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Nov. 23 2009 - 10:59 am | 10,326 views | 11 recommendations | 250 comments

Yes, Sarah, There is a Media Conspiracy

Sarah Palin talked on the campaign trail about trying to get around the elite media filter, but this week she’s pushed her way straight through it.

And the media – liberal and conservative, bloggers and network anchors – have responded by dedicating magazine covers, air time and online real estate to everything related to the book-promoting, media-bashing former governor of Alaska. No matter where Palin goes, the media follow – Andrea Mitchell even hosted her MSNBC show Wednesday from the Barnes & Noble in Grand Rapids, Mich., where Palin’s scheduled to sign books.

via The Sarah Palin-media co-dependency – Michael Calderone – POLITICO.com.

NBC News's Andrea Mitchell confronts Sarah Palin with the controversial Newsweek cover on November 18 in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Bill Pugliano/Getty)

NBC News's Andrea Mitchell confronts Sarah Palin with the controversial Newsweek cover on November 18 in Grand Rapids, Michigan (Bill Pugliano/Getty)

Just to get this out of the way, since the teabaggers have apparently re-discovered my site and in response to the previous Palin post have begun bombarding me with letters of the “Yeah, but Obama…” genus:

Is the media out to get Sarah Palin? It seems like most of the letters I get are insisting that I admit it. “Surely you can’t deny,” writes one woman from Florida, “that no political figure in American history has had to put up with what Sarah Palin has had to put up with from the mainstream media.”

Now, this is the part of this red-blue schtick where I’m supposed to strike back without thinking and re-hash the history of, say, the Monica Lewinsky scandal in rebuttal and then, as the argument progresses, do the whole “I know you are but what am I?” thing until the end of time. I’ve decided from now on that I’m just not going to go there with any of this culture-war bullshit. It’s exhausting. I mean, hell, if you want to argue over who’s more justified in wallowing in media victimhood, that’s not a fight I mind losing. Mazel tov!

I would, however, like to point out a few things, none of which really involve taking sides in this particular cat-fight. In no particular order:

1) The political media has always taken it upon itself to make decisions about who is and who is not qualified to be taken seriously as candidates for higher office. Without even talking about whether they do this more or less to Republicans or Democrats, I can testify that I witnessed this phenomenon over and over again in the primary battles within the Democratic Party. It has always been true that the press corps has drawn upon internalized professional biases, high-school-style groupthink and the urging of insider wonks to separate candidates into “serious” and “unserious” groups before the shots even start to be fired.

At the outset of the 2004 campaign, for instance, the herd knew without being told that Kerry and Lieberman got the first paragraphs in the debate wrap-ups and Howard Dean, Al Sharpton and Dennis Kucinich got the last paragraphs. The corps fought against Dean’s unexpectedly strong showing all the way through the early primaries and it was no surprise to anyone when they pile-drove him into total insanity before Iowa. The point I’m trying to make is that the media has a long and storied history of just taking the gloves off and whaling on a dude until he screams uncle (in Dean’s case, almost literally) when they make up their mind about someone, and this phenomenon is not restricted to fights between Democrats and Republicans.

2) When that does happen, when the press corps decides to abandon all restraint and go for the head shot, it usually tells us a lot more about the reporters’ bosses and what they’re thinking than it does about the reporters themselves. Your average political reporter is a spineless dweeb who went to all the best schools and made it to that privileged seat inside the campaign-trail ropeline by being keenly sensitive to the editorial wishes of his social and professional superiors.

When their bosses were for the war, they were for the war, and they battered any candidate who was “weak on foreign policy.” When the political winds shifted four years later and the consensus inside the Beltway suddenly was that Iraq had been a hideous mistake, the campaign-trail reporters mysteriously started sounding like Sixties peaceniks on the plane and they hammered Hillary for refusing to admit her error on the Iraq vote (none of these pundits had to admit their mistake on the same question, but whatever), clearing the way for Obama.

The tone for all this behavior is always set somewhere way up the corporate totem pole, and it always reflects some dreary combination of simple business considerations (i.e. what’s the best story and sells the most ads) and internalized political calculus (i.e. who is a “legitimate” candidate and who is an “insurgent” or a “second-tier” hopeful). It’s not that the reporters are making this judgment themselves, it’s that they have to listen to what the apparatus Up There is saying all day long — not just their bosses but the think-tank talking heads they interview for comments, the party insiders who buy them beers at night, the pollsters and so on.

And when all these people start getting in their ears about this or that guy doesn’t have “winnability,” or doesn’t have enough money to run, or has negatives that are insurmountable, all that thinking inevitably bleeds into the coverage. It’s not that the reporters are “biased.” They just don’t have the stones, for the most part, to ignore all the verbal and non-verbal cues they get from authority figures about who is “legitimate” and who isn’t.

