Part 5—Everyday people push back: Paul Krugman’s portrait is sad but true in today’s New York Times.
At the end of his latest column, Krugman looks into the future. As he does, he employs a key word:
“Pundits will try to pretend that we’re having a serious policy debate, but, as far as issues go, 2016 is already set up to be the election of the living dead.”
The key word there is “pretend.” We’ve been using that word all week. Here’s why:
In an astounding amount of our public discourse, our “journalists” seem to be pretending. Sometimes, they pretend that they’re discussing real issues. On other occasions, they pretend that they’re telling us what they think.
In our view, a lot of pretending seems to exist in Jo Becker’s front-page report in today’s New York Times. The exciting piece, which was instantly famous, is 4400 words long.
In it, Becker pretends to examine past conduct by Candidate Clinton.
The last two mornings, we’ve watched the gang on Morning Joe pretend to discuss this front-page report. Yesterday morning, they all acknowledged that they hadn’t yet read the exciting report which they were pretending to discuss.
In our view, Becker does a lot of pretending in her long “news report.” So did Willie Haskell-Geist as he ridiculed the absurd idea that the New York Times, of all publications, could possibly have an anti-Clinton animus.
Mika and Joe also pretended to find that idea absurd. These are the wages of twenty-three years of silence by our top corporate pseudo-liberals.
Alas! All next week, we expect to discuss Becker’s front-page pseudo-report. We also expect to review the palaver churned on Morning Joe, where Howard Dean’s unusual comments went to the remainders bin.
Uh-oh! Yesterday morning, Dean made some unusual comments about the glorious Times! He didn’t seem to know the rules—comments like his are not allowed when high-ranking pundits pretend to discuss the news.
Dean said the things you mustn’t say about the New York Times! As a result, he fought off complaints from Times reporter Jeremy Peters, who pretended to be offended by Dean’s offensive remarks.
In the part of the segment shown below, Scarborough pretends to be offended by Dean’s remarks. To watch the fuller exchange, click here:
DEAN (4/23/15): First of all, I haven’t seen the story and neither have you, right?...I will say, there is an epidemic of really sloppy reporting that goes from the top to the bottom...I’d like to see what all the facts are here, because so far we haven’t really seen—To state the obvious, that is what the New York Times does! In 2008, we spent a week on the topic when they somehow got it into their heads that Candidate McCain was having a steamy sex affair.
SCARBOROUGH: Why don’t you read the story before accusing the New York Times of being sloppy?
DEAN: Because in general, the New York Times has been sloppy, particularly their political writers. I use the New York Times as an example in journalism classes, because by the fifth paragraph in any political story—we can probably find one right here, whatever the political story on the front page is. By the fifth paragraph, they’re substituting their judgment for news.
SCARBOROUGH: Howard, I just got to say. I consider you a good friend of mine. I think it is unbecoming for you to come on this show and, and to just reflexively attack everybody who tries to bring up any information that goes against what you want people to hear about Hillary Clinton.
DEAN: They did it to George W. Bush! That’s what they do.
To read those reports, click here. But that is what the New York Times does. They do it all the time!
The rest of the gang was pretending to discuss a report they hadn’t yet read. Spoiling the fun, Howard Dean made some accurate statements.
He didn’t seem to understand—within the business, you aren’t supposed to make accurate statements about the New York Times. Rachel, Chris and Joan won’t do it. Yesterday, Howard Dean did!
Next week, we expect to review that front-page “news report.” We’ll also take a fuller look at the pseudo-conversations which occurred when Mika, Willie and Joe pretended to voice their heartfelt concerns about the deeply troubling things they hadn’t yet actually read.
For now, we’ll only say this:
Over the course of the past several decades, everyone within the guild has obeyed the rules Dean broke. They’ve agreed to withhold the basic truth about the ridiculous work of the Times, especially about its long, peculiar war against both Clintons and Gore.
Rachel won’t discuss it with you; she's too busy clowning. Hayes won’t tell you. Joan Walsh spends most of her time folding Matthews’ ascots.
None of those people are going to teach you how to push back against the terrible, ludicrous people who type for the New York Times.
On Sunday, Bruni and Dowd wrote ridiculous columns about Candidate Clinton. As they did, they kicked off the new charade, in which the press will pretend to discuss our election for the next nineteen months.
Bruni pretended that he was “confused” by the least confusing term on earth. Dowd continued the visibly crazy gender-lunacy she has directed at Democrats for the past twenty years.
Your favorite “liberals” have never pushed back against any of this. Within the business, such pushback isn’t allowed.
Grasping stars like Rachel Maddow will not defend your interests. More specifically, they won’t criticize the ludicrous work done by this empty “newspaper.”
Climbers like Maddow have always played you. Last Sunday, some others pushed back.
