By John Siman
Matt Taibbi’s Hate Inc. is the most insightful and revelatory book about American politics to appear since the publication of Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal almost four full years ago, near the beginning of the last presidential election cycle.
While Frank’s topic was the abysmal failure of the Democratic Party to be democratic and Taibbi’s is the abysmal failure of our mainstream news corporations to report news, the prominent villains in both books are drawn from the same, or at least overlapping, elite social circles: from, that is, our virulently anti-populist liberal class, from our intellectually mediocre creative class, from our bubble-dwelling thinking class. In fact, I would strongly recommend that the reader spend some time with Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? (2004) and Listen, Liberal! (2016) as he or she takes up Taibbi’s book. And to really do the book the justice it deserves, I would even more vehemently recommend that the reader immerse him- or herself in Taibbi’s favorite book and vade-mecum, Manufacturing Consent (which I found to be a grueling experience: a relentless cataloging of the official lies that hide the brutality of American foreign policy) and, in order to properly appreciate the brilliance of Taibbi’s chapter 7, “How the Media Stole from Pro Wrestling,” visit some locale in Flyover Country and see some pro wrestling in person (which I found to be unexpectedly uplifting — more on this soon enough).
Taibbi tells us that he had originally intended for Hate, Inc. to be an updating of Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent (1988), which he first read thirty years ago, when he was nineteen. “It blew my mind,” Taibbi writes. “[It] taught me that some level of deception was baked into almost everything I’d ever been taught about modern American life…. Once the authors in the first chapter laid out their famed propaganda model [italics mine], they cut through the deceptions of the American state like a buzz saw” (p. 10). For what seemed to be vigorous democratic debate, Taibbi realized, was instead a soul-crushing simulation of debate. The choices voters were given were distinctions without valid differences, and just as hyped, just as trivial, as the choices between a Whopper and a Big Mac, between Froot Loops and Frosted Mini-Wheats, between Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi, between Marlboro Lites and Camel Filters. It was all profit-making poisonous junk.
“Manufacturing Consent,” Taibbi writes, “explains that the debate you’re watching is choreographed. The range of argument has been artificially narrowed long before you get to hear it” (p. 11). And there’s an indisputable logic at work here, because the reality of hideous American war crimes is and always has been, from the point of view of the big media corporations, a “narrative-ruining” buzz-kill. “The uglier truth [brought to light in Manufacturing Consent], that we committed genocide of a fairly massive scale across Indochina — ultimately killing at least a million innocent civilians by air in three countries — is pre-excluded from the history of the period” (p. 13).
So what has changed in the last thirty years? A lot! As a starting point let’s consider the very useful metaphor found in the title of another great media book of 1988: Mark Crispin Miller’s Boxed In: The Culture of TV. To say that Americans were held captive by the boob tube affords us not only a useful historical image but also suggests the possibility of their having been able to view the television as an antagonist, and therefore of their having been able, at least some of them, to rebel against its dictates. Three decades later, on the other hand, the television has been replaced by iPhones and portable tablets, the workings of which are so precisely intertwined with even the most intimate minute-to-minute aspects of our lives that our relationship to them could hardly ever become antagonistic.
Taibbi summarizes the history of these three decades in terms of three “massive revolutions” in the media plus one actual massive political revolution, all of which, we should note, he discussed with his hero Chomsky (who is now ninety! — Edward Herman passed away in 2017) even as he wrote his book. And so: the media revolutions which Taibbi describes were, first, the coming of FoxNews along with Rush Limbaugh-style talk radio; second, the coming of CNN, i.e., the Cable News Network, along with twenty-four hour infinite-loop news cycles; third, the coming of the Internet along with the mighty social media giants Facebook and Twitter. The massive political revolution was, going all the way back to 1989, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and then of the Soviet Union itself — and thus of the usefulness of anti-communism as a kind of coercive secular religion (pp. 14-15).
For all that, however, the most salient difference between the news media of 1989 and the news media of 2019 is the disappearance of the single type of calm and decorous and slightly boring cis-het white anchorman (who somehow successfully appealed to a nationwide audience) and his replacement by a seemingly wide variety of demographically-engineered news personæ who all rage and scream combatively in each other’s direction. “In the old days,” Taibbi writes, “the news was a mix of this toothless trivia and cheery dispatches from the frontlines of Pax Americana…. The news [was] once designed to be consumed by the whole house…. But once we started to be organized into demographic silos [italics mine], the networks found another way to seduce these audiences: they sold intramural conflict” (p. 18).
And in this new media environment of constant conflict, how, Taibbi wondered, could public consent, which would seem to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from conflict, still be manufactured?? “That wasn’t easy for me to see in my first decades in the business,” Taibbi writes. “For a long time, I thought it was a flaw in the Chomsky/Herman model” (p. 19).
But what Taibbi was at length able to understand, and what he is now able to describe for us with both wit and controlled outrage, is that our corporate media have devised — at least for the time being — highly-profitable marketing processes that manufacture fake dissent in order to smother real dissent (p. 21). And the smothering of real dissent is close enough to public consentto get the goddam job done: The Herman/Chomsky model is, after all these years, still valid.
Or pretty much so. Taibbi is more historically precise. Because of the tweaking of the Herman/Chomsky propaganda model necessitated by the disappearance of the USSR in 1991 (“The Russians escaped while we weren’t watching them, / As Russians do…,” Jackson Browne presciently prophesied on MTV way back in 1983), one might now want to speak of a Propaganda Model 2.0. For, as Taibbi notes, “…the biggest change to Chomsky’s model is the discovery of a far superior ‘common enemy’ in modern media: each other. So long as we remain a bitterly-divided two-party state, we’ll never want for TV villains” (pp. 207-208).
To rub his great insight right into our uncomprehending faces, Taibbi has almost sadistically chosen to have dark, shadowy images of a yelling Sean Hannity (in lurid FoxNews Red!) and a screaming Rachel Maddow (in glaring MSNBC Blue!) juxtaposed on the cover of his book. For Maddow, he notes, is “a depressingly exact mirror of Hannity…. The two characters do exactly the same work. They make their money using exactly the same commercial formula. And though they emphasize different political ideas, the effect they have on audiences is much the same” (pp. 259-260).
And that effect is hate. Impotent hate. For while Rachel’s fan demographic is all wrapped up in hating Far-Right Fascists Like Sean, and while Sean’s is all wrapped up in despising Libtard Lunatics Like Rachel, the bipartisan consensus in Washington for ever-increasing military budgets, for everlasting wars, for ever-expanding surveillance, for ever-growing bailouts of and tax breaks for and and handouts to the most powerful corporations goes forever unchallenged.
Oh my. And it only gets worse and worse, because the media, in order to make sure that their various siloed demographics stay superglued to their Internet devices, must keep ratcheting up levels of hate: the Fascists Like Sean and the Libtards Like Rachel must be continually presented as more and more deranged, and ultimately as demonic. “There is us and them,” Taibbi writes, “and they are Hitler” (p. 64). A vile reductio ad absurdum has come into play: “If all Trump supporters are Hitler, and all liberals are also Hitler,” Taibbi writes, “…[t]he America vs. America show is now Hitler vs. Hitler! Think of the ratings!…” The reader begins to grasp Taibbi’s argument that our mainstream corporate media are as bad as — are worse than — pro wrestling. It’s an ineluctable downward spiral.
Taibbi continues: “The problem is, there’s no natural floor to this behavior. Just as cable TV will eventually become seven hundred separate twenty-four-hour porn channels, news and commentary will eventually escalate to boxing-style, expletive-laden, pre-fight tirades, and the open incitement to violence [italics mine]. If the other side is literally Hitler, … [w]hat began as America vs. America will eventually move to Traitor vs. Traitor, and the show does not work if those contestants are not eventually offended to the point of wanting to kill one another” (pp. 65-69).
As I read this book, I often wondered about how difficult it was emotionally for Taibbi to write it. I’m just really glad to see that the guy didn’t commit suicide along the way. He does describe the “self-loathing” he experienced as he realized his own complicity in the marketing processes which he exposes (p. 2). He also apologizes to the reader for his not being able to follow through on his original aim of writing a continuation of Herman and Chomsky’s classic: “[W]hen I sat down to write what I’d hoped would be something with the intellectual gravitas of Manufacturing Consent,” Taibbi confesses, “I found decades of more mundane frustrations pouring out onto the page, obliterating a clinical examination” (p. 2).
I, however, am profoundly grateful to Taibbi for all of his brilliantly observed anecdotes. The subject matter is nauseating enough even in Taibbi’s sparkling and darkly tragicomic prose. A more academic treatment of the subject would likely be too depressing to read. So let me conclude with an anecdote of my own — and an oddly uplifting one at that — about reading Taibbi’s chapter 7, “How the News Media Stole from Pro Wrestling.”
