Part 3—The world of Broderian tales: “But we were England’s, still colonials.”
That’s how Frost described the American condition around the year 1775. Centuries later, we the people are still colonized, this time by a set of paralytic elites.
We’re in thrall to the fatuous values of the New York Times and its Hamptons/Paris set. Intellectual squalor is produced when sets of professors sally forth with their streams of fake facts.
Then too, we’ve been colonized by the so-called press corps’ old guard, with their endless array of foundational stories. Consider what happened when we watched Jim Lehrer lounging on C-Span last weekend.
(In The Sisters, Joyce’s young narrator chafes beneath the empty pronouncements of “old Cotter.” We’ll substitute Lehrer’s name.)
On April 22, Lehrer appeared in Kansas City with a professor by his side. Here’s the way C-Span describes the event:
Conversation with Jim LehrerBanville hails from the University of Montana. You can watch the whole thing at this link.
Apr 22, 2013
Jim Lehrer talked about the history of presidential debates, his 2011 memoir Tension City, and his post-debate interviews with many of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. This event was held at the Kansas City Public Library and co-sponsored by the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Mr. Lehrer was joined by journalism professor Lee Banville and Kansas City Public Library director Crosby Kemper.
Was Lehrer “joined” by this professor? More accurately, Lehrer was enabled by Banville as he told the succession of silly old tales which constitute the public’s store of understanding about modern presidential elections.
Lehrer kept telling his familiar but ridiculous stories. The professor kept affirming them, sometimes by his silence. How silly were these tired old tales?
Early on, Lehrer said this. We highlight the memorized groaners:
LEHRER (4/22/13): I’ve always believed that these debates are less about substance. By the time you get to these—I’m talking about contemporary debates now. By the time you get there, it’s usually a month before the election, most everybody’s made a decision between Sammy Sue and Billy Bob. “Oh well, I’m in favor of this person—of Billy Bob’s Social Security plan.” “I’m against”— whatever. They’ve gone through the campaignTry to ignore old Cotter’s idea about the discussion of neckties. Instead, marvel at what Lehrer about two famous elections.
So what you do, what you want to see on television between or among the candidates, if there are more than two, and there have been a couple of times, you want to see who these people are. You want to take the measure of the individual. And you can only do that— It doesn’t matter what they’re talking about!
“What’s your favorite color tie?” You say, “Well, blue!” “Well, I like red!” “Oh well, blhhhh blhhh.”
You learn something. You learn something about the individual. And so, there are obvious—You know, there are all kinds of examples, where a—
Kennedy-Nixon is a perfect example. People who listened to that on the radio thought Nixon won. People saw it on television thought Kennedy won.
2000, first debate, Al Gore, George W. Bush—exactly the same thing happened.
Good lord! Will the old guard ever stop telling the tale in which Nixon won on the radio? By now, it’s abundantly clear that there is no serious basis for this hoary old claim. But old Cotters have learned this story by heart, and they can’t, or they won’t, stop repeating.
Nixon won on the radio! It’s a famous old story. Lehrer’s remarkable contribution lies in the way he now connects that tale to the first Bush-Gore debate.
“Exactly the same thing happened” in that (crucial) debate? No one with any sense has any idea what that could possibly mean. Obviously, very few people listened to the first Bush-Gore debate on the radio. Obviously, there was no polling of such people's reactions.
Meanwhile, the general reaction to that debate is clear. By solid majorities, people in all five overnight polls said they thought Gore had won.
For the most part, these were surveys of people who had watched the debate on TV. By an average margin of ten points, they said they thought that Gore had won—unless you’re watching old Lehrer proclaim, a lapdog at his command.
What kind of “professor” sits and says nothing when such ridiculous stories are told? The claim about Kennedy-Nixon ought to be challenged; the subsequent claim about Bush-Gore comes straight out of old Lehrer’s ascot. But Lehrer has been parading around repeating this nonsense since 2011, when his egregiously awful book, Tension City, appeared.
“Professors” like Banville know they’ve been summoned to sit in silence as nonsense is offered. In this way, the hoary old stories of White House elections get served to a colonized people.
Watch the way the good people of Kansas City laugh and applaud as old Lehrer tells his weird tales. They don’t know they’re applauding pure nonsense—that they are the colonial property of an inane old guard.
