Roger Kimball admires the rapidity with which the French authorities definitively determined that Notre Dame fire was an accident and not another case of deliberate arson.
“Auric Goldfinger, in the Ian Fleming novel, dryly observes to James Bond that â€œOnce is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.â€
The French investigators have such extraordinary powers of forensic penetration that they can dispense with all such inductive aids to inquiry. Here they have not one, not two or three, but twelve acts of violent desecration in the past month, including an arsonist attack against the second largest church in Paris. Then Notre Dame catches fireâ€”and what a fire it wasâ€”on Monday of Holy Week. Even before the fire was brought under control, the authorities ruled out arson. Has the world ever seen a more potent demonstration of investigative prowess?”
Notre Dame Cathedral Fire, a few facts you should know courtesy of the mainstream media:
1. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown.
2. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown, but it has been ruled an accident (despite the fact that the exact cause of the blaze is still unknown).
3. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown, but Islam is the real victim here.
4. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown which means the damage has not been thoroughly assessed, but it’s not arson.
5. The exact cause of the blaze is still unknown which means the damage has not been thoroughly assessed, but Macron is setting up an international appeal for funding to rebuild despite not knowing how much is needed because the damage has not been thoroughly assessed.
This is the sort of information you get when journalists are in bed with the politicians.
Kevin D. Williamson puts the hundreds of newspaper editorials recently deploring Donald Trump’s criticisms of the establishment media into proper perspective.
If we want a culture of open and robust discourse, then we do not want a culture in which Brendan Eich is driven from his job for having an unpopular view on gay marriage. If we want a culture of open and robust discourse, then we do not want a culture in which there is an organized-campaign-style effort to have journalists dismissed from their positions for holding unpopular views, or a boycott every time the New York Times or the Washington Post (or, I suppose, The Atlantic) adds a columnist who is not likely to please the Bernie Sanders Campaign Historical Re-enactors Society at Reed College. It is true that none of these things is a formal violation of the First Amendment, because the First Amendment is a restriction on what kind of laws the federal government may enact. But calling CNNâ€™s daily output â€œfake newsâ€ isnâ€™t a violation of the First Amendment, either.
Whatâ€™s actually at work here is a variation on â€œHeads I Win/Tails You Lose.â€ When the Left wants to stop an unpopular speaker from delivering remarks at Berkeley, then thatâ€™s just meeting speech with more speech and some firebombs. And, itâ€™s true: There isnâ€™t any First Amendment reason why you canâ€™t have a riot at Berkeley every time Ann Coulter gets invited to speak there. But there are all sorts of other reasons.
If there is going to be more to freedom of speech than â€œCongress shall make no lawâ€ â€” which is what we should want â€” then that has to be true for everyone.
Freedom of the press is not some special license granted to organizations that incorporate as media companies. There is no intellectually defensible model of free expression that protects the editorial page of the New York Times but not Hillary: The Movie. Of course, itâ€™s easy to think of a pretext for suppressing communication you donâ€™t like: If you donâ€™t like what Citizens United is saying, then you shut it down with â€œcampaign finance reform,â€ which, we should remember, worked â€” until the Supreme Court stopped it. If you donâ€™t like that oil companies fund organizations that criticize global-warming policies, then you claim that this amounts to â€œsecurities fraud.â€ If you donâ€™t like that the NRA is an effective advocate for its positions, you use banking regulations to hamstring it financially. Donâ€™t like somebodyâ€™s social or religious views? â€œHate speech.â€ Easy as that.
We donâ€™t need conjecture: Weâ€™ve seen how this goes. The Obama administration used the Espionage Act to punish whistleblowers, spy on journalists, and interfere with reporting it didnâ€™t want done. Under Obama, the IRS targeted conservative nonprofits for harassment and more under the guise of enforcing the tax code â€” and it illegally disclosed private information about an advocacy group that irritated Democrats. The same people demand the power to set the terms for political debate, saying they want to â€œkeep money out of politics,â€ a claim that it is impossible for any mentally functional adult to take very seriously.
