ANTHROPOLOGY LESSONS: Sun gods affirmed!


Part 4—Rucker serves Sawyer Inka: Anthropologically speaking, it’s hard not to think of the 15th-century Inka when we consider the way our young “journalists” defer to their priests and their rulers.

In his heralded book, 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, Charles Mann described the ancient folkways of the Inka. These folkways live on, slightly disguised, in the work of young Yale grads like Philip Rucker, who now writes for the Washington Post.

Anthropologically speaking, some things never change! Thupa Inka was the son of the Pachakuti Inka, founder of the empire:
MANN (page 82): Carried on a golden litter—the Inka did not walk in public—Thupa Inka appeared with such majesty, according to the voyager Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, that “people left the roads along which he had to pass and, ascending the hills on either side, worshiped and adored” him by “pulling out their eyebrows and eyelashes.” Minions collected and stored every object he touched, food waste included, to ensure that no lesser person could profane these objects with their touch.
To state the obvious, such patterns of deference are widely observed within the modern-day “press corps.” Exalted leaders like Dowd/Matthews/Sawyer are revered in similar ways, with younger journalists like Rucker cast in the role of the “minions.”

Anthropologically speaking, some things never change! No one could read this next account from Mann’s heralded book without thinking of the many young adepts who flock out of modern-day Yale and proceed to their nation’s capital city, determined to pander to their own guild’s gods, hopefully on cable:
MANN (page 98): Royal lineages, called panaqua, were special...When the Inka [the emperor] died, his panaqua mummified his body. Because the Inka was believed to be an immortal diety, his mummy was treated, logically enough, as if it were still living. Soon after arriving in Qosqo, Pizarro's companion Miguel de Estete saw a parade of defunct emperors. They were brought out of litters, seated on their thrones and surrounded by pages and women with fly whisks in their hands, who ministered to them with as much respect as if they had been alive.
Mann seems to think that folkways like these will strike modern readers as strange. In fact, similar practices are quite common within TV “news divisions.”

This is especially true on election nights, when mummified stars of broadcast news past are presented on special broadcasts to offer current “observations.” Young members of the priestly class sit politely by on such occasions, acting like nothing peculiar has occurred.

In short, the resemblance to Inka cultural norms could hardly be more plain.

Some things never seem to change within our “family of man!” Just consider what happened when Diane Sawyer expressed her concern a few weeks ago about Hillary Clinton’s wealth.

If we had an actual press corps instead of a group of young adepts, someone might have noted the oddness of Sawyer’s familiar performance. According to the scattered reports which sometimes leak out within the press, Sawyer had been banking $12-20 million per year for quite a few years at the time she expressed her concern about Clinton’s unseemly wealth.

If we had an actual press corps, someone might have noted the comical oddness of Sawyer’s ritualized conduct. Someone might even have noted a second part of the ritual slaughter—the failure to ask Clinton about actual projects in which she is engaged.

Alas! Because priests like Sawyer are obscenely wealthy and wholly uncaring, they will never ask targets like Clinton about projects like Too Small To Fail. (This project is designed to help low-income children in the first few years of life.) Indeed, priests like Sawyer are unlikely to know that such projects even exist!

If we might borrow some of Mann’s language, these priests employ large numbers of “retainers and advisers.” These minions work “to ensure that no lesser person could profane” the priests with knowledge of such low affairs.

Sawyer, who is obscenely wealthy, played a very familiar game when she voiced her concern. In a rather selective fashion, the press corps has now punished a string of major White House contenders for owning houses which are too expensive or too big or simply too many in number.

Obscenely wealthy journalist/priests routinely take part in this puzzling ritual. Way back in June 1999, Sawyer took the lead role in a similar game on the night that Candidate Gore formally announced his campaign.

Interviewing Gore on his Tennessee farm, Sawyer asked a series of questions intended to drive a bogus script: Al Gore says he grew up in Tennessee, but he really grew up here in Washington!

Alas! Sawyer quickly unveiled a pop quiz, asking a series of questions designed to test Gore’s knowledge of farming. Below, you see her questions, which were geared to the press corps’ war against Bill Clinton’s successor:
From Diane Sawyer’s pop quiz, June 1999:
“How many plants of tobacco can you have per acre?”
“What is brucellosis?”
“What are cattle prices roughly now?”
“And this is my mother's question: My mother says when a fence separates two farms, how can you tell which farm owns the fence?”
According to Sawyer, her first threequestions came from her cousins, who were “all tobacco farmers and cattle farmers.” None of her questions had anything to do with anything Gore had ever said, but they created a sense of awkwardness and embarrassment right at the start of the high-profile interview.

