During this seemingly endless presidential campaign, there's been a ton of criticism of the so-called mainstream media and its alleged fawning love affair with Barack Obama.
Yeah? Maybe on cable TV with Keith Olbermann or Rachel Maddow. But they're a pretty fragile counterpoint to that medium's many wing-nuts like Sean Hannity.
Print reporters are ordinarily a very different story. If they err, it's usually on the side of "objectivity." If a candidate makes a statement, no matter how absurd or inaccurate or untrue, it gets reported. When I was a very young newspaper reporter, the office joke was that things didn't get to be political news until they fell from the lips of public officials. We even had an official Associated Press handbook on "Objectivity." That's one of the ways Joe McCarthy got so famous.
But writers who really knew politics usually managed to thread their way around the AP's rules. Despite print journalism's well-worn and still-current mantra- "if it bleeds it leads" - most really savvy political writers figured out how to write you to a place where you would find yourself encouraged to raise questions.
For many years, Roger Simon of Politico.com has been one of those savvy political writers. Today, he's become an entertainment critic. Today, he gets my nomination for the most mindlessly cynical piece yet written during this campaign.
I refer to his Oct. 2 paean to the moose-dresser, entitled, "You betcha Sarah Palin can debate."
Sarah Palin, Simon wrote, "was supposed to fall off the stage at her vice presidential debate Thursday evening. Instead, she ended up dominating it."
Really? That may have been the verdict of the GOP far right base, but all reliable polling concluded otherwise.
Undeterred by this inconvenient truth, Simon warmed to his task, citing the hockeymom's myriad positive attributes. She "kept Joe Biden on the defensive." She "repeatedly attacked Barack Obama". She "looked like she was enjoying herself while doing it." "She smiled. She faced the camera. She was warm. She was human. Gosh and golly, she even dropped a bunch of g's.... if people thought she was going to look like a dumb bunny for 90 minutes, they were disappointed."
Hey Roger, after eight years of mangled presidential locution, do we really want to be rewarding no-nothing grammar?
Palin, he wrote, "said what she wanted to say, and she was so relaxed she even winked at one point. Really! An actual wink during a national debate...."
Well, maybe what Palin really needs is a membership in Actor's Equity! "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
But Simon gave her a free pass on the inarticulate test, writing, "She went out of her way to talk in everyday terms, saying things like 'I betcha' and 'We have a heckuva opportunity to learn' and 'Darn right we need tax relief'.
He crowed that Palin again repeated Obama's now-ridiculously-distorted statement that "he would meet with some foreign leaders who are hostile to the United States", and then took her shot: "Some of these dictators hate America and what we stand for. They cannot be met with. That is beyond bad judgment. That is dangerous... An issue like that taken up by a presidential candidate goes beyond naiveté and goes beyond poor judgment."
"Sarah Palin accusing Barack Obama of being naive?" asked Simon. "Yep. And she was unabashed about it."
Maybe someone ought to tell George W. Bush, who is currently keeping himself busy talking with (and trying to buy off) lots of "dictators who hate America."