A Rambling Tale of No Consequence

The Hunt for Principled Leadership in a Society Led by Rich Garbage

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In the early years of Wikipedia, journalists and academics were  told to avoid citing its crowd-sourced entries because they were too vulnerable to manipulation by miscreants.

However, the first online encyclopedia of note has matured into  one of the greatest inventions in the history of democratic inquiry since its birth in 2001. It’s become a servant to those in the poor and faltering middle class searching desperately for decency among our nation’s toxic elites.  

You can start in one entry and be transported clear across the intellectual hemisphere simply by following the hyperlink connections which interest you. As I was this morning like Alice in Wonderland and the proverbial rabbit hole.

Wikipedia allows informed voters to do their own investigative research by identifying patterns of suspect behavior, nepotism, and other potential conflicts of interest.

I began with investigative journalist Bob Woodward, who just exposed the inexcusable dysfunction of The Moron Presidency; segued to fabulist Ahmed Chalabi, whose lies facilitated the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003; and followed the trail of “I’m kind of a somebody” breadcrumbs to Trump insiders Roger Stone and Paul Manafort, who helped Chalabi lie his ass off before helping Donnie Bagadonuts lie his ass off.

From there, I jumped to a journalism scandals page via disgraced reporter Judith Miller, who had the misfortune to use Chalabi as a source during her tenure at The New York Times; found a courageous column by Canadian columnist Margaret Wente; and identified some difficult questions about distinguished journalist Christiane Amanpour.

All in about two hours.

I could have written at least five different columns this afternoon just from my travels on Wikipedia. Being a firm believer in schadenfreude, I’ve decided to cram them all into this one instead.

Why?

Because my contempt for readers is second only to Donnie Trust Fund’s contempt for the hardworking illegal immigrants he lures up here from Mexico to take American jobs. For pennies on the dollar. Like the modern-day plantation owner he is.

I love to hear readers raised on the carefully calculated lies of pandering politicians rail against long-form journalism in the same breath as they rail about the confusing world around them. As if there’s no possible relationship between the two.

(blank stare)

So strap in, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride with something for everybody in the painful truths department.

Let’s start with The Moron Presidency of Donald J. Trump. Second Son Eric just used an anti-Jewish dog whistle to scourge investigative journalist Bob Woodward as a Jew, by accusing him of exposing daddy’s bullshit for “shekels.” As in Jewish currency.

Eric (see toothy Doofus below) knows all about money, being a trust fund baby with a silver spoon wedged up his cottage cheese ass. Second generation.

Woodward is not Jewish, but damn he’s good. Good enough that if comedian Dave Chapelle’s racial draft was for real me and my fellow Heebs would be snapping him up right now in exchange for Trump Sonderkommandos Gary Cohn, Stephen Mnuchin, Larry Kudlow, Jared Kushner and a sex trader to be named later.

The Trumps can hang onto Ivanka and the kids – wouldn’t want to make that inbred family’s gene pool any shallower than it already is.

I transitioned from Woodward, arguably the foremost U.S. journalist right now, to the Wikipedia pages for Trump political advisers Paul Manafort and Roger Stone, who have made careers as liars for hires.

Like most people, I knew these lobbyists specialized in political dirty tricks and subverting the will of the electorate to monied interests. I knew Manafort headed the Trump campaign and was just convicted on five counts of tax fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failure to report foreign bank accounts. I even knew Roger Stone had a thing for deceased porn star Cal Jammer, who killed himself in 1995.

What I didn’t know was that they worked together with Ahmed Chalabi at the lobbying firm of BKSH & Associates in the run-up to the 2003 Iraqi invasion. Chalabi being the Iraqi pissant who persuaded George W. Bush that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in the wake of 9/11.

He didn’t.

Thank you Wikipedia.

If you’re one of the 128,000 Coalition families with a dead, wounded, or injured service member or contractor from the needless invasion which followed and you want to know who is responsible for their needless suffering you can start with Manafort, Stone and Chalabi (who died in 2015). 

Under “drain the swamp” in the dictionary, it should show an entry for Manafort and Stone. If you want to know what they’re really like hit the photo of Stone at right and listen to this silver-haired 15-year-old talk about his pal Cal Jammer.

It gives you a pretty good idea of Stone’s flawed moral compass, what he thinks is acceptable behavior in the public forum, his inability to distinguish between fame and infamy, and his terrible dye job.

Most people dream of being leaders, parents, or professional athletes. Stone dreams of being a dead porn star.

“In the 1980s I became friendly with Randy Potes, an easy-going Californian who was better known as male porno actor Cal Jammer,” Stone says, as if he’s talking about a professional football player. “Cal would star in over 300 adult films. His work in Anal Intruder Four is legendary. Sadly, Cal would die at age 34.

