"Just a political class talking to itself?"

TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2022

Hillary, Illing and Klein: Over at the New York Times, Ezra Klein has conducted a long interview with Sean Illing of Vox.

Needless to say, the interview is tied to Illing's new book. The book concerns media culture. At one point, Illing tells Klein this:

ILLING (7/26/22): The information space has been shattered into a zillion pieces thanks to the Internet. And the audience is so fragmented and self-sorted, a huge chunk of the country doesn’t really trust public institutions or the mainstream media. And they’re not listening, and a lot of it feels like it’s just a political class talking to itself. And I know that’s kind of depressing, but that has been my experience.

It's certainly true that "a huge chunk of the country doesn’t really trust...the mainstream media." 

For better or worse, that's mainly true among denizens of the red tribe. On the right, complaining about "the liberal media" has been a major project for a very long time.

For many people, does "a lot of it feel like it’s just a political class talking to itself?" We don't know, but that's exactly the way it feels to us when we watch Deadline: White House, Nicolle Wallace's two-hour daily program on MSNBC.

Essentially, Wallace's program is a group of "favorite reporters and friends" endlessly talking to themselves about the possibility that they can get Trump locked up. 

Trump's legal status is an actual topic, but they seem to care about little else. They surely don't care about the situation described in this report from page B5 of this morning's New York Times, headline included:

‘I’m Always Worrying’: The Emotional Toll of Financial Stress

For Ellie Alvarado, a teacher and mother of three in Elgin, Ill., figuring out how to pay the bills has become a source of anxiety and tension, especially when she and her husband argue over how to cut back.

“When I say, ‘OK we cannot buy anything this week or else we’ll go into overdraft’—he says, ‘No, what are you talking about? We’re both working. That shouldn’t happen,’” Ms. Alvarado said.

Soaring food costs have meant no more impromptu trips to McDonald’s. Name-brand cereal and other little luxuries are out, too. Gas prices, which recently hovered around $5 a gallon, are also eating into their budget.

“Every time I fill up our van I’m flabbergasted,” said Ms. Alvarado, who sometimes sees as little as $100 in her family’s checking account. “I’m always worrying,” she added.

Ellie Alvarado is a teacher. Her husband works an overnight shift in a factory because it pays a higher hourly wage. 

Still, they aren't able to keep up. The quote from Ellie Alvarado recalls this statement by the principal character in one of Woody Guthrie's greatest songs:

I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, Mister, since the day I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
'Cause I ain't got no home in this world anymore

Deadline: White House is the classic example of a vastly overpaid elite talking to itself. You don't have to feel that the program's like that. That's what the program, and much of blue cable, actually is.

Wallace has perfect teeth, excellent hair, and a very engaging manner. She and her favorite friends don't discuss problems like those of the Alvarados. It simply isn't done.

Nor are you allowed to know how much Wallace or her favorite friends are paid. This is TV news of and by a private, high-end elite.

Returning to Klein and Illing's interview, Illing soon says this:

ILLING: The story I glommed onto in the piece I wrote was the, I guess the 2017 story about Hillary Clinton selling Uranium One to the Russians or something like that. I mean, it was complete horseshit but it was a story that Bannon had fed to the press and it kind of took off.

According to Illing, the story he glommed onto was about Clinton selling Uranium One to the Russians, "or something like that."

In extemporaneous speech, anyone can make a mistake about a date. Obviously, though, the Uranium One story didn't hit in 2017, the first year of the Trump presidency.

It landed in April 2015, early in Hillary Clinton's doomed 2016 campaign. We don't think we've ever heard that the story originated with Bannon, but we do know where it landed first:

It landed in the New York Times. The Times gave the story massive front-page play, then let the gremlins take over from there. In words and column inches, it was one of the largest "news reports" of the entire Trump-Clinton campaign.

As we noted in great detail in real time, the Times report was pure bullshit. The silly children we love on "cable news" never said a word.

The Uranium One report extended several decades of targeted bullshit in the Times about Clinton, Gore and Clinton. The silly children we love on cable have never discussed that recent history either.  It simply isn't done.

(For years, major figures from that long war—Chris Matthews, to name one especially central player—were major figures on MSNBC. Rachel would make a point of telling us how brilliant her colleague Chris was. Today, she's getting paid $30 million to create a film about Spiro Agnew. This is your press corps in action!)

