Author Archives: Allison Hantschel

Your Secretary of State

I am sicker about this man sitting in Kerry’s chair than I am about Trump at the Resolute desk, guys: 

Perhaps, by breaking with a half-century of past practice and flying off without the regular State Department correspondents on board, Mr. Tillerson was hoping to continue to operate in a style that worked well for him as chief executive of Exxon Mobil. In that job, he could negotiate complex oil and gas deals behind closed doors and then inform his board of directors and shareholders afterward.

A reminder of the man who occupied that office just previous:

I mean good God: 

Tam told Kerry the Viet Cong could hear the Swift boats coming from 3,000 feet away, and he gently suggested the lumbering Americans never stood a chance.

“We were guerrillas,” he said. “We were never where you were shooting.”

“I’m glad we’re both alive,” Kerry told him as they shook hands, each putting two hands into the gesture.

Good. God.

A.

Margaret Sullivan Did Not Come to Play with You Hos

Press hos, specifically: 

With this uplifting example, I inaugurate an occasional feature: Access Watch, tracking the special treatment — phone calls, interviews, perhaps the lone press seat on the secretary of state’s plane — that can result when media people play nice.

True, it is not the proper job of journalists to provide favorable coverage but rather to hold powerful figures accountable.

But that doesn’t get you far these days, at least in terms of access.

So we’ll be taking note of what does.

I wanted to pull this bit out, because it’s telling:

Marantz quotes a more veteran journalist about the newcomers: “At best, they don’t know what they’re doing. At worst, you wonder whether someone is actually feeding them softball questions.”

Really? You wonder if someone is feeding them softball questions? Like what, something like this? 

Mr. President, as the nation is at odds over war, with many organizations like the Congressional Black Caucus pushing for continued diplomacy through the U.N., how is your faith guiding you? And what should you tell America? Well, what should America do collectively as you instructed before 9/11? Should it be pray?

Mr. President, how is your faith guiding you to attack Iraq and how can Americans be your prayer warriors? What parts of the Bible are you reading to guide your decisions about bombing Baghdad and is there a Psalm you’d recommend we keep in mind to ease our thoughts of murdered children?

Jesus shit, nobody has to feed these people softball questions. Their natural inclination in good times is to spend the day complaining that some blogger has their favorite chair, and this year they’re mostly pissed because the correspondents’ dinner won’t be fun anymore. They’d rather be covering something NORMAL, and this is all just such a damn bummer, man, with the unhinged fascism.

They gasp when someone has the nerve to ask the president what every single one of us is thinking, which is “… dude, the fuck?”

I watched video of that moment and she could not have been more polite in asking why America was suddenly a xenophobic trash fire in public and if extortion was really the way we wanted to go with NATO, and the gasps were audible.

But sure, the real danger is that somebody is giving Breitbart a heads-up about which Fox chyron pissed the president off this morning.

A.

Middle Eastern Burritos and Other Immigration/Food Discussions

At dinner the other night we were trying to figure out if any other country had AS diverse an experience of food cultures as America. Did Europe have as many Mexican restaurants? Did South American countries have Czech food?

Nobody at the table had traveled enough to say definitively, but this Eater article gets to some of the issues raised in the food industry by a sustained anti-immigrant campaign on the part of government. 

A.

Somebody Else’s Babies

Half a dozen years ago, Mr. A and I were in the adoption agency office looking at brochures.

Not for babies. You don’t have to sell people who are thinking about adoption on babies. Small, squirmy, sticky-out-tongue babies who rustle and snuzzle at your shoulder and snorfle into your ear? You don’t need to pitch those to people. No, we were looking at brochures for parents.

One couple had written a letter to their prospective birth mother explaining all the advantages their child would have: A love for music, for art, a house full of books and laughter. Another made full-color picture pages, designed like a children’s book, showing the two women swinging on swings at the park, playing with a golden retriever in a large yard, pulling nephews in a sled through the snow. Look, see how your baby will live. All these materials were designed to make a biological parent comfortable with an adoptive one, comfortable enough to hand an infant over.

Because the agency often facilitated interracial adoption, the counselor suggested that when Mr. A and I made our brochure, we make it clear we lived and worked in diverse environments. At the time I had an African-American boss and another from Jamaica, colleagues and contacts from everywhere. Our beloved neighbors, a second family to us both, interracial marriages and relationships in both our families, these could help convince a black woman two white people from Wisconsin should raise her child.

(Two white people from Wisconsin is what I think of whenever somebody in front of me at Starbucks orders a “double flat white.”)

