Mimsy Were the Borogoves

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

The Make-Believe Media’s New Normal

Jerry Stratton, June 10, 2011

The Emperor’s new clothes: Bertall ill Les Habits Neufs du Grand Duc duc.; politics

“Hold on, Mr. Romney. I just need to dig a little deeper.”

In 2008, John McCain was blind-sided by utterly ridiculous articles in the New York Times; prior to then he had enjoyed a friendly relationship with the press, who called him a maverick and reported favorably on him whenever he spoke out against some Republican. He seemed completely unprepared when the press turned on him after he became top Republican.

In The first ever “live coverage” of a document release, William A. Jacobson points out the obvious, that all of today’s press lies and half-truths about Palin are practice for whoever wins the Republican primary. And, yet again, the other candidates don’t seem to realize that the press is going to turn those guns on them if they should win the primary.

Do you think Mitt Romney can survive a document dump from his time as governor of Massachusetts? Do you think what he says—and what other people characterize him as saying—will not turn up stuff that makes him look further to the left than President Obama?

This latest tactic by the New York Times and Washington Post is not journalism, it’s blatant opposition research; they’ve been an arm of the Democratic Party for years, but now they’ve gone public. It’s like something out of an Ayn Rand novel, but if she’d used it it would have been called unbelievable and paranoid. They won’t print the climategate emails, or investigate the record of a Senator Obama, or pay any attention to text messages from Anthony Weiner that, if they came from a Florida Republican would be all over the news, but… when it comes to the Palins, they’re suddenly an active media again, digging through their garbage, racing after their vacation bus, poring through two years worth of emails, and even buying a house next door to them.1

The rest of the Republicans had better wake up: for the press, Sarah Palin is the new normal for Republican coverage. Jacobson is almost certainly right: this behavior will reset the baseline for make-believe media behavior.

And I’m including the conservative blogs in this warning. Too often I see bloggers trusting the MBM, and then, a few days later, having to post a mea culpa for having trusted them; and too often there is no mea culpa. It was the make-believe media that tried to paint Fred Thompson as lazy, through the simple expedient of not reporting on his cross-state campaigning; yet that’s the ruling narrative throughout conservative blogs today. When Christine O’Donnell successfully described the first amendment and her opponent misquoted it, and the press turned that around, conservative blogs trusted the make-believe press.

The press will lie. They will fabricate quotes out of what they want their opponents to say. And yes: conservatives and Republicans2 are their opponents.

The strongest argument in favor of the McCain/Palin team in 2008 was that even the vice presidential candidate had better experience than the Obama/Biden presidential candidate—and, it turned out, even in foreign policy due to Alaska’s special position in relation to Russia. That had to be destroyed before it became a narrative, so the make-believe media jumped on a Saturday Night Live skit of something Governor Palin had never said. And yet you still see Tina Fey’s Russia quote passed as the real thing today. It was necessary to make Governor Palin’s real world experience on the front lines of America’s missile defense into a joke, because that experience—leading an active duty military unit in a state that experiences Russian incursions into U.S. airspace—far surpassed “their side’s” record.

Whoever runs against Obama in 2012 will need to be ready to fight a two-pronged war against both their opponent and the media, and be ready to counterattack the same lies and unending, vicious attacks that Palin has had to face. Because this is the media’s new normal.

November 14, 2018: Has Trump forced the media into a Kobayashi Maru?
Kobayashi Journalism: You must rescue the Democratic Party and defeat the President before aggressive tweets destroy your credibility.; Star Trek; Democrat-media complex

The news media would like to tell you that they’re sorry they have to lie so often, but Trump is forcing their hand. The latest iteration of this devil-made-me-do-it excuse comes from Ezra Klein at Vox.com; I saw it reposted on Facebook with the comment:

This makes way too much sense. In addition to the headline, it also covers the implications of both doing so and the methods being used to do so.

Klein himself writes, in the article, about “The media’s lose-lose situation”. He says the media can’t win because whenever they report on the horrible things Trump does, Trump gets to point at them and call them fake news. How can they extricate themselves from this Kobayashi Maru?1 By not reporting on Trump? He’s the president, they have to report on him!

What Klein is ignoring is why people believe Trump when he calls them fake news. If CBS hadn’t run with obviously faked documents about George Bush; if NBC hadn’t doctored the Zimmerman 911 call to the opposite of reality; if CNN and MSNBC newscasters didn’t get angry when obvious mobs were called mobs, then Trump’s claims that the major outlets create fake news would not stick.

