Sunday, February 15, 2015

Let not the right hand ...

Why are Rupert Murdoch's flying monkeys so angry about a comedy show on cable TV? Apparently, the fake news isn't fake enough:

Though Stewart has often claimed he does a “fake news show,” “The Daily Show” isn’t that. It’s a real news show punctuated with puns, jokes, asides and the occasional moment of staged sanctimony.

... Stewart is a journalist: an irresponsible and unprofessional one.

Odd. The Post is usually more careful about who gets to call whom a journalist. But don't let the Kenyan conspiracy distract you from the real offense against freedom here:

... Stewart uses his funnyman status as a license to dispense with even the most minimal journalistic standards. Get both sides of the story?

Hey, I’m just a comedian, man. Try to be responsible about what the real issues are? Dude, that’s too heavy, we just want to set up the next d- -k joke.

Well, that seems unusually pr---sh for the paper that ... who was that failed politician again, Post hed writers?

Weiner's poll rising (4/13/2013)

Weiner to seek erection, will announce bid for mayor (5/15/2013)
Cuomo Beats Weiner ... then goes limp (5/24/2013*)
Who's screwed by Weiner entry (5/26/2013)
Weiner beat goes on -- and on! (7/31/2013)
Weiner pulls another Twitter boner (6/13/2014)

Sounds like the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing. Indeed, here's the lede from a 2013 column by -- could it be the same Kyle Smith?

Anthony Weiner knew he faced a stiff challenge, that he’d be a lightning rod for jokes while getting the shaft from the press. But after blowing a load of money on campaign research, now he’s a big thing. Polling of the electorate shows a rapid rise in his fortunes, he’s still got a huge wad of cash in the bank and New York City voters are starting to say he’s a stand-up guy with an impressive package of ideas. Last week, he exploded in the polls, finishing first in one and a close second in another. Now that he’s officially a member of the political club again, you know he’s got a feeling deep in his loins that it’s time to whip out his true self and act like the cock of the walk on the third leg of his career. If there were anyplace you could smoke anymore, he’d be puffing a Winston and asking New York, “Did you feel the Earth move?”

(At least he was a little less prim two years ago: "We would become a 4-year-long dick joke.")

But the problem is less the comparative frequency of dick j---s than the ... what's that thing journalists aren't supposed to do?

Stewart slipped in a line of blatant editorializing: “Being caught is punishment enough, no?” Really? Why? If so, argue it, don’t just point the sheep in the direction you want.

Well, not quite. One, here's the core quote, as nearly as I can get it: Like with most cases of masturbation, typically, being caught is punishment enough.

Maybe Kyle was so mad that somebody else in New York was making a masturbation joke that he missed the "typically," which -- typically -- contrasts the current case with a typical one. The tag question ("no?") comes a few clauses later:

But it's more sin than crime, no? Would you agree? I'm sure his colleagues would agree.

Two, a tag question doesn't always mean "and I agree." Some of its meaning comes from the polarity of the two questions. ("You didn't throw up in front of Dean Wormer, did you?"). And some of it comes from the context. If Kyle Smith, TV host, began a spot with "We all know liberals are all selfless and unassuming, right?" and followed it with clips of the Kenyan usurper saying "my administration," "my Cabinet," and "my Secretary of State," we might fairly guess that he had a different meaning in mind.

In other words, the guy who claims to be a journalist is, um, a bit of a liar. He lied about the quote itself, and he lied about its meaning. Which is a problem, in that lying is the core of his complaint about Jon Stewart:

Let’s look at the media reports on Iraq that Stewart is arguing make Williams’ untruths pale in comparison. Problem: Those reports were not lies. Journalists trying to figure out whether the war was justified called up credible experts with experience in the field and passed along what they said.As a more honest version of Stewart might say, “Dude. That’s not malfeasance. That’s Re. Por. Ting.”

Some of it was. Some of it was putting the telescope to the blind eye. Much of it was disowned later by the most prominent outlets in the elite press. But Kyle Smith is upset about a lot of other stuff besides the Times's belated rush to journalistic competence:**

The idea that “Bush lied” is itself a lazy, ill-informed and false statement.

The support for which, to make a long story short, is that everyone else thought Iraq had an active WMD program too! It's as if our expert, a few paragraphs earlier, hadn't written:

What judge or jury could fail to bust out laughing if a defense attorney said, “I have no rebuttal of any of the charges against my client, but lots of other people not in this courtroom are guilty of stuff, too!”

"Bush lied" doesn't mean Bush told each of the myriad lies involved (any more than the Kenyan actually deleted each of the IRS emails by hand). It is a reasonable summary of a central fact of the second US-Iraq war: Regardless of whether Iraq had active nuclear or biological weapons program, or deliverable chemical weapons, it did not pose a threat to US interests. It didn't use chemical weapons against US forces when it had a demonstrated capacity and a stronger motive (the first US invasion). Its internal movements were constrained by US air supremacy over the bulk of the nation. The law of deterrence had not been repealed. The Big Lie wasn't the weapons, it was the crisis.

This isn't a case of asking which one is the journalist and which one is the liar. They're the same dude -- just not the one in the picture.

* This is the frontpage play, not preserved online

** The bit about Sarah Palin seeing Russia from her house, which wasn't Stewart's line to begin with. Kevin D. Williamson of the National Review likewise considers the Palin line to be, in effect, Stewart's legacy. .

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