About some of these “scandals” that have been in the news:

“And they would have gotten away with it, too, had their narrative had the benefit of being true. But now, almost two months later, we know that in fact the IRS targeted lots of different kinds of groups, not just conservative ones; that the only organizations whose tax-exempt statuses were actually denied were progressive ones; that many of the targeted conservative groups legitimately crossed the line; that the IG’s report was limited to only Tea Party groups at congressional Republicans’ request; and that the White House was in no way involved in the targeting and didn’t even know about it until shortly before the public did.” -Salon

As long as our political debate is dominated by misinformation and a scandal-driven circus oriented media (not just Fox, but the entire clown show) do not expect honest debate or good governance. The system is now capable only of self-flagellation, and not actual governance.

Discuss . . .

Category: Financial Press, Politics, Really, really bad calls

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

27 Responses to “Discuss: “Manufactured” Crises”

  1. VennData says:

    License plate cameras track millions of Americans


    Americans can drive where ever they want! Stop the liberal speeding ticket tax! Obama wants your drivers license!!!


  2. Dogfish says:

    “Analysts look “two or three hops” from terror suspects when evaluating terror activity, Inglis revealed.”

    “For a sense of scale, researchers at the University of Milan found in 2011 that everyone on the Internet was, on average, 4.74 steps away from anyone else.”


    A decade ago, I felt a little bit crazy for thinking how I did. Now I realize I was neither cynical nor imaginative enough with theorizing where things were going. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

  3. mikeinconyers says:

    It was surprising how quickly alternative media sites like majority.fm, picked up on the distortion of the IRS story and how it was weeks later, if at all that, that there was a widespread recognition of that initial distortion reported in the media. It really seems like a sadder version of “if it bleeds it leads” of our local news amplified by by the 24 hour national news media circus.

  4. DeDude says:

    Another case of malfunctioning markets.

    The goal of a commercial news organization is to make money and they do so by conning us into paying attention to them. The best way to get most people to pay attention is by reporting something that causes an outrage. Even better if it is reported by some good locking chick or guy. Nothing in this model is connected to speaking truth to power, or providing people with useful information about the world around them. In fact there appears to be almost no penalty for failing to do so, or for spewing out lies, distortion and misinformation. Failure to jump on the bandwagon early on carries a penalty of being labeled as late/slow, but as long as all the big ones jump in there are no penalty for being wrong (no competitor can take advantage of the mistake if they also made it).

  5. spudvol says:

    “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

  6. RW says:

    Clearly problems in governance occur when a major political party makes “government is the problem” its central trope and raison d’etre but as far as the Fifth Estate goes, reduction in work-force and journalistic standards — related in part to business cost cutting — promoted shallow sensationalism but the increased influence of advertisers and the conservatism of advertisers made false equivalency a critical survival value: No report or column could fail to include the observation — particularly when conservative opinion on a subject was contrary to fact — that opinions on the shape of the earth differ.

    Inclusion of that observation had a tendency to rise higher and higher in news and opinion column until it made it above the fold where it, if only because of short attention span in readers, became the main thrust of the column. Efforts to counteract that pernicious trend w/o endangering the news business are few and far between but do exist viz

    Just the Facts — No ‘False Balance’ Wanted Here

    • call me ahab says:

      no doubt- faith in government is always the best path

      I would even venture to say that governments can always be trusted as it is a truism throughout history

  7. whskyjack says:

    Remember Judith Miller for the NY times, nothing has changed, one of the best ways to get ahead is to be a mouth piece for your source. You deliver and they just keep on feeding you, Your company sells lots of advertising and everybody is happy, except for a few whining complainers but they don’t watch you any way so they are not relevant

    When it comes to national news I have reached the conclusion,”nobody can be that stupid” so someone is paying them to play the part of a stupid person on TV.


  8. dvdpenn says:

    The question I rarely hear asked is: what will be the catalyst for change? Assuming the future will not be identical to the present (a good bet), what externality (and I’m pretty convinced it will have to be an externality) will be significant enough to change the current equation?

    Personally, I’m holding out for climate-change related disaster. But I’m an optimist.

  9. call me ahab says:

    it’s all manufactured . . .all stories . . .all agendas . . .


    unless you agree with the story I guess

  10. Maggie says:

    Remember that great show “Meeting of Minds” created by Steve Allen?

    Argumentative logic (unless expressed via math, code, symbolism) is considered to be a bad thing. It foments radicalism and chaos in society. It’s often expressed in a form, (art, video games, sound), other than words but then the verbal discussion/argument over the meaning or appropriateness of the expression freaks people out. I think it is because we just can’t accept the fact that most of the world is not Judeo-Christian and we are desperately grasping to maintain our caucasian, Judeo-Christian identity to the point of employing radicalism ourselves.

    Time has become money so we do not have the time to question our motives and outcomes.

    Education has come down to STEM. There is little respect for in-depth study of the liberal arts and humanities. These subjects resonate the most with people; intermediate level mathematics and science are difficult for most people to grasp – - myself included. STEM is good for economic competitiveness, research and development but over-emphasizing STEM is not good for governance, qualitative debate and media coverage.