Freedom of the press does not mean extending special privileges, legal or customary, to the New York Times and CNN. And freedom of speech means a lot more than the absence of formal censorship by the federal government. Formal protections for free speech are important and necessary, but they do not amount to very much without a free-speech culture to back them up.
Joe Katzman explains why Trump’s inartful and commonly inaccurate debating technique seems to be working so well.
The right attempts political persuasion. The left, on the other hand, attempts social persuasion — basically seizing the commanding heights of culture-making institutions and then deciding that espousing some political claims (being pro-gay-marriage) increase social status and that espousing other political claims (being against gay marriage) decrease social status and, indeed, make one a social pariah, fit for ostracism, mass mockery, and internal exile.
The left’s method works much better than the right’s. It always has and it always will. Because most people don’t care about politics all that much — but nearly everyone (except for the crankiest of contrarians, including some of the current assembled company) cares about their social status.
Having higher social status gets you invites to the Cocktail Party Circuit, which is a real thing, defined broadly (and metaphorically) enough. It makes you datable, it makes you “clubbable,” as the old term went.
It can get you promoted at work, particularly if the sort of job you do is a bit vague as far as definite, tangible outputs and thus advancement depends more on how upper management feels about you.
While the left wing continues winning arguments by not even having arguments at all, instead simply demonizing those who espouse any contrary position, the #SmartSet (citation required) of the establishment right continues believing, apparently earnestly and definitely ridiculously, that if they just out argue their political competitors, they’ll change minds.
They won’t. Or not enough to actually matter. Because most people don’t really care enough about these issues to really engage with them on an intellectual level; they just want to know what to claim to believe so that other people won’t think they’re weird, and deem them unfriendable, undatable, and poor candidates for promotion inside The Corporation.
Trump’s manner of engaging with The Blob of left-wing virtue-signalling and status-conferring is to attempt to degrade the left wing cultural Borg of its own social status, thereby reducing its ability to set tastes, serve as “gatekeepers” of what the right-minded people agree are proper attitudes and beliefs, and demonize dissenters.
This is often ugly — but that’s how the sausage gets made.
Glenn Reynolds was amused the other day when he found the gun-running scandal involving Democrat State Senator Leeland Yee (who represents San Francisco & San Mateo County and who was, when the scandal broke, running for Secretary of State) was getting coverage from Popular Mechanics, while being studiously ignored by CNN.
Esquire magazine picked up the Popular Mechanics “Leeland Yee-supplied guns” feature, but the MSM is generally ignoring all this, classifying the matter as merely “local news.”
Leeland Yee was honored in 2006 by the Brady Campaign for “gun violence prevention” for his co-athoring a bill requiring semiautomatic handguns (not sold covertly by State Senator Yee) to include ballistics identification microstamping.
Dan Greenfield argues that, while Barack Obama succeeded in selling leftism to the American public, he did it by concealing his real identity behind a masque of reasonable moderation. When leftists fail to conceal their leftism, Americans still find them totally repulsive.
The playwright and director David Mamet achieved an epiphany while listening to NPR. Unfortunately for NPR the epiphany was that he was no longer a liberal. â€œI felt my facial muscles tightening,â€ he described, â€œand the words beginning to form in my mind: Shut the f___ up.”
The unfiltered left with its onslaught of sanctimonious bleating often brings out that reaction.
Itâ€™s why Air America not only couldnâ€™t compete with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and other conservative talk radio hosts, but it couldnâ€™t even remain solvent. MSNBC, the bastard child of a ridiculous union between Microsoft and NBC, spent years drifting in search of an identity only to become the new Air America.
Why does the left, which is so adept at putting its agenda across in mainstream media outlets fail spectacularly when it puts away the disguise and begins saying what it really thinks?
George Orwell described the phenomenon in his book The Road to Wigan Pier. The behavior he is describing is so familiar that itâ€™s worth pausing to remember that it was written 77 years ago in 1937.
