The Narrative Reigns Supreme

The GOS mid-day open thread includes “BREAKING: The vice president eats a sandwich.” And sure enough, it leads to this story:

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports:

When in Rome, do as the Romans do – and when in Philadelphia, eat a cheesesteak.

This afternoon Vice President Joe Biden dropped by Pat’s Kings of Steaks, a cheesesteak mecca in South Philly, after a fundraiser for Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA).

Biden pulled up to the local landmark in his motorcade with the congressman and his wife and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.

Brady ordered sandwiches for himself and the vice president and the foursome sat at a table outside.

According to the local pool reporter, Biden “scarfed down the whole sandwich” – a “Whiz witout,” which cheesesteak aficionados will know comes with Cheese Whiz and without onions.

That’s because, as the narrative goes, Joe Biden is a “man’s man,” a “regular Joe,” if you will. Of course he ate a cheesesteak “the right way.” HE RIDES THE TRAIN TO WORK AND YOU WANT TO HAVE A BEER WITH HIM! He’s one of us! Unlike a certain faggy windsailing Frenchman:

If Sen. John Kerry’s presidential aspirations melt like a dollop of Cheez Whiz in the sun, the trouble may well be traced to an incident in South Philadelphia on Monday.

There, the Massachusetts Democrat went to Pat’s Steaks and ordered a cheese steak — with Swiss cheese. If that weren’t bad enough, the candidate asked photographers not to take his picture while he ate the sandwich. Shutters clicked anyway, and Kerry was caught nibbling daintily at his sandwich — another serious faux pas.

Because if anyone knows a thing or two about manliness and the way to order and eat a cheesesteak, it’s a Yale graduate and Skull and Bones member working at the Washington Post named “Dana.” That’s who wrote this- mocking the machismo of the decorated Viet Nam war veteran, John Kerry. The profound lack of self-awareness in our media is stunning, and makes you wonder if DougJ is right that most of them are simply sociopaths.

But yeah- it is news, because the narratives must be maintained. Biden is a regular “Joe” who eats his cheesesteak like a man and says the “f-word” and it is cool. Kerry and others are dainty out of touch elitist east coasters who like spicy mustards and exotic lettuces. If these stories disappeared, reporters might have to abandon the narrative and actually think, and let us think for ourselves. And you can’t have that.

All the News That is Fit to Fact Check

Also via Washington Monthly, this excellent news:

As you may know, we’re trying out some new things on THIS WEEK. Two weeks ago we started live-tweeting of the show (which will next happen at 10 am ET this Sunday).

This week we’ve invited Pulitzer Prize winning website PolitiFact to fact-check the newsmaker interviews featured on the program.

The idea was first proposed by NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen and I thought it worth a try. PolitiFact editor Bill Adair, the St Petersburg Times’ Washington bureau chief, and I know each other from fact-checking forums and such (I was at the Fact Check desk during the 2004 elections) so I asked him if he’d be willing to give it a try. He was.

Good for Tapper.

With that having been said, I think it is important to reflect on how screwed up things are that we now need to team independent fact checkers up with our news media. Our news media. The folks whose sole job is to inform us with… facts.

We live in a media environment in which a several decade assault on facts and the truth has taken us to the point that our news coverage is rarely if ever factual but is instead, fact-based. Colbert called it “truthiness.” Our media is so terrified of being called biased, that what we get now is not a clear presentation of facts, but of a he-said she-said mess, and where facts have a “liberal bias.”

So while I think this is great, we need to realize what is going to happen next, should this catch on- a full on assault on the independent fact checkers. Just like they went after the media, just like they went after the academy, just like they went after the sciences, and just like they have gone after anyone else who has dared to stand in the way of their lies, if the notion of independent fact-checking gains popularity, and the truth starts to seep back into our discourse, expect the Brent Bozell’s and the Newsbusters and the Hannity’s and the rest of the well oiled wurlitzer to try to tear down the independent fact-checkers and the folks like Jake Tapper who work with them. You can bet on it.

Someone Has a Book To Sell…

I told you all once how this is going to go down:

And should he accidentally go too far (and God knows what would actually be too far for CNN at this point) and get canned by CNN, then this is an even bigger win for Erick. Now he gets to be the victim who was silenced by the evil liberal media, and anyone who has been paying attention knows that this is the route to real riches- playing the martyr for the wingnut welfare gravy train.

In fact, as the current incentives are set up, not getting fired by CNN just gives him a steady job and the opportunity to mainstream right-wing bullshit. Getting fired is a path to riches, whether it be in the form of a book or a syndicated radio show or maybe just sympathy checks from the teabagging public. It really is a win-win for Erick, no matter what happens.

It is happening right in front of your very eyes: editor Erick Erickson scored a book deal with Regnery Publishing, poised to publish Red State Uprising in fall of 2010.

I suspect a steady stream of offensive but non-firing offenses until a couple of weeks before the book becomes available, and then he will drop the bomb on CNN, they’ll act shocked and fire him, he’ll be the victim, and then the book tour starts. The mass purchases will push the book up the charts, and he’ll be a fixture at FOX, on the talk circuit, and so on.

White Peoples’ Colorful Tribal Customs…

Dave Weigel’s new blog at the ‘Kaplan Daily’ is a giant win for the sane people among us. Now he’s got a larger and presumably more “mainstream” (i.e., low information) audience for his keen sense of the ridiculous:

CNN’s decision to embed with the Tea Party Express as it traveled toward D.C. — Fox News did the same thing last year, in the run-up to the Sept. 12 taxpayer march on Washington — befuddled the right and left alike. Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher speculated that the network was out for “nuggets of gold,” video and photos of tea partyers waving racist signs.
That’s not how CNN’s Shannon Travis describes his embed experience.
“[H]ere’s what you don’t often see in the coverage of Tea Party rallies: Patriotic signs professing a love for country; mothers and fathers with their children; African-Americans proudly participating; and senior citizens bopping to a hip-hop rapper. … It is important to show the colorful anger Americans might have against elected leaders and Washington. But people should also see the orange-vested Tea Party hospitality handlers who welcome you with colorful smiles. There were a few signs that could be seen as offensive to African-Americans. But by and large, no one I spoke with or I heard from on stage said anything that was approaching racist.
Almost everyone I met was welcoming to this African-American television news producer.

Of course, Weigel’s got plenty of important sercon posts about conservatives in general and Republicans in particular. But it’s his Menckenian eye for the ridiculous that I really appreciated when he was writing for The Washington Independent, and his new post will give access to more sources as well as larger targets.

You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone

The New York Press Association is spending $4 million on ads like this one:

Can anyone look at this ad and conclude that the problem was the lack of a community newspaper? My first thought was that the kid was probably pissed because Dad didn’t bother to Google the carnival site. The other ads in this campaign are about as bad.

In Rochester, the “community newspaper” is part of the Gannett empire, and its readership is shrinking almost as fast as its page count. Meanwhile, the locally-owned alt-weekly is growing, probably in part because it has a better event calendar. And we have a community wiki with over 10,000 pages, including pretty good restaurant reviews. I’m actually looking forward to the demise of the “community newspaper”, since its decline has led to the growth of other, more interesting alternatives.