Postcards from the decline: With Matt Lauer's instant exit, the tall trees continues to fall. We offer four postcards from the ongoing decline:
Money and fame: We've routinely warned about the destructive power of wealth and celebrity. As we red about the appalling conduct of people like Lauer and Charlie Rose, we think of this age-old subhuman syndrome.
Our quick take: Money and fame may lead to more than appalling sexual conduct. Wealth and fame may also lead to mugging, clowning, self-adoration and constant dissembling, of a type we constantly see on one or more "cable news" shows.
Off-camera, staffers laugh at the jokes. This is a cultural problem, part of a major decline.
Our tribe's thought leaders sound off: Why was Garrison Keillor dumped by Minnesota Public Radio? At this point, there's no way to know.
MPR has offered no description of the matter or matters in question. Meanwhile, Keillor has offered an anodyne account of a minor event. There's no way to know what's true.
That said, nothing stops our tribe's most unbalanced players from making us look foolish to the rest of the world. At the Atlantic, Megan Garber melted down as soon as Keillor's dismissal was announced. She constructed a rather murky rant against the Prairie Home Companion radio program, culminating with this:
GARBER (11/29/17): [Keillor] became one of the many men who have fallen to the “Weinstein effect.” That effect is its own kind of landscape, its own kind of frontier—a version of manifest destiny in which expansion is not geographical but ideological, and in which justice, rather than justification, is the guiding ethic. The new American landscape is a cultural space that is cognizant of power differentials and mutual respect. It is one that strives for equality. And it is one that takes for granted the conviction that belittling those who are less powerful—all the women are strong—will have, finally, meaningful consequences.That's right! Garber felt that Prairie Home Companion's description of Lake Wobegon—as a place where “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average"—was Keillor's way of belittling women for being less powerful than men. Or at least, that's what she said.
We have no idea why Keillor was dumped. That said, do you know how silly this highly familiar type of analysis will inevitably look to The Others? In such instances, can we really say that the dimwitted Others are wrong?
No one had the slightest idea: Savannah Guthrie was shocked, just shocked, when Lauer got dumped. As such, she joined the long list of high players who had absolutely zero idea about the misconduct which was occurring on or near their watch.
Oddly, these clueless people have been unknowing about conduct which is routinely reported to have been "an open secret." Again and again, nobody knew what everyone knew! Frank Rich rolls his eyes at this "playacting" in this new interview.
Why can't John Conyers be fired: It's stunning to see how many journalists can't tell the difference between 1) an employee of a private corporation and 2) an elected official.
If Matt Lauer can get fired so fast, why can't John Conyers? Waves of pundits seem utterly baffled by the logic lurking behind this deeply puzzling question.
Earth to pundits, listen up! The logic goes something like this:
Matt Lauer was hired by NBC. On that basis, it's relatively easy for NBC to fire him.
John Conyers was hired by no one. He was elected, by voters.
In particular, he wasn't hired by Nancy Pelosi, or even by James Clyburne. It would be problematic for them to assume they had an obvious right to "fire" him.
This logic also obtains for Roy Moore. If he wins the upcoming election, he will have been "hired" by the people of Alabama.
Alabama is part of the nation, just as Lake Wobegon is. If we want our continental nation to long endure, the viewpoints of people in such farflung locales have to be respected, or perhaps endured, even when the people's wisdom falls far short of Ours.
Our tribe thinks Keillor was belittling women. Their tribe thinks Moore belongs in the Senate.
It's clear that our tribe is just stunningly brilliant. But what are you going to do?