REALITY DOESNT BITE! Will Obama raise your taxes? To Howard Kurtz, its a mathematical detail: // link // print // previous // next //
MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2008
REALITY DOESNT BITE: Weve often marveled at the culture of the life-forms still widely described as a press corps. Weve told you this: Within their culture, the very notions of fact and reality barely seem to exist.
Facts play almost no role at all in this groups odd mental culture.
That in mind, consider Howard Kurtzs Ad Watch report in Saturdays Washington Post. As you do so, remember that Kurtz is smarter than most of his colleagues.
Kurtz discusses John McCains latest ad, which tags Obama as a big taxer. Having quoted the text of the ad, Kurtz offers this analysis:
Wow! According to Kurtz, McCains new ad is selective and misleading. Its initial claim is a stretch (more on this point below); it omits and leaves out elementary facts which contradict the impressions it seeks to promote. Challenged about one of its claims, the McCain campaign has offered a lame explanation, Kurtz seems to say. (The lame explanation to which he refers isnt found in the ad itself.) In a rational world, youd think the headline here would be obvious: John McCain runs bogus ad!
But this isnt a rational world; this is the world of the insider press corps. Kurtzs headline repeats McCains misleading claimwithout noting the fact that the claim is misleading. (McCain Paints Obama as a Tax Hound.) And you cant really blame the editor who crafted that headline. This is the remarkable way Kurtz chose to finish his piece:
Truly, thats amazing. According to Kurtz, McCains ad misleads voters every step of the way, about the basics of Obamas tax policies. But so what? As he finishes, Kurtz describes these misleading claims as mathematical details. More important, he says, is the portrait McCain is trying to paint.
The logic of that comparison escapes us; in truth, theres no real logic at work in that passage. But once again, we urge you to note the peculiar culture of these unusual life-forms. According to Kurtz, McCains ad blatantly misleads the public about whether their taxes will be raised or lowered. But in his world, this computes as a mathematical detail.
Whoever invented these extra-terrestrials got many programming details right. Indeed, as CNN viewers have seen through the years, Kurtz is remarkably life-like. But in designing Press Corps 2.0, wed advise this fleets creators to include more feints in the direction of respect for factsfor basic human reality. Reality counts in the human worldor at least, until recent years, it always did as a matter of theory.
Worse than Kurtz says: On Saturday, the Post wrote an editorial about this same adand they went harder on McCains central claim than Kurtz did (just click here). Was McCain merely stretch[ing] a valid point with his claim that Obama once voted to raise taxes on people making $42,000? The editors are tougher than Kurtz on that claim, calling it unacceptably misleading and dishonest. But then again, whats the real diff? In the programming of these androids, the question of whether your taxes get raised is just a mathematical detail.
Reality doesnt bite 2: A long-time reader reacted to Fridays post about the reality of off-shore drilling. We had noted Rachel Madddows attempt to start a discussion about the reality of that proposal:
Indeed. We didnt mean to say that Maddows claim was necessarily accurate. We noted several times that we dont really know whats true and false herein part because the nations pundits never stoop to such discussions. Would off-shore drilling lower gas prices? Would it do so within a year, as voters said in the survey which Paul Krugman has cited? To modern pundits, such questions are mathematical details. By contrast, what do (uninformed) voters say in surveys? Now thats a question that is worth asking within this groups strange culture!
WHERE DOES THE CULTURE OF STUPID COME FROM: An e-mailer shared his pain about reactions to the Edwards matter:
With lightning speed, we replied:
Yesterday, many web-cats complained about Cokie Roberts inane performance on This Week (to share Digbys pain, just click here).But Cottle is Roberts-in-training, right at one of our liberal journals. (Michael Crowley was clucking about Obamas vacation plans this past weekend too.) For generations to come, the culture of stupid, left in place, will work against progressive interests. But its rarely challenged at liberal journals, and we think its fairly clear why.
Until liberal journals challenge the culture of stupid, the culture of stupid will rule at big news orgs. But liberal journals will never scream at the Post and the Timesunless non-career progressives, from below, scream at the liberal journals.
Conservatives scream at mainstream orgs all the time. On our side, by contrast, Cokies-in-training dream of taking their turn.
How the culture of stupid defeats you: How does the culture of stupid defeat progressive interests? This morning, Paul Krugman reviews the health care conundrum. Single-payer would have been better, he says. But it wasnt politically feasible:
We tend to agree. Single-payer probably would make more sense. And, on a political basis, it probably wasnt possible. In large part, thats due to our culture of stupid. Within just the past year, for example, McCain and Giuliani paraded about, making ludicrous claims about the merits of European-style health care. Meanwhile, its practically forbidden, within our political culture, to discuss the actual merits of actual single-payer systems. Very few voters have ever been exposed to the realities of those systems. Harry and Louise rule the worldin part because voters have rarely heard even the most elementary facts.
Have you ever seen your liberal journals wage a campaign against this part of the culture of stupid? But then, we cant even bring ourselves to tackle this claim from the culture of stupid: If we lower tax rates, we get higher revenues! The culture of stupid is all around you; last week, poor Obama decided that he had to mention this obvious fact. But have you ever seen this done at your liberal journals? Or are they really Cokies-in-waitingsimpering children waiting their chance to prance about on the main stage?
Last time, Crowley started the bull-roar about John Kerrys troubling wind-surfing. This weekend, he was wringing his hands about Obamas vacation. Within the drama of the press corps, these are your liberal advocates.
Until web progressives go after these Cokies-in-training, this culture of stupid will never change. Or do we want to have them as friends? After all, theyre almost famous.
Krugman on Edwards: Krugman closes his column today with something youll see nowhere else. Yes, Edwards recent conduct was nearly insane as a political matter. But Krugman notes something else:
Why will you see that from Krugman, and from no one else? Simple. Sex is part of the press corps reality. Health care for millions is not.
THE CULTURE OF PIMPING MCCAIN: Many readers have been struck by this new piece from the Phoenix New Times, an alternative Arizona newspaper. In it, Arizona journalist Amy Silverman recounts her long-time experiences with McCainand with the national press corps love affair with the sanctified solon. Based on long experience with McCain, Silverman never bought the silly portrait of McCain as a moral sun god. But big mainstream journalists had their novel, and they were determined to type it.
An e-mailer was struck by the following passage, in which Silverman describes her interactions with two giant media stars during Campaign 2000. McCain is hanging close today because of past pimping like this:
Wallaces 60 Minutes profile of McCain aired on June 6, 1999. Donaldsons 20/20 piece aired on September 8 of that year.
With lightning speed, we replied to our e-mailer. Heres what we said about that part of Silvermans lengthy piece:
Heres the full text of what Wallace said about the sanctified solon. He made his confession to Howard Kurtz, in 1998. Kurtzs piece was right on the money about this absurd love affair:
Pierce was right on the money too, in that mocking assessment in Esquire.
The clownish sanctification of McCain went on for many more years. Even as they made him a saint during Campaign 2000, they clownishly made a demon of Gore. And guess what? At your fiery liberal journals, each part of this deal was A-OK. The demonization explains how the GOP ended up in the White House eight years ago. The sanctification helps explain why the GOP is still in this race.
Over the course of the past dozen years, our side refused to challenge this ludicrous press corps conduct. Today, we refuse to discuss this remarkable, obvious history. Have you ever seen a liberal journal discuss this embarrassing history? The silence is deafening. The effects are still all around.
Back to Silverman: Arizona journalists never bought the sanctification of McCain. Tomorrow, well post the full text of a column similar to Silvermansa column from 1999.