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Increasingly Unhinged Observers

Published by marco on

The imposed panic and climate emergencies and COVID seems to be trapping more and more victims in a death spiral of increasingly frenetic, ill-considered, spiteful, and ill-informed—if not actively misleading—commentary.

Jeffrey St. Clair

The article Roaming Charges: White Riot, I Wanna Riot of My Own by Jeffrey St. Clair (CounterPunch) contains a lot of increasingly unfair “hot takes” and seemingly unwarranted swipes at other journalists and commentators. This is an unfortunate trend over the last few months. I used to enjoy the weekly Roaming Charges more, but have found my self skimming more in recent weeks.

St. Clair throws everyone under the bus: in this article, he attacks Thomas Chatterton Williams, Bari Weiss, and Glenn Greenwald. I don’t really know Bari Weiss, but I’ve seen a couple of thoughtful interviews with Williams and Greenwald’s journalism is solid and his writing excellent. The attacks are usually ad hominem and never with a single mention of why we should not listen to these people. He’s preaching to his own choir. I think St. Clair is spending too much time on Twitter and forgets to switch back to a more journalistic mode. Or maybe I’ve giving him too much credit.

I just finished reading Greenwald’s nuanced response to the capitol riot and it should have pride of place on CounterPunch. It is a nuanced take on the situation and its likely ramifications rather than an unhinged rending of clothes by the Editor-in-Chief, who should honestly comport himself a bit better than the unwashed masses on Twitter who squirt their every last thought into the public aether.

He doesn’t have to write an essay like Greenwald, but he could keep the sniping of other commentators—who are all just reacting like him, for better or worse—to a minimum, if not out of a sense of respect, then out of a sense of modesty and recognition that he himself is probably no better. At the very least, he could provide an example so that we can follow along. Otherwise, it feels like we’re just supposed to say “amen” to any of his slanders, as if the reason is obvious.

Too much of St. Clair’s reaction is knee-jerk and unhelpful. He just piles on without knowing more about what he’s writing about—just like pretty much everyone else. But he’s not everyone else: he’s the editor-in-chief of CounterPunch and should comport himself a bit better than his most lunatic writers.

For example, he writes about the killing of Jacob Blake by police, as below.

“The people charged with enforcing laws in the US are the same people who enjoy impunity from transgressing them…In the latest case, the officers who shot Jacob Blake in the back seven times will not be prosecuted.”

He makes it sound like Blake’s death is another unpunished murder by police, as if to countenance the alternative—that Blake did absolutely everything wrong in his interaction with police—is unthinkable, if not outright treason to the cause. It’s stupid.

The article Short Take: Begging for a Riot by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) covers the case in more detail—actually looking at the video—and comes to the conclusion that,

“There was a tragic shooting. There was no crime.

“The media, however, did not fairly recite the facts of what happened, that he resisted arrest, refused to drop his knife as ordered, refused to comply with lawful commands and then opened and entered his car as police officers, with guns pointed, unaware of whether this person who they had reason to believe had engaged in violence before could have a weapon.

Mark Crispin Miller

Another person whose web site is a bit too knee-jerk and has some weird ideas is that of Mark Crispin Miller. I recently saw an interview with him, where he seemed to be quite reasonable and well-spoken in person, but his web site is a collection of one-liner articles, each with a link—often with no context provided at all. A small handful of links turn out to be interesting, but others are, frankly, batshit and lead to extremely sketchy-looking web-sites that I tend to open in private tabs, out of respect for my own privacy.

For a professor who, in in-person interviews, makes an impassioned case for being careful about what one reads, he doesn’t seem to take his own medicine. Or, at the very least, he doesn’t offer any insight into why he’s posting a link. Does he agree with the content? Is he posting the content to show an example of harmful propaganda? Or of propaganda that shows an alternative viewpoint?

Instead, it’s just a firehose of unwashed opinions, with no input from the ostensibly intelligent and discerning maven. Left to my own devices, I can only conclude that he’s an unhinged believer in conspiracy theories that leverage an incorrect interpretation of statistics and improperly inflate an anecdotal case into prevalence.

Just a few examples:

He posted What happened to one caregiver after his COVID shot, in which he actually writes something:

“That, according to the CDC, 3% of those injected have had such reactions is alarming in itself; and what this post indicates is that the risk is not just that you’ll have some brief, mild side effects, but that you could get gravely ill.”

The article he links to describes a man whose vaccination triggered a full-blown flu with 104ºF fever and, of course, an uncaring public hospital who told the husband and wife that they would be fine—which is probably correct—and that he wasn’t in danger. The article, of course, posits it as an uncaring public-health machinery full of incompetents who don’t care if people live or die. You could just as easily interpret it as a hospital rightly determining that their resources don’t need to be invested in a case that would heal on its own, in their professional opinion.

Instead, the article goes on to note that “I ultimately brought him to a privately held highly regarded emergency room in Hartford CT for further care”, and then goes on to list all of the tests that this brave hospital is doing (for fees, of course). “At the end of the day, I am beyond thankful for this privately held highly regarded Hartford based hospital […]”

Miller uncritically posts this article as if it’s telling the reality of vaccine reactions for 3% of those receiving it, which is utter hogwash. The gist of the article is both to amplify a single case into the general one and to hype private medical care over public care. It’s probably a completely made-up example, created by the private hospital itself.

Another link is to someone named Anonymous Coward, whose web site immediately requires that you agree to an EULA before you can even read an article. Miller offered no citation to indicate that he thought the author was positing “reasonable questions”. It’s just bizarre how little care he seems to put into the information he posts, almost as if he’s overwhelmed by the flood of information, but unwilling to concede that he just shouldn’t post something he hasn’t vetted (which is odd for a professor of media/propaganda studies).