Howard Fineman has been a bright star in the media firmament for as long as I can remember. He now currently serves as an NBC News analyst and the global director for the AOL Huffington Post Media Group. Maureen Dowd has also been an inside-the-Beltway figure since time immemorial. Dowd recently held a party at her Georgetown home to celebrate the release of a book by Carl Hulse of The New York Times.
If this party were to have consisted of the usual retinue of mainstream journos, well, it wouldn’t have been surprising. The Beltway media set is, after all, a very insular crowd. It’s hardly surprising seeing them celebrate themselves.
Somewhat more distressing, however, was the appearance of at least two very powerful Democrats among the media elite. In fact, they were arguably the two most powerful Democrats at the moment — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York.
Fineman managed to capture a picture of the scene and tweeted it out, which sparked some strong reactions among readers.
“A @maureendowd party is always crowded,” Fineman wrote in the tweet. “The action is outside her Georgetown home. SpeakerPelosi arrived late, greeted by the hostess, escorted in by @SenSchumer. The event was for @hillhulse, who has a new book about Supreme Court nomination fights.”
Lol. He’s making it vanish. We’re lower than serfs to these people. pic.twitter.com/USbvNwKl8G
— J Cook (@JHowieCook) July 25, 2019
If you click on the pic, you can see the full original post. This attracted what’s known as a “ratio” — when a tweet or other social media post incurs way more comments than likes or retweets, a clear sign that people didn’t like what was said. The implication was that individuals were mightily unhappy with the cozy relationship between our politicians and the mainstream media. This opprobrium, too, came from both sides of the aisle.
Fineman deleted the tweet and then tweeted an explanation for the deletion. It was surprisingly worse than the original tweet.
There were two major points to be gleaned from the NBC analyst’s response, neither one of which was particularly well thought-out. First, in the good ol’ days, people didn’t get angry when politicians and the media blurred the lines between those in power and those who were supposed to be holding those in power to account. Second, you hate us because you ain’t us.
That doubtlessly ought to calm the waters:
Tonight I tweeted a pic of a Georgetown party hosted by @maureendowd, attended by @SpeakerPelosi, @SenSchumer and DC journos. In the old days it would’ve been a benign big-shot brag. No more. It was viciously ratio’d by left and right. I deleted it. All establishments are hated.
— Howard Fineman (@howardfineman) July 25, 2019
“Tonight I tweeted a pic of a Georgetown party hosted by @maureendowd, attended by @SpeakerPelosi, @SenSchumer
and DC journos,” he tweeted Thursday. “In the old days it would’ve been a benign big-shot brag. No more. It was viciously ratio’d by left and right. I deleted it. All establishments are hated.” (Emphasis mine.)
I have a question before I dissect this: How hyperaware do you have to be of political grandees to lose all sense of self-awareness?
I don’t know the exact point you have to cross, but Fineman has long since crossed it if this tweet is any indication.
First, let’s look at that sentence: “In the old days it would’ve been a benign big-shot brag.” Benign to you, perhaps. Benign to others who still trusted the media, maybe. In an age where the media demands that we acknowledge they’re the brave defenders of truth and freedom in this country — where the mere utterance of the term “fake news” or distrust is so deeply offensive to them it might as well be a religious slur — it’s hardly benign.
It also shouldn’t have been benign 20 or 30 years ago when the too-intimate relationship between the press and those who covered them produced a dangerous bias toward the establishment.
And second, about that quote: “All establishments are hated.” That’s basically a slightly eloquent, buttoned-up version of “haters gonna hate.”
If your rhetorical point could theoretically be used in a Rick Ross diss-track, I would urge you to come up with a better one. Just saying.
By the way, this also didn’t go over too well on Twitter, although — as of Friday morning — it’s not technically ratio’d. (Most definitions usually require a 2-1 comments-to-likes ratio, which the tweet doesn’t quite have yet.)
t still garnered plenty of heated reactions, only some of which I can embed here for obvious reasons. And, as you can probably grok, these points seem to come from across the political spectrum.
“All establishments are hated.”
And the only people you’ll never blame for that are yourselves.
— expatjourno (@realexpatjourno) July 25, 2019
Rich people mad about poor people not properly groveling over images of their privileged lives is peak US oligarchy
— @still_NunyaDB (@still_NunyaDB) July 25, 2019
MY FANCY PARTY WITH MY CORRUPT POLITICIAN PALS HAS BEEN SPOILED BY THE PROLES. pic.twitter.com/6A2zcpkdKO
— The Last Raven (@deathandraven) July 25, 2019
That you can’t appreciate it’s not the old days anymore and feel no desire to interrogate that ignorance should concern you, but instead you choose the most absurd whining.
— Brendon (@3662brendon) July 25, 2019
Correction: The media establishment is hated for being overwhelmingly biased in favor of the Democrats. If you received information, followed the leads and researched the truthfulness of the original information, then reported it without favoritism, people may not hate you.
— Karen Wetzel (@KarenWetzel1) July 25, 2019
Oh well. Dang proles. Let them eat Maureen Dowd’s canapés!
If the media ever wants to study why they’re disliked, this is it.
A whole bunch of mainstream media types are seen schmoozing with the two most important Democrats in D.C. right now. What could possibly look amiss, especially since Fineman is bragging about being in the company of the people he’s putatively supposed to be holding to account?
They don’t hate you because they ain’t you, Howard. They hate you because you ain’t doing what you’re job is supposed to entail — and neither is the rest of the Beltway lot.
If the Newseum in Washington, D.C., is still around in another 20 years, I want this tweet framed as part of a permanent exhibition.
It’s a snapshot of a the decline and fall of the mainstream media: decadent, overblown in its estimation of its own importance and lacking in any sort of self-awareness. It’s hardly the only example, but it certainly does the job in 280 characters — and one picture — or less.
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