Hillary Clinton certainly touched a nerve that runs through the American body politic when she choked up in the coffee shop in New Hampshire last Monday, the day before the election -- a nerve that set almost the entire media establishment twitching in a paroxysm of Clinton-bashing schadenfreude. Maureen Dowd once again proved that she'll yield to nobody, certainly not the obnoxious, Hillary-hating Chris Matthews, in her spiteful contempt for the presidential hopeful. She titled her spewing "Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?" No matter that Hillary didn't actually cry. Why should that get in the way of a catty headline and a quote from a Times reporter saying she did?
When I walked into the office Monday, people were clustering around a computer to watch what they thought they would never see: Hillary Clinton with the unmistakable look of tears in her eyes.By itself, the column was just one more example of the piling on by the media that followed Hillary's showing some feeling, notable only for its nastiness even by those standards. But that's not why she's winning the coveted Toto Award.
A woman gazing at the screen was grimacing, saying it was bad. Three guys watched it over and over, drawn to the “humanized” Hillary. One reporter who covers security issues cringed. “We are at war,” he said. “Is this how she’ll talk to Kim Jong-il?”
Another reporter joked: “That crying really seemed genuine. I’ll bet she spent hours thinking about it beforehand.” He added dryly: “Crying doesn’t usually work in campaigns. Only in relationships.”
No, the 2008 Toto Pulling Back the Curtain Award goes to Maureen Dowd for performing a vital public service -- pulling back the curtain and vividly demonstrating just how much hatred for the Clintons there has always been on the staff of the New York Times, and how it warps their news judgment. The Times insiders never thought the Clintons belonged in Washington, still don't think they belong in Washington and no longer feel they even need to hide their feelings (and their failings as journalists). People had many different reactions to Hillary's show of emotion. Some were moved, some were not. Some thought it was a staged manipulation, some thought it was a train wreck. Some pitied her, some did not. The one thing that nobody except true, dyed-in-the-wool Clinton haters felt was the kind of gleeful mockery portrayed by Dowd. Thank you, Maureen Dowd, for showing so dramatically exactly where your paper stands, once the curtain of "objectivity" is pulled away.
I was going to let my subscription run out anyhow. This is the newspaper whose reporting by Jeff Gerth on Whitewater helped set up the impeachment debacle, and whose Mideast reporting, aided by by the notorious Judith Miller, helped set up the Iraq debacle. Let them continue to talk among themselves. We don't need to listen.