Is Politico a Credible News Outlet?

WHY DOES POLITICO EMPLOY LOBBYIST MOLLY MCKEW?

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FOR THE PAST YEAR Politico has been publishing hysterical articles by Molly McKew of Fianna Strategies. The titles of the articles would make tabloids like the National Enquirer and Weekly World News blush:

“Putin’s Attack on the U.S. Is Our Pearl Harbor”

The articles are accompanied by tweets promoting those articles:

THE PROBLEM is that Molly McKee’s company Fianna Strategies is a registered foreign agent for the President of the Republic of Georgia. McKee is PAID to offer their viewpoint. (By one account, $320,000 over a 16-month period.)

Georgia– once part of the Soviet Union; sitting between Russia and Turkey– wants NATO membership. McKew is paid to expedite this.

THE QUESTION is why Politico presents as a credible journalist an individual paid to be biased?

BEYOND THIS, it’s irresponsible for anyone to casually make analogies to the attack on Pearl Harbor, where 2,403 American sailors and soldiers died in an actual military event. What does Molly McKee advocate? That the United States declare war on Russia? (Listed as co-author of the Pearl Harbor article is a retired U.S. General who was involved in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.) (The last time we witnessed this level of war hysteria was in 2003, about Iraq.)

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Russia has a crumbling economy smaller than California’s. They have a plummeting population, and are desperately trying to hang onto what remains of their shattered empire. BUT they also retain an enormous nuclear arsenal. Thoughtlessly promoting war with that country is insanity.

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WHAT OF Molly McKew’s neoconservative thesis that Russia is promoting a “global imperialist insurgency”?

FACTS contradict this. The USA surrounds Russia with military bases to the immediate west, south, and east– Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Greece, Kosovo, Turkey, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Afghanistan, Indian Ocean, Philippines, S. Korea, Okinawa, Japan, etc. This doesn’t include NATO troops stationed in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which are on Russia’s border.

Russia meanwhile has ONE military base outside its immediate vicinity– in Syria. None in the western hemisphere.

WHICH nation is the insurgent global imperialist??

The Politico articles go beyond bias and slant into actual untruth.
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THE PREMISE behind the flood of articles from Politico and other news outlets is that Russia is engaged in some kind of massive propaganda assault. Yet when looking at which countries are more greatly influencing elections– which have the propaganda and cyber ability to influence elections– Russia, for all its machinations and duplicities, ranks far down the list. We’ll cover this with a follow-up sometime next week we’re tentatively calling “Propaganda USA.” Stay tuned.

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(NOTE: We’ve gone outside the lines of our usual topics because we like this planet and don’t wish to see it wiped out because of bouts of war hysteria. We have follow-ups to the Junot Diaz matter, and coverage of other lit-world topics, COMING SOON.)

-Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News.

Slate’s Junot Diaz Show Trial

MORE ON THE JUNOT DIAZ LIT-WORLD CONTROVERSY

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YOU THOUGHT the Junot Diaz Controversy was over when two of his three main accusers were discredited? When Boston Review and MIT kept Diaz on the job? We did. Think again.

CHARGING IN on her white horse to right the perceived wrong rode Slate’s Lili Loofbourow, with an essay which addressed everything but the specific accusations. This tells us something else is going on.
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NOTE from the outset the way a photo of Junot Diaz is book-ended between two other accused harassers, Jeffrey Tambor and Bill Clinton. We’re in the realm not of objective reportage, but propaganda. (In case anyone misses Slate‘s analogy, Loofbourow throws in a fast mention of Donald Trump.)

WHAT is Loofbourow’s essay chiefly about?

The Slate essay is about what she calls “displays of contrition”; what accuser Zinzi Clemmons calls “the confession spectrum.” The problem isn’t that Junot Diaz didn’t apologize for crimes real and apocryphal in the 04/16/2018 New Yorker essay by him. It’s that he didn’t apologize enough.

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We’re dealing with ritualized denunciations followed by a public confession– what was infamously known in totalitarian regimes of the last century as a show trial. It wasn’t enough, for instance, that accused harasser Bora Zivkovic later apologized personally to Monica Byrne for perceived sexual harassment, when he had discussed with her, in a private conversation between two adults, his sex life with his wife. He was required to be publicly denounced– with accompanying resignation of important positions and destruction of his reputation. Carcass nailed to a wall as warning.

Now it’s the turn of Junot Diaz. The in-house investigations of Diaz by Boston Review and MIT are irrelevant. That was never what this was about. His crime isn’t that he is or isn’t privately misogynist (though he might be, who knows?), but that he’s written about misogynists in his fiction, and has tried to understand such men.

Loofbourow looks for evidence against him not just in his New Yorker memoir, but in his book of short stories, This Is How You Lose Her. Which is curious, because according to Alyssa Rosenberg in a 10/4/2016 Opinion piece in the Washington Post about novelist Elena Ferrante, Lili Loofbourow came out strongly against attempts to identify a fictional character with the author.

