A Few Thoughts On Being Wrong And The Media

It may surprise you to know, but I have been wrong in the past. Dashingly wrong. Stupefyingly wrong. So wrong that the mistake could have threatened my future. So wrong that an immediate and heartfelt apology was all that would suffice.

I’m sure this has happened to most people. Humans are able to be counted on to, if nothing else, screw up spectacularly, in the most entertaining fashion.

An apology may or may not solve the issue. You may or may not be able to salvage your reputation, your relationships, your life. If you work hard enough, and are blessed with forgiveness, you may be able to do that.

But that’s for the real world, the place we proles inhabit. There’s another world much more rarified, where we’re not allowed, and where being “right” doesn’t count for as much as one would think it should.

It’s a peculiarity of the American ruling class that people who have been wrong time and again about, well, everything are still taken seriously. They’re still invited on “news” shows to give opinions. Various sectors seek their counsel. Rather than fading into penury, they reap the welfare circuit available only to those who muck up magnificently, but have the right connections.

Take Bernie Kerik, for example. You remember him, don’t you? He was New York City Police Commissioner during the 9/11 attacks, and somehow he parlayed that into getting on the short list to head the Department of Homeland Security. Until serious ethical and legal lapses surfaced, lapses which, well, were crimes, and turned him into a convicted felon. And yet recently he has been back on the teevee box, spewing opinion. In no civilized society should Mr. Kerik’s counsel be sought. Which should tell you my views of our current state.

Or, as another data point, Newt Gingrich, he of the famed 1994 “Gingrich Revolution” and the Contract with America. His revolution lasted four years, when in the 1998 midterms his majority took a shellacking in the polls, and after the sordid affair of impeaching President Clinton. He mucked up the vendetta against Mr. Clinton, and lost seats to Democrats even in a gerrymandered environment. Such failure should have consigned him to obscurity. But, until it was cancelled recently, there he was, a co-host on the rebooted “Crossfire” on CNN. He’s been even more vile and vicious than during the now moderate-seeming 1994 putsch, but clicks and eyeballs were all that mattered. Don’t cry for the loss of his CNN sinecure; I’m sure he’ll find another lucrative grift.

Lest you think I’m piling on conservatives, let’s examine a putative “liberal”. Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s “Hardball”, famously said that President Obama’s oratorical skills gave him “tingles” up his leg. The tingles must be gone, because for the past two days he’s been lambasting the President on his hour long show, blaming him for the one case of Ebola to be identified in the US, and calling him “intellectually lazy”, which for many of us is a not-so-coded dog whistle. Of course, he’s wrong now, but he was most famously wrong for his early, vociferous, almost ecstatic support of the Iraq War. His influence led to the firing of the only anti-war voice in the mainstream media with a regular slot, Phil Donahue. Only when the polling began to go south did he turn on former President Bush. Yet he and his like, boosters of the worst US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, are still secure in their positions, suffering no ill effects. This is true both of conservative and liberal hawks.

The list is nigh on endless, but these examples will suffice.

Enough of these incidents can make one think there’s something rotten in the state of our media. That our media has degenerated unawares from the heights of Murrow and Cronkite to the banshee wailings of Hannity and O’Reilly.

Yes, it is rotten. But not as unplanned decadence. This was a conscious choice. Once news became a mere adjunct to multinational conglomerates, all with political views which are most likely not in accord with those of whom are reading this essay, the propaganda factor was turned up to 11. American media has always hewed to a narrow range of accepted discourse. But now even that range is the width of a human hair. Facts don’t matter; only the accepted narrative does. It’s why the “liberal” MSNBC bashes Pres. Obama as heartily as the wingnut Fox News. Pres. Obama threatens the cozy world set up by conglomerates, billionaires, and their political minions. His calls and actions to spread the country’s massive wealth, to give everyone a chance to succeed, threaten the base lizard brains in them, the thought that if we get something they must have to give up an equal or greater portion. Of course, Pres. Obama is of the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats, but that’s not what they hear. They hear Marxism, socialism, from each according to his ability and so on. The idea of shared prosperity, which was the dominant ideology of mid-20th century America, always grated on a powerful sector. It just waited for the moment to overturn it, and no uppity black man was going to get in their way.

