Elite Media: Bailout Opponents Are Irresponsible Members of the "Me First, Country Second" Crowd

by: David Sirota

Mon Oct 06, 2008 at 23:02


Last week, Chris noted that the major argument for the bailout from its proponents was essentially that opposing it is a sign of stupidity. This came from the highest echelons of the Broderian media - and if you want a good example of what I'm talking about, watch the clip above from the highest of high cathedrals of Broderism, The Charlie Rose Show (h/t kovie). It features Conventional Wisdom Guru Doris Kearns Goodwin asserting that anyone who opposed the bailout is not merely wrong (that would be fine - disagreements over substance are part of a healthy democracy). No, Goodwin asserts that bailout opponents are irresponsible and unpatriotic, and further, that any lawmaker who voted against the bailout KNEW they were being irresponsible and unpatriotic. Put another way, Goodwin's comments, which were echoed by other similar elite media voices, very brazenly attempted to imply that opponents of the bailout were being part of the "me first, country second crowd," as hatemonger John McCain himself might say.*

David Sirota :: Elite Media: Bailout Opponents Are Irresponsible Members of the "Me First, Country Second" Crowd
Goodwin, of course, negates to mention the hundreds of award winning economists, financial analysts and experts - not to mention, tens of millions of Americans - who opposed the bailout on the grounds that it would actually make our economic situation worse. She simply insults any opposition as acting out of bad faith - as if it is absolutely impossible for them to be acting on principle and well-documented substance.

This is your elite media at work with the same kind of tactics that likened Joe Lieberman opponents in 2006 to extremist terrorist sympathizers - the same kind of tactics that urged us to spend more than $1 trillion - and more than 4,000 American lives - invading Iraq, while denigrating war opponents as irresponsible and unpatriotic. This is your elite media that, in sum, has become part of the problem.

Why does the media work this way? It's easy to understand if you consider the contemporary "analyst's" self-serving formula: Record whatever those in power say, package it as objectively "responsible" and patriotic policy and feed it to the country while omitting the substantive objections of opponents. That way, the analyst/pundit/reporter gets to stay in the good graces of those in power - and get invites onto Charlie Rose's Public Broadcasting Service show (which, as in this clip, often spends its time criticizing the public).

Call it, as I have, Stenographic Journalism.

* As an off-subject aside, this style is one of the things I really can't stand about McCain, and Barack Obama's very different style is one of the things I like about the Illinois senator. Unlike McCain, he doesn't denigrate his the people he disagrees with as unpatriotic evildoers, or part of any America-hating "crowd."  Though I disagree with Obama on a number of things, I always have gotten the sense that he listens - and respects informed opinions, even when he ultimately disagrees with them.  


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Liberals (4.00 / 1)
To think that people wonder why many even on the left can't stand liberals.

At least Krugman was on Maddow today suggesting a more robust partnership for the federal gov't in making real credit available will now be inevitable.  Strangely, he didn't really get to why he thought it was a good idea to throw $700 billion at worthless paper a week ago.  But you know, oh well, back to the drawing board.  

These are the same people who find the selection of Sarah Palin so much cynical condescension, yet their thinking as expressed by the eminent plagiarist above is just as disgusting.



By plagiarist do you mean Goodwin? (4.00 / 1)
I'm mostly familiar with her through her MANY TV appearances, not her work (although I have a copy of her most recent book sitting around, Team of Rivals, that I keep meaning to get to). But anyone this desperate for media exposure and adulation has got to be overcompensating for something pretty bad.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton

[ Parent ]
I don't know how Goodwin can be considered an academic (4.00 / 3)
In virtually every appearance she makes on these talks shows (or PBS documentaries), which are MANY (I hate to use the term media whore, but if anyone qualifies for this, she does--she seems to have this unquenchable if not pathological need to be in front of a camera and mouthng off), she does the EXACT SAME THING, which is to spout safe, reassuring, repetitive, utterly conventional and uninteresting tripe of the sort that popular "historians" like the late Stephen Ambrose and Tom Brokaw spout, that reinforces the status quo and in no serious way challenges it, at most superficially and on the margins.