On the same day I read this chapter I saw that, on the bulletin board in my gym, a poster had appeared, as if by magic, promoting an upcoming Primal Conflict (!) professional wrestling event. I studied the photos of the wrestlers on the poster carefully, and, as an astute reader of Taibbi, I prided myself on being able to identify which of them seemed be playing the roles of heels, and which of them the roles of babyfaces.
For Taibbi explains that one of the fundamental dynamics of wrestling involves the invention of crowd-pleasing narratives out of the many permutations and combinations of pitting heels against faces. Donald Trump, a natural heel, brings the goofy dynamics of pro wrestling to American politics with real-life professional expertise. (Taibbi points out that in 2007 Trump actually performed before a huge cheering crowd in a Wrestlemania event billed as the “battle of the billionaires.” Watch it on YouTube! https://youtu.be/5NsrwH9I9vE— unbelievable!!)
The mainstream corporate media, on the other hand, their eyes fixed on ever bigger and bigger profits, have drifted into the metaphorical pro wrestling ring in ignorance, and so, when they face off against Trump, they often end up in the role of inept prudish pearl-clutching faces.
Taibbi condemns the mainstream media’s failure to understand such a massively popular form of American entertainment as “malpractice” (p. 125), so I felt more than obligated to buy a ticket and see the advertised event in person. To properly educate myself, that is.
On the poster in my gym I had paid particular attention to the photo of character named Logan Easton Laroux, who was wearing a sweater tied around his neck and was extending an index finger upwards as if he were summoning a waiter. Ha! I thought. This Laroux chap must be playing the role of an arrogant preppy face. The crowd will delight in his humiliation! I imagined the vile homophobic and even Francophobic abuse to which he would likely be subjected.
On the night of the Primal Conflict event, I intentionally showed up a little bit late, because, to be honest, I was fearing a rough crowd. Pro wrestling in West Virginia, don’t you know. But I was politely greeted and presented with the ticket I had PayPal-ed. I looked over to the ring, and, sure enough, there was Logan Easton Laroux being body-slammed to the mat. Ha! Just the ritual humiliation I anticipated! But I had most certainly not anticipated the sudden display of Primal Conflict wit that ensued. Our plucky Laroux dramatically recovered from his fall and adroitly pinned his opponent as the crowd happily cheered for him, cheered in unison, cheered an apparently rehearsed chant again and again: ONE PER CENT! ONE PER CENT!
So no homophobic obscenities??Au contraire! Here was a twist in narrative far more nuanced than anything you might read in the New York Times!
Soon enoughI realized that this was wholesome family entertainment. The most enthusiastic fans seemed to be the eight- and nine-year-old boys. (A couple of the boys were proudly wearing their Halloween costumes.) There was no smoking, no drinking, no foul language, no sexual innuendo of any sort, and, above all no racial insults — just the opposite: For both the wrestlers and the spectators were a mix of white and black, and the most popular wrestler was a big black guy in an afro wig who “lost” his bout to a white guy who played a cheating sleazebag heel named Quinn. Also, significantly, there was zero police presence, and zero chance of any kind of actual altercation. When the night was over the promoter stood at the exit and shook the hand of and said good-bye and come-back to each of us departing spectators — sort of like, well, a pastor after church in a small southern town as his congregation disperses.
So here I was in the very midst of — to use Hillary Clinton’s contemptuous terminology— the deplorables. But they weren’t the racist misogynistic homophobes Clinton had condemned. The vibe was that everyone liked all the wrestlers, even the ones they had booed, and that everyone pretty much liked each other. During intermission the promoter called out a birthday greeting to a spectator named John. A middle-aged black guy stood up to a round of applause. He was with his wife and kids.
Where was the hate?
In other words, to what extent are the hatreds so hauntingly described by Taibbi largely confined to the same affluent demographic silos in which they are manufactured? To what extent is ignorance of the corporate media — the legacy media — the prestige media — a kind of relative bliss? To put it bluntly, would the United States be, on balance, a better country if tomorrow morning, by the waving of some magic wand, MSNBC and FoxNews both vanished into thin air? And then CNN? And NPR? And the New York Times and the Washington Post too? These hypothetical questions are not at all difficult for a reader of Taibbi to answer.
To put it bluntly, would the United States be, on balance, a better country if tomorrow morning, by the waving of some magic wand, MSNBC and FoxNews both vanished into thin air? And then CNN? And NPR? And the New York Times and the Washington Post too?
[Y E S]
And leave the arena to Facebook alone?
Leave the field to Yves and Lambert, Max Blumenthal and Aaron Maté, Jimmy Dore, and the rest of the best of the AltMedia!
To go on with Yves rationale, in this world of social unrest, and as Lambert has written in posts on this matter, why on earth the media focus almost exclusively on the peripheric violence while most people on those protests are politely, quietly, happily showing their disapproval and discontent?
Almost forget to write this: thank you for this review and sharing your thougths on the wrestling experience.
Jimmy Dore gets basic facts wrong. Just saying. So does the NYT times sometimes, well that’s true of course (most notoriously the Iraq war), but trusting news to a comedian who often misreports things, I don’t know about that.
Anyway the world in which everyone starts getting their news from left wing sources seems so improbable that, it’s not going to happen. I appreciate some of their voices, just saying.
Dore agrees with you. In his own words he’s an asshole nightclub comedian doing a show out of his garage. Yet he still has a better record of accuracy than the media he’s constantly skewering. He also has some capacity to change his views based on new information.
And the NYT frequently doesn’t just ‘get facts wrong’. It lies. And when it isn’t engaging in outright deceit its being disingenuously ignorant, playing a “golly gee, who coulda knowed???” act.
Thank you Plenue. That needed to be said.
I am glad to see divisiveness repudiated by readers.
Agreed Plenue Jimmy Dore is a lot closer to the truth on most things than most others
calling each other out on our hypocrisy is tried and true funny – Dore has a wealth of material
^^^ The arrogant, condescending mainstream Democrats, who still manage to maintain an air of superiority despite the fact that they lost what should have been an unlosable election to the most unqualified, unpopular presidential candidate in American history.
I have stopped watching broadcast “news” other than occasional sessions of NPR in the car. I get most of my news from sources such as this and from overseas sources (The Guardian, Reuters, etc.). I used to subscribe to newspapers but have given them up in disgust, even though I was looking forward to leisurely enjoying a morning paper after I retired.
I was brought up in the positive 1950’s and, boy, did this turn out poorly.
+++ Exactly. Though for me the 50s were not really all that positive, what with the bomb, “conformity”, the shadow of the holocaust, & the red scares, which became more and more loomingly apparent as one grew older.
Don’t forget segregation and and the celebration of the Cleavers as a model family.
So you mean like restoring the fairness act and funding npr instead of letting various “foundations” run it? Preposterous!
Losing the “fairness doctrine” and allowing for media consolidation is where America took a dive. Thanks to Bill Clinton. Now, just 5 companies (with interlocking boards) control 90% of what we see and hear.
Was going to say, the Fairness Doctrine was ended in 1987 according to the FCC. That was Reagan, not Clinton. I remember the feeling that this was the beginning of The End.
Well NO, and obviously no at that.
Then people would get all their news from Facebook and Twitter and conspiracy sites etc. So no. It can get much worse.
Yes of course the media environment could also be a lot better (break up the media conglomerates), but this burn it all down talk given how bad most (not all) of the alternatives are is silly and naive. I mean some of these have non redeeming value (Fox and MSNBC commentary at least), but not the sites that have some actual news.
And which “sites” are those, among the ones that have wide audiences? How many people tune in to NC every day? Or any of the other folks like Taibbi, Johnstone and the others that try to get the facts straight and in context with references to important bits of history?
To be a citizen that has any kind of agency and power and membership in some grouping that can effectuate “policy” directions and such, one needs honest information. But recognize that most of us mopes, even if our “news” was given to us as pristine and free of manipulation and bias as we want to think is possible, and as many of us nostalgically think might have been the case in the past, are just along for the ride.
If the geopoliticians who have their hands on the weapons of mass destruction, from nuclear and biological and ‘tech” weapons to the torture devices the IMF uses and so much more, make a”big miscalculation” and blow up the planet, and/or the stacked vulnerabilities of the system that has come to be Get triggered like that illustrative experiment with ping pong balls and mousetraps, the vast majority of us will die wondering “What the hell just happened?”
The problem is not that reporters have points of view, but that most Americans sit like Sponge Bob Square Pants in front of the Boob Tube with their emotions at full throttle, which by neurological design puts the rational brain in standby. Thus, Hannity and Maddow both ignore the brain and go for the emotions – where people keep their beliefs (rational or not). Thus, today we have infotainment because TV is to amuse – not to report the news.
We tend to go into sponge mode watching TV because we associated the tube with entertainment that titillates us emotionally. That is what makes movies, sitcoms, reality TV, etc. amusement. People do not watch Wheel of Fortune to improve their spelling ability but to cheer when the idiot contestant actually spells something right that they recognized behforehand.
