Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Grey Lady

Scott Lemieux is collecting reviews of the execrable first blush, tell all gossip rag about 2016.  Here he looks at the NY Times and then he looks at the Washington Post.

The undeniable truth is that many political scribes are closer to my professional education than they should be.  I have an MFA, the acquisition of which led me to a greater understanding of how stories work, even what is a story and what isn't.  Political reporters of a certain class tend to favor their narratives.  This was most clear in their treatment of Clinton.  They had a story about her and it was easy to push every slight and slander into that narrative.  The Comey Letter worked so well, because it gibed so well with the narrative the political press had been pushing about Hillary Clinton for 25 years.  The essential accuracy of that narrative was besides the point.

As Nate Silver noted, the press is doing some soul searching about how the covered Trump, but not how they covered Clinton.  Trump defied convention.  That was the narrative, and it had the benefit during the campaign of being true.  Now, however, Trump has become a GOP caricature, but I wouldn't count on the political press to point this out.  The fact that his populism has been increasingly demonstrated to be hollow and rhetorical won't penetrate the narrative.  I would imagine Hillary-haters on the Left will be especially loath to relinquish the idea that Trump's appeal is based on racial and social grievance rather than economic populism of the Sanders variety.

The press will be considering at length how they covered Trump 2016 and will miss Trump 2017: Ayn Rand Edition.  Meanwhile, their utter failures in covering Clinton will go unexamined.  That's not catastrophic, because Clinton won't run again.  But the broader disease of "both sides do it" is killing the ability of the press to tell the truth.

Here's the truth as near as I can see it:

- Hillary Clinton was a cautious technocrat who was the victim of a quarter century smear campaign by the Right Wing Wurlitzer.
- The Press treated the accusations with more respect than they deserved, under the Clinton Rules.
- Trump was GREAT for networks like CNN that cover politics like sports.
- Aggrieved white people voted their emotions and hatred, because they got conned by a con man who convinced them he cared about them, when he manifestly doesn't give two shits about anyone but himself.
- The press covered the controversy rather than looked at how these two people would govern.
- We are not going to be governed by a shitgibbon for 3 years and 9 months.

Print THAT, New York Times.

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