Morning Ed: Media {2017.10.11.W}

[Me1] This will end badly.

[Me2] How the failure of Mic’s pivot to video may save journalism.

[Me3] Violent Times Will Come

[Me4] The Onion’s editor-in-chief quit.

[Me5] Hey media, just because people are criticizing you doesn’t mean you’re doing a good job. This is a huge thing in vaping media, where shoddy pieces result in a lot of pushback results in a lot of journalists smugly declaring that they’re pissing off the tobacco companies (which, they assume, we’re all astroturfed agents for).

[Me6] Google and Facebook are probably going to rue the day they decided to call themselves (or let themselves be called) news platforms.

[Me7] Rumors that congress was about to lift restrictions on gun silencers were perhaps overstated by the media.

[Me8] The broader strokes of the Buzzfeed revelations of Milo and Bannon shouldn’t be surprising, but there have been ramifications.

[Me9] Mark Mooney’s last byline.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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115 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Media {2017.10.11.W}

  1. Me3 is hilarious and I would be willing to pay Comcast extra to periodically be pranked that way.

    Me5 and Me7 is why the whole ‘fakenews’ thing strikes a chord despite being largely silly. Major news outlets, for all their self righteousness in the Trump era, smugly act like they have no reponsibility to get things right.

    Me8 wait, Mad Max, Dune, and… 80’s synthpop are important to the alt right? Tanz den Mussolini I guess.

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      • I think they’re getting a very different message, and because of it they’re becoming a little less distinguishable from Fox News in certain important respects. The closet Milo sympathizers from respectable institutions mentioned in Me8 (not Mitchel Sunderland/Vice) along with the list of debunked stories about Russia over the last 8 months are illustrative of the problem.

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      • The whole “if you’re pissing everybody off, you must be doing something right” thing is adjacent to something that is true: when you’re telling the truth (and especially telling truth to power), you’re not going to be praised for it but opposed for it.

        But there are enough shoddy journalists, shoddy editors, and SPECTACULARLY shoddy publishers who have discovered the joys of giving into the dialectic and picking a side. (The Right Side, of course.)

        And, having picked a side, “doing better” means “winning” rather than… whatever you might think “doing better” means.

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            • It doesn’t help that adherents to the “view from nowhere” approach don’t seem to do a tremendously better job of getting things right than journalists who take a more partisan approach. The demands of “balance” come with their own sets of biases and blindspots, and the same factors that drive partisan outlets to mix commentary and reporting drive nonpartisan outlets to do the same.

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                  • Yup. I think media outlets would generally be more trustworthy if it were more upfront about their partisan leanings. Making a big deal out of how “unbiased” you are is a much better way to fool yourself than it is to make yourself look credible to other people.

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                    • One of my favorite essays on this topic is from Daniel Okrent. In 2004, he was the NYT Ombudsman and he wrote this.

                      I’ll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you’ve been reading the paper with your eyes closed.

                      But if you’re examining the paper’s coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all; if you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn’t wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you’re traveling in a strange and forbidding world.

                      Oh, what a stink he caused!

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        • Isn’t there also a variant where the writer says “I pissed off people on the Left and the Right with that piece; I must be doing something right.” There is another conclusion that might be inferred there.

          (Particularly if people aren’t actually pissed-off, but just disagreeing)

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    • Me7 is a perfect example of hype that isn’t actually wrong. It’s all in the phrasing. “Could be voted on as early as this week” is a true statement. The calendar can be changed by the Speaker, at any moment, for any reason. It’s just not likely to happen.

      This is the classic tactic of tabloids, and also of broadband providers, who promise speeds “up to” a certain benchmark.

      No, it isn’t a good direction. However, success breeds imitators. Should we be surprised that people are imitating Fox News and Breitbart, or that they seem combative when challenged?

      Because “I was wrong” are very unusual words for a person to say. [Me5] When you find someone willing to say those words, try to keep them in your life.

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      • Agree completely (see also my comment to Oscar above). The more they imitate the tactics of usually-but-not-always right wing tabloid newstainment the less seriously people take claims to the moral high ground/serious journalism.

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            • No, on the contrary it appears that its standing as a credible institution has, if anything, improved recently. Seems to be consistent with the polling I’ve seen, and the fact that it’s been so frequently finding itself in an adversarial relationship with parties that are vastly more ridiculous.