Once the signal comes down that this or that politician doesn’t have the backing of anyone who matters, that’s when the knives really come out. When a politician has powerful allies and powerful friends, you won’t see reporters brazenly kicking him in the crotch the way they did to Dean and they’re doing now to Sarah Palin. The only time they do this is when they know there won’t be consequences, meaning when the politician’s only supporters are non-entities (read: voters), as in the case of Ron Paul or Kucinich. Like America in general, the press corps never attacks any enemy that can fight back. To illustrate the point via haiku:

Journos are pussies

Only attack when it’s safe

Lay off entrenched pols

3) So Sarah Palin is now in that category of politician whom reporters feel safe in attacking.

Some of this is definitely her own fault — in addition to the dynamic described above, there’s an additional complicating converse that says that when a politician doesn’t kiss the press’s ass all day long, he or she can expect to get reamed in print until the next ice age. And Sarah Palin not only doesn’t kiss the press’s ass, she treats them like dogshit, openly (the 2008 campaign was a pitched battle after the infamous U.N. standoff, in which Palin’s handlers tried to masking-tape the reporters’ mouths by insisting on photo-only coverage of events). Hillary’s campaign had the same problem; particularly after Iowa, her press handlers so openly treated the trail reporters like a swarm of venomous insects that I used to pass the time by daydreaming them ducking back into the press area wearing airtight Ebola-handling spacesuits a la Outbreak or The Hot Zone. Once the politician-reporter relationship reaches that level, that candidacy is going to be in serious trouble.

Obama’s press people, meanwhile, behaved like a team of well-trained Starbuck’s baristas: quiet, accomodating, nonconfrontational. Then again, the reporters mostly all worshipped their boss, so they didn’t have any reason to behave otherwise. That part of the media-conspiracy narrative is definitely true. I remember one particular trip when Obama came back to our part of the plane wearing jeans and a white button-down shirt and there was audible chirping from several female reporters. The Obama plane in the press section was also plastered all over with pictures high-school yearbook style, and getting photographed with Obama and then getting the photo tacked up on the wall of the plane was like a rite of passage for that crew. Needless to say nothing like that went on in the Hillary press corps, or more especially in the McCain plane, where the more likely back-of-the-plane recreation was a reporter musing out loud about the benefits of hanging himself over continuing even one more minute on that assignment.

That said, even back at the very beginning of the campaign, before the signal came down that it was okay to start giving Obama big sloppy blowjobs on the air, when reporters were all slamming the one-term Illinois Senator for being a “lightweight” prone to “rookie mistakes” (those among us whose version of recent history imagines Obama being handed the 2008 election by the campaign press seem always to forget that part, but go back and look — the “Hillary is the presumptive frontrunner” period lasted a solid nine or ten months), Obama’s press handlers observed the prime directive. They did not interfere with the reporters’ civilization. There was a “let the chips fall where they may” attitude that helped out a lot when the Beltway consensus finally shifted and the money started pouring in behind the candidate; there was no bad blood to overcome when the press had to change its mind again and embrace an “Obama is now the presumptive frontrunner/We are now at war with Oceania” posture.

Palin never had anything like that kind of attitude toward the press, although in fairness the bullets were flying at her from the moment she entered the campaign. It doesn’t matter; the point is that she’s getting it from all angles now and that wouldn’t be happening if she still had any friends in high places.

The press corps that is bashing her skull in right now is the same one that hyped that WMD horseshit for like four solid years and pom-pommed America to war with Iraq over the screeching objections of the entire planet. It’s the same press corps that rolled out the red carpet for someone very nearly as abjectly stupid as Sarah Palin to win not one but two terms in the White House. If there was any kind of consensus support for Palin inside the beltway, the criticism of her, bet on it, would be almost totally confined to chortling east coast smartasses like me and Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Sullivan.

What the people who are flipping out about the treatment of Palin should be asking themselves is what it means when it’s not just jerks like us but everybody piling on against Palin. For those of you who can’t connect the dots, I’ll tell you what it means. It means she’s been cut loose. It means that all five of the families have given the okay to this hit job, including even the mainstream Republican leaders. You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.”

And do you know what that means? That means that just as the antiwar crowd spent years being painted by the national press as weepy, unpatriotic pussies whose enthusiastic support is toxic to any serious presidential aspirant, so too will all of you afternoon-radio ignoramuses who seem bent on spending the next three years kicking and screaming your way up the eternal asshole of white resentment now find yourself and your political champions painted as knee-jerk loonies whose rabid irrationality is undeserving of the political center. And yes, that’s me saying that, but I’ve always been saying that, not just about Palin but about George Bush and all your other moron-heroes.

What’s different now is who else is saying it. You had these people eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue. What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny.

Anyway, that’s probably enough on the Palin subject for the next few years, fun as she is to talk about. And since I just got word that Jamie Dimon is being floated to replace Tim Geithner, it seems we’ll all have enough real problems to worry about in the meantime.


