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Jan 18, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

This is the greatest post in the history of the young Substack medium. The subject, the position you take, the directness and confidence with which you argue, the wit and snappy remarks used to great effect to put your opponents and frame their objections exactly as you want.

Bless you. I feel blessed that this exists.

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

This is almost as hagiographic as the media is about the American empire, the Democratic Party and racial or sexual minorities.

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Jan 19, 2023·edited Jan 19, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

Re: “greatest piece”. I had the same, visceral, adrenaline-rushed reaction. I even woke up (lol) unusually early this morning and read it again! While I always hesitate to say “greatest”, it’s certainly WAY up on the list and within the present category. As such, the comments here appear to be in line - enlightening, even where not such great writing (and, with the usual blemishes of hyper emotion). Thanks for commenting. Excellent work, Mr. Hanania.

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Boldest post, maybe. Richard is one of those rare academics unafraid to hide about quasi-empirical assertions. As a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist who studied with mass media super theorist Elihu Katz in grad school, I can’t help admiring the moxy he shows here in baldly stating that the American media is “one of the most honest, decent, and fair institutions designed for producing and spreading truth in human history…simply reading the media, and trusting what it says, is the best way to stay informed.”

I haven’t a quibble with his key thesis: that American foreign policy is influenced more by government contractors, subjective loyalties and foreign machinations than by the single “grand strategy” such as the one that a small group of “wise gentlemen” cooked up to ensure America would triumph in Vietnam. (Spoiler: we didn’t.)

That said, many of Richard’s “solutions” are as reductive as those of the grand strategy theorists he derides.

The problem begins wit his cartoonish presumption that americans can be divided, per google maps, into people who’ve turned left or right. “Your choices are to rely on leftist to be an informed person or to live in ignorance.” As to why, he lazily says “as I write this the nyt …has stories about” inflation and the Ukraine that are mostly if not all true.” Staying in such cartoonish anecdotage, let me respond that as I write this the Wall Street Journal has stories about how Japan has agreed to limit chip exports to china and how “the future of restaurants is to go” that probably are even more true (because the Journal reporters have a unique reason to be right: their readers often hold shares in the companies they cover).

“The only answer to media bias…is to reform the media,” Richard concludes, without even alluding such reforms, which I suspect even he knows would be misguided, for no number of bombs can eliminate established cultural institutions.

It gets worse when Richard tries to defend the few instances in which he says the “leftist” media got it wrong, such as in their hook, line and sinker embrace of the notion that Saddam had WMDS.

“WMDs,” Richard writes, involve “extremely complicated and … unprovable claims.” The opposite obviously is true: there either are wmds or there aren’t, as our satellites and resonance imaging can prove.

Richard’s most ridiculous can be found on the homepage of CSPI, the UCLA think tank he runs.

“Over the last few decades,” he writes, “scientific and technological progress have stagnated….groundbreaking innovation is scarce.” Anyone who’s gotten an mrna shot against covid know this is nonsense.

In graduate school I worked happily with Elihu katz, who treated me with respect. Since my dear but fiercely demanding mentor died in Jerusalem last December, I feel fre to admit that I never really understood the mechanics of his mathematical sociology, even though I’m told it helped advertisers sell more goodas on TV and radio after World War II.

The natural sciences have progressed by leaps and bounds, contrary to Richard’s assertion. Not so the social science.

That’s why I ultimately came away from this piece with great respect for Richard, for I surmise that his ultimate goal is not proving points to the Academy but provoking you and I to better understand received wisdoms.

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It is not. Ever read Astral Codex Ten ? Number one in "Science" on substack.

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Of course I read ACX. :). One of the things that separates this work into a high tier is not the depth but the breath (and reach) of its subject matter. While other writers dive into the pith with depth and elegance, this one is a distiller of potent content for an entire generation.

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oops, obviously I meant to comment Paul - I do agree with your take. This is a fine post by a very fine blogger. Another very fine blogger liked it, but disagrees - The Zvi: https://thezvi.wordpress.com/2023/02/06/monthly-roundup-3/?unapproved=23838&moderation-hash=16279b9580989aa10b5140c731db7da4#comment-23838

- very long round-up post, Hanania comes at the last third under: More On Bounded Distrust

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

As a right-winger who loathes the woke MSM, I thank you for this persuasive article. Two important maxims are "see the world as it is, not as you wish it to be," and "always steelman your opponents." It's disappointing that so many right-wingers prefer to live in a fantasy world, rather than critically evaluate their own biases.

Although right-wing journalism is lacking, right-wing intellectual magazines are quite good and even better than their woke mainstream counterparts. Every serious right-winger should at least skim the tables of contents of American Affairs, the Claremont Review of Books, the New Criterion, Modern Age, City Journal, Chronicles, First Things, etc. to learn something from smart right-wing academics and intellectuals. For example, Stanley Payne, Angelo Codevilla, and Bruce Kuklick on "fascism" in the aforementioned journals are better than a year's worth of "fascism panic" in the NYT, Atlantic, etc.

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Yeah my opinion is that most of those right wing magazines aren’t very good. Every conservative wants to do hot takes and analysis, few want to do real reporting about the world. And conservative analysis tends to be less grounded in empirical reality, data, and the use of good priors compared to some of the better leftists like Yglesias. There are some less mainstream publications though that do top level work on sensitive issues.

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Minor nitpick: Yglesias is a liberal, definitely not a leftist. He's a lot closer to Steven Pinker (or Bill Maher) than, say, Freddie DeBoer, who thinks wokism is a distraction from the real Marxist work of class struggle.

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Maybe this conversation should be split into news vs investigative journalism vs opinion/analysis. But these lines are increasingly blurred and I think conservatives are allowed to be frustrated by this. You are right about the dearth of news and investigative journalism from RWers. I don't know how this can be remedied.

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It's weird to sit here reading people worry about the dearth of investigative journalism from right wingers when Project Veritas exists. Although I have a suspicion that PV would be dismissed as sensationalist/biased/etc. and basically considered to not count.

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well yes. And lots of the conservative journalists have been deplatformed. Little wonder that there aren't as many as leftist ones

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Yes. Despite primary sources and first-hand video evidence as their hallmark.

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Except, of course, that they often refuse to release unedited videos. And, don't forget: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/wapo-badly-burns-james-okeefe/

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"they often refuse to release unedited videos"

Care to supply a link for THAT falsehood?

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I think it's important to separate opinion from analysis. Opinion is usually only valuable as an insight into the person expressing the opinion. When that's a columnist, then it's worth approximately the same as the paper it's not printed on. When it's someone of power and importance, it's of value in assessing that person.

Analysis, if done well, is valuable in itself. Obviously, analysis will lead to a conclusion, and that conclusion will be an opinion, but the value is in the analysis that leads to the conclusion, not the conclusion in itself.

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Exactly. Even if the right-wing magazines were as data-driven as their liberal counterparts, they'd still be inferior because they're consuming rather than producing information. People ultimately value innovation over reaction.

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It seems telling that the majority of data-driven and empirical pushback against the illiberal left's ill-evidenced nutjobbery is coming from the liberal left and not the right. There's just not enough of a classical liberal right remaining to do so. Look at Reason's comment section of late, ffs.

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"It seems telling that the majority of data-driven and empirical pushback against the illiberal left's ill-evidenced nutjobbery is coming from the liberal left..."

No, it it isn't and it doesn't..

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City Journal is a rare exception.

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It's funny how often NYT is cast as left-wing while they maintain for themselves to be unbiased centrist.

They are neither.

Most of all they will go any length to exculpate Trump and his "GOP" in fear of losing this cash cow no matter how criminal they are. This isn't unbiased, it's plain right-wing bias.

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The NYT "exculpates" Trump? In what universe?

