Jaundice and its discontents!

TUESDAY, JUNE 23, 2020

The various faces of Slate:
It's been a while since we hailed Slate for the way it tackles the serious issues.

In just the last few days, to cite three examples, it has shown its true colors with hard-hitting fare such as this:
STOYA / JUNE 23, 2020 / 2:00 PM
I’ve Suddenly Realized How Disgusting Sex With My Husband Is

DANNY M. LAVERY / JUNE 22, 2020 / 3:58 PM
Help! My Family Wants Me to Cheat on My Disabled Husband

RICH JUZWIAK / JUNE 22, 2020 / 3:08 PM
If My Boyfriend Found Out What I Really Want in Bed, It Would Crush Him
Let the others peddle the clickbait! Slate prefers to challenge its readers with hard-hitting product like that!

That said, Slate isn't simply one thing. It also offers material like this:
“White People Don’t Respond to Our Pain; They Respond to Theirs”
What it’s really like to be a Black journalist in America.

JUNE 23, 2020 / 5:45 AM
"Spring is the mischief in me?" That's what one poet once said.

After twenty-two years critiquing the press corps, most recently in consultation with major well-known anthropologists, jaundice is increasingly the jaundice within us. Eventually, we may raise the following question:

How should a reader of any description respond to large chunks of that piece?

Opinions would differ, of course. But what would the boundaries be?


  1. "I’ve Suddenly Realized How Disgusting Sex With My Husband Is"

    Why, naturally. Sex is a form WHITE SUPREMACY.

  2. "How should a reader of any description respond to large chunks of that piece?"

    Why, it should fill a reader of any description will burning desire to fight WHITE SUPREMACY. Obviously.

    What else, dear Bob? What do you think it should compel the aforementioned reader of any description to do? Don't be shy, dear Bob; spell it out.

  3. If Somerby understood what empathy is, he wouldn't mock this title: "“White People Don’t Respond to Our Pain; They Respond to Theirs”

    All empathy consists of recognizing the pain evoked by imagining being in another person's situation. We ALL always respond to our own pain when empathizing with another person. See psychologist Nancy Eisenberg's studies of empathy. When a person declines to experience that pain, they can reduce it by hardening themselves to the plight of others. This is what conservatives do routinely.

    1. Somerby also appears to lack empathy for those experiencing sexual or relationship problems. He thinks people read such articles for titillation, but maybe they are in similar situations and need advice.

    2. Teachers need to have empathy for their students. I'm glad Somerby is no longer teaching. It sounds more and more like he was in the wrong job.

    3. Huh? How is Somerby mocking the title? If he seems doubtful about anything, it might be "large chunks of that piece," which seems to suggest "chunks" confuse him. Until he says what his doubts are, and until he mocks something, I think it's jumping too far too soon to simply declare that he lacks empathy because he mocks the title -- which he doesn't.

      I suppose you might see the line from the poem about spring and mischief as a type of mockery, but I have no clue what he means by that juxtaposition. And surprised anyone feels that they do know what he means.

    4. Yes, this is how he is able to criticize but evade accountability for his opinions. He doesn't say what bothered him, but he still dumps on the article and Slate.

    5. Somerby offers all of those titles as evidence of the degradation of the human race. Of course he is mocking them. We just don't know on what basis.

    6. We need to wait until he says more. See 5:40 below. But I know, I know, immediate gratification must be had. Sad.

  4. OK, Mao is out of the way. On with the show.

    Any useful response to the question -- what would the boundaries be -- must wait until TDH defines what "boundaries" are meant in this instance. The boundaries of opinion, for example? I mean the question follows the statement that "opinions would differ" with regard to "how to respond to large chunks of that piece," So are we being asked to consider the "boundaries" of "how to respond"? But on what terms exactly? I need Bob to come back to this, and at least explain the sense he has that something -- responses? -- might have boundaries. It could be intriguing to discuss, with or without the participation of trolls like Mao.

    1. I would bet actual money that he never comes back to this article again.

    2. You might be right. I'm hoping he does. And if he does, I hope defines his terms. We'll see.

  5. Somerby's life has so deteriorated he now identifies with Republicans. Sad

    1. @6:28
      He has been watching a lot of Fox News lately. With no criticism.

    2. 8:23

      Do you monitor Somerby's viewing patterns? How can you know he's watching "a lot of Fox news lately"? He seems to watch MSNBC and CNN, it would seem to me, based on his critiques. Or reading the New York Times, Washington Post, etc. Isn't he a self-professed media critic? Wouldn't such a person watch and read media all across the spectrum?

      He focuses his criticism on media that purports to reflect and influence mainstream liberal thought because he feels they have failed their viewers/readers in the past and run the very real risk of failing them now. Fox is largely propaganda (except when it isn't, which is rare, but it happens). He just wants folks who swear by MSNBC or CNN to take a closer look at what they are being fed, in the hope, probably in vain, that our side can resist being propagandized as well.

    3. I believe most liberals already read a wider variety of news sources than conservatives do. Further, there is a great deal less message discipline on the left than on the right. Why would Somerby believe this kind of daily harangue is necessary?