The intent was all outward, from the agency’s perspective. You just want a baby. The baby’s birth mother and father want to choose you. I was too selfishly wrapped up in my desire for a baby to consider what kind of baby we should want. Kind of baby? The BABY kind of baby, the one who sucks on his fingers or kicks her tiny feet. We didn’t go through with adoption, not because we didn’t want to but because our biological long shot won.

Still, I thought of that agency, of those brochures, when Steve King flapped his stupid face again: Somebody else’s babies. Not only has he not apologized, not only has he made it worse, but over the weekend his Republican colleagues — who let’s be fair were fine with every other racist thing he says — made their unofficial shrugs official: 

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said this week that she didn’t condone Rep. Steve King‘s (R-Iowa) controversial comments on immigration, but she wouldn’t call for his resignation, Politico reported.

At a town hall meeting in their home state on Friday, Ernst said she would not ask for King to step down, despite calls by many in the audience for her to do so, according to the report.

“I do not ask for [his resignation], I will not ask for that, I do not condone his language. But his voters will make that determination,” she said, according to Politico. “We don’t condone that language, we try to speak respectfully. We all need to act with a level of respect.”

Yeah! We need to act with a level of respect when we are suppressing the voting rights of minority communities and taking away social programs that might help minority kids and undercutting public education in majority-minority cities! We need to SAY nice things while we’re doing all that. We can’t give the GAME AWAY. We can’t just say it outright: Somebody else’s babies.

Good Christ. Like babies have owners, instead of parents. Like they know where they belong and should stay there. Like everyone isn’t somebody else’s baby.

A.

No One Ever Is To Blame

Have you noticed how fucking allergic we are to saying who did what to who and why?

Jesus H. J. Giles Band Christ:

I mean SEEN AS?

He basically said, “White women need to have more white babies so that we can have a nation of white people,” and we are so … I don’t know, what, pussified we can’t say, “This was some breed-for-the-Reich straight-up eugenics shit, son?” What on EARTH? How did we as a nation ever manage the Paris peace talks if right now we can’t put together a definitive headline? Eighty-seven people work  in this newsroom or something. How many said, “Erm. Seen as?”

King put it on the tee for you. You don’t have to say the part about eugenics, even. You can just say, “Iowa Congressman repeats racist rhetoric of the past.” “Racist” is not an insult, it’s a descriptive. Steve King, bless the pile of rusty nails that passes for his heart, is arguing for a distinction based solely on race. That is RACIST. Objectively, if that matters to you while the fucking world burns.

Is it shocking and upsetting to say that? FUCK YES IT IS. It’s shocking and upsetting that it happened. It’s shocking and upsetting that a member of Congress, a job I used to actually think you had to not be a total jello mold to get, thinks there aren’t enough white babies for America to look like his vision of it.

It’s shocking and upsetting that that exists in the world. The very least our nation’s elite media can do is come up with a headline that reflects the shock and the upset.

It is not the newspaper’s job to keep everyone from getting upset. Sometimes it is the newspaper’s job to make sure everyone IS upset, and if everyone is not upset, to fucking deliberately upset them. With every word, you set an agenda, and this agenda says there is no collective interest worth being disturbed about. It’s all an abstract discussion between David Brooks and Thomas Friedman at the Aspen Ideas Festival and who can really know the truth?

Meanwhile King is out here flat-out telling my fellow white people we need to breed out the savages.

Or so it’s being “seen,” anyway.

A.

Work’s Never Done

I wonder if she’s mad about it.

I would be.

I’d also be glad that I could still get out there in the street.

I spent 2o years working for an organization I’ll visit again in two weeks. In the time I spent there, people said thank you once. More often they said, “What have you done for me, today?” or “Who are you again?” or “I’ve never really been clear what this group is about, anyway, so screw you and yours.” I could only get a little mad about it, honestly. I couldn’t sign up for any more of it but I also couldn’t make the case that anybody involved owed anybody anything.

Yet we hear this whenever there’s a damn protest, that young people are Doing It Wrong either because they are protesting Like We Did and it didn’t work, or they are not protesting Like We Did and that is why shit is still fucked up and bullshit. Or we hear that if young people had Appreciated All Our Hard Work, maybe they wouldn’t need to protest at all because Everything would be Perfect.

If you are doing what you are doing for a parade someday, I got news. It ain’t coming. Young protesters do not owe The Sixties a genuflection before they get out in the street their own selves, the Third Wave can tell the Second Wave to suck it if they want to, and for the love of Peter G. Christ, younger activists are not insulting you by existing and caring about different things because, you know, born in a different millennium.

