SCOLD THE ELECTORATE WELL: "Journalists" say the darnedest things!

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2019

A bit of comic relief:
What can happen when modern journalists start offering versions of the current culturally mandated "first Thanksgiving lies and legends" tale?

Before discussing Fortune and the New York Times, let's enjoy some comic relief.

Last Friday, we made a classic mistake. Puzzled by some of Charles Blow's sourcing; further puzzled by the lengthy quotation he published from Fortune, a lengthy quotation which, on its face, didn't seem to make any sense—

Puzzled by these puzzling aspects of Blow's latest puzzling column, we decided to check out the facts.

Given the way modern "journalism" works, this is almost always a mistake. In this case, we were led down the psychedelic pathways of pseudo-liberal "Thanksgiving myths" scripting, an offshoot of critical theory.

Eventually, we were offered a link to Bustle, "an online American women's magazine founded in August 2013 by Bryan Goldberg" which, by September 2016, "had 50 million monthly readers" and almost as many employees. Or so the leading authority on the Bustle phenomenon says!

In fairness, Bustle isn't the New York Times. But the Times comes amazingly close.

At any rate, we found ourselves confronted with a link to Bustle. Like teenagers in Halloween horror films who can't stop going into the basement, we robotically decided that we should click that link.

We had been offered a gateway to Bustle! Arriving at the magazine, we found ourselves looking at this:
9 Myths About Thanksgiving & The Real Facts Behind Them
By MIKA DOYLE / Nov 14, 2018
Finally! Finally, we were going to get the real facts about Thanksgiving! That said, before proceeding, let's get clear on the context:

In the dolorous column which triggered our search, Blow said this: "I spent most of my life believing a gauzy, kindergarten version of Thanksgiving." He'd been disinformed when he was six and had never caught up with the facts!

Thanks to Bryan Goldberg and Bustle, online American women wouldn't be consigned to that fate! Unfortunately, the "9 Myths" report to which we'd been taken turned out to be a crazy-quilt array of semi-coherent debunkings drawn from a wide array of weirdly misparaphrased sources.

On a journalistic basis, the Bustle piece is phantasmagorically inept. Believe it or not, this was the first "myth" the magazine's Mika Doyle debunked, along with her full revision:
Myth 1: The Pilgrims Founded A Settlement on Plymouth Rock

According to the stories you heard in history class, the Mayflower sailed to the New World and started a new life on Plymouth Rock.
What your teachers didn't tell you is that the Mayflower ended up in the wrong place, according to History. The settlers were supposed to go to Virginia, but they ended up in Massachusetts.

Not only that, Plymouth Rock originally wasn't unoccupied. Normally, when Europeans sailed to New England in the mid-1610s, it was so packed with Native American communities that there wasn't any room for new settlements, says National Geographic. But an epidemic—which is still unexplained to this day—wiped out the Native American coastal communities about three years earlier, so the settlers basically landed in a cemetery and immediately began raiding it for food and supplies, according to National Geographic.
Yes, that's what it actually said! For starters, let's start here:

Did anyone ever actually think that the Pilgrims had actually founded a settlement right on Plymouth Rock? We don't think anyone ever thought that. We don't think that was a myth!

Still, that was the very first myth Doyle set out to debunk. But uh-oh! By the start of her second paragraph, she seemed to be saying that "Plymouth Rock" had been an actual locality—a locality which had originally been occupied by Native Americans.

Full disclosure! We aren't sure how Doyle's two paragraphs were supposed to have debunked her alleged "myth." Meanwhile, just for the record, Bustle isn't a parody site. We're showing you what one of its actual journalists wrote at this time last year.

As for various other claims found within Doyle's first debunking, we'll offer a word of warning:

Do not start clicking on Doyle's various links to try to figure things out! Madness awaits you down the road on which you try to decipher her claims, including the claim that the epidemic to which she refers "is still unexplained," or the claim in which you're told, somewhat oddly, that the Pilgrims immediately began raiding a cemetery for food.

