I had switched back over from The Daily Show because my curiosity got the better of me. What would the talking heads say at the end of Sarah Palin's speech? The speech I had just heard (or the 2/3 of it: the DVR had force switched channels at 11:00 on the nose, and I gratefully accepted this mechanical decision) was bellicose, sloppy, and, at best, competently delivered. Admittedly, I have my biases, but I kept thinking that the bar had been set so low, and that she was barely crawling over it.
At the same time I had agreed completely with the multiple diaries yesterday morning that had predicted that no matter what happened, the cable news folks would declare it the best thing since the invention of sliced theocratic fundamentalist bread.
Wolfie came on (paraphrasing):
Well there you have it. A homerun. Maybe even a Grand Slam.
And Anderson Cooper agreed wholeheartedly, though due to the blood already gushing from my ears I can't recall precisely what he said.
It hit me that no matter how much I have become an expert on the craven vacuousness of our political discourse (being a regular at Eschaton, still to my mind the best place on the internets for regular and succinct vivisection of the Kool Kidz), no matter how little I respect the cable news blowhards, scared of their own shadow -- much less the big meanies of wingnuttia -- it still takes my breath away a bit when I hear something as utterly predictably scripted as CNN's immediate response to Sarah Palin's speech last night. It would have been the same if she had taken the stage, pumped her fists, shouted "Alaska über alles!" and stormed immediately off.
Now admittedly, deeply nauseous, I switched immediately back to TDS, so I didn't get to hear the rest of what was said, but judging from the accounts over here of the almost unanimous "A" grades she received, it was much, much more of the same.
And we can expect much more of this in the weeks ahead of us.
While we were all gloating about the open mic slipup on MSNBC yesterday, where we got a rare glimpse into what several of these folks are actually thinking, in the back of my brain I thought, "uh oh." You see, I remember when in 2004 Mark Halperin, one of the most powerful players in Atrios's ongoing "Wanker of the Day" contest made a startling admission in 2004 that, just perhaps, one of the two campaigns, which is to say Karl Rove's campaign, was lying a bit more than the other one. This internal memo was leaked, and the Mighty Wurlitzer set to eviscerating him. And Halperin, in turn, has spent the last four years begging for their forgiveness, prostrating himself at Hugh Hewitt's feet, doing anything, anything to prove to all wingnuttia that he is not a goddamned librul journalist (Eric Boehlert had a good account of this sad self-flagellation a few years back.)
So, as I started to say, when I heard about the open mic, and then I heard the Pravda like responses to Palin's speech, I thought, oh here we go, yet again. Peggy Noonan, of course, has already denied that she said what she seemed to say, but, whatever, she's Peggy Noonan. More important is what happens next. For wingnuttia, though I haven't had the stomach to actually click around, I have no doubt that this is more "proof" of liberal media conspiracy (never mind that two of the three interlocutors are Republican blowhards, in conservobizarroworld they specialize in the suppression of cognitive dissonance). We can expect much more working the refs to come, and we can expect that it will work, as it has for 20 years. Is Chuck Todd, who is sometimes just another Kool Kid, and sometimes slightly better than the herd, going to have a Mark Halperin moment? Will he spend the rest of this campaign trying to make it up to those mean guys to make them stop calling him a librul hack? Will the rest of cable news pre-emptively have a collective Halperin moment? Was that already beginning to occur last night?
(A note to the inevitable comment: Yes, we can just turn off our TV's -- and as I mentioned I myself changed the channel so as to stop listening to this crappola last night -- but that does not stop hundreds of thousands of other people from hearing it.)
The challenge, of course, is to continue the increasingly effective response to this pusillanimity that the liberal blogosphere has developed over these last several years, and to not allow the media to undergo another Mark Halperin moment unchallenged. We have our work cut out for us.