Dana Milbank’s Victorian Vapours

Dana Milbank reflects the exposed id of the spoiled, cossetted, inside-the-beltway journalist in exactly the same way as Nick Coleman, Doug Grow and Lori Sturdevant do for the self-absorbed, smug Twin Cities journalistic “elite”; all of them wrap a lot of high-minded-sounding wrapping around “being a hack for a party narrative” .

But a hack is a hack – and Milbank may never have been hackier than in today’s piece about an NRA press conference which revolved less around reporting and analyzing the news than in comparing it with Milbank’s narrative and, worse, the prejudices he’s accreted on the subject over decades of being an “elite journalist” and damn glad to tell you so.

But give Milbank this; he doesn’t bury his lede.  He really, really doesn’t like gunnies (emphasis added):

The gun-lobby goons were at it again.

The National Rifle Association’s security guards gained notoriety earlier this year when, escorting NRA officials to a hearing, they were upbraided by Capitol authorities for pushing cameramen. The thugs were back Tuesday when the NRA rolled out its “National School Shield” — the gun lobbyists’ plan to get armed guards in public schools — and this time they were packing heat.

About 20 of them — roughly one for every three reporters — fanned out through the National Press Club, some in uniforms with gun holsters exposed, others with earpieces and bulges under their suit jackets.

In a spectacle that officials at the National Press Club said they had never seen before, the NRA gunmen directed some photographers not to take pictures, ordered reporters out of the lobby when NRA officials passed and inspected reporters’ briefcases before granting them access to the news conference.

The NRA has been the target of an awful lot of what would be called “hate speech” if directed at any regular schemiel.   Death threats have been the least of it, the background noise.

If a media outlet were the target of this much hatred – whipped up by the likes of Milbank – do you think they might tend to their security?

Of course they would.

Hint:  Try to walk in to the Washington Post office without an armed security guard giving you a brusque once-over, if you don’t have an employee pass.  Get back to us.

It’s The Beltway Way – Provinicalism?  Milbank’s got it!

By journalistic custom and D.C. law, of course, reporters don’t carry guns to news conferences — and certainly not when the person at the lectern is the NRA’s Asa Hutchinson, an unremarkable former congressman and Bush administration official whom most reporters couldn’t pick out of a lineup.

Well, then.

Let that be a lesson, peasants; your worth is proportional to how much you’ve hobnobbed inside the beltway lately.

Everything They Need To Know About Policy Analysis, They Learned From Aaron Sorkin – Milbank rattles off the left’s shopping list of shame:

 Thus has it gone so far in the gun debate in Washington. The legislation is about to be taken up in Congress, but by most accounts the NRA has already won. Plans for limiting assault weapons and ammunition clips are history, and the prospects for meaningful background checks are bleak.

Watch any of Aaron Sorkin’s poli-tainment; “The West Wing” and “The American President”.  Liberal orthodoxy is always presented, without question, not just as the only rational approach, but the only approach.  Which is one thing when you’re watching an overhyped TV show.  It’s another when you’re reading the blithe assumptions of the “elite” media…

…in this case Milbank, who’s assuming that:

  • “Limiting assault weapons” is of any use in fighting crime.  It’s not; violent crime has dropped like a rock since the end of the 1994 Ban, even as the number of “assault weapons” in general circulation has ballooned).
  • Limits on “ammunition clips” (grrr) are equally useless; even if criminals obeyed the law, mass murder is not a function of magazine size; having extra magazines is of much more use to defenders than attackers.
  • The background checks being proposed, above and beyond the NICS system, are of any use in fighting crime.  They’re not.  Criminals don’t take background checks.

And yet all three are presented critically, as if questioning any of them is too absurd to think about.

If You Can’t Dazzle ‘Em With Fact, Baffle ‘Em With Strawmen – Milbank presents the facts that fit the narrative and ignores the pesky stuff next:

Now, The Post’s Philip Rucker and Ed O’Keefe report, the NRA is proposing language to gut the last meaningful gun-control proposal, making gun trafficking a federal crime. Apparently, the gun lobby thinks even criminals deserve Second Amendment protection.

“Gun trafficking”, depending on your definition of the term (and Milbank doesn’t define it, and I doubt that someone who refers to “Magazine Clips” would know how to define it if he had to) is already illegal, at various state and federal levels (unless you’re the Department of Justice, ironically).  The “gun trafficking” bill that Milbank refers to, the Elijah Cummings bill, is a sloppy thing that would ensnare a lot of innocent gun transfers with felonies worth 20 years in prison, and the NRA is right to oppose it.

Not because “the NRA thinks criminals deserve” protection, but because it believes the innocent do.

Milbank is either too lazy to know the difference, or lacks the integrity to say so.