Loofbourow said then in her tweets about Ferrante,

-She hacked the system. She made the WORK the point. She sidestepped every dumb reductive tendency we have by making herself unreachable.

-Did Ferrante *really* make all that up? Is she really that brilliant & META? Or is it just thinly-veiled MEMOIR? This last is key.

In her Slate article, Lili Loofbourow does exactly what she says one should not do– take fiction as “thinly-veiled MEMOIR.”

(Better had Junot Diaz done a J.D. Salinger– or Elena Ferrante– and made himself unreachable, rather than address the issue of misogyny head-on?)

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A large part of Loofbourow’s argument against Diaz are portions of the New Yorker essay in which he discusses personal (i.e., private) relationships. If the skewed-by-emotion perspectives of ex-girlfriends or boyfriends become material for determining these issues, we’re all in trouble. Men and women both.
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In examining the infamous Carmen Maria Machado recorded conversation with Junot Diaz at a literary event, Loofbourow says, “–we can learn something from the way Díaz talks about his manipulative characters–” Diaz’s crime in the exchange is insisting on his version of what he’s doing with his characters in his fiction. This very defense is used against him.

Throughout the Slate essay, Diaz’s assumed guilt is front and center:

–that you did heinous things, things you wouldn’t have done to people you truly respected as equals. 

Maybe you’re trying to figure out how to understand this moment without thinking of yourself as a monster, which you have never felt you were. Maybe you long for redemption and feel it’s no longer available.

How condescending! How assumptive.

By the end of the essay, Lili Loofbourow has reached her conclusion: “Everyone is guilty.”

Yep, everyone– but Junot Diaz is the person being targeted. Loofbourow again uses his own words against him:

The only way this thing that’s called patriarchy can be cured in me is collectively.

The hallmark of the show trial is that the person on trial agrees with his prosecutors and judges. The accused was revolutionary and correct in his attitude– just not revolutionary enough. See Nikolai Bukharin, Grigory Zinoviev, and other examples from the past.

bukharinzinoviev(Bukharin and Zinoviev caught in the spotlight.)

Lili Loofbourow’s gripe, you see, isn’t with Junot Diaz the individual, but with relations between men and women since the beginning of recorded time. Junot Diaz is merely the designated sacrificial victim.
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NEXT: System versus Zeitgeist: The Larger Context.

Karl Wenclas for New Pop Lit News

 

 

 

 

 

Politicized Book Awards

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The elephant in the room that NO ONE will talk about is the thorough politicization of the National Book Awards. Here are the Finalists and other nominees:

http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2017.html#.WgOxN4FSzrc

The choices might be most slanted in the NonFiction category– as if the judges looked for every book which would conform to a narrative of America as an evil place which should never have been founded. Exaggeration?

Erica Armstrong Dunbar‘s target is George and Martha Washington– engaged in the “relentless pursuit” of a runaway slave.

Frances Fitzgerald‘s target is evangelicals, “right-wing zealots” in the words of an approving review of the book in New York Review of Books.

David Grann‘s target is white oil barons in Oklahoma in the 1920’s out to wipe out an Indian tribe.

Nancy MacLean targets the “History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America.” (Subtitle saying all you need to know about that one.)

Then there’s Masha Gessen, the most anti-Putin, pro-Cold War-with-Russia proponent around, which says a lot. Gessen has the energy of an evangelist, and as fervent a cause. While the other writers give, more or less, honest reportage, albeit from a slanted premise or viewpoint, Ms. Gessen is a professional attack dog. A propagandist. Doubt it– or her political slant? Gessen’s recent articles on the U.S. President include “The Real Madman,” and “Diagnosing Donald Trump, and His Voters”– both of which posit the man as insane. Playing to her audience, sure, and inflaming them– which is what a propagandist does.

Every year hundreds of non-fiction books are published– many thousands if the DIY variety are included. The slant, the bias, the distortion in the National Book Awards comes via which books are selected. Which images chosen to create the desired portrait– which for this nation is not an edifying one. (We are still a nation, though some would think not.)

Could more balance have been provided by the other five nominees? No. If anything, they’re more slanted, more a one-way view of culture and politics– the capper being Naomi Klein’s book on “Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics.” Ms. Klein is an even more hysterical propagandist than Ms. Gessen. (I base that on having read a few of her books.)

Objective commentators? Or advocates with a cause?
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The bias exists throughout the other categories, though in not as blatant a fashion. Again, it’s as if the books were selected to fill in a predetermined picture of America, past and now. Need a novel on the struggle of undocumented aliens in this country? We have one– Lisa Ko’s The Leavings. And so on.

If the impression is given that the selections were made for political reasons, for advocacy, and not for quality, this hurts most the writers themselves.