Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

‘Aggravated Battery’

Of course he’s white, you knew that from the convention of referring to him as something other than a THUG or a TERRORIST: 

A judge has released the man accused of opening fire and shooting a protester. Police say Steven Baca is the man seen on video opening fire at last Monday’s protest regarding a statue of conquistador Juan De Oñate, sending one man to the hospital. Much of the District Attorney’s case was centered around 10 primary witness videos, one of which shows the moments leading up to Baca firing his gun.

While Baca is most known for firing shots, he is not currently facing any charges for it. Baca is facing aggravated battery and two battery charges for allegedly assaulting three female protestors.

Police initially charged Baca for the shooting, but the District Attorney dropped that charge pending further investigation. Baca’s attorneys have argued he fired his gun in self-defense because he was being hit with a skateboard.

In court, Monday, the District Attorney’s office argued that Baca was only at the protest to start trouble. However, with no criminal history and the state not yet finding any of the women Baca is accused of hurting, Judge Charles Brown released him on his own recognizance.

The story is an incoherent-ass mess — police don’t file charges, DAs do, and what does “most known for firing shots” mean, and there are other typos in the parts I haven’t quoted, but …

This guy brought a gun to a protest expecting there would be someone there he could shoot. He showed up at a place where people were protesting, with a gun, to make what point who the hell even knows, to defend the honor of dead conquistador, with firearms. What the FUCK.

There is one intention for something like this and it’s to intimidate people from protesting. From taking down statues. From creating in the world the images of it they feel should be represented. You don’t show up to that with a gun to protect yourself from being possibly hit with a skateboard, come on.

I know it’s tiring to point out how few consequences right-wing white men face for actions like this. Those Bundy assholes, everyone who ever attacked an abortion clinic, who get referred to in the press as acting in some kind of heroic insurrection against an oppressive government. I don’t know if this is a hangover from the Revolutionary War or what, but we keep treating these dinguses like they’re Paul Revere and it’s poisonous.

I went looking for this piece after McArdle opened her mouth hole about something stupid again last week, because it’s one of the most aggressive examples of “my oppression justifies everything, yours is all made up” I’ve ever read in addition to being dumber than a two-day-old tofurkey: 

Using the political system to stomp on radicalized fringes does not seem to be very effective in getting them to eschew violence.  In fact, it seems to be a very good way of getting more violence.  Possibly because those fringes have often turned to violence precisely because they feel that the political process has been closed off to them.

Now contrast that compassion and generosity — extended, in the above case, to the murderer of a doctor — to what is generally said among the I’m No Conservative But crowd about the Black Lives Matter protests today.

I wonder if anyone thinks maybe, just maybe, the political process has been closed off to them?

Nah.

They gotta just be doing it for fun.

It’s not like they’re white, after all.

A.

Fox Gonna Fox

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA:

They really, really don’t have to “follow the ethical norms.” This is the goddamn problem. We’ve been over here having a journalism seminar, a well-catered affair with skirts on the tables and nice labeled name tags, and they’ve been having a dogfight.

I am not DEFENDING the dogfight, mind, but let us please in the year of our lord 2020 surrender the idea that anyone HAS to do anything to preserve, like, manners when it comes to their business. Journalists have been bitching for years that Facebook and Google don’t want to HELP THEM, as if that’s Facebook and Google’s job or something. Why won’t Apple invent a thing to give individual newspapers all the monies? Why won’t anyone act in our best interests but us?

Because they don’t HAVE TO, JESUS TITS. Fox is not required to do anything other than what helps Fox, and right now what helps Fox is to make shit up because after 40 years of implications the audience needs MOAR mental crack. And Fox is not there for journalism, it’s there to gin up rage and fear and make money. I can’t believe people are dumb enough to expect anything else.

Like how does it benefit genuine news orgs to pretend that Fox has to adhere to some rules? They’re not going to, so we keep having this pantomime of “ooh, it’s so transgressive,” and then everybody goes back to the buffet.

A.

You Don’t Understand, or You Do, And in Either Case We’re All Dead

The Journal Sentinel’s editorial board: 

But it’s not the court’s fault that the governor and top lawmakers can’t work together for the common good. Nor is it the court’s job to set public health policy in Wisconsin. That’s the job of the governor and Legislature. So do your jobs, Gov. Tony Evers, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Adopt clear rules for the state moving forward. Do so now, so the novel coronavirus is contained.

The governor issued rules and Republicans and the State Supreme Court blew them up. Yelling at them all to do their jobs assumes everyone didn’t. For decades Republicans have been detonating government without any kind of plan for what happens afterwards, and the answer is always this kind of scolding bullshit about how everyone needs to compromise, as if everyone is trying to, equally hard, and just needs a nudge.

Look, this isn’t a case where you can split the baby (AND THE FUCKING POINT OF THAT STORY IS THAT SOME COMPROMISES CAN’T BE MADE JESUS CHEESY FRIES CHRIST). The governor did something within his power to do, and Republicans didn’t like it and blew it up. Everybody technically DID do their jobs here. I don’t see how it’s always the Democrats’ fault when poop-flinging GOP monkeys fail to stop flinging poop and start playing the violin.

There’s no middle ground there. You’re either performing Vivaldi or you’re covered in shit.

Once and for all the marbles in the land, can anyone name me a single case of Republican acquiescence to a policy they don’t like? Can anyone name me a time in recent memory when the GOP was like, well, we’re not fond of that, but we’ll deal with it because you won an election. Democrats are out here bending over backwards and under and THROUGH in order to give Republicans something, anything, and Republicans are using their contorted bodies as roadblocks to prevent those of us without our heads up our asses from going anywhere.

Democrats voted for Republican judges and Republican tax cuts and Republican limits on abortion and Republican limits on spending and Republican limits on food stamps and Republicans’ staggeringly unlimited WARS. Democrats voted for the impeachment OF THEIR OWN GODDAMN PRESIDENT.

Democrats voted over and over and over to compromise, and we’re still hearing that “nobody” is doing their job, that “nobody” wants to compromise, that “nobody” can find any solutions.

Democrats have found solutions. They’ve found good ones and half-a-loaf ones and they’ve reduced them to a quarter of a loaf to try to get Republicans to vote for them, every time, they are like out here begging please, please compromise with us. And Republicans won’t, and the only reason you don’t see that, as a professional Knower and Explainer of Civic Life to Citizens, is that you don’t want to see it, and whichever one it is, it’s killing people.

We hear day after day after day about DEMOCRACY DYING IN DARKNESS as if there’s a fundamental difference between a dead newspaper and one that cedes its institutional voice to a fucking parrot that just flaps and screams BOTH SIDES BOTH SIDES regardless of what kind of seed’s in its bowl. This isn’t me being a Democrat, here. This is me looking at the way things are going, at what went down, and saying this isn’t true, it isn’t correct. It’s not just politically slanted or biased or influenced, it’s flat-out factually WRONG.