The pop quiz furthered the prevailing narrative in which Candidate Gore was the world’s biggest liar, just like President Clinton. In fact, Sawyer’s questions had come straight out of her worthless, upper-class ass. Various news orgs ran very hard with this gong-show performance.

Sawyer has been playing this low-IQ role in our national discourse for about a million years now. Last week, the obscenely wealthy Nixon enabler helped us see how worried she is about Clinton’s troubling wealth.

Young adepts like Philip Rucker knew how to react to this work by their tribal leader. This Monday, Rucker posted a long report about Clinton’s troubling wealth on the front page of the Post.

Rucker, a Savannah native, graduated from Yale in 2006. For whatever reason, the school seems to provide our most obsequious young “journalistic” enablers, a point we’ll explore a bit tomorrow.

Rucker’s report appeared above the fold on the front page of Monday’s Post. To our ear, his performance was highly advanced, and it was very sad.

Like Sawyer, Rucker was quite concerned. Hard-copy headline included, this is the way he started:
RUCKER (6/23/14): Clinton’s rarefied life could be a liability in campaign

When Hillary Rodham Clinton said this month that she was once “dead broke,” it was during an interview in which she led ABC News anchor Diane Sawyer through her $5 million Washington home, appointed like an ambassador’s mansion. Mahogany antiques, vibrant paintings and Oriental rugs fill the rooms. French doors open onto an expertly manicured garden and a turquoise swimming pool, where Clinton recently posed for the cover of People magazine.

On her current book tour, the former secretary of state has traveled the country by private jet as she has for many of her speaking engagements since stepping down as secretary of state last year. Her fee is said to be upwards of $200,000 per speech; the exceptions tend to be black-tie charity galas, where she collects awards and catches up with friends such as designer Oscar de la Renta and Vogue editor Anna Wintour.

Such scenes reveal a potentially serious political problem for Clinton as she considers a 2016 presidential run: She and her husband are established members of the 1 percent, leading lives far removed from the millions of middle-class voters who swing elections.
As propaganda, we’d call that rather advanced—advanced, and pitifully sad.

The Clintons, of course, are well beyond the realm of the “one percent.” That said, Rucker pushed every possible button in the course of advancing Sawyer’s familiar old theme.

Hillary Clinton even has friends like Oscar de la Renta! Her home is now worth $5 million—and it has paintings and rugs!

In his opening sentence, Rucker played the skillful propagandist, comparing Clinton’s statement about her financial status in 2001 to the market value of her Washington home today.

It wasn’t until his eighteenth paragraph that Rucker explained a basic point—the Clintons were actually $10 million in debt at the time to which Clinton referred in the troubling gaffe with which he began his report.

Meanwhile, Rucker littered his piece with scalding denunciations of Clinton, sourced to a trio of unnamed “Obama advisers” along with several others who let him reveal their names. He even played a few old cards which have long been called into question:
RUCKER: Bill Clinton rose from poor beginnings in rural Arkansas to the presidency. In 1992, it was Clinton’s everyman connection that helped him defeat then-president George H.W. Bush, a patrician who was ridiculed for not knowing the price of a gallon of milk and for expressing amazement at supermarket scanners.

Now Hillary Clinton risks a similar caricature. On tour this month for her new book, “Hard Choices,” Clinton mingled with regular people at signings, but only under strict rules: no photographs and no personalized autographs. There are Secret Service agents to keep the crowds in order and aides to hand her books, count how many she signs and ferry her to the next stop. The former first lady recently said she hasn’t driven a car since 1996.
Those familiar old scripts about President Bush have long been called into question, initially at the Washington Post itself. Meanwhile, Rucker was concerned about everything from the size of the vacation home the Clintons rented three summers ago to the excessive number of rules which exist when Clinton signs books.

Last summer, the Clintons even invited Paul McCartney to visit their rented vacation house! So Rucker said, plainly concerned.

By normal standards of news reporting, Rucker’s front-page piece is really strikingly poisonous. Perhaps you can guess where our thoughts wandered when the young adept typed this:
RUCKER: Bill and Hillary Clinton own two houses: A brick Georgian in Washington near the Naval Observatory that they purchased in 2001 for $2.85 million is now assessed at $5.05 million, according to D.C. property records. They also own a white Dutch farmhouse in Chappaqua, N.Y., that they purchased in 1999 for $1.7 million and was last assessed at $1.8 million.
As we read that damning passage, we’ll admit that these thoughts came to mind:

Is Diane Sawyer living in public housing? Is she able to remain in New York thanks to rent control? Here again, we see the familiar norms of our poisonous priests, which their colleagues in the pundit class will always advance or ignore:

Obscenely wealthy “journalists” will suggest that disfavored pols are out of touch based upon their wealth. “Minions” like Rucker will work to advance this time-honored theme.

