The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman

So, against my better judgment, I slogged through this awful Truthdig piece by Amy Goodman, beloved host of the lefty news program Democracy Now. After a dull, cliche-ridden first paragraph about the emptiness of post-election discourse she asks –

What happens when the community organizer in chief becomes the commander in chief? Who does the community organizing then?

I’ll put aside the laughable stupidity of Goodman’s construction here to openly hope that I am not the only reader who actually checked the article date at this point. Don’t we already know the answer to this question in some detail? Hasn’t the ‘community organizer in chief’ been president for close to four years now?

But for Goodman and so many of her compadres, what actually was is dramatically less fun than what they’d hoped it could be in 2008. So, once again,  into the time machine we go, or rather, out of a lengthy coma we barely come. On her first pass, Goodman answers the question, incredibly, not with anything that’s actually happened, but with an anecdote from a 2008 campaign event in New Jersey:

Someone asked [Obama] what he would do about the Middle East. He answered with a story about the legendary 20th-century organizer A. Philip Randolph meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Randolph described to FDR the condition of black people in America, the condition of working people. Reportedly, FDR listened intently, then replied: “I agree with everything you have said. Now, make me do it.” That was the message Obama repeated.

There you have it. Make him do it. You’ve got an invitation from the president himself.

Yes. There you have it, indeed! ‘An invitation from the president himself.’ Chills, I tell you, chills!!!

Oh, once again,  where to begin with people like this! Let’s just start with the ‘Make Me Do It’ story — among the most beloved of all liberal gospel tales — and what it actually says: that as far back as FDR’s time, the president has been bought and paid for and is unlikely to do a single principled thing without threat of a mass uprising.

Any intelligent person should find this tale of the captive president horribly depressing, not least because history bears it out completely. But when aspiring captives like Obama in 2008 happily trot out this dire caveat, professional lefts like Goodman actually find it inspiring. They want us to be inspired too.

Of course, why wouldn’t they? It’s their bread and butter to know, that, yes, the government IS bought and paid for and to remind us of that again and again in laborious, depressing and mostly disempowering detail. But it’s also built into their job to hint at the way out and this they crucially do by habitually endorsing Democrats with loose talk of ‘making [them] do it’ via grass roots agitating. But if the government is bought and paid for and only mass uprisings will help, why squander time and money on elections at all? Why not just get straight to the shit-disturbing?

Forget about ever hearing those questions posed, or answered, by Goodman and her ilk, at least not with any seriousness. That’s not what they’re paid to do. In my recent post on GE/Comcast  ‘socialist’ Lawrence O’Donnell, I applied the concept of the ‘heat vampire’ liberal, a concept that applies to Goodman as well. A heat vampire liberal stakes out a position at the left-most margins of acceptable debate to authenticate a counter-intuitive insistence on less bad oligarchs and faith in an oligarch-controlled political system. As such, they are role models of compliance for people who, left on their own, might choose more radical forms of engagement or disengage altogether.

As I said in my earlier post, O’Donnell demonstrated this function in fascinatingly literal terms, on one night making an impassioned, cynical speech about a gamed political system and two nights later filling out his ballot on camera, checking off Democrats under the watchful eye of California ex-governor  Gray Davis.

Goodman’s vampirism is more sophisticated than O’Donnell’s in that it’s bundled with actual journalism and the occasional interrogation of power.  I have no interest in examining Goodman’s entire career for the precise journalist/shill quotient, which would no doubt be higher than, say, an MSNBC personality. The point is, with this Truthdig article, she is, at the very least, having a heat vampire moment  – by no means the first – and a quite toxically dishonest one at that.

Certainly if one is going to, for the umpteenth time,  invoke happy tales of making FDR or Obama’do it’, one should probably tell less happy tales of what agitators confront now when they try. When Goodman finally gets to the present, her encouraging story of resurgent activism doesn’t mention Obama’s war on whisleblowers, including the vicious persecution of B. Manning, whose guilt Obama publicly pronounced before Manning’s trial has even commenced; the nationwide crackdown on Occupy encampments executed by mostly Democratic mayors, including Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel, Obama’s former chief-of-staff ; the brutal assaults on activists by militarized police forces flush with Homeland Security cash;  the carte blanche for unlimited snooping given the surveillance apparatus; the FBI’s ginned up ‘terrorist plots’ and raids on activists homes; and finally and most critically, the Obama Administration’s institutionalization of due process-free detainment and execution. Goodman doesn’t mention the Obama-ordered murder of Americans Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan nor the subsequent murder of al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son and several friends.