Cable news, which sucks up all the air in the corridors of power, is useless. It’s more than useless: it breeds fear and infantilism. The paranoia over the one Ebola case is evidence of that. It serves a viewership which, in its demographic, is afraid of every bump in the night. It contributes nothing to a rational discourse. It cannot be reformed, not until we stop watching it, stop giving it our eyeballs to feed advertisers. News, real news, can be gleaned from a myriad of sources. Fox, MSNBC, and CNN hardly do news, but truck in opinion and punditry. That may be good for entertainment (it’s certainly not my thing), but is disastrous for informed decision making.

Turn off the television. Seek out sources of information. Do the work of citizenship. “Citizen” is the most powerful person in the United States.

125 Responses to “A Few Thoughts On Being Wrong And The Media”

  1. 5 FoxfireTX
    October 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Great piece LL! I am through with MSNBC and all of the other crazies. The final straw for me was the ranting about the new “war”. Loved PBO’s presentation today. Seeing him in a town hall setting has always been my favorite. He seems happiest when he is interacting with people. But it’s time to devote the rest of his day/night to our lovely FLOTUS!

  2. 6 Obama Grandmama
    October 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Right on, LL! I agree!

  3. 11 Don
    October 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    LL, I remember when I was a kid and my dad would make my brother and I sit down with him and watch the Sunday talk shows. My dad would curse the t.v. because of something one of the host would say. I thought my dad was being silly because no way in the world could those white men in suits using big words could possible be wrong. Even as a teenager I’d still watch the Sunday talk shows even after my old man was long gone into his drug usage. As a middle age black man I can say my old man was right, the only difference now is that sometimes the black men that go on the Sunday talk shows are as equally wrong.

  4. 12 Don
    October 3, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    The thing I love the most about this website is that is forces you to think.

  5. 13 Don
    October 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Another great piece, LL.

  6. 16 Judith Fardig
    October 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Hi numero uno, Don! LL, your piece should be required reading in high school English classes. We need to learn how to assess to biases of the “news” and ferret out verifiable sources of information. One of the worst offenders who should be abjectly apologizing to America for mutlitple offenses, Senator Sore Loser McCain, was just out here in Oregon to prop up the flailing campaign of Dr. Monica Wehby (A.K.A. Sarah Palin in a scrub suit) who is running against my wonderful Senator, Jeff Merkley. McCain made local news by insisting that Obama and Merkley are responsible for the rise of ISIS.

  7. 22 desertflower
    October 3, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    I’m loving this, LL! Regular readers of TOD totally get this….but It’s way past time for AMERICA to understand this fact.

  8. 23 jacquelineoboomer
    October 3, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    LL – You speak for, well, all of us. Thank you.

    A Citizen

  9. 27 desertflower
    October 3, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Oliver North is another one. Really? They’d ask HIS opinion on anything?

    • 28 Nena20409
      October 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Oliver North inhabits just the rightie world……unlike Kristol, LIngraham. etc and the Politico hacks at the NYT and WashPost respectively. The rightie leaning conversation spreads.

  10. 29 Nena20409
    October 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    Don, your 2nd Gold ⭐ today.
    Awesome LL, your piece nails it again.
    The so Called MSM willfully abdicated their responsibility since Fox started beating CNN in 2002.
    My view is that it will not change until there is a Force…..a Network willing to make a True change. The $$$$ is to great and the partisans thrive on Divisiveness.
    Bravo, LL.

    • 30 jackiegrumbacher
      October 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm

      Nena, I don’t think there will ever be another ‘network” that delivers real news in an unbiased fashion. Those days are gone and won’t come back. The thing that will have to change is people’s attitudes toward ‘received’ information. Younger people have begun to do that, especially as the poison spewed in the traditional media fails to match their own perceptions of reality and common sense. There won’t be a ‘savior’ in a new version of traditional media. The savior will come in the form of a more savvy public.

