Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Taking Us for a Ride

Turn on the TV cable news or glance at the homepage of The Times tonight and what do you get?  Not the collateral damage of murdered children in Afghanistan.  Not the growing crisis of widespread unemployment. Not the Congressional challenge by Dennis Kucinich over the right of the president to wage war in Libya.

Here is what passes for news today, this week, next month.  Only the faces will change.  Because it's all about the personalities of the lunatic fringe political sweepstakes, and everybody is covering this crap.  Somebody who we all thought went away suddenly buys a million dollar house in Arizona and takes a motorcycle ride and goes on a bus tour and has pizza with Donald Trump.  So she is obviously running for president, according to Beltway media insiders whose job is to deflect our attention away from serious issues that might be hurting us.

The Wonderful World of Journalistic Make-Believe

From The Times: "An aide to Mr. Trump said Ms. Palin, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, had sought the meeting, having 'reached out' that morning. Ms. Palin has generated more buzz about a possible presidential bid with the start of her road trip on Sunday — she has visited Gettysburg and the Liberty Bell — did not reveal why she wanted to pay a call on Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania. His own flirtation with a Republican presidential campaign ended last month amid speculation it was all intended to jolt his business interests."

Doesn't take much to generate buzz in their busy little brains, does it?  What are they thinking?  Better yet, what are they drinking?  I think I must be missing something, not to be experiencing that elusive Buzz.

And here is how annoying White House correspondent Chuckles Todd put it in the lead item on NBC's "First Read" email this morning: "Over the next 10 months, the race for the Republican nomination will become the chief political story in America, and that will affect the contours of the general election. We even started seeing it yesterday, with Palin, Pawlenty, and Bachmann taking center stage. 'The Democratic ‘race’ is more akin to watching a single athlete run a marathon,' says Democratic strategist Jano Cabrera."

In the shallow world of Washington journalism, the race is the thing.  Who is tweeting what?  What conservative bad boy hacked a congressman's Twitter account to insert a naughty pic?  Why is Sarah being so coy and hard to get?  Why do they care, why do they think anybody cares?

Of course, the conventional wisdom is that Obama, the cool adult front-man of the Oligarchy, is an obvious shoo-in.  He is so comfortable, in fact, that he just hired a new White House attack dog to tamp down the disaffected base of progressive idealogues.   The job has been given to DNC operative Jesse Lee, whose new title is "Director of Progressive Media & Online Response". He will be responsible for blogosphere PR , as well as squashing any negative stories.

The position is being criticized by both the Left and the Right. Fox News is calling Lee the Administration's new "Pushback Czar."  Sounds about right to me.

The pols and the hacks have our ostensible journalists both coming and going.  It's an irresistably heady mix of propaganda and infotainment.  Keep us alternately dumbed down and titillated and frightened. It's the age of American neo-fascism.


Valerie Long Tweedie said...

What really BURNS me up about this whole thing is the Progressive Congressional Caucus – a political entity that actually IS newsworthy - gets almost NO mainstream media attention. This whole thing is just so Noam Chomsky-esque. The country is distracted by absolute idiocy which keeps them from focussing their attention on the real problems of economic injustice and a dearth of opportunity - not to mention the corporate under-the-table deals and legislation that are being slipped into law while our citizens are watching the circus come to town.

LOVED the graphic of the Magic School Bus but think you are doing a disservice to Mrs. Frizzle who is not only educated and intelligent but is also dedicated to providing learning opportunities and a high quality science education for her students. A far cry from those pictured above.

Karen Garcia said...

My apologies to Mrs. Frizzle. It's turned into a Tragic School Bus, what with so many school districts disallowing all instruction on evolution and climate change.

VLT said...

Yes! Tragic School Bus is more like it! Thanks for that brilliant bit of humour!

Jay - Ottawa said...

I know you're not fishing for compliments, Karen, but you're going to get them anyway. The progressive blogging press -- Sardonicky being an exemplar -- gives me HOPE.

The distracted MSM is why we check in here every day to find out what's being missed or hidden and what needs to be emphasized. For instance, your background check of Rep. McHenry turned up a lot of dirty laundry that the MSM never bothered to provide readers, despite their avowals to present "balanced" news. I don't know how you do it, but I'm grateful for your clear eye and the spark in your writing.

You give lessons to the MSM with your comments in the NY Times, simultaneously improving the story on the spot for general readers. Judging by the democratic votes (as distinct from the highlighting by Times Headquarters), readers appreciate your comments. The Times owes you and the others, mostly from the sisterhood, in there day after day, counterpunching and contributing more substance to every story. The work by you and other special commenters reminds me of the "Salon des Refusés," rejected by the Academy but the right place to find the best stuff.