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              • on the contrary it appears that its standing as a credible institution has, if anything, improved recently.

                Unsurprisingly, I do not see evidence of this when I look around.

                But I wouldn’t.

                (The whole Weinstein thing seems to have done/be doing damage to the whole “credible institution” thing as well.)

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                  • What’s interesting about Weinstein (without defending him) is how many people want to taint the Democratic Party like Weinstein was an elected official. There is the distinct aspect of trying to absolve Trump by attacking Weinstein and stating “Dems are just as bad.”

                    Did Weinstein raise money for the Democrats? Yes. Did he give? Also yes. Is he an elected official that is followed by Democratic politicians and voters? No.

                    But a point is a point is a point as J R notes below.

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                      • Currently Vance is running unopposed in his relection bid. We discussed this on LGM.

                        This is one problem of geographic sorting and also increased polarization. No one ran against Vance in the primary before this stuff came out and in the general election there just aren’t any credible Republicans.

                        One benefit is about having both parties be relatively centrist is that they can compete for voters equally but even the New York GOP is too far to the right for Manhattan. And the days of centerism are long gone.

                        Another issue here is that I think a lot of upper-middle class liberals don’t know how to sell good government liberalism and don’t understand its short comings to people who aren’t upper-middle class professionals.

                        A lot of my friends in NY hate Cuomo and cheered on Zephyr Teachout in her primary campaign from some years ago. Teachout did well among upper-middle class liberals in the richer parts of NYC and the Northern suburbs. She did poorly with everyone else.

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                          • There was the Rent is Too Damn High guy from a few years ago. I think the issue is actually one of character. Despite being a place associated with liberalism and multi-culturalism, New Yorkers can be rather conventional and down to business kind of people, especially in Manhattan. LeeEsq had a friend from South Florida (of course) who mentioned that New Yorkers would never put up with some of the colorful characters you found in Southern Florida politics.

                            Perhaps the issue is that the stakes are so high that crank candidates go the way of the dodo quickly.

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                            • There are a bunch of small parties in New York and they do run candidates but they don’t seem to get any media traction. Maybe because of the price. My friend’s observation is basically right. Even if only a fraction of what he tells me is true, there is simply no way New Yorkers are going to put up with the type of characters that seem to populate the South Florida political scene. Too much money is on the line for that. Sex scandals in New York politics seem quaint and almost Victorian to Florida sex scandals.

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                    • trying to absolve Trump by attacking Weinstein

                      I’d be curious to see a link to anyone actually suggesting this — mainly the goal is to point out the much more muted reaction from Dems/liberals to Weinstein vs., say, O’Reilly or Ailes, not to say anything at all about Trump. IOW it’s about the partisanship/hypocrisy, not Weinstein’s particular sins.

                      However, you’re certainly not the only Dem to think that — just about every place Weinstein is mentioned by a non-Dem, a large number of Dem commenters will remind everyone of Trump’s offenses.

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                      • I’d be curious to see a link to anyone actually suggesting this

                        OK. Here’s the most prominent Republican in the country minimizing what Trump did by saying what Trump did isn’t as bad as what Weinstein did:

                        “I’ve known Harvey Weinstein for a long time,” Mr. Trump told reporters before boarding Marine One for a GOP fundraiser in North Carolina. “I’m not at all surprised to see it.”
                        […]
                        Mr. Trump on Saturday was asked how the allegations against Weinstein differ from his own comments made public one year ago in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. In that 2005 video, Mr. Trump was caught boasting about grabbing, kissing and trying to have sex with women.

                        “That’s locker room. That’s locker room,” Mr. Trump said on Saturday.

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                        • OK. But that’s not “attacking Weinstein to absolve Trump”. He was specifically asked to compare himself to Weinstein, and he’s absolving himself only as he has all along, by saying that the stuff he said on tape shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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                              • I mean Trump, directly and through surrogates (it’s Don Jr. and Conway quoted in the Chait piece), attacks Weinstein, and then Trump defends his conduct by comparing it to Weinstein’s after he is inevitably questioned about it.

                                If Trump had kept his mouth shut it would plausibly just be about hypocrisy, but of course he didn’t.

