Sunday, July 05, 2015

Maureen Dowd, Still Creeping Around

If not for the reference to "cyberbullying," you would think this was a column from fourteen-plus years ago.  Maureen Dowd, who against all logic and journalistic sense still is employed by The New York Times, writes

The turquoise tranquillity of the Côtes d’Azur was rocked a couple of times during the Cannes Lions Festival, the advertising world’s rosé-soaked answer to the Cannes Film Festival.

Al Gore snubbed Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky, who was giving a speech for Ogilvy & Mather about how she became “patient zero” in the cyberbullying epidemic, was slated to sit in a V.I.P. box with the former vice president, who got an award for being a good brand.

But her invite got yanked.

The contretemps was a reminder that Gore’s prissy attitude toward l’affaire Monica helped cost him the election, because he was so angry at Bill Clinton that he leashed the Big Dog, curtailing the president’s campaigning, even in the South. If Al had been less eager to put baby in a corner, there would have been no phony action on Iraq and plenty of action on melting glaciers.

Steve M. quotes this and more from the piece, in which Dowd targeted primarily the Clintons.  In the course of taking Dowd apart for her treatment of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, SM observes

All this leads me to ask: Why is Maureen Dowd still at The New York Times? Why hasn't she joined the likes of Dick Morris and Judy Miller and become the regular Fox contributor she's obviously qualified to be?

Her fixation on the Lewinsky scandal would make her perfectly at home in Wingnuttia, where old scandals are endlessly rehashed and grievances are nurtured for decades. What's more, Dowd's specific focus on the moment when Team Clinton tried to tarnish Lewinsky's reputation is strikingly similar to the right's obsession with the relatively brief timespan when Hillary Clinton's State Department downplayed the true nature of the Benghazi attack. In both cases, it just doesn't matter. The truth about Benghazi became obvious very quickly in the fall of 2012, and was soon acknowledged by the administration. In early 1998, the public wasn't fooled by Bill Clinton's denial of an affair, and didn't care -- a CBS poll taken within weeks of the Lewinsky revelations, in February 1998, showed that nearly three in four respondents thought Clinton was hiding something, and yet he had a 66% job approval rating. Seventeen years after the fact, Dowd is still fixated on a coverup, that didn't work.

But at least Bill Clinton got to the White House, and Hillary Clinton to Secretary of State. Although he outpolled George W. Bush nationally and in Florida,  Al Gore wasn't as lucky.  In October, 2007, Vanity Fair's Eugenia Peretz reviewed the 2000 presidential campaign and noted early in the campaign

Maureen Dowd boiled the choice between Gore and Bush down to that between the "pious smarty-pants" and the "amiable idler," and made it perfectly clear which of the presidential candidates had a better chance of getting a date. "Al Gore is desperate to get chicks," she said in her column. "Married chicks. Single chicks. Old chicks. Young chicks. If he doesn't stop turning off women, he'll never be president."

"I bet he is in a room somewhere right now playing Barry White CDs and struggling to get mellow," she wrote in another.

Meanwhile, though Dowd certainly questioned Bush's intellect in some columns, she seemed to be charmed by him—one of the "bad boys," "rascals," and a "rapscallion." She shared with the world a charged moment between them. "'You're so much more mature now,' I remarked to the Texas Governor. 'So are you,' he replied saucily." And in another column: "You don't often get to see a Presidential candidate bloom right before your eyes."

Gore's habit of talking issues didn't go down well with the media establishment, such as

for the environment, while Gore was persuaded by his consultants not to talk about it as much as he would have liked, whenever he did, many in the media ignored it or treated it as comedy. Dowd wrote in one column that "Al Gore is so feminized and diversified and ecologically correct, he's practically lactating." In another, referring to his consideration of putting a Webcam in the Oval Office, she wrote, "I have zero desire to see President Gore round the clock, putting comely interns to sleep with charts and lectures on gaseous reduction."

Gore remained relatively unflappable and

The notion that he was prickly or unpleasant to reporters doesn't jibe with what Tipper witnessed. From her viewpoint, he remained gracious with the reporters—even at an event during the campaign, when Maureen Dowd sidled up in the middle of a conversation he was having with two other reporters. "He stood up and got her a chair and said, 'Please, join us.'" After Dowd had written about him "lactating," he agreed to an interview with her, answering questions about his favorite this, his favorite that. According to his staffers, she was a fact of life that would have to be endured.

Joining in were other members of the media, such as the New York Times' Katharine Seelye, Time's Margaret Carlson, Newsday's Elaine Povitch, MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Brian Williams, Newsweek's Howard Fineman, and especially, The Washington Post's Ceci Connolly.  But most of those have moved on, and The New York Times- from which Dowd still opines in her uniquely snarky manner- still is remarkably influential.  As Steve M. puts it, "Give it up, MoDo. Go over to the dark side. We're sick of you here;" or to paraphrase Gore from 1992 (from Steve Liss for Time, below), it's time for her to go.

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