Sponge watching the news also creates ooweful biases. When beliefs dominate one’s thinking, counterfacts are discarded as efforts to manipulate or fool – left or right. This also leads to confirmation bias. That is, we seek evidence that “proves” our viewpoint is righteous rather than seeking out facts that inform our viewpoint – pro or con.
Actually, the vast majority of Americans don’t watch cable news at all. “Great” ratings for Rachel Maddow or one of these hate-mongers is around 3-4 million viewers. That’s 1% of the American populace. At best. So no, way more people are on youtube and at local wrestling than watch the MSM. That’s one of the reasons they’ve been freaking out for the past few years — nobody except the political class believes them or pays any attention to them anymore. Trump’s election was proof of that. And that’s why they keep trying to bring him down.
I read the book upon release. Highly recommended! Most members of my tribe are upset that Hannity AND Maddow are on the cover, though. Indeed, where they belong, screaming in their respective silos. I am astonished that it has gotten a few good reviews in the “mainstream” media. Progress of a sort.
The book’s cover reminds me of the Hydra in greek mythology.
Shouldn’t that be Janus Flora?
Janus was the god of beginnings and endings, of doorways and transitions, looking forward and backward in time.
Hydra, from wiki: According to Hesiod, the Hydra was the offspring of Typhon and Echidna. It had poisonous breath and blood so virulent that even its scent was deadly. The Hydra possessed many heads, the exact number of which varies according to the source. Later versions of the Hydra story add a regeneration feature to the monster: for every head chopped off, the Hydra would regrow two heads. Heracles required the assistance of his nephew Iolaus to cut off all of the monster’s heads and burn the neck using sword and fire.
So, I think the Hydra, with its poisonous breath and many heads, is the right analogy for the current msm.
It would probably upset your tribe no end if a foto turned up of Hannity and Maddow sharing a drink and having a laugh together at the Hamptons or Martha’s Vinyard.
Well, she an Ailes were BFFs…Small hop from there to drinks with Hannity. They are all in on it. Not to forget that Rush Limbaugh is a (good) disc jockey. If the money were on the other side, that’s where he would be. I need some brain bleach.
Matt Taibbi is an American treasure, and I love his writing very much, but we also need to ask, Why hasn’t another Chomsky (or another Hudson), an analyst with a truly deep and wide-ranging, synthetic mind, appeared on the left to take apart our contemporary media and show us its inner workings? Have all the truly great minds gone to work for Wall Street? I don’t have an answer, but to me the pro wrestling metaphor, while intriguing, misses something about the Fourth Estate in America, if it indeed still exists. And that is, except for radio, there is a distinct imbalance between the two sides of the MSM lineup. On the corporate liberal side of the national MSM team you have five wrestlers, but on the conservative/reactionary side you have only the Fox entry. Because of this imbalance, the corruption, laziness, self-indulgence, and generally declining interest in journalistic standards seems greater among the corporate liberal media team, including the NYT and WaPo, than the Fox team. I’m not a fan of either Maddow (in her current incarnation) or Hannity, but Hannity, perhaps because he thinks he’s like David, often hustles to refute the discourse of the corporate liberal Goliath team. Hannity obviously does more research on some topics than Maddow, and, perhaps because he began in radio, he puts more emphasis on semi-rationally structured rants than Maddow, who depends more on primal emotion, body language, and Hollywood-esque fear-inducing atmospherics. I’d wager that in a single five-minute segment there will often be twice as many rational distinctions made in a Hannity rant than in a Maddow performance. In addition, for the last three years Hannity has simply been demonstrably right about the fake Russiagate propaganda blitz while Maddow has been as demonstrably wrong from the very beginning as propaganda industry trend-setter Adam Schiff. So for at least these last three years, the Maddow-Hannity primal match has been a somewhat misleading metaphor. The Blob and the security state have been decisively supporting (and directing?) the corporate liberal global interventionist media, at least regarding Russia and the permanent war establishment, and because the imbalance between the interventionist and the non-interventionist MSM, Russia and Ukraine are being used as a wedge to steadily break down the firewalls between the Dem party, the intel community, and the interventionist MSM. If we had real public debates with both sides at approximately equal strength as we did during the Vietnam War, then even pro wrestling-type matches would be superior to what we have now, which is truthy truth and thoughtsy thought coming to us from the military industrial complex and monopolistic holding companies. If fascism is defined as the fusion of the state and corporations, then the greatest threat of fascism in America may well be coming from the apparent gradual fusion of the corporate liberal MSM, the Dem party elite, and the intel community. Instead of an MSM wrestling match, we may soon be faced with a Japanese-style ‘hitori-zumo’ match in which a sumo wrestler wrestles with only himself. Once these sumo wrestlers were believed to be wrestling with invisible spirits, but those days are gone…. http://kikuko-nagoya.com/html/hitori-zumo.htm
“If we had real public debates” and if they were even debates where issues entered into contest were addressed point by point with evidence…
Today’s Noam Chomksy? Chomsky was part of the machine who broke ranks with it. His MIT research was generously funded by the Military Industrial Complex. Thankfully, enough of his latent humanity and Trotskyite upbringing shone through so he exposed what he was part of. So I guess today that’s Chris Hedges, though he’s a preacher at heart and not a semiotician.
Fleshing out the distinction you made: Hedges is much less fact-based than Chomsky, probably because of Chomsky’s academic background. The one time I saw him speak, I watched him footnote the answer to a QUESTION – granted, a question he expected.
Hedges, OTOH, is much more emotional; I actually find him hard to read. Chomsky remains a unique giant. I wish there were a replacement, but I don’t see one.
Trotskyite? I thought he identified as an anarchist.
He says he’s an anarcho-syndicalist. I recall his verdict on Communism, at least in the Marxist-Leninist vein, is that it’s basically a giant cult.
Hedges is a prattler of highly variable use. At his best he’s a war corespondent giving worthwhile reporting from dangerous areas, or doing Chris Arnade-style exposes on backwater economic sacrifice zones. At his worst he’s whining about pornography and self-help gurus (Empire of Illusion is an awful, sneering book). His constant speechifying is verbose and pretentious, and does nothing but preach to the choir. I seriously doubt he has ever converted anyone to the Left; if you don’t already agree with him all you’re likely to see is a pompous fat man ranting.
At heart, Chris Hedges is first and foremost a Presbyterian minister. Like any truly religious person, has dedicated his life to facing evil in this world, and trying to overcome it by confrontation. Most people don’t have the personal fortitude for such a position- preferring the easier rout of turning away from evil, avoiding confrontation.
Hedges believes in the power of an activist religion- not the passive protective kind.
Hedges professes moral outrage at the injustices being wantonly perpetrated by those in power. His message is difficult to stomach because many of his fellow citizens are less concerned about the actual evil being done, and more upset about their shrinking share of the spoils. They don’t want to confront power, they just want a better deal from those in power!
Thats the problem in the US today, you can’t profess to be a moral nation and at the same time pursue profits at any price and cost. If you can reconcile those contradictory ideas in your mind you are living a lie. When confronted with the reality of that lie, the messengers are best dealt with by seeing them as -pompous ranters. In that way, you can continue on with your life without conflicting moral pangs.
That is a very difficult message to process and is easily swamped with electronic media.
“At heart, Chris Hedges is first and foremost a Presbyterian minister.”
That’s precisely the problem. Obama talked nice too. We don’t need more fancy words, we need action. I’ll give him credit for the NDAA lawsuit though.
I would much rather have the fairly crude and blunt words of Sanders combined with actual action than the moralizing blather of Hedges (Cornel West also likes to chatter about the ‘black prophetic tradition’, whatever that’s supposed to be). Also Hedges message is one of constant hopelessness. It boils down to “things suck, and will continue to suck, until at some unknown time a revolution breaks out”.
And I know this is a bit of an ad hominem, but I have a problem with him knowing that things are going to be bad for future generations (‘corporations have their hands around my kids thoats’ is what he said in a recent Useful Idiots interview)…yet he keeps pumping out kids. Most recently with a hot woman thirty years his junior.
Thank you, Dao Gen. An excellent analysis, and your final image is usefully haunting.
> In addition, for the last three years Hannity has simply been demonstrably right about the fake Russiagate propaganda blitz while Maddow has been as demonstrably wrong
Eh. Read whats-his-name’s (Frankfurter?) book On Bullshit. You are giving Hannity credit for something he doesn’t really care about.
Stopped clock in regards to Hannity. I seriously doubt he actually cares one way or another about the substance of the issue. There’s little, if any, principle at play here. Trump is the president with R in front of his name, so Hannity is going to support him by default.
It’s just that Russiagate really is a bunch of nothing, so on this Hannity comes out correct.
I don’t believe the media environment as a whole leans corporate Dem/neoliberal.
