Thursday, April 19, 2007

Birth Of New Conventional Wisdom

Glenn Greenwald identifies the birth of new conventional wisdom (the kind of unsubstantiated non-news that quickly escalates into a Known Fact):

We have been treated in the last 48 hours to an extremely vivid illustration of how conventional political Beltway wisdom is created. It all began with The Politico's in-house gossip, Ben Smith, who on consecutive days published a gossipy, petty article designed to fuel right-wing caricatures of the personality traits of John Edwards and Barack Obama, respectively.

First was a story on Monday about the costs of Edwards' haircuts and visits to a spa, plainly intended to fuel the principal right-wing anti-Edwards caricature -- his effeminate obsession with his hair.

That was followed by another Smith story yesterday ripping out of context a small part of Obama's speech -- in which he spoke of various types of "violence" (beyond physical violence) that create divisions in America. Attaching himself to the prevailing anti-Obama cliche, Smith asserts that these excerpts illustrate Obama's "instinct for abstraction and large themes, and his sense that America's problems have at their root solutions that have as much to do with hope and process as with any specific course of action."

Obama's crime? Instead of proposing specific policies to "solve" the problem of school shootings (as though such problems can be "solved"), Obama "moves quickly to the abstract: Violence, and the general place of violence in American life." In the rotted world of Beltway media cynicism, any talk of "root solutions" or "ideas" or "abstract concepts" is automatically insincere, irrelevant and merely a tactic for avoiding "real substance."

Predictably, both Politico items were immediately trumpeted by Drudge, almost certainly the real goal of Smith's stories. Thereafter, the standard right-wing hacks then dutifully followed along, reciting the exact storyline manufactured by Smith and Drudge. The conventional wisdom-spewing internet gossip Mickey Kaus then joined in with an item entitled "Barack the Hack," which claims -- in an act of extreme projection -- that the speech reflects "a mindset that tries to fit every event into a familiar, comforting framework he can spoon-feed his audience without disturbing them." Kaus says the Obama excerpts are "not exactly evidence of a fresh intelligence, or even basic common sense" -- but that "Democratic primary campaigns will do that to you."

Read the whole thing. Greenwald has nailed that which escapes most casual observers, which is to say that most of what drives the media narrative is really just so much bullshit.

"Who among us doesn't love Nascar?" Ah, good times...

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