You know how you know your history? Someone TEACHES it to you. Someone puts aside that you’re young and a fuckwit and they get over how tired they are of teaching young fuckwits how to think, and they teach you how to think. If they all took their syllabi and went home the first time someone was like, “Who is James Baldwin?” in a snotty voice, no one would ever know anything.

And if everybody who got in the street got in the street once and then went home like OKAY DID MAH JOB NOW IT’S YOUR TURN WHIPPERSNAPPERS there’d never be another protest because nobody would know about things like “permits” and “what you can actually be arrested for versus a cop being a dickhead.” You don’t get to lay down your burdens, says one of my favorite writers on the planet, the hard parts are all you ever have. You work not because you’re gonna get applause or things are gonna be perfect and finished but because you’re alive. You work to stay alive.

That woman up there? Rosemary? It is infuriating she’s still holding the same sign. She’s gotta be exhausted. And it’s brave, and perfect, that she’s still holding the same sign. If your goal is to make the world better that’s not something you ever want to have to to stop.

A.

If Only There Was Money for Journalism

Jesus H. Tits: 

Tronc (TRNC) , the third-largest U.S. newspaper company, is closing in on a deal to buy Us Weekly from Jann Wenner’s Wenner Media. The purchase price likely would be in the $85 million to $95 million range, sources said, with Tronc chairman Michael Ferro believing the acquisition will move Tronc toward becoming a major player in the celebrity news business and add both to its digital earnings and its digital transformation credibility.

NOTHING says credibility like Us Weekly.
Air Ferro: Latest financials show $2.7M in leased jet charges, equiv of 317 hrs at $8500/hour, = entire retail ad increase in 2016
So, an hour = roughly a month and a half of an experienced reporter’s salary.
I don’t want to hear anymore about how the Internet is killing newspapers, please.
A.

People Ain’t Got No MONEY: Shove Your Tax Credit, Ryan

Obamacare, let’s make it worse:

So people who already can’t afford to pay their premiums will now … get a tax credit on their nonexistent money they don’t have enough of. I cannot. Nope. Look, things like tax credits are nice, if you already have money, because it gives you money back.

Eventually.

After a while.

A long while.

It gives you a long-term benefit. Long. Term. As in, down the road. A ways.

What it does NOT do is put milk on your kid’s goddamn cereal tomorrow morning. What it does NOT do is help anyone already under water on their bills right now. What it does NOT do is solve any of the problems that need solving for people not helped enough by Obamacare.

(This is, of course, by design and not a surprise so don’t come at me in the comments all IT’S A RICH PEOPLE TAX CUT because of course. What I’m saying is that even on its FACE this is a dumbass argument to make.)

The people already not helped enough by Obamacare do not make enough money for a tax credit to mean shit. They don’t make enough money for their taxes to be a worry. Their worries are along the lines of eating, keeping the lights on, and what to do if one of their tires blows. The idea they can worry about April’s problems in March is laughable. They’re still on January’s problems. Last January’s.

This is the same dumbass argument we’re having about childcare, where you can get a tax credit to pay for your childcare which is awesome if you … have money, to put aside, tax-free, for your childcare! If you do not have that money, getting a pass on getting taxed isn’t really a benefit.

I know I am meant to sympathize, always, with the put-upon Taxpayer of America, who will screw himself out of pretty much any government program so long as his bill to the guv’mint goes down by 20 bucks, but there are quite a lot of people who don’t even earn enough to pull that self-defeating bullshit. My sympathies are with them.

A.

If If If If If

I think we need to move to a new theory of Trump which is that they have no idea what is going on, don’t care, have no strategy, again don’t care, and just want to keep yelling shit to make the frogboys on Twitter jump.

Like we keep assuming there’s another explanation than the one we’ve been given since day one of the campaign. Trump was never in this to win, never expected to win, has no idea how to run a government, has no interest in the enormous amount of work it would take to learn,

a.

Alms for the Poor

Seriously, why is this a thing?

Here is a short list of things I give more of a shit about than I do the grocery cart contents of poor people:

Oscar dresses (red lace whyyy).

The Remy Ma/Nicki Minaj feud.

How long a Diet Coke lasts before it goes bad.

The names of Kick’s stuffed dinosaurs and their goings-on when we are not home.

What my sister ate for lunch yesterday.

Putting my clothes in seasonal order.

The identities of our past neighbors’ boyfriends.

Winners of various reality TV shows (Shirley was ROBBED on Top Chef).

How toenails can grow at different rates despite being on the same foot.