    • Denecke1 says:

      I find this to be an odd comment. STEM fields are stressed in the country because we are coming up short in them.

      STEM degrees see up to a 80% attrition rate from those who start the program because to American students those degrees are “hard”. And yet we have a glut of people graduating with liberal arts and humanities degrees. I’m not sure the critical thinking skills you describe are being instilled in the generation who pick their degree based on it not being a difficult study.

      • Biffah Bacon says:

        STEM graduates are facing stiff competition and downward wage pressure from outsourcing, H1b and other visa programs that import STEM grads, and foreign students from communist and otherwise unpleasant countries who are educated here and will do all it takes to stay.
        When STEM grads are making espresso drinks for archaeologists, one might rethink the STEM received wisdom promulgated by those who profit from downward wage pressure on upper middle class jobs. I will say that civil engineers make some interesting decorations on the foam.

      • Maggie says:

        My argument isn’t perfect but it merits debate. I think Mr. Ritholtz would agree as he started the argument. It’s my fave argument by the way.

        Are we coming up short in the STEM disciplines or are we coming up short in civics, law, mass communication and dare I add the arts? Our universities and businesses have already discovered that many of our business, science and programming requirements can be adequately performed by non-US Citizens for less salary (Caveats please?).

        I do agree with you that the “critical thinking” skills are not being taught and I already stated my initial reasoning behind this in the first paragraph (as imperfectly expressed as it is). Not all great “thinkers” are scientists, programmers, educators or mathematicians.

  11. david_12321 says:

    I’ve gotten two mailings from my congressman on how he is investigating the IRS (I sign up for these things). Two. After reading, before deleting the last one, I had the impression he had a hard on while writing. Does any one know if the republican party or the other one is tax exempt?

  12. Unanimous says:

    DeDude, good points, but I’d say it’s a well functioning market not a malfunctioning one. The point of the market is for the media to sell viewer’s attention to advertisers. Viewers attention is the product, and advertisers are the customers. That is how the money flows, and that is what the law says whenever viewers have tried to sue news organisations for supplying poor product. If you didn’t pay for it, you aren’t the customer. The market functions well if you understand it like that.

    For political issues viewers mostly want their affiliations and beliefs confirmed, and news outlets provide articles appropriately. For sports and weather, people mostly want accurate information, and so news outlets supply it. If you want accurate information about politics, then you either have to read between the lines, or use something other than news outlets.

    • DeDude says:

      I would not disagree with your statements as a sum of how things are. However, I believe that the role of the media and what could earn it the respect and right to be titled the fourth estate would be if it would be “speaking truth to power and providing people with useful information about the world around them”. It would have been more accurate for me to say that this is an area where market forces fail to deliver what society needs, than to call it a “malfunctioning market”

  13. Rich in NJ says:

    Noted Beltway pundit Joe Klein, jumps the gun on May 11th:

    The Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups is outrageous. Those who did this should be fired immediately. That’s obvious.


    …In the Obama instance, these have shown an anachronistic, pre-Clinton liberal bias when it comes to the rules and regulations governing many of our safety-net programs, like Social Security disability.
    And now they have violated one of the more sacred rules of our democracy: you do not use the tax code to punish your opponents.

    To be fair, two days later, Klein acknowledged that he “may have swung a bit too hard”.

    Swung and missed would seem to be a more accurate description.

  14. Willy2 says:

    “Manufactured Crisis” ?

    Only to a certain extent. If something doesn’t “resonate” with (a part of) the public then news outlets can do whatever they want but then it won’t turn into a scandal/crisis, then it won’t make headlines.

    • Are you still laboring under the illusion that Media is consumer driven?

      • Willy2 says:

        Now YOU are reading something into my comments (again), I didn’t write.

        I am very well aware that media are predominantly driven by profit motives. Of course, each media outlet has it own agenda. Of course, a lot of people are mis-informed by both the “left wing” & “right wing” media. But the fact remains that what the media considers to be a scandal does not automatically becomes a scandal/crisis in the eyes of the public.

  15. Greg0658 says:

    interesting thread – my part to follow ..

    we live in an adversarial world – the fight is respected
    I think it’s boredom with the everyday going along just fine
    hense we play games in everything we do

    plus it’s “eat or be eaten world” “survival of the fittest”
    plus capitalism requires growth in population and/or destruction of stuff and/or Something Brand New
    (throws pebble in pond) ride that ripple

    growth (?alpha?) in these days of Tech leaps & bounds – IT is in a paper fight w/tech

    don’t be average – be disabled or smart – try not to be average

    AV periods (popular imo generally)
    slapstick funny, drama state war, family friendly, drama local crime, supernatural, skin
    whats next?

    its still “Hip to be Bad”
    stories for the average ! we live on ‘em .. why we’re all here


    “manufactured crisis” – what else is there in this state of affairs for alpha growth

  16. gman says:

    This angle is a nice addendum to the “ball gargling”/pr flack problem/role for the media.

  17. Pantmaker says:

    Great topic but you failed to mention the largest “manufactured crises” staring us all right in the face. The largest shit pile of a manufactured “recovery” in history, driven by the magical words and subtle body language of one man. Wall Street bankers have been bailed out instead of, but more importantly, at the expense of the elderly and the retired.