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Richard doesn't think RW intellectuals matter. He's kinda right in that they don't matter for the RW masses, but they obviously have at least some impact on RW elites. The trick is going to be getting RW elites to harness the RW populist narratives in a constructive way. Desantis, DeAngelis, and Rufo come to mind. But Richard is too obsessed with the stupidity of the RW masses and TV figures to contribute to constructive criticism. Or he's just clickbaiting at this point idk.

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I think right wing intellectuals matter, the civil rights writing is specifically for them so they can apply and use it, I’ve praised efforts of DeSantis and Rufo. Conservative movement is getting too tilted towards the stupids though.

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Agreed that RW intellectuals are ignored by the "TV-driven" conservative movement and GOP, but I think that they helpfully contribute to the overall goal of understanding the world...

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Yes, but no one intelligent reads the NYT for its "fascism panic" coverage. The whole point of Richard's post is that you are free to throw the rotten half of the onion away and eat the rest.

I am paying attention to RW intellectuals, and every once in a while my attention is rewarded with a really good opinion piece or analysis, or sometimes just great writing. News reporting or real-world investigation, however, I have yet to see from these corners.

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I guess it depends on how you define "intelligent," but clearly large swathes of people have been influenced by "fascism panic" and the like pushed by NYT and friends.

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The main problems is that the “right wing” has sold it’s soul under Trump, so much so that it is not at all “conservative” by any measure and it is tilted toward rigidity and fascism. There is very little real discourse within the right, just total opposition to anything labeled “Democratic” irregardless of merit. No discussion, no compromise, at at time when most American want solutions to real problems they have. All Washington politicians and the press that follow them should be fired and replaced

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Also commentary.org and their podcast and magazine.

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

The strongest part of your argument is the complete failure by non-leftists to build strong, effective, honest journalistic enterprises. Really, the pathetic, dishonest, and incompetent people that show up on the right wing media have done more to moderate me than anything else.

The weakest part of your argument is understanding that "learning true facts about the world" is at best a top 10 human activity. People rightly care far more about, among other things, seeing their values reflected in their community and in the world more broadly -- especially in public policy. I don't care if my neighbor is super well informed about the latest details in the Russia-Ukraine war. I do care if my neighbor is an advocate for banning gas stations in my town (and vaping, and gas stoves, and leaf blowers, and lawn fertilizer) because (a) that makes him an annoying person to be around and (b) I live in a community with a lot of people like my neighbor, and my town is the kind of place that loves to implement bans sought by progressive people. The MSM teaches people to be like my neighbor: people whose anxieties are fed by assumptions that underly everything the MSM reports concerning public policy. That's way worse than being uninformed.

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I don't know about the other things, but leaf blowers are also annoying to be around.

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It isn't the job of conservatives to build strong, effective, honest journalistic enterprises, any more than it's their job to create the art that drives the culture. Liberals have many irreplaceable roles in society, and it's incumbant on conservatives to spank them back into place, not replace them.

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For clarification: in your opinion, conservatives should not be journalists or artists, but should limit themselves to critiquing what the liberals create? That sounds kind of weird. 

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No, not that they shouldn't. They just generally don't and most aren't that good at it. If you try to build a full replacement culture using only conservatives, it'll fail. Liberals are good at those things and we need them.

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Disagree that it's "liberals are good at those things." I mean, maybe it is, but you're simply assuming causality without evidence or analysis. You're slipping up on the whole correlation-causality thing. It may be the case not that only liberals can make good movies, but rather that the people who are good at making movies ended up being liberal for one reason or another--but were just as capable of turning out "conservative," had history played out differently.

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Not everything deserves a link to a peer-reviewed source.

Average people on both sides of the political spectrum have clear, hard-wired differences in personality that inform both their professions and political biases (e.g. liberals and libertarians score much higher on openness to experience). Talking liberals into more reasonable political positions is a reasonable goal. Replacing all those people's roles in society using only the skills, abilities and talents of people who currently identify as conservative--not so much. I mean you can do it but it will not be good. And the same vice versa.

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You didn't really reply to my point at all, but okay.

If it's really true that there are a bunch of things that can only be done by liberals, or can only be done well by them, I would say the same is true of politics but rather that it can only be done well by conservatives, and liberals thus have no business participating in it at all.

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"Ooh, it takes every kinda people

To make what life's about, yeah

Every kinda people

To make the world go 'round".

- Robert Palmer

Perhaps unintentional, but your comment could also be interpreted as an argument in favor of a patriarchy, like evangelical complementarianism.

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Different personality types having different roles in society is fairly common-sense. (Complementarianism just applies this to the sexes.) I do think it seems like an error to assume that the lib vs. con divide at present is the way things must be in general. Perhaps as long as it is, the high openness trait which artists tend towards will be a predictor of liberalism. There's just generally so much about conservatism that reads more as a "rebuttal" than its own "narrative," for instance a lack of compelling policy proposals. "Can conservatives these days make cultural output for a general audience, not preaching to the choir?" is the art version of that issue. Tolkien wasn't exactly VeggieTales.

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Jan 22, 2023·edited Jan 22, 2023

Tolkien wound up making a new genre entirely by accident. There is evidently a huge unmet demand for this stuff.

The trope was apparently robust enough you can find pseudo-medieval-European fantasies in *Japan*, where there are video games clearly inspired by it. Of course, lacking cultural cringe, they can enjoy their exotic setting in peace, whereas any American trying to make a samurai game would be pilloried by AAPI groups for cultural appropriation.

Country music's popular. I can't think of any other right-leaning genres.

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Thanks Jay for sharing my surmise that our tribal hunger for community trumps our intellect. I admire Richard because as far as I can tell has deftly free-soloed his way up the Ivory Tower--that is without any rope ties, grant strings or other belays—it’s usually safer to profess than confess. But confess Richard does in statements that God bless him are as bold as they are empirically unsupportable.

As a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist who studied with mass media super theorist Elihu Katz in grad school, I can’t help admiring the moxie he shows here in baldly stating that the American media is “one of the most honest, decent, and fair institutions designed for producing and spreading truth in human history…simply reading the media, and trusting what it says, is the best way to stay informed.”

I haven’t a quibble with his key thesis: that American foreign policy is influenced more by government contractors, subjective loyalties and foreign machinations than by the single “grand strategy” such as the one that a small group of “wise gentlemen” cooked up to ensure America would triumph in Vietnam. (Spoiler: we didn’t.)

That said, many of Richard’s “solutions” are as reductive as those of the grand strategy theorists he derides.

The problem begins wit his cartoonish presumption that americans can be divided, per google maps, into people who’ve turned left or right. “Your choices are to rely on leftist to be an informed person or to live in ignorance.” As to why, he lazily says “as I write this the nyt …has stories about” inflation and the Ukraine that are mostly if not all true.” Staying in such cartoonish anecdotage, let me respond that as I write this the Wall Street Journal has stories about how Japan has agreed to limit chip exports to china and how “the future of restaurants is to go” that probably are even more true (because the Journal reporters have a unique reason to be right: their readers often hold shares in the companies they cover).

“The only answer to media bias…is to reform the media,” Richard concludes, without even alluding such reforms, which I suspect even he knows would be misguided, for no number of bombs can eliminate established cultural institutions.

It gets worse when Richard tries to defend the few instances in which he says the “leftist” media got it wrong, such as in their hook, line and sinker embrace of the notion that Saddam had WMDS.

“WMDs,” Richard writes, involve “extremely complicated and … unprovable claims.” The opposite obviously is true: there either are wmds or there aren’t, as our satellites and resonance imaging can prove.

Richard’s most ridiculous can be found on the homepage of CSPI, the UCLA think tank he runs.

“Over the last few decades,” he writes, “scientific and technological progress have stagnated….groundbreaking innovation is scarce.” Anyone who’s gotten an mrna shot against covid know this is nonsense.

