Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Blogger Ethics Train’s Never Late

Our august journalism elders are wanking away about unqualified diversity hires who ARE NEITHER: 

Now on top of those errors, the graf above says VICE wanted ppl with “the look.” “But” it hired “very young” reporters w/ “scant experience.” I’m the 1st example of this. Elements of the graf paint me as an “edgy” but inept diversity hire, rather than a competent journalist.

To attempt to explain what’s happened to journalism:

Jill Abramson follows four companies: The New York Times, The Washington PostBuzzFeed, and VICE Media over a decade of disruption and radical adjustment. The new digital reality nearly kills two venerable newspapers with an aging readership while creating two media behemoths with a ballooning and fickle audience of millennials. We get to know the defenders of the legacy presses as well as the outsized characters who are creating the new speed-driven media competitors. The players include Jeff Bezos and Marty Baron (The Washington Post), Arthur Sulzberger and Dean Baquet (The New York Times), Jonah Peretti (BuzzFeed), and Shane Smith (VICE) as well as their reporters and anxious readers.

Merchants of Truth raises crucial questions that concern the well-being of our society. We are facing a crisis in trust that threatens the free press. Abramson’s book points us to the future.

Meanwhile this shit is happening: 

I’ll keep saying it until I’m dead but you are not talking about what’s happened to journalism unless you’re talking about money.

Hedge fund money. Billionaire money. Corporate money and the slavering greed that called 17 percent profit margins “struggling” and pissed away every ounce of customer loyalty that media brands spent centuries building.

Media company bosses fired experienced reporters and hired younger ones, counting on the old hands to yell at their replacements and not their bosses and for 20 years that’s been the response, along with screaming at “millennials” to stop being so hip and edgy and getting their news “for free.” You are not talking about what happened to journalism unless you’re talking about that.

For that matter, you are not talking about what’s happened to journalism unless you’re talking about the consolidation of production and delivery that doomed people who wanted information to getting it irregularly, incorrectly or not at all.

You are not talking about what happened to journalism unless you’re talking about systematically attacking customers by redirecting them to bloated, heaving websites that drop 35 ad trackers on you while screaming at you to subscribe even after you log in three times.

You are not talking about what happened to journalism unless you’re talking about running a sports team and a TV station and an events production company and a luxury high-rise with the money you’re supposed to be spending on DOING THE FUCKING NEWS.

If you’re talking about the content, and taking potshots at the hip hairstyles of people who ACTUALLY WANT TO BE REPORTERS IN THIS GODFORSAKEN MEDIA HELLSCAPE (people you should be mentoring and nurturing and encouraging, not smacking around for violating your antique gender norms), you are already so far behind the 8-ball that locating Charlottesville in North Carolina is the least of your problems.

And let’s not even get started on supposedly surveying everything the light touches in American journalism without centering Fox and its media and cultural imitators, who are responsible for the parts of the slaughter hedgies haven’t gotten to yet.

In the year of our Lord and Savior Nellie Bly 2018, we cannot possibly still be saying the problem is young people with partially shaved heads. In the year of endless hearings into misinformation on Facebook shared over and over by elderly MAGAtroids, our pundit class cannot still be obsessed with the blogger ethics panic that seized the entirety of the early oughts, right?

RIGHT?

A.

Any. Minute. Now.

Trump will literally be herding people who mildly criticize him into cattle cars OH WAIT and Republicans and pundits will be going NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME FOR SOMEONE TO STAND UP TO HIM:

You know when else would have been a good time, Jenny? When he fucking declared his candidacy by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers. When he was screaming LOCK HER UP from the podium and mocking disabled reporters and passing off “grab them by the pussy” as “locker room talk” and all any of your glorious principled conservatives did was rub their foreheads and duck the mic.

And if Mitt Romney does this tonight or tomorrow morning he doesn’t get a cookie and neither does any other Republican senator because they could have stopped this any old goddamn time.

Fucking Christ. They are not going to stand up to him. They were not going to do it when he stood next to Putin in Helsinki and said look, I don’t believe our own intelligence services I believe his lying butt face. They are not going to stand up to Trump because they don’t want to. Because it doesn’t benefit them. Because they don’t see what you see.

What you see is the course of history or whatever Mr. Smith/Washington fantasy and you think this is some kind of goal, being brave. What they see are dollars and voters and they recognize that they’ll keep getting both if they just keep their mouths shut and letting Trump’s manners obscure their machinations.

His policy aims are theirs. His goals are theirs. His voters are theirs. For 40 years this has been true and you expect somebody like Mitt Romney, who is like if a webinar was a person, to be a hero? What FOR? What does he want that Donald Trump does not provide?

You can’t answer that, you have no business asking the questions you’re asking.

A.

Naughty Words

One:

 

Two:

You know what we’ve gone and done? Jesus Christ. You know what?

We’ve gone and built Trump’s wall.

In fact, we’ve built like ten of them. Today.

We’ve built a wall that is 400 feet high and constructed almost entirely of bullshit. We’ve built a wall between the word “racist” and any meaningful fucking understanding of what that is, such that we can acknowledge, as Anderson Cooper has, that Donald Trump does racist shit all the time but may not Be A Racist.

Yes, he does horrible racist things constantly, but to call him a racist is somehow a higher bar, or something. What the actual unholy blue fuck. “Racist” is not a naughty word we say when we want to be a big meanie to someone, and it’s not even the most important thing to do with regard to Trump and race in America.

It’s not important to determine whether Trump, personally, dislikes people who are not white. It’s important to determine if his actions support a system that consistently punishes and dehumanizes them. He’s a white American politician, so he’s always gonna do that to a certain extent, and we don’t need to know what’s in his shriveled lump of a heart. We can look at his record.

I don’t care, even, if Trump is A Racist. I care that he does racist things and supports racist people and policies. That’s enough. We put up this wall where if Trump is not A Racist then the racist shit he does is somehow less racist and that’s not how any of this works.

