Flip This, Russert
By: shep

by shep

Here you can watch one of the cranky white guys from CNN explaining how Hillary Clinton refused to give straight answers on driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, Social Security and the release of presidential records in that now infamous Democratic debate.

Besides being completely full of it himself when Jack Cafferty calls it “baloney” that Clinton herself can’t release presidential records and asking what “fiscal responsibility” means, the greatest stupidity and moral crime committed by our entire idiot press corps about that debate has to be the one that Clinton “flip-flopped” on the driver’s license issue.

Here’s Russert’s original “gotcha” question:

Russert: Senator Clinton, Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer has proposed giving driver's licenses to illegal immigrants. He told the Nashua, New Hampshire, Editorial Board it makes a lot of sense.

Why does it make a lot of sense to give an illegal immigrant a driver's license?

And here’s Clinton’s answer as to why it makes sense:
Clinton: Well, what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is fill the vacuum left by the failure of this administration to bring about comprehensive immigration reform. We know in New York we have several million at any one time who are in New York illegally. They are undocumented workers. They are driving on our roads. The possibility of them having an accident that harms themselves or others is just a matter of the odds. It's probability.

So what Governor Spitzer is trying to do is to fill the vacuum. I believe we need to get back to comprehensive immigration reform because no state, no matter how well intentioned, can fill this gap. There needs to be federal action on immigration reform.

And here’s Russert’s flip-flop:
Russert: Does anyone here believe an illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license?

(Unknown): Believe what?

Russert: An illegal immigrant should not have a driver's license.

Now Russert’s question isn’t why Spitzer’s plan “makes sense,” it is now, one Clinton answer later, who thinks illegal immigrants should not be given a driver’s license.

So Chris Dodd answers that question in the negative and Clinton attempts to answer the new question thusly:
Clinton: Well, I just want to add, I did not say that it should be done, but I certainly recognize why Governor Spitzer is trying to do...

Edwards then opportunistically claims that Clinton said two different things – which she did in response to Russert’s two different questions – and the rest is beltway journalistic malpractice.

(The gotcha nature of the original question is obvious to anyone who’s ever taken a first-year philosophy class: “tell me why it might make sense to kill a criminal” or “write an essay on why it might make sense to start a war with a militarily inferior, resource-rich country.” And Punkin' Head is apparently somewhat ashamed of it since he edited it out of this week’s MTP review of Clinton’s “straight answer(s)” to two different questions).

The Village lurves its empty political narratives – i.e., “the calculating politician” (no, seriously) – because 1) college students who choose journalism aren’t usually the brightest crayons in the box and 2) our beltway press are really a bunch of lazy, pampered know-nothings who, if they couldn’t constantly lean on these mindless narratives, would actually have think of something clever to say or report, you know, the news (as our idiot-in-chief might say: that journalism stuff is hard work). Most maddeningly, they continue to pretend that they themselves aren’t affecting and corrupting the process by creating these narratives and with their laziness, inanity and adolescent-style assaults on politicians, particularly Democrats.

[Cross-posted at E Pluribus Unum]


Mark W Adams said...

Two of the smartest, most hard-working people I went to school with were journalism majors, and both did very well for themselves indeed. But O.U. is home of the Scripts-Howard college of journalism and they have a Pulitzer Prize winning daily paper put out by the students there.

Now the guys who were Radio/TV majors who wanted to be DJ's -- kinda goofy, but the R-TV engineers were top notch. The worst were the philosophy majors (full of themselves) and the folks who took up psychology (were usually nuts). Most worthless degree was interior/fashion design -- what abunch of idiots.

shep said...

So the spectrum might go from raw intelligence (scientists, engineers and mathematicians) to social intelligence (journalists, psychologists and, er, lawyers) to creatives (artists, writers and applied artists).

Where do you think Russert and Mathews and Williams and Kouric and Lauer and Broder and Brooks and Kristol and Hume (they're all considered "mainstream") fall on the "smarts" spectrum?

Mark W Adams said...

Any member of the Versailles Press is no longer a real "journalist." Once they get a taste of that high six-figure income, their loyalty is to their portfolio. Those folks you mentioned are media figures, not part of what you and I would consider the "press" at all. Their intelligence is irrelevant when comparing them to other fields of employment.

Better to compare their smarts as somewhere on the continuum between Ben Stein and Britany Spears.