Who is Professor Kruze: We don’t think we’ve ever done two different series at one time.
This week, we’re going to shatter that precedent; we're going to produce two serials! That’s how fascinating—and sad—this new op-ed column is.
The piece was written by Professor Kruze, a youngish history professor from the leafy groves of Princeton.
We liberals are going to mail Kruze's column around. We are going to be thrilled to our souls by its powerful wisdom.
We liberals are going to mail it around. But the piece is just pure perfect crap.
Professor Kruze seems to be about 40 years old. He’s been at Princeton since 2000, the same year he reeled in his doctorate. Despite his tender years, he is already skilled at the mandated forms of perfect ignorance which are acceptable to the mainstream press and prevalent in the liberal world.
Professor Kruze is writing today about the death or decline of truth. That said, everyone is suddenly writing this column, prompted by the howling misstatements emitted by Candidate Romney.
As we mentioned, Professor Kruze is a professor of history—or so his CV says. But good God! Read his account of political lying over the past sixty years.
Do parents really pay tens of thousands of dollars per year to subject their children to that?
In his column, Professor presents a list of Greatest Misstatements from the past sixty years—greatest misstatements by politicians. Helping to serve his pasteurized theme, he omits the most consequential and best-known political lies of this misstatement-strewn period.
After that, the professor lists four reasons why lying is on the rise today—lying by politicians. This list is rather comical too, thus suitable for the medium.
As he closes, the professor leans on a rather inept mainstream organ for his news of the current campaign. But the key to his denatured work is found in this early passage:
PROFESSOR KRUZE (11/6/12): Venomous personal attacks and accusations of adultery, miscegenation and even bestiality are as old as the Republic. Aaron Burr was the sitting vice president when he killed Alexander Hamilton.For starters, might we beg the nation’s editors to stop printing that requisite tale about Hamilton getting killed by Burr? How many thousands of times will professors force us to read it?
But while the line between fact and fiction in politics has always been fuzzy, a confluence of factors has strained our civic discourse, if it can still be called that, to the breaking point.
The economic boom and middle-class expansion of the postwar era encouraged relative deference for officials, journalists and scholars. It’s true that reporters and politicians had far cozier relationships, but the slower news cycle allowed more time for verification and analysis.
Candidates accordingly believed that being caught in an outright lie could damage their careers. (As Daniel Patrick Moynihan reportedly said, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”) They tended only to bend the truth, not break it.
That said, this professor’s pasteurized tale is built from those last two highlighted statements. In context, his meaning is clear:
All through this highly sanitized piece, this professor writes as if all political misstatements and lies come from “candidates”—from politicians. In this passage, you see his fundamental construction:
It’s the candidates who misstate and lie. It’s the journalists who correct these misstatements, or who perhaps fail to do so.
It never enters this pigeon’s head that the rise in lying in our politics could have come from the press corps itself. In this way, this professor’s sanitized framework is suitable for publication.
We liberals are going to mail this around. Because it says our downfall Came From Romney, it makes us feel tribally good.
As we mail this column around, we’ll be proving a very key point: We’re just tremendously soft in the head—tremendously easy to script.
Tomorrow: The lists of Mercer County
But the interesting stuff in this piece (yes, a bit insipid, but hardly so bad as you suggest) comes not at the beginning but in the second half:ReplyDelete
"At least four factors since the 1970s have lowered the cost for politicians who lie and, more important, repeat their fabrications through their attack ads. First is the overall decline in respect for institutions and professionals of all kinds, from scientists and lawyers to journalists and civil servants.
Second are changes in media regulation and ownership. In 1985, the conservative organization Fairness in Media, backed by Senator Jesse Helms, tried to arrange a takeover of CBS and “become Dan Rather’s boss.” It failed, but two years later conservatives set the stage for an even bigger triumph. For decades, radio and television broadcasters had been required to present multiple viewpoints on contentious public debates on the grounds that they were stewards of the public airwaves. But in 1987, members appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Federal Communications Commission abolished this “fairness doctrine.” The change facilitated the creation of conservative talk radio and cable outlets to combat perceived liberal bias. Liberals followed suit with programming (albeit less effective) of their own.
As this cacophony crescendoed, a third trend developed as political operatives realized they had more room to stretch the truth. In 2004, an aide to President George W. Bush dismissed a journalist for being part of a “reality-based community” of people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” But even Mr. Bush believed there were limits to truth-bending. The ads that attacked the military service of Senator John Kerry came from the ostensibly independent “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” After the ads aired, Mr. Bush belatedly called them “bad for the system.”
A fourth factor: most news organizations (with notable exceptions) abandoned their roles as political referees. Many resorted to an atrophied style that resembled stenography more than journalism, presenting all claims as equally valid. Fact checking, once a foundation for all reporting, was now deemed the province of a specialized few.
But as this campaign has made clear, not even the dedicated fact-checkers have made much difference."
I did indeed email this essay, to my 32-year-old son, who just doesn't believe me that, e.g., "Fact checking, once a foundation for all reporting [I'd be more specific: for all respected reporting], was now deemed the province of a specialized few."
I was also amused by lines like, "Many resorted to an atrophied style that resembled stenography more than journalism, presenting all claims as equally valid." Pretty good description of much NYT reporting these days, as you yourself often observe.
Yes! I read this in the NYT and had the same reaction: HOOEY!ReplyDelete
(Romney seems to have made a tactical decision that facts are not needed, but the essay is hooey.)
And then the essay showed up in my in-box. Another feel-good essay circulated by and for liberals.
Does nobody remember the war against Clinton? Any accusation---no matter how baseless---was good fodder for the Sunday morning talk shows, a book publisher, the op-ed pundits, the RNC daily talking points, as well as filling the news hole. Fact-checking was NOT the press's highest priority. It would have gotten in the way of a good story.
Kruse seems to have been asleep the past few decades.
What are the lists of Mercer County?ReplyDelete
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