WHO CARES ABOUT COMPETENCE! Outlook tried to discuss a real issue. This led to a basic mistake: // link // print // previous // next //
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011
Beer Hall Ed throws himself down the stairs: For unknown reasons, Big Ed Schultz has been aggressively playing the fool in the past several months.
Unlike others, weve told you about it. In the past few days, his months of peculiar, offensive goose-stepping gave way to an ugly slur.
(To read all about it, click here.)
Last night, Schultz appeared on TV just long enough to announce that hed be away for a while. This profoundly unattractive incident raises a set of concerns.
First question: Schultz has been playing storm trooper for months, stomping around and repeating memes from the dumbest back rooms of the Bush White House. Why did so few progressive intellectual leaders speak up about this strange conduct?
Second question: Why do so many progressive men seem to have so many misogynist slurs sloshing around in their heads?
Having asked those questions, lets make a few observations:
Ed Schultz isnt the first. Keith Olbermann engaged in open misogyny for yearsand liberals kept their pretty traps shut. For years, we wondered if we were the only ones who were struck by this incessant behavior. (It wasnt fun complaining about his conduct in the face of massive silence.)
Eventually, we got our answer: A bunch of liberal intellectual leaders had found his conduct repellent toobut they had refused to say so in public! See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/28/11. Hint: Careerist liberal leaders may not be tremendous good people.
Ed Schultz isnt the first. Chris Matthews engaged in ugly misogyny for the better part of a decade. In January 2008, a miracle occurred: The liberal world began to notice; incredibly, many liberals even began to complain! (After all those years, we have no idea why that suddenly happened.) In response, Rachel Maddow ran out and vouched for Matthews, big-time. One week later, she signed her first contract at The One True Liberal Channel.
Today, Maddow is paid $2 million per year, if Newsweek knows its stuff. To us, this event raised the first warning flag about this self-impressed child. We do hope her money spends good.
Even now, careful careerists have little to say about this problemand the liberal masses seem stunningly clueless. In this twelve-topic post, Steve Benen managed to slip in a tiny statement about what Schultz did. (Be sure to read all the way to the end!) That said, we strongly recommend the comments from Benens readers, most of which deal with Schultz. As weve long saidthere seems to be virtually no sexual politics within the progressive world.
We liberals like to prance about, informing the world of our vast moral greatness. Its one of our dumbest political stances.
That said, our greatness isnt vast. In the case of our leaders, less so.
Final strange inescapable point: The culture at MSNBC has been weirdly misogynistic ever since the time of its founding as a vehicle to hunt down the Clintons, then Gore. Fox is a garden of gender sanity compared to The One True Channel. (So is CNN.)
PART 3WHO CARES ABOUT COMPETENCE (permalink): Maureen Dowd is one of the founders of stupidismthe post-journalistic culture in which bogus facts about consummate trivia are used to drive pre-conceived tales about character.
Yesterday, this dimmest bulb was at it again, this time from dearest Dublin. In Ireland, Barry O kissed and hugged with abandon, totally out of character for him. So the lady thoughtfully wrote. (Dowd was referring to President Obama.)
Dublin doings brought past events to mind; she even reprised her own past language. Life was good for this dumbest post-journo! As she watched a former diffident debutante, seeming was believing once again:
This dimmest of all journalistic bulbs alluded to an earlier day, when Obama was criticized for drinking too much orange juice. Now, she saw him drink a glass of beerand she told the world how that made him seem.
It made him seem less foreign, she said. It made him suddenly seem more rooted in an ethnic working-class persona.
It made him seem that way to whom? People! Dont even ask! Seeming was believing again for this dimmest of all our bulbs.
Dowd is a monster of stupid. She largely invented the stupidist culture which rules our millionaire press corps today. Within this brain-dead world, they cluck about politicians wives; they finger politicians jewels. But then, upper-class culture will always turn dumb. They discuss these topics for an obvious reason: because theyre truly that empty.
