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Daily Howler: Ceci Connolly shows you why we just keep asking that question
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CECI’S RETURN! Ceci Connolly shows you why we just keep asking that question: // link // print // previous // next //

CECI’S RETURN: For years, we’ve posed an incomparable question:

Given the utterly groaning work of your D-plus journalistic elite, is your country really capable of conducting a national discourse?

If you find that question alarmist or silly, consider the news report by Ceci Connolly in today’s Washington Post.

In standard pitiful fashion, Connolly attempts to report on next week’s economic summit. Why do we call them a D-plus elite? At one point, the hapless scribe attempts to discuss the future of Social Security—and launches this time-honored groaner:

CONNOLLY (2/21/09): Over the longer term, as things now stand, Social Security is projected to run out of money by 2041 and the Medicare health program will be bankrupt by 2019, according to trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

Truly, that’s astounding. As any actual “journalist” would know, the highlighted statement is groaningly wrong. Social Security is not “projected to run out of money by 2041.” Indeed, since payroll taxes deliver large barrels of money to the program each f*cking week, a projection like that wouldn’t even make sense. According to current projections, the program’s trust find will run out of money in 2041—but that’s an entirely different matter. No matter! Connolly has repeated a hoary old claim—and, of course, one bogus old claim inexorably leads to the next:

CONNOLLY: The long-term solvency of Social Security "is an arithmetic problem," said Michael O. Leavitt, who was health and human services secretary in the Bush administration.

Policy experts long ago outlined the handful of changes that would prevent the retirement fund from going bankrupt. The primary options include raising the retirement age, increasing payroll taxes or adjusting the benefits structure.

But the program won’t be “going bankrupt” in any normal sense of that term. Again, the reason is quite obvious: Payroll taxes will always deliver large weekly sums to the SS program. At some point, these sums would not be sufficient to fund full benefits as currently promised. But the program would never “go bankrupt” in the way normal people construe that term. This leads us to the hoary history of the garbage the Post typist types.

Duh. The notion that Social Security is “going bankrupt/running out of money” was devised in the bowels of “conservative” spin shops several decades ago. The purpose of these skillfully-crafted claims (and others) is clear; the claims are intended to make us rubes think that Social Security “won’t be there for us,” absent massive changes in the popular program. And sure enough! Deception machines have pimped these claims for years, creating a world in which voters routinely tell public pollsters that they believe the program “won’t even be there” by the time they retire.

This claim is absurd—but it’s widely believed. Deception machines have churned, with success. And Ceci Connolly—along with her editors—just keeps churning today.

No, Virginia! (And Maryland, and DC.) There is no projection on the face of the earth under which Social Security will “run out of money by 2041.” There is no projection under which the program will “go bankrupt,” in any normal sense of that term. But so what! “Conservative” elements invented these claims long ago, and people like Connolly just won’t stop repeating them. It’s hard to be as stupid as this. But at the Post, “journalists” try.

One further point about motive. Some will assume that Connolly (and her editors) are churning this disinformation as part of a deliberate campaign. That is conceivable, of course. But the sheer stupidity of this D-plus elite has long been its defining characteristic. This is a woefully hapless elite; this can be seen in other work in today’s Post and Times, sometimes in work which furthers “liberal” perspectives. Ceci’s groaners may have been typed in bad faith. But there’s no reason to assume such a thing.

This goes on, year after year, at the very top of our discourse. We therefore ask again, quite seriously: Given the intellectual standards of this elite, is your country really capable of conducting a national discourse?

The history of your destruction: For the record, Connolly was almost surely the most important journalistic player in the mainstream press corps’ twenty-month war against vile Candidate Gore. For the most part, career liberals still agree to avoid this topic, a topic which would be embarrassing for all. But everyone who has ever discussed it understands the central role Connolly played in that warfare.

Indeed: Safely positioned across the pond, The Financial Times actually told the truth back in August 2000! The Times discussed Connolly and two other Gore reporters, including the New York Times’ Katherine “Kit” Seelye. The trio were "hostile to the [Gore] campaign, doing little to hide their contempt for the candidate and his team," the Times quite correctly said.

That’s what you were allowed to know—if you lived in England.

In this country, of course, things were different. Your extremely gutless “career liberal” leaders were hiding behind their mahogany desks, trying to keep from telling the truth about the work of the Post and the Times. Darlings! It’s bad for advancement! Here at THE HOWLER, we began discussing Connolly’s puzzling work in earnest in April 1999. (With Howard Mortman, we interviewed her on Washington’s WMAL-AM for a full hour that month.) Result? The exceptionally high-minded Jane Mayer said, in the summer of 2000, that people criticizing Connolly and Seelye (other reporters, not us) surely must be giant sexists (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/1/00). So it went as Mayer’s professional pals worked to destroy the known world.

Mayer was defending the clan, in the gong-show manner the clan most enjoys. Today, she’s praised for her fiery outlook—for a book describing the broken world she helped create. There are no words for the sheer contempt with which you’ve been treated by your “liberal” elites. During Campaign 2000, Connolly was a stone-cold wreck. But she was defended by the rest of the clan, huddled with her in the cave.

The Financial Times was right, of course. To this day, your fiery American liberal leaders agree to avoid discussing this era—the era in which they so utterly failed you. Indeed, some hacks who worked the hardest to harm you are now ensconsed as kings and queens of the fiery career liberal world! But then, as a group, we have very low standards. If someone says they’re on our side, we carry them all round the square.

In fairness, Mayer may have written a very good book this year. But here at THE HOWLER, we recall what she did that fateful summer. If you live maybe sixty more years, you might see these topics discussed. In the meantime, Mayer’s pal has returned—hacking out hackwork as always.