T.V. maybe, but radio is much more right wing than left (yes there is NPR and Pacifica, the latter with probably only a scattering of listerners but …) and it’s still out there and a big influence, radio hasn’t gone away. So doesn’t the right wing tilt of radio kind of balance out television? (not necessarily in a good way but). And then there is the internet and I have no idea what the overall lean of that is (I mean I prefer left wing sites, but that’s purely my own bubble and actually there are much fewer left analysis out there than I’d like)
Huh? New York Times. Washington Post. Los Angeles Times. Oh, and at the Wall Street Journal, the reporters rebelled over what they thought was an overly right wing slant on politics (having said that, the reporters accept it on business stories).
I agree re radio, stations can and do target niche audiences and a lot of talk radio skews right wing.
You’re missing a big point if you’re still equating Democratic neoliberalism with the Left. NPR isn’t Left, it’s centrist and pro-establishment.
Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
by Sheldon S. Wolin
Critical deep analysis of not just the media but the whole American political enterprise and
the nature of our “democracy”.
The whole review is good, but this extract should be quoted extensively:
In short, stagnation and self-dealing at the top. What could possibly go wrong?
I disagree with the author’s take on the cover. There is no actual equivalence in “screaming” between Hannity and Maddow. None. Hannity is a hate merchant whose currency consists of conspiracy theories, blatant hate, thinly veiled racism, and faux-patriot nationalism. Maddow, while maybe inspiring hate in her critics, does not characterize her subjects in the language of hate, not a bit. My take on the cover is that it is for marketing, and Taibbi chose the media faces that each side of our polarized politics believes is representative of the other side. I expect a better take on the cover would be Hannity as Fake Consent and Maddow as Real Consent.
Are you serious? Maddow called Trump a traitor and accused him of betrayal in Russiagate, and was caught out when that fell apart. This was pointed out all over the MSM….
Several Amazon reviews criticize the book for the same reasons. I suspect Taibbi has hit a nerve with several “liberals” who can’t see Maddow for what she really is. To me, that means he has done his job well.
John Siman here (the guy who wrote the review). My guess is that what lKYrocky writes is pretty much representative of the sentiments of a majority of Establishment Democrats, who would, I think, be similarly shocked and appalled by Taibbi’s juxtaposition of Hannity and Maddow as twin faces of the same force for evil. That’s why I said that Taibbi was being almost “sadistic” in his pairing of these images. For Taibbi, because he is a truly great journalist, a genuine seeker of truth, even in its most gruesome forms, has to rub nauseating facts into our unwilling and uncomprehending faces if we are ever going take a good look at reality. And the reality here is that Maddow, a former Rhodes Scholar, etc., has freely chosen to stoop down to — to stoop lower than — Hannity’s crass sleaze-ball level. For Maddow, in aggressively pushing the Russiagate propaganda, has participated both in the horrific and needless escalation of a second Cold War and in the elitist marginalization of all decent popular criticism of the rot at the center of the Democratic Party. Hannity, by contrast, merely regurgitates predictably fetid rightwing bullshit.
Thank you for this review — and for this excellent comment.
Yes, thanks John. There are 2 appendices at the end of the book. The first one is a very detailed explanation of the reason he put Maddow on the cover. It is worth a read. Many commenters (not NC commenters of course) are just outraged that Maddow appears next to Hannity in such a brazen in-your-face manner.
Mr. Siman, thank you for your fine and witty review. Hope to hear more from you.
Why is the notion of being a Rhodes Scholar always trotted out as being something exemplary? From a class perspective, this should be a dead giveaway as to the true intentions of those involved- as in exploitive and destructive towards working people and anti-imperialists.
Cecil Rhodes wanted the British Empire to rule the world-period. He took the wealth gained from his life work of conquest and formed a trust that would support this vision into perpetuity- to train and support likeminded people so they could continue and further this cause.
There is no stooping involved at all! This is who these people are- Imperialists and Empire supporters- the rest be dammed.
Actually, Hannity and Maddow, their education and brilliance aside, can be seen as willful stooges serving the same masters whether they know it or not. They both keep the population moving in the right direction- as in an elite few make the rules the rest of us will be compelled to follow. Hannity appeals to the lower classes while Maddow appeals to the better educated. They both however support American Empire, even if they don’t use those words. American goodness and greatness is taken for a given. America, by definition, is great and exceptional- the indispensable nation.
They are both tools of Empire. Even Jimmy Dore jokes about his willingness at being bough off- they just haven’t offered him the money yet.
All this inane bickering from supposedly intelligent people. I weep for my country!
Whatever happened to respecting your enemies?
Everywhere I look, I just see fools and stooges- and everyone wonders why tyranny seems just around the corner.
Excellent review. I found your description of the wrestling event quite touching, sweet even.
‘Maddow isn’t a hate merchant’
Ahahahahaha. Tell a Russian that. See what kind of reaction you get. She isn’t quite at the Olbermann level of outright screaming about “RUSSIAN SCUM!” but she’s not far behind him.
Suggest that you watch the clip of Rachel Maddow on TV for the first time the day after Trump won the election. You would think that Beezlebub had ascended to the Presidency and that life was over…
> Maddow, while maybe inspiring hate in her critics, does not characterize her subjects in the language of hate, not a bit.
So both are equally effective merchants of hate, but Maddow is the morally superior being because of her tone?
Well, duh. Why else would everyone be on the Biden train. Corruption with a doddering folksy face is just the ticket! (Not ending corruption from which they all benefit)
This is great stuff. Thanks.
One quibble: the author says
and then goes on to spend most of the article talking about television. I’d say television is still the main propaganda instrument even if many webheads like yours truly ignore it (I’ve never seen Hannity’s show or Maddow’s–just hear the rumors). Arguably even newspapers like the NYT have been dumbed down because the reporters long to be on TV and join the shouting. And it’s surely no coincidence that our president himself is a TV (and WWE) star. Mass media have always been feeders of hysteria but television gave them faces and voices. Watching TV is also a far more passive experience than surfing the web. They are selling us “narratives,” bedtime stories, and we like sleepy children merely listen.
I agree, great stuff. I was puzzled by something different in that paragraph: “the television has been replaced by iPhones and portable tablets, the workings of which are so precisely intertwined with even the most intimate minute-to-minute aspects of our lives that our relationship to them could hardly ever become antagonistic.”
I consider my iPhone and other devices antagonistic because it is so intertwined with my life when I have mentally asked it not be. I don’t like my privacy to be continually invaded, my wallet attacked from invasive ads or fees, or my choices (e.g. must use a “e ticket” on my phone) limited.
This rave review has inspired me to add this to my to-read non-fiction queue. Currently reading William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy, on the rise of the East India Company. Next up: Matt Stoller’s Goliath. And then I’ll get to Taibbi. Probably worth digging up my original copy of Manufacturing Consent as well, which I read many moons ago; time for a re-read.
almost every page of mine is dog-eared and marked along the edge with exclamation points…
May I suggest Stephen Cohen’s “War with Russia?” if it’s not already on your list? In focusing on the danger emerging from the new cold war, seeded by the Democrats, propagated by corporate media (which he thinks is more dangerous than the first), Cohen clarifies the importance of diplomacy especially with one’s nuclear rivals.
Also Turchin’s War and Peace and War.
Support your local book store!
Us rubes knew decades ago about pro wrestling. There was a regional circuit and the hero in one town would become the villain in another town. The ones to be surprised were like John Stossel, who got a perforated eardrum from a slap upside the head for his efforts at in-your-face journalism with a wrestler who just wouldn’t play along with his grandstanding. Somewhere, kids cheered and life went on.
Ah, Ancient Athens, here we come – running back to repeat your mistakes! Our MSM media has decided that when we are not at our neighbor’s throats, we should be at each other’s throats!
I was watching old clips of the ‘Fred Friendly Seminars’ on YouTube. IMHO any channel that produced a format such as this would be a ratings bonanza. Imagine a round table with various media figures (corporate) left, (corporate) right, and independent being refereed by a host-moderator discussing topics in ‘Hate, Inc.’. In wrestling it’s called a Battle Royale. The Fourth Estate in a cage match!
Today’s television newsreaders would be hard-pressed to approach the standard set by the Friendly-era crew. Take away their hair stylists and TelePrompTers and many would fumble basic inquiries. They seem more like the 1/4 Estate by comparison. I find far more credible news online, where linked sources allow review of claims and thinking for oneself instead of being told what to think.
Nonetheless, it would be entertaining to see some of those personalities put on the spot.
Nobody today would hold a candle to Walter Cronkite, IMHO. But then, I’ve been feeling my old curmudgeon lately.
This is important, if people don’t want to be naive about what democracy buys. Democracy in the end is a ritual system to determine which members of an elite would win a war without actually having to hold the war. Like how court functions to replace personal revenge by determining (often) who would win in a fight if there were one, and the feudal system replaced the genocidal wars of the axial age with the gentler warfare of the middle ages which were often ritual wars of the elite that avoided the full risk of the earlier wars.
