opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
R. Emmett Tyrrell
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
4 Feb 2016
The Clinton Curse Returns

WASHINGTON — In the many decades I have had the pleasure of covering the Clintons, I have developed … Read More.

28 Jan 2016
A Manifesto of My Own

WASHINGTON — In reading Paul Johnson's masterful "Art: A New History," I came across a startling number … Read More.

21 Jan 2016
Hillary's Past Meets the Present

WASHINGTON — Did any of the political cognoscenti consult Real Clear Politics last Thursday? Those who … Read More.

The Taranto Principle Examined


WASHINGTON — Years from now in journalism schools, they will call it the "Taranto Principle." At least, that is what they will call it if they still have journalism schools years from now. In the future, the great republic may only have blog schools, those being schools where students are taught to sit in their underwear in front of their luminescent laptops and pound out semiliterate diktats to an — for the most part — unobservant world. Today the amalgamation of all this indignation is called the "blogosphere." Its competing rants are treated occasionally as significant in the media, though lunatics howling on street corners are not. Very curious.

What is the Taranto Principle? It is a principle laid down by The Wall Street Journal's perceptive editorialist James Taranto. Taranto — in his column, "Best of the Web Today" — surveys the media and reports daily on their output with special emphasis on their contradictions, hypocrisies and — most deliciously — imbecilities. Like all other thoughtful observers of American media, Taranto recognizes that they are biased heavily toward the Democratic Party and the left in general. Yet while many who hold that this advances the Democratic Party and the left, Taranto believes that it has a harmful effect on left-wing politics, often causing left-wing candidates to lose at the polls.

According to the Taranto Principle, the media's failure to hold left-wingers accountable for bad behavior merely encourages the left's bad behavior to the point that its candidates are repellent to ordinary Americans. According to Taranto, in 2004 the media quietly went along with Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry's exaggerated claims to heroism and military prowess, thus encouraging his braggadocio and leaving him utterly unprepared when his fellow vets stepped forward and demonstrated that he had been a dreadful showoff in Vietnam. Officers who had fought alongside him served up evidence that his exploits were embellished and sometimes completely made up. They cast doubt on his medals and most damningly reminded us that in testimony on Capitol Hill, Kerry accused his fellow soldiers of war crimes. The vets reproduced the video, video that any journalist could have lain hands on.

The vets' assault on Kerry is called "Swiftboating" now by left-wingers and journalists alike, who insist the vets' charges were "lies," though four years later, it is apparent that the so-called lies comprised an accurate rendering of blowhard Kerry's war record.

Had the media treated his initial boasts with some skepticism, he might have been better prepared for the vets' response. The left-leaning media spoiled Kerry and brought out the worst in him to the revulsion of enough voters to lose him the election.

Now the Taranto Principle can be seen in the reporting on Gov. Sarah Palin. As a former mayor and sitting governor, she has about as much experience as former President Jimmy Carter had in 1976. Moreover, she obviously has more executive experience than the Democratic presidential candidate. Yet the media have let her experience become a vexed issue. Worse, at the highest level of media, she has been subjected to unwarranted scurrilities that are without precedent in a presidential election. Just the other night, an idiot comedy show portrayed her daughter and husband in an incestuous affair. The consequence of this is that Gov. Palin is running away with the women's vote and doubtless picking up sympathetic men, also.

According to this variation of the Taranto Principle, the media circulate infamies that encourage leftists to confect greater infamies, thus causing the defamed candidate to cop the sympathy vote. That vote will have consequences in this increasingly bizarre election.

Meanwhile, the press continues to treat the inexperienced and gaffe-prone Sen. Barack Obama as though he is the next JFK. Among the howlers is the presumption that he is an orator of great gifts as JFK was an orator of great gifts. In truth, the Prophet Obama suffers one of the strangest oratorical disabilities I ever have seen in a presidential candidate: a dependence on the teleprompter. We know of politicians who depend on the teleprompter for fluency. Sen. Obama, however, relies on a teleprompter so that he will not be heard talking down to the electorate. If he is not lecturing with his nose in the air, he is all uhhs and ahhs. Perhaps if he had served as mayor in a small town, he would have gotten over this revealing disorder.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator, a contributing editor to The New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... It is nice to hear that people actually wear clothes of some sort while blogging. It is easy to imagine people baring their souls to the government and everyone who wants to see it as bare in fact, and lonely, picking their noses and scratching their heads. Let me straighten you out in return for straightening me out. There is no left and no right in this country. There is only a front and a back. The front thinks and the back wags. And both ends have to get there together. If the back puts on the brakes until it gets what it wants, no end gets what it wants. Now, I once saw a dog that was paralyzed, and he had a jig with wheels in the back. Maybe that is what our whole society needs so that when the front wants go some where that the asss isn't dragging behind. You can see in this country, how the back end drags their butt trying to avoid a problem until it becomes a real disaster, and then all of a sudden they want the other end to become a sprinter. Don't think; just act. How crazy is that? They want to go from don't think, and don't act to not thinking while acting. How are they going to act then, but stupid? What do you think....Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Sep 25, 2008 5:55 AM
Now, a more balanced view of your article: Sir, if speech and teleprompter use is to be used as a measuring rod, look first to the one who is currently in office. Review his debates, his speeches, and his confusion. If you do or did support this President with his communication lapses, it is certain and obvious your issues are not with candidate Obama's communication skills. I am sure your article ran too long to mention our esteemed President's communication challenges. His history is legendary of bumbling prepared speeches and improptu conversations, fumbling papers to conceal his fumbling of words. When he opened his mouth, from day one, it revealed him as quite the buffoon. In fact, didn't he have a receiver in his ear giving him words and answers at one of the debate's? And hasn't Cheney been feeding him the words and answer's ever since? And did you ever hear a more arrogant, condescending, patronizing answer given by the sitting VP of 8 years, when told most American's were against the war, his answer: "So What!" The You Tube footage of Bush's speeches and interviews as candidate and as President is available for anyone to see.
Re: Sweeney. Great post....The heart of the matter.
Comment: #2
Posted by: liz
Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:32 AM
What a coincidence. You look in the dictionary, you see Taranto, a city in Italy, then, Tarantula, a spider, native to Italy, whose bite can cause a nervous disorder that manifests itself in strong, jerky movements, and then, the Tarantella, an Itallian dance with wild, rapid, jerky movements. Now we have the "Taranto Principle" from James Taranto, looking at the media's contradictions, hypocrisies, and imbecilities.
What a coincidence? Scary!
Comment: #3
Posted by: jkirk
Sat Sep 27, 2008 1:07 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right: comments policy
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
Feb. `16
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 1 2 3 4 5
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Authorís Podcast
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 10 Feb 2016
William Murchison
William MurchisonUpdated 9 Feb 2016
Thomas Sowell
Thomas SowellUpdated 9 Feb 2016

29 Feb 2012 Boone-Doggle?

19 May 2011 The Facts Keep Changing

18 Jul 2012 Return of a Weiner?