Talking Points Memo
In the 19th century, hunters put the passenger pigeon on the road to extinction, and here in the 21st century, zealous supporters of President Trump may have done the same to honorable conservatives, suggested Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall called the bill "a heist," while Vox's Matthew Yglesias charged that "moral and political responsibility for the looting ultimately rests on the shoulders of the GOP members of Congress who decided that the appropriate reaction to Trump’s inauguration was to start smashing and grabbing as much as possible for themselves and their donors rather than uphold their constitutional obligations."
Over the past five-plus months, the political media have acquitted themselves pretty well despite having to deal with a “dark, damaged” POTUS and his “gangland” administration, believes Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall, whose caveat is that “as long as the [media’s] effort is to try to shame Trump and his crew into appearing on camera, holding press conferences, not refusing access…there is a big limit to its effectiveness,” since that approach “amounts to begging.”
Just as it’s exceedingly tricky to know the dancer from the dance, it’s awfully hard to separate Fox News Channel’s program content from its hypermacho, litigation-generating workplace. That was the word from Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall in a Friday post. In Marshall’s words, FNC on the air and FNC in the office are “almost umbilically tied…If you’ve watched Fox for years and you found that it wasn’t a hotbed of sexual harassment, pervasive racist attitudes and a generalized sixty-something faux-bro ‘alpha’ culture, you’d have to think you had been scammed, that the big screen talent were somehow hypocrites and frauds. It would be like finding out that Chris Hayes was a major libertarian who funded the Cato Institute and Club for Growth or that Joy Reid had secretly been advising Donald Trump throughout the 2016 election cycle.”
This past Tuesday, three prominent left-wing writers examined Paul Ryan’s health-care bill; what they see as the typical Republican attitude toward health insurance; and the modern GOP as a whole. Unsurprisingly, they found all three wanting. For example, Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall contended that on occasions like this that call for wonkery, Republicans are ill-equipped to deliver it, inasmuch as they’ve “spent years since 2008 (actually before but especially since 2008) stoking their base with increasingly fantastical and ridiculous claims.”
If you asked a hundred conservatives to name the de facto flagship publication of American liberalism, The New York Times probably would get more mentions than any other. Still, it hasn’t been hard to find lefties upset with the paper about matters such as its supposed longstanding hostility toward Bill and Hillary Clinton. How the Times, especially its coverage of the e-mail story, may have made Hillary’s defeat more likely has been a post-election buzz topic on the left. Liberal strategist Jamison Foser, whose affiliations have included the Democratic National Committee and, currently, the Tom Steyer-led NextGen Climate, crystallized the lefty disgruntlement with the Times in a tweetstorm in response to a fellow liberal who argued that “we have to support the NYTimes right now more than ever.”
Complaints from liberal pundits about media bias against Hillary Clinton have snowballed during the past few days. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman had the most high-profile effort, which contrasted “the impression that [Donald Trump is] being graded on a curve” with “the presumption that anything [Hillary] does must be corrupt,” and some of the others have taken aim at Krugman’s newspaper for its Hillary-hounding. For example, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo sniped semi-sarcastically that the Times “appears to be revisiting its 'whitewater' [sic] glory days with its increasingly parodic coverage” of the Clinton Foundation and accused the paper of having “a decades' long history of being [led] around by rightwing opposition researchers into dead ends which amount to journalistic comedy…especially when it comes to the Clintons.”
During the early years of the Iraq war, the so-called Pottery Barn rule -- “you break it, you buy it” -- became a common expression inside the Beltway. Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall suggested on Monday that something like the Pottery Barn rule describes what’s happened to the Republican party: conservative media wrecked it and now, along with Donald Trump, control what’s left of it. “The rightwing media echo-chamber created a framework in which you are immediately discredited if you do not subscribe to a series of demonstrably false claims, non-facts and theories…all leaving the party ungovernable and vulnerable to a takeover by someone like Donald Trump,” declared Marshall.
Once upon a time, the right had (some) reason to complain about media bias, acknowledges Talking Points Memo’s Josh Marshall, but these days, not so much. According to Marshall, when conservatives back in the day “went about creating their own counter-establishment,” what they built wasn’t a normal mirror image, but a funhouse-mirror image. For example, "Fox News [was] the supposed antidote to the 'liberal media'. Of course, Fox is 'conservative' in a way that the mid-century elite media simply never was. And with generations of ref-playing what had been a vaguely establishment liberal national press ceased almost entirely to be so."
Donald Trump has, to borrow a phrase from Barack Obama, changed the trajectory of the GOP, contended Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Marshall in a Thursday post. “The white ethno-nationalist party which Trump has brought out of the shadows and mobilized,” wrote Marshall, “is now and will continue to be the Republican party…This seems like a transformative event.” Even if “committed Trump supporters” constitute only “10% to 20%” of the party, argued Marshall, it doesn’t matter: “If Trumpism were simply a loud and radical faction within the GOP, there would be some comparable faction opposing it…But there's not. In other words, the size of the Trumpite faction within the GOP (and I'd argue it's quite large) is beside the point because it demonstrably rules the GOP.”
The debate rages on as to whether Donald Trump has remodeled or vandalized the Republican party. In any event, left-wing pundits spent the week gaping at, and writing about, what they viewed as the grotesque spectacle of the RNC. For example, Daily Kos’s Hunter opined that the convention was "was barely one step up from an internet-peddled snuff film,” and Salon’s Heather Digby Parton declared that “all that’s left of the ‘three-legged stool’ of conservatism is the seat — racism, nativism and xenophobia.”
There’s the entertaining kind of irascible old guy (e.g., Grampa Simpson) and there’s the scary kind, which several liberal pundits thought they beheld Monday night as they watched Rudy Giuliani speak at the Republican convention. Talking Points Memo editor and publisher Josh Marshall remarked that “ever since the late and great Molly Ivins quipped that she thought Pat Buchanan's speech at the 1992 GOP convention sounded better in the original German it's been sort of a parlor trick to compare a 'hot' Republican speech to one from this or that fascist dictator. But this speech was really febrile and unhinged." Fred Kaplan of Slate claimed that Giuliani “spew[ed]…rank nonsense” and “delved into the shallowest realm of Trump’s attack on Obama’s (or Obama-Clinton’s) counterterrorism policies—the refusal to call our enemy by their name."