That, I think, is important — under a democracy, the winner should be normally the winner of the avoided violent conflict to be sustainable. Thus, it’s enough to get most people to consent to the solution, using the traditional meaning of consent being “won’t put up a fight to avoid it”. If the choices on the table are reduced enough, you can get by with most people simply dropping out of the questions.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that we’ve moved to “faking dissent” — it’s the natural evolution of a system where a lot of the effective power is in the hands of tech, and not just as in the early 20th century, how many workers you have and how many soldiers you can raise.
If you don’t like it, change the technology we use to fight one another. We went from tribes to lords when we switch from sticks to advanced forged weapons, and we went from feudalism to democracy when we had factories dropping guns that any 15 year old could use (oversimplifying a bit). Now that the stuff requires expertise, you’d expect a corresponding shift in how we ritualize our conflict avoidance, and thus the organization of how we control communication and how we organize our rituals of power.
Aka, it’s the scientists and the engineers who end up determining how everything is organized, and people never seem to bother with that argument, which is especially surprising that even hard-core Marxists waste their time on short-term politics rather than the tech we’re building.
I’d be curious whether Taibbi thought about the issue of the nature of the technology and whether there are technological options on the horizon which drive the conflict in other directions. If we had only kept the laws on copyright and patent weaker, so that the implementation of communicative infrastructure would have stayed decentralized…
Tabby’s “manufacturing fake consent” was really the whole punchline – the joke’s on us. Hunter S. Thompson, another of Taibbi’s heroes, is, along with Chomsky, speaking to us through MT. Our media is distracting us from social coherence. Another thing it is doing (just my opinion) is it is overwhelming us to the point of disgust. Nobody likes it. And we protect ourselves by tuning it out. Turning it off. Once the screaming lunatics marginalize themselves by making the whole narrative hysterical, we just act like it’s another family fight and we’re gonna go do something else. When everyone is screaming, no one is screaming.
Taibbi. That was my spell checker-bureaucrat. But you knew that.
Purrfectly fine, and you can practically see his face disappearing into a grin ;)
Deep insight; where’ve you been? Yes, the technology (in the fundamental sense) matters a great deal, as does the social “technology” that ultimately controls it. We may be falling (back) into plutocracy because the current iteration fosters concentration of power – certainly economic power.
One tantalizing possibility would be to use IT to enable direct democracy, sidelining representatives. Everything would be a town hall. The biggest challenge would be that so few of us actually understand the technology – I certainly don’t. The geeks would have unaccustomed power – as, arguably, they already do. But it could be done, in principle.
We are doing it as you speak.
What, exactly? Would be nice to know about – and this would be a good place to introduce it.
I believe Alistair Reynolds explores this “hyper” democracy as pervasive town hall in his Revelation Space universe of Sci-Fi novels. Where everyone is connected to the decision making process via brain machine interface. Lots of other interesting facets explored too. Check them out.
I have tried to read Hate Inc. and Taibbi’s Griftopia but one of my main issues with Taibbi’s writing is his lack of notes, references, or bibliography, etc. in his books. In skimming Hate Inc. it seems like a book I would enjoy reading, however my personal value system is that any book without footnotes, endnotes, citations, or at minimum a bibliography is just an opinion or a story. At least Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal has a section for End Notes/References at the end of the book. Again just my personal values.
It does have some footnotes where appropriate.
Another classic in the genre of manufactured consent through media from the age of radio and Adolf Hitler:
“The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception”, in the book Dialectic of Enlightenment (1947), Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer.
Joseph Goebbels uses Eddie Bernays as his guide. Read up on the Creel Committee, Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion and Bernays’ Propaganda. Or watch Adam Curtis’ BBC series The Century of the Self for the short-form version.
I am from Greater Boston, far, far from flyover country (which I imagine begins in Yonkers NY), but I sure grew up with pro wrestling as part of the schoolyard discourse. I certainly knew it was as much of a family affair as Disney on Ice and have trouble believing he thought otherwise though I will not impugn his honesty. I am very grateful to the author for taking the time to write this, but is it possible for a male who grew up in the US to be as deeply embedded in the MSNBC demo as he claims to be?
Seriously, how is it possible for a male raised in the US to not at least have some working familiarity with pro wrestling? My family along with my community was very close to the national median income–do higher income boys really not learn about WWF and WWE?
Seriously, rich kids, what was childhood like? I know you had music lessons and sports camps, what else? Was it really that different?
And it’s not just the US. See the British WWE movie: Fighting With My Family.
Sorry, my blue collar, career union member brother in the Rust Belt says your view is horseshit (that is a direct quote). All he knows about WWE and WWF is that they are big-budget fakery and that’s why they are of no interest.
aye. in my blue to white collar( and back to blue to no collar) upbringing, wrestling was never a thing. it was for the morons who couldn’t read. seen as patently absurd by just about everyone i knew. and this in klanridden east texas exurbia
wife’s mexican extended familia oth luche libre is a big thing that all and sundry talked about at thanksgiving. less so these days…possibly due to the hyperindiviualisation of media intake mentioned
(and,btw, in my little world , horseshit is a good thing)
Same. I hated how fake it was. If I wanted to watch a soap opera, Id put on Days of Our Lives.
I simply got rid of the TV altogether. Why would I pay someone to lie to me when I can get that for free?
(PS whatever happened to Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka?)
One gets the same impression upon reading the letters of common soldiers during the Civil War. Articulate and thoughtful. How different from today, where people on whole have lost the desire for self-improvement and education. Entertainment is what matters.
I would guess that not reading books has this impact. Even in the visual world, common people are loosing their ability to interpret images for greater meaning and symbolism.
The world is not getting larger, it is actually shrinking for most people- and it shows in their understanding and interpretations of events.
It was a long time ago (over 50 years), but my only exposure to pro wrestling, aside from references like the above, was a debunking by a pro wrestler who spoke at my high school. He was very clear with us that it was all show business – though the wrestlers were indeed athletes. Since amateur wrestling, which is genuine, was part of the sports roster there, it was a vivid lesson which did not make me want to watch the pro version.
Someone should add that Lambert has been using the wrestling term “kayfabe” for fake contests for years.
“Seriously, how is it possible for a male raised in the US to not at least have some working familiarity with pro wrestling?”
Easily. My entire knowledge of it is through osmosis.
Yeah, my entire knowledge of it was osmosis (well, including TV) too, but the author apparently didn’t even have that level of knowledge if he thought a pro wrestling event would be dangerous to the spectators, or if he didn’t know that the rich are sometimes the villains.
Is the socioeconomic cultural divide really that strong?
@joe well, my 2 boys dragged me around the country from our home in Winnetka, to many a WWE & WWF event. They were very different rich kids then I was. My grandfather loved ‘pro wrestling’ and I loved him so I was familiar enough with it. Seemed most of their friends were into as well. So, go figure. I can think of worse ways to spend time. It was pretty hassle free.
Even allowing for my lefty-liberal bias, I do not see how it is possible to equate Fox Noise and MSNBC, or Hannity and Maddow, as “both-sides” extremists. Fox violates basic professional canons of fairness and equity on a daily basis. MSNBC occasionally does, but is quick to correct errors of fact. Hannity is a thuggish outer-borough New York schmuck without much education or knowledge of the world. Maddow is an Oxford Ph.D. and Rhodes Scholar. It is one of the evil successes of the right-wing news cauldron to have successfully equated these two figures and organizations.
Huh? MSNBC regularly makes errors of omission and commission with respect to Sanders. They are still pushing the Russiagate narrative. That’s a massive, two-year, virtually all the time error they have refused to recant.
The blind spots of people on the soi-disant left are truly astonishing.
I wrote a reply, pushed the wrong button, and it disappeared. So, sorry for the repetition, and if the earlier reply shows up I hope I’ve kept my story straight.
Yves, you disappoint me. I expected better, frankly. The “Russiagate narrative” is still very much alive, and gaining strength with every passing day, as the metastasizing Ukraine scandal makes clear. There is certainly no reason to “recant” it.
As for “semiconscious,” an Oxford Ph.D. and a Rhodes Scholarship are what is known as “credentials.” If Sean Hannity, who couldn’t make it through a B.A. in several tries (three, I think), and Rachel Maddow are on opposite sides of an issue, I’ll assume Rachel is right, based on her credentials, until the matter is proven otherwise. Based on Hannity’s non-credentials, I’ll assume he is wrong, until the matter is proven otherwise. Devaluing serious accomplishments like Rachel’s is a curse of our time.
Oh, yeah. I’m not on the “soi-disant” left. I’m on the left; I think on the left; I vote on the left; I contribute to the left. Nice try.
They’ve both fallen into the job of carnival barker on the msm midway. Same job, different “teams”. Both “teams” owned by the same owners – Wall St.
Take a look at msm consolidation in the last 30-40 years.