Uranium One did a lot of damage. Obviously, it didn't happen in 2017—and somewhat weirdly, Illing goes on to say this:

ILLING (continuing directly): But that’s basically all it is, right? I mean, part of our business model is selling conflict. This is especially true on TV, and this is something that really comes into fruition in the ’90s with the birth of cable news and kind of horse race politics. Conflict just works. It’s politics is theater, politics is sport. And to the extent that media has profited from that model, we’ve also helped instantiate it.

We’ve also helped make politics in the minds of people who are consuming our content think that’s what politics is. And the thing that’s so crazy about flooding the zone is that it works because people are doing their jobs the way they’re supposed to, the way they’ve always been done. Something is out there and if it’s bullshit, you debunk it and you tell people why it’s not true.

But the problem is that, like we were just saying, in the process of debunking something, you are also amplifying it. You’re pumping it out there. It’s getting tattooed in people’s consciousness. And if you do that enough, it just becomes very dizzying and confusing to people.

You'd almost think, from reading that passage, that the fiery stars of the mainstream press set out to debunk the Uranium One bullshit. We have no idea where and when that occurred. 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep. We've all been living inside a constructed fantasy for at least the past thirty years.

Especially on cable TV, members of a journalistic elite spend long hours, every day, talking to themselves. We droogs are permitted to watch. It's almost suggested that we might be listed among the "favorite reporters and friends."

We're allowed to watch the reporters and friends as they talk to and about themselves. The things we're told are often wrong. The things we aren't told are right.

Concerning Guthrie's song: You can hear Bruce Springsteen sing it here. Repetition is powerful:

I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, Mister, since the day I was born

Now I worry all the time like I never did before
'Cause I ain't got no home in this world anymore.

Now I just ramble round to see what I can see
It's a wide, wicked world, sure a funny place to be.

The gamblin' man is rich and the workin' man is poor
And I ain't got no home in this world anymore.

Strongly recommended. People have to work even harder elsewhere in the world.


  1. "The Uranium One report extended several decades of targeted bullshit in the Times about Clinton, Gore and Clinton."

    Hmm. Excuse us, dear Bob, but isn't it the story where Demigod Bubba is paid $500K for a speech (!), by a Russian investment company with significant interest in Uranium One?

    "Targeted bullshit" indeed, dear Bob. That Demigod Bubba's speech was, that is...

    1. All former politicians give speeches for that amount, and pretty much to anyone who will pay the fee. It is how a former politician supports himself or herself. And it is Bush and Reagan who did it, not just Democrats. Reading something into who requested the speech is propaganda.

    2. Yes, government scientists do looove government corruption, dear government scientist.
      We know that.

    3. Clinton wasn't working for the government when he gave that speech. Neither am I these days. You, however, may be supported by Russia. How corrupt is that?

    4. ...also they all, while in office, sell their junkie son's abstract paintings for $500K/piece, to whomever wants to buy them.

      Move along, nothing to see here. It's all "targeted bullshit"...

    5. Clinton has a junkie son? Who knew?

      How much do George Bush's paintings sell for? $625-$720 starting price at auction. How is that any different?

      "You can buy George Bush paintings from bushcenter.org"

    6. It's quite a bit different, dear government scientist, but what's your point anyway? That you love government corruption? But we already know that.

    7. Well, you're both right about both sides sucking, but that's not an answer either of you are conditioned to accept.

    8. There isn't any government corruption described by Mao.

    9. Democrats sure do like to use politics to line their pockets.

    10. Yeah, that George Bush sure is something.

    11. Mao getting paid by his own government isn't corrupt at all. They pay him to troll, and he trolls.

  2. "Essentially, Wallace's program is a group of "favorite reporters and friends" endlessly talking to themselves about the possibility that they can get Trump locked up. "

    She isn't just talking to herself about this. There are a whole lot of us who want to see Trump prosecuted and tried for his crimes. He did serious damage to our country and there needs to be accountability, not reelection for Trump. Many liberals feel as I do about this, so Wallace is far from talking "to herself" about this.

