THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 2021
The Case of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch: We were trying to walk the straight and narrow this morning. But there it was, confronting us, as we scanned the web site of today's Washington Post.
It was roughly 7 A.M. Eastern. According to the synopsis on the Post's web site, the paper's "most read" report was this:
Critics pounce on Meghan McCain’s comments about Asian representation on ‘The View’
Critics had pounced on McCain's remarks. Quickly, the Post pounced too.
As of 7 A.M., that report had attracted more readers than anything else the Post offered. Courageously, we clicked the proffered link.
When we did, we encountered this news report by the Post's Meryl Kornfield, a staff writer on the general assignment desk.
We feel quite certain that Kornfield is a good, decent person. Under the circumstances, she's also extremely young. She's completing her second year out of college (University of Florida, class of 2019).
Why are so many high-end reporters so amazingly young? We'll leave that to the cynics.
The cynics tend to cite salary reduction. Quite possibly, Jeff Bezos hasn't been able to squeeze enough profit out of Amazon to keep the Post afloat.
Kornfield is surely a good, decent person. We don't have any idea who her unnamed editors are.
But when we read Kornfield's "most read" report, we encountered the kind of journalism which now defines vast swaths of the national discourse. We encountered the kind of journalism which we would say is notably lacking in anything resembling journalistic or analytical skill.
Kornfield's report concerns public reaction (on social media) to something Meghan McCain said, or at least is said to have said. In fairness, it isn't real clear just what McCain said because Kornfield's report, like so much of our modern journalism, largely runs on the petrol called paraphrase.
McCain's remarks are paraphrased as the report begins. So are remarks by two Democratic senators. Their remarks were apparently under discussion when McCain said whatever it is she actually said on The View.
For better or worse, the remarks by those senators—Duckworth and Hirono—are paraphrased in a highly innocuous way. Possibly by way of contrast, in a news report just yesterday, the Post had reported this:
WANG ET AL (3/24/21): ...Sens. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) vowed Tuesday afternoon to vote no on Biden’s “non-diversity” Cabinet nominees until the White House addressed the issue [of Asian-American inclusion].
All 15 of Biden’s Cabinet secretary slots have been filled, and there are no Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders among them, the first time in more than 20 years a president’s Cabinet has not included at least one AAPI secretary.
Duckworth said that during the past six months she has repeatedly offered the White House the names of “many well-qualified AAPIs” for Cabinet positions, but those individuals “never even got a phone call,” she said.
“At this point … they can call me and tell me what the proposal is,” Duckworth said of the White House. “But until then, I am a no vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees. You know, I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ. But anybody else, I’m not voting for.”
As of now, Duckworth will vote to confirm no "white" nominee for any position, unless the nominee is LGBTQ. She's willing to vote for an LGBTQ white woman, but not for a white woman who's straight.
Is something "wrong" with such a stance? Is there a possible point of concern lurking there?
Different people will answer those questions in different ways. We expect to discuss this matter in more detail next week. For now, we'd score the Duckworth position like this:
Perhaps a little bit strange, but not quite the end of the world.
That would be our instant assessment. But readers of the Post's "most read" report were never told what Duckworth had said. At two different points, Duckworth's position was admiringly paraphrased, arguably in the most innocuous possible way.
Was that the remark which triggered the discussion on The View, a "more heat than light" daytime program? Based on the most-read report, we can't exactly tell you—and we had to read to paragraph 8 before we saw any quotation from McCain herself.
Even there, context was largely absent. This was a basically useless news report—but what else is different or new?
Go ahead—click anywhere on the dial! You're likely to find misleading data poorly explained; significant data which don't appear; slippery paraphrase driving excitement; or the latest bullroar from Rachel Maddow treated like the it came to us live and direct from the voice of God.
How dumb does it routinely get? Consider last night's Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The Fox star started with the comments by Duckworth—remarks which may well merit discussion. But within minutes, he was back in the early 1940s, stupidly quoting stupid things a very young version of (the late) Sen. Robert Byrd had once stupidly said.
The presentation got very dumb very fast. One hour later, how much better did Maddow do? We don't think she did well at all but elsewhere, pundits were thrilled.
The Stupid is everywhere here in Our Town; it has long since run roughshod in Theirs. That said, it's unclear whether anyone knows about The Stupid's role in all human towns. It's the story of our tragicomical human race, but it's a story which gets disappeared.
(For ourselves, we still long to return to the turn of the last century—to Bertrand Russell's comical effort to come to terms which "the set of all sets not members of themselves," but also with "Russell's Paradox." That was a wonderfully comical case of analytical breakdown at the highest end of academic authority. More than a hundred years later, leading professors still revere the comical struggles in which Lord Russell engaged. Those who managed to wriggle free are given professorial side-eye. This is the way rationality works at the very top of the pile!)
