Monday, July 14, 2008


PATERNALIST PET: The chattering classes today have their panties in a bunch today over the new cover of The New Yorker.

By Wolf Blitzer’s tone today you’d think the whole election now hinges on the New Yorker magazine cover lampooning, er, ... well maybe that’s the problem- what is being lampooned may depend on anything from one’s political affiliation to what they ate for breakfast.

But today’s political orthodoxy maintains that it feeds false allegations about Barack Obama that unfortunately some people believe. And is therefore anything from in bad taste to a despicable reinforcement of the closely held beliefs of the uninformed.

And not just nation-wide but locally the blogs are a-twitter too with a provocative posts like the elocutiously eclectic Joltin’ Joan Conrow’s regarding the NYer cover and on-line “citizen-journalism” which has tangentially evolved into a discussion of whether journalists should be licensed.

Another post at Disappeared News today reports on Disappeared humor and cites Undernews’ Sam Smith’s poking a little fun at the “outrage” of posters at some humorless liberal web sites like Huffington Post, while Joan reports on the fear and loathing at the sycophantic Daily Kos and other Democratic Party pissing parties.

But in every single comment on TV and every story in the newspapers, from the political blogs to the Obama and McCain campaign sites, whether from pundit or news consumers’ comments, they all agrees on one thing - “some people” will not see the cartoon as satire but as depicting the truth because they are “not as smart as us”

So just where are all these dumb people and why haven’t we heard from them? If you listen to the pontificating press you’d think that half the country believes that Barack Obama is an anti-American, Muslim terrorist because their brother-in-law sent them an email. Yet no one has bothered to dig one of those people up to interview him or her and prove their hypothesis.

It’s the same complaint used to bemoan the lack of accuracy and the resulting misinformation supposedly spread by on-line pseudo-journalists who aren’t “qualified” to tell us what the news is, which may be at the unintended heart of Joan’s piece today.

The thinking apparently goes something like this: People are too dumb to do critical reading and are just believing anything they read. But while there must be someone out there that is so stupid they absorb bullcrap like a sponge, most read through the filter of their own beliefs and experiences no matter what others report.

Now we’ll grant and in fact promote the concept that unbending unquestioned “belief” in place of knowledge is a semi-moronic endeavor. But those filters and the results of the filtering is not what we keep hearing about these “other people”.

Somehow they all quite obviously have a mental image of this guy:

“Hi- I’m Cletus. I’m a toothless knuckle-dragging, slack-jaw and I seed that thar NYer pi’ture and I says to mah Mable Sue I says ‘see I tol’ ya all that stuff was true. Why now even them liberals in New York City admit that Obomber is a flag bunin’ a-rab and his wife is a black panther-lovin’, afro-wearing Angela Davis.’”

That’s got to be the meat and potatoes of what those who can’t seem to remember where they left their sense of humor- a malady effecting many millions more than the one afflicting our depicted every-cave-man- are saying about the cartoon as well as other depictions and characterizations.... “I know better but what will others who aren’t as smart as me think?”

Everyone seems to think there are people “out there”- not me, mind you- who can’t tell fact from fiction and they are being manipulated by others who are now out-of-control with the ubiquitousness of the internet.

Never mind the fact that these brain dead squawkers at the corporate news networks and print dailies create their own echo chamber filled with utter crap that’s bought and paid for by their advertisers and pals in government. They and only they have the paternalistic right to protect people from what they might find out from friends and neighbors because only we professionals have the psychic ability to tell when we are being scammed.

For every “Obama is a secret Muslim” email there are 10 exposing the corruption of the press- the lowering of our standards and the corporate control that has caused investigative journalism and fighting corporate and governmental corruption to be a figment of past imaginations.

But what’s a little discarded baby when there’s so much bathwater to toss?

Joan makes the point that reporting is not as easy as it seems. Research and the search for the facts can be trying and difficult. Daily ethical dilemmas are part of the territory. It takes a great deal of experience and more than a basic knowledge of communications and story telling.

But it also takes a lot of those abilities to read- and it always has. The only difference with the internet and bloggers is that there are a lot more to chose from for the critical reader.

