THE ART OF THE CON: Who's getting conned?

TUESDAY, MAY 3, 2016

Part 1—Paul Krugman cites Trump voters:
Last Friday, Paul Krugman said that conservative voters have been getting conned for years.

The headline on his column was "Wrath of the Conned." This was Krugman's first account of the con in question:
KRUGMAN (4/29/16): Both parties make promises to their bases. But while the Democratic establishment more or less tries to make good on those promises, the Republican establishment has essentially been playing bait-and-switch for decades. And voters finally rebelled against the con.
Anger about this long-running con has produced the Trump phenomenon, Krugman says. Republican voters have finally realized that they've been getting conned.

We don't necessarily agree with Krugman's more detailed account of this particular con. But it seems fairly clear that some version of this account is true.

That said, a lot of cons seem to be going on; these cons aren't all run by the GOP establishment. At one point, Krugman even alleges a type of con by Candidate Trump himself:
KRUGMAN: What Donald Trump has been doing is telling the base that it can order à la carte. He has, in effect, been telling aggrieved white men that they can feed their anger without being forced to swallow supply-side economics, too. Yes, his actual policy proposals still involve huge tax cuts for the rich, but his supporters don't know that—and it's possible that he doesn't, either. Details aren't his thing.
Trump's voters don't know that their standard bearer has proposed "huge tax cuts for the rich," Krugman says.

Almost surely, that is largely true. (It's absurd to think that Trump doesn't know.) But this is where the source of our cons and apparent cons tends to grow in number.

Almost surely, many people don't know that Candidate Trump has proposed huge tax cuts for the rich. That includes many subscribers to Krugman's own newspaper, which has failed to present standard reporting about Candidate Trump's tax proposal, the craziest such proposal of modern times.

Is Krugman's newspaper running a con by ignoring this topic? We don't know how to answer that question. But Krugman's paper has also engaged in strange behavior in the past ten days, pimping Candidate Trump's fake claim about his opposition to the war in Iraq, opposition which never existed.

The New York Times has recited Trump's fake claim at the top of the paper's front page. Inevitably, it has recited his fake claim in an op-ed column by Maureen Dowd—a column it ran on the front page of the high-profile Sunday Review.

The New York Times also recited Trump's fake claim in a cover report in its high-profile Sunday magazine. These recitations of Candidate Trump's fake claim have all taken place in just the past ten days. For more details, click here.

Trump's ridiculous claim about his past insight concerning Iraq has been debunked again and again, but the New York Times has now repeated his phony claim three separate times in ten days. Is the New York Times running a con? We don't know how to answer that question, but we do know this:

The invention of phony facts of this type is one of the practices which has decided recent White House elections. It's abundantly clear that Candidate Trump has been inventing this phony fact for use in the general election. In the end, this phony fact could help him reach the White House.

Is the New York Times running a con? We don't know how to answer. But liberal voters are getting disadvantaged by the newspaper's ongoing conduct, and someone else is part of this game—the heroic liberal corporate media stars who will refuse to call the Times on this conduct, which has been common at the Times over the past many years.

Did Al Gore say he invented the Internet? Actually no, he did not. He didn't say quite a few other outrageous things, the crazy alleged statements which sent George W. Bush to the White House. But were those puzzling statements were relentlessly put in his mouth over the course of the two-year 2000 campaign.

Gore didn't say he invented the Internet, but so what? All during that ugly and stupid campaign, liberal heroes repeated the claims about Candidate Gore, or at least refused to challenge those claims. The same pattern obtained in early 2004 when the talking points were invented concerning Candidate Kerry.

The New York Times has seemed to work quite a few cons over the past twenty-years. And make no mistake! As the Times has engaged in this conduct, the Christopher Hayeses and the Rachel Maddows have always averted their gaze.

Again and again, legions of liberal voters have been conned by this type of conduct. And alas! Unlike Krugman's rebellious Trump voters, we liberals haven't been smart enough to notice this problem yet.

For whatever reason, the New York Times has been advancing a con about Trump and Iraq. Just as it ever was, the liberal world has largely been silent.

We're skilled at getting conned in this way. We'll examine the syndrome all week.

Tomorrow: Drum and Politi push back


  1. No Bob. Thank you again Bob. Al didn't say it !!!!

    He seemed to say he created the internet. As a member of Congress.

    And thus Al Gore, Jr. took the initiative in making himself the butt of a lot of jokes, thus allowing people to remember there was something about the younger Gore they just didn't quite like.

    1. You don't vote for someone because you like him. You vote for him because he is competent and will do a good job. That was so obviously true of Gore that the rest of this seemed silly at the time, but it wasn't to large numbers of people who voted based on likeability. G.W. Bush is still a likeable guy -- his paintings of himself are endearing, like kindergartener fingerpaintings. But he was a horrible president. You need to remember that as you consider the attempts to rehabilitate Trump for polite company. He is not only an awful man but he is a total incompetent, as a billionaire real estate mogul and as a prospective public servant. It is so obvious he will be horrible that you have to ask what game the NY Times is playing. As you kick Somerby, what game are you playing? Whose interests do you serve?

    2. Actually I have to ask myself if you are dumber than the reader who wrote in to Josh Marshall complaining things were rigged against Bernie.

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  3. The president has less power than you people think. You're wasting your time.

  4. The NYT mentioned Trump's budget busting tax cuts once; therefore any repetition would fall under and be dismissed as "old news".

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