We’ve built a wall between the way we talk to each other about real things — I’ve heard more 80-year-olds use the word “motherfucker” in the past two years than ever in my life — and the way we react when an adult does it on tape because we think we can get ahead by feigning outrage. What a load of shit. Motherfucking shit, even.

Grown-ass men on the news acting aggrieved that another grown-up used a grown-up word in a bar. People talking about “f-bombs” like they’re telling their toddlers about going poopy on the potty. Good God. Watching that freakout unfold in exactly the way the freakouts over every other imaginary wingnut “scandal” have unfolded was as instructive as it was depressing.

We’ve learned nothing in the past 24 months. We just keep stacking bullshit on top of bullshit, and we don’t even notice how high the wall’s gotten.

A.

Cohen Family Values

This post title may be ironic but it contains a kernel of truth. Trump’s former fixer spent a good deal of time in his remarks at his sentencing hearing discussing the importance of family and his regrets at having let them down. Bigly.

Cohen’s family values are also the best explanation for his limited co-operation with the Southern District of New York. I spent too much time Wednesday watching MSNBC and listening to pundits and legal experts alike discuss this “mystery.” There’s a simple explanation: both Cohen and his brother married into families with extensive ties to the Ukrainian and Russian mobs. It’s unclear if they’re gangsters or associates, but they’re connected. Flipping on them would not only blow up Cohen’s family, it would be hazardous to his health. There’s no mystery there at all.

Additionally, Cohen’s uncle runs a social club in Brooklyn that’s frequented by wise guys from the former Soviet Union. The Fixer sold his stake in the club after Trump’s fluke election victory. At the very least, Cohen’s uncle is a mob associate. To put it in terms that Sopranos fans will get: he’s the Artie Bucco of the story. Artie was, of course, Tony’s childhood friend whose eatery Vesuvio was a hangout for the fictional Jersey mob. Artie was a hapless schmo and sporadic wise guy wannabe, which is how Cohen is perceived by many in the MSM.

The mistake the MSM has made in covering  the Trump scandals is that they’ve treated it as strictly a political story. It’s really the story of how a career criminal was elected president* by defrauding the voters. It’s a crime story. The victim is the American people.

I think all the wise men and women on cable news should read Josh Marshall. He’s been on top of the Cohen/mob story since the Spring of 2017. In case you’ve missed his coverage, here are links to some of Josh’s Cohen stories:

From February 26, 2017: It’s All So Confusing.

From March 1, 2017: Piecing Together The Michael Cohen Story.

From April 17, 2018: The Closer I Get.

From April 18, 2018: Cohen-ology Pays Off After All.

It’s all there, y’all. It explains why Michael Cohen cannot offer the sort of co-operation demanded by the SDNY. They expect co-operators to discuss *every* crime a witness is familiar with, not just their own malefactions. Cohen would rather spend 3 years in jail than deal with the shitstorm that would ensue if he flipped on his friends and family from Brooklyn and Brighton Beach. Who the hell can blame him?

Having explained why I believe Cohen will never sign a full co-operation deal with the SDNY, working with Team Mueller is an entirely different kettle of fish. Cohen seems willing to spill everything he knows about Donald Trump. Those bridges are burned and the only way Trumpberius can hurt Cohen now is with his mouth and tweets. Cohen doesn’t give a shit about that any more. He’s done covering up for the Insult Comedian’s “dirty deeds.”

The last word (image?) goes to my First Draft colleague Michael F:

The GOP, in Wisconsin and Elsewhere, is Anti-Democracy

This is by design: 

The bill includes plans to lower voter turnout by adding a third statewide election in the spring of 2020, even though it will cost taxpayers millions of additional dollars and local election officials have come out strongly against it. They want to make it harder to vote early, which will cost taxpayers millions more in legal costs. They want to take control of state economic development away from the governor’s office. They want to replace the elected attorney general with private attorneys hired by the legislative branch at additional expense to taxpayers.

Is this democracy at work?

I mean, technically, yeah, in that they only have the power they have because we gave it to them. Look, for the last two years we’ve had lots of conversations about norms versus laws, about what we really consider important in government versus what is actually required. Half the shit the Trump crime family does is not illegal (like ghost the sexist shitshow that is the White House Christmas decoration reveal party, Melania, that thing sounds like hell on earth) but we act like our imaginary expectations are supposed to carry weight.

We shouldn’t run a country based on everybody being sensible and having manners. That’s not how anything should function. If you tell me that I am required to do X and Y, and in your own head you expect me to do Z, you can’t throw me in jail for not doing Z if only X and Y are mandatory.

Republicans in Wisconsin CAN do this. Should they? Shit no. But we’re well past trusting motherfuckers not to fuck mothers. If we want them to keep their dicks to themselves we have to strap on political chastity belts.

This editorial starts strong and then gets real, real stupid:

Remember in 2015 when these same three politicians – Vos, Fitzgerald and Walker – tried to gut the state’s open records law before the Fourth of July holiday?  They sneaked it into a budget bill, hoping no one would notice on the holiday weekend.

Wait, you mean to tell us, newspaper that FUCKIN ENDORSED THOSE POLITICIANS, that they turned out to be scumsucking suckers of scum? You mean they did this before? Why, it’s almost like this is WHAT THEY DO. I do declare, Miss Scarlett. See also gambling, shocked, and this establishment.

The modern GOP is designed to pursue power and subvert voting. Especially in Wisconsin. I pay attention to this shit as my side hustle and I’ve noticed that it’s not some kind of weird accident that these people are authoritarian tailpipe tumors who keep pulling underhanded crap. How can people who make a living being knowledgeable knowers of knowledge not pick this up?

We haven’t mentioned political party because this isn’t about party platforms – that’s what elections should be about.

This is about keeping the citizens in charge of their government.

It doesn’t matter which party is coming in and going out of office — we would say the exact same thing. In fact, we would shout it — just as we are now.