In graduate school I worked happily with Elihu katz, who treated me with respect. Since my dear but fiercely demanding mentor died in Jerusalem last December, I feel unabashed to confess that I never really was able to marry Elihu's equations with facts of the ground. The natural sciences have progressed by leaps and bounds, contrary to Richard’s assertion. Not so the social science.

That’s why I ultimately came away from this piece with great respect for Richard, for I surmise that his ultimate goal is not proving points to the Academy but provoking you and I to better understand received wisdoms.

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I read this piece with particular interest, as I am a reporter (for the Sandusky Register). I even interviewed Richard once for a piece for my newspaper. A few points:

1. Journalism is fun, particularly if you like to write and are curious and like to go around asking questions about things that interest you. There are unique perks to the job. Once, I realized that I could not only watch my favorite show on MTV, I could call the network and interview the host! Similarly, I lean libertarian in my political views, and it was fun to track down Harry Browne, the Libertarian Party candidate for president years ago, and interview him on the phone.

That said, most journalists see what they do as a calling and really do believe they serve the public. Every single journalist I know could make more money and work better hours (seldom having to work on weekends, or at night, or take calls or emails from the boss after hours) by becoming a PR flack for a corporation of the government. Many do, but some still stick it out.

2. When I moved to Cleveland about 20 years ago, I could not find a job at first as a reporter, so I worked for a few months in a bookstore. I've always loved books and I always wondered what it would be like to work in a bookstore. I remember the store manager telling us that the public could be very mean, and that dealing with the public was not for everyone. Well, I thought bookstore customers were very nice, compared to dealing with the public as a reporter. It turns out, nobody hates you just because you work for a bookstore.

3. I do think that maybe reporters have generally gotten a bit more biased and partisan than in the past. There is more of an attitude that Republicans have gotten so crazy they don't always deserve to be quoted in the paper.

Of course, there aren't two sides to every question. Alexander Cockburn satirized this years ago, when he imagined a point/counterpoint PBS show, "Jesus of Nazareth: Should he be crucified?" But I think there are two sides more often than some reporters or editors would admit.

4. Dealing with politicians from both parties is usually the same -- if you are polite and don't act like an idiot, they will talk to you and treat you fairly -- but I have noticed some differences.

Republican politicians seem particularly grateful to be treated fairly. I get the sense they don't expect it. Democrats tend to assume you are in their camp and they can actually be touchier. I wonder if other reporters have the same impression.

I have also noticed recently with some of the more MAGA Republicans that some of them just won't talk to the press anymore. This happened to me with Jim Jordan. Years ago, he was a normal politician and I could call his press secretary, and Jordan would call me back and answer my questions. Not anymore.

I think this may be simply that Jordan has become a national figure and can reach more people on Fox, through Twitter, etc. But I also noticed that the guy who ran for Congress in our local district, J.R. Majewski, would not talk to me either, even after I tried to reach out to him via a friendly local Republican. Is this part of a larger trend? Rob Portman, the outgoing Ohio senator, made himself available to reporters. I am curious whether J.D. Vance will, too.

5. Richard mentions that he's always been treated fairly by reporters. I suspect that his luck will run out eventually, but I'm pleased at his experiences. I also suspect that the people who interview him are self-selected to be unusually curious and intelligent. (Many of the people you interview are because you have to, they are newsmakers, but I suspect one seeks out a public intellectual out of interest). This is arguably a self-serving theory, as I interviewed Richard once, but I still think there might be something to it.

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Thanks for your comments Tom. I think the low-trust MAGA thing of not talking to reporters isn’t a great trend, and shows what has gone wrong with blind media hatred.

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One can only be repeatedly treated so poorly by the left wing media that eventually any sentient Republican will determine that it is a waste of time to expect fair treatment by the MSM. Would you bother giving your time to a class of people who has ill intent towards you?

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If you refuse to communicate with the left (or, for that matter, the right) where it is, you have no hope of ever persuading them. So yes, Republicans should accept invitations to MSNBC and Democrats to FOX, on the logic that they may let you get a few words in and those words might get one viewer in a hundred thinking the "wrong" way. Yes, some studies have shown that hearing an argument from both sides actually makes people more extreme in their views on average, but voting is binary: if you get one opponent to switch sides while 99 become more sure about their views, that's a net gain.

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"Blind media hatred?"

Or 'fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me'?

DeSantis is nobody's fool, and he's been selectively freezing out large untrustworthy swathes of the MSM from interviews and access. Reflect on that.

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It’s easier than ever to interact directly with the public, so I don’t see why the media being a conduit is necessary anymore.

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"There is a major exception when it comes to the “holy trinity” of liberalism, that is topics having to do with race, gender, and sexual orientation, but even here the problem is not lies as much as that the press is blinded by ideology. "

This sort of kills your entire article. The problem is the holy trinity is weaved into everything so everything becomes the exception. Being "blinded by ideology" has just a deleterious an effect as lies here so not sure why you frame it as "better." I would add mental health/therapy as a pillar of the regime's secular quasi-religion as well.

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They aren’t in every article though, or close to it. Like if your read the NYT, maybe 5% or something have race, sex, etc as a major component. Go to the website now and look. I just did and see FTX, Ukraine, the debt ceiling, George Santos, etc. The nonsense is there but the paper is much much more than that.

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Sampling the front page underestimates the amount of false beliefs institutions like the NYT contribute to the wider culture. Counting the number of articles that are mostly factual doesn’t work, because it’s the very choice of *which* factual stories to signal boost and which to bury is the method by which they communicate a misleading state of the world to their readers.

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Right, the disturbing thing about the news is the worldview it instills or reinforces in the minds of its readers. A defender of MSM can focus on numbers of “good” articles versus numbers of unhinged articles, but the proof is in the pudding. To convince me MSM publication X is good and helpful, I would need to see a survey of X’s dedicated readers showing they hold reasonable views about major issues in society. Judging by NYT readers’ comments, such a survey would not be pretty.

The numbers of good versus bad articles in X is the output. The overall impact X has on the worldview of its readership is the outcome. The outcome is what really matters. And I’m quite convinced the outcome is a major indictment of the MSM in the current environment.

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One of Richard's points is that you have to compare the MSM to other institutions that exist. What alternative large audience would you expect to be better-informed? (Also, I'm not sure those who comment are fully representative of those who read)

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I would guess that the average Daily Wire reader is better informed than the average reader of any "mainstream" leftie rag. But I tend to agree with the Daily Wire on pretty much everything, and the NYT on nothing, so I'm biased. Point is, I have no qualms in saying that right wing media are better than left wing media.

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I took a look at the Daily Wire just now. Of the dozens of articles on the front page, the overwhelming majority were culture war related. Even granting that the Daily Wire is right and the NYT is wrong about culture war stuff, the culture war is only a tiny fraction of NYT's coverage, as Hanania mentions. The majority of their output is about non-partisan current events, technology, human interest stories, cultural trends, etc. (This also makes me suspicious of your "I agree with the NYT on nothing" claim - it seems likely that you only become aware of the NYT's culture war fodder).

So maybe the Daily Wire's readers score 100% on the culture war section of the 'well-informed exam', but I would expect the NYT readers to do a lot better on the other sections.

I find the MSM's coverage of certain topics frustrating for many of the same reasons Hanania does, but I'm left-of-center overall, so I'm biased towards the NYT relative to the Daily Wire. In your opinion, when a story is genuinely nuanced, how well does the Daily Wire do in communicating the nuances? My impression is that NYT/WSJ do this better than Daily Wire-type sites, and the Atlantic often does this better than the NYT.

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I can compare the MSM to mainstream churches. I would find the church's message of love to be far superior to the MSM who preaches division and sensationalism

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Churches are not a replacement for the MSM when it comes to being informed about current events. You’re saying that churches are superior to the MSM for moral centering, which is irrelevant to anything this post is discussing.

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We can at least compare main stream media today to main stream media as it existed in the past, at least before "wokeness" took over.

Certainly main stream media in the past was less partisan and almost certainly more balanced, factual or reasonable when it came to some of these big societal issues. I expect the large audience of main stream news consumers from 50 years ago to be better informed about human sexual biology for example and probably hold more realistic views about the dangers of racism, white supremacy and fascism (and subsequently: communism).

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Hanania is claiming that the MSM is better now than at most points in history - intuitively, I agree with him, at least if we're talking ~50+ years ago.

I also have the gut sense that wokeness has made the MSM worse on certain topics relative to, say, the 1990s or early 2000s, without any compensating increase in quality. The argument against this is basically that the elite-manufactured consensus was always biased and wrong, and the difference now is just that social media makes it easier to hear opposing voices. A lot of journalism after 9/11 was extremely jingoistic and supportive of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars, but countercultural messages that challenged the consensus couldn't spread as effectively online as they can now.

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Thank you. I was going to argue exclusively against the whole 5% thing. The key is that the 5% has an impact on huge issues that punch about the 5% of the weight of "ink" spilled in the NYT on a given day. You might as well view the WWI experience as waiting around playing cards since the Battle of the Somme was some insignificant percentage.

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You have to admire Richard: he does not give a flying f**k who he offends, and he goes out of his way to provoke his own team. 

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A lot of the wokeness is in the stories they don't cover. Lying by omission is a huge problem. As well, look at how they slant the stories. Or how they make excuses for the class of people they like and invent half truths against the ones they don't. Find me three positive article about Trump (to pull any example out of the air) in the NYT vs the hundreds that were against him.

Look at how they treated Musk....until he left the reservation and started revealing his middle of the road leanings. He was god incarnate before he bought Twitter. He was going to save the world with his electric cars. Now he's worth less than dirt.

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I mean, most of the reporting in Pravda was probably fine too. The point being that 5% or so that’s worst probably intersects a lot with the 5% that’s important. It’s likely the stories that are most read, and most likely to have an impact. Just quantifying what % of articles have issues isn’t the right metric. I don’t doubt news sites are honest and dispassionate about the weather, who won the sports game or novel prize, or the details of the latest trade agreement right. It’s easy to be honest and dispassionate about things that don’t impact how people vote or think about politics.

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Yes and one of those things that really matters is foreign policy and war, including the potential for it to go nuclear. But thanks to the military-industrial-congressional-media complex (the last component being the key) the propaganda is ubiquitous. When you have a situation where the media never met a war, a proxy war, a saber-rattling exercise or demonizing effort of the latest official bogeyman that they didn't eagerly support, when these same institutions are routinely more hawkish than Pentagon planners, and when it happens time and again throughout history - it reveals more about the legacy media's role as stenographers of state power than anything else. Given this huge credibility gap for which there's rarely any real accountability (eg. Russiagate) I'm less interested in what they think about other topics (and more suspicious).

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First off agreed I was being hyperbolic/riffing there are not race/sex etc. in 100% of NYT articles.

I think the media is dishonest and bad b/c they amplify/deamplify and subsequently frame issues through the lens of

1. Elites/Globohomo/Regime/Cathedral/Deep State whatever you want to call it

2. Woke who are useful pawns of the first group whose price is caving to some of their religious beliefs(black worship, mental health/therapy, Trans etc.)

It's more than just picking up keywords and saying 5% contain race/sex etc.. It's selection of stories what and what not to publish, what are the initial articles that form foundation for people's views like, the position on the page, how many times the same theme is repeated(a ukraine story, a ftx story etc.) the wording of the headlines, the pictures accompanying them.

(anyone whose worked on search algos knows keyword frequency is not sufficient for a good search experience)

Trans shit would not even be point of contention had the media not covered it.

Genetics and the heritability of cognitive traits and potential to edit for them is one of the most important issues yet very little press from anyone.

How about a deep dive into WEF documents/presentations that are open source since Davos happening? https://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_Global_Risks_Report_2023.pdf

Basically any major story arc gets pozzed to some degree and tons of important things don't even make it to story arc status(which is really the more important thing here). Avg "pozzedness" has to be weighted by salience of the story at the very least you can't just say 95% of articles(but with 15% of the views) good therefore media good imo.

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But those are the articles that matter when it comes to shaping public life. 95% of articles that are about the local cuisine in Malaysia or something do not matter when it comes to influencing political conflicts, cultural change, etc. But that 5% screaming about white privilege does. Also what's funny is that all four of the things you named are political and would probably show left wing bias if I looked at them (most notably George Santos--as if the NYT would ever run an article on the many left wingers who lied about their background, including Joe Biden himself.)

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The NYT has literally run an article about Biden lying about his background: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/10/us/politics/biden-exaggeration-falsehood.html

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Good on them. I will admit I did not expect that. I would really like to compare that article to whatever they have about George Santos, but unfortunately I'm not going to pay them to get past the paywall, so I'll just have to run with my assumption that they think Santos should resign and Biden shouldn't.

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I know the guy stole a car. But look at all the cars he walked by and didn't steal. I mean, can we really call him a thief if he only stole 5% of the cars in the parking lot?

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🤣🤣🤣

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However, the woke angle has been getting pushed more and more into stories. Your own Zach Goldberg has shown it with his statistical analyses. I agree that it's not "everything", but it's getting worse, not better.

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Nothing beats "Notes for the Reactionary of Tomorrow"...

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The media has an irrational hate for white people, conservative people and lesser so men. Since I am a conservative white man, and the media has a hate for me, I will in turn refuse to relinquish my hate of the media.

The media would much rather me die than live seeing as how I contribute to global warming and all. I don't see why I should be hospitable to anyone who would rather me die than live.

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Jan 18, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

I feel like this comment kind of proves the thesis of the article. I was with you, and I think Hanania would mostly be with you, for that first paragraph. Obviously, the media has lost its mind on these topics.

But you let that reasonable critique drive you off the deep end. There are lots of things I hate that I don't want to see exterminated ("rather die than live"). Take the DEI industry. I hate it and I hope I'd quit my job if I were forced to sit through a training (so far that's not a bridge I've had to cross, because I've been fortunate to always work for right-wingers like myself, despite being a lawyer in California, and no I don't think that's a coincidence). But I certainly don't think that there should be laws against private companies paying for their services, let alone that DEI consultants should be sent to extermination camps.

The same would apply to MSM coverage of the holy trinity, in which they do indeed evince a considerable disdain for you (our) and your (our) kind, but not a desire to exterminate you or me.

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

Oh no. There are a significant number of left wingers who will be very happy to kill all conservatives. I am not joking about that. Have you heard of these.... "kill all men". "kill all cops". "white people must die" . This is not hyperbole. They really mean it.

I'm sure that not all lefties want to kill me, but a significant number do. And of the ones that don't want to kill me, you have a large number of them who refuse to even associate with a conservative. I have had perfectly good conversations with some of these people until they find out that I am unvaxxed. And then they find a way to excuse themselves from the conversation.

Again, I have no love for these people. I do not believe that I am being irrational. If you think i am, that is your prerogative. But the left hates you. God bless you for tolerating it.

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This is a sad level of paranoia. Yes, someone on the left wants to “kill you.” Many on the right want to kill me over things like abortion and they’ve told me so directly. So what? 99% of people of any background don’t want to kill you, and you focus on the one in a million leftists who say “kill whites” and make it the most important thing in the world. This is no different than the most paranoid black or trans activists finding the people who hate them most and thinking it’s representative of something important.

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History shows that what typically happens is, those few who are serious about killing you will get power and then the 99% who aren't will sit by and watch while you get killed. I do agree that literally being killed for your identity is unlikely in first world nations, but being harmed for it in some way is not unlikely at all, in fact it's totally commonplace depending on who you are, and it's the same basic dynamic. It only takes one woke ideologue to start causing problems and if they do, everyone else is just going to shut up and let it happen.

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Literally the exact same thing trans activists say. Are they right?

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No, it isn't. Trans activists delve into wild hyperbole and like to imply, if not outright claim, that there is some kind of huge epidemic of trans people being murdered for no apparent reason besides that they were trans. I'll repeat, I do not think you are actually likely to be murdered for your identity in a first world nation, even if you are of a disfavored identity such as white conservative. The suggestion that this is happening en masse to trans people just because conservatives exist is a vicious and evil lie.

Likewise, trans activists' claims of persecution, violent or otherwise, are simply false. In a dispute between a white Christian conservative and a trans activist, the ruling class and the authorities more generally will side with the latter. It may be the case that if Christian conservatives somehow seized the reins of power trans activists would face persecution. But the current reality is much the opposite.

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I’m a leftist, and I don’t hate you and certainly don’t want to kill you! Very few leftists in real life are as full of hate as you think. You may be surprised to know that lots of leftists think, incorrectly, that a typical conservative hates and wants to kill THEM. This whole rage thing sucks.

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Thank you my friend. I am quite sure that I wouldn't want to kill you either. It does indeed suck that we are so polarized. Nothing good can come from it.

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This is the point of the piece. Matt Taibbi wrote the book “Hate , Inc” to articulate the industry that is driven (ultimately) by manufacturing and capitalizing on bias. The take home for me over the past 10 years has been that there seems to be a perfect marginal distribution of equal and opposite sentiments on the left and right flanks of the American populace that now will believe anything their in-group celebrated personalities profess to them. It’s quite liberating to understand this. If you believe “the other side” is worse (whichever that is), you might be listening too much to your “side”.

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I use as my measuring stick the fact that I cannot state even one single genuine political opinion that I have in mixed company without upsetting people or causing some kind of scene. And most of the opinions that I would voice would just be standard conservative stuff. But for instance, if a new movie comes out and I am not in a "safe" group of fellow conservatives, I cannot simply say "I don't like it because it's woke." To do so will start drama and shitfights.

So long as that remains the case, I think that yes, there is a serious and ongoing problem, and it's not something that is simply made up by the media. I shouldn't have to walk on eggshells in every single conversation even about inane things like sports or movies due to the over-infusion of woke politics into every crevasse of life.

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Thank you for the recommendation. I will look into the book.

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

Of the people on the left who would genuinely like to kill you, maybe one out of a thousand actually has the guts to do anything, though. People talk one way on the internet; in the real world, where they actually have to face some element of personal risk? They act quite differently.

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Once enough people and institutions become radicalised, systems will emerge where killing or harming will happen, and it becomes more a matter of how many people have the guts to stop that.

It starts with allowing, even encouraging demonising of people because of their identity. Guess what's been happening to white people over the past decade or so.

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Kyle Rittenhouse found out there was a mob that wanted to kill him .

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If you had been in the DEI struggle sessions I've been in, you would know they want to kill us. When they say they want to "abolish whiteness" they mean it.

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I mean, I'm against extermination camps in general, I'm not sure those are ever a good idea. But should the DEI industry go out of business? I think obviously it should, yes. Should we have a law banning it? Maybe, I'd have to think about that. But let's imagine that it just stopped existing--all of a sudden people all realized that it's retarded and stopped paying attention to it. I think we can all agree that that would be a Good Thing.

This is what was pretty much done to things like white nationalism. Yes, technically it's legal to be a white nationalist and technically a few of them still exist if you look hard enough, but for all intents and purposes, you're not really allowed to be a white nationalist anymore. This is the same fate that something like DEI should ultimately suffer. I find that many liberals display the attitude you show here and try to portray things as some sort of extreme black-or-white binary choice whereby you either leave DEI alone completely or else you're some sort of frothing maniac that wants to send DEI people to death camps.

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In Richard's defense it's clear from this article and his most recent book that he's not into "exterminating" institutions. If you’re like Richard Hanania—who as far as I can tell has deftly free-soloed his way up the Ivory Tower--that is without any rope ties, grant strings or other belays—it’s usually safer to profess than confess. But confess Richard does in statements that God bless him are as bold as they are empirically unsupportable.

As a Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist who studied with mass media super theorist Elihu Katz in grad school, I can’t help admiring the moxy he shows here in baldly stating that the American media is “one of the most honest, decent, and fair institutions designed for producing and spreading truth in human history…simply reading the media, and trusting what it says, is the best way to stay informed.”

I haven’t a quibble with his key thesis: that American foreign policy is influenced more by government contractors, subjective loyalties and foreign machinations than by the single “grand strategy” such as the one that a small group of “wise gentlemen” cooked up to ensure America would triumph in Vietnam. (Spoiler: we didn’t.)

That said, many of Richard’s “solutions” are as reductive as those of the grand strategy theorists he derides.

The problem begins wit his cartoonish presumption that americans can be divided, per google maps, into people who’ve turned left or right. “Your choices are to rely on leftist to be an informed person or to live in ignorance.” As to why, he lazily says “as I write this the nyt …has stories about” inflation and the Ukraine that are mostly if not all true.” Staying in such cartoonish anecdotage, let me respond that as I write this the Wall Street Journal has stories about how Japan has agreed to limit chip exports to china and how “the future of restaurants is to go” that probably are even more true (because the Journal reporters have a unique reason to be right: their readers often hold shares in the companies they cover).

“The only answer to media bias…is to reform the media,” Richard concludes, without even alluding such reforms, which I suspect even he knows would be misguided, for no number of bombs can eliminate established cultural institutions.

It gets worse when Richard tries to defend the few instances in which he says the “leftist” media got it wrong, such as in their hook, line and sinker embrace of the notion that Saddam had WMDS.

“WMDs,” Richard writes, involve “extremely complicated and … unprovable claims.” The opposite obviously is true: there either are wmds or there aren’t, as our satellites and resonance imaging can prove.

Richard’s most ridiculous can be found on the homepage of CSPI, the UCLA think tank he runs.

“Over the last few decades,” he writes, “scientific and technological progress have stagnated….groundbreaking innovation is scarce.” Anyone who’s gotten an mrna shot against covid know this is nonsense.

In graduate school I worked happily with Elihu katz, who treated me with respect. Since my dear but fiercely demanding mentor died in Jerusalem last December, I feel fre to admit that I never really understood the mechanics of his mathematical sociology, even though I’m told it helped advertisers sell more goodas on TV and radio after World War II.

The natural sciences have progressed by leaps and bounds, contrary to Richard’s assertion. Not so the social science.

That’s why I ultimately came away from this piece with great respect for Richard, for I surmise that his ultimate goal is not proving points to the Academy but provoking you and I to better understand received wisdoms.

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I sympathize with this point of view, but one thing I've become entirely convinced of reading Hanania is that you'll never win using the weapons of your adversary.

Civil rights law was created to destroy what is important to the right. Even in the best case, the people charged with implementing civil rights law don't believe it should be used for what you want to use it for. You'll never achieve lasting victories this way. The very best you'll do is slow them down, and then only in certain areas. Better to sweep the whole thing away.

If a Republican president created a department of anti-wokeness, it would still end up staffed by lefty bureaucrats (because lefties are who become bureaucrats; righties with the same skill set go into the private sector and make money), who would decide that anti-wokeness means wokeness.

This is the same as the right flirting with unions. I used to think there was something to this, and then I remembered what unions are.

