Part 3—Anthropologist Hastings speaks: Diane Sawyer started the theme. Erin Burnett merely pimped it.
Reportedly, Sawyer is paid $20 million per year, with a net worth of $80 million.
Reportedly, Burnett is paid $2 million per year. In 2012, she married her dream boat, a Citibank money man.
Her reported net worth is $12 million. In fairness, she's just 37.
The theme these deviants started and pimped? Hillary Clinton has too much money!
The Clintons' net worth is said to be $100 million. To the oleaginous Sawyer, that was too much! Hillary Clinton may be out of touch, she suggested, pretending to care.
In support of this theme, multimillionaires like Burnett dragged out cable’s various spear-chuckers—eager, questing, reliable climbers who will recite the guild’s favored scripts for cash. They do this in tag-teams designed to give the impression that the narrative is coming at you from both the right and the left.
In today’s supplemental post, we’ll review more of the work by Hoover and Hostin, the comic-book pair who assisted Burnett on three separate programs last week. But let’s be clear on one basic point:
In theory, a wealthy journalist could ask a serious question about a politician’s wealth. But that plainly isn’t what happened in the wake of Sawyer.
The multimillionaire Burnett did not present serious discussions of Clinton’s wealth. On three separate programs last week, she hosted segments straight from the clown car, in which grasping, clawing cable performers mindlessly repeated their guild’s poisonous theme of the week.
What kinds of people behave this way? That question is never discussed on cable.
Almost always, what happens inside the mainstream press corps stays inside the mainstream press corps! For decades, it has been the guild’s most important unwritten law:
The press corps does not discuss the press corps. If you hold a sinecure inside the guild, you do not discuss, explain or question the conduct of colleagues and friends.
That very powerful code of silence is the reliable norm. But on the very rare occasion, someone with an inside view describes the people around him.
You might call these people “anthropologists within.” As it turns out, the late Michael Hastings seems to have been one such scholar.
Hastings, a young and iconoclastic reporter, died in a car accident last year. As it turns out, he was writing a novel, a lightly fictionalized account of his time at Newsweek.
Hastings was working for Newsweek at the start of the war in Iraq. At that time, Newsweek was still an important, influential weekly publication.
On June 23, in the New York Times, David Carr discussed Hastings’ newly published novel. As Carr started, we were struck by a term he used:
CARR (6/23/14): At first glance, “The Last Magazine: A Novel” by Michael Hastings would appear to lack relevance in the current media age. A fictional account of life inside a failed magazine—Newsweek—in a dying industry—print— written by a now-dead journalist, the book seems very much beside the point...According to Carr, Hastings’ novel reads like “vivid archaeology.” We’d be inclined to call it the work of an anthropologist—an anthropologist working within our shameless celebrity press corps.
But even from the grave Mr. Hastings has demonstrated anew an ability to reframe the debate. The novel, exhumed by his spouse after his death and published last week, reads as vivid archaeology that reveals much about the present moment.
We haven’t read Hastings’ novel. In what follows, we’re relying on two accounts, the account by Carr and another account by the endlessly phony Frank Rich.
That said, what kinds of people behave in the ways we’ve seen all over the press corps in recent weeks? According to Carr, this is Hastings’ account of the people he saw at Newsweek:
CARR: In Mr. Hastings’s book, even as the protagonist strives to become what he despises—a big-deal magazine writer—he realizes that soon enough it will all go away. “I feel like I’m a blacksmith in the days of Henry Ford’s assembly line, an apprentice scroll writer in the months following Gutenberg’s great invention, or a poet in 1991,” he writes.Say what? Even as a war approached, Hastings’ “self-seeking” colleagues were placing themselves “on a greasy pole of advancement composed of book sales, cable segments and cocktail chatter?”
Amid the self-seeking people at the magazine—with many hands on a greasy pole of advancement composed of book sales, cable segments and cocktail chatter—the making of war is just one more career opportunity. Finger to the wind, the men who run the place send squads of underlings and assistants scurrying for pillows, lunches and research on the coming conflict for their large thoughts for The Magazine, which is what Mr. Hastings calls Newsweek.
The milieu of the book paints a picture of a treehouse where like minds connive and look for an opening.
Even as this war approached, these people “connived and looked for an opening,” advancing the corps’ very familiar culture of “like minds?”
