Blue Fragility: Open Letter To Jonathan Chait

To: Johnathan “Chaitful” Chait
From: Mitch Berg – Red State Sleeper Agent
Re: This Little “Eliminationist Hatred” Problem You Have

Mr. Chait

We go way back, of course – and not in a good way. You have a bit of a history of being a horrible excuse for a human being. But you are a gift that keeps giving, for people like me, so for that I thank you, even if backhandedly.

This past week, you wrote an article in “New York Magazine” claiming that the Republican response to Covid is, in your terms, a “Death Cult”.

I won’t pullquote anything – the article is long, and never really improves over the title.

But I have two questions.

First, some background – here’s the listed Covid fatalities/million as of last Friday:

  • NY (D): 1,684
  • NJ (D): 1,790
  • US average: 474
  • FL (R): 319
  • MN (DFL): 291
  • TX (R): 241
  • ND (R): 135

So I’ve got two questions for you, Mr. Chait:

  1. Did you ever refer to Cuomo (or the governors of NJ/CT/MA) as running a “death cult?” I’ll confess, I’m an infrequent reader of yours. I only read you (or John Fugelsang) when you step on your d**k spectacularly – but I’d hate to be unfair.
  2. I wager you a shiny new quarter that as of November 3, 2020, TX and FL will be below half NY’s fatalities per million. Any action on that bet?

Thanks.

By the way – at the risk of sounding uncharitable, there are times that I think you are God’s karmic gift to me for never teasing the short-bus kids in elementary school. For this, I thank Him, and urge you to keep up the, uh, work, karmically speaking.

That is all.

Side Note: I’m making this the The George W. Bush Corollary To Berg’s Seventh Law – All of a Republican’s sins, imaginary or (for sake of argument) real, will be forgotten once the Republican can no longer hold office. 

There Are Millions Of Reasons…

… why I will never donate a single penny to Minnesota Public radio, even though I listen to them (primarily news and classical music) constantly.

Two of them, for starters, are:

  • Keri Miller
  • WNYC’s “On The Media”.

But a few more million of them are right here; as Minnesota Public radio lays off much of what used to be a pretty good news room, their executive staff still keep getting paid, well, like this:

To add insult to injury, MPR’s national production group, “American Public Media”, is canceling “Live from Here with Chris Thile” – the excellent show that grew from the ruins of “Prairie Home Companion”, and one of the few original production non-news shows worth listening to.

MPR hastens to point out that their C-suite is taking a 30% pay cut. Which sounds like a big deal, until you realize that a whole lot of private sector CEOs are cutting their pay to $1 for the duration.

Items For The “Cancel” Agenda

SCENE: Mitch BERG is walking out of the local Korean joint with a container of Galbi. As he’s committing to going out the door, MyLyssa SILBERMAN, reporter for National Public Radio’s Saint Paul bureau, covering the “Fake News” and “Diversity” beats.

SILBERMAN: Mister Berg.

BERG: Er, hi, Ms. Silberman. What’s new?

SILBERMAN: Not much time for small talk. I’m doing a story about cancel culture.

BERG: You mean, about how the titans of the progressive media, the Guardian, have their roots in laissez faire policies regarding slavery and the future of the American union during the civil war?

SILBERMAN: No, no. I’m looking for examples in the world of politics.

BERG: You mean like the town in Alabama whose entire base of wealth was built on the products of slavery, but posits itself as a bastion of “progressive” thought today.

SILBERMAN: Alabama?

BERG: Yuuup.

SILBERMAN: Go ahead. I’m listening.

BERG: This town in Alabama built its entire civic wealth between 1815 and 1865 on textiles – an industry based on slave-produced cotton – and tobacco, which was…

SILBERMAN: …raised by slaves. Yes. Yes. Keep going.

BERG: And they voted for the Democrat, pro-slavery candidates for President, in 1860 and 1864.

SILBERMAN: I already hate them.

