All this talk of purges takes me back to the old Soviet Union. The gulags. Warm memories, that produced the likes of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. But purges in the modern American political-media landscape don’t really consign anyone to the work camps, or even a loss of income.
In fact, people like Corey Lewandowski, who skated from his gig as Donald Trump’s thuggish sidekick to a CNN contributor, made out with a reported cool half million (CNN disputes this). He was purged from Trump’s faux political campaign to CNN’s faux political analyst chair.
The topic of a particular mini-purge (not at all like the one Breitbart conducted of anyone not personally loyal to their orange hued god) has got some pundits calling for an all-out and complete purge of shills, fronts, water-carriers, and ideologues with political pasts or futures from the highly buffed hallways of “news media.”
Jack Shafer of POLITICO wants the green rooms to be cleansed.
The yakkers populate the news shows not because they add much in the way of substance to our political knowledge, but because they’re a cheap form of on-air talent for television’s 24/7 programming needs, and television has been over-relying on them for a long time. A partial list of notable politicians or political operators who’ve worked their way into TV includes Tim Russert, Bill Bradley, George Stephanopoulos, Joe Scarborough, Van Jones, William Safire, James Carville, Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany, Pat Buchanan, Rick Santorum, Paul Begala, David Gergen, Chris Matthews, Peggy Noonan, Sarah Palin, Jennifer Granholm, David Axelrod, Tony Blankley, Mary Matalin, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Mike Huckabee, John Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Eliot Spitzer and Corey Lewandowski.
I tend to agree with Jonah Goldberg‘s take on this. “By all means, have a purge. But let’s be more selective and discerning about it – like they do in all the best purges.” There’s some objective quality to having James Carville, William Safire, Van Jones, or even Joe Scarborough on the air. I mean it’s not like Scarborough is about to head back to Pensacola to claim his House seat anytime soon. And for God’s sake, purge Peggy Noonan? They’ve already purged Noonan from the Pulitzer Prize (although she’s been a jurist).
Maybe the qualifications for being purged should be the quality of what a person says on the air (or in print) versus their shock value, insider reputation, or (God help us) ratings potential.
But if we’re going to have a purge, why limit it to the media? I have some candidates for purging from both ends of the government/media pipeline. (Although they’d probably get purged into the media, or back into politics, anyway–for these useless people it’s like connecting two toilets via their outflow pipe. Flush one directly into the other.)
Anyway, here’s a few of the political purge-worthy.
- Jen Psaki. Back and forth from the White House to Foggy Bottom, she always plays the hit parade of non-sequiturs, wilted word salads, and far-fetched stupid explanations. Purged.
- Katrina Pierson. A woman who can take withering criticism from both the left and the right, she’s always ready to whip out the most outrageous stupidities in defense of her indefensible boss, Donald Trump. Pierson probably keeps three staff reporters employed at the Washington Post just to deal with her malapropisms–so at least she’s creating jobs. Purged.
- Fareed Zakaria. When he’s not pontificating on the scariness of guns, he’s busy fighting allegations of plagiarism. (“Somewhere between plagiarism and homage, there is a line. Fareed stepped over it.”) It’s one thing to plagiarize useful ideas, but Zakaria pinches dumb ones. Purged.
- Everyone at Vox, especially “graduates” to the NYT like Max Fisher. Fisher went from The Atlantic to the Washington Post, then to Vox, then to the NYT. He took his anti-Israel bias with him. Fisher and his dumb & dumber partner Zack Beauchamp were the ones who invented the physical, but non-existent “bridge to Gaza.” Vox is just a facepalm to actual journalism. It’s what happens when you put too many Gen-Xers and Millennials with overpriced and ego-inflated college degrees in a room full of fancy computers. Purged.
As a bonus, every newly-retired baseball pitcher, wide receiver, or one-sport-wonder we see pop up at Olympics time, or for postseason play.
And some random other things.
— Steve Berman (@stevengberman) November 1, 2016
Purge them all. But they’ll just come back somewhere else.