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Ed Driscoll

Oh, That Liberal Media!

The era of media that former President Obama nostalgically longs for.

Bill Clinton understandably believes his fellow Democrats with bylines “are de facto allies,” as the Washington Post put it in 2006. So when a Democrat starts crying media bias, you know he’s in big trouble. Al Gore at least waited until after the 2002 midterms to blame the media for his party’s woes at the ballot box. Ditto Frank Rich, then still with the New York Times, in December of 2010. Yesterday, the growing disconnect between former President Obama’s mouth and brain caused him to get a couple of months ahead of the curve in that department, while fundraising in upstate New York in between golf games and late-night bull sessions with actors and musicians:

President Obama on Friday said social media and the nightly news are partly to blame for the sense that “the world is falling apart.”

“I can see why a lot of folks are troubled,” Obama told a group of donors gathered at a Democratic National Committee barbecue in Purchase, N.Y.

But the president said that current foreign policy crises across the world are not comparable to the challenges the U.S. faced during the Cold War.

Acknowledging “the barbarity” of Islamist militants and Russia “reasserting the notion that might means right,” Obama, though, dismissed the notion that he was facing unprecedented challenges.

“The world’s always been messy … we’re just noticing now in part because of social media,” he said, according to a White House pool report.

As my colleague Rick Moran quips, “Hear that, you twitterers? You’ve already ruined our president’s vacation. Now you want to go and scare people half to death by reporting on events around the world? Shame on you!”

This isn’t the first time the man who wafted into the Oval Office in 2008 based on a tissue-paper thin resume and massive amounts of help from social media — and big media as well — has lashed out at social media. Obama’s words yesterday confirm an initially surprising admission from Chuck Todd (no stranger to propping up Democrat election campaigns himself) on NBC’s Meet the Press in April of last year, the day after the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner:

CHUCK TODD: What I wonder how many people realized at the end [of Saturday's White House Correspondents' Dinner] when he did his, you know, there’s always this part at the end where they get serious for a minute. And it’s usually the part where presidents say, “You know, I think the press has a good job to do and I understand what they have to do.” He didn’t say that. He wasn’t very complimentary of the press. You know, we all can do better.

It did seem, I thought his pot shots joke wise and then the serious stuff about the internet, the rise of the internet media and social media and all that stuff — he hates it. Okay? He hates this part of the media. He really thinks that the sort of the buzzification — this isn’t just about Buzzfeed or Politico and all this stuff – he thinks that sort of coverage of political media has hurt political discourse. He hates it. And I think he was trying to make that clear last night.

As the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters added back then:

Todd was likely quite correct, but chose not to disclose why Obama hates new media. It’s because most of it isn’t in the tank for this President and can’t be controlled by him.

That’s obviously not true of folks such as Todd and his colleagues in the old media who echo the current White House resident’s talking points, mercilessly attack his opponents, and cover for his missteps.

Exactly. As we saw in 2008, it was relatively easy to control the MSM via Ezra Klein’s JournoList, the self-described “non-official campaign” to elect Mr. Obama, which threatened anyone who refused to toe the party line with smears of racism and crude locker room-style threats of violence. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to convince CNN to build “The Wright-Free Zone” and airbrush one of Obama’s biggest influences and his racist rhetoric out of the news cycle. (Ditto the New York Times.) It was easy to get Tom Brokaw and Charlie Rose to lie in late October of 2008 that they didn’t know much about Obama’s far left worldview.

Outside of America’s monolithic old media though, “the power of the hashtag” doesn’t go far in convincing Vladimir Putin not to experiment with the power of the armored personnel carrier and the AK-47 in Ukraine. Nor does it do much to prevent ISIS from uploading snuff films onto the Internet and trolling for new American recruits online.

John Kerry was blindsided by the Blogosphere in 2004; evidently, he thought the news media had been freeze-dried in 1972, when there were only three TV networks, and he could smear American troops fighting in Vietnam with impunity. Mr. Obama, compared to FDR by Time magazine and JFK by Kennedy’s jaded descendents, similarly wishes, like those mid-20th century leaders, that he only had a handful of national media outlets to deal with. Thankfully though, the Internet is much more diversified than the American media of the mid-20th century. There’s a downside to that, as the horrific images this summer from Iraq and Syria have demonstrated. But then, Mr. Obama should have realized that the real world is a messy, dangerous place, even more so than a college dorm room after a midnight bull session, when he ran for the White House in the first place.

Related: “Reassurance From Alfred E. Obama,” via Tom Maguire: “He’s right! The original Cold War is over, and we aren’t protesting the Vietnam war or eyeballing Russia over nukes in Cuba (or Germany)! So, per Obama, are you better off now than you were forty years ago?”

Update:
Steve Green tweets:

Heh. Attaaaaaaack Waaaaaaaaaatch and the NSF’s Central Scrutinzer-esque “Truthy” project could not be reached for comment and/or wiretapping.

Say what you will about the man, but at least until today, the one thing Obama could do reasonably well was look sharp in a suit — hence all of the “clothes have no emperor” gags, dating back to 2008 when conservative blogs attempted to warn voters, Cassandra-like in retrospect, to think twice about the national purgatory they were about to inflict upon America. (And it’s actually not a bad suit; but it is such a dreadful choice when you’re trying to project power on the world stage that you have to wonder if he chose it deliberately for that purpose. But to paraphrase Hanlon’s Razor, never attribute to conspiracy that which is adequately explained by incompetence.)