The end of the Fairness Doctrine and the repeal of the Smith-Mundt Act opened the door to all manner of msm horror shows. (Don’t you feel horrified when you listen to Hannity, or Maddow, or Limbaugh – for different reasons, but horrified for one reason or another?) Makes a lot of money for Wall St. and the few, big owners.
Separate but closely related was the homophobia used to discredit Trump and Putin, a literal throwback to Cold War gays-as-a-security-risk panics. You may also recall Colbert’s comment about Trump’s mouth and Putin’s penis: quite a violation of the Norms Fairy, no?
The moral vanity and complacency of the liberal class helped give us Trump, and has been dialed up to eleven since his election. Russiagate has been the opportunistic political vehicle for expressing that, allowing for denial, projection, power hoarding, embracing the National Security State and neo-ColdWar/McCarthyite discourse.
The Gods of Irony have clearly gone rogue, and very meta, in making making Donald Trump, of all people, a victim of some real banana republic-type maneuvering… but here we are.
As I keep trying to say to my hyperventilating friends with Trump Derangement Syndrome, this is what empires in decline look like.
Sorry, this was in reply to KYrocky above…
I’m a Taibbi substack subscriber and at one point he sent out a post titled “Why Rachel Maddow is on the cover of this book”. I’m guessing it’s in the book as well? Not sure. Anyway, here’s a key quote from the relevant post:
“Rachel Maddow is not on the cover of this book because of anything she did by mistake, because Russiagate turned out to be a bad guess.
She’s on the cover because of what she did on purpose, with the core concept of both her program and her public image, before the Russia story. She transformed from a sharp-minded, gregarious, small-time radio host to a towering patriotic media cudgel, a depressingly exact mirror of Hannity.”
Taibbi knows Maddow personally, which I think helps explain why he’s so disappointed in her. Because he knows she’s smart enough to know better but opted to sell out for the big money and ratings.
Nope, I converse with Matt regularly and he was angry with Maddow because he thought she was practicing poor journalism because she had a. No facts, b. Relied on people who had no facts c. A some point just started to make stuff up. And d. That was dangerous to us as a country. To which I can only add I agree. He believes by rights Trump can prosecute a lot of former senior government officials and put them into jail if he makes an issue out of it and doesn’t bungle it. In my opinion Trump is making an issue out if and bungling it. Further, Trump being the love child of Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn, never met a conspiracy he didn’t want to be part of and is rightfully getting himself impeached by playing a game way over his head.
Concern trolling is not a rebuttal.
You have failed to address the substance of the remark. “Russiagate” is not even remotely Ukraine. Different key actors. In Ukraine, Trump being presented as in charge, trying to use official goodies to influence the election (odd how no one comments that the Obama Administration leaned on Ukraine to get dirt about Paul Manafort who had long been doing sleazy stuff but became a party of interest by virtue of being Trump’s campaign manager). In Russaigate, Trump was presented as manipulated by Putin either for personal profit or because Putin supposedly could extort him. Did you miss Russiagate fell apart, although the intel state is still successfully playing on the Cold War hysteria it reignited?
As for your remarks on Maddow’s credentials, one, that is argument from authority, which is a logical fallacy. Two, it arguably makes her MORE morally culpable for the BS she dispenses than Hannity.
Yves, I find it tedious to try to argue with someone who appears to lack — in this discussion, at least — the basic logical knowledge to proceed. As for Russiagate and Ukraine, let’s agree to disagree and wait until more evidence is on the table. Right now there isn’t enough to dismiss Russiagate, not even close. The connection with the Ukraine affair is still playing out.
Argument from authority is not a logical fallacy if authority is being invoked as prima facie support for an argument. The opinion of an M.D. on cancer symptoms is, prima facie, to be preferred over that of a Ph.D. in English. Subsequent evidence might let the Ph.D. prevail. And in writing that Maddow’s credentials “arguably make her MORE morally culpable for the BS she dispenses than Hannity,” you are begging the question — assuming the truth of the proposition (that what Maddow “dispenses” is BS) you are trying to argue for. You have the credentials to make better arguments than this, I think.
Russiagate was nothing. Literally nothing. It’s over. It burned out, completely. If you don’t think that, I suggest you stop watching Maddow, and go read or watch some Aaron Maté or indeed Matt Taibbi. If you are genuinely so clueless that you think even now that something is going to come of it, you’re doing a fantastic job of proving how utterly worthless MSNBC is as a news source.
And the fact that you’re rolling ‘Russiagate’ and ‘Ukraine’ together demonstrates you either literally don’t know what you’re talking about, or you’re being deliberately disingenuous.
I’d say disingenuous. Intentionally confusing the issue. Russiagate has morphed. It is now an investigation by the DoJ into the Obama administration’s illegal use of the intelligence community here and in the UK. What better way to confuse the already confused (due to withheld information due to “national security” etc.) than to conflate the false claim that Trump is the culprit when the original culpability belongs solely to the democrats’ behavior in Ukraine, and etc.
From my point of view, as someone outside the US and not a US citizen, it is obvious that Clinton lost the last election because she was an absolutely terrible candidate who expected a coronation. Russia had nothing to do with it. As is the fact that the Clintons and Trump have more in common with each other than differences between them. And I would allege Biden is as corrupt as them. And one more thing – weren’t the Clintons selling uranium to the Russians?
Wow, project much? Now you are engaging in ad hominem attacks and still not mustering any evidence.
The Mueller report came up with squat. See here for one of many analyses (I like Aaron Mate because he is very detailed in his debunkings):
See also Taibbi for an in-depth evisceration of years of Russiagate fake news:
Mueller hand-waved a bit about not being able to establish that Trump didn’t do anything, which is not a prosecutorial standard.
There was never any reason to think there was anything there. Trump visited Russia all of once, to officiate a beauty pageant. He formed a Russian legal entity, with which he did nothing. He had an idea for a Moscow development project which had the fantastical component of Putin buying in.
Trump had so little in the way of contacts with the Russian government that his henchman Felix Sater (who is more accurately described as Jewish Mafia than Russian Mafia, and as a felon who turned evidence would never be trusted by anyone savvy or crooked) had to e-mail an official Russian government address cold and got a call back from a functionary saying the Kremlin would not help.
Argument from authority is a fallacy and your harrumphing otherwise does not make it so. Maddow is an expert in nothing save self promotion.
And don’t try the credentials trick on me. We care about the substance of arguments. You haven’t even made one. All you’ve done is cop a ‘tude and it takes very little to dismiss that.
I don’t see how anyone could read the Mueller Report and the associated indictments and say that Mueller came up with squat.
Really? Since squat is what you’re offering in support of the Russiagate narrative…
I offer the Mueller Report. Reading that should suffice for anyone with an open mind.
Yeah, we’re not going to play this game. I suggest YOU actually go and read it. There’s literally nothing there in regards to collusion with Russia. In fact it demolishes all of the talking points that Russiagate relied on.
It uncovered various bits of corruption and malfeasance, because of course it did. No one here is saying Trump and his crew aren’t corrupt. What we’re saying is that he is neither a Kremlin agent, nor being blackmailed by the Kremlin.
Nor is there any evidence that the Russian government ‘interfered’ in the 2016 election. The Internet Research Agency appears to be nothing more than a for-profit troll farm that was running a clickbait ad revenue scheme. Another Russian company accused of ‘interference’, Concord Management and Consulting, is challenging the accusations in US court. That’s gonna be fun to watch.
Russiagate is and always was a scam, at absolute minimum just an ‘honestly’ cynical attempt to distract from the utter failure of the Hillary Clinton campaign. At worst it was a complex conspiracy of entrapment involving elements of the intelligence community. The real collusion was between a major political party, the media, and spies.
Just because Trump is bad does not make this treasonous slow coup okay.
Help me. I’ve linked a long form piece already debunking the notion that it proved squat. Go read the article and deal with what it says before trying this lame line again. And no, you have to do the work of searching for the comment in question. I’m not spoon-feeding people like you who make lazy, unsubstantiated assertions.
We have rules here. Commenting here is a privilege, not a right. You are rapidly accumulating troll points.
He came up with squat relative to collusion with the Russian government, which was the original thrust of the whole thing. There is much wrongdoing in the world and especially in Trump’s corner of it that of course if you send a prosecutor sniffing around you’ll be able to get some convictions. But none of the convictions had to do with Trump colluding with the Russian government.
George Loewenstein, Behavioral Econ., Carnegie Mellon: “Hot cold empathy gaps”. Understanding is state dependent. (When you’re angry it’s tough to be happy. When you believe something it’s hard to be dissuaded by facts,)
Right now there isn’t enough to dismiss Russiagate, not even close.
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.”
Yves, for the second time in a row, a disagreeable reply I wrote to one of your posts has disappeared. Am I to take this as a hint?
Maybe it didn’t follow the requirements for posting comments.
Making shit up is grounds for blacklisting. We did not unapprove any of your comments. It likely went into moderation and you didn’t notice and decided to use that for further grounds for unjustified attacks.
