Friday, July 28, 2017

The Gray Lady Flinches

The New York Times did at least three interesting things today.

First, they censored star liberal columnist Paul Krugman, whose piece trashing Senator John McCain was posted almost simultaneously with John McCain becoming the deciding vote to kill TrumpCare, or as it's more commonly known, Skinny Bill. Krugman's column suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from its usual prominent spot on the top right home page.*

No matter that Krugman's observation that McCain is a fraud is true, or that the vote was obviously made to give cover to another misanthropic GOP senator whose reelection chances in his miserable state would be endangered if he gave his donors even the appearance of liking poor people. The narrative of today is John the Maverick and John the Brave Dying Warrior. And Krugman's opus simply didn't fit.

So the next chapter in The Narrative will probably be another righteous call for bipartisan "moderates" to make Obamacare even more friendly to those who stand to make continuing profits from it. More efficient and subtler legislation to punish regular people will, no doubt, have Fighting John McCain's name on it somewhere, and a signing ceremony might even be orchestrated to coincide with the funeral. Because let's face it, had John McCain voted for Skinny, his chances for a banal, interminable, bipartisan Reagan-esque sendoff in the Capitol would be skinny to none. 

This is not to say I don't still think that Paul Krugman is an opportunistic shill for the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, and a boring one at that. Despite his professed zombie horror of Republican antics, he has studiously and callously ignored the overwhelming popular clamor for Medicare For All. He really boxed himself into a corner last year when he lambasted single payer proponents as a bunch of unicorn-seeking, jammy-wearing Berniebros who wouldn't know a cost-benefit analysis from a hole in the wall.

On to the second thing that made the New York Times flinch today: the FBI arrest of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's (D-FL) IT guy as he tried to flee the country with millions of dollars in ill-gotten cash. The very fact that this story is mainly being covered by right-wing and/or independent media and ignored by the mainstream is cause enough to doubt its importance and veracity, says the mainstream media.

The Times is no exception, and right in the headline it announces that the only reason it's touching this nothing-burger at all is because Donald Trump is making a big deal over it. And despite its horror of all things Trump, the Gray Lady is never so flinch-ridden as to wantonly ignore the advances of Donald Trump!

 Granted, I don't know the facts of this story myself -  nobody seems to - so I'll just take the opportunity to make fun of how reporter Nicholas Fandos bends over backwards to defend DWS. Even though Imram Aman was arrested and charged with bank fraud, the case linking him to cyber-spying is still ongoing - therefore, according to the Gray Lady's little gray cells, it naturally follows that it has to be built solely on alt-right fantasy. Really, people! If the savvy Times has no evidence, how can there be any evidence?

The newspaper is treating it as a kind of inverted RussiaGate, where of course no evidence is ever needed and where no arrests or indictments need ever come to pass in order for it to qualify as unfake news.

Anybody involved in a crime who has access to or works for either DWS or Hillary Clinton is simply all the proof you need that the vast right wing conspiracy is still out to get them. If a crime or investigation is even so much as reported by a right-leaning outlet, Fandos implies, it cannot by definition even be a crime:
To hear some commentators tell it, with the help of his family and a cushy job on Capitol Hill, Mr. Awan, a Pakistani-American, had managed to steal computer hardware, congressional data and even — just maybe — a trove of internal Democratic National Committee emails that eventually surfaced last summer on WikiLeaks. It helped that the story seems to involve, if only tangentially, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida congresswoman who is the former chairwoman of the committee and an ally of Hillary Clinton’s.
Something's happening here, but what it is ain't exactly clear, so Fandos muddles on: 
Some basic facts appear to be clear. Mr. Awan had been employed by the House of Representatives as an I.T. specialist since 2004 and his wife, two brothers and a friend began similar work in subsequent years. Over the years, he contracted to work part time for more than a dozen Democratic members of Congress, including Ms. Wasserman Schultz. The work, Mr. Gowen and congressional staff members said, was mostly run of the mill: setting up new phones and computers, fixing printers, helping aides and members reset passwords.
After the authorities briefed lawmakers about the investigation this spring, the legislators began to cut ties one by one, citing concerns about appearances or an abundance of caution.
Ms. Wasserman Schultz held out, arguing that until there was credible evidence, she saw no reason to terminate a longstanding work arrangement.
Debbie is such a kind and beneficent employer that she didn't fire Awan until the FBI had him in cuffs. She was forced to do it. Wasserman Schultz, who has previously had no qualms about the government's targeted assassination program, mass deportations and incarceration of immigrants in private prisons in her own state, is suddenly concerned about due process for an employee with access to sensitive data having been under active FBI investigation for months.

