Monday, April 3, 2017

When Gut-Think Replaces Journalism

New York Times columnist Charles Blow has channeled his inner George Bush with his latest column. 

Just as Bush knew deep within his gut that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was hording weapons of mass destruction, so too does Blow instinctively know that Russia has meddled in the American electoral process. Despite the lack of direct proof, "this is not a debatable issue. This is not a witch hunt. This has happened."

No matter that "we are still not conclusively able to connect the dots on the question of whether there was any coordination or collusion between members of Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians who interfered in our election to benefit him, but those dots do continue to multiply at an alarming rate."

With not a hint of irony, Blow complains that all the subterfuge, deflection, finger-pointing and misdirection are preventing liberal pundits like him from finding within the dot pattern whatever it is they want to see. They know, deep within their guts, that criminal collusion between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is there. It just has to be. 

Therefore, they fight subterfuge with innuendo, misdirection with distraction. RussiaGate is duly exposed as a hall of mirrors.

"There is something there, but I can't quite put my finger on what it is," Blow jokingly continues. "And unlike some others, I find no glee in the prospect of something amiss."

How quickly Blow pivots from knowing deep within his gut that "this is not a debatable issue" to it being the mere prospect of something not quite right. If he is that un-gleeful about his innuendo-spreading, I'd recommend an immediate appointment with a sympathetic professional.

Perhaps Blow could begin with a therapeutic reading of philosopher W.K. Clifford who wrote that "it is wrong, always and everywhere, to believe anything on insufficient evidence." Either that, or take a remedial crash course in Journalism 101.

As Stephen Law writes in the philosophy journal TPM Online, people like Bush and Blow who "just know" things despite possessing no evidence to back up their assertions are using the same technique employed by so-called psychics who claim to commune with the dead on a regular basis. They get away with it, because of course there is always the possibility that they are correct, that they can see things that mere mortals cannot. If Bush and Blow sincerely believe in what they say, then who are we to doubt their sincerity and their good faith?

So as to further deflect rational thinking, Blow next complains about the "prurience" of the content-consuming American public. Unlike the high intellectual capacity of his own instincts, the gut of the rabble is not prudent enough to digest innuendo. They simply lack the intestinal fortitude to believe in the cult of Hillary Really Won This Election.

Having duly instilled doubt and confusion into the brain-centered minds of his gutless readers, Blow's editorial gaslighting finally comes to a blessed end. He feebly attempts to cover his own rear end as he smarmily admits:
At this point this is all conjecture. First we must clear the hurdle of finding out exactly what happened and who was involved. That could take months, if not years.
We must now decide how to process the mounting suggestions of impropriety.
Charles Blow seems to be suffering from a very painful case of mental constipation. He has imbibed so many undigestible weasel-worded dots that the "mounting suggestions of impropriety" seem stuck in the middle of his mind-gut. He offers neither evidence nor solutions. All he can emit in his  column is one more futile Clintonoid blast of editorial gas.

As I wrote in my published Times comment on his piece, 
There's plenty of real, solid evidence against Trump, evidence that in a just society would have sentenced him to prison decades ago. But rather than admit that he is merely the end-product of a corrupt political system, that he's a lot like those too big to fail corrupt financial institutions that get bailed out time and time again, we pursue McCarthyism in the name of neoliberal predatory capitalism.

Enough with instinctive journalism. It's time not only for a gut check but for a reality check.


Zee said...

For those of you who have not already reached the conclusion that Charles M. Blow[hard] is barking mad, the subject column should finally convince you of that fact.

Blow[hard] no longer feels constrained in his lunatic midnight scribblings by any discernible facts or truths whatsoever.

Instead, this entire column deals in nothing but suppositions, possibilities, potentialities, innuendo, and an endless constellation of moving dots that seem to show some sort of pattern in his fevered brain—but whose shape, alas, is always just beyond Blow[hard]’s identification—yet which, ultimately, are completely disconnected in the eyes of the dispassionate observer.

Clearly, this man needs help.

But what is even more frightening is that:(1) The New York Times continues to publish the increasingly-deranged ravings of this disturbed mind; and (2) Blow[hard] still has a dedicated following amongst the Times’ readership who seem to happily share in his delusion.

I think it’s called “the ultimate groupthink.” Or, as Karen dubbed it, "gut-think."

Those on the left accuse those on the right of living in a “post-truth world,” and vice versa.

But those who inhabit Blow[hard]’s mad, mad, mad, mad world no longer care about “truth” in any shape at all. It’s all about faith in chimeras.

Pearl said...

I have recently seen comments about the lack of information about Trump's secretive financial maneuvers all over the globe and surely in Russia as well. And persons writing are wondering why the government is not looking into these issues instead of endless verbal duels between reporters and pundits all over the internet. If any of us ordinary people step over the line tax wise, the IRS is immediately on our tail even for a $79. underpayment I mistakenly made some time ago.