BERG: And then, when the Civil War was well underway, they undertook a pogrom against not only blacks – whom they blamed for the war, and for the economic hardships the war brought them – but against whites that supported abolition, destroying their businesses in an epic riot.

SILBERMAN: Perfect. Probably fundamentalist Christianists to boot. These people need canceling.

BERG: I’ll say.

SILBERMAN: What town in Alabama?

BERG: It was…wait, did I say Alabama?

SILBERMAN: You did.

BERG: My bad. It was New York City. Your hometown, if I recall.

SILBERMAN: (Stands, stunned).

BERG: You’ve been canceled.

SILBERMAN: (Jaw flaps, but no sound comes out)

BERG: Try the dok buk uhm. It’s divine. (BERG walks out)

And SCENE

Democracy Dies In Conspiracy

Conservatives, especially conservatives who are “out” critics of the mainstream media, get routinely accused of “hating” journalism. The late Nick Coleman was particularly, er, “acerbic” in his criticism of those who had the gall to criticize the news/industrial complex, claiming in one bout of hysteria that bloggers “wanted to kill the Strib”.

While we correctly savaged the Strib, and especially Coleman, on issue after issue, it was still baked wind. Self-government, small-“D” democracy, needs a functional, and above all trustworthy, media (among many other institutions) to survive.

And by “”trustworthy”, we mean “can be trusted to report the news, truthfully, regardless of its own institutional and individual political opinions.

In Europe, the media are pretty honest about their political points of view, on an editorial level; the Times of London and the Frankfurter Allgemeine are center-right; Guardian and Die Zeit and Le Monde are all various degrees of left. You know the slant before you pick up the paper. You can account for it.

American media has built a myth of objectivity, or at least of being a so-called “neutral voice”, around itself; Minnesota Public Radio news even made “No Rant, No Slant” their motto for a while, and it’s not much different than the mythology American media built for itself over the past hundred years or so. In my freshman year journalism class,

And it’s never really been true. Some journos do in fact do their best to separate their personal views, of course – I’ve got nothing but respect for the best of them.

Many journalists also do their best, but inevitably reflect the fact that their entire frame of reference is left-of-center. Their education, their workplace, their social circle, are an ecosystem where some variety of The Left is the old, current and future Normal. When they confront a different point of view, they can seem a little like Jane Goodall venturing out among the gorillas.

And when things are chugging along like normal, who cares, right?

The New Abnormal . But then something pops up that threatens the order, and not in a good way. What then?

The media has been rightly seen as slanted to the left for close to fifty years. With the rise of talk radio and alternative news 30 years ago, you could sense that the “elite” media were starting to give up on the pretense of balance and detachment. The notion of the “neutral voice” has been

But with the election of President Trump, the floodgates got dynamited.

The “neutral voice”, isn’t.

“Oh, Mitch – you and your hyperbole”.

No. Not at all.

The Gatekeepers Speak: “On the Media” is a production of WNYC Radio in New York. It’s a public station, one of the flagship station in the National Public Radio chain. Like a lot of NPR productions, sometimes it’s excellent. Sometimes the smug rolls off it like fog off a loch.

And sometimes, it accomplishes its mission – which in the case of “On the Media”, is to serve as the exposed id of the “elite” media in this country.

With that in mind: this show was broadcast on December 1, 2016 – probably as fast as could be put together on NPR timelines. It had four segments:

  1. The first gazed navel-ly about “how the media should cover President Trump“. Because conveying the facts and letting the audience make up their own mind was presumably not good enough anymore.
  2. How talking about Trump “Normalizes” him – unless the media changes the rules when discussing him. This featured reprentatives, not from The Nation and Slate.com or Buzzfeed or Samantha Bee. No, they were from the NYTimes and Washington Post. That led to another segment…
  3. How the language itself needs to be understood, and harnessed.
  4. And, lest the foregoing was too oblique for the casual listener, a segment linking the (as yet unstarted) Trump administration to Putin’s variety of autocracy, and laying out the imperative for the media to use it’s power to prevent “Normalizing” the president-elect.