Goodman is, of course, aware of all of this, having covered it more than most journalists. Still, incredibly, she’d have us  believe that agitator/government relations have actually improved under Obama:

For years during the Bush administration, people felt they were hitting their heads against a brick wall. With the first election of President Obama, the wall had become a door, but it was only open a crack.

There is a line between useful idiocy and outright compliance with tyranny.  ‘Kill List Tuesday’ is  a thing and Goodman has definitely crossed that line.

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32 Responses to The Toxically Useful Idiocy of Amy Goodman

  1. nickLbrothers says:

    Good article, and of course made all the more frustrating when you point out that Goodman has all the intellectual tools necessary to NOT fall into this trap.

    But I think it IS a trap, a psychological one that is not easily avoided. On Twitter last week (ish? busy, having a hard time not letting days run together), you exhorted Occupy to get over the fact that the media will never give it a fair shake, to stop whining essentially. I tend to agree at this point. But there’s a tendency, even for all of us who should know better, to engage in some cognitive dissonance, and I think there’s a link between that sentiment and what Goodman is engaging in when she writes an article like this. For the most part, we’ve been raised within this system to believe in it, and coming to terms that most of the “exceptional” things about it are merely part of a power-serving mythology…well that’s damn tough. It might even be psychologically damaging if not handled correctly. So some people involved with Occupy Sandy for instance, can’t really get their head around why the media won’t give a little bit of credit to the outpouring of mutual aid that has arisen specifically due to a broad ideology that seems to dictate it. But it’s because of the ideology that the media won’t. Just like Goodman has to believe that activists can get their way at least some of the time if they work and organize and agitate hard enough. The media should want to talk about good work that helps people in desperate need. The powerful should be reasonable, should be movable by opinion and activism; should, should, should.

    I’m willing to grant that talking about the psychological nature of these kinds of decisions in thought-processes or worldviews is something of a cop-out, especially if you allow them to become an excuse rather than an explanation. And I’m no expert in political psychology or decision-making. Just another variable to consider, though.

    • ohtarzie says:

      I appreciate the thoughtful reply. Yeah, I think I sometimes don’t realize how terrifying it is to see the man behind the curtain. I think people have different ways of coping with it. I think even those of us who look at things more squarely have other forms of ideation to get us through the night, like expatriation fantasies, for instance.

      Getting to grips with emotional barriers is useful, I suppose, in figuring how to tender the message in a way it can be heard. I am not terribly interested in it as a rationalization for the likes of Goodman, simply because my concern with what they say is independent of what their motives are when they say it. Goodman may have not been deliberately dishonest in writing her TruthDig piece, but that doesn’t make it less dishonest.

      • nickLbrothers says:

        Yeah, I’ll have to agree on that last point. It’s kind of like the “collateral damage” argument. Fine, you’re taking all reasonable steps to minimize casualties…except not dropping the bomb. And at a certain point, your patterned negligence is merely studied apathy towards the consequences.

        Heh, hope it’s not hyperbolic to the point of silliness to compare an internet article to a drone bombing, but here we are, with me not deleting it! Oh, and not sure if you’ve seen this, but it’s useful to this discussion – – the make-me-do-it story is verifiable bullshit anyway. So in sum, bad argument based on false assumptions and constructed from a myth.

      • Chris says:

        Early in his first term, the Obama administration was caught in a candid moment in which they mocked the irrelevance of left-ish internet rabble rousers. I can’t remember the exact quote, but it was quite telling about their true, snide attitude toward the left.

