You know what the most interesting thing about the #Dickileaks revelation is? The fact that social media has effectively managed to stifle it. Although the topics have changed in both Facebook and Twitter since I started looking at them last Friday, the one thing that hasn’t changed is that both sites’ trending feeds ignore the fact that the FBI — while looking at the computers seized from “Weiner the Pederast,” who is the estranged husband of “Huma the Muslim Brotherhood Scion,” who has long been surgically attached to “Hillary the Corrupt” — found a trove of political emails of the type Hillary was supposed to have turned over to the FBI and to Congress.
Here, see for yourself, by looking at screen grabs from this morning — there’s absolutely nothing about Hillary, Comey, Weiner, Abedin, or emails:
This eerie silence is not because no one is talking about those stories. Indeed, for about one hour on Saturday, Facebook included in its “Trending” bar a reference to 1 million people talking about Comey, which is a lot of people, but that trend quickly vanished and has not return. The inescapable conclusion is that this news void reflects the social media companies’ effort to ensure that they are not responsible for even more people talking about the inevitable result of Hillary’s self-serving behavior while Secretary of State.
Social Media shenanigans would be meaningless were modern Americans, who have more access to more data than any humans at any time in history, actually capable of sitting down and doing the heavy mental lifting required to understand just how appalling, illegal, and morally corrupt Hillary’s conduct has been. The sad reality, though, is that our new media’s financial incentives discourage deep analysis. Even those people who are trying to pay attention are getting hit by what one writer labels the “TL;DR” factor.
That “TL;DR” acronym stands for “too long; didn’t read,” which could be the motto for much of the internet. Chris Byrne explains how our culturally short attention span has worsened thanks to the internet’s economic incentive for low-word count (i.e., minimally analytical) articles with screaming headlines. This leaves Americans incapable of understanding, or even being interested in, complex issues (such as Hillary’s shenanigans):
You may have watched in dismay, as some of your favorite online writers published work, suddenly went from a few good posts a week, to 20 posts a day, most of it nothing but clickbait or damn near it?
Well… now you know why.
Their editors and publishers are making them write to maximize clicks and views and shares. Who cares about accuracy, depth, or insight… most people never read past the headline or first paragraph anyway right?
Long form news, analysis, essays, editorials, and commentary (and related background historical, scientific, and other detailed information and exposition pieces) have largely been replaced with tweets, teaser videos, memes, 200-350 word skim pieces; and lots and lots of 50 to 150 word bare blurbs, with inflammatory or otherwise emotionally manipulative …if not outright false… headlines, and lots of links to monetizing partner sites.
Basically, clickbait makes money, and everything else loses money, unless they have alternate monetization.
People have become accustomed to reading headlines and blurbs, and maybe at most 350 or 500 word pieces, no matter how important or complex the topic.
This in turn, has made readers unwilling to actually take the time and effort necessary, to read longer pieces, and properly inform themselves about even the most important issues, including those that impact them directly. 350 to 500 word pieces are thought “long” and 1000 word pieces get nothing but TL;DR.
1000 words is nothing. No subject of any import or complexity can be properly explained in 1000 words… and in today’s online market, 1000 words is considered a VERY LONG piece… With the norm having devolved all the way down to 500 words… and on many sites 350 words… or less.
As an example of this problem, I know that the SEO facilitator on my WordPress routinely denies me readability points because my posts constantly exceed 300 words — and I’m a dilettante and a gadfly when it comes to knowledgeable in-depth analysis. (This post, by the way, scored an “F” from the SEO facilitator because of its length.)
The end result the fact that people get bite-sized nuggets of often misleading information is sort-of reputable sites that give astonishingly ignorant articles pride of place. One example appears on a Boston public radio website: “The FBI’s Nothing Burger.” One would think that publicly funded public radio would have some minimal standards of factual integrity, but one would be wrong. I hope you’ll pardon me for “going long” here, but WBUR staff member Steve Almond’s post is such a pile-up of ignorance it deserves to be addressed.
