Our "press corps" during a chase: Today, we plan to make an extensive set of confessions.
First, let's establish some context. This will involve the press corps' behavior when it's involved in a chase.
At present, the press corps is involved in a chase. The main person they're chasing, Donald J. Trump, may well be guilty of actual crimes.
He may be guilty of actual crimes—but that doesn't mean they aren't staging a chase. And when our press corps stages a chase, they routinely engage in a wide array of journalistic "crimes."
They do this as a group.
The most remarkable chase we've covered was the twenty-month chase after Candidate Gore during Campaign 2000. During that chase, the press corps engaged in an orgy of bogus paraphrase, among other journalistic "crimes."
(Example: They happily played their misogyny cards during their "month of Wolf.")
Rather plainly, their conduct sent George W. Bush to the White House. People are dead all over the world because of the conduct in which they engaged.
(To this day, career liberal journalists are not permitted to tell you this. The Drums, the Chaits, the Marshalls, the Rachels will never tell you that these journalistic crimes occurred.)
Bogus paraphrase doesn't lie at the heart of the chase after Trump. But that doesn't mean that it isn't a chase—and when the press corps stages a chase, they're willing to cut many corners.
The chase after Trump involves a secondary set of chases, including the chase after Sessions. In that chase, the press corps has recently engaged in a remarkably stupid journalistic crime:
They've pretended that they don't understand the conventional meaning(s) of the familiar word "meeting."
They've played it very, very dumb as they've tried to determine how many meetings Jeff Sessions had with Ambassador Kislyak last year. Rather, as they've pretended that they're trying to puzzle that out.
Having offered that context, we're now prepared to offer our confessions. Hands pulled tight behind our back, we're willing to be frogmarched out to confess to these, our own personal crimes:
In December 2000, we had a meeting with Chuck Berry—right there in the White House!
Probably a year or two later, we had a meeting with Lauren Bacall. That meeting occurred in the lobby of WMAL, a Washington radio station.
In August 1962, when we were just 14 years of age, we had a meeting with Harmon Killebrew in the elevator of a Los Angeles hotel.
We were there with family and friends to visit Disneyland, a local amusement park. Mr. Killebrew was in the area to take part in this major league baseball game and in two other such contests.
Thirty-eight years later, to the month, we had a meeting with Bill Richardson, also in the elevator of a Tinseltown hotel! We were there to attend the 2000 Democratic Convention.
We once had a meeting with Tuesday Weld on a cross-country plane flight. (In retrospect, good God—Tuesday Weld!) Neither we, nor Ms. Weld, have ever discussed this meeting in public until this very day.
A few years ago, we had a brief meeting with Martin Sheen outside a D.C. hotel. At a different D.C. hotel, we had a meeting with Coach Joe Gibbs in 1993.
More specifically, we sat next to Coach Gibbs, and chatted pleasantly, all through the course of the then-world champion Washington football team's annual post-season banquet. We were struck by how impressive he was.
Remember our meeting with Chuck Berry? Earlier in December 2000, we had a meeting with Naomi Campbell—and with Stevie Wonder!
We freely confess to all these meetings, although we've had quite a few more. We freely confess to these meetings now that the Washington press corps, a guild which is engaged in a chase, has mugged and clowned and toyed with the meaning(s) of the familiar English language noun, "meeting."
They've done this as part of their chase after Sessions, who is much less likely to have committed a crime than his boss, Donald J. Trump.
(In another part of this chase, some of them make a point of referring to Sessions as "Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III." This is an extremely bad act, as it was when The Others toyed with Obama's name.)
Feeling purged by our confessions, let's nail down a few basic facts:
As part of their ongoing chase after Trump, the guild has staged a secondary chase after Sessions. As part of this chase, they have pretended that they're trying to determine how many meetings he had with Kislyak, a Russkie tool of their less-than-obsessively honest, low-IQ stupid group chase.