(We clicked through two layers of links to try to see where that came from. But please—don't do what we've done!)

If you value your sanity, do not try to check those claims! But as a bit of comic relief, enjoy and marvel at the fact that 50 million monthly readers were finally permitted to know that Native Americans once occupied Plymouth Rock, even though the Pilgrims didn't found a settlement on it.

Bustle's "first Thanksgiving" debunking reads like debunking on acid. And uh-oh! Inevitably, Doyle took some of her material from Fortune's 2017 debunking of various Thanksgiving "lies and legends"—the same debunking the dolorous Blow quoted at substantial, puzzling length in last week's dolorous column.

At this point, a troubling fact may start to swim into view—it isn't all that long a voyage from Bustle to the modern New York Times! With the bulk of our comic relief behind us, let's return to the questions we had when we first read Blow's column.

As we noted yesterday, Blow started with a peculiar passage in which he debunked his own "first myth" with a somewhat peculiar complaint. As you may recall, this is the passage in question:
BLOW (11/28/19): What is widely viewed as the first Thanksgiving was a three-day feast to which the Pilgrims had invited the local Wampanoag people as a celebration of the harvest.

About 90 came, almost twice the number of Pilgrims. This is the first myth: that the first Thanksgiving was dominated by the Pilgrim and not the Native American. The Native Americans even provided the bulk of the food, according to the Manataka American Indian Council.
As we noted yesterday, we have no idea why anyone is supposed to care about who provided "the bulk of the food" at the so-called first Thanksgiving. This seems like debunking for the sake of debunking, a standard element in the frequently ridiculous "lies and legends" pieces which mainly seek to annoy the public so much that they'll go out and re-elect Trump.

That said, we were puzzled by the sourcing for Blow's apparently pointless claim. The Manataka American Indian Council? Who in the world is that? And why are we supposed to assume that they would know who provided the bulk of the food at the first Thanksgiving, an event which occurred in 1621?

For today, we'll only say this. Last Friday, we fired up the Google machine and tried to puzzle that out. We also looked at the Fortune piece the dolorous Blow had quoted at great length is his dolorous column.

One year before, at Bustle, Doyle had cited that same Fortune piece. Like Blow, she transferred the ball of confusion published by Fortune to her own acid-flecked piece.

For today, we think we'll leave it there, though we'll offer a word of warning. If you decide to Google the Manataka American Indian Council, you may find yourself taken to some rather odd places.

The notion that the New York Times is treating this peculiar organization as a prime source of historical knowledge—well, you might as well try to build a journalism school right there on Plymouth Rock.

There's a major fact that's floating here, and a possible bit of despair. The despair could flow from a person's willingness the understand how spectacularly stupid so much of our "journalism" actually is.

The despair could flow from a person's willingness to see who and what the New York Times actually is, not to mention Fortune. It could flow from the transformative anthropological fact your lizard brain hopes you'll never be willing to grasp:

Our modern "liberal" elites are hapless, incompetent, tribal, inane, largely nonhuman all the way down. The Pilgrims lived in the 1620s. What's our current excuse?

Tomorrow: The Manataka American Indian Council—and that pitiful posting at Fortune

26 comments:

  1. "largely nonhuman all the way down"

    Hear, hear.

    And what's your excuse for sticking with them, dear Bob?

    ReplyDelete
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  2. Wow, Goldberg, that's a real fucking shocker.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Read "Mayflower" by Nathaniel Philbrick.

    No one but an idiot like Somerby expects detailed history from an online women's magazine or even from Blow's column.

    This is just another excuse for Somerby to vent his spleen against what he perceives as PC culture and women pretentious enough to write for a living.