Of course, today’s tweet was only a matter of time from Esquire — after all, this is the far left magazine which declared “John Kerry: Political Badass” on its cover in June of 2004, and was so in the tank to the Democrat party, it was publishing throne-sniffing “Summer of Obama” pieces around this time in 2011:

Before the fall brings us down, before the election season begins in earnest with all its nastiness and vulgarity, before the next batch of stupid scandals and gaffes, before Sarah Palin tries to convert her movie into reality and Joe Biden resumes his imitation of an embarrassing uncle and Newt and Callista Gingrich creep us all out, can we just enjoy Obama for a moment? Before the policy choices have to be weighed and the hard decisions have to be made, can we just take a month or two to contemplate him the way we might contemplate a painting by Vermeer or a guitar lick by the early-seventies Rolling Stones or a Peyton Manning pass or any other astounding, ecstatic human achievement? Because twenty years from now, we’re going to look back on this time as a glorious idyll in American politics, with a confident, intelligent, fascinating president riding the surge of his prodigious talents from triumph to triumph. Whatever happens this fall or next, the summer of 2011 is the summer of Obama.

No really, Esquire honestly allowed that to be printed, and I don’t even think they meant it at all ironically. Twenty years from now, we’re going to look back at this time in which a nation’s pundit class went absolutely insane — and no matter how badly they disclaim knowledge of their past writings, it’s up to the rest of us to preserve their glorious nonsense as a warning to future generations.

Of course, in his defense, Obama could just claim that hey, at least I wasn’t stupid enough to trust Esquire’s latest fashion advice

(That last link via Kathy Shaidle. I for one, prefer to remember a much more elegant Esquire, from a relatively more civilized time.)

Update: Also in the president’s defense, he can claim that he wasn’t stupid enough to take Vox’s sartorial advice:

Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds goes all contrarian on his readers.

By the way, Esquire speaks about being the president of Sears as if it was a bad thing.

Is There Nothing It Can’t Do?

August 28th, 2014 - 5:38 pm

Shot:

Chaser:

As Britain’s Malcolm Muggeridge noted a half century ago, there’s no way for any satirist to compete with real life — and real leftists — for pure absurdity.

(Of course, the moral equivalence that compares global terror with global warming is nothing new for the far left. Freud called it displacement — as did columnist Julia Gorin, when she noted the connection in 2006 in the Christian Science Monitor.)

With Obama publicly declaring that his administration has yet to formulate a plan to combat ISIS — hey those golf courses don’t play themselves when you’re on summer vacation, you know — Tony Lee of Big Government offers up a pair of nice callbacks:

After Obama accepted the nomination in front of Greek columns on August 28, 2008, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin asked, “But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away, when the stadium lights go out and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot, when that happens, what exactly is our opponent’s plan?”

Palin also predicted in 2008 that Russia could invade Ukraine if Obama became president. She was mocked for these prophetic remarks:

After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.

When Mitt Romney recently declared that Obama was even worse then he expected, Glenn Reynolds quipped, “Really? Because he’s pretty much exactly like Sarah Palin predicted.” Which makes the unexpected shot at Palin in an otherwise solid piece in the new issue of Commentary by the Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens on “The Meltdown” of the Obama administration rankle so much:

Should any of this have come as a surprise? Probably not: With Obama, there was always more than a whiff of the overconfident dilettante, so sure of his powers that he could remain supremely comfortable with his own ignorance. His express-elevator ascent from Illinois state senator to U.S. president in the space of just four years didn’t allow much time for maturation or reflection, either. Obama really is, as Bill Clinton is supposed to have said of him, “an amateur.” When it comes to the execution of policy, it shows.

And yet this view also sells Obama short. It should be obvious, but bears repeating, that it is no mean feat to be elected, and reelected, president, whatever other advantages Obama might have enjoyed in his races. In interviews and press conferences, Obama is often verbose and generally self-serving, but he’s also, for the most part, conversant with the issues. He may not be the second coming of Lincoln that groupies like historians Michael Beschloss (who called Obama “probably the smartest guy ever to become president”) or Robert Dallek (who said Obama’s “political mastery is on par with FDR and LBJ”) made him out to be. But neither is he a Sarah Palin, mouthing artless banalities about this great nation of ours, or a Rick Perry, trying, like Otto from A Fish Called Wanda, to remember the middle part. The myth of Obama’s brilliance paradoxically obscures the fact that he’s no fool. The point is especially important to note because the failure of Obama’s foreign policy is not, ultimately, a reflection of his character or IQ. It is the consequence of an ideology.

“Artless banalities.” Shades of how JFK’s elitist liberal inner circle turned on his successor, despite Lyndon Johnson taking all of JFK’s policies and with the Great Society, super-sizing them, Texas-style. Which was the problem: Johnson’s Texas mannerisms, southern drawl, and lack of Ivy League hauteur trumped his actual politics — which the Beltway crowd adored, but couldn’t reconcile with the artless banalities of the person advancing them, as Jeffery Lord noted a couple of years ago at the American Spectator in a piece titled, “JFK and the Death of Liberalism:”

The attitude toward Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson that was evidenced by Kennedy’s liberal leaning staff, by the Washington Georgetown set, by Washington journalists — slowly seeped into the sinews of liberalism itself.

Recall Caro’s descriptions of people who were “in love with their own sophistication,” who were “such an in-group, and they let you know they were in, and you were not.” Think of the snotty arrogance displayed as these people laughed at LBJ’s accent, his mispronunciations, his clothes, his wife (“Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop“).

Slowly, and then not so slowly, these elitist, arrogant and if not outright snotty attitudes sought out a new target during the years when LBJ was sitting in the White House — when, in the view of these people, “Uncle Cornpone and his Little Pork Chop” had replaced the King and Queen of Camelot.

That new target?

The American people themselves. They had, after all, elected LBJ in a landslide in 1964. Now Uncle Cornpone was the elected President of the United States. To make matters more unbearable, LBJ was using his newfound power and popularity to actually pass the liberal agenda of the day, which Johnson labeled “The Great Society.” Uncle Cornpone, it seemed, wasn’t such a ridiculous figure after all when it came to getting the liberal wish list through the Congress.

No one better than JFK would have known instantly what a huge mistake this elitist attitude would be. Discussing the relationship of a presidential candidate with the American people, JFK had told historian and friend Theodore H. White, author of The Making of the President series, that, in White’s re-telling, “a man running for the Presidency must talk up, way up there.” It was a principle Kennedy surely would have applied to his own party — and did so while he was president. Not from JFK was there a drop of elitist contempt — from a man who unarguably could claim the title in a blink — for his fellow countrymen.