These are all things I care about more than I care about what the person in front of me who is using a benefit card to buy groceries is buying. They’re buying caviar and a bottle of ketchup? Whatevs. They’re buying nothing but wholesome foods in bulk? Okay. I once checked out of my local bodega with two bottles of whiskey, a tub of guac and baby-bottle nipples, who the fuck am I to judge? I do not GET this. Don’t we have other things to do?

Do people who are fascinated with this stuff need a hobby? I’d like them to come help me re-organize the cabinet in which we keep Kick’s art supplies. That is becoming a six month project. That would occupy their minds so that they don’t have to think about po’ folks buying Skittles. Or Chewy Sprees. Have you guys ever had Chewy Sprees? They’re AMAZING.

Why do I need to know what brand of juice box the poor family one house over is getting? Because I paid six cents into it with my taxes? I paid for fucking Donald Trump’s election with my taxes, too, and I have no earthly idea what the fuck is going on there, either. If my intimate knowledge of somebody’s grocery cart is required because I paid for it, can someone please explain this Russia shit to me like I’m a stupid person?

The people who get het up about this sort of thing, don’t these people have Netflix? I still haven’t seen Stranger Things, and I want to watch all the movies in which Michael Fassbender takes off his clothes, and there are apparently lots of those. I need to figure out if not caring at all about The Crown is some kind of moral failing. I have six books to read and one of them uses the word “puss” like a Midwestern version of “pussy,” is that a thing?

And can we get back to how it is possible to fuck up Best Picture when it is like literally your only job all year long, to get one event right?

God.

A.

What You Wanted To Say to Your Liberal Family Members

Tonight Donald Trump spoke in complete sentences, read what he was given, seemed mostly sober, and as such is being treated like the second coming of Ronald Reagan by a pundit corps desperate to change none of its behavior. If Trump is a normal president, they don’t have to! Therefore, he will be a normal president.

All I heard tonight was a collection of stuff you say to your liberal sister-in-law when you’re arguing with her about stuff you think she believes. Stuff that’s correct but also not the point, stuff that makes you sound virtuous and her sound like a pointy-headed out-of-touch nitpicker, which is the reason you construct your arguments that way in the first place.

“Law enforcement does a hard, important job and when officers die in the line of duty we should honor their sacrifice!”

Well of course, but …

“Our military should be respected!”

Sure, can we please also pay for …

“People shouldn’t be afraid of criminals, and we should enforce our own laws!”

Agreed on both counts, yet this particular …

“American jobs should come first!”

Okay like how …

That’s all this was. It was the Thanksgiving Dinner Argument, in fanfiction form, won by Trump and his sycophants in slightly more than one half of Congress. It wasn’t a plan of action and it wasn’t a budget and it wasn’t even a coherent worldview. It was fuck you. It was suck on this. It was doing what he did during the campaign, which is to make people who feel dumb be proud of how they felt by removing the need for their feelings to reflect in any way their circumstances or really reality at all.

It’s important to note that, and make the distinction between “appealing to his supporters and likely to resonate with them” without confusing that with “correct in any way or good for the economy, country or rest of the world.” Because if the immediate reactions to his speech are any indication — HE SEEMED SO PRESIDENTIAL! THE TONE IN THE ROOM WAS SO UNLIKE A METH LAB’S! — our current respectable pundits are not going to do it.

A.

Tell Me Again How Critical the Press Considers Itself

Have some goddamn pride: 

President Donald Trump is holding court with “regional press affiliates” in a private dinner on Monday, the White House said.

The meeting is comparable to the off-the-record lunch Trump will host Tuesday with major network anchors ahead of his first address to Congress.

In the past month the messages from institutional media leaders have been only slightly more consistent than those of Trump’s spokespeople. Subscribe to us, because these are extraordinary times, except we need to preserve traditions at all costs, because that’s how things are done! Trump’s administration is de-legitimizing the press, which is UNAMERICAN, but it’s not like we’re pissed enough to decline a dinner invitation over it!

And this:

Tonight’s dinner will be closed to the press.

EXCEPT THE ONES THAT ARE THERE. Dear God, if you’re going to throw yourself a martyrdom every other week for being the last sacred guardians of democracy in these troubled times, you’ve got to actually get up on the cross sometime.

A.

BRB GRAD SCHOOL APPLICATION DUE

Fuck it, I’m going to Yale: 

Mr. Secretary has a new title: Professor.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry was out of work for about a month before landing a new job at his alma mater, Yale, where he will teach a course as well as host presentations called “Kerry Conversations.”