In comments, an assortment of “everyday Americans” pushed back against the clowning of Bruni and Dowd. There certainly weren’t enough of these people. Too many people simply can’t see that these famous columnists are typing away with no clothes.
That said, some everyday people have heard enough, even if Rachel hasn’t. From New York City, a reader of Bruni’s drivel said this:
COMMENT FROM NEW YORK CITY: The meaning of “everyday Americans?” This, in the Sunday edition of the most important op-ed page in the world? With so much at stake? I don't get it.Others thought that important newspaper wanted to be something else:
COMMENT FROM NEW MEXICO: If you want to criticize her, pick something substantive. Her credentials deserve better than nitpicking over her eating at Chipotle and driving in a “Scooby van.” Does the NYT really need to be the People Magazine of politics?Quite a few commenters made a foolish request. Foolishly, they asked Bruni to focus on matters of substance:
COMMENT FROM FLORIDA: When I saw the security camera footage of Sen. Clinton in a Chipotle, I knew the media had lost its collective mind...How can we take the news media's stewardship of our election process seriously if they can't stop acting like they are TMZ?
COMMENT FROM NORTH CAROLINA: How many daze (pun intended) left until the presidential election and how many pundits’ columns do with have to endure outlining their personality traits? Who cares?Commenters, please. Fat chance! Upper-end slackers like Bruni and Dowd don't care about matters of substance!
COMMENT FROM CALIFORNIA: Let's assume that everything Bruni says about the potential nominees is true. What then do we learn about them? Precious little. Reading Bruni won't help you to understand anything about their politics, their plans and agendas, their understanding of the many serious problems that Americans, of the everyday kind and all others, must deal with...If you want to know what's wrong with the way journalists write about American politics, read columns like this one.
COMMENT FROM ARIZONA: This is just another tedious look at a viable candidate who happens to be a very qualified woman, but is taken apart by various NYTimes columnists for superficial issues like her gender, her age, and the goofy name of her bus. Where are the substantive discussions about the real problems that plague us in 2015?
COMMENT FROM WISCONSIN: Frank, you and your colleagues are not helping matters by focusing on the theater of the campaign and not on the issues. It is a long campaign, and I am sorry that we have this sort of system for electing a president. But it is made more exasperating by columns like this one and others.
COMMENT FROM NEW YORK: As John Lennon sang: “Just give me some truth.” Please no more personality driven columns. We need a discussion of the issues first and foremost.
Many readers tore their hair at the thought of reading such columns for nineteen more months. Others lobbed the nastiest insult of all. They said Bruni’s column made them think they were reading a column by Dowd:
COMMENT FROM MASSACHUSETTS: Frank, I thought I was reading a continuation of Maureen’s column until you finally got to comparing presidential candidate debut weeks across both parties...But what your column, as well as Ms. Dowd's, has done for me is this: get already good and fed up with campaign coverage.Beneath Dowd’s column, many readers complained about her reference to Obama as “a feminized man.” Others complained about the relentless repetition of her Hillary-hatred.
COMMENT FROM VIRGINIA: Bruni, why don't you talk about the issues instead? You're just as bad as Maureen Dowd in your focus on trivial campaign stuff.
COMMENT FROM VIRGINIA: Good grief, now Mr. Bruni proclaims that he doesn't know what Hillary meant by saying she would work for “everyday Americans!”...Next up, must reading for me: Maureen Dowd's Granny Get Your Gun. I am quite sure that her guns are loaded with acid galore, with an added coating of poison.
One reader tried to be clever. Given the craziness of the target, this will never work:
COMMENT FROM CALIFORNIA: Surely this must be a prank by the editors. It is inconceivable that Ms. Dowd could actually write yet another column bashing Hillary Clinton. It just cannot be that Ms. Dowd has no one and nothing else to blow curare darts at except Mrs. Clinton. The "Bash Hillary" column by Dowd has become a never-ending Mobius strip that we all have ridden in circles for years now. This must be a belated April Fools' Day prank by Dowd.Actually, it’s a long-running rat-fuck by the peculiar life-forms who run the New York Times. They’re terrible people, if they’re actually people at all. But they do have a great deal of power.
They’ve been running their assorted rat-fucks for decades now. For twenty-three years, they’ve had an unexplored, unchallenged animus against the Clintons and Gore.
Everyone knows that this is the case. But Willie, Joe and Mika also know that they must pretend. They must pretend it's utterly silly to suggest such a thing!
It’s very, very, very rare to see someone like Dean speak up. Your darling Rachel won’t tell you the truth. Walsh and Hayes know they must be quiet.
Four cycles back, this gave us George Bush. The growing self-parody that is Dear Rachel is willing to do it again.
Tomorrow: What Gladstone thinks she’s been hearing