STILL AMAZED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS! The editors said they were amazed when spending cuts won over tax hikes: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, AUGUST 9, 2011
Gore among the Aspens: You can’t blame Al Gore for being frustrated. He was speaking at a meeting of the Aspen Institute, after all.
The expert-laden association is headed by Walter Isaacson. How much more must be said?
Whatever! Gore was addressing these experts last week. We’ll let Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn take the expletive-laden story from there:
If you live in Carbondale, Colorado, you probably heard all about it!
Politico was too dainty to print the full word “bullshit.” For a fuller transcript of what Gore said, along with an audio tape of his comments, you can visit Think Progress Green. Just click here.
Gore was describing a basic part of modern American culture. Pseudo-experts rule the day in almost all realms of public discussion. Routinely, they’re funded by interested parties. For some pseudo-experts, Exxon Mobil might be a source of funding-for-propaganda. In the realm of “education reform,” Bloomberg News might be another.
But over and over, our discourse is shaped by Potemkin pseudo-experts. Just last week, the intellectual giants at S&P couldn’t even do the math! And even Politico came up short! As Samuelsohn continued, he managed to bungle one part of what Gore said:
Actually, Gore said, “There are about ten other memes out there.” In that one short sentence, Samuelsohn made three mistakes. Transcribing can be hard!
Gore was describing the basic structure of all American discourse. Pseudo-experts and pseudo-journalists invent strings of memes (standard stories). Everyone in the in-group repeats them—and soon, these tales are in everyone’s heads. Gore described the basic nature of all American discourse: “When you go and talk to any audience about [any topic], you hear [standard stories] washing back at you, the same crap over and over and over again.”
This has been true for a very long time. For one example, this practice decided Campaign 2000, sending George W. Bush to the White House. You can read about it at our companion site—and almost nowhere else. (Chapter 6 is almost ready for posting.)
The mainstream “press corps” rarely mentions such facts about our “bullsh--” laden discourse. Darlings! Be sensible! It simply isn’t done!
Krugman said the same thing: In 2004, Paul Krugman described this process, using an alternate term:
A script is a meme. Those fellow journalists sent their regrets.
PART 1—STILL AMAZED AFTER ALL THESE YEARS (permalink): Just for the record, Rachel Maddow isn’t willing to name their names either.
The darling child is a slick career player, skillful at running us rubes. She likes to makes us think she fighting for us even as she protects her own interests. So it went on last night’s program, when Her Slickness pushed back against all those hacks in the mainstream press—very bad players whose famous names she slickly refused to name:
Maddow was right about one thing, of course. It was Republicans, and Republicans only, who said they wouldn’t raise the debt ceiling. But who has been saying that it was “both sides?” Who was Maddow chastising here?
Of course! “The Beltway” has been saying that! Bravely daring to “sound partisan,” the slick career hustler went after “The Beltway.” She failed to explain how a highway can make absurd statements, then get “upset” when challenged.
Paul Krugman’s a hero and Maddow’s a hack. But will anyone ever name the names of the people who are saying that both sides did it? Will anyone ever name names like “Bob Schieffer?”
Darlings! It just isn’t done! Here’s how Kathleen Parker handled this general problem as the August 2 target date neared. Writing in the Washington Post, Parker criticized those media figures who encouraged the debt limit brinksmanship. Or did she? Prepare for some wonderful clownistry:
Too funny! At two separate points, Parker said we should “take names” of those who created the debt limit mess. We’ll want to remember those names “when things so south,” she said. But when it came to those “media personalities,” she found a very slick way to avoid such typing such names.
We’ll want to remember their names, Parker said. But then, when it came to this one special class, she said it was wrong to include them!
To her credit, Parker was willing to name many other names; she even correctly pounded Bachmann, a task from which Nicholas Kristof predictably shrank that week. But when it came to those media figures, no names were allowed—immediately after she said that we’d want to remember such monikers!
The clowning is general when major press figures pretend to critique their colleagues. Center-right columnists and pseudo-left phonies agree on the need to keep quiet. But then, we also emitted low mordant chuckles as we read Sunday’s New York Times editorials.
Eventually, the editors said some intriguing things. But they started like this:
We know—it’s just a figure of speech. But why were the editors “still amazed” at the way “the Republicans pulled it off?” Why were they amazed at all? The GOP did exactly what it said it would do, acting on things it says it believes in. It was helped by familiar political narratives which have been decades in the making—and by the relentless refusal of this “newspaper” to do any real reporting.
We don’t know why the eds were amazed by the fact that the GOP “pulled it off.” But the editors seem to be amazed by most things that happened last week:
We know—it’s only a figure of speech. But we don’t know why the eds are amazed by this phenomenon either. There are various ways to explain that “failure,” some of which are Obama-friendly, some of which are not. But should the editors be amazed? Given the sweep of the past thirty years, what happened was hardly surprising.
Should the editors be “amazed” when spending cuts win out and tax increases get dumped? Perhaps—if they’re living on Neptune! In fact, the editors live on a different far planet; they live on “the planet of the press corps,” a well-ordered orb with a very strange culture. One oddity among many: On that strange planet, major press figures know that they must never name each other’s names.
Why were the editors so amazed? We’ll ponder that topic all week. We’ll also review the intriguing things the editors went on to propose—until they suffered a panic attack and took back what they had said.
Darling Rachel played you last night—but such things have gone on for a very long time. How has this puzzling system worked out? And why were the editors so amazed by its predictable fruit?
Tomorrow—part 2: Intriguing ideas about taxes