SocraticGadfly: No, Jay Rosen, you're wrong: This screed is NOT 'the story of the year'

December 27, 2017

No, Jay Rosen, you're wrong:
This screed is NOT 'the story of the year'

Albert Camus wannabe Yascha Mounk
Journalistic overviewer and sometimes scourge of the industry Jay Rosen says this NYT piece by Yascha Mounk is "the story of the year." 

Well, to expand on a Twitter thread of mine last week, maybe, maybe not. Or, to move from the teaser? Probably not that close.


Rosen also knows the history of US journalism, and that, before its alleged golden age, we had an openly partisan press. (See more below on this.) Now, there was no electronic media, let alone social media, and presidents were relatively weak. But, are these more differences of kind, or of degree? Rosen doesn't answer, and his Tweet did NOT appear to be part of a thread.


This is just a brief point, but I must note it. We must remember that this is an op-ed, not a news piece. Rosen knows that as well, but didn’t note that in his Tweeting either. Yeah, op-eds can at times include news analysis. This one doesn’t. It’s a straight opinion piece. So, Rosen's Tweet shout-out is itself a bit iffy.


We must also ask, which the op-ed does not, how much of this, or how little, in Trump's case is deliberate strategy? With Modi, Erdogan, etc., that's not a question; we know it. But in Trump's case, some of this is simply narcissism. Now, tis true that actual dictators may be driven by similar narcissism. But they aren't always so. Take Erdogan's predecessor Ataturk. He ruled with a relatively light hand over Turkey's media.


Mounk also ignores the clownishness of Trump and his ilk. That's related to the above. But, per the quip that Mussolini made the trains run on time, I'm not sure Trump could make his own bowel movements run on time. (I must add that John Kelly as the latest chief of staff appears to be doing some of that, while also appears largely simpatico with Trump's political beliefs.)


He ignores other factors.

If Hillary Clinton had a cakewalk lined up after Biden took a pass and Bernie treated her with relatively kid gloves, Trump had his own good fortune.

Mitch McConnell would never leave his Senate mancave. House GOPers were too fractious for anybody to emerge. That left smarmy Booger Ted Cruz as the most viable alternative after Jeb! Bush had an even worse campaign than his first try at being Florida's gov, Little Marco Rubio and his Marco Polo-ing himself, Carly Fiorina reminding us she is as inept a CEO as Trump, and god ... I mean George Pataki at one time talked about running, which shows how craptacular the GOP field was.

That's even as Trump henchman Steve Bannon claims Donald Duck is the best political orator since William Jennings Bryan. No,really!


Mounk — and Rosen, for good measure — also overlook bits of authoritarianism from Dear Leader even before Debbie Wasserman Schultz tried to rig the Dem primaries for Hillary Clinton. That includes his AG, Eric Holder, spying on the Associated Press, and his AG's FBI impersonating an AP reporter, among other things.

And, speaking of? 

It's also "amazing" that neither Mounk nor Rosen notes the possibility of neoliberal authoritarianism, even as in France, as we speak, Emmanuel Macron seems to be acting sub specie Louis Quatorze with the idea of "L'etat, c'est Macron!" And here is a GREAT profile of him being just that. The author also notes that Mounk cluelessly thinks Macron is boosting democracy even as he's undercutting it. (Maybe it's not cluesless, though; per the piece, Mounk may be enough of a neoliberal elitist to claim that IS democracy.)

Related, to the new Mounk book behind this essay? Even Ezra Klein thinks Mounk is overblown.


Not everybody on Fox plays along with such things. Not even counting Shepard Smith, it's not as monolithic as Mounk claims, and I know Rosen knows that, and that it's not the same as World News Daily or even worse.

And, to the degree a relatively sane bigger conservative media player like Fox is involved, if it goes overboard for Trump, there's the possibility of getting burned even within the GOP later. Say a paleoconservative or Paulist is the next GOP president; to the degree Fox still has warmongers, it could be out of the loop.

Related to that?

As both Mounk and Rosen should also know, and maybe do know, the real authoritarianism isn't so much with Trump but with one faction of the conservative movement that has glommed on to him, starting with Rupert Murdoch — and Murdoch at the WSJ, which he still runs himself without as much interference from his kids as at Fox. Sam Tanenhaus has the details.

Granted, that’s not the same as governmental authoritarianism. It’s more cultism. But Trump would by no means have the same apparent power as he actually does if more of the conservative media and think tank world were more oppositional and stronger in it.


How about a sense of history?

That's not to say this isn't some kind of a problem, or that it's not worse, even if "only" in degree, than the Gilded Age partisan journalism. Or, say, the Jefferson-Adams election. Or the Jackson-Quincy Adams battle of 1828. Trump's travel ban doesn't rise to the level of the Alien Acts, and nothing he's done comes close to the Sedition Act. If Mounk, a German native, doesn't know that, Rosen certainly does, or should.


While Mounk notes that Barack Obama might have had too much optimism about the American voter and that he might have had his own blind spots about Hillary Clinton's weaknesses,, he has written noting about things like the DNC fraud lawsuit, and appears to be a deep-fried "Putin Did It" person. Jay didn't note that, either. And, it took me just 30 secs with the Google to find his "Putin Did It" and his lack of concern about the DNC.

Finally, he's a fellow of both New America and the German Marshall Fund. In other words, some sort of left-neoliberal interventionist.

Yes, not everybody at New America is like that. I’ll call a Matt Stoller a left-left-neoliberal. ((I’m not ready to call him a leftist.) German Marshall Fund, on the other hand? Mix of straight neoliberalism on domestic issues with straight NATO/Atlanticist “consensus” on foreign policy. People at a think tank like that write "consensus" foreign policy pieces for places like the NYT, or CNN (the Obama link).

In other words, the type of people who might not like Trump because he might create a non-“consensus” foreign policy. The type of people who might, elsewhere, smear Jill Stein for appearing on RT.

Either Rosen knows these things better, too, or maybe he gives too much credence to the "Putin Did It" bullshit himself. (He doesn't actually write that often at his website, and what he has during this year doesn't even mention the Russiophobia McCarthyism 2.0, and the MSM's part in fueling it. He has, elsewhere, mildly scolded the Deep State but I don't think it's a fixation of him.)

What this does is remind me of why I don't follow Rosen on Twitter, why I think he's overrated, why he's rightly called a liberal not a left-liberal, and is certainly not a leftist. (Anybody who links multiple times to Josh Marshall in one piece, and uncritically, impresses me little.)

Thomas Frank is also not a big fan of Jay Rosen, and rightly so. (Their dialogue also underscores Rosen's political identification is correctly pegged.) That also said, per his dialogue with Frank, Rosen's website, PressThink, is not his alone. It's specifically labeled "a project of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University."


Jay, you're a wonk about how the media operates. The MSM's uncritical pushing of claims that the Russians hacked the 2016 election and that Trump is a Putin stooge, claims pushed in semi-lockstep with much of the Democratic party, is the story of the year as also noted at The Nation — and specifically the story of the year on media malfeasance.

Rosen also won't tell you, per the Macron link, that Mounk is at minimum, not a fan of the likes of Corbyn, and lumps all sorts of "populisms" together.

My guess is that Rosen is simply signal-boosting Mounk, while content to play along with worshiping neoliberalism in general.

No comments: