The Obligatory Weekend ‘Think’ Piece
The credulous suddenly become skeptics in the same manner that those who have an “invisible friend” and believe in a talking snake have become such hypercritical skeptics of evolution and global warming:
Washington (CNN) For the first time, US investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent, multiple current and former US law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN.
If you go to Memeorandum, you will see that there is the Usual Rightie blogswarm claiming that CNN is “fake news.” Led by Alex Jones’ “Infowars,” the conspiracy site that believes in space reptiles…
There I started a week ago, and there is where it stopped. Because it’s moving too fast to process. This game of Twitzkreig has had its desired effect: “look! a shiny object!” as the faint sound of jackboots begins to be clearly heard.
We are in the midst of an epistemological crisis. (Don’t be afeard. “Epistemology” means, bottom line, “how do I know what I know?”)
And we are in the middle of an anonymity crisis. With seven point five billion humans on the Earth, all feel instinctively crowded. And increasingly, we feel anonymous. This was the story of Paris Hilton, famous for being famous.
(CNN) In what appeared to be an improvised moment, President Donald Trump invited one of his supporters to join him on stage and take the microphone during a rally in Melbourne, Florida, on Saturday night….
And it is the story of Donald Trump, elected for being famous. Today, after his ritual rousing of the rabble in Melbourne, Florida, the anonymous man from the crowd was interviewed. And, almost tearful, he declaimed how he would never forget this day.
Don’t be like Ray
Fame conferred. (Of course, knowing SCROTUS’* penchant for hiring shills, it may be a con.)
[* SCROTUS = So Called Ruler Of The United States. I HAD used that acronym for the Anti-woman majority of the Supreme Court, the Alter Boys, but Scalia is dead and vox populi vox dei.]
It was a form of celebrity karaoke: here’s the microphone, now YOU can be famous. OK, give the mic back.
A symptom is karaoke, where anonymous people pretend to be famous — created in the anonymous crush of Toyko, appropriately. But our age is the age of celebrity because of the near universal fear of anonymity. [See The Lego Movie for more on that.]
And Donald Trump bases his entire schtick on celebrity. He knows that flim flam works.
Just think: a chiseler who sold a fake real estate school (Trump University) was allegedly elected President of the United States of America. people KNEW that and yet voted for him, rather universally sound-biting “he says what he means.” And they bought his celebrity schtick and wild promises and voted for him ANYWAY.
He knows that the audience will buy ANYthing. (Well, aided and abetted by a tight “gated community” of right wing media, ALL seemingly immune from the label of “media”
And he’s running it AS a celebrity.
But, perhaps he is not the clown actually driving the car, policy-wise.
Yesterday, the AP broke a story about a memo outlining the mobilization of 100,000 national guard troops, deputized with full ICE (what we used to call “migra” after the old Immigration and Naturalization Service, the INS) powers. They would be used to round-up “illegals.”
The Celebrity White House bit back, and the hermetically sealed non-media media of the reicht doubled and tripled down.*
(* One thing about Republicans, they, as used to be said of the Germans, will follow the man on a horse. But they’re less picky about it. All they need is the horse’s ass.)
And you could literally SEE the battle between “REAL” news and “FAKE” news — as epistemological a crisis as we’ve ever seen.
The infamous seventy-seven minute press conference was universally seen by traditional media as unhinged, at best, but it played boffo to the folks who think that Trump is FDR. Again, remember that virtually EVERY newspaper and magazine that endorsed ANTI-endorsed Trump, whether for Hillary or not. And virtually every “A-list” celebrity in the USA boycotted the inauguration.
Possibly because the former have seen all kinds of political and actual Ponzi schemes, and in the latter, because perhaps, they understand that fame confers no nobility, nor wisdom, nor even wealth. It just means being well-known.
