Monday, November 26, 2007

Stupid Pundit Tricks

Glenn Greenwald has caught Joe Klein red-handed peddling pro- Police State bullshit in the pages of Time Magazine. Klein stated as fact that the new FISA bill being considered by the House would bestow the same rights upon foreign terrorists as are enjoyed by U.S. citizens.

As Greenwald easily and conclusively proved, this is an outright falsehood. Klein responded, sequentially, in posts on Time's website, by claiming (in Greenwald's words) "that his false assertions were: (a) true, (b) disputable, (c) too complex and time-consuming to figure out, and (d) just a minor, irrelevant detail."

With regard to (c), Klein stated that he has "neither the time nor the legal background to figure out who's right."

So here we have Joe Klein, establishment media darling (last seen falsely claiming he did not pen the Clinton campaign tell-all Primary Colors), opining in the pages of a mega-large circulation news magazine about subjects that he admittedly does not have the expertise or basic competence to understand. And oh-by-the-way, his original screed just happened to support the position benefiting his unnamed "intelligence sources" in the Bush Administration.

When stuff like this happens, you see bloggers excoriating asshats like Joe Klein by, among other things, referencing the "paymasters" who direct them (the asshats) to propagandize on their behalf. The problem with this kind of commentary (not that of the asshats, but that of the bloggers) is that it sounds very shrill to the ordinary average person, who is therefore inclined to view the outcry as nothing more than nuts promoting conspiracy theories.

But the thing is, terms like "paymasters" are (or should be used as) shorthand for more complex structures. For example. An asshat like Joe Klein is nothing without his (so-called) intelligence sources and "highly placed insider(s)", and "senior officials". Without such contacts, Joe Klein is, well, someone like me. Sitting in his home office, just in from a day's work doing something more or less commonplace to pay the bills, spouting opinions that few will read, having a level of influence approaching zero.

The Joe Kleins of the world have no special writing talent, no extraordinary insights. They have connections. They know people. They get phone calls and emails and invitations to parties, where they are whispered to in between glad-handing and pointless small-talk. Without this, Time Magazine barely bothers to send them rejection faxes. Certainly the mighty Time Warner Media empire will not issue them large paychecks, fly them first class, and put them up in swanky hotels. It will route their phone calls into voicemail and erase their messages without listening.

And then if Joe Klein fails to print what is whispered to him by his sources and contacts and connections, or, horror of horrors, does a bit of fact-checking and writes something that might contradict the whispers, then the emails and the phone calls and the whispers slow to a trickle. As do the party invitations.

And when the emails and the phone calls and the whispers and the party invitations slow down, so do the book advances and the payroll deposits and the first class tickets and the swanky hotels. And, before you know it, Joe Klein needs to find a real job.

And start a blog.


Kingfish said...

Is this the same Joe Klien that started at Center for the Arkansas basketball team in the 80's?

HHL said...

this is a very godamn serious topic, and I don't appreciate you making a mockery of it, sir!


besides, I would have described him as "the Joe Kleine who sat on the bench for the '97-'98 world champion Chicago Bulls."

Kingfish said...

Sorry to offend you making a mockery of it, sir!

If I'm a doofus, then what exactly are you? From my personal point of view, you have very little credibility in referring to someone else's inept and foolish actions. That in itself makes me laugh a great deal. Carry on and, "Lighten up, Francis!"

HHL said...

dude, where's the sense of humor? i was kidding. (thought that would be clear by adding the Chicago Bulls comment.)

it is a serious topic, but this blog is not exactly a serious endeavor (and i'm far from a serious blogger, as you well know).

so, to sum up: all jokes are welcome here, even if i'm the butt of them. in fact, i almost blew coffee out of my nose when i saw the 80's college bb reference.

HHL said...


and as you may have noticed, i'm not exactly in a position to discourage commentary around here, even if i were so inclined.

Anonymous said...

speaking of which, I plan to start adding anonymous comments, trolling and the like, using different writing styles and voices, just to make it appear (to myself, even) that everything on this blog isn't simply disappearing down the memory hole (only to be miraculously brought back to life at such time as i am running for office or am otherwise thrust into the public eye for whatever unexpected reason).

Kingfish said...

Ummm...Ok, well all I can say is I'm sensitive and high on decongestant and antibiotics...I apologize for being an ass, I get trolled so much when I come out that I get too far as you being "thrust" into the public eye, I don't think you want that anymore than I want a prostate exam at an AIDS hospital in Haiti. But should that time come, I would like to put in my application to be your Stuart (Stewart? time to check) Libby or Karl Rove...I think you would make an excellent Republican. I think all you need now is hot soccer mom wife, a brief stint as director of FEMA or somesuch, and a book outlining your feel good policies. I, of course, would help with the damage control from your dodging the conflict in Bosnia and Operation Desert Storm. Plus, I would bury your tumultuous tenure as CEO of Microsoft Automotive Insurance Company....Laughing on the inside but not outloud as I'm ushering my deliquents to work.

By the way, I read this almost daily, but I rarely have to time to comment. Will try harder to elevate my input.

Anonymous said...


HHL said...

just kidding about running for office (though regular commenter Gleemonex appears to be in favor of it). and for the record, i was thinking "thrust" in terms of something quite negative (and undesired) in nature (not sure what that would be, but i've been conditioned to expect the worst). And also for the record, it was the Macintosh Auto Insurance Company (which is now, thankfully, defunct, despite my sterling leadership).