And the media’s behavior in the three and a half years since has mapped to that template, as the media has grasped at every possible straw to try to “take down” the President.

We didn’t even need to get this leaked to us, like ‘Journo-list’ – although I suspect I may have been the only conservative listening to that groaningly pompous program, and I suspect that’s WNYC’s assumption as well.

TL:dr – At least some of the people at the apex of the “layers and layers of gatekeepers” have abolished the old rules of journalism, publicly but yet internally, as re Donald Trump.

The “elite” media’s entire coverage of Trump over the past four years, on every issue, has followed the template that’s suggested, sub rosa, in the four On the Media pieces above.

Will the rules change back when Trump leaves office? Of course not – the media had the same general attitude toward Republicans, conservatives and the issues of the right for a generation before 2016.

But the institutional imperative to use the media’s power toward political and social ends? That’s not going to end.

Distrust, but verify. And then, almost inevitably, if some smidgeon of partisan politics is involved, distrust some more.

Breeding A Nation Of Ninnies

This tweet from Time – kids, ask your parents…

…explains a lot about how Greta Thunberg became their “Person of the Year”.

Among many other things.

The Babylon Bee may actually be giving the big media too much credit.

And To Think Conservatives Believe Big Media Writes Stories About Conservative / Republican People And Events Long Beforehand, Because They’re All Writing To A Narrative

Jessica Kwong, progressive stenographer at former magazine “Newsweek”, on Donald Trump’s thanksgiving:

“it was written before knowing about the president’s surprise visit to Afghanistan-an honest mistake”

In other words, pre-written.

The Big Media aren’t “the enemy of the people”. They’re worse; after assuming the mantle of “guardian of democracy” (which, we are told, without their ministrations would “die in darkness”), they are doing something very, very different. They’re worse than an enemy; they are betraying a trust – however misbegotten.

They are swindling the people.

UPDATE: And apparently the once-mighty Newsweek can be shamed into decency; Kwong has been fired.

I’m sure she’ll be off the beach soon.

Freedom Is Dangerous

“Liberals”, 2004: “Question authority! Free speech is *the* most essential right!”

“Progressives”, 2019: “Free speech is too dangerous for people without tin ‘journalist’ badges to be using”


In the old Soviet Union, citizens used to joke that when a shortage of butter was anticipated, the state media would start running stories on how *bad* butter was for you.

I couldn’t help but think about this over the weekend. And not *just* because our media is resembling the old Soviet media more and more, either.

Following on the NYTimes’ op-ed on free speech being too “dangerous” for mere proles, NPR’s “On the Media” – which is to the big media what a fawning mall cop is to your local blue-and-white – took up the same refrain, giving Marantz a full hour to reiterate his claim (and in so doing giving a whole new spin on “physician, heal thyself”).

Oh, they wrap it in a dirty-sounding word, “absolutism” – but like the NYTimes piece…

…it’s all a rationalization for turning speech over to the “professionals”, to whittle that right (or “right”) down to a size that proles can handle.

And we’re seeing a *lot* of this lately; how checks and balances are just tooooo haaaaard, and the Bill of Rights is just tooooo complex for the herd to deal with.

Makes me think of Soviet Radio. Apropos nothing.

Just saying, Democrats – I liked y’all better 15 years ago.

A Thousand Times “Yep”

While driving about yesterday during the mid-day, I caught a piece on MPR – basically a recycled “Documentary” podcast on “Education” looking at the tension between free speech and “inclusion” at the U of M, viewed in the context of a squabble over a panel on the Washington Avenue bridge in 2016, where Campus Republicans wrote “build the wall”, spawning the usual suspects’ usual performances about the need to make free speech not nearly so free.

I sat, mostly dumbfounded, as a series of academics, consultants and activists responded to the notion of the importance (to say nothing of sanctity ,and vitality to a democracy) of free speech with an ever-increasing series of “Yabbuts”.

There were too many chilling moments to pick just one pullquote; I’d read or listen to the whole thing, if you’re in the mood to feel immense forboding.