In recent years, despondent anthropologists have come to us, reporting to us from the future. They've begged us to tell the actual story of our species, the so-called human race.
At times, they're briefly able to engage in wry humor. More often, they weep inside their caves.
In this country, has the breakdown reached a point from which there will be no coming back? When we pose that question to these experts, they vanish into thin air.
But our species wasn't made for tasks like these, these experts repeatedly tell us. They point to the recent onslaught of ten-minute topics which clearly exceed our grasp.
These experts come to us on a daily basis. Recently, they pointed to the column which opened with the admission, by an upper-end columnist, that she was baffled by something a police spokesperson had said.
They call our attention to the war developing between our tribes. They recall the silly Southern boys at the start of Gone With the Wind:
The silly boys tell Miss Scarlett they're eager for the start of the war. An hour later, the camera draws back and we see their region's largest city in a state of devastation, with the dead and the dying lying on bare ground all around.
All over the press corps, the current generation of children cavort and happily play. At Slate, Elena Debre is still undergraduate age. Her latest attempt was this:
ELENA DEBRÉ / MARCH 23, 2021 / 6:00 PM
An Interview With the Guy Feuding With Cinnamon Toast Crunch Over an Alarming Discovery in His Cereal
The modern Slate crawls with bullsh*t like that. Meanwhile, this topic apparently rang some bells at the New York Times.
The Times ran a news report on this key topic (headline: The Curious Case of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Box). This morning, on page A3, it's the second entry in a list of "six of the most read, shared and discussed posts across NYTimes.com."
It's second in a list of six. So the great paper admitted.
This bullsh*t is now endless at Slate. At the Times, things are perhaps somewhat better.
But what is the state of basic skills among high-level press corps performers? Tomorrow, we'll visit the columnist who recently said that she was baffled, and we'll wonder why she was.
According to experts, our species simply isn't wired to deal with stressors like these. Tomorrow, we'll explore an example or two.
Next week, we'll let them explain.
Tomorrow: Not unlike Lord Russell himself, baffled all the way down
"...as we scanned the web site of today's Washington Post."ReplyDelete
UGE mistake, dear Bob.
"Is something "wrong" with such a stance?"
Duh. Well, of course nothing is wrong or "wrong" with it, if you're in the liberal-hitlerian cult. Otherwise, well, only everything.
"But within minutes, he was back in the early 1940s, stupidly quoting stupid things a very young version of (the late) Sen. Robert Byrd had once stupidly said."
Heh. "stupidly quoting", eh? Of course. And why not declare those correct quotations 'disinformation' and enemy propaganda? This is what your cult does to the facts that don't fit the narrative, n'est-ce pas?
"In this country, has the breakdown reached a point from which there will be no coming back?"
Don't worry, dear Bob. It'll be fine, as soon as your liberal-hitlerian cult collapses.
Sleepy Joe gonna tax your Establishment Elite ass into the poor-house.Delete
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"Why are so many high-end reporters so amazingly young?"ReplyDelete
Because they don't cost as much to hire and journalism has been struggling financially for a long time now. Over the past decade over 100,000 journalists have been laid off.
"We feel quite certain that Kornfield is a good, decent person."ReplyDelete
How can Somerby say this about someone he doesn't know, when he won't admit that Trump lies or even acknowledge the most basic and obvious facts on other topics, while wailing about how awful humanity is?
This is one of those CYA statements made before trashing someone, in this case a beginning journalist who is trying to learn the ropes. Saying this as a preliminary doesn't excuse the hit job he engages in next.
"Quite possibly, Jeff Bezos hasn't been able to squeeze enough profit out of Amazon to keep the Post afloat."ReplyDelete
Bezos doesn't operate his businesses as charities. Even the post office has to make a profit -- or hasn't Somerby noticed what his boy Trump did?
The only one who doesn't have to make a profit is Trump.
"As of now, Duckworth will vote to confirm no "white" nominee for any position, unless the nominee is LGBTQ."ReplyDelete
Actually, AS OF NOW, Duckworth and Hirono have reached a compromise with Biden and are no longer taking this position. But who cares about accuracy?
"Based on the most-read report, we can't exactly tell you—and we had to read to paragraph 8 before we saw any quotation from McCain herself.ReplyDelete
Even there, context was largely absent. "
Says the man who has offered his own readers no quotes from McCain or the article he is dissing, so we have no clue what the focus of that article actually was. It clearly wasn't about Duckworth, and most likely wasn't about what McCain said, because no one buries the lede that deeply. It mostly likely was about what the critics said, how they pounced, but we don't know that either because Somerby isn't interested in that article at all and doesn't bother to tell us anything about it, except that it wasn't organized the way he would have written it (no doubt about some entirely different topic than critics pouncing).
