Our ‘liberal’ media at work

Krugman nails it:

One thing is certain: The media reaction to the Syria strike showed that many pundits and news organizations have learned nothing from past failures.

Mr. Trump may like to claim that the media are biased against him, but the truth is that they’ve bent over backward in his favor. They want to seem balanced, even when there is no balance; they have been desperate for excuses to ignore the dubious circumstances of his election and his erratic behavior in office, and start treating him as a normal president.

You may recall how, a month and a half ago, pundits eagerly declared that Mr. Trump “became the president of the United States today” because he managed to read a speech off a teleprompter without going off script. Then he started tweeting again.

One might have expected that experience to serve as a lesson. But no: The U.S. fired off some missiles, and once again Mr. Trump “became president.” Aside from everything else, think about the incentives this creates. The Trump administration now knows that it can always crowd out reporting about its scandals and failures by bombing someone.

Every time I think maybe the media are growing a spine and showing some appreciation of their responsibilities: they see the prospect of a war that will boost their ratings, and suddenly they’re orgasming over missiles. I’m looking at you, Fareed Zakaria and Brian Williams. Fuck you all. Get off the air.


  1. Ed Seedhouse says

    Feeling a little unpopular in that Oval Office are we? No problemo, just kill a few foreigners and watch your rating rise…

  2. says

    If you watch Trump’s speech, you’ll see some of the most inept teleprompter-reading, ever. He switches from one side to the other like a robot, as if someone is poking him with a stick to remind him to move. He can’t read ahead enough to suss the sentence structure, so he breaks the sentences in weird places, with odd pauses while he gasps for breath and flips his head around.

    After watching Obama, who was quite a speechifier, it’s really really painful. Trump’s a chump.

  3. Curt Cameron says

    Marcus, I was going to post the same basic thing. If you read the speech, it wasn’t that terrible, but his delivery just highlighted his personality problems. How could anyone watch that and think he was “presidential”?

    In the past year or so, I’ve interviewed a dozen or so candidates for a job at the company where I work. Every time I see Trump speaking, I think about how if I came across this person in an interview, I’d rule him out within the first five minutes. How can anyone see something positive in this person?

  4. randall says

    Those sycophantic snotbags ain’t goin’ nowhere as long as the oligarchs are signing their paychecks. They’re selling airtime, not reporting.

  5. whywhywhy says

    Same effect of the media falling inline behind the President happened after 9/11 too. I was confused by the effusive praise for W following the 9/11 attacks, even though to my eyes he was doing a mediocre version of what most any other elected President would do. I kept asking what was special about W actions? The end result was the passage of the Patriot Act and two or more wars (depending on how you count, although none were specific wars since there was no Congressional declaration). And this will happen again and again since it is ‘unpatriotic to criticize the President during a crisis.

  6. Cat of Many Faces says

    Don’t forget Chris Mathews going on about how much everyone is going to praise trump for being macho and masculine and strong… it sounded like he was writing bad slash fiction. yuck.

  7. randall says

    Not to belabor the point, but net neutrality was the last redoubt for any real free press. Think there’s an ulterior motive there somewhere?

  8. brett says

    I don’t think it’s even about the ratings. There’s a whole cohort of high-level pundits, think tank dwellers, and policymakers who buy totally in the “US as bastion of world order” ideology and are obsessed with the concept of “credibility” (which translates into “willingness to use military force to prove that we are Doing Something and are involved”). They believe all of it, and they mingle with a lot of people who also believe it.

  9. Zmidponk says

    Every time I think maybe the media are growing a spine and showing some appreciation of their responsibilities: they see the prospect of a war that will boost their ratings, and suddenly they’re orgasming over missiles. I’m looking at you, Fareed Zakaria and Brian Williams. Fuck you all. Get off the air.

    What makes such coverage even more ridiculous is that the airbase in question was put back into operation the very next day, and some reports even say later the same day. It might have been worth it if it actually put the airbase out of operation for some considerable time, but it didn’t. In fact, it appears to have accomplished nothing whatsoever.

  10. says

    Of course it accomplished something! By all accounts it killed a handful of Syrian soldiers and a couple of civilians. For them and their friends and families, this was a remarkably significant event.

  11. unclefrogy says

    well not exactly nothing it raised the intensity of the situation and increased the likelihood of further increased U.S. involvement in the region and in Syria specifically but I agree nothing very positive.
    uncle frogy

  12. unclefrogy says

    I have wondered for a long time now from the early 70’s in fact. What would be the result of instead of dropping bombs and sending rockets at X$ each we dropped ordinary cash in the equivalent value in the form of dollars or what ever currency was easiest to use locally?
    far fewer deaths certainly, might even be useful to those we were trying to help more useful than corpses anyway.
    uncle frogy

  13. F.O. says

    Wait, isn’t the expectation that a US president will bomb at least something?
    Like, it’s normal course.
    Obama bombed, left and right were silent about it.
    Clinton would have bombed enthusiastically, and would have gotten a shitload of flak from the right and none from the left (maybe from Bernie bros, but do they care?)
    Trump is bombing, he’s starting to realize that bombing is a very good way to rake consensus and hide scandals and will bomb more, the right will be all for it, and most of the left won’t consider it important.
    Because bombing is what Americans do.

