PuffHo’s demonization of Trump: can it get any more extreme? (And Glenn Greenwald on the canonization of Clinton)

October 23, 2016 • 2:16 pm

PuffHo’s frenetic demonization of Donald Trump (who’s already demonized himself out of contention for the Presidency) is growing—to the point of lunacy. Look, for instance, at the Entertainment section, where virtually every article is not about entertainment, but about how some entertainer has produced the “perfect” takedown of The Donald. Even “Weird News,” which used to have great nuggets of bizarreness, has jumped the shark, as witnessed by the article on “Grabby Donald” below (click on it, if you must, to see the piece)

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But enough, as I’m trying to get PuffHo off my lawn. I call your attention instead to a recent piece by Glenn Greenwald, known to us as the mendacious and oliagenous atheist-hater and osculator of Islam, published at The Intercept. Called “The unrelenting pundit-led effort to delegitimize all negative reporting about Hillary Clinton,” the piece actually seems reasonable to me. Let us always remember that even those journalists whom we dislike, or whose ideology we reject, can sometimes produce something good. This may be one of them, but I invite readers to weigh in.

Greenwald is no fan of Trump, and clearly thinks Hillary is the far superior choice for President. I agree. But he also thinks, and I also agree, that the liberal media has gone overboard in trying to dismiss all criticism of Clinton, either out of some misguided form of Democrat worship, or—as we’ve I’ve seen from some readers—out of fear that criticizing Clinton could cause her to fall in the polls. (I hope you realize that the latter is no longer an issue.) He especially excoriates Paul Krugman for an unrelenting defense of Hillary (I’ve noticed that too, and wonder if Krugman isn’t angling for some Cabinet or government position), and takes the liberal media to task for the same behavior. I’ll give a few excerpts.

That American journalists have dispensed with muted tones and fake neutrality when reporting on Trump is a positive development. He and his rhetoric pose genuine threats, and the U.S. media would be irresponsible if it failed to make that clear. But aggressive investigative journalism against Trump is not enough for Democratic partisans whose voice is dominant in U.S. media discourse. They also want a cessation of any news coverage that reflects negatively on Hillary Clinton. Most, of course, won’t say this explicitly (though some do), but — as the wildly adored Krugman column from [Sept. 5] reflects — they will just reflexively dismiss any such coverage as illegitimate and invalid.

. . . . it would be journalistic malpractice of the highest order if the billions of dollars received by the Clintons — both personally and though their various entities — were not rigorously scrutinized and exposed in detail by reporters. That’s exactly what they ought to be doing. The fact that quid pro quos cannot be definitively proven does not remotely negate the urgency of this journalism. That’s because quid pro quos by their nature elude such proof (can anyone prove that Republicans steadfastly support Israel and low taxes because of the millions they get from Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers, or that the Florida attorney general decided not to prosecute Trump because his foundation and his daughter donated to her?). Beyond quid quo pros, the Clintons’ constant, pioneering merger of massive private wealth and political power and influence is itself highly problematic. Nobody forced them to take millions of dollars from the Saudis and Goldman Sachs tycoons and corporations with vested interests in the State Department; having chosen to do so with great personal benefit, they are now confronting the consequences in how the public views such behavior.

That Donald Trump is an uber-nationalist, bigotry-exploiting demagogue and unstable extremist does not remotely entitle Hillary Clinton to waltz into the Oval Office free of aggressive journalistic scrutiny. Nor does Trump’s extremism constitute a defense to anything that she’s done. It is absolutely true that Trump has at least as many troublesome financial transactions and entangling relationships as the Clintons do: These donations to the Florida attorney general are among the most corrupt-appearing transactions yet documented. Even worse, Trump has shielded himself from much needed scrutiny by inexcusably refusing to release his tax returns, while much of the reporting about the Clintons is possible only because they have released theirs. All of that is important and should be highlighted.

But none of it suggests that anything other than a bright journalistic light is appropriate for examining the Clintons’ conduct. . .

. . . The reality is that large, pro-Clinton liberal media platforms — such as Vox, and the Huffington Post, and prime-time MSNBC programs, and the columnists and editorialists of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and most major New York-based weekly magazines — have been openly campaigning for Hillary Clinton. I don’t personally see anything wrong with that — I’m glad when journalists shed their faux objectivity; I believe the danger of Trump’s candidacy warrants that; and I hope this candor continues past the November election — but the everyone-is-against-us self-pity from Clinton partisans is just a joke. They are the dominant voices in elite media discourse, and it’s a big reason why Clinton is highly likely to win.

That’s all the more reason why journalists should be subjecting Clinton’s financial relationships, associations, and secret communications to as much scrutiny as Donald Trump’s. That certainly does not mean that journalists should treat their various sins and transgressions as equivalent: Nothing in the campaign compares to Trump’s deport-11-million-people or ban-all-Muslim policies, or his attacks on a judge for his Mexican ethnicity, etc. But this emerging narrative that Clinton should not only enjoy the support of a virtually united elite class but also a scrutiny-free march into the White House is itself quite dangerous. Clinton partisans in the media — including those who regard themselves as journalists — will continue to reflexively attack all reporting that reflects negatively on her, but that reporting should nonetheless continue with unrestrained aggression.