If you suffer through the 76 minutes of that C-Span tape, you will see Lehrer drowse his way through a panoply of famous tales. There is one thing he’ll never tell you about them, and the professor who sits by his side knows he must never object.
What will Lehrer never say? He’ll never reveal the source of these stupid old stories! He will pretend that they came from “the voters” when he knows that they actually sprang full blown from the heads of his guild.
In the brief passage which follows, Lehrer touched on three of the guild’s favorite tales, tales which keep us stupid:
George Bush glanced at his watch!
George Bush was stumped by a supermarket scanner!
Michael Dukakis should have punched Bernie Shaw right in the mouth!
Where did these favorite old stories come from? In the passage which follows, Lehrer kept saying that these offenses got their spice from impressions which were “in the wind.” Finally though, he blamed the whole thing on “the voters.”
This is bogus all the way down:
LEHRER: The interview I did with Clinton about the debates...The point that he made about the watch, for instance, he said, “Well, the only reason that hurt George H. W.—Was George Bush really stumped by a supermarket scanner? That claim was called into question long ago, described as an error by the press corps. But as Lehrer recited these favorite old tales, he refused to explain the most basic fact:
He said, “If I had looked at my watch, or if Ross Perot had looked at his watch, no one would have paid any attention, no one would have cared.” The only reason that mattered, because it was already in the wind, because this man, George H. W. Bush, couldn’t make a grocery checkout machine work. Remember the scanner thing? He was disconnected from the American people.
[Clinton] said that the reason that hurt him was because it was a confirming thing. And he said most of these quote “gaffes,” this is Clinton talking now, most of these “gaffes” were only, were “gaffes” because they were perceived to be confirming of something that was already in the wind.
Michael Dukakis. You know—
MODERATOR: Bernie Shaw—
LEHRER: Bernie Shaw, you know, Mr. Cold Fish? He proved it, at least to the voters.
MODERATOR: The question about, from Bernie Shaw, the first question of that debate. About what he would do about the death penalty if his wife, Kitty Dukakis, was raped and murdered.
All these episodes were pimped into life by the press corps! The impressions which were “in the wind” were in the wind among the press.
The press corps seized upon these events and said they were “confirming” events. It was the press which leaped into action when these events occurred.
There is no sign that the voters noticed or cared when Candidate Bush stole a look at his watch. That, and these other cherished events, were basically press corps inventions.
Lehrer was a howler machine this day. His claim about Kennedy-Nixon came into dispute long ago. His claim about Bush-Gore was false on its face, also completely absurd.
It isn’t clear that President Bush was baffled by a scanner. And quite plainly, reaction to all these cherished episodes began with the press corps, not with “the voters.” But the press corps' role was never mentioned in Kansas City that day. When these famous old stories get told, the press corps doesn't exist!
In what kind of world does a professor sit quietly by while famous old howlers like these get repeated to the public? Answer: In a colonial world, where the wisdom of the people is constantly undermined by the fatuous favorite tales of a whole gang of old Cotters.
Muskie wept! Bush looked at his watch! Candidate Gore just wouldn’t stop sighing! Dukakis should have punched Bernie Shaw! (And many more.)
Some of these stories are simply false. Others are accurate but inane. But hacks like “old Lehrer” love to recite them, just as old Cotter drove Joyce's narrator mad telling his favorite old tales.
One improvement has been added. As the Lehrers repeat their tales, the nation's professors applaud them.
Tomorrow: More sources of paralyzed minds
A truly horrible book: Lehrer pimped all these ridiculous tales in his horrible book, Tension City. They constitute a record of the colonial relationship between us the people and a Broderian guard.
They repeat their stories again and again, even though everyone knows they are bogus. And even though everyone knows they are bogus, no one is willing to say so.
When will Krugman and Drum and the horrible Maddow challenge this appalling culture? It’s a culture of colonials, and the answer is obvious:
Visit our incomparable archives: In 2011, when Lehrer’s book appeared, it fell to Gloria Borger to pretend that his stories weren’t patently bogus. For our first reaction, just click here.
In October 2012, we did a longer series about Lehrer's book and his past conduct as a moderator of White House debates. For one example, click this.
Lehrer's stories are silly, absurd. Starting in 1996, his conduct on the field of battle was substantially worse.