Politico’s Stupid Professor Trick

Via Vox Day, Politico’s admission that there is, in fact, a media bubble.  It’s a nice illustration of one of my favorite Stupid Professor Tricks, question flipping.  Politico asks, re: the media’s complete failure to predict Trump’s presidential victory:

What went so wrong? What’s still wrong? To some conservatives, Trump’s surprise win on November 8 simply bore out what they had suspected, that the Democrat-infested press was knowingly in the tank for Clinton all along. The media, in this view, was guilty not just of confirmation bias but of complicity.  But the knowing-bias charge never added up: No news organization ignored the Clinton emails story, and everybody feasted on the damaging John Podesta email cache that WikiLeaks served up buffet-style. Practically speaking, you’re not pushing Clinton to victory if you’re pantsing her and her party to voters almost daily.

Free pro tip: When you’re dealing with self-proclaimed intellectuals, the part immediately preceding the “but” is always the truth.  In this case, as Vox points out, it’s not either/or, it’s both/and.  The media suffered from confirmation bias, yes, but they had plenty of the old fashioned kind of bias, too.  Nobody who watched five seconds of news coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign could help concluding that the media was hopelessly, recklessly in love with Hillary Clinton.  The so-called daily “pantsing” of the Podesta emails was, in reality, increasingly desperate attempts to deny, obfuscate, or explain away the relevance of those emails.  What?  National security?  No no, they were about yoga routines and play dates.  Nothing classified here!!!

But that’s not the most interesting part.  Instead, it’s Politico’s attempt to blame the whole thing on geography.  Media companies, they say, cluster in a few geographic areas — New York, LA — in the same way car companies do.

Car companies didn’t arise in remote regions that needed cars—they arose in Detroit, which already had heavy industry, was near natural resources, boasted a skilled workforce and was home to a network of suppliers that could help car companies thrive.

The question they fail to ask is: Why do media companies, who require few to no physical resources at all, cluster in the coastal enclaves?  As Ace of Spades points out in his take on the piece, by Politico’s own admission more people work online than in person in the news biz.  Online “journalism” can be done anywhere, and almost anywhere has a higher per-dollar quality of life than NY/LA.  Someone who chooses life in a fifth-floor walkup efficiency in Brooklyn over a three-bedroom house in Omaha is willing to pay a huge premium to be among members of his tribe.  Pauline Kael may not have known anyone who voted for Nixon, but the twitterati have never even heard of anyone who knows anyone who voted for Trump.

Media people cluster on the coasts because they’re desperate to be among other members of the cult.  And the purpose of pieces like this one is to assure Politico’s readers — i.e. the media class itself, the one that screwed up so badly — that though they live in an impermeable bubble where stuff like this guaranteed to happen, that’s ok, because they’re just such superior people that they can’t help it:

Is America trapped? Certainly, the media seems to be. It’s hard to imagine an industry willingly accommodating the places with less money, fewer people and less expertise, especially if they sense that niche has already been filled to capacity by Fox. Yet everyone acknowledges that Trump’s election really was a bad miss, and if the media doesn’t figure it out, it will miss the next one, too.

We’d love to get in touch with some of those “real Americans” — you know, if we drag them away from porking their cousins atop a Gadsden Flag at the NASCAR race for a few minutes — but darn it, Fox already has the hillbillies covered.  Ah well, I hear the next season of Girls is really great, and they just opened up a new Irish-Thai-Navajo fusion place down on 44th Street….

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One thought on “Politico’s Stupid Professor Trick

  1. Gary

    Free pro tip: When you’re dealing with self-proclaimed intellectuals, the part immediately preceding the “but” is always the truth.

    Thanks! I believe this is their rhetorical schema:

    [ Acknowledge a few glaringly obvious, uncomfortable facts to establish that the writer is not a totally insane ideologue ],


    [ Insert absurd, complicated rationalization why the aforementioned facts do not imply what they clearly do, assuring the reader there is no need to question the edifice of beliefs constituting the lefty worldview — while also displaying the writer’s cleverness in seeing through apparently straightforward, specious logic ].

    Unfortunately for the Politico writer, the rationalization he provided is so lame I doubt many people will be impressed by his cleverness.

    This phony spectacle of doing the hard work of self-examination after making a big error is so transparent it’s laughable. But since an inability to deal honestly with facts ultimately leads to failure, I suppose this sort of tripe should be viewed as encouraging entertainment.

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