You all follow me on a bunch of platforms, I’m not exactly opposed to telling Democrats what to do (call me, guys), but in this case it’s like:

EXT. A WARM SUNNY DAY, NOT TOO HUMID, OF WHICH IN WISCONSIN THERE ARE PRECISELY SIX AND THEY MUST NOT BE WASTED. OUTDOORS, BESIDE A LAVISH INGROUND POOL.

POOL IS FILLED WITH DEMOCRATS IN VARIOUS DONKEY-THEMED SUITS AND TRUNKS, SWIMMING, SPLASHING, HAVING A GOOD TIME BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU DO IN A SWIMMING POOL.

REPUBLICANS, STANDING AROUND PERIMETER: Water is communist. This is a giveaway. We’re not getting in.

DEMOCRATS: Guys, do you need more room? We can move over. Axelrod, get that inflatable duck out of the way.

REPUBLICANS: Nope. Not swimming today. Not doing it.

DEMOCRATS: But it’s so nice here. You’ll feel better after you cool off. Here, you can share our lounges and beer, too. Is the water too cold? Jimmy, is there any way to warm up the water? Look, we know Billy was being inappropriate, and we’ve told him he can’t come back if he can’t keep his hands off the lifeguards. Here’s a 20-page anti-lifeguard-harassment policy we wrote. Brad, hand out the binders. We even ordered you guys extra hot dogs!

REPUBLICANS: You’re all stupid and we’re not doing this.

JOURNAL SENTINEL EDITORIAL BOARD: *marches in wearing matching purple objectivity visors* EVERYBODY GET IN THE POOL!

REPUBLICANS: We will not get in the pool until they accede to our demands. This is tyranny.

DEMOCRATS: *looking around* Um, we’re already in the pool, and they won’t tell us what they want, so here’s what we offered them, and uh, they still won’t get in, so I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do here …

JS EDITORIAL BOARD: *pulls out bullhorn* THE PROBLEM WITH POOLS IS THAT NO ONE WILL SWIM IN THEM, EVERYONE NEEDS TO GET IN.

DEMOCRATS: Oh for fuck’s sake.

EXEUNT.

Swimming pools aren’t the problem. You could at least be honest, and tell Republicans they have to stick their toes in the water, and pretend to have a good time, it’s a party.

A.

They Broke The Only Thing That Can Save Us

Every time I see somebody online whinging that there’s no leadership from Democrats, I want to scream, because: how would you even know? Trump’s briefings are carried live. Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi could come out with a fifty-point plan OH WAIT THEY FUCKING DID THAT LIKE NINE TIMES AND NOBODY FUCKIN NOTICED.

I don’t know what to do with everyone not understanding this. Dem leaders aren’t assignment editors either, and until ours get a motherfucking clue and some sense of responsibility for the fact that their decisions are killing us Joey B. Shark could personally cure every coronavirus on earth and NPR would have a debate about whether continued human survival was an unseemly political stunt.

This is par for the course. The game is beyond rigged at this point. We have one system to save us, and they broke it, and we can’t use it to get rid of them, because they’ve made sure we can’t, but there’s no other way to do this.

We have a system that we have to use to fix the system that we can’t fix without a functioning system. Even during the Iraq War I didn’t feel this helpless, and fucking nobody was listening to anyone back then.

Like let’s game this out. Let’s say REAL DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP buys, like, an hour of TV time, like Obama did when he finally ended things in 2008. Let’s say we HAVE to listen for 60 minutes to the entirety of the Democratic plan.

Ten seconds after that’s done, Trump will tweet ARGLE BLARGLE FAIL WEAK and it’ll be the usual “Democrats laid out a plan for the country and Trump flung poo so really, both sides are at fault here, where is the LEADERSHIP” and we won’t get anywhere. I don’t … I mean, you fucking tell me, here. I am so tired of being told what to do to change when people are DOING THAT EVERY FUCKING DAY AND IT DOESN’T SEEM TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE BECAUSE THESE WASHINGTON ASSHOLES WANT TO TALK ABOUT WHAT HITS AND WHAT DOESN’T AS IF THEY DON’T DECIDE THAT.

And the thing is, this is why the past 40 years of talk radio and Fox News are important, why all us crazy liberals were screaming that “we report, you jerk off decide” was dangerous even though it sounded so innocuous, why what happened in Wisconsin in 2011 was catastrophic, why voter suppression is the issue of our time, because: this is all we have. We have the media we have, we have the system we have, and I don’t see how we can use something this broken to fix itself.

The ONLY way out of this is to vote in such overwhelming numbers in November as to make the GOP politically irrelevant at every level and even THEN we’ll have the Sunday shows on every airport TV going WHY DON’T DEMOCRATS HAVE ANY IMPACT ON THE FORUM I CONTROL, SO WEIRD.

What’s the way out of THAT? Christ, I’m tired.

A.

They Aren’t Assignment Editors

I mean, we can keep getting mad at Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, that’s fine, but we should be mad at the person who keeps booking them for “news” shows: 

Like Drs. Drew and Oz before him, Phil McGraw was on TV, it seems, largely because he’s an articulate, charismatic and well-known TV personality. But none of that amounts to expertise on this particular topic. In fact, in recent TV appearances to discuss the pandemic, fellow celebrity doctors Drew Pinsky and Mehmet Oz have offered commentary based on a loose or seemingly wobbly understanding of the crisis — arguably doing more to undermine public understanding than enhance it.

This has been going on for years, of course, and it’s infuriating, but in life-and-death situations it throws into sharp relief the chasm between actual experts and whoever’s at the top of the call sheet.

Just because somebody always picks up the phone doesn’t mean he knows what he’s talking about, but you need somebody to pick up the phone. Instead of working on Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil we need to work on the people making the decisions to put them out there. They’re the ones who need to change their ways. The idiots we have always had with us; we just once upon a time didn’t used to put them on TV.

A.

To Those Who Wanted a Disaster

In 2007, two years after Katrina’s waters receded, I went to New Orleans with a group of you all, at Scout’s behest, to gut a house and contribute, in however small a way, to the rebuilding of the city.

As we drove from the airport I asked about the signs, spray-painted on the front of houses and buildings. The FEMA X denoting that a structure had been checked. It had been two years since the storm. When would they come down?

Now I look around my neighborhood, at the signs in the windows made by children I used to see every day on the walk to school: STAY SAFE! THANK YOU DELIVERY DRIVERS! WE CAN DO THIS. WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.

Kick papered our front door with origami flowers last week.

I wonder how long we’ll leave ours up.

20200405_130551

People have always used disasters for their own ends. It’s such a well-known phenomenon it has a name, it’s a field of study, but even so, every time, the monstrousness of it takes my breath away: Let us hope for a neighborhood, a city, a nation, a way of life to be wiped from the earth so that we may start over in the way that WE believe it should be done.