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                                • So, to tie up the loose end — I was reacting to Saul’s implication that a large number of people were trying to boost Trump by attacking Weinstein; and really I had in mind someone like Douthat, not a Trump supporter, who wrote an op-ed about Weinstein that mentioned Trump only in passing (and certainly not to absolve him) but that got a hundred comments basically saying “What about Trump??!!”.

                                  I didn’t really have Trump himself or his “surrogates” in mind — that’s a special case, he’s personally involved in the question. But even with that, saying that team Trump responded as they did in order to make Trump seem less bad relies on nothing they actually said. Obviously just about anything any politician says should be suspected of having an ulterior motive, but I don’t get the sense that they would have not tweeted this stuff if there were no accusations against Trump — pointing out the inconsistency on the left would be motivation enough.

                                  But there’s no point in debating about what we think an utter stranger’s true motives are, so I’ll bow out now.

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                        • I don’t understand — all those twitter quotes are exactly what I said, attacks on liberals for supposedly being hypocrites, or at least partisan in their outrage. It’s Chait , the Dem, who’s suggesting that what they’re really trying to do is make Trump seem better by comparison.

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          • I think it’s probably the case that both the credibility of the media has taken a hit and that other effects have dominated. Two come to mind for me.

            One is that, in the social media age, the first priority of members of the media is to other members of the media. That is, it’s really important to be good at Twitter, perhaps more important than being good at researching, reporting and writing. To some extent, this has always been the case. And to some extent, most professions operate this way. But the further we go down this path, the more the value of signalling that you’re a journalist comes to displace the work itself.

            The other is, as points out, the adversarial nature of our current political climate means that it’s more important to attack or defend the right people then it is to offer facts and analysis. And the people seem to love it. Back when the story about Trump’s budget cutting Meals on Wheels was going around, it came up here in the comments. I pointed out that it wasn’t really true and that a better press would be reporting facts instead of just taking on the administration and a few folks absolutely disagreed with me.

            The fatal flaw is that people will click on clickbait, they will read emotionally comforting but vacuous content, they will hate-share hot garbage, but they’re not likely to pay for it. So, the whole ecosystem becomes more and more dependent on certain kinds of ad revenue and wealthy benefactors. Again, this has always has been the case, but now to a much greater extent and the funding sources are much more fickle.

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            • For instance, the behavior of NBC’s executives around Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Weinstein was phantasmagorically awful. This is just one detail that reads more like a sick joke than part of a major news organization’s decision-making process:

              According to multiple sources inside and outside of NBC News who worked on the aborted story, Oppenheim related to Farrow what Weinstein’s lawyers had said in complaint to NBC: that Farrow had a conflict of interest because Weinstein had helped revive the career of Farrow’s estranged father, director Woody Allen.

              So this is all terrible. Senior management at NBC should be fired, preferably into the Sun.

              Nobody in their right mind would defend NBC… unless their First Amendment rights somehow came under assault today. What’s the probability of that?

              Damn near unity, what with President Fucking Moron running the show.

              With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017

              Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

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  2. Me8: It should be remembered that Vice was co-founded by Gavin MacInnes who has a history of expressing Breitbartian sentiments while also liking drugs and drinking. Kind of like Breitbart himself.

    I’d argue that David Auerbach at Slate was more surprising because his tech columns at Slate were very anti-Gamer Gate and very pro-women in tech but here is he is giving dirt to Milo. So does this make him an agent provocateur? Was he just writing liberal-leaning pieces to pay the bills?

    The Deadspin essay on the blockbuster story is pretty good:

    https://theconcourse.deadspin.com/boy-do-i-feel-naive-1819223797

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            • I don’t know whether this is true, but true or not, it’s an amusing counterpoint to conservatives complaining how liberals espouse the hedonism of the modern secular lifestyle but live the conservative lifestyle.

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              • “conservatives complaining how liberals espouse the hedonism of the modern secular lifestyle but live the conservative lifestyle.”

                They do this?

                I mean, I actually believe you but I haven’t seen it. I’d be amused to see a link.

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                • See, for example, this article from National Review:

                  The picture, on the whole, is striking. The most elite circles of American life are the most critical of traditional living and are, with the very notable exception of religious life, some of the most traditional in their own life choices.

