Swords Against Punditry!

by John Holbo on August 14, 2016

In the hopes that everyone will stop commenting on Corey’s post, hence at considerable risk to myself: a fresh Trump post.

Since becoming aware of this thing called ‘US politics’, some decades ago, I have been addicted to the consumption of punditry. I don’t say it with pride, or because I suppose it makes me special. I just thought I’d mention that one thing that makes Trump’s candidacy weird – in a phenomenological sense, I guess – is that there is no pro-Trump pundit class. This makes his candidacy inaudible along one of the frequencies I habitually tune in. By and large, I can’t go to NR or The Weekly Standard or Red State, much less Ross Douthat or National Affairs, to get pretzel logic confabulations on Trump’s behalf, because they actually haven’t gotten on board. To their credit. Twitter is a snarknado of negative partisanship. Breitbart and Drudge are entropically dire, in a Shannon-informational sense. Hugh Hewitt? Nixonian party loyalist. He’s defending Trump the way he defended Harriet Miers, i.e. it really has nothing to do with the quality of the candidate. The only Trumpkins comfortable in their skins are the alt-right folks, reveling in rather than regretting the fact that Trump is constantly escaping from the Overton Straitjacket; and pick-up artists who regard Trump’s alpha male posturing as a feature, not a diagnosis. Oh, and there’s Scott Adams. “The fun part is that we can see cognitive dissonance when it happens to others – such as with my friend, and CNN – but we can’t see it when it happens to us. So don’t get too smug about this. You’re probably next.” Duly noted.

So much, so obvious. But this reminds me of something I tried to write in the early 90’s – a parody. But I couldn’t ever get it off the ground. The idea was this: a sword&sorcery Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser style tale, in which the supernatural beings behind the scenes are pundits (rather than more traditional gods or devils or what have you.) It was going to be called Swords Against Punditry, obviously. The idea: barbarian heroes and various antagonists (wizards and such) are put through their adventure paces so that, on a McLaughlin Group-style higher plane, one loud-mouthed pundit-deity can bark “Who won the week?” at the others. And then each pundit – Sheelba of the Eyeless Face-style liberal vs. Ningauble of the Seven Eyes-style conservative – spins on behalf of its partisan champion, or concedes defeat, at least for the week in question. One of them was going to be a giant scarab beetle, in honor of Freddy ‘the beetle’ Barnes. I was going to cross this with an Elric-style Chaos vs. Law frame. ‘Law’ was going to be represented, on the left, by a triangular pundit-deity who was basically “The New Republic” and, on the right, by a vaguely Buddhistic free market god who was basically “The Economist”. (I hadn’t worked out the details, but the logic of “The Economist” was that every story has a certain balance: ‘bad news, but there’s a silver lining’. ‘Good news, but there are dark clouds on the horizon’. Those being the only two acceptable “Economist” story-lines.) There was going to be a William F. Buckley chaos diety who was unpleasantly ‘urbane’ (as opposed to uncanny), always standing athwart space-time, crying for its destruction in hideously urbane tones. His priests read from his earliest tome, Elder Gods and Man at Yale. I can’t remember who was going to be my leftist god of chaos. (Who would have been a good one, in the early Clinton years? Say, 1994-5.)

There was going to be a hero with a Stormbringer-type sword, Thinkpiece, which gave its wielder power so long as he provided ‘talking points for my lord so-and-so.’

Obviously a large part of joke was going to depend on the fact that Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser-style adventure stories are not suitable sites for the projection of left-right partisanship, much less for the studiously narrow, ideological stylings of the US pundit class. There is just adventure and, at most, tribalism and submission to evil wizards and such. I wouldn’t tell the stories themselves. You would have to reconstruct what happened from the way the various pundit-deities spin it, in ideologically self-serving fashion. I could never get it to work on the page. I kept making the adventures themselves vaguely left-right political, because I also wanted to work in the joke that it’s absurd to suppose that left-right politics itself exists merely to entertain pundits who have no essential care for mankind, but find the horserace ‘who won the week?’ drama entertaining. I couldn’t manage to tell both jokes at once, nor decide which one to drop. So I never wrote Swords Against Punditry!

