So many trees, and yet...no forest. The wingnut goal is to legitimize the nonsense du jour by getting media attention. It doesn't matter if the report labels the nonsense a lie, the goal was to get that report into the national discussion where the usual suspects - Hannity, Carlson, Alex Jones - tell the rubes the nonsense is legit and the "librul media" is twisting it. The existence of an *investigation* is all that matters to the bad faith actors, because then they can talk about the underlying nonsense being so bad it has prompted an investigation. That the MSM falls for this crap over and over is almost shocking. The lede is the forest, not the trees! Media manipulation - "working the refs" as Eric Alterman described it - works, and its perpetrators won't stop as long as it does.
Donald Trump is going to run for president again, and when he does he’s going to say he’s taking back what was stolen from him in a rigged election, and that COVID-19 was over by the time he left office and now it’s raging and it’s Biden’s fault. Anyone is invited to tell me with a straight face that he won’t do these things.
Every newsroom in the country should be asking themselves NOW what they’re going to do when he does this. “A defiant Trump declares run” followed by six paragraphs repeating his lies and two lines of “Actually none of this is true” is not going to cut it.
As for California specifically, the national political media actively help the GOP in their Wile E. Coyote act. Republicans faceplant off a cliff and they’re fresh as a daisy in the next scene, in no small part because no one who gets paid six and seven figures to cover politics will ask them “Wasn’t this just a tremendous waste of time and tax money? Isn’t your resounding defeat a sign that your party is completely out of touch with what average Americans care about?” In fact the whole recall fail will be forgotten by mid afternoon Eastern, with the active help of the people who get paid lots of money to know and analyze these things.
I also notice that the NYT and the rest of The Media are all wondering today what lessons *the Democrats* have learned and what changes we can expect *from Gov. Newsome* now that the recall election is over. As always, the only indication this was just more dishonest Republicon machinations is the reporting that "some Democrats have claimed" it was a Republicon power grab, which it objectively, factually, and unquestionably was. But we aren't allowed to be certain of anything in the postmodern world. Except that whatever happens, Democrats should be very worried about what it means for their future; that part we're allowed to be absolutely certain about....
As usual, great coverage and great commentary. In addition to calling out the media, the Democrats should shift to making fun of Republicans for their knee-jerk complaints of fraud. They used to be working hard to undermine democracy. Now, they are mostly just whiney, sore losers. Every time something doesn't go their way, they stomp their feet and threaten to hold their breath until they turn blue. We spent so much time shocked at the audacity of Trump that we didn't spend nearly enough time ridiculing Trump. California is a massively Democratic state and yet they claim fraud when they lose. Ridicule them all, marginalize them all. They are not a serious party and have not been for a long time.
I’m not going even touch my usual rant about the mainstream’s priority is spewing GOP propaganda no matter how factually wrong or worse it is.
Nah, I just want give like an instant update to this post.
The Times is still covering for the GOP regarding the California recall:
The reporter’s GOP-supporting hypothesis is given prominence. Democrats unusually uniting protected Newsom. Not, say, voters’ (generally) being repelled by the idea of replacing Newsom with an unhinged, literally murderous Republican.
Too, there’s downplaying of what seems to a decisive victory here for Newsom, a reasonably clear sign that independents are maybe getting seriously repelled by the Party of Trump. I, of course, try to avoid hope but I guess being hopeful because of the result here is understandable.
Boy, these Democrats are sure getting good at fraudulating elections. They managed to somehow get 66 percent of California votes to get counted against the republican candidate. Amazing!
Keep pounding on the msm/NYT, Eric. We’re your backup. Praying some of your great writing/points make a dent. Maddeningly obvious to us, why not them? Forest for the trees indeed. AHHHHH!!!!
Kasie Hunt decided to get stupid on Twitter and she's getting the blowback she deserves.
I think this is not just about the press providing cover for the GOP and their lies. I think it's part of a fundamental problem with 'news'. Republicans lying, being racist, and otherwise being horrible is not 'news' - it's what they do and everyone knows it. But if the press actually calls them out on 'normal' behavior, A) they get upset, B) it's seen as partisan, and C) the reporters "become the story" which is a no-no in journalism - so why go there?