If they weren’t even now arguing that tweeting about baseball and bad hair days is a secret code to white nationalists, or saying incredibly stupid and/or hypocritical things like “We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.” then Trump wouldn’t be able to convince voters that the media is in opposition not just to the truth but are in fact an opposition party. They are actively manipulating their coverage as if they were Democrat operatives rather than news reporters.

March 8, 2017: Trump outsmarts establishment again?
Trumpworthy: When you’re less trustworthy than Donald Trump, that isn’t Trump’s fault.; trust; President Donald Trump

A few weeks before the election, Greg Gutfeld tweeted:

thought experiment: Hillarys a widow or divorced. would surrogates like Newt still defend trumps behavior without Bill around? answer: yes

Now, I am a big fan of Greg Gutfeld. I don’t have cable but I watch his monologues every day via Fox’s YouTube feed. His jokes are usually more insightful than straight news journalism. But he’s missing a very important point with this question:

If today’s politicians—and the media, for that matter—were the kind of people who would refuse to enable Democrats who act abusively and illegally, voters would have felt no need for someone who talked like Trump.

The problem was not that Hillary was married to Bill. It was that Hillary viciously attacked the people Bill abused. She was more interested in maintaining her fellow politician’s power than in helping her husband get well. We saw the same play out when the press initially tried to cover up for Andrew Weiner. And when the press tried to cover up for Hillary, first when WikiLeaks leaked evidence of her crimes and unfitness for office, and then when Project Veritas did.

The establishment is more interested in protecting their phony baloney colleagues inside the beltway than in speaking the truth. More interested in afflicting those who afflict the comfortable, and in comforting those who afflict the afflicted.

If Hillary Clinton had divorced Bill, if she had been the kind of politician who recognized wrongdoing, there would have been no Trump running against her. If DC hadn’t covered for Weiner and for Filner, there would have been no Trump. If the media hadn’t been in the habit of covering up scandals such as those uncovered by WikiLeaks, there would have been no Trump.

But that’s the kind of place the establishment media have turned DC into. If Bob Filner had never left DC, he would have continued abusing women with no pushback from beltway politicians or the media. That’s why we got Trump.

Trump is, potentially, an existential threat against an insider clique, and they are reacting as if this is some sort of 11/9. But the amazing thing about Trump vs. the media is how utterly incompetent the media’s lies are. I know that I’ve linked to Scott Adams’s praises of Trump as a master persuader, but deep down, I still can’t see it. It doesn’t make sense that someone this blustery keeps coming out on top.

And yet, he does. Trump keeps fighting, where your average Republican would back down, and it works.

Take the latest -gate, about the Obama administration bugging Trump’s communications. It sounds crazy and conspiracy-minded so of course the media jumped on it and called Trump out for being crazy and conspiracy-minded.

October 12, 2015: Why the New York Times can’t see 120 million homes

Ann Althouse noticed some basic math this morning that seems to have eluded the New York Times. The Times complains that only 158 homes donated nearly half of the early money to campaigns, and used Monopoly graphics to illustrate the point. Ann first makes some smart points about the poor reporting, but then goes on to the newspaper’s math defects:

That said, what I really want to talk about is that pile of Monopoly houses, far, far outnumbering the hotels. There are 120 million households, and 158 spend half of what is spent, and amount that’s only $176 million. If all of the households gave just $5, that would be $600 million, vastly overwhelming those supposedly fearsome, overspending, rich, white men. That money could be given directly to that candidate (since it comes, obviously, nowhere near the limit).

Instead of complaining about 158 families spending $176 million (which strikes me as a fairly paltry amount, especially since only $2,700 can be given to a candidate), the clamor should be about the need for everyone to give just a little money to someone. Skip one cup of coffee, one cheeseburger, one movie, and give the money to the candidate you like best. It could be so easy.

There’s a reason that the Times doesn’t consider those 120 million to be a solution: they might donate to the wrong candidate. Left to their own devices, those homes might donate to a Trump, a Carson, a Fiorina, a Cruz, or even a Lessig. They can’t be trusted to donate wisely.

The laws that the Times supports are just as likely to deprive those 120 million of the right to support the candidate of their choice as they are to deprive the 158; more so, because the 158 have the money to find ways around the law.

I expect that the Times considers this a feature, not a bug, since they, also, give significant resources to candidates, and they don’t want the 120 million empowering a candidate they disapprove of to fight back against biased coverage that the Times donates to their preferred candidates.

