Sunday, July 9, 2017

Trump and the Myth of Watergate

CNN's change from reasonably respected news organization to drunken demolition derby is perhaps a little confusing to sane and rational people.

We're reaching levels of #FakeNews that were not previously believed to even be possible. #CNNMemeWar #CNNBlackmail

Sure the Left has gone nuts but why have they gone this nuts?

There are several factors in play.  First and foremost is Left's adoption and veneration of the mental ill.  It's easy to drive off a cliff when the driver honestly believes with all his heart and soul that the road ahead goes on for miles and anything that his senses are telling him about a gaping chasm in front of him is simply the product of a deranged imagination... Namely his own.

This was compounded by the cognitive dissonance of Trump's win.  His victory wasn't just a horrifying shock to people who thought that they had had this one in bag since the night he secured the nomination.  I mean there was that of course.  They were convinced they were winning the presidency, the Senate and in consequence the Supreme Court.  Who knows with that big of a winning streak, why not the House too?  And by midnight on election day they knew they been given the shutout.

Not CNN but still funny

But something a lot worse had happened so far as they were concerned.  Their political paradigm had just been shifted without a clutch.  The rightwing as they knew it had been upended. That collection of lovable loser, speed bumps was gone.  Instead of useless halfmen standing athwart history and whinging, "stop," there was now an opposition that was going to fight back.

The Left had won every battle* yet somehow they had just lost the war.

Okay this is why the Left in general has gone nuts but what about CNN?

CNN has one compounding factor, the myth of Watergate.  They are convinced that if if they try hard enough for long enough they can bring down a presidency because they believe in their deepest hearts that newsmen have done it before.

Problem with that.

It's horseshit.

The Left really can't be trusted with their own history.

“The Washington Post is one of the world’s great newspapers,” a fawning essay at the Sky’s online site declared, adding:

“Thanks to its investigative reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, it can make the unique claim of having brought down an American president — the corrupt Richard Nixon.”

It’s not too difficult to understand why such an extravagant claim circulates so widely.

After all, it is tidy, handy if terribly misleading shorthand about the sprawling Watergate scandal of 1972-74: It sweeps away complexities of Watergate, rendering the scandal and its thicket of lies and criminality rather easy to grasp. After all, as I noted in the recently published, expanded second edition of my mythbusting book, Getting It Wrong, the Watergate scandal “has grown so distant that few Americans can accurately describe what took place.”

The heroic-journalist myth has become a reductive substitute.

The heroic-journalist interpretation also is a way of saluting Woodward and Bernstein, both of whom are in their 70s. Both, in fact, will highlight this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, where they are to hand out awards and offer remarks about the importance of investigative reporting. (Not surprisingly, their pending joint appearance has stirred fresh retelling of the heroic-journalist myth. The Washington Examiner said the other day, for instance, that Woodward and Bernstein’s “coverage of the Watergate break-in led eventually to former President Richard Nixon’s resignation.”)

In their younger days, Woodward and Bernstein sneered at the correspondents’ association dinner, describing it in All the President’s Men, their 1974 book about Watergate, as “a formal, overdone, alcohol-saturated event, attended by all those with power — or pretensions to power — in the media and government.” Woodward and Bernstein went anyway, in 1973, to collect a couple of prizes.
The Nixon tapes: A pivotal Watergate story WaPo missed

So over-the-top is the heroic-journalist interpretation of Watergate that not even principals at the Post when the scandal played out — notably the publisher, Katharine Graham, and her top editor, Ben Bradlee — embraced the notion.

“Sometimes people accuse us of bringing down a president, which of course we didn’t do,” Graham said in 1997. “The processes that caused [Nixon’s] resignation were constitutional.”

Also that year, Bradlee said on the Sunday talk show “Meet the Press” that “it must be remembered that Nixon got Nixon. The Post didn’t get Nixon.”

He was referring to the White House audio tapes which Nixon secretly made and which revealed the president’s guilty role in attempting to divert the FBI investigation into the botched burglary of Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington in June 1972. The breakin touched off the scandal.

And in earthier terms, Woodward concurred, telling an interviewer in 2006:

To say that the press brought down Nixon, that’s horseshit.”

What brought down Nixon was the political system of the early 1970s. Officially there were two parties the same as usual but unofficially there were about five.  Both the Democrats and the Republicans had liberal and conservative wings.  The Democrats Rightwing arguably went a a lot farther to the Right than the GOPs.

It was Nixon's quirks that made the man impossible to defend.

Believe it or not this supposed to be about Nixon.
Not Hillary.

His need to control what could not be controlled destroyed him.

The best way to deal with a scandal is dump it all once.  Although for preference, do it during a high volume news period.  But when you break the story yourself, you can make maximum disclosure in the minimum length of time.  The story will run for maybe three days and then it's over.  IF there is nothing new to find, THEN the press can only tell the same story so many times before the readers move on.  Nixon's cover up created a situation where one revelation lead to another and then another, as the story slowly dribbled out over time.  Until support from his own party evaporated and Barry Goldwater showed up at the White House to inform Nixon that he didn't think he had the votes to hold off a conviction in the Senate.  

The Boomer Left on the other hand saw all the President's Men and heard Deep Throat say, "follow the money."  Even though that little snitch with the sexual fetish nickname, Mark Felt never actually used those words.

What destroyed Nixon was a confession on tape during a period when we had higher standards of conduct for a president.

Times change.  The Democrat's Rightwing switched parties and started voting Republican.  The GOP's Leftwing stuck around and started calling themselves conservatives

What hasn't changed was the ironclad belief by modern journalists that it was the almighty truth telling press that destroyed Nixon.  

Consequently when CNN's boss felt that they had been unfairly slighted, they decided go to war with the White House because they were convinced that they could win the war.

The rest you saw for yourself.  Anyone sane and rational would have ignored the offending tweet as a trivial piece of irrelevance.   In three days the company's attorney had told all of the company's employees to shut the fuck up and stay the hell off Twitter.  

The myth of Watergate didn't bring down president Trump but it has destroyed the reputation of CNN.

*Except for guns

1 comment:

Longtime Lurker said...

Yup. Woodward and Bernstein were Mark Felt's cats paw from start to finish. All they had to do was take good notes and not fuck up the lede.