The Harpies were fierce, filthy, winged monsters who had characteristics of a bird and a woman, similar to that of the early Sirens. Their hideous faces of women with sharp claws mounted on the bodies of vultures inspired both horror and disgust. They could fly as fast as a bolt of lightning.
— from Monstrous.com
I'd been wondering, ever since the bad reaction of Hillary Clinton's spokesman Howard Wolfson to Maureen Dowd's ever-so-carefully-calculated stinkbomb of last week, if there might have been more than a little bit of "let's you and him fight" in what MoDo was doing.
In other words, was she merely reporting the news – or doing her level best to create it?
This Media Matters piece strongly suggests it was the latter:
In an article for the March 5 edition of Newsweek about Maureen Dowd's controversial February 21 New York Times interview (subscription required) with Hollywood mogul David Geffen, a longtime donor to former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) who is supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Evan Thomas reported that Dowd told the magazine, in Thomas' words, that during her interview with Geffen, "Geffen did not seem out to get the Clintons," adding: "Dowd says Geffen was initially reluctant to be interviewed for her column. … Dowd says she was the one who brought up questions about Bill Clinton's past as a campaign issue."
In other words, Dowd hammered away at Geffen until she had something she could use to goad the Hillary camp and the Obama camp into the sort of open war that puts Benjamins in her wallet and Manolo Blahniks on her feet.
This is made clear at the end of the Media Matters dissection of Dowd's actions:
Geffen also spoke to Newsweek, and he flatly contradicted both a key assertion Dowd quoted him making just a few days ago, as well as the wholly negative portrait of the Clintons Dowd painted from his comments. The lead Geffen quote in the Dowd column was, "Whoever is the nominee is going to win, so the stakes are very high." But Geffen told Newsweek: "I think Bill Clinton is a great guy. … I support them both. I just don't think she can be elected president."
Got that? Geffen said: "I think Bill Clinton is a great guy. … I support them both. I just don't think she can be elected president." Which is fair enough. (He's not the only one who thinks that, not by a long shot.)
But it wasn't what Dowd wanted to hear from Geffen, because it wouldn't suffice to start a nice big destructive war that would damage both the Clinton and Obama campaigns.
So the Harpy jumped into her favorite role, that of crap-stirrer and muck-flinger, seeking to create a controversy where none had existed before.
If what MoDo did was done by a blogger, you know that the Usual Media Suspects – perhaps including Dowd herself – would be tsk-tsking and finger-wagging all over the place, eagerly taking said blogger to task and wondering out loud why the FEC hasn't reined in those pesky bloggers yet, instead of treating them like respectable journalists and opinion columnists.
But of course MoDo did it, so none of her fellow travelers in the GOP/Media Complex will so much as raise an eyebrow, much less their voices, to protest her actions.