And for three decades, there has not been a more desperate camera-whore than Donald Trump, who would do just about ANYthing, it seems for celebrity. (Linda McMahon of the World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. dba WWE is the Administrator of the Small Business Administration?!?? What kind of rabbit hole have we fallen down? You might remember WWE from their endless 1990s “Wrestlemania [Roman Numeral]” arena spectacles. Maybe Administrator of the Department of Weights and Measures. But “Small Business Administration”? Or Secretary of Off-Road Vehicles. That would work. )
Which brings us back to DO. ( a deer, a female deer …)
And several outlets noticed a pattern:
The incident reflects an emerging pattern noted by several top political reporters in how the Trump administration handles its most controversial policy proposals, and undermines the press in the process:
1. Wait for a draft memo of a proposal to be leaked to the press.
2. Refuse to comment when asked about the draft.
3. Wait to dispute a story’s accuracy until the story is published.
4. Accuse the press of never having sought comment to begin with.
Trump has followed this pattern closely. In a press conference on Thursday, he dismissed reports about his campaign team’s communication with Russia as “fake news,” and said that the Wall Street Journal and New York Times had never asked him for comment before publishing their respective stories. Both outlets, however, either included a White House denial or stated that the White House did not respond to requests for comment.
Following the AP’s report and the White House’s rebuttal on Friday, NBC News politics reporter Benjy Sarlin questioned on Twitter why the administration and the DHS waited to deny the report until after it was published, despite apparently being given the opportunity to comment.
New York Times political correspondent Maggie Haberman replied that it was “almost like there’s a pattern here.”
“These are taxpayer-funded spokespeople,” Haberman wrote, referring to the White House and DHS press offices. “If memo is not under serious consideration, why not say it ahead of time?”
“Taxpayer press office that has hours to devote to focusing on palace intrigue stories and profiles does not respond to routine questions,” Haberman said.
The Death of Socrates (detail) Jacques Louis David 1787
Rep. Keith Ellison’s press secretary, Isaiah Breen, also noted the pattern on Friday.
“1. Get request for comment on a story. 2. Refuse to reply to request for comment. 3. Deny once article is up, and don’t mention comment request,” Breen tweeted in response to Spicer’s statements.
“Not answering the AP but then responding to the AP report by saying it’s wrong seems like a good way to perpetuate a fake news narrative,” New York magazine’s White House correspondent, Olivia Nuzzi, tweeted on Friday.
“The very fast, coordinated denial of this story is almost as if they wanted it to hit the wire before shooting it down,” Politico’s chief White House correspondent, Shane Goldmacher, said.
The White House has not responded to the AP’s assertion that it did not respond to requests for comment, and official comments published after the initial AP report have done little to clear up the confusion.
Washington Post reporters Radley Balko and Louisa Loveluck said on Friday that the leaks themselves appeared to be part of a strategy.
“Leak an abhorrent policy under consideration. Refuse comment when queried. After publication, declare policy absurd, scold media. Repeat,” Balko tweeted.
“1: Float outrageous draft plan. 2: Watch media explode. 3: Deny, pursue less bad option. 4: Tell base the discredited media did it again,” Loveluck said.
When that many media outlets notice a developing pattern of press and information manipulation, we HAVE to sit up and take notice, if we’re serious about this whole “self governance” notion. After all, the history of humanity is more a history of a vaguely paranoid and unhinged Alpha Male heading a social hierarchy until either he collapses or his society does. The quaint notion of self-governance, while currently popular, remains an outlier.
But clearly, we’re increasingly in a battle over “fake news” as in “alternative facts.”
That is the epistemological crisis, but the underpinnings have been present for some time now: a vast political cult with false “facts” regarding everything from Weapons of Mass Destruction to Benghazi, to Kenyan Birth Certificates for DECADES that increasingly SEES a different “reality” than non-cultists.
Today we see officials and office holders being fired for having made comments critical to Trump, whenever and wherever:
White House dismisses NSC aide after harsh criticism of Trump
Eliana Johnson / Politico
— The White House abruptly dismissed a senior National Security Council aide on Friday after receiving reports that he had publicly laced into the president and his senior aides, including son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka …
Purging uncomfortable truths, facts and personnel is not the hallmark of democratic governance: it is the mentality of the bunker, necessary but not sufficient conditions for siege mentality and, historically, MacBeth/King Lear-style tragedy.
All of which brings us back to the notion of “fake news” and “yuuuuuuge” victories.
Fake facts and phony fame.
Welcome to the Paris Hilton White House.
You might have to wait a while to have your sheets changed, though.