Sunday, April 17, 2011

Portrait Of An IP Provocateur: Dana Milbank And His Contempt For Liberals

Dana Milbank is a quicksilver pundit, one who wears multiple faces, none of them completely honest. His insights aren't particularly insightful and his quips aren't particularly funny or clever. As a shapeshifting Beltway pundit, Milbank represents the worst of the Idiot Punditocracy. More importantly, he's a ratings killer because the viewers, as the President famously reiterated, aren't "stupid." That is, unless he's invited on a "liberal" show as a hostile witness to explain his latest attack on liberals in the House Progressive Caucus.

Back in the day, Milbank was dropped as a Countdown pundit for pulling a Fox "News" on President Obama. Once an occasional Countdown guest, Milbank and Olbermann parted ways over Milbank's refusal to correct an Obama-bashing quote in one of his columns which he cited out of context, twisting the meaning of the President's words to suit his own non-journalistic hit job purposes. As the Raw Story reported it:
"Milbank accused Barack Obama of "hubris" for having allegedly told a private gathering of members of the House of Representatives, "This is the moment ... that the world is waiting for. ... I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

Several Congressional aides quickly challenged Milbank's version of the quote, insisting that he had omitted a crucial transition and that Obama had really said, far more modestly, that the enthusiasm which has met him "is not about me at all. It's about America. I have just become a symbol."
Rather than focus on the ensuing Milbank-Olbermann soap opera, take it from Media Matters:
In his July 30 Washington Post column, Dana Milbank misrepresented quotes, neglected to do basic reporting, and advanced the baseless suggestion that actions Sen. Barack Obama has reportedly taken are unprecedented for a presidential candidate — all in support of his thesis that Obama "has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee." Specifically, Milbank accused Obama of "hubris" based on a quote attributed to an unnamed source by a different Washington Post reporter — which Milbank gave no indication he had attempted to verify or obtain a reaction to from the Obama campaign. He falsely suggested that Obama's conduct in reportedly beginning to set up a transition team and in meeting with foreign leaders is unusual or unprecedented for a presidential candidate. Milbank also cropped two statements by Obama that resulted in a misrepresentation of what Obama said, baselessly suggested that Obama "excluded" The New Yorker from accompanying him on his recent foreign trip because the magazine "published a satirical cover about Obama that offended the campaign," and falsely reported that Obama "was even feeling confident enough to give British Prime Minister Gordon Brown some management advice over the weekend."
This is a fair summary of the dude's due diligence as a "reporter." The late, respected David Broder, also of the Washington Post had occasion in his column to chastise Milbank for his sloppy reporting. Broder was old-school, named the Dean of Washington political reporters. Whether or not one agreed with him, the veracity of his sources and the due diligence of his reporting were never questioned by any side of the political divide.

 Now Milbank is at it again. For a moment there, I thought this was one of his "humor blog" offerings. Milbank is probably in the nutty "third way" third party libertarian milieu populated by the likes of Dylan Ratigan, in whose fanciful ghetto Milbank should find his niche. First, Milbank ripped into the Ryan plan, eliciting praise from progressive circles (and in the process enhancing his bona fides to appear on their shows) then proceeded to slam Democrats and progressives on the Progressive Caucus's alternative to the Ryan budget, with the same kind of sloppy neglect for basic reporting: "[T]he proposal is as much of a non-starter as Paul Ryan’s House Republican plan, which requires only spending cuts and actually reduces taxes." Really, Dana?  Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post — is he getting paid, Arianna; if not, why not? — systematically shreds Milbank's specious arguments.

Interestingly, Milbank's hit piece follows close on the heels of fellow libertarian Moron Joe's silly hit piece on the alleged "hypocrisy of the left," which could only be countered with mocking satire. Was it coordinated, perhaps? Ironically, like bees in a hive, the Wingnut Hive has a way of buzzing its message in a most collectivist and coordinated way. Isn't it hilarious how these libertarian types end up tripping on their own arrogance and hubris (projection, look for it, they practice it mucho; it's also known as hypocrisy, when they do it knowingly which is most of the time), because they really do think liberals and Democrats are "stupid"?

They may have cause to think so. Some of my naïve liberal friends think libertarians are fellow travelers since we both mock wingnuts, religious freaks — the so-called social conservatives. In my experience, having locked horns with these types quite a few times and befriended some (they're not all the same, we shouldn't generalize) they will be pretend-progressives so they can break bread with liberals — this gives them great merriment; think of them as court jesters, like Stewart & Colbert — when, in reality they hold liberals in even more contempt than they do the know-nothing wingnuts.

The President had the same reaction liberals do after a time dealing with these shapeshifters. Even as I'm constantly astonished by the naïveté of my fellow liberals at not reading these types — be it in negotiations or the pretend-progressive game they play — at some point even the President's back-bending patience is exhausted. It's not that hard to smoke them out, though. They're fuzzy on the facts, except when it comes to mocking wingnuts; it's when they attack liberals that the resentful edginess and distortions emerge. You see, liberals have a record. We have a pedigree. Liberals and the American Progressive Movement have an unparalleled record of achievement in advancing the public good and creating a more perfect union — enshrined in our Constitution — than any other political movement in America dating back to the founding of this republic.

Libertarians have — nothing. So naturally, they don't know (snicker) much about history; they've got nothing to show for it. (At some point I will post the achievements of liberals throughout our history in my Tea Party remedial Ed series; it's mind-blowing and illuminating (I would hope, for those who don't know) to consider the great sweep of liberal accomplishments and how our lives have been positively impacted and transformed by those achievements across generations.)

As a shapeshifting punditocrat, Milbank would never allow the facts or context get in the way of a good hit piece. His MO is predictable: curry favor with progressives, whom he obviously loathes, getting on their shows and passing out misinformation, such as the baseless speculation on Cenk's show that "all indications are" President Obama will follow the letter of the Bowles-Simpson recommendations for so-called "entitlement reform." It was, as I said in a previous post, throwing cold water on the President's speech, prompting Cenk to muse that where once he felt optimistic, what Milbank was "reporting" made him "depressed."

Well, consider the source, Cenk. Milbank is playing you for a fool, since his "reporting" is colored by his animus for President Obama. His stance is very typical of the Idiot Punditocracy whose tolerance of Republican gangsterism in D.C. and skepticism of Obama — except when he extends their tax cuts, in which case he's lauded as a statesman — have to do with pocketbook issues: Theirs.

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