â€œI do not think the Socialist need make any sacrifice of essentials, but certainly he will have to make a great sacrifice of externals,â€ Orwell wrote, explaining why the left was failing to make headway with more sensible people. â€œIf only the sandals and the pistachio-coloured shirts could be put in a pile and burnt, and every vegetarian, teetotalerâ€¦ sent home to Welwyn Garden City to do his yoga exercises quietly!â€
Dan Greenfield explains how the Left’s Newspeak in the real world differs from Orwell’s prediction. Modern Newspeak does not reverse meanings. It substitutes emotions for meanings.
Newspeak’s objective was to enforce linguistic schizophrenia as a means of subdividing personalities, killing rational thought and making opposition into a form of madness. Liberal Newspeak’s is less ambitious. It settles for muddling your brain. Like modern advertising, its goal is to make you feel comfortable without actually telling you anything.
Liberal Newspeak is the chirpy announcer in a drug commercial soothingly telling you about all the fatal side effects while on screen couples have romantic picnics and go whitewater rafting. That is the job of most of the news media. Forget outliers like MSNBC which caters to a self-consciously prog crowd. The media’s real job is to be that announcer telling you that if you vote liberal, your taxes will go up, your job will go to China and you will die, without getting you upset about the terrible news.
The dictionary of Liberal Newspeak is full of empty and meaningless words. Community, Care, Access, Sharing, Concern, Affordability, Options, Communication, Listening, Engage, Innovating and a thousand others like it are wedged into sentences. Entire pages can be written almost entirely in these words without a single note of meaning intruding on the proceedings.
It’s not that these words don’t have meanings. It’s that their meanings have been rendered meaningless. The techniques of advertising have been used to pluck up words that people once felt comfortable with and wrap them around the agendas of the liberal bureaucracy.
Jim Geraghty (via email) explains why democrats think they don’t need to compromise.
[T]he president probably doesn’t really want a default . . . but that doesn’t mean he’s willing to do much to avoid one. He’s probably confident he’ll win the blame game afterwards — he has good reason to think that! — and this scenario would undoubtedly give him a clear, concise message from here until November 2014: “House Republicans destroyed the economy.” In fact, from November 1, 2013 until January 20, 2017, President Obama would cite his built-in excuse:The U.S. government’s failure to pay money it owes did irrevocable damage to the confidence of investors around the globe, an obstacle that not even his enlightened, innovative, unprecedented, wise, and munificent policies could overcome.
This is what happens when you have a bunch of elected leaders who are so convinced they can win a crisis that they aren’t that interested in preventing the crisis. Or that they seem to welcome crises, believing they’re all opportunities in disguise.
This ultimately all can be laid at the feet of the mainstream media, or whatever you like to call it these days: The New York Times, the Associated Press, Time, the network news crews, and so on. They’ve created a political environment of near-zero accountability.
We live in an atmosphere where Democrats aren’t worried about any of their decisions backfiring, because they know the mainstream coverage will always give them the benefit of the doubt, hammer their opponents, and gloss over or downplay their worst moments. The flip side of the coin is a “Tea Party caucus” (for lack of a better term) that has absolutely no fear of getting bad press — because they feel/suspect/know they’ll get negative coverage no matter what they do. Most of these guys shrug at the Morning Joe panel unanimously denouncing them as fools and unhinged extremists, because they think the only way that panel won’t denounce them as fools and extremists is if they stop being conservatives. A lot of those House members feel they might as well vote their principles and draw the hardest line possible — because if you’re going to get bad coverage, you might as well get bad coverage while fighting for a good cause.
Jeffrey Lord describes how control of Academia, elite media, the entertainment industry, the foundations, and the mainstream Protestant denominations allows liberals to define the reality around them (most of the time) and to frame every debate in their own terms.
He uses as a metonymy the very apt comparison of the Downfall of Rush Limbaugh, perennially predicted by the liberals, with the recent sale of the (liberal) Washington Post. Rush continues to flourish, while pillars of the establishment MSM are failing everywhere, but none of this matters, because the MSM is able to define reality, at least within its own establishment bubble.
Letâ€™s define… Liberal Privilege.
In four words?
â€œWe make the rules.â€
Is Rush Limbaugh in trouble?
Is the Tea Party extremist?
Was Ronald Reagan dumb, the Soviet Union eternal, did Bush lie, are conservatives racists? Is Sarah Palin stupid, Hillary Clinton brilliant, global warming a scientific fact, and abortion overwhelmingly popular?