These are people who if in a conversation someone asserted that Bush/Cheney knowingly lied to get us into war, would within seconds find a reason to walk away in panic, lest they be associated with anyone who challenged the CW. It's like she wants to be a real historian, which requires one to be as harshly objective as possible and not pressupose one's conclusions, but can't resist the deep-seated urge to smooth everything over with a nice fable or story.

And in this instance, the story is that privileged elites always know what they're doing, even when they screw up royally, or else why would they be privileged elites. It's almost like a Calvinistic, predeterministic view of the world, that predates modern critical thinking that rejects such linear and inductive thinking. I.e. these elites are smart, they're experienced, they're wise, they mean well, so therefore they always know and do well, and the rest of us need to just bow down before them as the superior beings that they are (herself clearly being among them, of course--kissing up having its privileges of membership).

I strongly suspect that were Lincoln alive, he wouldn't give the lot of them the time of day. He understood the difference between intelligence, knowledge, and wisdom, and that the first two do not automatically lead to the third. And I believe that Obama does as well (even if he's yet to show that he can harness these gifts to great benefit).

An echo chamber of reinforced vacuity.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


Doris Kearns Goodwin is far from the only one .. (0.00 / 0)
.. meaning media whore .. you have Peggy Noonan .. but don't worry .. media whoredom doesn't discriminate .. look at people like George Will .. Charles Kraphammer .. Bill "William the Bloody" Kristol .. I could go on

[ Parent ]
But there's a difference (4.00 / 3)
These other people are all in the media, as pundits, opiners and writers of popular (i.e. non-academic) books on politics, culture, etc. They are professional bloviators and polemicists who aren't really experts in anything, at least having to do with these topics. So that they would be on the media all the time is only natural (if also, in their cases, nauseating). They're less media whores than media personalities who are also intellectual whores (i.e. fakes).

But Goodwin is presumably an academic, a tenured, accomplished, serious and well-respected Harvard professor who writes serious and critical historical works. That she should be called upon to make occasional media appearances on matters that pertain to her areas of expertise is only natural. This happens all the time.

But she's on TV ALL THE FREAKING TIME, above and beyond what seems in any way normal and healthy, often to talk about matters that she has no special expertise in. To me, THAT is a media whore: way too much exposure for someone who is presumably not a media person, and on matters that they have no more right to talk about than you or I.

I mean, I get it, Lincoln hired his rivals because he was smart and confident and knew that it was best for the country at the time. But that isn't some magical template that you can then apply to every single news development under the sun. Obama reaches out to the other side: Team of Rivals. Bush pleads for the passage of a bipartisan bailout plan: Team of Rivals. Cubs lose to Dodgers: Team of Rivals. My hangnail just broke off: Team of Rivals. ENOUGH!!!

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Goodwin is a Harvard Prof? .. (0.00 / 0)
Really? .. I never knew that ... as I see her on the TV all the time .. she might not write for newspapers or TV .. but she is just like all the rest .. saying nonsensical stuff like they do

[ Parent ]
I appear to have erred (4.00 / 1)
I just Googled her, and while she did teach government at Harvard during the 70's, she does not appear to be a professor there, tenured or not. I had heard her mentioned as teaching at Harvard, which, combined with her being constantly being described as an historian, led me to assume that she was a tenured professor of history at Harvard. Looks like I was wrong.

Plus, it also appears that she committed plagiarism in several of her works and reached an out of court settlement on one of them, further diminishing her academic credibility. Looks to me like she's basically yet another smart, talented, dishonest, CW-spouting hack who's somehow managed to worm her way into the highest reaches of the Very Important and Wise Person insider's club, which protects its own ferociously.

These people all need each other to protect themselves, because on some level they're ALL phonies who are afraid of being outed as such. And the only reason that they're in this club is because this club's purpose is to protect the power establishment that stands behind them, which owns the papers, magazines, networks, publishing houses and book stores that employ them. They are, in effect, its PR department. Which makes them ALL whores.