But I feel that 2016 is a real banner swords-against-punditry year, at least on the right. Punditry in defense of Trump is like prayers to Crom. “What use to editorialize on his behalf? Little he cares if men vote or not. Better to be silent than to call his attention to you; he will send you Tweets, not fortune! He is angry and policy-less, but he gets the base riled up. What else shall men ask of the candidates?”

It’s only funny if he loses, I realize.



Rich Puchalsky 08.14.16 at 4:46 am

Thinkpiece was the funniest joke. Elric sort of did provide talking points: he had to say “blood and souls for my Lord Arioch” or it didn’t count.

Moorcock did this in one of his own works, sort of. His Hawkmoon series included the old Gods of Granbretan — here, I’ll just quote wiki:

Yet other gods from the “tragic millennium” are based on 20th Century British Prime Ministers (Chirshil, the Howling God (Winston Churchill) and Aral Vilsn, the Roaring God (Harold Wilson), Supreme God) or writers: Bjrin Adass, the Singing God (Brian Aldiss); Jeajee Blad, the Groaning God (J. G. Ballard); Jh’Im Slas, the Weeping God (James Sallis)). […] Aral Vilsn, the Roaring God” is the “father of Skvese (“credit squeeze”) and Blansacredid (“balance of credit”) the gods of Doom and Chaos”, named after economic terms of the period when the books were written.


Whyvert 08.14.16 at 4:58 am

“The only Trumpkins comfortable in their skins are the alt-right folks, reveling in rather than regretting the fact that Trump is constantly escaping from the Overton Straitjacket; and pick-up artists who regard Trump’s alpha male posturing as a feature, not a diagnosis.”

Why no names or links? Are they like Voldemort, they who cannot be named? Linking used to be the basic principle of blogging.


Alan White 08.14.16 at 5:14 am

” Twitter is a snarknado of negative partisanship.”

This was the last sentence I could parse before I gave up. I think I agree with what comes after, but I have to say I’m not sure.


Gabriel 08.14.16 at 5:14 am

I think Leiber would have heartily approved; he wasn’t above some pointed (and nuanced!) social commentary with his heroic duo. ‘Lean Times in Lankhmar’ remains one of the most insightful, hilarious, sensitive, and thought-provoking takes on the impulse to belief, and non-belief, to ever see print. That story evokes the same sense of wonder I feel when I read, say, ‘The Dead’.

And Elric is always ripe for parody, although it’s hard to get any better than the Froghorn Leghorn-esque Elrod of Melvinbone and his evil sword Seersucker.


Brian Green 08.14.16 at 5:35 am

It’s precisely the “horse race” aspect that I can’t stand about most American political news coverage. It’s almost never an examination of policies or facts, it’s just who’s up and who’s down this week. “How will this play to the base” and so forth. They might as well be sports reporters. That is why I loved this post so much. Such a fantastic idea. I had a vision of Dana Carvey’s John McLaughlin as a god shouting “WRONG!” at other gods. Maybe you should take another stab at it.


stevenjohnson 08.14.16 at 5:53 am

New Republic on the left? This must be some sort of black-hearted irony, surely?
The Nation at least, if not In These Times or Monthly Review. Not sure the left is Chaos, but if one supposed leftist must play the part, Alexander Cockburn. Or maybe get really chaotic, Bob Avakian or the assorted publications of the Spartacist League.


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 5:57 am

I think my leftist pundit was Howard Zinn. The joke was going to be that he wasn’t a pundit at all and he was the only one who actually cared about the people – as opposed to just wanting to chat about ‘who won the week?’ – but somehow despite caring about people, unlike all the other pundits, he never got many people to pay attention to him.

