“The Bulwark’s” Contorted, Self-Indicting Defense Of The Mainstream Media

One reason Ethics Alarms highlighted Andrew Sullivan’s late-to-the-party sounding of his own alarm against the near total corruption of the mainstream media with Left-leaning bias—it was a bit like shouting “Fire!” in a theater that was already burned to the ground—was that I was curious to see if the mainstream media’s defenders would try to counter it. It can’t be countered honestly, you see. At this point, it’s like denying that the Earth moves around the Sun, yet denials are still the reflex norm both among journalists and those who appreciate news reporting working so hard to accomplish their obviously virtuous political agendas.

I did not expect “The Bulwark,” of all places, to defend the mainstream media against Sullivan’s statement of the obvious, but upon reflection, I should have. The Bulwark is the retreat site of poor Bill Kristol after he snapped like a a dry twig in a harsh wind and blew up his credibility, reputation and “The Weekly Standard” in a tantrum over am unmannerly and crude commoner like Donald Trump daring to get elected to the Presidency. Supposedly a man of principle and a true believer in conservative principles, neocom Bill declared that he would rather see those who oppose and would liquidate all of those principles to gain power than to tolerate someone so unworthy accomplishing policy objectives that Kristol would have endorsed a short time ago.

This elitist bit of bigotry (duplicated by other NeverTrumpers like George Will) deserves an eventual clinical analysis. Something similar to one was just focused on one-time conservative pundit for the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin over at “The American Thinker,” where Thomas Lifson writes that Rubin “stands out as possibly the most extreme case of Trump Derangement Syndrome among the former conservatives…Her hatred of Trump and the party that now is dominated by him and his supporters is so extreme that she wants the media to stop treating it as a legitimate representative of the roughly half the populace that votes for it.” Kristol’s agents’ at “The Bulwark” hatred is so extreme that it will defend the mainstream media’s constantly distorting the news to make conservatives and Republicans seem illegitimate. Which is worse? A Leftist media deliberately deceiving the public to warp the democratic process, or a conservative publication enabling it because they share a fanatic hatred? It’s a tough call.

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Well What Do You Know! Andrew Sullivan Finally Sees Clearly That The News Media Is Completely Corrupt And Untrustworthy

It sure took a while, Andrew, but it’s good to have you on board. Every little bit helps.

Andrew Sullivan is writing at substack now, the place where disillusioned former henchmen (and henchwomen, like Bari Weiss) of the biased and partisan mainstream news media have retreated after they sensed that somehow the people they were working for were doing more harm than good. Some, like independent journalist/muckraker Green Greenwald, flipped loyalties completely and declared his disgust with fury, even pointing out the news media’s campaign of lies against Donald Trump. Sullivan has, in contrast and until now, been unwilling to admit what has been obvious for a very long time: American journalism has really become “the enemy of the people.”

Oh, he has gradually picked off other and related examples of progressive ethics rot in our societyof many : check out the first 12 Ethics Alarms essays here, going back to 2014. These all must have been hard for him, for Sullivan is a moderate conservative turned progressive (by the gay marriage issue), and he doubtlessly would like to support his newfound companions. Yet he couldn’t quite bring himself to accept what I, to name just one objective analysts, figured out and have been documenting for more than a decade.

Now he has. Whew! I thought it would never happen.

In “Denial,” the film about the lawsuit by British Holocaust denier and fake historian Richard Irving’s defamation lawsuit against American Deborah Lipstadt, Tom Wilkerson as Lipstadt’s barrister Richard Rampton, in the process of excoriating Irving to the court where the case is being tried, says in a memorable speech,

My lord, during this trial, we have heard from Professor Evans and others of at least 25 major falsifications of history. Well, says Mr. Irving, “all historians make mistakes.” But there is a difference between negligence, which is random in its effect, and a deliberateness, which is far more one-sided. All Mr. Irving’s little fictions, all his tweaks of the evidence all tend in the same direction: the exculpation of Adolf Hitler. He is, to use an analogy, like the waiter who always gives the wrong change. If he is honest, we may expect sometimes his mistakes to favor the customers, sometimes himself. But Mr. Irving is the dishonest waiter. All his mistakes work in his favor. How far, if at all, Mr. Irving’s Antisemitism is the cause of his Hitler apology, or vice versa, is unimportant. Whether they are taken together or individually, it is clear that they have led him to prostitute his reputation as a serious historian in favor of a bogus rehabilitation of Adolf Hitler and the dissemination of virulent Antisemitic propaganda.

Note the parallels with Sullivan’s description of the mainstream media in his latest newsletter:

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How Donald Trump Could Be A Great American And Ethics Hero, But Almost Certainly Won’t

scylla-and-charybdis

One of the benefits of not having Donald Trump as President—such benefits do not include having Joe Biden in the White House—is that I don’t have to write about him as often or regularly point out the relentless efforts to de-legitimize and destroy his Presidency. However, the Trump Deranged in the news media and the Angry Left in general let Trump live, as the cliche goes, rent-free in their heads, so now he has become a boogeyman. Say his name three times in front of a mirror, and he’ll appear and murder democracy.

On his substack newsletter, Andrew Sullivan, who occasionally called out Trump Derangement excesses but still never could bring himself to extend any respect to The Donald, weighed in today with an essay called “How Biden Could Bring Back Trump.” What the piece is really about is how wretched Biden’s Presidency has been so far, especially regarding illegal immigration. But to get his core readership’s attention, Sullivan felt he had to frame the argument as he does in his final two paragraphs:

“…the immigration debate reflects an elite that simply cannot imagine why most normal citizens think that enforcing a country’s borders is not an exercise in white supremacist violence, but a core function of any basic government. Which is to say that far from taming the brushfire of right ethno-populism, Biden may be fueling it. Trump may not need to send the country into a constitutional crisis in 2024. If mass migration continues to accelerate under this administration, and Biden seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it, Tump could win that election in a romp. And deserve to.”

Andrew can’t bring himself to quite say that Trump was right about illegal immigration all along, that the public mostly agreed with him because they aren’t insane, and that Biden’s policies and rhetoric are incompetence itself. He does write, though, to be fair to Sullivan, “The temptation to reduce every normie concern about immigration to ‘white supremacy’ was too hard to eschew. And the view that “All Borders Are Racist” — as perfect an expression of woke extremism as “Defund the Police” and “Pregnant People” — became an elite cause. Nation-states and borders? That has been left in the dust of the Obama era.” Bingo to that. Still, the big scare isn’t the collapse of the rule of law and the natural disastrous consequences of open borders. It’s that it all might bring Truuuuuuump back.

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Andrew Sullivan

CRT2

“[T]he sudden, rapid, stunning shift in the belief system of the American elites…has sent the whole society into a profound cultural dislocation. It is, in essence, an ongoing moral panic against the specter of “white supremacy,” which is now bizarrely regarded as an accurate description of the largest, freest, most successful multiracial democracy in human history.”

—-Blogging pioneer Andrew Sullivan, yet another exile at substack, in his eloquent, brave, important and accurate essay, “What Happened To You?”

That’s probably not the best ethics quote in Sullivan’s latest essay. It’s just the earliest. There is also this bitter truth, as Sullivan’s brief approaches it’s climax:

Look how far the left’s war on liberalism has gone. Due process? If you’re a male on campus, gone. Privacy? Stripped away — by anonymous rape accusations, exposure of private emails, violence against people’s private homes, screaming at folks in restaurants, sordid exposés of sexual encounters, eagerly published by woke mags. Non-violence? Exceptions are available if you want to “punch a fascist.” Free speech? Only if you don’t mind being fired and ostracized as a righteous consequence. Free association? You’ve got to be kidding. Religious freedom? Illegitimate bigotry. Equality? Only group equity counts now, and individuals of the wrong identity can and must be discriminated against. Color-blindness? Another word for racism. Mercy? Not for oppressors. Intent? Irrelevant. Objectivity? A racist lie. Science? A manifestation of white supremacy. Biological sex? Replaced by socially constructed gender so that women have penises and men have periods. The rule of law? Not for migrants or looters. Borders? Racist. Viewpoint diversity? A form of violence against the oppressed.” 

