Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Specter at the Banquet That Didn't Bark in the Night: Update

Here's a funny thing.

Ms. Ana Marie Cox -- who has worn many media hats over the years -- now has a podcast called "With Friends Like These" which is built on the premise of having “uncomfortable conversations” with people who have a different point of view.

Ms. Cox's podcast is a Big Podcast in large measure because it exists under the umbrella of Crooked Media -- a Liberal podcast collective about which you may have heard.   It is big enough to be her chyron tag on the Morning Joe teevee show --

-- and big enough to be her one-line bio at the Washington Post:
Ana Marie Cox is the host of Crooked Media's "With Friends Like These."
It is clearly very good to have friends like these.

Anyhoo, it just so happens that, in addition to being Stephanie Miller's newest BFF and the co-host of his own teevee show on The MSNBC, Mr. Joe Scarborough is also enough of a Beltway media macher to rate his own Washington Post column.

So, y'know, very, very good to have friends like these.

And today, these two Washington Post columnists got together on Mr. Scarborough's teevee show to parse Ms. Cox's article in the Washington Post, which is entitled:
Al Franken isn’t being denied due process. None of these famous men are.
This is a performance that is mutually beneficial to both parties.

For his part, Mr. Scarborough' primary professional goal these days is to eradicate all memory of the fact that he has been a typically peevish Republican boor and whiny asshole for his entire career, and that before Donald Trump threatened to out Mr. Scarborough's affair with his co-host, Mr. Scarborough was only too happy let his longtime pal, Donald John Trump, use his teevee show as the launching pad for his political ambitions.  So on-air badinage with Ms. Cox helps him burnish his newly-minted Mr. Enlightened Independent Guy persona.

For her part, Ms. Cox has fallen from a high place in the media to about as low a place on the media food chain as possible.  Podcasting.  Which is barely one step above gleaning the fields of Moab for a living.  However, because she has friends like these and a Big podcast, she can swing a column in the Washington Post, which in-turn, translates into face-time on Mr. Scarborough's teevee show.

From the video you can see that Joey Joe Joe Junior very much does not like being interrupted and contradicted by mouthy ladies --

-- but he  and Ms. Cox nonetheless danced grimly and uncomfortably around each other like matter and anti-matter trying to tarantella without actually touching.

Because the Circle of Beltway Life, don'tcha know.

And they talked and they talked about Al Franken and Roy Moore and Al Franken and Roy Moore and Donald Trump and Al Franken and Roy Moore.

But here's a funny thing.

You see this picture?

That guy at the opposite side of the semicircle from Ms. Cox is named Mike Barnicle, about whom I have, in the past, written some unflattering-but-true things, strictly in the spirit of having “uncomfortable conversations” with people who have a different point of view.  

(Brief driftglass aside/ For the record, Mr. Barnicle has never reciprocated my invitation to have an “uncomfortable conversation” about, say, the ubiquity and toxicity of the Both Siderism that is the only thing propping up his career. Nor has Michael Gerson, Peggy Noonan, David Frum, David Brooks, Rick Wilson [a frequent guest of Ms. Cox], Matthew Dowd, Hugh Hewitt, Chris Hayes, Ezra Klein, Bret Stephens, Joe Scarborough  [a new BFF of Stephanie Miller], Michael Steele [another new BFF of Stephanie Miller], Tom Friedman, Harold Ford Junior, Kathleen Parker, Ron Fournier, Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, Andrew Sullivan, Rich Lowry, Ross Douthat, Peter Beinart, Jonathan Chait, John Podhoretz, Ben Shapiro, George Will, David French, Erick Erickson, Chris Cillizza and Chuck Todd to name just a few.  In fact, on many, many occasions, my overtures to these media personages to have an “uncomfortable conversation” has gotten me blocked.   So either I'm doing this all wrong, or there is something really, really important about having Friends Like These./ End brief driftglass aside.)

Anyway, back to Mike Barnicle.  And next to him, tangibly present but invisible to the untrained eye, hovers the specter at this particular banquet:  Mr. Mark Halperin.

And here's the funny thing.  The hilarious thing.