    By the way, it isn't Wallace who would be locking Trump up. She isn't "getting him" locked up. It would be our justice system and the ultimate person who would have gotten him locked up would be Trump himself -- he committed the crimes, not us and certainly not Wallace.

  3. "Trump's legal status is an actual topic, but they seem to care about little else. They surely don't care about the situation described in this report..."

    When a cable news show talks about one topic, it doesn't mean they don't care about other topics. That is unfair to conclude, since there are so many other topics and a limitied amount of time on each show.

    Why are people talking about Trump right now, and not Ellie Alvarado? Because Trump has been the focus on a series of important hearings conducted by the Senate. That is major news. Alvarado's financial woes are ongoing, not topical and not of as great relevance to our nation, however important they may be to Alvarado herself.

    Every red voter needs to hear more about what Trump did. Blue voters do too, because this was an assault on a democracy shared by all voters in our country. This is urgent because we have elections coming up, and because it is important to let people know what Trump did to them and our nation. There is time urgency in this with midterms coming up and primaries happening now.

    Somerby doesn't give a damn about Ellie Alvarado except to use her situation to bash liberals and cable news hosts like Wallace. This is the first time ever that Somerby has complained about insufficient coverage of financial stress on working families, especially Hispanic ones. But Somerby is carrying water for the Republicans and they want to shift the focus off Trump and they also want to attract Hispanic voters -- or convince liberals that Hispanics are fleeing the party -- perhaps so that Dems will try to attract Hispanics and thus alienate the white conservatives who hate immigrants and will be put off by any appearance that Dems care about them (even if Ellie Alvarado is not a recent immigrant herself). So Somerby is doing his job here, and perhaps getting his misogynist jollies because Wallace is female and Somerby has special pique when women do the job he tried and failed to get. Or maybe he just resents it that she has "friends" and he doesn't seem to have any himself.

    And then Somerby has the nerve to quote a Woody Guthrie song, from a man who worked for unions and the poor during his life, unlike Somerby, who carries water for Trump and his ilk.

  4. "The things we're told are often wrong. The things we aren't told are right."

    Somerby says this about Wallace's show. He doesn't give any examples of wrong information. He doesn't tell us what she didn't say that was right either. He just throws out these criticisms, as if simply saying them made them true. If this is proof enough for you that Wallace is bad at her job, then there is something wrong with your thinking. That is certainly true of Somerby, who isn't even trying any more. He just dishes out crap and calls it "musing" with providing one single scrap of information that is wrong on Wallace's show. And that makes Somerby a huge asshole.

    1. MSNBC does pander and make mistakes, if Bob actually paid attention he would see these are not always to
      the left’s advantage. But on balance, you are correct.

  5. "The things we aren't told are right."

    So, if Wallace didn't tell us that the sun will fail to rise tomorrow morning (an untrue thing), it would be true in Somerby's opinion, because she didn't tell us that, and the things we aren't told are right? In what universe?

  6. I love how the MSM avoids their sordid history and the resulting damage over the years, but eventually they dip back in and try to do a little revisionism... good stuff.

  7. "Wallace has perfect teeth, excellent hair, and a very engaging manner. She and her favorite friends don't discuss problems like those of the Alvarados. It simply isn't done."

    Should Wallace bash a few of her teeth so her parents gift of orthodonture when she was a preteen won't embarrass Ellie Alvarado? I doubt Ellie Alvarado would want that, since it won't make her any wealthier.

    What should Wallace say about Ellie Alvarado's struggles? Should she say that inflation is too damned high? Doesn't everyone already know that? Is there a cure for it that someone is proposing? Not in the news to my knowledge. I see lots of criticism of Biden for something caused by the pandemic and being experienced globally. But what should Biden do about it? Somerby doesn't say, and no one else is saying, except to knock Biden for political purposes. Does Somerby want that? Wouldn't that make him not a liberal, if he were suggesting it?

    Maybe Somerby thinks schools should be paying Ellie Alvarado more to teach. He doesn't say that though. And why would a national show focus on an individual in Illinoise, especially when there is no legislation pending there affecting Alvarado's job or wealth? Should Wallace perhaps do a show in which she calls working class struggles bad and calls for income equality? John Oliver does such shows, but that isn't what cable news is about. It isn't 60 minutes or a documentary on economics or even a Michael Moore style expose on the shockingly low wages teachers earn. It is a current events show. But Wallace is supposed to be doing something different, even if Somerby doesn't say what.

