The utter childishness of modern intellectual discourse


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The world is faced with threats of nuclear and chemical attacks from North Korea. Iran is hit by protests that might escalate into all out civil war. Islamic terrorist attacks have now become almost routine. And in the U.S. there appears to be corruption at the highest levels of the FBI and the Department of Justice, while at the same time the federal government has produced a national debt exceeding $20 trillion, with more debt on the way.

Have any of these significant stories been the primary focus of our American media, from either side of the political spectrum?

An objective look at the culture of today’s press says no. Even as the leftist American mainstream media continues to focus its energies on petty and ineffective attacks of Donald Trump, too many journalists on the right unfortunately appear to be diving right in to join them with their own petty counter-attacks. The result is a press that spends the bulk of its time on irrelevant stories of partisan bickering that have little substance or importance.

In the last week of 2017 we had one particularly acute example of this. First a mainstream liberal news source pushed an absurdly trivial story in a shallow effort to discredit Donald Trump. This was then followed by a frenzied and as-shallow response from the conservative press. I want to showcase both, not merely to illustrate how weak the original story was (which is obvious on its face), but to also point out the childishness of the response.

I must add that everything written in every one of the news sources that I will cite below appears to be 100% accurate. My point here isn’t to highlight examples of error-filled news reporting — which these days mostly comes from left leaning sources overwhelmed by their blind hatred of Trump — but to illustrate reporting from both sides that hardly rises above the level of a five year old, and is thus completely inconsequential.

From CNN: Truck blocks cameras from filming Trump on golf course.

Apparently the day before CNN had managed, by peering through some bushes on the edge of the Trump International Golf Club in Florida, to videotape President Trump playing some golf. When they came back the next day a white truck now blocked their view. This then became a big scandal for CNN, with the cable network then spending gobs of time every hour for the next few days investigating the truck and following up on this terrible act of corruption, obviously part of the evil Trump administration’s effort to cancel the First Amendment and to silence the press! Much of the leftwing media piled on as well. Below are some of CNN’s coverage, as well as a bit of that liberal news pile on.

The last story provides a lot of links to CNN’s obsessive coverage, showing unintentionally how completely ridiculous and unserious it was.

This kind of stupid partisan reporting repeatedly dominates today’s leftist and anti-Trump press, such as when CNN made a big deal about how many scoops of ice cream Donald Trump ate at meals, or when a Washington Post reporter made a big deal about the high heels Melania Trump wore on her way to Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

While one might be amused for about two seconds by the stupidity of such stories, anyone interested in hard news would generally ignore them. They are irrelevant, childish, and not worth one’s time. They also reveal a great deal about the vapidness and biases of the news sources that think them important. While I don’t boycott CNN because of the story above, it so often descends into this kind of dumbness I generally don’t read many stories from it. Either I don’t trust their reporting (which has been proven recently to be a very reliable conclusion), or the story itself, like the one above, doesn’t merit any attention at all.

What does the conservative press do, however? Unfortunately, following CNN’s obsession with this white panel truck large portions of the conservative press acted as childish and as vapid, mocking this empty story obsessively, as if that mocking somehow makes them better. Below are only a few examples. If I showed them all the list would go on interminably.

The video below nicely dramatizes the maturity of this journalistic debate between CNN and the conservative press. (Hat tip to reader Wayne DeVette for sending it to me.)

In essence, the debating tactics of these two toddlers is no better than that of our modern press. Moreover, the boy’s use of a mild obscenity to make his argument mirrors exactly the shift to crude language we now see almost everywhere in today’s culture. Rather than make smart arguments, people go on Twitter and curse at their opponents. Or they simply curse nonchalantly, because that makes them feel good, even if it is makes it harder for them to think coolly and with depth.

Though I absolutely agree that CNN’s low credibility is further damaged by this silly story, I just don’t see the point of spending my time reading it. What CNN does is what used to be called tabloid junk journalism, and for substantive information one generally doesn’t go to such news sources. Instead, you obtain your information from credible news sources that focus on stories that might really be important.

Sadly, much of the conservative press here does little to distinguish themselves from CNN. Instead, they act as silly and as empty. The result? A spat between toddlers.