I was watching a BBC report earlier on a singer being called out in England by their analog to Dr. Fauci because she was spreading a Covid conspiracy theory. There was a discussion with a reporter on how to cover stories like that, with the concern that reporting disinformation spreads it. In the ensuing discussion, the reporter said (paraphrasing) that it's not the job of the press to tell people what to do - just to get the story out and let people decide for themselves.
Except a lot of the time they don't even do that. They go with the prevailing narrative and let it go.
It seems to be a hazard of the job. Several years ago I was advocating for a particular course of action by a county in the Hudson Valley, and the group I was working with had some serious questions about the way certain companies always got county contracts to do work for the county, certain firms always got the contracts to do studies that always confirmed what the leaders wanted, there was a consistent pattern of campaign donations, there were things the local police did that didn't bear scrutiny depending on who was involved, and so on.
I had a chance to discuss this with the person heading up the Hudson Valley news desk for a major radio network in the region. I was told by that person that this kind of behavior with all the question it raised about the way local government works was pretty much endemic to county governments all across the state. There was no point in raising any questions about it because it was ubiquitous; there just wasn't time enough or money enough to address it - and besides nobody really cared that much. (Except of course when it hit people like me directly in a way that couldn't be ignored.) That person didn't quite pat me on the head while explaining the obvious...
I think reporters eventually become subject to Mellencamp Syndrome: "Nothin' matters, and what if it did?" Reporting as stenography is a lot less emotionally draining. I can see why it is easy to slip into it as a default mode, along with groupthink and a common narrative.
When it comes to good stuff, I think one of the best works I've ever read about all the paradoxes involved in trying to report news is still a fantasy novel by the late Terry Pratchett: "The Truth".
When it comes to the New York Times the Presstitution never stops!
I'd like to say that Margaret Sullivan is a jewel, an ornament to the journalism profession. I'd also like to add that David Leonhardt's daily Times newsletter is the best thing about that paper's regular news and opinion, unless it's Paul Krugman and Jamelle Bouie.
I'd also like to bow to Dana Milbank, who, unlike his old friend Chris Cillizza, appears to have realized that his misogyny toward Hillary Clinton was misplaced, and has done great articles. As for Cillizza, he is proof that CNN runs a charity department to employ the terminally stupid.
Eric, put this one in your hall of fame for pieces on fluffy synonyms masquerading as pithy language. Words are important. You'd think journalists, of all people, would be devoted to using precise words. One of my favorite lines in your article today was parenthetical: "(Who, in everyday life, uses “false claims” when they’re talking about obvious lies?)". I laughed when I read your question because it is so simple and expresses the truth so well. Talk and write straight.
What about the financial cost of this recall? I thought the Republican Party was a fiscal Conservative party. Where was the media stories about how much of a waste of money this recall would be? How is anyone shocked that Newsom retained his seat in a landslide in such a progressive state? The media also needs to report on the independent voters and the trend they are showing toward disgust of this right wing lunatic fringe. But the recall story is not over. Now the MSM will use miss-truths, false claims, and other synonyms for fucking lies as the Reps somehow attempt to show there was fraud in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1. And Kasie Hunt, OMG please just go away!
A the recall was a "major win" for Larry Elder per Mr. Consistently Bad Take: https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/15/politics/california-recall-election-hits-misses/index.html
Perhaps they aren't "failing to learn from their mistakes", but succeeding in learning from their triumphs? It really is time for you to abandon this insane insistence that normalizing Republicon dishonesty is something they have any intention or desire to avoid doing. And you, Eric, are enabling them by rejecting the real reason they refuse to use the word "lie": because they cannot *prove* that the liars don't believe their lies, so according to postmodernist idiocy, they are "spreading falsehoods", not *lying*. Because words don't really matter, to them or to you either; only their *definitions* matter, and "the definition of lie" includes conscious intent to lie, not just insufficient concern for the truth.
The New Your Lies strike back