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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, January 14, 2004

 
Thanks, Chris!

Kleiman, Drum and Marshall have all weighed in on this strange column by Chris Suellentrop in Slate. According to Suellentrop he was making an ironic statement about how Fox news would treat Clark if they treated him the same way they treat Dean. Or something.

It seems that his technique needs some work because huge numbers of people wrote in to ask him what the hell he was talking about, since the headlines bear no relationship to what Clark actually said and his article is not written in such a way that anyone would assume that he is being ironic.

Sadly, his delightful little piece has made the rounds of the wing-nuts, who are irony impaired at the best of times, and they have now taken Suellentrop’s unamusing drivel as gospel. Kleiman points out in his post that Andrew Sullivan gleefully took the bait, but there are more. *sigh*

I have not complained about campaign tactics and wrung my hands about the unfairness of attacks and you won’t see me doing that in the primary. (I reserve my right to whine profusely in the general election.) However, I am going to complain about the press’ treatment of Clark all I want. I expect that the other candidates’ supporters will do the same for them.

For whatever reason, Suellentop decided to write an opaque little piece that was easily misinterpreted about Wesley Clark and which he clearly stated later was written in tongue in cheek fashion to show that Howard Dean has been getting unfair coverage. That doesn’t seem quite right to me. If I were a paranoid type I might even think that it’s downright biased.

It's certainly fair for Suellentrop to write a piece about the unfair coverage he feels that Dean is getting, but it doesn't quite add up to me that in order to do that he had to write a false and misleading "humor" piece about Clark that is now being widely circulated and is feeding a meme that will undoubtedly serve Dean, not by showing that he's gotten unfair press coverage (perfectly legitimate complaint) but by circulating nasty innuendo about his rival. That is the sort of thing I expect from campaigns, not from journalists.

Here’s just a little taste of the fallout from Suellentrop’s ironic pratfall:

(Links not included. If you want to read the full-on wing nut reaction you can google it.)

Wes Clark - Foot in Mouth Disease From: Go Dubya! Tue, 13 Jan 2004 12:45:50 CST
Slate.com has a great collection of Wesley Clark's ridiculous statements from the New Hampshire campaign trail. My favorite is: Young men in an Islamic culture cannot get married until they can support a family. No job, no marriage. No marriage,...

Wes Clark's Big Mouth From: Deinonychus antirrhopus Tue, 13 Jan 2004 12:36:25 CST
Looks like Gen. Wesley Clark also has a tendency to open his mouth and insert foot. Does Islam need an...

Foot Planted Firmly In Mouth From: Internet Ronin Tue, 13 Jan 2004 11:51:41 CST
Wesley Clark has been saying some very interesting things in recent days. Chris Suellentrop has a round-up of the retired...

CHRIS SUELLENTROP writes in Slate that Wesley Clar From: Instapundit.com Tue, 13 Jan 2004 11:00:43 CST
CHRIS SUELLENTROP writes in Slate that Wesley Clark is saying some pretty odd things. The trouble with the Internet, where candidates are concerned, is that when they say odd things, word tends to get out. UPDATE: The Loonatic Left blog is defending...

WHOPPERS From: Pejmanesque Tue, 13 Jan 2004 10:07:51 CST
Chris Suellentrop has the goods on some pretty outrageous statements by Wesley Clark. For all the talk about Clark's poise and command, he really is given to making some eye-rolling statements. Be sure to check out the article....

Five Items (1/13/04). From: Tasty Manatees Tue, 13 Jan 2004 06:32:33 CST
1. "Wesley Clark's Loose Lips". Oh, my. Here are six unbelievable quotes from Wesley Clark that pretty much settle the point I made earlier, which is that Clark is seriously not ready for prime time. Funny, but none of these gems have been getting play.



It was funny all right.


Update: Ted Barlow at Crooked Timber comments as well.





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