  14. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    It’s quite obvious what needs to be done if they want their violence to be effective in changing the policies of (in this case) Syria: target the military higher-ups.

    The vast majority of people who would have played a role in a Syrian military gas attack will be people who not only are physically remote from the consequences, but may in fact be fearful of disobeying orders from the murderous thugs in power. It is unfortunately the case that there is some truth to the idea that it will destabilize diplomacy if militaries went about actually attacking the civilians who hold power in autocratic countries. Still, there is an idea out there that if you wear a military uniform, you’re a legit target of war (even if you’re a quartermaster who spends most of your time making sure the cafeteria has enough halal beef).

    There is, then, far more threat from higher-ups making decisions to attack (using sarin or such less-lethal ordinance as, say, cluster bombs), who should carry out the attack, and who should be punished for not obeying orders to attack.

    I am not in favor of any bombing, but it’s quite obvious that if you really want your He-man foreign policy to be actually effective, then obviously who you want to be targeting are the highest (uniformed) higher-ups you can. You don’t want to target low pay-grade airport workers. Obviously targeting the airport infrastructure has no significant deterrent effect either.

    When Nixon wanted to change the policy of the Department of Justice towards getting rid of special prosecutor Archibald Cox, he didn’t target the janitors or “degrade their capabilities” by cutting their budget by the price of a plane or two. He axed the Attorney General -and then the Deputy Attorney General/ acting Attorney General. He had to elevate Robert-fucking-Bork. The personnel in command of the DoJ had to be cleared away, not merely “encouraged” to act differently.

    And why do I relate all this if I’m not in favor of any bombings at all? Because it exposes how disingenuous this all is. There is plenty of evidence in political history to tell Trump (or even his more knowledgeable advisors) how to apply force in a manner that would be effective in stopping the actions of the Syrian government.

    But Trump – like so many presidents before him – actually prefers to be ineffective in his attacks on the command structures of others lest someday someone mount an effective attack on his power. Trump values the norm that killings civilians and low-level troops are perfectly acceptable while killing the powerful, or even attacking the ability of the powerful to act with impunity, is simply beyond even the possibility of serious consideration.

    In other words, Trump values the norms of Assad. Why wouldn’t he be perfectly content with this ineffective policy?

  15. mithrandir says


    I have wondered for a long time now from the early 70’s in fact. What would be the result of instead of dropping bombs and sending rockets at X$ each we dropped ordinary cash in the equivalent value in the form of dollars or what ever currency was easiest to use locally?

    I seem to recall that we actually did more or less that in Iraq. Remember those pallets of cash that just went missing? I remember reading that those were in fact meant to be used as bribes for local warlords. I believe it was also claimed that the approach worked fairly well – well, at least better than anything else we did in Iraq, which is kind of damning with faint praise.

  16. unclefrogy says

    that is not what I had in mind that as you say was just intended bribery money and was “disappeared” through normal graft and theft. like any government agency or government contract without adequate oversight.
    What I was thinking of was actually dropping cash from aircraft onto those areas like we have dropped leaflets in the past.
    something like a C-17 dropping loose cash in ordinary denominations commonly used by the people from a couple of thousand feet. something ordinary people even kids could pick up off the ground and spend not big bundles of cash given to some local bully to fuckover people with.
    it could not be worse than what we usually do. Imagine what the effect of a plane flying over and dropping 5, 10, 20 million dollars worth of currency would be
    I mean we are shoveling huge amounts of money (trillions) into the crapper now with little positive results. We might as well do it in such a way as to benefit the people on the ground if that is what we really want to do. Of course the military contractors would see little benefit with such a scheme.
    uncle frogy
    uncle frogy

  17. lotharloo says

    Yes, I don’t think the pundits are wrong. He became the president of USA because the president of USA always bombs something. Trump used to say stuff that could interpreted as isolationist, and that was not very presidential.

  18. hotspurphd says

    Not so fast on putting Fareed down:

    1.See Freed excoriated by Scahill and defended by the CNN anchor.

    2. See Fareed being very critical of Trump’s Syria policy after the strike.

    3.see Fareed calling trump a bullshitter 3 weeks ago.
    He is more positive than I would like in praising trump for the strike but it’s not as one-sided as it first appeared.
    I can’t find video of all his remarks -he supposedly was critical of Trump after praising him.
    Sent from my iPad

  19. KG says

    Obama bombed, left and right were silent about it. – F.O.@13

    No, they weren’t.

    WTF is the point of making a claim which anyone can discover to be false – if by some chance they didn’t know that already – by 30 seconds’ googling?

  20. KG says

    I just watched Zakaria’s comment that you linked to. I’ve never, IIRC, seen him before. Based on what I’ve just seen, I judge PZ’s charaterization of him to be entirely fair.