Even on this site, I’ve had liberal readers tell me that I shouldn’t question the Clinton Foundation’s questionable contributors because “you can’t prove anything.” But as Greenwald says, “the fact that quid pro quos cannot be definitively proven does not remotely negate the urgency of this journalism.” And that’s precisely why ethical politicians avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

At any rate, if you read the piece you’ll see that by no means is Greenwald a flack for Trump. He despises the man. But I don’t think it’s kosher to withhold criticism from Clinton at this point because it might lead to Trump’s election. In fact, given what’s happening in the polls, I can’t see anything that could help Trump. The idea that now is not a good time to criticize Clinton, and that we should wait until after the election, strikes me as a way to permanently maim one’s moral antennae. After all, she’ll be the next President of the U.S.

But read Greenwald’s article and let me know what you think.


110 thoughts on “PuffHo’s demonization of Trump: can it get any more extreme? (And Glenn Greenwald on the canonization of Clinton)

    1. I note the false equivalence in the last paragraph of that Nature commentary. No, both parties have not grown more extreme in the past two decades. Not by a long shot. One party has stayed pretty much in the same place. The other has gone over the cliff.

      1. No, both parties have not grown more extreme in the past two decades. Not by a long shot. One party has stayed pretty much in the same place. The other has gone over the cliff.

        I would disagree. Both parties have moved to the right. The Democratic Party has moved rightward, toward, or even beyond, what used to be called the center. The Republican Party has also moved rightward, and I would agree with the ‘over the cliff’ assessment.

        1. I would agree with that except to note that the Republicans have moved much further than the Democrats. (And there is some evidence that the Dems are tilting back a bit towards the center.)

    2. I am surprised that Nature has chosen to endorse a candidate for president. Has it done so in the past? In any case, I am glad it did it. I think the editorial reflects the fact that the editorial board of the journal has come to the conclusion that Trump represents a threat to science. If you believe in climate change, Hillary is much more likely than Trump to take action. This is reason enough for Nature to speak out.

      1. And yet… I saw a Hillary ad this morning, I think on CBSN, in which the Hillary supporters opened a bible and seeing a biblical passage that gave them reassurance and guidance in a life struggle they were facing with their disabled child… and then they went on at how mortified they were when Trump mocked a disabled journalist….

      2. Strange candidates make for strange endorsements. The Arizona Republic endorsed a Democrat for President – first time in 150 years!

  1. The partisan side of me is fine with focusing the attention on Trump in order to bring the entire Republican Party to its knees. The fact that he will lose is not, in itself, comforting to me. Unless he loses by a huge margin the country will continue to be subject to the insanity of right wing extremists.

    The journalism-student side of me wants serious exploration into the backgrounds of all candidates. But I stopped expecting to see that sort of thing many years ago.

    1. If ones eyes are open, it’s hard not to find serious explorations of the candidates in this election cycle. 2008 is where to look for that. President Obama was given almost a complete pass. Chris Mathews embarrassed himself so badly, I can’t even think of him as a real journalist since.

      In my eyes, the lack of press vetting given to Obama hurt him more than his opponent. I have a much higher opinion of the President now than I did before his election when the media was not doing its job.

      1. I stopped thinking Mathews was a real journalist when he fawned over George W. Bush landing on that aircraft carrier… “Mission Accomplished”. Mathews couldn’t stop running on about how presidential W looked. Since that day he’s been a loud-mouth hack to me.

        1. Guess Matthews didn’t win you back over when he “felt this thrill going up my leg” while listening to Obama speak during the ’08 primaries?

          1. By then he’d lost all credibility with me. He often spouts stuff I happen to agree with, but he is craven and unreliable. And bombastic. He doesn’t know how to let people he interviews talk. I’ve no use for him.

            1. Matthews doesn’t know what to do when confronted by an idea he hasn’t heard a hundred times before. He’s the master of the warmed-over, homogenized received wisdom.

              Matthews did do a good job questioning Trump at that one town-hall meeting during the primaries, boxing him into finally answering the question about abortion. (In that instance, Matthews had gone to school on a Trump interview done a week or so earlier by Charlie Sykes, a conservative, never-Trump Milwaukee radio host.)

              1. Being from Milwaukee I’m all too familiar with Charlie Sykes. (I took a class from his father, Jay Sykes, in political journalism back in the 1970’s. I quite respected Jay Sykes.)

                It is weird to see Charlie now doing all this “Oh, my, what have we created?” interviews now. He, as much as anyone else in Wisconsin, has pushed the extremist right wing agenda for decades. Suddenly he notices that there are consequences? Drives me crazy.

  2. HuffPo has “been off my lawn” since an interview with Arianna saying writers should be happy to work for her for free.

