Friday, June 20, 2008

David Remnick Reveals He's a Sucker for Two Myths at the Same Time

I'm late to this priceless bit of tooldom but really, how dumb are these media analyst types? In the New Yorker this week under the heading "Postscript Tim Russert" David Remnick tries mightily to prove that Russert was "cruel but fair" to both sides by advancing this piece of dubious evidence:

"After one particularly contentious Sunday session, John McCain recalled that he told Russert, "I hadn't had so much fun since my last interrogation in prison camp." That expression of grudging admiration may well have been McCain's clever means of D.C. ingratiation, but one can guess it's not one he would have thought to extend to most of Russert's network and cable colleagues."
What? Of course he would have "extended" this sorry joke to the rest of the milquetoast press corps. Its a *well known right wing trope* that all mass media forms are against them and that every appearance on regular tv or cable is fraught with danger to a good conservative. Hel-looo David, where have you been for the last billion years of conservative attacks on the press?

And when will you learn that there is no there, there, with these people? McCain is the most artfully artless of speakers, always insisting that he's never met anyone just like the person who is interviewing him, or never had such a good time, or never had such a bad time. Here's the thing, David, as Nixon famously observed about Anger real politicians never display it except for personal advantage. That goes double for McCain. Not only can McCain's reported statemetn not be taken at face value as reflecting his actual experience it can't even be taken at face value as having actually been said to Russert--or not sincerely said to Russert. Far from being an inadvertant acknowledgement of how tough Russert was, or how hard the interview was, this line is actually one of McCain's *standard script lines* for all occasions. It's McCain's patented "didjaknowI'd been tortured?/but I hate to mention my heroic past" joke that is not a joke. In Free Ride: John McCain and the Media the authors document this particular expression, and its role in the myth of McCain as a guy who likes to mix it up with the media and other politicians, extensively. It can't be taken as an actual expression of what McCain thought, or what he went through with Russert during that interview. Its pure showmanship--like Russert's phony toughness.