Sunday, January 1, 2012

The media "Village" - no judgment required

Great find by Phil Scarr at Blogging Blue, which leads you to an outstanding article at the Huffington Post from Jonathan Bines eviscerating worthless New York Times columnist and usual Sunday talk show guest David Brooks. Particularly, Bines nails Brooks for his mastery of the D.C. cocktail party usage of false equivalency. For example:
[Brooks writes] "Republicans decry the technocratic rationing model as "death panels." Democrats have gone into demagogic overdrive calling premium support ideas "privatization" or "the end of Medicare." (The Missing Fifth 5/2)

Already many consultants are telling Republicans to drop austerity and go back on offense: Spend 2012 accusing the Democrats of sponsoring death panels. The Democrats will spend 2012 accusing Republicans of ending Medicare. Whichever party demagogues best wins. (Medicare Survival Guide, 5/26)"

Since the accusations made by Democrats and Republicans against each other must balance, Brooks is able to dispense with consideration of their relative merits. Republicans are engaged in demagoguery, falsely accusing Democrats of supporting "death panels." Consequently the corresponding Democratic accusations must also represent demagoguery -- whatever they may be. As it happens, Republicans are, in fact, calling for the replacement of Medicare with a program that would offer "premium support" for private insurance. To quote David Brooks: "True Medicare reform replaces the fee-for-service system with premium support." (David Brooks, The Serious One 11/7). But because the Republicans are engaging in demagoguery, to describe this Medicare-ending privatization plan as a call for "privatization" or the "end of Medicare" must also represent demagoguery. Q.E.D.
In other words, in Brooks' world if a Republican says something that's strong and false, and Democrats respond with something strong and based in truth, both parties are doing the same thing, and are equally to blame for the problem not being solved.

Uhh, NO THEY ARE NOT. One statement is correct (Medicare would end as we know and be turned to a voucher system under Paul Ryan's plan), one is wrong (Obamacare does not institute "death panels", insurance companies are a different matter). This is not a debatable matter.

And David Brooks is a symbol of a much bigger problem in today's media. Brooks is a major member of the D.C. "Village", where hanging out in the right social circles and getting the right people to talk to you is more important than actually, you know, REPORTING WHAT'S HAPPENING. And the real goal with the average Village "journalist" is access, not analysis, so if you can give both sides equal creedence (whether they deserve it or not), then you'll get all the interviews and invitations to big events you want. Doing real journalism, like what someone like Matt Taibbi does in exposing Wall Street malfeasance and their allies on Capitol Hill, means you have to describe it as you are seeing it, which means you call out bullshit and corruption when it appears, and tweak a lot of powerful noses in the process.

And you wonder why D.C. was stuck on talking about deficits and debt when the vast majority of America was more concerned about inequality and unemployment in 2011? Because to the Villagers, what's going on in their little elitist bubble should be considered much more important to America than what's actually happening in...most of America. We saw the same thing during the protests here in Wisconsin last February, when the Sunday talk shows were refusing to have organized labor officials on their shows when discussing labor issues. Because after all, why would labor unions be considered a reliable source when discussing collective bargaining and the state of labor? Why shouldn't we rely on the David Brookses and George Wills and other Villagers and paid political spinmeisters to be the ones talking about issues which they have zero personal experience about?

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel pulls the same no-judgment garbage in their editorial today, trying to credit Gov. Walker for "thinking big."
Voters have very strong opinions about Gov. Scott Walker, and for many it's because of his signature idea of 2011: He pushed to roll back more than 40 years of accepted practice by sharply curtailing bargaining rights for most of Wisconsin's thousands of public employees.

The results of this experiment in governance may not be known for years. Property tax bills certainly were moderated as a result of the governor's initiative, and the state's chronic structural deficit was tamed. But schools and municipalities complain that the accompanying budget cuts will hurt the state over the long term, and they may be right.

It's possible Walker may not be in office to see how all this turns out: It's likely that an effort to force him to defend his seat in a recall this summer will succeed. Whatever happens, this was one of the bigger ideas of the year - and one of the bigger political bets ever in Wisconsin.
Look at the weasel words in those 3 paragraphs: "the accompanying budget cuts will hurt the state over the long term, and they may be right. "This was one of the bigger ideas of the year - and one of the bigger political bets in Wisconsin." "signature idea of 2011." Yeah, well if I said sticking bratty children in an oven as a way to get them in line might work, would the J-S laud that as a "big thought" and "signature idea" as well.

CMON J-S! Be honest and ask if this worked to improve our economy (being Number 1 in job losses for the last 5 months indicates no), and don't take the Administration's assertion that they cut "the state's chronic structural deficit" at face value, especially when your own Politi-crap publication said 6 weeks ago that the GAAP deficit has gotten bigger under Walker. Taking away thousands of dollars of take-home pay and banishing 50 years of bargaining rights in order to funnel money to corporate contributors IS NOT A FUCKING GAME outside of the Village. But Journal Communications has to show how "fair and balanced" they are toward this administration, and wants Walker to keep calling in on WTMJ, so they can't tell the truth that this attack on hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites has caused major pain and is a massive failure, and have to leave it up to "debate." And Republicans get away with throwing these whoppers out there all the damn time, without the media calling them out on it and having the judgment to stop giving these people a perceived "equal opinion" that they are not worthy of.

That's the kind of insider bubble mentality that we have to puncture, and that's why it's up to us to hold the media's feet to the fire every bit as much as should try to we hold our politicans accountable. Because D.C. Villagers and Journal Communications corporates won't make the effort to address the public that pays their salaries until they face shame and a loss of income from that public. Both politicans and media have chosen to remove themselves from our reality in favor of staying confortable inside their little world, and it's time for us to expose and invade that world, and show that many of these emperors have no clothes, and not worthy of any air time. A major 2012 resolution should be to call out bullshit every time it's being thrown out, and not to let the Villagers and the politicians get away with their half-truths and half-assedness.

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