    1. +++
      The irony! That the grand Huff herself, a champion of liberal values and Democratic principles, exploits labor by refusing to pay for content. Has anyone ever asked her why?

      1. Never forget that, not so very long ago, Arianna was an arch-conservative, intent upon riding her multi-millionaire then-husband’s closeted coattails onto the Georgetown cocktail circuit. You needn’t be Frederick Engels’ carbuncle-ridden buddy Karl to see that some forms of class-consciousness die hard.

      2. You don’t need to ask her why. Her business would be less profitable (possibly loss making) if she paid people.

  3. The issue of investigating Clinton isn’t that “you can’t ptove anything”. It’s that HRC has been investigated, ad nauseum, by investigators that have been dying to find dirt. And they’ve failed every time. But that doesn’t stop them from re-investigating the same charges over and over again.

    Is she a perfect human being? Of course not. Has she been in politics for 30 years and not made any wrong moves? Again, of course not.

    The investigation(s) of the Clinton foundation found no quid pro quos. Did she and Bill Clinton use their star power to raise money to help with real global issues. Absolutely. And more power to them. Did Trump use his star power to raise money. Yep. Except in his case it was mostly about self-aggrandiaation.

    Did the State department under HRC make mistakes. Sure. But does it pale against what happened to the State Department under Reagan? Under W? By orders of magnitude. But that hardly shows up in your mythical Liberal media. (Factually speaking, most newspapers and radio stations are strongly conservative. It even took how awful Trump is to get the NYTs off of glorifying Paul Ryan, a bad intentioned empty suit, if there ever was one.)

    And, by the way, you may want to mention the multiple times the HRC’s State department went before Congress asking for additional funds for upgrading security and were turned down.

    And shame on you for the comments on Krugman. He’s a Nobel prize winning economist who’s waged a lonely battle speaking truth to power on a number of issues. The innuendo that he’s angling for a position is unfair and undeserved. I suggest you spend some time reading through his many columns. He takes anyone who deserves it to task.

    Finally, on the demonization of Trump – nonsense. As many people have noticed, and as the Times lawyer wrote, in reference to the Trump organization’s threats of a lawsuit, no one has done more to damage Trump’s reputation than Trump himself.

    I know you diskike HuffPo because they push writers to provide content without payment. I completely agree with you on this.

    But I give them full points for recognizing early on that Trump and his campaign are a real threat to the United States. Even when he loses. With help from the full-on reporting and editorializing from HuffPo, we will be dealing with his enablement of racial and religious hatred for decades.

    Oh, by the way, (and lastly), Don’t you worry: HRC will get duly vilified, as you would like, following her election by Fox News, Trump TV, and all these “Liberal” media outlets.

    1. I applaud your comment. Hillary may be more vilified by the right wing than Obama, as hard as that is to believe. I estimate that roughly 20% of the electorate are zealous Trump acolytes, believing whatever conspiracy theory his febrile mind comes up with, buttressed by Fox News and the overwhelming numbers of far right talk radio. This is not a small number and it will not go away after the election. This is not an ordinary election (and this time it is actually true) and Hillary will be necessary to keep the extremists in check. That’s why she needs to win by as big a margin as possible. When appropriate, I’ll criticize her after the election.

      1. The rightwing’s Clinton-hatred cannot be explained on ideological grounds. Both Clintons are about as cautiously centrist, triangulating, and Democratic-Leadership-Council-loving as they come.

        I think the Right despises the Clinton’s because they win. The GOP was riding high in 1992 after 12 years of Reagan-Bush, Desert Storm, and high GHWB-approval ratings, on its way (it thought) to a “permanent Republican majority” when — poof! — it all evanesced.

        The Clintons have been whipping on Republicans ever since Bill fist ran for Arkansas AG in ’76, and — except for WJC’s first, failed gubernatorial reelection campaign in 1982 — have continued to do so, right through Hillary’s two successful senatorial campaigns in NY. With a couple exceptions (the ’94 midterms, Hillary’s failed health-care plan) they also kicked GOP butt all through Bill’s eight years in the Oval Office — the budgetary fights, the government shutdown battle with Newt Gingrich, the impeachment trial, etc. (mostly by adopting Republican policy positions and then shoving them back down the GOP’s throat).

        Republican resentment is fueled by all the hash-marks under the W column after the Clinton name. The GOP will be choking back more of its bitter tears come November 8th.

        1. Not being right wing or republican, I can’t say what the motivations there for hating the Clinton’s are. Mine mainly center around their use of political power for personal gain. This is ably laid out in Bill’s case by Christopher Hitchens in his book “No One Left To Lie To.” If he were still alive, I have no doubt a volume II covering Hillary would appear.

          I think Trump’s support is greatly mischaracterized. A great deal of it is anti-Clinton sentiment, which is much less worrisome.

