Ed Driscoll

All the News that's Shovel-Ready

Ed Morrissey paraphrases David Brooks’ claim that, “Hey, Obama told me shovel-ready jobs didn’t exist last year.”

As Ed writes:

And of course, this wouldn’t have been news all the time while Barack Obama kept claiming that these “shovel ready jobs” had prosperity just around the corner, right?  Brooks says that the admission came in an off-the-record session with the President, which kept him from reporting it.  I wonder if Brooks or anyone else would have been that particular had George Bush admitted “off the record” that he knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction in 2003 or 2004, while continuing to make the argument that the war was necessary because of them.  What happened to sourcing as “a senior administration official”?  Did it not occur to Brooks that Obama was lying about these jobs over the past year to defend his economic policies, and that Brooks might have had a responsibility to make that known?  Good to know that the New York Times prints all the news that fits — its agenda.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument, that Brooks is telling the truth. Should he have reported his scoop? Let’s ask Roger Ailes!

In between setting up CNBC and then Fox News, Roger Ailes wrote a superb book on public speaking called You Are The Message, which, not surprisingly, given his career as a TV producer, had numerous tips on working with the media–and avoiding getting worked over by them. At one point, Ailes wrote:

Recognize that any time you are in the presence of a newsperson, the conversation is fair game for the record. Jimmy Carter’s famous confession that he sometimes had lust in his heart for women other than his wife was uttered to a Playboy magazine journalist as he was leaving Carter’s home at the conclusion of the formal interview.Even Mike Wallace, big-game hunter of the unguarded moment, got caught in this snare. As recounted on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal by TV critic Daniel Henninger in March of 1981, Wallace:

was interviewing a banker in San Diego about an alleged home improvement fraud involving mainly black and Hispanics, who supposedly had signed contract they couldn’t understand, which led to foreclosures on their home mortgages.The bank hired a film crew of its own to record the interview with Mr. Wallace. The bank apparently left its recorder running during a break in the CBS interview, and the tape has Mr. Wallace saying, in reply to a question about why the black and Hispanic customers would have signed their contracts, “They’re probably too busy eating their watermelon and tacos.”

When the Los Angeles Times got wind of this indiscretion and reported it, there was at least a minor uproar from reporters and others about Wallace’s “racially disparaging joke”. Wallace ultimately pleaded “no bias”, admitting that over time he’d privately told jokes about many ethnic groups but that his record “speaks for itself”.

Henninger added, “Needless to say, this has to be the most deliciously lip-smacking bit of irony to pop out of the oven in a long time. Here we have the dogcatcher cornered. The lepidopterist pinned. The preacher in flagrante delicto. This is the fellow who has imputed all manner of crimes against social goodness to a long lineup of businessmen and bureaucrats. From here on out, all future victims of Mr. Wallace can take some small comfort in knowing that although they may stand exposed as goof-offs, thieves and polluters, he’s the guy who made the crack about the watermelons and tacos.”

As Ailes wrote, “Recognize that any time you are in the presence of a newsperson, the conversation is fair game for the record.” In a way, this story — again if Brooks is being truthful — is reminiscent of the San Francisco Chronicle not recognizing that they had been handed the headline of the year, when then-candidate Barack Obama admitted to them in January of 2008 that his administration would be prepared to bankrupt any new coal plants built. Instead of running that statement in 60-point type on front page of their newspaper, it sat in plain sight in the middle of an otherwise routine hour-long video the paper uploaded to its Website shortly after its interview with Obama was completed, until a blogger discovered it in late October of 2008. For the Blogosphere and Drudge, it made for a heck of an October Surprise, but not enough to derail the momentum the Chronicle’s candidate had gathered in the last weeks of the election.

Incidentally, whatever happened to that pledge? Chalk it up as yet another Mission Accomplished moment in our reverse Von Clausewitz’s war on private enterprise.

Related: On the PJM homepage today, “NY Press Corps’ Water Cooler Moment on Andrew Cuomo — Those water jugs the press keeps carrying for destructive liberals sure must get heavy. But then again, their work is a labor of love.”

Update: Advantage: Kaus! Mickey Kaus notes that Obama first admitted that “one of the biggest lies in government is the idea of ‘shovel-ready’ projects” in a publication that appeared six months ago. As Mickey wryly notes, “It drew some blog attention in July. . .”