According to Carr, that’s what Hastings saw at Newsweek, back when the magazine was influential. Later, Carr offers a further account of Hastings’ unflattering portrait:
CARR: For the Iraq war, the iconic image is President George W. Bush speaking in front of a “Mission Accomplished” banner just weeks after the invasion began. Many in the media went along with the conceit, including myself at one point. More than a decade later, the mission in Iraq is continuing and far from accomplished.Say what? According to this account, “nimble members” of the corps are constantly “taking people’s experiences and actions and desires and totally mangling them for our purposes.”
But as Mr. Hastings points out in “The Last Magazine,” being a nimble member of the media means almost never having to say you’re sorry. “We captured Saddam,” one editor tells another in the book. It is always “we” when victory is at hand, and always “they” when the marble rolls off the table.
Journalism is a blunt instrument, a sometimes ugly business in which Mr. Hastings occasionally finds himself implicated. “In my defense, I’d like to point out that we at The Magazine are always doing unseemly things, always taking people’s experiences and actions and desires and totally mangling them for our purposes.”
Such nimble players were clowning hard on Burnett’s program last week.
Anthropologically speaking, these “self-seeking,” “conniving” people tend to have low IQs. For that reason, they tend to work with people’s “gaffes” even more than with their “actions and desires.”
(One of Clinton’s actions this week involves the literacy of low-income children. You won’t see that action discussed in the press. You’ll never see Burnett’s vaudeville teams nimbly discussing that action.)
Unless Carr is dreaming, Hastings—an anthropologist within—painted a very unpleasant picture of the people who slither about on our cable “news” channels. We’ll recommend that you also read Frank Rich’s treatment of Hastings’ book—though we’ll have to say that, at this point, an irony intrudes.
Full disclosure—we aren’t big fans of Rich. We’re inclined to think he’s the type of person Hastings was talking about.
In his account of the Hastings book, you will see Rich assailing a long list of pundits who supported the war in Iraq. You’ll get the impression that Rich himself stood boldly opposed.
That impression will be inaccurate.
What did Rich do in the march toward war? He played both ends against every middle, as Hastings’ connivers are wont to do. In his most remarkable column, he savaged the motives of most prominent Democrat who spoke out against the rush to war.
In that column, we’d have to say that Rich was baldly dishonest.
Simply put, Rich didn’t take a stand against the war. We don’t criticize him for that; he isn’t a foreign policy specialist. We don’t even criticize those who unwisely supported the war.
We do criticize Rich for the way he slimed Al Gore when Gore have a speech against the war, for which he was widely attacked. This brings us back to the way the Sawyers, the Burnetts and the Ruckers have waged their latest jihad in the past few weeks.
You see, Rich was one of the total dead-enders in the press corps’ endless war against the Clintons and Gore. This lunacy was especially strong in the matter of Gore, who Rich was still attacking even after his film, An Inconvenient Truth, appeared to great acclaim.
(In fairness, when Gore won the Nobel Prize, Frank Rich instantly flipped, a la the Hastings portrayal.)
Rich committed himself to the Clinton/Gore hate in the manner of total war. Even as he played it both ways with respect to the coming war in Iraq, he savaged Gore’s motives when Gore spoke out in opposition.
After the war failed, Rich rushed to get in front of the pack. He repackaged himself as a bold opponent of this failed effort.
We liberals, the most gullible people on earth, purchased this reinvention. Just like that, Rich became our greatest known person on earth.
By all means, go ahead! We recommend reading Rich’s account of Hastings’ anthropology. If you do, we think you'll encounter a living example of the “nimble” “conniving” and self-advancement Hastings found among the “self-seeking people” at Newsweek.
This afternoon, in our supplemental post, we’ll show you more of this “nimble” conduct from the past few weeks. In part, we’ll look in on Hostin, who clowned in a very nimble way for Burnett last week.
That said, Hastings isn’t the only anthropologist mentioned in Carr’s column. He also mentioned Mark Leibovich, who published a book, This Town, around this time last year.
Like Hastings, Leibovich wrote his book from a favored position within the mainstream “press corps.” Tomorrow, we’ll recall what Leibovich wrote about the press corps’ hatred of All Things Clinton, a jihad which has flared up again in the past few weeks.
We’ll also recall some predictable conduct. We’ll recall the way that account was disappeared from press corps reviews of the Leibovich book.
Does the mainstream press corps dislike the Clintons? You simply don’t discuss such things if you’re paid by the Washington press.
Tomorrow: Anthropologist Leibovich speaks