Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Trump’s Illness Isn’t an Illness

Look, even if this shit was effective (and it’s not) it would still be hot garbage:

Trump is not a bad president because he can’t walk very fast or needs to use two hands to drink water or occasionally slurs his words. He’s a bad president because he’s appointed bad people to every job in the land and is spouting white supremacist nonsense every single day. If he was doing it from a body that looked like Arnold’s in his prime it wouldn’t make it any less horrifying.

(I get it, guys, he’s said the same things about Biden. Fine, fuck him. But for what it’s worth I’ve heard the most ableist shit about Biden from leftists during the primary, not from the GOP.)

This kind of crap tells people that a person can’t do the job if they can’t walk fast enough. If they can’t stand for long periods of time, or need assistance with eating or drinking. FDR didn’t need any help winning World War II from a wheelchair, and I’d take him in a heartbeat over what we have now. George Washington presidented while having the flu and a tumor in his leg plus whatever gnarly-ass stuff his teeth were doing, and he did well enough. Maybe someday we’ll have a president who uses a cane or a chair or something else and as long as they’re not retweeting deepfake wingnut conspiracies on the can nobody should care one bit how they get around.

I don’t want the president who does in fact need a golf cart to get from here or there to be prevented from having one because we’re more focused, literally, on the journey than the destination.

Which is what this kind of stuff gets in the way of. We rail against political coverage as fashion criticism all the time, that’s nothing new, the criticizing of who wore more flag pins or whatever we think will rile up the rubes. This is more insidious. Because there’s no physical standard (it’s not like being a firefighter and having to run up 10 flights of stairs) all we have to go on is our image of the past holders of the office and the stuff we project.

Right now we’re projecting hella bullshit and we need to stop.

A.

Local Journalism

Whenever someone’s shrieking about SAVE LOCAL JOURNALISM I think of things like this, wherein apparently nobody could Google anything [loud annoying autoplay live feed at link because no journalist has ever considered UX in any way at all]: 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A peaceful protest against human trafficking in Grand Rapids brought a frequently forgotten criminal business to the forefront.

Wherever there are people, there is the potential for human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The department says thousands of cases are reported every year, though many cases go unnoticed.

It’s a cause that compelled the folks along Monroe Avenue to make a stand.

“I’m really impressed with all the people out here,” said Kim Mol of Hudsonville. “They are for save the children!”

This is, of course, that horrible Q bullshit, and the protesters aren’t exactly trying to hide it. They’re counting on exactly this kind of credulous coverage because who, I ask you, could be against awareness of child trafficking? Who the hell doesn’t want to save the children?

(Awareness campaigns generally make me itch, unless it’s something we’re truly not aware of. Buying a $700 backpack or whatever doesn’t actually cure cancer and if you’re not aware that cancer exists you’re living in a dream world. Coronavirus being a real thing could use some awareness, but that’s nothing compared to a bunch of maskless honkies screaming on the street about a nationwide conspiracy of pedophiles.)

I’m not trying to pick on this one reporter. I am saying that we have what are basically keyboard macros masquerading as news stories happening. Protesters “clash” with police. “Police-involved shooting,” that’s one I scream about whenever I see it. Something “raises questions” or “ignites a firestorm of controversy.” Politicians “trade barbs” or “exchange accusations.”

We have all these ways of backing into a story by telling you it’s the same as every other story and none of it means anything. It’s not an exaggeration to say that our inability to give up on the way we’ve always written and talked about everything, our overarching laziness, is how we got where we are.

Watching ten minutes of morning local news (as I sometimes do when trapped in a place of business that hates its customers and wants them to be miserable) is a really, really good way to figure out how people vote Republican. Let’s keep poking this one station, shall we: 

PLYMOUTH, Pa. — Black and white American flag lawn signs dot properties all over Plymouth.

If you look closely, you’ll see the signs support fire, ambulance, and police.

Harmless fun! Raises money for a local volunteer firefighting company! Literally began as a response to Black Lives Matter and is an expression of belligerent hostility co-opted by well-meaning people who just want to support their cousin who’s a cop! There are layers and layers to this and none of those layers lend themselves to the kind of story you have to do in 30 seconds between videos of pets up for adoption.

Here’s some MORE credulous coverage of crazy shit: 

Trump also said the harsh restrictions put in place for the pandemic were politically driven by the Democrats.

“They don’t want Donald Trump at the Mohegan Sun Arena with 20,000 people there,” said Frank Scavo, a long time Republican. “So they just collapse it down and say okay 25 percent, no more than 250.”

Nowhere, in the story, NOWHERE, is it mentioned that this is IMPOSSIBLE and NOT TRUE and what the fucking fuck generally. That is bugfuck crazy nutso time. That is BONKERS. On its face.

Whenever I hear about how we need to root out deliberate misinformation and Russian bot Facebook/Twitter campaigns I think about how much low-level bullshit there is in the local news we’re meant to lionize. Thinking uncritically about SAVE LOCAL NEWS means support this the same way you’d give to your local nonprofit shop, and that makes less sense than those QAnon idiots up there.

