Journalism, And Its Discontents

There’s a stunning video out of MSNBC’s David Schuster attempting to “interview” bloated righty nutcase Andrew Breitbart about the Teabugger case.  In it, Breitbart plays the broken record, yowling about irrelevant and provably false nonsense so that Schuster can’t get a word in edgewise, repeating phrases over and over in the manner Goebbels helpfully suggested to those propounding the Big Lie.  (Maybe that should be Breitbart’s next, of many,  ”Big” ventures….)  More disturbing, however, than the Nazi tactics Breitbart maniacally and proudly employs, is the knowledge that his fans will watch this tape and, disregarding whatever facts are involved, come to the desired conclusion that the “liberal media” are hopelessly biased, and thus Breitbart is right and the MSM, as usual, are wrong.  Welcome to the new world of right-wing “journalism,” where stunts and nonsense carry much more weight than what really happened, and this isn’t a bug, but a feature.

I have a yellowed clipping on my bulletin board from a few years ago wherein a NYT reader says that the reason there are so few “conservative” academics is that, “Academics look at evidence and come to conclusions.  Today’s conservatives start with a conclusion and then try to find anything to support that conclusion, regardless of contrary evidence.  Their arguments fall apart under the lightest scrutiny.”   The writer only left out, “then comes the shouting.”  Thus was the case with the talented Mr. O’Keefe.  Conservatives were beside themselves that ACORN was registering voters who, in sufficient numbers, would spell their doom, so they decided that ACORN needed to be silenced.  A “sting” was ordered.  Out of nowhere, a demonstrably unhinged but unalterably committed schoolboy was found, funded, and sent around the country to stage video that, properly edited and hyped, could get rid of ACORN, once and for all, and thereby at least temporarily forestall the GOP’s imminent demographic demise.  As luck would have it, there was already a huge infrastructure of right-wing “journalism” in place to mindlessly promote O”Keefe’s “work,” and better yet, to once again intimidate what remained of the mainstream media into covering his “revelations,” regardless of whether they had been deliberately manipulated or were outright false.  Everybody, including Congress, fell for it, and to the casual observer, it appeared that O”Keefe had found a “scoop” that the hapless liberal media had either missed or consciously ignored.  The subsequent court cases that largely exonerated ACORN were lost in the shuffle, and no one ever thought to ask how, why, or with whose money O”Keefe got his expose.  Win, win.

Flush with this “success,” Breitbart obviously ate a bunch more doughnuts while O’Reilly and the lesser Foxes waited with bated breath for the next O’Keefe blockbuster.  Money obviously changed hands, as we are belatedly discovering, Republican pols and operatives were duly enlisted, and these overconfident propagandists decided, based on past success, to up the ante.  Oops.  The fuzz showed up this time.  Waxing Nixonian, all the establishment righty mouthpieces quickly distanced themselves from this “prank,” or “third-rate burglary,” as RN would have put it, and instead went bananas over any small mistake made by the MSM in reporting it, and started yelling incoherently.  Why not?  It worked before, and it may well again.

Thus, the whole point of this new phenomenon of right-wing “journalism,” which is to destroy and discredit the very idea of truth , has bumped up against the final barrier to its dominance, the criminal justice system, and it’s quite obvious that they are resorting to the usual misdirection and lies to get out of this unaccustomed pickle.  I myself had a Breitbartian exchange with a righty mouth-breather at FDL over the last day or so, who, like Breitbart, repeatedly demanded that I document where, get this, Michelle Malkin had specifically lied about the teabugger incident in her hurried, ad hoc denunciation of O’Keefe.  Never mind the many well-documented and ethically dubious political missions of either miscreant; like the Bush defenders of yore who demanded “proof” of how Bush and Cheney had “personally profited” from their wars and other flagrant shenanigans, insisting that anything short of bank statements would prove all critics to be garden-variety liberal liars, I must somehow “prove” some specific lie, or shut up, but fast.  The burden of proof, you know, belongs not to the initial lying loudmouth and his/her many media outlets, but to the obscure blogger who asks a few questions.