It's all one huge con, and most people have no idea how vast, longstanding and complex it is.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
which of these things does not fit with the others? (0.00 / 0)
I find it interesting that you so readily lump Doris Kearns Goodwin in with Will, Krauthammer, and Kristol. You can knock her all you want, but she's not a member of that bunch. Centrist? Arguably. Conservative? Come on.

If you're lumping her with other "media whores," then you should include some liberal media whores, too. Gee, I can't think of any...

The truth about Saxby Chambliss


[ Parent ]
There are conservatives (0.00 / 0)
and there are the "centrists" who vouch for and enable them, or serve as their foils and useful idiots. They each depend upon each other for support. Ever notice how on virtually all the talk shows, the right is represented by a conservative like Will, and the "left" by a centrist like Goodwin? Why do you think that is? Accident? Hardly. They each play their role in this con game in the SCLM, in which real liberals and lefties are nearly invisible.

And what "liberal media" are you referring to? Establishment media outlets like the NYT and WaPo, which are hardly liberal at all? Or true liberal media outlets like The Nation and American Prospect, which have very limited circulation? There are no "whores" in the latter that I know of (they kicked that sociopathic asshole Hitchins out years ago), but plenty in the former faux "liberal media" outlets.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything...Mankind are forever destined to be the dupes of bold & cunning imposture" -- Alexander Hamilton


[ Parent ]
Insults any opposition as acting out of bad faith (4.00 / 3)
The elite media does do this, and it is a serious problem for our national discourse, not to mention enormously offensive to those so insulted.  And, in this case, obviously and wildly off-base.

This is not a habit confined to the elite media though.

And in seriousness, the correct imputation of good and bad faith is actually a very big deal.  If you don't have a correct read on the actual allegiances, intentions, and mindsets of others, you will fail to predict others' actions and potential actions effectively, and will fail to interact with enemies or allies successfully.  You have to know how other people think, good and bad, if you want to 1) interact with them and 2) achieve specific results.

Many many people erred in imputing "good faith" to the Cheney Administration in specific instances where it did not exist, or at least not in the way they expected it to.  

Incorrectly imputing bad faith cripples one's efforts just as easily though.


Its not clear to me (4.00 / 3)
why this is a result of pundits "wanting to get in the good graces of power" so much as it is pundits trusting their friends and people their friends know and being too lazy to look up bailout opponents and consider the arguments on all sides.

don't knock Charlie Rose (0.00 / 0)
I agree with your general point. But I find your smear of Charlie Rose as "the highest of the high cathedrals of Broderism" that "often spends its time criticizing the public" as completely off-base. Charlie Rose interviews analysts and politicians from all across the political spectrum. Yes, he does interview folks like Doris Kearns Goodwin, who is generally really insightful (and yes, occasionally wrong) . He also interviews folks like Karl Rove as well as folks like Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, and Ralph Nader. Yeah, what a Broderist!

So, where do you watch or hear your substantive, in-depth interviews? Or maybe you're not interested in hearing what other people have to say?

The truth about Saxby Chambliss


He gets good guests. (4.00 / 1)
I'll give him that much. But he's somewhat of a doofus in a Broder-rific way.

miasmo.com

[ Parent ]
asdf (4.00 / 4)
The corporate media was all about backing the bailout from day one. It drove me crazy. They didn't want to hear anything from anyone who was saying that this plan was the exact wrong way to approach the problem.

Oh, sure, they'd interview some Republicans who were railing against "socialism" and for "tax payers" and whatnot, but they completely blew off the legions of real economists who could have explained how bad this particular bailout plan was.


Links? (0.00 / 0)
Can you share any links of economists who explained how the bailout could make the problem worse. I've read people saying it might not work or that it was not the best possible solution, but I haven't seen any "economist" actually say that it completely sucked and would make things worse.

miasmo.com

[ Parent ]
This is one. I'm sure there were many, many more (4.00 / 2)
The director of the Congressional Budget Office said yesterday [September 24] that the proposed Wall Street bailout could actually worsen the current financial crisis.

The tiny link is Washington Post

http://tinyurl.com/5xz6ln


[ Parent ]
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