Almond’s basic premise is that Hillary did nothing wrong — and anybody who claims she did is just trying to rig the election. Incidentally, he’s not just talking about Friday’s #Dickileaks revelations. He’s talking about everything, practically going back to Hillary’s infancy. This kind of radical ignorance, which plays well to the crowd that relies for news on headlines, tweets, and first paragraphs, is pernicious and needs to be called out and destroyed. So, a fisk.
Almond manages to get the first paragraph right:
As most Americans will have heard by now (perhaps as many as 167 times), FBI Director James Comey released a letter on Friday noting that the agency had located emails that might have something to do with his closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Good for him. One really can’t deny that #Dickileaks is actually a thing. Unfortunately, Almond goes downhill quickly after that:
Given the climate of hysterical insinuation that hovers above Hillary Clinton at all times — a climate created by political opponents and cable stars desperate to gin up her bureaucratic blunderings into capital offenses — you might assume that a guy like Comey, with a paid staff of thousands, would actually take the time to have these emails examined, and to figure out if they include any damning information about Clinton, before releasing such a vague letter.
How’s that for reductionism? Hillary’s decision while Secretary of State to violate explicit U.S. law by routing all of her electronic correspondence through an unsecured private server and then attempting to destroy documents when Congress reminded her that those records belong to the people of the United States is just “bureaucratic blundering.” (Even without all the other bad things she did, spoliation is itself a grave offense.)
I assume that when Almond uses the phrase “bureaucratic blundering,” he’s also referring to the fact that recovered records, when combined with Wikileaks revelations, show that Hillary ran the State Department as an elaborate “pay for play” racket. Individuals and nations that wanted access to or favors from the State Department were assured of getting their needs met if they made huge donations to the Clinton Foundation, hired Bill to give short speeches for big bucks, or gave Bill well-funded sinecures.
Am I right, Mr. Almond? Are those the “bureaucratic blunderings” to which you refer?
Because think about it: we’re barely a week from the election. If these emails do include info that would lead him to reopen his investigation of Clinton, then the public should know that. And if they don’t include anything that would lead him to reopen that investigation, there is no justification for making this investigative fishing expedition public.
Ah, right on time, Mr. Almond regurgitates Hillary’s disingenuous demand that Comey make public everything he’s got. If you’re wondering why the demand is disingenuous, let me explain:
First, if Hillary wants it to go public, she has access to Huma and to Weiner, and can ask them “What the heck is on your computers (other than pederast porn)?” And then, once she knows, she can tell us, the American people.
Second, Hillary knows perfectly well, and someone writing for a media outlet should know, that the FBI cannot make public the information in an ongoing investigation.
Third, to the extent this is very likely classified information, the FBI cannot make it public without clearing the contents with other government agencies and either not referring to the material at all or heavily redacting it or referring to it only in the vaguest terms — all options that take time to coordinate.
And fourth, as seems to have come out now, although the betting is good that the FBI has good cause to believe it stumbled across a treasure trove, it doesn’t officially have a search warrant for emails that don’t involve Weiner’s weiner. That will come in time — unless the judge from whom the FBI seeks the warrant is a Clinton appointee. But let’s see what Almond has to say.
Comey has taken a third path. He is conducting himself like a Fox News anchor. I mean by this that he is throwing out the possibility of wrongdoing with absolutely no evidence.
That paragraph takes a little bit of work to unpack. Here’s what’s almost certainly going on: We now know that Comey ran a batsh*t crazy investigation. He swore agents to permanent silence; he handed out witness immunity like candy on Halloween; he allowed Cheryl Mills, an actor in Hillary’s private server scheme, to function as Hillary’s attorney; he never put Hillary under oath and interviewed her for mere hours, not the days this investigation required; he had his agents promise to destroy computers subpoenaed for the investigation (a promise FBI agents have yet to fulfill); and, after spending 14 minutes describing conduct that manifestly violated national security statutes, he helped keep Loretta Lynch above the fray by announcing in the 15th minute that he had unilaterally made the decision that Hillary’s intentional, illegal conduct did not require prosecution.
