Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Everything's A Distraction

I hate the whole genre of "don't fall for it, they're just trying to distract you from [fill in the blank]." Trump's your nutty uncle who tweets stupid shit when he's mad at the teevee, Conway is such an incompetent liar that even our normally respectful press sometimes rolls their eyes at her, and the fact that Bannon has read the top 5 racist greatest hits books does not mean he knows anything of importance. Spicey's just an asshole who is probably a little bit smarter than Trump but no less of a horrible human. He doesn't need this job; he chose it. The rest of them are people who weren't even smart enough to be tolerated as Red State commentators and spend every day trying to knife each other with nerf bats while fapping to viewings of 300.

They're evil, but not evil geniuses (that is not to say that they are incapable of inflicting great damage, just that they'll do it more by knocking over the chessboard than by planning the checkmate 57 moves ahead). And as Pierce says, this kind of thing is even dumber when it comes from the people whose job it is to decide what is important and who are quite capable of not running after the soccer ball every time it has been kicked.
However, if the distraction argument is true, then it is a massive dereliction of duty on the part of the members of the media who make it true. In essence, coming from anyone in this business, the distraction argument denies that the media has any agency in what it covers. If you are an editor—or a reporter—and you decide that a story is a shiny object, then don't cover it. Or, at the very least, don't emphasize it. The decision by the elite political media to make Hillary Rodham Clinton's email server a central issue in the campaign was a deliberate choice. It wasn't forced on them by anyone or anything. If you can choose to emphasize something, you can choose not to do that. If you can choose to concentrate on HRC's email practices, you can choose not to concentrate on what you judge to be obvious diversions from the White House.