Saturday, August 13, 2011

Cokie's Law Redux

One of Digby's better contributions to the documentation of the decline of American journalism is Cokie's Law, named after ABC and NPR talking head Cokie Roberts:  If you tell a lie enough so that low-information viewers believe it, it becomes growing conventional wisdom, then the truth at hand, and then finally accepted fact.  Lemkin catches Cokie's Law in action on "The S&P Downgrade means we have to cut SS/Medicare".

All this nonsense about S&P’s downgrade “causing” movement in the US stock market (which, as far as the MSM is concerned, is entirely comprised of the Dow Jones index) is wrong. Foolish, even. This has been reported occasionally, and NPR and other political actors are at least slightly tempering the “S&P caused it!” meme.

But it won’t matter. The facts do not matter. Cokie’s Law, the ironclad rule that anything, any information be it merely incorrect or proven to be an outright lie or pure fabrication, once “out there” must be reported as though it is fact. Period. Therefore, as weeks and months pass, the core narrative becomes:
“S&P downgrade caused massive loss of wealth in DJI; therefore Social Security and Medicare must be cut; elimination is the GOP’s preferred outcome, therefore the “sensible center” is merely devastating cuts followed on every few years with more “sensible” cuts until we reach said elimination. This is the only Serious Position possible on the issue when one considers the facts of the S&P downgrade and its devastating impact on the Dow. Why, some say that as much as $1T in wealth evaporated. We simply must act to cut Social Security. Everyone knows it is the problem here.”
There will be nothing else. No other opinion will be allowed, and if directly challenged by the reality of the situation, reporters and pundits will characterize the truth as simply one other fringe “opinion” that the dirty fucking hippies are pushing again, and no better or worse than the obvious fallacy that was created by them simply because said fallacy has been widely reported. When (and if) directly challenged on the ontogeny of said MSM-created fallacy, they will elect to “leave it there,” declare it “complicated,” or, in the case of Cokie herself, sputter about it being “out there.” You heard it here first.

And God help me, I don't see how there's any other way this plays out otherwise.  None.  There's no plan B here, and along with SS/Medicare we're going to see more massive cuts in government programs.  President Obama's not going to be able to stop them because enough Democrats in Congress will agree with the narrative, just like Iraq, Afghanistan, torture, Gitmo, etc.

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

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