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A lot of big political changes have been accompanied by people interpreting laws or policies in ways that their original writers never would have intended, or at least reading additional meaning into them that clearly wasn't there at the time they were first passed:

--Abortion is an extreme example of this with Roe v. Wade. The idea of a constitutional right to abortion is absurd and something that of course never existed and was only made to exist through torturous levels of motivated reasoning. Nonetheless, it was the law of the land for fifty years, simply because those in power wished it so.

--The idea that separation of church and state means that the state must, in effect, practice secularism as its religion and more or less outlaw Christianity from all public spaces.

--Ideas of racial or gender equality derived from the Declaration, Constitution, or Bill of Rights (while we can see the logical progression from the idea of "all men are created is equal", clearly this did not include blacks or women for quite a while there).

Et cetera.

I don't entirely disagree with your sentiment, but felt this was worth pointing out. The notion that it is impossible for the right to effect change in this same manner might very well be true, but the implications of that are not comfortable to think about at all, as it would mean that the right's efforts to "work within the system" are simply futile and their only course of action is to pursue full-scale regime change.

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I completely agree with all of that, but I think it sort of proves my point. All those interpretive trends have been in one direction: left. This, indeed, is what happened with civil rights law, as your comment discusses. If you read the civil rights laws, they're pretty innocuous and difficult to really argue with. It's all in implementation.

Barry Goldwater understood this and what would happen, which is why he put himself out on such a limb and took such a political hit for opposing the civil rights acts.

It's a very tough situation, and unfortunately there isn't a great way out unless and until we can change the ideological tilt of the bureaucrat class. The problem is that won't ever happen, I don't think. Government work just isn't in us righties, unless maybe we can be in charge and/or be lawyers at the same time.

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"All those interpretive trends have been in one direction: left."

Yes, and that is why I say I don't disagree with your overall sentiment. None of us can know the future, but if we look at the past, it certainly seems to be true that "progress" is only possible in one direction under the current regime. But this is a very difficult fact for people to recognize and grapple with honestly, because the implications are very dark. I won't pretend that I know of a "way out" any more than you do.

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This comment reminds me of when woke people say hysterical things about how their political opponents "want Black and trans people dead" or whatever. I think the tendency to jump to "Why should I be charitable to people who literally want me dead?" is woke-like and shows that a form of victimhood culture exists on the right too. I'm not saying there are no valid reasons to resent or even hate "liberal elites," I'm just saying that jumping right to this sort of argument is hardly better than what the other side does.

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I used to think like you. But then Trump and COVID happened. The woke colluded with the MSM, internet companies, the intelligence community, the 3 letter agencies of the govt and leftist politicians to enact policies that are dangerous and unconstitutional. Vaccine mandates, censorship of conservatives and medical professionals, unvaxxed people being denied medical coverage, old people being denied family companionship during their last dying days. It's serious business. Trumps whole term in office was undermined by the woke colluding with the intelligence community, the MSM and internet companies.

If after all of what has taken place over the last 5 years, you still see it as benign, I don't know what to tell you.

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The gist of this essay seems to be: "When it comes to matters where I have deep subject matter expertise, the media is batshit bonkers. However when it comes to matters where I have neither the acumen nor the desire to gain deep understanding, I find the media to be highly informative." Isn't this the very definition of Gell-Mann amnesia?

My personal experience is that every time I have found an issue compelling enough to acquire a deep understanding, I realized the corporate media was presenting it in an irredeemably distorted light. Usually this isn't a matter of outright lying so much as selective curation (which in my opinion is far more pernicious). The first few times I encountered this, I thought maybe it was due to the journalists in question honestly overlooking important facets of their stories. Now I mostly attribute it to a combination of pathological glibness and ideological blindness.

So what is one to do? I have no idea. Relying primarily on the corporate media seems ill-advised because you're viewing the world through a funhouse mirror where you can never be certain precisely how it's being distorted. Right wing media is sometimes useful for filling in the blanks but not much else. Substack is nice but isn't all-encompassing--at least in a finite amount of time. I really don't know.

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"If I talk to such friends long enough, I can usually get them to grudgingly admit that, yes, January 6 was an attempt to overthrow the government, and maybe that’s not the best thing in the world. But their heart is never into the conversation, and they then change the subject to BLM."

I think the obvious distinction here is the degree of coordination involved with, and elite support backing the months-long BLM riots/functional equiavalent of pogroms.

On the other hand the Jan 6 riots were the largely impulsive actions of retarded plebes, and it was an event of little consequence for most Americans (the only people whose livelihoods were destroyed that day were those of the rioters themselves).

Also, the BLM riots—coupled with mass third world immigration—are harbingers of a new social order, the foundations for which are already entrenched in many elite institutions. By contrast, the Jan 6 riots were doomed to fail at the start, and there is no prospect for some right wing junta in the states.

Your friends are therefore completely justified in dismissing and downplaying 1/6. Indeed, given the plausible threat that this country becomes a third world hellscape in the vein of South Africa or Brazil, anybody who entertains concerns about 1/6 or threats to "democracy" should be treated with suspicion.

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cant believe people this stupid exist

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

It's odd that the author thinks that without the NYT and WaPo and others serving as uncritical mouthpieces for American power we will descend into "nihilism"

The culture war bias I can almost live with. It's the fact that the media every day fails to perform its fundamental responsibility of speaking truth to power that warrants all of our antipathy and mistrust.

The most interesting and important stories are ignored by media when they are inconvenient for America power. Why aren't we seeing endless reporting to uncover the origins of covid? Why so little reporting on Epstein? Why so little critical reporting on the military industrial complex and the rot that allows America to constantly, destructively and profitably make war with the world without consequences for its warmakers? Why so little reporting on the Russiagate hoax that should be one of the biggest scandals in American political history? Where are the stories about the Ukraine Russia war that challenge the NATO narrative, such as on neo Nazi influence or western meddling? Why so little attention to the Twitter files which reveal a fascistic merger of state and corporate power to thwart our first amendment?

All of these neglected stories reveal a media that serves the American establishment rather than holding it to account. Again this is a corruption of the fundamental democratic purpose of the fourth estate. The media therefore deserves all the contempt and mistrust it receives. The American people will be better served when the legacy media is bankrupted and replaced by a new media willing to earn the trust of the American people by doing it's job.

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The lack of reporting on Epstein while not the biggest failure is maybe the most telling because the relevant fact are easy to find public details and they act like “oh well we will never know.” Makes me think it’s a conspiracy (NOT GOOD). Same with their kid glove treatment of SBF while the non lefty crypto exchange guy got a hit piece.

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In order:

No new information is available - if the CCP knows anything about that, they're not telling. What do you expect reporters to do - fly to China, try to sneak documents out of the country, and get put in a concentration camp?

Partly no new information, and partly that it's frankly not that important. A guy did bad things and he's dead now. It doesn't make sense, as with that joke about Francisco Franco, to run a story every week with the headline "Epstein Still Dead".

I'm with you on this one, but it's worth noting that most critics of that are aligned with the left or the libertarians.

People, even intelligent professionals, believing things that turn out not to be true is not a "hoax".

I've seen plenty of MSM coverage of those things.

They reveal nothing of the kind. Twitter is not real life.

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>Partly no new information, and partly that it's frankly not that important. A guy did bad things and he's dead now. It doesn't make sense, as with that joke about Francisco Franco, to run a story every week with the headline "Epstein Still Dead".

So a sex trafficker sells underage girls to unknown multitudes of the rich and powerful, the media refuses to ask who the clients were, and your conclusion is "I guess there was nothing to see here?" Wow. I mean, the MSM seemed very interested in beating a dead horse over and over with nothing to show for it, when it came to Trump and Russia. They did that for 3 years only for it to be proven at the end that the whole thing was completely made up start to finish. If we got to the bottom of Epstein's client list, what are the odds the whole thing would turn out to be a nothingburger? Why can't the media spend 3 years demanding answers on that?

