FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
The Unbearable Lightness of Being Sports Media
Gregg Easterbrook goes full Andrew Sullivan
The media is liberal. No one who is not paid by George Soros to say otherwise disputes this any longer. But it is not enough to note that the media is liberal; this is correct, but it is incomplete. They are also lazy, and incompetent at their jobs. I cannot remember the last time I read a news story about a legal case and wasn’t able to point out several glaring errors that would have been obvious to any mid-grade lawyer. Why do we have 18 billion stories about the same missing person running at any given time when there are tons of people who go missing every day? Because once some reporter has latched on to one of them, it is easier for all the other lazy reporters to latch on to the pre-existing story than to find their own. Reporters, as a class, exist to make lawyers feel better about themselves.
Nor is it enough to think that as long as you are alert when you are watching actual news, you are safe from this phenomenon. Perhaps no group of reporters is worse at their job (and more liberal) than sports reporters. In terms of basic incompetence, just listen to any major media baseball analyst explain the benefits of a hitter who can do really well at moving a runner from second to third, or why punting on 4th-and-1 from your opponent’s 40 yard line is ever the right call. In terms of liberalism, they are just as chock full of absurd assumptions as their “regular” media counterparts, only stupider.
Consider, if you will, history’s most pretentious and self-inflated writer, Gregg Easterbrook. A couple weeks ago, in the middle of one of his interminable and boring football columns at ESPN, Easterbrook offered his considered opinion of Obama’s success in navigating the Syrian chemical weapons crisis:
All Presidents Should Be So Feckless:Two weeks ago, every second sentence in news reports and in Washington political discussion was about ObamaCare. The world was either going to end because of ObamaCare (“ObamaCare will destroy everything we know as a nation” — Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., early October) or a golden age would dawn because of ObamaCare. With budget negotiations finally moving forward, suddenly ObamaCare, a moment ago the greatest issue in the history of civilization, is dropping off the radar.
Now stretch your thoughts back to the dim mists of prehistory — last month. Use of chemical weapons in Syria was the topic of every second sentence in news reports and in Washington political discussion. Barack Obama was threatening air strikes, Congress was being called on for tense consultations, military experts were warning of disaster. Obama’s brand of diplomacy was roundly denounced, the president called “feckless” and “bungling” on Syria by The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Now chemical arms in Syria are being destroyed under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the little-known agency that just won the Nobel Peace Prize. The Syrian civil war grinds on, but none of the predicted horrible consequences of Obama’s diplomacy have come to pass, while Syrian civilians are becoming safe from chemical arms. And it’s like the whole Syria chemical arms controversy never existed — gone from total obsession to old news in a single month.
Consider, if you will, the number of stunning inaccuracies and glosses on the historical record contained in these three paragraphs. Only a writer as pitiful as Andrew Sullivan – which is to say, probably afflicted by organic brain dementia and definitely under the thrall of an embarrassing physical crush on Obama – would have interpreted Obama slinking away from his preferred course of action (military intervention) after being roundly rebuffed in a bipartisan fashion by Congress and instead pursuing a course of action designed to get people to forget that Syria ever existed as some brilliant master plan on Obama’s part. I can only assume that the editors at ESPN removed the “Patience and Steel” from the end of this blurb before posting it on the website.
Of course, as could have been predicted by literally everyone not named Andrew Sullivan or Gregg Easterbrook, Obama’s non-course of action has in fact yielded some results that could best be described as “not optimal“:
The United States is looking at new classified intelligence indicating the Syrian government may not fully declare its chemical weapons stockpile, CNN has learned. That would mean it will still have a secret cache of chemical weapons even after the current agreed-upon destruction effort is carried out.
The intelligence is not definitive but “there are various threads of information that would shake our confidence,” one U.S. official said. “They have done things recently that suggest Syria is not ready to get rid of all their chemical weapons.”
Officials told CNN the new intelligence is related to stockpile inventories and delivery systems, such as warheads and artillery shells – items that could preserve Syria’s ability to use chemical weapons again if it chose to. Officials believe al-Assad will hold on to some of the chemical weapons largely as a long-term hedge against what he sees as a threat from Israel.
“It strains credulity,” one official said, to believe he will readily give up his entire chemical weapons program.
And lo, here we are.
The phenomenon is more widespread and pervasive than even exists in regular media. Consider, if you will the absurd assumption that the entire world should be concerned that a 24 year old professional athlete was “bullied” into paying more money than he wanted to on a team building trip. Consider the incredulity with which it was reported that some football players believe that 24 year old professional athletes ought to be responsible for conducting themselves like adults.
All of which is to say that the lens through which virtually all information – even sports information – passes, is both skewed, often inaccurate, and frequently slanted left. Learn constant vigilance and teach it to your children. Laziness of thought is corrosive in any context and the fight for our culture must be engaged in all arenas.