I suggest you read our site Policies before commenting again. Commenting here is a privilege, not a right.
We have rules and you’ve made multiple violations already, not only engaging in bogus argumentation strategies, broken record, but also gratuitous nastiness, which in general is not on here and is a sign of lack of strategic acumen when directed at a site moderator.
If this fool, and I think that’s an appropriate description based upon his ignorance, believes that Rachel Maddow is a leftist, he is a deluded propaganda victim.
But I don’t think so.
I call bullshit.
He appears out of nowhere at naked cap that has a long record of debunking the cancerous DNC propaganda world view, and pretends to be disappointed that Yves is consistent on her thinking on this matter for more than a decade? Sucking Yves and half the commentariat into debating this transparent, childish nonsense?
There’s a name for it.
You’re not doing a great job here of demonstrating that MSNBC doesn’t peddle in nonsense that produces low-information voters.
Oh my sweet child summer child. Credentials don’t prove you’re smart or even know anything. It just means you’re good at playing the game and buttering the right bits of toast. The fact Maddow is so deeply embedded with the elite establishment in fact lessens her credibility.
Wow! This comment has it all..
the doubling down:
the appeals to orthodox authority:
the blind faith in gatekeepers:
the blind rejection of criticism:
the prophesying of evil when authority challenged :
Do you know who the founder of the Rhodes Scholarship was? What he stood for? The instrumental role he played in the genesis of neoconservative institutions such as the Council on Foreign Affairs and the Royal Institute of International Affairs? It is an interesting exercise to examine how the views of Rhodes Scholars who worked/are working in a political or information disseminating capacity align with the goals of the formerly mentioned neoconservative institutions.
To confirm your point (and no disrespect meant to our house Rhoades Scholar, Jerri-Lynn, who is an exception that proves the rule), I have found Rhoades Scholars to be ass-kissers. Getting a Rhoades Scholarship far more so than “scholarships” with the emphasis on “scholar” like the Marshall, is an exercise in figuring out how to check boxes.
Oh, and being a jock is one of Rhoades’ four criteria:
Those who aren’t sportif need not apply.
The manly sports criterion gets stretched a lot these days. Both Rhodes scholars I went to university with used debating as their sport.
Wait, but the Best and the Brightest!!!!
‘Hannity is a thuggish outer-borough New York schmuck without much education or knowledge of the world. Maddow is an Oxford Ph.D. and Rhodes Scholar…’
oh, well, then – end of conversation! i mean, god knows, it’d be a cold day in hell before a rhodes scholar, or even someone married to one, would ever lead us astray down the rosy neoliberal path to hell, while, at the same time, under the spell of trump derangement syndrome, actually attempt to revive the mccarthy era, eh?…
Yeah, the argument from authority is always a hit. With Clinton Obama Pelosi & Schumer LLC and their followers.
Anyway, didn’t MSNBC make its bones on the 1998 impeachment melodrama?
Um, I must be missing something here….
It’s well educated people like Maddow who have been destroying the country for the past half century.
Only in the sense that ‘education’ becomes a great substitute for knowledge. Knowledge of things is what allows one to get things done. Knowledge about things allows one to understand how things work. A degree is not per se knowledge. Nor is education. Wisdom, now that is all together a different thing, in my life quite rare and I have never found it in one who also hasn’t suffered but not been broken by it.
Expensive and prestigious education has more to do with class signaling than it does actually learning anything.
Your “irony subroutine” needs some rejiggering. heh.
She will not forget your “lack of faith” consumer.
Her role model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnNSnJbjdws
Clip also contains inside information concerning the DNC strategy for 2020.
Umm… Maddow has explicitly stated that her role model/mentor was Roger Ailes.
“Occasionally” is doing alot of work there, methinks.
Also, once you realize the ‘Maddows’ are worse than the ‘Hannitys,’ the better off you are. The NeoCons didnt steal the primary from Bernie and smear his allies as Russian spys in order to crush populist dems.
The Rhodes Scholar, Oxford educated 10% ARE the problem. They have no idea how the world works and refuse to NOT take the $$$.
Keep your eye on the game, not the players. It’s not a “both sides do it”, but “both sides are playing the same game”. It’s not “how you play the game”, but that you’re playing the game at all.
The medium is the message, and the map is the territory in play. I can keep going with cliches all day, but the point is blindingly obvious. If you put up Chomsky against Hannity on this playing field, it wouldn’t change the fact that football causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The fact that he, unlike Maddows, would try to subvert the game by pointing it out may be one of the reasons that he’s been blacklisted from US talk shows, eh?
The game is filthy because the players are filthy. That does not mean eliminate the game (anarchy), it means eject the players.
A voice of reason.
Actual drugs are being used to hinder debate as well as emotional drugs like hate.
They can’t trust agency to be removed by words and images alone – the stakes are too high.
Now all of you go take a feel good pill and stop complaining!
Where do I sign up for the “Feel Good” pills? Around here, any pain relief is limited to the upper echelons of the civitas. Deplorables are exhorted to “suffer for the greater good.” I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something with that formulation doesn’t ring true.
I would like to know if Matt is doing any book signings any where around the states for this new title?
Here’s his blog: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/author/matt_taibbi – but I didn’t see anything listed under “events.” I assume it will be if he does a book tour.
And a note to our hosts: I also didn’t see NC in his blog roll. Might want to poke him about that – eg, with a link to this review.
I think that’s old; this is Taibbi’s new blog.
That’s a substack newsletter called “Untitledgate,” by Taibbi.
I got Smirking Chimp from a current search, but I’ll try again.
Love the name.
I’ve been impressed with Taibbi’s work, what I’ve read of it, but ironically this very article contains a quote from him which exemplifies the problem: his casual assertion that the US committed “genocide” in Indochina. Even the most fervent critics of US policy didn’t say this at the time, for the very good reason that there was no evidence that the US tried to destroy a racial, religious, ethnic or nationalist group (the full definition is a lot more complex and demanding than that). He clearly means that the US was responsible for lots of deaths, which is incontestable. But the process of endless escalation of rhetoric, which this book seems to be partly about, means that everything now has to be described in the most extreme, absurd or apocalyptic tones, and at the top of your voice, otherwise nobody takes any notice. So any self-respecting war now has to be qualified as “genocide” or nobody will take any notice.
John Siman here (who wrote this review). I think Taibbi is factually correct in using the word genocidal to describe both the intent and the effect of American policy in Indochina. He uses such extreme language, I think, not in some escalation of aggressive rhetoric, but, like his hero Chomsky, with precision — indeed with the precision necessary to force us, against our wills, to look down into the nauseating evil abyss which is the American foreign policy of the last seven decades.
Well, genocide is all about intent, not effect. Strictly speaking, non-lethal activities, such as forced population movements, could be considered genocide, whilst large-scale massacres might not be. It all depends on whether the intent can clearly be shown to destroy one of these groups in whole or in part. Unless there’s persuasive evidence that Johnson, Nixon, etc. intended to exterminate, say, the Vietnamese people or a sizeable fraction of them, then such emotive words are best left alone. There are plenty of other words to describe the US policy in Vietnam, and many of them are not nice, and there’s good reason for that (see Nick Turse’s book on the subject, for example). But over the last generation, activists (and political hacks unfortunately) have started to chafe against the actual meaning of the word “genocide”, and have tried to distort and extend it, on the basis that the original definition was wrong, and so it should be treated as if it was something different. This is on a level of intellectual dishonesty with arguing that Trump is guilty of treason if you change the definition. By that standard, of course, anyone can be guilty of anything. It’s disappointing to see the Left (or what remains of it) getting into this situation.
Reread Manufacturing Consent and see what you think then.
from the link I posted below:
“The Americans want to show others that guerrilla war does not pay: they want to show all the oppressed and the exploited nations that might be tempted to shake off the American yoke by launching a peoples’ war, at first against their own pseudo-governments, the compradors and the army, then against the U.S. Special Forces and finally against the G.I.s. … To Che Guevara, who said ‘We need several Vietnams,’ the American government answers ‘They will all be crushed the way we are crushing the first.’”
He continues, “They do offer an alternative: Declare you are beaten or we will bomb you back into the stone age. The fact remains that the second term of this alternative is genocide. They have said: “genocide, yes, but conditional genocide.” Is this juridically valid? Is it even conceivable?
“…. An act of genocide, especially if it is carried out over a period of several years, is no less genocide for being blackmail. … And this is all the more true when, as is the case here, a good part of the group has been annihilated to force the rest to give in.”
Sartre is clear, specific and passionate:
“In the South, the choice is the following: villages burned, the populace subjected to massive bombing, livestock shot, vegetation destroyed by defoliants, crops ruined by toxic aerosols and everywhere indiscriminate shooting, murder, rape and looting. This is genocide in the strictest sense: massive extermination. … What are the Vietnamese people to do to escape this horrible death? Join the armed forces of Saigon or be enclosed in strategic or “New Life” hamlets, two names for the same concentration camps.”