I think back to my early teens in the mid-1960s, when my father, a delivery truck driver with barely a high school education, would come home on Sunday with the New York Times. No comics, but the Sunday newspaper then had a large number of sections covering a wide range of topics, from real estate to entertainment to human interest to serious news coverage. This was before the NY Times had devolved into a partisan rag pushing Democratic Party talking points. Then, it tried to cover the world’s news with some depth and seriousness. The Sunday Week in Review section was especially thoughtful, with long articles from all sides of the political spectrum ruminating about the consequences of the previous week’s events.

I can’t imagine the Times of the mid-twentieth century — or any serious newspaper or any of the news bureaus of the three major networks at that time — spending much time or effort on any of the stuff above. They certainly wouldn’t consider it a front page story to report on how often the president golfs, or whether the high heels the First Lady wore sent the right optics. Nor would they have been bothered much if the president’s people took action to give him some privacy during his time off. And they certainly wouldn’t devote any time ridiculing the bad reporting of their rivals. They might report that bad reporting, as a news story in itself, but in those days this kind of bad reporting would not garner much attention, mostly because everyone would generally consider it supermarket tabloid junk, not to be taken seriously, and a discredit to the news organization that published it.

This is why so few stories like this were ever seen then in the mainstream press. The press knew then that if they focused on this tripe instead real news, their customers would vanish. The news-reading public, including my relatively uneducated father, wanted hard news, written carefully, accurately, and with some depth.

Unfortunately, that is not the news-reading public we have today. CNN’s reporting here as well as the reactions of the conservative press tell us a lot about both their readerships. Today, it appears that the only kind of news a majority of the public wants to see is tabloid junk. Make it short! Make it sexy! Make it silly! Make it fit the narrative I expect, even if it isn’t true! And above all, don’t make it thoughtful and in depth! People will simply click away out of quick boredom.

I grant that not all readers want to read these shallow news stories. I also grant that a significant portion of the news media today is not interested in participating in these immature spats. The problem however is the overall trend.

One of the regular commenters here thinks that a major house-cleaning in Washington is about to happen. He believes that the existence of the Constitution in the United States makes our situation somewhat unique in human history. Power always tends to concentrate to the top, and with that growing power comes corruption and the abuse of power. As Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This commenter believes however that the Constitution has provided the United States with a unprecedented legal and cultural framework for defeating this corrupt power at the top. As he noted recently, “What we are also witnessing as this entire thing rolls out in the coming months has the potential to be the germination of a true rejuvenated America reconnecting to its foundation document [the Constitution], if we as a people have the guts to do what must be done.” [emphasis in original]

I unfortunately remain reluctantly pessimistic. We as a people have been reelecting these corrupt frauds, now in power, for decades (Trump, a non-politician, being the exception that so far proves the rule). I also believe we will elect them again. And while much of the blame might fall on the liberal voters in liberal states, the conservative states don’t have much to brag about either. (Sadly, my weekly reports since October on the insanity, the inanities, and the fascism that now dominates the culture of American college campuses dovetails with this pessimism quite clearly.)

You get the government you deserve. Right now, I think this corrupt bunch in Washington is unfortunately exactly what we deserve. And I remain doubtful we are acting in a way that will make us deserve better, illustrated clearly by the petty immature tastes of today’s general news-reading public and the press that it serves, as noted above. If more people made the simple decision to go elsewhere when either CNN or conservative websites acted like little toddlers arguing, CNN and those opposing websites would either grow up and change their reporting, or would go out of business, beaten by better more mature competition.

That is not what we see however. Instead, these news outlets garner bigger ratings and clicks, first by reporting these shallow stories and second by mocking them. The childish tit-for-tat appears to be exactly what the public on all sides of the political spectrum want right now. There appear to be few adults in the room.

Meanwhile, the protests in Iran grow, the tensions in the Korean peninsula grow, the spread of Islamic terrorism grows, the federal debt grows, and corruption in the federal government grows. And few in our so-called intellectual class are looking at these issues with any sense of maturity.

How then can we expect these problems to be handled thoughtfully and with success?

