Part 2—Clueless oh so clueless: This Sunday morning, Sean Hannity was speaking well of us, the American people.
Hannity spoke with Ted Koppel on the CBS show, Sunday Morning. In this, their key exchange, Hannity said that we the people are "somewhat intelligent."
Koppel may not have been sure:
HANNITY (3/26/17): We have to give some credit to the American people, that they're somewhat intelligent and that they know the difference between an opinion show and a news show.Uh-oh! In that exchange, Koppel almost took a bit of a shot at Those People, the 63 million Trump voters! To watch that exchange, click here.
HANNITY: You're not—you're cynical. Look at you!
KOPPEL: I am cynical, because I, you know—
HANNITY: You think we're bad for America? You think I'm bad for America?
HANNITY: You do?
KOPPEL: In the long haul, I think you and all these opinion shows—
HANNITY: Really? That's sad, Ted. That's sad.
KOPPEL: No, you know why? Because you're very good at what you do, and because you have, you have attracted...You have attracted people who are determined that ideology is more important than facts.
In a fairly sweeping statement, Koppel seemed to say that Hannity has attracted viewers who "are determined that ideology is more important than facts." We'd be slow to offer that assessment.
On the other hand, Koppel may have been sliming Us, the folk Over Here, as well! In that one highlighted statement, he said that Hannity is bad for America—Hannity "and all these opinion shows."
Apparently, those other opinion shows are bad for America too!
Was that a shot at liberal cable shows, and at Us, the people who watch them? We can't speak for Koppel, who we thought was a bit dismissive of Hannity's many viewers. That said:
In our view, we liberals are developing cognitive habits which begin to resemble the habits we've always mocked in Those People. In Sunday's New York Times, Masha Gessen wrote an op-ed piece which specifically warned about this developing liberal culture.
"Fraudulent news stories, which used to be largely a right-wing phenomenon, are becoming increasingly popular among those who oppose the president," Gessen, a native Russkie, opined. Gessen, a recent Maddow Show guest, then cited a type of "fraudulent story" which made us think of exciting work we've seen in recent weeks on that tribally pleasing program.
Are viewers of Sean Hannity's program "determined that ideology is more important than facts?" In our view, that judgment seems a bit harsh, but we're happy to say this:
We the people have never been major intellectual giants. In our view, even our major intellectual giants rarely turn out to be giants. But we the people very rarely qualify for that status.
When it comes to the substance of policy matter, we the people rarely know what we're talking about. Consider one recent example, involving an evergreen howler:
In January, the Kaiser Foundation released a survey examining Americans' views on foreign aid. For Kevin Drum's capsule, click here.
Puckishly, Kaiser had asked the question on which we the people always fail:
"Just your best guess, what percentage of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid?" We always get tripped up on that one!
According to Kaiser, the correct answer would have been this: "one percent or less of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid." We the people didn't come close!
Only three percent of respondents gave some version of that correct answer. Meanwhile, the average answer by us the people was a walloping 31 percent! Thirteen percent of respondents had enough sense to say that they just didn't know.
We the people had no clue about this fairly basic question. We were way off, about a topic which is frequently discussed as a way to show how clueless we American citizens are.
In this case, respondents were so massively misinformed that we can assume a basic point. It wasn't just Them who had no clue. Also lacking the first freaking clue clue were the brainiacs known as Us!
We cite this survey to illustrate a very important point. When it comes to basic policy questions, we the people rarely have the slightest idea what we're talking about.
Over Here in our liberal tents, observing this fact is a key part of our culture—but we're only allowed to observe this fact when discussing Those People, the putative dimwits Over There.
Within our self-impressed liberal culture, we like to pretend that we're very bright, unlike the rubes in the other camp. We're sorry, but that just isn't the case. Our liberal culture today brims with misstatements, gong-shows and groaners. We just aren't super-bright Over here.
Our groaners are often different from Theirs. But they're groaners all the same.
Our modern liberal culture swims in silly misstatements. Our favorite silly misstatements tend to involve matters of gender and race—but they're silly misstatements all the same, and we have about a million of them.
Everyone knows this but Us.
We the people, Us and Them, are not a race of giants. We rarely know what we're talking about, but good lord, how we do love to talk!
When Hannity spoke with Koppel this weekend, he went straight to the pundit corps' favorite play, in which multimillionaire music men (and politicians) tell us how sharp we are.
Simply put, we the people aren't especially sharp. We've always fallen for music men, all through our American history.
Hannity made a familiar old play. We thought Koppel was a bit cynical in what he said in reply. As we liberals tend to do, he seemed to make a sweeping statement about Those People, the Hannity viewers—and we thought his sweeping statement was a bit unkind.
Has Hannity attracted viewers "who are determined that ideology is more important than facts?" We wouldn't be inclined to say that. We would say this:
His viewers may often fail to see that they're getting conned on the facts. But we'd say the same is true Over Here, within our self-impressed liberal tribe. That said, we liberals have long tended to believe that We are smarter and better than Them.
We think that's a dangerous, self-defeating belief. Almost surely, it helps explain why so many of Those People ended up casting votes against our advice for his highness, Donald J. Trump, and his "terrific" plans.
Tomorrow: Our familiar contempt for Them