ARGHGGHHHH I mean name for me please the equivalent Democratic subversion of power that has occurred, that would warrant this sort of imaginary both-siderism. “We haven’t mentioned political party” so definitely please don’t call us the enemy of the people or get mad at us! Pretty please!

I give up.

A.

Poppy Bush

The MSM tends to the hagiographic when a former president dies. They were even relatively charitable when Tricky Dick went straight to hell without passing go. In the case of Poppy Bush, the people who covered him liked him as person, which makes it easier to gloss over his political flaws and vices. This was my initial reaction upon hearing that he’d died:

In its rush to paint Bush as a “kinder gentler” president, the MSM has focused on his thank you notes instead of his record.  As president, Poppy Bush was determined to disprove this Newsweek cover:

That was when Newsweek was owned by the Grahams and what it said mattered. Bush was a genuine war hero who should have been secure in his masculinity, but instead was overly fond of military solutions to political and diplomatic problems. His former boss, Ronald Reagan, spent Word War II in uniform in Hollywood, but he was more secure than his Veep so there was tougher rhetoric but fewer military deployments when he was what Gore Vidal called “the Old Television President.”

My head started spinning when I heard CBS’ Bob Schieffer claim that the “Wimp Factor” flap was caused by Poppy’s niceness and good manners. Wrong. It was caused by his obsequiousness as Reagan’s Veep. Bush was a moderate Republican who abandoned most of his previously held positions in a full embrace of Reaganism. It was Bush who dubbed Reagan’s tax cut plan “Voodoo Economics.” Bush arguably moved to Reagan’s right because the hardcore wingnuts never trusted him, so he was obliged to appease them. Appeasement is never appealing.

While we’re on the subject of Newsweek covers, Gary Trudeau did the mud bath cover that is this post’s featured image. He also did a hilarious strip wherein Poppy Bush “put his political manhood in a blind trust” for the duration of the Reagan-Bush administration:

Repeat after me: the Wimp Factor was about George HW Bush, subservient Veep. It was particularly noteworthy as he followed in office the first modern Vice President, Fritz Mondale. Mondale saw his mentor, Hubert Humphrey, humiliated by LBJ and insisted on becoming the first Veep to have any power and influence. Poppy Bush was a throwback Vice President as was his own Veep, J Danforth Quayle.  Ironically, W followed the Carter-Clinton model and gave Dick Cheney too much power. So it goes.

I gotta give Poppy Bush credit for being able to laugh at himself. He befriended Dana Carvey who was best known for his Bush impression on SNL. Carvey portrayed Bush as an amiable somewhat dim aristocrat. Carvey famously said his Bush combined Mister Rogers and John Wayne. It’s a good day in the neighborhood, Pilgrim.

Poppy even invited Carvey to do his impression at the White House:

There’s been a lot of babble on the MSM about Poppy’s decency. It’s been exaggerated BUT I’ve enjoyed it when it serves as a rebuke to the Insult Comedian. Trump has not been barred from the DC memorial service so, he’ll be there. I hope he’s not allowed to speak: eulogies are supposed to be about the dead guy, not the speaker. I don’t think Trump is capable of that. Besides, he might confuse Poppy with Jeb and say 41 is too low energy,

I still have mixed feelings about Poppy Bush’s presidency. He signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law and presided over the demise of the Soviet Union with skill and tact. His weaknesses on the domestic front emboldened the Pat Buchanans and Newt Gingrichs of the world, which gives Poppy some responsibility for the GOP becoming the Party of Me. I never voted for him and would give him a gentleman’s C as president. The worst thing about his Presidency is that it made the Bush-Cheney administration possible. I give them a lout’s F.

I wish hagiography weren’t the American way, but it’s as old as the Republic itself. See Weems, Parson. George HW Bush was neither all bad nor all good. I didn’t like his policies but, unlike the Current Occupant, he was not a raging gaping asshole whose hand I would have refused to shake. That’s about the nicest thing I can say about a Republican in 2018 except this: Poppy Bush was the best of a bad lot.

Blame The Right People for Media Failures

The “business model” wasn’t the problem here, has never been the problem, stop this bullshit copypasta from every story about every media company failure: 

Mic raised more than $60 million to build a millennial-focused news company but couldn’t find a business model to support its costs, which include a one-floor office in Manhattan’s World Trade Center (an earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the size of Mic’s office).

If these people were running a baked potato stand, and spent all their money on glitter glue instead, nobody would be interrogating the viability of the baked potato sales model. They’d be like WHY DID YOU BLOW ALL YOUR CASH ON GLITTER GLUE YOU FUCKING MORONS? Just SELL GOOD POTATOES!

Sell enough potatoes to pay for the potatoes and the equipment and people to bake them. God, quit overcomplicating shit and then whining about how complicated it all is.

I mean what a load of horseshit:

“What you hear less about the truth is that it is expensive. Our business models are unsettled and the macro forces at play are all going through their own states of unrest.”

The truth isn’t expensive. Real estate and prezzies are expensive, and you decided you’d rather spend money on that than on doing good work and retaining your people and building your company. I HATE when people talk about preventable catastrophes like they’re natural disasters. Your house burned down, yeah, but you set the fucking fire.

You relied on Facebook — Facebook, in the year of our Lord Jesus Delano Roosevelt, 2018 — for revenue from videos — VIDEOS — and when that went tits-up you had no backup plan. Any ten people on the street could have told you that relying on third-party companies to give you the traffic you’d otherwise have to build like grown-ups was a long wait for a train don’t come and a shitty risk besides, but no, you pivoted like hell until you drilled a hole and fell in it.

A.

Life Imitates The Godfather: Paulie, Won’t See Him No More

Clemenza and Paulie Gatto in The Godfather

There’s something about the Manafort-Trump relationship that makes me think of gangster movies. Imagine that. During Manafort’s trial, the Insult Comedian rhapsodized about Al Capone as a stand-up guy, so naturally I wrote a post called Life Imitates The Untouchables: Scarface Paul Manafort?