This is how Somerby increasingly writes his "reports". We are expected to take his points on faith. He rarely bothers to make a case any more. He just throws his criticisms out there, unsupported, without any background, context or quotes, as he has done today to malign Kornfield.
Somerby thinks philosophy began and ended with Wittgenstein. He has neither read nor considered any of the late 20th century philosophers, especially those talking about reference and meaning (who address Wittgenstein's ideas and develop responses to them). He has no idea what current philosophy is talking about.ReplyDelete
Philosophy is just a battering ram to beat up humanity so that he can pretend that nothing anyone says makes sense and thus anything can be said and believed, including that Trump is a good and decent person (I assure you, he is not) and liberals don't make sense (I assure you, we do).
The cynics will say that Somerby doesn't even believe the shit he shovels. I tend to agree with them.
"The cynics will say that Somerby doesn't even believe the shit he shovels."Delete
Yet another sign that Somerby is a Right-winger.
When has Bob ever said Trump is a decent person? Where do you people get this stuff?Delete
His whole point is about dumb overstatement, and those who practice this habit in enthusiasm. Pretty obvious.
"The silly boys tell Miss Scarlett they're eager for the start of the war."ReplyDelete
Just like Trump's willing insurrectionists. In the aftermath, they are complaining because they don't like jail and feeling betrayed by their movement.
The purpose of that wide shot of Atlanta in Gone with the Wind was to evoke anger toward the North for sacking their city and destroying the Southern Way of Life.
Today's insurrectionists dream of a second civil war in which they gallantly defend white supremacy against the depradations of minorities to preserve the so-called American Way of Life.
Somerby doesn't want to talk about journalists. This is all coded talk about how awful Duckworth is for wanting better representation at the cabinet level. Somerby, of course, thinks Asians belong in Asia and white people (non-lesbians) belong in positions of authority. Why else would he write a non-report about an article without ever quoting what it says, just so he can focus on Duckworth's statement and then tell us all how bad we are?
Just like the civil war, the South lost, and so have Trump's bigots. Harassing Asians isn't going to change that, nor will picking on young female journalists. Somerby has lost the culture war and this is his squeal of pain of that loss. These white male tantrums aren't pretty.
You're completely wrong about "the purpose" of that shot in GWTW. And Duckworth's statement there was very stupid. Ridiculous.Delete
"Major columnist baffled by cited remark!"ReplyDelete
We assume that Somerby is talking about Kornfield, but he goes to lengths to point out that she is not a "major columnist". So who is he talking about? He never says.
He also refers to someone being baffled, but he doesn't quote Kornfield as being baffled, so it cannot be her. Who is it?
Increasingly, Somerby's headlines fail to deliver. Or maybe it is the "report" itself that fails to deliver. The only ones baffled in this situation are Somerby's readers.
The is the second day Somerby has been promoting a look into a columnist describing themselves as being baffled over a remark made by police.Delete
Highly likely he will never talk about this.Delete
Anonymouse 2:27pm, true that.Delete
Which of these statements is racist or sexist:ReplyDelete
1. I won't vote for a black nominee
2. I won't vote for an Asian nominee
3. I won't vote for a Caucasian nominee
4. I won't vote for a gay nominee
5. I won't vote for a straight nominee
You idiot, you are leaving off the rest of the statement, which is "until an AAPI person is nominated to the cabinet".Delete
This is part of the give-and-take negotiation that occurs in our government over issues of importance. Duckworth and Hirono were using leverage to accomplish something they wanted, not stating a bias against anyone.
But you know this, David. This is another bad-faith Republican argument.
Doesn't matter. Republicans, in state legislatures throughout the country, are working hard to suppress the votes of black people.Delete
There is a widely held belief, Republicans have enough sexual predators on the Supreme Court to allow it.
Anonymouse 2:09 pm, a woman with some stones would have simply stated, “I won’t vote for any cis-gendered straight white man or woman.”Delete
The point is not any objection to any of those categories of people, including straight white people. It is that there is no AAPI person in the cabinet.Delete
"I am not eating chocolate until Easter because I gave it up for Lent" doesn't mean the sane thing as "I am not eating chocolate."Delete
Anonymouse 2:40pm, you wouldn’t have to pretend that I don’t understand what these women meant, if they dropped the “non-diversity” babble and specifically said, “I won’t vote for any cis-gendered straight white man or woman-until a APPI individual is on the cabinet.Delete
For all we know, they did say that and the press reported it in a way that more people would recognize. Cis-gender doesn't mean anything to the large majority of people. Straight does, but LGBTQ covers non-cis-gender and more people understand it. I'm not sure what point you are making.Delete
Don't often agree with CeCe, but "obviously, these people deserve representation" should be enough for any non-Neanderthal to understand.Delete
I think this is clear:Delete
"“At this point … they can call me and tell me what the proposal is,” Duckworth said of the White House. “But until then, I am a no vote on the floor on all non-diversity nominees. You know, I will vote for racial minorities and I will vote for LGBTQ. But anybody else, I’m not voting for.”
