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With one tweet, CNN's Chris Cillizza exposes the media as that table full of a**holes in your school cafeteria
For some reason I cannot fathom, Chris Cillizza of CNN is regarded as respectable political journalist. In fact, he's widely regarded by people in political journalism as one of the influential players in the industry. They believe he speaks with credibility and authority, and many of them follow his lead.
Actually I think I can fathom the reason. It's because journalists don't do what you think they're supposed to do. They don't make well-considered judgments about what constitutes worthwhile news, and then deliver that news to you in a responsibly sourced, factual manner. You want to think they do that, but they don't. What they do is mock, scoff and point fingers of superiority at people they've decided to pick on.
In other words, they're those jerks you remember from school, who achieved the oh-so-impressive goal of owning the social upper hand in seventh grade. And that gave them the lofty status that allowed them to gather at the cafeteria table where no one else was permitted, and mock everyone apart from themselves. Most people who engaged in this behavior grew out of it about the time they started shaving. Most people who were on the receiving end of this behavior got over it and moved on around the same time.
But some people never outgrew the need to feel superior by mocking and scoffing at everyone apart from themselves. And these people became political journalists, led by the likes of Chris Cillizza.
You remember the rules of this group. Anything they could say that would serve to embarrass you was fair to say. It didn't have to be entirely true. Sometimes it didn't have to be even a little true. As long as you could get people to believe it, they would say it and then laugh while you tried to deal with the consequences.
So here we are: The political journalists who sit together at the mocking table - which mostly takes the form of Twitter - have set their sights on that socially awkward kid named Donald. Their entire identity is tied up in mocking and scoffing at Donald, and whoever is perceived as doing so most cleverly is the hero of all the others.
Chris Cillizza needs to be the hero. He needs the approval of the other wannabe cool kids. And opportunities to get it excite him very much, never more so than on Friday, when this happened:
First, some guy named David Lewis tweeted an edited video that appeared to show (but actually did not show) the First Lady of Poland refusing to shake Donald Trump's hand:
LEGEND pic.twitter.com/UGKw0XWpPv— David Lewis (@davidclewis) July 6, 2017
Three hours later, Chris Cillizza saw this video. He got just a little excited:
OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD https://t.co/Ngdtuuu21q— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) July 6, 2017
Now, before we show you that the video was completely misleading, and didn't mean what Cillizza so desperately wanted it to mean, let's consider what Cillizza tells us about himself and his entire profession with this tweet.
The prospect of a world leader's wife snubbing Donald Trump, for a guy like Chris Cillizza, is like Rob and me finding out that Twin Peaks has been renewed for seven more seasons. It's that exciting. For him. Humiliating Trump is the reason these people live, and not really in regard to much of anything substantive. They've established a narrative that drives what they talk about every day: Everyone Hates Donald. The highlight of their lives is when something happens that appears to confirm this.
What makes you write "OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD"? What has the kind of power in your life? You come upon millions of dollars? The cutest girl in town agrees to go out with you? Your favorite team wins the World Series? It's something big. It's something huge. An exclamation like this is reserved for the earth-shaking, for the moments you'll never forget.
Chris Cillizza unleashes it over a handshake. Or the lack of a handshake. Or so he thinks. And he does so knowing full well that his contemporaries will share his excitement and glee. They all see it exactly the same way.
Oh my God! Trump humiliated! This is the greatest day of our lives!
These are the people who presume to give us our political news. This is how they think. This is who they are. They haven't changed one iota since they were in seventh grade mocking the nerdy kids. Now they just do it on television, and on Twitter.
And it doesn't even matter when it turns out they got it totally wrong, as they absolutely did here. No less than the president of Poland himself took to Twitter to correct the record:
Contrary to some surprising reports my wife did shake hands with Mrs. and Mr. Trump @POTUS after a great visit. Let's FIGHT FAKE NEWS.— Andrzej Duda (@AndrzejDuda) July 6, 2017
What really happened on this video? Here's the unedited version:
I don't know if Chris Cillizza has ever gone to church in his life, but those who do so regularly will recognize exactly what happens here. It's just like that moment when the pastor tells you to stand up and greet one another. You stand up and look around at the people near you, and you pick out someone to extend your hand to. But before you can extend your hand, that person has turned and is looking at someone else. So you turn and look for someone else to shake hands with. It's no big deal. It's certainly not a personal slight. It's just what happens sometimes when you're in a large group of people and everyone is trying to figure out who else to pair up with for handshakes.
If you watch Mrs. Duda's eyes, you'll see that she is looking straight at Mrs. Trump and probably doesn't even see President Trump extending his hand. She probably figured that he was busy shaking her husband's hand so she would go straight for the First Lady. As soon as she is finished shaking Melania's hand, she shakes Donald's hand - in a warm and friendly fashion, just as President Duda says. But that part of the video was edited out before it was put on Twitter and got Chris Cillizza so very excited.
Understand what this one tweet demonstrates:
1. Chris Cillizza is a juvenile jerk.
2. Chris Cillizza's mentality is typical of the political media.
3. Nothing excites these people more than the opportunity to humiliate the kid they've all decided it's cool not to like. Their entire lives are that lunch hour when they sit there together and mock him. You can see it now. There they all are, with their baloney sandwiches and their chocolate milks. There's Chuck Todd, Joe Scarborough, Ezra Klein and Mike Allen. Did you see Donald get faced? Did you see Donald's hair all jacked up? Do you hear Donald acting odd? Hey! Donald! You're not allowed to sit here, you know!
That's who these people are. This one tweet exposes it beyond any doubt, as if there was any. They're horrible people with nothing worthwhile to do, or talk about. And they'll propagate a lie all day long because they figure no one can do anything about it. They control the dissemination of information, so truth is whatever they say it is.
By the way, Cillizza was none too happy about President Duda's response to him, so he fell back on one of the media's favorite themes of the moment - that everyone who complains about fake news is illegitimate unless the definition of fake news excludes what they do:
Say it with me: Fake news isn't news you don't like— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) July 5, 2017
Got that? The cool kids will decide what things mean, thank you very much, and if neceessary they'll also redefine what you mean so they can more easily humiliate you for saying it.
But Cillizza is full of crap here. Duda's complaint wasn't because he didn't like the tweet. It was because the tweet was totally misleading, and intentionally so, because it was designed to give an impression that was not consistent with truth.
Fake news isn't news you don't like. Fake news is "news" that isn't the truth. Mrs. Duda did not snub President Trump, despite the video that was deceptively edited to make it appear that she did. Putting out that video and proclaiming "OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD" is fake news, because it's designed to make you believe something that isn't true.
So yes, Chris Cillizza, you and the rest of your lunch buddies are indeed perpetrating fake news, all because you can't stand that one kid and your whole lives revolve around making sure everyone knows it. And the worst thing is that you're no longer in seventh grade. You're 41 years old and you should have grown out of behavior like this years ago. But it's no longer childish nonsense. Now it's just the person you are.
Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!