I hate to drop spoilers with a master essay like Sullivan’s but I know a lot of people don’t follow links, and attention, as Willy Loman’s wife said, must be paid. Sullivan writes like an angel, so I quote him in fond hopes that readers will allow his persuasive prose to unfold as he designed it. Andrew begins by writing,

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Andrew Sullivan Points Out The Obvious Inconvenient Facts Like They Are A Revelation, But Since He’s Not A Conservative, Maybe Progressives And The News Media Will Accept Reality

death after Floyd

Nah.

In his latest essay on substack, once-conservative-blogger-turned-progressive-shill (because he cared about gay marriage more than anything else)-turned-independent-gadfly Andrew Sullivan demonstrates in detail that what Ethics Alarms (and everyone else paying attention) knew would happen has, in fact, happened. If we ruin every police officer who shoots a black citizen in the line of duty, and allow Black Lives Matter to demonize such officers regardless of the circumstances, we get dangerously hesitant law enforcement, passive policing, more crimes by blacks and and police actively avoiding confrontations with black suspects.

Well, of course. This isn’t hard. But Andrew, a moderate at heart, is a kind-of progressive and always hated Donal Trump, so at least he won’t be accused of “mouthing Fox News talking points” when he states the obvious. Sullivan is also smart, a fine writer, and knows how to make a case, but during the Great Stupid in the course of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck, Facts Don’t Matter. But at least he tries. His case, however, is a bit like arguing that the night follows day.

His careful if annoying article deserves a full read, but here are some excerpts and some comments.

Let’s begin with data quoted by the Times,and in turn by Sullivan:

“Homicide rates in large cities were up more than 30 percent on average last year, and up another 24 percent for the beginning of this year, according to criminologists … Homicides in Portland, Ore., rose to 53 from 29, up more than 82 percent; in Minneapolis, they grew to 79 from 46, up almost 72 percent; and in Los Angeles the number increased to 351 from 258, a 36 percent climb … Homicides in Philadelphia are up almost 28 percent, with 170 through May 9, compared with 133 in the same period last year; in Tucson, Ariz., the number jumped to 30 from 17 through May 13, an increase of 76 percent.”

After considering and rejecting other explanations (In a typical Times bit of misdirection, a headline today reads “As Virus Recedes, Mayors Confront An Old Adversary: Rising Crime.” It’s the pandemic’s fault, and if it isn’t, this is nothing new!), Sullivan (correctly) fingers the George Floyd incident:

Before Floyd, no big increase in homicides, aggravated assaults, and shootings. After, a huge spike.Of course, that is not causation. But it’s one hell of a correlation — and no other event seems relevant. It’s as if the Floyd murder, and the subsequent urban chaos, sent a signal: the cops are on the defensive. Which means murderers can go on the offensive. And once lawlessness establishes itself, it tends to compound. A few gang murders can soon morph into tit-for-tat urban warfare.”

Gee, ya think?

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Andrew Sullivan

CRT

“Every time a liberal institution hires or fires someone because of their group identity rather than their individual abilities, it is embracing a principle designed to undermine the liberal part of the institution. Every university that denies a place to someone because of their race is violating fundamental principles of liberal learning. Every newspaper and magazine that fires someone for their sincerely-held views, or because their identity alone means those views are unacceptable, is undermining the principles of liberal discourse. Every time someone prefers to trust someone’s subjective “lived experience” over facts, empiricism and an attempt at objectivity, liberal society dies a little. And every student who emerges from college who believes that what matters is whether you are on “the right side of history” rather than whether your ideas can be tested by the ruthless light of open debate is a student who does not have the ability to function as a citizen in a liberal society. The ability to respect and live peaceably alongside people with whom you vehemently disagree is a far harder skill than cheering on one of your own. And yet liberal institutions are openly demonstrating that it is precisely this kind of difficult toleration they will not tolerate….[I]f we remove the corner-stone of liberal democracy — the concept of a free, interchangeable citizen using reason to deliberate the common good with her fellow citizens, regardless of any identity — then it is only a matter of time before it falls….”