    According to Philbrick, the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower landed near the current site of the Plymouth Rock (added as a landmark later), but they survived the winter by eating seed corn they discovered buried in woven baskets in the ground near Cape Cod. In other words, they stole from the Indians who had buried it there for future use.\

    But the actual details aren't that important. If you want to know them, look them up in authoritative sources (e.g., actual histories written by historians). Beyond that, all of our national holidays involve myths, some deliberately invented in order to provide a disparate 13 colonies with a unified national heritage in order to promote cohesiveness in an immigrant nation.

    It may be natural for Somerby to feel that poking around behind the national myths is subversive, an attempt by liberals to destroy good old conservative beliefs, even unpatriotic, but that is what historians do for a living and it is part of growing up to abandon comfortable childhood traditions and find out what really happened.

    The gentle debunking of Blow and Bustle aren't an attack on anything sacred because the family gatherings are the most important part of Thanksgiving, not anything about Pilgrims. There is no harm in giving Indians a role in our national heritage and Somerby would welcome that inclusion if he were any kind of liberal -- but we all know he is not.

    Pretending he is on a quest for truth is nonsense. He is sliming his favorite targets again. Women and liberals.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Once again, Somerby expects to know things without putting in any of the effort. When you read superficial sources, you get superficial, glossed, technically inaccurate info. You need to read something serious to get reliable details. This is a Thanksgiving version of Somerby's complaint about those Relativity made easy books. If he were making a critique of a wrong fact in a serious history, he might have a point. But that would take actual effort and he doesn't have the chops for it, having never gone beyond his Harvard undergraduate degree in philosophy (which doesn't entitle him to be an expert on anything at all). This shtick is very old.

    ReplyDelete
  5. "Our modern "liberal" elites are hapless, incompetent, tribal, inane, largely nonhuman all the way down."

    As David Neiwert has pointed out, when you label any group as "nonhuman" it excuses eliminationist mistreatment of people. It leads to abuses of others by first dehumanizing them, then justifying inhumane treatment because those who are inhuman do not deserve the same considerations as human beings.

    Calling people pigs, degenerate, less than human leads down a dark path. Here, Somerby takes that step by labeling liberals as nonhuman.

    What kind of liberal says things like that? Why does a professed admirer of Malala and MLK call any group of people "nonhuman"? Who does this? Trump, for one. He calls women dogs and refers to immigrants as an infestation. No hesitation on his part about dehumanizing everyone he dislikes. And Trump's supporters love it. And apparently Somerby has decided it is OK to follow his lead. These are dark, sad times when a so-called liberal thinks it is OK to call anyone, much less fellow liberals, nonhuman.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Here, Somerby takes that step by labeling liberals as nonhuman."

      Nah. Did you notice he was talking about “liberal" elite journalists? Did you notice the scare quotes around the word liberal? Gee, what do you think they mean?

      How many of the comments here are you 1:53? Because they all have the exact same timbre. Jeezus, why do you even effing care what Bob writes? Why don't you go to one of the myriad sites that bash Trump and Republicans 24-7, clap your hands gleefully and send a bunch of happy emojis to the bashers instead of coming here and misapprehending what Bob writes? It seems such a waste of your time.

      Leroy

      Delete
    2. Leroy, are you arguing that it’s ok to call liberal (or “liberal”) “elites” non-human? I don’t think it’s at all ok. They’re people, for God’s sake. 1:53’s point is still valid, even if you believe Somerby is making some kind of distinction between “liberals” and “liberal elites.” I bet that most of these “liberal elites” used to be just “liberals” (maybe even liberals without the quotes!!!) before they became “elite.” It’s a slippery slope, and you quickly lose the distinction between these two supposedly different classes of people.

      Delete
    3. 6:49
      You as well as 1:53 miss the context in which Bob has been framing this issue for a very long time. If you really believe that he thinks they’re “non-human,” you haven’t been reading him as long as I have. What he means is that the “liberal” elites of the media are misleading us to such an extent that we become misinformed – whilst the elites hand over talking points to the insane Republican (and neoliberal) crowd. This is, indeed in my view, inhuman.

      This becomes obvious when you examine the non-reporting of Bernie Sanders popularity. He is virtually erased from MSM coverage. Even on PBS’s recent coverage, for fucks sake.