The answers? Yes, yes, yes, yes, of course, itâ€™s obvious, absolutely, and everybody knows it without question.
Why? Because liberals say so, thatâ€™s why.
This is the Doctrine of Liberal Privilege that finally forced the Graham family to sell the Washington Post.
Using Liberal Privilege liberals make the rules, establish the common assumptions, send them forth into American society through the liberal media, liberal academia, liberal Hollywood, liberal religion, and other liberal venues.
So letâ€™s define the Doctrine of Liberal Privilege more specifically, academic-style (and note, sources will be provided at the end of this article):
â€¢ â€œLiberal Privilege defines the societal norm, often benefiting those in the privileged group. Second, privileged group members can rely on their privilege and avoid objecting to oppression. The result of this societal norm is that everyone is required to live by the attributes held by the privileged. In society liberals define and determine the terms of success and failure; they are the norm. Thus, achievements by members of the liberal privileged group are viewed as meritorious and the result of individual effort, rather than as privileged.â€
â€¢ â€œLiberal Privilege is a form of racism that both underlies and is distinct from institutional and overt racism. It underlies them in that both are predicated on preserving the privileges of liberals (regardless of whether agents recognize this or not). But it is also distinct in terms of intentionality. It refers to the hegemonic structures, practices, and ideologies that reproduce liberalsâ€™ privileged status. In this scenario, liberals do not necessarily intend to hurt people of conservative or non-liberal belief, but because they are unaware of their liberal privilege, and because they accrue social and economic benefits by maintaining the liberal status quo, they inevitably do.â€
â€¢ â€œLiberal Privilege is an invisible package of unearned assets which liberals can count on cashing in each day, but about which they are â€˜meantâ€™ to remain oblivious. Liberal Privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks.â€
When understood in this fashion, understanding the â€œinvisible weightless knapsackâ€ concept, the essence of everything from the liberal media to academia, mainline Protestant churches, the bureaucracies of Washington, DC, the NAACP, La Raza, the AFL-CIO, and so much more comes into 20/20 focus. Everyone involved, social, cultural, and political liberals one and all, has the requisite â€œmaps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checksâ€ of Liberal Privilege.
Legal Insurrection commented today on the news report that everyone on the Internet was laughing about yesterday.
A news anchor with television station KTVU in California was duped into reading off the names of several purported pilots from Asiana Flight 214, which crash landed on a San Francisco runway on July 6th, killing three and injuring over 180 passengers.
The â€œpilot namesâ€ were so painfully obviously fake, itâ€™s hard to believe that this segment ever made it to air. I mean, with names like â€œCaptain Sum Ting Wongâ€ and â€œHo Lee Fukâ€ â€“ really?
The worst part about it is that the TV station did at least try to do some legwork and reached out to the National Transportation Safety Board for verification. The NTSB confirmed the names.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a press release this evening acknowledging that a summer intern had erroneously confirmed four fake Asiana pilot names to Bay Area TV station KTVU. The release corroborates KTVU’s claim that an NTSB official had confirmed that “Ho Lee Fuk” and “Sum Ting Wong,” among others, had been manning Asiana flight 214, which crashed near San Francisco on Saturday.
and indignantly demanded: “if you’ve got any information on the intern behind this shitshow, email us.
Being public-spirited, I naturally forwarded to them this tip, tweeted by Iowahawk:
Great minds from the Rhode Island media tell you what to do if you run into a black bear. Note that the bear you are going to run into is already labeled as merely “curious.” He couldn’t possibly be “ravenous,” “aggressive,” or “predatory.”
Dan Greenfield relishes the ironies of the Obama Administration’s conflicts with the very same establishment Media which propelled it into power.
The quarrel between Obama and the Media is largely a lovers’ quarrel, but the love is only there on one side. The media made Obama what he is. But what he is, among many other things, is a control freak spawned by a political ideology that distrusts everyone and consolidates power at all cost.
