Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Whitewater Journalism

Magically, it's back in vogue. Stories which hint at corruption for Democrats, even though there's clearly no there actually there. As Digby writes:

These are patented Whitewater-style "smell test" stories. They are based on complicated details that make the casual reader's eyes glaze over and about which the subject has to issue long confusing explanations in return. They feature colorful and unsavory political characters in some way. They often happened in the past and they tend to be written in such a way as to say that even if they aren't illegal they "look bad." The underlying theme is hypocrisy because the subjects are portrayed as making a dishonest buck while pretending to represent the average working man. Oh, and they always feature a Democrat. Republicans are not subject to such scrutiny because a craven, opportunistic Republican isn't "news." (Neat trick huh?)

No single story will bring down a candidate because they have no substance to them. It's the combined effect they are looking for to build a sense overall sleaziness. "Where there's smoke there's fire" right?

These nonstories are being front paged on the Post and the Times, which leads to TV news covering them and taking them seriously. The fact that, for example, in the Obama story the money involved was a tiny amount of money both brings it down to a human scale people can understand and makes people believe that if an important newspaper like the New York Times is writing about what seems to be a trivial matter it somehow must be important. Even when Obama loses money! The mindless jerks at the Note led with the Obama story and gave it more coverage than the Libby verdict. And how'd they see it?

Good sign for Team Obama: They have already put out their, uhm, first response document, ahead of The Note's deadline.

Bad sign for Team Obama: Whitewater lost money too.

Heh. Indeed. Even a nonscandal in which you lose money can bring you down! Ha ha ha.

And oh, joy, we really are going to be set to party like it's 1999 again. Spite Girl Kit Seelye is going to be back to covering politics for the Times.

Stock up on liquor, it's going to be the silliest season of all.