We also know that in the time since then, FBI agents have been unhappy. They feel bad about the agency’s having done a terrible job, they feel worse about the fact that the agency’s reputation may take years to recovery assuming it ever does, and they’re deeply unhappy that corrupt procedures allowed a blatant law-breaker to walk.
The New York investigation gave these distressed FBI agents a second bite. This time around, the primary investigation didn’t come from Comey, but from a New York prosecutor who had jurisdiction to investigate whether Weiner’s last round of texts to a minor were sent over state lines, which would make it a federal, as well as a state, crime. It was this less politicized FBI office that discovered thousands of emails that the reviewing agents must instantly have realized, without even in-depth analysis, were of the type that Hillary was supposed to have turned over to Congress and the FBI, but didn’t.
Comey’s problem was that he couldn’t control the New York office and that he was losing control of the Washington office. This information was going to come out sooner or later. At a minimum, it would show that Huma Abedin, who would certainly have been appointed Hillary’s Chief of Staff (a) violated security protocols by putting State Department documents on an unsecured computer (one, moreover, owned by an unstable satyriac) and (b) violated subpoenas when she failed to turn that information over. At worst, this is the treasure trove that contains the 33,000 “wedding and yoga” emails that Hillary, working through people without security clearance, unilaterally decided to delete. And you know what, I’m thinking that “wedding and yoga” might be code words for things like Soros, pay-for-play, Benghazi, et cetera.
All of which leads to Comey’s decision to speak now: If Hillary doesn’t get elected her power base is gone and, as long as he has a food taster and his body guard, he’s probably home free. If Hillary does get elected, the investigation vanishes and, subject to the same conditions (food taster, etc.), Comey can also hope for a fairly peaceful retirement because Hillary will not want to stir things up. Meanwhile, he can squelch a rebellion in the ranks that could reach as high as exposing President Clinton to the public as someone with a disdain equal to Hillary’s when it comes to American laws. We can’t have that.
However, if this information had first surfaced after the election, no matter the candidate Comey would have been in trouble. If Hillary won, it would taint the integrity of her electoral victory, causing a constitutional crisis. And if Trump won, Comey would have been forced to retire in disgrace. With a pack of yipping, rebellious FBI agents at his heels, going public was therefore Comey’s best choice.
Now, back to Almond, who has turned on the drive-by media. (Yes, you read that right.)
Which is what the media has been doing to Hillary Clinton for her entire public life. It’s the reason so many Americans say they don’t trust her. Not because she’s done anything wrong. But because she’s been accused of doing so many things wrong.
Not one of these fake scandals — from Whitewater to Benghazi to her emails — has panned out. There’s been no proof that Clinton did anything illegal or even unethical in most cases. It’s just been one long, blaring, baseless, paranoid Republican fever dream.
It’s funny to hear Almond malign the media as the author of Hillary’s ills, given that the media, especially in this campaign, has gone to exceptional lengths to cover for her. Open any paper before this past Friday and you would have discovered only negative articles about Trump and only positive articles about Hillary. America’s mainstream media has made no effort to cover the campaign. If it had, it might have made noises about the minuscule crowds showing up for Clinton’s increasingly infrequent public appearances. It might have pointed out that Hillary and her husband accumulated well over $100 million dollars providing nothing but political access to people who could afford to pay. And of course, it might have delved more deeply into Benghazi and Hillary’s email set-up.
Almond’s contention is laughable, and the American public knows it. After all, a plurality of Americans (which must include Progressives) thinks that the media is trying to throw the election to Hillary.
What’s less laughable is Almond’s contention that because Hillary has never been pronounced guilty in a court of law, she must be innocent of wrongdoing while in government. This is the same reasoning that allows Lefties I know to point to Obama’s presidency as the only scandal-free presidency ever. They note that, when it comes to the weaponized IRS that admitted to violating the law; the weaponzied EPA that destroyed a river in Colorado, the ransom Obama manifestly paid to Iran; the weaponized Justice Department that has fomented racial disharmony — no one has been fired. To my friends, the absence of firings is proof positive of administration integrity. The actual facts on the ground, all of which prove corruption, are irrelevant.
