Supplemental: Propaganda about propaganda!

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2014

Marcotte sounds off at Salon:
Two weeks ago, Amanda Marcotte sounded off but good at Salon. (Originally, her piece had appeared at AlterNet.)

Marcotte discussed a favorite topic of us on the pseudo-left. She was setting the record straight about the other tribe’s propaganda.

Everybody loves to hear that the other tribe is dishonest and vile! This is the way Marcotte began, with Salon’s headline included:
MARCOTTE (10/24/14): Why conservatives prefer propaganda to reality

Pew Research set out to find what’s behind what it considers the increasing political polarization of the United States; why the country is moving away from political moderation and becoming more and more divided between liberals and conservatives. Its first report on the phenomenon, which examines where people are hearing news and opinion in both regular and social media, shows that this is happening for very different reasons among people moving to the right than for people moving to the left.

Or that’s the charitable way to put it. The less charitable way is to say Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology. It’s very much not a “both sides do it” situation. Conservatives are becoming more conservative because of propaganda, whereas liberals are becoming more liberal while staying very much checked into reality.
We liberals love this kind of talk, in which those in Our Own Flawless Tribe are good and honest—devoted to facts—while those in The Other Tribe are stuffed full of lies.

Make no mistake; given the way our discourse works, conservatives are routinely subjected to lots of misinformation. Increasingly, though, so are those who labor on our side.

As we read the Marcotte piece, we were struck by a peculiar fact. As it denounced the propaganda of The Right, it seemed to carry a propagandistic tone of its own.

By the time her piece was half-done, Marcotte was cherry-picking unflattering facts about people who watch Fox News. Truth to tell, we were already concerned about her piece after reading just four paragraphs.

It seemed like Marcotte might be truly believing. Does anything in this passage strike you as implausible?
MARCOTTE (continuing directly): That this polarization is going on isn’t a myth. Previous Pew research shows the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” conservative has grown from 18% in 2004 to 27% in 2014. During that same period, the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” liberal stayed a little more consistent, growing from 33% to 34% in 10 years. (These statistics don’t measure what you call yourself, but what you rate as on a scale of beliefs about various issues.) While liberals became more liberal, conservatives both became more numerous and more rigidly conservative over time. What gives?

Enter right-wing media, which has a nifty trick of convincing audiences it’s the other guys who are the liars, all while actually being much less trustworthy in reality. From conservative screaming about the “media elite” to Fox News’s old slogan “Fair and Balanced,” conservative media is rife with the message that everyone is out to get you, conservative viewer, and only in the warm blanket of right-wing propaganda will you be safe.
Without any question, “conservative media” is rife with bogus messages. Having said that, do those figures from that Pew survey seem to make sense to you?

True believers will truly believe whatever serves their interest. In this matter, Marcotte seemed to be truly believing some rather peculiar statistics.

Question: Is it your impression that 34 percent of the American public is mostly or consistently liberal? Is it your impression that liberals outnumbered conservatives by a margin of almost two to one just ten years ago?

Marcotte plowed forward with true belief; those figures seemed a bit strange to us. Beyond that, we’ve learned a sad fact down through the years:

On a purely intellectual basis, Pew’s analytical work is often horrible—just plain flat-out bad.

For those reasons, we decided to fact-check Marcotte’s work. For starters, how did Pew come up with those statistics—statistics which didn’t quite seem to make sense?

There is no question about it! In the modern context, conservatives are subjected to lots of propaganda. Increasingly, though, so are people over here, on our flawless liberal side.

Tomorrow, we’ll show you what we found when we reviewed Pew’s work. Links are provided in Marcotte’s piece for those who would jump ahead.

48 comments:

  1. Once again, we are treated to a lengthy screed filled with Bob's favorite talking points, and promising us he'll get to the point tomorrow.

    Bob, I know you are hurting for material, but can't you organize your thoughts into one, crisp post?

    Or is Marcotte's story really worth another "series" with "supplementals" and "interludes"?

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    1. God you're a twit.

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    2. I am certain Bob is grateful for every twit still reading this trainwreck of a blog.

      If only they would respond to the fundraising drive.

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    3. You go Anonymous @ 3:30. Only a twit would have suggest any Marcotte story was not worthy of full series treatment.

      And to think, Marcotte could have been a high muckety muck in the Edward's Administration when his bimbo-gate broke wide open. Damn mid century east coast Irish Catholics denied us of that juicy possibility.

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    4. Ah, but Marcotte "resigned" as Edwards' blogmaster when people started reading her blog, long before bimbogate.

      And only our runaway press of today would consider a presidential candidate cheating on his dying wife to be newsworthy. Oh how far we have fallen since the days when Walter and David would keep the gates firmly shut.

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    5. Candidates who cheat on their wives when they are not dying see no reason to stop just because their wives acquire a fatal illness. Back to Matt Bai's book -- no one cared about this much until the 60's when the boomer journalists decided invasion of privacy was part of journalism. Bai says no one would have cared about Edwards' infidelity if he hadn't been giving speeches about fathers accepting responsibility for their kids while simultaneously denying paternity to his own love-child. At the time, no one mentioned the wife's illness at all. That was something Newt Gingrich was being chastised for -- not a good Democrat.

