30.12.19

CHUCK TODD, RELUCTANT WRESTLING PROMOTER?

Last Sunday's Meet The Press might well have been the Circling of the Wagons by the Coastal Establishment, concentrating on the perceived fantasies of the Deplorables.

How else explain a first panel comprising "the executive editor of the Washington Post, Martin Baron, and the executive editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet."  That conversation got to this interesting bit of self-awareness by Mr Baquet.
I grew up in a poor neighborhood in New Orleans, Louisiana, and had never been outside of Louisiana or Mississippi until I was about 17 years old. So it’s -- whenever I go home, and my family teases me that I'm now considered one of the great leaders of the elite. I do think, however, that we have to do a much better job, I agree with what Marty said, understanding some of the forces that drive people in parts of America that maybe are not as powerful in New York or Los Angeles.
At its best, that is what the meritocracy is supposed to do.  As an aside, I suppose we should be grateful that no subsequent panelist took Mr Baquet to task for being insufficiently aware of his privilege.  That doesn't bother me, there are parts of the academic enterprise that have self-marginalized.  At no time during the show, however, did anybody suggest that it came to this, dear reader, when the Smart Set started using finger quotes whenever they uttered the word, truth.

The show has drawn a lot of fire from the traditional places, with Stephen Kruiser quipping, "Chuck Todd Suggests That Trump Voters 'Wanna Be Lied to' Because Noah's Ark or Something."  He's less charitable toward the panel than I was.
Making this an even more unholy convergence of all that is wrong with modern American journalism, Todd's guests are the executive editors of The Washington Post and The New York Times, the two main architects and peddlers of the "Trump voters are unenlightened rubes from the icky parts of America" narrative.

This condescension is the cancer that's killing American journalism, and it's metastasizing.
If you want the tu quoque deflection, News Busters' Nicholas Fondacaro obliges.  His colleague Tim Graham suggested that the producers brought Matthew Continetti of Washington's Free Beacon on as designated "punching bag."  I found an observation by Mr Todd, during that segment, more instructive.
I mean, we are now aware that there are some politicians who want to come on this show, because they're hoping to get a viral moment to use for fundraising. And the minute we caught wind of that, we won't put those folks on. And it's sort of like, yeah, it's fun to get chastised by the mainstream media.
Put another way, there are some politicians who are wise to Mr Todd's schtick, and a good wrestling promoter has to rig the matches in such a way as to achieve his preferred outcome.

What, though, is the Nash equilibrium of this game?  Libertarians, populists, and conservatives recognize that Chuck Todd will give them a harder time than he will Democrats, establishmentarians, and Great Society liberals.  Those cage match segments are probably more interesting than the usual Dan Balz - Tom Brokaw at-the-end-of-the-day snoozefest that these shows used to offer. Fewer eyeballs, cheaper advertisements.

Let me offer one more anomaly: during the Sunday shows I watched, there were multiple commercials from Cascade, a manufacturer of dishwasher powders; and Jet Dry, a manufacturer of a dishwasher rinse agent.  Cheaper advertisements, or perhaps awareness that Our President's digs at environmentally friendly appliances that don't perform well have some purchase?

2 comments:

Dr. Tufte said...

This is not a slam on Dean Baquet, but I think he's embellishing. This is from his Wikipedia page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Baquet):

"He is the son of well-known New Orleans restaurateur Edward Baquet and a member of a prominent New Orleans Creole family.

Baquet graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1974."

St. Augustine is arguably the most prestigious private high school in New Orleans, and certainly the one that was most creole at the time.

Further, NOLA is loaded with old, monied, creole families that we now call African-American, but whose actual African origin DNA is not near 100% ... folks like the Morial clan.

And, if your father passed in 1993, and he has a Wikipedia page, you probably grew up privileged.

My point is not to disparage Baquet or creoles, but to point out that there are strong privileges other than white privilege, and Baquet shouldn't get a pass when he says "I'm now considered one of the great leaders of the elite". He was pretty elite in the first place, and he got to NYC partially on that basis.

Stephen Karlson said...

I don't want to get too far into the culture-studies weeds. On the one hand, he had advantages that some of his neighbors in the Ninth Ward didn't, and, as you note, the status hierarchy among private high schools is real. On the other hand, would a kid who attended a high end private high school somewhere other than in the Official Region even have a shot at climbing the ladder at the Times these days, or has the current crop of meritocrats further rigged the promotion ladders so that without those pre-school years at Harvard Prep Day Care a kid has no chance/