Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fringe leftist losers: wrong even when they're right

From Glenn Greenwald at

...Throughout the Bush years, those who said patnetly true things were continuously dismissed as fringe, conspiracy-driven leftist-losers: those who questioned whether Saddam really had WMDs; those who argued that the invasion of Iraq would lead to long-term military bases in that country; those who worried that warrantless eavesdropping and Patriot Act powers would lead to abuses; those who opposed the war in Afghanistan on the ground that it would be unwinnable, etc. etc.

Having been proven right about all of those things hasn't changed perceptions any at all. As Ambinder's comments today reflect, the paramount unchangeable Beltway Truth is that those who distrust government claims are unSerious Fringe Leftist Losers. Even when they turn out to be right, they're still that. And no matter how many times journalists like Ambinder are proven wrong in "giv[ing] the government the benefit of some doubt, even having learned lessons about giving the government that benefit," they still continue to do it and believe it is the right and responsible thing to do.

Powerful political leaders are, as Jay Rosen often puts it, the ruling priests in the journalists' church of Savviness. Trusting the politically powerful is the establishment religion and carrying forth their message is the prime function of establishment journalists (note how Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, just two months ago, argued that the "public option" was crucial but then, like so many liberal pundits eager to maintain and build close relations with the White House, got dutifully on board with the White House message, by completely and shamelessly changing course the minute the White House did). Distrusting the statements and actions of government leaders was once the central value of our political system and of basic journalism. But now, especially in the eyes of establishment journalists, it is the hallmark of the unSerious, fringe, leftist loser, no matter how many times it is proven right.

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