SCOLD THE ELECTORATE WELL: Finally, someone drew back the curtain...

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2019

...on those second-grade Turkey Day pageants:
The New York Times is never slow to pander to its readers. Consider what we encountered on page A2 of last Friday's print editions.

The silly encomium came from Marc Lacey, the newspaper's national editor. Lacey was pandering to New York Times readers, and he was pandering hard.

Below, you see the ridiculous way the fulsome fellow started. We include Lacey's hard-copy headline. All the italics are his:
We Try to Avoid Superlatives, But Our Readers Really Are the Best

Journalists are cautious about using superlatives.
Say something is the worst and it is likely that someone somewhere will point out an even more dire example. The hottest. The deadliest. The earliest. These are all fraught terms.

But here’s an assertion that none of you will challenge: The Times is blessed with the very finest readers of any publication. They are the brightest and most erudite. They are the most compassionate and thoughtful readers around. Challenge that!

We regularly receive evidence of just how exceptional you are.
You praise our most ambitious work. You critique us when we mess things up. You offer up insightful tips, wise ideas, juicy information...
Lacey's piece continued from there. Because you think we're making this up, you can examine it here.

At any rate, no one could possibly challenge the claim that New York Times readers are best! Does American exceptionalism sometimes seem dumb? This is the localized New York Times variant!

We've referred to Lacey's foolishness as a pander, and we think we're being kind. On the other hand, it's always possible that this newspapers' frequently hapless editors really believe that twaddle.

Ever so briefly, let's proceed on that fantastical assumption.

Timesmen like Lacey really believe that New York Times readers are brightest and best! This may explain why the Times was willing to trust its readers with a pair of courageous opinion columns, on Thanksgiving Day no less.

Finally! Finally, and also at long last, someone was willing to tear the curtain back from those second-grade Thanksgiving pageants which get the real history wrong!

Finally, someone was willing to go there! The brave pathfinder was the Times, which published this hard-hitting pair of opinion columns on Thanksgiving Day (we're including the columns' sub-headlines):
The Horrible History of Thanksgiving:
Before you fill your plate, please remember why we mark this day.
November 28, 2019
Written by Charles M. Blow

The Vicious Reality Behind the Thanksgiving Myth:

If Americans continue to insist on associating the holiday with Pilgrims and Indians, the least we can do is try to get the story straight.
November 28, 2019
Written by Professor Silverman
Professor Silverman's supercilious piece appeared in last Thursday's print editions. Blow's screeching companion offering—how long until his screeching columns begin to appear in all caps?—accompanied it on line.

At any rate, finally! Finally, someone was willing to tackle this subject matter, which has always been off limits! In fact, the Times had taken the same journalistic risk just two years ago in a challenging "fact check" essay:
Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong
November 21, 2017
Written by Maya Salam
While we're handing our medals for journalistic courage, it should be noted that Blow presents a lengthy quotation from an earlier daring piece which appeared in Fortune:
Thanksgiving Myths, Legends and Lies: Why Settlers Really Started the Annual Feast
November 21, 2017
Written by Grace Donnelly
The lengthy quotation presented by Blow makes no sense on its face, a fact which escaped Blow himself, his New York Times editor and Donnelly's editors at Fortune. But so it goes when brave explorers set out on high seas.

(We'll examine this journalistic error tomorrow. As we'll eventually see, the journalistic clowning gets worse—gets much, much worse—elsewhere.)

At this point, a pattern begins to emerge. In fact, the debunking of Turkey Day legends and lies is one of the tedious, hackneyed conventions our American journalists seem to love.

The debunking of the lies told at second-grade pageants—and yes, Professor Silverman explicitly cites "Ameri[k]ans’ grade school Thanksgiving pageants" in his condescending remarks—normally serves as a gateway to a new Christmas-season tradition, in which scolding journalists tell us that the traditional winter song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is really a paean to date rape.

At the Times, Salam has already teased this tradition this year with this daring, hard-hitting piece.
John Legend Updates ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ for the #MeToo Era:
Legend and Kelly Clarkson replaced lyrics that some considered an allusion to date rape. Gone: “Say, what’s in this drink?” New: “It’s your body, and your choice.”
October 29, 2019
Written by Maya Salam
There's certainly nothing "wrong" with what Legend and Clarkson have done. But is it possible that something is wrong with our hackneyed holiday journalism, in which supercilious professors and slow-witted scribes undertake to scold the electorate well about their Amerikan traditions?