  11. October 3, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Huh ?

    • 33 Don
      October 3, 2014 at 7:11 pm

      But yet this small person finds it distasteful and regrettable that a “black” resides in the Whitehouse.

      • 34 Sandy1110
        October 3, 2014 at 7:23 pm

        That attitude goes hand-in-hand with her thinking.

        I’m pretty sure she thinks blacks should be glad that whites were kind enough to “voluntarily” stop slavery, although that’s complete bullshit. The southern whites wouldn’t have given it up if they hadn’t been beaten into submission by the Union, and it’s disturbing that she’s oblivious to that fact.

        The comedian Paul Mooney did a bit in one of his routines: “Mad because we got away”. Enough said.

    • 36 Linda
      October 3, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      She never heard of the Emancipation Proclamation….so how can it be real ?

    • 37 99ts
      October 3, 2014 at 9:06 pm

      To quote Pierce
      It is possible, I suppose, that the word “voluntarily” has a different meaning at altitude. Perhaps at elevations over 1500 feet, it means “engaging in a bloody four-year war that killed 600,000 people.”


  12. 38 Nena20409
    October 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm

  13. 39 japa21
    October 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    LL, this was an exemplary piece, one of your finest. Yes, for we proles, as you call us, mistakes must be acknowledged, corrected, and then maybe, we can be trusted again.
    For that special group of people, in politics and punditry, no such acknowledgement is even needed. It is amazing to see the same people, who have never acknowledged their errors, be brought out, time and again, to peddle their misconceptions and lies.
    And, even worse, never even having to face any refutation.
    To some degree, I can excuse the political folks. After all, that is supposed to be their job, to push an agenda.
    I cannot, however, excuse those places that give them a platform to spew their filth.
    Nor can I excuse people, such as Matthews, who have decided that this country no longer needs a calm discussion of the facts, but needs hysterical hyperbole thrust upon it.
    I am old enough to remember someone called Joe Pyne. He was one of the first on television to present far RW views in the model that was to become the modus operandi of current ideologues. Present your side as forcefully and with as much conviction as possible and SHOUT DOWN anybody that disagrees. That used to be merely done by RW folks. Now it tends to be across the board. Even sports talk shows are managed on that level.
    Don’t debate an opposing view, drown it out with your own spittle. And if facts come out later to show you were wrong, either ignore them, discredit the purveyor of those facts, or deny you ever said what you said.
    Thomas Jefferson would cry considerable tears if he saw what was happening to this country today. He knew an informed and educated electorate was needed for a democracy to survive. Yes, there was a lot of dishonesty back then, but it is 10 times worse now.

  14. 42 arapaho415
    October 3, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    I really wish there was some way to get TV and radio to report on PBO’s town hall today, and then in interest of “fairness” ask random GOPers how they would have improved the economy over the past 5 years.

    If nothing else, broadcast news needs to report on the *idea* of how raising wages actually infuses money into local economies, and contrast with an extra million or billion to the wealthiest 1% — even the busiest Americans can relate to what PBO said — Bill Gates doesn’t need another car, but the minimum wage worker (or other worker who has seen annual raises of 1% or 2% recently) would spend their raises which would boost the local economy, the virtuous cycle — which gets no coverage, but MSM/Kochs still treat trickle down as something other than voodoo economics.

    MSM also needs to take a lesson from the good citizens of Indiana — great questions by all who asked, especially the incredibly poised 8th-grade girl who asked what would improve the economies of rural America. What a great question, and spectacular answer by PBO:

    * education / technical training
    * improved infrastructure, including world-class broadband

    Posted this on today’s R&S after hearing CBS radio news this morning:

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Another example of the insidious ways the MSM keeps PBO’s message from the public.

    Yesterday, CBS radio news dismissed PBO’s speech at Northwestern University as a “political” speech (although they did play a soundbite from the speech), without mentioning the economic FACTS in that speech.

    This morning they are crowing about the “lowest unemployment rate since Jun 2008″ without once mentioning PBO, yesterday’s speech or the FACTS. They prefer to air talking head “economists” who basically speculate, but don’t present the actual facts like PBO did at Northwestern U.