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                  • Yeah the problem being, of course, that they steal the hell out of first and second base and are eyeing third base with larcenous intent. I mean, sure, if what mainstream conservatives say is true about all liberals espousing post-heteronormative wild swinging lifestyles then yes the way most liberals live would have a certain hypocrisy.
                    Except, of course, that the conservative canard about all liberals espousing post-heteronormative wild swinging lifestyles is false. Some liberals do, a lot more don’t, mostly they say stuff like “do what works for you”. So Douthat and Macdonald end up writing articles about how liberals are hypocritical because they don’t live according to the risibly fake characterizations Douthat and his ilk ascribe to them.

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                    • I don’t see it as a hypocrisy argument, or not just a hypocrisy argument. They’re saying that heteronormative bourgeoisie monogamy is the right way to live and liberals implicitly recognize that.

                      That means it’s a category error, since social liberals are fighting for the legal ability to live other lifestyles, not that people be required to live them. It also ignores the many ways middle and upper class liberals don’t live the social conservative dream at all: they have lots of premarital sex, they smoke weed and watch porn, etc. Etc. Etc.

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                          • Heh, as usual… it’s not all about you upper-middle-class liberals :-)

                            The original discussion (2014) was based on the Data presented by the Harvard Studythe strongest and most robust predictor [of economic mobility] is the fraction of children with single parents.

                            The observation is that 30-years of data suggest that the people living under the new social mores are the lower- and lower-middle classes… and that it is impacting social mobility within those cohorts.

                            To bring it back to 2017, it also ties in to Thaler and his Nobel prize; specifically on the topic of Nudging. The upper middle class is nudged into good decisions; that is, they have to opt-out of good options, whereas the lower-classes have to opt-in. Liberals like Economic nudges, Conservatives like Social Nudges… maybe the answer is both.

                            At the time, Sociologist Brad Wilcox concluded:

                            Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has stressed his commitment to data-driven decision-making, not ideology. Similarly, progressives like Krugman have stressed their scientific bona fides, as against the “anti-science” right. If progressives like the president and the Nobel laureate are serious about reviving the fortunes of the American Dream in the 21st century in light of the data, this new study suggests they will need to take pages from both left and right playbooks on matters ranging from zoning to education reform. More fundamentally, these new data indicate that any effort to revive opportunity in America must run through two arenas where government has only limited power—civil society and the American family.

                            No, the song really isn’t about you.

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                            • The other way to look at it is that any detailed study on household income inequality is essentially going to reveal that it is all about number of income earners per household. The bottom quintile on average has zero income-earners, and the top quintile has two, and the gradation is consistent and gradual from bottom to top. Even the top 1% has on average more two income earner households than the top quintile.

                              Hypocrisy is too strong of a word. It’s more that Liberals emphasis on tolerance/ diversity / self-actualization values tends to overlook or de-emphasize traditional norms that would be the most direct response to household inequality, and the Upper-Middle Class generally practice many of these norms (avoid drugs; stay virgins longer, stay in school, etc.)

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                              • The other way to look at it is that any detailed study on household income inequality is essentially going to reveal that it is all about number of income earners per household.

                                I doubt that. If that were true, we would expect better outcomes from a one-parent/one-earner household than from a two-parent/one-earner household. Is that the case?

                                The value of having two adults in the household is greater than just the sum of the extra income. The help with consumption smoothing is, by itself, enough to make a pretty big difference. Everyone experiences setbacks at some point in their life (loss of a job, illness, car breakdown, whatever), these are especially harmful for the poor. Having another person in the household who can pick up some of the slack is incredibly valuable.

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                            • The Right: Let’s nudge people to delay childbirth!
                              Also the Right: Let’s fight to prevent people from getting contraception or knowing how to use it!

                              The Right: Let’s encourage people to enter stable, monogamous couples.
                              Also the Right: Oh, except let’s make sure that gay people have to marry members of the opposite sex and stay deep in the closet!

                              The Right: It’s great for kids to have two parents to support them.
                              Also the Right: Let’s make sure gay people can’t adopt, though.

                              Et c. Et c. Et c.

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                      • @don-zeko

                        What I think the article gets partially correct is that upper-middle class liberals are relatively good at social stability because they generally practice the art of delayed gratification. My cohort largely has kids in their mid-30s to early-40s when we are established professionals.

