The Jaundiced Eyeball

Dox Populi: A Few Missing Links

Chris LehmannApril 07, 2016
McLimansFunnel1905.3_72
McLimansFunnel1905.3_72

What if they held a mammoth document leak and nobody came? That seems, with a slight allowance for hyperbole, the impact of the release of 2.6 terabytes of data from the inner sanctums of Mossack Fonseca, the high-rolling Panamanian law firm.

What Obama Gets Wrong About Our Political Media

Chris LehmannMarch 31, 2016
Reverie. / Matt B
Reverie. / Matt B

Journalists and political leaders alike are suckers for high-minded reverie. Of all the many cognitive fancies billowing through both professions, probably the most alluring one is that the best and brightest among us are charged with the sacred trust of citizen-building.

In a Big Country, Dreams Stay with You

Chris LehmannMarch 24, 2016
propagander
propagander

You might think that something called “the great unsettling” involved movement of some kind: the abrupt uprooting of communities and traditions, or the migration of the dispossessed across a continent. But in the opening salvo of the Washington Post’s pompous, turgid, and epically portentous account of Election ’16 and What It all Means (a.k.a.

The Breitbart Betrayals

Chris LehmannMarch 17, 2016
Mark Taylor
Mark Taylor

There aren’t many hard-and-fast rules left in the grand digital Guignol of political journalism but, without question, a central organizing principle should be the old dictum of the schoolyard: when a bully pushes you, you push back.

Straight Out of Centrist Casting

Chris LehmannMarch 10, 2016
What Frank Capra World do centrist pundits think we're living in? / Wikimedia Commons
What Frank Capra World do centrist pundits think we're living in? / Wikimedia Commons

Say what you will about this demented presidential election cycle—it has, at a minimum, forced the myths of Beltway centrism out into gloriously open view. The meme that has lately captured the responsible commentariat is not that the rise of Donald Trump represents the unmanageable blowback from a decades-long conservative-movement assault on the theory and practice of government.

Your Media Future: Cheesy and Skeezy

Chris LehmannMarch 03, 2016
Stay tuned for a message from our sponsored content. / Leigh Wolf
Stay tuned for a message from our sponsored content. / Leigh Wolf

For decades, American parents and authority figures have fretted over how the goddamn kids in their lives might be induced to pull themselves out of TV’s stupefying thrall and start really living. Now, however, media worthies are feverishly trying the opposite tack: to get our cyber-savvy, platform-proficient young people to bask once more in the boobtoob’s deathly blue glow.

Oh, the Civility!

Chris LehmannFebruary 25, 2016
TrumpWeb
TrumpWeb

It’s hard to know just what stage of the Kübler-Ross cycle of facing up to hard facts our media elite are currently mired in as the prospect of Donald Trump’s ascension to the GOP presidential ticket comes ever nearer—but it’s clearly a long way from acceptance.

Power to the Pixels

Chris LehmannFebruary 18, 2016
McLimansCapitalistPigs90.3_72
McLimansCapitalistPigs90.3_72

It sure was a short “end of history.” Back in 1992, with the Berlin Wall leveled and Russia abruptly abdicating its self-appointed role as bureaucratic overseer of the historical dialectic, Francis Fukuyama and his neoconservative confreres surveyed the reconfigured world order and saw that it was good.

Hillary’s Handlers: We Need Some Muscle Here

Chris LehmannFebruary 10, 2016
Televisione Streaming
Televisione Streaming

What is it that makes so much of our national politics reporting so grindingly, predictably awful? We’re in an election cycle that—for all its many shortcomings—features a genuine clash of ideas and core philosophies of government. How is it that a wide and fast-multiplying agora of press outlets can so consistently treat it as a glorified Game of Thrones recap?

Field of Dreams

Chris LehmannFebruary 03, 2016
Cas
Cas

 Because the Iowa caucuses are a perversely puny and undemocratic spectacle, heroic exertions are required to endow them with long-term narrative meaning. Worry not, though: Our media-political complex exists largely to billow the semblance of significance into the decaying husk of our public life, and Monday’s surreal and unhinged caucus balloting was certainly no exception.

The Loudest Voice Not in the Room

Chris LehmannJanuary 28, 2016
A mockup of a Donald Trump-Ted Cruz mano-a-mano debate. / Miguel Discart
A mockup of a Donald Trump-Ted Cruz mano-a-mano debate. / Miguel Discart

It speaks volumes about the general disarray of the presidential campaign spectacle that it has now reached its highest pitch over the prospect of Donald Trump remaining silent over the course of a televised debate. (OK, technically Trump intends to be absent for the debate—but one can argue that in his case, the only way to ensure silence is via complete physical isolation.)

On Tuesday, Trump sent the word forth that he wouldn’t take part in Thursday’s Fox News debate in Des Moines, since the network hadn’t agreed to his demand that Fox host Megyn Kelly—who had asked a pointed question about Trump’s long record of ugly misogynistic verbal abuse in the opening round of the last Fox News candidate forum—be booted from the panel.

Pounding Sanders

Chris LehmannJanuary 21, 2016
Crowds in Iowa listening to Bernie Sanders. /
Crowds in Iowa listening to Bernie Sanders. /

There’s something undeniably stirring in the mobilization of America’s Responsible Pundit Consensus. This week finds the liberal lectors of said consensus singing, not surprisingly, from a single hymnal entry, the one called “Bernie Sanders Is Not a Serious Presidential Candidate.” The refrain has a few minor variations, but it’s strikingly uniform in broad outline: as a candidate, Sanders is little more than a glorified sloganeer, touting a single issue in the most monotonous way imaginable.