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25 comments

  • Steve Earle

    Mr Z said:
    “……One of the regular commenters here thinks that a major house-cleaning in Washington is about to happen. He believes that the existence of the Constitution in the United States makes our situation somewhat unique in human history. Power always tends to concentrate to the top, and with that growing power comes corruption and the abuse of power. As Lord Acton wrote, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This commenter believes however that the Constitution has provided the United States with a unprecedented legal and cultural framework for defeating this corrupt power at the top. As he noted recently, “What we are also witnessing as this entire thing rolls out in the coming months has the potential to be the germination of a true rejuvenated America reconnecting to its foundation document [the Constitution], if we as a people have the guts to do what must be done.”…….”

    Speaking of this, I just came across this timeline that attempts to explain some of the corruption charges made by Nunes last year, and the Tweet by Trump about being wiretapped.

    It’s a long column, but worth reading as it seems to explain quite a bit.

    If it’s even partially true then the Hero of all of this so far is Admiral Mike Rogers who disobeyed his Boss Obama and went to Trump personally with information about the surveillance.

    My guess is that Cotour, Wayne and others here will make more sense of this than I, but it does look like we are heading towards a reckoning of some kind…..

    https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2018/01/08/how-the-fbi-and-doj-intelligence-units-were-weaponized-around-congressional-oversight/#more-144319

  • wayne

    Steve–
    (oh yeah– Obama ordered Trump surveilled, lied to the FISA court to get a court-order, and conspired to elect HRC. )

    I’m way less optimistic than Cotour. And far less Machiavellian than perhaps Localfluff. (and just totally sick of these people.)

    I continue to actively support an Article 5 meeting, but I’m pretty sure this current situation will devolve into kinetic action, sooner rather than never.
    -The leftists intend to impeach Trump and otherwise distract us from reality, for the next 2 years, non-stop, every single minute.
    -Big Media is a lost cause. They lie endlessly.
    -And the Swamp, is incapable & totally unwilling to ever reform themselves. It’s going to have to be imposed upon them, and most likely physically imposed.
    -I’ll go the one last legal route first, an Article 5, but after that, all bets are off in my head.

  • Dick Eagleson

    With all due respect, the press has never been big on “intellectual discourse” at any time in the nation’s history. The press is, to be sure, breathtakingly dimwitted and partisan at present, but, given what the press was like from even before the nation’s founding clear up until after WW2, I’m not convinced its current low estate sets any sort of all-time record in that regard. I’d say it’s more a case of regression to the mean.

    What is actually new is the debased quality of most of what passes these days for actual intellectual discourse in academe. That has pretty clearly gone straight to perdition and shows few signs of emerging from its self-constructed intellectual black hole on its own. The solution will most likely end up being some form of burning decayed and dysfunctional academe to the ground, sifting the ashes for nails, then rebuilding something that is once more real in place of the Potemkin institutions that still pretend to be colleges and universities.

  • wodun

    Instead, you obtain your information from credible news sources that focus on stories that might really be important….

    I also grant that a significant portion of the news media today is not interested in participating in these immature spats.

    These don’t exist much. Even in articles that deal with serious issues are constructed around a scaffold of bias that trends just as silly as the white truck and the Gorilla Channel. Whenever I read something in a serious article, I then go check the source material, if it is available, only to find it tells a story far different than the article portrayed. This calls into question the accuracy of the articles where you can’t get to the source material and have to rely on the journolists interpretation of things.

    There is very little good reporting these days and the 4th Estate has been activly participating in the corruption of the Obama administration,the Democrat party, and their activists groups. They believe that if you don’t know about something then that something doesn’t exist, so they don’t inform the public of things that they need to know.

    While I agree that many on the right engage in unserious and petty reporting/commentary, Twitchy is the worst at this, the example of the white van is just them critiquing the media like our host is doing. Ignoring the media’s bad behavior just makes the problem worse, like ignoring what is going on on college campuses wont make those problems go away. The two issues are actually closely intertwined as their nexus is the intellectual, media, political power structure that perpetuates them, especially in the Twitter Bubble.

  • Dick Eagleson: My memories of the Sunday New York Times, as described in the essay, are not some fantasy about “the good ol’ days.” They have been confirmed numerous times by my own recent research when I found it necessary to read many old issues of the Times, on microfilm, for my research. The press then was far more serious and thoughtful about the choices it made about the stories it covered, and how it covered them.

    The same applies to the news broadcasts of the three major networks. I’ve watched old broadcasts from back then. They were hardly intellectual achievements, and certainly not a place to go for your real news, but they still chose much more maturely the subjects they’d cover, and how.