    4. @10:30
      Do I monitor Somerby’s viewing habits? No. I read his blog. He has been mentioning Fox rather frequently recently, without critical analysis.

      Are you aware that there are a ton of liberal blogs out there that do media criticism, where the New York Times is regularly taken to task? But they also examine and criticize the propaganda coming out of Fox.

      They are liberals who don’t hate liberals.

    5. You are joking right?

      Somerby's two favorite pundits are Tomi Lahren and Kayleigh McEnany.

  6. Somerby's problem is that he is seeing anthropologists instead of physicians for his jaundice.

    1. I don't care for much of the knee-jerk Somerby-bashing that goes on here, but (at the risk of encouraging you)that's funny. Yup, I laughed.

    2. ain't knee jerk, Somerby has been a pedant asshole for years, all while progressives have gained momentum, he has contributed nothing and seems unaware that media has changed drammtically

    3. 7:41

      "Pedant asshole." Pretty condemnatory. But if that's how you feel, what can I say?

      "Progressives have gained momentum." Up until the pandemic, the economic crash, the televised murder of George Floyd, Trump and the most reactionary elements were holding their own. Events have overtaken Trump. That has created the opportunity for progressives to gain momentum. Many progressives might not see Biden (or a Democratic congress) as the ideal answer. Wouldn't a Biden landslide be the result of a coalition between moderates and progressives? Kind what Somerby says he wants to see, where incremental change for the better isn't the enemy.

      ?Media . . . changed dramatically." I'm interested in which media you mean. The industry is changing. But has the approach changed all that much? It still seems all about keeping eyeballs glued. If that's the purpose, won't media go straight from all-Trump- all-the-time to taking apart whoever is in power next? Or do you see media developing some sort of higher purpose? That I'd like to see. Yes, Somerby would be dubious because the underlying dynamics don't seem to have changed.

      Maybe you have something else in mind? Do tell.

    4. From the Society of Professional Journalists:

      "Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity. ... It is not a set of rules, rather a guide that encourages all who engage in journalism to take responsibility for the information they provide, regardless of medium."

      This has not changed in the many years I've been reading news. It IS a higher purpose. One change in journalism is the number of journalists being killed worldwide in the pursuit of their profession. Another is the means of support for news outlets. Without a free press, it is impossible for a democracy like ours to function. Somerby never talks about any of these problems, yet he calls himself a media critic? I find that he focuses largely on trivia and always with a barely camouflaged agenda of conservatism.

      Did the press "take apart" Obama? Not CNN or MSNBC or other moderate and mainstream outlets. Only the right. But why isn't Somerby talking about the way that Facebook and Twitter and Google are cooperating with Trump in order to manipulate the information presented on social media, to a younger audience that only gets its news online? That may be the kind of change that is being talked about. (I am not 7:41)

    5. Gosh you put a lot of effort into that.

      Trump is dangerous and has done a lot of damage to be sure; however, Trump has had the lowest approval rating of any modern president, Republicans have hardly been holding their own, unless you are referring to their base, which is whatever, who cares. The 2018 election was historic.

      Progressive momentum (the current one) goes back to 2016, Sanders run for president. Then you had a wave of progressives elected in 2018. You now have many progressive policies as part of normal discourse that were never discussed before. It is not much to get excited about but it is something new.

      Traditional media such as cable news and national newspapers no longer shape public opinion or policy. New Media is more significant and they are often independent and focused on society's and individual's material needs.

      Years ago Somerby stopped being serious and became focused on criticizing old media and liberals. He has had no role in the progressive movement. He is out in his pasture chewing cud.

    6. Thank you 2:42 a.m. and 10:43 p.m. These are reasonable approaches to the question of Somerby's relevance.

      Perhaps I, like Somerby, think in terms of "old media" -- not Facebook, etc. But if I limit myself to old media from 2008 to 2016, I does seem to me that Somerby continues to have a point about the ways in which commentators and even journalists "tilt the playing field." Since Trump's election, there can be no question that 80% of the old media tilt against him, but when Obama was president, however much media figures may have appreciated his inherent dignity or his groundbreaking status as a non-white president, the general flow of "both-sides" discourse continued to breath oxygen into the ultra-reactionary forces that stymied progressive causes overall and blocked many of Obama's rather moderate programs. And then with 2016, and the treatment of Clinton -- don't get me started. The coverage of that election was nothing short of journalistic malpractice.

      As for Somerby chewing his cud, well, we all have our day in the sun, and then most of us, whether we know it or not, are pretty much "out to pasture" as events and innovations overtake us. That may very well be happening to Somerby (and me). Perhaps such a thing even looks like conservatism to a rising generation of progressives. Even so, Somerby has fought a good fight for a good long time. Like many a battler he's had to absorb his share of blows. And on occasion he can still rise to be as good as he's ever been -- such as his daily reports on the Trump Covid briefings earlier this year. I think recognizing Somerby's strengths (and yes, his accomplishments) as well as pointing out his flaws (and failures) lead to a more nuanced understanding.

      Your posts are good steps in that direction -- thanks.


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