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This Made Our Day

From the Scrapbook.

Sep 10, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 48 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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When Yahoo! News’s Washington bureau chief David Chalian was caught joking on a hot mike that Republicans were partying while black people drowned in Hurricane Isaac, the most surprising part of the story was that Chalian was fired for his comments. We expect he’ll not be out of job for long, though. They can use talent like that at MSNBC, where discerning and denouncing GOP “racism” has been raised to an art form.

Near as we can tell, O’Donnell was engaging in a little friendly workplace competition with Chris Matthews, who complained that Republicans were racist for observing that the president hails from Chicago: “They keep saying Chicago. .  .  . That’s another thing that sends that message—this guy’s helping the poor people in the bad neighborhoods, screwing us in the ’burbs.” Matthews’s guest helpfully added, “There’s a lot of black people in Chicago,” just in case you didn’t catch his drift.Not since the days of the Etruscan haruspex have so many attempted to divine so much from so little. MSNBC entrail inspector Lawrence O’Donnell, for instance, homed in on a joke by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell about Barack Obama’s well-known fondness for golf: “He hasn’t been working to earn reelection. He’s been working to earn a spot on the PGA tour.” O’Donnell translated it for the rubes in Peoria: “Well, we know exactly what he’s trying to do there. He is trying to align to Tiger Woods and surely, the—lifestyle of Tiger Woods with Barack Obama.”

Over at Harper’s, Jack Hitt filed a report from Tampa, “A Troubling Chant on the Convention Floor.” In Hitt’s telling, nativist Republican delegates started chanting “USA! USA!” in response to a heavily accented speaker from Puerto Rico. As it turns out, the chant was really the result of some arcane parliamentary struggles among the Ron Paul delegates, having nothing to do with the speaker, and Hitt appended a rather weaselly note to his report clarifying what happened. The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney commented that “[BuzzFeed reporter Zeke] Miller’s reporting so thoroughly debunks what Hitt wrote that I would have expected Hitt to retract it. But when it comes to charging Republicans with racism, the standards are different, I guess.”

(Yes, and the standards are different for Hitt. In 2006, with the help of a pro-abortion group, Hitt wrote a story for the New York Times Magazine claiming that a woman in El Salvador had been imprisoned for having an abortion at 18 weeks. Soon after publication, it was revealed the woman had killed her infant after it was born following a full-term pregnancy. The New York Times took a full eight months to append an editor’s note to the story, and did so only after the Times’s public editor re-reported Hitt’s piece and upbraided the paper for getting the story entirely wrong.)

At the Atlantic, Elspeth Reeve filed a wildly headlined report about House speaker John Boehner’s remarks to reporters at the convention: “Boehner Says Out Loud He Hopes Blacks and Latinos ‘Won’t Show Up’ This Election.” Is that what Boehner said? Here’s the full quote:

This election is about economics. And they may not show up and vote for our candidate but I would suggest to you they won’t show up and vote for the president either.

A handful of her journalistic peers took Reeve to task for her grossly dishonest headline, but rather than apologize, Reeve wrote a followup, “Why We Think John Boehner Is Hoping for Low Minority Voter Turnout.” Except that Reeve didn’t say she thought Boehner was hoping for low minority turnout, Reeve reported that’s what he said. Which he clearly didn’t. Other recent Reeve bylines include, “Romney’s Birther Joke Explained in One Number: He Needs 61% of the White Vote” and “Race Takes Over the Race.” 

Feel free to look up that last story for an unconvincing, yet Zapruder-esque analysis of the supposed racial imagery in Romney ads critiquing the president for rolling back welfare-to-work requirements. We don’t want to spoil it for you, but if you squint hard enough, you can actually see the goat entrails. 

May You See Your Children’s Children

The Scrapbook will, as they say nowadays, go there. When the Romney and Ryan clans gathered together on stage in Tampa, there were almost more offspring than balloons. 

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