I’ve tried to avoid Godfather references in order to stand out from the mobster movie analogy crowd. And I realize the Clemenza-Paulie Gatto analogy is imperfect because Paulie G was whacked for betraying his Don whereas Paulie M first betrayed, then stood by Don Donaldo Il Comico Insulto. I should apologize for that long sentence but it would break my momentum. I don’t mess around with either Jim or Big Mo. The Seventies references are really flying today.

Now that I’ve Godfathered the hell out of you, let’s turn our attention to the Manafort at hand. After weeks of quiet, the Manafort case has exploded. Team Mueller pulled out of its plea deal with Manafort because of his incessant lying. Imagine that. Then, it got messier when the Failing New York Times broke the story that Manafort’s lawyer has been briefing Trump’s lawyers about their discussions with Team Mueller. There *was* a co-operation agreement between Teams Manafort and Trump but such deals usually end with a plea bargain. This is sleazier than hell but may not be illegal. It may, however, be actionable by the relevant bar association. Stay tuned.

Making matters even stranger is that mob buster turned wartime consigliere Rudy Giuliani was the source for the bombshell NYT story. We’ve gone from Gatto to Gotti in a heartbeat, a lovebeat. It’s unclear if Rudy did this out of an inability to NOT brag about the contacts or because he’s a stupid twat who thinks this helps his client’s case. It does not. It makes Trump look guilty. But Team Trump agrees with Tricky Dick:

This gambit is classic Manafort. He’s an expert at playing both ends against the middle. It’s why he’s in the jam he’s in today. But at least Trumpy loves him again.

I agree with those who think Manafort is playing for a pardon. He’s also playing the long game. Even for Trump, it’s politically impossible to pardon Manafort before the 2020 election. In his more lucid moments, the artist formerly known as Mayor Combover has admitted that a Manafort pardon would be disastrous politically. Of course, his idiot client is quite capable of impulsively issuing one just to blow shit up. That’s why I call him the Kaiser of Chaos.

There are many Manafortian theories out there. Former US Attorney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, and MSNBC legal eagle, Harry Litman, has written a must read op-ed analyzing them. Unlike Litman, I believe that Manafort has a legitimate fear of being whacked by Russian spooks or wise guys in jail. It’s why he’s in solitary. It’s a plot line straight out of  The Americans.

The other Manafort news involves a story in the Guardian describing three meetings between him and albino devil Julian Assange. Many have discounted the story because of its sourcing. It *is* possible that the Guardian got played but the suspicion of the story strikes me as rank provincialism. The Guardian is one of the world’s great newspapers so its stories should be accorded the same respect as those in the NYT or WaPo. Besides, its sourcing is quite similar to many Woodstein Watergate stories. I also think the Steele Dossier implicitly supports the story. Stay tuned.

I’m used to making Watergate or Iran-Contra references about the DC scandal of the day. I am, however, unused to comparing our politics to gangster movies. What can I tell ya? I call them as I see them.

The last word goes to Corleone Caporegime Peter Clemenza:

Sorry for the last word fib, but I would be remiss in my duties as a mob movie maven if I didn’t post Clemenza’s lines after Paulie G met his maker:

Fox Gonna Fox

They were never a news organization: 

In one instance, according to emails revealed in a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the Sierra Club and reviewed by The Daily Beast, Pruitt’s team even approved part of the show’s script.

Fox & Friends has long been a friendly venue for Trump and his allies, but the emails demonstrate how the show has pushed standard cable-news practices to the extreme in order to make interviews a comfortable, non-confrontational experience for favored government officials.

And as long as we’re here, stop referring to Fox News as “state TV.” If they were “state TV” they’d have rolled over when Obama patted their bellies. They’re the GOP, through and through, always have been, and the only people this wasn’t obvious to on day one were their fellow journalists.

AKA the people who get paid to suss out bullshit and name it for what it is.

Those people demanded Fox receive entry into the hallowed press fraternity and derided as “liberally biased” anyone who said hey, this is a network full of crap at all times. They’re still covering for Fox, as is everyone who pretends Shep Smith is some kind of hero for occasionally talking sense while still cashing Murdoch’s slimy checks.

We were always heading toward the most dishonest of the warbloggers getting White House press credentials in a BRAWNDO administration once Fox stuck its nose in the henhouse.

A.

Just Do Journalism Well, Journalists

It’s almost like it’s better when you run your paper like you want to run a paper: 

“Our overall revenue is more than triple what it was three years ago,” says Les Zaitz, the paper’s editor and publisher. “Circulation is probably double. We’re profitable, and there are not a lot of papers in the United States that can say they’re profitable.”

Things this paper is not doing:

Running an events company

Running a baseball team

Running a TV station

Running a hedge fund

Running a money-laundering operation

Running a religion

Running a political party

Jesus Christ, it isn’t that complicated. This paper is finding out what is happening and telling as many people as possible in the most efficient manner it has found, without regard for whatever trends are being farted out at the Silicon Valley Innovation Festival.

Instead of flailing from the hyperlocal to the paywall to the longform to the DIGITAL FIRST PARADIGM PIVOT SHIFT, this paper is … being a good paper. 

Which people will pay for, and advertisers will advertise in.

Schroder loads her white Dodge Ram pickup full of papers and rolls onto the streets of Vale. The tiny eastern Oregon town, population 1,900, is where the Enterprise is headquartered. Her stops include the county courthouse, a nursing home, a flower shop. The pickup crammed with papers is an upgrade from when she started doing this more than 20 years ago.

“That’s when I had a grocery cart and I delivered papers with my grocery cart full of papers,” Schroder says. “People called me ‘Bag Lady,’ ” she says with a laugh.

Now, using a grocery cart would be tough. On her Wednesday rounds, Schroder logs about 100 miles, traveling throughout Malheur County, Oregon’s second largest.

Her expanded delivery zone is one of the effects of a newspaper that has boomed in the past three years.

You mean if you PUT A THING WHERE PEOPLE CAN FIND IT, and deliver it when you say you’re going to deliver it, people will perceive that AS GOOD?