Fandos describes Debbie as the poster child for right/left conspiracy theory victimhood. He even implies that despite solid evidence to the contrary, she did not really manipulate the primaries to favor Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

And just because Awan worked for the chairperson of the DNC doesn't mean he crossed the line from his official job in Congress:
Xochitl Hinojosa, a spokeswoman for the Democratic committee, called the suggestion “laughable.”
“He was never employed by the D.N.C.,” she said. “The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia was behind the D.N.C. hack.”
Case closed. Minds slammed shut. All the intelligence you'll ever need comes to you courtesy of the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI. And if you say otherwise, you're a Russian stooge if not a Kremlin collaborator. 


And now, third and last, but not least: how can the Gray Lady cover Trump's new potty-mouthed communications jerk without making foul language the centerpiece of its actual story?

Delicately and flinchingly, of course.

Although the headline of the article by gossip columnists Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman teasingly intimates an "uncensored rant," all we initially get is more censorship. You'll have to use your imagination (or click on the link in the lede) if you want to know exactly what the Gray Lady considers to be "vulgarity-laced language." Either that, or plod through a lot of moralizing before finally getting to the rant itself.

 To delay the inevitable and give their squeamish piece that exalted Times flavor, the writers insert some gratuitous Biblical imagery as a form of proper foreplay. Before being informed that the Mooch brags about masturbatory gymnastics, we are asked to delay our titillation and ponder this: Is Scaramucci Cain, or is he Abel?

Do we care? Because if the Times can't blast out dirty words with the same gusto and at the same frenzied rate that it dishes its standard Trumpian dirt, what journalistic good are they? Their click-bait cred will only suffer if they censor.

*Update: Krugman, after several hours M.I.A., revised his column in a way that doesn't clash too severely with The Official Narrative, and it has been duly restored to its original pride of place on the home page. As long as crusty old McCain "did the right thing in the end," all is right - and I do mean right -  with the Media-Political Complex. 


Jay–Ottawa said...

So that people you rub elbows with at cocktail parties don't come to the view you've been spending your time on the far side of the moon, it's unfortunately necessary that you stay abreast of what's said, day after day, in the New York Times, and to a lesser extent, the related rags like WaPO, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and a smattering of the big cables.

But if we want to know what's going on, as distinct from what the MSM is featuring as un-news, the Uniparty party line, mindless entertainment, ID politics and trivia, then we must turn to our very own blog roll. Long and often. Hopefully, friends, we all spend more time reading sites like those listed on the blog roll than we do the NY Times, right? Think of the blog roll as a Narcan reversal to the inescapable opioid overdose of the NY Times and its cousins––h/t Karl Marx.

After reading Karen's aper├žu du jour about today's edition of the Times, I needed my bolus of Narcan. I mean, aside from the NY Times hemming close to the party line today, isn't their overarching news story getting boring, that is, the endless shooting of the same fish (Trump) in the barrel? How many times is it necessary to make note of the fact that Trump is an uncouth liar cheat narcissist misogynist disorganized unbalanced SOB etc., etc., etc? We get it.

So I ran over to the blog roll and, for starters, clicked on BAR.

Ha ! Just what I needed to restore my balance and, at least for the moment, to thank the gods for Trump. The top story on BAR today is about Trump's standing up to the CIA and Pentagon by nixing some of their worst plans for Syria, complete with a cartoon showing Obama saying "We must kill Syrians to keep Syrians from killing Syrians." You'll nevva-evva read anything about that in the NY Times.

I grant you the NY Times does have challenging crossword puzzles. For novices.

ADVISORY: Narcan has a shorter half life than morphine, which means the opiates will win out in the end unless you're regularly keeping up with fresh helpings of Narcan (i.e., our blog roll).

As they say in Quebec, "Bonne lecture!" And as I've heard since forever: "Don't read good books; you only have time for the best." Maybe that advice carries over to dailies.

KM said...

Krugman in 2006 (skip to section 5: "Single-payer and beyond"):

annenigma said...

The job of the legacy news media seems to be to stifle real news and promote and defend Capitalism and the American Empire. I'm as far from being a conservative as you can get, but I'm actually liking a lot of articles in The American Conservative. Not every day but many days. They actually publish topics that the NYT wouldn't allow.

We really shouldn't condemn a publication just because of the name, nor give more credit than due simply because of the name. NYT I'm talking about you! Some authors who publish at the TAC aren't even politically conservative (Andrew Bacevich, William Hartung to name two) but their voice and opinion is allowed and welcomed there. I think TAC should be included on the blog roll out of intellectual interest, not as endorsement. They have a clean, interesting website.

Can you imagine seeing any of these in the NYT?

'What You Actually Spend on the National Security State' [spoiler - over a trillion/year] by William Hartung

'The Conservative Case for Universal Healthcare - Why in five years, the American right will embrace socialized medicine'.

