We suppose it’s just one more sorry sign of the gloomy times for the news biz that the Indianapolis Star didn’t bother to send one of their own political reporters to cover Mitch Daniels, their Republican governor who’s weighing a run for president, make a recent speech-making swing through Cincinnati.
After all, it’s 115 miles away.
Reporter: What do you mean we can’t go with him? Southwest Ohio’s the most important target for Republicans in the biggest battleground state of 2012, and every other GOP wannabe’s already been through there.
Editor: Hey, I already told you – no travel, no overtime. And what do you need a new notebook for – did you write on both sides of that other one? And where’s those three blog posts and Sunday thumbsucker you owe me?
Fortunately for the Star, where Calbuzz once labored, when mastodons roamed the earth, both it and the Cincinnati Enquirer are owned by the Gannett Corp. (you get extra points for being old if you remember when the really big threat to newspapers was chain ownership), so the paper was able to run a little story from its sister publication on Daniels the next day.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t much of a story (we withhold the name of the reporter to avoid embarrassing her family) as she managed to bury the lede 13 paragraphs into an 18-graf feel-good yarn. That’s what you get when you sub out your wet work:
So when he brought up collective bargaining reform in Ohio – an issue that’s drawn thousands to hearings in Columbus in the last two weeks – people listened.
“There may have been a time when government employees needed protection and needed reform, but that was a long time ago,” Daniels said.
He called the unions “the privileged elite.”
Daniels — whom we actually knew when he was Dick Lugar’s aide — is the Republican flavor of the week for some GOP propeller head pundits, who apparently never got over plucky Steve Forbes falling short of the White House.
With his “privileged elite” comment, he perfectly defined the political war now waging throughout the Midwest, as he and other Republican governors are fiercely fighting to bust public employee unions. The remark didn’t get much attention at the time (perhaps because it was IN THE 13th GRAF!!!) but when Daniels repeated it on Fox over the weekend, it got picked up everywhere, a kind of short hand signifier in the labor battle.
Apres moi, c’est moi: Daniels’ formulation recalls Anatole France, who famously said that, “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”
At a time when 1 percent of Americans control nearly one-fourth of the country’s wealth – and as much as the bottom 50 percent of people combined – the union bashers bring a whole new meaning to the phrase “class warfare,” as they channel Monsieur France without seeming to realize he was making a joke.
It’s instructive that labeling teachers, cops, firefighters, nurses and janitors “the privileged elite,” today is considered an important and serious political argument, a marker for how far to the right the center of the economic debate has moved over the last 30 years.
Try as we might to find some insightful MSM illumination of this calculated effort to pit those with little against those with even less, we were left to rely once again on “The Daily Show” to examine the hypocritical absurdity (absurd hypocrisy?) of all the railing about “class warfare” on CNBC and Fox.
Disgusting. The Democrats have pitted the top two percent against the lower 98, when the Republicans know that the real battle should be fought within the middle class, preferably amongst neighbors.
From Punch to Pinch to Punt: Calbuzz is hardly alone in its disappointment in the MSM’s performance in Madison, Wisc. Abe Sauer of the venerable site The Awl filed a splendid press clips report:
If the events in Wisconsin prove one thing, it is that the mainstream media has become journalistically irrelevant when it comes to national issues and coverage. Broadcast media is incapable of explaining anything outside a macropatriotic framework and has proven allergic to anything that puts off even the slightest whiff of the class warfare that scares away big-market advertorial. Meanwhile, the other side is cable news’ partisan echo chamber of regurgitated self-assurance, where no blow is too low and no fact needs sourcing before being leveraged to make a prearranged point. Cable news reporting on Wisconsin is like going to a whorehouse and then bragging to your buddies about this girl you seduced.
Jason Linkins over at Huffpost picked up one of the threads of Sauer’s reporting to churn out a must-read detailing how the mighty New York Times lurched into a major and embarrassing blunder. Deliciously, the story in question was filed by A.G. Sulzberger, one of its newer reporters, who happens to be the son of Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
A bit of a shaggy dog, it boils down to Sulzberger the Younger penning a front page piece so favorable to Governor Scott Walker that Walker gushed about it in his now-in famous phone call with a blogger posing as oligarch David Koch. Only problem was that Sulzberger committed what you like to call your glaring factual error. His primary source, on whom he hung his thesis, was “a union guy” who bitterly complained about public employees – privileged elites! – getting too much in benefits and pension; except…he wasn’t…a union guy, and the paper had to run a big correction.
David Brooks takes a dive: The week’s best unraveling of the political-policy-media nexus of the class warfare issue came in a superb takedown of the insufferable David Brooks, the Times’ self-righteous center-right columnist, filed by Slate blogger Tom Scocca:
Crisply titled “The politics of entitlement – David Brooks will decide when it’s time for you to die,” Scocca’s 1800-word piece masterfully exposes the blind-spot reasoning of elitist advocates for austerity like Brooks and other over-paid windbags in pink shirts and purple tie. Brooks never tires of calling for others to “sacrifice” and this week actually wrote, “The country’s runaway debt is the central moral challenge of our time,” a sentence so wrong-headed it made Scocca’s head explode:
The experts—serious, competent, thoughtful, constructive experts—have studied the problem. The solutions are going to be unpleasant. “The sacrifice should be spread widely and fairly,” David Brooks wrote.
Is wide fair? …Everyone, simply everyone—whether they have money or not—will have to make do with less. Peter G. Peterson, the self-appointed chief of the debt fighters and entitlement reformers, includes a “Personal Responsibility Primer” on his foundation’s website (“Teach children the importance of planning, saving, budgeting, investing, and using credit responsibly”).
Peter G. Peterson is a billionaire twice over, so rich he can pledge a billion dollars to charity. All he really understands about Social Security and Medicare is that it is impossible that he, himself, will ever die broke and alone. When his time comes, he can die on a mattress stuffed with gold-plated rose petals, if the whim strikes him.
What happens when there is no money to give to the people who have no money? That is the moral question. It’s fine to say that the old people should have saved more, they should have worked an extra job, they should have done without cable TV, they should have invested more wisely. Saying that doesn’t change the fact that there will be old people who do not have money. These old people will believe that they need food and shelter and medical care.
Will they get it? At the arch-plutocrats’ end of things, the Koch brothers’ end, the end occupied by the most devout worshipers of Ayn Rand, the answer is: no. That’s the goal. It’s long since time for the sloppy, implicit, badly supported social contract to go away. Rich people have been trimming their contribution to the general revenue for decades now. They are not interested in paying the premium that keeps old people and ailing people or just backward people out of the streets. If the day comes that they have to travel to and from their various compounds in armored helicopters, they can afford the helicopters. It’s not their problem.
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