Part 4—Playing squash ten stories down: BREAKING:
Haberman's programming does include a self-correction mode. Deep inside this morning's New York Times, she revisits her bungled Wednesday front-page report, in which she and her rarely-seen "writing partner" kept repeating a bogus charge:
HABERMAN AND CORASANITI (8/12/16): Instead of saying that her policies as secretary of state helped contribute to the group’s rise—a claim many Republicans have made—Mr. Trump said she should be named the Islamic State’s “most valuable player” for having done so.Wednesday, on the Times front page, Haberman kept repeating a bogus claim: Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment! Today, in paragraph 12 on page 14, she almost says that Candidate Clinton has proposed no such thing.
At the same time, Mr. Trump is accusing Mrs. Clinton, without evidence, of intending to abolish the Second Amendment—something that she denies and would be constitutionally unable to do as president.
Early last week, we spoke with federal experts about such "journalistic" behavior. Our interviews were conducted ten stories beneath the fabled Greenbrier resort hotel, where workers from the federal JIU (Journalist Infestation Unit) have been sent in anticipation of a possible nuclear war started by President Trump, most likely in his first few days in office.
(For background on The Greenbrier, click here.)
We'll briefly describe those interviews below. But experts have long believed that the "extras," as they're routinely called, may possess this self-correction ability. Haberman's halting, buried self-correction is being reviewed as we speak.
Within the JIU, there is little dispute about the presence of these "extras" within the mainstream press corps. Yesterday, a piece at Slate suggested that awareness of this long-standing problem has begun to surface within the press corps itself.
According to the leading authority, Slate's Jim Newell "established his career at Wonkette." Within the world of the JIU, this unfortunate history makes Newell officially "suspect."
That said, Newell's piece at Slate can only be read as an "outing" of a wide range of cable performers. His piece concerned a set of sub-human discussions widely observed on cable this week. It ran beneath these headlines:
Who Cares Who Sits Behind Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?Who cares who sits behind Hillary Clinton? Newell's answer seemed fairly obvious:
“Optics”: the flimsiest basis for a media-driven scandal.
Certainly, no one human! No one who's human would care!
That said, a wide range of cable performers wasted inordinate chunks of time discussing this question this week. Inevitably, it started with an attempt by CNN to keep its discussions "fair and balanced." Here's the way it went down:
The channel invented a ridiculous concern about Candidate Clinton's campaign. This let its weirdly oversized pundit panels rail about an SOTT—about Something Other Than Trump.
CNN's panels were pounding away at Clinton. But just like that, the silly invented non-problem problem also popped up in the Trump campaign! Now, CNN's panels were dogging both hopefuls about an invented concern.
At the start of Newell's piece, he described this manifest cable nonsense. Quite correctly, he described the foolishness as a "nonstory" built from a "nongaffe:"
NEWELL (8/11/16): America owes a debt of gratitude on this day to disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley, the diddler. By showing his face at Donald Trump’s Florida rally Wednesday night and sitting in the same camera shot as the candidate, he canceled out the story about Seddique Mateen, father of Orlando shooter Omar Mateen, who on Monday appeared just above Hillary Clinton’s left shoulder during the broadcast of a rally. Now that both Trump and Clinton have had unsavories sitting behind them at recent rallies, they’re both tainted by the same nonstory, and both might now be loath to weaponize the other’s nontransgression. It would be a minor victory in this intensely stupid election if we were at least to rid ourselves of the “controversial person is in the same camera shot as a candidate, shame on the candidate” genre of nongaffe.That's right, humans! On Monday, Seddique Mateen attended a Clinton rally. He was even seen on camera, sitting in the seats behind Clinton.
Mateen seems to be goofy, but he didn't shoot anyone or commit any other offense. But so what? On CNN, the "extras" burned inordinate time pretending that his attendance at the rally showed some sort of alarming breakdown within the Clinton campaign.
The conversations didn't make much sense; increasingly, though, cable "discussions" aren't intended to do so. That said, these endless discussions did serve two corporate purposes:
The conversations let CNN seem to be fair-and-balanced. Also, they let CNN avoid discussing matters of substance, the number one goal in this age of corporate cable news.
On CNN, highly suspect cable pundits ranted and railed about Mateen's presence at Clinton's rally. Candidate Trump then picked up the cry, staging an especially stupid treatment of the theme at his own Florida rally on Wednesday night.
Perhaps the gods on Olympus chose to intercede that night. As Candidate Trump clownishly railed about Mateen's presence at the Clinton rally, the disgraced former congressman Foley was clearly visible, seated right behind Trump, at his own rally that night!
CNN pundits were now forced to rail about the troubling failures of both campaigns. In Newell's terms, each campaign had committed a nongaffe, thus feeding the cable nonstory.
An obvious question seemed to lurk in Newell's report for Slate. Would actual humans ever engage in cable discussions this stupid?
Granted, CNN pundits are paid good smack to sit there with guest host John Berman and pretend to conduct discussions. (As we learned last week, JIU agents increasingly ask if Berman's voice "seems right.")
Still, it's hard to believe that any real human would engage in behavior this dumb. Was Newell suggesting an extraterrestrial source for this puzzling "cable news" problem?
Our analysts offered a warning. As he continued his screed, Newell himself quickly displayed some troubling signs. These passages worried the analysts:
NEWELL (continuing directly): There are stories to be had regarding Mateen at Clinton’s rally or Foley at Trump’s. After his son’s shooting rampage, Seddique Mateen—who did not countenance his son’s shooting, for the record!—earned a measure of notoriety with some controversial statements about gay people and the Taliban. Why does he support Hillary Clinton, one wonders. And Foley, of course, is the Republican who resigned in 2006, after it emerged he’d sent sexual emails and messages to teenage congressional pages. Why does he support Donald Trump, one wonders.Careful, Newell! the analysts cried. Plainly, the topics you cite aren't "interesting stories"—unless you belong to The Cult of Distraction and Misdirection, the cult which now controls "cable news" and much of our mainstream "reporting."
Then there are the second-order stories. Should Mateen, with feelings still raw over what his son did and how people responded to some of his own controversial comments, show his face at such public events, this soon after the shooting? Is Foley trying to ride the Trump Train as some sort of comeback into politics? Those are interesting stories.
Ten stories beneath The Greenbrier, we played squash with federal experts as our interviews proceeded. Among these experts, there is no longer any real dispute:
According to these federal experts, some degree of infestation has compromised our "mainstream press." The only remaining disputes involve the degree of infestation, and the goals of the extraterrestrial agency presumed to be managing this ongoing effort.
Why is this infestation occurring? When exactly did it begin? Was Sam Donaldson human? Apparently, the Humean compatibilists within the JIU are making it hard to reach consensus on these and other key points.
"You know how the compatibilists can be," one frustrated agent told us. Effortlessly, he rolled his eyes as he delivered a winning shot.
Needless to say, the breakdown within our upper-end press is often seen in pundit reactions to the nation's professors. This became clear when the Washington Post published a recent piece in praise of Professor Frankfurt's insights—and when reviewers praised Sarah Bakewell's new book about Sartre and his apricot cocktails.
To what extent has our journalistic elite been hollowed out by the space invasion? Bakewell's book, and its upbeat reviews, provide a great deal of comic relief. But according to several federal experts, they also strongly suggest a troubling post-rational future.
Still coming: Husserl made easy! The reviewers agree!