Body-language experts?

BODY-LANGUAGE EXPERTS?…. On the evening of June 28, a few hours after Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared together in Unity, N.H., for their first post-primary joint appearance, CNN devoted quite a bit of airtime to “body-language experts.”

At one point, one of the “experts” argued that the position of Hillary Clinton’s navel carries great political significance: “She angles her belly button toward him. She’s treating him with respect. She has her hands in a fig leaf position, which tends to be a passive position, really turning the power over to Obama. We face our belly buttons and the core of our body to people we like, have affinity toward and people we respect. And she’s doing it.”

It was, to my mind, some of the worst on-air political “journalism” — I use the word loosely — I’ve ever seen from a major news outlet. And yet, CBS News this morning did the exact same thing.

[Body language expert and former FBI agent Joe Navarro] explained to Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez Wednesday, “We need non-verbal (cues) to tell us what is important, what is significant, and what should we be looking for.”

And Clinton’s non-verbals, he says, were revealing. “What we wanted to see was a Churchillian speech, something that would move her candidate to cross that magic fence. And she delivered a speech, but the gestures — the non-verbals that give us the emotion — really weren’t there.”

Navarro later added, “I think her message was supposed to be, ‘Hey, go with me and let’s vote for Barack.’ There should have been a lot more emotive displays, and we just simply did not see that.”

It’s come to this. Major American news outlets can’t report what Hillary Clinton says or does; they have to tell the electorate what she might be thinking, based on what “experts” think about the placement of her hands.

And what’s the point of these inane reports? Greg Sargent noted that some media figures are “desperate to find some way, any way, of arguing that Hillary’s speech yesterday was in fact a tacit non-endorsement of Obama.”

It’s more than a little painful to see so many major news outlets be this bad, this often.