Let’s be clear about the chain of events here. A year ago, “fake news” had a pretty specific meaning: clickbait sites that publish hoaxes. The hoax of the hour might be political, but it could as easily be a fraudulent report of a celebrity death or a weird-news story that’s too good to be true. Over time the term was also applied to aggregation sites that don’t specialize in hoaxes so much as they simply don’t care whether the stories they’re promoting are hoaxes. Not exactly the same thing, but you still had that basic model of a click-driven indifference to truth.
But when the opinion-spouting class grabbed the phrase en masse right after the election, they used it much more broadly. Once you’ve started slapping thefake newslabel on anything that looks like sloppy reporting or ideological bias in the alternative press, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that people will start flinging it when they think they’ve spotted sloppy reporting or ideological bias in the mainstream….
–Jesse Walker, Let’s Be Clear About Who Drained the Meaning from the PhraseFake News
Reason.com, Jan. 9, 2017
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Normally, people who write newspaper headlines are notorious for removing any word that they could possibly cut — often paring away so many words that they leave ambiguous or utterly cryptic headlines. Not always, though:
involved. Ever notice how far a newspaper writer will go, when an
involved, just to avoid writing
Police killed a man in so many words?
Here’s the story to go with the headline:
Metro Police are investigating a deadly officer-involved shooting Sunday morning near Buffalo and Alta Drives.
According to police, the incident was a neighbor dispute with possible shots fired on the 7000 block of Palmdale Avenue. SWAT teams were called out to assist as the barricaded male suspect was shot and transported to University Medical Center where he died of his injuries.
“At some point the individual came out carrying a rifle. Our hostage negotiators asked a number of times for the subject to put down the rifle and at some point raised the rifle in their direction, ” Metro Capt. Matt McCarthy said. Several of our officers fired on our subject to stop the threat and the subject went down.”
No officers were injured.
–Jonathan Cisowski and Mauricio Marin, Officer-involved shooting leaves 1 dead
LasVegasNOW.com (23 Sextilis 2015)
Metro Police have shot eight people in Las Vegas this year. They killed five of the eight people they’ve shot.
David Brooks (2004):
neo-conservative creepy spendthrift fascist
Hey, man, remember 10 years ago, back when David Brooks wrote a column in which he disavowed
neo-conservative as a political label, insisted that there was no coherent group of
neo-conservatives, insisted that
the people labeled neocons had no real influence on the Bush administration and agreed about basically nothing other than foreign policy, and then went on to ridicule everyone who wrote about
neocon influence on the Republican Party and to mock them in the most abusive terms, as
full-mooner, probably anti-Semitic, conspiracy theorists?
In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for “conservative” and neo is short for “Jewish”) travel in widely different circles and don’t actually have much contact with one another. The ones outside government have almost no contact with President Bush. There have been hundreds of references, for example, to Richard Perle’s insidious power over administration policy, but I’ve been told by senior administration officials that he has had no significant meetings with Bush or Cheney since they assumed office. If he’s shaping their decisions, he must be microwaving his ideas into their fillings.
It’s true that both Bush and the people labeled neocons agree that Saddam Hussein represented a unique threat to world peace. But correlation does not mean causation. All evidence suggests that Bush formed his conclusions independently. Besides, if he wanted to follow the neocon line, Bush wouldn’t know where to turn because while the neocons agree on Saddam, they disagree vituperatively on just about everything else. (If you ever read a sentence that starts withNeocons believe,there is a 99.44 percent chance everything else in that sentence will be untrue.)
–David Brooks (2004), The Era of Distortion
New York Times (January 6, 2004).
David Brooks (2013):
creepy spendthrift fascist
The conservatism that Kristol was referring to is neoconservatism. Neocons came in for a lot of criticism during the Iraq war, but neoconservatism was primarily a domestic policy movement. Conservatism was at its peak when the neocons were dominant and nearly every problem with the Republican Party today could be cured by a neocon revival.
–David Brooks (2013), The Neocon Revival
New York Times (August 1, 2013)
So, in light of a New York Times correction ten years in the making, I will no longer be calling David Brooks a
creepy spendthrift fascist. It’s back to
neo-conservative, which is of course a much more succinct way of saying the same thing.
In case you were wondering, the
domestic policy movement Brooks is so eager to revive, incidentally, is the use of an expansive welfare state for Right-wing social engineering. Or here’s the
creepy spendthrift fascist Brooks (2013), in his own words
The crucial issue for the health of the nation, in this view, is not the size of government; it is the character of the people. Neocons opposed government programs that undermined personal responsibility and community cohesion, but they supported those programs that reinforced them or which had no effect. Neocons put values at the center of their governing philosophy, but their social policy was neither morally laissez-faire like the libertarians nor explicitly religious like some social conservatives. Neocons mostly sought policies that would encourage self-discipline.
In almost every area of public concern, we are seeking to induce persons to act virtuously, whether as schoolchildren, applicants for public assistance, would-be lawbreakers, or voters and public officials, James Q. Wilson wrote.
You may have noticed that back in 2004, those were exactly the kinds of sentences that David Brooks predicted to have a 99.44% chance of being entirely untrue; since at the time he insisted that the only thing
the people labeled neocons agreed on at all was an aggressive National Greatness foreign policy. But now in 2013 he simply shoves the whole thing to one side within a single sentence, and insists that the main thing they really had in common was their aggressively paternal-statist commitments in domestic policy. I don’t know; I guess maybe something must have happened in the interim so that it is now more politic to talk up neoconservative ideas on domestic policy rather than neoconservative ideas on foreign policy?
Just spitballing here.
I know, it’s early, but I feel like this one is going to be hard to top. Last week, in the pages of the New York Times, we learn, from a completely impressionistic, completely dataless smattering of interviews that some vaguely-defined mass of
hipsters from Brooklyn
are starting to ponder the unthinkable: a move to the suburbs, and beginning an as-yet completely undocumented
mass exodus from Brooklyn Now if you read through the story you will find that this reporting is based on a series of interviews with a handful of married couples, several of them with young children and almost all of them in their late thirties, punctuated in the middle by an interview with a professional realtor who has a direct financial and self-promotional interest in talking up the trend. Now of course neighborhoods and boroughs are constantly changing and it’s perfectly possible that something interesting is really systematically going on — actually there are a few different interesting things that might be systematically going on. Or it might be nothing. In either case this would certainly be an interesting topic to get some systematic data on.
However, what we get from the New York Times is, instead, a colorfully illustrated discussion of the stunning news that when a subcultural demographic was partly identified and defined by the fact that they are young, then eventually they will get old. And when they get older — especially once they get into their mid- to late-30s, and especially if they get married and have kids — then many of them will move out of the big city and into the suburbs. And when people of a particular age reach the particular age where some of them start moving to the suburbs, it turns out that those who do take their fashions and their market niches with them.
Also, this reporter has discovered that people who are now in their late 30s and raising children find the city they’re living in
no longer feels as carefree as it did when they were young, unattached, and had fewer responsibilities.
I am sure that the bakery with the bird silhouettes is really quite cute.
- The theory of the article is that gentrifying hipsters and artistes are now being driven out of Brooklyn by the real-estate prices they helped to drive up. Maybe. Or maybe not. This is the sort of thing you’d want to collect data on.↩
- In the absence of any data, of course, we have no idea how many people are moving out, and no idea how many people, with what sorts of backgrounds, are or are not moving in to replace them.↩