Smack in the middle of the article by Ms. Cox which occasioned her invitation onto Mr. Scarborough's show and which the panel was so gingerly mining for any thin vein of ratings gold, we find this delightful paragraph (to which I have added some emphasis to guide your eye):
But those who decry what’s happening with Franken — and the #metoo reckoning writ large — as “moral flattening” are doing some serious steamrolling themselves, yoking together every corporate disavowal, every canceled contract and every defunct résumé line into the same tragic ending, such as Ziegler characterizing Franken’s likely return to civilian life as a “demise.” Or Gingrich equating the same move to dangling off the branch of a tree. (I am reminded of Mike Barnicle bemoaning the fate of his erstwhile MSNBC co-contributor Mark Halperin: “But does he deserve to die?”) Much as rape is not opportunistic groping and exposing oneself is not child molestation, there’s a whole scale of consequences available between death and “no longer having an extraordinarily prestigious and well-paying job.”
Well Jesus Christ and Philo Farnsworth, there sat Mr. Barnicle himself!  And with the spirit of Mr. Halperin hovering palpably nearby!  Separated from Crooked Media's very own, branded "Uncomfortable Conversation" podcaster by naught but ten feet of Lucite table-top and some hard-eyed professional cost/benefit calculations. 



And not a word was spoken on the subject.  Not one word.

And that silence spoke volumes.
Gregory [a Scotland Yard detective]: Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?

Sherlock Holmes: To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.

Gregory: The dog did nothing in the night-time.

Sherlock Holmes: That was the curious incident.

"The Adventure of Silver Blaze", Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


The crowd at the Morning Joe Sycophant Circle just keeps getting thinner and thinner. 
From Media-Ite:

Former Rep. and Morning Joe Analyst Harold Ford Jr. Fired From Morgan Stanley For Alleged Misconduct

Behold, a Tip Jar!


VonWenk said...

I was heartened by the number of callers on The Stephanie Miller Show this morning, who echoed my sentiments on Al Franken (and John Conyers) being pushed out of Congress by Democrats. This is unilateral disarmament. There was a woman on All In named Liz Smith complaining that Democrats hadn't moved fast enough to force Franken out, to which I call b.s. And hearing Kirsten Gillebrandt argue that there is no difference between inappropriate touching and rape and that public officials need to be held to a higher standard… aargh! Sorry, too many Black men have been jailed or killed on the word of a woman claiming to have been attacked or whistled at for me not to bristle at the argument "This isn't a court of law; we don't need evidence beyond a reasonable doubt." Let's just find the nearest tree to show that we're better than the Republicans!

Someone explain to me the difference between the ideological purists who couldn't see a difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump because she gave speeches to Wall Street bankers and Gillebrandt and her "zero tolerance" for sexual harassment, or what playing by Marquis of Queensberry rules has gotten the Democrats so far. They're like the Redcoat walking through the forests in formation while the American colonists pick them off.

Cirze said...

Hear hear!

March on.


VonWenk said...

One more point I meant to make:

The big takeaway I get from Franken's ouster is that Democrats don't care who people voted for. Whether Franken was fit to serve any longer was a decision for the voters of Minnesota to make. Maybe the Democratic Party should send an email to their principles the next time they want donations.

Knight of Nothing said...

Franken is my senator and like most Minnesotans -- we have at or near the highest voter turnouts in the country -- I care very much about who represents me. After the second accusation, which I find quite credible, I sent an open letter and asked him to resign.

The thing that matters -- the only thing -- is whether these allegations are true. I wish they weren't, but I think they are. He's never been afraid to call someone a liar, and I think he would have fought harder if there wasn't anything to these allegations. I think they were going to keep dogging him and distracting him from doing the work we sent him to do. So I think he did the right thing today, as much as it pains me personally.

I take solace in the idea that progressives work is and should be bigger than one person, and that DG and BG have good advice for all of us: win? Chop wood, carry water. Lose? Chop wood, carry water. There is no final victory for our side, because building and fixing and preserving things takes constant vigilance. We lost a fighter today, but we can and will recover.

trgahan said...

The question needing answered by our media's punk rock advocates of "messy coalitions" is:

Do you honestly think Joey Joe Joe Scarborough, Rick Wilson, Michele Steele, or the rest of the My-Paycheck-Is-Now-Made-Out-To-"Never-Trumper #1355224" crowd wouldn't immediately stab us in the back if Trump JUST canceled his twitter account and read old Reagan speeches every time he was in public?

Cause I can't tell if its a required Faustian bargain to get on TV anymore or if its what happens when you get high enough in media, for long enough, you really do begin to believe your own bullshit.

Tanbark said...


What's your take on Mark Dayton's looking to appoint the Lt. Gov., Tina Smith, to Franken's seat?

By her own admission, she doesn't plan to run for the seat when the term ends.

I had read that Lori Swanson, whom IS interested in running for the seat, was one of the leading choices for Dayton.