This is truly some of the most transparent motivated reasoning I've ever seen, and it's a common motte-and-bailey tactic used on stories the left prefers to ignore. Pretend it doesn't exist for a while, then if forced to address it, say it's old news at this point. Reminds me of the classic Biden quote "That was four days, five days ago man!"

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Who are they supposed to ask? Are they supposed to walk up to Epstein's old house, knock on the front door, and ask for a list of all the people who committed statutory rape in it from whoever answers? Given how tabloids operate, you can be sure if such a list could be found, someone would have done so and published it. If Maxwell had such a thing to bargain with, she would have done so before being sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Epstein is part of a broader pattern of (almost entirely) men who think they're entitled to sexually abuse people, and that spans all races and classes, though of course some more than others. Sex traffickers aren't an elite conspiracy - they're your neighbor who watched too many 80s sex "comedies", wasn't told "no" enough as a child, and/or grew up around violent criminals. The calls are coming from inside the house. And to the extent there's a news story around Epstein, that is it.

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Hmm, not bad. Many fair points.

1) I also use NYT and WAPO when making arguments with liberal friends. But this is mostly because I don't think my friends will believe things if they don't come from those sources.

2) "If conservatives are at war with the left, then the fact that they give you the ammunition that you use to fire at them, which conservatives don’t have the industrial base to manufacture themselves, is itself impressive." True, but I'm not convinced this will continue on indefinitely. There have been ongoing efforts over the years to conceal data in favor of narratives. What makes you think the censors can't eventually win?

3) Even if the data is often correct, the framing is almost exclusively most friendly to progressive ideology. One of my favorite articles about homicides:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/black-americans-are-killed-at-12-times-the-rate-of-people-in-other-developed-countries/ which is framed as a "blacks are victimized in America" article instead of a "blacks commit way more homicides article". I also love this article because it demonstrates that, despite our ridiculously large number of guns, whites in the US are victims of homicide at a rate close to Finland or Latvia!! But I digress. The point is that most people don't dig into the actual truth or data in the articles, they just read the headline or skim the article for the vibe.

4) And the endless stream of anti-white propaganda is worrisome and gross, even if it only makes up <1% of their content.

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Jan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023

https://twitter.com/charlesmurray/status/1615564189095047168?s=20&t=yZRZ9YNXuuidgXVYELVIrA

"As long as the topic does not involve sex, race, class, genetics, IQ, illegal immigration, the effects of social policy, constitutional law, or life in flyover country. On everything else, they’re terrific."

Well said, Charles Murray.

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I'm shocked, *shocked* that the author of The Bell Curve would think he was unfairly maligned for his views on IQ, and therefore there's some systematic bias in reporting on the issue. Surely it had nothing to do with his motivated reasoning and doing violence to statistical analysis.

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Yes, and I'm sure that you're shocked, *shocked* that we landed on the moon in 1969.

Try actually reading the Bell Curve; you might learn something.

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I did try, a decade or two ago. Was too painful, there's a limit to what I can subject myself to.

About the only thing I learned from the experience is how crucial it is to bolster the quality of statistics education in this country. On that, I hope, everyone here can agree.

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Give some examples.

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The fact that 99 out of 100 stories run in the MSM are technically "factual" in no way minimizes the harm they do to truth and balance in reporting. As I hope you appreciate, it's all in what they cover, and what they choose NOT to cover. In other words, editorial policy is everything... e.g., Hunter Biden's laptop

Furthermore, lulling the readers into a false sense of trust with factual reporting on mundane issues allows an opening for influential papers like the NYT to more effectively slip their sick Marxist race, class and sex agenda into the minds of a naive public. Advancing their woke agenda is much more important to the activists running NYT than worrying about the number of tanks on the battlefield in Ukraine. They're happy to do a good job providing accurate data for the latter, if it will help build the trust necessary to facilitate the former.

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Well said.

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Fought my own cognitive dissonance but found myself in surprisingly high agreement with this piece. Especially hard to disagree with that last concluding paragraph (yes I read the article merely pointing it out for its summative value).

Recently was looking for videos on the early days of war in Donbass and Russia's invasion of Crimea, and Vice did a ton of videos back in 2014 in those places that are almost all worth watching. Very interesting to see what's changed, how the Russian and Ukrainian attitudes were back then, as well as the populace.

You should have Scott Adams on the podcast, it would be a very interesting conversation as despite being from different backgrounds I see you both as being on similar planes of thought.

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I think, or hope, you mean Scott Alexander, whose posts he linked as a starting point for his argument. I would agree he thinks and writes with a striking amount of clarity, and is - like Richard - largely unconcerned with sticking to orthodoxy or being perceived as saying "The right things".

Scott Adams... not so much.

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Scott Alexander has adamantly refused to be interviewed on podcasts.

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Truth be told I have no idea who Scott Alexander is. Never heard of him.

My reasoning in bringing up Scott Adams was him and Richard seem like they are both good at detecting BS and recognizing experts when they get it right

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Jan 18, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

I actually found this hitting a little too close to home. I've got an ongoing axe to grind against Wokeness for what it did (or, what we, the geeks, let it do) to my hobbies; to tabletop gaming, video games, fantasy/sci-fi literature, and cinema (and the media surrounding these).

Now even complaining about Wokeness has become Cringe.

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"If I talk to such friends long enough, I can usually get them to grudgingly admit that, yes, January 6 was an attempt to overthrow the government, and maybe that’s not the best thing in the world."

I'm surprised your high IQ friends don't pick the low-hanging fruit here. If a toddler attacked me with a plastic fork, that might in some extremely literal sense be attempted murder.

January 6 was a bunch of losers doing loser crap for loser reasons and all they'd ever have done is lose, lose, lose. This is actually part of why I still think there's hope for conservative media, as that is close to the narrative I've gotten from National Review, for instance.

In that regard, I don't think it's too much to ask for the MSM to incorporate a few more smart conservatives, like Charlie Cooke, Kevin Williamson, or Aaron Sibarium (or even Victor Davis Hanson!), but even this does indeed seem to be too much to ask. For two glorious days Kevin Williamson worked for the Atlantic, thanks to the advocacy of none other than Ta-Nehisi Coates, but then he was tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail for bog-standard smart conservative views.

Instead, the best I get are weirdos like Ross Douthat who are clearly smart and knowledgeable but whose worldviews are fundamentally too tangential to real life to be more than a little 'See?! We have conservatives!!1!" token, or the truly idiotic like Bret Stephens. George Will I think is still kicking around somewhere, but he's well over the hill.

And clearly, the best outcome would be for the best of the liberal media to unite with the best of conservative media (even if this did happen the NYT would still be like 65-70% liberal, I am happy to acknowledge). The fact that this extremely obvious thing has not happened does not inspire confidence. In fact, there has been substantial ideological homogenizing in the media since 2000, which I think is at the root of many of our modern media problems.

Mainly because of this, I don't think I'll ever be at peace with the media. But my sanity is more precious to me than anything other than maybe my immediate family.

One question I'm really interested in is whether the good parts of (for example) Vice are severable from the bad. I'm increasingly thinking not (don't forget Vice was founded by Gavin McInnes, among others, and the Huffington Post was also founded in part by Andrew goddamn Breitbart!; this kind of thing always seems to go one way, see homogenization; see also the SSC post on neutral versus conservative institutions), and that bodes ill. Me personally, I'm a right-wing nutjob who nevertheless can't STAND to watch anything political, and can only read. For me, even the cool Vice YT stuff isn't very palatable, but I'll work on changing that. Speaking of, highly recommend the hilarious Netflix series Documentary Now. One of the episodes was an amazing parody of Vice docu-shorts called "Dronez."

