Beltway media villagers: We decide who will be president

Charles Pierce of Esquire has a recurring post he writes entitled “Things In Politico That Make Me Want To Guzzle Antifreeze, Part The Infinity.” The kidz at POLITICO Tiger Beat on The Potomac really piss him off with their low journalistic standards.

HuntingYou may have heard about this last week: the Beltway media villagers, who deem themselves powerful enough to make or break any candidate and to elect whomever they want to be president — the voters be damned — apparently have decided that they will work to destroy Hillary Clinton and to elect a Republican-to-be-named-later president.

There is some legitimacy to this sense of power to control the outcome by being able to control the media narrative. Never forget how the Beltway media villagers mercilessly mocked Al Gore with made up bullshit, while elevating “C Plus Augustus” George W. Bush to credible candidate status. Four years later, the Beltway media villagers shamelessly engaged in the Swift Boating of John Kerry. Be sure to thank the Beltway media villagers for their complicity in the Bush-Cheney regime and all the damage that they inflicted on this country. They own it.

Dylan Byers, Tiger Beat’s media reporter, wrote last week Hillary Clinton’s election to lose – POLITICO.com:

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a second: This is Hillary Clinton’s election to lose.

Unless … unless one of two things happens: 1. The Republicans build an Obama 2008-level narrative around their nominee, significantly broadening their candidate’s appeal to independents and Democrats. 2. Some legitimate controversy, historic stumble, unconscionable error or jaw-dropping gaffe completely reorients the way voters view Hillary Clinton.

As of now, the first option seems unlikely. Republicans have not produced a candidate who looks poised to pull off a “hope and change”-style campaign, despite Marco Rubio’s attempt to brand himself as the candidate for a “new American century.” The second option would require a controversy or error so major — and legitimate — that it didn’t go away.* Such a controversy would have to be far bigger than a secret email account or questionable Clinton Foundation donations. The inconsequence of those stories can be seen in the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, which found that “Americans now view Mrs. Clinton more favorably and more see her as a strong leader than they did earlier in the year, despite weeks of scrutiny about her ethics.”

Cartoon_23[*I will dispute this point. The media engaged in The Hunting of the President back in the 1990’s based on a series of faux scandals known collectively as White Water, for which it was discovered that there was nothing substantive to the claims of “scandal.” The same thing has occurred during Barack Obama’s presidency. Here is an example from Gary Varvel (above), one of many similar themed cartoons from the right just this year. It’s all about planting the seed of doubt in people’s minds, who cares about the facts?]

The conventional wisdom among Clinton’s supporters is that Clinton is invincible, because she has already weathered all the storms of media scrutiny. She has been in the public eye for 25 years and endured countless controversies, from Whitewater to Lewinsky to Benghazi. The book has been thrown at her, and the book lost.

This argument overlooks two important factors: First, the national media have never been more primed to take down Hillary Clinton (and, by the same token, elevate a Republican candidate). Even before she announced her presidential bid, The New York Times alone had published more than 40 articles related to her private email account, spurring other stories across the national print, digital and television media. Since announcing her bid, the national media have spent the bulk of their time investigating potential lines of influence between Clinton Foundation donations/speaking fees and Clinton’s actions as secretary of state. The Times, The Washington Post and others [FAUX News] even struck deals for early access to anti-Clinton research.

Second, the media environment is radically different from the 1990s or even the 2000s. The power and volume of social media means that controversies can be both disseminated and elevated to unprecedented levels. In today’s media environment, nothing with even a whiff of gunpowder comes across the transom without blowing up, because blowing stuff up is what the media do. Or, as Daniel Henninger notes in today’s Wall Street Journal, the “electronic elements have reached critical mass … [and] the new political media that will drive the 2016 presidential contest are like the surface of the oceans — huge, always moving, unpredictable and potentially destructive.”

The rest, as they say, is noise. The media can cover every minor process development and chase Hillary to every Chipotle, but without an unforeseen controversy of truly epic proportions and/or a transformational Republican candidate, Hillary Clinton will waltz to the nomination and enter Election Day with a significant advantage over her challenger.

Byers walks it back in that last paragraph, but his damning admission that his Beltway media buddies are chomping at the bit for the biggest smear campaign in American political history should not go unnoticed, or commented on.

When the “gatekeepers” of the national news media like the New York Times and the Washington Post are making exclusive deals for opposition research, New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News strike deals for anti-Clinton research, they are no longer performing their gatekeeper function. They have wilfully joined the jackals of the conservative media entertainment complex.

UPDATE: While the Beltway media villagers fixate on the Clintons, Ron Fournier (yes, I know) at the National Journal goes after the real Arkansas huckster, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee’s hucksterism vs. Clinton’s cash: “Behind former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s warm smile, inclusive rhetoric, and gee-whiz populism lies an ethics record that would make a Clinton blush. His greedy, cheesy money grabs as governor in Arkansas were a preview of today’s greedy, cheesy money grabs.” A must read.

One response to “Beltway media villagers: We decide who will be president

  1. Hillary has gained back almost all of what she has lost in latest poll. Her support for citizenship for immigrants was game changer as crying scott walker complained how unfair it was to republican candidates attests. Its early wait till the press starts taring and feathering republicans. Carly has already been asked several times why she was fired from her job and juan bush should be asked why he was not charged with a felony in florida for committing voter fraud since republicans are so concerned with voter fraud.