Stupid things some people listen to

Newsmax is a rightwing propaganda website (details here) originally funded by Richard Mellon Scaife who, until his 2014 death, spent much of his inherited billions on spreading rightwing extremism. It has a following. I don’t know why. That defies logic (more about this below).

Anyway, “Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield suggested on Tuesday — without evidence or logic — that future Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson may be responsible for the leak of a draft ruling that would dismantle abortion rights,” Huffington Post reported on Wednesday, May 4, 2022 (read story here; read the leaked draft ruling here).

Stinchfield (photo, above right), if you don’t already know, was called a liar by his previous employer, the National Rifle Association’s advertising agency, in their court filings against him (see story here). Newsmax has no problem with that, and gives him a soapbox (and a paycheck).

Partisan reactions to the leak couldn’t be more different. The left exploded with rage at the likelihood of Roe v. Wade being overturned, the stridency of Alito’s language, the duplicity if not outright lying of the Trump justices during their confirmations, and the threat of more individual rights being taken away by a court stacked with reactionaries by Mitch McConnell’s underhanded Senate maneuvering (e.g., same-sex marriage, and even access to contraceptives).

The right exploded with rage at the leak, and vowed to find and punish the leaker.

Stinchfield’s broadside against Jackson has all the elements of a classic rightwing smear: It’s an egregious lie, has no facts or evidence backing it up, it emanated from a rightwing website, is designed to discredit her, and despite the fact it defies all reason and logic, many if not most Republicans will believe it, because they’re stupid.

What crutches is Stinchfield leaning on to make this claim?

This: “I find it suspect that the first leak coming out of the Supreme Court in history” — he’s wrong, it’s not — “comes shortly after Judge Jackson is confirmed,” he said. Wow! That really connects the nexus.

“She would be my first suspect when it comes to the leak because Ketanji Brown Jackson is a radical left-wing activist, more radical than any other justice in the history of the Supreme Court. I believe she is capable of undermining the court this way.” Therefore she did it.

And in Huffington Post’s words, he argues “she may have hired clerks and they may have started work already. He has no evidence this is true; he’s nonetheless ‘sure’ of it.” Actually, it doesn’t matter whether he believes it; he gets paid to say stuff like this, because there’s a market for it. He does it because he makes a better living doing it than he could from honest work.

The counter-argument is that “Jackson isn’t on the Supreme Court yet. Nor was she on the court when it heard arguments in the case over Mississippi’s abortion restrictions. She isn’t involved in the ruling at all.” Nor does she have access to the building, except as a tourist. I’ll just leave it at that, because this doesn’t really require any more rebuttal than that.

The question we should ask is why there’s a market for such blatant, silly, sophomoric lies. Because that audience is stupid, that’s why.

This blog you’re reading was created by an academic, is aimed at a university audience, and I assume most of its readers (apart from the inevitable trolls) are primarily an intellectual crowd made up of people who arrive at conclusions through a process that looks like this: Facts -> Logical Reasoning -> Conclusion.

Readers, I hate to break this to you, but that’s not how most people operate, and sadly, we don’t live in a rational world. (Per Karl Marx, “the masses are asses.” As for me, I don’t really want to believe that, because it undercuts the intellectual argument in favor of democracy, and I’d like to think we could do better by supporting publicly funded education; but I keep running across disconcerting evidence of its truth.) A very sizeable chunk of humanity operates on emotion and feelings, not facts and reason. That’s just the way it is, and we have to deal with it.

They’d rather take their chances with a deadly virus than a safe vaccine. They continue to believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump even after their own partisan sham “audits” confirmed that Biden won. They still refuse to believe climate change is real even though droughts are destroying their farms, wildfires are burning up their homes, and summers keep getting longer and hotter. Hooked up to ventilators, gasping for oxygen, they refuse to believe Covid-19 is real up to their dying moments.

If Republicans win the House in November, they’re going to impeach Jackson for leaking the Alito draft. (But not on the first day, because they’re going to impeach Biden and Harris first, and they’ll get around to her a day or two later.) That’s what this is about, and Stinchfield and Newsmax are paving the way for that.

That’s what you’ll be voting for if you cast a ballot for any Republican in November, even a moderate one (if any still exist), because you’d be helping to elect a GOP majority and it won’t be your moderate Republican who runs the show in the House if their party gets control of the gavel. This is still a batshit-crazy Trumper party.

Meanwhile, stupid and irrational though it is, Stinchfield’s absurd attack on Jackson does have method to its madness as a vicious political tactic in furtherance of a repulsive political agenda. Divorced from its purpose, and standing alone, purely on the merits, it’s stupid and the people who listen to it are stupid.

But we’ve known that about them for a very long time, haven’t we?

Return to The-Ave.US Home Page

Comments are closed.