Jamison Foser of Media Matters argues that the “defining issue of our time,” and our era’s “dominant political force,” is our catastrophically feckless political media. The overwhelming majority of what we Americans hear about our own politics is, 24 hours a day on all channels, being carefully lathed into a storyline in which every fact about conservatives, no matter how uncomplimentary, is evidence of their homespun authenticity; while every fact about liberals and progressives—no matter how positive—is evidence of our calculating dishonesty.
Nothing is exempt. Nothing. Read Slate editor Jacob Weisberg’s explanation of how the contents of Hillary Clinton’s iPod show her to be engaged in “premeditation, if not actual poll-testing.” As the covers of 1960s DC comics would say, “Not An Imaginary Story!” Weisberg is perfectly serious.
According to Weisberg, Clinton’s explanation of what music is on her iPod was “premeditated” and the result of political “calculations.” For Weisberg to be right, Clinton’s answer must be dishonest. Now: Does anybody really believe that Clinton doesn’t like Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”? How many professional baby-boomer women don’t like “Respect”? Does anybody really believe Clinton doesn’t like the Beatles? They’re the Beatles! It’s hard to believe any rational person could assume that Clinton doesn’t actually like and listen to the music she listed. And if she does, Weisberg’s entire premise can be tossed out the window: There’s nothing calculated or insincere in answering a question about what music you like by listing the music you like.
But give Weisberg credit for trying: He describes Clinton’s stated fondness for both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones as some sort of trying-to-have-it-both-ways Clintonian dishonesty. There’s a word for arguments like this: Stupid. How many Beatles fans actually dislike the Rolling Stones? How many Stones fans dislike the Beatles? It’s like suggesting someone is dishonest for saying they like both ice cream and cake: Who doesn’t like ice cream and cake?
No doubt somebody reading this doesn’t like ice cream and cake, or the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, but the point is that it’s completely retarded to suggest that liking (or disliking!) any combination of these things is evidence of anything about someone’s character. This blog is no hotbed of enthusiasm for a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. But this isn’t about Hillary Clinton. It’s about facing up to the fact that this kind of swill is now being firehosed at anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman, every minute of every day, by our political press corps. This is not the same old American same old. It’s a new phenomenon in our history. The commanding heights of our mass media are in the iron grip of a class of people as unreflective, as foolish, as corrupt, and as utterly divorced from normal life as the 19th-century Russian aristocracy. This is what has put us at the mercy of the wolves. This is what our enemy looks like.