“Imagine if you will” Edition.
In which the Mouse Circus -- exhausted from years of trying to pretend to be incisive and relevant -- falls asleep on a train
and wakes up in a simpler, happier alternate Universe where the entertainments of Yesterday have become the Serious Journalism of Today.
On “A Network Has Turned to Dust”,
“Fox News Sunday” test drives a new segment
in which the public airwaves are now simply turned over to whichever Confederate Loyalist
the meatsticks are dancing around and calling Leader this week.
Meet the Press reruns that episode of
“The Lie of the Beholder”
in which serial-liar Newt Gingrich -- for reasons that continue to remain unfathomable to me --
is again let back onto my teevee to lie some more.
As if that were perfectly normal.
Later, David Gregory asks Republican Senator John Cornyn: What about Joe Wilson?
Cornyn: But the Democrats….
Chuck Todd also manages to loop in the “Both sides do it” meme: It’s hard to believe [Joe Wilson’] apology was real…Republican leaders are trying to figure out how to channel this energy…Just like Democrats!
“This Week” had a little backing-and-forthing between Sam Donaldson and George Will
Sam Donaldson: Yeah, all of that money we spent to stop the economy from completely collapsing will have to be paid back. But we spent it because we had to. I mean, what was the fucking alternative? The homunculi who are on the street bitching about “spending all that money”, would they prefer to be wearing barrels.
Will: As a barrel-maker, I say yes!
George Will once again used his teevee time to advance his long-ago-humiliatingly-debunked talking point -- “We’re still arguing over what did and did not work during the Great Depression” – which doesn’t make sense until you realize that by “We”, Will means Republicans who never forgave FDR for preventing America from becoming a feudal pesthole where people like Will could buy three child brides and nine houseboys for a dollar.
Ubiquitous Non-Screamy Republican David Brooks helpfully pointed out that Americans are decadent and Wall Street traders’ are whacked out on dopamine after three good days, but his real contribution was this
We have small minorities in the country on both sides … some who watch Glenn Beck…some who watch MSNBC.
Which you would know (if you are goofy enough follow these things) was a call-back to his appearance this weekend on “The News Hour”, hammering home this weeks’ Conservative talking point:
DAVID BROOKS: I personally think we've now sort of bifurcated, where a lot of the country has lost some of the polarizing zeal, but there are minorities on each side who are watching Fox or MSNBC who are still in that high polarizing mode, and there are incentives for them to stay there.
Because when Republicans fuck things up this badly and this publicly, the only thing that keeps Republicans like David Brooks from heading down to the basement and putting the business-end of a shotgun in his mouth is the desperate, frantic fingering of that Right Wing rosary:
Which also leads to the last and eeriest confluence of the teevee dramas of bygone days, and the pathetic state of Modern Big Dollar Journalism.
Consider this from Rod Serling’s introduction to the Bantam Paperback edition of “Patterns” from 1957.
Yes, 1957 (emphasis added for dramatic effect by me):
Sometimes television is faced with a problem where it is physically impossible to substitute an idea. Last year I was faced with such a problem when I wrote a script called The Arena, which was done on Studio One. In this case, I was dealing with a political story where much of the physical action took place on the floor of the United States Senate.
One of the edicts that comes down from the Mount Sinai of Advertisers Row is that at no time in a political drama must a speech or character be equated with an existing political party or current political problems. ... So, on the floor of the United States Senate (at least on Studio One), I was not permitted to have my Senators discuss any current or pressing problem.
To talk of tariff was to align oneself with the Republicans; to talk of labor was to suggest control by the Democrats. To say a single thing germane to the current political scene was absolutely prohibited. So, on television in April of 1956, several million viewers got a definitive picture of television’s concept of politics and the way the government is run. They were treated to an incredible display on the floor of the United States Senate of groups of Senators shouting, gesticulating and talking in hieroglyphics about make-believe issues, using invented terminology, in a kind of prolonged, unbelievable double-talk.
There were long and impassioned defenses of the principles involved in Bill H. R. 107803906, but the salient features of the bill were conveniently shoved off into a corner of a side-of-the-mouth sotto voce, so that at no time could an audience have any idea what they were about. In retrospect, I probably would have had a much more adult play had I made it science fiction, put it in the year 2057, and peopled the Senate with robots.
This would probably have been more reasonable and no less dramatically incisive.
And with that in mind, consider this snippet from Friday’s aforementioned “News Hour” political weekend wrap-up segment:
JIM LEHRER: There's been a lot of commentary around all of this, that this is really indicative of a new kind of standard of discourse, negative standard of discourse in the country. Do you think -- is there any deeper meaning here or just one man who got up and yelled?As you can see, Mr. Serling, 52 years later the edicts from your “Mount Sinai of Advertisers Row” have not disappeared, but have instead been forcibly exported from teevee teleplays and into the real world of journalism.
DAVID BROOKS: Well, it didn't come out of nowhere. I mean, there are certain unconscious standards. We all behave in certain ways. You go to a funeral; you behave in a certain way. You go to a church; you behave in a certain way. And these are deep and inbred. You don't have to think about it.
But there's been this broad corrosion over many years in the way people talk in private, and then so suddenly he behaved in a way that normally there would be just so many unconscious barriers -- you would never scream out "You lie!" to a president right there in that room. But those barriers have been eroded. He went further than anybody has gone before or at least recently at least...
JIM LEHRER: He was pushing an envelope that was already going there, is what you're saying.
DAVID BROOKS: Yes, I mean, and it's obvious, if you hang around Congress, the conversations you hear are just of that nature.
JIM LEHRER: Do you feel the same way?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it's a coarsening of our political language, our political life. I think it's a coarsening of our national life. I mean, I think we see things on television and public entertainment that we didn't see a generation ago.
But I think it is true, and it's reached the point where if you and I -- you're my political adversary. You're not simply wrong; you have to be evil. You know, you don't have any moral standing. I mean, that -- and that's -- rather than prove you wrong or encourage you to come to my side, my approach is to demonize you and destroy you. And I really think that it's a tragic -- a tragic reality.
JIM LEHRER: That's new? You think that's a new problem?
MARK SHIELDS: I think it has developed, and I think it has not stopped. I mean, I was hoping that the president -- it was part of Barack Obama's theme. And I don't think he can be accused of that at all, but it was part of his campaign theme. And it did touch people. People did respond to it.
DAVID BROOKS: I would just say, it's cyclical. I mean, we have periods of high polarization in American history. I mean, Alexander Hamilton was shot by a political opponent. That's reasonably polarizing. Abraham Lincoln, a polarizing period. Then we have had a high polarizing period.
Now we are daily faced with a actual reporters who have been reduced to "talking in hieroglyphics about make-believe issues, using invented terminology, in a kind of prolonged, unbelievable double-talk" order to avoid offending anyone by pointing out that one side is ruled by an assortment of smugly ignorant moral imbeciles.
Now anything that veers anywhere near an honest discussion about the true nature of our real problem is shoved in terror under the rug by the mainstream media.
Now we live inside a bad dream where a national discourse dominated by lies -- obvious, ridiculous lies -- being shouted by aggrieved millionaires, bloated bigots and weepy demagogues is treated by the media as normal.
Now we live inside something that looks far too much like the "Twilight Zone", but is nowhere near as well-written.