Boogeymen! – Next, Milbank – trapped in a world that he never made – whines about the state of the world:

If the NRA has its way, as it usually does, states will soon be weakening their gun laws to allow more guns in schools.

And why does Milbank think the NRA “usually” gets its way?

Because it’s a voracious all-powerful monster that consumes all in its path?

If that’s what it is, why does Milbank propose it got that way?

Because a solid, growing majority of the American people support it and its agenda.  The NRA is rapidly heading toward five million members, and any legislative staffer will tell you that if a phone call representes the opinions of ten other people, then someone who’ll come out and shell out money to join an organization represents at least as many.  There are more NRA members in the Twin Cities metro than there are actual activist members of every gun-control group in the country rolled up together.

That’s why the NRA is powerful; unlike their opponents, they represent actual people in vast numbers.

And all those uppity proles have just gotta piss Milbank off.

Dana Milbank, Low-information producer – Get a load of this next statement:

The top two recommendations Hutchinson announced Tuesday involved firearms in the schoolhouse. The first: “training programs” for “designated armed school personnel.” The second: “adoption of model legislation by individual states to allow for armed school personnel.”

Hutchinson claimed that his task force, which came up with these ideas, had “full independence” from the NRA. By coincidence, the proposals closely matched those announced by the NRA before it formed and funded the task force.

Oh, cry us a river, Dana.  Everyone claims to be independent of their side’s 900 pound gorilla.  Major media claim they’re not at the beck and call of the Democrats. Governor Dayton claims Alida Messinger doesn’t make him dance like an organ-grinder monkey.   Let it go.

The task force did scale back plans to protect schools with armed volunteer vigilantes, opting instead for arming paid guards and school staff — at least one in every school. States and school districts “are prepared” to pay for it, Hutchinson declared.


Milbank seems unaware that citizens with carry permits are 2-3 orders of magnitude less likely to hurt anyone (unjustifiably) than the general public – including journalists.

The task force garnished the more-guns recommendations with some good ideas, such as better fencing, doors and security monitoring for schools, and more mental-health intervention. But much of that is in the overall Senate legislation that the NRA is trying to kill.

And why does Milbank suppose the NRA is trying to kill those passive “good ideas?”

Because they’re part of a bill with many noxious, stupid provisions.

Save It For “Lifetime Movie Scriptwriting” Class, Mr. Milbank – Milbank’s big finish is apparently also an audition for a Mad Max reboot:

If so, American schoolchildren may grow accustomed to the sort of scene Hutchinson caused Tuesday, protected by more armed guards than a Third World dictator.

Where does Milbank live?

A quarter of schools have armed guards already. In urban schools with over 1,000 students, the figure is already over 90%.   Many schools feature metal detectors, pat-downs and permanently-assigned uniformed officers.

Our kids, bombarded by our onanistic, self-absorbed media with images of carnage that bely the fact that schools are safer now than they’ve been in decades, and that violent crime is down 40-odd percent in the past 20 years and is falling faster as the number of civilian guns explodes, are forced to endure “huddle on the floor and hope you don’t get killed” drills – called “lock downs” by more clinical-sounding school administrators.

Seriously – on what planet is “huddling in the corner and hoping you don’t get murdered” better than “there’s someone here whose job it is to protect us?”

Note to Dana Milbank:  I’m sure your journalistic credentials, including your “independence” from the nation’s major gun control groups, are in order.

But if you were working as a PR flak for the Brady Factory, how would your writing be any different?

11 thoughts on “Dana Milbank’s Victorian Vapours

  1. Here’s Milbank’s column on — ready? — Eric Cantor’s sneer: http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-07-12/opinions/35267406_1_eric-cantor-debt-limit-talks-tax-revenue
    He never offers an original argument on anything. Can’t figure out why they pay him. He’s spent years in DC, but his columns could be written by a random lefty blogger living in his Mom’s basement in Kansas City.
    Here’s a bit of insight that shows that I am more fit to be a WaPo columnist than Milbank:
    The reason stricter gun control is dead in the water is because most ordinary people don’t care enough about it. The NRA — a true grass roots organization whose large and growing membership represents a cross section of Americans — cares deeply about preserving our 2nd amendment freedoms. The NRA’s opposition isn’t made up of regular Americans, it’s made up of people like Milbank, who are very far removed from the lives of ordinary Americans.
    If Milbank has kids, I bet that he sends them to Sidwell Friends School. Most of our wannabe DC aristos send their kids there.

