Monday, April 8, 2019

The Old, Old Habits of "Liberal" Journalism From A "Liberal" Paper On Display

I think Peter Canellos' article on Politico, Why Beto and Buttigieg Pretend to Be Kennedys, has a lot more to do with his quarter of a century working for the Boston Globe than it does Beto, and, especially, Pete Buttigieg.  Relying on a 37 year old book by Gary Wills, The Kennedy Imprisonment, Canellos is also following a Boston Globe tradition, trying to cut the legs out from under promising Democratic candidates from the then "liberal" platform of the Globe, though if I get into that, as a life-long reader of the now sadly diminished (and absurdly expensive) alternative to the putrid "little paper," which it now more mimics than contrasts, this will get ugly.

What Peter Canellos is doing is trying to diminish two of the more charismatic men among the Democratic candidates by calling them copy-cats - which is a hoot considering he's more or less cribbing Wills' old stuff. a book as old as the younger of the two men he's writing about.  Canellos is showing his age.  I would be very surprised if either of those two still young men have anything like an image they're copying in their heads, it would be Obama or, somewhat less likely, the 1992 Bill Clinton, the latter of whom clearly did hope to be something like a JFK (there was the old photo of the young Bill Clinton shaking his hand) but I doubt either of them are even thinking of Clinton when there is an Obama fresh in their mind.

I think even more than saying anything about the candidates,  Canellos is definitely showing his age.  Beto O'Rourke was born in 1972, Pete Buttigeig ten years after that, years after Jack and Bobby died.   I was born considerably before either they or Canellos were.  I remember the 1960 campaign for president fairly well, though I was still pretty young.  I was an Irish Catholic boy from New England in a household that watched the news on WBZ and whatever call letters channel 7 in Boston had back the, and we took the Globe as one of the two dailies (not to mention the three weekly papers) we read.   My parents were both news and politics junkies.  What Canellos sees as Kennedyesque is, I think, just what a young man running for president will look like, especially one who is fit for the job and knows that fitness will be an asset.  It's the shirt without a coat, I think, something which counts more as a universal post-WWII generation thing than something the Kennedys invented.  I think if anything, they were copying movies and advertising copy.   I think in making the comparison Canellos' years working in Boston media is also showing, it strikes me as a lazy-assed habit he's exercising, maybe his years as an editorial writer, as opposed to being a reporter of fact, as well.

To group together Beto O'Rourke and Pete Buttigieg is lazy as it is for Canellos to group together the quite individual women in the race.  I don't think the two of them are enough like the other except in superficial ways - physical appearance - to do what the article wants to do.  I think to concentrate on them instead of taking the older, more experienced, more fully credentialed women in the race seriously is also telling - it's something most of the media is doing, covering men and ignoring women.  That's not something I would blame these two male candidates for, I blame the press for that.  

And it's not just something that men do, the Boston Globe still regularly prints the hit jobs of Joan Vennochi, probably their most misogynistic op-ed regular writer, though not their only one whose favorite targets are liberal Democrats, especially women.

I think what can be seen in Canellos and Vennochi and most of the media is also the near universal habit of those who get paid to write by politics, paid by rich guys who own the media they work in,  to be far more critical of Democrats than they are Republicans, especially younger, more charismatic, more progressive Democrats.  Democrats with less baggage and more of a chance of winning and moving things ahead need to be damaged and the damaged promoted.   You can see that in Venocchi's recent screeds in which she goes easy on Joe Biden's creepily quasi-Kennedyesque attitude towards women and their bodily autonomy, their dignity, a marked contrast to her treatment of women.  It is something that will certainly not work to get Democratic voters, mostly women, mostly minority mostly men who have moved on from that early 60s era attitude, out and fighting and voting.   That's typical of American journalism across the board, right-wing to "liberal" high to low end.  I think what especially "opinion journalists" know more than anything is which side their bread is buttered on.  I suspect that's got something to do with Canellos' article in Politico.  No journalist has ever lost a thing by slamming Democrats any way they can think up.  It's such a temptation to copy what's worked in the past.

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