“His name was of course a double entendre joke – Cal Jam Her. On this basis, CNN’s Jake Tapper has a great future ahead of him as a porno star.”

Somewhere, Tapper is wincing as he watches this juvenile video. Nothing against sex workers, but there are other ways to make a living besides making artful fuck faces while some loser treats you like a plastic sex doll.

Chalabi led me to a page on journalism scandals which included the demise of Judith Miller, whose Iraqi stories were cited by a Bush Administration desperate to divert public anger over 9/11 from its patrons in the House of Saud. I was surprised both by the big names who’ve been tarnished and those given a free pass.

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria – one of my favorite broadcast journalists – and Canadian columnist Margaret Wente were notable for their inclusion. ABC’s Christiane Amanpour – another personal hero – was notable by her absence.

Amanpour’s full throated support for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential race, despite the fatally flawed candidate’s glaring corruption, should have put Christiane on the list. It was a black eye for CNN, where she has provided balanced and courageous reporting for decades.

How did Christiane’s personal endorsement of Hillary differ from my own support for Bernie Sanders?

I left the mainstream news media – where I’d been doing third-person reporting for decades – before I started producing satire and opinion for The Cynical Times.

Christiane should have done the same.

It was confusing to watch her interview Hillary and talk about her candidacy on-air. It was also difficult to tell what was third-person reporting, what was opinion, what was friendship, and what was political activism. CNN’s decision to allow her to blur those lines diminished them both. As well as PBS and ABC, which now have her on the payroll too.

I learned from Amanpour’s Wikipedia page that she is married to former U.S. Assistant Secretary of States James Rubin. However, I’ve never once heard this foreign affairs correspondent disclose this potential conflict of interest on air, which is akin to covering cops in New York City, being married to the deputy police commissioner, and claiming to be the best cop reporter in Gotham. When you’re really just playing the “Me Too victim” by trading ass for scoops.

Not cool.

That sin of omission is a cheat. Just like neglecting to mention you’re a distant relative of the Iranian royal family when reporting on that country. Which Amanpour is.

Why?

Because viewers assumed Christiane was an awesome foreign affairs journalist. We didn’t know she was trading on her hubby’s connections and her own prestigious family name.

In my experience, rich people love to play these kind of poser games. They love to present themselves as self-made men and women in the public forum, while name dropping like crazy in country club circles.

How Amanpour rationalizes this garbage I do not know. More so, given her high standards for others.

That said, in the grand scheme of things Amanpour’s sins don’t compare to the worst offenders on this list. Fabulists Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Janet Cooke fabricated entire stories out of whole cloth for the mainstream news media back in the day when fake news was the exception. Instead of standard operating procedure for the propaganda outlets of The Right Wing Noise Machine, as it is now.

I’ve been plagiarized pretty shamelessly during my career, being a working class guy with neither a big family name to toss around nor the inclination to do so. So, I’m a little sensitive to the whole issue.

Zakaria and Wente, both of whom are accused of lifting paragraphs from someone else’s work and passing it off as their own, are a step down from the Jayson Blairs of the world. Both are also hip deep in laudable work of reporting painful truths 24/7, as they should be.

Their alleged plagiarism is not as clear cut as you might think in a world where wire service stories from The Associated Press, Reuters and Bloomberg are habitually excerpted by the news organizations which subscribe to them.

Most readers understand that news organizations run wire copy, but they don’t always realize it takes the form of story fragments as well as entire articles.

Pasting paragraphs of wire copy into a story is pretty commonplace. As is cutting and pasting paragraphs from work produced by your own newsroom colleagues. Like when a reporter writing an economic feature story copies and pastes a paragraph from one colleague’s article on new home sales and another’s article on job creation. 

The clear line of departure is whether you’re providing proper attribution to the journalist who originated the work or misleading others into thinking it’s your own. This isn’t an issue on press releases being rewritten by a pool of reporters. However, the proverbial sirens should go off for editors when their people start being accused of claiming someone else’s exclusives as their own.

As The Dallas Morning News’ Karen Brooks did when she plagiarized my story about the body count inside St. Rita’s Nursing Home after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. To the point of appropriating my Chalmette dateline and description of the smell of rotting flesh.

Desk-bound colleague Marcus Franklin pulled a similar stunt during The Miracle on the Hudson in 2009, when he claimed credit for the waterfront survivor interviews I secured shortly after the crash.

Plagiarism of this type seems to happen more often with columnists, than the reporters who live in the journalism trenches.

The news industry’s prima ballerinas typically have to write just three columns a week, compared with five to 15 articles for reporters. They also make a lot more. 

