Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Say What? When The Outrageous Becomes Normal [Updated]

Sometimes I can't quite believe what I'm reading in the newspapers.  The ideas are so wrong, I wonder how reporters can just drop them into an article as though the thoughts were normal.  If they are the new normal, it is even more disturbing.  I'd like to think the writers are ironically dropping these little bombs intentionally, hoping the readers will react as I'm reacting.

Here are some examples from Tuesday's Alaska Dispatch News.

Example 1:  Sources on the story about Trump's orthodox Jewish son-in-law.  (Yes, that thought is itself pretty bizarre) (originally from the NY Times, which has more than the ADN reprint.)
"Mr. Kushner’s role was described in more than two dozen interviews with friends, colleagues and campaign staff members, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could disclose interactions that were supposed to remain private. Mr. Kushner declined to be interviewed." [emphasis added] 
I can't help but translate the bolded part in my head into:  "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but I have no integrity and I just can't keep a secret."

I don't blame the media.  This is how the rest of us get glimpses behind the scenes.  From people telling secrets.  But which secrets should the media pass on and which keep to themselves?

There are also some serious journalistic problems here.
  • How do you know it isn't made up?  Maybe the sources are just playing with the journalist.  
  • How does one confirm something like this?  From other anonymous sources?   There are ways, but how many journalists take the time and trouble?
  • How do you know this isn't planted information.  What the source is really saying in that case is, "Hey, stupid journalist, I'm going to tell you I have to be anonymous,  and you're going to be excited because you're getting juicy gossip, but really my boss wants this information to get out and I'm using you to do it."
On the other hand, legitimate whistleblowers who reach out to the media as a last resort when there are illegal, dangerous, or otherwise important information the public needs to know, are playing important public service roles.  If they are right. 
And  whistleblowers often legitimately fear serious financial and physical harm, even death if their identity is found out.

[UPDATE July 6, 2016 3:30pm:  Here's a more legitimate situation of an anonymous source in an LA Times story today about misrepresentation of the success of missile tests in January:
"The closest the interceptor came to the target was a distance 20 times greater than what was expected, said the Pentagon scientists, who spoke on condition they not be identified."
Why is this different? The person is revealing that the government agencies and private businesses have been lying about the performance of potentially life saving equipment the government's already spent $40 billion in since 2004 (over $3 billion per year.) The story quotes a second scientist and the first acknowledgement from the agency that there were actually problems.]

In the Kushner case, these are folks who are supposed to be loyal to Kushner, yet, if these weren't intentional plants, they disclosed information that was supposed to remain private.  What kind of person does that to their friends or to their boss?  This sort of thing poisons a group as people try to figure out who leaked what, and innocent people are suspected along with the guilty.  

Example 2:  Tim Kaine's 'one job only' (from the original LA Times piece)  The article is about how Tim Kaine is now ('a' or 'the'?) shortlist favorite to be Clinton's VP candidate.
"On NBC’s “Meet The Press” last week, an appearance facilitated by the Clinton campaign, Kaine offered a quick summary of his experience: mayor of Virginia’s capital of Richmond, its lieutenant governor, governor, Democratic Party chairman and now U.S. senator. 
But, he added, 'I have got one job and one job only right now, and that is to work hard for Hillary Clinton.'”
If I were a Virginia resident, I'd be wondering when I lost half my Senatorial representation.  As a US citizen, I'm wondering why we're paying this US Senator who seems to have abandoned his Senate job to campaign for Clinton.  OK, I realize this might be taken out of context, but dammit, he's being paid to be a US Senator and he should be careful about what he says.

Example 3:  In an article about Amazon dropping 'list prices' (Again, originally a NY Times article)
"Amazon wants to be so deeply embedded in a customer’s life that buying happens as naturally as breathing, and nearly as often."
Do I really have to say anything about that truly appalling thought?  We've gone from 'the customer is always right' to 'the customer is totally brainwashed.'

Of course, these are just little symptoms of this trend of the outrageous becoming normal.  The biggest offense is Donald Trump's long stream of racist, sexist, and other forms of nasty istics.  That his bombast is cheered by some as refreshingly honest might be a topic for another post.


  1. Good points and a good read. Meanwhile, the UK has the 7-years awaiting Chilcot report on the entanglement of the Blair government with a certain US president, pulling both into the disastrous war in Irag (redux).

    Here's a link from an establishment right newspaper that does a fairly good job of first review:

    And from our venerable left, the Guardian's look:

    And finally, this link to the report itself:


    Steve, I mentioned my shame at how my newly acquired home country citizens voted 'out' of the EU. Yet today, I can say that this damning exposé into high-level wrong-thinking is something I feel proud our nation has taken to task.

    War is no game and Britain was gamed. And so was the USA. This is far more important than the emails story hogging oxygen your way. Please take a look as here, former PM Blair may face criminal prosecution for war crime.

  2. Yes, I read a piece on the report. It will have value here as well. The emails issue shows how little of importance the Republicans have on Clinton. But they are using what they learned with the Swiftboat campaign - say it often enough and the doubt infects many people. The Republicans aren't talking about the millions of emails Cheney got destroyed.


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