SATURDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2020
Jackson keeps interrupting: Sunday morning has long belonged to Wallace Stevens' famous character, who sits in a sunny chair.
"She dreams a little, and she feels the dark encroachment of that old catastrophe." Or at least, so we're told.
For ourselves, we look forward to Saturday mornings. On Saturday mornings, we have time to peruse the work in the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Below, we'll consider a problem which arose on Friday night. Quickly, though, consider what readers find in this morning's print editions:
It's time to cancel the Oscars: In print editions of the Washington Post, two op-ed columns are featured. This is standard on Saturday morning's op-ed page.
Atop that page, in the right-hand corner, a headline says this:
Yes, that's what it says.
According to the IHME, roughly three thousand Americans will be dying of covid, on a daily basis, by December of this year.
The Oscar ceremony is scheduled for February 2021. Which event has the Post concerned as it tries to face reality? Did you need to ask?
It's time to examine talk radio: In print editions of the New York Times, an op-ed column bears this peculiar headline:
Yes, that's what it says.
We agree with the claims in the essay. Of course, as we've noted again and again, the problems described by the essay should have been explored, on the Times' front page, at least twenty years ago.
As of this morning, the New York Times has noticed that Rush is a problem. No, we're not making this up.
A perfect recitation of dogma: Within the New York Times' National section, we find a news analysis piece which bears this headline:
Has Candidate Harris been confronted with expressions of racism and sexism? Presumably yes, she has been.
That said, this analysis piece features a perfect execution of prevailing tribal dogmas. It represents the triumph of thoroughly scripted true belief over normal journalistic procedure.
We expect to discuss this piece next week. For today, we recommend it as a demonstration of the remarkable lack of analytical skill which routinely prevails at the Times.
Philosopher stumped by a child: Perhaps most intriguing is the op-ed column by Dr. Sasha Mudd, "an assistant professor of philosophy at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile."
The column begins as shown below. Few openings could be more instructive, or more unintentionally comical:
MUDD (10/10/20): The other day, my 7-year-old, having gotten wind of President Trump’s Covid-19 diagnosis, asked me point blank, “Mommy, are you glad that Trump got the coronavirus?”
I am a moral philosopher, and yet I had a hard time coming up with an answer.
Yes, that's what it says.
In the coming week, we expect to focus on the performance of academic elites over the past several decades.
Where have the logicians been? How about the "moral philosophers?" Today's unintentionally comical piece helps outline an instructive state of affairs—the remarkable failure of these elites to intervene in our failing discourse.
It's very hard for people to see how limited our elites really are. We refer to our journalistic elites, but also to our academics.
One thinks of Lord Russell, tangled in knots as he puzzles about "the set of all sets not members of themselves." In part for entertainment purposes, we hope to return to that comical circumstance next week.
It's very hard for people to see how limited our guardian class is. In the shallow end of the pool, consider what Lawrence O'Donnell did last night.
As usual, the angry fellow was calling attention to a set of "lies."
Lawrence loves to identify statements by others as "lies." Based on appearances, someone lied to him in the past, and it left a serious scar.
(To recall the performance in 2004 which got him kicked off the air for several months, you can just click here. We watched that meltdown in real time. It extended through two segments of the MSNBC program in question. We don't know if videotape of the full meltdown exists.)
On Thursday night, Lawrence entertained viewers by pretending to identify Susan Page's racist and sexist behavior.
Last night, he helped us see that Brian Morgenstern is the latest in "an army of lying operatives" working on behalf of Donald J. Trump.
According to Lawrence, this army of lying operatives is going to hope, in future years, "that no one will remember the lies they told on behalf of Donald Trump." He seemed to say that Morgenstern has been "constantly lying about what we need to know about it [the coronavirus] and do about it."
Morganstern seems to be the last person standing in the White House press office. Yesterday, he was "interviewed" by Hallie Jackson during her daytime show.
According to Lawrence, Morganstern "tried to lie his way past Hallie Jackson on MSNBC today." He then played (edited) tape of Morgenstern trying to get a word in edgewise as he's interrupted, again and again, by the Trump-like Jackson.
Jackson is much smarter than that; presumably, she was engaged in tribal performance. In the course of her "interview," she asked Morgenstern such perfectly valid questions as these:
"When was the president's last negative test prior to his diagnosis?"
"Did the president at least comply with the Cleveland Clinic debate requirement to be negative-tested in the 72 hours prior to that debate?"
Those are perfectly valid questions. We'd call them important questions.
But so what? In the edited videotape Lawrence played, Jackson only pretended to try to get Morgenstern to answer.
We say that Jackson was pretending because every time Morganstern started to speak, Jackson interrupted. One thinks of Trump's ridiculous conduct at the very same debate to which Jackson referred.
When was Trump's last negative test? That's an important question.
Was he tested before the Cleveland debate? We'll call that very important.
That said, we'll guess that Morgenstern has no idea what the answers are. He seemed to be trying to say as much as Jackson kept interrupting.
Why was Jackson behaving that way? Presumably, because she was told to do so.
Sadly, we tribals sometimes mistake such theater for good solid journalism. Meanwhile, Lawrence will insist that any statement of which he disapproves can be loudly denounced as a lie.
Does Morgenstern have any idea when Trump last tested negative? Does he know if Trump was tested before the Cleveland debate?
If Jackson had simply let him speak, we'd at least have his formal answers to those important questions. Presumably, he would have said that Trump hasn't told the press office.
It would be useful to get that on the record. Instead, Jackson gave us tribal theater, with Lawrence to finish things up.
Lawrence's behavior on Thursday night was an undisguised moral disgrace. On Friday, for the second consecutive night, he was remarkably stupid.
These behaviors by Lawrence and Jackson are imitations of life. They come to us courtesy of upper-end corporate "journalism."
Lawrence was blindingly stupid last night. As a saving grace, he never lapsed into his working-class Dorchester accent, as he did in 2008 when he challenged one of Mitt Romney's sons to a fistfight.
Presumably, Trump is mentally ill. Once again, a question arises:
What our team's excuse?
For extra credit only: What exactly were Morgenstern's "lies?"
In the videotape played by Lawrence (and others), it isn't clear that he got the chance to make any actual statements. So it goes on partisan cable as corporate profits soar.
If you can gain access to Lawrence's FULL EPISODES page, you can watch last night's segment here.