      • Chris says:

        Who is “the man behind the curtain”? What does “looking at things more squarely” entail? What, exactly, are some of the general contours of this hidden truth about the way the world works, so obscured to the rest of us dithering about in our ideological fog? You haven’t asserted or explained any particular claims about your analysis, you’ve only expressed your personal *feelings* of frustration that Amy Goodman (probably one of the best journalists in this niche) and her ilk just don’t “get it.” Frankly, I just don’t get where you’re coming from — what is it that you want journalists to do? What basic truths about the world are they (we) blind to? You refer to some insights that you and your friends share, but don’t even begin to sketch them (here, at least — I can’t go through your blog’s entire back history). If Amy is guilty of ignoring some of the Obama administration’s bigger blunders (in this essay only, since exposing those blunders is very much her bread and butter, as you oddly acknowledged despite it contradicting your point, as if merely acknowledging a counter-argument is a valid rejoinder), then you are guilty of at least as glaring a lack of explanation/context in this blog post. Witty, acerbic critiques are not the same as compelling arguments.

        I enjoy your tweets very much and am interested in your point of view, but I just don’t get what you’re trying to say here, other than that you think Amy’s ‘professional leftist’ calls for reform/harm reduction legitimize our corrupt oligarchical political system (uh, that bold claim needs a bit more argument than just an assertion that it is so), and a vague allusion to how good journalists should be spending their time fomenting mass uprisings or something.

      • ohtarzie says:

        I think I can summarize my general view here, how about you first just take my post at face value? Here’s what I was trying to say:

        Amy Goodman wrote a hackish, piece-of-shit article that greatly minimized the the extent to which dissidents (among others) are being fucked with by this president. This kind of misleading discourse follows a pattern that I find in establishment lefts.

        Perhaps you missed this point because you regard the litany of gross abuses that she completely omitted from her piece, ridiculously and offensively as ‘blunders.’ What kind of person, I ask myself, refers to institutionalized extrajudicial murder, the torture of B. Manning and the murder of a 16 year-old American as blunders?

        I conceded that Goodman does good journalism, but that does not change the pernicious, clearly deliberate stupidity of her piece; to the contrary it highlights the very deliberateness of her omissions. So, in the end, all her wonderful journalism adds undeserved credibility to a flagrantly dishonest essay which then provokes people like you to defend her without substantively arguing merits. That’s a lotta degraded discoursin’ goin’ on. Not a good thing. You seem to forget that there are two layers to both journalism and left politics: There is the descriptive layer and and an analytical layer. If either of these layers is a lie, the whole enterprise is.

        Having written this post, I have actually taken a closer look at Goodman’s journalism and I think it leaves much to be desired. That American journalism is in the toilet generally doesn’t change this. I am sick of being lectured by other lefts on the virtues of these icons, solely because they compare favorably to CNN or Fox.

        My blog posts, sadly, on their own or even taken together, won’t explain the world for you, but I have made my opinion of the establishment left – what I call heat vampire liberals – abundantly clear. They are more invested in the status quo than changing it and this is reflected both in their work and in the decades long capitulation to power they have counseled to their audience. My recommendation is that you look at them more skeptically and also seek newer alternatives. Learn the difference between ‘blunders’ and tyranny. If you want more specifics, just ask. Or you could read my pieces more closely.

      • Chris says:

        I appreciate your clarification of what you originally meant, and I agree that ‘blunder’ was the wrong word choice, because it can imply ignorance, and the Obama administration knows exactly what it’s doing. I have spent lots of energy documenting some of their abuses and agree that abuse would have been a better word (though one poorly chosen word in a dashed off comment is hardly evidence of a corrupted, Power-suckling worldview).

        As for the rest, well, I still think you’re being quite vague (I would be interested in your unpacking how exactly you think independent grassroots journalists like Amy Goodman, considered by many to be one of the few journalists meaningfully challenging power day in day out, “are more invested in the status quo than changing it, [as] reflected both in their work and in the decades long capitulation to power that continues unabated on the left they sadly influence too much”). But I won’t belabor it, beyond saying that I do have a personal interest in the failures of lefty journalists, and I’m always trying to be vigilant about weaknesses in my own work. If you could convince me that Amy’s work capitulates to power or even worse reinforces it, that would change the way I do what I do. I am open to that critique, but this post, at least, doesn’t give me much to work with.

