Letter bombs (20): The highest incarnation
Posted by ampontan on Tuesday, August 23, 2011
READER Marellus sends in a tweet from Hiroko Tabuchi, whom the New York Times employs as a reporter in Tokyo:
So ironic that Japan voters, who support Kan’s nuclear phaseout, wallop him w/ low approval ratings, paving way for pro-nuke successor..
Apparently Ms. Tabuchi has too much irony in her diet.
Mr. Kan’s approval ratings are the second-lowest for a prime minister in modern Japanese history, by perhaps two or three percentage points. (They’re roughly 12% to 15% depending on the poll.) The current numbers for a nuclear power phaseout are slightly more than 60%, but they didn’t get that high until the Kan administration botched the cleanup. (They were much lower even a month after the nuclear accident.)
Knowing those facts, most people would draw the conclusion that seeing the last of Mr. Kan is a much higher priority for the Japanese public than phasing out nuclear power.
A reporter in Japan who paid attention to events in Japan — i.e., did his job — would remember that Mr. Kan’s ratings were already redlining in February, when talk of a no-confidence motion began circulating, and draw the same conclusion that much faster. That reporter would also remember Mr. Kan’s party being pumelled in local elections, chiefly because of extreme dissatisfaction with the national party’s behavior. He would have been an eyewitness to the ad hoc creation starting in March of a political science textbook titled, How Not to Handle a National Disaster. That would have been after he was an eyewitness to the national disaster that was the Kan government’s handling of the Chinese after the Senkakus incident.
A reporter in Japan who followed the tone of discussions among the Japanese themselves would know that the word commonly used to describe the behavior of the DPJ since 2009 is “betrayal”— and that’s by the moderates.
A reporter who understood something about human nature would realize that the current support for a nuclear phaseout is an emotional response, and will subside over time. That same reporter would recall that Mr. Kan clearly threatened to dissolve the Diet and use nuclear energy as the centerpiece of a single issue campaign — only to drop the idea when his support in the polls continued to fall.
Ah, but this isn’t most people or a reporter with an understanding of human nature who wears out the proverbial shoe leather. This is a New York Times reporter.
Paying attention or applying common sense to the beats they’re assigned to cover isn’t part of their job, no sir. They have more important things to do, such as ignore facts, promote their employers’ ideological agenda, and contemplate irony.
The best way to explain it is to borrow something H.L. Mencken wrote about university professors:
Consider [the pedagogue] in his highest incarnation: the university professor. What is his function? Simply to pass on…a body of so-called knowledge that is fragmentary, unimportant, and, in large part, untrue.
Substitute “journalist” for pedagogue and “New York Times reporter” for university professor, and by Jove, I think you’ll have it.