    Having said that, I agree that the decline in academia is far more serious and significant, and I think has actually acted to contribute to the intellectual decline we see everywhere else.

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “This is why so few stories like this were ever seen then in the mainstream press [in the mid-twentieth century].

    The movie “Broadcast News” depicts a time, circa 1985, when television news departments became profit centers. Rather than being an onerous obligation of their broadcast license, the networks decided to draw in audiences, reduce staffs, and increase advertising revenue for their news broadcasts. The Apollo 13 segment of “From The Earth To The Moon” depicted another change in the news industry. Millennials and other youngsters grew up with the Colbert Report as their main news source.

    However, downward societal devolution can be seen elsewhere. Johnny Carson had an excellent, classy late night show, but pressure from the funky David Letterman drove Carson’s successor, Jay Leno, to reduce the classiness of the show.

    And now we are easily distracted by Trump’s twitters, which he seems to use specifically to taunt the press into acting silly and distracting the rest of us from the real world.

    There was a time, the mid-twentieth century, when news reporting reported the news, and the reporters were not supposed to get involved in making or being the news. Journalists were the population’s journal writers, and newspapers were records of events.

    Now, CNN reports on their own difficulty in journalizing a snippet of the president’s latest golf game, as though the game was news in the first place. (Rhetorical question: they did not report on Obama’s golf games, so what changed in the past year?) The news is no longer about the events of the day but about the reporters themselves.

    What changed? Rather than journalizing events, reporters now want to influence events. They want to make the world as it should be, not report on it as it is. These days, they are searching desperately for a reason to impeach Trump, even to the point of fake news reports to start the impeachment process.
    http://wmbriggs.com/post/23665/ (William Briggs post on this topic)
    But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.” — Barack Obama

    Who decides that the world is not already as it should be and that it should be fundamentally transformed? It used to be We the People, basing our decisions on the news, but now it is the news reporters, basing their decisions on their politics.

    The fundamental transformation of America started long ago, but the transformation seems to have only recently become visible to the rest of us. Thomas Jefferson (may or may not have) said “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

    Our generation seems to have been caught off guard.

  • wayne

    Dick/wodun-
    interesting stuff.

    I can’t speak to the NYT’s. (although the Sunday edition was available in the Midwest, and it was expensive &… they didn’t have comics.) We did get 2 Detroit Sunday edition’s. Those two paper’s were ideologically separate to some extent, but they had adopted the ‘professional journalism’ approach and if you weren’t aware of their historic past bent, it wasn’t necessarily obvious, except on the Editorial end.

    The media was always presented to me as some sort of neutral source, but concurrently I was also taught to be highly cautious about print & TV. “Newspapers” were to be read, but not always believed.
    Later on my knowledge of newspapers went back before the 1950’s, they were always partisan, but they didn’t pretend to be ‘neutral’ or ‘professional.’
    I do think the general level of discourse was “higher,” at least in some respects.
    Now– they have just all gone insane. The electronic media in particular.
    All the wrong incentives are in place to reward all the wrong behaviors, and the participant’s are truly light-weight thinker’s.

    pivoting slightly;

    Jordan Peterson:
    “Don’t cast pearls before swine”
    https://youtu.be/upTHZwSXayc
    4:08

  • John L

    It’s a sad state of affairs. The answer for me was to cut the cord, I simply couldn’t stomach TV anymore.

    However, please forgive me, I feel compelled to mention that, “They started it!!!”

    Also, whatever you say, bounces of me and lands on you!

  • Kirk

    wayne: “Obama ordered Trump surveilled, lied to the FISA court to get a court-order, …”

    Has there been any evidence that this surveillance consisted of anything other than the resumption of the FISA warrant against Mr. Manafort?

  • Cotour

    Before I comment I want to first thank “the powers that be” (since we are talking about powers here) on BTB who thought my observations, analysis and comments worthy of promanantly featuring in this discussion.

    My follow up comments will be about time and how it passes and the things that happen when it does so related to politics, law, governance, abuse of power, realignment and reconciliation with the Constitution and what the Constitution structures in America specifically. I will simply point out that adjacent to this particular story about the “childishness of the modern discourse” where the subject matters turns to the Constitution there are also story’s on top of it and below it that illustrates that the eternal reconciliation is in continuing process, over time in America. (But it may not be in YOUR time frame).

