Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome

noun

Feelings of trust or affection felt in many cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim towards a captor.

Fair warning; if you are allergic to the accent demonstrated in the song Valley Girl, this is going to hurt. You may consider soaking a box of Q-tips in bleach in preparation for repairing the aural damage.

This week, as part of my regular reconnaissance of enemy territory, I have subjected myself to the Ezra Klein podcast.
Ezra writes for Vox. On balance, it’s fair to say that Ezra has a great voice for print media. If you didn’t know otherwise, you might be forgiven for thinking Ezra was a 16 year old girl living in the San Fernando Valley.
Ad hominen fun aside, his podcasts are a great insight to a particular media mindset; this one is a doozy.

In it, Ezra interviews Amy Chozik, author of the book “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling“.

Before you set off with us on the journey of discovery, perhaps have a pencil and paper handy to count the number of redundant times the words “like” and “so” are used. The podcast might have been 15 minutes shorter if precision of language was a concept the pair understood.

In the podcast, our protagonists discuss the reporting of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The overwhelming emotion expressed by these two objective journalists is one of regret and, dare we suggest it, shame.

The pair talk about “bias” a lot but not in terms of any suggestion they were biased towards wishing for a Clinton presidency but that they weren’t biased enough in their reporting.

For example, at 17 minutes in, they discuss the “tragedy” of the result. This is not the language employed by unbiased professional reporters. However, any semblance or artifice that they would describe themselves in those professional terms is shed as the conversation develops.

Ok, so we have two partisan writers discussing an election that didn’t go their way. At least the form of the conversation should be easy listening? They’re paid to write for a living, at least.

Nah. Wince as the English language is mangled under our brutal wrestling tag team; “lightning rod-ness” was a particular stand out, as were “stories we pre-wrote” and “pre-writing” whilst discussing the articles they hoped to file after Clinton’s victory. Presumably “pre-writing” is the writing one does before one writes?

See also, “pre-planning“, the planning one does before one plans, and “pre-warning“, the warning one gives before a warning, (to be clear, they don’t use these terms, they’re just two of my pet peeves).

Wonder also at how “gendered” the media coverage of the election was. Other people’s coverage, of course, our two heroes never once made any capital out of the biological differences between Hillary and Bernie or Donald. Oh no sir-ee (or madam/gender fluid person).

Enjoy also the exquisite irony of the use of the phrase, “abdicating our responsibility to think it through“. Spoiler alert; they aren’t talking about why the public didn’t trust Hillary or their reporting of Hillary.

An almost a throwaway line; “Trump’s bashing of the first amendment” was instructive. The fact that there’s no explanation of what is meant by that assertion speaks volumes; Ezra accepts it unquestionably as an axiom we all understand (or should be forced to?). It’s still not clear what he’s done to stop free speech.

Perhaps the best amusement is to had towards the end of the interview where we discover that the abuse directed at journalists was worse from Bernie Sanders’ supporters than anything Trump’s redneck, white-supremacist, misogynist, homophobe, transphobe, Islamaphobes could throw. Really? The left can be more brutal and threatening? Who knew?

Bill’s Opinion

Theres a significant problem with much of what passes as contemporary political discourse; people have lost the ability or desire to understand the opposing view. It is fashionable to write off one’s opponent as acting in bad faith and therefore deserving of whatever sanction we see fit, ranging from “no platforming” to impeachment and prosecution.

Subjecting ourselves to interviews such as this one help us understand how the other side are thinking. The expression “to steel man an argument” is something worth exploring if this is of interest.

A secondary advantage of listening to interviews like this is it is unintentionally fucking hilarious and a wonderful example of the meaning of the word schadenfreude.

Lastly, among his many verbal tics, Ezra frequently uses the expression “I’m curious” to commence a question that could simply have started with “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, “why” or “how”.

Ironically, it is apparent to the most casual observer that the one characteristic Klein doesn’t posses is curiosity;

The unexamined life is not worth living.

Socrates

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