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I recall something that the left-wing columnist Eric Alterman wrote (and he didn't mean it as a compliment), to the effect that Bill and Hillary Clinton ACT like they are the smartest people in the room.

1) They usually are.

2) I don't know how they acted like it (I guess being knowledgeable and observant) but your observation regarding reporters is spot on. Alterman exposed it. And this goes for left-wing and right-wing alike.


The historical parallel that comes to my mind is Adlai Stevenson. Here's a guy who is everything you'd think you'd want in a chief executive; whip-smart, articulate, thoughtful, principled. But his candidacies are repeatedly unsuccessful, and the most likely reason is that the Great Unwashed typecast him as the impractical egghead, not a Regular Guy like Ike.

The difference being that the GOP in 1954 was relatively sane (though the Taft wing were proto-wingnuts and there were always the Birchers lurking about...) and the Depression had moved the country about as far left as it's ever been, so the starting point was much closer to actual policies that benefited Joe and Mary Lunchpail.

So as opposed to the Fifties, that simply pushed the nation closer to Nixon, Trump is pushing us closer to Brother John Birch and Joni Wingnut Ernst. Our fellow Americans have made sure that we're going to get it good and hard.

Mary Ellen Sandahl

I second that spot-on.
If you're old enough to remember what political reporting was like before the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of gossip-'n'-entertainment type reporting, when the distinction for print journalists between news and editorializing was quite clear, you know how much has changed and how drastically. The famous anchors of my childhood and youth - Cronkite, Severeid, Huntley, Brinkley, Rather - were serious in your sense. What they did was no game to them, and they didn't think of it primarily n terms of image, career track, personal juice. Perhaps because so many of them had been wartime field reporters?


I think that one of the problems we face is that most of us adults DID grow up with the "Huntley-Brinkley News" as our model, and that model was one of "impartial", factual reportage. The "news" was supposed to present simple truths and we, the viewers, would base our decisions on them.

That model was always fraught. The 1945-1965 period was an immense anomaly of nonpartisanship. Not that is WAS "nonpartisan", but that by comparison with the vast bulk of American history it seemed that way. Both parties had large, indigestible minorities; the Dixiecrats on onehand, the Rockefeller Republicans on the other. The partisan newspapers had faded during the war, the new television networks were deliberately neutral to appeal to the widest possible audience. The American tradition of "conservative", "liberal", "Republican, "Democratic", "Socialist" newspapers had largely faded or were obscured by the social centerism.

We're now returning to the vicious partisanship of the Jacksonian Era, or the immediate pre-Civil War era, or the early 20th Century - in other words, of most of American history. The rise of purely tribal "news" organizations like Breitbart and FOX simply recapitulate the partisan newspapers of the 1880s (let's postulate Daily Kos as the equivalent of the "Socialist Appeal" of the Thirties...).

But the bulk of the public - conditioned to nod in a sheepish fashion at anything presented as "news" on the electronic teevee - hasn't absorbed this. So it makes the Public a bigger ass than usual. Our current inability to discern propaganda for what it is is directly related to our unwillingness or inability to shake off the news-viewing habits of our youth.

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