The media keep digging their hole

In the poker world, going "on tilt" means a player has just lost a significant hand, or the past several hands, and is now making reckless, overly aggressive moves to compensate for his losses.  Other skilled players immediately recognize the "on tilt" player, especially if his body language gives him away.  They in turn exploit his frustration by "leaning" on him (i.e., betting in a manner that psychologically disorients him), which in turn can cause him to play even more irrationally if he is unable to get his emotions under control.

This week, the mainstream media went on full tilt.

Their big bet was the Mueller investigation.  That was supposed to be the easy payoff.  But they lost half their chips when Mueller nailed his live audition before Congress for the lead role in Forrest Gump 2: Senility Is as Senility Does.  So they doubled down on Ukraine and impeachment.  But to their befuddlement, not only has President Trump survived impeachment, but he has risen from its wreckage stronger, with better poll numbers among independents in swing states, and with a House defection to the Republicans.

Now, the media are one bad bet away from flipping over the poker table.  They're lashing out, going all in on trying to wrench a straight flush out of whatever seven-two unsuited garbage they're dealt.  They're in full tantrum mode, and they aren't even trying to hide it.  In desperation, they're turning again to their one overused and transparent bluff: racism!

Enter the paint-by-numbers exposé of the week.  Three military cadets were caught on camera making an "OK" symbol with their hands during their West Point graduation ceremony. 


Twitter screen grab.

Now, I've never been partial to the "OK" symbol to signify my contentment with the situation at hand.  I'm more of a thumbs-up guy, often accompanying it with wink of the eye and a tsk out the side of my mouth to denote my pathetic sense of edginess.  But I don't hold anything against the "OK" sign, and I've never known it to mean anything other than...well...OK.

Apparently, this is not the case.  Plumbing the depths of the internet sewers in a manner for which most conservatives have neither the time nor inclination, organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and National Public Radio have decreed the "OK" sign to be a symbol of white supremacy.  I find this amusing, because one would think virulent racists like us conservatives would know all about what our supposed symbols are, rather than having to be told what they are by our enlightened betters.  To date, I haven't met a single conservative (or liberal, for that matter) who thinks the "OK" sign is a racist signal or was even aware that it was being used in this manner by white supremacists.  It's telling that the SPLC and NPR know much more about racist symbolism than do those they allege to be racists.

Be that as it may, the West Point grads were immediately investigated by their superiors.  It was concluded that they were engaged in something called the Circle Game, in which the "OK" symbol is utilized.  Player A makes the "OK" symbol and holds it below waist level and tries to get Player B to look at it.  If Player B looks at it, Player A punches him in the arm.  Asinine, to be sure, but hardly equivalent to donning the hoods and cruising town in a rusty pickup truck for a good ol'-fashun lynchin'.

But the media, being on full tilt as they are, had no time to wait for anything so bourgeois as an investigation to conclude.  Switching gears into Covington mode, the Intelligencer categorized their actions as a hate crime and in the same paragraph with the El Paso shooter.  Pulitzer-winning journalist David Cay demanded expulsion.  Media figures from MSNBC, Huffington Post, and USA Today immediately reported that the cadets had displayed white power symbols.  State representative Mandy Powers Norrell (D-S.C.) jumped on the pile for good measure.

Predictably, once the cadets were cleared of any racist intent, the talking heads shut up.  The Twitter feeds went silent or were erased.  Jussie Smollett once again felt safe meandering the streets of Chicago past midnight in subzero weather, cautiously optimistic he wouldn't stumble upon any noose-wielding West Point grads.  As for the cadets themselves, I doubt they're holding their collective breath waiting for any sort of apology or admittance of a rush to judgment by the metaphorical lynch mob.

To put things in a different perspective, consider the media's treatment of another West Point grad, Spenser Rapone.  You may remember him being discharged from the U.S. Army for posting a picture of himself at his graduation holding a sign saying, "Communism will win."  In another picture, he opens his military coat to reveal a Che Guevara t-shirt underneath. 

These were not misunderstandings.  These were not ambiguous symbols that could hold multiple meanings.  These were unabashed declarations of support for a brutal totalitarianism that has held the United States of America as its greatest enemy since its inception.  Oh, and it's directly responsible for the murder of roughly 100 million people worldwide over the last century. 

You wouldn't know that from the media's treatment of the incident, which was treated (if at all) in either matter-of-fact terms or in a manner sympathetic to Rapone rather than the victims of his professed ideology.  The same USA Today which was so quick to demonize the Circle Game cadets wrote of Rapone in glowing terms as an "idealistic" soldier who wanted to "change things from inside," and printed his call to "all soldiers who have a conscience" to desert the military and join his revolution.

The media's willingness to cover for an anti-American communist while attempting to burn three patriots playing a locker room game is par for the course.  The same media that cheerlead for convicted traitors Bowe Bergdahl and Bradley Manning, spent the last month demonizing Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher (whose "crime" was to pose for a picture with a dead ISIS fighter, an action that would prompt most people not to clamor for prison time, but to text "Send me a copy").  They praise Lt. Col. "Flounder" Vindman for breaking his oath while burning Gen. Michael Flynn for upholding his. 

So, don't expect the media to self-correct anytime soon, but rather exploit it to their detriment.  A good poker player who finds himself digging a hole will not only have the emotional maturity to catch himself from digging a deeper hole but will (gasp) actually learn something from his mistakes in order to improve his game.  But this requires a sense of humility that our media simply does not possess.  They're on full tilt right now, and we should lean on them until election day.  Their behavior accelerates the erosion of their undeserved credibility and could help swing the balance come November.

