The school of literary criticism known as reception theory holds that a text should be studied in light of its effect on its contemporaries, that a reader should be aware of the “horizon of expectations” in which a text is produced. I was reminded of this the other day as I observed, in amusement, fascination, and occasional pity, the reaction of the so-called mainstream media to Alana Goodman’s lengthy and rock-solid report on “The Hillary Papers.” This trove of previously unexamined transcriptions of conversations between Hillary Clinton and her best friend Diane Blair had been collecting dust at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville for years. Not anymore….
When the Free Beacon published “The Hillary Papers” last Sunday night, we knew the story would have to cross a high bar. The piece was scrupulously fact-checked. All of the documents we cited were loaded onto the Internet. Every effort was made to present as straightforwardly as possible the contents of the papers, which show Hillary Clinton as hardheaded, calculating, and, yes, ruthless. (Re-read the part where she axes a Supreme Court appointment out of spite.)
What I did not expect was that the media would undergo such a tortured and dramatic breakdown, would struggle so laboriously to acknowledge the scoop while schizophrenically downplaying its importance. That a conservative online newspaper could have understood the significance of the archive, and actually examined its public contents, seemed too much an embarrassment for the staffs of the major newspapers and networks and magazines to bear. By being the first to report on the papers, theFree Beacon exposed the inanity and irrelevance of the mainstream media. We beat them. And they are sore losers.