        Also, I of course agree with you that left/liberal media aren’t critiqued enough by the left, for a variety of reasons. FWIW, I have many acquaintances in the center-liberal corporate mainstream media, and I really believe their editorial choices are generally informed by an ideology of false consciousness that remains unknown to them and that they would vehemently deny if alerted to. In other words, they live in Manhattan.

      • ohtarzie says:

        Analyzing all the things these journalists do to mislead is outside the scope of this blog and my interest, mainly because no one’s paying me to watch this shit. In my first piece on Chris Hayes, I deliberately did not analyze his ostensibly good moments we’re all supposed to be so very happy about, because I felt that the stuff I did describe and show was sufficient to arouse skepticism, which is my main objective. I simply want my readers to entertain the possibility that these people are part of the system of discipline and indoctrination, rather than its remedy. I am fairly sure that if they entertain that possibility, many of them will come to the same conclusions I have. I am, however, always happy when folks take up the yeoman’s work of critiquing the riff raff in greater detail, as many did with Hayes.

        I had intended to do a follow-up piece on Goodman, analyzing her actual program – even though, once again, I think the reckless, feigned credulity of her despicable Truthdig piece is sufficient to warrant the deepest skepticism. While I didn’t write the piece, I did dig fairly deeply into her archives and found it pretty disturbing considering her reputation.

        One quick example: right after the attack on Gaza commenced, she did a program where the Palestinian ‘side’ was represented by a palestinian journalist on the ground. The Israeli ‘side’ was represented by an ostensibly sympathetic Israeli negotiator. Both guests were in remote locations. Goodman basically tasked the Pal. journo with just describing the situation and permitted him to do so at very brief intervals. The Israeli, by virtue of being a negotiator, was free to both describe conditions and offer polemics, which he did, with quite a lot of apologetics for Israel. He was given much more time to talk without interruption. The journalist disagreed with him from time to time but was not given the free reign to talk that the Israeli had been given. Also by virtue of being a young journalist, arguing with Israeli apologists is not something he is particularly suited for.

        This dynamic is something I have seen again and again in Goodman’s archives: Where a slick operator representing the doctrinal point of view in left trappings (Melissa Harris-Perry, Michael Eric Dyson for instance) debates someone who is both more radical but less media savvy in selling it. Goodman is quite happy to let the operatives dominate and even bully their way through these conversations. I have also noticed how she dumbs down conversations. She can talk for an hour with Jeremy Scahill, for instance, about Obama’s policy in Yemen, without once asking him to speculate on what the real motives are, how it fits in with the War on Terror and how the War on Terror fits in with American foreign policy and on and on…As with so much else in left media and discussion, copious amounts of information, very little analysis. Very little connecting of dots. This is a problem for me.

        I could talk about other things, like her guest selections, but I don’t feel obliged to do people’s homework for them. Instead of nurturing this desperate need lefts have to see more virtue than there is in ostensible ‘friends’, I’d rather they imagine if the left really could do journalism without advertising, without foundation grants from oligarch-friendly liberal foundations, without caring about whether its indoctrinated small funders and listeners would tune in or not, would a boring, left-liberal ‘Make Him Do It’ dope like Goodman really be the best we could do? Obviously not. Then picture what the best we could do would look like and measure what we have against that.

      • Chris says:

        Thanks — that was more what I was looking for, some specific critiques that I can think about. Sorry if I was being dense, but it’s much easier for me to think through specific examples. I would go back and listen to the Gaza coverage, but I am not in the mood to punish myself like that this afternoon lol. I always find those DN segments pretty meh, for some of the reasons you describe.

        One thing — as far as I know, Democracy Now *is* fully independent. Maybe she gets some foundation grants here and there, but her work is primarily financed by syndication fees from stations like Pacifica Radio (which is 100% listener-supported). Oh wait, I just fact checked that, and she actually does receive a significant amount of foundation money. Meh… Now, Amy’s relationship with Pacifica and how she indulged in her own wee disaster capitalism is a whole other mess I am not going to write about in public (though I have been known to discuss it over beers lol).

