So this gets very deep in the weeds of a completely diaphanous article that only got written because the NYT has to fill slots in their political coverage. But I think going through it serves a purpose by demonstrating just how much centrist pap is mixed into the foundation of political reporting, even when that reporting is very far away from anything anyone can call “important”. This centrist stuff isn’t just for the movers and the shakers. Everyone’s got to do it to prove they can be trusted. It’s like prison tattoos. Onward:
I get that unusual techniques in campaign ad production can be a legitimate news story.
But the story Jeremy W. Peters, Professional Political Reporter, filed with the NYT wasn’t about those things. It breathlessly reported that a new ad created a fictional story to highlight problems with the current administration. That it used actors to do so. That it spent some money to do so.
Independent of the ways in which the piece tries to conceal just the laziest fucking hackwork: what the fucking balls was going through Jeremy W. Peters head when he wrote this article? Why did he want to write what he wrote? To what purpose? There is absolutely nothing fucking remarkable or newsworthy about the ad he’s writing about. Production values have always kept pace with the rest of television. Actors have been used since motherfucking Eisenhower. The Reagan “Morning in America” ad that the application for a centrist card requires you to present physical evidence that it moved you to tears was a montage of images of a young man’s life from riding a bike as a kid to helping around the house as a teenager to getting married to growing old. Sounds kinda similar. Plus you’d think a piece of journalism that breathlessly reports a political ad is using a fictional story would at least mention the Obama “Julia” ad released a few weeks ago which does the same thing, but then you’d remember this was a piece which gestated in the nourishing fluid of centrism, and you would put such silly thoughts aside.
And there are lots of centrist tropes in here. And they all come, like the origami fetishist, after the fold.
There is skeeting about process for the sake of skeeting about process. These suave ad execs, in their 40th floor offices! (The picture for the story was literally the ad guy looking out his 40th floor window). Look what they’re doing! The production values! The strategy. (The caption for the picture is “The new ad is aimed at people who may like Obama but are disillusioned”).
The vigorous deep-throating of partisan framing while maintaining a nominally objective tone and stance. (“Focus groups members did not buy assertions that Obama is a rabid partisan with a radical liberal agenda that is wrecking America”; hey shitface how about reporting that Republicans are just fucking lying about Obama and would continue to do so if it would work? Ending the piece with “Democrats say the country is picking up; Republicans think otherwise; here’s a paragraph-long quote from the guy who made the Republican ad to explain why he’s right.”) There’s a lot more but I threw it at the end because there are paragraphs of it.*
The blurring of concepts and absolute refusal to just state facts in order to cultivate a more upper-crust tone. (“Republicans acknowledge that they have always faced a more complicated target in Mr. Obama, whose candidacy four years ago struck a deep emotional chord with many Americans.” This sentence obscures the many issues surrounding how political parties attack black opponents. How about you unpack some of that, or at least acknowledge it, instead of get off on how erudite you sound? Ass.)
This is a nobody reporter with a whispy story that was forgotten as soon as it was filed. But even this is soaked in the by-products of centrist wanking, which sometimes get so thick I can’t even read the words on the page. It’s fucking everywhere. Centrist jizzum is the medium through which corporate political discourse propagates.
*More evidence that this article conceals more partisan hackery than a fog surrounding a lumber camp in a partis forest:
The title is “Subtler Entry From Masters of Attack Ads.” CrossroadsGPS guys are “masters” of ads in the same way that someone who spends a lot of money on Slimfast shakes is “master” of their diet.
First sentence: “The ad is the work of two of the most fearsome players in Republican politics” Blow me with that adjective. You’re not covering a fucking Joss Whedon movie.
“They ran some shitty focus groups and this is what they found: voters trusted and liked Obama but were uneasy about the direction of the country.” There’s seven or so paragraphs along these lines. Did I miss the memo declaring that the way we talk about research which is supposed to be objective is through a partisan lens? Because I would want to see who wrote it before I followed it.
“The script, which [the author] started writing that day in October, features a composite character from the focus groups. ‘Kind of like President Obama’s girlfriends,’ he noted dryly, referring to Mr. Obama’s acknowledgment that a girlfriend he referred to in his book “Dreams From My Father” was a composite of several women he knew.” HEY LOOK EVERYONE I KNOW THE CURRENT REPUBLICAN BULLSHIT ATTACK ON OBAMA I PUT IT IN MY STORY FOR NO REASON. (Characters Obama wrote in his book were sometimes composites of actual people he knew. Of course this is an issue now, since Obama noted in the introduction to his 1996 book in which the composites appeared that they were composites. Fucking politicians, always twisting the truth by admitting in real time what they’re doing sixteen years before the campaigns in which it becomes an issue.)
Jeremy W. Peters quotes more lines from a completely unrelated Republican ad from 2010 than he does from a non-Republican source (not that it was difficult; that NRS gets 21 syllables worth of quote). And there are almost twenty paragraphs which summarize the ad with no additional analysis, summarize previous Republican ads, or talk about focus group research in a partisan way. That’s not including the direct quotes from the ad’s creators.
This is overkill I completely agree with you this individual article means absolutely nothing. But that’s the point, right. This is just some random fucking filler article, but this fucking asshead gives a toungebath to an ad that is not newsworthy and couldn’t be more partisan if he tried but presents it all as “objective” analysis. Centrist jizzum is the medium through which corporate political discourse propagates.
Updated to clarify language and add the Morning in America bit.