    “ULA settles law suit that it defrauded the government” Corruption by business defrauding the people.

    “All charges dropped in Bundy case” Gross abuse of power by government agencies.

    “The corrupt nature of the CFPB” An attempt of a political party to permanently structure and abuse of power.

    “Republican leadership works to renew FISA rules that violate the forth Amendment” A political party refusing to recognize their own abuses of power related to the peoples rights which must not be abridged.

    All in process in their own time related to the counter balances that are in place to counter balance them all, the Constitution.

    All examples of law and governance in time and process, some settled, some in process and some still to be determined. What is my point? Things happen in their due time and many times they are happening in a time frame that may not be synchronous with an individuals thinking and previous result experience.

    A baby bird is hatched and is ready for life within weeks. A human baby is born and it will be many, many years before it will be considered ready for life. The Constitution structures the rules and mechanisms of governance and what the government must never do related to the peoples rights, simple. Simple in concept but timely and complex in execution, and its not perfect.

    The over arching point? The existence of the Constitution, the Founders master piece, gives Americans the unique potential, the opportunity, to execute those rules of operation laid out. In time we, the collective and empowered, must “Do what must be done”, “Take care of business”, both in the public realm and the political realm how ever you want to characterize it and this unique opportunity provided has the potential ability to break the death spiral cycle that other civilizations HAD TO go through. Although there are no guarantees especially if and when we choose to look away because its uncomfortable, ugly or inconvenient.

    We can look at it in terms of an oval as compared to a wave form for you “high IQ” science nerds.

    At the bottom of the oval we rise and develop civilizations of varying kinds, all solving the same prime directive problem, survival and civilization. “First we eat, then civilization”. As we rise in the track of the oval we advance and become more sophisticated, at 9 o’clock humanity is doing well. At 10 o’clock its going very well although the further we are removed from the base 6 o’clock position, where its all about clear thinking and pure survival, self interested human nature and corruption is getting its grip in the now growing bureaucracy. At the eleven o’clock position we can do no wrong, but this corruption grows and abuse of power now is becoming a problem especially as government creates more and more “solutions” for the people. Now you have to know someone to get anything done. At 12 o’clock we are the kings of the universe, all powerful and omnipotent. Then comes the slid down the oval and the inevitable dive into chaos, failure, corruption, gross abuse of power and then finally, like all other great civilizations into oblivion and history to be studied. “What happened to them?” They did not have the American Constitution which was intended and designed to break the cycle.

    To not belabor my point any longer, the Constitution due to the Founders brilliance in understanding human nature and the nature of human nature as it relates to governance and power endeavored to destroy that inevitable deadly oval structure and reforms it into the continuous fluctuating wave form of hope. And that is where our collective salvation lies. If we choose properly.

    WE HAVE THE ABILITY TO DO WHAT MUST BE DONE AS PROVIDED BY THE FOUNDERS THEN WE MUST NOT MISS OUR MARK AT THIS PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME.

    Timing is everything in life, and this is our time.

  • Kirk

    Responding to my own question:
    > wayne: “Obama ordered Trump surveilled, lied to the FISA court to get a court-order, …”
    >
    > Has there been any evidence that this surveillance consisted of anything other than the
    > resumption of the FISA warrant against Mr. Manafort?

    There is also the FISA warrant against Carter Page, apparently issued in response to a combination of a report from Christopher Steele alleging his meeting with Igor Diveykin regarding compromising information on Ms. Clinton which the Russians would be willing to share with the Trump Campaign (an allegation subsequently denied by Mr. Page), followed a few days later by the WikiLeaks release of the DNC hacked emails, followed by the Australian government revealing what a drunken George Papadopoulos told High Commissioner Alexander Downer. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-obtained-fisa-warrant-to-monitor-former-trump-adviser-carter-page/2017/04/11/620192ea-1e0e-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html

    Do we know of any other surveillance against the campaign?

