Interlude—The minion’s return: In today’s editions, Philip Rucker is on the front page of the Washington Post. Again!
Across the nation and around the world, anthropologists are scurrying to acquire hard-copy editions of the paper, in which Rucker and his tribal elders behave in ways these scholars are calling unprecedented.
At issue is a cultural practice of the primitive stone-age people known as the “mainstream press corps.” It’s the practice known as “inventing a narrative,” a variant of the traditional practice known as “creation myth.”
What happens when this group decides to establish a “narrative?” The basic practice can be divided into three parts:
Three basic steps in creating a “narrative”That final step is important. As we’ll note below, Rucker enacts this feigned cluelessness in each of his front-page reports. Other adepts have been performing this function on cable.
Step one: Obscenely wealthy tribal elders present the conceptual framework through which a presidential campaign will be discussed. From this point forward, all discussion of the campaign must conform to this “narrative.”
Step two: Lesser figures in the tribe rush to advance the “narrative.” These are the figures Mann called “minions” in the Inka context.
Step three: All such adepts pretend they don’t know where the “narrative” came from.
Anthropologists have long known about this three-step tribal practice. This morning, though, they are saying that the highly primitive “press corps people” have never established a “narrative” so far in advance of an actual White House election.
With this basic background established, let’s turn to Rucker’s second front-page report of the week. Each report supports the narrative introduced by the obscenely wealthy Diane Sawyer on June 6:
Hillary Clinton is too damn rich to be running for president!
Within the press corps, all “minions” must ignore the oddness of a person like Sawyer advancing this heartfelt concern. At the Washington Post, Rucker has now authored two lengthy front-page reports in support of this “narrative.”
For the most part, this morning’s report simply repeats the contents of Monday’s report. Each report was quite lengthy:
Rucker’s front-page reports (so far):Never before has this primitive group established one of its sacred “narratives” so far in advance of a White House election. Amazingly, the White House election now in question is 29 months away!
Monday, June 23: “Clinton's rarefied life could be a liability in campaign.” 1820 words
Friday, June 27: “How the Clintons went from ‘dead broke’ to rich.” 1833 words
Even in Campaign 2000, the press tribe didn’t establish its “narrative” (Al Gore is a liar, just like Bill Clinton!) until March 1999, 20 months in advance of the election. At that time, they invented three “lies” by Gore in support of their theme.
Their work sent George Bush to the White House.
That campaign set the previous mark for earliest creation of “narrative.” In the current case, no one is even running for president! And yet, it is abundantly clear that a “narrative” has already been declared.
The early onset of this “narrative” shatters all previous records. Equally striking is the sheer amount of space the Washington Post is devoting to this effort.
This morning’s report runs 1833 words, but it is accompanied, in hard-copy editions, by a large, utterly useless graphic on page A10. This graphic is designed to show the importance of a matter which has inspired such a large spread.
On-line, Rucker's piece is littered with an endless series of graphics, almost to the point of parody. More commonly, the Post is known for its inability to assemble any information at all.
This morning’s report is every bit as waspish as Monday’s effort. Beyond that, it stresses the same basic themes.
Once again, Rucker stresses the only two topics in which his tribe takes interest—personal wealth and “gaffes.” This is the way his piece begins, hard-copy headline included:
RUCKER (6/27/14): How the Clintons went from ‘dead broke’ to richAs always, alleged gaffes are featured. In this case, Hillary Clinton’s alleged gaffe (“dead broke”) is featured in the headline and in the opening paragraphs, where it goes unexplained. It's also featured in the headline atop the internal graphic.
Over seven frenetic days, Bill Clinton addressed corporate executives in Switzerland and Denmark, an investors' group in Sweden and a cluster of business and political leaders in Austria. The former president wrapped up his European trip in the triumphant Spanish Hall at Prague Castle, where he shared his thoughts on energy to a Czech business summit.
His pay: $1.4 million.
That lucrative week in May 2012 offers a glimpse into the way Clinton has leveraged his global popularity into a personal fortune. Starting just two weeks after exiting the Oval Office, Clinton has delivered hundreds of paid speeches, lifting a family that was "dead broke," as wife Hillary Rodham Clinton phrased it earlier this month, to a point of such extraordinary wealth that it is now seen as a potential political liability if she runs for president in 2016.
Readers can search Rucker’s text on their own, observing its waspish persistence. Suffice to say the young “minion” leaves no stone unthrown in his search for negative insinuations and associations.
Our analysts were especially struck by the regularity with which the Class of 06 climber inserted statements about various people who wouldn’t comment on various aspects of his largely pointless report. By our staff’s most recent count, Rucker spreads six such references through his report, creating a much desired negative impression.
