Kerfluffles

Tuesday, February 14, 2006
I was just commenting on Roger Simon's blog about the Cheney hunting accident, and had some thoughts that I wanted to expand a little.

To me, the most interesting --- albeit sort of frustrating --- thing about this whole kerfluffle is the degree of ignorance it reveals. Not 100 percent --- I saw someone on (I think) MSNBC last night demonstrating what happened and explaining why it's no big deal. (Clearly David Gregory wasn't watching just then.) But I've heard at least a dozen examples of completely ignorant statements like "shot him with 28 gauge buckshot."

Probably the silliest one was in correspondence with a conservative writer. I made the same complaint about the underlying ignorance of the press, and he responded "but it was the Vice President and a rifle" --- which (for the city folks) pretty much settled my point: a shotgun isn't a rifle. (In fact, I told my elderly, infirm, and somewhat demented mother this and she immediately responded "but it wasn't, it was a shotgun." She may have trouble remembering what day it is, but that struck her instantly.)

When I pointed this out, the conservative city boy writer responded that at least he could read Proust. In French.

Now, what is the lesson of this? Here's what it looks like to me.

First, it's another demonstration that not only do you not necessarily have to know anything about anything to be a "journalist", but increasingly it doesn't occur to them that they even need to learn anything about a topic in order to report on it. We see it regularly with the military, where the most astonishing absurdities are reported as fact, and we're seeing it now, with statements like "28 gauge buckshot".

You might properly ask what difference it makes, and I would suggest this: if you don't know enough to understand the story when you report it, what are the chances that what you report will be correct?

Second, there was this hilarious assumption that if you do know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun, you wouldn't have read Proust. (I pointed out that while I hadn't read Proust in French, I read Goethe in German and Sunzi in Chinese.. That'll teach him to try to pull intellectual rank.)

Third, this ignorance and contempt isn't a "liberal" vs. "conservative" thing, or a party thing. There are as many people saying silly stuff on the right as on the left.

Finally --- maybe most importantly --- is that this is the most glaring example I've ever seen of the aggressive and adversarial approach the press is taking. Questions like "is Cheney going to resign?" are so excessive and over the top that they're hard to explain, even for the scandal-prone press. Combine that with the showboating anger of David Gregory --- how dare Cheney not call an immediate press conference --- and it doesn't make a pretty picture.

If the press is both arrogantly ignorant, and on the hair-edge of shouting anger, what kind of filter is there on other things we're hearing?

20 comments:

Specter said...

I think the entire situation is getting ridiculous. But it is MSM. A few examples:

1. How big a stink was made when the Clinton WH, specifically Hillary on her own initiative, delayed the release of Vince Foster's suicide not for 48 hours? In that incident someone died.

2. How big a stink was made over the fact that Splash Kennedy disappeared for - what; line 9 hours? - before a report was even made to the police that he had been in a wreck? Again, someone died....

But David "Big Hair" Gregory is a "big time" reporter so someone should have called him first now...

Sheesh....and it goes on...and on....and on....

Eric Blair said...

You make the exact point that many have been noticing over the last, well 8 years or so? Basically since blogging has started in earnest.

Every time the MSM says something stupid that a 'subject matter expert' catches, it now will find its way on to a blog, somewhere.

That didn't used to be the case, obviously, but the effect is maginified now, since more people can communicate with each other, more easily than ever before.

The behavior of the press in this instance is again, an example of them overreaching on something they really don't know about and what's even more funny/ironic/pathetic is that most (if not all) of the public could really care less about the whole matter.

How did Proust get into the argument, anyway?

Seneca the Younger said...

Eric, it was pretty much exactly as I described it.

I said "there are lots of ignorant things being said about a hunting accident."

My correspondent said "It was the Vice President with a rifle!"

I said, "You make my point. it wasn't a rifle, it was a shotgun. The people who are making a lot of these comments don't undertsand the difference, or why it makes a difference."

My correspondent "Well, I've read Proust."

I didn't include my actual opinion of Proust, which is "Jesus, man, it's just a cookie!"

RogerA said...

I usually hunt quail around here with a 28 gauge spanish made double--beautiful little gun--and for quail usually 8s in the first barrel and 7 and a halfs in the second--the 28 field load is usuall 7/8 of an ounce--Not a lot of lead--

More to the point, this story is going to make the MSM even more of a laughing stock--This idiot Gregory's tirade is what my 4 year old kids use to do: "I am not going to calm down and you cant make me." This guy is a narcissistic effen idiot--Cheney should have shot him.

Another issue--somehow the press seems to think that Bush can make Cheney resign--I dont honestly believe the press understand the office of the Vice President is independently elected.

I keep thinking that the Karl Rove stories spread by moonbats are beyond the pale--but I am beginning to wonder--I mean, the press are bigger idiots than could Rove himself could imagine--

markg8 said...
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terrye said...

I think what annoys is the sense of entitlement of the press itself, left and right.

What difference would it have made if Cheney had a press conference a few hours earlier? Who the hell are these people to make demands on him or anyone?

It is as if the man who was shot is incidental, the important thing is that Cheney did not bow to the God and Goddess of the Washington Press Corps.

Seneca: the difference is these guys are a bunch of weenies. that is the difference.

They are the kind of guys who pretend they understand cars because they don't want some lowly mechanic to have anything on them.

RogerA said...

