How Scandals Work (And Don’t)
October 26, 2012 1 Comment
More details are coming out about Benghazi and of course the refrain is, When is a big deal going to be made about this? When is some investigating going to be done? When it is going to become a full-on scandal?
I think it’s time for a little refresher on such things. I’ll do it in Q&A format.
When is something a bona fide scandal?
Something is a bona fide scandal when Important People are talking about it on TV a lot in tones of voice that make it clear that they disapprove and will not stop talking about it until some political damage is done. For example, the Iranian hostages thing was a scandal which politically damaged Carter because Ted Koppel made a whole show where he would go on every night and ask people “When are the hostages gonna come back?” and like that. There would be day counts and timelines and checking back in with reporters on the scene (I imagine – I was probably in bed at the time). That’s howcome America could know it was an actual scandal and that it was ok to disapprove of Carter over it. Because an Important Guy (Koppel) kept talking about it and asking people about it, and it seemed pretty clear he wasn’t gonna stop till the scandal was Over.
What does this mean re: Benghazi?
It means that if you want it to be a scandal in a way that damages someone in power politically, you need to get an Important Guy to talk about it, and make it clear he won’t stop till the scandal gets Over. (Someone is fired, etc.)
Well, I read about it on Powerline, Rush Limbaugh talks about it, don’t they count?
Because those kind of people favor Republicans in elected office. Literally nothing they can possibly say, even “Charles Manson is a bad crazy person” or just “2+2=4″ for that matter, can ever be paid attention to as scandal-worthy or even merits treating as fact.
So what kind of Important Guy do we need to get to talk about it and ask about it?
Here’s some examples: Chris Matthews. Brian Williams or whoever else anchors the nightly news. Matt Lauer would probably count. Oprah? I actually don’t know of a lot of actual Important journalists nowadays but they kinda have to be people like that.
Oh, well, that’s clear enough, sort of. Okay then, how do we get those kind of people to talk about Benghazi and continually, neverendingly ask questions about it in disapproval-conveying tones of voices?
You can’t. There is no earthly possible way that you can. It simply will never happen under any circumstances. President Obama could eat the head of an infant on live TV and it would not happen.
Why is that?
Because all people officially Important enough to be able make this a genuine scandal know that making it a scandal would politically damage President Obama.
They all, as it happens, like and favor Democrats to hold elected offices, and they love President Obama in particular and want him to remain in elected office. So they – as journalists – are actually not interested in asking questions or in finding out things in any circumstances that could potentially damage President Obama politically.
Weird. It doesn’t seem such the people who for whatever reason have attained the role of Important Journalists are practicing anything resembling journalism with any amount of integrity whatsoever.
Now you’ve got it. A+. Class dismissed.