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  1. collapse expand

    I enjoy your appearances on Bill Maher and just discovered your blog via Huffpost. Great article and I look forward to reading more.

    RE: “blowjobs” and pom-poms” and cheerleaders –
    Blowjob is not sexist. Both genders perform them and as far as “sloppy” is concerned…well, suffice it to say it is or can be sloppy for both parties.

    Pom-poms – cheerleaders – although many high schools and colleges added male cheerleaders to their female squads, the terms still refer more to women than men. However, neither word is gender specific in the nomenclature such as the words “chairman” or “chairwoman” are so stricly speaking, an argument could be made either way. Having said that, anyone who reads those words instantly understands the message they convey. They are descriptively derogatory so an argument can also be made saying these terms necessarily refer to women specifically, but the usage has become so commonplace most people do not object. Afterall, we call lame men “weak dicks” and more so why get bent over these terms?

  2. collapse expand

    Yes, please stop with the potty mouth. You may be able to get a job someday as a writer if you can write as clearly and interestingly as the Smith section of the phone book. Now excuse me while I get a tissue…

  3. collapse expand

    Nobody had to crawl up anything re: Palin. She’s the one who pushed the button of the express elevator to the top. It wasn’t the press that made any of her disjointed noise fly out of her mouth.
    When all the nonsense is put aside, Americans have this deep-seated sense of fairness and merit. VP, despite the knuckleheads who may have held the office, or its exchange rate in warm spit, is a pretty serious job these days. All anyone had to do was listen and come to the conclusion, even if you had to hypnotize them for an honest answer,
    that no way did Ms. Palin even come close to being up to the job. Then John McCain and the GOP and the deluded Sarah herself tried to get us and the media to say ‘way’.
    Bush 2 rode in on a lot of good will engendered by Bush 1 and his network. Unlike 2000, Clinton left us a tad better off,we weren’t in calamity, so what the heck.
    But W imploded and why wouldn’t the press turn on him-isn’t that just reporting it like it is?
    Trouble is, we once had margin. Lots of it.
    It’s dwindling if not gone entirely. We have
    serious issues that require serious solutions.
    We’ve got a lot of bowing to do-thanks to Cheney and co. leaving us in a permanent bow preceded by the swagger. And we’re broke.
    We’re running out of margin=we can’t afford the Palins or the spin or the silliness. (The printed newspapers we read used to have a lot bigger margins too!)
    We just can’t afford stupid anymore.

  4. collapse expand

    The right’s hatred of the media is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Conservatives call the media liberal and evil, the media responds by covering them negatively and the conservatives use the response as proof of their thesis. This is exactly what happened with Palin, except she was actually given a chance to prove she had a brain by Gibson and Couric and she failed miserably.

    As for her coverage, when emails start circulating about Palin being a secret Muslim terrorist who wants to teach kindergartners about sex, maybe her supporters will have a leg to stand on as far as her criticism being unprecedented.

  5. collapse expand

    Hi Matt,

    I’m a 52-year-old mother of three sons, Sunday School teacher, proud feminist,the whole bit and no, I don’t think using the the phrase “blow job” is sexist. I don’t really have a problem with the use of the word “pussy” as long as you also call people dicks as an occasional counterweight for equality’s sake.

    The “C” word, however, is very bad, so don’t ever try that one in print or the moms will come and kick your ass. Big-time.

    By the way, I spent years as a reporter for a big media company and your description of the political press as “spineless dweebs who went to all the best schools and made it to that privileged seat inside the campaign-trail ropeline by being keenly sensitive to the editorial wishes of their social and professional superiors.” is dead-on.

    And of course, I loved the haiku.

    Keep up the great work!

    • collapse expand

      Three sons. Are you teaching them to think it’s OK to use language designed to insult and dehumanize women and their bodies in order to score points when they want to insult someone? That wouldn’t be surprising, and you’re not alone. Women are socialized to be the enforcers of the culture. It seems you’ve internalized the the belief that protecting traditional concepts about masculinity is higher in your values hierarchy than your claim to feminism. I guess we all make choices.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    “Court in session. Prosecutors claim that Taibbi’s nomenclature is sexist. Taibbi claims that this is ridiculous.”

    One extremely boring and pedantic case later (with plenty of references to the prosecution’s English literature notes)

    “The court has decided that there are more important issues than whether the word ‘blowjob’ is sexist. The court has also decided that anyone talking such crap must be completely disconnnected from any real social and economic issues. The court hands down the sentence of 5 years socio-economic study with no provisions”.

    • collapse expand


      That was a pretty big assumption you made. and I’d like to ask you to reconsider.

