This past week, the Howler has embarked upon a project called "Howler History". The topic is the press's blatant smearing of Gore's relationship with one of his political advisors during the 2000 campaign, Naomi Wolf. I didn't know much about the Wolf business back then, and I don't really remember any of it today. But reading through the Howler's pieces, which are all thoroughly backed up with ample quoting from primary sources, it shows the same pattern of baseless Gore-bashing that dogged the Democratic nominee for over a year-and-a-half leading up to the election.
Monday's entry details the "discovery" of Naomi Wolf, who was "secretly" advising the Gore campaign. Of course, she was doing this by sitting only a few rows back from the stage at a Gore-Bradley debate; hardly where the Gore campaign would have put her if they were trying to keep her secret. Nevermind, the press corps leaped into action, and the rest is Howler History. Follow the link.
Next up is Tuesday's entry gives us a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the "earth tones" brouhaha. Apparently, the Washington press corps had nothing better to do than to comment on Gore's choice of clothes, and the discovery that he often wore cowboy boots put them into hysterics. Of course, this was an early attempt by Gore to "reinvent himself" because "he didn't know who he was". On the other hand, it's just possible that Gore had consistently donned cowboy boots throughout his public career, and in his private life as well. Gore's explanation: "I'm from Tennessee!" Not good enough for the press, who had decided that everything Gore did was carefully calculated for political effect. Right? Follow the link.
Wednesday's entry gets even worse, showing how the press corps bends over backwards to spin a perfectly unremarkable non-story into a big issue. The story goes that Naomi Wolf advised Gore that he had to become an "Alpha male". What Wolf actually said is that he should be more forthright with his criticisms of President Clinton to establish that he is his own man, as every Vice-President must do when running for President. But the boring and true story wasn't nearly as much fun as the fun and false story, so the press closed their eyes and pretended that Wolf had said something really weird. Follow the link.
The Howler took Thursday off to redirect its attention to current journalistic misconduct, and provides instead some info on the continuing Kerry-bashing going on at the Boston Glode. Apparently, the Globe is having a really hard time dealing with the fact that John Kerry is not Irish, and, even more astounding, is Jewish. Holy shit!! Follow the link. But Howler history returned yesterday when Friday's entry detailed the continued press obsession with Gore's wardrobe. Apparently, no one wanted to talk about the substantive differences between the two presidential candidates, but everyone wanted to have a good laugh about the colors that Gore was wearing. And everyone was fixated on the fact that Naomi Wolf had advised the earth-tones ensemble. Wolf and Gore both denied that she had anything to do with his clothes, but the press corps kept going. What was the source for this "story"? Follow the link.
The Howler promises that the final installment of the Wolf series will appear today. Stay tuned.
I realize that this is all ancient history, but I think it's really important for everyone to know how irresponsibly the press behaved during the 2000 election cycle. Howler History is a remarkable account of a press corps that avoids at all costs having to discuss substantive political issues, and is all to eager to descend into adolescent gossip-mongering. And, as Thursday's entry shows, this process is beginning all over again, and the first target is Senator John Kerry. Regardless of your political beliefs, the Daily Howler is an invaluable resource for those of us who have learned not to blindly trust the press, and Bob Somerby is performing a public service by wading through the muck on our behalf.
Conservative readers of Terminus may worry that the political leanings of the Howler will not match their own, and they are probably right. However, the Howler has shown an admirable level of independence, and is willing to go after journalistic malfeasance wherever it happens. Even if you end up in "disagreeance" with the conclusions reached on a particular issue, it is important to see the kind of sloppy hack-work that creates this country's political debates.