      According to all the surveys, men and women both cheat at about the same rates. Making it part of some character test would eliminate too big a percentage of the viable candidates, so there is a lot of selective reporting and secrecy over an unreasonable expectation. It was better back when a line was drawn between personal life and professional qualifications for office. As Bai notes, there is no evidence that cheating made any of the past presidents less competent at governing or leading the nation.

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    6. Newt was being chastised for chastising Bill Clinton for marital infidelity while Newt was maxing out his credit card on hookers.

      Nothing to see there, move along.

      Gary Hart might have skated had he been able to keep his mouth shut and his pants zipped up after the press was on to him. Just couldn't help himself, could he?

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    7. Wasn't Newt the one who divorced his wife while she was undergoing cancer treatments?

      Gary Hart was stalked by the press before he suggested they follow him around -- the article in which he said that came out simultaneously with the revelations about Donna Rice, which appeared because he was being stalked by reporters before any statements he made. He says he didn't sleep with Rice, although he slept with plenty of other women. He should have skated because no other candidate at the time or before him had been pilloried in the press for similar behavior. He had a reasonable expectation that his personal behavior would remain private, consistent with the way personal behavior was treated for everyone else. When he stated that he was ethical, he was referring to his professional life -- although what he did extramaritally is only unethical if he did so without the knowledge or consent of his wife -- that's why personal behavior is the concern of the people involved and not the public.

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    8. Hart believed he was set up. There is some evidence that may have been true.

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    9. And Newt took his hookers to the Oval Office and ruined their dresses....Wait.... No he didn't.

      Even when JFK cheated on Jackie he had the good sense to use the White House pool when he played slap & tickle with Fiddle & Faddle.

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    10. You mean the first time he ran and dropped out in May, or when he jumped back in the race in December and stories broke about shenanigans in his campaign financing dating back to 1984?

      Gary Hart got waxed in Iowa, creamed in New Hampshire, and finally blown out on Super Tuesday.

      But it was all a set-up.

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    11. Shorter cicero: It's OK if you're a Republican.

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    12. Alas @ 5:50 we know:

      "Ah, but Marcotte "resigned" as Edwards' blogmaster when people started reading her blog, long before bimbogate."

      That is what prompted the reference to those pesky
      MCECICs.

      "Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said in a statement on Tuesday, “John Edwards is a decent man who has had his campaign tarnished by two anti-Catholic vulgar trash-talking bigots.”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/07/us/politics/07edwards.html?_r=0

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    13. 7:08, you consider his dalliance and the subsequent lies to be mere "personal behavior." Fine.

      Others might consider it to be "character". Can you grant them the courtesy to do so, or is their only one way -- your way -- to view this?

      Or as the reporter from the Miami Herald who broke this story wrote in response to Bai's book, "At what point do lies become consequential?"

      Shouldn't that be up to voters to decide in each case? And in this one, they seemed to decide it quite clearly.

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    14. Setting aside the Donna Rice affair for a moment, I was always curious as to how Hart emerged from the McGovern campaign with the reputation as a boy genius.

      True, as campaign manager he deftly organized, particularly in caucus states, his candidate through the new nomination process that put power in the hands of the people and took it away from party bosses.

      And he deftly positioned positioned his candidate as the "true liberal" alternative to "establishment" Edmund Muskie.

      But from the convention on, when the McGovern campaign couldn't control enough to prevent McGovern from delivering his acceptance speech in the wee hours of the morning, and, of course, the entire Eagleton fiasco, that campaign was an utter trainwreck.

      Which isn't to say that McGovern ever stood more than a snowball's chance against Nixon.

      And speaking of Nixon, if you are going to say that Muskie was a victim of dirty tricks (the forged Canuck letter), and of a press that falsely reported melted snowflakes as tears, aren't you also saying that McGovern didn't exactly win the nomination fair and square?

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    15. 6:27, The whole "character" issue is useless in choosing leaders, which is why everyone wants you to pay attention to it. If you really care about who ends up making the hard decisions, you would pay attention to the issues instead. Can you see why anyone who actually cares about who are leaders are would not want you distracted by the "character" issue?

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  2. Somerby did not disclose when Marcotte wrote her piece.

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    1. This is true! He said she sounded off "two weeks ago" but is vague and murky about when the piece "originally" appeared on AlterNet.

      Doesn't he know that these things are critical to credibility?

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    2. He never says how many of the liberals who love this kind of talk are teenagers.

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    3. Obviously, Bob doesn't care about teenagers unless they are raped.

      Those high-flyin' 9-year-olds, however . . .

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    4. Does it give you a special thrill to talk about teens being raped? Ask KZ if he'll share his meds with you -- the ones he refuses to take.

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    5. Oh, no, it is Bob who is thrilled, and grows quite angry when any journalist talks about anything else.

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    6. @ 7:03 demonstrates many of the lessons taught by Bob about Malala.