          1. Hell, I’m anti-Clinton, Carl. But no sane, rational, informed voter could vote for Trump. The s.o.b. was a goddamn “birther” until a few weeks ago — it’s the stupid, cynical, racist issue that gave him entre to the national political arena. That alone should disqualify him (as if there weren’t a thousand other reasons, foremost among them that he’s a public-policy dummkopf who’s totally unsuited — by experience, by intellect, and by temperament — to hold high office).

            1. Have you seen the recent discussion between Gad Saad and Sam Harris? Gad lays out a rational case for preferring Trump. I don’t find it convincing, but I know some who do. This is not the sort of voter I won’t worry about after the election (Gad is a Canadian anyway). Those who love Trump and don’t favor him merely as a lesser evil, I do, and hope their number is small.

              I’m encouraged in this election by the number of prominent Republicans and conservatives who roundly reject Trump, particularly those who made their move prior to the Access Hollywood tape coming out. The best short disemboweling of Trump, and the funniest was actually written by George Will. I bet you can’t read this without laughing out loud:


              1. “Have you seen the recent discussion between Gad Saad and Sam Harris?”

                I heard that discussion, and it caused my poor opinion of Gad to continue to erode. He kept claiming he was playing devil’s advocate as he laid out that case, but much of what he said, particularly regarding things like Muslim refugees, and profiling made him sound more like the devil’s supporter. He seemed to be reigning in his actual opinion every time Sam disagreed with him, or added nuance to the discussion.

              2. I took Gad to be warning about admitting people into a free society that are hostile to liberal democratic values. That we have no obligation to take in those who think blasphemy should be a crime, that think speech and a press not respecting or even ridiculing their or anyone’s religion should be prohibited, that women’s rights can be restricted as they are in their home culture. I agree, and see no obligation for America to welcome anyone not respecting our Constitution – that should be a pre-requisite.

                How to determine whether a particular person holds such debarring illiberal ideas is a problem, but I don’t think it’s insurmountable. And those who get by a solid vetting process and are later found (before attaining citizenship) to have cheated or backslid, should be deported.

              3. I had read some of George Will’s stuff about Trump this year, including the piece where he rescinded his Republican registration, but I hadn’t read that particular item before. You’re right; it’s his best.

                Amazing that, at age 75, Will has finally loosened his bow tie, pulled the board out of his ass, and is finally having a little fun, breathing a little fire. Beats his usual scolding, school-marmish drivel about the “national fabric.”

                Maybe Will’s gone giddy over the Cubs.

        2. A frequent refrain from Trump supporters is that they “want to get their country back.” White, Christian, and mostly old, they fear for the future of the country both culturally and economically. Unable to understand that it is no longer the 1950s and that the country and world are being changed by forces that are difficult for anyone to control, they look for scapegoats. In this instance a black man and a woman are easy targets. Right-wing spokespeople have seen to this. Hillary may be able to help her haters, at least economically, even taking into consideration her too cozy relationship with Wall Street. At least Bernie Sanders thinks so. But the politics of nostalgia are very strong and Trump’s supporters are his latest dupes. Their bitterness will continue to grow as the return of the mythic past never appears. Since many of them are old, they may pass from the scene before a smarter Trump-like demagogue comes along.

          1. Oh, I think you’re absolutely right about the hardcore, alt-right Trump deplorables. I was thinking more about why the establishmentarian reaches of the Republican base and movement conservatism also so hate Hillary.

            It’s not about ideology, and it’s not about their trumped-up ethical peccadillos since — although the Clintons have never turned a totally straight corner, have never told the unvarnished truth when they didn’t have to, have never taken a courageous political stand in their public lives — they are not nearly as venal and corrupt as many other pols the Right gives a pass to.

            1. “they are not nearly as venal and corrupt as many other pols the Right gives a pass to.”

              I admit being biased, but I don’t really have much of a problem with Bill, or Hillary. The bias I speak of is the results from a lifetime of being part of a political family.

              Since the 60’s not a year passed until my father died in 2008 where he wasn’t either running for political office, or managing someone’s campaign on the local, or statewide level. One of his expressions was “show me a successful politician, and I’ll show you a liar”. Given how long Hillary has been successful I expect a lot of lying. Whether Hillary is a liar who profits off her political fame is irrelevant to me.

              Liar or not I think it’s clear she isn’t a racist, isn’t a sexist, isn’t a homophobe, recognizes the the import of global warming, and has the intelligence, and temperament to be president. I also think it’s about time we elect a woman. On the other hand I can’t think of a single reason to vote for Trump. Even if I didn’t like Hillary.

              1. We have our second female prime minister in the U.K.

                I don’t think the ‘We need a woman in charge’ argument will get much traction on the left come the next election when she stands against a bunch of men.

              2. Mike Paps, I would just like to thank you for freeing up a lot of time for me. I find that lately I don’t need to comment much at this website, particularly on posts about the election, since everything I want to say, you say for me. Thanks. Keep up the good work!

        3. “The rightwing’s Clinton-hatred cannot be explained on ideological grounds. Both Clintons are about as cautiously centrist, triangulating, and Democratic-Leadership-Council-loving as they come.”
          See: Overton window

          1. “Both Clintons are about as cautiously centrist, triangulating, and Democratic-Leadership-Council-loving as they come.”

