Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The bungling of Broder

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Not so long ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Read (D-NV) said that the "war is lost" -- the Iraq War, that is -- and aroused the ire of the warmongering right. (As Media Matters pointed out, Reid went on to say during the same press conference that "the surge is not accomplishing anything" and that "the war, at this stage, can only be won diplomatically, politically, and economically" -- which is to say, Bush's military war is lost, but there can still be engagement with Iraq in other and more constructive areas. The media, true to form, neglected to mention this. It was the sensationalism of "war is lost" -- and the prospect of partisan combat -- that drew their narrow attention, not Reid's more nuanced argument.

The knee-jerk hostility on the right was predictable, but so, too, perhaps, was the response from the so-called "dean" of the Washington press corps, David Broder. (I hardly pay any attention to Broder, whether it's in the Post or on Meet the Press; still, what he has had to say in response to Reid merits commentary.) Speaking on XM radio, as Think Progress is reporting, Broder called Reid "an embarrassment" who doesn't think before his "mouth opens". Reid's leadership has been a "bungling performance," and "about every six weeks or so there's another episode where he has to apologize for the way in which he has bungled the Democratic case".

Such uneducated malignancy from the so-called "dean" of the Washington press corps, eh? What he's doing in the Post and on Meet the Press is beyond me, although his continued presence in the spotlight attests to the corrupted state of journalism as it is practised within the cozy confines of the Beltway.

As Think Progress argues:

It doesn't matter whether what Harry Reid said was actually true or false, but whether it was impolitic. And what determines whether it was impolitic isn't the opinion of American public, but whether conservatives got angry and called Reid "reckless" and "disgraceful"... It's apparently irrelevant that Reid's views are shared by President Bush's regular military adviser Henry Kissinger, or senior U.S. military officials, or the majority of the American people.

Nor does it matter that Broder neglected to read beyond the sensationalistic "war is lost" comment -- Does that not say a lot about the quality of his journalism, not to mention the validity of his self-appointed and self-important role as partisanship policeman, not to mention his very integrity? Does that not make you wonder even more why he has those prominent media platforms from which to spew whatever nonsense happens to tickle his fancy, including standard right-wing partisan spin?

Yes, the "dean" is here, as elsewhere, the purveyor of partisan spin. How else to take not just his neglect for the context of Reid's comments, as well as for everything else Reid had to say at that press conference, but his blatant lie that Reid has had to apologize regularly for how he has handled "the Democratic case"? Here's Greg Sargent, proving that Broder is a liar: "I just checked with Reid's office, and they told me in no uncertain terms that Reid has not apologized for any of his remarks during his first four months or so as majority leader. He certainly hasn't apologized for the 'war is lost' comment."

Of course not. Because there's no need to apologize. He's been a fine leader in the Senate and he was right about the Iraq War. His own party agrees with him, and so do the majority of the American people, and so do many on the other side of the partisan divide.

But none of that matters to Broder. The only reason anyone pays any attention to him is that he's been there a long time, hence the "dean" tag. And his whole schtick, whether in print or on TV (or on radio, it seems), is to seem to be above the partisan fray and hence a neutral arbiter. But there's nothing genuinely neutral about him and there's certainly nothing to suggest that he is a competent arbiter. As he shows here, he takes a single statement out of context, blows it out of proportion, and gets it wrong.

Shouldn't he be working for Fox?

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