We, almost always being white, rich, over-educated, privileged, and sure that despite all of colonial history this time civilizing the alien continent will surely work.

Katrina was a good thing, it let us kick out the poors and build some charter schools and bypass all the usual bureaucratic infighting about finances and government and just make things right. CLEAN UP THE CITY, is a thing we scream like we’re in a Batman comic, as if we can amputate in one swing of the cleaver. It sounds so easy, and so we wish, for something big enough to force all the changes at once.

Well, it’s here now.

The schools are shut down. The streets are silent. The stadiums echo. We walk six feet away from each other, videoconference, talk about what must be done instead of what could or should be.

Millions of people are unemployed. Millions. Thousands more are dying in hospital hallways while newspaper pundits I won’t validate with a link write from their mansions about how this will teach us all to be more self-sufficient, a full dinner plate reminding him of the value of suffering.

Bust some unions, probably. Cut some taxes. That seems to be how it goes. Certainly no one in charge has any ideas about rebuilding that might stir us to collective action; we have been socially distancing for decades.

I am so angry at everyone who wanted this, and is doing nothing, now it’s here.

The animating feature of the 2016 election was performative spite, we have known this since the day after, when it was declared that America elected an amoral madman to teach liberals a lesson. You had to have your moment of telling us fuck you, of saying to every feminist woman, every non-white person, anyone whose identity you were forced to consider for 20 seconds, hahahahaha owned. You had to “take your country back,” you had to “make America great again,” you had to feel like you were important, like you mattered still. You had to shake your foam finger at an immigrant, a poor woman needing birth control, you just had to WIN.

You just wanted to smash something. Well, you smashed something. Look around you. Look at the signs on the doors. Look at the fear in the eyes of everyone you care about and know that THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS TO DO WHAT YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO DO.

My daughter, white and middle class and non-disabled, neurotypical as far as we know, does her homework at our dining room table. I guide her through writing exercises designed by her teacher, sign her up for Zoom meetings for PE and Spanish and art. Her father arranges videoconferences with her friends; they do craft projects together, each in front of their own small screens.

She sleeps soundly. She takes it in stride that she doesn’t go ice skating anymore, that we can’t go to the zoo, that we shout across the alley instead of running over to play. She doesn’t worry about the world; though any mention of sickness for her father or me — a sniffle, a twinge of back pain — elicits immediate attention.

We do a lot of craft projects. We plan a large garden. We watch a lot of movies.

Late Friday night the governor declared that school would stay closed, that kindergarten was, effectively, over. I haven’t told her yet. I will, tonight. I expect her blithe acceptance and need to wait until I can meet it with the same.

This is not a Katrina. Her building stands, albeit empty, the windows unbroken. She can walk past it and around it. There is crime scene tape, around the playground equipment, but at least here no one has died.

Her summer camp will be cancelled next, I think, no swimming lessons or songs or getting up each morning eager to get on the bus and have fun. The college students I mentor, they may not go back until spring and I worry about their futures much more than my own. Businesses declare they’re staying open, then close. Every day we cut another piece of ourselves away.

We are lucky. The roof over our head will hold. Groceries come to the door. But no one who was cheering on a clean slate a year, two years, five years ago has proposed what on God’s green earth we should do with this one, now we seem to have it.

We’re putting pictures of rainbows in the windows. Thank you, nurses and doctors. Thank you, firefighters. Maybe, years from now, they’ll still be there, faded, reminding us of whatever lesson we decide by then we’ve learned.

A.

Every Genocide Needs a Soundtrack

A few years back I got irrationally obsessed with reading books about the Rwandan genocide including this excellent, harrowing one, and one thing that stuck with me from it was the role talk radio played in stoking violence and encouraging people to turn on their neighbors.

This is a transcript from one of those stations, assuring its listeners that no matter what they see and hear on other channels, THIS is the real story:

.. When talking, we should be aware that we are talking to other people, and to intelligent people. Because what will cause harm to the Rwandans, what will harm the politics of this country is that a person thinks that he is the only one who can play politics, he thinks that he is the only one who can speak, he thinks that he is the only one who holds the truth, that members of other political parties are not intelligent, that they are stupid, that they do not understand, that he should con them because he has the opportunity to talk, that he should say whatever he wants… Here, on RTLM, on your independent radio, we will hOt stand that. You will tell lies people, and we will tell them the truth.”

Does that sound familiar to you? It should: 

  • In a fearmongering, over-the-top opening monologue, Fox Business host Trish Regan claimed coronavirus is “yet another attempt to impeach the president” as “the chorus of hate being leveled at the president is nearing a crescendo.”

  • Fox Business host Lou Dobbs reported that coronavirus “has now infected 113,000 people … in 111 countries and territories around the world” and, in nearly the same breath, claimed that “the national left-wing media [are] playing up fears of the coronavirus.”

  • On Lou Dobbs TonightSiegel dismissed the World Health Organization as “overly political” and “incompetent,” arguing that coronavirus is being politicized to attack Trump.

We’re not yet at the stage where Fox is advocating that Trump nuke Wuhan but their listeners are already there and have been for a week or so. We’ve been talking since mid-2016 about how this stuff doesn’t start with the ovens. It starts with people whispering that there’s a secret only the worthy know, and Rush and his imitators have been saying that shit since the moment they went on the air.

A sane country would have shut down any broadcast knowingly disseminating false information in the name of public safety. This whole country is a crowded theater and they’re screaming fire.

BUH BUH BUH says you, a person who thinks reality is a simulation, BUH WHO DECIDES WHAT IS FALSE? Isn’t this always the pretext governments use to shut down dissent, that it’s unsafe? Well, this isn’t “dissent.” What Fox is doing is not opining on how the president should handle the crisis. They’re saying there IS NO CRISIS and then telling people to go out and make the nonexistent crisis worse.

There aren’t any equivalents to this. This isn’t a free speech issue. This isn’t an issue of civil rights. Before you throw internet conspiracies on the left in my face, consider the difference between six people on a blog saying “something seems dodgy here” and a NATIONAL BROADCAST NETWORK THAT’S ON EVERY TV IN THE AIRPORT, from which everyone takes their cues including THE PRESIDENT.

GO TO A RESTAURANT THE GUBMINT CAN’T CONTROL YOU, says the government, and had we the Republican party of even 20 years ago, much less the glory days, we’d have at least one or two people on ACTUAL BOTH SIDES saying look, this is insane, but no, the entire Senate and GOP House contingent has to take their cues from these people. Mike DeWine is a cock, okay, but I give him credit for acting like he’s in charge of people’s safety, unlike most of his colleagues. Look at this fucking prick. Great job, Kansas Republicans.