Buckley was going to be B’huchli, natch. Rich, I had forgotten that Gods of Granbretan thing, if I ever knew it. Elrod of Melvinbone! The best part of that one was actually that he just became a regular character. Remember when he was a conscripted sidekick to the Punisherroach or Super Secret Sacred Wars Roach or whatever it was. My friend Doug Wolk has a podcast called ‘fonflif!’ and I was like: ‘oh, no need to explain!’ (But now I can’t remember: was it Elrod who was forced to be a sidekick or was it Dirty Drew and/or Dirty Fleagle?


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 5:59 am

“New Republic on the left?”

The point of having New Republic on the left and The Economist on the right was to have a very narrow ideological distance between. Somehow the struggle for the cosmos is a war between 27% top tax brackets and 34% tax brackets or something.


bad Jim 08.14.16 at 6:26 am

If the pundit don’t get you then the blind man will.


Ben 08.14.16 at 7:27 am

Thomas Frank as leftist god of chaos. The “obviously cares about people” joke doesn’t work as well, but could do like “sees the pundit schtick for what it is but apes it anyway because he’s secretly jealous of the planes of existence of other pundit gods” kind of thing


Adam Roberts 08.14.16 at 7:40 am

There’s a real-world analogue here, isn’t there. I remember reading a cluster of think-pieces when the new Star Wars movie came out, and the ones that stuck in my head were the ones on the right complaining that, according to the well-known Liberal bias of Hollywood, the Empire gets a bad rap in those movies: that the Emperor actually brings stability, law and order to the Galaxy, that building Death Stars creates thousands of jobs and so on. Straight-faced pieces, so far as I could tell.


Val 08.14.16 at 8:30 am

Where are the goddesses/women? I can’t see them on a brief look, but maybe it’s a telling political point that they’re not there (though hard to differentiate from not being there).


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 8:41 am

You can usually find them on the covers, Val. They’re the ones wearing chainmail bikinis, to a a first approximation. As to the dieties:

“Sheelba’s gender is ambiguous: Harry Fischer, who first conceived of the character, claimed Sheelba was female, while to Fischer’s surprise Leiber referred to Sheelba as male beginning in The Swords of Lankhmar. Friend Frederick MacKnight, who introduced Leiber and Fischer and was involved in the earliest days of the characters, called Sheelba “she-he (or it)”. Fischer may have created Sheelba as a tribute to his wife Martha.”

Wow, I guess Fischer didn’t like his wife.


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 8:42 am

The passage about Sheelba’s gender-fluid status is Wikipedia.


Val 08.14.16 at 10:10 am

JH @ 11
I feel one has to be incredibly well read in a huge range of genres + be USian, to really get what you’re getting at, so I won’t pursue it any further. Plus I think it’s almost time for Rich Puchalsky, cosplaying some male God of wrath and vengeance, to appear in a cloud of thunder and denounce me for the double crime of being wrong on the internet while being female, so I’d better quickly go now.


Bruce B. 08.14.16 at 10:30 am

John, the Fleagles and Elrod were all forced to be sidekicks at different points – I don’t think they ever were all at the same time, though memory may play me false there.

For those wondering, some of this stuff comes from the earlier parts of Dave Sim’s mammoth comic book series, Cerebus the Aardvark. It started off as straight-up parody of Conan and the genre, branched out more and more, developed depth, and then gradually went into the double mire of untreated mental illness (this isn’t slandering him, he’s written about his psychotic breakdown himself) and intense misogyny and general anti-liberalism.

But man, when he was on, he was really on. From an early appearance by Elrod the albino, with a line I still quote about status. And one of my favorite lines of the early issues.


J-D 08.14.16 at 10:56 am

Val 08.14.16 at 10:10 am
JH @ 11
I feel one has to be incredibly well read in a huge range of genres + be USian, to really get what you’re getting at, so I won’t pursue it any further.

I don’t think so. I think you just need to have at least a glancing familiarity with a few specific genres or even just a few specific references within those genres. Many people are extremely well-read across a wide range of genres but are completely blank on Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Sheelba and Ningauble, Elric and Stormbringer, Crom, and chainmail bikinis.