The Blows and cold war thinking Democrats are barking up the wrong tree which is very close to the center of treasonable behavior by our excuse for a president.
I think Russia is winning this battle without even having to hack anything and enjoying watching the self destructive suicide of my tattered birth country. Just wait until our Secretary of State starts building oil rigs in the Russian land he has title to working with Trump enriching all the wealthy of the world.

Hey countrymen, I don't have much time left to see the end of this Western High Noon. So get moving.

Great article Karen.

Dave Madeloni said...

No problem with poking holes in a Times column.
But isn't the "Op-Ed" section a place where writers CAN write from their gut?
Am I the only one who thinks that comparing Blow's shaky take on Trump's suspicious involvement with Russia with the devastation wrought by George W Bush's dubious dot-connecting about Saddam is a bit, well, over-BLOWn?....

Jay–Ottawa said...

Fifteen years ago Bush's neocon gut feeling pushed the Pentagon into the Near and Middle East where, to quote Martin Luther King Jr of exactly 50 years ago today on a similar matter, "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world" * did its best to uphold that reputation. Millions in that part of the world have been killed, maimed and turned into refugees. The NE and ME have been wrecked for generations, thanks to America's well-intentioned humanitarian wars and peace-keeping drones. The old dictators have, thankfully, been replaced by the new dictators.

The Russia flap of today, which Mr Blow is encouraging more people to act upon, is comparable to the Weapons of Mass Destruction lie. Please remember where that WMD lie took us. Blow is now reinforcing the foundation of a more dangerous lie. He is supporting the neocons of both parties and laying the groundwork for a casus belli, a justification for war, on a much larger scale, of course, because the new enemy is Russia. If we can just run Trump out of town, Hillary and the Democratic neocons might better pursue this war with Russia.

Mr Putin, with his nukes and landmass, who has by the way been developing a rapprochement with China, just might be a tougher cookie than the satraps and thug bosses of the Near and Middle East.

Aside from the DNC's efforts to foment a big war for partisan reasons, we have Trump himself shoveling more billions into the Pentagon and, on his own, pushing NATO closer to Russian borders while doubling down in Syria. Trump has loosened the rules of engagement; the generals don't have to clear every strike of a sensitive nature. Support Our Generals, is the new bumper sticker.

The worries of thoughtful people about the Duopoly's saber rattling and troop buildups abroad are not overblown. The problem is that too many Americans are minimizing downright dangerous government actions supported by big lies over petty events of dubious reality. Generals with nukes in their hands just might beat the Sixth Extinction to the punch.

Do your homework before you tell good journalists they're exaggerating about the war thing or the global warming thing.


Zee said...

@Dave Madeloni—

Yes, I suppose the “Op/Ed page” should be a place where writers CAN “write from their gut” on occasion. Still, Blow’s relentless and repetitive “Blow-viations” on the multitude of allegations regarding the “Rooshian connection” to the Trump administration—and that’s all they are, thus far, allegations —grow tiresome.

(And that from someone who only “reads” Blow when referred to him from other Op/Ed aggregators.)

But there comes a point when writing from the “gut” becomes an obsession, and perhaps would be better suited to the pages of InfoWars or Worldnet Daily than the New York Times, the last of which still bills itself as our nation’s “Newspaper of Record”—no matter how small and regional its readership may be.

And yes, it would be a mistake—for the moment—to compare the results of Dubya’s “dot-reading” with Blow[hard]’s.

But let’s not forget Blow[hard]’s endgame—at least as I see it.

At every turn, “Rooshian-election-hacking- conspiracy-theorists”—Blow[hard] included—have promoted the notion that what was really nothing more than a political “dirty-trick” is actually some sort of “constitutional crisis” that threatens the very foundation of our sacred Republic. (That’s sarcasm.)

And which can only be remedied, of course, by impeaching Trump or otherwise removing him from office.

Along with his constitutionally appointed successors, as well. There are some interesting theories as to how that will happen:

I won’t claim that if this “constitutional crisis” is successfully precipitated by Hillbillary fanatics, the damage will rival that of Iraq.

But it ain’t gonna be pretty.

The people who elected Trump did so out of contempt for/despair of the status quo; and, I predict, they won’t return to it quietly.

stranger in a strange land said...

W. also had a gut-think moment with Putin himself, when he judged Vlad by looking into his eyes/soul!

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Pearl said...

Jay: A fine comment incorporating the words of Martin Luther King which are as true today as they were 50 years ago. He should have been the first black president of the United States had he have been allowed to live.

I simply cannot comprehend the cold war mentality of so many so called liberal and independent voters, many in the Democratic party. It seems the intelligence agencies continue to guide the thinking and path of U.S. foreign policy and are up to their old tricks of complicating the facts until people begin to believe what they say as the unvarnished truth.

I find it difficult to follow the news via the network and rely more on reading articles by real journalists who are blessed with balanced thinking and will hopefully find a way soon to remove the vermin who inhabit the White House starting with the complete Trump family.