But this part here caught my attention; I’ve added some emphasis:

Over the course of [Rebecca Ropers, a vice provost for faculty and academic affairs at the University of Minnesota]’s career, she has witnessed an increasing ability for people that are marginalized on campus to articulate what is going on in their lives, but she doesn’t see administrators and other students showing a commensurate ability to hear and acknowledge those experiences. She said that the university now knows more about managing diversity and free speech, but school officials don’t always implement what they know.
“If administrators and faculty could have students’ backs and continue to articulate the importance of free speech, while also saying, ‘Yeah, and I really find that reprehensible,” I think maybe that’s a good strategy for academic leaders to take at this point,” Ropers said.

“Acknowledgment”. It’s the “bring me a rock” of modern sociology; the “acknowledgment” sought is never, ever the kind offered; there’s always a bigger, better, different form that’s really demanded, although it’s up to the acknowledgor to figure that out.

If the modern academy – at least, outside most engineering and hard science departments – expends energy in anything other than endless self-flagellation over the current view of identity politics, what is it?

Although I’ll clarify – it’s not so much self-flagellation; call it flagellation of some “other” on the part of the upper-middle-class academics and activists doing the flagellation, who are never called upon for any meaningful sacrifices as a result.

Cultural Nausea

I want to make a video, fisking John Oliver’s moronic piece claiming Australia’s gun laws “debunk” the “American gun ownership myth”. Spoiler: the only parts that are wrong are the parts where Oliver is moving his lips.

The problem is, watching John Oliver gives me a very unpleasant physical reaction. Watching him literally makes me ill.

It’s not just how he smugly mangles context and cherry picks factoids, and mugs for the trained seals in his audience; that was Jon Stewart’s schtick, too. But I can watch (and heckle and fisk) Stewart and enjoy doing it.

John Oliver could read a phone book, or “Goodnight Moon”, or even quotes from Margaret Thatcher and William F. Buckley, and I’d still feel my skin crawing, and start wanting to throw up.

I don’t even react like this to the useless Steven Colbert.

I literally get ill watching Oliver.

The only other thing like it? I get a headache watching Tim Burton movies. No kidding – I even got a headache watching one Burton movie even before I learned what it was and who directed it. It can be a Burton movie I love (“Nightmare before Christmas”) or hate (“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”), but it’s the same headache. Something about his style. I don’t know.

But even that reaction is nothing like the one I get from John Oliver.

No, I’m not exaggerating.

Does this happen to anyone else?

That Moment When…

….you see it in black and white:  Big Left’s “elites” really, really don’t understand the Constitution, federalism, checks and balances…representative republican government.

There are times the idea of complete national divorce – preferably peaceful – sounds almost dreamy.

Aborted In The First Trimester

Michelle Wolf’s really awful Netflix show canceled after three months:

The move comes just a couple of weeks after BET announced it was cancelling The Rundown with Robin Thede after its first season. That cuts the number of late-night-style shows hosted by women in half, with only TBS’ Samantha Bee and Hulu’s Sarah Silverman left standing.

And with a little luck, Bee’s wretched show will be dying from apathy before too long.

It’s not all good news: The Joel McHale Show With Joel McHale also got tubed.

 

Nick Coleman: Still A Monkey

The other day, I linked to an excellent Strib piece about my friend Sarah Cade – a liberal, millennial, biracial, female “gun nut”.

It’s an interesting story, and one that has to be terrifying Big Left, inasmuch as millennials are more likely to be pro-gun than anti (even after a few months of  puffing up David “Boss” Hogg).

And who should sound off in his sclerotic, concussed manner than our old pal Nick “The Monkey” Coleman.

Coleman – former “big cheese”f and the only liberal columnist too dumb and expensive to be kept on at the Strib, ever – turned his rheumy, sheets-to-the-windy eye to the piece with the same even handed logic that made him every blogger’s favorite kick-toy from 2002 until…well, until he pretty much disappeared.