The success of this venture can hardly be understated.  A political movement that is inherently unpopular, focused as it is on harming the many for the benefit of the few, has to get creative, and it certainly has.  The hated “liberal media” is hopelessly cowed, along with the political class, and, as long as the cops don’t show up, they have a good thing going, and a few Presidents and Supreme Court Justices notched in their otherwise unblemished bed posts.  What they aren’t, and never will be, is Journalists, and the truth, despite O”Keefe’s desperate and probably illegal tweets, will never set them free.


  1. dirigo says:

    Well, they’re making their own reality all right.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s pretty successful, until the Law steps in. That’s what makes Obama’s mantra of “looking forward, not back,” so frustrating, and ultimately self-defeating. For every righty not in jail, there are five on TV gloating and lying.

      • dirigo says:

        Is it bad form, even this late in the game (the game being defined by yours truly as: the post 9-11-arguably illegal Iraq invasion-pro torture-scrap the Geneva Convention-high court opinion that corporations are “persons” era) to suggest that looking forward without reckoning with the last decade is not an option?

        What’s the weight and importance of an amateur political provocateur dressed as a pimp when put on the scale?

        In that vein, while I’m not a big Richard Cohen fan, he does have a column up which bears on some of our shameless poseurs as a class.

        Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow.

        • cocktailhag says:

          A surprisingly thoughtful essay from that undoubtedly dubious source. Funny, even though such types have egregiously squandered their sinecures, who will pay to raise the next generation? So far, all we have are phonies subsidized by “Big” something or other, and too few even of those. The self-interested right may win the battle by sheer default, since they have found the buttered side of the bread.

  2. nailheadtom says:

    ” The subsequent court cases that largely exonerated ACORN were lost in the shuffle. . . .”

    When a court makes a decision that you agree with, they’re OK, but the Supremes, well they’re just shills for Dick Cheney or J.P. Morgan or Rutherford B. Hayes.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Oh, please. The evidence shows that the higher the court, the more politicized it is, particularly on the Republican side. Alito threw a tantrum last night to prove it. It’s great strategy from a party that could never win honestly, but it doesn’t fool anyone except you.

  3. nailheadtom says:

    And apparently the evils are taking over: January 26, 2010

    • cocktailhag says:

      What difference would it make if they did? You still are stuck in the fantasy that there’s any real difference between the parties; I’m not. Fantasize all you want; the police state is already here to protect the ill-gotten gains of the modern day robber barons. The rest is just show business.

  4. sysprog says:

    BRADBLOG pointed out, yesterday . . .
    . . . that by Andrew Breitbart’s (previous) “logic” – - if a Breitbart employee is accused of a crime, then Breitbart’s organization is a “criminal organization.”

    Joshua Micah Marshall opines, today . . .
    Andrew Breitbart just went on David Shuster’s show. [...]
    [...] truly the most unhinged performance I’ve seen since Shuster made a laughing stock of and pretty much put an end to the fifteen minutes of fame of Orly Taitz.
    [...] this performance was definitely in shark-jumping territory. For the ages.

  5. rmp says:

    OT, I don’t buy the end of this story (see below) on the Oregonians people power success in taxing the Corporations and wealthy that they won because they had more money to spend on broadcast ads. I believe it was the issue and the people power that is possible when there is something clear and simple they can get behind. Too much credit is given to the power of ads, especially negative ones. From your insider view, how much of a role did the ads play? Is this another attempt to put unions and their so called money power on the same level as corporate money? The unions power comes from the active role their members play and not just in raising money.

    “Supporters, backed by public employee unions, raised $6.8 million, compared with $4.6 million by opponents who relied on the banking industry and business groups. Final financial reports have yet to be filed.

    “The biggest issue is we were substantially outspent by the public employee unions. They were able to double, and more than that, the money we were spending on the broadcast media, and were able to get that much more of their message out,” said Pat McCormick, spokesman for Oregonians Against Job-Killing Taxes.”