                        But as Don points out, we do plenty of stuff before then including pre-marital sex.

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                        • Most of the people we knew growing up seemed to have had their kids in their late twenties to early thirties. An usual amount of people form our high school married people they knew or even dated in high school. At least five or six couples like that. I consider that really weird from our socio-demographics. There has also been much less moving than I would have thought.

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                          • When I went to work at Bell Labs in the late 1970s, the Labs was in the middle of a hiring binge that brought in almost 2,000 people with shiny new MS and PhD degrees and located them in middle New Jersey. NYC and Philadelphia were both close enough for weekend trips, but largely the social life was the various Bell Labs clubs. Eg, people with a double major in some sort of tech plus film ran the Movie Club, which had company money to rent all sorts of interesting things to show in the 500-seat Holmdel auditorium on Friday night. Ditto for events involving the Jazz Band, the Ski Club, cycling, juggling, and all sorts of odd interests.

                            As that cohort moved through their late 20s there were a (relatively) huge number of intracompany marriages. As they moved to 30 and beyond there were a large number of babies. The pattern was pronounced enough that older folks sometimes remarked that the Labs was conducting an experiment to see if they could breed for the right sorts of intelligence. We took our son to a company holiday party when he was a month old. One of the older women stopped us at some point and said words to the effect of “Good for you; pass those genes on…”

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                  • The theory is that the fact that liberals don’t take full advantage of sexual and cultural freedom proves the superiority of the lifestyle cultural conservatives champion.

                    That’s not quite the argument or at least that’s not the strongest version of the argument, which is more like this:

                    There are traditional family structures and traditional moral values that have acted as the bedrock of society for ages. They’re not perfect, but they serve a purpose. And they can evolve. Liberals see these traditional structures as the seat of patriarchy and white supremacy and all the other bad things and believe that individuals freed from traditional family and religious structures and supported by a progressive state will be more free and better off than individuals tied to traditional family structures.

                    The problem is that the state is never up to the task. So lots of individuals end up “freed” from traditional structures and worse off. The hypocrisy point is that wealthy liberals do everything they can to smash tradition and are fine, because they have the means and the social support system to thrive. While the poor and working class are now stuck without self-sustaining family and traditional structures and a failing government.

                    I’m not fully in agreement with the point, which I guess is why I’m not a conservative. For one thing it severely underestimates the extent to which conservatives have spent an awful lot of energy fighting to keep those traditional structures from evolving into better versions of themselves. And it also ignores the role that conservatives play in thwarting the development of more effective government support structures. That said, yeah, there is an extent to which folks on the left have tossed a few babies out with the bathwater and that has contributed to a lot of people being worse off.

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                    • The conservative argument also overestimates how many people really lived according to the traditional structures before the 1960s. It used to be not uncommon to lose one or both parents before you were an adult and have to fend for yourself. People who shafted too much under the traditional structure always ran off to the cities for freedom. So did people looking for work.

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                    • Well, no one can accuse me of not living according to my liberal principles, given that I’m a queer, kinky, polyamorous trans woman. So yeah.

                      That said, yeah a lot of people seem to prefer monogamy. It works well enough, except for when it doesn’t. Certainly society is going through some difficult changes in regard to how relationships are meant to work. That said, if a couple both agree that they want to pursue a monogamous life, then yay! If they prefer a somewhat traditional gender divide, and if the choice is made freely by both partners, then yay. Of course, many women find the “housewife” role to be soul crushing. Such women probably won’t agree to such a relationship. They will seek something else. Yay. Some women might find the role initially attractive, choose to pursue it, but then discover that it does not truly satisfy them. So they will leave. Yay — with some reservations. Life is hard sometimes. Sometimes there are no good decisions. The universe is not here to please us. By contrast, some women might try to “have it all,” but later decide they really want a family. So they pursue that in their thirties (or forties). If they succeed, then yay. If not, as I said, life is hard sometimes.

                      The point is, we know these things. We don’t need some frumpy narrow-minded schoolmarm of a conservative to tell us this is hard, decisions are hard, our choices have consequences.

                      Women are smart — mostly — as are queer people, poly people, kinky people, etc. We know the score, mostly.

                      Place your bets. Spin the wheel.

                      Be very grateful when you discover you have a second chance.

