May 25, 2018

Amy Chozick puts Peter Principle of MSM
on full display with 'Chasing Hillary'

Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass CeilingChasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling by Amy Chozick
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This book had hit the one-star level WELL before the finish line, but I slogged through so you don't have to. This is going to be an extended version of what I originally posted on Goodreads.

First, no index? Any nonfiction book, other than something like a self-help manual, without an index, even one written as breezily as this, without an index? Automatic loss of a star. That's in part because I do that in general with no-index books, but here in particular, the lack of an index undercuts the book's claims to seriousness.

Second, that breeziness. (And, that doesn't count the personal bias in political reporting, nor the way that personal bias is waved like a wet dishrag. Nor does it count that [although the title should have given this away, I guess in hindsight] that this is part of the book being about Chozick as much as Clinton.)

Now, let's get to the real mistakes, and the biggies, that torpedoed this baby.

First, her "Berniebros"? I'm not saying Chozick didn't get some of the Tweets she claims. BUT! ... She makes it look like about EVERY Sanders backer was one of these strawman stereotype Berniebros. Beyond that, post-election at least, donut Twitter has enough vileness in it that it probably doesn't have much to learn from the alt right.

All of this, in turn — the reality vs. Chozick's framing — gets back to the bias above.

Second, a clearly proven error. In chastising Robbie Mook for being a tightwad, she claims on page 152 that the Clinton campaign gave some of its leftover money to Jill Stein's recount effort.

This made me say "huh?" in part because I'm a Green voter and had never heard of such a thing.

I checked around with Green friends, and sure enough, untrue. Clinton's campaign had talked about sharing some data/data crunching, but I'm not sure it did that. NEVER gave money.

And, really, couldn't give much anyway.

Federal Elections Commission says that one political campaign CANNOT give another more than $2,000. Amy, took me a 30-second Google to find that.

Third, the Clinton Foundation has had actual ethics problems, and even more than other people at your paper have reported, Amy.

Fourth, yes, incomes for the middle class as well as the upper class did go up under Bill Clinton. But, income inequality still increased. Hell, middle class incomes went up under Shrub, too. And income inequality increased, and more than under the Slickster. This is also easily verifiable, and the way Chozick made her statement came off as PR first, journalism distant second. (At least, real journalism.)

Fifth, Chozick has several cover-ups by omission on foreign policy issues. She has no mention that Bill Clinton broke the promise of Poppy Bush, Helmut Kohl and other NATO members not to expand NATO eastward. She also doesn't mention Clinton's interference in Russian elections. (Sidebar: Perhaps, and far more subtly than with sacks of money, Shrub Bush and Obama did more of the same that we don't know about yet.)

Sixth, nothing but a brief mention of Clinton's emails, and nothing of her private server. Related? Chozick takes her paper's default stance on "Russiagate."

Seventh is the "reveal" by Chozick of how the Times was in the tank for Clinton, despite Bill claiming an anti-Clinton conspiracy by the Times. The "reveal" is keyed by the Times holding a story about the clusterfuck of our intervention in Libya until after the South Carolina primary. (Nothing new there, though; remember, it held a story about Shrub Bush's snooping on Americans until after he was re-elected.)

The reveal itself is nice. There's no real critical take on this bias by Chozick, though. Nor does she critically examine her own bias, starting with fawning over the idea of the "FWP," as she routinely abbreviates First Woman President.

As for her claim to be an agent of Russian intelligence by reporting on hacked emails? First, the first emails were likely stolen by Seth Rich or someone else inside DNC, not hacked by Russians. Second, per a good piece by Jack Shafer, any Russian activity was only background noise. Plus, the NYT reporters who got the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg weren't agents of North Vietnam or whatever, Shafer notes.

My take on this point? Chozick's trying to extend her Warholian 15 minutes of fame. Of course, that's the big picture point of the whole book, isn't it?

With all of those major, and minor, errors, it was easy to one-star.

That said, she does give us an occasional look at the NYT background, like the snooty arrogance of people at the home office seeming to assume that there's only one time zone in the US.

As for my subhead? Per the likes of Charles Pierce at the Esquire, plenty of real journalists, reporters and editors at newspapers out in the heartland, could do a better job than Chozick, and probably than several others, at the Times. I am personally sure of this.

Anyway, it's clear that that the Beltway/Acela Corridor MSM has problems. This is a good illustration but still the tip of an iceberg.

And, The Slickster and Failed Would-be President (Chozick's FWP) still think the Times hated them? When they had a Hillary-token feminist reporting? (Chozick is smart enough to recognize that Hillary's feminism, like that of most her Hillbot supporters, is selective. She also notes the Slickster deliberately went Sister Souljah on Black Lives Matter. Must give credit for something. She gets half credit for noting sexism and even sexual harassment on the Clinton campaign trail by the "guys" who ran her campaign; misses full credit for not reporting it in live time. Not reporting it because she believed in Hillary as FWP, even while noting Hillary tolerated this, cuts it to one-quarter credit.)

Meanwhile, the Times panders to Clinton supporters, then to counterbalance that, foists the likes of Bret Stephens and Bari Weiss on all of us.


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