But in a horrifying flash, JFK was gone. And the elitist tide spread.

To both sides of the aisle in the Beltway media, it seems.

Update: Foreign Policy’s Blake Hounshell in 2008: “Palin’s Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘extremely far-fetched scenario.’” He had plenty of company to share that bit of conventional wisdom with, including Time, Foreign Affairs, and other establishment leftist publications, as recently as earlier this year.

Ahh, the catty wars of the distaff Democrat newsreaders. “Couric Accused Sawyer Of Trading Head For Headlines,” the Daily Caller quips, quoting from the err, juiciest detail from Sheila Weller’s upcoming book, The News Sorority:

It’s a battle of the female news anchors in veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s tell-all book, “The News Sorority,” which outlines the fiercely competitive careers of Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour. Though the book doesn’t hit shelves for a full month, its revelations are prematurely exploding everywhere.

The Daily Beast published some highlights, and perhaps the most shocking is how Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer allegedly fought for exclusive stories:

“When Diane beat Katie on an interview with a 57-year-old woman who’d given birth to twins, Katie mused aloud, according to a person who heard the comment: ‘I wonder who she blew this time to get it.’”

And speaking of whom, “As Diane Sawyer Signs-Off, a Look Back at Her Fawning Chats With Repressive Dictators,” from Scott Whitlock of NewsBusters:

World News anchor and long-time ABC journalist Diane Sawyer signed off for the last time on Wednesday night. The host’s final show included a music montage as she offered a behind the scenes look at how the program is created. Sawyer praised World News as “the flag ship broadcast of ABC where Peter Jennings created a signature of such curiosity and courage.”

Talking to viewers, Sawyer said of the people behind her show: “Determination and the certainty of purpose: They’re doing it for you.” [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Sawyer joined ABC in 1989 and if there’s been one constant during her long career, it’s been fawning, credulous reporting on dictators. On February 19, 2008, she cooed over Fidel Castro: “From a tiny island, a larger than life personality….Castro knew life is a stage and played the part of the dashing revolutionary, coming to New York, getting rock star treatment.”

Here are some of Sawyer’s most gushing reporting on repressive regimes, starting off with a trip to North Korea:

Whitlock notes that while meeting with a group of young brainwashed North Korean students, Sawyer described them as living in “a world away from the unruly individualism of any American school.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want our viewers to have to deal with too much of that unruly American individualism! And Diane’s rival Katie Couric certainly doesn’t — just a reminder, during Thanksgiving week in November of 2009, as the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters spotted back then, Couric used a rewritten version of “The Night Before Christmas” to plump for Obamacare:

Twas just weeks before Christmas and what do you know

Senate Democrats are once again praying for Snowe.

They won 60 votes to start the debate

But they’re back to square one and the just have to wait.

Wait for Blue Dogs like Nelson and Lincoln

Who say a public option would mean the economy sinkin’.

Wait for Joe Lieberman who says it won’t pass

And hope Mary Landrieu can change her mind fast.

The Republican votes right now total zero

But a trigger could make one woman a hero.

The moderate who hails from the land way up north

Could save Harry Reid’s Christmas with a deal she brought forth.

Urging government plans for when private ones fail

To think: both sides happy, can both sides prevail?

At this point no compromise looms within sight

That means after Thanksgiving it’s on with the fight.

Enjoy your turkey and know we’ll be here

To help make this tough topic just a little more clear.

Gosh, and to think viewers tuned her out droves shortly thereafter — I wonder why?

And finally, from the world of distaff Democrats with bylines, Rachel Maddow transformed herself into a neocon so slowly, only Moe Lane happened to notice:

Mind you, I agree that ISIS needs to be squashed like an absolute bug.  I just wish that I had a time machine.  It would be priceless to see the reaction on 2004-Rachel Maddow’s face when she saw video evidence that 2014-Maddow was now committing herself to a morals-based, easy-to-escalate campaign in Iraq and Syria.  Or, shoot, the look on June-2014 ‘Iraq is the new South Vietnam**!’ Maddow’s face.  Because I’m pretty sure that Maddow was kind of arguing back then that, hey, the Communist takeover worked out all right over there, hey? She certainly didn’t want to go back into Iraq then.

Seriously, this is why you pick your principles first, and then let your policy positions be informed by them.  Because when you don’t – when you pick what you want to do, and don’t bother working out why you would want to do it – then you end up like Rachel Maddow.  Because she’s not really a neoconservative, you see.  If Maddow was, she’d have a moral center to her universe that was simply better than Barack Obama wants to do this, and I trust him implicitly. And she wouldn’t be required to change her opinions every three months, because the problem here is that Barack Obama here has no moral center that’s better than I want to do this, and I trust myself implicitly.

Presumably Maddow is simply returning to the opinion she and the rest of the American left held in 1998:

Let’s give Diane Sawyer the exit quote, which connects the dots on this post rather nicely. “You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury. And the judge said to me, ‘Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?’ And I said, ‘That’s what journalists do.’ And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I’ve ever had.”

“CNN: Hey, Our Suspicious Shooting Audio with More Shots than a Battle in Fallujah Might Be Real!”, Bryan Preston quips at the PJ Tatler:

Well, this is funny — and a little too representative of today’s so-called mainstream media.

So CNN was asking two guys who know nothing about the case to speculate about an unconfirmed alleged audio from an unidentified man.

The experts both expressed their strong doubts that the audio was real.

The CNN time-waster had a strong rebuttal, though.

After the first guest says it’s most likely a hoax, and might just be a Howard Stern prankster, he allows, more out of politeness than conviction, “But it could be real.”

And it could very easily be fake. No one knows, which is the point.

