Wealthy and affluent, prosperous too!

MONDAY, MARCH 9, 2020

Ben Smith arrives at the Times:
It isn't what we'd planned to discuss in this afternoon's post. But just consider what Ben Smith has done at the New York Times.

Smith spent ten years as Buzzfeed's editor. In January, he became the Times' media columnist.

This morning, he takes dead aim at our tribe's cable stars. Just look at the names he calls them:
SMITH (3/9/20): [A]fter his stunning setback on Super Tuesday, Mr. Sanders bent the knee and submitted to a barrage of not particularly friendly questions from the most powerful progressive on TV, the MSNBC host Rachel Maddow.

He had been avoiding the network, suspicious of its wealthy hosts and corporate owners. He told Ms. Maddow in mild exasperation that one of his challenges was “taking on the corporate media, if I might say so.”

[...]

Mr. Sanders is right...that much of the U.S. media still covers elections as if they’re sporting events and that the affluent New Yorkers who run and appear on television networks are not inclined to like him. The narrative of Joe Biden’s comeback was an irresistible story to the media—one that often eclipsed the coronavirus, never mind discussion of health care or poverty—on cable news in recent days.

[...]

Mr. Giridharadas said he wanted to make TV that is a rebuke to cable news as it now exists. “When you get to that level of television, everyone is prosperous at the table,” he said in an interview. “I’m not sure I’ve ever sat next to an uninsured person on television. I sit next to uninsured people on the subway all the time.”
You can read Smith's column to take in his overall point. We were struck by the way he described "progressive" stars like Maddow.

Smith described these popular stars as "wealthy" and "affluent." He quoted MNSBC's Anand Giridharadas describing that channel's guests as "prosperous."

Giridharadas was making a point we first made at this site in the fall of 1999:

Prosperous people who have good health care may not care about discussing the problems of low-income people who don't.

That thought first occurred to us after the first Gore-Bradley debate in October 1999. The candidates spent the bulk of their time discussing their respective health care plans.

The candidates talked about health care. But at the Washington Post, Pulitzer winner Mary McGrory devoted the bulk of her next column, and part of the column after that, to mocking commentary about Candidate Gore's unappealing wardrobe selections. Part of her thoughtful commentary went exactly like this:
MCGRORY (10/31/99): Vice President Albert Gore came to his fateful encounter with newly menacing challenger Bill Bradley carrying heavy baggage. He was wearing an outfit that added to his problems when he stepped onstage at Dartmouth College: a brown suit, a gunmetal blue shirt, a red tie—and black boots.

Was it part of his reinvention strategy? Perhaps it was meant to be a ground-leveling statement—"I am not a well-dressed man." It is hard to imagine that he thought to ingratiate himself with the nation’s earliest primary voters by trying to look like someone seeking employment at a country music radio station. Maybe it was the first step in shedding his Prince Albert image.
She barely mentioned the health plans at all. A possibility occurred to us as we read her insulting column—the scribe had excellent health care herself, and possibly didn't care a whole lot about other people who didn't.

Today, we all know—it's one of our tribal dogmas—that journalists only attack female candidates for the way they're dressed. Few examples are even given. Gore was massacred for months on end for his wardrobe selections.

That said, Smith's column today brings a new feel to the Times. He suggests that wealthy cable stars don't want to discuss heath care plans or poverty. He suggests they want to send Kornacki to "the big board" to entertain us with polling data.

We don't know who selects the topics which get discussed on MSNBC. We also don't know how much the channel's affluent hosts get paid. You aren't allowed to know such things, and you aren't encouraged to wonder.

Smith discusses several people and orgs who are trying to create thoughtful alternatives to the current offerings on cable news.

We have no confidence that they'll succeed. But we were amazed by the naughty way Smith described our own tribe's stars—the affluent hosts who want you to think that you're numbered among their best friends.

Is Smith allowed to say such things? It looks like we'll get to find out!

That said, none of this will matter. We're already well past the end.

With this we return to our irregularly scheduled very bad case of toothache. We're back to normal tomorrow.

That first Gore-Bradley debate: That was the debate where 300 press members, watching on closed circuit TV in a nearby press room, hissed, jeered and booed every word Gore said.

So reported press corps snitches Tapper, Pooley and Mortman, in three separate reports. You've never been told that remarkable story because such things simply aren't done.

25 comments:

  1. “He [Sanders] had been avoiding the network, suspicious of its wealthy hosts”

    This is pure, unadulterated horseshit. Sanders has appeared on the Chris Hayes show dozens of times over the past couple of years, most recently on 2/12/2020.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Was that before or after one of the network's stars compared his campaign to Nazis?