The new program, called the Kerry Initiative, was announced today by the university’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

“Secretary Kerry is going to teach school,” said Jim Levinsohn, director of the institute, home of the new program. “Students are going to show up, and that’s going to be John Kerry in the classroom.”

It’s like he took a class in how to be charming and adorable to me.

kerrysoccer

A.

Avoidable Problems

She seems nice: 

Mulkey explained her comments in the postgame press conference, saying she was tired of hearing the scandal discussed on a national stage by people not involved in the investigation who “don’t know what they’re talking about.” She said the scandal is over and she would send her daughter to the private Christian university, claiming the “problems we have at Baylor are no different than the problems at any other school in America.”

THERE IS SUCH AN EASY WAY OUT OF THIS, guys.

I’m gonna tell you what it is.

I’m gonna tell you how to make sure your university, your school, your organization, your HOLY ROMAN CHURCH, your football team, your whatever can avoid the stigma of multiple accusations of rape and subsequent inept coverups. 

I’m gonna tell you how you can get around the horrible damage to your reputation and the very bad publicity and the unbelievably damaging effect of having people say mean things in the papers and on TV and maybe at the wing place when you’re just trying to have a beer. I’m gonna tell you how to finally be free of all that.

Here we go.

Don’t commit any rapes. Strive for the number of people you rape to be zero. Try really, really hard. No rapes. That’s the goal.

If you are in charge of things at a large organization such as a college, and your employees, your students, your players, your coaches, are raping and you find out about it, you in order: Call the police, shitcan and/or expel the rapists, and hold a press conference admitting to the two former actions and apologizing for having rapists near you.

If it seems like your entire program is just riddled with rape and rapists and there are too many of them to count, possibly take a break from footballing to figure out the raping part.

Refrain from acting like somebody writing a mean tweet about you is equivalent to rape. Don’t whine about how hard this all is for you, the accused rapist or enabler of rape. If you must, employ lawyers and PR people who understand when to talk and when to shut up.

You do these things, instead of doing what that lady up there did, and people will still hate you but they will hate you slightly less. Don’t compound your shitheaditude by being a shithead about having your shitheadedness exposed.

EASY. PEASY.

Christ.

A.

Do What Works

It’s almost like if you do things well, everything will be okay: 

It recently launched its 23rd edition, in Richmond, Texas, and has 186 employees and 11 open positions (that’s up from 7 editions and 63 employees in 2010). And this year, to help it expand further, Community Impact committed fully to dead-tree-ness and took the unusual step of opening its own printing plant. The 36,000-square-foot, $15 million facility opened in October in Pflugerville, next door to Community Impact’s main offices. (Here’s what the print product looks like.)

“We were outgrowing the capacity of the printer we’d worked with over the years,” Garrett said. “We traveled the Southwest United States and looked at facilities and were really thinking, man, we’re in trouble if something happens with our current provider.” His team went to New York to watch Goss Magnum compact presses, which they ended up buying, in action.

“The day we got back from New York was the day the [Austin American-] Statesman decided they were going to shut down their plant,” Garrett recalled. “That, to me, was just a sign that I needed to control my own destiny.”

Time was, EVERY newspaper had its own printing plant and sure, expensive, but then to Garrett’s point nobody can mess with you or tell you what to do.

I keep saying this: Print declined so precipitously not because it was OLDSAUCE or because nobody liked to read anymore or because Kids Today with Their iPhones and Craig with His List murdered it. Print declined because the owners of print newspapers deliberately undermined it as a model, used their losses to justify cuts, used those cuts to justify further cuts, wrote the whole thing off, and parachuted out the window leaving a steaming dump on the boardroom table.

Just do your goddamn job:

In addition, Community Impact’s new printing presses can zone editorial content at the carrier-route level. “If we’re covering two school districts, we’ll be able to piece those districts up,” said Garrett, so that recipients living in different school districts in the same town would receive papers with different covers and news targeted to the school districts they’re in.

The ability to do such extreme targeting means Community Impact’s in-paper advertising is a viable competitor to Facebook. “A business owner can run, for $500, an ad in my paper and reach 80,000 households around their business,” Garrett said.

Distribution and marketing are the easiest things to do right and papers fucked them up left and right. Brands would commit MURDER for the kind of customer loyalty, nurtured over generations, that newspaper companies pissed away doing stupid stuff to their routes and timing in the mid-2000s for no reason other than short-term greed.

A.

 

Today on Everyone’s Obsession with the Gaggle

Could we please stop jerking ourselves off about this crap?

Press gaggles — on-the-record scrums with communication staffers that disallow video recording — are a staple of White House reporting, and it’s highly unusual for a reporter to be barred from the meeting. Today, after Trump delivered a stinging (and contradictory) critique of the media, The New York Times, CNN, the L.A. Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were prevented from attending.

