Washington Post The Fix blogger Chris Cillizza, meet Rashid Khalidi
Chris, go talk to Stanley Kurtz. Fox has, and now CNN has.
HH: Joined now by Washington Post blogger extraordinaire Chris Cillizza of The Fix blog. Chris, welcome back.
CC: Hey, Hugh, thanks for having me.
HH: Chris, you probably know the estimable blogger Ace of Spades, who’s wonderful though R rated blog is a must-read. Do you read it often?
CC: Not often, occasionally.
HH: Well, Ace wants me to ask you this…
CC: Okay, I’m ready.
HH: And I promised him I would. Not a single media source in the MSM has noted Joe Biden’s gaffes from last Thursday, nor sought clarification on them. I’ve not seen a single fact check noting, for example, that no one, certainly not we ever kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, the Article I defines the Legislature and not, as Constitutional law expert Joe Biden actually opined the Executive, or that Pakistani missiles could hit Israel. This is astounding. I expected them to spin and downplay these errors, but not to embargo and censor them altogether. Chris, you’re part of the MSM. What’s your response to Ace?
CC: I believe, and I don’t want to speak out of school, but I believe, because I know I have seen it, though I didn’t write about it, I have seen the Hezbollah fact checked and corrected, and shown that Joe Biden was wrong. I don’t know exactly where it was, Hugh. I can probably go back and find it and shoot it to you off-air. But I believe almost certainly I have seen that. Was there more scrutiny on Sarah Palin and what she had to say than Joe Biden and what he had to say? I think that there probably was, but I also think some of that, and you could say this was a media creation or not, but I think her interviews that led up that debate last week with Katie Couric, some of which she seemed to be a little bit lost, at least distracted, maybe just not wanting, in her words, to sort of play the game, she was annoyed, she said afterward, I think led to there being a huge level of interest in what she had to say.
HH: Well, that’s fair, but Chris, let me ask you…
HH: You’re a blogger.
HH: And so you have unlimited space. And you are a member of the MSM. Given that you are the featured political blogger for the Washington Post, Joe Biden walks in there and falls on his face. I mean, he invents a restaurant that he couldn’t have been to in twenty years, and he pretends he goes to the Home Depot. Doesn’t it deserve the ink that…by the time an hour had passed, after the debate I had a list from the McCain team of these errors. I’m sure you got it, too.
HH: Why not write about it?
CC: Well, Hugh, let me defend myself a little bit in that you’re right, I have unlimited space on the internet without question. But I also have sort of a perspective that I bring to it, which tends to be more sort of analytical as opposed to fact checking. Now we have a blog called the Fact Checker at Washingtonpost.com that does just that, and fact checks, they did it live during both of the first two debates, the presidential and the vice presidential. They’re doing it tonight again. So mine was not leaving it out. I didn’t fact check anything Sarah Palin had to say, either. It’s just not something I do because we have a blog devoted to it. Now whether or not they fact check things in the way that you or Ace or other folks out there like, that I don’t know and I can’t speak to, because I don’t do it.
HH: Well again, it’s not just your failing or your approach, it’s just generally the MSM seems to have thrown up full shields and the Star Trek sensor around Joe Biden and Barack Obama except for CNN that went after the Ayers connection last night. And a lot of us in the new media are saying are you folks conscious of this, or is it unconscious? What’s your answer?
CC: Well, I guess I would say I am every day, or at least I do my best, to be conscious of the fact that we try and give the same treatment, I certainly do on The Fix, the same treatment I do to Sarah Palin to Joe Biden to John McCain and to Barack Obama. Now I know for a fact, because they leave comments and they send me e-mails and they leave me phone calls, that not everyone believes I do that in a fair and balanced way. But I can tell you, I mean, I can only speak for myself, Hugh, and you know this, you can’t answer for everybody…
HH: Right, right.
CC: …in the mainstream media. But I do everything that I can to try and look at, from a debate perspective, from a campaign stump speech perspective, what is politically interesting here that my viewers should be interested in, not based on political biases or political affiliations, but what is going to drive the conversation. I mean, that’s where I’m coming from, and again, does that leave open plenty of room for people to disagree with me and to allege bias? Of course, and they do.
HH: But I’m not alleging bias. I’m just curious as to how people couldn’t see in Biden’s repeated pratfalls something of interest, because…can we agree it was an astonishingly error-filled performance by Joe Biden? Can we agree on that, Chris?
CC: Would you say that Sarah Palin gave an astonishingly error-riddled performance?
HH: No, no. I think actually not. I think she had her opinions, and people can disagree with it, but Joe Biden just invented stuff like Pakistani missiles hitting Israel and getting Hezbollah out of Lebanon. Those are facts.
CC: Let me just play devil’s advocate for a minute, Hugh, because a lot of people e-mailed me and asked why I didn’t write about this, was her calling General McKiernan General McClellan. Now to me, that’s just a slip of the tongue.
HH: Yeah, that’s a slip of the tongue.
CC: But again, I heard from a number of people suggesting well, she doesn’t even know who he is.
HH: But Chris, the difference between a slip of the tongue and inventing Hezbollah being thrown out of Lebanon is a profoundly wrong grasp of the realities of the ground in Lebanon. That goes to preparedness, not to the ability to memorize a complicated name among many. I mean, there’s a, obviously, there is a huge difference between that, isn’t there?
CC: I think so much of it, Hugh, and again, I try to be as much a cipher for my readers as bringing something to the table myself. I think a lot of it is what you bring to it.
HH: But I mean, objectively…
CC: …Democratic partisans, Hugh, I can tell you I got e-mails by the stack…
HH: I know what they say, but what does Chris Cillizza think as between saying Hezbollah’s been kicked out of Lebanon and getting a name wrong? Are those different of kind or different of degree?
CC: I don’t really know. I guess, Hugh, I try not to spend too much time with what I think. I try and spend more time with what matters politically. And I don’t, in the same way I didn’t think when John McCain people said he, John McCain can’t pronounce Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and that shows he doesn’t know anything, I wrote that’s ridiculous. He’s clearly someone who knows his way around the world.
HH: Well, we’re running out of time. Stick over for the next segment if you can, Chris, because I want to get to it tonight…Oh, you can’t. I know you’ve got to go. Very quickly…
HH: Will Ayers be a subject tonight, and will you write about it if he is.
CC: Absolutely. I will write about it if he is. I am a little bit skeptical he will be, because I don’t know if John McCain wants to run the risk, I think it would be painted as him playing sort of the personal negative card. Whether that is the case or not, I don’t know if John McCain wants to risk that. If he does, if he does talk about Ayers, of course we’ll write about it.
HH: Last question. Do you know who Rashid Khalidi is?
HH: Do you think if it’s…well, that tells me a lot. Watch for that one, Chris. Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post The Fix, I’ll be reading you tonight as you live blog the next debate.
End of interview.