The media loved Obama, but it discovered early on that he did not love it back. Instead of basking in the adoration of the Candy Crowleys and the Anderson Coopers and the massive corporate machines behind them, the love child of every liberal fantasy shut them out, rigidly controlled their access and ruthlessly punished unauthorized conversations with the press.
The media had made Obama into a tin god, but were constantly suspected of heresy. Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty, they were kept at arm’s length.
Obama Inc. knew that their biggest asset was the narrative. A close study of Obama’s qualifications or accomplishments would have given no conceivable reason for voting for him. The only thing he brought to the table was race and even in this he was less qualified than most of the black men who had run for president.
The narrative was the dearest treasure of Obama Inc. It was the one thing that its cronies protected. The economy could tank, wars could be lost and an asteroid could smack into the Pacific Ocean and none of it mattered nearly as much as the golden narrative. They didn’t trust anyone with it including the media.
The media these days doesn’t have much. Its numbers are bad in every medium from the tube to the inky pages of newsprint to the crackling AM radio waves. It isn’t very profitable. Often it’s a dead weight. But it wields a great deal of institutional power. The New York Times and CNN may both be dogs when it comes to the balance sheets, but owning either one gives you an impressive amount of heft in the national dialogue; though not as much as working for one of them does.
Power is all that the media has. Its power is projected in a fairly narrow circle. Fewer people are reading, watching and listening to it, so its circle becomes more incestuous. Everyone has learned to act like a member of the D.C. press corps, interpreting events through the lens of old West Wing episodes. The resulting noise reaches fewer people, but helps form the shaky consensus on which the institutional power of the media stands.
In its dying hour, the media used that power to ensure the double coronation of a corrupt Chicago politician with a facility for mimicking speech patterns. And that politician rewarded it by trying to bypass it and set up his own media.
Obama’s vision of the proper place of the media isn’t just at his feet, but under his control. Instead of dealing with the media, he has tried to cut it out of the loop by putting a larger emphasis on social media and developing narratives through think-tanks and media influencing groups. It was a power struggle that the media was initially baffled by. It had held out an ice cream cone to the little boy, only to have the little boy kick it in the shin, grab the ice cream cone and run away.
For years the media had groused about a lack of transparency, the unprecedented prosecution of whistleblowers and the hostile relationship between Obama Inc’s minions and many reporters. The grousing was usually understated. It could be mentioned offhand, but not too loudly. When Bob Woodward made the mistake of speaking his mind, he was swiftly punished for it by the avatars of the post-media media, while the old media sat silently and watched the show.
But then Obama pushed its limits by invading the sanctum of the Associated Press. It was one thing when the administration was targeting whistleblowers, but quite another when the media’s power became part of the collateral damage.
The week of scandals was the media reminding Obama that his smooth ride had been provided by them and that the ride could get very bumpy if his media ponies decide to take the back road to Benghazigate or drop by the IRS headquarters. It’s a bluff, of course. The day may come when the media takes Obama out back and disposes of him so that the new messiah, perhaps in a pantsuit, can ascend the old Camelot throne, but that day isn’t here yet.
Scandal week was a game of chicken between Obama and the media to see who would blink first. Would Obama decide to respect the institutional power of the media or would be consider pushing forward until the media blinked. A brief history of Obama Inc. suggests that he will keep pushing on. Obama backs down from Muslim terrorists and Russian government thugs, but not from Americans.
Like most cowards, Obama only attacks those he knows won’t fight back. And the only people who won’t fight back are either helpless or bound by their politics not to resist the liberal messiah.
Obama knows that the media does not dare harm a hair on the head of the liberal agenda. And he made certain to appoint a Vice President whom no one in their right mind would want to see take over. Until 2016, it’s Hussein or the highway. The media has shown that it can hamstring him even when the coverage is only mild. It is quite capable of turning up the temperature to boiling, though not without a civil war with Media Matters, Think Progress and a chunk of the liberal new media.
The media is a prisoner of its own ideology. It can’t hit Obama too hard… yet. Not until they’re making the case that Hillary will do a better job of governing than this inexperienced tyro did. Having abandoned any professional integrity years ago, it would be too late for most of the media to reclaim it now. Even in the name of its own institutional power.