Part 3—Doctored attacks by ourselves: This morning’s New York Times includes an important featured editorial.
The editorial runs a full 866 words. In hard copy, its headline proclaims “An Ugly Campaign of Deception.”
In their important piece, the editors allege that recent attacks on Planned Parenthood have been driven by dishonestly doctored tapes. In part, the editorial says this:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (7/22/15): The nine-minute video clip released by the Center for Medical Progress, an outfit apparently created in 2013, invites viewers to ''Hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their illegal sale of baby parts.'' In it, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, is seen discussing the collection of fetal tissue in a lunch meeting with two people posing as potential tissue buyers. A second video, released on Tuesday, shows another Planned Parenthood staff member discussing fetal tissue.According to the detailed editorial, two hours of videotape were selectively edited—doctored—to create a false impression. We asked ourselves a familiar question:
After the first video's release, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky pledged to ''introduce an amendment to pending Senate legislation to immediately strip every dollar of Planned Parenthood funding.'' Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called for defunding and for ''an investigation of Planned Parenthood's activities regarding the sale and transfer of aborted body parts.”...
The full video of the lunch meeting, over two hours long and released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood, shows something very different from what these critics claim. Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient...
Why is the information in this piece appearing on the editorial page? Why isn’t this matter being reported, as a news topic, on the front page of the Times?
As happenstance would have it, this general topic does appear on the Times front page today. Unfortunately, the topic appears in the form of a profile—a profile of 26-year-old David Daleiden, the true-believing youngster who is responsible for this alleged deception.
The front-page report by Jackie Calmes barely touches on the claims and counterclaims about the alleged deception. In the past week, Calmes has done several shorter reports in which these claims and counterclaims are reported. But the Times hasn’t tackled the alleged scam as a stand-alone news topic.
That task is left to today’s editorial. We’ve noted this peculiar division of labor at the Times again and again and again.
Last night, the allegations against Planned Parenthood were getting heavy play on Fox, our nation’s most-watched cable news channel. If the videotapes have been doctored, it represents an act of fraud against the American people.
That said, doctored stories have long since become as American as apple pie. Newspapers like the New York Times have often approached such doctored stories with the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” even when such bogus stories are driven from groups on the right.
Over the past several decades, the American discourse has repeatedly run on doctored stories. Doctored stories are the fuel of our frequently ludicrous discourse.
We liberals tend to get angry when such doctored stories come from the right. But in the past decade, we liberals have revealed a major sweet tooth for our own doctored tales.
We keep inventing our own doctored tales—doctored tales which present the world as we want the public to see it. Yesterday, an exalted Stanford professor did it. But then, the practice has become enormously common in our own underwhelming tribe.
That embarrassing Stanford professor was typing for the new Salon, where ludicrous liberal tales now abound. Consider another standard tale Salon readers have met on several occasions this month.
Readers encountered the doctored tale in this piece by Adam Mansbach, who became a best-selling author by writing a children’s book filled with the naughty word “f*ck.”
As it turned out, Mansbach’s piece was utterly stupid even by the degraded standards of the new Salon. In part for that reason, Mansbach was widely trashed in comments, largely for his alleged misogyny and his self-adoration.
Mansbach’s essay was about as pathetic as an essay can get. Still, very few commenters offered remarks about the standard story which is lodged in the passage shown below.
In this passage, Mansbach starts explaining why he had to break up with his smokin’ hot girlfriend, who wasn’t as politically enlightened as he is. Warning! Brain damage may result from reading this work, as is often the case at the grotesquely tribal, dumbed-down new Salon:
MANSBACH (7/8/15): I did, however, become single and start dating last summer…I met a girl I really liked. I’ll call her Jessie. She was gorgeous, she was smart, and she liked to talk shit. She lived in Queens but I met her at a literary festival in Jamaica. We watched Prodigy from Mobb Deep get bumrushed onstage by a drunken local whom the crowd liked more, and then we stayed up all night, blah blah blah. It didn’t occur to me, not for one second, that her politics or her race consciousness or whatever might be different than mine, because I had met her. Even though she was from a tiny town in Oregon and had grown up in a mega-Christian family. After all, she’d renounced that shit and moved to New York and she liked me.Go ahead! Take your shower, we’ll wait! But that passage reflects the current intellectual standards at Salon, which started out, twenty years back, as an on-line magazine for intelligent liberal thought.
Then Mike Brown got murdered and Jessie couldn’t understand the rush to condemn Darren Wilson. This wasn’t part of a pandemic of police violence against black men to her; these were individuals and we didn’t know what had happened and we shouldn’t make assumptions and most cops weren’t necessarily racist, most cops just reacted to the situations they were in, the experiences they’d had, and if those experiences led them to assume that black men should be treated as threats, who were we to question that? She’d served two weeks on a grand jury and all the gun case defendants had been black, and what did that tell you? Those were facts. She’d been there.