Bryan lists several reasons why CNN should have been suspicious about the audio — the one that jumped out at me on his list was “No one on the recording reacts to the supposed gun shots,” which if they’re loud enough to be picked up on audio, had to have been even louder in person. If you’re on the phone and hear gun shots — even a car backfiring — human emotion would force even the most intent hot chatter away from his reverie to respond, “Geez, what was that??” Plus, “There are at least ten audible ‘shots,’ more than any autopsy of Michael Brown has revealed (Officer Wilson may have missed some, but police will know from the number of shell casings at the scene, testimony, etc).”

Rather than vet the audio before airing, CNN of course rushed it out and just about put in a loop yesterday; from their ratings-hungry perspective, the “timing of the release made perfect sense,” John Nolte notes at Big Journalism:

The leftwing network dropped the audio the day after treating the funeral of Michael Brown as though he was a head of state. With the death porn concluded and the Ferguson streets quiet, CNN needed to fill the race-baiting vacuum with something.

This is the second time CNN has been unforgivably irresponsible with audio. Using unintelligible audio of George Zimmerman’s 911 call, CNN falsely claimed Zimmerman had described Trayvon Martin as a “f**ing coon” before fatally shooting the teenager. CNN not only fabricated this evidence against Zimmerman, after it was proven Zimmerman didn’t use the racial slur, CNN continued to lie to its audience and claim he had.

“Credit CNN for self-auditing,” P.J. Gladnick adds at NewsBusters, “but only after the fact. Their vetting capabilities still remain incredibly woeful. It was only this past Sunday that they got pranked for the umpteenth time by [infamous Howard Stern show fan, Captain Janks aka Tom Cipriano] while they were covering the Napa earthquake in California.”

Yesterday, in my post titled “How to Lose Friends and Alienate Customers,” I mentioned that the late Ginny Carroll, of the then-Washington Post-owned Newsweek, admitted on C-SPAN that during the 1992 Republican Convention, she wore a button that said, “Yeah, I’m with the Media — Screw You.” Carroll was as a bureau chief for Newsweek in first Detroit and then Houston — no doubt her professionalism, or the lack thereof, filtered down to the employees there who reported to her.

On Twitter today, Howard Mortman of C-SPAN spotted my post and pointed me to this clip from C-SPAN’s archives of Carroll and other Democrat operatives with bylines fuming to segment host Brian Lamb about how they were treated by delegates at the 1992 Republican Convention. It’s a brilliant example of journalists dropping the mask and demonstrating both their undeserved hauteur and their visible loathing of their customers:

“My reaction to that button [`Rather Biased'] and others, in part, is a button I bought yesterday that says `Yeah, I’m In The Media, Screw You!’….I do understand why a lot of people are upset with us, why we rank somewhere between terrorists and bank robbers on the approval scale. We do criticize. That’s part of our role. Our role is not just to parrot what people say, it’s to make people think. I think that sometimes I want to say to the electorate `Grow up!’”

When Matt Drudge became the first person to very visibly take advantage of the newfound freedom of the Internet, the revulsion that the MSM demonstrated towards him in the late 1990s was visceral. This pattern would be followed by how the MSM responded to the launch of the Blogosphere a few years later, and then the Tea Party.

And they wonder why many on the right cheer when there’s news of fresh disaster concerning old media. This clip and others like it, such as this example featuring the late Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace sneering at the US military, are reminders of how much the MSM despises their readers — and much of America in general. Just ask them.

(Thumbnail image on PJM homepage created using a modified Shutterstock.com file.)

Tom Brokaw, NBC Execs Fuming at New Boss

August 27th, 2014 - 12:27 pm

“NBC News president Deborah Turness had to apologize after infuriating top execs and talent by announcing the network news organization had been asleep for 15 years:”

Turness, who came to the job from Britain’s ITV News one year ago, dropped the tactless clanger in a New York Times interview on Sunday, saying, “NBC News hadn’t kept up with the times in all sorts of ways, for maybe 15 years . . . I think the organization had gone to sleep.”

Sources tell us Tom Brokaw, managing editor and anchor of NBC’s “Nightly News” from 1982 until 2004, Turness’ predecessor Steve Capus (NBC News president from 2005 to 2013 and now executive producer of “CBS Evening News”) and CNN chief Jeff Zucker “are apoplectic” over Turness’ remark.

One network insider fumed, “Turness is making enemies. Her ‘asleep’ comment is incredibly disrespectful to many of NBC’s top journalists, especially Tom Brokaw and Brian Williams, and her predecessors Steve Capus, Andy Lack, Neal Shapiro and Jeff Zucker.”

Damn straight — just look at the brilliant product that NBC puts on on a regular basis — and how tightly edited is. I mean, we’re talking down to the sentence here:

Its investigative resources always on the alert to uncover the dirt voters need to know about political poseurs on the eve of a critical election:

And then there’s the professionalism of its hosts, growing by leaps and bounds every day:

How does Furness improve upon that? This is the finest product NBC has put out since the glory days of Fred Silverman in the late 1970s:

Product so good, its ratings should be investigated!

Spot the Correlation

August 26th, 2014 - 11:48 pm

Shot:

Chaser:

 

Earlier: How to Lose Friends and Alienate Customers.

Related: “If I have understood this ridiculous situation correctly, the EPA is now in a position in which it may have to admit in court that some of its previous official statements about ocean acidification were not supported by available evidence.”

And from Roger L. Simon: “Climate Change to the Rescue?”

“Vox.com’s Matt Yglesias wants you to know that he’s ‘no angel,’” as spotted by James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal, who reads Vox.com so you don’t have to:

I had an “encounter” with the police when I was eighteen and getting ready to head off to college. . . .

I also dabbled in drugs and alcohol. Even used Swisher Sweets to roll blunts from time to time. For that matter, I also did some shoplifting. Got caught one time by a security guard at the K-Mart on Astor Place who confiscated the stuff I’d stolen and yelled at me a bunch. So I suppose that, when an undercover officer came upon me and two friends smoking cigarettes and drinking beer on a park bench that night, he could have shot us dead.