I suppose in the end I agree with your point (Scott Alexander's too, though I still think his definition of 'lying' is a bit narrow) and on reflection I think I mostly always have, despite growing up listening to Rush and Dennis Prager in the car with my dad. But I think we're still heading in the wrong direction. I don't know where the breaking point is, but it exists.

Just look at academia. As you pointed out in another post (I forget), it wasn't until government became involved with any given institution that it became left-liberal. Once, the academy (in 1930s Germany, the academy was an extremist hotspot generally, both fascist AND communist, for instance), bar associations/the legal profession, media, and business were right-wing, and then the government started mandating quotas and DEI and such, and presto-chango, left-liberal (to varying degrees and at varying times, of course).

Maybe we can stop it. Maybe. But a big part of me thinks things need to get worse before they get better.

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“If a toddler attacked me with a plastic fork, that might in some extremely literal sense be attempted murder.”

Well, that might make sense if you ignore the fact that the instigator of the whole thing was the sitting president of the United States, which included him telling them to march to the Capitol, and January 6 was the culmination of a months long campaign of his to overturn the election. It’s not like a few losers showed up and that was it.

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Jan 20, 2023·edited Jan 20, 2023

Sure, agreed. It's far from a perfect metaphor. I have zero sympathy for any pro-January 6 takes, and only a little bit of sympathy regarding the treatment of the rioters/rebels/insurrectionists post-January 6, but that's because I'm a defense attorney more than any actual abuses I can point to. I'm a bit appalled by some of the anti-Ashli Babbitt takes out there, but that's more because of the rank hypocrisy of that crowd than any real sympathy for Babbitt. If unarmed people shouldn't be killed by cops, they shouldn't be killed by cops.

That said, it's relevant that the sitting president in question had just ignominiously and with the least imaginable dignity lost an election he could easily have won, putting him effectively in the dustbin with the Bush Seniors and Jimmy Carters of American history. That is to say, he's the loser-in-goddamn-chief. He doesn't even have the excuse of having faced the formidable opposition of Ronald Reagan or Bill Clinton. He lost to Joe Biden. That alone is the saddest thing I've ever written.

Biden recently did a gaffe where he ridiculed the gun-clutchers, saying something like 'your AR-15 ain't shit against an F/A 18 Super Hornet.' This is true, especially on the day of an insurrection. The point being, the armed might of the United States, especially in its foremost citadel, the District of Columbia, is extreme. The rioters/rebels/insurrectionists were largely unarmed, it turned out. It would have been trivial to defeat their attempt to overturn the election or overthrow the government in any case. The scale of bloodshed obviously could have varied a great deal, but in the event the toll was light. The outcome, though, was never in doubt.

Just like me versus the toddler.

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RemovedJan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023
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January 6 was a coup attempt in the context of everything else Trump was doing. And the comparison to BLM is annoying, obviously a coup is different from disorder and crime. It’s like asking why people remember the Kennedy assassination more than all the other murders that occurred in the 1960s. Obviously they’re both important and different and it’s pointless to compare, which conservatives are obsessed with doing.

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Oh PUHLEEEEZ!! J6 was no more a coup or insurrection than Pedo Joe schlepping his entire pie hole over an ice cream cone. Firstly, Trump’s guidance was, verbatim…

“I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” The legitimate inquiries into how many FBI plants were involved in inciting the violence remains unanswered (*crickets*) to this date.

Secondly, in the 21st century, Democrats and corporate media have not allowed a single Republican president to take office without denying his claim to legitimate victory coupled with dem congressmen / senators officially going on record to challenge specific states’ electoral college votes. Hypocrisy abounds. J6 was “disorder and crime,” and not even a scintilla of the level with which ANTIFA & BLM graced this country during the 2020 Summer of Love. J6 was 3 hours of BS with some violence… the Summer of Love was months long w/ $billions of property damage, including Federal Courthouses and other buildings, and ~35 deaths. There was one death during J6, and she was a protestor — a veteran murdered in cold blood by a Capitol policeman. If you wanted to see a genuine insurrection, you should have visited Seattle’s CHOP / CHAZ in 2020.

“Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it. Ignorance may deride it. Malice may distort it. But there it is.”

—Winston Churchill

Regardless, I still think you are a talented writer. You just need to remove your leftist blinders which should render any common sense you may have once possessed restored.

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I agree with all except. Richard is is a talented writer..

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No it wasn't, because a coup requires the participation of the security forces. The location makes it more important than other riots, but it's still a riot.

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RemovedJan 18, 2023·edited Jan 18, 2023
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Trying to get your vice president to unilaterally annul an election is pretty crazy. Maybe not quite the definition of a coup, if you want to pick at it, but its about 1 step away.

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Whether it was planned as such or not, Jan 6th was a trap that a bunch of idiots walked right into, including Trump himself. Look at how comfortable Richard is wielding it as a shield to deflect from anything else that anyone wants to talk about. It's something the left can point at forever as "see, we were right, they ARE a threat to democracy! They ARE violent fascist insurrectionists!" Even if that's not true, they can just point at it and now you are stuck arguing whether or not the right are violent fascist insurrectionists. Whatever other discussion you wanted to have has been successfully de-railed and re-framed.

This appears to have largely worked in the midterms last year (if we put aside the theory that Democrats simply cheated), with Democrats running on "election denial" as one of their biggest talking points, if not the biggest.

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They were and still are violent, dangerous to our democracy like Trump and DeSantis.

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Such a trove of valuable input, clearly echoing all the way from MSNBCNN headquarters. Thanks for enhancing this discussion. You are owed a debt of gratitude.

Polly wanna cracker?

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Thanks Paul, I enjoy a saltine every now and then. By the way you should study the evidence based medical science on covid boosters and why the false statements of DeSantis are harmful. The man lies like Trump. His covid physician consultant has misinterpreted the science and the WSJ editorial page spread misinformation. The researchers who did the study refuted DeSantis and the WSJ. Being a quality conservative takes effort...you may get there yet!

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I was not expecting the heel turn into you being a NYT liberal. Hopefully more life experience will teach you not to help and give money to people who hate you.

Normal people who aren't autistic are all tribal. People make decisions for tribal and emotional reasons and then make up logical explanations after the fact. The NYT is in the tribe that hates me so I'm not going to see it as legitimate. On the other hand, those in the liberal tribe will trust NYT on issues like race riots, the Iraq War, and masking toddlers because that's their tribe.

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Jan 18, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

Tribalism objectively results in worse decision-making than rational thought. Your argument seems to be "most people think in this stupid way, therefore it's right and proper for me, and you, to think in the same way". If your argument is actually that this way of thinking makes it impossible for people to do what Hanania says, is it not better for at least some people to at least try?

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No one has ever made a decision based on rational thought. We're talking about human nature. Unlike the NYT readers I don't think the blank slate is real.

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Jan 18, 2023Liked by Richard Hanania

If that were true no one could ever have designed an airplane.

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As usual, a black-or-white binary is inaccurate. Everyone is tribal to some extent and everyone is rational to some extent (even if the latter is hard to believe in some cases). Pursuing pure reactionary tribalism at the expense of all other factors will lead to mistakes. Likewise, pretending that tribal interests don't exist or matter will lead to mistakes. If someone points out to you that black people score low on average IQ, the way you interpret that statement from them will differ radically depending on whether they are a woke nutjob or a white nationalist.

To use an example more at hand, most of Richard's activity over the past 6 months seems to consist of tribal signaling that distances him from conservatives and enamors him to liberals. Many of the points he's made or viewpoints he's expressed in the course of that activity can, and should be debated on their own merits. But that basic anti-conservative notion is the apparent motivating factor behind all of it, and he admits as much at the beginning of this post.

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