Infiltrating Yearly Kos: "No, no, no, don't call them a Nazi"

You wouldn’t think it’d be hard getting people to go on record at a seminar on how to talk to the media. No dice, says Byron York.

Our guy was there too, though. And he did get them to talk on the record. Proceed.


I’m at the second training session, and I clarified the rules with Jennifer Palmieri of CAP, told her I was writing for a blog called Hotair, and she said that while the discussion was on background, I could quote her.

I don’t want to bother the people who are now doing the practice interviews–in fact I felt sufficiently voyeuristic that I went and got a “press” badge–but one bit of discussion illustrated a lot of what I’ve seen today–the impact of the wild, untamed nutroots with the center-left political establishment.

We were discussing the general pitfalls of shows like Hannity and Colmes, and one trainee pundit spoke up to volunteer that leftist guests “need to have more humor on these shows.” Hmm, I thought. They are learning. There were some murmurs of assent. And then she added, “We need to look at these people who are asking these questions and just ask them, ‘ARE YOU A NAZI?'”

Jennifer Palmieri jumped in quickly, gently, and cautioned, “No, no, no, don’t call them a Nazi.”

Oh, and here’s a gutsy response from a video’s pundit-in-training to a curveball question. During her practice interview, the other CAP presenter switched from asking her about global warming and then asked her if Zarqawi’s death proved Bush’s strategy was going better than expected: “Haven’t we heard several times before that Zarqawi was dead? It seems like there’s less certainty whether Zarqawi’s dead than whether the earth is warming.”

We just finished reviewing her performance on tape and there was a wonderful exchange where Palmieri said, now, when you tell a joke like that, you should sort of smile at your own joke. Otherwise people will think you’re … like those people who don’t believe in global warming.” (In other words, in Kosland, a nut).

No, [the trainee pundit] clarified, she wasn’t joking. And several people spoke up to agree with her. Poor Ms. Palmieri said, oh, now, now, they did DNA. “And fingerprints”, someone added. And scars, I supplied.

And the question remains unresolved.


Maybe I’m just going native here but I felt a certain sympathy for the Center for American Progress people, who tried to rein in the worst impulses of the Kos kids like fourth-grade teachers. They seemed personable, competent and they knew the arguments on the issues from both sides-–and put the pundits-in-training through the wringer. (One of the best ones argued for the Net Neutrality Act from the standpoint of all-American entrepreneurship and free enterprise. He’s going places.) But overall let’s just say the PiT’s showed a great variation in their readiness for prime-time, mainstream media appearances.

Which is what they wanted, although the “Why go on Fox News at all?” question was asked and answered just as in the session Byron York attended. One assertive fellow who likes to call in to right-wing talk radio shows and mouth off wanted to know why places like CAP didn’t make it easier for the netroots/Kos community to get in touch with TV producers, radio hosts, etc. And Jennifer Palmieri talked about how these numbers change all the time, and how they are very important personal relationships, and how CAP ought to free up and make available some contacts for the “progressive radio shows”….oooh, Randi Rhodes, here we come! They’re still on in, what, Boston? Berkeley?

In other words, she quite graciously said no.

Think about the CAP people’s position here: Let’s say you do a lot of work liberal causes, like the CAP does—some of their best research, some of their best media relations, and you build up a reputation as a serious commentator, a serious who’s-who person. Important people talk to you at parties, and they listen, and they give you their cards. Let’s say you get, I don’t know, Keith Olbermann’s cell phone number and you feel free to call him now and then with a good idea for a guest or a show topic. You have drinks now and then.

And now some guy in a hemp serape wants you to hand over that number, and all your contacts, so whenever there’s a rumor that the ROVE INDICTMENT IS IMMINENT or there’s new PROOF THAT BUSH FIRED MISSILES AT THE WORLD TRADE CENTER THROUGH A SECRET CODE EMBEDDED IN “MY PET GOAT” (aka “The Caprese Code”) he can ring up Olbermann at 11 at night and try to get on his show.

Not going to happen. There is an establishment here. There are gatekeepers. There is a power differential. The mainstream CAP Democrats want to hang on to their power, and dole it out at events like this, bit by bit, and tame and domesticate these wild netroots community.

And the Kos Kids want to take it.


Previously: Infiltrating Yearly Kos: Post 1