Tag Archives: Partisan Culture

Facticity Plasticity

The New York Times has apparently told its reporters they can’t tweet anything partisan.

If only the Times had called me (hey Baquet! call me!). I’d have reminded them that, as they surely know, facts themselves are now partisan. The fact of transgender/genderqueer/nonbinary children and adults. The fact of climate change. The fact of resurgent neo-Nazi rhetoric. The fact of white privilege. The fact of the legacy of slavery persistently restricting opportunity for black people.

Lefties tend to refer to these phenomena as factual because they are. And righties tend to dispute the nature of such facts. Because anything from a liberal is biased and therefore untrue. Continue reading

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My phone alerted me to today’s AHCA garbage while I was listening to one of my favorite Sappy von Feelingston podcasts, Strangers. Intrepid podcaster and Danish immigrant Lea Thau has launched an intellectual suicide mission: to interview, up close with the dandruff and drool, Trump voters. The series attempts to bridge the emotional and moral partisan divide by putting Lea–a Scandinavian/Angeleno liberal–into these Voldetrump homes. Thau is trying to heal us. To understand what the cluck happened to our country. And, a tinch, to assuage some understandable but frustrating guilt about her insular, coastal, creative class liberalism.

Two broad problems with Thau’s project:

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Say What? (Health Care Reform)

Hah! Turns out that the NYT poll I cited last week is part of a larger trend of doomsday reporting on health care reform.

Check out this too-short analysis of ways that news outlets fail to report on the complexity of poll results.

To wit:

2. CNN/ORC, June 8

Topline: 51 percent of respondents oppose the Affordable Care Act.

This is Weird: There’s more to that 51 percent figure than meets the eye. It turns out that only one in three feel the law was “too liberal” (to use CNN’s somewhat slippery language). One in six said they objected to the law because it didn’t go far enough. And get this: A solid 5 percent don’t like the law but can’t explain why (see above, “most Americans just don’t understand the law”). It’s worth noting that support in CNN’s poll has been steadily growing for the last year and now sits at 43 percent.

Hah! It turns out that when people oppose the law, it could for anything: it doesn’t go far enough, it goes too far, it just feels wrong but I can’t tell you why.

As I suspected, poll results about health care reform are far more complex than we are told.

We don’t have a liberal media. We have an overworked media. All that consolidation and cost-cutting. And suddenly the progressives are saying the same thing as the Tea Party. Say what?

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Beautiful Writing (About Gun Control)

In last week’s New Yorker, the inimitable Jill Lepore lays out the history of gun control legislation from the Constitution onward.

Turns out, and it’s not surprising, that the current civil-rights-based interpretation of the 2nd Amendment was radical when the NRA started floating it in the 70s. For 200 years prior, everyone understood the Constitution to affirm the people’s right to form militias for the good of the commonwealth. The 2nd Amendment goes along with the 3d Amendment, protecting the commonwealth from a military regime (that part about not having to quarter a soldier without your consent).

Li’l militias soon got absorbed into the standing national army, and armories were publicly operated storehouses for the sanctioned army to use. Citizens used guns for hunting and didn’t think of the two as connected.

The right to defend your property from a shady-looking nogoodnik had nothing to do with it. But in the 70s, the NRA formed a lobbying arm. And during the Reagan administration, the NRA lobbyists started to succeed in getting this new, radical, civil rights interpretation placed in legal journals–and in getting it passed into law.

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Of Course It Has Come to This

The Atlantic reports on “microtargeting” in campaigning: the practice of using the “Big Data” to profile ever-more discrete segments of voters.

Inside microtargeting offices in Washington and across the nation, individual voters are today coming through in HDTV clarity — every single digitally-active American consumer, which is 91 percent of us, according to Pew Internet research. Political strategists buy consumer information from data brokers, mash it up with voter records and online behavior, then run the seemingly-mundane minutiae of modern life — most-visited websites, which soda’s in the fridge — through complicated algorithms and: pow! They know with “amazing” accuracy not only if, but why, someone supports Barack Obama or Romney, says Willie Desmond of Strategic Telemetry, which works for the Obama reelection campaign.

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I heart Jim Fallows

I am a big fan of James Fallows’ “False Equivalence Watch” series of posts. He points out egregious examples of reporters fueling our perceptions of hyper-partisan culture. That is, when reporters leave out key facts in a story to maintain the perception that “both sides” in politics are equally culpable in paralyzing our government with partisan rigidity.

Here’s his latest entry, a quotation of Obama speaking forth on the topic. Bringing a li’l history to the reporters that act like they forgot it.

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