September 10, 2008

The Payoff

Halperin and Cooper, via Swampland Commenter rmrd0000:

MH:  No.  And it's another thing I get that I'm embarrassed about our profession for.  She should be held more accountable for that.  The "bridge to nowhere" thing is outrageous.  And if you press them on that, they falter because they know they can't defend what they're saying.  They're saying it on the stump, as a core part of their message.  It's in their advertising.  I'm not saying the press should be out to get John McCain and Sarah Palin.  But if a core part of their message is something that every journalist...journalism organization in the country has looked at and says it's demonstrably false, again, we're not doing our jobs if we just treat this as one of many things that's happening.

AC:  And yet, we're getting tons of e-mails from people saying that we're attacking Sarah Palin by looking at her record.  So it's fascinating to see how polarized people are...

For the last two decades, the Republicans have sought  to make the press irrelevant in political campaigns.  First, they created the myth of the liberal media.  Hammered that for so long that the media responded by setting the left boundary at The New Republic, and the boundary on the right at Michael Savage and Pat Buchanan.  Hammered that message for so long that the Sunday gasbag shows responded by essentially eliminating liberal voices, putting Republican operatives up against "impartial journalists."   At the same time, they got the message out to the dittoheads with constant repetition on the radio shows.

For the last eight years, the Bush administration has embarked on a concerted effort to remake reality as a political construct.  The famous Suskind quote, where the official said that the Administration makes its own reality was no exaggeration.   We're not just talking global warming or Iraq war propaganda.  The goal was to eliminate facts from the political process.

This dovetails very nicely with the systematic denunciation of the media as a collective liberal operation.   The Republicans have developed their own channels for delivering messages to their supporters, so that when they release their redefinitions of reality, it is immediately echoed in email and phone calls to the liberal media operatives,

Those supposed operatives then conclude that the country is "polarized" and that actually pointing out that one set of statements is true and the other set is false would be falling into a polarizing trap.  So they effectively concede to the Republicans that reality is a matter of politics.  Some of this (see atrios' wanker of the day) is that tired balance business that has been exploited for the last eight years, but more of it has to do with a complete folding of the tent of any kind of journalistic commitment to the truth.  

On the teevee, anyway. 

I see the print people are waking up, and discovering that maybe when McCain said all those opportunistic, pandering things, it was because he was a narcissistic opportunist panderer, and when he walked to the back of the bus to sneer at the voters, he was opportunistically pandering to the boys on the bus.  They were played for saps.

In any case, now is the payoff.  There is absolutely no way, in a political world where reality plays any role, that a Republican, especially another incoherent, bellicose neo-con committed to the preservation of oligopolies and unfunded big government could win a presidential race in the wake of a Republican record of disastrous failure--a failure reflected in a 20/80 right track/wrong track assessment.

But now, because there is no trusted third party to assess the accuracy of the claims of a candidate willing to lie, baldly, without compunction, there is actually some possibility that this could happen.  These decades of Republican investment in Big Lies, in undermining media credibility, and in exploiting their inability to call a lie a lie is now paying off.

And now some of those columnists and reporters who enabled St. John McCain's position in American politics are now impotently waving their arms and shouting. 



Todd and in Charge said...

Good stuff, but I feel like Glenn does today -- downright depressed. Is this 2000 all over again? How is it -- with all the blogs, fact checks, and new technologies -- that we cannot change or even put a dent in this insane media narrative?

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...

Indeed. Depressed is the word. We're betting the country on Obama's ground game.

Todd and in Charge said...

Agreed. Let's hope (pray) that same measured approach that won him the primary works in the general.

stuart_zechman said...


Who --us Americans?

ivb said...

Jay, you've been telling us to be calm for a long time and I've mostly calmed down and Nate Silver's site has helped a lot with that. However, I see today the popular vote is back to even and that was before all this faux outrage about the pig.

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...

No stuart, the suckers were the reporters and pundits who thought that McCain was showing his true self when he spoke nobly about the nation and honor. Alternatively, the ones who thought that he was one of them, when he sniggered at the process, and the voters.

As we have been saying for some time, McCain was using these reporters.

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...


I'm becoming concerned that these straight up lies are going to muddle things enough that voters will just get confused. That's clearly part of the plan. I haven't looked at 538 yet today.

Jay Ackroyd (@jayackroyd) said...

Let me put it differently, ivb.

One source of my confidence has been my conviction that McCain is a terrible candidate. Incoherent. Ignorant--remarkably ignorant, given his ambition. (There are senators as ignorant, but they don't run for president.) Unable to stay on message.

But if they can keep both of them in controlled situations (and a debate is a controlled situation), and fill the teevee with this claptrap, well then we're talking crapshoot. Because there will be no differentiation between the two candidates.

The republican goal is to have voters have two things in their heads:

1) All politicians are the same
2) Except that republicans cut your taxes and democrats raise them

Mr. Nice Guy said...

If We the People are falling for this "used car salesman" type pitch, then we deserve the POS lemon we buy.

I think the "success" of this strategy says more about the stupidity of the general populace than it does about the Repugs. I mean, they're just taking an approach that seems to work, because the victims are too stupid to see behind the lies. Can't blame them for trying to be successful.

Todd and in Charge said...

Your point about McCain being an awful candidate is of course correct, and one hopes the debates will give everyone a chance to see that.

But then that nagging fear comes in, will the media cocoon him coming in and out of the debate, will we have Charlie Gibson asking softballs etc., so we'll have no real chance to make that judgment?

ivb said...

TaiC, As I said in the Swamp, I'm afraid the debates will show McCain as the one with the snappy one liners (on topic or not) and Obama as the uh-uh, well thoughtful responder. Obama is a little better than he was with that, but still not great. Style over substance and that's the way the media reaction will play.

I think it was Atrios who said in regard to the primaries that there is the debate and then there is the talk about the debate.