Part 3—Nothing too dumb to be said: Let's be fair to gossips.
Sometimes, gossips direct their wrath at worthy targets. Occasionally, the things they say about their targets are reasonably accurate.
That doesn't mean they aren't gossips! And in the case of the mainstream press, their judgment has been very bad, in the past thirty years, as they've chosen their devils and angels. (Hat tip, Bobby Vee.)
They gossiped about the Clintons and Gore for the better part of thirty years. This set the stage for the ascension of their current target, Donald J. Trump, to the Oval Office.
(Along the way, they'd named Jim Comey "the most upright man now living." This misjudgment didn't help either. But then, they've reached such gross misjudgments in spades. Warning! Robert Mueller is their current most upright person.)
When the press corps targets Donald J. Trump, they're targeting a deeply disordered person, one they helped elect. That doesn't mean that they aren't behaving like gossips. Just consider what Brian's guest said.
Back in the day, Brian spent a lot of time gossiping about Candidate Gore. Presumably, he did this in service to his corporate owner, Jack Welch, and perhaps out of some general, guild-wide distaste for the widely loathed Clintons.
In particular, Brian spent a lot of time gossiping about the candidate's wardrobe. Also, about the candidate's possible attendant psychiatric problems.
Sad! Candidates had campaigned in casual clothing for years, but in the fall of 1999, Williams was suddenly troubled by the disturbing practice. Gore was “wearing polo shirts twenty-four hours a day,” the anchor groused on October 6, 1999, on his nightly, little-watched, "cable news" program.
The polo shirts “don’t always look natural on him,” he weirdly complained two nights later.
For whatever reason, Williams thought Gore was wearing the shirts in some sort of effort to woo female voters. The anchor repeatedly stated this troubling theory, asking guests when Gore’s strategy would “all start becoming so transparent [that] no one is fooled” (October 6) or (October 8) whether the strategy was going to “become absolutely transparent when they go out into the hinterlands and try to sell it.”
On and on the grumbling went. Incredibly, Williams raised the question of Gore’s polo shirts on five separate programs in one eight-day period, with two nights off for weekend rehab. In such ways, the press corps gossiped about Candidate Gore's disturbing wardrobe—his suits, his boots, his shirts, his shorts, the number of buttons on his suit jackets—all through the fall of the year.
Years later, Brian invented so many tall tales about himself that he managed to get himself dumped from his $12 million job as anchor of NBC Nightly News. Today, he's back on corporate liberal cable. Once again, he's gossiping in all the approved ways.
Today, he's one in a nightly lineup of liberal "cable news" heroes and stars. Despite his astonishing history, we liberals admire his brilliance today because he gossips, and spins the news, in all the ways which please us.
Today, the press corps' gossips have set their sites on a deeply disordered man. That doesn't mean that they aren't gossips, enjoying the practice of gossip.
It doesn't mean they don't behave in the time-honored manner involved in "killing the pig." Consider the dumbest thing ever said on the planet, a statement offered and accepted on Monday's night program hosted by Brian.
Brian welcomed a new guest this night as part of his opening panel. By the rules of the game, his trio of panelists had been chosen because they were all guaranteed to agree with every word everyone said.
That's a basic rule of gossip. After a brief opening rundown, Brian listed his guests:
WILLIAMS (7/30/18): Well, let's, at this point, bring in our lead-off panel for a Monday night, shall we?Honig was new. He had earned his way into the circle with an essay that day in The Daily Beast, a devolving org whose undisguised tabloidism helps define the state of our rapidly failing journalistic culture.
Jonathan Lemire, White House Reporter for the Associated Press. Elie Honig is here, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and former Assistant Attorney General of the great state of New Jersey. And Anita Kumar, White House correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers.
Honig has had an impressive career. Soon—perhaps he was simply trying too hard—he would be heard to say this:
WILLIAMS: Elie, once and for all, for all the non-lawyers watching who have heard Rudy Giuliani and others today say, more than once, "collusion is not a crime," what is it?No, really. That's what he said!
