January 12, 2010

Oh gee, what a surprise coming from the likes of Halperin. As The Plum Line notes, there is good reason to question whether Bill Clinton actually made the "getting us some coffee" remark.

To be clear, it’s very possible that Clinton did say something along these lines. It seems very likely that he did belittle Obama. But come on: In cases like these, when people are hinting at racism, the precise wording is everything. And in this case, the whole claim is based on an anonymous source’s recollection that someone who has now passed away told him or her that Clinton said something like this.

This really illustrates the perils of this approach to sourcing, particularly in the current media environment. And at bottom, it’s just absurd that this has provoked so much discussion, with little to no media figures also noting how tenuous and insubstantial the claim itself really is.

As Media Matters also noted this was not a direct quote--Memo to media: Statement attributed to Clinton in Game Change is not a direct quote:

Note the lack of quote marks around the statement attributed to Clinton. That means it's a paraphrase, not a direct quote. That means that Heilemann and Halperin did not or could not verify that Clinton said those exact words -- their source is not Kennedy or Clinton, but someone else who was supposedly aware of a later, alleged conversation between Kennedy and a "friend." As The Plum Line's Greg Sargent points out, the authors do indeed admit in their book: "Where dialog is not in quotes, it is paraphrased, reflecting only a lack of certainly on the part of our sources about precise wording, not about the nature of the statements."

And I'll just leave with Digby's thoughts which I agree with comletely--Make It Stop:

Sweet Jesus, I hate this goddamned Halperin/Heileman tabloid atrocity. It's got the villagers so excited I fear they are going to literally orgasm on camera --- and that's something I just don't want to see. A book based on backstabbing gossip from disgruntled campaign aides and pissed off rivals is about as reliable a six year olds playing a game of telephone. When you combine these nasty little tidbits with the Villager sensibility and biases of the writers, you end up with a docu-drama rather than a work of non-fiction.


I have no idea what Clinton actually said, obviously, but he isn't an idiot and I find it hard to believe that he would try to persuade Teddy Kennedy to endorse Hillary by waxing nostalgic about slavery and Jim Crow. He may very well have demeaned him in some fashion, but it was far more likely about his inexperience than his race. It doesn't make sense.

That doesn't seem to matter all that much to Sean Hannity and Co. They're going to repeat this tabloid crap inside the Beltway gossip whether they know it's true or not. And that honor is not just reserved for ClusterFox.

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.