Lee A. Arnold 08.14.16 at 11:21 am

John Holbo: “You would have to reconstruct what happened from the way the various pundit-deities spin it, in ideologically self-serving fashion. I could never get it to work on the page.”

This is exactly what Joyce is doing in Finnegans Wake, and he couldn’t get it to work, either.

Or at least, Joyce couldn’t get it to work as a story narrative. His saving grace (if there is any) is that, since his pundit-deities are facets of a dreamer’s own collective unconscious that is dredging up world history, the prose becomes a broken cosmic poetry of modernism.

Thus John, you could write your thing too. But ALLOW it “not to work”.

Your story could be vaguely Ideal bafflegab filtered through sword & sorcery tropes, with just enough LACK of sense and cohesion to mirror the Real deal, including the TV shows, down here where we all really are, in the Trumphillary.

So why should it work?

Might need to keep it short, a Perelmanesque feuilleton.


SusanC 08.14.16 at 11:28 am


… but Ursula le Guin (e.g. The Tombs of Atuan), Johanna Russ (e.g. The Adventures of Alyx) took a swipe at the treatment of female characters in Tolkein/Fritz Lieber etc. back in the 1970’s. In the 2010’s. a retro genre parody could just as easily take 1970’s feminist New Wave science fiction as the source of the tropes the reader is presumed to be familiar with.


faustusnotes 08.14.16 at 11:44 am

I don’t have anything to add to this excellent idea, except to recommend to everyone here who loved Fafrhd and the Grey Mouser to try out Tark and the Golden Tide. It’s an absolute pearler of the genre, much under-rated, about Tark and his sidekick Morned the Flea, looking for vengeance against the barbarian who destroyed their kingdom. I think it adds to the genre, too – it has strong female characters and a more heroic slant, without losing the feeling of swords and sorcery. It’s a slim book but it has pirates, blind leprous dwarves, giant spiders and monstrous magic in abundance. Read it!!


Christopher J Smith 08.14.16 at 12:43 pm

Regret you never wrote it–because, as a Fritz Leiber fan, I would have devoured it!–but the concept is genius.


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 12:46 pm

“Why no names or links? Are they like Voldemort, they who cannot be named?”

Eh, kind of. I didn’t want it to be about that.


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 12:46 pm

I’ve never read Talk and the Golden Tide! I should!


Layman 08.14.16 at 1:40 pm

Me, I curse John Holbo, he who wantonly increases the size of my ‘books to re-read soon’ pile.


bianca steele 08.14.16 at 2:28 pm

In 1987, when I graduated college, more than one graduate student told me he subscribed to The New Republic and the Economist in order to get a full range of helpful thought.


William Timberman 08.14.16 at 2:31 pm

Thinkpiece? In the case of Trump, I would have thought Codpiece more appropriate. Or maybe Codpeace, at least for those of us peasants who long for a little of it amidst the din.


John Holbo 08.14.16 at 2:54 pm

“more than one graduate student told me he subscribed to The New Republic and the Economist in order to get a full range of helpful thought.”

Sounds like me in the early-to-mid-90’s. I was not without the capacity to see the humor of it, but there it was.


Mike Schilling 08.14.16 at 2:56 pm

‘Lean Times in Lankhmar’ was also the funniest of the F&GM stories.

By the way, for anyone who’s read The Colour of Magic (the first Discworld book), Bravd and the Weasel are parodies of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.


Dave Maier 08.14.16 at 3:45 pm

I don’t know about Swords Against Punditry, but I would definitely read Elder Gods and Man at Yale.


RNB 08.14.16 at 4:08 pm

@10 Why are you calling Thomas Frank a leftist god of chaos?

Have not read his recent history of liberalism, but his recent piece in the Guardian is poorly informed.

The same issues are coming out in Layman’s response to T on the other thread.