Lots and lots of people are going to get sick and die in the coming weeks. Fox News is encouraging this, if not actually making it happen. Once it does, and/or there’s violence or looting or reasonable responses like, say, a bunch of people getting really pissed and throwing things, then it will be time for law and order and suppressing the unruly masses, none of which, conveniently, will be white.

But god forbid someone suggest you forgo green beer and Buffalo Wild Wings and stop pouring hate into your ears like poison. I’ve read way too much about how this ends.

A.

Bickering

I know, it’s Politico, I’m better off reading the inside of the wrapper of the “health” food bar I just ate for information on how stuff works:

Bickering. Or, as we call it in the world where we don’t pretend to be dumber than we are for hate-clicks, FIGURING OUT THE BEST WAY TO DO THIS. These solipsistic fucksticks know this, they know that what they call “bickering” is actually WORK in the sense that ideally politicians would bitch each other out and then compromise and get down to work but it’s hard to compromise when one side is like “but make the tests free tho” and the other side is all “THE PLAGUE IS GOOD AND WE SHOULD EAT IT ON TOAST.”

I don’t know why I expect the discourse about actual real things to be better than the stuff about elections. Smart people who should know better are posting things like, “Why won’t the Democrats propose paid sick leave and cheap/free health care” as if that’s not THE GODDAMN PARTY PLATFORM, basically. Democratic politicians have been proposing that for years and if you don’t HEAR about it maybe the problem isn’t the words they’re making with their mouth-holes. Maybe the problem is they can’t get coverage for anything that isn’t the T-word.

Again, forever, let’s spend all our time crabbing at the only people with a plan and hashtagging #WhereIsTheHouse, Nancy Pelosi’s at your mom’s, okay. And she’s busy.

Fucking hell, no matter what they do this is the message: Republicans are bad, Democrats are bad and also dumb about how they’re being bad, the two sides “bicker,” let’s infantilize grown adults and make everybody throw their hands up and say “who can change anything.”

Fucking schmucks.

A.

Stooooooooooop

I WENT TO THIS PANEL IN 2009 AND IT SUCKED THEN TOO.

There is a coordinated campaign to get people to distrust the press, it is being run by one political party for that party’s supporters’ express financial benefit through one major cable news network, this has been true for 30 years, but surely if we explain ourselves just ONE MORE TIME, people will love us again!

Jesus H. Christ with a side of sweet potato fries, I’m exhausted. For 30-plus years, Fox News has been blaring from every airport gate in every city in this country and a few overseas that every other news source is liberally biased and only THEY report and we decide. Only THEY are unbiased. Only THEY will tell you the truth. And you know what, for the critical 35 or so percent of the country that the GOP needs to stay in gerrymandered and destructive power, it’s fucking WORKED.

In the face of that assault, we have the journalism establishment, dithering at 8-foot tables about how maybe readers just don’t understand, maybe they just independently came to these conclusions:

media trust graph

What happened between 1989 and 1996, remind me, I forget, was it this?

Or this? 

But sure, let’s keep talking about this stuff like it’s the weather, like it just HAPPENED.

Maybe if we sincerely correct people angry at us, with the best of intentions, and show them how pure our hearts are OH FOR THE LOVE OF FUCK. I’m not excusing anyone ELSE’S malpractice (looking at you, CNN). I’m certainly not letting corporate consolidation and frantic flailing at every single industry trend in an effort to keep making enough money to hide the sexual harassment lawsuit payouts off the hook.

What I take issue with is the idea that there’s some kind of genuine ignorance, some kind of benign disconnect that can be remedied by yet another explanation of who we are why what we do matters.

We’re having a lot of dumb conversations with the Institute for Being Stuck Up Our Own Asses about What The Future Holds and Our Existential Threat and until we deal with the literal Fox in our henhouse those overall numbers of how many people loathe us are not going to get better or change.

We have spent eons justifying our existence. We have spent EPOCHS explaining why we do what we do. And not for nothing but we have spent 30 years being friendly with people who hate us. We have spent 30 years pretending they’re just joking, pretending their inflated sales numbers mean we have to pay attention to what they say, and in response we got “Rope, Tree, Journalist” and “peanuts for the animals” and “fake news.”

WHILE we were doing this we set generational brand loyalty on fire by systematically divesting from communities we’d covered for decades, where trust had been built and at least if people thought we were fuckers we were their fuckers, you know?

So now we come at them with the idea that somehow they don’t understand? They understand just fine. One “news” organization is coming at them from every television in every waiting room in every tire shop in the country, coming at them telling them things are life and death and WE ARE ALL THAT IS STANDING BETWEEN YOU AND DESTRUCTION. One network is relentlessly pushing itself in their faces with, where not outright fascism, authoritarian visions of the world around them which are basically heroin.

And in response we’re gonna plead poverty, beg them to subscribe, and EXPLAIN OURSELVES?

No. No way.

To its credit, the journalism summit referenced in the tweet that set me off down this YOU HAVE TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME path did include people doing the very hard work of building something from scratch to address potential news consumers who nobody has ever given a single fuck about, which is why this is the only way forward.

That’s a start. The whole other part of this includes a series of very well-catered events (since that’s apparently where most of our Big Thinking About Journalism happens) detailing once and for all who is Journalism’s Friend. And how to respond to the people who aren’t, who have never been, and how it doesn’t matter if they’re nice to you at parties, if they go on the air the next day and call you biased liars.

Also, knock this the fucking fuck off:

Jesus.

A.

Finally, We Are Talking About Money for Journalism

I have been screaming about this since I last worked in newspapers, and lest you think that’s me exaggerating, here’s 200FUCKING6.

It wasn’t the internet. It never was the internet. All the internet did is make it impossible to hide the stupidity and greed anymore. Back when papers were drowning in money they could spend it on dumb shit and pay off sexual harassers and hand out consultant contracts to their idiot buddies and nobody would even notice. Now, well, the margins are still good but they’re not THAT good.

Look at those margins, though. THIRTY PERCENT. Do you know what most phenomenally successful businesses make most years? A ten percent margin is considered good, and that’s by the soulless standards of American finance. These guys are swimming in it like Scrooge McDuck and they’ve got their reporters out here telling readers if they don’t subscribe everyone will die of starvation and it’s infuriating to the exact degree that it’s unnecessary.

A.

They Did This On Purpose

Read this and think about what you learned about history, and why: 

Here’s another example: Teenagers in both states will learn about the Harlem Renaissance and debates about the movement’s impact on African-American life.

But Texas students will read that some critics “dismissed the quality of literature produced.”

I get frustrated day after day after day listening to Our Thought Leaders lamenting how divided we “have become” and how polarized “things are” like a storm just moved in and nobody knows why. Children for decades have been deliberately taught different stories, for a very specific reason, and the article presents this as if that reason doesn’t exist.

California and Texas textbooks sometimes offer different explanations for white backlash to black advancement after the Civil War, from Reconstruction to housing discrimination in the 20th century.