The reality is that, as with Obama’s chronic malfeasance, three things have protected Hillary: (1) the media’s unwillingness to go after her as they go after Trump or went after Nixon; (2) the Democrats’ invariable circling of the wagons, which allows them, in good conscience to protect even such extreme behaviors as rape (that would be Bill) or manslaughter (Teddy, of course), for the good of the party; and (3) the D.C. Republicans’ “go along to get along” fecklessness.
Take Benghazi, for example, which highlighted so many Hillary problems: she was a bad manager; she was incapable of handling a crisis because she was absent in the beginning and making purely political decisions at the end; and she lied compulsively about everything after the fact. What Hillary did wasn’t criminal, but it was leadership malfeasance of the highest order that should have seen her resign or get fired. In Japan, she would have committed seppuku. In America, her party and the media (but I repeat myself) made sure to keep her from suffering any consequences for her heinous actions.
There’s also no doubt that Hillary grossly violated the law when it came to her State Department communications, and that she did so to hide pay for play (another violation of the law). The Clinton Foundation’s operations are almost certainly fraudulent, since the bulk of its money goes to fund the family’s lifestyle — which is another thing that the weaponized IRS and DOJ won’t pursue (unless, perhaps, they get a change of attitude under President Trump).
I could go on, but this post would then last for days. You can go here for a partial (but still long) list of all her wrongdoing, from the time she was fired during Watergate for violating procedure right up until Friday.
Now, back to Almond:
You’d think that, after 30 years of serving up these nothing burgers, the self-respecting members of the Fourth Estate might finally grow a conscience and stop trafficking in conspiracy theories.
Again, I find it tremendously amusing that, when the drive-by media is finally forced by events to report the facts (with no opinion, one might add, unlike the way in which they report “facts” regarding Trump), Almond turns on the messenger.
Heck, at this stage in the campaign, they might even talk about the candidates’ policies and how those policies would effect the future of our democracy.
Aw, but that’s stuff’s too boring!
The reality is that the media is focusing obsessively on anything but policies for one very specific reason: on the policies, the majority of American voters consistently favor Trump. A media that was trying to create an educated electorate would report what Trump said in his speeches rather than giving every two-bit, female, Democrat operative attention-whore a chance to say that at some point in the past, Trump insulted her or touched her or looked at her funny. (And you do realize that most of these claims are the same claims that university women are leveling at our sons on campus and then contend constitute “rape” or “sexual assault.”) When it comes to the false allegations about Trump the “sexual predator,” based upon the now infamous Billy Bush video, I urge you to watch this video, which actually looks at the underlying video and finds the truth — which is that Trump did nothing wrong.
So, no the media is scared of issues and, ironically enough, after having demanded that the election should be about issues, Almond instantly goes to sex and racism as his anti-Trump cards:
Especially when they’ve got an election to sell, one that was getting pretty lopsided, thanks to one candidate being a proudly ignorant bigot, with a side career in sexual predation. The anchors needed another “October surprise” to gin up the action. After all, a fake scandal serves the essential purpose of our corporate media, which isn’t to inform or enlighten the electorate, to but to inflame them.
So here’s your headline heading into the homestretch, America:
Clinton Mishandles E-mails. Trump Manhandles Women. You Decide.
How pathetic that we have to watch videos of Trump and his minions crowing about this.
I’ve pointed above to the fact that the “Trump is a sexist” arguments are predicated on a falsely interpreted video (which most people didn’t take the time to watch) and on the claims of a lot of people who have incentives to lie. I’m perfectly willing to believe that Trump, a child of the 1960s who was a famous person for decades, has gotten touchy with women, with their active or passive agreement. If you really want “handy” though, check out that arch creep, Biden, whom the Left has never castigated for the same or worse behaviors repeatedly caught on camera.