As Taranto quips, “We’d like Glenn Kessler or somebody to fact-check these claims. Why should we think Vox has street cred if it doesn’t have any other kind of cred?”

Fact checking is always necessary when ever Matt Yglesias speaks or sets fingers to a keyboard. Just ask Matt Yglesias:

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

Breaking News from 1987

August 26th, 2014 - 8:04 pm

“Al Sharpton Is a Huge Fraud,” shouts…Vice.com?

Sharpton’s tardiness in denouncing police militarization is perhaps partly explainable by the fact that, per his own reckoning, he literally operates as a proxy for the Feds—namely the Obama administration. CBS’s 60 Minutes reported on this posture as such: “He’s decided not to criticize the president about anything, even black unemployment that’s twice the national rate.” Since acquiring his own MSNBC show, Sharpton—a former FBI informant, it was revealed in April—has regularly glommed onto highly charged controversies (such as the killing of Trayvon Martin) by presenting himself as a sort of de facto emissary between the White House and the “community” he purports to represent.

Sharpton postures as a fearless critic of state violence, but one can’t simultaneously be an honest broker about what’s going on in Ferguson—the federal government at Obama’s direction is complicit in extreme terror, escalation, and civil liberties infringements—while simultaneously affirming that the chief executive of the federal government ought to be off limits for scrutiny.

“Sharpton has a long and well-documented history of leveraging his civil rights profile for his own benefit,” journalist Wayne Barrett, who chronicled his travails for 37 years at the Village Voice, wrote on the sordid occasion of Sharpton’s 2011 ascension to the 6 PM MSNBC time slot, replacing Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. Uygur had garnered excellent ratings in the preceding months, so the removal seemed somewhat puzzling—until Uygur revealed that network executives summoned him to a cartoonishly melodramatic closed-door meeting in which they issued a threat: Think twice before saying anything that might upset certain unnamed “people in Washington.” Uygur didn’t do that, and not long thereafter, he was replaced by Sharpton, a reliable peddler of pro-administration talking points.

Gee fellas, what took you so long to notice?

(Incidentally, who at NBC isn’t a reliable peddler of pro-administration talking points?)

Update: “MSNBC Continues Ratings Slide Despite Sharpton, Ferguson.” As James Taranto quips, responding to Newsmax’s headline, “Fox Butterfield, Is That You?”

How to Lose Friends and Alienate Customers

August 26th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

“Today’s elite loathes the public. Nothing personal, just a fundamental difference in world view, but the hatred is unmistakable. Occasionally it escapes in scorching geysers. Michael Lewis reports in the New Republic on the ‘96 Dole presidential campaign: ‘The crowd flips the finger at the busloads of journalists and chant rude things at them as they enter each arena. The journalists, for their part, wear buttons that say ‘yeah, I’m the Media. Screw You.’* The crowd hates the reporters, the reporters hate the crowd — an even matchup, except that the reporters wield power and the crowed (in effect) wields none.”

David Gelernter, from his book Drawing Life, 1997.

Unless you have a monopoly, you can’t get away with sneering at your customers for very long. The newspaper’s monopoly died in 1995, when the internet brought information to the fingertips of anybody with a modem. The dinosaur media never understood that they were in a tar pit from that moment on, and now it’s too late for them to change their ways and crawl back out.

—Blogger Will Collier, 2009.

Print newspapers are going to die; at this point they’re living off coupons, on the print side, and old people, on the readership side. Newspaper circulation has fallen only a little bit among readers older than 65, but it has started low and fallen lower among the under-35 demographic. It doesn’t seem reasonable at this point to believe that those folks will ever pick up the newspaper habit. So as the readers die, and the advertising fades, the newspapers, too, will die one by one. The magazines, which already look anorexic compared with their earlier ad-stuffed selves, will undoubtedly follow.

“Stick a Fork in Your Newspaper,” Megan McCardle, Bloomberg View, yesterday.

*The late journalist and editor Ginny Carroll wore a button with that exact slogan when she appeared on C-Span in 1992:

“My reaction to that button [`Rather Biased'] and others, in part, is a button I bought yesterday that says `Yeah, I’m In The Media, Screw You!’….I do understand why a lot of people are upset with us, why we rank somewhere between terrorists and bank robbers on the approval scale. We do criticize. That’s part of our role. Our role is not just to parrot what people say, it’s to make people think. I think that sometimes I want to say to the electorate `Grow up!’”

When Carroll died in May of 2001 of hypertensive cardiovascular disease at age 53, the Chicago Tribune reported the above quote in her obituary, and that she had spent a decade as Newsweek’s bureau chief in first Detroit and then Houston.

Newsweek was founded in 1933 by a former editor of Time. The Washington Post purchased the magazine in 1961 for $8,000,000, and offloaded it for one dollar in 2010, perhaps having concluded that they had sufficiently alienated enough former and potential customers. Its new ownership would cease publishing a print version of the magazine at the end of 2013, and offload the tainted brandname itself last year.

Oceania Has Never Been At War With Eastasia

August 26th, 2014 - 5:47 pm

Past performance in no guarantee of future results:

We spoke of 9/11 as though it were somehow equivalent to Pearl Harbor, the beginning of a global war against enemies bent on, and at least theoretically capable of, destroying the American way of life (unlike al Qaeda, a ragtag band of extremists with limited punch). We spoke of cultural wars and a divided world. We reorganized our entire security establishment to go after a few thousand bad guys. We went mad.

And now, as we are recovering our senses, withdrawing from Iraq, and soon starting to exit Afghanistan, having buried bin Laden and hosts of his henchmen, we are beginning to be able to see this. At least in theory we can. For the next couple of weeks, we will witness documentary after editorial mega-feature, interviews with victims and heroes, the American legend machine producing historical bumpf at full blast. That is not, by the way, to diminish the brutal blows struck 10 years ago or the deeply felt human experiences associated with it and its aftermath. Rather it is to say that once again we will seek to frame 9/11 as a great event, the definer of an era, when in fact, its greatest defining characteristic was that of a distraction — The Great Distraction — that drew America’s focus and that of many in the world from the greater issues of our time. That distraction and the opportunity costs associated with it were bin Laden’s triumph and our loss — and our ultimate victory will come as we get a grip back on reality.