Southern whites resisted Reconstruction, according to a McGraw-Hill textbook, because they “did not want African-Americans to have more rights.” But the Texas edition offers an additional reason: Reforms cost money, and that meant higher taxes.

Whole paragraphs on redlining and restrictive deeds appear only in the California editions of textbooks, partly as a result of different state standards. Texas’ social studies guidelines do not mention housing discrimination at all.

It’s as if “discrimination exists” and “no, reverse racism does” are two competing ideas with no way to prove the fact of one or the other. Whites were just scared of their taxes paying for black people? Sure, okay, that certainly seems to be what’s happening here:

reconstruction nast

No racial discrimination there, at all. Nothing irrational about that resistance to black political power.

If you accept that “both sides” want their version of history taught because they both benefit from it, you have to outline what those benefits are. The right benefits electorally and financially from actively discriminating in housing, employment, voting rights, and any number of a thousand other areas, and has for decades. Their version of history supports an ideology that actively prevents low-income people and non-whites from accessing huge swaths of American life.

That is a CONSEQUENCE of their actions. That is a result that can be seen and measured, a direct outcome of the story they tell.

For this to be equivalent to the left’s desire to, say, honestly describe what happened to Native Americans when whitey showed up, there would have to be an ongoing and systemic effort to prevent white people from gaining rights that were historically given to non-whites. That’s … not occurring, not even in socialist California. I know we joke all the time about how we need to stop electing white people but as far as I know no one’s actually trying to make that the case.

That there is the PERCEPTION that any uplift to non-whites, non-straights, non-Christians comes at the expense of all you nice Land Rovering ladies at book club is not anybody’s problem but yours, and it’s certainly not an argument to teach history differently, Jesus tits.

Texas policymakers feel strongly about giving students a positive view of the American economy; since 1995, state law has required that high school economics courses offer an “emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits.” That emphasis seems to have made its way into the history curriculum as well.

California’s curriculum materials, by contrast, sometimes read like a brief from a Bernie Sanders rally. “The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots and what is to be done about it is one of the great questions of this time,” says the state’s 2016 social studies framework.

Bernie Sanders would slap that line right out of his own mouth, it’s so tame, and I’m far from a Bernie stan. What is the point of that dig? Tee hee, so silly and communist, the idea that people talk about inequality.

We’re saying there are two versions of this story, and one of them is “everything is GREAT” and another is “let’s think about stuff.” Those aren’t even competing ideas, much less competing on equal ground.

Again, who benefits from the narrative that the American economy is OMG BESTEST EVARR!11!? The people in power, who are generally Republican, and oppose taxes on corporations, and want you to believe that the reason there ain’t no raises coming this year is that they just can’t afford it.

We are not teaching two different versions of history because we’re just so horrifically divided. We are horrifically divided because there is a concerted effort to paint a picture of American history that devalues certain voices, to its distinct financial and political benefit. Division hasn’t HAPPENED. It’s been done, and we see who’s made out like bandits, and who’s suffered.

A.

Just One More Blogger Ethics Panel

This is an old joke, young’uns, about the early days of blogging, during which Serious Journalists opined that we needed lots of review over those dastardly writers on the internet, lest they have undisclosed conflicts of interest! THE HORROR.

Meanwhile, everybody was just fine partying with this fuck: 

And on Wednesday (Jan 8), Mr Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.

It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain – shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.

“It’s really reckless and extremely harmful,” said Dr Joelle Gergis, an award-winning climate scientist at the Australian National University. “It’s insidious because it grows. Once you plant those seeds of doubt, it stops an important conversation from taking place.”

I swear, I am not deaf to the arguments about Facebook and Google ruining democracy but if both those companies got grounded from the internet tomorrow we’d still be left with the two forces that have done the most damage to small-l liberalism thriving. Fox News and talk radio turned people angry, reactive and afraid, and channeled all that fear and loathing into votes for the GOP and all its works. So long as both those things blare in every suburban podiatrist’s office ain’t nothing gonna ever change.

The linked article above is mostly about climate change and Murdoch’s effect thereupon but overall we are talking about the worldwide policies of austerity and racism that have impoverished millions and moved civilized societies backwards and mostly erased any gains made during the post-WWII era. Yes, old racist white people are buying up what Murdoch is selling in droves but let’s not let Murdoch off the hook for being the supplier.

A.

In 2020 Let’s Pivot to Journalism

Wow, nobody’s coming to save journalism, big fucking shock to everyone who isn’t an idiot pretending to be a smart person or a smart person pretending to be Roman Roy: 

“A reckoning” is next, they said. Publishers regret undervaluing their own audiences in favor of brand-diluting social-first content. While interviews for our earlier reports revealed a willingness to shift strategies and fall in line with platform maneuvers, publishers now believe that they must regain control of their revenue streams and put their own audience interests above platform demands. This means a renewed focus on owned-and-operated properties, where publishers control audience experience, data, and revenue.

Publishers now require far more compelling evidence that platform products will be fruitful for their businesses before agreeing to devote time and staff to them. “A year ago [our attitude was], ‘Hey, why not? Let’s give it a shot. [It’s a] fifty-fifty call,’ ” said one local publisher about participating in new platform-product rollouts. “Now somebody would have to show me pretty clearly that the benefit was likely, rather than fifty-fifty, for me to make the change.”

How is it a revelation that if I’m going to put time and money and resources into something it should be likely to benefit me? How is that some kind of admirable sentiment? Wow, such wisdoms, many wows.

You know, it’s really hard to congratulate publishers on coming to Jesus after they’ve already set all the money on fire and fired everybody. Happy you showed up, I guess, but your predecessors dynamited the place so you’ll pardon us if we don’t throw you a party for getting here now.

I’m angry about this stuff because I saw how much of the destruction happened to newspapers before the mobile Internet really took off, and I’m incandescently enraged about this stuff because in my off-time these days I raise money for a journalism venture and goddamn if every single day somebody isn’t trying to figure out a way to do anything BUT throw money at journalism.

“What if Facebook …”

“What if Google …”

“What if Apple …”

“What if this one consulting firm …”

“What if this spin-off events company …”

“What if this special edition …”

What if YOU, how about? What if you just did what you know needs to be done? What if you just did the work? What if you stopped flailing at every trend you heard about at a conference in the hopes that somehow this would magically become easy, and if you just … got the ten best people you know in a room, and you figured out how to do what you know needs to be done?

I see this screaming all day long, from actual no-shit journalists who should know better: JOURNALISM IS EXPENSIVE. SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR LOCAL PAPER! The former isn’t true and the latter has nothing to do with anything.

Journalism costs money, sure, but it’s not the biggest cash-suck at a media organization, not by any means. CEO bonuses and shareholder dividends and high-end real estate and consultant contracts are expensive. Debt service is expensive. Journalism, compared to those things, is cheap as shit, especially now, when you don’t HAVE TO print it out on dead trees and send tough dirty children to yell READ ALL ABOUT IT.

