Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why The Freak Show Never Ends

I don't know if you're aware, but as part of its heroic attempt to accelerate its death-spiral, Meet The Press has thoroughly trashed their own website (to destroy the evidence?) by stuffing it with all those great bells and whistles that NBC content visioneers believe the kids on their Instachats and Tumblrs are crying out for these days.

Why NBC content visioneers think that kids are clamoring for more archival footage of Bob Dole, more stale summaries of Chris Christie press conferences and more of David Gregory kickin' it on the Twitter with burned out Republican flacks --
David tweets with GOP strategist Mike Murphy to go inside the GOP's playbook after a narrow victory in Mississippi
-- I do not know, but clearly they do, and so what you get is a shambling stack of short videos, modeled (and I'm just guessing here) on the what a grab-bag of fever dreams at the ass-end of a David Gregory absinthe jag might look like.

Anyway, one of the small and comically bizarre juxtapositions that routinely transpires under the capacious wings of the NBC peacock happens when someone on The MSNBC reports something which lays waste to the credibility of the same person who, three floors away, is being feted as Credible and Serious at by some establishmentarian testicle cozy at The NBC.

Of course the most famous examples of corporate media cogitative dissonance come every year when the Neocons are in bloom and one, teeny tiny division of the NBC corporation takes it upon itself to flay unindicted war criminals and bloodthirsty lunatics like, say, Paul Wolfowtiz, while other divisions of the same corporation dutifully fellate them, but it happens all the time.

Like, for example, the case of Avik Roy.

Mounted handsomely in the rolling disaster that is the Meet the Press video cavalcade, we find Mr. Roy being given a MTP Credibility Tuck-and-Roll: reputations reupholstered while you wait, in this case by pairing him off with actual heath care expert, Howard Dean, and calling the exchange a "debate" under the imprimatur of "NBC News".

The problem?

Avik Roy is notorious for just making shit up to score political points.

And how do we know this?

Well it was kinda all over the internet, and most of the links and analysis were collated and reported by Steve Benen at MSNBC back in 2013:
Avik Roy and the wonk gap

By Steve Benen

Among conservatives who care about substance and policy detail – not just everyday pundits and columnists, but genuine, grade-A wonks – Avik Roy has a reputation for being a pretty serious guy. He advised Mitt Romney on health care policy, for example, and has written extensively on the subject for a conservative think tank.

With this in mind, note that Roy was on “All In with Chris Hayes” last week, and as Kevin Drum noted, Roy “offered up a criticism of Social Security’s disability program that was so misleading that Michael Astrue, a former commissioner of the Social Security Administration appointed by George Bush, nearly had a heart attack on the air.”

Shortly thereafter, Roy weighed in on the latest report on California’s exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. While most of us saw the news from the Golden State as excellent news and proof that “Obamacare” implementation is proceeding apace, Roy published a remarkably dishonest piece arguing the opposite, deliberately omitting relevant details.
The always-mild-mannered Jonathan Cohn explained in detail why Roy is plainly, demonstrably wrong, but added an important point about the larger issue.
If you want to know why we can’t have an honest debate about Obamacare, all you have to do is pay attention to some recent news from California – and the way a highly distorted version of it, by one irresponsible writer, has rippled through the conservative press.
Right. JonKrugman, and Ezra, among others, have detailed reports explaining why Avik Roy’s analysis simply doesn’t make sense – I won’t recreate the wheel here – and I hope folks will follow the links to understand the underlying policy dispute. It’s not just of a gray area; Roy is simply wrong.

But it’s the point about “why we can’t have an honest debate” that resonates with me.
Indeed, it reinforces the “wonk gap” thesis I’ve been kicking around for a while.

Remember, Avik Roy isn’t just some guy who shows up on Fox to rant and rave about “death panels”; Roy is one of the conservatives who hopes to prove that serious policy scholarship still exists on the right. He publishes content with a credible tone; he doesn’t fly off the rhetorical rails; and he genuinely understands the policy details.

But when it comes to advancing a partisan/ideological agenda, Roy is nevertheless willing to publish “Obamacare” criticisms that are transparently ridiculous.

I believe this is yet another data point that highlights the wonk gap. As Republicans become a post-policy party, even their wonks – their sharpest and most knowledgeable minds – are producing shoddy work that crumbles quickly under mild scrutiny...
Mr. Benen concludes that "[c]redible policy debates are rendered impossible, not because of the chasm between the two sides, but because only one side places a value on facts, evidence, and reason."

I would only add that credible policy debates will remain impossible as long as the credibility of people like Mr. Roy continue to be propped up by Mr. Benen's parent company.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Its difficult to have a sober and reasoned deliberation when bare red ass simians fling their poo at you while all the time insist how serious they are about reaching common ground