HONIG: He is right. Collusion is not a crime. It's something I think the president made up. You just showed the graphic.
The president is the only one who has ever said the word collusion. Robert Mueller and his team have never used that word, "collusion."
Of course, conspiracy is a crime and, of course, receiving aid from foreign nationals in an election is a crime. And obstruction of justice is a crime. But it's word play, and it's so flimsy, and it's so transparent. I think, again, it's another sign of desperation.
And, you know, as Jonathan said, they're trying to sort of—they have nowhere to go. And so they're trying to play semantics. And it's another sign that they're panicking.
It's always possible that the new guest was simply trying too hard. But right there on corporate liberal cable, with 1.684 million people watching the original 11 PM Eastern airing, Honig declared that Donald J. Trump is "the only person who has ever used the word collusion." He said he figured that this was something the president made up.
(Taped rebroadcasts followed at 2 AM Eastern and 4 AM Eastern. On all three broadcasts, Honig made these remarks!)
On its face, Honig's basic statement was crazy. In fact, journalists had been talking about "collusion" for almost exactly two years as Brian's new guest threw his thunderbolt down.
Once in a while, on the rare occasion, some minor effort had been made to explain that "collusion" isn't a term from the criminal code and isn't the name of an actual crime—that a person would have to be charged with some sort of "conspiracy," presumably conspiracy in an illegal act, to attract the wrath of Mueller, the most upright person now living.
Some things had been explained. Generally, though, "cable news" isn't heavy on explanation, information, analysis or fact. It's heavy on the kind of gossip Honig was unleashing here, with the assertion that Trump had invented the use of the term; that no one else had ever used the term; and that current statements about collusion represented an act of desperation on the Trump camp's part.
That's the type of speculation on which cable feeds. Years ago, people like Brian—and much more influentially, Chris Matthews—had speculated again and again and again and again about the diabolical reasons for Candidate Gore's disturbing decision to wear three-buttons suits, one of which was olive or possibly tan, and for his disturbing decision to wear polo shirts.
The boots he wore had been too shiny; his pants were hemmed too high. Cokie sputtered and complained that he wouldn't have dressed that way at St. Albans, which had a wonderful dress code, at least back in the day.
Matthews said the choice of clothes defined Candidate Gore as "today's man-woman." For months, the gossips speculated about why the candidate wore his (unremarkable) clothes, and they discussed the psychiatric implications of these wardrobe selections.
Today, these beasts haven't changed. Their ancestors drove all other human species to extinction; Professor Harari attributes this demographic triumph to chance mutations which let the ancestors of these idiots "gossip" and adopt potent, widespread group "fictions."
According to Professor Harari, those emergent skills allowed our ancestors to cooperate in much larger groups than other human species. On Monday night, successors to the Neanderthals' slayers worked in a group again.
Even by the standards of cable gossip, this newest member of the circle had made a ridiculous statement. Perhaps he was simply trying too hard. Perhaps he had never watched cable news or read any mainstream news reports about the possibility of collusion with the Russkies.
That said, his statement was baldly absurd. But it had been adorned with all the mandated speculations, so no one said a word about the absurdity of what the new kid had just said.
Sometimes, gossips target disordered people. In our view, the current target of CNN and MSNBC is one of the most disordered people ever seen in American public life.
That said, these idiots and their predecessors had fed off his disorder all the way through his badly disordered career. Was it the best sex Marla ever had? One of the giants had asked the question in search of wealth and success!
It would be hard to maker a dumber statement than the one the new kid made. That said, when you watch corporate liberal, you're watching members of our officially "human" species cooperating in groups.
Information, facts and precision play little role in gossip games. Tomorrow, we'll look at what Natasha said—and we'll look at Honig's essay.
Tomorrow: But that's what Hillary did!