Sunday, May 20, 2018

Josh Barro can be very silly

I all but laughed when I read this piece by Josh Barro.

There's been many Republicans who have left the party due to Trump. Some have done it for personal reasons involving principles, and others have seemingly done it more out of public appearance, that it would be too embarrassing to remain given the buffoonery of Trump. I believe Barro falls in the latter camp.

After following him on Twitter for several months, Barro appears to be something of a provocateur. Whereas other journalists are hard at work trying to come up with scoops and sourced stories of substance, Barro seems to be all about clickbait. Try to put together that piece that has lots of sizzle, is tantalizing, and couple it with a controversial headline (key to clickbait). Then sit back and (hopefully) watch it catch fire.

To wit, this Clinton piece.

Barro claims that the Clintons are a big reason why Trump supporters are not shocked by Trump's many transgressions and wrong-doings, that they don't care because of the prior awfulness of Bill and Hillary. Really? Such an assertion makes both Clinton and Trump supporters scratch their heads, saying "huh?!" -- which is exactly what Barro wants. Twice the audience = more clicking to read what the heck he's putting forth.

Ding ding, mission accomplished.

Barro's employer, Business Insider, is arguably a web site all about clicks. Much like say Buzzfeed, the writers are judged by the number of eyeballs viewing your piece, as opposed to the actual veracity and quality, which while important, are seemingly secondary considerations. First and foremost, tantalize, provoke, create an immediate stir. Above all else, get people to click on your story for ad revenue purposes.

Barro is all about that. It's to the point where I think he frequently sits back and wonders, "Ok, there's this generally accepted narrative out there about X, how can I say it or position it differently that will cause people to get upset or to say 'WTF?' and click on my piece?"

Ergo this Clinton story.

I'll be the first to admit the Clintons are no saints. To the point where when Bill was caught lying about Monica -- yes, an entirely unserious matter on its face (marital fidelity is not on par with treason or acts of criminality) -- I was all for Bill resigning. NOT for reasons involving giving in to a true witch hunt, led by Newt Gingrich, but rather he did lie and he was a lame duck, so best to clear the way for Gore to run in 2000. Stepping down would establish Gore as presiding POTUS, allowing voters to already have that title attached to his name. And Gore would've been able to "adopt" much of the good resulting from Bill's eight years and yet give him time to distance himself from the lingering hangover questions concerning Monica and the impeachment crap.

But to relate Bill, and Hillary for that matter, to the willful blindness and ignorance of Trump supporters is absurd, and just silly.

To prove it, I posit this: would Trump supporters be this jaded and quiet if all this was going on with Hillary as POTUS? I highly doubt it. They'd be screaming "IMPEACH" and "TREASON" and "LOCK HER UP," much like they were doing before the election. According to Barro, the Clintons helped to normalize corruption to the point where diehard Trumpians have accepted all kinds of wrongfulness, or Trump is simply the Clintons on steroids.

That all sounds conceivable, especially when Barro selectively whips together incidents and facts into what he sees as a believable thesis. Yet once you start to question this and assert that, it begins to unravel, and he no doubt will start refuting and backpedaling a mile-a-minute as he often does on MSNBC, until you're forced to go to a commercial....

If what Barro is suggesting is true, then Trump supporters should be just as cynical, and therefore not care, if it was Trump, Hillary or any politician for that matter. But we all know that's simply not true. The many Benghazi inquiries went on for years, with no wrong-doing to show for it, but the Mueller investigation turning all of one-year-old has already dragged on too long for most Republicans and Trumpians. But I thought they were jaded? Numbed by the corrupt Clintons? Why are they even keeping track of days or months?

The fact is Trump supporters are all about extreme tribalism, hypocrisy and purposeful ignorance. If all of what has been going for Trump as POTUS had also occurred under a President Obama or Hillary, they'd be up-in-arms upset -- and rightly so. But it's Tribalism 101: because he's a Republican (who also happens to be a TV celeb), it's OK, but if a Dem, 100% unacceptable. And therein lies the bald-faced hypocrisy. Yes, the Clintons got taken to the woodshed for much less, BUT the screaming and outcry was FAR louder against them. It's not quieter now because of the normalization of corruption, rather it's quieter now simply because the Clintons are not in office! And because a Repub is POTUS! Hell, as POTUS, Obama had perhaps one of the most scandal-free eight years in history, yet Republicans tried their darndest to make a big stink out of whatever trivial thing they could find.

As for purposeful ignorance, Trump is a consummate con man and a pathological liar. And his supporters are putty in his hands. I imagine most Fox News viewers are ardent Trumpians, and therefore willfully and purposefully ignorant. It's been widely circulated that Fox News is less than truthful, to the point where many FN viewers I know acknowledge this fact. But they don't care. Fox News confirms their preexisting notions and tells them what they want to hear and believe. That it's fiction or heavily distorted does not matter. They are A-OK with being conned. And Trump knows this, completely. One of the few true things to escape his lips was that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose voters. Sadly, that is VERY true. In fact, if a Russian "pee tape" does exist, what is he worried about? He wouldn't lose one supporter (and may actually gain a few perverts).

There are many studies confirming what we're seeing with Trump supporters. Their outright willingness to be conned and to knowingly believe in non-truths, with the primary motivation being confirmation of preexisting, strongly held convictions. And NONE OF THAT has anything to do with Hillary or Bill.

Josh Barro is just being silly, but more so attempting to provoke for the sake of clicks. As per usual. Quite sad.

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