A.

We’re Gonna Get a Really Bitchin’ Book Out of This

Just STOP:

God, political journalism is so stupid right now. Between grownass people yelling SCOOOOOOOOOP at the beginning of all their tweets like goddamn children, like anyone cares, like if it’s really that big a revelation it’ll speak for itself, and now this nonsense courtesy of HBO and its wee Hannibal Lecters who think their role is to describe the foam in which they deliberately flip, it’s no wonder people are mad and scared and susceptible to ridiculousness on the internet.

Ten minutes of morning news and you understand in a visceral way why people vote Republican, much less this crap. What are you telling us that’s NEW, beyond “president opens mouth hole, vomits nonsense,” which to be honest ain’t a scoop anywheres but up your own ass. How are you HELPING here?

The replies to this are full of “but what are we supposed to do, this is our job, to point a camera at a thing and nod thoughtfully” and it would just be pathetically hilarious if people weren’t dying. Is it even possible to rethink what you’re doing, or are you just a parrot that yawps “not our role!” anytime anyone asks you to do a job?

Is there EVEN a way to do journalism without sitting in a chair in front of someone standing at a microphone lying to you? You went to an Ivy for 400 years to do that?

And the GLEE. That’s the thing that gets me. It’s the excited WHEEE CHAOS tone of all these stupid clips, like how great it is that you scooped the world on how the president is a monster idiot asshole who has killed 165,000 people plus. I’m not gonna tell you not to make your bones on the backs of their deaths but can you not STRUT while you do it, you fuckin’ peacocks?

No career is worth someone’s grandmother dying alone while her family watches on FaceTime, good Christ, have the sensitivity God gave a carrot. Keep the sociopathic shit in your group chat where it belongs and nobody will judge you.

A.

Enough Money

AMAZING: 

He said he was optimistic because readers have become accustomed to paying for online content, noting the sports fans who subscribe to The Athletic. He added that vendors like Pico, Stripe and MailChimp have made it easier for media companies to outsource business functions. In addition, he said, the thinning of newspaper sports sections, the dissolution of ESPN the Magazine and layoffs at Sports Illustrated may have created a vacuum.

Defector staff members said they did not expect the kind of growth coveted by the venture capitalists who have increasingly dominated online journalism. Rather, they said, they hoped to be able to pay themselves competitive salaries while developing a sustainable media business that produces content they are interested in.

What if you could pay your bills and yourselves and that was like, okay? What if you weren’t tying yourself into knots to appease some bullshit trust-fund asshole who wants you to show an 18 percent margin or you’re all fired? What if you just, like, did the job you said you were gonna do and it was cool?

I mean goddamn. I am not trying to be a sarcastic bitch, but my entree into journalism was at a nonprofit, where if we had literally 10 cents more in the bank than we needed it was Christmas fuckin’ morning. It wasn’t, say, a COMFORTABLE way to live, I’m pretty sure I still have anxiety about money based on those three years alone, but we made it work and published what we needed to publish.

I cannot fathom where most of legacy journalism is right now, with money out the ass for investors and profit margins that would make Walmart blush, furloughing reporters while the world is on fire. How can you, with a straight face, tell people there’s no money to pay them when you’re paying your last sexually harassative exec $15 million to get himself gone?

Why did this industry allow that kind of thing to make sense for so long?

God, I’m glad to see people just fucking going for it. Even the tone of this story is different than it would have been five years ago. There’s less skepticism, less gratuitous bitchery about “wowee, a new model” and maybe things have just finally gotten bad enough everywhere that people are noticing this is an insane way to live.

I wish so many good papers and good reporters hadn’t had to die broke while we figured this out.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

God, I love it when fascist amateurs fall on their keys like this: 

Unions for city police officers, firefighters and corrections officers have sued New York City to stop the disclosure of most of these and other disciplinary records. The unions objected to the release of any cases other than “proven and final disciplinary matters.” That would exclude the vast majority of complaints against officers.

“We are defending privacy, integrity and the unsullied reputations of thousands of hard-working public safety employees,” a union spokesman said on the filing of the lawsuit.

On Wednesday, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the city, including the CCRB, from releasing disciplinary records. Judge Katherine Polk Failla also barred the New York Civil Liberties Union from disclosing data it had obtained. ProPublica has not been a party to the case and is not subject to the order by Failla, who has scheduled a hearing for next month.

I will DIE LAUGHING. They didn’t name ProPublica in the suit. They forgot to forbid the NEWS ORGANIZATION from publishing that which they did not want the public to know. They were like GOTCHA NOW NY ACLU, NO FREEDOMS FOR YOU and meanwhile PP was over here just whistling as they worked.

HERF ERF ERF I WONDER IF WE SHOULD ASK THE PEOPLE WHO PUBLISH STUFF NOT TO PUBLISH OR JUST KEEP BITCHING OUT THE CITY.