      Delete
    2. He never avoided the network.

      Delete
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  2. “I sit next to uninsured people on the subway all the time.”

    Wow. I’m impressed. And those uninsured people get to sit next to his brilliant self too as the prosperous Giridharadas heads off to his next gig as an MSNBC commentator or featured speaker at the Aspen Institute. Win-win.

    ReplyDelete
  3. From the article:
    “Bernie Sanders has been searching for that alternative to for-profit media for a long time. Back in 1981, when he became mayor of Burlington, Vt., he turned to his staff and said: “We can’t survive. We have to develop our own media.””

    What happened? Too busy running for office?

    ReplyDelete
  4. After Bradley left the Senate, he was the featured speaker at a meeting I attended. Presumably he wrote the speech as well as delivering it. I came in as a fan of Bradley, but he was terrible.. The speech was long and boring, and his delivery was tedious.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The purpose of a president isn't to be entertaining. The content of the speech is important because it tells you what a candidate plans to do during his or her presidency. It isn't supposed to be fun.

      Delete
    2. A leader must stir the souls of the people they want to lead.

      Delete
    3. "A leader must stir the souls of the people they want to lead."

      II'd point out how Trump did that in 2016, but it's not "politically correct".

      Delete
    4. He trashed elites and the status quo.

      Delete
    5. 11:59,
      LO fucking L.

      Delete
  5. Sanders said (in 2016, after losing to Hillary):
    “it's my view that the leadership of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are tied to big-money interests and that neither of these parties will ever represent the people in this country that are demanding the real changes that have to take place," he said.

    Those people need to vote. For him. Unfortunately for him, that isn’t happening right now.

    He barely won his own home state primary this year, emerging with the same number of delegates as Buttigieg the Unready.

    It makes one wonder if Sanders has actually listened to uninsured or low-income voters, rather than talking at them or about them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Buttigieg emerged with zero delegates from Vermont, the state which is directly west of New Hampshire 6:14 PM. LINK Lots of people confuse those two states, I guess.

      Presidential candidate Joe Biden praised the beauty of Vermont during a visit to Keene, New Hampshire on Saturday.

      "I’ve been here a number of times," he told reporters. "I love this place. Look, what’s not to like about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it? And what a neat town, this is sort of a scenic, beautiful town and everyone has been really friendly. I like Keane a lot."

      Delete
  6. "Prosperous people who have good health care may not care about discussing the problems of low-income people who don't."

    You are completely illogical, dear Bob, I'm sorry to say.

    You seem to be operating under the assumption that your zombie talking heads are independent, wealthy individuals who discuss topics, on your zombie shows, that interest them.

    In reality, dear Bob, the only reason they are wealthy is that they do their job well. And their job is to produce the dembottery for your zombie cult high priests. The talking heads are only the messengers, dear Bob. They are nothing. They're not worth to be worried about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trump had to settle out of court for stealing from his own charity.

      Real news!

      Delete
  7. Don't wealthy and affluent mean the same thing? Why use both words?

    There are very few people without problems. Bernie's idea that only poor people's problems matter may convince people who don't self-identify as "poor" that he has little interest in them and their problems. Just as rich people tend to call themselves "comfortable" not rich, poor people don't tend to call themselves poor -- there is stigma to that word. Further, it would prevent them from seeing their financial struggles as temporary, because poor is a social class, not just a financial condition. Does Bernie understand that? You can't tell from his rhetoric.

    The young people who Bernie appeals to aren't poor or financially struggling. They are self-involved (just like Bernie) and like the idea of blowing things up. This is the very thing that repels people who just want to have a problem or two solved.

    These are things that Elizabeth Warren understood but Bernie seems to be clueless about. Somerby too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Crazy to think that the press dynamics that Somersby /howler have been commenting on for about two decades haven't really changed that much at all. Even weirder is the refusal of many mainstream media outlets to confront it. I guess it's careerism.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wonder how much of the war against Clinton started with anti southern sentiment and classism. Ultimately it morphed into other things and led to the media attacking Gore by association but I suspect that certain members of the DC press hated Bill Clinton for being "poor white trash " and somehow achieving all of the things that they valued (Ivy League university, position of power ). And I think it angered the "liberal open minded " media to no end that Hilary wasn't some Jackie esque cocktail sipping socialite decked out in designer duds but someone with goals of her own. Sorry if this is a bit off topic, I'm just bringing this up because I rarely see it discussed anywhere else.

    ReplyDelete
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