Being as it is the month of November, I would be remiss if I didn't tempt the fates by taking a peek into a filthy corner of that Very Bad November seven years ago.
A filthy corner that was brightly lit for awhile. Right there for anyone to see. And the proprietor of that particular, filthy, Both Siderist corner, Mr. Matthew Dowd, used all the media clout that came with the job of ABC News chief political analyst to proudly defend his filthy corner, and angrily attack anyone who pointed out that his corner was, in fact, filthy.
Some people, like me and like Erik Wemple of the Washington Post saw Dowd for who and what he was and wrote about him (from November 1, 2016):
ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd propagates gaping Trump-Clinton false equivalence, blames country
People who work for the establishment broadcast TV outlets are programmed and required to adhere to the neutralist gospel that preaches, They’re all bastards — all of them. In this very spirit, Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst at ABC News, issued the tweet above. The imperative here? That these two issues — Donald Trump’s serial alleged sexual assaults on women and Hillary Clinton’s scandalous use of a private email server — must be paired at all times.
In ways far more eloquent than this blog could ever muster, Twitter ripped Dowd over and over for placing these two issues on the same plane.
Any watcher of bland television news recognizes this timeless lament about “partisans.” Again, everyone is to blame. Sure, partisans on both sides generally go light on the drawbacks of their candidates. Because they’re partisans. It’s a truism that borders on tautology. It overlooks two important considerations, one being that email mal-usage is one thing, and assault of women is quite, quite another. And as long as we’re discussing differences between these two issues, it bears mentioning that Clinton and her supporters have acknowledged that the email setup was a mistake; Trump and his people have called the sexual assault allegations a “total fabrication.”
As it turns out, then, there’s ample justification for talking about one without the other. Dowd, however, wasn’t budging. Instead of perhaps acknowledging that his bundling of two disparate issues was amiss, he retreated to another cliche of the TV network news analyst. The hopelessly divided America cliche, that is.
But by 2016 go-along-get-along-Blame-Both-Sides-for-Republican-atrocities fetish of the political media had become an actual cult. If you wanted to get ahead, you became an algorithm that generated automatic "Both Sides are equally monstrous/Disrupt the K'Rupt Duopoly!" every day of your professional life. Like, for example, this garbage by Dowd's 2015/16 running buddy, Ron Fournier which was published in The Atlantic in March of 2016:
The Worst of All Worlds
What could be worse for a creaky, cancerous political system than a match between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?
By Ron Fournier
If you had asked me four years ago to concoct the most dispiriting and debilitating 2016 presidential campaign, I might have said, “Start with a political family; find a scandal-scarred creature of Washington addicted to 20th-century identity politics.”
“Now find a vacuous outsider; somebody who reflects the worst of modern politics and culture. A celebrity would be perfect. Better yet, a reality star who is famous for being famous, a social media whore, a boor, a bully who traffics in old hates via new technologies.”
I might have picked Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. What could be worse for a creaky, cancerous political system than what the Democratic and Republican parties are brewing up? Nothing really. This is as bad as it gets...
Well it turns out that this was not, not, not as bad as it gets.
And although it looked for a time like Fournier's career as political opinion-haver might mercifully scuttle under a porch and die, as we all know, in the media There is a Club and you and I are not in it. Which is why, even after thoroughly shitting the bed in 2016, "liberal" MSNBC still found a use for Fourner in 2019, Chuck Todd (remember Chuck Todd?) salvaged Fournier from the ash heap of punditry so he, as a "left of center voter", could come out strongly in favor of the third party candidacy of Howard Shultz.
Remember Howard Schultz? And his mighty campaign of...blaming Both Sides for everything?
At the time, Fournier was "president of the political consulting firm Truscott Rossman" which, although it claimed to be "bi-partisan", weirdly enough had nothing but Republican clients.
Which I also wrote about at the time.
Here's the original article from Talking Points Memo, January 30, 2019
Ron Fournier Is President Of A ‘Bipartisan’ PR Firm, But His Clients Are Republicans
When veteran political journalist Ron Fournier, a perennial pundit who rails against “tiny politics,” left the profession back in April to become president of the Michigan-based public relations firm Truscott Rossman, he said he would provide a needed Democratic perspective in the wake of one of its co-founder’s retirement...
But, as it turns out, none of Fournier’s known clients at the firm are Democrats; in fact, TPM couldn’t find an example of a Democratic client at the largely Republican-leaning firm at all.