The Rothwell data give strong support for the ideas that I have advancing here for months. Most Trump supporters are not seeing their wages undercut by immigration (legal or otherwise), and the industries in which they worked were not shocked by trade. Trump’s core economic program does not address the specific problems they have. The white pride message does have appeal as unpleasant as it may be to reckon with this.

We have the Tesler data that Trump rode the votes of the most racially intolerant to the nomination, and there is Klinkner’s interesting finding (referred to by js here) that the best predictor of Trump support is belief that Obama is a foreign-born Muslim. The “populist” Frank can’t be bothered with this, so anxious is he to find good in any populism that threatens neo-liberal elites.

Of course as video makes clear many Trump supporters also want the free space to vent sexist aggression to lock up the the first potential woman President; this has been a big draw. And so college educated white women are leaving the Republicans.

Many Trump supporters may find themselves living in communities suffering from opioid, heroin and alcohol abuse, though they are not relatively poor; and this is contributing to mortality rates not falling in line with what we find elsewhere in the wealthy world.

It speaks to the appeal of Trump’s white pride message which feels as good to many of them as an opioid that they would not vote for Clinton here who has a detailed plan to carry out Surgeon General Vivek Murty’s work to counter addiction. Trump’s response to this crisis is to build a wall. But that is a non-solution. One of course one wonders whether white women have suffered an increase in their mortality rate because some have become addicted to opioids to dull the pain of living with men who find Trump inspiring.

Frank also does not seem to understand that workers have already suffered the shock of globalization. There is no going back in terms of returning to a pre NAFTA, PNTR and WTO world. Certain parts of the value chain have been outsourced and would be automated were they to return. In fact workers are no longer losing due to globalization (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-manufacturing-china-insight-idUSKCN10F0CT), but there are domestic limits on the expansion of good jobs in terms of matching the education system to the needs of industry. And in fact it was a good step in the right direction that Hillary Clinton said that we had to create paths to success that do not depend on a four-year college degree.

The “T’s” and “ronan’s” here have their pundit in Thomas Frank. His recent Guardian column is pretty much fact-free.


RNB 08.14.16 at 4:38 pm

In terms of the OP, I would include among Trump pundits the alt-left here. Basically the idea is that neo-liberal elitism and Davos globalism are so evil that resistance to it in whatever form should be understood as principally good, and sympathized with. Some of the objectionable aspects of this populism shouldn’t be taken seriously (by us white dudes who have third cousins who hunt in Michigan) in light of the challenges this populism is posing to neo-liberalism and globalism; and so really there is no reason to choose Clinton over Trump. In fact the only way to get concessions from Clinton at this point is to make sure she has the fear of Trump in her and will step back a bit from globalism (even if the US manufacturing industry would benefit from exports and linkages to growing markets in Asia that China would otherwise dominate).


PGD 08.14.16 at 5:56 pm

If you want this to become the new Trump thread you have to last longer than one paragraph before switching to your early 90s idea for a comic book/fantasy novel.

But re Trump this is the first time in my life I can remember the controlled opposition / Overton Window frame being broken (i.e. where there are always two carefully managed sides to each question which between them define the range of acceptable discourse) and the establishment media taking an absolutely unanimous stand for one side. Yes, that’s obvious, but there’s clearly something significant going on that could take analysis.

BTW, regarding going to Twitter looking for the few Trump ‘pundits’ who are actually readable/avoid the fever swamp of racism/anti-semitism/etc., try the ‘Hillary PR Team’ twitter account OnMessageForHer.


SusanC 08.14.16 at 8:57 pm

I’m starting to think we’re in an updated version of Mel Brook’s The Producers, in which a guy tries to run an obviously doomed presidential campaign as a tax avoidance scheme, but his plan goes wrong when people actually vote for him.


Sandwichman 08.14.16 at 9:15 pm

What do you call 1000 pundits at the bottom of the ocean?


