Tim Graham at Newsbusters bring us this exchange between Howard Fineman of Newsweek (the magazine that just sold for $1.00, less than its cover price) on the Laugra Ingraham show.
INGRAHAM: How is it though with all these smart people at Newsweek – I went around the block with Evan Thomas about this as well. How did you all think that a guy who basically went from the Harvard Law Review, to some community leafleting, organizing, whatever you want to call it, to a short stint, a few lectures about constitutional law at [the University of] Chicago, very short stopover in the state Senate, and a very short stopover in the U.S. Senate. How does that add up to experience to run the biggest economy and the biggest military in the world? And why wasn’t Newsweek, instead of doing these celebrified covers of Michelle and Barack as historic, and celebrity culture, and all this love-love-love-love-love, why wasn’t – Why weren’t those questions asked before this election took place? Because to me, those were the questions to ask. . It wasn’t about personality. It was about experience and outlook.
FINEMAN: Well, uh, first, I’ll plead nolo [contendere] on a lot of this. But –
INGRAHAM: That’s what he did, in the U.S. Senate. He voted present. So you’re voting present for Newsweek.
FINEMAN: No, no. Part of the problem is, or part of the reason is that we – as political reporters, we become enamored with the mechanics of the campaign, and I would still insist that –
Ingraham saw right through the admire-your-mechanics trope:
INGRAHAM: You’re gonna do that if Paul Ryan is the nominee, for the Republicans? You’re gonna celebrify him? I don’t think so.
FINEMAN: No, no. Let me back up for a second. That was – Whatever you say about Barack Obama and David Axelrod in your diaries and everything –
FINEMAN – It was a brilliantly run campaign. And I have come to despair of the notion of the relationship between the quality and shrewdness of a campaign that someone runs and the kind of presidency that they have.
When Ingraham joked that Lady Gaga is good at branding, too, Fineman added; “We were mystified and mesmerized by the quality of the branding campaign that was Obama’s.”
Another word for “mystified and mesmerized” would be that Newsweek was “suckered,” or “bamboozled,” or to use an Ingraham favorite, “razzle-dazzled.” But they knew he would be an inexperienced president, and make plenty of mistakes. They just calculated that they would cross that bridge when they arrived at it. “History” came first, incompetence afterwards.
When the media offers a contender like Obama yards and yards of gauzy press coverage, and when it papers over every inconvenient truth about his hate-preaching minister of two decades, among many contentious fractions of the candidate’s personal history, isn’t it much easier to portray his campaign as “brilliantly run”?