      I have a degree in Community Leadership and Development, a major I chose because of my concern about socio-economic issues. Over the course of my studies, it became clear to me that an underlying reason for the inferior decision-making that created the mess we’re in, is misogyny. This imbedded fear and contempt for women has required our leaders to avoid, at all cost, being called pussies, socialists, bleeding heart liberals, advocates for a nanny state, wimps, girly-men, etc., out of fear of being aligned with anything stinking of “female.” That’s what made it so easy to rape nature (including women), enforce child-bearing while refusing to create systems that would feed, clothe, house, and educate every mother’s child regardless of the father’s social status, wage war for money and resources, engage in genocide, and on, and on, and on, all the way back to blaming Eve for all the woes of mankind, and back further still.

      I choose not to believe that Matt, who happens to be someone I admire and appreciate, is a sexist or a misogynist. But too many of his followers seem unwilling to try a little introspection before engaging in a knee-jerk response to defend a questionable strategy. If Matt decided to take a different approach to his writing style, many of his most “loyal” followers would probably abandon him for not standing up to the pc police. He’d be just one more traitor to the cause of manhood as we’ve had it shoved down our throats, along with patriarchal religions, for ages.

      I hope you are capable of getting a sliver of a glimmer of why your comment seems so absurd to me.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  7. collapse expand

    Sarah Palin doesn’t interest me, however, I am admittedly fascinated by the people who believe she is qualified to do anything more than work at a low budget tv news station. How she moved from that job to having a political standing screams volumes about the intelligence of the majority voters in the Alaskan community. Her average follower appears to have been pulled straight from Deliverance.

  8. collapse expand

    “Chortling east coast smartasses?” Is that what they are calling full-blow in-your-face misogyny now days?

    Look, I don’t agree with most of Sarah Palin’s policy positions, but the sexism that eminated from the msm against Hillary & Sarah (and from alleged progressives!) last year was shocking. Anyone who can deny that it happened is lying or delusional.

    If you are not a feminst, you are not a progressive. And if you have ever called a woman a c*nt, you are not a feminst.

    Matt, I am happy that you are confirming what I, at least, already knew. The “elites” decide what is best for the rest of us little people. (And journalists like to pretend they are one of the elites, when really they are lapdogs for them). What I want to know is why they even pretend to have the elections in the first place.

  9. collapse expand

    Straight to the point…this is one of the most in-your-face, truthful and entertaining articles I’ve read in ages. Loved it.

  10. collapse expand

    Gotta love a completely hijacked topic. I did discover something though. I discovered that, in the grand scheme of things, the use of the words “pussy” and “blowjob” rank low on my list of social concerns.

    Everyone wants to change the world, but come on! Its called priorities people. Tell you what. Let’s figure out health care, global warming, poverty, and education. Once we get those taken care of, I’ll personally see to it that Matt never calls anyone a pussy, a cheerleader, or references sloppy blow jobs ever again. Happy now? You’ve effectively killed his love life with your political correctness. Congratulations.

  11. collapse expand

    Who cares? Why give her publicity, even if it’s negative? In an ideal world, we’d shrug, press mute, and go for a walk. But it’s not an ideal world, and Sarah Palin is the tip of the melting iceberg. As Andrew Sullivan wrote, “I’m in this till it’s over and I get some answers – not because of Palin, but because of what Palin has revealed about the sick state of the American media and political elite.” Sullivan has documented thirty-some odd weird and blatant lies that Sarah has spewed, with more sure to come. Because we Americans flock to what is sensationalist instead of what leads us toward a better realization of our ideals. Our future is being written by the popular jocks instead of the science nerds. As my friend Michael, a highly educated gay man, said, “I can think of dozens of highly talented women that I would trust to lead our country. Sarah Palin? I wouldn’t trust to manage a beauty pageant.”

    Since we seem to be stuck with her, all that consoles me is that it will be interesting to see what happens as time unfolds. We can try to look the other way like my friend Heather, a Chicana pursuing her PhD in Mathematics, who tries “not to pay too much attention to politics since there seems to be a positive correlation between how much I know and how high a dosage of Zoloft I need.” Or, we can wonder. Will Palin self-destruct? Will she run in 2012? Will she become a talk show host? Will Sarah, Todd, Bristol, Tripp, Trig, Tangent and Cosine star in the most-watched reality TV series of our time? Stay tuned. Or if you want, tune out. Way, way out.

    • collapse expand

      “As Andrew Sullivan wrote, “I’m in this till it’s over and I get some answers – not because of Palin, but because of what Palin has revealed about the sick state of the American media and political elite.”

      That’s classic Sullivan, right there–shifting the blame for his own ever-changing psychotic obsessions onto somebody or something else (“the sick state of the American media”), taking the credit for the actual investigative work and reporting that others are doing on the issue (“until I get some answers”) and then casting himself as the hero for doing it (“I’m in this till it’s over…”). He’s so good at this continuous monodrama of narcissistic triangulation: appropriation, projection, and self-congratulation/victimization that it’s easy to forget he’s a psychopath.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  12. collapse expand

    Thanks for this, Matt: outstanding, as usual.