  • wayne

    Cotour–
    hey!

    kirk-
    –they initially tried to get a FISA warrant (in the spring time) and were denied. They came back in the Summer with a more narrowly tailored request (and I believe this is when the fake dossier was used as supporting evidence.)
    This stretched past the election; they went insane cover-up mode, cuz’ HRC wasn’t going to be there to bury every thing and pay off, everyone.
    -This was totally illegal political surveillance, ordered by obama and his minions. I’m totally convinced, but I can’t provide ‘evidence.’

    for more specific information on the (alleged) timeline:
    Mark Levin: Landmark Legal Foundation files request with FISA court seeking investigation
    april 2017
    https://youtu.be/Nc3gXsBk-Mc
    (it does not cover current developments)

    The FISA Court did respond to this request (but I don’t have the Levin audio analyzing it) — it was responded to in a (legalistic/mysterious) manner, that led Levin to believe the Court itself was aware that they might have been manipulated and they were generating internal-reviews.
    One of the FISA court members has retired/resigned, if I recall correctly. (last year sometime?)

  • Cotour

    What those concerned with the medias fully observable and documented absolute manipulation of the actual news and actual facts and their reporting it apparently either choose to ignore or are not calculating into their outrage for some reason:

    http://www.theblackvault.com/documentarchive/operation-mockingbird/#

    Do we really think that Google or Facebook or any other mass media tech marvel of communication and manipulation of our day are not at some level part of the same? (Eric Schmidt recently resigned CEO of Google?) This operation like many others in our history are documented and it must be assumed they are still being operated and fully functional.

    Does it make sense that these operations do not exist, especially at this level of technology? Of course not, that would be naive.

    In the above very well done article I see no mention of this aspect of the equation, and I must ask, Why not? Because to omit it, for which ever reason changes EVERYTHING in understanding the primary question, “Why does the media seem so “childish in what it reports?”.

    I submit that it is not without thought and not by mistake.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Mr. Z,

    Your recollections of the New York Times of your youth are not mistaken. I’m 66. I believe that makes us rough contemporaries, though I seem to recall that you may be a year or two my senior.

    Newspapers in the immediate post-WW2 era – coinciding with both our formative years – were different than they are now. But they were also different than they had been before WW2 and continuing on back to the time when North America, as a whole, was still a British colony. The NY Times you now fondly recall really had very little in common with its own self before WW2. The pre-WW2 Times was the platform for Walter Duranty and other unalloyed cheerleaders for Lenin and Stalin. All of the New York papers were highly partisan and “yellow” at that time and had been for decades. The Times was unusual only in that it employed a lot of lefties. Much of American journalism was pro-Republican partisan in those days.

    I think WW2 fundamentally shook the pre-war worldviews of both the American Left and Right. WW2 was an extremely traumatic wake-up call for the isolationist Right. The Left, for its part, was suffering more than a bit of mental whiplash at having been anti-Nazi through most of the 30’s, turning on a dime to be pro-Nazi after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, then reverting to rabid anti-Nazism again once Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The ideal of straight-down-the-middle objectivity as a journalistic ideal was, I think, the product of near-universal chagrin on the part of most pre-war partisans as much as anything else.

    But it didn’t last. The Left took over the J-schools as part of its post-WW2 “March Though the Institutions,” the politics of the typical reporter switched from Right to Left, then the Vietnam War came along and things quickly reverted to their pre-WW2 norms, just with the Left now editorially dominant instead of the Right.

    The roughly 20 years between the end of WW2 and the mid-60’s were also, by no particular coincidence, the high water mark of what has come to be called “American Middlebrow Culture.”

    Edward notes, correctly, that the Johnny Carson Tonight Show was classier than its Jay Leno successor. He’s right. Leno’s version of the show was much more show-bizzy. It remains so on Jimmy Fallon’s watch. But, at least initially, Carson pretty routinely had at least one guest on each show who was an author or a “public intellectual” of some kind – Ayn Rand, Norman Mailer, William Buckley, Gore Vidal, Robert Frost. These sorts of guests, though, got steadily thinner on the ground over Carson’s 30 year run, especially after he shortened the show from 90 minutes to an hour.

    And it’s also worth pointing out that Carson’s predecessors on the Tonight Show, Steve Allen and Jack Paar, ran even “classier” operations than Carson. Show people plugging current projects were hardly unknown, of course, but Paar, especially, was himself a raconteur and had others of his stripe on the show quite frequently, even if their own heyday was long past – Sophie Tucker, Oscar Levant, surviving members of the Algonquin Roundtable and people like that.