No one ever mentions the wealth of the journalistic players who, due to their deep concern, have chosen to initiate the troubling story line.

Wealth and gaffes will be discussed. Projects and policy views will not. The gaffes can be real or they can be invented, as Sawyer capably demonstrated in the case of Candidate Gore.

Anthropologically speaking, little has changed since the time of Thupa Inka. Mummified figures like Sawyer are wheeled thro0ugh the streets. Minions like Rucker spring into actions, whisking the flies from their faces.

Mother and father, who sent them to Yale, look on with great family pride.

Tomorrow: Chris Hayes sells Terry Gross

Our thoughts also wandered to this: According to Rucker, the Clintons own two homes. The homes were purchased for $1.7 million and $2.85 million.

Plainly, the Clintons are wealthy. That said, our thoughts also wandered here:

In 2004, Chris Matthews bought his summer home on Nantucket for $4.4 million. That was roughly the cost of both Clinton houses combined.

At the time, Tim Russert’s summer home on Nantucket was worth several million dollars more than that.

Was Russert “out of touch?” Actually, no—he was a man of the people! Everyone knew that because Russert keep saying that he was just a working-class kid from Buffalo.

Young hustlers like Rucker were always on hand to repeat what the Inka said and whisk the flies from his face.


  1. Rucker and his ilk are tools of the Republican billionaires and don't even know it. This kind of thing has the effect, and likely the intent as well, of making most American s disgusted with all their elected officials. They're all rich so they are no different, so it's not even worth it to vote. Not voting means low turnout, which means Republicans get elected even in many districts where the majority of the voters are Democrats.

  2. Are the Clintons, like Diane Sawyer, obscenely wealthy?

    Are ex-Presidents and their wives also treated like defunct emperors?

    Didn't Bill and Hillary meet while attending Yale?

    1. They aren't treated like emperors by the press corps, by Sawyer, obviously. Not even with respect owed them for their considerable public service.

  3. Diane Sawyers NY digs.

    Her vacation home.

  4. Rucker and his ilk are tools of the Republican billionaires and don't even know it. This kind of thing has the effect, and likely the intent as well, of making most American s disgusted with all their elected officials. They're all rich so they are no different, so it's not even worth it to vote. Not voting means low turnout, which means Republicans get elected even in many districts where the majority of the voters are Democrats.

  5. Sorry about that.

  6. Bob is just jealous of Josh Marshall's financial success.

  7. I see Hillary getting up in the morning, amid whatever rugs and such, and getting down to work. On whose behalf? That's the question. It DOES bother me that she felt "dead broke," because I'm not sure of her frame. A frame created out of growing up healthily upper middle class (and a Goldwater girl) and after than moving in an insanely wealthy world (starting at Wellesley) -- a frame that has little imagination about the way most people actually live? Or a frame created out of her good Methodist-girl upbringing (something I believe has sustained her well) and her learning at Wellesley and Yale, Arkansas and D.C., fortified by imagination (which knows no class or other boundaries)?

    I guess people are pretty complicated. I haven't figured out Hillary Clinton yet. She probably hasn't figured out herself. But I have no doubt that every day is a hard working day for her.

    Can't say I have the same hope for Diane Sawyer, beauty-queen, Nixon-girl journalist -- and Wellesly grad, two years ahead of Hillary. Which has had all that plastic surgery?

  8. Ah, I get it. It was wrong for Sawyer to ask Hillary about the personal fortune she and Bill have amassed so shortly after being "not only dead broke, but in debt" because Chris Matthews and the late Tim Russert owned more expensive homes.

    Makes all kinds of sense.

    1. Instead, Sawyer should have stuck with softball questions about all the projects Hillary is involved in because Sawyer makes a lot of money, too.

      Brilliant analysis.

  9. Why are the various trolls here defending the conduct of the millionaire press corps? What is wrong with their conduct is that they focus on trivial issues instead of substance, target certain politicians for ridicule and make up false statements about them, presumably in service to plutocratic interests, and are well-paid for doing so -- to the extent that they live in fancier homes than the long-time public servants they criticize for being wealthy.

    How is that defensible? Why are the trolls here defending these people? Who pays these trolls to do what they do here day-in and day-out?

    1. They are anti-Somerby trolls. They advance inane arguments against anything he says. I think that they think it elevates them to Bob's level. It doesn't. Ignore them.

    2. The commenter known as New York Property Records has all your answers.

      Have a great weekend!


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