It's abundantly clear that then-Senator Sessions did have one meeting with the Russkie ambassador. That meeting occurred on September 8, 2016, right there in Sessions' office!
If we're all still speaking English, it hasn't been shown that Sessions had any other "meetings" with Kislyak. But the guild is currently staging a chase, and so they've agreed to pretend.
Now, dear friends, a question:
If Person A mills about in a room and brushes past some Person B, has he "had a meeting" with that second person? Actually, no, he hasn't, if we're speaking conventional English.
To cite an example, Hank Williams hadn't had a meeting with his ex-girlfriend in the circumstance described in these famous lyrics. They're some of the greatest since Homer, as Professor Auerbach would have seen:
A picture from the past came slowly stealingIn truth, he hadn't had a meeting with her even as he brushed her arm! But had the guild been chasing Hank Williams, they surely would have agreed to pretend, if the pretending was useful.
As I brushed your arm and walked so close to you...
We've watched the "press corps" for nineteen years at this award-winning site. We've come away with several conclusions. They strike us as counterintuitive:
We've come to see that our major journalists have virtually no intellectual skills. Or at least, we've come to see that they have no skills they won't abandon when a chase is on.
That is a very key point. Concerning the people who read the press, we've come to see this about them:
They may get upset when the guild stages a chase after one of their own. (Or not. Career liberals have often let such chases go unmentioned. For that reason, the rank and file has often failed to understand that a chase is occurring.)
We the people may get upset when the guild chases one of our own. But we will cheer the press corps on when the chase is aimed at The Others.
(For a literary portrait of a chase, we'll recommend Twain's portrait of the lynch mob in chapters 21 and 22 of Huckleberry Finn. Note the way Twain juxtaposes the groupthink of the mob to the suspension of disbelief of the crowd which is hugely enjoying a staged deception at the circus.)
How could it be that Candidate Gore got so aggressively paraphrased so many times? Very slowly, we've come to believe that many journalists simply don't have the intellectual skill to recognize tilted paraphrase when they see it. We've definitely come to see that very few journalists would ever speak up if they saw their guild engaged in that type of behavior.
These conclusions strike us as counterintuitive. By now, though, we'd have to say that these conclusions are unmistakably clear.
That said, our human intellectual skills are remarkably limited in general. We have reliable technological skills. In almost every other area, we're just basically sad.
To test that proposition, we'll refer you to this book review in last Sunday's Washington Post.
The author of the review is a neurologist. Based on his professional status, we'd assume he's a very good one.
That said, his analytical skills are very slight in the realm he calls "deep philosophy." Our guess: he's hard to fool about neurology, easily fooled in such realms.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. Our human analytical skills are extremely limited.
With respect to the guild, their moral standards are strikingly low. In the current example, they've proven that Session had one meeting, but they keep calling it three! (And they keep insisting that Brother Franken didn't ask a rambling question.)
That's exactly how the press corps behaves when a chase is on. People are dead all over the world because they keep playing this way, and because people like those we've named above are willing to let this continue.
The neurologist's claims: We never see reality. We don't experience reality directly. We don't truly experience reality.
There is an objective reality, but our brains don't give us access to it. According to the neurologist, this is "a thrilling and deeply philosophical point."
Neurologist, please! People who chase this sleight of hand are like Twain's delighted crowd at the circus. Also this:
When the press corps hands them all manner of crap, they are unable to tell! People are dead all over the world because these people, our highest professors, routinely accept the journalistic products they're sold.
An alternate meaning from other lyrics: From the 1963 Folkways album, The Watson Family:
A meeting is a pleasure and a parting is griefTo listen to that presentation, click here. Questions:
But a false-hearted lover is worse than a thief.
A thief can but rob you and take what you save
But a false-hearted lover take you to your grave.
Is that the same kind of "meeting" as the meeting Sessions had last September?
Also, what about a false-hearted journalist? What can that person achieve?