Part 4—The Times pretends to correct: This morning, the correction appears, no thanks to Professor Coates.
Two days ago, his fellow Timesman, Kim Severson, made a flat misstatement in her news report about Paula Deen. We petitioned Coates to alert his readers to the growth of these bogus facts, carefully warning him that such conduct may cost him his spot at the Times.
Coated played clam, accepting the fact that the Times is allowed to invent bogus facts when it’s busy killing the pig. This morning, though, the Times steps forward, offering this deceptive correction, which no one on earth will see:
NEW YORK TIMES CORRECTION (6/27/13): An article on Tuesday about the controversy surrounding Paula Deen's admission during a deposition in a discrimination lawsuit that she used racist language paraphrased incorrectly from her testimony. While she admitted to making off-color jokes, she did not say that she told jokes that denigrate blacks.Severson “paraphrased incorrectly from Deen’s testimony!” This is, of course, a “Clintonian” account of what actually happened. And please note: Even as it semi-corrects its reporter’s incorrect paraphrase, the Times refuses to tell its readers what Severson knows if she read the deposition in question:
Deen specifically says, at two separate places, that she doesn’t tell racial jokes. If Severson read the deposition, she knew that all along.
Whatever! The Times has pretended to correct, and Coates’ position stays strong. All truly important interests have thereby been protected.
But once again, we’ll have to say it: This has been a remarkable week for those who would study the culture, the procedures and ethics of the upper-end “mainstream press corps.”
In part, the week has shown the guild’s tolerance for the (relatively) trivial in service to preferred narratives. In this morning’s New York Times, a high-profile TV review and yet another news report add to the paper’s body of work concerning what a vaudevillian southern celebrity chef apparently said to her former husband on one occasion in 1986.
Including this morning’s pile of piffle, the Times has devoted five news reports to this topic, along with today’s TV review and one full op-ed column. Another column began with another “incorrect paraphrase,” a bit of over-salted home cooking the Times hasn’t stooped to correct.
Why has the Times devoted so much space to this rather pointless topic? Don’t ask Jesse Jackson! Yesterday, Jackson seemed to tell the Associated Press that there are topics he cares about more than this:
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (6/26/13): Civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said Wednesday that he has agreed to help Paula Deen try to make amends for her use of a racial slur, saying she should not become a "sacrificial lamb" over the issue of racial intolerance.Poor Jackson! He still doesn’t grasp the role of such lambs in press corps shark attacks! Meanwhile, let’s see if we’re able to follow his puzzling logic:
Jackson told The Associated Press that the celebrity chef called him this week, and they discussed how she might recover from her admission that she had in the past used a slur considered demeaning to black people, which cost her job with the Food Network and an endorsement deal with Smithfield Foods.
If she is willing to acknowledge mistakes and make changes, "she should be reclaimed rather than destroyed," said Jackson, adding that he's more troubled by ongoing racial disparities in jobs, lending, health care, business opportunities and the criminal justice system.
"She may be a symbol of intolerance but she should not be a sacrificial lamb," he said.
According to Jackson, he cares more about health care and criminal justice than about what Paula Deen said to her former husband, in private, on one occasion in 1986?
Did we read that correctly?
Reading a statement like that by Jackson, we can see why he never gained purchase with our celebrity pundits. Of one thing you can be quite sure: They care much more about Deen’s past statements (real and invented) than about such tedious topics. Long ago, Maureen Dowd defined their world in that anecdote told by Joe Klein.
“You mean I should write about welfare reform?” she said to Klein, rolling her eyes.
Your celebrity pundits don’t care about that, or about Jackson’s priorities. They do care about their Standard Group Narratives, most of which come from their cultural wars—and this has been a remarkable week for observing the way they advance them.
In the past week, these empty beings made Deen, a vaudevillian chef, their latest Group Target. And when they launch such shark attacks, these are the rules to which they adhere as they are killing the pig, even a pig which doesn’t gigantically matter:
Three basic practices of “the press” when its members pursue their Group Targets:Reading those documents may kill the fun! Consider the latest example.
(1) They will invent false and bogus facts in their pursuit of the pig. This includes bogus paraphrase and non-existent quotations.
(2) When they invent their facts, other guild members agree not to notice. This is now called The Coates Doctrine.
(3) They don’t do background reading.
Atop the front page of this morning’s Arts section, Alessandra Stanley reviews Deen’s appearance on yesterday’s Today show. In established fashion, Stanley manages to cite the meltdown concerning Miss Lewinsky at two separate points in her treatment.
That’s right—the Lewinsky matter! When new shark attacks begin, old shark attacks get remembered.