    This is Somerby being a jerk. Personally, I don't see why two people and three kids couldn't live on two non-minimum wage salaries, so I suspect they have hefty car and house payments, child care, or perhaps medical bills not described. Would it be Wallace's fault if Alvarado and her family were trying to live above their means and stressed by it? Regardless of income level, the only way to not be financially stressed is to live below one's means, but few people choose to do that. Should Wallace talk about that?

    If Somerby doesn't like cable news shows, he should stop watching them. There is no reason why any show should remake itself to suit Somerby's tastes, even when he is so vague about his preferences -- apparently "Real families of Elgin IL". Meanwhile, a large segment of the public wants to watch shows about Trump and his crimes. That's why the hearings have had larger audiences than any of the Fox shows. People want to hear about this. Trying to change the subject or change the channel is not a viable strategy to distract people from the conservative mistakes Trump and his friends made. But Somerby has given it "the old college try" by telling us all that we shouldn't care about what Trump did, and by the way, "These are not the droids you are seeking."

    1. Sedition, dereliction of duty, violation of his oath, manslaughter, possibly conspiracy to commit kidnapping or murder, obstruction of justice, witness tampering, conspiracy to overturn an election, theft of public property, mishandling of classified documents, possibly treason, conspiracy to commit fraud or wire fraud, mishandling of campaign funds.

    2. inciting an insurrection/riot
      obstruction of justice
      witness tampering
      obstruction of an official proceeding
      submitting fraudulent tax information

    3. Oh - the accurate term is "alleged" crimes.

    4. Election tampering. Damn evidence in the public record.

    5. "Trump's legal status is an actual topic..."- one Bob will never address in any fashion.
      Bob would like to lock Nichole Wallace up, apparently, for being too good looking. Well, you
      accuse him of trying to hide his sexism.

    6. "A federal judge ruled on Monday that former President Donald J. Trump and a lawyer who had advised him on how to overturn the 2020 election most likely had committed felonies, including obstructing the work of Congress and conspiring to defraud the United States." https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/28/us/politics/trump-election-crimes.html

    7. Trump has done so many criminal things at this point, that people literally have forgotten most of them. One random example I just stumbled across: during the investigation into Trump's extortion of Ukrainian officials, he pressured "government officials and personal associates not to cooperate with congressional investigations of his conduct and retaliated against witnesses who cooperated with the investigation." https://www.citizensforethics.org/reports-investigations/crew-reports/president-trump-staggering-record-of-uncharged-criminal-misconduct/

    8. "most likely" = alleged

    9. "most likely" = "most likely" And the judge was just being circumspect in his wording because of his position and the fact that he was making a public statement.

    10. “alleged”, like Ginni Thomas is “alleged” to not be a fascist.
      You can hope it’s true all you want, but there is absolutely no proof in the public record that she isn’t a fascist. In fact, there is far more evidence in the public record that she’s a fascist, for sure.

    11. Yet still Hispanics and blacks are scurrying away from the Democratic party. Which really tells you something.

    12. 10:28,
      It tells me, you’ll believe any nonsense you hear.

  8. Read Anonymouse 4:38pm.

    This is the attitude.

    And Anonymices 6:38pm and 6:52pm hokum and…Buttigieg are what they’re banking on.

    But Bob is the silly billy.


    1. We already know you are no moral giant. No need to confess Cecelia.

    2. As promised a few days ago, here is another excerpt from my memoirs. Enjoy.

      "Beside the fact that my fanny wasn't as young as it once was, I still had such flatulent prowess.

      One silent stink bomb from my rear could still clear a room in 10 seconds flat.

      And I let one slip from my fanny during the most recent gala at the Waldorf-Astoria. Many of the guests left and a few patrons withdrew their generous contributions, entirely.

      Mission accomplished."

      Stay tuned for more sometime next week.

  9. Donald Trump, we should throw in, is everything Woody Guthrie would despise.

  10. I came today to hear of George Conway as promised yesterday and yet, crickets.

  11. Enjoyed reading the article above , really explains everything in detail,the article is very interesting and effective.