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                      • We don’t need some frumpy narrow-minded schoolmarm of a conservative to tell us this is hard, decisions are hard, our choices have consequences.

                        I fully agree and support all efforts to free women, and all of us, from frumpy, narrow-minded schoolmarms employing simple-minded moralism to lecture us about our choices.

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    • Gavin McInnes is an interesting guy. His whole career is built on him not having a filter, and that makes him prone to pretty much any kind of mistake. He’s instinctively insightful, and maybe he couldn’t be a focused version of what he is, but it’s a frustration to me that he doesn’t lock in, do the research, and become whatever it is he could be.

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    • I found Katherine Cross’s response to be pretty on target: https://theestablishment.co/we-warned-you-about-milo-and-youre-still-not-listening-947dad4a8400

      The hypersensitivity that reels from “trigger warnings” but thrills to Yiannopoulos’ joyful transphobia, that likens workplace diversity trainings to “gulags,” is what fuels the outrage culture about “outrage culture,” an insatiable rage that can never be sated by giving it what it says it wants. It will merely demand we make ourselves smaller and smaller until nothing of us remains. Reactionary outrage about “PC” is not a philosophy as much as it is a burning sun that demands our compliance as its nuclear fuel, consuming it endlessly until it can feed no more and goes nova.

      There is, of course, a middle ground in dealing with actual left wing abuse and toxicity. It’s a line I’ve tried to walk. For instance, I co-facilitated a daylong workshop-conference at Smith College with the scholar and reproductive justice elder Loretta Ross entitled “Calling In the Calling Out Culture.” Her and I, two women of color from very different generations and activist backgrounds, came together to give Smith lessons about ethical activism?—?and drawing a line between passionate advocacy and abuse. For years, I’ve written about dealing with the excesses sometimes produced by the zeal in our movements, and the failings caused by activist language or turning insights into inflexible rules.

      Yet I’ve been able to do this without sharing a stage with or otherwise abetting a Nazi. It all puts the lie to the idea that empowering men like Yiannopoulos or the petty hate movements spawned by 4chan is the price we have to pay to have an open and fair discussion on progressive excess. Yet again, people of color have led the way and had this discussion for years. We converse without all the hyperbole that attends the usual “PC gone mad” shtick, unironically parroted by people with unassailably lofty media platforms. A world where Bill O’Reilly escapes with a golden parachute is not a world where “PC” can “ruin lives,” I’m afraid.

      Plus there is this: https://twitter.com/nberlat/status/916415933270446081

      Open Nazism is not very popular. But the idea that feminists, trans women, black women, need to be put in their place is very popular.

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  3. Me6 – I’d probably be more worried about Facebook and Google if there weren’t a fairly big murky thing going on right now with the official story in regards to the timeline.

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  4. Me8: Anyone who read Milo’s guide to the alt-right in Breitbart knows his sympathies (or at least his public sympathies – I don’t know what he truly believes). I read about half the Buzzfeed article, but it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Did it tie Bannon to white nationalism? I got that Milo didn’t avoid those guys, and didn’t want to turn them off with his article. Beyond that, I didn’t see any revelations.

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      • (Deezer or something)

        Andrew “weev” Aurenheimer.

        The article did two notable things: provided much more solid proof for people who are reluctant to admit Milo (or Bannon, for that matter) is a shitheel, and tied him to a bunch of more liberal types in a way that made said liberal types look particularly terrible.

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        • One thing I’ve always thought is that insiders in the media always see themselves as more related even when they disagree substantively. They look out for their own as professional courtesy. This can lead to the pulling of punches or even helping an ideological enemy.

          While Gawker can be grating in tone, they knew what side they were on.

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  5. Speaking of media, this morning I caught a little of Good Morning America interviewing women who have accused Harvey Weinstein. George Stephanopoulos asked them why they didn’t come forward sooner, and what kind of pressure they felt they were under. Yes, George Stephanopoulos. The one who was tasked with keeping similar women out of the news for Bill Clinton.

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    • This article had an interesting take. Frankly sad, but, there’s a logic to it.

      It does support my suspicion that Harvey Weinstein’s behavior wasn’t a surprise and that lots of folks were covering for him. Why? The usual reasons. Now that the situation has changed, he’s disposable.