The Associated Press and Time boycotted the gaggle in solidarity with their colleagues. Other news organizations, including The Wall Street Journal, One America News Network and Fox News were allowed in and did not boycott the gaggle.

Go or don’t go. But I gotta say, I find the constant bitching about this incredibly annoying and tiresome.

The importance of this shit, of standing around in a room waiting to be fed, dates from Ye Olden Tymes before the president and his staff tweeted everything that popped into their heads. There is no reason why two people should have to stand next to one another to get the same information. Swallow your pride and retweet somebody else’s tweets.

I know the club of the most of us were just taught to re-report something somebody else reported so that it doesn’t look like we’re giving credit to competitors. But if this is truly the extraordinary moment we’re being told we should subscribe to respond to, maybe put your shoulders into finding another way of doing things that suits the urgency of the times instead of insisting your chair be where it always has been.

Or, you know, don’t. After 20 minutes of no attention this administration and every other one on earth (sigh, yes, including Obama’s, you people are so tiresome) will be gasping for oxygen and offering donuts to anyone who wants to come back in. At that point you can send people if you want or you can flip them the double birds, who cares.

This is not the greatest threat a free press currently faces. The greatest threat a free press currently faces is being cowed and penned up and herded into various structures after which its members act like they have no choice but to amble along mooing. The greatest threat a free press faces comes, as ever, not from whatever dick is manning a political podium but by stupid cowards who think their cowardly stupidity isn’t being noticed.

The greatest threat a free press currently faces is that the people who own one don’t want to pay for it to operate and keep throwing shit-fits over where to put their highest-paid stenographers instead of devoting those dollars to challenging denials of FOIA requests. If Trump spurs a few more news organizations to say fuck to this WHOLE ENDEALMENT, I say well done.

A.

Collect Whatever Weird Shit You Want, But … This?

Ugh.

True story: Mr. A and Doc and the Missus and I were all in an antique store not too far from our house, and Missus and I were about to FUCK. UP. the vintage clothing in this place. The prices were crazy cheap and everything was in great condition. I had three suits on a pile and was considering some dresses when the guys, who’d wandered into the back of the store, came back and pulled us away.

“We’re leaving.” They looked like they’d seen ghosts.

“But it’s all so awesome, and we’re practically stealing, look, it’s like 20 bucks, come on.”

“Put it down. We’re getting out of here right now. We need to go. NOW.”

Turns out they’d taken a turn into a small back room in the store and found an entire collection, almost a shrine, of Nazi memorabilia. And this wasn’t like Granddad brought back a flag he took off some German soldier after the war was over. This was like, “Look at all our shiny Third Reich treasures aren’t they neat-o!” Some of it was for sale. All of it made their skin crawl.

I am not generally superstitious. I don’t actually believe had I bought a dress in that closeted Nazi shop it would have burned my skin. But I don’t understand wanting to keep actual Nazi artifacts around. It’s not that I think they’d whisper to me in the dark, it’s more … I don’t know, my place is small. The things I have around are things I like to look at.

And if you like to look at that, if you like to think about who it belonged to, that sounds like a pretty dark damn life.

A.

This Thing is Working. Let’s Kill It.

So I went on a bit of a tear on Sunday because I am sick of this shit.

To which Whet responded by showing me this: 

Texas Monthly bears the tagline “The National Magazine of Texas”–and it has lived up to the billing. Since its founding in 1973, the magazine has won 13 national magazine awards for public interest, politics, feature writing, and general excellence.

It was a mantle embraced by former owner Emmis Communications Corp, which sold the magazine in October 2016 to Genesis Park, a private equity firm co-founded by Paul Hobby, grandson of former Texas governor William P. Hobby, who owned the now-defunctHouston Post. The buyers quickly found a new editor in Taliaferro, 33, the former vice president for communications and digital strategy for Texas Exes (the University of Texas alumni association) and the editor in chief of Alcalde, UT’s alumni magazine.

Taliaferro spoke with CJR about his plans for Texas Monthly, which are a departure from the magazine’s long history of in-depth political coverage and longform journalism. Of his plans to scale back local political coverage, he says, “Texans don’t care about politics.” As an example of the coverage he plans to cut back on, Taliaferro cited stories on transgender bathrooms.

GAAAAAH.

Texans. Don’t. Care. About. Politics.

Jesus TITS.