    Voters in Oregon OK tax hikes for some: Corporations and wealthy families are targeted to help ease the state’s budget crisis.,0,3341290.story

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, note that McCormick lied, by quite a bit, about the numbers, and venture a guess. The commercials were also full of easily exposed lies, but they ran them ad nauseam anyway. That had to hurt. I think Phil Knight’s obnoxious op/ed was worth 100,000 “yes” votes all by itself. Bad cause, bad supporters, and bad, intelligence-insulting campaign…. Blame the unions.
      (As I noted in my update on yesterday’s post, Knight admitted that neither he nor Nike were going anywhere, but he’s “keeping his options open.”) Well, then.

    • meremark says:

      In my casual measure by half-alert anecdote, the ‘yes’ ads started running earlier, about 60 days before the vote, and followed through to finish in strong parity of appearances with the ‘no’ ads. It sort of surprised me, is why I noticed it.

      I don’t know the actuals numbers. The ‘is TOO‘ – ‘is NOT‘ arguments were mutually annihilating, matter and anti-matter. In the aftermath it appeared Knight’s clumsy ‘no’ op-ed provoked more ‘yes’ votes than I expected it could.

      In other regards the righty-tighty capitalists seemed more absent and less strident than in other campaigns. The ugly was downsized ever so slightly, but like a shrunken head: still ugly.

  6. Ché Pasa says:

    Well. Saw this thing on the Intertubes. It was advertised as Shuster/Breitbart Cagematch. Implication being Shuster pwned the rolly-polly boy.

    But what I saw was a segment entirely about all the Bad that was ACORN, almost eight interminable minutes of it. If Shuster was trying to say something about anything else, I couldn’t find it in all the ACORN!!!!111 IS TEH EVUL!!! yabbering.

    Is it the same all over the cable news? Cause if it is, then the wingnut criminal class is getting immense amounts of mileage out of the TeaBugger arrests — to further smear ACORN.

    Glad I don’t have the teevee cable.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I don’t have it either, but thanks to morbid curiosity and this evil little laptop, I expose my poor brain to it all the time. Like a lot of things, I think “ACORN” is only so scary and iconic to righties. It’s like vampires and garlic.
      They overestimate the power of the little nut, no pun intended.

  7. dirigo says:

    We’re basically talking about juvenile delinquents here.

    Other pundits, like Chris Hayes and Jonathan Alter, make similar observations, with Hayes citing thirty or forty years of “dirty tricks” (nothing new here!) and Alter tagging them as “nihilists” (no shit!), flat out, spoiled assholes (all white ones at that) who learn the ropes as whack job reactionary fairies, whether as Riponistas or Mellon-Scaifeheads, playing little boy tricks on each other while on their training bikes.

    For them, for years afterward, there’s the lore and fond recall of those non-stop pissing contests, and the all-night-throw-the-ping-pong-ball-in-the-beer-cup-chugging-contests-while-spilling-brew-all-over-the-frat-house-pool-table-and-ruining-the-felt!

    Ahhhhhhhh … the days of being a true asshole? Who can forget? Who could ever let it go?

    There’s the rub.

    Why would any reasonably mature, thinking person follow such children?

    Who can take their masters seriously any longer?

  8. sysprog says:

    The teabaggers might decide the USA needs to be more open to immigration, after all.

    But what would the judge in Nashville have done if this family were escaping from Mexico?

  9. sysprog says:

    Speaking of teabaggers, here’s the GOP political strategy for 2010.

  10. sysprog says:

    Wanda Sykes 01/23/2010 :,-Boobs-out-the-Blouse-and-Scott-Brown,-jan-23,-2010.html

    Why do the Democrats care about losing the supermajority? It’s not like they use it anyway . . . It’s like complaining about the car YOU NEVER DRIVE getting repossessed . . . “Oh, man, I was gonna use that!”

    - – Wanda Sykes 01/23/2010