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  3. thurnandtaxis says:

    “A full-throated bullshit call on these long, costly, and destructive spectacles is clearly warranted but obviously not something the ruling class would be wise to entertain” (from your next) crystalized some thoughts I had about this post. One of the aggravating things about Amy Goodman’s columns is their exploitation of privileged access to Amy Goodman – tying in to an interview or other segment from Democracy Now. The intermittent value of DN is that it breaks the iron law of “news,” i.e. that information never be allowed to coalesce into new models of understanding (“Hey, a record heatwave!” never climate change; “Hey, they got #2” never “WoT is a lie”). Columns that address (as columns must, it’s generically determined) the question “what is to be done” with some form of progressive US government action – “Hey, a Democratic president!” – effectively re-erect the sound barrier. Contain & pacify.

    Of course I’ve also never actually finished a Goodman column because the prose is soporific.

    I have read every post on this blog.

  4. ohtarzie says:

    Well said, thurnandtaxis. True what you say about DN’s intermittent value, but since critiquing Goodman’s terrible essay, I have been noticing a LOT of problems in the way they go about the news, though admittedly it’s way better than the rest. I agree about Goodman’s writing; it’s shockingly bad.

  5. Jeff Nguyen says:

    In relation to O’Donnell, Goodman is the lesser of the two evils. Can we vote for her for POTUS next?

  6. This has always been my position regarding Jon Stewart but really is applicable to all “release-valve” entertainers.

    Goodman must be very persistent (dogged) to have been successful because I cannot think of a less interesting persona (as it is presented at least).

    I wanted to argue with you about your Chomsky line (which was admittedly a good line) in the Hayes piece. I think it’s possible that a liberal believes that a liberal world will “evolve” into a greater good as time passes (hundreds and hundreds of years–if it weren’t that we have to worry over nuclear weapons and global warming) and that the “wall” one hits one’s head against with the Republican is indeed a wall of recalcitrant yet willful ignorance; that Chomsky believes in social gains as relevant even if they are “socially managed” gains. But perhaps Pinker is the most representative “progressive” of the mode that will happily see you bulldozered if it means there are fewer wars in the world compared to the world of genghis kahn.

    The progressive, a la Peter Singer, believes in the “better than” mode of thinking and living. This is akin to some version of the “happy” slaughterhouse of Temple Grandin wherein we try harder to make the doomed among us feel better on the ramp to execution.

    But I don’t know. I just don’t know. Power cannot be withstood as far as I can tell and what can you do but stand as a being apart from it? It seems Thoreau’s advice in “Resistance” has never been bettered and never been applied on the scale he suggests it could be.

  7. ohtarzie says:

    Interesting what you say about Amy Goodman’s persona. There is a diminution of charisma the closer you get to the margins. I think one thing people really like about Hayes is that he’s so darn cheery and (kind of) likable, but that also infects his too cheery, too conformist outlook.

    I don’t think anyone thinks we have a hundred years to sort things out; certainly Chomsky doesn’t which to me is what makes his indifference to left strategy so annoying.

    Standing apart from power and criticizing it are the least we can do.

    • Possibly this is the largest difficulty to get one’s head around–that one imagines people with power and money are very, very aware of our diminishing returns and are (and have been) taking steps to preserve their “American way” of life.

      But re: HDT and Resistance. This is the point he makes. Do not simply criticize it. Stand against power in the only way you personally can. His example is to stand against the taxman, who, at the time was a known entity–a person in charge of collecting taxes, in such a way that the person had to confront your conscientious stand against the tax and decide to put you in jail or to agree with your position and resign his office. It’s easy to throw one man in jail, much more difficult to put a concentrated mass in jail for the same “offense.” However, it is just this kind of resistance that has been dissipated by the very “style” of living we have evolved. We are detached and distant and our mass protests are here and gone and are more of an energy release.

  8. dmantis says:

    Interesting you mentioned Jon Stewart. I couldn’t get him out of my head while reading this and the Hayes piece.

