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Hullabaloo


Friday, July 08, 2016

 
"A sunk cost fallacy of power politics and partisan score settling"

by digby
















This piece by Brian Beutler is as good as anything I've read from old timers on how Clinton Derangement Syndrome works in practice:

What we witnessed Thursday was part of a pattern that goes back more than 20 years. A Clinton does something—in some cases innocuous, in this case worthy of criticism—and her political nemeses respond completely out of proportion. They’ve invested so heavily in the fantasy that she’s one email or utterance away from complete self-destruction that they can’t bring themselves to accept anything less than the highest return. A sunk cost fallacy of power politics and partisan score-settling.

The pattern has become so familiar that reporters now anticipate it. When FBI Director James Comey excoriated Clinton for her sloppy email protocol, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Republicans would peer so deeply into the mouth of the gift horse he’d just given them that they’d pop out the other end. On Thursday, they hauled him up to Capitol Hill knowing that any number of right-wing members on the House Oversight Committee might attack his integrity, and sure enough they did. Now the chase continues.

We will be dealing with the fallout of the email investigation well into Clinton’s first term in the White House.

What made this episode unique is that the same media that expected Republicans to overreach played a critical role in increasing their expectations of a political windfall.

Republicans in Congress and their conservative media allies largely brought this upon themselves. They were the ones who made right-wing sop out of baseless speculation that Clinton might be indicted for violating a law nobody’s ever been convicted of violating.

But due to a strange brew of incentives that proved toxic—the competition for eyeballs, the lack of subject matter expertise, the industry standard of reportorial balance—the mainstream media did nothing to puncture this myth. To the contrary, it treated the threat of indictment as a permanent question mark hovering over Clinton’s campaign like a dark cloud. In a different media ecosystem, this wouldn’t have happened. A mix of common sense and truly basic research and reporting would have established a consensus that Republicans were trying to gin up intrigue and damaging innuendo, but that an indictment was extraordinarily unlikely. Instead, the remote odds of one came to be seen as something like a 50-50 proposition, to the point where even professional Democrats began to worry Clinton might be charged with a felony and prosecuted.

There's more and it's all good.

I would just add that liberal journalists are also subject to a herd mentality and seem to find themselves searching for reasons to reassure the public that they aren't political hacks so they add to the atmosphere by being heavily critical on the "optics, judgment and narrative" aspects of these scandals which leads to a different kind of distortion. These dynamics play into each other creating the sort of febrile environment that characterizes these passion plays.

This is what leads to a sort of political establishment consensus that "something is terribly wrong" that the rest of the country finds confusingly out of touch.

Case in point, the Village.

Anyway, read Beutler's piece. He's refreshingly clear eyed about this as are a number of the other younger journalist/pundits following this race. It's good to see it.

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