MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2016
Part 1—These Macedonian teens today: "In the beginning was the end." We believe T.S. Eliot said that.
(Actually, he only said something like that. He said it in East Coker, one of the Four Quartets, after saying similar things in the preceding quartet, Burnt Norton. For today, let's agree not to quibble. You can fact-check here.)
"In the beginning was the end?" As we review this past crushing year, we're forced to reach a bone-crushing conclusion:
Eliot got it right!
November's election has sent our liberal world reeling. But as we review the press corps behaviors which helped produce this astounding result, it must be said that those behaviors all had deep roots in the past.
For that reason, our "Year in Review" reports this week will cover a set of years. When we pick our Worst Journalist of 2016, for example, we will rule that her worst reports of 2016 actually occurred last year!
When we pick our Worst News Org of 2016, we'll claim that its worst news report of 2016 may have occurred last year!
It goes on from there. When we pick our Most Consequential Journalistic Narrative of 2016, we'll find that it began in 1992. When we pick our Least Authentic Journalistic Cohort, we'll find that their behavior has also stretched back through all those years, even as we in the liberal masses agreed to avert our gaze from their conduct.
Tomorrow, we'll start our hardest-hitting reports. For today, let's just limber up a bit. Let's select the Silliest Scapegoat of the Year(s).
For Silliest Scapegoat of 2016, we're going to name These Macedonian Teens Today, what with the malicious "fake news" you'd think these damn kids invented!
It has to be one of the phoniest moral crusades of the year(s). In the weeks since November's election, the mainstream press corps has suddenly spilled with denunciations of the practice which has been named "fake news."
Make no mistake—"fake news" can be a destructive phenomenon. But just as fake as the fake news itself is the opprobrium which has emerged from the mainstream press concerning this troubling new practice.
The lunacy about Comet Pizza has sent the mainstream press corps over the edge. So have the revolting events in which a bunch of Macedonians teens were found to be inventing phony factual claims for fun and profit.
Just for the record, how widespread is the press corps' outrage about the invention of fake facts? So widespread that NBC News has even come out against it!
These Macedonian teens today! Everyone has agreed to agree that they mounted a massive, and apparently new, challenge to our sacred discourse.
In truth, it has been darkly amusing to watch our journalists stand in line to denounce "fake news"—and to give the impression that the practice is something new. Let's consider that one recent episode which has been described as "fake news." As we do, let's consider a similar example of "fake news" from the ignored and forgotten, disappeared past.
Question 1: Was Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of that pizza restaurant?
Actually no, she wasn't! Widespread claims to the contrary have now been dubbed "fake news."
Moving right along:
Question 2: Did Hillary Clinton and her husband conduct a string of murders in the 1990s, perhaps including the (non-murder) death of Vince Foster?
Actually no, they didn't! But instead of denouncing these disgraceful claims, the press corps turned a blind eye to their purveyors in real time and beyond.
You see, those purveyors of fake news included some powerful, well-known people. We think of Jerry Falwell and Rush Limbaugh first, but we'll name two more purveyors below.
Can you see the similarities between these two episodes? In the more recent episode, a bunch of idiots went on-line to create a vicious, idiotic tale about (imagined) child abuse.
In the earlier episode, a group of major cultural figures created and promulgated a vicious, idiotic tale about a string of (imagined) murders.
Can you see the similarities? Almost anyone could! That said, the newer episode is being denounced as "fake news." The other episode hung around for years—did so right into October of this year, as we'll note below.
Did the practice of "fake news" have its roots in the past? We'd have to say it did! Indeed, the promulgation of crazy claims about Clinton and Clinton has been a part of our news culture ever since Bill Clinton emerged on the national stage in 1992.
Many people believed those crazy, fake claims. Presumably, crazy belief in those crazy fake claims contributed to Clinton's defeat this year.
That said, the press corps has been giving the impression of late that this troubling "fake news" thing is just extremely new. A string of liberals have even jumped up to insist that we should maintain a narrow definition of "fake news," just so no one gets confused or gets the wrong sorts of ideas.
Those liberals are what we'd almost call useful journalists. In fairness, though, let's observe the differences between this year's "fake news" about child sex abuse and all those earlier fake claims about all those Clinton murders.
In what way were these episodes different? The best we can give you is this:
This year's "fake news" about Comet Pizza was spread on the Internet. Because there was no such medium in the 1990s, Jerry Falwell spread his fake claims about those murders by selling a videotape, The Clinton Chronicles.
In a similar vein, Limbaugh spread his insinuation about Vince Foster through the medium called "talk radio." We were actually listening that day!
Can you see how different the fake news of that era was, as compare to the fake news of this year? This year's fake claim was spread on the Net. Those earlier fake claims were pimped through different media.
Can you see how different this year's "fake news" was? We can't see a real difference either! What we do see is the reliably fraudulent behavior of the big stars of the mainstream press, supported by vassals a bit lower down on the career crystal stair.
Let's be clear. This year's fake news about that (imagined) child sex ring needed to be confronted. So, of course, did the earlier fake news about those (imagined) murders.
That said, in the beginning was the end! So much fake news has been spread for so long that this year's version apparently seemed convincing to a lot of gullible people.
Inevitably, that was due, in part, to the press corps' past refusal to challenge, analyze or examine widespread fake claims. How did the upper-end mainstream press continue that practice this year? Consider what the New York Times was doing right through the first week of October.
Of course! As the second Trump-Clinton debate approached, Donald J. Trump was lionizing Bill Clinton's past sex accusers.
Two of the more famous accusers were deeply sunk in the practice of selling the fake news about all those past murders. But as you'll recall, the press corps hadn't yet discovered "fake news" when they engaged in this conduct.
Result? The New York Times ran a front-page report on October 3 of this year rehabilitating these earlier purveyors of fake news. For perhaps the millionth time, Kathleen Willey and Gennifer Flowers were pimped to the public again.
Thanks to Megan Twohey and unnamed editors, readers weren't told about the ways those famous sex accusers had conspired to sell that earlier, ugly fake news.
Readers weren't allowed to ponder what this repulsive conduct might say about their general credibility, which the Times was now pimping again. If we might borrow from Eliot again, this is the way the world ends within our mainstream press corps.
The claim that Candidate Clinton was running kids out of a pizza point? That repulsive, stupid claim now qualifies as "fake news."
The claim that she murdered all those people? Right up through October 3, that claim apparently didn't! Willey and Flowers were vouched for again. We hate Macedonian teens today. We loved sex accusers back then!
In the beginning was the end! We'll explore this framework all week. For today, we'll offer this warning:
We liberals! The people we accept as our heroes have accepted this crap every step of the way. This November, the wages of their endless conduct helped bring electoral death.
In the beginning was the end? This year's horrible journalism stretches back through many years. To borrow from a Nobel laureate, as these practices took hold, our heroes "just stood there grinning!"
Tomorrow: Worst Journalist of the Year(s)