Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

It is widely believed that the news media is clueless

Jerry Stratton, October 8, 2009

It looks like the media is settling on its narrative for Sarah Palin’s bestseller. Attack Palin? Too obvious. Besides, she fights back. Her book is a bestseller before it’s even out, and her Facebook posts affect White House policies: she now clearly has a voice to fight back with. Attack the co-author? The lawyers say that comes too close to libel. Attack someone the co-author worked with in the past? Not just guilt by association, but guilt by association by association? Ah, now, that’s cowardly enough for a journalist to use!

Listen to this from Meet the Press’s Rachel Maddow:

The person who’s writing her book… the last person who she co-authored a book with was called Donkey Cons, and it was co-authored with a guy who is wildly believed to be, and I believe him to be, a white supremacist. So she’s chosen Lynn Vincent, who’s written a book with a white supremacist to write her book.

Look at how “is believed to be” becomes “I believe” becomes unsupported fact—in a span of only two sentences. “Is believed to be” is one of the classic weasel phrases. It’s supposed to be heard as “I believe”, which is supposed to be heard as “true fact” without getting the speaker in trouble. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen the progression embodied in such an obvious manner before.

Now the Charleston Gazette has picked up on it, too. It’s hard to believe that this charge will stick. Even if the charge that Robert Stacy McCain were racist is true (and I see no evidence of it), Lynn Vincent is a writer. She works with all sorts of people. That noted racist Samuel L. Jackson may be starring in the movie adaption of a book about a “dangerous, homeless drifter”.

Six Degrees of Sarah Palin

Guilt by association by association is becoming a standard attack against Palin. When Levi Johnston decides to pose for Playgirl, the headline doesn’t even mention his name. Instead, he’s billed as “father of Palin’s grandson”. If we’re all six degrees of separation from anyone else, soon the only name to appear in news reports will be Sarah Palin’s. I’d like dibs on “Blogger who links to co-author of Sarah Palin’s co-author attacks media cluelessness.” Monique Stewart probably beat me to it, though.

She’ll be like Snowball in Animal Farm, her name a signifier that “this is bad”. Even President Obama will become “the ballot choice near Palin in the 2008 presidential election”. That could be a good thing: they’ll finally have a way to report on the administration’s missteps. “The administration of the ballot choice near Palin in the 2008 elections sided with a potential dictator in Honduras last month.” Or “The man whose vice president held televised discussions with Palin in 2008 betrayed pro-democracy activists in Iran during that country’s recent protests.”

Not even going to get into the not-so-subtle jab that she didn’t write the book. People with stories to tell team up with people who write for a living all the time. It’s what smart people do when they need to write a book and they’re not writers. Palin clearly has a compelling story, and she’s publicly crediting her co-author; that’s more than many other politicians do.

April 1, 2013: April fools came early at the Washington Post
Elephant warning: Elephant crossing sign.; elephants; sign

April Fools’ Day came early at the Washington Post. That was my first thought on reading this thought experiment by Charlotte and Harriet Childress:

Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be “held accountable.” Then, if an atrocity such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings took place and African American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.

But when the criminals and leaders are white men, race and gender become the elephant in the room.

I read this at Ace of Spades HQ, and I had to double-check that Andy hadn’t gotten that wrong, that maybe he pulled it from the Onion, or maybe March was already over with. Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year…

It is happening, and the worse it becomes the less they report on it. They know there’s a race elephant somewhere, but they can’t see it. And they want to proclaim their lack of vision as loudly as possible. As Andy points out,

A couple of Newtowns worth of people, almost exclusively African American people, die on the streets of gun control-loving Chicago every month, yet the media flood the authors suggest would happen simply hasn't.

Not only hasn’t the media flood happened, anyone who tries to bring it up in the media is labeled racist. That elephant isn’t the color they think it is. Gun control began as racism and it remains racist today.

No, the public is not “telling these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities”. Certainly, the media isn’t. But that’s not the elephant. The elephant is that the culture of gun control itself isn’t held accountable for its racism at all.

From the comments:

For god’s sake a little girl who sang at Obama’s installment was gunned down just days later and it was media crickets.

It wasn’t media crickets on the reason for the shooting because a gun was used, they would normally have blasted that for weeks. It was media crickets because of who did it and where it happened.

There’s an elephant in the room, and it’s bloody, and the Post refuses to see it.

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