  2. We had family visiting last week and one visitor was using his vacation to watch “The West Wing” on Netflix. I sat through a couple of episodes then remembered why I didn’t watch that show when it was on originally. Creators Aaron Sorkin and “MSDNC’s Crazy Larry” Lawrence O’Donnell wrote the characters in that show like Milbank writes about politics.
    The good guys, aka the Democrats (and their allies), are unbelievebly good. The bad guys, er, make that the evil guys, aka the Republicans (and their allies) are unbelievably bad.
    A Democrat in real life as well as on the show does some bad act (like Obama claiming the female Atty Gen’l of California(?) is “easy on the eyes, too”) and it is a momentary individual fall from grace in the church of Massive Government. An opponent of the Democrats (Republicans, NRA, TEA Party, etc.) says or does something dumb and it’e emblematic of all Republicans.
    I have often wondered about Milbank and Sorkin types…
    In their minds, is everyone a stereotype or a characture created in their minds or from some character on TV? Are all blacks charactures of Fred Sanford and or Rosa Parks? Are all businessmen charactures of JR Ewing? Are all Latinos hard working low skill types with hearts of gold? Are all NRA members nothing more Michigan militia gun nuts with lamb chop sideburns, the army jacket they got in ‘Nam and ten years of freeze dried food buried in the yard? That’s certainly the way they write about people.

  3. I agree with Seflores …

    And don’t you just love it when these pillars of journalistic excellence use tough-guy terms and “street talk”? Terms like “packing heat” seem to imply that the writer is a gritty noir-esque, hard boiled, seen-it-all, tough guy.

    I especially like it when Julie Nelson cheerily uses these terms. So sweet yet worldly. I bet the gals at the soccer team bake sale are quite taken with it.

    In reality, once these these descriptors become common place, they tend to reinforce an underlying message. People are no longer shot, they are “gunned down.” A criminal using a firearm is now a “gunman” (although I’ve yet to be told that the term was not gender specific). I think the repetitive use of “gun” and its deriviatives serves a purpose.

    My long-dead journalism professor used to warn the class about what he feared to be a blossoming trend; advocacy journalism. He held the belief that the journalist (at least circa 1974) was a reporter of news, who wrote about it in formal terms. Slang had no place in copy unless it was in encased in quotation marks.

    I would love to hear his take on the current state of the Fourth Estate …

  4. Joe’s comment… “People are no longer shot, they are “gunned down.” reminded me of a Simpsons episode where a Mafia member questioned whether he should shoot someone “gangland style” or “execution style”. As a kid growing up in 70’s era Detroit, I remember those two terms were used interchangeably on the news.

  5. Dana, you don’t want People With Guns in schools because kids will see them and grow accustomed to them. Okay, how about we build a small guard shack near the front door and put the PWG there – would that be okay? No, too close, kids might see them? How about at the edge of the sidewalk? Still too close? Two blocks away? Half a mile? Next town over?

    You realize that PWG is just another name for Policeman, right? And if we intentionally station the Policemen in the next town over to make sure kids never see cops, it’ll take the cops ages to get to the school when a crime occurs, ages during which the children who have never seen a cop will be killed while waiting for those same cops to arrive to save them, children who might have been saved, not by the scant seconds it takes the killer to change magazines, but by the on-scene PWG who end the killing.

    In other words – you intentionally want to set up a situation where you know children will die because that is more important than risking the possibility that children might glimpse PWG?

    That’s just sick.

  6. Advocacy journalism. When changing the 3,000 year old definition of marriage from 1 man and 1 woman, to genderless marriage, is called “marriage equality” in MSM, you know we have lost.

  7. Almost as scary as their attacks on the Second Amendment are the media’s apparent attacks on themselves; the First Amendment-disregarding move by the AP in banning the term “illegal alien” and, most recently, their how-to admonitions for using the term “Islamist.”

    This may be useful in separating the true journalists from MSM hacks like Al Roker, Huffington, and the rest. Hopefully, the true journalists will not adhere to, or at least will protest, these silly prohibitions.

    It seems that freedom of the press does not include freedom for the press itself … who’d have thought?

  8. One of my favorite bits of cinematic irony is in ““The American President” when Michael Douglas is giving his big speech at the end of the film. He says:

    “He is interested in two things, and two things only: making you afraid of it, and telling you who’s to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections.”

    And he follows that right up with:

    “You cannot address crime prevention without getting rid of assault weapons and handguns. I consider them a threat to national security and I will go door to door if I have to–but I’m gonna convince Americans that I am right, and I’m gonna get the guns.”

    And then Michael J. Fox called the speech “erudite.” Sheesh.

  9. Ted Turner ran that liberal love fest at times when Clinton was in some tepid water (he was shielded from hot water) in the late ’90s. I honestly made that connection unintentionally. The movie seemed to pop up on TV at unusual, too-frequent times. I then noticed that The First Liar was also popping up in the news at the same times.

    The movie came out in ’95 and was useful during The First Liar’s escapades during that time frame. I suspect there were aspects of the movie story that The Liar liked, too.

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