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Saturday, July 09, 2016

Clinton Derangement Syndrome

Now that Benghazi!!1! is dead and buried -- for the moment -- it's E-mails!!1!. I've been thinking a bit about the press reaction to this (among other things), and once again, Digby to the rescue. First, quoting Brien Beutler:

What made this episode unique is that the same media that expected Republicans to overreach played a critical role in increasing their expectations of a political windfall.

Republicans in Congress and their conservative media allies largely brought this upon themselves. They were the ones who made right-wing sop out of baseless speculation that Clinton might be indicted for violating a law nobody’s ever been convicted of violating.

But due to a strange brew of incentives that proved toxic—the competition for eyeballs, the lack of subject matter expertise, the industry standard of reportorial balance—the mainstream media did nothing to puncture this myth. To the contrary, it treated the threat of indictment as a permanent question mark hovering over Clinton’s campaign like a dark cloud. In a different media ecosystem, this wouldn’t have happened. A mix of common sense and truly basic research and reporting would have established a consensus that Republicans were trying to gin up intrigue and damaging innuendo, but that an indictment was extraordinarily unlikely. Instead, the remote odds of one came to be seen as something like a 50-50 proposition, to the point where even professional Democrats began to worry Clinton might be charged with a felony and prosecuted.

I don't know that this is particularly unique. The media, for lack of a better term, ceased to practice journalism a long time ago, with a few exceptions -- most of them on Comedy Central. We're seeing the same kind of bullshit mantras repeated again in the wake of the Dallas shooting, and we've seen it time and time again in the aftermath of just about every high-profile event over the past couple of decades. The idea of any news anchor or interviewer holding anyone's feet to the fire over obvious distortions, or even challenging their bullshit, is simply not in the mix.

Digby's summation is, I think, pretty much on the mark:

I would just add that liberal journalists are also subject to a herd mentality and seem to find themselves searching for reasons to reassure the public that they aren't political hacks so they add to the atmosphere by being heavily critical on the "optics, judgment and narrative" aspects of these scandals which leads to a different kind of distortion. These dynamics play into each other creating the sort of febrile environment that characterizes these passion plays.

This is what leads to a sort of political establishment consensus that "something is terribly wrong" that the rest of the country finds confusingly out of touch.

I would just add that what's "terribly wrong" is the fact that the political establishment is so completely out of touch. It's at the point where Washington is damned near a closed system, and entropy is taking its toll. (Note that one reason the Republicans -- and even a few Democrats, although they tend to be quiet about it -- hate the Clintons so much is that they were "outsiders" -- they weren't part of the Village.)

Maybe it would help if the news departments were not part of the entertainment division.

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