J-D 08.14.16 at 9:26 pm

SusanC 08.14.16 at 8:57 pm
I’m starting to think we’re in an updated version of Mel Brook’s The Producers, in which a guy tries to run an obviously doomed presidential campaign as a tax avoidance scheme, but his plan goes wrong when people actually vote for him.


Jeff K 08.14.16 at 9:41 pm

@12, @13: Who were the female pundits of the mid 90’s? Peggy Noonan? Eleanor “Gee-I-Think-You’re-Swellanor” Clift?

I watched too much McLaughlin Group in my formative years…


Daddio7 08.14.16 at 9:46 pm

SusanC, I believe this is what is happening but it is unintentional. The majority core Republican voters want tightly controlled borders, the business elite do not. Trump seems to be trying hard to alienate anyone who is not a hard core Republican. Whoever the Republicans run in 2020 will have to make it clear that to win the Independent voters and the media will have to be catered to. I can not see how any Republican platform can out draw the social giveaway programs of the Democrats. Our only hope (I am a Trump support) is overreach by the Clinton administration brings more conservation voters back to the Republicans. Or we might get a repeat of the Roosevelt administration, you know, the one that used nuclear weapons.


Piers 08.15.16 at 2:48 am

On the parody front, it’s worth tracking down Michael Moorcock’s short story “The Stone Thing: A Tale of Parts” if you haven’t read it and have read Elric / Corum / Hawkmoon.


LosGatosCA 08.15.16 at 3:47 am

This is the conservative Teabagger Republican Party, sir. When the parody becomes fact, nominate The Trump.

It’ll get a laugh every time, I guarantee it.


faustusnotes 08.15.16 at 8:37 am

SusanC, I like to hope that Trump is a prank or a mistaken attempt at a tax write-off. But now I read he is recruiting a militia for purposes of voter intimidation, and I think that is not something a prankster or a con artist would do if they really want to lose.


James Wimberley 08.15.16 at 11:32 am

Another tack would be a Discworld continuation, with Mustrum Ridcully persuaded by Vetinari to set up a School of Quantum Punditry at Unseen University. Introduce a black cat called Erwin.

BTW, what are the IP rules if any for sequels in a fictional universe created by a dead author? Bond? Sherlock Holmes? SF authors sometimes explicitly open up their universes to others, as with Larry Niven and the kzin wars, but he’s alive.


AcademicLurker 08.15.16 at 12:39 pm

39: Certainly Holmes has been in the public domain for decades. To the extent that you can trust something found in 15 seconds by googling, Bond seems to have entered the public domain in 2015.


Bruce B. 08.15.16 at 2:39 pm

It took a lawsuit by Leslie Klinger (author of the two-volume annotated Sherlock Holmes, which is an utter delight and highly recommended, as are his annotated editions of Dracula and of H.P. Lovecraft) to confirm that Sherlock Holmes was in the public domain, since his estate pressed various loopholes in public-domain boundaries.

Ian Fleming died in 1964; it’ll be a minimum of almost two decades before Bond is in any sense in the public domain, since Britain is a life + 70 years country, unless there were irregularities in the original copyrights, which I’d be surprised about. And even when the stories are public domain, it’ll be the same situation that applies with, say, Edgar Rice Burroughs characters: sure, you can use the stories, but God help you if you appear to use any element established in a previous licensed adaptation for film, TV, comics, whatever, because that can remain owned property more or less in perpetuity, and they can sift details so fine.

The general rule is: standard rules apply unless the creator clearly established otherwise, and then you’ll probably want an okay in writing from the estate.


MsLorelei 08.16.16 at 12:12 am

SusanC 08.14.16 at 8:57 pm

I’m starting to think we’re in an updated version of Mel Brook’s The Producers, in which a guy tries to run an obviously doomed presidential campaign as a tax avoidance scheme, but his plan goes wrong when people actually vote for him.

You’re not the only one who sees the parallel with The Producers.


Glen Tomkins 08.16.16 at 12:57 am

The pundits all hate Trump because he threatens them with disintermediation. For a politician who has no use for dog whistles to succeed means that the pundits no longer have a function.