All of them are. To absolutely condition a vote on someone's race or orientation is stupid and bigoted. And it's not like Biden only picks white males.Delete
“Is there a possible point of concern lurking there?”ReplyDelete
They are concerned about Biden keeping his commitments:
‘"I'm going to keep my commitment that the administration, both in the White House and outside in the Cabinet, is going to look like the country," Biden told CNN's Jake Tapper...’
Anonymous 3:05pm, no I think Duckworth and Hirono should have been asked by the media to be more specific as to what they said.ReplyDelete
This isn't about the public. It is about Biden and his appointments. The message was intended for Biden and I'm sure he understood it fine, given his response.Delete
Anonymouse 3:32pm, Duckworth and Hirono made a public pronouncement and you’ve got the media and the left wing public on Twitter giving Meghan McCain hell over her remarks about Hirono’s and Duckworth’s “non-diversity” imperatives.Delete
The media has no problem engaging in that that, they just can’t ask Hirono and Duckworth to specifically state the characteristics of non-diversity candidates.
Yes, I'm sure you would love to have Hirono and Duckworth on record as discriminating against white people, to increase the conservative sense of grievance. But that would be a distortion of their intent which was to increase APPI representation.Delete
Not everything is about white people.
If they’re discriminating against certain people why shouldn’t it be out on the table and on record, especially if the argument is that it’s for the greater good?Delete
Duckworth and Hirono are complaining because there are no AAPI people appointed. That is on the table and on record. Biden has said that he will do something about it. AAPI people were being discriminated against, not white people. There are more than enough of them.Delete
This is biscuit-eating dumb right here:ReplyDelete
“Consider last night's Tucker Carlson Tonight.
The Fox star started with the comments by Duckworth—remarks which may well merit discussion. But within minutes, he was back in the early 1940s, stupidly quoting stupid things a very young version of (the late) Sen. Robert Byrd had once stupidly said.”
These weren’t just stupid statements made by a young and stupid guy in the ‘40s.
These statements were how people felt about race as being in itself a delineator of genetically instilled attributes that were not inculcated by environmental experience.
At the time, that Mr. Byrd would not have admitted for an instant that a black man reared in a white family and educated in white schools could have still brought anything to the table worthy of what came via white skin. For all his experience, he was not white.
Today we have a similar creed as to the experience of minorities. No white person can ever glean any real understanding of any minority experience because- “whiteness”.
Put away words such as “non-diversity” and just lay that ethos on the table.
"No white person can ever glean any real understanding of any minority experience because- “whiteness”."Delete
Who is saying that?
Since when does ability to succeed = understanding of another's experience?
When white people do not understand other cultures it is more a failure of empathy and imagination, of effort, than because they are white. Usually this idea, that someone who is white cannot understand, arises because someone who is white is not understanding. AAPI and other diverse people will have had experiences different than those of white people. White people may not realize that is true because it is hard to know about something that is not part of your experience. That is why minority representation is important.
There is no reason why white people should represent minorities instead of there being representation for all people, not just white people.
Hirono and Duckworth are upset because there were ZERO AAPI people appointed, when there have been for the past 20 years. Zero. Please let that sink in. They are saying that there are qualified AAPI people who could have been appointed, yet none were.
If Biden had appointed ZERO white people, you would have a complaint. If someone said to you, but AAPI people can represent white interests, you might have felt like that was an unsatisfactory response. It would be wrong to have a government comprised of NO white people whatsoever. That is what is happening, except that it is AAPI people who are being excluded, not white people.
The ethos is that a government will produce better governance if it is diverse and includes many different kinds of people, not people drawn from only one group: straight, white males.
Let’s put away the word “whiteness” too, with all its pretense of nebulous cultural qualifiers that serve as a modern day eternal Sisyphus dilemma.Delete
Just say “white”.
Anonymouse 4:22pm, actually, Duckworth was willing to let bygones be bygones as to AAPI if LBGTQ were substituted.Delete
"The Stupid is everywhere here in Our Town; it has long since run roughshod in Theirs."ReplyDelete
We're catching up on The Stupid, but what about The Crazy?
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