  15. October 3, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Ebola is the new Benghazi.

  16. October 3, 2014 at 7:34 pm

  17. October 3, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    My wise old patron Carl asked me, after he read the piece, why I don’t seek to publish it in some major journal. And I told him: Because neither the Left nor the Right wants to hear this. Most journals of opinion are part of the same incestuous circle. PBO is attacked from both Left and Right. I know of few spaces of moderation and reasoned discourse outside of blogs.

  18. 48 Anna
    October 3, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Great post LL. TOD, Rev Al, occasionally peak at LOD to see what direction he is going, that’s it. Can always count on the TOD family to direct me to the real news. Thanks to all for what you do.

  19. October 3, 2014 at 7:54 pm

  20. 50 Ladyhawke
    October 3, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Sorry if this is a dup, just saw it. Excellent point from Norm. I won’t hold my breath waiting the questions to be asked.

  21. 51 desertflower
    October 3, 2014 at 8:09 pm


    Poll: Public backing grows for Obama’s actions against Islamic State

    Ya think?

  22. October 3, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    LL, spot on. You have expressed exactly how we all feel with the media which is not there to inform but to depress and give their corporate owners opinions. I will watch local news and read the newspapers but yes we need to seek out the truth and educate those that we meet and teach them to do the same.

    OT: I have watched two movies recently that had wonderful Cuban music. The Perez Family and The Chef. The Chef was fun to watch with the food and the characters were all interesting.

  23. October 3, 2014 at 8:21 pm

  24. 56 desertflower
    October 3, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Another BFD.


    The Department of Justice has filed charges against a high-frequency trader who abused the system for personal profit.

    The Justice Department alleges that a trader named Michael Coscia used the high-tech trading platform at the commodities trading company he runs to place and then cancel dozens of large purchases in less than a second, tricking the electronic marketplaces that determine the commodities prices. Coscia’s alleged trading program allowed him to pocket about $1.6 million over a three month program, according to a press release detailing the charges.

    As Bloomberg points out, this is the first time such a charge has been filed under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

    Whiny progs going to give credit where credit is due?

  25. 57 vcprezofan2
    October 3, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    O/T Here’s a Smartypants oldie that’s a newbie to me! 😀

    • October 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Not me. I remember this as if it were yesterday. I was in tears right along with this young woman. Would like to know what this experience did to/for her life and the lives of that entire class. One of my fondest memories of watching our great President.

      • 59 vcprezofan2
        October 3, 2014 at 9:01 pm

        Believe it or not,TnMG, when I watched this on YouTube before posting it here I missed the beginning – clued in only at the Easter egg hunt. Duh! Your comment made me watch again, paying closer attention this time. 😀 😀 Yes I do vividly remember that young lady being filled with emotion at PBO’s presence. I also remember, I think, that was the time the young man in green introduced PBO. Ay, so many. many beautiful memories fostered by the Obamas. No matter what may be said in the future, I believe there are millions of lives on which the Obamas have made a tremendous and unforgettable impact for the better.

        • 60 99ts
          October 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

          What WILL be said in the future vc – is exactly what you said here

          there are millions of lives on which the Obamas have made a tremendous and unforgettable impact for the better.

          • 61 vcprezofan2
            October 3, 2014 at 9:26 pm

            Hi, doting grandma0 from ‘down under’. How are things going?

            One of the convictions I’ve held personally since BHO came to my attention is that I have a chance to experience history in the making (which is a dumb thought on the face since we are all living history daily), and no one was going to deprive me of the opportunity to BE involved! This was one time I didn’t want to wait to read about it through someone else’s eyes. I haven’t ONCE regretted my decision (though I’ve had more than one friend shaking their heads at me)!

        • October 3, 2014 at 9:12 pm

          THIS, vc. No doubt. And those people tell their families and friends. 🙂

  26. 63 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Obama threatens the cozy world set up by conglomerates, billionaires, and their political minions.


    Cable news, which sucks up all the air in the corridors of power, is useless. It’s more than useless: it breeds fear and infantilism. The paranoia over the one Ebola case is evidence of that.