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    7. Or he/she just might love Darkthrone.

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  3. OMB (Facts as defined by the OTB)

    Websterian fact: something that has actual existence, a piece of information presented as having objective reality.

    Somerbian fact: something which seems to carry a tone -see also "peculiar fact"

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  4. OMB (Skipping Ahead, Around and Back with BOB)

    A favorite topic of us...everybody loves to hear. Liberals love this kind of talk. Make no mistake, we were struck by a peculiar fact. Half-done cherry picking might be truly believing. True believers will truly believe whatever...seemed to be truly believing. Beyond that we've learned a sad fact. On a purely intellectual basis there is no question about it! Tomorrow we'll show you what we found.

    That said, that Oxford conference on procrastination was a genuine pip.

    It’s also something to be truly angry about; we’ll likely return to that foppish event before the week is done.

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    1. At long last, a hint of honesty from Somerby:

      "Marcotte discussed a favorite topic of us on the pseudo-left."

      "Us on the pseudo-left"? Your Freudian slip is showing.

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    2. Bob will get to the Oxford Conference on Procrastination as soon as he finishes Chapter 7 of "How He Got There."

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  5. yes I do believe that in the recent past Americans held beliefs more consistent with being liberal at the rate indicated in the article. Why is Bob incredulous about this?

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    1. Some other studies estimate 20%.

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    2. One of the most stunning polls in both the 2000 and 2004 campaigns measured respondent's position on issues, then compared that to each candidate's position.

      In both cases, Gore and Kerry mopped the floor with Bush. But they lost anyway.

      Some might argue that both campaigns didn't do a very good job getting their message out -- even in an Information Age. Other might argue that it was a meany mainstream press who said mean things.

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    3. When you represent yourself as a multidimensional candidate freely able to discuss all aspects of past and future plans, I think you do better than if you decide to limit your image to conform to some preconceived idea of what voters want. I was struck by how many of the Democratic candidates lost who ran away from any connection to Obama or mainstream Democratic politics. California is a Democratic state but Gerry Brown has always been an odd hybrid of liberal social values and conservative fiscal management, but he barely campaigned and won in a landslide. Al Franken has never apologized for any aspect of who he is and did very well. I think pretending to be something else in order to please voters makes you appear like less of anything. Conservatives strikes me as unapologetic and I wish Democrats would run that way more.

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  6. No matter what topic Somerby introduces, the commenters immediately make it about Somerby and his "trainwreck" of a blog. For me, that is what defines a troll -- he or she wants to talk about Somerby to the exclusion of anything else.

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    1. Yes, by all means, let's stick to the vital topic of what Amanda Marcotte wrote in Salon two weeks ago, and on Alternet at some undisclosed point.

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    2. Harry Truman once said something about heat and kitchens.

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    3. "For me, that is what defines a troll ..." ZZZZZZZZzzz.

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    4. Troll och skit - både attraherar flugor.

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    5. Många commen av Bobs lockas endast till troll .

      Det innebär deadrat får vara flyga fritt för en förändring.

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    6. They get abusive because they can't deal with their Nu-lib identity politics coming under criticism, especially from an old school liberal.

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    7. "They get abusive because they can't deal with their Nu-Lib identity politics coming under criticism, especially from an old" pseudo-liberal.

      FTFY, you're welcome.

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  7. Bob is drifting into fuckup territory again. Marcotte:

    "Previous Pew research shows the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” conservative has grown from 18% in 2004 to 27% in 2014. During that same period, the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” liberal stayed a little more consistent, growing from 33% to 34% in 10 years."

    Notice what Marcotte said: ON THE POSITIONS people responded to these polls with these numbers. She specifically said this was not about self-identification. And in fact, I have seen many polls, not just Pew polls, showing this, over many, many years: when given a set of choices on a host of issues, people choose what turns out to be the "liberal" position more often than they do the conservative one. But never mind that -- Bob took the quotation, and then ran off to the races with it, couching everything with a host of his patented "seems to bes." We will be watching closely as (if) Bob fleshes out this series. He has put a lot on his plate; now let's see if he can finish it. Or even tries.



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    1. Rachel's PPL, your comment suggests he drifted out at some undisclosed time.

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    2. We at Rachel's A Million Annoying Facial Expressions do not believe he is "drifting out," but "drifting in." "In," as any sailor knows, being much more dangerous than the open seas. We believe Bob is drifting towards the notorious Fuckup Shoals, where he risks dashing himself to bits on Statistical Rock. As we said, we will be watching his navigation with much interest. He has set his course, we will see if he can, like Ulysses, see it through to the end. Based on his past, we think the odds no better than 50-50. But we can hope.

      We also note, with a dramatic arch of one of our eyebrows to falsely convey a sense of befuddlement (as all our displays of feeling are faked), the tendency of our posts to disappear shortly after we make them. And, given that we are somewhat experienced in the ways of this internet thingy, and can re-post as often, and using as many proxies, as we wish, we wonder: what is the point of this attempted censorship?

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