Columns like the one you’re reading now are written in the first person and are supposed to reflect the writer’s opinion. Whereas reporters rely on third-person statements by others.

The worst columns are often little more than the opinionated rants you find on social media. With little news value.

Being a columnist is relatively easy work and competition for these plum positions is understandably intense. Which is why inter-office political skills, sex trading, and the right personal demographics are just as important in securing them as writing and reporting.
 

Most columnists are not taught to deal with the fame that comes with their job. The resulting privileged mindset is what leads to hijacking other’s work.

Turning a blind eye to this garbage is no different than letting cops accept apples, lunches and free cups of coffee. Those with poor impulse control will eventually move on to escorting drug shipments for $5,000 a shot. Which is why a weak internal affairs department is an invitation to police corruption.

Policing free apples isn’t about the fruit. It’s about keeping apples from escalating into drug shipments.

The same dynamic is true of plagiarism.

Cracking down on the kind of low-level plagiarism Zakaria and Wente have been accused of isn’t about regurgitating a couple paragraphs. It’s about preventing another Blair, Glass or Cooke.

Giving Amanpour a free ride on her privileged bullshit undermines that worthy goal. So yeah, I like Christiane, but she ain’t no better than the rest of us when it’s all said and done, and the same rules should apply to her as those of us who aren’t related to royalty or sleeping with sources.

No only that, but this kind of special treatment reeks of the old boy’s club bullshit that launched The Me Too Movement, and which Amanpour blamed for Hillary’s loss to a pathetic fool  Bernie Sanders would have easily defeated.

This kind of rich hypocrisy is part of the reason I am fully and completely against Me Too, even though I’m a proud Liberal and a proud feminist. 

Feminism and Liberalism traditionally have been about gender equity and eliminating social caste. Me Too isn’t.

It’s about replacing the rich, straight men at the top of the informal American caste system with rich females and gays. Instead of destroying caste and group privilege.

As if female CEOs will be hired for being less ruthless than their male counterparts, or female politicians will be any less corrupt.

There’s a fancy name for what Me Too is really about, which is “retributive justice.” The layman’s term is “revenge.”

Eff that noise.

I couldn’t help wondering if the new feminist supremacy was part of the reason Wente was short-listed and Amanpour was given a free ride. Because Wente has written some great columns about this sexist agenda.

One of her best is called “Can She Consent to Sex After Drinking.” It addresses the sheer hypocrisy of the undeclared war on men and the damage it does to women by treating them as forever victims.

Wente nailed my concerns about Me Too on the head in this gutsy 2014 column on rape culture. Have a taste:

So here’s the $10 question. Can a woman consent to sex when she’s been drinking?

Universities have decided that the answer is no.

“We heard that students don’t understand that it is illegal to have sex with someone who is drunk because they can’t give consent,” says the Saint Mary’s task force report. Although that sentence is crafted to be gender-neutral, its warning is directed at men.

It means that drunken sex is tantamount to rape.

Is there a double standard here?

Indeed there is.

Men are treated as potential rapists, and women as their helpless victims (or, in current parlance, “survivors”).

If two young people get hammered and have drunken sex, he is responsible for his behavior, but she’s not responsible for hers. And even if she does say “yes,” it’s up to him to figure out whether she means it…

The truth is that a great deal of alcoholic sex basically involves “stuff I wouldn’t have done if I was sober.”

Once upon a time, a young adult woman might regard such an encounter as an unfortunate learning experience and move on. Today, she’s told it’s a devastating trauma that’s not her fault.

How fucking awesome is that?

Better question, why aren’t there more of these painful truths?

Especially at a time when so many on the Left are making like Magua in The Last of the Mohicans and adopting the “ends justifies the means” mindset of The Moron President?

I’ve opposed group bias and championed social justice, equality and democracy all my life. I have zero interest in trading one set of masters for another, which is what Me Too is really about.

That’s why they turn a blind eye to the exploitation of the masses by the rich. It’s also why Corporate Dems think they can tell the poor and middle class how to share our tales of woe in the way most useful to them politically.

Wente’s column gets right to the heart of the myth of perfection so many rich Americans have bought into. As if perfection is real until you get caught in a lie. It’s not.

Ain’t nobody perfect. Rich or otherwise.

That’s why personal accountability and painful truths are an indication of strength. And the knowing lies and sins of omission of Donnie Trump and Me Too are not.

Painful Truth No. 9.88 Gazillion: They’re both full of shit.

Me Too is about moving the chairs around in our social caste system. Not equality or justice.

That’s also why Me Too can’t get an arrest. Much less a conviction. 
Turns out “I’m sorry I fucked that creepy rich guy to get ahead” is not in the criminal code.
Who knew?

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