Interlude—Public knowledge in the age of the Emperor New York Times: More and more often, we think of the Robert Graves novel, I, Claudius, when we read the works of the New York Times.
In the 1970s, the novel became a heavily watched PBS series. We watched the series first, read the novel later (along with its successor, Claudius the God).
It's been decades since we watched the series or read the books. Still, a strong impression lingers, increasingly so when we gaze on the works of the Times.
Who the heck is the Claudius to whom we refer? The leading authority describes him as shown below, clouding the issue of the way we link him to the Times:
"Claudius was the fourth Emperor of Rome (r. 41–54 AD). Historically, Claudius' family kept him out of public life until his sudden coronation at the age of forty-nine. This was due to his being perceived as being a dolt due to his stammering, limp and other nervous tics. This made others see him as mentally deficient..."
In our day, the Times keeps no one from public life due to perceptions that they are dolts! In the modern era of the Times, Maureen Dowd is the prime example. And sure enough—consider the claim Times readers encountered in her most recent column:
DOWD (1/24/16): [Sarah Palin] used the last refuge of scoundrels in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, wrapping herself in patriotism. In her convoluted, disingenuous way, she charged President Obama with a lack of “respect” for veterans and suggested that Track had post-traumatic stress disorder and became “hardened,” implying this is what led to the incident prompting his arrest. This from the archconservative who presents herself as a model of personal responsibility and scourge of victimhood?Stunningly, Dowd defended Barry O'Bambi against the pitiful claim that he caused the apparent problems of Palin's son. But even as Dowd did that, good God!
Outraged vets urged Palin not to reduce PTSD to a political “chew toy,” as one put it, or to excuse domestic violence by citing the disorder.
The rattlebrained Palin has reversed her Iraq position, so that now her stance somehow matches Trump’s consistent and prescient one against the Iraq invasion.
She crazily said that Candidate Trump always opposed the war in Iraq! Trump was "prescient" concerning Iraq, the Pulitzer prize-winner crazily said!
Gong-show survivors, please! There is zero evidence that Donald Trump ever opposed the war in Iraq. Last summer, Trump began to bruit that claim in major, high-profile forums. On several occasions, he said he could produce dozens of news reports to that effect.
No such news reports have ever been presented or found.
Presumably, Candidate Trump was simply lying about his brilliant stance on Iraq, and about those dozens of news reports. But so what?
At the Times and at other big papers, they let his high-profile claim go unchallenged. Yesterday, Times readers saw the claim restated by Dowd, with a garland of "prescience" draped around Trump the God's neck!
At the Empress Times, it's fairly clear that Dowd has been promoted because of her various "mental deficiencies," not in spite of them. Over the past twenty years, she has repeated the claims her owners seem to love, and much other nonsense besides.
What sorts of claims have Dowd's owners loved? For one potent current example, consider the claim Times readers encountered in another of yesterday's columns, the column by Nicholas Kristof.
As he started, the noble Kristof recalled some of the ways Hillary Clinton has "suffered for being a feminist."
"Even when Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2008, there were put-downs," the columnist noted, "like the two men from a radio show heckling her, 'Iron my shirt!'”
Playing by the rules of the game, he failed to mention the much more significant putdowns of Clinton which came from his colleague Dowd. As a result of her endless putdowns, Dowd was savaged for her misogyny in this June 2008 column by Clark Hoyt, then the newspaper's public editor.
Whatever! Kristof went on and on in yesterday's column, presenting his progressive bona fides. But then, dear God! It happened again! As he ended his column, Kristof repeated one of the mandated scripts of the empire by which he is owned:
KRISTOF (1/24/16): One way in which attitudes have changed has to do with sexual predation. Shaming women who make accusations—in short, the Bill Clinton campaign approach of 1992—is much less tolerated today.He stated it not once but twice! Candidate Clinton is being scolded "for turning on and helping to stigmatize the women who accused her husband of misconduct."
So today Hillary Clinton is scolded for turning on and helping to stigmatize the women who accused her husband of misconduct, which oddly means that she may pay more of a price for his misbehavior than he ever did. That irony would encapsulate the truism that whatever the progress, women are often still held to a higher standard than men.
Stated a slightly different way, it seems that Candidate Clinton is being scolded for "shaming women who make accusations—in short, the Bill Clinton campaign approach of 1992."
Please note! Kristof doesn't exactly say, in his own voice, that Hillary Clinton engaged in that conduct. Technically, he merely says, with technical accuracy, that Candidate Clinton is now being scolded for such offenses, which may imaginably just be alleged.
There was a time when such careful phrasing would have been called "Clintonesque," in our view quite unfairly. Because Kristof is understood to be noble, we'll assume he didn't mean to play that slippery old game. We'll assume that he is alleging, in his own voice, that Hillary Clinton did engage in that "shaming of women."
It's one of his empire's favorite claims! But to whom does Kristof refer? Who got "shamed" and "stigmatized" in 1992?
Gruesome! Once again, we're forced to discuss the background to this favorite imperial claim. Because it's a favorite ownership claim, you'll see few others supplying that background, not even your favorite liberal heroes and stars!
It's nauseating to discuss the accusers who, according to this favorite script, got shamed and stigmatized by the Clinton machine back in the bad old days. It's painful to go back over the lists of facts you'll never read in the glorious Times.
In the days of Claudius, the Roman masses were constantly deceived, misled and misinformed about the way their empire was actually run. The Graves novel brilliantly sketches this state of affairs, as does any sagacious daily reading of the New York Times.
We liberals! On a journalistic basis, last year is now being widely described as "The Year of the Liberal." In the two weeks which remain to this site in its present form, we'll continue to explain why that assessment has been sweeping the nation.
We liberals slid in some bad directions in the year just ended. But why not cut us some slack? As we liberals showed the world how much we long to resemble The Others, we were constantly assailed by the deficits at the Times, the empire's least forthcoming newspaper.
Trump was prescient about Iraq! Hillary Clinton stigmatized women! Day after day, we the utterly clueless liberals read these claims in our empire's most famous newspaper. In thrall to our silent tribal leaders, we're rarely exposed to a wide range of facts which underlay such claims.
In Graves' depiction, the Roman masses were constantly conned and deceived by the lordly figures surrounding Claudius.
Lumpen prole-cats, cough it up! How different is our world today?
Tomorrow: Amid the hammering, banging and pounding, our plan for the next two weeks