Fat Steve's Blatherings

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Thanks For the Data Point/Admission


        Franklin Foer, writing in the New Republic Online (originally here , is unhappy with "liberal" bloggers who criticize the press.  He says it weakens the MSM, which obstructs the political agenda of conservatives.  Which is to say, he considers the MSM to be liberal and biased.

        Thanks for saying that out loud, Frankie.  Not that you meant to.

At Length:

        "Be careful what you say, you'll give yourself away, the odds are you won't live to see tomorrow."  So ran the theme song on "Secret Agent," the old Patrick McGoohan TV show (the original British title was "Danger Man," I believe).  Franklin Foer has given himself away.

        This passage is a particular hoot:
        What they're attacking is the MSM's Progressive-era ethos of public-minded disinterestedness.  By embracing the idea of objectivity, newspapers took a radical turn from the raw partisanship that guided them in the nineteenth century.  "Without fear or favor" was Times owner Adolph Ochs's famous phrase.  That "objective" style worked well for many years, because, in the postwar period, political elites shared broad assumptions about policy with one another--and the media.  But the Bush administration has violently rejected that consensus.

        Well, yes, when a big majority of voters were liberals, the country's elites were all liberals (Richard Nixon, running for office for the first time, identified himself as a "practical liberal" as he simultaneously sought the 1948 Republican and Democratic nominations for the House of Representatives), and the reporters were all liberal, and the press and the government got along fine.  When a lot of voters turned conservative, and a lot of conservatives entered the political elite, and the press stayed liberal, there was a breakdown of the consensus.

        That led to conservative and Republican anger with, and attacks on, the MSM.  Lately, though, many liberals are also bashing the MSM.  This has Foer's knickers in a twist.  The press is unbiased, of course, and objective, but somehow it still manages to "obstruct" the conservative agenda.  How it manages to be both objective and conservative-obstructing at the same time isn't exactly clear.  Nor is it clear how criticisms by liberal bloggers would stop the press from continuing.  To say Foer is vague and confusing would be more charity than he deserves.

        But being vague and confusing is only the start.  Foer is also either an idiot, or an inept liar.  He quotes some HuPo criticism of the MSM:
        usual sub-par, unsatisfactory, wholly misinformed, shitty job; . . lazy stenographer[s] ... posing as journalist[s who] will gladly cut and paste this Republican propaganda . . . Beltway media really makes no effort to do anything other than parrot totally out-of-touch conventional wisdom--no matter how inane, stupid and ridiculous it is.

        He then goes on to say:
        You would expect this kind of populism from the right . . .

        Talk about LOL.  We'd criticize the press for repeating Republican propaganda?  We'd criticize them for repeating the conventional wisdom?  Not even liberals are stupid enough to believe this.  We criticize what we see as dishonesty, bias, and error.  How do you think you're kidding, pretending not to know this?

      Of course, you shouldn't expect even basic honesty from any journalist (Franklin Foer is a "senior editor" at the New Republic), and Foer doesn't oblige.  Foer tries to pretend he isn't calling the MSM biased by saying the problem with modern journalism is the nasty conservatives, who tell lies all the time.  The rules of "objectivity" allegedly require the MSM to repeat these lies without challenging them.

        As an example, he gives the Bush tax cut of 2000, which Foer says Bush claimed would result in "consuming a mere quarter" of the projected budget surplus.

        This is an example of lying by assuming something in your statement that is under dispute.  Will a tax cut "consume" revenues?  No, that can only be done by spending.  Did Bush use the phrase "consuming a mere quarter" of the budget surplus?  No, that was another liberal journalist, Johnathan Chait.  Will a tax rate cut lower total tax revenues?  That's impossible to answer 'Yes,' or 'No' without knowing more about the situation.  It is an accepted part of economics that lowering the tax rates has a stimulative effect on the economy, which tends to raise tax revenue, unless taxes have been cut to zero.  Will stimulus offsets the lower rates partially, completely, or more than completely?  That's unknowable without further information.

        What Foer wants, when you get past the rhetoric, is for the press to assume be more open in their flacking for the liberal agenda.  The media of Foer's vision would always tell the 'truth,' which is whatever liberals are pushing that day.  Only conservatives would ever criticize the MSM, which would then claim that all the criticism is partisan politics by conservatives, and that the press is unbiased.  This would let them keep the game of liberal news bias going a little longer.  But it won't work.  <hypocritical sanctimony and dishonest sympathy>I am so broken up about this.  It's all the fault of people like me, pointing out the MSM's pathetic lies and obvious partisanship.  I'll stop immediately, I promise!</hypocritical sanctimonyand dishonest sympathy>

        Meanwhile, Frank baby, let me give you some sincere advice: you're lousy at lying, you should get someone else to do such pieces for you.

        Technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .



Post a Comment

<< Home