“The Black Hole of 9/11: As we assess the legacy of the 10th anniversary of America’s seminal terrorist attack, it’s worth looking at 10 events from the past decade that have actually been more important,” Foreign Policy, August 29th, 2011.

According to a report in the Washington Post on Friday, the administration has prepared options for legal authority to use force against IS across both Iraq and Syria. They include temporary justification under the War Powers Resolution, constitutional authority for emergency action to protect U.S. citizens, and consulting with the Congress for open-ended authorization to fight IS. But the same article states that the president has not requested to see contingency plans for broader airstrikes in Syria. If the administration goes the open-ended consultation route with Capitol Hill and the president ignores the contingency plans, it might be a signal that he is not serious about defeating IS.

But if the president does adopt a strategy to include Syria, the American people can be persuaded with an Obama-like 2008 address — such a midcourse correction is optimally-timed to save his presidency from further ignominy. As Daniel Pipes wrote, however, “I do not customarily offer advice to a president whose election I opposed,” I also hesitate to make suggestions that might save the Obama presidency. But the national interest in preventing IS from using Iraq and Syria as launching pads to execute attacks overrides political concerns.

According to Real Clear Politics, the president’s overall popularity is quite low: Between July 29 and Aug. 20, 42 percent approved and 52 percent disapproved of the overall job he was doing across nine different polls. The numbers were worse for his handling of foreign affairs, which, between July 29 and Aug. 12, only 35.8 percent of those polled approved versus 53.8 percent who disapproved over six polls.

“Stopping the Islamic State Might Be Obama’s Chance to Salvage His Middle East Policy,” Foreign Policy, yesterday. (As the first commenter at Hot Air’s link notes, for the MSM, “Once again, it’s all about the ’0.’”)

And then there’s the Washington Post:

Time is indeed a flat circle:

There’s no doubt that anybody given the name Douglas McAuthur McCain by his parents would have a strong urge to consider enlisting in the military, if only to live up to all of the history implicit in your name (even if the spelling of your middle name isn’t quite spot-on, and your last name was purely a coincidence).

It helps, though, to carefully choose the correct fighting force when volunteering, as NBC reports (yes, I know, but presumably, some of these details might be correct). As Bill Murray and the late Harold Ramis sang while marching in Stripes, goofing on TV recruitment ads, “Pick a service, pick a challenge, set yourself apart: Army! Navy! Air Force! Marines!” Err, ISIS?

The battle in itself seemed tragically normal. Two Syrian opposition groups fought and there were heavy casualties on both sides. Then victorious rebels rifled through the pockets of the dead. One contained about $800 in cash — and an American passport.

Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, was killed over the weekend fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to the Free Syrian Army. Photos of McCain’s passport and of his body — which feature a distinctive neck tattoo — have been seen by NBC News. According to an activist linked to the Free Syrian Army who also saw the body and travel document, McCain was among three foreign jihadis fighting with ISIS who died during the battle.

NBC goes on to note that McCain was “a goofball in high school”:

Douglas McAuthur McCain was born in Illinois on Jan. 29, 1981. His family later moved to Minnesota’s Twin Cities area where he attended Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope as part of the class of 1999.

Classmates at the school – which was described to NBC News as around 75 percent white and 10 percent African American – recalled an “always smiling” joker who liked to laugh and play basketball. McCain wasn’t on the high school team and didn’t come across as religious, according to one basketball buddy.

“He was a goofball in high school,” that classmate told NBC News. “Doug was a fun guy to be around. Played basketball, joked a lot, had a small sense of humor. Got along with most … Wasn’t the best athlete, but liked to play.”

Much more after the page break.

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The Madness of 2008: A Gnostic Too Far

August 26th, 2014 - 2:10 pm

Sometimes a conman makes a first impression so magnetic, the timing of the vaporwear he’s selling seems so perfect, and his marks so eager for his spiel, they eagerly hypnotize themselves without all that much coaxing. Victor Davis Hanson explores “The Madness of 2008:”

Pundits vied for superlatives. On little evidence, Christopher Buckley assured us that Obama possessed “a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect.” For some, proof of Obama’s godhead became almost physical — a “perfectly creased pant” for David Brooks, a tingling leg for Chris Matthews. For Evan Thomas he was a “sort of God”; for one blue-chip historian he was the smartest man with the highest IQ ever running for the presidency. And on and on, as huge crowds acted as if they were watching Paul McCartney on tour in 1966. After the election, there was real apprehension that the country might not make it for the two and a half months until an elected Obama could take power.

Given that there was no evidence from Obama’s legislative career to justify such superlatives, we can only assume that our intellectual elites got caught up in the faux Greek columns, the Obama tutorials for fainting crowds about proper first aid, the teleprompted emphatics of “Let me be perfectly clear” and “Make no mistake about it,” the Latinate motto “Vero possumus” on the faux presidential seal on his campaign podiums, the boast that Obama & Co. were “the ones we’ve been waiting for,” the messianic promise to cool the planet and lower the seas, the Lincoln self-comparisons, and the other embarrassing childish banalities.

Obama, it is true, ran a brilliant campaign in 2008, hinting to the Other that as a non-white he shared both their racial bona fides and their frustrations, hinting to white elites that his own unique heritage would end racial hostilities and thus allow them to square the circle of living largely separate elite lives and not having to feel guilty about it. He dropped his g’s and went into Southern cadences among African Americans, and then back again into wonkish academese to mainstream whites. It was well known that in impromptu talks he stuttered and stumbled with uh’s in deer-in-the-headlights fashion, and used the pronouns I, me, my, and mine ad nauseam, but such unease was ignored given his teleprompted eloquence and the considerable elite investment in his symbolism.