Someone stop the presses.

A.

Another Newspaper’s Genius Business Model

Let’s make the product suck, and then when readers notice, use their noticing to continue to suck harder: 

Meanwhile the paper’s corporate owner, Gannett, is pushing toward print oblivion. Gannett “is throwing the digital switch,” as a story by Ken Doctor for Nieman Lab reported, pushing print readers to switch to the online version of Gannett’s papers. In time for the November 6 election and “across its 109 local markets,” readers were directed “to head to its digital sites for results, “to embrace real-time media for real-time news.”

“When long-time readers of the Des Moines RegisterMilwaukee Journal Sentinel, or Fort Myers News-Press open up their papers” on Wednesday, the day after the election, “they’ll see hardly anything in the way of results,” story predicted. “Even on Thursday, when nearly all vote totals should be in, don’t expect to see newsprint used when cheaper pixels can do the job; the complete election results will be online, Amalie Nash, executive editor for local news at Gannett’s USA Today Network, told me.”

I’ve been saying this for years, but UNLESS YOUR DISTRIBUTION GUYS ARE UPDATING YOUR WEBSITE THERE IS NO REASON WHY YOU HAVE TO GUT PRINT TO DO GOOD DIGITAL. Jesus Christ, I will never understand why in the past 20 years we’ve taken “here is this thing some people like, let’s blow it up in favor of doing this other thing some people like” as some kind of strategy.

(Don’t throw finite resources in my face. When there’s a consultant to pay or a sexually harassative exec to throw out the back door, the millions suddenly appear. There’s enough money in journalism to pay Megyn Kelly to get fired, there’s enough to put papers on porches in Wauwatosa.)

Even that, though, would be a cut above what most newspapers have done, which is to do BOTH print and digital badly. It’s not that they’re abandoning print to do digital well. It’s that they’re abandoning print to half-ass digital, put it all behind a paywall, pivot to video, and fire all the fucking photographers. They’re abandoning print to slap mattress store ads on the front page of their website which, when it does actually load, won’t let you log in as a subscriber without viewing ten more ads first about how you need to subscribe.

They haven’t done ANY of it well. I could forgive newspapers not knowing how to do the internet if they knew how to do newspapers. But it’s been 20 years and the same seven syndicated columnists are making the same seven figures each to say the same worn-out shit about politics or Kids Today or whatever Mitch Albom is bitching about now.

The only things that have been cut from the print edition are news stories, which is WHAT PEOPLE PAID YOU FOR IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE.

“With more copy editing and page layout handled by chains’ centralized hubs, and with more newspapers relying on shared or outsourced printing facilities, the days of getting evening stories into the print paper are already gone in many markets,” Doctor writes. 

“‘We have a 7 p.m. close in most of our markets,’ Nash told me. If you’ve ever wondered why today’s print newspaper headlines often reflect news that feels days old, that’s why.”

That would explain why the Sunday Journal Sentinel lacks most of Saturday’s college football scores: “any night game is simply listed as late game with no score, eviscerating the drama of the top 25 results,” as I’ve written. “Even home teams get short shrift: Late Bucks or Brewers games are no longer covered to the end of the game in the next day’s paper.”

They keep turning out lights and using people’s hatred of the dark as an excuse to snuff out candles.

A.

Appearing To

For God’s sake describing things that occur are YOUR WHOLE ENTIRE JOB, LESTER:

Emphasis mine. I get that they are using this evasive weasel language to avoid being wrong, but a) that is not actually the worst thing ever on earth and b) WHAT OTHER POSSIBLE EXPLANATION IS THERE FOR THAT? What other “gesture” looks like that? This isn’t ambiguous, especially since the parents aren’t especially denying it and the kids are all “oh yeah, well what about the one black guy that did it, huh?” and the school administration is apparently saying forget the Nazis and think about how many cops Black Lives Matter has put into industrial ovens.

At a certain point you call something what it is. We see this all the time with videos that wind up on the news: “the video appeared to show …” YOU’RE LITERALLY WATCHING THE VIDEO. And if you haven’t verified it/can’t verify it, don’t put it on the air. The photo is of young white or white-passing kids doing the Hitler salute like it’s a joke, and that’s all this is. You want to make it evadable, okay, but understand that the people you’re helping to evade are Nazis.

This isn’t hard, but damned if we don’t make it sound like it is with the evasions and the bet-hedging and all the other things we think will make people Not Mad because that’s also something we think is a good goal. How on earth are we supposed to deal with things when we’re told that what we’re seeing isn’t quite there?

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Too Close For Comfort

Think Flag by William N. Copley

I’m keeping this week’s outing snappy because the time change has messed me up. My sleep patterns have been disrupted, as a result I’ve been groggier than hell. Additionally, Della and Paul do not respect day light savings time and demand to be fed at odd hours. Oddly enough, such oddity will inevitably impact Odds & Sods.

A quick note on the featured image. I cheated on Jasper Johns with a 1961 flag painting by William N. Copley aka CPLY. I think the think flag fits this moment eerily well. The country needs more thinking and fewer hot takes right now. Why are people bleating over Tucker Carlson when there are babies in cages?

This week’s theme song was written in 1956 for the musical Mr. Wonderful by Larry Bock, George David Weiss, and Larry Holofcener. I selected Too Close For Comfort because of all the votes that are still being counted, especially in Florida, Arizona, and California.

We have two versions for your listening pleasure: Frank Sinatra with the Billy May Orchestra, and a fabulous Ella Fitzgerald-Joe Williams duet with the Count Basie Orchestra. You know that I love me some Bill Basie.

Now we’ve gotten way too close for comfort, it’s time to jump to the break but first a reminder that Too Close For Comfort was also the title of a long-running Ted Knight sitcom that I watched only once.

