The Times' sexism exposed: How rational is our own liberal tribe?
Consider the framework which has evolved from our tribe's desire to get rid of Donald J. Trump.
Yesterday's major "get" from Michael Cohen involved a "hush money" payment. The payment went from Trump to Stormy Daniels, who was threatening to tell the world that she and Trump had consensual sex, on one occasion, in 2006.
(Trump says they didn't have sex at all. Frankly, we weren't there.)
We liberals! We keep saying that Trump "silenced" Daniels, as if that were a bad thing to do, and as if that wasn't what her agent was seeking. As we stampede this way, we advance the following lunatic notion:
Voters need to know if a candidate had sex with some person at some point in the past.This is a lunatic notion. It's the kind of idea which springs full-blown from the brains of a pre-rational people on a tribal stampede.
In fairness, who knows? Perhaps the Congress should pass two laws.
One law would require a candidate to release his tax returns. The other law would require him or her to release the names of all sex partners over the past twenty years. All sex partners, not just those currently seeking big paydays!
You have to be crazy—out of your mind—to think this framework makes sense. And yet, this lunacy lies at the heart of the way our self-impressed tribe is now thinking.
We're told that Trump committed a crime in paying Daniels to shut the heck up. Meanwhile, is it possible that it's actually Daniels who may have committed a crime?
Over Here in our liberal tents, our corporate leaders shield us from encountering such vile thoughts. Over in the other tribe, they aren't quite so sheltered. Back in December, to cite one example, The Others were allowed to hear this exchange concerning Daniels' conduct:
CARLSON (12/10/18): Is it unfair to describe this scenario as extortion? I say I know something about your sex life. I know a secret about you that you want to keep that's non-criminal, but that you want to keep hidden. And unless you pay me money, I'm going to reveal it.Under existing law, did Daniels commit extortion? We have no idea! You see, the corporate liberals who people our tribe's cable shows would never expose us to such an unhelpful idea.
That seems like textbook extortion to me. Why is it not?
DERSHOWITZ: It is absolutely textbook extortion. And there ought to be a prosecution of any person, man or woman, who approaches any candidate or anybody else and says, "Unless you pay me money, I'm going to reveal a sex act that occurred."
That is absolute classic extortion. And it's shocking that the special counsel looking into this, who has a broad mandate, he described it very broadly, isn't looking into the extortion committed by, at least, the porn star, whose lawyer obviously approached the candidate or the candidate's people, and threatened exposure. Otherwise, why would you pay?
They're paid to brainwash us, night after night, to keep us barefoot and clueless. And, as tribal and corporate beings, they happily hurl themselves into that task for millions of dollars per year.
(You can't be told how many.)
Donald J. Trump committed a crime, Stephanie Clifford didn't! This currently sacred group belief comes remarkably close to what Professor Harari means when he says that our war-like species, Homo sapiens, runs on a fuel he calls "fiction."
(We all agree on a sweeping group tale. This allows us to work as a group.)
Meanwhile, our various players keep advancing key elements of tribal lore, generally in the absence of any historical understanding or knowledge. Consider a letter which appeared in yesterday's New York Times.
As best we can tell, the self-assured writer of this letter is six years out of college (Cornell, class of 2012). Her letter concerns this recent report in the Times concerning allegations about Amy Klobuchar's treatment of staff.
The letter is steeped in current tribal narrative; it's clueless about recent history. This is the (pre-rational) mind of the stampeding tribe at work:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (2/27/19): We may never know whether Senator Amy Klobuchar’s aggrieved staff members are influenced by the fact that she is a woman. But we can be sure that the Times article is.The letter writer knows everything! She knows that the Times report was an example of "covert sexism." She knows that the Times has failed to do similar reporting about Klobuchar's "male counterparts."
Articles about Ms. Klobuchar’s behavior as a tyrannical boss stand out not because such behavior is unique, but because the same has not been written about her male counterparts.
This kind of covert sexism is dangerous so early in the 2020 contest because it sets the tone for the rest of the campaign. It also illuminates the importance of a press that takes responsibility for its influence on elections.
The last presidential race was tinged with sexist reporting, not in the language of its articles, but rather in their selection. Many of us will never forget the seemingly endless columns on Hillary Clinton’s emails.
This article about Ms. Klobuchar’s mean management style is in the same vein. Please do not make these same mistakes again.
(Presumably, this means those who ran for president, as Klobuchar is now doing.)
She knows that the coverage of Candidate Hillary Clinton was also "sexist reporting." She specifically cites "the seemingly endless columns on [her] emails."
The letter writer seems to believe that she knows these things. Mainly, though, she seems to know current tribal script.
She doesn't seem to know about the "seemingly endless" scandal reporting which dogged Hillary Clinton's (non-female) husband during the 1990s. This started with bungled front-page reporting in the Times about the Whitewater land deal.
She doesn't seem to know about the "seemingly endless" spillover which, starting in March 1999, turned into the deeply destructive twenty-month War Against Candidate Gore.
(That widely-trashed candidate was also non-female, except when deranged figures like Chris Matthews were trashing him as "today's man-woman" and, of course, as someone who "hired a woman [Naomi Wolf] to teach him to be a man." In subsequent races, John Edwards was "the Breck girl" and Barack Obama was "the diffident debutante." All in the New York Times!)
The writer doesn't know about these episodes because her liberal thought leaders don't discuss them, as part of a code of silence. In fairness, she doesn't know about that either, because she's never been told.
She assumes that Klobuchar actually has "male counterparts" whose treatment of staff matches hers. She feels no need to offer evidence in support of this implied claim—but that's because she's working from script, from a novelized tribal narrative.
She doesn't recall the way the mainstream press went after Candidate John McCain for his alleged anger management problems in the late fall of 1999.
(For David Broder's front-page report in the Washington Post, you can just click here. It was Broder who led the attack on Candidate Muskie for crying back in 1972—until he decided, many years later, that the widely-ridiculed candidate hadn't cried after all.)
She doesn't recall the way the mainstream press began to batter Candidate Bradley for his "aloof" behavior just a few months after they examined McCain's anger problem. Weird and reasonable alike, the examples go on and on.
Like the hedgehog, the writer knows only one thing—she knows her tribe's story-line. She tosses one of these stories off in a thoroughly pre-rational way. It's the way our species has behaved ever since our ancestors—"rational animals" all—drove the other human populations into extinction. Or so Harari says!
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but we humans aren't massively rational.
Our technology tends to work, but it's all downhill from there. This includes the thrashing and flailing which are now widespread within our own liberal tribe.
As a group, we liberals, humans all, just aren't enormously sharp. Until we understand this fact, we can't understand the way the world works or the way Trump came to power.
Tomorrow: More from the southern frontiers
Here's what Sarah Jones says: For ourselves, we tend to disfavor the type of "behind the scenes reporting" in which big newspapers like the Times assess the character of the various candidates.
Over the past thirty years, character judgments made by the Times (and by other such orgs) have routinely been comically wrong. Paul Ryan was judged the world's most upright man. Comey the God was "most upright" too; Al Gore was the world's biggest liar.
That said, should the Times be examining Klobuchar's treatment of staff? Sarah Jones, a progressive writer at New York magazine, says that yes, they should.
We link, you decide! For the record, they did this sort of thing to McCain, and he was "most upright" too!