Jeff Greenfield, ex-journalist, CBS: "With Edwards' withdrawal, something which would have been unthinkable just a decade ago has occurred: The Democratic Party will nominate either a woman or an African-American for President."
WHAT the hell happened to Jeff Greenfield? Yale Law, writes speeches for RFK, spends a year as the Liberal-Rationalist questioner on Firing Line, seems like a promising political affairs reporter. Gets a teevee gig as a media commentator for CBS, which seemed at a time when the mass-market media was still congratulating itself for its glorious non-role in exposing Watergate, and when Jimmy Carter was being treated nightly as the Ur-Al Gore, a new, important beat. (Consider what might have been had critiquing the news become a regular part of The News.) He starts off pretty good but then begins to develop a slow IQ leak that, somehow, never gets repaired.
(Why? Well, for one thing, the early 80s and their insistent Reagan fluffing were the apex of the network capitulation to Nixon's anti-Press campaign, which saw the elimination of news commentary, the rise of the Happy Talk/No Disturbing Unpleasantness format, the promotion of Barbara Walters up from the cosmetics counter and the (not unrelated) absorption of independent network news bureaus by Sports and Entertainment, not to mention Big Infotainment's eye on Our Digital Future & Cable Pie and a favorable merger & acquisitions climate. The networks did not wish to be part of the Librul Media, regardless of the accuracy of the charges, and as a result you had Bircher demagogy elevated to Voice of the Common Folk status, on the grounds that some of its spokesmen actually lived out there with Homer and Jethrine and thus must have a finger on their pulse, their colorful rustic rituals, or the pipette they used to inseminate hogs. Consider the clueless groping the Times has engaged in in bumbling its way along the same path in recent years. Consider that that period in network news stretches, roughly, from Walter Cronkite noticing the Light was out at the end of the Endless Tunnel, to the period when Sam Donaldson was loudly disparaged as the face of teevee liberalism. Sam Fucking Donaldson! It didn't exactly pay to be smart.)
By the end of the first year of the much-admired Reagan era Greenfield had begun to look like he'd contacted incipient Norma Desmonditis, possibly from Leslie Stahl. By the time he jumped to ABC in 1983 he was practically a Koppel Klone, meaning that IQ was down at least thirty ticks. Whenever I've seen him since he's been more unwatchable than the previous time. The last time I remember tuning him in--as opposed to bumping into him accidentally and trying to be polite--he was leading his CNN White Guy Panel in a Jenna Bush-inspired discussion of how "everybody" used fake IDs in college, and the media ought to leave the President's family alone. No one even bothered to cough up a dissenting opinion. Sure, sure, hindsight's 20/20, but don't the nose-thumbing adventures of a couple of aimless, disinterested partying princesses now seem like a harbinger of their Daddy's administration, if we'd just bothered to listen half-seriously? I mean, aside from the fact that they didn't pull weapons and change the management regime at Chuy's.
Perhaps the above is superfluous; perhaps it's sufficient to note that I walked into the room where my Poor Wife was watching the CBS Evening News, which is now delivered by a woman whose demeanor suggests she should be co-chairing the event with a cast of woodland puppets. And just as I got there Greenfield was delivering that windup about how unthinkable it is that a Woman and a Colored Fellow should be duking it out for the right to be slimed on cable news for the next several months. Sheesh, it's not even unthinkable that the Republicans might have gotten around to breaking the White Male barrier a decade ago, though it would have been the Veep slot and it would have been calculated, not earned by having the best time in the 1500 meter slime wade. Hell, internet trolls couldn't get enough of the idea that Condi Rice would replace Dick Cheney in 2004, thence to run in 2008 as that unstoppable combination of Woman and Black, setting off a nationwide series of Liberal Brain Detonations unlike anything ever seen in US politics.
This stuff borders on insulting the sainted dead and the mostly-unsung living who gave so much in pursuit of equality, and who were so often backhanded from the same pulpit where Greenfield now leads us in prayerful Thanksgiving for our own worth. And that's when it doesn't cross the line with impunity. Or is it just me? Please, someone, anyone, explain to me what difference in attitude there is between that stump-dumb notion of Liberalism being trawled across the internet four years ago and this nonsensical idea that America Has Finally Turned A Corner because a good-looking orator and a very smart lightning rod stand poised to take the Democratic nomination. In a race, we might add, which hasn't made it to the one-month mark without charges of racism and gender bias being loudly "examined" in the Press. Historical? Okay. Unthinkable a decade ago? Sure. If the decade you mean is the 1920s. Someone recently reminded me that Jesse Jackson (like Obama, a black man!) won the South Carolina Democratic Primary. Twenty years ago. And like the Lady said, it still is faux-balanced news.