Well, thanks, Nick.  Your opinion is worth – well, pretty much the same as the last ten years worth of your career prospects, ever since you graduated from “Moronic Clown” to “Turbo Clown”.

Just Goes To Show You

A couple of Berg’s Law references, here:

Berg’s Eleventh Law of Inverse Viability: The conservative liberals “respect” for their “conservative principles” will the the one that has the least chance of ever getting elected.

And its corollary:

The McCain Corollary To Berg’s Eleventh Law: If that respected conservative ever develops a chance of getting elected, that “respect” will turn to blind unreasoning hatred overnight.

Both could be renamed “The Paulsen Principle”.

CD3 GOP representative Erik Paulsen has been cutting a decidedly moderate tack in his time in Congress, after replacing equally moderate representative (and fellow Jamestown ND native) Jim Ramstad.

It’s portrayed as common sense; the 3rd CD, says the conventional wisdom, is trending blue and is a very possible flip when and if Paulsen leaves office.

And so while Paulsen’s challengers have been unimpressive so far, he’s been moving inexorably to the center for years, trying to keep it that way.

But – for those who need it – here’s proof that there’s really no pleasing the leftymedia.

Word Choice

Rolling Stone, reeling from a decade of decay of the print publication biz and its own growing irrelevance, is on the market; Jann Wenner is looking for a buyer.

The NYTimes notes (emphasis added by me):

But the headwinds buffeting the publishing industry, and some costly strategic missteps, have steadily taken a financial toll on Rolling Stone, and a botched story three years ago about an unproven gang rape at the University of Virginia badly bruised the magazine’s journalistic reputation.

“Botched”.

“Unproven”.

The actual word is “false”.

 

Otherwise Occupied

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

The lead article in the August issue of the Midway Monitor is about Frogtown Radio WFNU 94.1 being on the air.  It’s low-power community radio, covers a 5-mile diameter reaching from Har-Mar to the river, from the U of M to the Capital.  They want to give the diversity of talent in the Frogtown area the chance to be heard.

Sounds like an opportunity for a member of a historically under-represented minority to get on the air.  I’m talking, of course, about Conservatives, who have been systematically excluded from the halls of power in St. Paul since the Great Depression. With your experience in radio, you’d be a shoo-in.

And your very first program could be an investigative piece.  The article quotes the Station Director explaining the need for community radio was driven by people who are not cis-gendered white men having limited access to higher education.  I, for one, would love to hear why Brown Institute refuses to accept women, LGBTQIA and persons of color as students.

There’s an open slot in the programming schedule on Sunday afternoons.  The community needs you.

Joe Doakes

I’m flattered, but I don’t think Salem would cotton to it.

However – I’d be more than happy to help any Saint Paul conservative who wants to make a go at it; application help, coaching, production…whatever.

Have yoiur people call my people.

Backwards Schadenfreud

I’m not sure what I like most about the proposed plan to save KFAI Radio – the long- running ‘Publicly-Supported” Pacifica affiliate in the west bank (where, I note in full disclosure, I was a volunteer news guy 25 years ago, trying to find a way to infiltrate the MPR Borg).

Is it the idea that a plucky underdog might survive against the MPR juggernaut (MPR’s former generalissimo, Bill Kling, spent decades trying to extinguish small community stations, the better to snarf up their funding sources)?

Could be.

But I think it’s the fact that the plan involves actual radio people bringing some actual radio programming common sense to the station, which endlessly cheeses off the sort of people who’ve been killing off these sorts of “community” stations.

 

Journalism Without Limits!

Well, the title is a little misleading.  Where I wrote “without limits”, I guess I what I meant was “no bottom to the barrel”.

Because in the arc of downfall for the City Pages, from its heady days in the eighties publishing James Lileks, and its journalistic peak in the nineties, where they ran a lot of excellent reporting, the CP just keeps falling.

And every time I think “they can’t possibly get any worse as reporters?”   They somehow pull it off.