Or one of these from today's issue:

*'The Ultimate Trifecta of Crony Capitalism - Three ways the deck will always be stacked against you'

'Teaching Obesity, Selling Sickness - We are subsidizing our own disease burden'
[about the agricultural-industrial complex]

*My recommendation du jour

annenigma said...


I now know *What Happened to turn me 'Anonymous' here after having deliberately entered my name first so that I won't forget.

After Previewing (I don't always click on Edit or Preview, when I hit Publish, it sends me to verify that I'm not a robot. That's when I noticed that my name has been deleted and I have to enter it again.

Mystery solved, except why it never did that before this year, which of course means it's that dastardly Putin's fault or his stooge Trump. I'll have to tell Hillary so she can add it as evidence to her new book - *What Happened

Karen Garcia said...

I'm adding to the blog roll all the time. I did include The-American Conservative several weeks ago, and most recently discovered a site called Keywords For the Age of Austerity, which is right up my alley of "dissecting" neoliberal dog whistles and double-speak. Check it out, it's reader friendly and pretty amusing.

I don't pigeon-hole myself in terms of left or right, either, though I am mainly far left (not to be confused with liberal, heaven forfend!) A site like American Conservative or Reason is absolutely not the same thing as those misogynistic Donald Trump fan sites on Reddit, for example, or 4Chan. Most everything you read on the mainstream sites is boiled down to Republicans v. Democrats, period. Whatever is anti-war is legit in my book.

As far as this particular site's logistics are concerned, I am as baffled as anyone about comments disappearing into the spam folder with no email notifications to me, among other glitches. I see that some other sites are complaining about the Google algorithm censoring them. (see today's World Socialist Website) Plus, I just noticed that the Google + app - whereby people can recommend your site for supposed higher rankings on Google search engine, has suddenly disappeared, with no explanation. My stats ebb and flow depending on who links to my stuff or shares on Facebook and Twitter, but overall, readership has increased quite a lot. I think one reason that commenting is down is because I rarely link to my blog from the New York Times, where I rarely comment any more.

On that note, please keep the comments and suggestions and recommendations and discussions coming.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

annenigma said...

Want a good laugh? Read alternative titles for Hillary's new book.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Here's another reason to switch off your TV: seeing is no longer believing.

Thanks to lip synch researchers at the Universities of Washington and Stanford, you can, for example, see a president say something he never really said. Or say something in a red tie at night in a bar when he was really wearing a blue tie the first time he uttered those words at noon in the Rose Garden. With a heavy-duty app, ivory tower nerds can now splice together a picture of a speaker and his or her words any way they please and quite convincingly.

Are you going to believe me, or your lying eyes, when Pope Francis appears at a Vatican balcony to say "Rome sucks. I'm moving the Vatican to Buenos Aires." Or Trump saying "I'm appointing Bernie Sanders as my chief economic advisor and Hillary Clinton as my new press secretary."

The only solution left for reality huggers is to develop a tool that will read the thoughts in other people's minds. Oh wait, the NSA is already doing that, and the FBI with stings can fill in the gaps.

Clueless It Seems said...

Just fantastic. I know someone who calls the Gray Lady - and he lived in NYC a long time - the New York Slimes. No wonder! And I knew these Russians who thought Krugman was the bee's knees. I thought of him as an overeducated shithead who went to way too many drinking parties on Long Island

Jay–Ottawa said...

On stories you can't find in the MSM and the issue of the Left joining forces with the Right, at least once in a while, Jeffrey St Clair posted a lively article about a week ago at CounterPunch. In his gossipy way he covers a lot of ground, for starters the recent tiff among CounterPoint writers––the not-so-good, the bad and the suspect.

He does not put much stock on conspiracy theories (JFK, 9/11) or the Deep State Theory as the ultimate explanation behind the curtains. While there are forces that add up to the Deep State, it's not the only explanation for US disasters, nor should it serve as the main reason for repeated failure on the Left. Instead of looking in the mirror, the Left uses the Deep State Theory as its favorite rationalization for the Left's incompetence, in the same way the DNC is now using RussiaGate as an excuse for Hillary's 2016 defeat.

St Clair follows with some interesting thoughts about the Greens, specifically, the likely reasons why, in the Oughts, Nader and the Greens parted company. How come the Greens carry on like purists and refuse to join coalitions? He even hints that the Greens may be serving as the ultimate DNC sheepdog under the generalship of one David Cobb, "the Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of the Green Party." Cobb is not against the Duopoly; he's a lesser-of-two-evils guy. Huh? Check out St Clair's links detailing the aftermath of the Green's poor showing in 2016, a year they should have surged.

The Greens are not very democratic as they go about their party business, like primaries and nominating conventions. If you want to volunteer as a delegate, you're accepted provided you can pay your way to the convention, where you can vote as you please (or as directed), not according results of primaries in the state you represent. Hearing all this, should I vote Green again?