TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2022
Major stars say, "Don't ask:" The punishment continues this morning at the New York Times.
The punishment is dealt by Gail and Bret. Their weekly exploration of Upper-Class Inanity starts this way this week:
Gail Collins: Hey, Bret, the new jobs report looked pretty good. Would you say Joe Biden is starting off the Winter Olympics season with a triple salchow?
Bret Stephens: Gail, I’m having trouble imagining the president in a sparkly ice-skating unitard.
Gail: You’re right, don’t want to go there.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Already, the analysts were writhing in pain as the high-end, overpaid media stars unveiled their shared "sense of humor."
In print editions, this week's lengthy edition of "The Conversation" appears in the space where their newspaper's editorials used to appear. Online, the headline on this gruesomely stupid display reads exactly like this:
When the Storming of the Capitol Becomes ‘Legitimate Political Discourse’
Say what? Has someone said that the storming of the Capitol was an example of "legitimate political discourse?"
Gail and Bret make that assertion in their humorfest today. Also, four letters appear in the New York Times beneath this pair of headlines:
The Republicans and a ‘Legitimate’ Riot
Readers are outraged by the G.O.P. description of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
It isn't just Gail and Bret who are making that pleasing claim. It's also those outraged Times readers! Over here, within our blue tents, everyone says the same thing!
In short, it isn't all wonderfully witty humor with Bret and Gail today. It's also a newly familiar piece of blue tribe propagandization.
By now, everyone and his overpaid uncle has told you that the RNC has described the violence of January 6 as "legitimate political discourse." Last night, Lawrence spent the first fifteen minutes of his TV show driving that pleasing bit of script, aided by two compliant guests.
On its face, that would be a crazy claim on the part of the RNC. For that reason, the idea that the RNC made that claim is highly pleasing to Lawrence's willing stooges.
That said, did the RNC make that claim? Is that what the RNC meant by the thoroughly fuzzy clause which appeared near the end of a recent high-profile announcement?
Is that what the RNC meant? We're not quite sure how to answer.
We do know how this latest high-profile matter should be reported. For this, we turn to the front page of the Washington Post in last Saturday's print editions.
Last Saturday morning, on its front page, the Washington Post provided a service to readers. It told them something they should have been told. It did so in paragraph 4.
At issue was a unanimous vote by the RNC to censure two Republican members of the House, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. In its headline, and then in its first two paragraphs, the Post provided a service to readers—as it opened its news report, the Washington Post played it straight:
RNC votes to condemn Cheney, Kinzinger for serving on House committee investigating Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by pro-Trump mob
In an extraordinary rebuke, the Republican National Committee on Friday voted to condemn Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), the two Republican members of a House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
The censure resolution passed overwhelmingly on a voice vote without debate or discussion, with the whole process taking about one minute. The party said the behavior of Cheney and Kinzinger “has been destructive to the institution of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Republican Party and our republic.”
At the start of its news report, the Washington Post played it straight. It started out with "just the facts, ma'am:"
The RNC had voted to censure two of its own House members!
The Post had begun by playing its straight—by reporting the act of censure in a simple, straightforward way. It then reported a second point—but it quickly noted a complicating factor:
(Continuing directly): The resolution accused the two of participating in a “Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse” as the committee investigates the insurrection in which a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building, injured 140 members of law enforcement and vandalized the Capitol to stop the affirmation of Joe Biden’s electoral college win. The attack led to the deaths of five people.
In a statement Friday afternoon, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sought to clarify the resolution’s language, saying it was meant to refer to “ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse that had nothing to do with violence at the Capitol.”
Say what? The RNC had accused the January 6 committee of staging a "persecution of ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse!"
Last night, Lawrence reveled in that deeply pleasing piece of blue agitprop. But good lord! In an uninterrupted fifteen minutes, he never mentioned the disclaimer issued by the RNC's Ronna McDaniel.
So typical! In a 15-minute segment, he never mentioned it once!
Lawrence didn't let preferred Storyline get undermined by complexity. Neither did Bret and Gail as they chuckled their way through their latest assault on the senses.
Neither did the New York Times as it published (and headlined) those letters from four outraged readers. Neither did the gruesome Christiane Amanpour on her gruesome TV show last night.
Everywhere FDR looked, he saw "one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished." Everywhere we look today, we see blue tribe propagandization matching that of the red.