      Best line: “The real issue, as Traister notes, was that “there were so many journalists on his payroll, working as consultants on movie projects, or as screenwriters, or for his magazine.””

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/the-human-stain-why-the-harvey-weinstein-story-is-worse-than-you-think/article/2009995#!

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      • I have a problem with the author’s conjecture that the Weinstein story wouldn’t have made it public if Clinton had won. That seems like a stretch. But I’m having trouble understanding why this story didn’t come out in the new media. I happen to agree with the article that the old media are atrophied and corrupted. But then, why hasn’t this story been available online for ten years? How come some locusts like TMZ or Buzzfeed didn’t get this story?

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        • Agree RE Clinton.

          I have no explanation to your question, but I can speculate. Stuff like this seems to have a pattern. It bounces along below the horizon until there’s a small change in the status quo, for whatever reason, then BOOM. What that change was, I’m not sure.

          Critical mass of rumors?
          Rise of new media?
          Someone not willing to “go along”
          Weinstein ran out of luck
          Weinstein lost some of his influence for some reason?

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          • Generally, it appears to be someone willing to go on record. Or enough someone’s.

            “Open secret” generally means “Well known rumor we can’t pin down enough to please the lawyers”. (Which is probably a good thing. There’s always rumors — the problem is finding out which ones are true).

            The general pattern with this sort of thing seems to be “Starting to go on record” and then either getting a settlement or enough of a threat to back down. Over and over. Until finally someone (or a few someone’s) can’t be bought, bribed, or intimidated.

            Which then only tends to pop off if their existence makes others more likely to speak up. (“Bob is willing to go on record, and so is Timmy. Look, you’re not alone. Are you willing to go on record now with this?”)

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          • That middle one seems like the key. I think this story is just one of those things that doesn’t have a place within the realm of ideas or tell us anything about the times we live in. It’s probably not about politics or old versus new media. As the invaluable Andrew Klavan put it, “this is a town filled with the most beautiful, most insecure women on earth, who want to make a profession out of being loved”. There are always going to be bad men with power, precisely because every bad guy is going to do whatever he can to live a life like Weinstein’s.

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            • Yep.

              One comment from the artilce that struck me.

              “As with Weinstein, this man’s chief thrill was humiliation, and the more famous the target the more roundly it was savored: Even her, a big star—these people will do anything to land a role; they’re so awful, they’ll even do it for me.”

              Frankly, that’s sick. But I think that exercising that kind of power, that demanding that level of debasement, and getting it, could be a powerfully alluring.

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        • I think part of the reason this story broke exactly when it did, and what changed, is that Ronan Farrow took up the cause of reporting it, and he was tenacious about doing so. (eg when NBC killed the story back in August he kept researching and took it to the New Yorker).

          Ronan Farrow is the brother of Dylan Farrow, who accuses Woody Allen of having molested her when she was a child, and he’s on the record as believing his sister. (He also saw his mother’s husband leave her for his barely legal stepsister.)

          Seems logical to presume he’d have an extra commitment to pursuing, getting sources to be on record about, not backing down when threated by a lawsuit from, etc., the story of a powerful Hollywood figure abusing that power to mistreat women.

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            • Boy, there does seem to be a very high percentage of those due to sexual assault. Which makes sense, I guess, since it’s one of the crimes that even the type of high-achieving respectable folks who are honored with an OBE indulge in.

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              • Hollywood Reporter: British Government Under Pressure to Strip Harvey Weinstein of Honorary CBE

                An open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, signed by several Labour MPs, described the accusations against Weinstein as “unacceptable and intolerable,” adding that failure to strip him of the honor would risk “bringing the honors system into disrepute.”

                The letter landed the same day Weinstein’s BAFTA membership was suspended, with the British academy stating that it considered the reported alleged behavior “completely unacceptable and incompatible with BAFTA’s values.” It added: “We hope this announcement sends a clear message that such behaviour has absolutely no place in our industry,”

                The Academy is in more of a pickle, as they’ve only stripped one person of membership in history, and that was for distributing Oscar screeners.

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                • I think the meaning of the Academy Award is a little different as well. If he had the Guinness world record for eating peanuts, he’d probably get to keep that since whatever else he does doesn’t really affect his peanut eating history. But I think a CBE implies a continuing connection to a society. More of an exclusive membership than a one-time award for achievement.

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