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It’s Not Okay if He Doesn’t Mean It

Everybody was forwarding the Serwer piece around and it’s excellent, but this is the part I didn’t see anyone talking about yesterday: 

Many of Trump’s defenders argue that his rhetoric is mere shtick—that his attacks, however cruel, aren’t taken 100 percent seriously by his supporters. But to make this argument is to concede that following Trump’s statements to their logical conclusion could lead to violence against his targets, and it is only because most do not take it that way that the political violence committed on Trump’s behalf is as limited as it currently is.

Emphasis mine.

THAT MAKES IT WORSE.

Jesus tits, if he doesn’t really believe this stuff, if he’s using it to sell himself, that doesn’t make it better. If anything, it makes it more contemptible. Sincerely holding racist, anti-Semitic beliefs is abhorrent. But pretending to have those beliefs in order to sell something, that’s an even lower circle of hell. That’s looking at Satan’s spreadsheet, calmly doing the math, and deciding that consigning a few more souls this month will boost quarterly returns by a tenth of a point so really, what difference does it make?

And the position Donald Trump and his GOP enablers are in, their sincerely held beliefs don’t matter. I don’t give a shit if Donald Trump is an anti-Semite or not. I don’t give a shit if he’s really really racist with the four black people he probably personally knows. What I care about is what he says and does. That’s all this is, the presidency. It’s not about his heart. It’s about his actions.

So if he’s barking at passers-by to come see the carnival, don’t really matter if he’s got tickets to the Big Top show himself.

Same thing with this Axios nonsense (rot in hell, news outlet run by guys who opined that Bush could get a do-over for Katrina): Oh, he can’t do that! Does he know he can’t do that? Is he kidding? Is he just throwing red meat to the base (like Democrats do when they, erm, want to teach kids to read)?

IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER IF HE KNOWS IT’S BULLSHIT AND SAYS IT ANYWAY. The words he makes with his mouth hole have goddamn consequences and we’re still describing this like it’s the weather or the fireworks or something. Ooooh, look at that! That was a big one!

For years pundits who get paid to know better have been asking if virulently racist conservatives with millions of followers are just joking, and guess what? Even if they were joking, the results would be the same. It’s past time this stopped being an abstract debate. It never should have been one in the first place.

A.

Gonna Stop Putting These People on Your Shows Now? HAHAHAHAHA, Nope.

Haha, so funny: 

This is the kind of thing she says all the time:

 “Is your tape recorder running? Turn it on! I got something to say…My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.”

And after she said that, look what happened:

“Is she serious, or just having fun?”

Guys, I hate to break it to you, but she was serious. So was Rush, and Bernie Goldberg, and so were all the people who called CNN crews “animals” and so were the early-aughts warbloggers speculating that a kidnapped journalist was carrying her abductor’s baby.

As the entire world rightly freaks the hell out about what happened to Jamal Kashoggi, I’d like to remind them that that magazine cover up there was from 2005. Rush has been spewing his shit for forty years. The GOP despises any press that isn’t theirs, has for decades, and those of us who said this will lead nowhere good and is a threat to all of us back in the 19GODDAMN90s were called hysterical and told it was all a gigantic joke.

How do you look at someone who calls for the murder of your colleagues and ask if she’s “just having fun?” Like at what point do you stop rewarding people who hate you? I was asking this in the mid-2000s and I haven’t gotten an answer yet. I used to think it would take actual violence but apparently not, because a bunch of people got shot in a local newsroom and we’re still acting like this is some kind of academic debate.

We’re still acting like this shit happens in some kind of imaginary space where people aren’t real and this didn’t happen: 

Jacobs, who was “body slammed” last May by Gianforte, linked the way Trump talks about the media to violence against journalists.

“My concern is not about my situation as much as it is about Jamal Khashoggi and everything going on in the world,” Jacobs told CNN Friday night. “That the signal this sends about how the United States and how the president of the United States views journalists, when 44 journalists have been killed this year.”

At what point does it become less scary to be accused of bias than to be actually murdered? I’ve been out of daily news longer than I was in it and I’ll never stop seeing my colleagues’ faces whenever something like this happens to a reporter. Is there something that happens to you when you make enough money and your brain breaks and you say “well, sure, my friends are in actual danger for their lives, let’s have a panel about this where we talk about both sides of this important issue!” Have some goddamn pride already. If not in yourselves, then in the people you work with.

Coulter will be invited on news shows until the day she dies and on that day the obits will all use bloodless language like “conservative firebrand” and “unafraid to court controversy” and nobody will be rude enough to mention the culture of violent disregard for the lives of reporters, that she helped create.

Nobody but liberal bloggers, who are the only people most national journalists hate more than themselves.

A.

We’ve been showing up. Every damn day.

This kind of thing spread across the Twitters during the hours when it looked certain, instead of just likely, that the GOP was going to put a rapist on the Supreme Court:

And, I’m sorry, but no, they would not have shut down the country.

They would have shut down one hallway of one Senate office building, and occupied one suburban office park, and the national media led by Fox News and talk radio would MAKE IT SOUND LIKE they had shut down the country.

That’s what happened in 2000 and the way I know it would go else-ways for Dems is that I was at the Iraq War protests. Ignoring the media disparity to slag on the only viable opposition party as being insufficiently brave is not great, here.

I’m sick and fucking tired of this meme among Democrats that Democrats aren’t doing anything to stop this. Cory Booker tried to get himself and his colleagues frickin’ expelled, to stop this. Kamala Harris walked out of the hearing, to stop this. Maizie Hirono literally called bullshit, to stop this. Diane Feinstein, who is 400 years old, pinned Lisa Murkowski to the wall and yelled in her face, to stop this. None of it MATTERS without power.

Until November, giving speeches is all they CAN do. They do not command the U.S. military and they hold neither legislative house (yet). If every single Democrat walked out of Congress right now and sat down on the courthouse steps and vowed to stay there til the end of time, Republicans would … still have the votes to do everything they’re doing, plus all the TV cameras for them to call Democrats babies.

Dem legislators and activists held a whole ass protest on the steps of the courthouse Friday, anyway, not that anyone covered it with a fraction of the urgency they lend to a Republican county commissioner bitching about his taxes.

