Fatuous Fineman

By David Talbot
Published October 25, 2004 11:06PM (UTC)
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Thank God for James Wolcott, scourge of press poodles. His blog on the insufferable Howard Fineman is a must read. You can't escape Fineman's smug puss whenever you're channel surfing cable news world. The fact that the NBC cable empire has deemed his every hackneyed, lifeless observation to be worthy of our attention is yet one more sign of the utter collapse of American journalism. On Sunday morning Wolcott caught Fineman dispensing yet another vacuous piece of conventional wisdom on Chris Matthews' weekly show -- "the one where Matthews doesn't sound as if he's bouncing off the walls of his own brain," as Wolcott puts it.

Fineman, surrounded by his usual "translucent shell of professional narcissism," was commenting on the growing passion of John Kerry's crowds, but immediately felt compelled, of course, to assume the Beltway-approved tone of condescension toward the Democratic candidate.

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Here's Wolcott: "'Are the (crowds) pumped up about Kerry?' Fineman asked. 'No. His job is to come across as normal and acceptable to --'

"At which point I changed channels.

"First of all, how does Fineman know the crowds aren't pumped up for Kerry? Did he attend these rallies? Did he ask anyone? No, he's assuming, as most of the media elite do, that no one could possibly be 'up' for a Kerry event because the media narrative is that Kerry is a stiff hunk of bark.

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"Forgive me for shouting, but this stuff burns my waffles. It's the same junk we heard from Chris Matthews' crew and all the other clique queens in the press about Al Gore as Gore was wowing crowds and closing in for the kill in 2000.

"That's why Jon Stewart's takedown of Tucker Carlson was greeted with gratitude and joy everlasting."


David Talbot

David Talbot, the founder of Salon, is the author of New York Times bestsellers like "Brothers," "The Devil's Chessboard," and "Season of the Witch." His most recent book is "Between Heaven and Hell: The Story of My Stroke."

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