The Times doesn’t want to even the playing field between the rich few and the middle class; they want to tilt the playing field in favor of the New York Times and other news organizations, who, they assume, will not be forbidden from reporting the news and will thus be able to continue their biased reporting.

The only way the New York Times would support mass donations is if they were filtered through a government program, to ensure that the donations went to an approved candidate; the Times would really like a candidate approval committee such as Iran’s.

September 1, 2011: The media’s lies work

When a member of the mainstream media writes an article, they exaggerate—and lie about—what actually happened. When they write a headline, they exaggerate and lie about the article. And they will specifically spin the story to provide cover for inaccurate but bloody headlines.

Why do journalists lie? Because they can. It works. Today we watched a “scandal” story break out over the Tea Party of America’s weekend event in Indianola, Iowa. When I saw that Christine O’Donnell’s invitation had been cancelled, I expected it to be blamed on Sarah Palin. I expected, by the end of the day, an anonymously-sourced story saying that this was all Palin’s doing. I underestimated the press.

The story throughout the day has been about a see-saw of unsourced stories that, at no time, ever had a named or confirmed source quoted who knew anything about what Palin’s team had done. This was friend-of-a-friend reporting at its worst. It was high school politics, not journalism.1

The media does this all the time. They provide bad reporting that turns out to be wrong and then, rather than saying that they were wrong, they say that their subject changed their mind.

And we let it work! Over on the Ace of Spades, Ace wrote a smart post about how crazy this was—but in an aside wrote “and she is forever canceling appearances for one reason or another”. He bought straight into a media meme created by this kind of reporting. He provided no examples; when challenged, in the comments, he wrote that “I know she first said she'd be going to CPAC, then withdrew, saying she’d never agreed. CPAC thought she had. She said she hadn’t.” Read that a couple of times: in the first sentence he says he knows something that the second sentence makes clear he doesn’t. He just assumed, as the media reporting on it wanted him to assume.

Another commenter provided another example—of exactly this situation, in which Palin had always been saying that the One Nation tour was going to follow historical sites north, up the coast, and when they finished New Hampshire and took a rest, the press reported that the tour had been canceled. It wasn’t canceling the tour to follow through on the plans she’d stated from the start.

Now the commenter is just some commenter; but Ace is disappointing. The reason I used to have the Ace of Spades HQ on my very short blogroll is because Ace wrote insightful posts about how the media goes about its deceptions. And yet for all that, their deception still works on him.

As a journalist, you have three reasons not to name a source that you’re using in an article:

June 23, 2011: You can’t play an honest media

In today’s Top of the Ticket, Andrew Malcolm writes about the media’s latest gaffe and says that “the Republican former governor couldn’t ask for a more cooperative media… she plays the media so skillfully.”

I don’t think she’s trying to play the media. Not in the sense that the LA Times writer seems to believe. She’s not trying to make journalists act like idiots. She can’t be, because she’s telling them ahead of time what her plans are. They should have known that the SarahPAC One Nation bus tour hasn’t been canceled, because SarahPAC told them how it was going to go down:

Starting this weekend, Sarah Palin will embark on a One Nation Tour of historical sites that were key to the formation, survival, and growth of the United States of America. The tour will originate in Washington DC and will proceed north up the east coast.

Further, sources to RealClearPolitics added:

The bus tour is expected to last several weeks and will be divided into separate geographical sections for logistical reasons.

So, here’s the timeline:

  1. Palin and SarahPAC announce a northeast tour to cover major historical sites, starting in DC and proceeding up the coast.
  2. The Palins travel from DC into Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
  3. Palin announces the end of the first stretch of the tour.
  4. Journalists speculate that this must mean the tour’s been canceled.

Even assuming for the moment that RealClearPolitics’s sources were real sources and not imaginary sources—and even assuming that the press couldn’t know that Palin’s been called up for jury duty—that’s some wildly off-the-wall speculation. The Palins completed the first stretch of the bus tour as announced. If there are going to be more stretches then they are going to be broken up, and it is now coming up on the July 4 holiday. What is even remotely surprising about the Palins taking a break to go home for Fourth of July celebrations in Alaska?

In order for Palin to “play the media” she would have to have utter contempt for the media—and the media would have to deserve it.

  1. And then they complain that she treats them like paparazzi.

  2. But, unfortunately, I do not repeat myself.

  1. <- The bowels of the media
  2. Broken windows at the ATM ->