In the poker world, going "on tilt" means a player has just lost a significant hand, or the past several hands, and is now making reckless, overly aggressive moves to compensate for his losses.  Other skilled players immediately recognize the "on tilt" player, especially if his body language gives him away.  They in turn exploit his frustration by "leaning" on him (i.e., betting in a manner that psychologically disorients him), which in turn can cause him to play even more irrationally if he is unable to get his emotions under control.

This week, the mainstream media went on full tilt.

Their big bet was the Mueller investigation.  That was supposed to be the easy payoff.  But they lost half their chips when Mueller nailed his live audition before Congress for the lead role in Forrest Gump 2: Senility Is as Senility Does.  So they doubled down on Ukraine and impeachment.  But to their befuddlement, not only has President Trump survived impeachment, but he has risen from its wreckage stronger, with better poll numbers among independents in swing states, and with a House defection to the Republicans.

Now, the media are one bad bet away from flipping over the poker table.  They're lashing out, going all in on trying to wrench a straight flush out of whatever seven-two unsuited garbage they're dealt.  They're in full tantrum mode, and they aren't even trying to hide it.  In desperation, they're turning again to their one overused and transparent bluff: racism!

Enter the paint-by-numbers exposé of the week.  Three military cadets were caught on camera making an "OK" symbol with their hands during their West Point graduation ceremony. 


Twitter screen grab.

Now, I've never been partial to the "OK" symbol to signify my contentment with the situation at hand.  I'm more of a thumbs-up guy, often accompanying it with wink of the eye and a tsk out the side of my mouth to denote my pathetic sense of edginess.  But I don't hold anything against the "OK" sign, and I've never known it to mean anything other than...well...OK.

Apparently, this is not the case.  Plumbing the depths of the internet sewers in a manner for which most conservatives have neither the time nor inclination, organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and National Public Radio have decreed the "OK" sign to be a symbol of white supremacy.  I find this amusing, because one would think virulent racists like us conservatives would know all about what our supposed symbols are, rather than having to be told what they are by our enlightened betters.  To date, I haven't met a single conservative (or liberal, for that matter) who thinks the "OK" sign is a racist signal or was even aware that it was being used in this manner by white supremacists.  It's telling that the SPLC and NPR know much more about racist symbolism than do those they allege to be racists.

Be that as it may, the West Point grads were immediately investigated by their superiors.  It was concluded that they were engaged in something called the Circle Game, in which the "OK" symbol is utilized.  Player A makes the "OK" symbol and holds it below waist level and tries to get Player B to look at it.  If Player B looks at it, Player A punches him in the arm.  Asinine, to be sure, but hardly equivalent to donning the hoods and cruising town in a rusty pickup truck for a good ol'-fashun lynchin'.

But the media, being on full tilt as they are, had no time to wait for anything so bourgeois as an investigation to conclude.  Switching gears into Covington mode, the Intelligencer categorized their actions as a hate crime and in the same paragraph with the El Paso shooter.  Pulitzer-winning journalist David Cay demanded expulsion.  Media figures from MSNBC, Huffington Post, and USA Today immediately reported that the cadets had displayed white power symbols.  State representative Mandy Powers Norrell (D-S.C.) jumped on the pile for good measure.

Predictably, once the cadets were cleared of any racist intent, the talking heads shut up.  The Twitter feeds went silent or were erased.  Jussie Smollett once again felt safe meandering the streets of Chicago past midnight in subzero weather, cautiously optimistic he wouldn't stumble upon any noose-wielding West Point grads.  As for the cadets themselves, I doubt they're holding their collective breath waiting for any sort of apology or admittance of a rush to judgment by the metaphorical lynch mob.

To put things in a different perspective, consider the media's treatment of another West Point grad, Spenser Rapone.  You may remember him being discharged from the U.S. Army for posting a picture of himself at his graduation holding a sign saying, "Communism will win."  In another picture, he opens his military coat to reveal a Che Guevara t-shirt underneath. 

These were not misunderstandings.  These were not ambiguous symbols that could hold multiple meanings.  These were unabashed declarations of support for a brutal totalitarianism that has held the United States of America as its greatest enemy since its inception.  Oh, and it's directly responsible for the murder of roughly 100 million people worldwide over the last century. 

You wouldn't know that from the media's treatment of the incident, which was treated (if at all) in either matter-of-fact terms or in a manner sympathetic to Rapone rather than the victims of his professed ideology.  The same USA Today which was so quick to demonize the Circle Game cadets wrote of Rapone in glowing terms as an "idealistic" soldier who wanted to "change things from inside," and printed his call to "all soldiers who have a conscience" to desert the military and join his revolution.

The media's willingness to cover for an anti-American communist while attempting to burn three patriots playing a locker room game is par for the course.  The same media that cheerlead for convicted traitors Bowe Bergdahl and Bradley Manning, spent the last month demonizing Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher (whose "crime" was to pose for a picture with a dead ISIS fighter, an action that would prompt most people not to clamor for prison time, but to text "Send me a copy").  They praise Lt. Col. "Flounder" Vindman for breaking his oath while burning Gen. Michael Flynn for upholding his. 

So, don't expect the media to self-correct anytime soon, but rather exploit it to their detriment.  A good poker player who finds himself digging a hole will not only have the emotional maturity to catch himself from digging a deeper hole but will (gasp) actually learn something from his mistakes in order to improve his game.  But this requires a sense of humility that our media simply does not possess.  They're on full tilt right now, and we should lean on them until election day.  Their behavior accelerates the erosion of their undeserved credibility and could help swing the balance come November.