Over the phone Wednesday, Fournier initially claimed that “of course we have Democratic clients.” But he couldn’t name any, aside from the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a non-partisan group that supported the successful effort to legalize cannabis in Michigan.
So, in the aftermath of Trump's election, these two Both Siderist grifters -- Dowd and Fournier -- diverge. Fournier finds a new was to bilk credulous dopes out of their money in the political consulting biz, whereas Dowd would really rather not leave the stage. The teevee spotlight is warm and cozy and pays the bills and leads to other paying gigs, so having also violently shit the bed, Dowd begins to publicly peg for forgiveness.
And thus, just 10 days after Erik Wemple's Washington Post scathing article and just two days after the 2016 election, Dowd wrote a column for the ABC News site entitled:
In This Election, Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa
Matthew Dowd offers an apology in this election cycle.
Well, despite him being catastrophically wrong at the one thing he is paid to not be wrong about...and despite personally attacking me and you lovely people on social media for being stupid and "not caring about the truth"...I have been known to be a forgiving kinda guy.
As such, if Matthew Dowd were willing to sincerely apologize for using his position at ABC News to cravenly Both Sides every story about Trump for over a year, I'd hear him out.
If he were willing to own up to his part in getting a monster like Trump elected, I'd consider it.
Because that's what he'd be apologizing for, right?
Oh Hell no.
Instead, citing St. John of the Cross, Dowd used his ABC News column to desperately apologize to the bigots and imbeciles for ever doubting that Il Douche would be elected. And behind every word of it you can practically hear ABC News execs demanding that, if he wanted to keep his job, he'd fucking well better get his ass out there and make nice with the bigots and imbeciles who would now be taking power in Washington D.C.
And he'd fucking well better make it good. Like, A Fish Called Wanda Good!
And so, from the ABC News article:
I want to take this opportunity to say I was wrong about who would win the election. But my biggest regret, and what I would like to apologize for is the arrogant, close-minded, judgmental, and sometimes mean-spirited way I related to many who believed Trump would win...
I became too bunkered in New York City (away from my home in Central Texas) in the last few months, and didn't pay attention to the local stories where another portion of America lives and breathes...
Then in the fall, I became convinced Trump would lose, and after the three debates, even put odds on Clinton winning at 95 percent...
I should have followed St. John of the Cross and held a place of the unknowing: where truth doesn't come as much through the head, as from the heart and the love we show others...
So I'm not getting an apology.
You're not getting an apology.
Erik Wemple's not getting an apology.
But the racist zombies that dwell in sewers of the Breitbart comment sections do get an apology.
And what did Matthew Dowd plan on doing to right his his terrible, terrible wrongness?
He groveled to the bigots and imbeciles, and pledged to make amends.
A few weeks ago on an appearance on ABC, I said that in order to authentically move on from hurting others one must go through a process of the 4 Rs -- responsibility, regret, repair and reform. And so I as a human being and sinner myself must move through that journey...
I offer this as an apology to those folks who I judged, laughed at, criticized, or was dismissive to. I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive the times I stepped on you in an arrogant manner. I humbly say I am sorry, and in the days ahead will try to reach out to as many individually as I can...
You see, as long as his job is under threat, Matthew Dowd can be made to care about taking responsibility for his bad actions and repenting of them.
However, when his livelihood is not under threat, a very different Matthew Dowd emerges. One who takes no responsibility for the terrible damage he has done. Expresses no regret. Does not say he is sorry. Does not reach out to individuals like you and me.
Instead, that Dowd just shrugs his past off like a tattered shawl, and glides into the next phase of his career pretending the whole thing never happened. Dowd has nuked his entire, inconvenient Twitter archive. Dowd blocks anyone on social media who even lightly brushes up against his past. And with the help of his old friends Nicole Wallace at MSNBC --
Matthew Dowd Joins MSNBC As Political Contributor And Analyst
-- Dowd is now free to reinvent himself yet again, this time as the Righteous Scourge of Both Siderist Journalism.
And when other news organizations accommodate the lies and misinformation by presenting two sides to every conversation, then they also contribute to the demise of our democracy. https://t.co/oCx4b83b0Z
— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) February 17, 2023
This, of course, is not the original Tweet. This is just the fragmentary relic of the original Tweet, because the original is gone.
Because Mr. Dowd, who is a moral windsock that changes his core principles with the prevailing breeze, is now very careful about "curating" his social media presence: a hedge against the day when the wind shifts once again and he must, once again, use his friends in the media to help him erase his inconvenient past.