Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Defending Peggy Noonan

There's an awesome live mic moment with Chuck Todd, Mike Murphy, and Peggy Noonan where each of them take turns bashing voicing their concerns with the Palin VP pick. TPM has the video and transcript.

Okay, everybody caught up? Good.

Now, Scott Rosenberg at Wordyard (via Romenesko) takes Noonan to task, since her column on Palin today hedged its bets. Rosenberg writes:

Now, if Peggy Noonan wrote a column every week that was as honest with her readers as she is here, with her colleagues, when she thinks the microphone is off, I would read it religiously. She’s part of a world that I don’t inhabit. But now I have a bright picture of the fact that she’s not writing what she knows and believes...

How can anyone ever read a word by Peggy Noonan again and take it seriously? (And she’s been around the block long enough not to get too much sympathy for, you know, not knowing that microphones can betray you.)

If her editors had any respect for their readers, they’d fire her.

Now, I'm inclined to stick up for Noonan, for the following reasons:

1) I think the "it's over" comment came in the context of Murphy's comment that the Republicans were trying to run McCain "like a Texas governor" by running up the base. That is, if the Republicans continue to run this way, it's over.

2) Noonan is a pretty good opinion journalist precisely because she's thoughtful and complex. It's not as though she directly refuted what she said in her column; she just introduced some negative capability.

3) I think this is a good thing to do in writing. You know, I wrote a post the other day that pretty strongly argues against the whole conspiracy-theory view of Sarah Palin, but chatting with friends on IM, I was up to my neck in just that kind of speculation. Journalists aren't paid to hide what they're thinking, but they're not paid to spout off whatever's on the top of their head either.

4) Speaking of which, why no co-criticism of Mike Murphy? Murphy's on TV news All. The. Time. talking about the McCain campaign, and gets quoted in print stories too. He's hardly ever been quite that frank on the record about his opinion of the McCain campaign's strategy. Do we just expect partisan TV pundits to toe the line? If so, how exactly is Noonan (a former Reagan speechwriter) different from Murphy (a former Republican campaign manager)?


Matt said...

Noonan's explanation.

Gavin said...

I agree pretty strongly with the second half of your #2. I saw a lot of stuff today that tried to set the live mic against the column, as if the opposition was obvious, for for all my leftist bile, I didn't see it. The column isn't blindly pro-Palin, and it a lot of ways, it's fairly critical.

Noonan's one strongly positive point is that if Palin is able to rise from the mire she's in that the result will be spectacular. Noonan may relish that thought more than I do, but I can't help but agree.