In the dying days of the Bush Administration, the New York Times’ dullest opinionator, Frank Rich, wrote a column looking back on how Americans cared too much about September 11. Neatly sandwiched in Rich’s whining was a look back at the horrible day when Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, told Bill Maher that he probably shouldn’t describe the September 11 terrorists as courageous while describing the American military as cowardly.
“The presidential press secretary, Ari Fleischer, condemned Bill Maher’s irreverent comic response to 9/11 by reminding “all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do.” Fear itself — the fear that “paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” as F.D.R. had it — was already being wielded as a weapon against Americans by their own government,” Rich bloviated.
Krugman spun up the fear angle, saying that “Ari Fleischer ominously warned, “need to watch what they say, watch what they do.”
That narrative became the accepted one that. That Ari Fleischer had intimidated Bill Maher and all journalists and possibly all Americans.
Now Bob Woodward, the closest thing to a saint that journalists have, mentioned offhand that he was told that he would regret criticizing the Obama narrative on the sequester. He said that he did not believe that Obama would approve of such behavior.
And faster than you can blink, the leftist media apparatchiks began denouncing Bob Woodward as a wingnut who has no journalistic skills or experience (really) and completely misunderstood an innocent comment. The point is to make Bob Woodward regret stating that he had been told that he would regret opposing Obama by people claiming that the White House didn’t really mean that he would regret opposing Obama.
So to clarify, telling Bill Maher to stop saying horrible things was the worst possible intimidation ever. But telling Bob Woodward that he’ll regret dissenting from the White House narrative is a helpful thing to do.
That meme was picked up by the White House’s favorite palace guards, including Dave Weigel at Slate (he retweeted Smith, tweeted, “Theory: Woodward is trolling,” then added via retweet that the whole situation was “boring”); BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski, who mockingly tweeted, “Every reporter who deals with flacks/campaign advisors/politicos/ on a daily basis finds that less than threatening”; Justin Green, who edits David Frum’s blog at The Daily Beast, tweeted, “I rarely rarely report, and I’ve had flacks say worse. Not that rare”; Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic tweeted, “As a reporter, I don’t think this was a threat”; Dylan Byers of Politico tweeted, “tweets, I’m no Woodward but broadcast/cable TV PR reps use that ‘regret’ tactic a lot”; Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo tweeted, “Who goes birther first, Scalia or Woodward?” The messaging was universal from the leftist Obama-supporting media: Woodward hadn’t been threatened, and was an amateur or a crazy old coot to think he was being threatened. Matt Yglesias of Slate summed up the general Palace Guard Media take: “Woodward’s managed to make me suspect Nixon got a raw deal.”
So the narrative is
1. Not a story
2. Bob Woodward isn’t as experienced a journalist as reporting titans Andrew Kaczynski, Justin Green and Jeffrey Goldberg.
3. Nixon is now better than Woodward, because at least Nixon didn’t criticize Obama
The leftist hypocrisy isn’t new. Civil rights issues vary wildly between administrations. Obama doing a thing is never a problem. Bush doing it always is. The right doing something is never a problem. The left doing it never is.
This extends from the big stuff, like Communist Gulags down to the little stuff like threatening media figures.
The left has no objective principles or standards. All it does is defend its agenda and attack the agenda of others. Its moral principles are those of a watchdog that doesn’t know right from wrong, but does know who to bark at and whose hand to lick.