Alan White 08.16.16 at 1:27 am

GT @ 42

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ bout, with just one neologism that I can actually figure out. The OP in a fortune cookie?


Glen Tomkins 08.16.16 at 3:32 am

I’ve disintermediated the dictionary. So sue me.


Alan White 08.16.16 at 3:34 am

Don’t get me wrong GT–that was the Occam in me in praise, not blame.


Glen Tomkins 08.16.16 at 3:59 am

No offense taken. Just trying to be more like Trump.


Brian Green 08.16.16 at 7:16 pm

Still thinking about the pundit gods. Nate Silver (Nhets Ilvarr?) could make an appearance as a god particularly associated with foretelling the future in the swirl of mystical numbers….

@33: That was precisely the premise of a skit on Jimmy Kimmel’s show a few months back, complete with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OemqVWi_R0k


John Holbo 08.17.16 at 1:31 am


Richard Cottrell 08.17.16 at 9:30 am

The Roosevelt administration used nuclear weapons? Where? I seem to remember that it was the bankrupt tailor Harry Truman who set us on the Armageddon trail.


ZM 08.17.16 at 10:15 am

Swords Against Punditry! would work well as a comedy politics show I think. It could do the important topics of the week – so you didn’t have to explain them – with comedians being the pundits along the lines in the OP.


ZM 08.17.16 at 10:18 am

You wouldn’t have to write it all either. You could just outlive the idea and send it to a bunch of networks.


ZM 08.17.16 at 10:20 am

I mean outline the idea. I don’t know how people write an outline but I guess it’s how t v shows get made.


casmilus 08.17.16 at 10:45 am

Pundits, what are they good for?


Don Midwest USA 08.17.16 at 11:22 am

Matt Taibbi just wrote an article along the line of this piece.

He points out that the campaign of 2016 has wiped out what is left of the news media. By going down the horse race path of democrats vs. republicans, the news media’s lies are out in the open and they have lost credibility.

Years ago, when I was an exchange student in the Soviet Union, a Russian friend explained how he got his news.
“For news about Russia, Radio Liberty,” he said. “For news about America, Soviet newspapers.” He smiled. “Countries lie about themselves, tell truth about others.”
American media consumers are fast approaching the same absurd binary reality. We now have one set of news outlets that gives us the bad news about Democrats, and another set of news outlets bravely dedicated to reporting the whole truth about Republicans.

The last month or so of Trump-Hillary coverage may have been the worst stretch of pure journo-shilling we’ve seen since the run-up to the Iraq war. In terms of political media, there’s basically nothing left on the air except Trump-bashing or Hillary-bashing.

The Summer of the Shill
Campaign 2016 won’t just have lasting implications for American politics. It’s obliterated what was left of our news media


Ragweed 08.17.16 at 12:38 pm

144 characters. Twitter = internet fortune cookies?


dave heasman 08.17.16 at 8:23 pm

John McLaughlin has died.

Took me aback for a mo. Not the John McLaughlin, eh?


J-D 08.18.16 at 12:20 am

Daddio7 08.14.16 at 9:46 pm

… I can not see how any Republican platform can out draw the social giveaway programs of the Democrats. …

To me, that statement seems to be logically equivalent to saying ‘the majority of voters prefer Democratic Party policies to Republican Party policies’.

Now, I don’t know that to be true. But if it is true, it seems to suggest that the only strategic option available to the Republican Party is to deceive voters.


Dave Maier 08.18.16 at 3:16 pm

So John McLaughlin was a Catholic priest who had a TV show. I always wondered what happened to him after Mahavishnu. How about that.


politicalfootball 08.18.16 at 6:41 pm

The linked post about the Overton Straitjacket is even more interesting in light of subsequent events. It doesn’t exactly predict Trump, but more-or-less asks the question: Why not Trump?

I’m tempted to say: because … you can’t make dumb normal. But that’s obviously not right.


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