Part 1—Finally, Drum sounds off: How dumb—how monumentally dumb—is our emerging pseudo-liberal world?
You can get the answer each day at the new Salon. This morning, the pitifully reinvented site published a pitiful, three-day-old screed under this package of headlines:
TUESDAY, AUG 25, 2015 04:00 AM EDTAlternet had run the piece on Saturday, when it was at least current.
Donald Trump keeps lying about his crowd numbers—and the media keeps letting him
On Saturday, The Donald spoke to 12,000 supporters in Mobile. The press would have you believe there were "30-40K"
ZAID JILANI, ALTERNET
At Salon, they ran the piece three days later. We were struck by the claims we saw in Salon's package of headlines.
For the record, Candidate Trump spoke in Mobile last Friday night, not on Saturday. But that’s a tiny type of mistake, derived from an original bungle by Alternet itself.
The statement which caught our eye concerned the size of the Mobile crowd. Had Candidate Trump really spoken to just 12,000 supporters? Not to the roughly 20,000 news orgs claimed in real time?
We decided to check the Salon report. Inevitably, we found ourselves looking at this:
JILANI (8/25/15): As it turned out, the rally ended up featuring around 20,000 people—around half the capacity of the 40,000-person stadium. A decent rally, sure, for a billionaire with very high name identification in a conservative part of the country. But it was nowhere near what was touted by Trump’s own campaign, which was parroted by the media.In his report, Jilani specifically said that the Trump crowd was roughly 20,000. In its headline, the new Salon dumbed the crowd size down, reducing it to 12,000.
As you can see if you read his piece, Jilani’s report was D-minus work from the start. Three days later, a headline writer at Salon made things that much dumber.
It has long been clear—the new Salon is one of the places where liberal brain cells go to expire. As commenters at the site frequently note, its headlines routinely misstate the actual contents of its reports. That said, this reinvention was especially dumb, even for Salon.
The pitiful, reinvented Salon is just one site, of course. That said, the dumbing down of the liberal world has been quite striking in recent years. Unfortunately, so is the love many liberals feel for this tribal dumbness.
At one time, we liberals enjoyed the fun of calling conservatives dumb. We’d hear the ditto-heads call in to Rush. We gained a false impression.
Alas! We gained the impression that their tribe was dumb while our tribe was “nuanced” and smart. In recent years, the new Salon has helped destroy that picture.
So have comment threads.
This weekend, it finally happened! Saturday afternoon, even the mild-mannered Kevin Drum threw his commenters under the bus.
Annoyed with their low IQs and their arrogance, he referred to them as “tribal hacks.” Quantifying his remarks, he said that 95 percent of their comments were basically worthless.
Normally, Drum is mild-mannered, perhaps to a tiny bit of a fault. At long last, though, he’d plainly had enough:
DRUM (8/22/15): Finally, I get why some lefties find this whole conversation amusing. Privileged middle-class white guy just doesn't get it, and has to write a thousand words of argle-bargle to understand something that’s obvious to anyone with a clue. Sure. But look: you have to interrogate this stuff or you just end up as a tribal hack. And since this is a blog, and I'm an analytical kind of person, what you get is a brain dump translated into English and organized to try to make sense. It can seem naive to see it put down in words like this, but the truth is that we all think this way to some degree or another.Uh-oh! Finally, Drum had had enough. Here’s the background:
POSTSCRIPT: On Twitter, Frank Koughan good-naturedly suggests that it should be a rule of blogging that if you ask readers a question, you post an update so that everyone doesn't have to wade through 300 comments. Fair enough. But this post is an example of why I don't always do this: it can turn into a lot of work! Sometimes there's a simple answer in comments, but that's rare. Usually about 95 percent of the comments are off topic and the other 5 percent all disagree with each other. So it's not as easy as it sounds.
As we noted on Saturday, Drum had asked his readers to explain a point he didn’t seem to understand. He’d asked his readers to explain why the term “anchor babies” is offensive.
Should that term be seen as offensive? If so, how offensive is it? In our reading, Drum didn’t seem sure about these points. So he invited his readers to explain—and ended up saying that 95 percent of their comments were just useless crap.
Needless to say, Drum also ended up deciding that the term “anchor babies” really is offensive. For ourselves, we don’t have a giant opinion concerning that question—and no, we don’t sign on to some proposition just because our corporate-paid, millionaire tribal leaders tell us that we should.
For our money, we thought Drum’s logic was a bit soft as he drew his conclusion. That said, we think his three posts on this topic are extremely instructive.
We think his posts help us see the way our liberal world now reasons. Increasingly, we’re happily anchored in taking offense—and display few other skills.
At one time, we liberals got to imagine that the other tribe was dumb.
We were the brilliant, nuanced tribe. The new Salon, and other orgs, have blown that picture to shreds.
Tomorrow, we’ll consider the hundreds of comments which provoked the wrath of Drum. We think they display the general lack of sophistication and skill which make our tribe so ineffective as we try to advance our ideas.
We’re dumb and unpleasant and nobody likes us. Other than that, we rule!
Tomorrow: Drum’s readers “explain