Dowd’s friend displays all the skills by which these group attacks are advanced. But right at the start, we couldn’t help noting a likely instance of Rule 3:
Just a guess. Stanley still doesn’t seem to have read the basic documents:
STANLEY (6/27/13): Paula Deen is a two-way victim.You almost have to admire the practiced evil of a slick being like that.
On Wednesday the tarnished cooking-show queen tearfully told Matt Lauer on NBC's ''Today'' that she was provoked into using a racist epithet only once, when an African-American robber held a gun to her head, as she put it, ''a world ago.'' (Actually, it was 1986.)
And now she says unnamed enemies are using her word—the one she alluded to using more than once in a legal deposition in May—against her. ''Someone evil out there saw what I worked for and they wanted it,'' she said.
That highlighted statement barely makes sense, but our “journalists” happily sacrifice clarity for the thrill of extending a group attack. But truly, it takes an evil person to toy with race in that manner.
Did Deen “allude to using [her word] more than once” in that deposition? Yes she did, but that odd construction has been assembled to keep you from knowing that she only alluded to using her word once as a racial epithet.
In her other allusions, Deen alluded to using her word in conversations where she repeated what black employees had said to each other in disputes. Presumably, Stanley understands that fact, which explains the convoluted construction she creates on her way to her joyous recollections of that woman, Miss Lewinsky.
That is a very slick construction. Masterfully, Stanley toys with race, the way these horrible people will do.
Beyond that, though, we note that Stanley still may not have read that deposition. Here’s why we say that:
“And now” Deen says that ''someone evil out there saw what I worked for and they wanted it?” If Stanley had read the deposition, she would have seen that same general claim being made last month, although it doesn’t involve Deen’s use of “her word.”
In the deposition, Deen seems to make this claim about Lisa Jackson, the former employee who is suing her for a very large sum, claiming racial and sexual harassment by Deen’s brother. Among other things, Jackson accuses Deen’s brother of liberal use of the N-word.
In Jackson's deposition, she never accuses Deen of same, and she says she considers Deen to be a good person.
Deen seems to claim that Jackson got greedy along the way. Because we’ve read the deposition, we assumed that we probably knew what Deen meant by her statement to Lauer.
We also wondered, reading today's Times, if Stanley has ever gotten around to doing her background reading. The higher up the shark chain you go, the less likely such background work is.
Whatever! We strongly recommend Stanley’s piece, which helps you see how Salem Villagers can interpret all statements and actions in ways which comport with a preapproved narrative. Stanley doesn’t need to invent fake facts, so skilled is she at interpreting everything in a prearranged manner.
The “press corps” has behaved this way for decades, of course. After they flipped about Miss Lewinsky, they transferred their giant sense of disturbance on to Candidate Gore.
For the next twenty months, they engaged in conduct which changed world history. People are dead all over the world because of the things they did as a group—and because of the silence of other guild members, who were behaving in the manner which is now named for Coates.
This latest summertime shark attack is aimed at a much less significant target. The relatively trivial nature of this pursuit helps us see how inane these horrible people are.
Why are these sharks attacking this pig? As we’ve told you for many years, the New York Times is deeply involved in racial themes involving the South—in a way the Washington Post is not, to cite one example. The Post has given minor play to this latest attack, which doesn’t mean that the famous news paper bothers to get its facts right.
This is the start of yesterday’s item in the hard-copy Reliable Source. Can you spot a clever practice, one we first named years ago?
ROBERTS AND ARGETSINGER (6/26/13): Paula Deen's appearance on the "Today" show Wednesday might not save her career—but it may be her best move after a disastrous few days.Of course! It’s the power of pluralization! What exactly are the racist “slurs” to which these vile people refer?
"If I hear one more nitwit say, 'She needs to get ahead of the story,' " said D.C. crisis manager Eric Dezenhall. "It's called damage control, not damage-never-happened. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube."
The celebrity chef, reeling from revelations that she used racist slurs, has already been dropped by the Food Network and Smithfield Foods. Now, Deen is struggling to protect the rest of her Southern-fried empire...
This has been a remarkable week for watching the upper-end “press corps” at play. The most remarkable fact of all involves our past city-mate, Coates:
The bogus facts have been general this week, including that remarkable fake fact is Slate, which remains uncorrected. But bogus facts have been common at the Times, as is quite traditional.
This has gone on for a very long time. In its more grievous manifestations, this old-world cultural practice has produced death and destruction all over the world.
Cash and fame to the side, why are intelligent people like Coates willing to accept this old-world tradition?
Coates does wonderful work on the history of race. Cash and fame to the side, why does he sit still for this?
What stops a sharp observer like Coates from rising to denounce this highly genteel old-world practice?
Tomorrow: Varieties of American historical loathing