Is Manne the rational animal?: How many people watch cable news? Our favorite blogger, Kevin Drum, may need to stay in a bit more:
DRUM (3/28/19): There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing these days about whether “the media” reported on the Trump-Russia scandal fairly over the past couple of years. My sense is that the coverage was generally OK, but it turns out that the criticism is mostly aimed at MSNBC, and specifically at Rachel Maddow. Did they blow it? Beats me. I haven’t watched any prime time cable shows for years. I have no idea what they’ve been saying. I consume almost exclusively print media.How many people watch cable news?
So who’s right about this? Again, I don’t know. In one sense, I think it’s fair to say that not all that many people actually watch these cable shows: a few million total, and maybe half a million in the key 25-54 demographic. That’s about 1 percent of the voting-age population. On the other hand, those few million are political junkies who probably have influence out of proportion to their numbers. So maybe it’s fair to say that I’m missing the boat by not watching them and understanding what they’re up to. I wouldn’t dismiss the influence of Fox News, after all.
Drum says "a few million total." But on Wednesday night, just in the 9 PM Eastern hour, roughly 8 million people were watching Hannity, Maddow or Cuomo.
Roughly 6 million people were watching one of the cable nets during the 8 PM and 10 PM hours—and no, these aren't all the same people. We'll guess that the total number watching cable news at some point that evening was more like ten percent of the voting age population.
In the main, Drum was discussing a recent post in which Paul Waldman agreed with a philosophy professor and a pseudo-liberal pundit about the way female candidates allegedly get abused. The philosophy professor spoke thusly:
WALDMAN (3/25/19): That case came up in a recent conversation I had with Kate Manne, a Cornell philosophy professor and author of “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.” As Manne points out, when each woman currently running entered the race, a fatal flaw was quickly identified: Warren’s Native American ancestry, Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) treatment of her staff, or Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) being, well, too ambitious…. “The real fatal flaw is ambition,” Manne says, “and wanting to lead, and wanting to have a male-dominated authority position at the expense of men—and particularly white men—in the race. And that implicitly becomes the basis for suspicion and moral condemnation.”To our ear, Assistant Professor Manne seems to be working from scripture. Meanwhile, note Waldman's remarkable construction regarding Warren's alleged "fatal flaw."
According to Waldman, the fatal flaw which was quickly identified was "Warren’s Native American ancestry." In fact, the problem involved Warren's decades of ludicrous conduct regarding her claim to have such ancestry.
This ludicrous conduct has extended right into her current campaign, with Warren making some of the strangest unforced errors we've ever seen a major candidate make.
(A DNA test showed that, by any normal assessment, she doesn't have any significant Native American ancestry. Ever so strangely, Warren seemed to think that the DNA test had somehow confirmed her past claims.)
Drum wasn't necessarily inclined to buy the claim about female disempowerment. For ourselves, we'll note a fascinating comment last night by Yahoo's Hunter Walker, who spoke with Lawrence O'Donnell.
Walker is 34. That makes him a graybeard in some "cable news" circles—but even so, his memory only goes back so far:
WALKER (3/28/19): One really important point to make, I'm on the older side of it, but I'm still technically a millennial. And I'm old enough to remember when Obama wearing a tan suit was a scandal.Speaking perhaps a bit puckishly, Walker said he was so old that he could remember when President Obama was attacked for having worn a tan suit.
And it's only in this weird new upside-down world we're in where anyone could be suggesting that the president, you know, exchanging information with a foreign government, encouraging them to hack his rivals, isn't a scandal. I mean, imagine the outcry if Obama had reached out to the Russians or even the British and asked them to attack his Republican rivals. I mean, we would have seen a quadruple Benghazi.
O'DONNELL: Yes. I mean, just to clarify, and I know what you mean, Hunter, that the tan suit for President Obama was something that the Fox News world tried to turn into something disrespectful for a president to do. Of course, they didn't mean it. None of them meant it. They were just desperately looking for that moment. But that same side of the world puts up with every single overt outrage by this presidency that it never questions.
Apparently, he couldn't remember when Candidate Gore was attacked, by the mainstream press corps, literally for years, for every possible aspect of his wardrobe—for his boots, his suits, his polo shirts, for the height at which he hemmed his pants, for the number of buttons (three) on his disturbing suit coats.
This criticism included the endlessly bruited complaint about Gore's alleged over-reliance on earth tones. Allegedly, Naomi Wolf had told Gore to wear earth tones as part of the process by which Gore had "hired a woman to teach him how to be a man."
These ugly, stupid, moronic critiques were voiced by major mainstream pundits for months leading on to years. Chris Matthews did this in his sleep. He was working for Welch at the time.
Did Elizabeth Warren get criticized for her decades of erroneous claims? Abject lunacy was directed at Candidate Gore all through Campaign 2000.
O'Donnell, of course, does remember all that, but he knew enough not to bring it up. He played a role in the mainstream war which sent George W. Bush to the White House.
Meanwhile, people like Assistant Professor Manne have often spent the past many years sleeping inside logs. In the particular case, Manne seems to be roughly 35, and she seems to hail from Australia to boot. (She arrived in the U.S. for graduate work in 2006.)
Our guess? The chances are very good that Manne has little idea how various American candidates have been treated in past campaigns. But given the way the human mind works, such limitations are unlikely to stand in the way of theory.
All too often, our professors don't have the slightest idea concerning events which have occurred in the actual world. All too often, their predictable assessments seem to be coming, live and direct, from powerful voices inside their heads, and from the realm of dogma.
All in all, our liberal tribe is just very dumb. We prove that when we run to agree with youngish assistant professors like Manne. This is certainly true of someone like Waldman, who understands, very well, that male candidates have sometimes been treated extremely poorly in the not too distant past.
Was man [sic] ever "the rational animal?" Our tribe's reliance on sachems like Manne tends to get people like Trump elected.
With observations like that in mind, we tend to tilt, very strongly, toward the obvious answer:
Fuller disclosure: At the University of Melbourne, Manne's undergraduate thesis bore this intriguing title:
“Toward a Solution to the Problem of Logical Omniscience: An Impossible Worlds Approach to Temporal-Epistemic Logic.”
Out of that solution to that problem, Manne developed her unparalleled knowledge of American campaign activity. As we have occasionally said, it's all anthropology now.