Backlash from the Anonymous NYT Op-Ed
An article came out from an insider of the Trump administration, and it was posted in the NY times anonymously. There’s a bunch of a legitimate hand-wringing and concern about an anonymous op-ed discussing the administration, and I think it’s correct to worry about whether it’s just sour grapes, or whether there is legitimate value in publishing an anonymous opened from a supposed insider.
Trump supporters of course responded to this headline like this (this is an actual quote, from a friend’s Facebook feed):
“… think the article was manufactured by our friends at the New York Times. It is so convenient that it was published anonymously by someone ‘known’ to the NYT staff, but who still works inside the White House. Notice, also, how the writer refers to the Republican Party as ‘his’ (i.e., Trump’s) party, rather than ‘our’ party. So is this anonymous author a Democrat or something other than a Republican? And he or she still works in the White House?”
People like to think it’s something insidious, that some how Trump isn’t the problem. But could it be exactly as stated? Given the evidence of his behavior, I’m going to argue that this is not a big democratic conspiracy to make the Republicans look bad. No my friends, I hate to be the one to tell you, but Trump is indeed a Twitter happy moron. His best qualities combine the steely focus of a gnat, with the temperament of an inept asshole that’s in way over his head. What you hear about the Woodward book isn’t bullshit. It’s an administration off the rails.
The media may be left-wing. I don’t doubt that, but think about Occam’s Razor. Why would they lie about it? Do you think that anyone in DC would have to look for longer than five minutes to find someone from the Trump administration to talk shit? Thanks to Omarosa, we’ve already heard a small fraction of the disorganization that exists within the administration. Even with her gone, it’s still full of leaks and back stabbing. It has been from the start. Why make up a story when there are so many sources at your feet?
The whole premise doesn’t make any sense.
If you truly believe that the Trump administration is a well-oiled machine, and ALL of the media is lying to make this incredibly efficient and trustworthy administration look bad, then that’s your problem. I know we all like conspiracy theories, and distrust the media, but come on. The whole premise is ridiculous on its face.
The real danger I see is that we have a large portion of the populace that has a world view that bears little to no resemblance to reality, and it’s pretty scary. Now, the way I see the world, is not that everyone else is 100% objective, of course not, none of us are. We all have biases built in to the way we see the world, and as new events, people, and experiences enter our lives, we incorporate those things into a new map of how we see the world. We use these maps to make sense of what we experience, and to help predict what the future will bring us. Let’s go with a more concrete, real-life example consuming the news now. The changes being inflicted in society as new tech becomes mainstream like Facebook and Twitter. Executives from these companies have been repeatedly called to testify to the government on how they handle these sorts of issues.
People who are experienced in technical matters have a very different view of technology, and a different understanding of how people interact and experience the technology they create. That view doesn’t match how people actually experience and interact with the technology, and that creates many of the problems you see with social media. Facebook, Twitter and company are minimizing the effect of the technology on the behavior of the people to fit their world view, which is that there is some sort of meritocratic, technically clean implementation, where algorithms rule the world and no one is filtered unnecessarily. It’s a bit utopian, but other than Jack Dorsey (who finally banned Alex Jones, now that’s he’s met Alex Jones and ilk, which makes the willful ignorance part of it totally clear), they all realize they’ve caused problems, and are now trying to reconcile their world view with the real world.
These are all issues that the various groups are starting to recognize and are attempting to change course and reconcile with their own world view. That involves changing your perspective, moving towards the viewpoint of the other party, and creating a new world view that encompasses the experiences of both parties. It’s a system that recognizes (far too slowly, but recognizes nonetheless) that the experiences of others are valid, and real, and that maybe you have bias, too. There may be things you don’t see, and you have to make the difficult decision to do some inward reflection and change your worldview. In the end, hopefully, you move towards a better place.
Fox News, Trump, and the right wing don’t operate by the same set of rules, despite claiming to, and they do it in way that is disingenuous, and they know it. On the surface, you can say, “Oh, they have a world view that the liberals don’t see, and therefore it’s the liberals who have overlooked the right-wing, etc.”. Maybe. The honest position however, is you have to open to trying to figure out a world view that encompasses both your view, and those of whom you disagree.
The starting premise of any successful negotiation can’t be that the other side is fundamentally wrong, and you’re 100% correct. That is not a negotiation, it clearly won’t result in any sort of agreement or progress. That has to be the basic premise of all discussions, debates, and disagreements, or there can be no progress. This isn’t always true, and people lie on different ends of the spectrum, sure, but that’s the common understanding that is shared between all groups who are open to change. That means men, the left, mathematicians, programmers, economists, etc. Basically every realm in every world in every interest but one. The right-wing establishment.
The right-wing is making a fundamentally different argument. Instead of trying to paint a world where the interests of all groups are taken into consideration, and that it’s possible that their world views may differ from theirs, they start with the premise that the their own view is 100% the correct one. Instead of listening to the words, views, and paying attention to the actions of others as potential competing interests, they see their own view as 100% factual and is obvious to all, and then back into a view to explain the behaviors and claims of everyone else given that view. Everyone must see that Trump is a god and can do no wrong, and any counter example is a malicious attempt by the other side to lie about Trump, to further their own evil interests. It assumes that the left-wing media also knows Trump is infallible, he can’t possibly actually be incompetent, they just don’t like him, so the media is lying to make him look bad. This results in increasingly paranoid and conspiratorial explanations about what the other side is doing and believes. There’s a massive left-wing media conspiracy to paint Trump in a bad light, yet at the same time, is completely incapable of getting a politician elected. It makes no sense.
Now, I’m sure you can sit there and cherry pick some shit that happened in past administrations where the left did the same thing. Everyone does it, but the scale is very different. Let’s take the failure of the ACA sign up process during the Obama years as an example. The right said, “Look, Obamacare is failing! You can’t even sign up, and these are supposed to be the tech guys, and they can’t even make the sign up process work. It’s a failure”. And the left said, “No, it’s a technical glitch, and everything will be fine”. What they did not say is, “It’s not failing during the sign up process for any reason other than right-wing people are intentionally crashing it”. Instead, they said, “The sign up failed, we’re extending the sign in period, we’re working to fix it, and it won’t happen again”. Of course this was also followed up with a defensive, “Just because the sign-in thing doesn’t work doesn’t say anything about ACA more broadly”. It’s being defensive, and doesn’t help your cause. In the end, the sign-up shit got fixed, people got healthcare, the implementers got pie on their face, and everyone moved on.
When Trump fails, it’s the left-wing’s fault. It’s evil left-wingers working at the evil left-wing media. They double down on their worldview that the world is out to get them. Not because their ideas are failing and they backed an idiot, but because it’s a vast conspiracy.
I don’t know how to change that world view. It’s like an alcoholic who insists he doesn’t have a problem. His drinking isn’t the problem, everyone else should just mind their own business! He’s just trying to relax and let off some steam, but everyone else keeps picking fights with him, and he was just defending himself. Then he goes home and his wife gets angry, “What a bitch”, and after his hard day, he just can’t control himself, she deserved to be punched.
Because I have no hope of fixing the alcoholic, I did exactly what any battered wife should do. I got the fuck out.