(You could, and in some cases should, still do that, but you don’t have to.)

Subscribing to your local paper, unless said local is independently owned and operated, just puts more money in the hands of people already acting like hundred dollar bills are the only things with which you can light a fire. Giving money to anything owned by the company formerly known as TRONC is not supporting your local, hard-working journalists, because the ex-TRONCs are taking 75 cents of every dollar and using it to pay off serial sexual harassers and give investors Christmas presents.

The only thing that is going to work going forward is putting all the money toward doing the thing that needs to be done, which is running a news organization. If that’s online, on paper, on TV, whatever, as long as money goes to the journalism. That’s the only thing that’s going to “save” journalism, and it’s about time people figured this out and stopped waiting for some other solution to descend upon them from on high.

Platform initiatives are a bridge for some publishers; for others, however, they’ve become a lifeline. One social media director told the Tow Center, “We absolutely need the money that they’re giving us to innovate, or have a shot at growing our audience, or even [figure] out a path to a subscription strategy. So I am thankful for the money, but I think there’s also some resentment…like, I’m just tired of being at your beck and call.”

No other company is going to have your company’s interests at heart, is the thing. I see so much bitching about Facebook and Google “stealing” or “sucking up” all the ad revenue, as if Facebook and Google somehow owed it to traditional publishers to be dumber, lazier, and poorer than they could be. Far be it from me to defend Zuckerberg or any of his ilk but expecting him to not take advantage of an opportunity is unfair.

You want something stronger, you gotta build it yourself, not just bitch at big tech and yell at your customers and potential customers. Journalists putting a “see, you should pay for this shit, you ungrateful heathens” at the end of every story are pitching their efforts at persuading the wrong people. Direct that sentiment at the boardroom, and if the boardroom won’t listen, direct it to the mirror and found your own fucking newsroom.

Yeah, it’s hard. Yeah, it sucks. I wouldn’t be out here yelling this at you if I didn’t know firsthand how hard it is, how much it sucks, and how little sleep it’s possible to survive on. And if anything else in the history of anything had ever just once fucking WORKED, I wouldn’t be out here telling you to get a day job and eat ramen so you can manage an employee buyout at night or whatever if this really means that much to you. If anything else does work, I ain’t seen it yet.

Facebook and Google don’t care. The execs don’t care. The shareholders don’t care as long as they get paid. So therefore it follows that if you’re the one who cares you’re the one who has to do it.

I know so many dedicated journalists out here busting their asses to turn their indie media profitable, to transition legacy presses to nonprofits, to keep nonprofits going, to run investigative shops on their own, to unionize and organize and fight like fuck to keep the lights on, and it’s an insult to their every waking hour to act like there’s any other way to do this.

Build your own good shit. Stop expecting someone else to be the fire brigade and pick up a bucket.

A.

Face Value

Oh FFS, journalism: 

Nick: We thought it was interesting when [New York Times White House correspondent] Maggie Haberman retweeted it, and she was kind of like, “What is this?” And then someone was just like, “This is a joke,” and she was like, “Well, jokes need to be more …” She said something like …

She said, “All the best parody has to be explained.”
Nick: Yeah. Like … That doesn’t make any sense! [Laughs.] So that was very weird.

Brad: It’s blatantly a joke! The campaign wouldn’t dryly dub someone saying “Bloomberg” over the song “Moves Like Jagger!”

Nick: Yeah, and I don’t know … It’s your job to not blindly take things in. It’s like their objective is more to just share and retweet shit and get fucking traction for that stuff.

The thing about Maggie’s tweets that’s so crazy is that she shared the video without looking into it first, and then she quote-tweeted someone else’s tweet about it, tsk-tsking her followers about how people share things without looking into them first.
Brad: You can just search our names and it’s all like “mischievous internet comedians” and you would know in three seconds.

Nick: It’s also scary because that fucking psycho Mike Cernovich knew ahead of time that we were faking it.

Brad: And he was retweeting our comedy videos …

Nick: Yeah, it was just kind of like “This is fake” or “This isn’t real.” But then these New York Times people and other folks are just buying into the thing.

I have fallen for my share of internet hoaxes and Onion-style nonsense over the years but I am not out there every day promising to be the solemn guardian of our democracy or whatever. If you’re going to fuck around on Twitter all day, and uncritically share stuff without verifying it even if it looks patently insane, then you don’t get to back off that and be a Sage Arbiter of Truth when it pleases you.

A.

Sound Of Lies

“The sound of lies rings funny against the truth.”

Gary Louris, 1997.

When it’s cold, I think of the Jayhawks. They’re based in St. Paul, Minnesota and it doesn’t get much colder than that, y’all. It’s a cold, damp and dreary day in New Orleans but it’s comforting to know it’s colder elsewhere. Cold comfort but comfort, nonetheless.

You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. It’s a frequent phenomenon with my writing. I like to start in one place zigzag about and end up where I started. It’s probably why I like the first segment of Rachel Maddow’s show so much. She does the same thing but at a higher level. I’m just a punster with a small megaphone.

I’ve had Sound Of Lies in my head for several days, but I was inspired to write by a tweet from Matthew Miller who is a Democratic lawyer/MSNBC contributor who was Eric Holder’s spokesman.

The Big Lie is here to stay. Dealing with it seems to baffle the MSM who have a hard time calling a lie a lie. They are getting better at doing so, but the learning curve is particularly steep for the New York Times. It’s not called the Gray Lady for nothing. It’s always been a prim and proper paper. Gray Ladies prefer politer terms for the sort of bald-faced lying that’s in vogue in 2019.

I’m not naive. Politicians, even those I admire, have always lied; sometimes in a good cause, other times to save face. Politicians are human beings and people lie. I was a young political junkie when I heard Jimmy Carter claim that he would never tell a lie if elected president. It was simultaneously implausible and impossible. It helped sow the seeds of his defeat in 1980.

The difference between everyday lies and those told by Trump and his ilk is the degree and extent of their falsehoods. I realize President* Pennywise isn’t much of a reader but even he should know that parable of the boy who cried wolf. Like that boy, Trump has lied so relentlessly that it’s impossible to believe anything he says. Even some MAGA cultists admit that he lies but they don’t care. And I don’t care about them. Wooing them is one lost cause I’m unwilling to take on.

The only weapon against lies is the truth. It’s one reason I’m a bit of a scold when I see people on my side exaggerating and straying from the facts. I’ve stopped doing it on social media because it’s not worth the endless wrangling. A lie is a lie is a lie even if it’s told in a supposedly good cause,

Repeat after me: “The sound of lies rings funny against the truth.”