This, however, is almost worse:

A statement on the Genesis Park website notes that “Genesis Park is the third owner of the Texas Monthly brand and will use its deep Texas relationships and media history to drive the brand into digital content, social media, expanded events, merchandising and a broader custom publishing business for the next chapter in Texas Monthly’s storied career.”

All of which is shorthand for “we will do anything BUT journalism.” I will grant that digital content and social media can enhance and even be journalism if done correctly, but it was like six seconds ago that publishers were falling all over themselves to produce A THOUSAND LIVE VIDEOS A DAY and then were like no, we will not do that now. Ditto slobbing Facebook’s knob for publication revenue that never really materialized.

So what the hell do merchandising and custom publishing have to do with running a good magazine? Events? Oh, goody, because there aren’t 10,000 event planners in the world. Isn’t it hard enough just to run a magazine? Why do you have to load it up with all this other bullshit too? Fer chrissakes, is it impossible to resist sticking your dick in every bees’ nest you see? If you have a thing that is making money, for God’s sake don’t poke it.

A.

On Enemies, and Their People

As the kids say, read the thread:

Okay, we’ve covered before the idea that this media hate is something new, either for Trump or the Republican party, but one thing we haven’t talked about is the money behind the media hate, the money that made it happen.

I’m not talking about the financing of Fox News. I’m talking about the money that left Fox News the only game in town.

Here’s the last 20 years, roughly. Large corporations bought up local papers in places like those Arnade travels, and then systematically killed those papers. This serial murder was helped along by TV news and the mobile Internet, but make no mistake, this was a slaughter sponsored by and enthusiastically supported by corporate interests in the name of profit and it would have happened even if Craig never made a List.

Local newspapers were the major source of news for Trump’s demographics, 25 years ago. Older, white, traditionally small-c conservatives and their slightly wealthier suburban children, who grew up picking up a paper from the porch. They likely would have done so forever if, you know, the local paper hadn’t fired half the staffers worth reading, filled its pages with AP and entertainment bullshit, cut the size of the paper, doubled the price, and then stopped delivering it altogether.

NONE of this was anything the journalists so stridently defending their existences on Twitter had anything to do with, but it is at the heart of both why Trump won and why his anti-media message is central to his appeal. It’s why “the media” looks to his voters like an unrecognizable conglomerate of what Arnade calls “front-row kids” talking about things they don’t care about.

I grew up in Trump country, in a small town in Wisconsin ruined by the collapse of manufacturing jobs and the weakening of organized labor and YES, by racism and isolation and resentment. I am 100 percent leaving everybody I know on the hook. But they — working and middle-middle-class people — knew “media.” They knew a reporter. A working reporter who went to their schools and lived next door and walked the dog on their block. They knew a sportswriter, a photographer, the kid who delivered the thing.

Kill the local paper, and you kill that familiarity, not just of the reporter for his community but of the community for its reporter, for ITS media. You make “media” an abstraction, at enough remove to hate.

And oh, boy, came the hate. Into the vacuum left by the death of local papers came conservative talk radio, head-first and stupid fast. And talk radio is the place where Trump’s voters learned there was another “media,” one that “hated” and “looked down on” them, one that didn’t share their “values.” Into the space once occupied by the voices of their neighbors came the voices of Rush Limbaugh, and Mark Belling, and Charlie Sykes, saying over and over that there is a force out there loathing and despising you and you’d better hate them right back.

Limbaugh and his ten-a-penny fascisti imitators were rich assholes bankrolled by other rich assholes, natch, but that didn’t matter when they were the only ones there. It was a 24-7 onslaught over the airwaves, and instead of countering that then, when it could have  been stopped, the leaders of media corporations bought those radio talkers and elevated them to respectability. Producers booked them on national shows. Editors ran (and still run) those hateful screechers on their opinion pages. And anyone who fought back was overreacting.

I can’t tell you how many times I heard I was overreacting, to a “joke” about a truck bomb killing my friends.

We’ve heard a lot since the election and especially since Trump started his latest crusade about subscribing to the Times and the Post to “support the media” and there are hashtags and pizza funds and such, all of which I think is nice. I like supporting big papers, though I’d like their own leadership to support them and stop publishing shite like this. However, trying to counter Trump’s anti-media message by buying into the Times and the Post and only watching CNN is a little like trying to rebuild your street by kicking in 10 bucks toward repaving the Brooklyn Bridge.

We’ve heard a lot since the election about rebuilding all kinds of infrastructure in small Midwestern towns and in neighborhoods where indifference and “did not vote” was the choice of 2016. Party infrastructure, the 50 State Strategy, fighting for every vote, all of that is important. We MUST, those of us who call ourselves progressive and care about a free press and a free society, include media infrastructure in that rebuilding.