As for rank-and-file Dems, the outside-the-Capitol leadership? Well shit, every goddamn weekend and just about every weekday there’s a rally, a protest, a march. Against separating families, against mass incarceration, for racial justice, against voter suppression. There was a whole-ass Women’s March, fucking twice. Right now in Chicago there’s a hotel workers’ strike going on. There is no shortage of fights.

Women, especially black women, have been out here fighting the fights and running the races, registering people to vote, while Dem-bros lament the lack of, I dunno, physical barricades. And if there were physical barricades, you bet your ass women would be on them first.

Women are on them now, walking literal gauntlets to get reproductive healthcare, so let’s not forget whose bodies we’re advocating we throw on the wheels. A bloody revolution sounds like a fuckload of awesome fun if you’re not the one who’s gonna bleed.

There are a lot of people who aren’t fighting at all, much less fighting on our side. They’re the ones who need to be mobilized, not the people already at the front, raising their voices as loud as they can, despite the Fox News-following national press cutting their mics.

A.

The Kavanaugh Mess: Like A Virgin

In the immortal words of Graham Parker, “I thought I was right, I was wrong” about a McConnell knifing leading to a Kavanaugh withdrawal to spend more time with his calendars. It remains unclear if they have the votes to confirm: Susan Collins seems to be snowed by this jerk but Lisa Murkowski appears to be genuinely undecided. In addition to concerns about Kavanaugh’s views on Native issues, there’s a huge #MeToo brouhaha back home in Alaska.

The post title is, of course, based on comments made by the skeezy nominee to Martha McCallum of Fox New who actually asked some tough questions:

We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends —

It was McCallum who dropped the V word:

MS. MacCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MS. MacCALLUM: And through what years in college since we’re probing into your personal life here?

JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that.

There’s a logical fallacy in the Like A Virgin defense. It does not preclude sexual assault. It’s not uncommon for sexual predators to be “virgins” when it comes to consensual sex.

The other problem with the Like A Virgin defense is that Kavanaugh pledged Deek (DKE) and I suspect that virgins are barred by that rowdy fraternity. In a NYT story about the charges that Kavanaugh flashed and humiliated Debbie Ramirez, a schoolmate described the Supremes wannabe as follows:

One woman remembers Judge Kavanaugh’s wearing a leather football helmet while drinking and approaching her on campus the night he was tapped for DKE. She described his grabbing his crotch, hopping on one leg and chanting: “I’m a geek, I’m a geek, I’m a power tool. When I sing this song, I look like a fool.”

That’s a far cry from Boola Boola or The Whiffenpoof Song.

A fellow Yalie disputed the Like A Virgin defense on the tweeter tube:

Brett Kavanaugh lie? Never, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. Mendacity and sexual assault are two things he has in common with the sexist horndog who nominated him.

Speaking of the Insult Comedian, he went after Debbie Ramirez after being laughed at by the UN General Assembly:

“And [Ramirez] said, ‘well it might not be him’ and there were gaps and she said she was totally inebriated and she was all messed up. And she doesn’t know it was him, but it might’ve been him. ‘Oh gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.’ This is a con game being played by the Democrats.”

The First Flim-Flam Man certainly knows about con games. His presidency* is an ongoing one, after all.

Ms. Ramirez is Puerto Rican. The fact that Trump attacked her is not exactly a surprise. Perhaps he totally confused her with San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz. “Them people” all look alike to bigots like Donald Trump. Totally.

Another appalling Kavanaugh story popped up in the Failing NYT, the “Renate alumni” story. It involves high school yearbook comments by Kavanaugh and his krewe of drunken, rapey jocks. Here’s what an old pal and fellow original NOLA blogger had to say about this chilling episode:

A few more things about the Kavanaugh interview. First, it’s a sign of how worried GOPers are. Supreme Court nominees do NOT give teevee interviews. Second, Kavanaugh’s defense came off as robotic. It involved spewing out sound bites likely cooked up by former Roger Ailes enabler, Hannity pal, and current Trump lackey Bill Shine. Here’s one of them:

That’s right, Kavanaugh went from Like A Virgin to Like A Robot in one fell swoop, or in his case, one drunken stupor.

There’s one more aspect of tomorrow’s hearing that’s so squirrelly that they should give Judiciary Committee GOPers an acorn. They’ve hired outside counsel so Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, John Neely Kennedy, and their ilk have fewer opportunities to make Cavemanic comments.

The outside counsel, Rachel Mitchell, is an experienced sex crimes prosecutor in Maricopa County, Arizona. But here’s how Chinless Mitch described her:

A female assistant? What is she: a waitress? Does the Turtle plan to tip her? She’s an experienced lawyer for fuck’s sake. Can’t you lot even show some respect for a woman on your side?

Precious little is known about Ms. Mitchell. Josh Marshall unearthed an interview she did with a far right “fundamental Baptist” publication. Also, why a lawyer who prosecutes sex crimes against children? The hearing is not a trial, it’s a job interview. The only children involved are GOP solons.

I have a hunch that they were unable to find a woman lawyer in DC who was willing to do Senate Republicans’ dirty work. It’s time to recycle one of my favorite recent lines:

The last word goes to Madonna with a song that Brett Kavanaugh surely drank to during his Yale salad days:

INSTANT UPDATE: While I was writing this post, Michael Avenatti revealed the identity of his client and demanded an FBI investigation:

Journalism Needs to Stop Showing Us Its Sausage

Well, yesterday was a clusterfuck of stunning proportions on the internets, the journalistic equivalent of two bears rolling down a hill, dead drunk, pawing at each other completely oblivious to the picnickers and punters they scattered in their furry, drooly, snarly wake:

And it was sort of like watching the process unfold in a newsroom during the reporting of a story, where one guy says one thing and another guy says another and then those two guys hammer out what the hell exactly is going on. It’s a natural process. It’s a normal process. It’s very, very common.