—Andrew Sullivan, in his essay “Removing The Bedrock Of Liberalism: What the “Critical Race Theory” debate is really about.”

Do read it all.

Andrew is spot on this time.

Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Matt Zoller Seitz, With An Assist From Ann Althouse, Sliming Principled Whistleblowers

Stoller tweet

Let me preface this commentary with some disjointed points:

  • When tweets are involved, I should probably call this category “Unethical Tweet Of The Hour.” Minute, even.
  • Matt Zoller Seitz is a hard-left critic and screenwriter who sometimes opines for the proudly Left-Lunatic “Daily Kos.”
  • Ann Althouse’s reaction to this—she gets the EA Pointer for finding the tweet—puts me in mind of Captain Von Trapp’s rebuke to his friend, the venal and principle-free theatrical producer Max, in “The Sound of Music” film when Max tries to rationalize the Anschluss by noting that it was “peaceful”: “You know, Max. . . . . .sometimes I don’t believe I know you.”
  • She also professed ignorance at the tweet’s reference to “the Bruenigs.” See the note immediately above: it took me ten seconds to check the reference, longer than it must have taken Ann to write that she didn’t understand it. Matt Bruenig is a Socialist pundit, and Elizabeth Bruenig is a former columnist at the Washington Post of similar ideological sympathies, now with the New York Times. The Bruenigs have a podcast called “The Bruenigs.”
  • The “tweets” Althouse refers to relates to a re-tweeter of the Seitz tweet who added this shot from a film I couldn’t identify:

Preppy assholes

Sietz is scummily implying that criticizing the now obvious turn by the American Left to totalitarian-style speech suppression and the mainstream news media’s complicity in the process is the equivalent of Fifties-style, white prep school  conservatism mocked in films like “Auntie Mame,” Animal House,” and “Trading Places.” In fact, Greenwald, Sullivan, Yglesias and, though unsmeared here, Matt Taibbi are all left-leaning journalists or pundits of long standing who have had the integrity to break with their biased and unethical employers to blow necessary whistles on their former colleagues, as mainstream journalism has abandoned any pretense of doing its job while following its own ethics rules.

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“Enemy Of The People”

Atlanta spa

I believe, or at least hope, that by the time the disgusting transformation of the American news media into pure agents of propaganda is complete—and in that regard, it’s later than you may think—Donald Trump’s much maligned declaration that journalism had become “the enemy of the people” will be remembered as perhaps his most important quote. It deserves to take a place next to Ronald Reagan’s similarly derided “evil empire” line as an example of the “bully pulpit” working as it should.

Last week I saw this front page headline in the New York Times: “Rampage in Georgia Deepens Fears of Rising Asian Hatred In U.S.” That’s not a news headline. That is a publication planting fear for political purposes. Deepens whose fears? The story said that the murder of eight women at a “massage parlor” in Atlanta, six of the victims Asian-American, had unsettled the Asian community. That’s hardly surprising, since many of the dead were members of that community. The Times interviewed a couple of members of the Asian community who expressed “fears.” That does not justify a sweeping generality, nor the emphasis the stories under the headline gave to a supposed motivation for the killings that was supported by no evidence whatsoever other than the presumption of white racism. Presumption of white racism is bigotry, to be clear. not evidence.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/3/2020: Anything Important Happening Today?

dewey headline

Today in election history, Harry Truman celebrated pulling off one of the greatest upsets in American history, defeating Republican Thomas Dewey and turning the two-time Presidential loser’s name into an eternal punchline, thanks to the Chicago Tribune’s over-eager headline based on early returns the night before. With Truman’s popularity at historic lows and all of the experts declaring the President defeated before that race began,  Dewey campaigned at a leisurely pace, though not exactly a Joe Biden pace. Truman, in contrast, campaigned furiously as the underdog.  Truman defeated Dewey by 114 electoral votes, creating the all-time template for surprise Presidential victories, and embedding the photograph above in American lore.