      “Classes of people.” Yes, they used to be just liberals, now they’re “liberal elites!” The “liberal” elite media lose all sight of humanity when they “report” what their corporate overlords want them to. They got that multi-million dollar paycheck to grovel for.

      What I don’t understand is why you don’t see this. ALL of the MSM was cheerleading Desert Storm, for example. They even had graphics (CBS, or NBC, or CNN take your pick) of the awesome weapons we were going to use to fuck up the Iraqi’s in the lead up to the war.

      Ya smell me? Come on, there’s got to be at least a whiff.

      Leroy

      Delete
    4. Leroy,
      The MSM is Conservative, not Liberal.

      Delete
    5. Leroy, Somerby frequently criticizes non-media liberals. Just today, he is busy latching onto the ridiculous Republican bs outrage over Karlan. She is not a media figure or journalist; she’s a lawyer. Yet Somerby castigates her for her remark about Barron. When will you see that Somerby no longer distinguishes between journalists and other liberals? He calls them all “liberals” with quotes.

      Delete
    6. "This becomes obvious when you examine the non-reporting of Bernie Sanders popularity. He is virtually erased from MSM coverage."

      Keep up with the party line, my dear.

      Hillary Clinton Hints Bernie Sanders Might Be a Russian Asset.

      Why would doubleplusgood zombie media advertise Emmanuel Goldstein's doubleplusungood agent?

      Delete
    7. Mao,
      You voting for Bernie over the snowflake in the White House?

      Delete
    8. In 2016, there was evidence that Russia was funneling money into 3rd party campaigns via small donors. Sanders was asked about that possibility and his response was "so what?". Of course Bernie was a Russian asset. He had more FEC violations than any other candidate, mostly involving all those individual donor contributions that he refused to account for properly (as all candidates are expected to do). It was the equivalent of the funneling of money to Republicans from Russia via the NRA. Russians were doing everything they could to make sure Hillary didn't take office.

      Delete
  6. Bob,
    The sub-heading at the top of your blog is "musings" on the mainstream "press corps".
    For years you have written that Fox News dwarfed NBC in TV ratings. The implication being that Fox is "mainstream", NBC is not.
    Change your sub-heading to "Musings on anything but the Right wing media".
    They are not to be critiqued despite their never ending lies and racism.

    Your description today of liberals as "non-human" is your first step toward revealing your true beliefs.

    Don't be afraid. Come on out.

    if Bob is a liberal, I am the mighty Khan.

    Deadrat, Since your reading comprehension is limited:
    Bob Is NOT a liberal. ergo: I am NOT the mighty Khan.
    Comprende?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My reading comprehension is just fine, Sparky.

      You're the one still can't understand that TDH doesn't write about right-wing nonsense. He writes about nonsense on the other end of the political spectrum. Now maybe he should dedicate himself to criticizing Faux News or maybe he should be evenhanded and criticize both sides or maybe he should seek advice from Anonymous Ignoramuses like you.

      But it’s his blog, and he gets to write about the topics he wants to write about.

      I think TDH gets some things right and some things howlingly wrong. My opinion on which is which depends on whether TDH gets his facts right and his logic straight. And not on whether he’s really a “liberal.”

      You’re not the arbiter of who’s liberal and who’s not. And if you think you are, then you’re delusional enough to think you’re the mighty Khan. Comprenez vous?

      Delete
    2. ...TDH doesn't write about right-wing nonsense. He repeats it.

      Fixed to Reflect Reality

      Delete
    3. Deadrat,

      If Somerby is not actually a liberal but claims to be one, then he is not getting his facts straight. So you should care, if you truly are convinced by facts and logic.

      Delete
    4. Since there's no way to know whether TDH is "actually" a liberal (whatever that may mean), then I content myself with checking those claims of his that I can check. Sometimes TDH is right and sometimes he's wrong.

      Delete
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