In sum, in 2008 Obama gave America more than enough evidence to doubt that he was ready for the presidency, but when a nation becomes unhinged by trivialities like “hope and change,” there is not much one can do — until the patient wakes up from his trance and in embarrassment asks, “What exactly was all that nuttiness in 2008 about?”

We will be fathoming that strange madness of 2008 for decades to come.

Afterwards, it’s all fun and games until the marks realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods, and then wonder where they go to get their own credibility back — which they’ll need to promote the wears of the next bunco artist.

Perhaps those who willingly allowed themselves to be sold a bill of goods in 2008 atone in strange ways. In his post on far left historian (and alleged plagiarist) Rick Perlstein’s new biography of President Reagan’s rise to power, Orrin Judd dubs Perlstein “The Accidental Hagiographer:”

As you can see here, the premise of this volume is not only hilarious but inflates Ronald Reagan into a mythical hero far moreso than any of the fawning texts we on the right produce: the gnostic reality, known only to the Left, is that America is nothing special and, for one brief shining moment, in the 70s everyone was about to realize that, but Reagan, through the exercise of little more than his personal will, restores the delusion that America is more important than other states.

If Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh had given Reagan that much credit for reshaping the world around himself, they’d be dismissed as overenthusiastic cultists.  But Reagan looms so large in the mind of the Left that Friend Perlstein can’t see he’s gone far beyond any Reagan fanboy of the right in his claims for the greatness (let’s say we use the term in its value neutral sense) of the Gipper.

Perhaps in writing about how the mythical heartland of his imagination (insert Pauline Kael reference here) was hypnotized by the ebullient speechmaking of an upbeat presidential candidate offering to restore his party to greatness after its recent, seemingly fatal stumbles on the national stage, and upend the perceived malaise of the times, Perlstein had the right notion, but the wrong presidential candidate. Or simply wished to project his own party’s gullibility onto the other side of the aisle.

Update: “Take a minute today, though, to appreciate that this guy, the epitome of in-touch cultural cool in 2008, is now so at risk of being seen as ‘out of touch’ that Axelrod and Bill Burton have to eat sh*t publicly as damage control. Oh well. As Amanda Curtis could tell you, sometimes even the most practiced Democrat run out of things to say.”

Related: “Top 5 Crazy Lies Told During Campaigns We Fall For Every Time.”

We live in an era that is more accepting of disability but still dubious about vulnerability and foibles in a leader. Would Roosevelt have made it as far as the governor’s race in 1928? In a world that second-guesses every politician’s decisions on an almost minute-by-minute basis, would he have tried?

I put both questions to Richard Moe, who knows politics — he was chief of staff for senator and then vice president Walter Mondale — and is the author of the recently published “Roosevelt’s Second Act,” an account of the president’s decision to seek a third term. Moe tells that story so well that it becomes weirdly suspenseful, even though you begin reading with a pretty good idea of who’s going to win the 1940 election.

“Whether big personalities like FDR would be inclined to pursue similar careers today is a separate question because we both know there are plenty of reasons for anyone to avoid politics today,” Moe responded in an e-mail. “That’s one of the great tragedies of the political system we have.

“But, even so, I have no doubt that someone who had many of FDR’s characteristics and abilities — to pick strong people, to see the core of an issue, to make bold decisions and to articulate them compellingly — could prevail today. In fact I think many people are hungering for his kind of leadership.

Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt asks, “Could America accept another FDR?”

Gee, I thought we already had one:

time_obama_fdr_12-24-2008-3

Certainly, our new FDR and his “New New Deal” has delivered similarly disastrous economic results as the old New Deal. Of course, perhaps leftists wouldn’t be looking a new FDR today, if they hadn’t been so quick to had the moniker to an untried tyro senator whose chief aim for expanding government was dreamed up by his speechwriters looking to trump his fellow Democrat rival for the White House on the debating circuit. But then, as Steven Hayward wrote yesterday at Power Line after Maureen Dowd finally commented on her boss’s obsession with golf, “Behold, among Obama’s hidden talents is his ability to make liberals even more foolish and incoherent than usual.”

Tina Brown Could Not Be Reached for Comment

August 25th, 2014 - 3:33 pm

“Daily Beast Slams ‘Benedict Arnold’ Burger King for Planned ‘Inversion’” via a merger with the Canadian Tim Hortons chain, Ken Shepherd writes at Newsbusters:

Patriotism may be the last refuge of a scoundrel, as Samuel Johnson put it, but a lack of it may be the last refuge of corporate executives who have run out of ideas on how to improve their business,” groused Daily Beast global finance editor Daniel Gross in the open of his 9-paragraph screed “Burger King Plots Canadian Invasion to Save His Faltering Kingdom.” “It’s one thing for a fairly anonymous company that sells pumps or valves or industrial products to other businesses to renounce its citizenship for the sake of saving a few bucks on taxes. It’s quite another when you’re an iconic American consumer-facing company that relies on fickle consumers for a large share of its business,” Gross fumed.

Gosh. Wait’ll Gross discovers that the Daily Beast, the Website he writes for, was founded by a woman who left her country of origin in search of better business opportunities, and presumably, lower taxation, eventually becoming a citizen of her newly adopted homeland. How can he work for a corporation born of such scoundrelly* origins?

* Yes, it’s a word, according to cads and bounders and scalawags at the Oxford dictionary.

Update (8/26/14): “This is Awkward:” Warren Buffett, “who President Barack Obama has lauded and named a signature proposal after, is helping finance a deal that would allow Burger King Worldwide Inc. to reincorporate in Canada and potentially reduce its U.S. tax bill through a so-called inversion, the Journal reported late Monday.”

No word yet on how former President Obama will question his supporter’s distinct lack of patriotism.

The Irrelevant Majority

August 25th, 2014 - 3:14 pm

“NBC Reporter to Islamic Extremists: ‘You Do Not Even Represent A Fraction of Muslims Around the World,’”  Kyle Drennen writes at Newsbusters, watching NBC so that the rest of us don’t have to:

In a report aired on Monday’s NBC Today, correspondent Keir Simmons spoke with Islamic extremists in Britain acting as apologists for the ISIS terrorists who brutally murdered journalist James Foley. A soundbite played of one man ranting: “The question to ask is, who’s really to blame for the death of James Foley? I believe it is the foreign policy of Obama.”

