Part 2—Tell it to Harold Hill: Early in last evening's 8 PM hour, Anderson Cooper introduced his pundit panel.
Rather, he began to introduce his panel. The CNN anchor said this:
COOPER (3/20/17): With that, joining us now is CNN national security analyst Steve Hall. He's a former CIA senior officer and a veteran of Russian operations.It seemed like Cooper would referee a discussion with four pundit panelists.
New Yorker Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza is joining us. So are CNN political analysts David Gergen and Gloria Borger.
But then, dear God! Suddenly, the camera showed four more souls, and Cooper just kept going:
COOPER (continuing directly): As is Trump supporter and American Spectator senior contributor Jeffrey Lord, former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki, Democratic strategist Paul Begala and Daily Beast senior columnist Matt Lewis.Cooper proceeded to stage a discussion involving himself and eight other contributors. Inevitably, one of the pundits was Jeffrey Lord, the hardest-working, most maddening person in show business today.
We agree with what Carl Bernstein said on Cooper's Friday night broadcast. It's time for a change in the way the press corps, especially cable, reports on Donald J. Trump.
One change would reform the ridiculous way Cooper discusses Trump. Night after night, again and again, his program devolves into a battle in which hundreds of pundits attempt to deal with the various assertions of Lord, the most insistent and most frustrating of CNN's Trump whisperers.
Again and again, a familiar pattern plays out on Cooper's program. Lord reinvents the various things Donald J. Trump has said. As he does, he paraphrases past reports in the New York Times, maybe perhaps inaccurately or implausibly.
In response, Cooper's cast of thousands try to talk Lord out of his various claims. With respect to those New York Times reports, Cooper never makes the slightest attempt to define what the newspaper actually said.
Before the week is out, we'll review a recent example of this cast-of-thousands nonsense, which routinely recurs, Groundhog Day-fashion, on Cooper's CNN show. This format provides a wonderful way to pretend to discuss the news about Trump, without establishing any facts about the claims which consume another hour.
Bernstein was right! It's time for a change in the way Cooper presents the news. But then, it's also time for a change in the way we liberals operate Over Here.
In our view, our own liberal world pretty much hit rock bottom last year. We were confronted with the craziest candidate ever nominated for the White House.
Confronted with this craziest candidate, we somehow managed to lose!
Ever since that shocking day—Professor Wang had said it couldn't happen!—we liberals have insisted on blaming that outcome on Those People, the ones found Over There. It hasn't seemed to enter our heads that November's pitiful outcome might in some way be a reflection on Us.
In line with prehistoric thinking, it can only be a reflection on Them. For an example of what we mean, just check Paul Krugman's new column.
Let's start by stating the obvious. Within the journalistic realm, Krugman has been the liberal world's MVP for a very long time.
Plainly, he's one of the liberal world's smartest, best informed players. This makes his new column even more striking.
In our view, much of what Krugman says in his column is true. We'd say it's true that Donald J. Trump seems to have a "pathological inability to accept responsibility" for his own flaming misstatements.
As far as we know, it's true that this is an outsized version of a pre-existing tendency among major figures in the conservative world.
(One example from Krugman's column: "In the aftermath of the  financial crisis, a similar inability to admit error was on display among many economic commentators.")
We assume all that is true. That said, we were struck by what happened when Krugman asked our liberal team's favorite question near the end of his column.
It's something we liberals love to do! Krugman tried to understand how Those People could have voted for Trump.
We liberals love to ask that question. Here's how the column ended:
KRUGMAN (3/20/17): [W]hy did so many Americans vote for Mr. Trump, whose character flaws should have been obvious long before the election?We liberals always take this approach! We take it as a reflection on Them that they chose to vote for Trump, "whose character flaws should have been obvious."
Catastrophic media failure and F.B.I. malfeasance played crucial roles. But my sense is that there’s also something going on in our society: Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like, mistaking bombast and belligerence for real toughness.
Why? Is it celebrity culture? Is it working-class despair, channeled into a desire for people who spout easy slogans?
The truth is that I don’t know. But we can at least hope that watching Mr. Trump in action will be a learning experience—not for him, because he never learns anything, but for the body politic...
We don't see it as a reflection on Us when we say, for the ten millionth time, that we don't understand why Those People chose to do that. In this case, we were especially struck by one part of Krugman's lament.
We agree with Krugman on one basic point. In our view, Donald J. Trump's "character flaws" were, in fact, completely obvious long before last November.
That said, many voters believed that Hillary Clinton's character flaws were totally obvious too. Krugman's brief reference to "media failure" may in part speak to this point.
That said, we were most struck by Krugman's claim that something has changed in the U.S.A. when people can't see through a person like Donald J. Trump.
"Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like," Krugman writes. By "many Americans," he plainly seems to mean the many Americans found Over There.
In our view, many voters have shown poor judgment concerning the blandishments of Donald J. Trump. (We're willing to identify our view as a matter of opinion.)
That said, uh-oh! Tomorrow, we'll discuss a few of the various hustlers and con men we liberals have failed to see through in the past twenty-five years.
Any such list would be long, of course. It speaks to Krugman's growing tribalism that he can only see this failure of judgment occurring among Those People, the stupenagels found Over There.
We liberals have failed to see through a long list of hustlers and con men too! Beyond that, we point to Krugman's puzzling suggestion that the inability to see through figures like Trump is new on the American scene.
Citizens, please! We the people have always been susceptible to swindlers and con men. Our literature is rich with such stories—stories which revolve around a natural-born human trait, a trait of good decent people.
Last night, we shot pool at Washington's Cosmos Club beneath a photo of Mark Twain, who apparently shot pool in the very same room. When he wasn't thus occupied, Twain gave us the story of the Duke and the King, the "otherwise unnamed con artists" who manage to swindle an Arkansas river town in a famous part of Huckleberry Finn.
Way back in 1962, Meredith Willson gave us another such tale. His swindler, Professor Harold Hill, was a lovable non-professor professor who was selling magical trombones.
The good, decent people of River City fell for his skilled blandishments. In the end, Marian the Librarian, who fell for his soul, was able to turn him around.
We humans have always been inclined to get taken by the hucksters! This explains why we have an FDA and three hundred similar agencies.
Those agencies were invented to protect us against our human selves. Today, though, we liberals insist that the tendency to fall for music men is something new in American life—and that this human tendency can only be found Over There.
Krugam ended yesterday's column in a tribal way. Tomorrow, we'll mention a few of the music men whose trombones we liberals have purchased.
Having said that, let us also say this:
It may be time for a change in the way Cooper sifts Trump. That said, it's also time for a change in the way we liberals imagine the world.
Why won't Those People listen to Us when we tell them who they should vote for? In part, it's because they know us for who and what we are: folk who believe that human failing only exists Over There.
"Many Americans no longer seem to understand what a leader is supposed to sound like?"
This very basic human flaw has always been part of American life. And this very human imperfection is very much found Over Here.
Tomorrow: Our previous Donald J. Trumps