We see our blue elites urging blue citizens on toward war. We see some phony facts invented, with some other accurate facts withheld. So it has been in this thrilling new instance, as it is now with everything else.
According to Chairwoman McDaniel, the RNC hadn't intended to say that the people who engaged in violence on January 6 were engaged in "legitimate political discourse." (If you look at the text of their statement, they didn't say that in any literal sense.)
Who then are the "ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse" allegedly being "persecuted" by the January 6 committee?
Apparently, McDaniel had discussed that question during an interview with the Post. So who the heck was she talking about?
As the Post continued, it eventually let her start to explain:
(Continuing directly) David Bossie, a top Trump ally who led the censure effort, called it a “one-two punch” against Cheney that signaled a message from the GOP at the state and national levels. McDaniel defended the move Thursday in an interview with The Washington Post.
“This has gone beyond their original intent. They are not sticking up for hard-working Republicans,” she said, [again] using the phrase “legitimate political discourse.”
McDaniel said she was particularly upset when an elderly, recently widowed friend of hers was subpoenaed by the Jan. 6 committee after it was reported the friend was an alternate elector at the campaign’s behest. She declined to name the friend.
Who was the RNC talking about when it used the phrase, "legitimate political discourse," in a very fuzzy clause near the end of its censure statement?
We don't have the slightest idea, and the Post didn't try especially hard to explore this question.
The Post reported that they had interviewed McDaniel on the day before the statement was issued—and that she had used that same offending phrase during that interview session.
But the Post made almost no attempt to describe what she had told them. Comically, the paper even included an unusual type of "link to nowhere"—a link about the interview which simply returned the reader to this same front-page report!
Later, McDaniel issued a tweet about the flap concerning the RNC's fuzzy statement. On Saturday afternoon, McDaniel tweeted this:
MCDANIEL (2/4/22): I have repeatedly condemned violence on both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, this committee has gone well beyond the scope of the events of that day.
That's pretty fuzzy too! That said, we'll translate thar for people who have only been exposed to blue tribe "journalism" over the past few years.
When McDaniel says that she has condemned "violence on both sides of the aisle," she is presumably referring to the looting and arson connected with street protests in the summer of 2020 as well as the violence which occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021. That would be a standard position within red tribe "journalism."
Does McDaniel think the committee has overstepped in its attempt to criminalize the conduct of the would-be GOP electors who have endlessly been accused of "forgery forgery forgery forgery" by Our Own (Inane) Rhodes Scholar?
We don't know what she thinks! But we regard it as ugly malpractice when people like O'Donnell go on the air for fifteen minutes without informing viewers of the basic fact that disclaimers have been issued.
That said, all across our blue landscape, the disappearance of those disclaimers is the order of the day. Which is worse this morning? Is it the stupidity of the attempts at humor offered by Gail and Bret? Or is it their refusal, and that of their newspaper, to mention those disclaimers?
We can't answer that question. But when a disclaimer has been issued, attention should be paid.
Beyond that, we'll only say this:
The formal RNC statement that day was stupid all the way down. It started with an inane account of the way the Biden Administration is trying to impoverish the country. It proceeded onward from there.
Are people that dumb capable of inserting an extremely fuzzy passage which should have been clarified? We'd say the answer is "sadly, yes." Beyond that, we'd strongly say this:
Lawrence O'Donnell should have told you that disclaimers have been offered.
Kevin Drum said we should ignore those disclaimers because we know they're phony. We don't necessarily agree with that assessment, but before he offered his opinion, Drum was at least willing to tell his readers that the disclaimers had been made.
Acknowledging those disclaimers complicates matters a bit. It steals time away from pure Storyline—but sometimes journalism, and democracy itself, may take a bit of time.
FDR saw a nation ill-clothed. A terrified boy saw dead people.
We see people being propagandized. It's all over our tribe's "journalism"—and this is the way worlds die.
Nothing is going to change this, of course. Last night, Kinzinger told Wolf Blitzer that civil war is on the way in our country.
He said he wouldn't have said so last year. He said he believes it now.
Lawrence was stoking the fires last night, aided by two guests. This very morning, Gail and Bret joke and clown and play the fool, as they do on a weekly basis.
These are imitations of journalism—imitations of (human) life.
Tomorrow: It's everywhere you look!