Ed Driscoll

Jay Carney's Corruption Occurred a Long Time Ago

In Orwell’s 1984, there’s a moment when Winston Smith, newly imprisoned in the sinister “Ministry of Love” sees O’Brien, his former conspirator entering his cell. Thinking he had be been arrested like himself, Winston says, “They got you, too!”

“Oh, they got me a long time ago, Winston,” O’Brien replies, revealing that it was he, an ambitious cog in the Inner Party, who had Smith arrested. (I’m writing this from memory; the effect is even more dramatic in the movie, when Richard Burton speaks the line in his sonorous baritone.)

The only torture that Jay Carney performs are his daily waterboard-like press conferences, and increasingly as the Obama administration spins out of control, they’ve become as agonizing for the performance artist as they are to the rest of us, his audience. But keep O’Brien’s phrase in mind, when reading Peter Wehner’s look at “The Corruption of Jay Carney” at Commentary:

So Mr. Carney obviously misled the public in November; the only question is whether he did so willfully. Yet rather than admit to his multiple misleading statements in the past, Carney blamed Mitt Romney and Republicans. The spin Carney used was transparently dishonest. He constructed a false reality to defend himself and the administration. In the process, he has merely further damaged his credibility. You can watch the whole painful press briefing here.

Once upon a time, Jay Carney was a journalist who wanted to search for truth. Now he is an Obama White House official awkwardly attempting to hide it. He is now part of a cover-up. The questions are just how wide and deep the cover-up extends, how many more falsehoods the Obama White House will employ in its defense, and whether being played for fools by a liberal administration will bother the elite media and White House press corps.

We’re about to find out.

It’s a great post, but the idea that “Once upon a time, Jay Carney was a journalist who wanted to search for truth,” rings rather falsely. Or, if it’s true, the idea of truthful journalistic searching was bled out of Carney’s reporting a very long time ago. Astride the White House podium, Carney looks like a smarmy teenager wearing hipster nerd glasses and his first grown-up suit; I was astonished to discover that he’s 47 years old, when I looked up his age before writing this post. But it makes sense, considering he was a Time-Warner-CNN-HBO employee dating back to the beginning of the 1990s, when he was writing liberal hack work such as these examples:

“In towns like Pushkino (pop. 90,000), many Russians view the tumult sweeping Moscow with more anxiety and skepticism than do their big-city compatriots…they wonder if the destruction of Soviet communism will bring them anything more than uncertainty and hardship.” — Time reporter James Carney, September 9, 1991.

“The fear that continues to fester about Bush — as we read about his periodic foreign-policy gaffes and then hear him blithely assert that what he doesn’t know he can learn from his advisers–is that at 53 he has the same cavalier attitude toward knowledge that he had at 21: he could learn what he needs to know, but he doesn’t seem to think it’s worth his time….There was something else jarring about what Bush said [about Israel]. There is no such thing as an ‘inter’-ballistic missile. These mistakes may seem minor, but taken together they suggest that Bush is still under water when grappling with foreign- and defense-policy basics.” — Time reporter James Carney playing up Bush gaffes, November 15, 1999.

“As he unveiled his new-look campaign in South Carolina last week, including Oprah-style sessions with citizens and banners heralding him as A REFORMER WITH RESULTS,  Bush tore into McCain like a pit bull let loose in a slaughterhouse.” — Time reporter James Carney describing “My Jog With George,” February 21, 2000.

“If it sounds as if George Bush is protesting too much, that’s because he’s got a credibility problem. It’s hard enough being the leader of a party that has made headlines by shutting down the government and refusing to add a few quarters to the minimum wage. The Texas Governor also has his own recent past to overcome, including a bruising primary fight that featured him cozying up to the religious right and running a singularly uncompassionate campaign against his opponent, John McCain.” — Time’s James Carney and John F. Dickerson, April 24. 2000.

In April of 2001, Dickerson and Carney would co-author a profile of Karl Rove for Time with this infamous passage:

Setting priorities and delivering bad news to friends is just a sliver of what Rove does as Bush’s top political gun. It was Rove who shaped the agenda, message and strategy that got Bush–the least experienced presidential nominee of modern times–into the White House. Now it is Rove’s job to keep him there through 2008.

Did Carney really believe what he wrote in that last passage — that a man who had previously been governor of Texas, toppling Democrat Ann Richards in the process, really was “the least experienced presidential nominee of modern times”? If so, how could he have taken such a high-profile job with a president who had infinitely less experience — and virtually none outside the leftwing political-academic bubble he spent his entire adult life marinating in, and no business experience, unlike Bush, before running for the job?

Which brings us to David Gerstman’s look at the Legal Insurrection blog, at how the Benghazi debacle punctures the Obama administration’s “team of rivals” myth. The “team of rivals” line was promoted in the summer of 2008 by Joe Klein, another Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-paid hack, as a way to add Lincoln-esque spin to describe the brain trust the otherwise woefully unprepared presidential candidate imagined he’d surround himself with. As with many of the early Obama myths processed in the JournoList vegan tofu sausage factory, it sounded nice on paper. But once he took office, the real Obama, as blogger Neo-Neocon notes in Gerstman’s post, “seems to prefer to have people around him with even less experience and expertise than he has, which is saying something.”

Or as Gerstman concludes:

Barry Rubin observes that the problem wasn’t just with Obama’s team either:

Benghazi is the perfect symbolism of the president of the United States going to sleep in the face of a crisis, the living embodiment of a 2008 election ad by his opponent about whether he would deal with a crisis that erupted at 3:00 a.m.

In order to “prove” that Obama was ready for the presidency despite his marked lack of relevant experience the MSM created a number of myths to help him evade the scrutiny they would have cast on any other candidate. One of them was that he’d surround himself with the best people. After the Benghazi hearings that myth has been effectively shattered.

If old media journalists continue to turn on Obama, it may because they’ve invested so much time and their own credibility (such as it is) building up their fantasy candidate and president, beginning around 2007. But if any of them really began their careers as “objective” journalists passionately in search of the truth, their lust for Inner Party status overtook their desire to report long ago.

Update: Moments after I hit the “Publish” button on this post, I came across an article by Brett Arends in the Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch column, on five ways why “The news media is even worse than you think,” which includes this passage:

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world. Once upon a time you saw people like this in every newsroom in the country. They often had chaotic personal lives and they died early of cirrhosis or a heart attack. But they were tough, angry SOBs and they produced great stories.

Do you want to know what kind of people get promoted and succeed in the modern news organization? Social climbers. Networkers. People who are gregarious, who “buy in” to the dominant consensus, who go along to get along and don’t ask too many really awkward questions.

Which sums up the JournoList crowd rather perfectly, no?