I didn’t think they could get any worse than Dan Haugen’s factual malaprops – but sure enough, Kevin Hoffman was right there with the onanistic panty-sniffing disguised as high-school-caliber schadefreud.  From thence, we’ve had a couple years of the ongoing gift of hilarity that is Corey Zurowski’s writing, which has been its own reward.

So given that the City Pages seems to have no lower limit, I’ll refrain from saying Pete Kotz’s piece about the GOP’s pushback on cities trying to jam down $15 minimum wage laws bespeaks any descent below any journalistic or factual pale.

Because there’s always more ground below the barrel.

But oh, lord – it’s getting worse.

Continue reading

Chanting Points Memo: Fake Coverage Of Fake News

During the 2010 Minnesota gubernatorial race, the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” spread a story – Target was “anti-gay”.

They weren’t, of course; Target has always been socially progressive to a fault; by 2010, they spun themselves into a fair tizzy over every PC fad that came along.  They still do.

But they’d donated money to the Tom Emmer campaign.  And Tom Emmer opposed same sex marriage – exactly as the majority of the DFL did, on the record, at that point.

And so the “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” created a wave of “fake news” (and even more mangled advocacy reporting) to attack Target and Emmer.  Waves of paid and DFL-affiliated “protesters” descended on Target; after that, the media breathlessly proclaimed their campaign was having an effect on Target’s share price (it wasn’t) based on a report from a “progressive” fund that owned pennies on pennies on the Target dollar.    The media, played enthusiastically along, for the same reasons they did with Hillary.   In one cast, CBS news collaborated, willingly or not, with a local left-wing advocacy group to create an entirely fake news story.

The goal, of course, was to simultaneously attack Emmer and try to intimidate Minnesota businesses into not donating to Republicans; if they could cause problems for the mighty Target, what could they do to a machine shop in Owatonna?

So when Democrats whinge about “fake news” – they sowed the wind,

But did they reap the whirlwind?

Hillary is blaming “fake news” for her loss:

“The epidemic of malicious fake news and false propaganda that flooded social media over the past year — it’s now clear the so-called fake news can have real-world consequences,” Clinton said during a speech on Capitol Hill.

Some Democrats have argued the spread of anti-Clinton fake news online contributed to her electoral loss to Donald Trump.

Several problems with this theory:

  • There was at least as much “fake news” supporting Hillary.  My social media feed was clogged with photomemes and phony stories from groups like “Occupy Democrats”.
  • Beyond the purportedly fake news and “propaganda” epidemic, the mainstream media wallowed in a Pauline Kael-like echo chamber of pro-HIllary bias, to the point of publishing, well, “fake news” against Trump, to the point where the publisher of the NYTimes felt the need to publicly rededicate his paper to not doing the things that the media’s apologists say it never did.
  • Not so much a “problem” but an observation; this is just another symptom of the cranky arrogance that helped Clinton lose the election in the first place; “If you deplorables weren’t so stupid, believing the wrong fake news, ‘d be in the White House again!”.

The mainstream media is less fake than “Occupy Democrats” – but it’s a matter of degree.

Berg’s Seventh Law is getting an epic workout this cycle.

Time To Ring In Some Changes

Back when conservative blogging was a large, signfiicant force in the 2004 elections, many of us pointed out consistently and clearly that the mainstream media’s consistent, overwhelming bias was going to render it irrelevant.

It didn’t happen right away – although the 2007 recession gutted ad revenues, which certainly accelerated the process – but this past election proved us right; even some parts of what we used to call the “MSM” are finally starting to figure it out:

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.

This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’s be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.

So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doingwhen he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.

Read the whole thing.

The PR Agency Of Record:  And Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the NYTimes, sent out a memo last week.  After an entire cycle carrying water for Hillary Clinton and getting pretty much absolutely everything wrong, they are “rededicating” themselves to…

accurate and honest reporting.

Is it “journalistic ethics”, or is it watching non-liberals turning off and unsubscribing in droves?

You be the judge.

BONUS QUESTION : Think you’ll see a similar memo from the Star/Tribune’s publishers?

Hah.  I made myself laugh.