    The two decades immediately following WW2 were atypical in many ways, one of which was that U.S. industry bestrode the world like a colossus because we had the only industrial base that hadn’t been subject to virtual destruction by recent aerial bombardment. But we Boomers grew up then and have had it in mind ever since that that was the “real America” that we have lost.

    We have lost it, in large measure, but it was no more the “real America” than any other two-decade stretch of American history. What we’re seeing now, in so many ways, is simply a reversion to patterns that were common in America during its pre-WW2 history.

  • wayne

    Dick–
    Interesting stuff!
    I’d like you to weigh in the Progressive Era and “newspapers,” if you have an opinion.

  • Dick Eagleson: Your description of the U.S. press through history has some truth, but the difference now and in the past before World War II is there does not seem to be much of a more thoughtful academic community to offset the shallow press. Moreover, before WWII the U.S. had a vibrant magazine culture publishing articles for the general public of some depth. No more.

    Thus, I do not see today’s patterns as “a reversion to patterns that were common in America during its pre-WW2 history.” Instead, I see a take-over of the entire culture by the more shallow and childish elements that once only formed a part.

  • Cotour

    Dick Morris makes an excellent observation and point about what the NYT’s chooses to include in their reporting of “The Trump Dossier” and most importantly what they very overtly choose to omit. They are a total fraud and a tool of their self affirmed Liberal / Leftist politics.

    https://youtu.be/JQGDntUEzNM

    They seem unaware that both highly placed individuals in both the FBI and the DOJ were apparently involved in paying for and crafting it and it has been established that the wife of Bruce Ohr, a highly placed DOJ exec, I think forth from the top, his wife worked for and most certainly contributed to the Steele “Trump Dossier”.

    These actions by the law enforcement agencies within our own government illegally picking and promoting and covering for a particular political party is a crime of the highest order, and the NYT’s can not see it?

    This is no longer journalism this is now subversive anti American behavior, and their will be costs for such actions that will be shared generously between them all in the coming weeks and months.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Mr. Z,

    Generally agree. My point was mainly anent newspapers. Magazines were, in some ways, the coal mine canaries of the American Middlebrow Culture. Collier’s folded in 1957 and Saturday Evening Post went away in the 60’s. This was the magazine culture the late Hugh Hefner came up in and Playboy, interestingly, was a thoroughly middlebrow publication for much of its run. A lot of first-rank authors whose stuff formerly appeared in other magazines which had either folded or become much diminished by the 60’s continued to publish in Playboy through the 70’s and even the early 80’s until Playboy, too, began to decline.

    You are certainly correct that American cultural institutions are now almost uniformly in wretched shape and that this is both new and unprecedented in American history. Restoring the ground lost to the Left these past few decades is going to be a Herculean job but, one hopes, not Sisyphean one.

  • Cotour

    Re-posting from another thread:

    I was being hyperbolic but look what I found.

    http://www.theamericanmirror.com/cnn-trump-borderline-obese-predicts-heart-attack-3-5-years/

    CNN is actually predicting Trumps heart attack and I suppose death within 3 to 5 years. If the media actually spent time doing journalism they would confuse themselves and everyone else.

    They have their doctor, who has not been a part of examining Trump, make an absolute statement about his health.

    “Host Alisyn Camerota and medical analyst Sanji Gupta declared Trump to be “borderline obese,” predicted he would have a heart attack in “3-5 years” and Gupta concluded the president has heart disease.”

    Has Gupta never heard of the man who lives to 100 years old, has chased women his whole life, drank Jack Daniels and smoked everyday? What nerve.

    And then I found this, also related to CNN helping to shape the news:

    Now I have pointed Cory Booker out before as being a total empty shirt, a poser and probably the most transparent and useless politician that I have observed for some time now. I have watched him do his work in New Jersey for many years, now he is a Senator. What else would he do?

    https://ntknetwork.com/cory-booker-admits-that-committee-hearing-freak-out-was-a-political-stunt/

    He is probably a nice guy, fairly innocuous and ineffective, he thinks projecting menacing facial masks makes him believable, a tool of the first order, in other words a perfect Democrat presidential candidate.

