From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:
Politico Columnist Writes Anti-GOP Satire; Lefties Completely Fooled, Repeat as Fact
You want to talk cocooning?
When Roger Simon wrote in Politico Wednesday that Paul Ryan’s new nickname for Mitt Romney is “Stench,” a number of news outlets — from MSNBC to Mediaite — took it seriously.
Simon told BuzzFeed: “Some people always don’t get something, but I figured describing PowerPoint as having been invented to euthanize cattle would make the satire clear. I guess people hate PowerPoint more than I thought.”
Among those fooled? Paul Krugman.
The thing is, every cycle we see this sort of thing. Back in 2004, this Democratic Underground post was making the rounds in the final days:
Sent: Saturday, October 30, 2004 9:51 PM
To: Class of 1976 discussion group.; Class of 1976 discussion group.
Subject: RE: Notes from a friend on what Kerry’s team is saying
ok, got a call on my cell phone this am while taking my son to hockey. my friend in the kerry campaign spoke late last night with mark mehlman of the bush team. mehlman was a roomate of my friend when they were both at the harvard law school. they are at opposite ends of the politcal spectrum, but are very good friends.
mehlman says the bush team is in “major melt down” because their polling has them losing in ohio and florida, so they are in a mad dash to pull something out in the upper midwest. michigan isn’t really in play. he called it a “head fake”. wisconsin is slipping away, bush spoke in green bay today to less than 5,000 people (kerry drew 80,000 in madison on thursday). iowa has the numbers potentially but they’ve focused on it way too late, after the dems had a massive absentee push, so iowa is unlikely. they can’t win with minnesota alone and even that state doesn’t look good.
mehlman says that there is incredible discord at the top. cheney is absolutley livid with rove on the overall strategy (“we peaked too soon you bastard”) and with karen hughes for not adequately preparing bush for the debates (“he looked like a g** d***** mental patient”). cheney is apparently a “real monster”. the rnc doesn’t know what to do because they can’t get any clear direction from the top. mehlman says that bush’s slide in their polls began about three weeks before the debates when kerry when into attack mode with major foreign policy speeches at nyu and at a national guard convention, the day after bush spoke. the slide accelerated big time after the debates, “everyone was as bad as the first with no let-up in free fall” according to mehlman. cheney freaked during the first debate, convinced that bush “‘lost the f****** election in front of 65 million people”. Now they simply don’t have the numbers to win in Florida, have not got their ducks in a row to “deflect” the massive number of early voters and are having real trouble maintaining the base in Florida and elsewhere (“our people are just turning away”). in ohio they’ve been simply overwhelmed with the new voter registrations and have been unsuccessful in court challenges. bush’s number actually go now when he visits ohio after Treasury Secretary Snow’s comments in the state that job losses were a “myth”. Additionally many repubs are pissed about the financial proligacy of Bush and Cheney and their incompetence in Iraq, so a lot are simply going to “take a pass”, read not vote. bush apparently has been totally “out of it” believing Rove and Hughes that everything was fine and that victory was assured, but is finally and slowing catching on that he might lose this thing. yesterday morning when made aware of the bin laden tape in nh, simply said. “It’s over.”
The first clue that entire above message is BS: Bush’s campaign manager was KEN Mehlman, not Mark Mehlman.
As we all know, none of the above “rumors” were true. I reprint all that to illuminate how people are A) willing to make up elaborate tales of chaos in the opposition in order to boost morale on their own side and B) how credulous people are when they hear what they want to hear – i.e., the other guys are hapless and doomed, the public is breaking to our side, a landslide victory is at hand, etc.
As Ben Smith of Buzzfeed, a former Politico blogger, tweeted: “So uh a lot of people seem not to have picked up that @politicoroger’s column was satire.” Put more succinctly by conservative blogger JammieWearingFool: “Satire should actually be funny.”
Or, at least it should be pretty obvious. There is no underestimating the literal-mindedness of the American reader: Years ago when I worked at the Times we published a satirical op-ed column by Steve Martin riffing on the idea that a NASA Mars probe had discovered millions of kittens on the Red Planet. Shortly thereafter, a subscriber sent a terse letter to the editor asking us to “inform your science correspondent” that the lack of oxygen on Mars made kitten infestation highly unlikely.
Naturally, no writer wants to put a blinking sign indicating “This Is a Joke” above his or her parody piece. But editors should realize that if there is even a chance that such a sign is necessary, it’s probably best to spike the whole idea. Otherwise, you might end up fooling a lot of people, maybe even a Nobel Prize winner.
In Simon’s defense, it’s not that hard to fool Paul Krugman.
A lot of people believe what they want to believe because they see what they want to see.