    And it reminded me of this post from the blog “A Tiny Revolution” back in 2005, making very similar points — and telling the story about how WaPo columnist Richard Cohen confided to a group of Yale undergrads (including the author) that the DC Press Corps quite deliberately made an issue of Gary Hart’s extramarital canoodling, thereby torpedoing his candidacy, because they had decided he was too “weird” and “flaky” to be president:


  13. collapse expand

    Thanks for asking about the misogyny thing, Matt. I completely agree with the comments of ryang.

    Just before reading your post about Palin and the media, we were watching you on Dylan Ratigan’s show, and talking about how much we like you and value your perspective. Then I read your Palin thing and cringed my way through it because of the extreme misogyny in your choice of words.

    Even though I agreed with your take on the media and the teabaggers, it was really difficult to overlook the way you chose sexist language to berate and ridicule. “Journos are pussies”, “…weepy, unpatriotic pussies…” ? That’s about as unambiguously sexist as it gets. You’re smart enough to understand that you are equating a vulgar term for women’s genitalia with people for whom you feel utter contempt. That hurts, and I’m sad about how this knowledge of the way you think will influence the way I listen to you in the future. Try replacing “pussy” with “nigger,” and I think you’ll get what you’re missing.

    • collapse expand

      It’s ridiculous to suggest that “pussy” and “nigger” are equivalent, given the history of the latter word.
      Plus, both pussy and dick are words that have entered the vernacular with meanings that are independent of their use in a sexual context. My calling someone a dick (asshole) or pussy (lightweight) is completely different than my asking them to suck my dick or if I may eat their pussy.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I commend you for being sensitive to the history of the word “nigger,” and the role it played in the oppression of black people. By your own standard, please reconsider your conclusion that it is ridiculous to compare a racist word with a sexist word. Until fairly recently, women were considered property, and black men were enfranchised earlier. To this day, women are referred to as body parts, our body parts are used to insult and humiliate both men and women, and we have to deal with the terrorism of rape. Whether you understand it or not, it’s a fair comparison.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  14. collapse expand

    It’s like living out Twain’s ‘The Diary of Adam and Eve’ in the comments section of a blog.

  15. collapse expand

    If Sarah gives Todd a BJ is that a sexist act? She’s the bread-winning pants-wearer.

    The arguement could be made that characterizing “cheerleading” and “blowjobs” as inherently sexist is in fact sexist. Are there not male cheerleaders? Is the concept of the blowjob relegated to heterosexuality?

    It’s like the thing where if you’re racially challenged, you just call other people racist. Beck on Bam Bam? Sotomayor confirmation hearings anyone?

    Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the committee’s top Republican: “During a speech 15 years ago, Judge Sotomayor said, ‘I willingly accept we who judge must not deny the difference resulting from experience and heritage, but attempt continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.” And in that same speech she said, ‘My experiences will affect the facts I choose to see.’

    “Having tried a lot of cases, that particular phrase bothers me.”

    This from the guy that used to be a KKK booster.


    …It got worse. Another damaging witness–a black former assistant U.S. Attorney in Alabama named Thomas Figures–testified that, during a 1981 murder investigation involving the Ku Klux Klan, Sessions was heard by several colleagues commenting that he “used to think they [the Klan] were OK” until he found out some of them were “pot smokers.” Sessions claimed the comment was clearly said in jest.

    It’s always heartwarming to see a prejudice (racism) defeated by an even deeper prejudice
    (hatred of hippies)

    Kurt out: Got to get the stuffing started.

  16. collapse expand

    Right now the Republican establishment has generally held their tongues about Sarah Palin. If she chooses to run for president in 2012, I assure you, the other Republican candidates won’t stop talking about how incompetent, ignorant, and how much of a quitter she is. Right now, they’re letting everyone else say what they’re think about her in the hope that she’ll dig her own grave.

  17. collapse expand

    Engaging in any sexual act is not inherently sexist. In fact many sexual acts are wonderfully fun and gratifying. If your question is not rhetorical, just analyze the context for a moment. It probably won’t tax your brain too much. Here’s a little hint. If you’re using the act or the word to degrade or humiliate another person, it might just be sexist and/or misogynist. Hope that helps.

  18. collapse expand

    Matt, I follow your work closely. I will bow to your greater wisdom and agree that when the press decides to eviscerate someone, they are a ruthless, mindless mob. However, Sarah Palin has benefited much more from Press attention than she has suffered hurt.

    She is followed and glamorized incessantly. What LOSER of a big election has ever had the half-life she has achieved? In fact, her story only gets bigger. And not because she deserved it or played her hand skilfully or upped her game or learned the ropes better. It is the tabloid/Reality TV/obsessed with a pretty face Soap Opera media has found a new intriguing poor soul to latch onto.

