At Big Journalism, Frank Ross spots a howler from Robert Reich:
Former Obama economic advisor, Clinton Secretary of Labor, and Berkely Prof. Robert Reich claimed yesterday in his column at Salon.com that Fox News played a role in the conservative resurgence of 1994:
In December 1994, Bill Clinton proposed a so-called middle-class bill of rights including more tax credits for families with children, expanded retirement accounts, and tax-deductible college tuition. Clinton had lost his battle for healthcare reform. Even worse, by that time the Dems had lost the House and Senate. Washington was riding a huge anti-incumbent wave. Right-wing populists were the ascendancy, with Newt Gingrich and Fox News leading the charge. Bill Clinton thought it desperately important to assure Americans he was on their side.
But Prof. Reich overlooked one minor detail: Fox News Channel’s first broadcast wasn’t until October 7, 1996.
The plan for FNC wasn’t even outlined until January of 1996, so what could explain such a patently false claim? Is the professor suggesting that even in 1994, Fox News’ imminence did in fact play a role in the political upheaval of that year? Or is this a moment where Fox Derangement Syndrome enters the realm of full-blown paranoia?
Either way, where was Salon on this one to save Reich from himself? And would Prof. Reich tolerate fact-checking this poor from his college students?
Possibly — if Reich holds their view of history to the same standard as his own. As I wrote a year ago:
Reich has always had a way with words, as Jonathan Rauch spotted in a 1997 Slate article when he compared what Reich wrote in Locked In the Cabinet, Reich’s memoirs of his days as Bill Clinton’s labor secretary, with videotapes and transcripts of the actual events. Reich describes himself, as Jonah Goldberg wrote in Liberal Fascism (where I first discovered Rauch’s Slate article), as trapped in a Thomas Nast cartoon, “in constant battle with greedy fat cats, Social Darwinists, and Mr. Monopoly.” The actual transcripts and tapes describe a reality that’s far more pedestrian.But then such fantasies of the Reich Stuff make him right at home with Bill Clinton’s “meaning of is” postmodernism, Hillary Clinton’s fantasy snipers in Tuzla, and also President Obama, who as a candidate similarly misremembered at least one meeting with big business.
Or as Reich wrote in his memoirs, “I claim no higher truth than my own perceptions. This is how I lived it.”
Even if the rest of us remember things more than a little differently.