Is it possible that this sort of journalism contributes to the emerging phenomenon known as "death by woke?" It is possible that this sort of journalism will help re-elect Donald J. Trump?

Could all this sillybill scolding help re-elect Donald Trump? Just in case the answer is yes, we're forced to warn you about something we saw on Friday morning's page A3.

Sure enough! Right across from Lacey's pander on page A2, we encountered this on page A3:
The Conversation
FOUR OF THE MOST READ, SHARED AND DISCUSSED POSTS FROM ACROSS NYTIMES.COM

1. The Horrible History of Thanksgiving:

Thursday's most read article was this Op-Ed from Charles Blow, a columnist for The Times. Mr. Blow writes that he grew up believing the "gauzy" version on [sic] Thanksgiving: "I was blind, willfully ignorant, I suppose."
Blow's column was the most read article across the entire Times empire! How bright do we readers seem now?

By his own admission, Charles M. Blow was willfully ignorant when he was in second grade. One wonders what we exceptional, erudite readers thought of that peculiar confession. Also, what did we think when we encountered Blow's peculiar sourcing, including the lengthy quotation from Fortune which makes no sense on its face?

Spoiler alert! The Fortune piece was written by Donnelly when she was one year out of college. To appearances, she had as much business discussing the history of Thanksgiving as we would have being assigned to run the Bolshoi Ballet.

She composed a passage which made no sense but was "close enough for journalistic work." Two years later, it was cut-and-pasted into the Times. Most important, she and Blow had remembered to scold the electorate well.

Doe this journalistic practice help explain the success of Trump? As we explore the clownistry well, we'll suggest that it probably does.

Tomorrow: A fabulous topic spoiled

18 comments:

  1. Bob, all your columns about Trump and impeachment, Ukraine, Russia, etc., have been so laughably bad and misinformed that I now just come here basically as a Hate Read. That said, a broken clock is right twice a day, and I do think this silly PC stuff is exactly the kind of thing that turns people off to liberals and gets Trump elected. The whole "what are your pronouns?" thing and other tropes of the very Woke left are ludicrous to the majority of Americans, whether we agree with them or not. People like my mother, who hates Trump, is moderately-liberal socially, but sees many liberals as complete aliens to her. She also feels that they would judge her harshly for not being as Woke as they are, so she basically feels like she has nowhere to go. She'll vote for Biden but I fear will stay home if it's Warren or Sanders. And we need people like my mom to vote if we want to win in 2020.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Is it possible that this sort of journalism contributes to the emerging phenomenon known as "death by woke?""

    Duh. This, plus the brain-dead university professors (not necessarily in this order), is how the liberal zombie cult was created in the first place, and how it is maintained.

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  3. It's a new month so I was able to read the NY Times without running into a pay wall. I really need to subscribe I guess.

    The things you can learn reading the Times. I mean I used to believe that Thanksgiving was a day of friendship between the Pilgrims and the Indians, but not I have learned that the Pilgrims actually made the Cherokees march on the Trail of Tears in 1621.

    What is worse, being "willfully ignorant" and believing in a beautiful world of peace, friendship and gratitude, or believing and spouting a bunch of nonsense, scouring history for a top 40 of atrocities just so you can say j'accuse to the white race at every last opportunity?

    Harold Hill's cry was "Remember the Maine, Plymouth Rock and the Golden Rule". The new Music Men would perhaps say "Remember the plague, the Pequot massacre and the Trail of Tears".

    At least until Christmas when the left will no doubt celebrate the holiday by rending their garments over Wounded Knee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. “What is worse, being "willfully ignorant" and believing in a beautiful world of peace, friendship and gratitude, or believing and spouting a bunch of nonsense, scouring history for a top 40 of atrocities just so you can say j'accuse to the white race at every last opportunity?”

      Neither is preferable.

      However, you claim the “left” is spouting nonsense when they discuss historical “atrocities.”

      You just can’t handle the truth, apparently, because those atrocities aren’t nonsense. They are quite real.

      But, shhhh! Don’t tell Dr. T!