ONLY YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO JUST PUT IT ALL OUT THERE TIL YOU KNOW WHAT IT IS. Jesus Christ, Twitter is not your internal chat app, it’s a fucking BROADCAST mechanism, the equivalent of a party line where everybody can hear you scream. In the bad old days of LiveJournal, when Facebook was just starting to get racists fired and cheaters broken up with, I used to yell on a regular basis that EVERYBODY CAN SEE THE INTERNET, but I was yelling it at people insisting those kids who played the Hobbits were fucking each other.

It was not a lesson I thought we had to teach, like, professional political reporters who grew up with this here information super-cyber-news cycle.

And spare me the Poynter Institute of More in Disappointment Than in Rage jerking off, please:

Mostly you all need less of an urge to sound official with your BREAKING SCOOOOOOOP! SCOOPY BREAK BREAKY SCOOP!

God, no one gives a fuck. This is the thing. You do this long enough, you only talk to your colleagues and your bosses and your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/fuckbunny long enough, you start forgetting that your readers don’t care about your snide shit. They don’t care about your SCOOP and your BREAKING and your MUST CREDIT AXIOS WITH THE MORNING’S WIN and all that other shit that you think makes you sound cool.

I indulged in certain amounts of this myself back in the day, because I am a competitive hellbitch who needs to grind the heel of my Jimmy Choos in the face of my enemy, but I have never put myself out there as a role model. These are the same people who want to shame readers for not “paying for news” or “valuing a free press” when they’re ready to tear each other’s throats out to be 40 seconds faster on a tweet.

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU assholes is chronicling the burning of the fucking world and you are arguing about who is right about the temperature and you’re all only off by like 50 degrees. I swear I’ve never been so annoyed at journalism and I work in the same town as TRONC.

A.

Wingnut Sites That Are Wrong About Everything Are Wrong Again, Surprise Duh

If you come forward to accuse a powerful man, a content farm might aggregate your RateMyProfessor.com reviews, which are themselves a collection of anonymous bullshit from who-knows-where, and use them to savage you in a story that turns out to be ABOUT THE WRONG CHRISTINE FORD: 

Brett Kavanaugh’s formerly anonymous accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has come forward. She’s a professor in the Social Work Department at California State University – Fullerton. Many interested in learning more about who Ford is have come across her students’ reviews on RateMyProfessors.com. 

They’re … not good.

Overall, she scores 2.3 out of 5 (a failing grade if the roles were reversed). The reviews span from 2010 – 2014, which rules out students tampering with her reviews as part of the current Kavanaugh controversy. 

[snip]

Editor’s Note: We apologize for the error, but we’ve since learned there are two Christine Fords working in clinical psychology in California and we wrote this report about the wrong Christine Ford. We regret not going to greater lengths to ensure this was indeed the same Christine Ford. Please do not share this article with anyone (and if you have, delete it/withdraw it); we are only leaving the page up so you can see this important update.

So this gets posted, picked up by a bunch of wingnut sites, and goes everywhere before the idiots realize that they’ve got the wrong person. And over something so dumb as RateMyProfessor reviews, which are about as reliable as Yelp reviews of a concert where somebody died on stage.

This isn’t even a smear job from someone in authority (though plenty of people treated as legit journalists cough*DRUDGE*cough picked this up), just a bad, dumb, clickwhoring stab from somebody who thought hey, I’ll get a piece of this roiling clusterfuck for my very own!

This is why women don’t come forward to accuse the powerful: There’s an army of bootlicks out there, ready to tear the accusers down. Not for power or money but because it’s fun to cackle and make a mess. They’re chaos-causing shitlords who don’t give a damn about the damage they create, and once unleashed will deny all responsibility for the trash fire they lit.

And this is why I keep beating the drum that national media who let these types of people into their parties and treat them like respected colleagues (“Matt Drudge Rules Our World“) have contributed to the very atmosphere they now deplore, where things like this happen and are corrected after the fact, like the strikethrough makes it better, like it’s just an honest mistake.

Via Doc.

A.

Can We Talk about How Shitty that Serena Cartoon Is?

We’ve been talking about how racist it is, but can we also talk about how it sucks? How it’s obvious and badly drawn and doesn’t make any point that anyone hasn’t ever made before about anything?

Australian cartoonist Mark Knight has defended his widely condemned cartoon of US tennis star Serena Williams, claiming that it was a true reflection of the events of the US Open women’s final.

The cartoon appeared in Monday’s edition of Australian tabloid The Herald Sun, and drew outrage on social media for depicting the 23-time Grand Slam winner with enlarged lips, a larger figure, a broken racket and a pacifier on the ground.

The guy who drew it says he “isn’t racist,” of course, because nobody “is racist” even if they are “doing racist things” and “saying racist stuff.” I’m less interested in how whether or not he’s racist than I am in how he’s so bad at his job.

I mean it. Our shittiest comedians and editorial cartoonists and columnists are so shitty because they grew up watching South Park and Bill Maher and reading The Onion and they think that anybody who says mean things is funny. So if they say loud rude fratty things about bitches and “aren’t politically correct” then that makes them comic geniuses or bleeding-edge social commentators. Usually this sort of thing gets beaten out of you in college but apparently these guys didn’t have editors who challenged their juvenilia.

“Area Homosexual Saves Four From Fire” is not a gay joke. The 9/11 issue wasn’t making fun of the terrorists. Bill catches shit not because he’s anti-Muslim and showily anti-religion but because he took on the powerful at a time when we didn’t do that so much. “Suicide bombers are braver than soldiers lobbing missiles from a distance” was a new thing to consider, at the time.

If you want to make people laugh or shock them, you have to be funny or original. You have to be smart, and willing to step to hard truths sure, but “black caricature” isn’t a hard truth. You think you’re the first person to make this crack, Mr. Australian Cartoonist? You’re not even the first person in a two-mile radius of my house to make this crack.

Someone needs to teach an entire generation or three the difference between an unpopular important opinion that people need to hear about because it’s truly critical, and something that will be “unpopular” because it’s just nasty and dumb.

A.