[Guest post by James Downie] Perhaps the strangest part of the furor around the Ryan budget proposal has been his ability to snow the media into treating him as a serious wonk, a thinker of “brave” thoughts. Then again, as Jon has written many times, media outlets seem to have fallen head over heels for Ryan’s “just a plain accountant” persona.
[Guest Post by Isaac Chotiner] In an interview with Charlie Rose: "If I had to place my money on this, it would be on the strongman outcome." The entire, rather depressing conversation is here.
A couple of days after June’s stolen election in Iran, Flynt Leverett and I were both guests on “The Charlie Rose Show.” Mr. Leverett was waxing eloquent about how Ahmadinejad could have actually won the election. His supposed evidence was a May poll, conducted by phone from Turkey, before the presidential campaign had even begun. Apparently he did not read the entire report of the poll, merely a summary, published in a Washington Post editorial. Much of the full report contradicted his conclusions.
Last night, Charlie Rose featured a powerful one-two punch of glib thinking (the powerful one-two punch of glib thinking): The 'Freakonomics' guys and Malcolm Gladwell (in separate segments). Steven Levitt and Steven Dubner were about what you would expect... CHARLIE ROSE: And [global warming's] s man created? STEVEN LEVITT: It's harder to know whether it is man created. It's always harder to know why something happened the way it did. ...but Gladwell's interview was more interesting.
I think the Hillary camp's gripe that they've drawn harsher coverage than the other candidates may be true, at least as it applies to the past few weeks. But that also comes after a long stretch where Hillary could do no wrong in the eyes of the press. And each narrative sets up its own counter-narrative. So, after Hillary was made out to be a flawless candidate, the idea that her campaign was in turmoil was just too counterintuitively delicious for reporters to pass up. Incidentally this also applies to coverage of Bill, which has gone south in fairly surprising fashion.
I wished I'd seen New York Times Iraq correspondent John Burns on "The Charlie Rose Show" the other night. I do not know Burns but he is one of my heroes, yes, a journalist-hero. He always seems to see deeper than his colleagues and something different from his colleagues. He views the Iraq war not simply as a body count of Americans, although "the price of staying is very, very high in American blood, to begin with, and American treasure, too." Yes, the American death toll is where we begin-and rightly so. But other people are dying in Iraq, and have been being murdered there for decades.
"Let me begin," says White House aide David Dreyer, "by contesting the premises of your question." It's a windless evening in November, and Dreyer is in his West Wing office, listening to a new recording of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier and defending the role of Tony Coelho, for whom Dreyer once worked, in the Democrats' electoral debacle. "First," he says, "Tony was not the party chair. He was never, to my knowledge, actually in the dnc building. Second, the role of party chair in a midterm election is relatively unimportant anyhow.