Even this couldn’t displace it…

Newsweek cover

1. Althouse gets defensive about “abstaining.” One of the bloggers most quoted at Ethics Alarms became triggered by a critical comment about her abstaining from voting and defended herself today, though not too well. Althouse addressed the commenter, named Slothrop, as well as the general attack on 2020 non-voters like her by Instapundit firebrand Sarah Hoyt. Ann countered in part,

[T]his method of using insults to push people to vote is ugly. Are they doing it because they think it’s effective? I don’t yield to bullies. …Slothrop appeals to my vanity as he insists that I be a good person — not cowardly and neglectful of duty. Hoyt denounces vanity and insists that I not get involved in any sense of my personal goodness… she portrays the abstainer as snooty — with her nose in the air, acting like she’s “too good for this.”

Slothrop is distinctly wrong when he says voting is a duty. No. It is not. Like speaking, like religion, like getting married, like having sexual relations, voting is a right, and a right entails the power to decline to exercise it. It is horrible to be forced to speak, forced to take on a religion, forced to get married, forced to have sex — these are loathsome impositions. 

Hoyt is wrong — in my case at least — to attribute a refusal to vote for Trump to taking offense at his personal style — his manners, his crassness. I happen to enjoy his personal style…

Trump has his style and I have mine. If it makes you want to stomp your foot, go ahead. You can keep “stomping your foot about” how cruelly neutral I am. You’re free. You’ve got your right and I’ve got mine. 

Verdict: Lame. Voting is a duty of citizenship, as long as the citizen is informed, as Althouse certainly is. Yes, there is a right not to do your duty, unless a law makes it mandatory. I’m shocked, or perhaps enlightened, that Althouse would excuse her refusal to make a tough choice to “style.” Let’s see, how many rationalizations on the list does that rattle, along with the rest of her self-defense? I’ve got at least eleven:

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Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/18/2020: The Unmasking Edition

1. Rep. John Lewis died, and respect should be paid. BUT...Lewis played extreme and divisive partisan politics for years, exploiting and abusing his reputation as a “civil rights icon.” His boycott of the Trump inauguration did incalculable damage to race relations in this country and undermined a new President before he had a chance to show what he could do. It was unforgivable, and like Barack Obama, Lewis is substantially accountable for the racial enmity we are witnessing today. And he should have retired long ago.

2. I guess I have to say something about Mary Trump. The parade of people, including employees and officials, choosing to cash in and trash the President of the United States while he’s in office and trying to govern has been disgusting for years now. It is more disgusting, of course, when the slimy tell-all authors are  those who had positions of trust, but the efforts of others, like Trump’s niece Mary Trump, to peddle dirt to the large Trump-hate market is nauseating as well.

Since the act of making such claims against a family member for profit is itself signature significance for a crummy, venal, untrustworthy and vindictive human being, there is no reason to regard her book as anything more than more anti-Trump porn. I have a pretty close family, and I can say with certainty that neither my many cousins, nor my sole surviving aunt, nor my nephew and niece, have sufficient first hand knowledge of my life to make any reliable claims about me at all, good or bad.

3. Quick observations on Andrew Sullivan’s departure from New York Magazine…Sullivan published his last column for the extremely left-wing anti-Trump magazine, announcing he was leaving because the culture there was intolerant of his insufficiently woke principles. At one point he writes, Continue reading