Friday, 2 September 2016

Not Even Pretending



The Editors of the New York Times at the 2016 Blind Man's Zoo

Morton Hull: Do you realize that more people will be watching you tonight, than all those who have seen theater plays in the last forty years?
Chance the Gardener: Why?

In 1979, a film called "Being There" was released, which represented the final role of the brilliant, eccentric comic actor Peter Sellers.  Sellers played a gardener who had spent (it is implied) his entire life in the house of a rich man, tending to the garden and watching television. Upon the death of the old man, "Chance the Gardener" (he is never actually named in the movie) is forced out into the world. With no education and the apparent wit of a young child, Chance the Gardener encounters a series of increasingly powerful, important people. His cereal box sophistries ("if the roots are strong, the garden will grow") are mistaken for political and economic brilliance, as those around him imagine that they mean this or that in a humourous blind man's zoo of incompetence and misunderstanding.

Yesterday, the editors of the New York Times reviewed the previous day's visit of US presidential candidate Donald Trump to Mexico and subsequent speech on immigration.

I was reminded of all of the people who listened to Chance and saw what they wanted.

Only, rather than the blind man's zoo patrons of the movie, there is something disturbing, malign about the wilful ignorance of the Times in discussing Trump.

Here is the key passage of the discussion:
The entire speech, in fact, imagines that government at all levels will be used to hunt down and remove immigrants from their homes, families and jobs. [emphasis added]
I have read the transcript of the speech. Nowhere does Donald Trump say - or even imply, really - what the writers would have you believe. 

Quite literally, the editors of the newspaper of  record of this country are IMAGINING what Donald Trump is saying.

Read that again. And think about it.

Shocking.


The Editors of the New York Times,
Imagining Donald Trump's Speech

Now, I have no intention of voting for Donald Trump. There are many very good reasons to oppose his candidacy. His lack of a coherent economic plan. The suggestion that the country could simply 'negotiate' its debt for pennies on the dollar (i.e., default). His suggestions of using tactical nuclear weapons in terrorist-sponsoring nations.

In short, one does not need to make up reasons to oppose Trump.

Yet, the Times feels compelled to do so. Why?

I would suggest it's because the writers, like those at the Washington Post have abandoned even the pretense of journalistic ethics and objectivity.  And it's not even due to alleged liberal bias. After all, during the Democratic primaries, the reporting on Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders (the most progressive of the major candidates) was pretty biased against Sanders.

Here, I suspect that the Times, which is largely owned and under the control of Carlos Slim, has an agenda. Slim, at times the wealthiest man in the world, holds near monopolistic control of telecomunications in Mexico. His companies directly benefit from remittances and communications between Mexicans living in the US and back home. Does he really have an objective, honest take on the consequences of illegal immigration?  Is it in his interests to curtail the flow?

In the past, we've been warned about "dog whistles" and "Willie Horton" moments. I guess because the media want to ensure that implicit offences are not overlooked. Suggesting something about President Obama golfing is racist because, well.  I don't know.  The ball is white?

Here, even that is a bridge too far, so we are asked to go beyond listening for something we cannot hear into imagining offence into existence.

We are being lied to. The machine is, apparently, so desperate to grab power that they are not even pretending anymore. It's no longer what the candidates say, but what "we" are asked to imagine that they mean.

The NYT equivalent in Russia is called Pravda, which evokes laughter in the west.  Its name translates to mean "truth," which is almost the definition of irony in a George Orwell sense.

Imagine that.
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