            I think this is where her reputation as a liar comes in. As I said I expect successful politicians to lie. The thing is I think Hillary, and Bill have said, and done enough to convince me to think, and perhaps wishfully, that behind the lies are two politicians who are far more liberal than it’s politically expedient to admit. I suspect conservatives recognize that as well.

          2. I much prefer the Overton Window when it’s tugging the other way! But what does the Democratic party’s far left wing consist of these days? The “regressive” (or “alt” or whatever we’re using now) left? God help us.

            About the only staunch arm of the progressive left is the civil rights side, where there is strong support for things like LGBT rights and women’s reproductive health options. (Not that those are small victories!) But are we ever again going to have a strong anti-war, pro-union/labor voice? When it comes to militarism and the economy it’s hard to tell the politicians apart when they actually get into office.

              1. Well. How have I managed thus far without awareness of that concept? I could learn so much from you, if only it would stick with me.

                Also–carry on! 🙂

            1. “But are we ever again going to have a strong anti-war, pro-union/labor voice? When it comes to militarism and the economy it’s hard to tell the politicians apart when they actually get into office.”

              It’s hard to have a strong voice on any issue, even if that’s your inclination, when you want to get re-elected, or get support to get any legislation passed. Many years ago when my father was on the city council Walmart wanted to open a store in our city. In order to do so they needed a zoning change. 7 of the 12 councillors voted against it in order to protect the local watershed that would have been endangered by the runoff from their parking lot. Next election all of the “sinister 7”, as they were dubbed by the local paper, lost.
              Clearly the public cared more about the jobs, and the property taxes Walmart would have brought in, than the environment. Immediately the new council changed the zoning, Walmart came in, after being bribed with tax breaks that weren’t originally on the table, and we had a much more conservative council. So much for principles over political expediency.

              1. Well, exactly. I was thinking it was implicit that Overton shifts arise from the public, not the politicians, but didn’t express that at all well.

                We have a plethora of individual movements responding to corporatopia–Making Change at Walmart, Fight for $15, W.A.G.E., more anti-war groups than you can shake a stick at, Michael Moore’s persistent efforts, the single-payer health care advocates,and myriad others that don’t come to mind right now, but there’s no coalescence. Just to be horribly trite yet again, it seems we need something like the Draft to really afflict the comfortable so we can get anywhere.

                I so appreciate your persistent efforts to assert the reality of politics. That any American believes that politicians can possibly NOT pander and still get elected is mind-boggling. Much as I ache for idealism, I’ve lived long enough to see far too many instances of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    2. Thank you rwilsker, Historian, and Mike Paps for expressing in this comment thread exactly how I feel about Hillary, only much more eloquently and with much greater detail than I’d have been capable of.

      I’m very sorry, Jerry, but I found this statement, “[t]he idea that now is not a good time to criticize Clinton, and that we should wait until after the election, strikes me as a way to permanently maim one’s moral antenna,” offensive. To me it’s just an opinion that some of us share and that you and others don’t. I would never ask anyone to violate their moral antenna.

          1. The entire argument–that Clinton shouldn’t be criticized until after the election–is utterly absurd–because damn. Thirty years of Hillary Clinton bashing–Whitewater, Vince Foster, “defended a rapist”, Benghazzi, emails, Clinton Foundation, Monica Lewinsky, (etc.) apparently isn’t enough. It is to laugh.

            Also, too. GlennfuckingGreenwald. Nope.

            1. Ha ha true. When has she hasn’t been being criticized. As soon as she was first lady the whole pants suite thing started and it only got worse from there!

              1. Even to criticising their *daughter* Amy for being too plain or too homely, when she was around 12 yrs old.

              2. Chelsea — was it Newt Gingrich who said that the White House had a new dog, referring to Chelsea, a little girl at the time?

              1. “Agree! Hillary-bashing has been a theme forever.”

                Yeah Hillary has been vetted to be president for 30 years, Trump for a few months. There’s a lot of catching up to do. If Trump had been on the national political stage for the last 30 years, we would already have known everything we’re just finding out now, and he would have resigned in disgrace from public office, if he were ever elected, decades ago.

              2. ‘and he would have been forced to resign, kicking and screaming, in disgrace from public office’

                There, FTFY.


              3. I am late to this but mostly agree with what most of the people in this little thread started by rwilsker have said. But I should like to comment on the use of the word ‘denomination’ with respect to PuffHo’s treatment of Trump. To demonize has the sense of ‘to represent as evil’, but usually not justifiably as the Cambridge dictionary’s definition suggests: ‘to try to make someone or a group of people seem as if they are evil’ – the suggestion being that the person or group is not in fact evil. There is a strong sense of ‘to MISrepresent someone or a group of people as being evil’. It really does not seem to to me that is possible to demonise Trump, who is very clearly a thoroughly nasty piece of work and deserves most of the criticism he gets. But very certainly, over a period of a very many years, Hillary Clinton has been subjected to a constant barrage of misrepresentation, to the extent that What-knows-how many million dollars and hours were spent by Republicans in trying to bring her down in connexion with the Benghazi debacle, and then the e-mail business, and then the charity business… and these, coupled with ‘White-water’, etc induces I think in most people the same sort of fatigued reaction as that of the older shepherds to the boy who cried ‘Wolf’.