Jean-Paul Sartre continues:
“As the armed forces of the United States entrench themselves firmly in Vietnam, as they intensify the bombing and the massacres, as they try to bring Laos under their control, as they plan the invasion of Cambodia, there is less and less doubt that the government of the United States, despite its hypocritical denials, has chosen genocide.””
emotive words or accurate description? chacun a son gout
This too horrible to acknowledge fully, but it’s true.
With all due respect, are you old enough to remember the napalming of Laos? This was a large scale, daily occurrence for the better part of a year (the Web being the Web, details on the napalming hard to find in recent stores). And that was part of a longer-term campaign of unheard-of bombing:
Some definitions of genocide call it merely the large scale killing of a population. The US was trying to make the Ho Chi Minh trail unusable. Wiping out the people was part of the plan.
Laos is still full of unexploded bombs. A long tail of death.
Oh, and another ugly aspect:
“Some definitions of genocide call it merely the large scale killing of a population.”
By this definition every war that’s ever been fought was genocide by all participants. England’s defense against German invasion in WW2 for instance would be genocide. If that’s the definition then the term has lost all meaning and impact.
A genocide was certainly considered when Nixon toyed with the idea of blowing up the dikes in NV. Who didn’t drown would have probably starved to death if that had happened. He was also said to have considered nuclear weapons.
IIRC, regarding bombing Cambodia, Nixon said something to the effect that: It makes no difference if 10,000 or 50,000 are killed, the headline in the New York Times the next day will be the same size.
Sartre (by way of Ralph Schoenman: Sec. General of Intl. Tribunal on US War Crimes in Indochina) had a different take on genocide: https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-war-crimes-in-indochina-in-the-1960s-truth-as-casualty/7930
I have a weakness for Toronto talk radio, which slants rightward (or as far as right ever really slants in Canada).
Among the amusements is how virtually every riding in Toronto and environs votes resolutely “progressive” (electing either Liberals or NDP representatives, especially Federally) whilst virtually every caller to these stations is a staunch supporter of the Conservatives and expresses bewilderment that their neighbours can be so foolish.
Divide and conquer. Isn’t that in the “Art of War“?
One very important question about all this is what role the intelligence agencies are playing in it.
Something that a lot of people were surprised about (though in retrospect they really should not have been) when communism fell and there was a (often only partial) opening of the archives of the intelligence agencies was that essentially the whole intellectual elite there was working for the “state security”/intelligence agencies. Not necessarily as a coherent whole, i.e. they did not know that each of them was an agent and did not directly coordinate their activities, but there simply weren’t many independent voices.
Journalists, writers, artists, actors, movie directors, academics, etc. etc.
And that in fact continued to play a major role in manipulating events in favor of certain interests all throughout the subsequent period too.
We tend to see this as yet another piece of evidence about how messed up and corrupt the communist system was.
Which is a convenient way of deflecting attention from what should be the obvious and immediate question that follows from it, i.e. how do we know that the same is not true about the West?
Because another lesson from the Cold War was that there wasn’t much difference in the practices of the agencies on each side (thus the famous Spy vs. Spy comic strip featuring otherwise identical characters but in different colors), which makes perfect sense because what they do is not really related to ideology in any way, and different people tend to eventually arrive to the same optimal solutions when faced with the same problems.
Unfortunately, the records have been declassified to some extent only on the side that chose to surrender in the Cold War. But there is simply no reason to think that if media, entertainment and academia were under complete and direct KGB/Stasi/etc. control on one side of the Iron Curtain, they were and still are entirely free on the other side. It is in fact totally implausible.
From then on the question is how much control exactly is being exercised and what the overall plan and endgame is…
How about Operation Mockingbird? https://www.scribd.com/document/41631313/Operation-Mockingbird-An-Overview-and-History
And it goes back quite a ways before that, of course: “The CIA and the Cultural Cold War REvisited,” https://monthlyreview.org/1999/11/01/the-cia-and-the-cultural-cold-war-revisited/
Manufacturing consent on the industrial scale…
Odd that Taibbi doesn’t mention, as only one commenter here alludes to, as a key source of the “revolution” in media, the monopolistic consolidation of media ownership, as enabled by the Telecommunications Act under Clinton.
the Fairness Doctrine which prevented media consolidation was abolished in 1987, under Ronald Reagan.
An exceptionally fine and beautifully-crafted review of Taibbi’s latest.
I follow him on Rolling Stone and have for some years now, though I haven’t read any of his books.
Taibbi’s right about the current state of our MSM; on a trip back to the U.S. over the past month, I followed Fox News for a couple weeks, and honestly the propaganda was pretty much the mirror image of CNN International and the BBC, which I follow in Europe.
One small observation: I read “Listen, Liberal” a couple years ago, and was thinking about the following phrase in the review above: “While Frank’s topic was the abysmal failure of the Democratic Party to be democratic and Taibbi’s is the abysmal failure of our mainstream news corporations to report news, the prominent villains in both books are drawn from the same, or at least overlapping, elite social circles…”. My own impression from reading Frank was that it was more the Democratic Party’s (the establishment Dem Party, i.e.) abandonment of their traditional working-class base and their (conscious) decision to side with the “meritocratic” elite (the 10%, aka the “Mandarins” of old) that has caused them no end of electoral grief, although they’re loath to admit it.
The President so dominates the MSM – both sides of the MSM – that we are largely oblivious to what this Administration is accomplishing behind the scenes. And this is on both sides, because the Washington elite are basically in agreement about a lot of issues – not all, of course, but on many issues that matter.
How many of us are following the story of the 80 environmental rules/regulations that the Pres and his Sec’s of Energy, EPA, and Interior have rolled back? Or the story of the 643-odd complaints lodged by Earth Justice against this Administration? Or the Sec of Ed’s continued collection of student payments on loans taken out to attend the defunct for-profit Corinthian College, for which she’s recently been held in contempt of court? Or what the CTU was really striking over, pace the MSM including of course the Tribune and, sadly, the Sun-Times? Or the woes of zip code 53206? Or Cancer Alley in Louisiana and the struggle of residents of St. John the Baptist Parish for environmental justice? Or the plan to create a new iteration of same at the conjunction of WVa, Pa, and Ohio?
If you follow Taibbi’s Twitter feed, you’ll get the message – he’s filled with righteous anger, but he’s tired, too. And he has every reason to be. Others need to step up, subito.
Taibbi got targeted in the MeToo scandals. Im sure that spooked him. Its stressful maintaining your innocence in the deluge of MSM Hysteria.
Caitlin Johnstone has been referenced on NC in the past and her recent column on Medium about the Imperial Propaganda Machine helps provide more context for the broader Narrative issues.
Ask who wants what, and why, and follow the money.
I think it should be noted that for all the attention they get, TV news, both cable and otherwise, get very small viewing numbers. I don’t think any of them even break five million on average. It really is a dying medium. Maddow in particular has lost like half a million viewers since Russiagate burned out.
yes. Tom Brokaw would get 12 million a night. (General Electric, “who always met their earnings expectations,” was his master.)
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.” — Malcolm X
Matt Taibbi bemoans how Hannity and Maddow sink to labeling each other as Hitler. And then proceeds to label both of them as Hitler. Nice.
I didn’t get that idea. I thought he was pointing out the absurdity of 2 “sides” each calling each other a “Hitler”, and where that ratings-chasing, divisive, extreme rhetoric can lead. (Not to a good place for democracy or compromise for the greater good.) In the 1960’s, Barry Goldwater’s campaign slogan “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” was thought to be too extreme, especially after the country was just recovering from the Army MacCarthy red hunt trials.
Today, the MSM seems all in with “Extremism in the pursuit of ratings is no vice.” Taibbi wasn’t calling anyone “Hitler”, he was attacking the msm extremism that goes there, imo.
The headline with the hunter thompson noam chomsky mashup is choice.
Nothing in the article is wrong. There is a one half missing though. This junk is what people click on. Donald the Fat got all of his exposure in early 2016 because he pulled ratings. Good thinking critics asked the gatekeepers why are you giving us all this Trump trash and the inevitable and unambiguous response was he pulls ratings.
So the people at the top of the pyramid are jerking us around but all too often that person we see in the mirror is doing it too. And that part we can (somewhat) control!
Don’t click on the clickbait; don’t feed the trolls; don’t watch Madow and Hanity and their ilk.
(or maybe this is in there and I just read it too fast)
What passes for news from the Mighty Wurlitzer is magical thinking, fortune-telling, make-believe masquerading as truth, marketing, propaganda and flatout lips-flapping lies. Real news is the news the news doesn’t want you to know or doesn’t even know is happening. Between that and the amnesia of history, we are doomed to a world in which there is no bottom to stupid.
Respect to Matt Taibbi, one of the last living real reporters and jouranalists. It is a dying breed fast being replaced by hack malpracticers and fools, the real deplorables, who should know better but don’t.