The last word goes to the Jayhawks:

Above Ideology

Douthat always flaps his mouth-butt when it’s my goddamn turn to blog: 

In the Democratic coalition more than the Republican one, meritocracy and technocracy have long been unifying forces. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama represented somewhat different party factions, but they both embodied wonkery, a vision of competence and expertise governing to some extent above ideology, in which there are assumed to be “correct answers” to policy dilemmas that a disinterested observer could acknowledge and the right technocrat achieve.

Well, when one judges a solution “correct” on the basis of “how many Americans will this solution keep alive,” then yes, Clinton and Obama were “above ideology.” Sure. You fuckwit.

Like what do these people, who are PROFESSIONAL KNOWERS OF POLITICS, think politics IS? What do they think ideology is FOR? I hate more than almost anything else about our current sitch the idea that things can be discounted if they’re “ideological” or “partisan.” Like the whole reason for an ideology is to advocate for the stuff you want done, and you do in fact have ways to evaluate the correctness of that stuff.

I know Pope Douthat, Joseph Ratzinger’s number-one fan, is all about there actually being a right and a wrong, but that doesn’t mean ideology automatically gets in the way of that. Most of the time it helps.

But Sanders is different; he has policy plans, too, but he’s fundamentally a moralist arguing for a politics of righteous struggle, in a way that separates him from Warren as well as from Buttigieg or Bloomberg.

Um, I think part of Bernie’s whole THING is that he has policies he think will bring about his worldview. That he is good at articulating a coherent and moral vision for the future doesn’t mean he has no way to make it happen. What the shit is this. I’m hardly a Bernie fangirl, he’s like my 3rd or 4th choice, but Ross here is calling him a poet as an insult and that’s not all right.

And just as Donald Trump benefited in 2016 — and figures like Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush suffered — from a sense that the G.O.P.’s libertarian and neoconservative intelligentsia bore some responsibility for the double disasters of Iraq and the financial crisis, Sanders benefits from a widespread left-wing disappointment with what the Obama-era politics of expertise produced.

Let’s deal with this in order:

  1. Donald Trump benefited from a four-decade project to nurture racism and white resentment, along with a 24-hour propaganda network devoted to treating him like the second coming.
  2. THEY ACTUALLY WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT SHIT, THERE WAS NO “SENSE” THAT THEY BORE “SOME” RESPONSIBILITY. THEY DID ALL THOSE THINGS ON PURPOSE, AND THE DUMB RACISTS CHEERED THEM, AND NOW THEY’RE CHEERING TRUMP. I’M SORRY I’M YELLING BUT YOU TELL ME, WITH THIS. JESUS SHIT.

Donald Trump did not win because people didn’t want a technocrat no more. He won because white people went insane as a result of having to listen to a black man try to give them most of what they wanted for eight really short years.

So if the exhaustion with technocracy makes a socialist a viable nominee, that exhaustion plus a solid economy explains why the socialist may yet fall to an even more archaic breed — a party politician.

Why is that bad? Why … are we just supposed to accept that as bad? Why is “partisan” not a set of solutions (that may or may not be, gasp, correct) but some kind of disqualification? Why are politicians only rewarded for not being part of the party they’re a part of? I do not GET this.

I mean, it’s Ross, so it’s always possible he’s just an idiot. There’s always that option out there.

A.

Language

Before I became an internet pundit, I occasionally wrote letters to the editor. I had a few published but was always annoyed with the end results. I gave it up when the Picayune so twisted my meaning on a long-forgotten subject that a conservative friend asked if I’d defected to his side. He was disappointed to learn that I had not jumped ship.

That was a long way of saying that I’m quoting a letter to the editor by 33 prominent writers. In this case, the meaning is clear. They want the New York Times and their MSM colleagues to use different language to describe the Trump scandals:

Please stop using the Latin phrase “quid pro quo” regarding the impeachment inquiry. Most people don’t understand what it means, and in any case it doesn’t refer only to a crime. Asking for a favor is not a criminal act; we frequently demand things from foreign countries before giving them aid, like asking them to improve their human rights record.

That is not a crime; the crime is President Trump’s demand for something that will benefit him personally. But using this neutral phrase — which means simply “this for that” — as synonymous with criminality is confusing to the public. It makes the case more complicated, more open to question and more difficult to plead.

Please use words that refer only to criminal behavior here. Use “bribery” or “extortion” to describe Mr. Trump’s demand to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, making it very clear that this is a crime. The more we hear words that carry moral imputations, the more we understand the criminal nature of the act.

As you know, I rarely, if ever, make moral arguments. In this instance, the strongest argument is for clarity. The Trump-Zelensky call reeks of extortion and attempts to bribe the latter with money already allocated to his government by Congress. It’s also called wire fraud. Those are all words that people understand. Latin is for legal eagles and Catholic clerics. It does not soar with the vox populi, I mean, general public.

Words matter. Language is important, especially in this age of obfuscation, truthiness, and newspeak. George Orwell summed it up best 73 years ago in his classic essay, Politics and the English Language. Here are a few pertinent passages. I’m snipping some specific examples to boil Orwell’s argument down to its essence.

In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible. <SNIP> Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness.

<SNIP>

The inflated style itself is a kind of euphemism. A mass of Latin words falls upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outline and covering up all the details. The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink. In our age there is no such thing as ‘keeping out of politics’. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia. When the general atmosphere is bad, language must suffer.

News reporters should keep it simple and leave the lofty language and exaggerated metaphors to the pundits. Above all else, skip the Latin and call a bribe a bribe and extortion extortion. Enough with the quid pro quos.

The last word goes to Kiwi rock demigod Dave Dobbyn:

Name. The. Problem.

No, not racism. For once. Well, kind of racism. Gimme a sec here, Pete. 

Do you wanna know something about partisanship? Partisanship is good. Partisanship is the whole reason we have a democracy. I have no interest in finding common ground with fucking Trump voters or with other assorted white supremacists. I have no interest in making sure those groups don’t feel demonized. I have no interest in making them feel COMFORTABLE when they have made so many Americans, and the world beyond, feel the precise opposite. I’m allowed to be angry at the state of things and I’m sure as hell allowed to loudly call out those responsible for it. I want to vehemently oppose those people, and guess what? I live in a country where I’m free to do that. I don’t like being told I’m out of line for doing so. So you’ll excuse me if I’m not exactly inspired by some South Bend pud who has no stomach for that fight, and doesn’t want me to have it either.

The usual caveats apply here: Pete is not remotely a problem in the way literally any Republican is, and would in fact probably be fine as president, and if he is our nominee I will enthusiastically vote and campaign for him because I’m not a fucking child.

But we are not having problems in this country because we are too partisan. We are not too divided. We do not hate each other too much. This isn’t about our feelings. This is about how we just got laid off and our parents got deported and our health insurance costs $5,000 a month to pay for nothing if we get hit by a bus and we can’t afford to work if we have kids and we can’t afford not to work if we have kids and when are you going to have kids already, you’re not getting any younger, and if you live in the country you’re a dumb hick and if you live in the city you’re a commie and oh, by the way, your street hasn’t been repaired since 1989 because we can’t afford it, vote to cut taxes again please.