    Even if the underlying facts prove she is a worthless husk of a political animal, she is piling up popularity and exposure and fame points by the bucket.

  19. collapse expand

    I decided to go back and read this entire thread. It seemed that a majority was giving Matt the old locker room slap on the back until I got to this comment by ryang. Once again, her insight and analysis gave me hope. I agree with her completely.

  20. collapse expand


    I sure hope you were asking that rhetorically without giving a good hairy shit what the answer is.

    I’m sure you’ve got a hypothetical reader in your head you consult from time to time. Let them be your guide and then let it rip. Otherwise, you’re gonna water down your stuff to the lowest common p.c. denominator.

    Better to call ‘em like you see ‘em and, heaven forfend, let someone be offended once in a while then turn into some milquetoast drone who does nobody any good.

  21. collapse expand

    To everyone who just can’t fathom why a few of us see Matt’s language as sexist/misogynist, listen up. The creepy tea-baggers, birthers and assorted know-nothings who pay for ugly billboards of Obama wearing a turban, or flaunt hideous posters at health care rallies, or spew incitement to violence on their talk shows also rebel against political correctness. They refuse to be labeled as what they obviously are. Racists. Who? Me? No! I am absolutely NOT a racist, they insist. It’s plain for anyone who struggles against racism to see otherwise.

    I don’t know which is worse. Ignorant, uninformed, uneducated people who don’t have the sense to hide their fear and loathing of “the other”, or educated, intelligent people who ought to know better, assuming they’re inherently too superior to be guilty of another form of fear and loathing.

    • collapse expand

      I follow the Roger Rabbit rule for judging political correctness:
      “It’s only correct when it’s funny.”
      You may not be amused by Matt Taibbi, George Carlin or Hunter Thompson, but I am. So they get a pass from me.
      Now, if it isn’t funny, I’m with you all the way.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        i have the capacity to revere Hunter Thompson, George Carlin, Bill Maher and Matt Taibbi, while simultaneously abhorring their ignorant, juvenile, sexist, misogynist language. It’s complex. Sorry you don’t have the capacity to understand. Perhaps you’ll have the privilege of being reborn in a female body. In the meantime, practice your tolerance for ambiguity.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  22. collapse expand

    Given the last comment was about degrading sexual acts (albeit with a Miles Standish flair), please forgive me if I haven’t read all the other comments, so I may be echoing something that’s already been stated.

    With that caveat, I’m finding the same kind of ‘media-turn’ taking place in the MSM with respect to Obama.

    It seems like the man got more-or-less a free ride, for whatever reason(s), from the major networks, the intelligentsia, wonks, and pretty much every other media outlet for the majority of his first year.

    However, it also appears like, once the one (1) year mark was hit, it became open season — Maureen Dowd and Liz Drew most recently in the IHT and Politico, respectively, discussing the Greg Craig affair; Ariana Huffington’s unfortunate ‘Katrina’ reference; as well as your own ‘bait and switch’ comment.

    I neither agree nor disagree. As am American living abroad, I really don’t care all that much about the States (except for how their imports effect the Asian economy). I just find the change in tone noticeable, and interesting.

    So, based on your insider knowledge, I’m wondering if someone/some people didn’t ‘pull the plug’ and say it was alright to start dropping horse heads into the President’s bed.


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    It is ridiculous to compare THE racist word with a slang term for vagina, both in a historical context and for it’s present day emotional content.
    Of course sexism was and is a problem, but you make a poor choice to illustrate your point. I’m sure you’ll continue your crusade to take a word that’s been essentially divorced from any sexual content to become a lukewarm insult (considerably cooler than the asshole synonym “dick”) and strike it from the vernacular, but you should be prepared for the rolling eyes that you encounter.

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    You’re really very good at righteous anger.

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    I would say this is brilliant (and of course you are, personally, sluuurp), but really it’s exactly what a good journalist knows (I was one, and sort of am still). You really have nailed the mundane, and yet inexplicably unknown, truth–that if the people who cut the checks and the politicians they own wanted it otherwise, it would be that way. She’s the expendable crazy assault Marine, and really, this goes along with what looks to me like a general strategy of Republicans to play a kind of complex version of good-cop-bad-cop, where you get to pick what you think being a “conservative” or a “Republican” is. You want Palin, we got Palin, although the damn liberal media destroyed her, of course, and that’s why she’s not our nominee for the presidency. You want Meghan McCain, we got her. Cheney, if you’re a throwback. Charlie Crist, maybe. Everybody from Glenn Beck to Susan Collins. Take your pick.

    This way, of course, the ones in the “middle” get to downplay or shrug off comments from the extremes. “No, I wouldn’t put it the way Glenn Beck did, I’d use other words, but Chris, you know, there’s a lot of anger out there these days against liberal spending, blah blah blah.”