  • Cotour

    More “TOOLS” in the shed:

    Dr. Joe and Dr. Mika tell it the way it really is.

    https://www.mediaite.com/tv/morning-joe-brutally-mocks-white-house-doctor-after-trump-exam-words-of-a-political-hack/

    The presidents doctor, because he delivered NOT what the Liberal media wanted to hear gives a cable TV re-diagnoses of the presidents health that better fits their narrative and basically slanders the good doctor, who is actually a doctor.

    Long term, I am hearing more and more comments by Democrats about how stupid these people are sounding. They are loosing their patience with their dumbing down of what a very credible professional has to say in this instance and the many other instances. Their assumption about the level of common sense that exists in the general public is turning into a fatal mistake.

    The general public are coming to understand very well that these people who they watch have little to no respect for their common sense, and as we have very solidly established previously, that is a big no, no.

  • Cotour wrote: “I am hearing more and more comments by Democrats about how stupid these people are sounding. … The general public are coming to understand very well that these people who they watch have little to no respect for their common sense.”

    You live in New York City, my hometown and a place I lived in for 45 years. Thus, your statement above is based on the people you talk to, in New York.

    It sounds encouraging, but I don’t believe it. Or to put it another way, I will only believe it when New Yorkers actually vote for someone besides a Democrat. Will they vote De Blasio out of office? Cuomo? Either of their Democratic Senators? I don’t think so.

    When it comes to the leftist political culture in New York, I don’t put much faith in these anecdotes. I want to see actual change, at the ballot box. Only then will I believe it.

  • Cotour

    You, being you, of course over interpret my direct and personal observations with actual real people and have come to another incorrect conclusion.

    Your metric for “real change” in New York, your former home town, is an unrealistic metric (As you well know). However my point about the general changing mood of the public about what the media is now force feeding them is accurate as far as my thin slice of humanity sample goes. I will extrapolate my personal observations into the general nation wide population who is also being force fed the same predictable, mindless and disrespectful media and come up with a general changing mood related to these issues.

    If we ask : Who has been more accurate in reading the latest political cycle? That would be me and not you. I remain generally confident in my assessments, this one inparticular. Sit back, make yourself some popcorn and we will see what unfolds.

  • Cotour

    To my point:

    Nancy Pelosi has a press conference going on right now, related to : DACA and the wall.

    Listening to two of her speakers, two religious minded speakers, this is what will probably be happening.

    1. DACA will be formulated to allow the “dreamers” to stay in the U.S., I do not have a problem with this and I will restate why. For 30 years BOTH party’s, lead by both party presidents both for their own selfish political reasons disregarded duly passed U.S. immigration law. This IMO is the essential point to be made that I am not hearing from anywhere.

    Part of this arrangement will or should be that these individuals who were brought here illegally can not become legal citizens but become legal residents and will not be able to vote. This is Trumps benevolent play, and I will support it.

    2. This arrangement and compromise will be counter balanced by the building of the Southern wall where applicable and other more common sense Conservative immigration policies that ends chain migration (Ted the swimmer Kennedy will cause an earth quake as he turns over in his grave, gird yourself for a major quake Californians). This counter balance will be a reasonable compromise and will placate those rabid and inflexible Conservatives (You know who you are) who will not be happy with anything other than the expulsion of these illegals, no matter who brought them here.

    If these two compromises are not agreed to Trump will go all the way with allowing a government shut down and it will continue until the Democrats submit. Trump being seen as the more reasonable will shift the blame for a shut down to the Democrats and it will become unsustainable for the Democrats.

    This particular subject will reveal Trump to be the ruthless negotiator and he MUST get the lions share of this deal.

    I put myself out on a limb here but this is what I see as being reasonable and what must happen.

  • Cotour

    Clarification to be made:

    Listening to the many conversations going on in the media we discover that when we are talking about DACA and Dreamers we must make a distinction. DACA apparently relates to a list of I believe 800,000 or so individual children on a government list who were illegally brought to America by their parents. And “Dreamers” apparently are comprised of an additional 2.6 illegal individuals.

    My proposition for some level of agreement is based ONLY in the 800,000 documented DACA children and not the additional 2.6 million illegals. That fluid interpretation if indeed it does exist, and knowing the Democrat party it probably does exist, is a deal breaker.

  • wayne

    Cotour–
    Yes, DACCA and the “dreamers,” are two different groups and the terms are not interchangeable, except in Fake News and from dissembling politician’s.

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