Those problems are not “partisanship.” They’re not “division.”

We’ve been told so many times that our society is polarized because polarization just happened, probably because of our phones and social media, as if Facebook magically makes you mean and racist as opposed to exposing you to what your nice Aunt Jean-Marie really thinks. We hear this so many times from so many people we actually think it’s true.

It’s not true.

We’re “more polarized” because for once a whole hell of a lot more of us are being heard and the things we’re hearing about from our fellow Americans fucking suck and we’re feeling the urge to do something about it and the people in charge cannot have that.

So we hear about how bad it is to hear from so many people, about so many things they care about.

We hear that we’re so divided now. But we’ve always been divided and the problems we are having are not because of that that division. They’re because we’re being told any solution to the problem is beyond us and so all that’s left is to get madder and madder. When you let people tell you what’s wrong — and that’s over, cats and kittens, you can’t stop the signal — and then tell them to just, like, sit with that? Because we just, I dunno, can’t, or whatever, you wind up with the kind of rage that we’re seeing now.

And that rage frightens people. I get it, I’m a middle class white chick, I am likely first up against the wall, but my fear isn’t, you know, a thing I get to project on everybody else by telling them to sit down and shut up.

So the next time someone tells you the problem is we’re just too divided, ask them to articulate what that means, what that really means. And if they bring up some cable news asshole or Trump or someone speaking Spanish in the store, or sputter that this is just something everybody knows, then you’ll know you aren’t actually dealing with any kind of problem, and you don’t need to worry about their concerns.

Push on. We’ve got real things to do here. We have a limited amount of time on this planet and spending it worried that the cable news audience is upset is not, shall we say, a good use.

A.

These Things Are Home

You don’t have to do this: 

Herridge’s CBS hire follows the more widely reported departure of Shepard Smith in early October, but the news about her transition over to network was muted by the more alarming development that the news website Deadspin effectively ceased to exist.

That the demise of a news site staffed by around 20 journalists would send out a larger hue and cry than the defection of a long-tenured reporter from Fox News to the news organization that brings us “60 Minutes” tells us something about that state of media as it struggles to exist today. Given the size and reach of Fox News relative to that of Deadspin, one would think the Herridge transition would merit bigger play.

The reason it hasn’t is because of the sheer defiant bravery of what the staff of Deadspin did in reaction to an abrupt, senseless shift in editorial direction imposed by the site’s new parent company G/0 Media.

As of Friday, every single one of its nearly 20 journalists resigned in reaction to the firing of its interim editor-in-chief, Barry Petchesky, when Petchesky refused to follow the mandate imposed by the site’s parent company G/0 Media.

The new owners dictated that culture and politics coverage would be handled by other sites in the G/O Media family, even though content that is not specifically sports-related often outperformed the site’s sports content.

“Programming note: My Kinja access has been revoked. I apologize for any and all spelling and grammar errors, as I cannot fix them,” tweeted former staffer Diana Moskovitz, apparently the one who turned off the lights on her way out. “From here on out, all content published on Deadspin is not us. I hope we sent out Deadspin right. We did our best.”

Look. People have mortgages and people who depend on them, they have scary health conditions, I’m not out here saying GET IN THE STREETS FOR THE REVOLUTION YOU LAZY ASSHOLES. I’ve done things I don’t agree with (I shudder at the thought of some of the hands I’ve shaken at parties) so I won’t get fired because my kid needs to eat and oh hey, so do I.

If you’re at a job where you’re keeping quiet about things you don’t like because you can’t live without the work, that’s between you and whatever god you pray to.

But if you’re out here talking about how shitty it all is? If you’re out there wringing your hands and lamenting in blind items about OH WHAT HAVE WE BECOME IF ONLY THERE WAS SOMETHING I COULD DO, um. You’ll pardon me if I speak up and say yes, there is something you can do.

One can understand why reporters on its hard news side may stay where they are despite the flurry of anonymous complaints to media reporters about plummeting morale and the horror at whatever Tucker Carlson said last night about Adam Schiff and bodily fluids. Attempting to practice journalism at Fox News may be a thankless job, but it’s one that pays better than most jobs in journalism or elsewhere.

For those aspiring to do work with journalistic integrity, there must come a point at which the effort to dig up facts and produce data-driven stories feels fruitless when a few hours later the talking heads on the other side of the office are ignoring that work exists. Not merely that, but perpetuating conspiracy theories, questioning the patriotism of decorated veterans, and maligning elected officials who refuse to cater to Donald Trump’s whims.

There’s something you can do about the fascism.

There’s something you can do about the greed.

There’s something you can do about the stupidity.

And it’s quit.

Quit, and go build something better. Quit, and go do literally anything else. Quit, and go work for somebody who doesn’t make you want to tear off your own head and eat it. Quit. Quit quit quit quit quit.

If you’re a relatively high-up executive in TV news these days you have opportunities a bunch of online sports reporters don’t. If what is happening to you is utterly intolerable and you’re saying so to the gossip columnists, you can pack your shit and go.

Or you can shut the fuck up about woe is you. Your choice.

It’s been a while since we had an example of a group of people saying shove your bullshit, the way that the Deadspin staff did. It’s been a while but once they did it, the response from everybody dancing on their graves before dirt was even tamped down was predictable and sad.

“They’re all trust fund babies,” went one argument and “stupid idiots should just do what their bosses told them” went another and under both you could hear the simmering shame that courage often engenders in those smart enough to recognize it but too chickenshit to emulate it.

We are not obligated to be therapists for the poor Fox News journalists just appalled at what is going on, making them and everyone else complicit in this regime feel better by saying “it’s okay that you’re betraying your principles and really, kind of, your country, even though you have enough money saved to tell your company to fuck off.” If they didn’t have an example of what else they could do to handle this, they sure as shit do now.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: All That You Dream

Drawing for Dante’s Divine Comedy by William Blake.

The weather has been wacked out this week in New Orleans. The temperature dropped 40 degrees in 24 hours. Mother Nature decided to skip fall and move on to winter. That means I’m looking for my winter clothes and turning on the heater early this year. That usually happens after Thanksgiving. Mother Nature is a card.

The response on social media to my Paul Barrere tribute has warmed my icy blue heart. Paul deserved no less. This week’s theme song was written by Paul and Billy Payne for Little Feat’s 1975 release, The Last Record Album.

We have three versions of All That You Dream for your listening pleasure: the Little Feat original with Lowell George on lead vox, a 2010 live version with Paul singing lead, and a 1978 cover by Linda Ronstadt.

It’s time to awaken from our collective dream and jump to the break.

Continue reading