    What pissed me off to no living end was the whole “rally to restore sanity”. It was his truthdig piece. The fact that all the problems, hypocrisy and gross glossing over of horrible government actions can be solved if Dems and Repubs could simply get along better was reprehensible to me.

    I had hope after the interview with Jim Cramer. The fact that an on-air personality of any category would point out that the entire financial system was, at its essence, a way to transfer wealth from the middle class and poor to the super rich was something to behold.

    Unfortunately, all other work can be seen through the lens of our hosts “heat vampire liberals”, and Stewart fits the bill to a tee.

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  14. Cole says:

    Noam is too old to storm Wall Street. Perhaps your great purity will induce you to lead the charge.

    Why don’t you save your ammo for the big event? Seems awfully churlish of you to waste it on safe targets. The name calling and sandbox disparagement are over the top and weaken your “analysis.”

    • Tarzie says:

      As ever, lectured about my bad manners and ‘purity’ by an argument-free, self-superior asshole, laying claim to a purity of his own, with clever dichotomies like ‘storming Wall Street’ vs. pissing on Adam Swartz’s grave. Of course, there is nothing else an 85-year-old icon could do! If you imbeciles ever got some imagination or brains…

      Be the change you want to see on my blog, dipshit, or jerk off without me. I’ve met you ten thousand times already. It was dull the first time.

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  17. I was gratified to read this post as Amy Goodman always struck me as someone who in another age would have been a sort of smarmy Puritan. (Maybe the name ‘Goodman’ combined with her painfully Plain-Jane appearance [e.g. cadaverous lips] recalls the time when women called themselves ‘Goody’ and wore bonnets.)

    Democracy Now!, NPR, and the whole lot of them are not only subservient to power by definition (if I’m getting Tarzie’s basic formula right) but empty disingenuous exercises just in and of themselves, whether or not you grant the almost a priori point that if they haven’t been yanked off the air, it’s because they haven’t said anything threatening to power.

    But power is shared; it’s not just top-down. So as much as DN! is subservient power, DN! also seeks to make the viewer subservient to its power and its own special orthodoxy. This is why you have the rotating roster of ethnic co-hosts: at one time perhaps it was to undermine the expectation of White Male News Anchor a la Rather, Jennings, Brokaw, etc. But now rather than being subversive, with DN! this is just its own type of formula and imposition of orthodoxy. There’s nothing spontaneous about it, nothing human precisely because it is so formulaic. (Incidentally, this is why NPR’s stories on race all seem to reflect a vision of race relations that is by now outdated even compared to popular attitudes: racism continues to be flogged as a type of Original Sin, etc.) It is a program with no value except a sort of internal edification for those who watch it and who identify with the politico-tribal markers. In that regard, it represents a type of ‘OBEY!’ to those on the outside with different assumptions about the world, i.e. ‘we’re going to hit you over the head with our assumptions and you’re going to take it or leave it’…

    One last point: if you want a concrete example of the type of thing a Democracy Now! considers verboten and instinctively opposes because of its unconscious/semi-conscious slavish devotion to Power, just watch the outtakes of Amy Goodman’s interview with Oliver Stone about his Untold History of the United States series. Forced to mention JFK, Stone starts to make the point that the way the Secret Service behaved (in absconding with Kennedy’s corpse) was illegal, when Goodman violently and inexplicably broke in with a sort of aggressive ‘How?’ as if here was a demonstrably false kooky notion of Stone’s. Stone was actually distracted enough by her impulsive desire to contest the point that he just moved on, though it was non-controversial that at the time of the Kennedy coup, killing a president was not a federal crime and therefore the murder fell under state jurisdiction requiring that the body remain with the state of Texas as evidence. By removing the body – at gunpoint, no less – the Secret Service broke Texas state law.