I am not arguing for more condescending, fly-in Times stories about white racists and their clothes. I am arguing for more stories about their city councils, their local schools, their water boards, their police departments. I am arguing for stories about their crime and courts and I am arguing not to the local reporters trying to do this work already, but to the corporate bosses so reluctant to fund it for the amount of time it takes to make a damn dent.

“We tried local news sites,” they’ll protest. Yeah, for six seconds. Local newspapers built loyalty over LIFETIMES in communities, and people get mad when they can’t just yell “hyperlocal” three times and make Beetlejuice instantly appear.

This crap is also not helpful:

For rich companies’ rich employees like Chuck Todd to rage on Twitter about the devaluing of the press, well, Chuckles and all his friends could pool their pocket change and buy six small city or suburban papers, staff them, and get them on people’s goddamn porches every day. THAT would be valuing the press.

But are local papers still that important, with the Internet phone sand the Facebooking and the FakeNewz? Um, yeah. Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t use Twitter. Ten percent of the country doesn’t have high-speed Internet. Even in a huge city, how often do you get handed a flyer about a thing happening? Absent texting every single person on the planet (and ignoring that there are vast stretches of America where cell service blows goats) it is still HELLA efficient to print the news on a dead tree and physically give it to someone.

“Nobody on the subway with me today is reading the paper! They’re all on their phones!” Yeah, and everybody in my parents’ kitchen is reading the paper, so maybe neither of our experiences is universal. Yet media companies have utterly given up on print customers. They’ve decided “older, and not as many of them as there once were” means “not enough to give a shit about” and they’ve cut those people loose. So to make a local paper work you might have to give lots of papers away. You might need to market the shit out of your paper. You might need to invest in some newsboy-capped urchins to hand the thing out. It’s still gonna be a hell of a lot cheaper than literally anything else media companies are currently doing.

TRONC.

Absent a paper, a radio show might also be a good thing. The best thing, though, is to find the people already doing the work in these communities and support the shit out of THEM. Build up in the places you aren’t, instead of hunkering down where you are and hoping the President, whose entire appeal is imagined elitism, stops yelling at you. Stop hiding out and then wondering why nobody anywhere else knows you or loves you or values what you do.

Of course they don’t. You abandoned them years ago, on purpose, for money. I’m one of you and I hate you a lot of the time for it, too.

A.

Today in Things That Were Always Bullshit: WCHA Dinner

Keep pretending Trump doesn’t hate you and maybe it will magically be true! 

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is not a mood ring. It doesn’t care if President Trump — or any president — likes, dislikes, celebrates, scorns or ignores White House reporters. The annual gala does not indicate, illustrate or represent the relationship between the White House and the reporters who cover it. It is an institution that celebrates one bedrock American value, the First Amendment, and two journalistic goals: to highlight excellent reporting and to award scholarships to the next generation of American journalists.

That has always been true. But the Trump presidency has inspired some in the press corps to boycott this year because — if I have this right — reporters are too good for Trump.

Or  because he directly threatened and encouraged his supporters to threaten and in some cases attack them for having the gall to show up and record his rallies.

Samesies.

My outlet, CBS News, will participate this year and proudly so. If they back out now, organizations that attended last year ought to explain what is different about this year. Is it Trump? Or is it them? Skipping needlessly hands an evidentiary cudgel to Trump and his acolytes that reporters cannot and will not cover his presidency objectively.

Lord knows that they’re waiting for evidence before making any claims, lest they be accused of exaggerating or outright lying. Heaven forfend.

They don’t need evidence. They already hate you. This would just provide an opportunity for them to hate you more. And the idea that there’s some unwritten rule that you have to laugh while they do so in front of others is just ridiculous.

Besides, Trump is hardly the first president to see the press as his enemy. Other presidents have at times demonstrated contempt for journalists, limited our access, circumvented us and questioned our motives. I’ve covered three of them.

And every single time you should have told them roundly to fuck right off.

Look, I’m sorry you’ve been debased in the past and made peace with your debasement, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep letting that debasement go on. You can start to stick up for yourself right now today at any damn time, so why not pick right now today? Why not pick Trump?

You’re afraid they’ll accuse you of bias? Do you think these people pay attention to FACTS? Have you met the election we just had? Have you seen these fucking frog-boys and their elderly enablers? All they want is to scream LOCK HER UP at some chick. They do not want to thoughtfully consider that my oh my, the press has now demonstrated willingness to treat Trump fairly and therefore we shall cease calling for your fiery death.

Schmuck.

A.