A "week in politics" like Hillary's latest Benghazi hearing really proves the usefulness of "conservative" public-broadcasting pundit David Brooks. What better way to prove Hillary completely trounced her opponents on the public stage than your completely cooperative "conservative" expert declare the whole thing a rout for Hillary? Brooks denounced a conservative anti-Clinton "psychosis" on both his Friday appearances on the PBS NewsHour and NPR's All Things Considered.
In theory, a public-broadcasting system that provides fairness and balance -- insert cynical laughter here about theories vs. statist reality -- the conservative pundit on these shows would display more deference to the conservative notion that the Obama administration has utterly failed in Libya, and the idea of Hillary taking a "victory lap" on Libya is preposterously partisan.
But David Brooks exemplifies what George Will once wrote when he described "the tinny arf of a lapdog." NPR began with a "victory lap" quote for Hillary, and then underlined it:
HILLARY CLINTON: I know how to find common ground. I did it in the Senate. I did it as Secretary of State. I will certainly do it as president. I will go anywhere, any time to meet with anybody to find common ground. But I also know how to stand my ground. (APPLAUSE)
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: That is, of course, Hillary Clinton today in Washington taking a victory lap after 11 hours of testimony yesterday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. I'm joined now by our Friday regulars, columnists David Brooks of The New York Times, E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post.
Shapiro and NPR wanted to sidestep any substance of the hearings, and focus only on promoting Hillary's campaign spin that this is a terrific week in politics:
SHAPIRO: So today Hillary Clinton announced a major union endorsement. She said the hour between 9 and 10 p.m. last night was the best fundraising hour of her campaign to date. Not coincidentally, that's when she finished testifying. E.J., how important of a moment is this for her and her campaign?
DIONNE: Well, I think she should work out an arrangement with Chairman Gowdy that she goes up there every week and spends 11 hours there 'cause it's going to help her. I was really struck by that statement of hers about common ground but standing my ground. It was almost like she was saying to Joe Biden, I heard what you said about being -- or Republicans being our friends, but you didn't have to spend 11 hours sitting across from these guys. They really -- the Republicans walked right into the trap. My colleague, Dana Milbank, wrote in The Washington Post that we should rename it the Select Committee on Blumenthal. They said much more about Sid Blumenthal than they did about a lot of other things, and so they made it easy for her to win this. And I think at this point only something really serious, perhaps some legal action, will really bring this issue back in a big way against her.
This is where a true conservative counterpoint might sound something like this. "Well, what this committee has already revealed -- that Mrs. Clinton conducted all her government business on a private server in complete contempt of State Department rules that everyone else is expected to follow -- has dogged her all year. I thought the low moment in today's hearing was when she declared she had “lost more sleep than all of you put together.” That's not a presidential statement. But it is classic Hillary -- arrogant and entitled, with no need to live by the rules everyone else does."
But NPR doesn't offer a conservative counterpoint. It offers a kind of mirror-image liberal prank, a sort of pundit Flat Stanley that E.J. Dionne gets to take pictures with and smile:
SHAPIRO: David, why did Republicans, as E.J. put it, walk right into this trap? I mean, they could have seen this coming.
BROOKS: I have no idea. I mean, Iraq doesn't exist, Syria doesn't exist, the Middle East is in turmoil. Maybe have a hearing on that. But they are fixated on this. And I've seen this since 1991. There's sort of a Clinton scandal psychosis that overcomes Republicans. There's something sort of sleazy or something sort of wrong going on. There's a foul odor. The Clintons have dodged up to the edge of some ethical standard and then the Republicans go after it. And then there's always - there are always these rumors of some devastating revelation that's about to happen but it never actually does. And then in the end, it helps -- it ends up helping the Clintons 'cause the Republicans do overkill. We have seen this story before.
DIONNE: And I think there is a peculiar kind of Republican fixation on Benghazi. In the middle of all this, I agreed to do a talk show with a conservative host whom I happen to be friendly with, and we couldn't have been living in more different worlds. And I think the problem for the Republicans on that committee is they reflected that intense world that -- where Hillary Clinton is already a villain, and weren't speaking to all the other people in the country. Forget Democrats -- just people who might've been undecided.
This is where NPR's bias really kicks in. Liberals had a "fixation" on Guantanamo, Valerie Plame, and any other number of anti-Bush causes. NPR treated those as the most sober, nonpartisan news subjects, not partisan obsessions.