Thanks, too, for the blog roll and other asides pointing us to other sources that do more than scratch the surface. For example, I might never have learned about the New Progressive Alliance without Sardonicky.

With apologies to another feisty character in politics, "Give 'em hell, Karen."

Marie Burns said...

Let's not forget Weinergate, which gets my vote for the stupidest continuing saga of the year, though it's only the first of June, so we should expect something equally riveting to occupy our summertime prurient itch (has-been John Edwards trial?).

The Constant Weader

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Bit of a nonsequitur here –

Fellow Sardonicky Readers! If you all haven’t read Karen’s brilliant comment in response to Joe Nocera’s column, you can find it easily on RealityChex under the Open Thread May 31st. It segues nicely into the Morgenson/Story piece - also linked in RealityChex.

This is one of your best comments ever, Karen, and not to be missed.

Karen Garcia said...

Thank you for the compliments and your own continuing contributions to this blog, all thought-provoking and lively. I am blown away by the Morgenson/Story series on Wall Street, too -- gives me hope for the future of democracy. Only the Fourth Estate can save it, if it's not already too late.

Michael DeMarco said...

Isn't your post a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

Karen Garcia said...

No. This was meant as media criticism. There is a difference between covering crap and covering the coverers of crap.

Michael DeMarco said...

Oh, I see. How clever.

Anonymous said...

We live in a dumbed-down society. This sideshow Palin faux presidential tour is laughable. That it constitutes the biggest news story in political reporting is a travesty. Heaven forbid we broadcast a news program like Democracy Now on cable TV. Go back to sleep America, your government is in control. Here, watch this hick from AK have lunch with the world's biggest douchebag. Now that is entertainment.

Janet Camp said...

Well, Marie Burns beat me to it on Weinergate. Hey, I finally found the photo and it is much ado about nothing--and now I'm off to delete any pictures sitting around in my database that I may have taken in a moment of whimsy, lest they surface somewhere after I am elected to the high office of dog catcher.

As to "she-who-must-not-be-named", Trump seems the perfect person for her to tete-a-tete with--they can compare notes on how best to make a pile of money distracting the public.

Allow me to add my compliments to those above for the quality of writing and the attention given to things that really matter. Feel free to add a photo, although something tells me that's not your style.

Has anyone noticed that it seems to be the grannies (or old bags, if you prefer) that are carrying the water here and at the Times? I don't know if Gemli, in Boston is female or not--that's the trouble with screen names.

On another note, I got yet another creepy email from Jim Messina. This time begging for $25 to get the campaign moving. It was truly pathetic. I hit "reply" and typed APPOINT ELIZABETH WARREN.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Janet, P L E A S E. Is nothing sacred? For lack of a better term, may we not fall back on something along the lines of "The Sisterhood"?

And I agree with you: it is they who do their homework, relay it with clarity and wit, are not afraid to dress down the bullies and have the stamina to repeat the process, not once a month or once a week, but 365 times a year, well beyond the endurance of any of us old geezers. Oops!

VLT said...

Right on, Janet! Loved your response to Messina! And good luck with that dog catching position! I am sure, as I have come to know you so well, that you are committed to treating the animals in your care with great compassion.

As for Weinergate - I am wondering if it isn't one of those pictures I take accidentally while I am trying to figure out which button to push on my camera. I have taken lots of legs, feet and headless family members over the years.

Anonymous said...

Another disgusting, scary blog post by Karen, yet I keep coming back to read about this train wreck of a country. I counted 5 articles in NY Times the other day on P**** plus video. Enough!!! I also mentioned to my husband how you had to find out about the march on Wall Street through Al ' Jazeera (sp?) It is like our whole country has gone mad and no one knows how to treat the insanity. It is scary to know that this evil, vile "person" may have a good chance of becoming president. We have not seemed to have learned anything. It's like our nation thinks it's involved in some kind of "reality" show where the director can just yell "cut" and all will be back to sanity. I am also young enough to be greatly impacted by the Ryan path way to the poorhouse plan. I was glad to note, however, that all of our representatives from MA. voted to raise the debt ceiling although the voting map in the Times is quite bleak. Only two states were solid yes votes, MA. and VT. I don't know if our country can survive the madness that has her in its grip.

To Janet: I think Gemli is female. I think she mentioned one time in a comment at NYT that she was a grandmother.

Sharon (sdube60)