One of the things I really miss about journalism is how much critical information gets out because people are really fucking stupid. I remember when a local police department started redacting the reports they gave us, and they did it by making copies of the reports for themselves, then using a Sharpie to mark over the originals and SHOWING US THE ORIGINALS. To which you could hold the light, or turn them over, and read everything they didn’t want you to see right through the paper. I thought my city editor was going to hyperventilate to death with hilarity.

Sometimes great journalism comes from skill and sometimes it’s courage (yours or a source’s) but a lot of the time it’s that government and law enforcement are run by absolute clowns who trip over their own giant shoes while falling out of their tiny, honking cars.

A.

Young People Need MONEY

I know, I know it’s Douthat, but for fuck’s sake: 

The scholar Peter Turchin of the University of Connecticut, whose work on the cycles of American history may have predicted this year’s unrest, has a phrase that describes part of this dynamic: the “overproduction of elites.” In the context of college admissions that means exactly what it sounds like: We’ve had a surplus of smart young Americans pursuing admission to a narrow list of elite colleges whose enrollment doesn’t expand with population, even as foreign students increasingly compete for the same stagnant share of slots.

Then, having run this gantlet, our meritocrats graduate into a big-city ecosystem where the price of adult goods like schools and housing has been bid up dramatically, while important cultural industries — especially academia and journalism — supply fewer jobs even in good economic times. And they live half in these crowded, over-competitive worlds and half on the internet, which has extended the competition for status almost infinitely and weakened some of the normal ways that local prestige might compensate for disappointing income.

YOU WORK FOR THE NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES. By your own measure, you are the problem. If there was proof there isn’t a meritocracy at all, it’s your complete entire existence.

The problem isn’t that college students graduate and go live in the big exciting sinful city instead of in Beaver County, Iowa, where they could get a house for nothing. For what it’s worth plenty of young people do that, and Douthat is welcome to quit his lofty sinecure in the biggest city in the country and move to some virtuous community where housing is cheap and plentiful and everyone is married with children by 35.

I’m sure the local college would be thrilled to have him teach there, and he could scold 21-year-olds in person for wanting to live someplace where they could get a job. “The Internet” is not to blame for people wanting to live in cities. A powerful need to EAT is. That the city job doesn’t provide that isn’t the fault of tall buildings and small apartments.

For instance, it was the frequent boast of Obama-era liberalism that it had restored certain bourgeois virtues — delayed childbearing, stable marriages — without requiring anything so anachronistic as Christianity or courtship rituals. But if your bourgeois order is built on a cycle of competition and reward, and the competition gets fiercer while the rewards diminish, then instead of young people hooking up safely on the way to a lucrative job and a dual-income marriage with 2.1 kids, you’ll get young people set adrift, unable to pair off, postponing marriage permanently while they wait for a stability that never comes.

CHRIST, what an asshole. Not everybody views marriage and children as a reward. Christianity and courtship rituals have fuckall to do with getting paid. Which is what everybody really needs to be happy. This isn’t some kind of crisis of FEELINGS we’re having. It’s that everybody’s fucking BROKE.

Young people have, quite rightly, noted that it fucking blows to have kids when you’re poor. It blows to be house-poor, car-poor, poor in general. It’s awful. And so they have taken the steps they were told to take to prevent poverty, and they’re still taking those steps. This isn’t hard. What is hard, apparently, is reading comprehension:

Which brings us to the subject invoked in this column’s title — the increasing appeal, to these unhappy young people and to their parents and educators as well, of an emergent ideology that accuses many of them of embodying white privilege, and of being “fragile,” in the words of the now-famous anti-racism consultant Robin DiAngelo, if they object or disagree.

That is not remotely what DiAngelo’s book is about. It is about the freakout that occurs whenever someone says, “hey, that was a racist thing you did,” the immediate need to scream I’M NOT A RACIST as if you’ve been called a poopyhead on the playground. It’s not about how allyship is the new Christianity, which I think is what he’s blithering on about here:

Part of this ideology’s appeal is clearly about meaning and morality: The new anti-racism has a confessional, religious energy that the secular meritocracy has always lacked.

Plenty of Christianity has always been anti-racist if you’re not a fuckwit. NOT BEING A RACIST PIECE OF SHIT is not an attempt to feel better about oneself. That’s pretty much exactly the opposite of what it’s about, as the kind of self-examination to see if you’ve done any racism lately usually leads to feeling pretty much like garbage, but again, that’s not the point.

The point is making other people’s LIVES better. I know nothing can get inside Douthat’s sweatervest anymore but out here in the actual city, people are trying to, you know, NOT GET KILLED OR EVICTED OR DIE OF A PREVENTABLE PANDEMIC. This doesn’t mean they’re eager to declare themselves anti-racist soyboys or whatever he’s on about here.

Honestly, I’ve read this column three times and all I can think is that everyone at the NYT should be banned from writing about elite education for six weeks. Find a new beat or STFU.

A.

‘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.