Sounds like what we’re hearing from many is that perhaps we should license not just newswriting but news reading too. Then we’ll all have one way of disseminating and receiving information and there will be no room for that awful “interpretation” stuff.

Will the real idiot please step forward? Or will one of you great informed, never-misled, “professional” journalists out there who never tire of pointing out the uninformed and misinformed nature of the “great unwashed”- those getting their news from someone other than you and your corporate masters- seek out one of these “dumb guys” for an interview? Perhaps you can start in the Situation Room.


Anonymous said...

At least some on the left have the good sense to be embarrassed by Angela Davis.

Anonymous said...

"The new poll suggests white voters continue to be a challenge for Obama, with McCain leading the Democrat in that category 48 to 36 percent. Some of Obama's lag in white support may be explained by continual confusion over his religious identity. Twelve percent of voters surveyed said that Obama was sworn in as a United States senator on a Qur'an, while 26 percent believe the Democratic candidate was raised as a Muslim and 39 percent believe he attended an Islamic school as a child growing up in Indonesia. None of these things is true."

Newsweek story here:

Are you suggesting Newsweek is making this up?

The actual poll:

1200+ real people called and interviewed.

question 16 on page 8 is the source of the data re the dis info.

and here's a Youtube for you Andy.

do a little work sometimes before you pop off with this sort of crap:

"So just where are all these dumb people and why haven’t we heard from them? If you listen to the pontificating press you’d think that half the country believes that Barack Obama is an anti-American, Muslim terrorist because their brother-in-law sent them an email. Yet no one has bothered to dig one of those people up to interview him or her and prove their hypothesis"

took <5 min to get this info...

Andy Parx said...

Based on a comment above, I might have glossed over too much the fact that there are a group of people- and I’m not sure how the Newsweek poll was conducted so can’t vouch for its accuracy- who will filter the factual material about Obama through enough “beliefs” that no amount of correct information will change their minds.

But by definition that’s not who those who deride the cartoon are talking about because they objections presume that these people are just not “educated” as to the facts yet and would “learn the truth” if this type of “too tongue in cheek” thing wasn’t published..

There is a set of people in every population who will never be educated on certain matters because they don’t want to be. Heck there are millions who believe bush/Chaney were telling the truth in the run up to Iraq. But they are not the ones who people think will have their ideas reinforced by the cartoon whereas otherwise they might all of a sudden WANT TO learn the facts. They are rather the uneducable and are not part of the equation for those who claim the cartoon reinforces their misperception that needs to be corrected.

Anonymous said...

Smug and lazy.

2 seconds to google Princeton Research and you'd find:

Page 10 has a bit of info re their methodology.

Hiding behind "I'm not sure how the Newsweek poll was conducted" to absolve oneself of the glib dismissal and factually inaccurate heart of this argument is par(x) for the course.

You're lazy Andy. You have sharp elbows and sharp opinions and rarely let facts get in the way of your own soap box viewpoint.

This is a flap over not much because the 24/7 psuedo-news cycle must be fed, but this picture will be used by the Swift Boaters and the ignoramuses they prey on within a few days. The same sort of RW, Rush listening, Christianist fools that send us all the e-mails that this cartoon is spoofing will be passing it around.

Jules Siegel did an excellent photoshop of what they should have published. The actual NY cover appearing out of cigar smoke from Rush Limbot's mouth.

Katy Rose said...

I don't think they want to be identified as New Yorker readers, so I'd be surprised if the Limbots will be passing it around.

It's so obviously an over-the-top satirical spoof I don't think it will do them much good.

I recall t-shirts and so forth back in '92 which read something like "I'm voting for a pot-smoking draft-dodging womanizer!" So, you know...

I don't think this will add up to a hill of beans, personally.

Anonymous said...

Katy -- you don't understand the brighter limbots.

They'll be running around saying "even libruls in NY know he's a Muslim".

The Swift Boat liars were highly educated people with piles of self made cash. T. Boone Pickens for one. These people are carefully calculating in how they use their racism and anti-progressive smears to protect their economic interests.

But it is indeed a tempest in a teapot.