Readers can search Rucker’s text on their own. In closing, let us illustrate the third step in the process by which this tribe establishes one of its “narratives.”
In this case, Diane Sawyer unveiled the “narrative” back on June 6. Rucker’s elders at the Post chose him to further the “narrative.”
In the course of his work, Rucker has executed the crucial third step in this familiar process. He suggests the narrative is coming from somewhere else, not from his own reports.
Rucker executed this task in Monday’s front-page report. In the following passage, he made it seem that he himself might even be concerned about the “caricature” of Clinton which may lie ahead:
RUCKER (6/23/14): Bill Clinton rose from poor beginnings in rural Arkansas to the presidency. In 1992, it was Clinton's everyman connection that helped him defeat then-president George H.W. Bush, a patrician who was ridiculed for not knowing the price of a gallon of milk and for expressing amazement at supermarket scanners.Skillfully, Rucker warns of a possible “caricature” without saying where its outline is coming from. In the very same paragraph, he himself advances the caricature, as he does all through this piece.
Now, Hillary Clinton risks a similar caricature. On tour this month for her new book, "Hard Choices," Clinton mingled with regular people at signings, but only under strict rules: no photographs and no personalized autographs. There are Secret Service agents to keep the crowds in order and aides to hand her books, count how many she signs and ferry her to the next stop. The former first lady recently said she hasn't driven a car since 1996.
Today, Rucker negotiates the same task, again with ease and skill:
RUCKER (6/27/14): Since leaving the State Department, Hillary Clinton has followed her husband and a roster of recent presidents and secretaries of state in this profitable line of work, addressing dozens of industry groups, banks and other organizations for pay. Records of her earnings are not publicly available, but executives familiar with the engagements said her standard fee is $200,000 and up, and that she has been in higher demand than her husband.In that passage, Rucker warns that Clinton’s wealth and speaking fees could let her opponents attack her. He fails to note that the attack is already underway in his own waspish work.
The speaking itineraries could be a political challenge for Hillary Clinton should she run for president, giving opponents an opening to attack the Clintons for being beholden to powerful interests. Some companies that have paid Bill Clinton for speeches have faced scrutiny from federal regulators.
We’ve noted this practice many times over the past fifteen years. That said, every “minion” knows that he or she must walk this highly cynical line—must fail to mention the obvious source of the narrative and the attacks in question.
On Wednesday night, Margaret Hoover executed this task on CNN. She spoke with Erin Burnett:
HOOVER (6/25/14): The point is, her favorability has actually gone down five points in the last few weeks. I mean, this has suffered—I think they realize that they hit a roadblock here. And this is something— There's a narrative solidifying that is, is she going to be relatable? She hasn't driven a car in 16 years. She's been driven around because she's been either the first lady or a secretary of state or a senator.Hoover said a “narrative” was solidifying, a narrative that probably wouldn’t get “washed away.” But she never said where the “narrative” came from, even as she herself rather plainly advanced it.
HOOVER: You and I both know what it takes. Narratives solidify early and stumbles like this don't get washed away.
Sunny Hostin also advanced the new narrative that night, far more egregiously than Hoover. This is required conduct from the money-grubbers who battle for cable cash by reciting the tales of the elders.
Hostin’s fawning “embrace of narrative” was especially skillful this night. We’ll review her words at some future point.
In closing, let’s note Hoover’s “royal lineage,” or panaqua. Margaret Hoover of CNN is Herbert Hoover’s great-granddaughter!
That's right! Even Herbert Hoover’s kin are concerned that Hillary Clinton is out of touch!
Fifteen minutes later, Burnett threw to Anderson Cooper. Cooper had advanced the new narrative two nights earlier. He is Gloria Vanderbilt’s son.
Gloria Vanderbilt’s son thinks Clinton may have too much cash! Kin of Hoover are concerned that Clinton is out of touch!
For obvious reasons, some anthropologists are suggesting that this pattern may reflect elaborate “dark humor” arranged by tribal priests. But no matter how clownish this gong show may get, corporate liberals will let it continue. That’s what they did in Campaign 2000, sending George Bush to the White house.
Anthropologically speaking, fiery “liberal” clowns like Joan Walsh have their paws in the money pile too. You simply don’t challenge the tribal elders when they get their “narrative” going. The minions don't challenge the gods.
Tomorrow, we’ll see what happened when Chris Haves discussed the growing attacks on Clinton with Molly Ball, yet another Yale grad (class of 2001). We’ve never seen anyone echo the elders with so much speed and precision.
At some point, did Yale start teaching a course called “Adherence to Narrative 101?” Around the world, top anthropologists, shaking their heads, have finally started to ask.
Tomorrow: Ball’s recitation