Thoughts & Essays

Re: The Midterms & Other Thoughts

I think the one thing that has struck me the last few days is how very little our “pundit class” appears to actually know about anything. One reason this caught my attention was because I was watching them migrate en masse to Mastodon and promptly start screwing up and complaining about the social norms there.

It’s a little embarrassing to watch, to be honest.

Journos flooded Mastodon over the weekend. Mastodon has its own social norms to follow, one of which is the use of “content warnings.” When posting, they have a little feature that allows you to add a note of warning about the content of your post, and hides your post behind an extra click. This is used for lots of obvious things – gore, sexual content, things that might trigger phobias, etc. – but also for political posts. Which threw me for a second, but then I was like, “Okay, that’s how we do things here, no worries.”

Many journos, on the other hand, threw a big ol’ hissy fit about the idea, including some journos I really sort of admired, and started getting all high and mighty, refusing to use content warnings on their politics/elections posts. Which resulted in the large and growing new journo server that had been started getting blocked from several other servers.

It’s like watching someone blunder into a new friend’s house and be like “What do you mean I need to take my shoes off at the door? I don’t do that at home, I’m not going to do that here,” and then they get all offended when their friend kicks them out.

The other thing that struck me is, in the run-up to the midterms, a wide variety of non-Fox, non-OANN news sites and journalists bemoaning the coming “Red Wave” and strenuously pushing the idea that inflation was going to kill the Democrats’ chances, and so on. And that “Red Wave” just… didn’t show up. As far as I know, at this writing (11/9/22, 9:30am), the Senate and the House are still up for grabs, and if the GOP takes the House it seems like it’ll be by one seat. Which: Not a Red Wave, folks. Barely even a Red Ripple, really.

In fact, it seems like the two biggest motivators in this election were abortion rights and saving democracy, and definitely not, as many journalists/pundits insisted, the economy and the idea that Biden isn’t particularly popular.

I think partly the issue is that these folks kind of don’t know what they’re talking about and are guessing as much as the rest of us are. But also, in some cases, a lot of these folks are heavily incentivized to push GOP narratives. It’s what makes them ad money. Also, their outlets – particularly the 24-hour cable news gang – are owned and operated by conservatives.

I haven’t quite decided what I think that all means, yet. I’ve got some other vaguely connected thoughts still percolating. But it’s something I’ll definitely be keeping in mind going forward.