      Delete
    2. Dr. T's cries for more political correctness, undermines the whole "people are sick of political correctness" meme repeated ad nauseam by Right-wingers like TDH.

      Delete
    3. "They are quite real."

      Atrocities are real alright, dear dembot. Widespread and common too.

      But you zombies are so eager to keep bringing them up, especially the bygone ones, for no apparent reason, other than as an excuse for your nauseating virtue signaling.

      Delete
    4. "Atrocities are quite real."

      Yes they are, but selective memory is nonsense, and it is based on an agenda.

      It is nonsense to conflate the Pequot with the Wampanoag. The Pilgrims were allies with the Wampanoag, not with the Pequot, or the Naragansett.

      Also, what is the point of bringing up the Trail of Tears at Thanksgiving? We cannot be thankful? We cannot hope for peace because of something that happened in the 1830s?

      How did the Cherokee get to Georgia anyway? They were pushed there down a Trail of Tears. Pushed there by attacks from the Erie and the Delawares.

      What happened to the Erie? They were wiped out by the Iroquois. The Iroquois forced the Sac to move and then the Ojibwe forced them to move again. Then the Sacs drove the Kas-kas-kias from their traditional home.

      Should we remember Wounded Knee? Why? Is that more significant than what happened in 1622?

      Well, that was an atrocity where Indians killed 350 people at Jamestown, so the left does not want to remember that (unless to celebrate it).

      The left keeps a list of the top 40 atrocities done - by Europeans. Which they like to bring up periodically again and again and again. Thinking they have proven for all time how awful Europeans are. As my cousin quoted in his book - "'Throughout the world Europeans have sought to dominate, exploit, rape, plunder, and control others.'"

      Yep, only Europeans ever committed atrocities. "...he (Powhatan) turned on the Chesapeakes with fury and obliterated the entire community. Still there was no peace." *23 (emphasis mine)

      Delete
    5. Don't "virtue signal" by pointing out you are not a Right-winger, so you're not a horrible excuse for a human being. Everyone who isn't a horrible excuse for a human being, is already not a Right-winger.
      Instead, do something about Right-wingers. Mumble, mumble 2nd Amendment.

      Delete
  4. “But is it possible that something is wrong with our hackneyed holiday journalism, in which supercilious professors and slow-witted scribes undertake to scold the electorate well about their Amerikan traditions?”

    “Supercilious?” “Slow-witted?” What makes these professors and scribes supercilious or slow-witted? The fact that they express views that conservatives or others might not agree with? When you equate opinions like these with “scolding the electorate”, you are subtly arguing for a suppression of these views, especially if you think they might help re-elect Trump and you see that as a bad thing.

    There are op-eds and paeans to American exceptionalism and how America is a shining city on a hill. That used to be about all you would ever see, particularly around July 4 and Thanksgiving. They don’t enrage me. I might even agree with some of them.

    There are people with other points of view about America, or about Thanksgiving. They are allowed to publish their opinions. People can take them or leave them. I might even agree with some of them.

    There’s nothing wrong with a diversity of opinion. It’s certainly preferable to be truthful about our past, rather than mindlessly devoted to false or harmful myths, especially in a time when parts of our country are engaging in a whitewashing of our history in questionable textbooks, and when racism and white nationalism are on the rise.

    Perhaps our fellow Americans aren’t able to support a diversity of opinions about Thanksgiving, perhaps these opinions enrage some people. I’m not sure that’s a sufficient reason to refrain from publishing them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From the people who brought you "Political Correctness is the ruination of this country," get ready for what will soon be their latest hit, "Why must you insist on telling me stark truths."

      Delete
    2. They're old hat, that's the problem. None of this Thanksgiving revisionism is new to those of us who grew up in the 60s and 70s. Bob's right.

      Delete
  5. The debunking of the lies told at second-grade pageants—and yes, Professor Silverman explicitly cites "Ameri[k]ans’ grade school Thanksgiving pageants" in his condescending remarks—normally serves as a gateway to a new Christmas-season tradition, in which scolding journalists tell us that the traditional winter song, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is really a paean to date rape.

    Wow, a jew tearing down American culture and traditions? The hell you say! This is so novel, and totally out of character for that tribe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frank Loesser, who wrote, "Baby it's Cold Outside," was also Jewish.

      Delete
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