  18. David Murphy says:

    I was relieved to finally find a web-site that criticizes Amy. While the critical observations on particular pieces she has done are interesting/insightful, and I agree that she is a left liberal apologist for the liberal establishment, I would characterize her by using the old but useful label of bleeding heart liberal. Rather than trying to unearth the big issues behind news events she invariably goes for the human interest angle: the poor person of color/woman/gay/3rd worlder, etc, which she then uses as fodder for her fund drives. She is also just a really bad journalist, she fumbles over scripts, doesn’t seem to listen to interviewee answers, and then seems to try to make up for her unpreparedness by making references to some other, unconnected story/ies that she has done in the past. She also name drops a lot. She is the Barbara Walters of the left. She also looks particularly weak in journalistic ability when her rotating co-hosts are on; probably why they are rotated, so as not to threaten Amy’s hold on her show. It’s really too bad, because she often has really interesting people on, whose presence is then wasted through her incessant question-begging inadequacy.

  19. Jimmy West says:

    I have a low tolerance for stupidity these days. Defending Amy Goodman at this point is engaging in stupidity.
    Her actions are well known and by 2008 she’s a constant embarrassment.
    There was January 2008 when she brought on Melissa Harris Lacewell (now Perry) and insisted Melissa was just a college professor who was in New Hampshire, an objective observers, who just happened to use her time raving over Barack Obama.
    As Amy knew, having already appeared on Jesse Jackson’s radio show with MHL, the woman had been working for Barack Obama’s campaign since summer 2007.
    She did not disclose that information to her viewers.
    She, in fact, lied to them.
    Later that same month, MHP would out herself on Democracy Now! in a second appearance where she attacked Gloria Steinem.
    In that interview, Melissa Harris Lacewell, speaking, she insisted, for Black American and “sitting in all my Blackness” dismissed questions of Barack Obama being bi-racial. Of course, it would have been nice if she (or Goodman) had disclosed that MHL was hiding her White mother at that time. (Or just pointed out that MHL was not the voice of Black America.)
    What MHL did in her first Democracy Now! appearance is unacceptable and one of the reasons Princeton said bye-bye to her.
    Amy Goodman should have suffered fall out as well.
    We could continue her 2008 escapades with lies to cover for Barack Obama when the world learned he was telling Canadian officials something different on NAFTA than what he was telling the American people, we could note her using an inauguration party for Barack Obama in January 2009 as a fundraiser for Democracy Now! as she auctioned off tickets.
    There were so many lines she crossed.
    She skewed coverage of Libya and much more.
    Black Agenda Report, The Third Estate Sunday Review and many others have called her out from the left.
    She is not honest, she is not ethical.
    The people defending her above are as much a part of the problem as Amy Goodman.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yeah. I don’t get why she has any credibility at all but y’know, USian left is full of dumb people dying to believe in someone.

      I also wrote this, about how she whitewashed USAID’s bloody history.

      You point out a lot of damning stuff I was unaware of. Thanks.

  20. Blair says:

    This was really useless article. Goodman and odonnel have like sub-million viewers or readers, and hardly have any impact on any powers or voters or consumers. Their work is benign. This article is trying to act outraged over nothing.

    • Tarzie says:

      I’m not interested in their effect on the “powers that be”. Why would I be? I’m interested in their effect on left discourse in service to the powers that be. Goodman, at least, has a lot of prestige and a proportionally large following on the so-called Left. O’Donnell is a minor figure, but his diatribe against the Democrats got quite a lot of attention on social media at the time. In any case, individual influence is very much irrelevant to my critique. Collectively I think all of these fake lefts, speaking as they do in one voice, have a great deal to do with neutralizing dissidence, generally. If they’re entirely without influence, why does capital give them platforms at all and why are they so highly disciplined in conveying a strikingly similar, meticulously circumscribed ersatz politics?

      O’Donnell’s stunt was uniquely useful to me in how vividly and concisely it demonstrated the resistance and capitulation role play that is so central to the fake left schtick. So when I write something like that, I assume that an intelligent, critically-minded person might take that critique and test it elsewhere, whether they think O’Donnell is important or not. Since my interest is specifically the way in which relatively high-profile lefts administer discipline on the margins of US politics — that is, where agitation is most potentially energetic — almost none of the people I write about rise above niche celebrity. More conventionally partisan commentators with bigger followings don’t interest me much, not least because there are so many people already writing about them.

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