  27. 64 otter 44
    October 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    Thank you for distilling the thoughts of many of us and writing a an essay which exposes the “confederacy of dunces” that is our media.

  28. 66 vcprezofan2
    October 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

  29. 67 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 9:33 pm

  30. 68 carolyn
    October 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    LL, once again beautifully and truthfully written. You have expressed what thousands, nay I would say millions feel and think. Thank you. We need to spread this far and wide.

  31. 77 JER
    October 3, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    President Obama Returns to the White House

    Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images

  32. October 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    So what have I been doing for the past 40 minutes? Enjoying a cocktail and watching a documentary on BBC4 about Duran Duran. 😎

  33. October 3, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    Okay, mini rant coming on Shaun King, soon-ish.

  34. 84 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 9:45 pm

  35. 89 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm

  36. 90 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm

  37. October 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    Why do I love the band Madness? Because Suggs is a Chelsea FC supporter.

  38. 94 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm

  39. 97 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 9:59 pm

  40. October 3, 2014 at 10:00 pm

  41. October 3, 2014 at 10:06 pm

  42. 102 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:11 pm

  43. 103 globalcitizenlinda
    October 3, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    POTUS and FLOTUS work too hard for all us to make our lives better.

    I hope they know how much they are very much appreciated by ordinary people who have only limited platforms to express our gratitude

  44. 104 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Both extreme levels of crazy.

  45. 105 GGAIL
    October 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Awesome LL!

  46. 106 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:21 pm

  47. 107 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:23 pm

  48. 108 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

  49. 109 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:26 pm

  50. October 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm


  51. 112 globalcitizenlinda
    October 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm

  52. 113 amk for obama
    October 3, 2014 at 10:36 pm

  53. October 3, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Absolutely on point, LL. The plutocrats took a page out of Goebbels book, and decided to control media as loss leaders. Ratings? Profit? Who needs that when your aim is to throw a few pennies to overpampered stenographers to keep the rubes sated on propaganda that props plutocrats in power? Murdoch paved the way for deliberately creating media as loss leaders to serve ideological ends. He ran FOX for 15 years at a loss, giving it away free. Now we see how much the fox filth saturates every pore of our polity. Treacherous!

  54. October 3, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    Good essay, LL. Journalism has pretty much disappeared from corporate media. What we have are paid propagandists, trying to be entertaining while they serve the corporate interest. Many people, like myself, have signed off cable and net work pseudo news. They construct their own newscast by identifying sites online they find credible.

  55. October 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    Shit. Lewis Hamilton crashed in Practice 3. Banged up the Mercedes rather badly.

  56. 119 GGAIL
    October 3, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Ok, I know I’ve been.absent.alot lately, but I can’t access.the next new Post. What gives??

  57. 123 EricFive
    October 3, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Excellent post LL. The best lesson for the American people is to be very skeptical of the “news” they are force fed day in and day out. These highly paid media personalities are all bought and paid for propagandists, plain and simple. These bullshit polls are not designed to reflect reality. Instead they are designed to INFLUENCE reality. Plant the seeds of doubt, mistrust and pessimism with loaded and leading questions, structured to get a predetermined result and trumpeted with a desperation that betrays their true objective. If PBO were as unpopular as the MSM tell us daily he is, he would not have been reelected, he would not be greeted as he is by the general public and he would not be topic number one in the media every fucking day. Granted some people fall for the B.S., but thankfully the people are starting to wake up and the word “propaganda” is being used more and more to describe what out media peddles. PBO and his coalition scares the 1%ers. His message is persuasive and well delivered. That is why they try to drown out his message. That is why they attack him 24/7. That is why supposedly “liberal” MSNBC spends so much time disparaging PBO (when their hosts aren’t telling Dems not to vote). The whole media game is fixed, pro-GOP/anti-PBO propaganda dispensed every day, every night over the airwaves. The more people openly discredit the propagandists and call out their bullshit, the stronger our democracy becomes.

  58. 124 amk for obama
    October 4, 2014 at 12:00 am

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