                I have yet to come across, anywhere, any serious account that lays out in a manner that commands respect precisely what HC has done that is so deserving of the kind of opprobrium with which certain quarters feel she should be regarded – and I have looked. Perhaps Jerry Coyne could give us chapter and verse on this or point us in the direction of some genuine & serious criticism of her. I might say, that I am not actually fond of Hillary, because of the way she seems to embody the American propensity that if you don’t like something in one of those small, crappy countries Thomas Friedman was so eloquent about, the best thing to do is to bomb it.

                I was also sorry to see the swipe at Paul Krugman, who has for a number of years been one of the very few commentators about I could feel any respect for.

  4. I am no great fan of GG. But we desperately need people who fight the groupthink our politics is turning into, and he does that.

    1. Glenn Greenwald is an ideologue masquerading as a journalist. In this regard, he’s no different from a reporter from Breitbart or Huffington Post.

  5. I can report that it smells like that to me and my friends – the Trump effigy is perhaps too eagerly quartered and drawn, while Clinton-factoids sort of sit around doing nothing – e.g. immunity was granted to her aides.

    But that’s the news, Jake!… Perhaps there’s a limit to how much we can learn through the news – keep them informed but not too much…

  6. Clearly, the Huffington Post supports Hillary and most of its articles reflect this. I’m all for it. Still, it is unfair to say that it doesn’t criticize Hillary. A recent article has this title: “Fox News Just Landed A Brutal, Clean Hit On Hillary Clinton’s Campaign – The campaign is having to answer for $12 million the Clinton Foundation received from the king of Morocco.”


    We live in a partisan world. When Sean Hannity of FOX news says something nice about Hillary, I might be more critical of the Huffington Post. In the meantime, my energies will be devoted to crushing Trumpism (which may very well survive Trump).

    1. Sean Hannity is not the one to look at on FOX. He is a disgrace to himself. Show viewers may wonder if they’ve stumbled onto an SNL parody.

      Megyn Kelly, on the other hand, seriously goes after Trump on occasion.

      And the FOX anchor Chris Wallace is excellent in general, and was the best debate moderator in this election cycle.

      1. “Sean Hannity is not the one to look at on FOX. He is a disgrace to himself.”

        I agree, but I wonder if you watched FOX at all after the Trump tapes came out? I have a habit of switching between CNN, MSNBC, and FOX when political stories break, and if you’d watched FOX you barely would have known it happened. They didn’t even interrupt their regularly scheduled programming which had to do with their 20th anniversary.

        1. I have indeed watched FOX after the Access Hollywood tape appeared. Kelly, on numerous occasions, has braced Trump supporters with the tape, Trump’s denials, and Trump’s responses to women who subsequently came forward. Trump himself won’t appear on the air with Kelly since she asked him tough questions during the primary season.

          On the other hand, Kelly soundly discredited Donna Brazile, over her transmission of a debate question to the Clinton campaign.

          I haven’t watched enough to give a full throated endorsement of her as a journalist, but I like what I’ve seen for the most part. I think her appearance and the fact she works for FOX have been unfairly held against her.

  7. As we well know, a pox on both their houses, i.e. candidates and attackers/whiners both.

    The only difference I see is that in Trump’s case we have evidence and refusals to show the evidence, in Clinton’s case we have rumors of always missing evidence and all of it on the table. (Say, 30,000 mails and not one hit, as was long and widely speculated in.)

    “The fact that quid pro quos cannot be definitively proven does not remotely negate the urgency of this journalism.”

    And there Greenwald jumped the shark too. How can endless rumor mongering remotely equal journalism, even less urgent one!? Journalists will have another four years to dig for dirt. And for both candidates they have been at it for decades.

    What was it the movie said? “Show me the money!”

  8. “Greenwald is no fan of Trump, and clearly thinks Hillary is the far superior choice for President. I agree. But he also thinks, and I also agree, that the liberal media has gone overboard in trying to dismiss all criticism of Clinton”
    I hope they’ve gone overboard enough, and encourage them to continue doing so until Trump loses. At that point I’ll be critical of it.

    1. People who watch the evening news know that “going overboard” for Hillary is just a euphemism for corporate television lying for her, and that lying is Hillary’s past time. Hillary and the Democrats would be better off if the press actually reported on her faults — and Trump’s qualities, if he has any — and supported her a less unconditionally.

      1. “lying is Hillary’s past time.”

        I don’t know about it being her pastime, but it’s required in order for a politician, particularly an intelligent politician. If you’re intelligent you are unlikely to agree with the majority of your constituents so you need to tell them what they want to hear, whether that’s actually your position or not, in order to get elected.

