Part 1—His most surprising result: Increasingly, our journalistic gatekeepers are gone. This has created a problem.
Originally, the gatekeepers were replaced by Imus and Howard Stern, then by Rush and Sean. In the past decade, they've increasingly been replaced by corporate-owned actors in big orange shoes who hail from our own "liberal" camp.
For decades, tribal dumbness has been cultivated and encouraged. Last night, you saw this dumbness in horrible form as Chris Christie called for Candidate Clinton's head.
("Guilty," we the people kept shouting. "Lock her up!" For Michelle Goldberg's account, click here.)
The last two nights have been sad. That said, the dumbness has been coming from our side too, often with encouragement and modeling from our biggest news orgs.
How dumb can our own news orgs be? Consider two reactions to the giant enormous international scandal now known as Melaniagate.
Start with a collection of highly-paid chimps on The One True Liberal Channel. Late Monday night, as news of Copycatgate emerged, a team of MSNBC stars leaped to instant conclusions about what had plainly occurred.
(In fact, this nonsense occurred in the midnight hour. We'll treat this as Monday night.)
What a performance! The savants insisted, though they couldn't know, that Melania Trump couldn't have been the person who cribbed a couple of passages from Michelle Obama's speech.
One of the speechwriters did it, the savants unknowingly said. Their nonsense came straight from the can.
"Melania Trump could not possibly have known that this was plagiarism," Lawrence O'Donnell gallantly said, although he couldn't possibly know where the stray passages came from.
Just like that, Chris Matthews took things to the next level. He said Cutandpastegate must be an act of "sabotage," with someone inside the Trump campaign trying to undercut Trump.
"This is purposeful," the red-faced excitable talker said. "What was the purpose except to sabotage?"
Quickly, Lawrence agreed with this analysis. He then began to speculate about the "pathology" which is "always" found when speechwriter commit such an act.
You can forget the butler this time; everyone knew that the speechwriter did it! Before long, this gong-show exchange occurred:
SCHMIDT: There is zero chance—and I mean zero point zero—that Melania Trump lifted it.Lawrence hotly agreed with Steve Schmidt. They were full of chivalry as they swore their troth to the prettiest lady of all!
O'DONNELL: Of course not! Of course not!
They couldn't possibly know what was true, but they agreed on one basic fact. Obviously, Melania Trump was "the victim" of this act.
Indeed, "everyone was victimized by this," the gallant Lawrence declared. "[Paul] Manafort was victimized. They all were, it's so crazy."
Once again, Matthews took the language up a notch. "This is an amazing assault on [Trump's] family," he excitedly, dumbly said.
This went on for twenty minutes without commercial break. At one point, Maddow said it was Manafort's head which she "expected" to see "on the guillotine."
(Like last night's conventioneers, Maddow is always eager to see her opponents killed or thrown in jail. As in banana republics, she constantly thinks that her opponents would look good in stripes.)
None of these people had any idea what had actually happened, but they lacked the disciple, the honesty and the skill to acknowledge this obvious fact. In fairness, bless their hearts! They're major players in the low-IQ entertainment form known as corporate cable news.
(Just consider the players! Brian Williams got canned a few years ago for being a serial fantasist. In her regular weeknight performances, Maddow wears the biggest orange shoes on the network, though she was wearing her serious face Monday night since she was cast as Brian's co-anchor. Matthews' past behavior would be legend, except for the fact that the rest of the guild has agreed that it can't be discussed. Lawrence's meltdowns and crazy predictions have been entertaining for years.)
This is the typical gang of savants who pretend to provide "cable news." They had no way to know what had happened. But in accord with cable culture, they quickly pretended they did.
Is it possible that Melania Trump introduced the purloined passages into the speechwriting mix? Of course it is! This leads us to the pitiful work of another big news org.
This morning, Haberman and Barbaro report this deeply troubling matter on the front page of the New York Times. In the process, we get another look at the way our discourse works with our serious gatekeepers gone.
It seems that attention is being focused on someone name McIver. Did the purloined passages come from her? Is she being set up as the fall guy? It's still true that nobody knows where the cribbed passages came from!
That said, we liberals can be just as foolish as last night's convention mob. When we are, the New York Times will frequently egg us on.
Below, you see part of today's report on Giantoutragegate. In the passage, Haberman and Barbaro report the way "average Americans" reacted:
HABERMAN AND BARBARO (7/20/16): The controversy set off by the stumble spread rapidly from the political class to average Americans: African-Americans were angry that Ms. Trump had chosen to swipe the words of the country’s first African-American first lady, especially given Mr. Trump’s hostility to President Obama. Scores of Twitter users, deploying the hashtag #famousMelaniaTrumpQuotes, began to re-attribute famous lines, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream,” to Ms. Trump."Average Americans" within our tribe can have tunnel vision too. But now, with serious gatekeepers gone, news orgs will often encourage our tunnel vision.
But the mischievous teasing at times turned serious, as blacks invoked a painful history of prominent white figures stealing the work of black artists and presenting it as their own.
“I’m not surprised Melanie plagiarized from Michelle,” wrote Yasmin Yonis. “White women have spent centuries stealing black women’s genius, labor, babies, bodies.”
This will be often true at the New York Times, which operates on the editorial assumption that every incident must be viewed as inherently racial. With that in mind, Haberman and Barbaro scanned the globe, looking for an "average American" who had told the preferred tribal story which the newspaper likes.
We were told how "African Americans" saw Monday's outrageous event. "African Americans were angry!" Full stop!
Our modern news orgs are full of clowns. In fairness, though, bless their hearts! They're hired to play that role.
In our view, this largely started with players like Rush. By now, though, the culture has spread. There's gold in them thar tribal hills!
Alas! We "average Americans" will often turn out to have limited judgment. That fact was on full display at the convention last night. But it has been on wide display in recent years within our own liberal tents.
Into this maelstrom walked Professor Fryer, a well-known Harvard researcher. Last week, he reported "surprising" new findings.
In fact, he described one of his findings as "the most surprising result of my career."
In some major ways, Professor Fryer's recent research flies in the face of our tribe's favorite novel. As this series proceeds, we'll consider Fryer's findings, along with the limitations inherent to his research.
Tomorrow: How many people get shot?