Would it not be better to have someone (and Swanson sounds like a good progressive, to me) who wants to run, having
the advantage of incumbency, instead of wasting it on a "seat warmer"? I'd be interested in hearing your take on this.

As for "due process" that would have involved a congressional investigation into Franken's alleged sexual harassment, anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that the last thing that practically all of the male members of congress want to have is an ongoing investigation of one of their peers for THAT. You could stand in the well of either chamber, blindfolded, and throw a rock, and you'd probably strike someone whom, to say the least, has sexually pressured an intern, or maybe, a page. If that committee got cranked up to go fishing in Al Franken's pond, I think it could turn into a much larger body of water. I'd bet that the democratic and republican leadership got together on this and decided that they would, quietly, join Gillebrand et al, and remind Franken that it's in practically everyone's interest for him resign. That Franken would point out the outrageous double standard of having Donald Trump (and his family) tweet-chortling over this, was a good lick, in parting.
We'll see how the repubs deal with Trump's bragging about his sexual assault, as we move nearer to the mid-terms.
Personally, I think they'll do all they can to get him to bail, rather than have him around their necks for Nov. of 2018.

Speaking of Gillebrand, I thnk the real reason she's currently in bad cess with some democrats is her recently stating that Bill Clinton should have resigned when his accusers were after him, decades ago. Times have changed.

Tanbark said...

By the way, Knight; I'm with you on Franken's resignation. He was hamstrung. If he'd stayed in office, the things that we liked in him, particularly when he scorned the republicans for their greed and deceit, would have been degraded. Now, whether we get Tina Smith, or Lori Swanson, we'll have a fresh face, and it will be a democratic woman. I'm sorry that Franken's leaving. I've long been an admirer of his, but I think that there's a lot more "buyer's remorse" about Trump and the republicans than the polls are showing, and I'm certain that we'll have a better chance of keeping that Senate seat if Franken's not in it.

dinthebeast said...

You might want to watch Jess McIntosh, who worked for Franken for years and is his friend, explain why she's glad he resigned on Chris Hayes' show last night.
She said we Democrats have to make this count, and I believe she's right.
We're winning elections again, mostly with women as candidates.
I had read about the flood of new Democratic candidates since Fergus' election, but sort of wondered what that meant in the real world, then I found out about the 20,000 calls that EMILY's list has fielded this year from women wanting to run for office and requesting information about how to go about doing so.
That is how we win.
We really, really need to win.
So, again, will you help?
Or not?

-Doug in Oakland

Tanbark said...

Hi, Doug…who you asking? If it's me, I help wherever I can. Sometimes, what "help" is, means different things to different people.

I know we really need to win. I'm 75 years old and I was marching in civil rights demonstrations in N.C. more 50 years ago. About a year after I got out of the Marine corps in 1963, I was standing on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill, in a silent vigil against the war in Vietnam. I think that looks like a pretty good call, against our second worst-ever foreign policy decision.

My help is directed to getting people nominated who can win. I think that's best done by them advocating for the changes that we're seeing right now, on behalf of women. No more trying to sneak up on the voters. Incremental stuff doesn't work very well. "We suck less!" is not a viable campaign slogan.

So. Will you help?

Tanbark said...

Din, I think the points you're making about the women are all true. I'm optimistic. Don't want to hear about giving up. I think a lot of the people who helped elect Barak Obama twice, and then voted for Trump, are there for the taking. If we're honest and passionate about real change, then we can start the salvage operation.

Knight of Nothing said...

@Tanbark - you make a good point: who knows what other skeletons lie hidden in the closets of these folks? As minority leader, Schumer is probably anxious to close that door and back away slowly. Once the women senators gave him some cover, I bet he was all in on asking for the resignation. This kind of calculus is unfortunate for Franken only if he is wholly innocent, and though I wish he was, I do not think he is.

As for Dayton's appointment of Smith: the Minnesota DFL, like the national party, is at a crossroads and somewhat fractious. Dayton emphatically does not want to appear to be playing kingmaker/queenmaker, and prefers a healthy primary in which the party picks the candidate. I think this makes a good deal of sense. It also allows candidates to focus exclusively on winning the seat, rather than forcing them to to juggle acclimating to the senate and kicking off a hasty campaign.

Finally, a brief word on Swanson - overall, I like her politics, and I will definitely vote for her in the general election, should she become the DFL nominee, but she has some baggage regarding past positions on unions, so I'll be checking out other candidates in the meanwhile.

@Doug in Oakland - I didn't hear about her interview! I'll have to look in on that. "This is how we win." Agreed.