  9. … Donald Trump (who’s already demonized himself out of contention for the Presidency) …

    According to 538‘s polls-plus forecast, the Donald still has a 15% chance of winning this election, meaning that (you’ll forgive the upper-level math here 🙂 ), when Nate and his peeps run 10,000 simulations (as they do after each new poll), Trump wins 1,500 of them.

    How sanguine would you be if your biopsy had a 15% chance of coming back malignant? Right now our body politic has a 15% chance of having at least a four-year (and potentially terminal) malignancy.

    1. “How sanguine would you be if your biopsy had a 15% chance of coming back malignant? Right now our body politic has a 15% chance of having at least a four-year (and potentially terminal) malignancy.”

      Or imagine if your surgeon had a 15% chance of killing you. I doubt you’d be complaining about how many times he’s looked at your x-rays, or practiced the procedure.

    2. Or you’re playing Russian Roulette with a revolver with seven chambers (actually, in that case you would have less chance of blowing your brains out than Trump has of winning based on the Polls Plus forecast).

  10. Speaking of Glenn Greenwald, I saw Oliver Stone’s new film Snowden last night, featuring a nice turn by Zachary Quinto as the sweaty, spittle-spraying Greenwald, and starring the wonderful Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the title character.

    Once again, Stone provides a great big, engrossing cinematic experience; once again, however, subtlety is not exactly the Stone-ian métier.

    1. Oliver Stone, Spike Lee, Mel Gibson, Ben Affleck all great talents whose work I can’t stand to watch any longer. Stone is the only one whose actual screen work moved me this way.

      1. I do my best to parse my aesthetic judgments from my political views. You can drive yourself nuts, otherwise.

  11. Dr. Coyne,

    I’m glad I could share something with you that you enjoyed, even if I may not have been the only one that pointed it out to you originally.

    If you’re tired of this election nonsense and want something really different and refreshing, check out this podcast:


    Some intro:



    Recently, the alt-right has discovered it and in a delicious form of irony are crying “cultural appropriation” of their memes and anti-PCness.

  12. The problem is that criticism of Clinton devolves so rapidly into Benghazi/emails. Most of the media can’t avoid the sound bite/tweet version of news.

    Bernie Sanders did a good job of criticizing Clinton without going Benghazi – I think he got her to back off of TPP, for instance. But the media in general is not that focused.

    I think it is more an interest in squelching the Benghazi/email version of Clinton criticism, including the rehashing of Bill Clinton era issues, that leads to things like the Krugman piece.

    1. Good point. And your mention of Bernie reminded me of his great, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” in one of the early Democratic debates. 😀

  13. Even if we accept the premise that Hillary Clinton represents the very worst of politicians (hyperboles aside), it’s even more clear that Donald Trump represents the very worst of humanity. The difference is that Hillary appears receptive to dialogue, expiation, and remediation; whereas Donald remains insufferably incorrigible.

  14. We can criticize the Shite out of Hillary after she’s President, until then can’t we just work to get her there?—the election of Donnie to the Oval Office the would be very unpleasant and rather disastrous for out nation.

  15. known to us as the mendacious and oleaginous atheist-hater and osculator of Islam, published at The Intercept

    That’s not even the half of it. Greenwald is a Jewish antisemite and no holds barred Israel basher who osculates the terrorists who run the Gaza Strip and Hizbollah in Lebanon. Despite the fact that he is gay, not a word of criticism for the Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip where homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. Shortly after he started the Intercept site, I submitted a comment pointing out his failure to condemn Hamas on the grounds of anti-gay bigotry to which he responded something to the effect they he didn’t feel it was his responsibility for such criticism.

    1. My thoughts too.

      “But I don’t think it’s kosher to withhold criticism from Clinton at this point because it might lead to Trump’s election. In fact, given what’s happening in the polls, I can’t see anything that could help Trump.”

      Stranger things have happened. In the (okay, highly unlikely) event that Trump did win, would anyone feel good about having gone easy on the Trump on principle?

      Besides, as playwrights know, there’s a certain amount of catharsis to be had in watching the villain get his come-uppance, and if us yobboes in the stalls are going to chuck cabbages at some luckless bogeyman, it might as well be one who richly deserves it.


  16. Your comment on Greenwald’s article highlights the difference between regressive left ideologues and rational progressives. I have frequently been blocked on FB and other forums after a discussion of the problems with regressive left ideology have gotten to the point where my correspondent has run out of arguments and has claimed the he is being traumatized by my continued stubbornness in not coming around to his position. Greenwald is spot on in his criticism of liberal media in his article. This is a fact that is completely independent of his ongoing campaign of straw man lies and vilification against Sam Harris and others who refuse to submit to the Islamophobia smear.

  17. I don’t find too much in the GG article that I disagree with. And I’ve no doubt that some media outlets produce or host stuff on Clinton that fits with GG’s characterization. Also, it is a given that journalism these days is in a pretty sorry state and I doubt many people would argue with that.

