RALEIGH — You've no doubt heard the story of New Yorker critic Pauline Kael's response to Richard Nixon's win in 1972. She's alleged to have said she couldn't figure out how he won since she didn't know anyone who voted for him.
Whether she actually said that, or whether it's a bastardization of something she said in a New York Times interview after the election, has not conclusively been determined. Nevertheless, it's become enshrined in American political culture as an example of self-referential cluelessness among hothouse liberals.
I was reminded of Kael this morning as I read the "Under the Dome" items in my morning News & Observer.
One item, titled "Marriage ad upsets," included this (the emphasis is mine, column resumes below image):
Gay activists are objecting to an image in the latest issue of Family North Carolina, a N.C. Family Policy Council magazine, that shows a bride and groom in the crosshairs of a firearm.
The image accompanies an article about legally-recognized same-sex unions called Marriage In Society's Moral Crosshairs.
In an article last week, the Huffington Post quoted bloggers saying [sic] the image was inappropriate post-Gabrielle Giffords, and runs contrary to notions of civil debate. One blogger invited critics to email the Family Policy Council.
In another item in the same "Under the Dome" titled "New primary process?", was this (emphasis is mine, scroll down at link):
Iowa's traditional role as the frontrunner draws much criticism every four years because its voters are not representative of the nation as a whole. The same applies to New Hampshire and South Carolina, which host the next two primaries.
One political pundit at The Huffington Post suggests an interesting solution: Put North Carolina second on the primary calendar. Will Bower, a critic of the traditional primary calendar, proposes making the states with the narrowest margins of victory in the previous presidential campaign vote first.
This would put North Carolina - which gave Barack Obama a 14,177 vote victory in 2008 - second to Missouri, where John McCain won by 0.1 percent. He writes:
"The purpose of selecting states according to narrowest margins-of-victory is to help the political parties determine which candidates can best appeal to the citizens of those states that have found themselves most recently on the Electoral Divide.
"A candidate who is able in 2012 to appeal to Indiana and Florida, for example, is more likely to appeal to a greater number of Americans on the whole."So what would a New Hampshire-styled presidential primary look like in North Carolina?
Note that the source for both of these items is The Huffington Post, a well-known left-wing blog site. To be fair, there is the occasional post at HuffPo that takes a conservative bent, but those are few and far between. HuffPo, for the mainstream media, is The New York Times of blog sites. It's the equivalent of conservatives quoting Rush Limbaugh.
So, why is it sourced so often in the supposedly objective, fair-handed, fair-minded media? Do I need to answer that?
HuffPo appears all through the print and online versions of the N&O. Here's an example from the website yesterday that is a double whammy. It's a left-wing, radical environmental wire service, the Mother Nature Network (I kid you not) that is passed off on the N&O's website as a news service. It, too happily quotes HuffPo in a story about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticizing the Chevy Volt (emphasis is mine):
"So sad," wrote one commenter on The Huffington Post. "What does anyone running for President have against a car that is Made in America, by American workers, and uses almost exclusively Made-in-America fuel. I've had a Volt for over 7000 miles, and I have only gotten gas twice. It is the best car I have ever owned - smoothest, quietest, and feels the fastest. The instant, silent torque that pushes you back in your seat has to felt to be believed."
The N&O's reporters aren't above using HuffPo material in their blogs, and even in news stories. Here's one from November from the blog of education writer Keung Hui:
The Huffington Post is calling the Wake County school board election results a case of how "voters repudiated the Tea Party agenda backed by North Carolina's notorious political boss, Art Pope."
In a piece today for the liberal Huffington Post, Michael Carmichael writes that Democratic election victories across North Carolina were a "landslide." But Carmichael says "the coup de grace took place in Boss Pope's backyard." He writes that the election victory by Kevin Hill is "a major embarrassment" for Pope.
Perhaps the N&O's reporters, bloggers, and editors should add a little diversity to their blog reading. I'd suggest NewsBusters and HotAir as starters.
Those would be good antidotes to the Pauline Kael Syndrome that has seemingly settled in on McDowell Street.
Jon C. Ham is vice president of the John Locke Foundation and publisher of its newspaper, Carolina Journal.