    In this environment, Palin is as good as a Fourth of July sparkler, and about as significant. So far, she’s been second banana on a presidential ticket that got its clock cleaned, despite all the fawning over what a “sensation” she was; she’s quit the office to which she was elected; and she had so much clout in the NY congressional race that that district went non-Republican for the first time in well over a hundred years. That is some significant insignificance.

    Incidentally, it’s not hard to see that the MSM has been easy on Obama since he became the frontrunner in ‘08, as you say–a time when I was screaming (in some material for publication, blogstuff, incessant comments on lists like this, etc.) that nobody was paying attention to how corporate-friendly the guy really was, and how his military policy (as distinct from real improvements, I think, in foreign policy generally) sounded about like any other militarist’s. I knew we were in trouble when he and Hillary stood there in an ‘08 debate trying to out-tough each other about how they were going to “go into Pakistan” and do this or that, and some other such talk, as if the concepts of borders and national sovereignty and of not using war as a tool of foreign policy were about as unknown to them as they were to Bush, Cheney, Reagan, or about anyone else you could name. I recall almost _no_ noise about that in the press whatsoever.

    And, it should be said, I’m pretty tickled to see journalists holding Obama’s feet to the fire now over Wall Street access, public option reneging, overpatience on unemployment, etc.

    Anyhow…good piece. Of course.

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    hah! omg, so apparently mentioning blowjobs is sexist now, even when you’re referring to the white male aristocracy doing it to eachother. If anything, i feel that erinzmom is being discriminatory against homosexuals by assuming that only women give blowjobs. Please take your bigoted point of view elsewhere. I’m not gay but my gay friends claim they give better blowjobs than any chick out there.

    would you have been offended if he had called the reporters lilly-livered because flowers have the connotation of being something women enjoy?

    also, to hear that you have listened to matt on TV and clearly understand the side he is coming from and the people he would represent and give respect to, yet not conceive the fact that he isn’t sexist in the least really boggles the mind. it’s like this erinzmom person is trying to make up disputes where there really aren’t any. oh wait, it’s not like that. it is that.

    • collapse expand

      Poor Russ. Where to begin? I’m dredging up the energy to address your comments, but it doesn’t seem worth the bother. Oh, alright, I’ll give it a go.

      In 1969 I had the privilege of playing Grace to a dear friend’s Will. It was the most natural thing in the world for me to love and support my first of many dear friends in the LGBT community, and I’ve never wavered for a moment since then.

      Everything else you said was so silly, and I’m too tired to bother with you anymore. Go acquire some life experience, then maybe we can talk.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  27. collapse expand

    “What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny.”

    My guess is that this is the Jeb-Bush-for-president campaign taking out the competitors so that the lunatic base has nowhere to go.

  28. collapse expand

    Reading through the harsh responses to ryang and erinzmum makes me think you all secretly want to buttress their point.

    I disagree based more on evolution of the vocabulary and context. Think about the epithet “Fuck you!” It was considered pretty harsh years ago, and it’s not something you to say to someone you really want to fuck. Now, “fuck, fucking” and the like have slipped in insult standing to almost a replacement for “um.” Spare use of this word or phrases associated with it give it more emphasis.

    I disagree that calling members of the press “pussies” equates with calling them “niggers” because the latter is assigned to a person or persons due to circumstances beyond their control: their race. Using “pussy” as an insult is directed toward people’s actions. Replace the word with “dick” and you have a fair comparison. So, if you don’t like sexists references in general, both are wrong.

    In general I just disagree that blow job and cheer leading/pom pom references are sexist at all. The latter can be used as a compliment – as for someone who really encourages someone in a challenging situation, and I don’t think that is sexist, so I’m not going to backtrack and determine that the insult is sexist if I feel the compliment is not. As for blow jobs, literal and figurative, anyone of any sex can engage in this action. Associating this with anti-female sentiment seems very out of date to me. Or, maybe you live in a place where the GBLT community is sorely ostracized.

    You can argue that woman using these terms is them co-opting the language of their oppressors, but I think that is out-dated as well. As the world gets smaller, as coarse language of yesterday becomes more commonplace, the associations of sexism become more tenuous. While I don’t think those that dislike the use have no sense of context or nuance, I sense that you all have drawn your line in the sand in this subject, and anyone who crosses the line is now on the side of sexism. As a woman, I am familiar with this line of thinking. I have to say my life experiences have led me to consider the situation, and in the above context I see no problem.

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    Thats the best run down on the Palin/Media phenomena I have read. She deserves a good kick in the head on a regular basis. She is grooming herself to be a professional yap dog along the lines of Jesse Jackson, she just doesn’t know it.