    But I just don’t see the degree of problematic bias that you and GG do. I see breaking news stories every day about either new Clinton scandals or devastating new information about existing Clinton scandals. I hear what you and GG are saying but it just doesn’t seem that way to me.

    1. Yes, that’s how it seems to me, too. If anything, I find much of the media still trying to follow the “equal time” mandate (i.e., giving equal time to Hillary’s black marks) when there’s really no comparison between his (Trump’s) and hers. Even many of the major endorsements have had substantial amounts of “anything but Trump” rather than being especially laudatory about HRC.

      Mostly, I regret seeing this difference of opinion given so much attention; reminds me of how religions schism–when people who really have a lot in common fixate on slight (IMO) differences.

      (Am I the first to verb schism? If so, apologies.)

      1. Much as I hate ‘verbing’ of nouns – no, you are not the first, and you are forgiven.


        (Oh, and you used it intransitively, which I think is innocuous, a transitive use would be far more obtrusive).


        1. Of course, that was one of the criteria I deliberated over intensely before deciding to go ahead.

          Or perhaps I was just lazy. You know how it is, you get half-way into your sentence & discover it’s not going the way you intended…


          1. Oh yes, I know how it is, I wouldn’t want to appear to be being about to be going overboard on minor points of grammatical preference.


      2. I don’t think the invention of new words or word uses can ever really be a bad thing. I’m definitely much more in the descriptivist camp rather than the prescriptivist.

  18. PuffHo’s frenetic demonization of Donald Trump (who’s already demonized himself out of contention for the Presidency) is growing—to the point of lunacy.

    I’m glad somebody is picking up the slack, because you’re sure not getting the job done. You say Trump has “demonized himself” but how many posts have you made criticizing his many weaknesses? This is a historically bad candidate. He speaks casually of nuclear proliferation and nuclear war, promises to have our armed forces commit war crimes, threatens to throw his political opponents in prison, tells the most obvious lies about what he has said and done, threatens to violate the constitution in numerous ways, presents himself as the very embodiment if racism, sexism and xenophobia, is mainstreaming the forces of bigotry which had heretofore been banished to the edges of the American political landscape, and now threatens the very foundation of representational democracy by refusing to promise acceptance of the election results.

    And how many posts have you spent criticizing him as opposed to Hillary?

    And how many posts have you spent criticizing him as opposed to mocking criticism of him, as in the present post?

    1. I have generally read JAC’s critiques of Clinton as an effort to clean up ones’ own house, with the knowledge that plenty of other people will be covering the problems of the GOP house.

      Besides, not every website has to report on the same top ten issues; authors can be specialized. A cubs fan might blog about the cub’s bullpen but not important non-baseball stuff. That’s not a problem, right? JAC is something like a ‘Dems fan;’ it shouldn’t be too surprising that a liberal cares more about the health and good and bad choices of the Dem party than the GOP.

  19. Hillary Clinton is one of the most scrutinized candidates in American history due to her years in the public spotlight. The fact that some are cutting her slack now because her opponent is one of the greatest jerks to ever come down the pike does not negate that fact.

  20. I find your view on this situation we find ourselves in this election (which are almost the same as mine), comforting. Trumps total wrongness for the role of POTUS should not be greasing the skids for Hillary’s assumption of the position.

  21. I think you are misreading Krugman.. He does not shy away from criticising Clinton, and he often does so. Nor does be say that one shouldn’t.. He is not saying that you should shut up because you cannot prove conflict of interest.. His beef is mainly with how such questions are worded, which is invariably in a way that *suggests* wrongdoing even though there’s is no proof whatsoever.. For instance, saying that this or that ‘raises questions’ seems a neutral observation on the face of it, but it has a connotation of something fishy going on.. These journalists can deny having uttered accusations, but they in fact do create an atmosphere of suspicion where none is warranted.

  22. That the media should scrutinize HRC is a completely fair statement to me. But the notion that even the “liberal” media (well, outside of HuffPo!) treats her in a remotely balanced fashion is just silly. (Please note: supporting her in election does not equate to fair coverage of her “issues,” and the shade thrown by Trump’s atrocities does not excuse the lack of hoped-for fair coverage.)

    Krugman has had a couple great posts on this. Here are a couple:



  23. I appreciate all the well-reasoned comments here, especially the principled and fair-minded Historian and others.

    It makes no sense to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face. We would be well-advised not to go overboard on the HRC criticisms at this critical juncture. By all means, anyone who’s going to vote for her, but only with great reservation, should write copious letters of complaints and chastisement to her and her team, and give them a chance to clean up their act. Don’t let your actions inadvertently help Trump Nation. POTUS Trump would be a blight on the world.

    Former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien recently quipped that Hillary had pneumonia and there are pills we can take for that, but there’s no pill to cure stupidity. It’s not so hard a choice.

    What’s really hard is that there is no bitterless pill to ease the hearts and hopes that were dashed over Bernie Sanders.

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