbolic comparison, but I think my point is clear. And I've heard him on more than one occasion note that people are capable of anything. I've found his treatment of this story over the past week to be stunning, to say the least. Remaining a blank slate is great in most cases, but sometimes, lies are just lies, hate is just hate, and one side is clearly wrong. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar. I wish the show would stop being such a coward and call it one.

The last piece of the night is from Tom Foreman on our 10 Culprits of the Collapse, but I'm going to skip due to time issues. You can add Phil Gramm to your list of people who deserve your scorn. That'll do it.


Blogger Anne said...

Hi Eliza,

I agree with you about the fake balance. I don't understand AC lately. If you don't call hate for what it is as it hits you in the face, you are part of the problem. Anyone who got past the
6th grade knows that in uncertain economic times, hate groups flourish. AC needs to read your blog and knock off the fake attempt at balance. I do not disagree with what John Lewis said. The Gerg said last week that McCain has the ability and should take the responsibility of hateful tones at his rallies. The Palin/McCain slants at the rallies do remind me of Gov. Wallace's antics (before he reformed himself). I do hope McCain will restore his dignity and end the garbage he is spewing. His campaign is at this point sad and lost, he needs to truly put the country first. Right now, it's just words on a rally sign.
Anne D.

6:05 AM  

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