THE DAILY BLADE: Temper, Temper
Much has been made by pundits and bloggers of this interview by New York Times reporter Elizabeth Bumiller aboard the McCain campaign plane, the point of which seemed to be to goad the clearly irked – but hardly enraged – GOP candidate (video link) into losing his temper so that she could write an article about him having become "testy”:
Bumiller: “Can I ask you about your … why you are so angry?”
McCain: “Pardon me?”
Bumiller: “Never mind, never mind.”
The best way to counter John McCain's suggestion that he is the only one running for the presidency who is tough enough to take care of whatever crisis someone is calling the White House about at 3 a.m. (video link), is to paint him as an emotionally unstable wild man, who isn’t temperate enough to exercise the necessary judgment and self-control to refrain from lobbing nukes whenever some world leader pisses him off.
As always, The Times is willing – eager, even - to do the dirty work for the Dems. But if having a bad temper disqualifies one from being Commander-in-Chief, the media should also examine Hillary Clinton’s temper and how it will affect her judgment.
Here’s former Bill Clinton advisor Dick Morris on Hillary’s temper in a January 18, 2008 interview on Fox News' “Hannity & Colmes”:
Hannity: I want to ask you specifically, though: Bill Clinton's temper. Even The New York Times dealt with this today. You always said her temper was far worse, but his flaring up apparently is becoming a big negative and a big problem for the campaign.
Morris: Well, her temper is a cool, angry, "I'll, you know, slit your throat in the middle of the night" temper. …
Morris: His temper is an explosive, wild rant that calms down very quickly, but you're seeing an undue amount of it. …
Hannity: You know, it's funny, 'cause Gail Sheehy wrote she's angry not all the time but most of the time … So, they both have a temper problem.
For that matter, why didn’t the subject of Bill Clinton’s temper come up when he was running for president? In this “Hannity & Colmes” interview (video link) Morris recounts one occasion in which an infuriated Bill Clinton roughed him up:
In May of 1990 I was helping to consult on Clinton’s last campaign for governor and he had fallen behind his opponent three weeks before Primary Day. And we got together at midnight in the governor’s mansion. I suspected he’d had a drink and he isn’t good at holding it when he does. And he began screaming at me, cursing at me, yelling at me. And I got furious and I screamed and cursed back at him and I stormed out of the governor’s mansion. And as I was halfway through the kitchen to the door, I heard him run up behind me, grab me around the waist, threw me to the ground, knelt over me with his fist back to punch me. And Hillary grabbed his arm, pulled him back and said, “Bill, Bill, stop! Think about what you’re doing. Stop!” And Clinton got up, sputtering an apology. It cooled our relationship. … Eileen [McGann], my wife, said I should have sworn a criminal complaint about it … And when the reporters came around asking what happened, Hillary said “say it never happened.”
To be sure, McCain has been known to yell, swear like a sailor and become sarcastic, but he has never assaulted a colleague as far as The Stiletto knows. Nor has he ever thrown a book at a Secret Service agent, as Hillary has in a fit of pique.
New Poll, Old News: Americans Distrust The Media
A new Harris Interactive online poll of 2,302 U.S. adults finds that 54 percent of Americans “tend not to trust” the media. Amongst Dems, a plurality (43 percent) say they tend to trust the media, but only 19 percent of Republicans say they do. This poll was conducted between January 15 and 22, 2008, about a month before The New York Times made unsubstantiated allegations about John McCain’s relationship with a female lobbyist, so the fallout from that article isn’t reflected in these poll numbers.
The Harris poll is just the latest one showing that the public has a negative view of the media:
† In its annual report on “The State Of The News Media,” Project for Excellence in Journalism found that during 2006: The number of Americans with a favorable view of the press “dropped markedly” from 59 percent in February to 48 percent in July – among the lowest scores in a decade. The number of Americans who believe “most or all of what news organizations tell them” also declined across the board, with roughly 25 percent believing most television outlets and fewer than 20 percent believing what they read in print. “CNN is not really more trusted than Fox, or ABC than NBC. The local paper is not viewed much differently than the New York Times.” And while Republicans “express less confidence than Democrats in the credibility of nearly every major news outlet … Democrats are beginning to doubt the believability of more news outlets, and their suspicion of bias is growing too.”
† A 2005 survey by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that between 1985 and 2004, the percentage of Americans said they “can believe most of what they read in their daily newspaper” plummeted from 84 percent to 54 percent; roughly equal numbers said the news media “stand up for America” and are “too critical of America” (42 percent and 40 percent, respectively); and 73 percent of Republicans said the press is biased, as compared to 53 percent of Dems.
† A 2004 Gallup Poll found that in the aftermath of CBS News' reporting on President George W. Bush's National Guard service during Vietnam War that was based on forged documents, only 44 percent of Americans “express confidence in the media's ability to report news stories accurately and fairly … a significant drop from one year ago, when 54 percent … expressed a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the media.” Gallup notes that this result is “particularly striking” because the figure had fluctuated between 51 percent and 55 percent from 1997 to 2003.
