I know: why was I even watching MSNBC? Because, she wrote defensively, I watched last night’s NBC debate at a neighbors’ where they were watching MSNBC. There I beheld a far different Howard Fineman than the dark-haired, nattily attired Newsweek Senior Political Correspondent of election cycles past. The 2012 Howard Fineman is identified as with HuffPo and has hair the length of — let’s just say it has that flip at the bottom in the back.
No barber shops on the campaign trail, Howie? You can do great interviews and get a haircut in the same place. Just one woman’s perspective.
OK, I do understand that time stands still for no man, nor any woman, so I’ll get down to what he said. Discussing the Republicans he’d interviewed yesterday — unwittingly displaying that Martian level of naiveté that afflicts even the most experienced leftist reporters when they find themselves among The Other — Fineman told Chris Matthews and NBC’s Political Director Chuck Todd:
…even among the Establishment Republicans I was talking to today, they can’t stand Barack Obama on many levels. They want him out! Even for moderate Republicans, [translation: polite, well-spoken people] they are surprisingly fierce when talking to them on the street corner in Florida. They want him out.
There it is, PJM readers, right from the horse’s mouth. A perfect echo of Pauline Kael’s immortal comment in 1972, “I don’t understand how Nixon could have won. No one I know voted for him.”
If Howard Fineman had ever spent as little as one minute with a Republican of any kind — traditional, Tea Party, Evangelical Christian, Log Cabin, centrist, moderate, John Birch, gen X –he wouldn’t have found any Republican hostility toward the president even slightly “surprising.”
But that’s the beauty of the life of members of the MSM. They don’t know, and don’t have to know, anyone who thinks unlike themselves.
I don’t know how one can live in this country — in any community with a hardware store, a drugstore, a supermarket — and be able to say of Republican anger at Obama that it’s “surprisingly fierce.” Maybe Fineman doesn’t run errands. But is every cameraman at NBC an Obamaphile? Even the make-up artist?
Normally, a veteran reporter avoids words such as “surprisingly” or “surprised” like the plague. “Surprisingly” is for cub reporters, right out of j-school or high school. Nothing is supposed to be surprising to a guy who’s been around the political track.
This is what’s known in the law as an “excited utterance” — one that’s admissible at trial even if it’s hearsay, precisely because its very spontaneity is believed to guarantee its veracity.
So, Howard Fineman really was surprised.
Imagine if he’d ever spent just a few moments reading any blogger here at PJM. He wouldn’t have been surprised at all by moderate Republican fierceness toward Obama. He’d have been, in fact, what we call prepared.