Like Charlie, I went off on Roger's blog about hunting details.

And apropos Terrye's point, I think the Bush administration has done a magificent job of sticking to the MSM; Bush doesnt even acknowledge Helen Thomas, the erstwhile "dean of the Washington Press corps," and Cheney only gives interviews to Rush--I mean, is that sticking to the MSM or what?

I think thats why idiots like gregory are upset. Talk about poster child for immaturity! He's probably been whuffing too much hair spray.

RogerA said...

And Mark--if the man dies, I am sure the Vice President, May Peace Be Upon Him, will be very upset. I know I would had I accidently shot a friend and hunting companion.

flenser said...

Seneca: "it wasn't a rifle, it was a shotgun."

Liberal: "Well, I've read Proust."

This is the kind of inability to communicate that makes you want to bang your head against the wall in frustration. Or bang their head ..

Truepeers has a theory that all humans have an inate ability to communicate with and understand each other. I'm afraid that theory is looking a bit frayed at the edges these days.

Seneca the Younger said...

Flenser, one correction: "Well, I've read Proust" came not from a liberal, but from a fairly well known conservative. I don't use his name because I don't think he deserves public ridicule (although if he reads this, I'm sure he'll be quite aware that I'm exposing him to a whole lot of anonymous ridicule.)

On the Dvid Gregory thing, I think Juan Williams (of all people) just hit the nail where nails are meant to be hit. He was talking on Fox and said straight out that this was all a reflection of the "rage" --- direct quote --- the press feels toward Cheney, who not only blows them off, but keeps winning, eg, the Energy meeting notes.

terrye said...

Well it is not as if he left the man to die while he ran away and waited for hours before summoning help.

No siree, why if he did that he could never be active in American politics.

flenser said...

If the man dies then mark and the entire left-collective will have an orgasm so intense that the earth will be shifted out of its orbit and will plunge into the Sun.

So say a prayer for his health.

Peter UK said...

Flenser,
Are the left necrophiliacs then?

terrye said...

flenser:

Yeah you are right. I hope this guy has his own doctor there. And a body guard might be a good idea too.

Buddy Larsen said...

I don't hate very many people, but I hate that insufferable prick Gregory--and his shellacked hair that shakes like a toy space helmet when he's flopping his pie-hole trying to bully.

markg8 said...
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markg8 said...
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terrye said...

man it is getting messy around here.

I don't read NRO. I don't like Novak.

truepeers said...

Truepeers has a theory that all humans have an inate ability to communicate with and understand each other. I'm afraid that theory is looking a bit frayed at the edges these days.

-what are you talking about Flenser? First, the only part of our communication skills that are biologically innate are those we share with the animal kingdom. The rest, the purely human part is, according to my theory, inherently paradoxical(which is not to say we haven't developed ways of communicating objective information, like say market reports, without need to engage the evident paradoxes involved in story telling about markets, etc.)

As humans we are all situated on the periphery of a shared scene, and our feelings about what centers this scene is always a mix of the positive and negative, i.e. we are always somewhat discombobulated due to the nature of the desires we simultaneously experience, share, and (mis)communicate.

Most simply, we must always choose whether to love or resent the other constituents of this shared scene. Sometimes we resent another person for supposedly alienating us from the centrality we desire. On this note, may I remind you of the intent of "truepeers" (a rather paradoxical concept, if i may say so): the intent is to remind myself and others that a truepeer is someone who recognizes the inevitability that we only know ourselves against/with others, that we are inherently mimetic (of each other) and hence also competitive; simultaneously, we are all both same and different in ways that are irremediably confusing.

I only treat you as my truepeer when i treat you as my worthy other - an honest rival/friend, not an object to be run over. Nor is a truepeer someone whose difference needs to be forgotten in a common cause. This means not treating you like some romantic brother, soul mate, etc., in the struggle for liberty, equality, fraternity, the Third Reich, or whatever.

That's the kind of bunk i'm against, my good man. My truepeer is my peer because he's not some true Revolutionary peer. Nor is he my peer simply because we are ostensibly the same class of person, since his difference is equally constitutive of our fundamental human relationship of sameness/difference. Nor is he *not* my peer just because one might consider him a different class of person. We cannot help but class each other, if we are to live in an ordered society, but that doesn't mean we can't also recognize our shared peerage on some other, more profound, level.

All I'm saying is that once we've discarded the romantic bunk, perhaps then we're really, finally, truepeers.

Yet your comment makes me sound like some fawning mother who thinks all her children can live in peace and harmony if they just communicate and understand some common bond (while no doubt killing off the forces of evil along the way).

THat common human bond exists, but of course the children won't ever live in total harmony just because it exists. They will have conflicts; but they will also have no choice but to mediate these conflicts on on a shared human scene, a scene we all must inevitably contest with words and deeds.

Like here.

So there.

Maxwell Hammer said...

But, I have to point out, everyone keeps saying "peppered". I used to dove hunt a lot and people sometimes got peppered. That's what happened when someone shot up at a bird far away and the shot went up in an arc and came back down on someone, lightly "peppering" them with shot. Sometimes it hurt, a little.

What happened here wasn't that, it was what us rednecks in Alabama called "shot". Anthing that sends you to the hospital isn't peppered, it's flat out shot.

Regardless of all that, Cheney had his girlfriend with him, that's what the coverup was about. Also, they were probably all drunk.