Their culture is in thrall to the stupid. For that reason, the Washington Posts Outlook section featured this silly-bill groaner this Sundaya massive, sprawling assembly of nonsense in which a former sitcom producer compared a long string of White House contenders to a long string of sitcoms. This was Outlooks featured, front-page report; it appeared beneath a gigantic, full-color cartoon. If you can fight your way to the end of this pile, you deserve a Rob Long march award.
Outlook tends to feature the silly. But when a culture gives way to such dumbness, something else of course occurs. Inevitably, that culture will come to disregard real journalistic competence. In this mornings New York Times, the Lady Collins goes on and on about the Medicare discussion. As usual, this lady starts by shaking her head about the trials we bear:
As usual, Collins complains about all the discussions we are fated to endure. She suggests these discussions will be done in bad faithbut go ahead! Review her column! Try to find a single word about the actual merits of any Medicare plan!
Do we face an actual Medicare problem? If so, how might it be addressed? Lady Collins doesnt careand she never will.
Any given Sunday, you can see this culture on display in the Washington Posts Outlook section. This past Sunday, you saw its silly-bill tendencies in at least three different pieces (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/25/11). But uh-oh! You saw this cultures rejection of competence in a fourth report.
Full disclosure: We chatted with the Posts Paul Farhi one evening a few years ago. In that discussion and in his work, he seems like a thoroughly competent person. Rather plainly, Farhi isnt one of the Posts buffoons. But he also isnt an education writer or specialist.
Why then did Outlook have Paul Farhi write this piece about fixing Americas schools? Was Outlook wrong to do so? For the record, his piece appeared on page 2 of the sectionbut it was teased on page one.
Farhis piece is called, 5 Myths about fixing Americas schools. Most of what he wrote is perfectly sensible; it is every bit as sharp as the work that is typically done by full-fledged education reporters. His outlook is a bit contrarian and therefore refreshing. That said, we were struck by Farhis treatment of his very first myth:
Hmmm. Like Farhi, we have long suggested that American schools seem to be doing much better than standard cries of alarm would suggest. But doggone it! Farhi uses some shaky measures to bolster this claim, while skipping the strongest data we know aboutthe ballyhooed National Assessment of Educational Progress, whose data everyone recommends but no one ever describes. NAEP data seem to show massive gains by minority students over the past forty yearsand everyone describes this program as the gold standard of educational testing. But so what? Even though everyone praises the program, no one describes its findings!
Farhi continues this puzzling practice in this high-profile report.
Farhi isnt one of the press corps gaggle of buffoons. In skipping past the NAEP data, he simply does what everyone does, including educational experts. But that is very much the point about our post-journalistic culture. Within this culture, top players really want to discuss the way it seems when Obama drinks beer. They really want to talk about the size of Gingrichs jewels. They really want to discuss Mitch Daniels wife, the one who has an interesting past. They want to complain that well be forced to watch too many debates, hear too many speeches.
They simply dont give a flying rats ass about the merits of any discussion. In that way, even a bright, well-intentioned fellow ends up using SAT scores (a shaky measure for Farhis use) instead of those seminal NAEPs.
This Sunday, Outlook wallowed in The Silly, starting with its featured piece. Farhis piece was a rare attempt to talk about a real issue. For our money, Farhi fumbled the first part of this taskin just the way the experts do. But then, a culture devoted to The Silly tends to bungle this way.
Lets recall Outlooks lineup:
A silly-bill, front-page featured piece by a sitcom producer. A silly-bill piece about following Oprah. A silly piece about Newts bad week, written by a guy who just finishing pimping his non-existent brilliance. A suggestion we need to get rid of lawn-blowersand then, along with all that, a frustrating attempt to discuss an actual issue.
Any given Sunday, this is the stuff of Outlook. But this Sunday, Outlook did something special. It turned to a major name from the academy, producing one of the most intriguing messes weve ever seen in its pages.
To whom will a silly culture turn for a dose of High Expertise? On this particular given Sunday, Outlook turned to Sissela Bok.
We think the results were comically bad. But who the heck is she?
Tomorrow: What is truth? Beyond that, who is Bok?