As for me, I am tired of saying Trump is not a racist. The speeches that got the media all excited had him saying that we get too many Mexican criminals (real criminals: rapists, drug dealers, pedophiles, drunk drivers, etc.) who wouldn’t come in if they had to come legally. That is correct and Americans know it. The other thing he said is that, until we’ve got same way to protect ourselves from blithely allowing murderous Islamists into the country, we need to put a stay on the Obama administration’s decision to let them come pouring in — another thing with which most Americans agree.
For the media to say these are racist statements is to say that America may no longer have any border policy because anything that interferes in any way with the free flow of people into America is inherently racist, no matter whether those people are dangerous or economically burdensome to America. By using those pejoratives, therefore, the media effectively destroys American sovereignty.
And then Almond swings back to his lede:
Could Trump even explain what Clinton supposedly did wrong and how it endangered Americans?
Heck, could you? Is there a single person in America who can explain why Clinton’s use of a private email server is criminal? Seriously. Can you?
How about all you Trump supporters?
Why don’t you do us all a favor and explain, in simple and direct language, precisely what laws Clinton has broken. Not what laws she might have broken, or that you wish she’d broken. Enough with the smoke. Give us the statutes.
I do believe that I explained above, in simple and direct language, what laws Clinton broke. But if you limit yourself to tweets, trending Facebook links, and headlines, as Almond manifestly does, I can understand why you’d be bewildered.
Oh, by the way, did I mention that the average Trump supporter is much better informed than the average Clinton supporter? Almond’s ignorance is consistent with his party affiliation.
So yes, I bet you can find an average supporter who, while not being able to cite chapter and verse in the federal code, can explain what Hillary did and why it was grossly illegal. Indeed, you’ll find innumerable examples among people in the military and, presumably, those who once served. After all, it’s their lives on the line when a Secretary of State, to facilitate illegal conduct, fails to protect national security information.
Just to emphasize his ignorance, Almond harks back to the false claim that Trump asked Russia to hack America.
And when you’re done with that project, please explain why Trump calling for Russia to hack the emails of American citizens is okay with you. And why — given your deeply principled concerns about transparency — you’re just fine with Trump hiding his tax returns from the American people.
Those statements prove that Almond reads headlines, but not the actual story — again making him consistent with the “TL:DR” readers who bring money into the internet, and who think they’re informed when they’re manifestly not. Anybody who was paying attention (as I was) knows that Trump did not invite Russia to infiltrate the government’s data.
What Trump did do was point out that, thanks to Hillary’s carelessness and the fact that we know that carelessness resulted in her account being hacked (which is how we learned about the private server in the first place), Russia almost certainly already has, and has had for years, the 30,000 emails Hillary illegally deleted. Thus, his joke, a manifest joke, was to ask Russia to search through the documents it already hacked to see if it could find Hillary’s missing emails. Almond, like most Lefties, has no sense of humor.
The rest of Almond’s article is a rehash of what I deconstructed above.
Oh, wait! There is one new argument Almond throws in. He insists that the reason the media attacks Hillary (yes, that’s what he contends) is because she’s a woman. How dare she show ambition!!
If it were up to me, Bernie Sanders would have been the Democratic nominee for president. So my defense of Clinton isn’t about some slavish loyalty. But it’s been despicable to watch the media vilify her for what amount to wonky misdemeanors. All along, she’s been held to a different ethical standard than her opponent. That’s part of how we punish women for ambition.
Almond’s post perfectly illustrates what happens when you marry paranoia with the kind of “informed ignorance” that the internet encourages, especially amongst the Lefties out there. They have opinions, but their opinions are utterly meaningless because they have no facts. The internet has left them with a micro-thin veneer of data which, to them, constitutes the entire universe of information.
This election is what it is, in significant part, because financial incentives on the internet encourage the dumbing down of information which then results in a seriously dumbed down population. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that at a time when Americans have more access to more information than ever before, they’re just getting more ignorant? As Almond’s angry, opinionated, and mostly wrong post shows, this disconnect between what Americans think they know what they actually do know has become very dangerous to the functioning of our democracy.
Photo by x61.com.ar