SATURDAY, OCTOBER 8, 2016
Badger gets it right: We never thought we'd see the day we finally saw last night.
We never thought we'd see the day when cable news channels passed on the chance to pretend to report on a storm.
Normally, hurricane coverage constitutes a "snow day" for cable reporters. They get to stop pretending to cover major political news. They get to tackle much simpler tasks instead.
They get to ask questions of this general type: "When you saw the roof of your house blow away, how did that make you feel?" They get to stand where the breakers crash and drag and demonstrate that the wind blows hard in a hurricane, and that it tends to rain hard.
These are among the only skills these TV stars ever master. Remarkably, they abandoned the chance to display these skills when the Trump tape took over last night.
This latest tape featuring Donald J. Trump is indeed quite unattractive. That said, it's instructive to see that our journalists think it's much more significant than all the videotape in which this same Donald J. Trump conducted his years-long birther scam.
The latest tape is an assault on the dignity of half the nation's people. The birther scam was an assault on everyone's intelligence, and on the integrity of the national discourse.
(In fairness to Donald J. Trump, the latest offensive remarks were made in private. That said, the remarks are bad for all children to hear—for boys as well as for girls.)
On cable, major stars reacted instantly to the latest tape. By way of contrast, it took them years to show an interest in the ugly, monstrously stupid Donald J. Trump birther scam.
For the first year of Trump's formal candidacy, these players ignored it completely. Trump said he no longer discussed the scam. Our scribes scurried into the woods.
Why were our journalistic stars so slow to react to that monstrously stupid scam? We include the New York Times, whose front-page report on the birther scam avoided some very basic questions. (Did Donald J. Trump ever send investigators to Hawaii? Did they ever report that they were shocked by what they had found? Or was Donald J. Trump just lying all along?)
Why were our journalistic stars so slow to react to that monstrously stupid scam? It seems to us that the answer is simple:
Our mainstream press corps is itself deeply sunk in The Culture of Phony and Stupid. Starting with the New York Times, our upper-end mainstream news orgs have promoted this culture for decades. (In 1993, Katherine Boo warned the world about this trend, calling it "Creeping Dowdism.")
Career liberals have agreed not to notice or complain, but the Culture of Stupid has dominated the New York Times roughly forever. The Culture of Dissembling has also played a key role at these big "news orgs."
This may explain why the New York Times showed remarkably little interest in that very basic question: Was Donald J. Trump, the birther king, just lying that whole time?
Yesterday, the Blitzers scrambled to react to the latest tape. The videotape which they had acquired did show an extremely unattractive side of Trump. But we'll take a wild guess:
Trump's behavior on that tape is much more common than the conduct he displayed when he made himself king of the birthers. It's just that people like Blitzer actually know about topics like sex, or about the power of such topics, while they don't have the slightest interest in the integrity of the national discourse.
People like Blitzer have made a joke of that discourse for decades. In this regard, they were deeply engaged in Trumpism long before Candidate Trump came along. For that reason, Trump's clowning in the birther days seemed like old hat to them. They had clowned in a million such ways long before Trump ran his scam.
Should Trump's (private) conversation with Billy Bush have provoked such giant coverage? We're going to say that's a matter of judgment, although the banter in which they engaged was extremely unattractive.
That said, Trump's earlier array of scams constituted attacks on the basic integrity of the American discourse. But so what? Our press corps quit on that discourse long ago, a fact they've demonstrated a thousand ways, almost always under the cover of career liberal silence.
This morning, Amy Chozick has jumped the latest shark in the New York Times. That said, her account of Hillary Clinton's speeches will excite little attention. Career liberals all understand that they mustn't notice such things.
We may review that latest shark-jump on Monday. Meanwhile, the analysts came to us yesterday with a question about Emily Badger.
"Who is Emily Badger?" they asked. "And how did she get that intelligent piece into the New York Times?"
As best we can tell, Badger—a 2003 Northwestern graduate—is brand new to the Times. Her highly intelligent piece concerns the concept of "implicit bias."
(We did think it was perhaps a little bit snarky towards Pence.)
We read it yesterday on page A18 of our hard-copy Times. That said, Nexis doesn't seem to know that the piece exists. Nor is it included by the Times in the "Today's Paper" listing for Friday, despite the fact that it's right there on A18.
At the Times site, you have to go to the Upshot blog to find Badger's piece. Yesterday, it jumped out at us as we read the paper because it was so intelligent, and thus so unlike the Times.
"Careful, Badger!" one analyst cried. "You managed to sneak this past the eds. But they aren't likely to tolerate such insolence in the future."
(With apologies to Jackie Calmes, whose work always strikes us as sane.)