We almost broke up that night. I stood on the street outside her crib, an incredibly heavy duffel bag on my shoulder, and argued my motherfucking ass off for two and half hours. I happen to be really good at arguing, for reasons I’m not necessarily proud of, reasons that date back to early childhood and contributed heavily to my nascent singleness…
I told Jessie she was ignoring the empirical in favor of the anecdotal, and what a fraught and dangerous path that was. I tried to get her to understand how intensely personal this was for me, how unjust policing and trials and sentencing had destroyed friends’ lives and compromised our entire generation. We did history and anthropology and philosophy. It was heated and intense and the angrier I get the better I argue. Eventually I felt good enough about where we’d gotten, the progress we’d made, to go upstairs and sleep with her.
In comments, scores of readers trashed Mansbach for misogyny and self-adoration. That said, his citation of Michael Brown was perhaps the dumbest part of his admittedly ludicrous piece.
We don’t recall commenters noticing that. Here’s why we make our assessment:
In that passage, Mansbach is rolling his eyes at Jessie’s lack of “race consciousness.” Specifically, Jessie had committed this sin—she had said that people shouldn’t “rush to condemn Darren Wilson.”
We don’t yet know what happened, she said. We shouldn’t make assumptions.
Eleven months later, Mansbach was offering this story as an example of how dumb Jessie was! He seemed to be completely unaware of an intervening event—in March, Eric Holder’s Justice Department filed a lengthy, detailed report in which they judged, among other things, that every shot Wilson fired that day was “justified.”
(Is “Jessie” an actual person? Did she say the various things Mansbach reports? There is no way to know such things. We’re simply following the logic of Mansbach’s essay.)
Alas! According to the Justice Department, the shooting of Michael Brown didn’t happen in the way people like Mansbach were saying at the time. In a slightly rational world, this would suggest that Jessie had perhaps even been right in suggesting that her brilliant boyfriend should wait for full information.
We don’t live in that world! When the Justice Department filed its report, publications like Salon worked hard to avoid it. (So did MSNBC.)
As a result, Mansbach showed no sign of knowing what the Justice Department concluded after its lengthy probe. He still thought the anecdote we’ve posted shows how brilliant his “consciousness” was!
(“I tried to get her to understand how intensely personal this was for me,” Mansbach wrote. That’s exactly the problem here, although the man who argues so well doesn’t seem to know it.)
This is a type of willful ignorance which we liberals used to associate with the ditto-heads in the other tribe. Now, we promote our own doctored stories. We hang onto our own treasured tales no matter what intervenes.
In this morning’s Salon, Professor Cooper is aggressively pre-judging the latest story. This is the way we liberals are now encouraged to reason:
COOPER (7/22/15): I do not believe that Sandra Bland hanged herself just a few hours before her sister was set to come and pay the $500 bail it would have taken to get her out of jail. I do not believe Sandra Bland hanged herself two days before taking her dream job at her alma mater. I do not believe Sandra Bland hanged herself.Professor Cooper shouldn’t “believe Bland hanged herself.” At present, investigations of Bland’s death have barely begun.
No one with good sense believes that. And I challenge the sense of anyone who is willing to contort themselves into intellectual knots to make such a ridiculous story seem remotely plausible. This is what media reports about Sandra’s prior traffic tickets and minor previous arrest for smoking marijuana are supposed to make us do. This is what reports about her struggles with depression and PTSD are supposed to make us do. Depression and PTSD should not be conflated with being suicidal, and smoking marijuana is legal in a range of states and municipalities now. Moreover, PTSD diagnoses are rising at alarming levels in Black communities, because of continued exposure to poverty and violence.
But Professor Cooper, like Mansbach before her, ridicules people who don’t instantly submit to the truth of the preferred doctrinal story. The notion that Bland might have hanged herself isn’t even “remotely possible,” she ditto-headedly says.
Cooper goes on to offer pointless observations about marijuana, depression and PTSD diagnoses. At sites like the new Salon, this is the way our liberal tribe’s professors currently reason.
We’d hoped to show you a comment thread in Salon about the Michael Brown case. Alas, we aren’t able to find it. (Does any other major site have such poor search capabilities?)
The comment thread appeared at Salon around the time of the Mansbach essay. Two readers went back and forth at astonishing length, arguing about the claim that Michael Brown was murdered.
The reader who argued against that claim said he had a law enforcement background. He seemed quite knowledgeable about the forensic evidence of the case.
The readers argued back and forth for a very long time. We were struck by a remarkable fact—neither person ever mentioned the Justice Department’s lengthy report, in which the department judged that every shot fired by Wilson was “justified.”
In the liberal world, that report barely existed in real time; it doesn’t exist today. We loved the story we had at the start. Because we loved that story so much, we disappeared the Justice report, thus Keeping Story Alive.
We can’t tell you what actually happened on the day Michael Brown was killed. We do, however, know what Eric Holder’s Justice Department said after an exhaustive probe.
Over here in our liberal tribe, that report has been wiped from the face of the earth. It’s not unlike what the other tribe has apparently done to the bulk of that tape concerning the devils at Planned Parenthood.
We used to laugh at The Others for this. But those halcyon days are gone. Today, The Others are very much Us.
Do we really think this tribal conduct makes sense?
Still coming: Back to those Washington Post statistics. Also, Trayvon Martin, Prince Jones