Following the taped story, Simmons added: “It is so sickening, so disturbing to hear a group like that exercise their First Amendment rights…by saying things like that. But I said to them directly, ‘You do not even represent a fraction of Muslims around the world.’”

As Drennen notes, “In reality, millions of Muslims in the Middle East do subscribe to the notion that American foreign policy is the true cause of terrorist attacks against the United States and even justifies such acts.”

But in any case, the peaceful majority are irrelevant, as Brigitte Gabriel brilliantly noted earlier this summer:

Oh, and speaking of the peaceful majority, “What Happens to Palestinian Moderates? Shot in the streets with a pistol to the head after midday prayers.”

Related: “Jimmy Carter To Give Keynote Speech At Muslim Convention In Detroit,” Paul Bois notes at Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt Website today. As Jay Nordlinger noted in his classic “Carterpalooza” article in 2002, “No one quite realizes just how passionately anti-Israel Carter is. William Safire has reported that Cyrus Vance acknowledged that, if he had had a second term, Carter would have sold Israel down the river.”

Former President Carter must be very pleased with the progress of former President Obama’s administration in that department.

Glenn Beck: Conquering Hero?

August 25th, 2014 - 1:27 pm

“Glenn Beck’s The Blaze Talks to Time Warner About Replacing HLN,” show-biz Website The Wrap claimed on Friday:

In an ongoing effort to revamp HLN, Time Warner’s CNN has been talking to Glenn Beck‘s The Blaze as a possible partner, an individual with knowledge of the talks told TheWrap.

The Blaze is a conservative 24-hour news and entertainment network funded by subscriptions and founded by Beck, a right-wing talk show host who built a huge following on Fox.

An insider told TheWrap that The Blaze gave Time Warner two proposals, but neither went anywhere. Another individual with knowledge of the talks said the possibility of a joint venture is not dead — they’re just not active. Under the proposed partnership, Beck’s Blaze would take over HLN’s spot on the proverbial TV dial.

The Blaze is available on 70 television providers nationwide. In the first half of 2014, the distributor base for The Blaze has grown by 50 percent. TheBlaze.com, which features written content, receives more than 25 million unique visitors per month.

Early 20th century American playwright Wilson Mizner is credited with saying, “Be nice to people on your way up because you’ll meet them on your way down.”

Because no one at The Wrap has heard of Wikipedia or Google apparently, they didn’t bother to report that Beck started his cable TV career on Headline News, and then left for Fox, in part because, as he told Newsmax in 2009:

Do you know what a pariah I was? The [CNN] management  was always very good, but going around what I called ‘the pit of despair,’ the people in the newsroom that are just typing…

I was walking through the newsroom one time and [a reporter] looked up and said, ‘yuhhck!’

I said, ‘That’s not necessary.’ And she said, ‘Oh, you expect it.’ And I said, ‘I do — and isn’t that sad?’

That year, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, Headline News’ parent organization, kicked Beck on the way out with this cover on Time magazine:

Unlike other cable TV hosts who stayed in that medium long after their sell-through date had expired, Beck left Fox News to start his Blaze Internet TV channel and Website. The risk paid off in spades — in 2011, Forbes described Beck as a “$100 million man.” So I’m sure Beck acquiring a stake in Headline News, both to compete with Fox, and for a little payback for crapping on him during his salad days. Too bad The Wrap apparently couldn’t be bothered to research any of this, as it would made their article much more powerful.

Sadly though, on Saturday, CNN-Money — and they should know, right? — claims, “Glenn Beck sought out CNN deal, but talks died fast.” Because we wouldn’t, you know, those people tuning into CNN and increasing their viewership, right? Far better to lay off 550 jobs instead and maintain ideological purity.

In 2012, Beck had previously attempted to acquire Al Gore’s Current TV, but talks fell through, because like Time-Warner-CNN-HBO, Al also wouldn’t want the wrong people watching his former channel. Which is too bad — because (a) Beck would likely bring in far more than the pitiful 17,000 viewers who are currently watching Al Jazeera America. And (b) he’d likely pay his bills faster as well. And (c) little risk of Beck’s staffers breaking out the scimitars, as well.

Related: “Not Watching For The Asteroid.”

It’s easy to tear down civilization; the American left have been at it off and on since the late 19th century. Fred Siegel did a brilliant job of exploring the history of the American left during the first half of the 20th century in his book, The Revolt Against the Masses. As he wrote at the beginning of the book:

The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. “Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,” Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, “and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.”

And most readers of Ed Driscoll.com and PJ Media should be familiar enough with what the New Left have been doing since the 1960s to “rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class.” But then once the eggs have been broken, how do we make the omelet? How is utopia ushered in? Or as one of Gay Patriot’s co-bloggers asks, “What Happens When the Patriarchy Is Smashed?”

As someone clever pointed out, it’s interesting that the Feminist chose Chicago for their “Smash the Patriarchy” message, because nowhere has the Patriarchy been more successfully smashed than in the inner cities. Households led by fathers have become exceedingly rare,  single women raise families without husbands, and very few people participate in capitalist enterprises; the inner cities have become Radical Feminist utopia.

How’s that working out for them?

And speaking of smashing the patriarchy, “Is CNN ignoring the fact that Michael Brown has a father?”

And speaking of hitting the CTL-ALT-DLT keys on Western Civ, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post looks forward (to borrow the slogan of both MSNBC and former President Obama)  to “A Welcome End To American Whiteness.”

Glenn Reynolds accurately Milbank’s rantings as “Eliminationist Rhetoric,” and they’re further proof that the left continues to view Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism as a how-to guide, rather than a warning.

All of which are further reminders that when the destruction of whole classes of people is openly being called for…