The public is likely to distrust and dislike journalists even more, after how The Scotsman treated an “off the record” remark made by Harvard professor and genocide expert Samantha Power made in a newspaper interview. When her arguably hyperbolic language caused a dust-up on this side of The Pond, she thought it prudent to resign her unpaid role as a foreign policy advisor to the Obama campaign so as not to throw the suddenly struggling campaign off further stride now that the candidate was in the media’s crosshairs. Explains Washington Post media critic-turned political pundit Howard Kurtz:
Technically, any agreement to put comments off the record - meaning they can't be reported - must be worked out in advance between journalist and source. But many reporters say it is common to grant such requests if they are made right after an inflammatory remark.
Reached in Edinburgh, Mike Gilson, the Scotsman's editor, said he did not think the paper had been unfair to Power. “This was clearly an on-the-record interview that was taped,” he said. …
The contretemps illustrates how a journalistic conversation that moves back and forth between different levels of attribution depends on winks, nods and, ultimately, some level of trust between the participants. A subject who goes off the record temporarily is supposed to indicate when his or her words can be quoted again. Some conduct interviews off the record or on background, meaning not for direct attribution, and then make a journalist read back comments for permission to quote. Subjects who dish off the record may be trying to establish a bond with their interviewer, or to float rumors or criticism without being held responsible. …
Mark Feldstein, who teaches journalism at George Washington University, said the rules are “a little murky. I teach my students that it has to be said in advance, but this was so immediately after that I wouldn't have run it. I think it was a low blow.”
Political consultant-turned-analyst Susan Estrich adds that in the days before “Drudge Report,” politicos could say things to the foreign media not meant for American consumption, and no one would be the wiser:
It used to be that you could have fun with interviews with the foreign press, knowing that nothing you said would make it back to any voters until long after the election was over, if ever. …
Professor Power, who is a respected professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and was unpaid senior adviser to the Obama camp, will have more time for academic work in coming days.
Her description of the New York senator as “a monster” was all over the place, beginning with the much-read Drudge Report, within hours, as were some of her other juicy quotes, which clearly had not been meant for an American audience. …
Of course, Power really didn’t mean any of it. Or so she now is being forced to say, after the comments caused the explosion they did. Sen. Obama apologized. Power resigned from her unpaid position in the campaign.
She will now be free to have lunch with Billy Shaheen, the unpaid Clinton adviser (and spouse of former New Hampshire Gov. and now Senate candidate Jeanne Shaheen) who was forced to resign when he speculated about how the Republicans might use rumors that Obama had both used and sold drugs in a general election campaign.
For the record, The Stiletto would not have taken advantage of a technicality and quoted Power just because she said “off the record” immediately after her comments instead of immediately before them. Clearly, she did not intend her words to be used for attribution.
Stumping for her mother, Hillary, Chelsea Clinton is smart to avoid the media like the plague.
Is This One Of Those Jobs That “Americans Won’t Do?”: Part VI
Georgetown psychologist Maria Zimmitti “fell into the role of toilet-training coach,” reports The Washington Post. She honed her skills at getting kiddies to go potty while working in an early-intervention program in Washington, D.C. Now, “eager parents line up to pay her $250 for a consultation, with topics like quelling a toilet rebellion and pointers on how to avoid one.” Here’s the poop on her potty training business:
Zimmitti is part of a niche service sector that has appeal among busy, anxious and often well-heeled parents in the region who want help with some of the most important and intimate child-rearing duties. Many simply want to carve out more time to spend with their children. For them, paying a personal shopper $30 to spend an afternoon tracking down a coveted tutu for a 2-year-old is money well spent. For other parents, the baby-services sector is a lifeline that can rescue them from sleepless nights or protect their children from getting hurt at home. …
The words "toilet" and "potty" don't appear under the list of services on Zimmitti's practice's home page. She said she gets enough word-of-mouth referrals that she doesn't need to spend much time promoting her services. …
Zimmitti, the toilet trainer, said most of what she does is "keeping parents hopeful."
Many of the families who seek her out aren't in an immediate crisis but go to her preemptively to find out what to do -- and what not to do. The toughest cases can take as long as eight weeks. But a few days is usually all it takes. Parents learn all they need to know in one session. A follow-up visit costs $175. Hand-holding via e-mail or phone is free.
"Parents want to do it right. I constantly tell them they can do it well enough," Zimmitti said. "If you mess it up, we can fix it."
Other services that help harried two-income parents who don’t have grandma living nearby cope with a new baby include lactation consulting, sleep training and child-proofing
By the way: The Seattle Biomedical Research Institute is offering another job that “Americans won’t do”: Get bit by malaria-infected skeeters for a test comparing which vaccines work fastest. The short-term gig entails spending several days under medical supervision at a hotel, and pays $4,000.
Editorial Note: You’d be amazed at some of the jobs Americans are doing – for instance, the Association of Professional Animal Waste Specialists recently held its fifth annual convention for professional poop scoopers. To read previous posts in the “Is This One Of Those Jobs …” series, click here (third item), here (second item), here, here and here.