  30. collapse expand

    Your assessment of the tragic assassination of Howard Deans presidential bid is nothing short of brilliant. I appreciate your candor. It is good to know someone in the press corps has balls, brains and an ability to write. It is worth noting that the epic failure that is Sarah Palin was of her own creation. She is possibly one of the most ignorant politicians I have ever had the misfortune of having to listen to. Her debate with Joe Biden was a wretchingly awful performance from an intellectual stand point. I guess they score those things on basis of fuckability and flirtation not a command of the issues or an ability to perform basic cognitive functions without winking. That was before she had been cut loose. She was cut loose because she is an absolute and utter moron. Anyone who thinks she was a success as a politician or a public servant is equally as idiotic as she has proven herself to be time after time after time. Thanks for another great article.

  31. collapse expand

    Wasn’t picking palin as VP a sexist move in itself? it was clearly calculated for the most potential political gain (calculated by idiots, true) so they basically used her being a woman to try and steal potential Hillary voters from Obama.

    Yet Matt Taibbi is the big bad guy because he referred to cheering on someone as ‘cheerleading’. Not sure what other word would have worked there.

    People are just douches, Matt. Oh shit, there I went again. Maybe we won’t be sexist if we call them enemas instead. <rolling eyes.

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    blow jobs are great. AND if you ever need one, let me know.

  33. collapse expand

    Yes, the bullets were flying at Palin the minute she stepped on the stage and for good reason, she is an idiot. The press let Gore have it, they turned on Clinton, and were scared to actually report what Bush was doing for four years because they were afraid of being seen as un patriotic. The press is all over Palin because they know a train wreck when they see it, and she gets ratings. There is a small group of people that support her, and the majority that are still stunned how someone so ignorant was a VP candidate. Both lap up stories about her. The person people should take issue with is John McCain. He put this numbskull on the map.

  34. collapse expand

    Does having played center field make one prone to using “centered around”? Aside from being impossible, centering around as a mental exercise leads to insanity.

  35. collapse expand

    A female figure was not conjured in my mind by your reference to either cheerleading or blowjobs. Cheerleading is in fact a completely gender neutral noun not even necessarily referring to actual cheerleaders. And everyone knows that men give the best blowjobs.

  36. collapse expand

    Or a verb, cheerleading, that is.

  37. collapse expand

    Not sure if I like the beard, Matt. Makes you look way older. Maybe a mustache instead?

    Having said that, (anyone catch the Curb finale last week?) who was that woman on MSNBC? She really doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    Her position:
    Yeah the people who bailed Wall St. out are still up at the White House, but it happened BEFORE Obama was in office so things are different, even though Obama and his guys are continuing the same fleecing of America that they did under Bush.

    It’s like she didn’t get the notion that Obama himself is directly perpetuating these policies. Oh, he’s just new, you know, hasn’t gotten his sea legs yet and is about to get down to business to show those bankers a thing or two!

    No, he has clearly chosen his position.

  38. collapse expand

    Not sure if I like the beard, Matt. Makes you look way older. Maybe a mustache instead?

    Having said that, (anyone catch the Curb finale last week?) who was that woman on MSNBC? She really doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

    Her position:
    Yeah the people who bailed Wall St. out are still up at the White House, but it happened BEFORE Obama was in office so things are different, even though Obama and his guys are continuing the same fleecing of America that they did under Bush.

    It’s like she didn’t get the notion that Obama himself is directly perpetuating these policies. Oh, he’s just new, you know, hasn’t gotten his sea legs yet and is about to get down to business to show those bankers a thing or two!

    No, he has clearly chosen his position.

  39. collapse expand

    *sorry for double post. t/s was running slow for a little bit.

  40. collapse expand


    Unless you wake up to the fact that the Palin’s, Huckabees, Sanfords, Craigs…W…are insane, you are doomed to be governed by their lies. They think Jesus is just about to swoop down and rescue them from the holocaust the rest of us will face at their beloved Rapture.

    (They float naked up to heaven with Him)

    That’s why they initiate unwinnable wars and destroy the environment and run up endless deficits and hate the babies they force women to have.

    They believe the Antichrist emerges at the first of seven seals and that at the fifth trumpet the locusts will cone out of the botomless pit and the Euphrates dies up at the sixth bowl. How do you reason with that?

    We’re not talking about people who contemplate Kantian Categories or Platonic Forms or Baconian idols.

    We’re not talking about people who debate whether Dan Brown’s vision of the subatomic realm is reasonable.

    Pray for them if you must, but stop being so gentle with them. They make the Taliban look reasonable.

    Go to twitter-philosophize for more.


  41. collapse expand

    I am a woman (with eight sisters, do I get extra woman’s point of view clout?!), and I just didn’t detect any sexism in the post. Honestly. The blow job thing was astute and funny to me.

    Also, I was struck that “teabaggers” is frowned upon but “nutcases” is okay? They seem of a piece to me, as less-than-flattering but sometimes apt words.

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    I'm a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and I also write books for a Random House imprint called Spiegel and Grau.

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