By John Siman, a classicist.
Almost twenty-five years ago, I got to know the self-described “beyond organic” farmer Joel Salatin. The first thing he taught me was: “If anything on a farm smells bad, they’re doing something wrong.”
He also was glad to share his stock advice for all those customers who, like me, craved meat but were nevertheless genuinely concerned about preserving their health and protecting the environment. “If you’re gonna eat meat,” Joel said, “you can’t buy from a store. Any store.”
For as Michael Pollan, who also spent some quality time on Joel’s farm, showed in his 2006 book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, the only essential difference between the cheap industrial meat sold at Wal-Mart and the expensive industrial-organic meat sold at Whole Foods lies in the marketing: “Whole Foods … consistently offers the most cutting-edge grocery lit,” Pollan observed: “It’s the evocative prose as much as anything else that makes this food really special” — special, that is, to the upscale, PMC/Liberal Class demographic who are wont to shop there.
“You need to go to the farm in person,” Joel continued, “meet the farmer, and see how he runs things. It’s up to you to find someone who does things right. There’s no shortcut.”
Back then, I could never have suspected that Joel’s severe, almost puritanical “beyond organic” admonitions would soon enough apply to American journalism. But a quarter of a century later, Naked Capitalism readers already know that this is where we are. And if you don’t need further convincing, you can make a quick stop at the donations page and come straight back.
So first, does anything smell bad on the … um … Fourth Estate? The stench brings tears to my eyes. As Glenn Greenwald just tweeted this morning, “Virtually everyone who ends up having first-hand experience with the national media realizes they’re amoral liars and smear artists with no scruples, who publish and broadcast things constantly that have no relationship to the truth. And the public knows this, too.”
Oh, and here’s the latest Tweet from Andrew Sullivan: “2016 election. Rittenhouse. Covington. Russian collusion. Vaccines. Bounties on US soldiers. Lab-leak theory. Jussie Smollett. The Pulse shooting. The Atlanta shootings. Hunter Biden laptop. Inflation. Steele Dossier.
“The MSM got every single one wrong.”
By contrast, as many of you have pointed out again and again over this fundraiser, one of Naked Capitalism’s hallmarks is repeatedly making early and accurate calls. So remember that Tip Jar! Think of how much Naked Capitalism does so right with so much less than the big boys.
So back to Joel’s advice, part two. Given that all of our mainstream national media now — including the faux-organic snobby boutique outlets like NPR and the New Yorker and the Atlantic— are purveyors of a single flavor of curated corporate bullshit, who are we going to track down to feed us something truthful? Who indeed: We have to rely now on a few scattered independent practitioners of old-fashioned journalistic husbandry.
Independent practitioners like Greenwald, who also relishes savaging wrong-headed orthodoxy. Greenwald also stands up for fellow travelers. In the Intercept, Greenwald and Ben Norton used Naked Capitalism to illustrate why the Washington Post taking up PropOrNot’s McCarthyite smears was dangerously wrong-headed. Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott later gave Naked Capitalism a badge of honor of sorts by lambasting us along with Greenwald, Truthdig, ConsortiumNews and Mark Ames plus a host of other truth-tellers like Tulsi Gabbard, Oliver Stone, and Cornel West, for the apparent sin of being soft on Trump.
Independent practitioners like Matt Taibbi, who noted just a few days ago that “a few independents [are doing] well … mainly because the overall quality level of mainstream news plunged so low so long ago, audiences [are] starved for anything that [isn’t] rancidly, insultingly dishonest…. [O]f course, they could just put out a New York Times that sucked less. In a million years, that won’t occur to them.”
Independent practitioners like Yves and Lambert and Jerri-Lynn, who every single day of the week visit just about every damn information farm in the whole world to find what’s intellectually edible. And what’s being falsely marketed as edible. And delivering the goods to you — without the help of Amazon or Uber.
And guess what? Naked Capitalism is most certainly not on Bill Gates’s gift list. They’re gettin’ nuthin from him for Christmas — and that’s the way they want it.
And that’s the way we want it too.
So I urge you to contribute to Naked Capitalism just as soon as you can, via its donations page.
For as Joel Salatin said, “It’s up to you to find someone who does things right.”