Tuesday, July 12, 2016

H.A. Goodman's Desperation Is Showing

I didn't cry foul back in May when H. A. Goodman released a video entitled "FBI Will Recommend Indictment of Hillary Clinton Soon." I didn't need to say anything. Plenty of people offered uncharitable criticisms of the piece based on weak arguments (e.g. nobody can predict the future) and strong arguments (e.g. Hillary Clinton can't be indicted because she is above the law). Besides, I decided to construe that title charitably--as a rhetorical counter-punch to equally polemical and misguided headlines from Goodman's colleagues at The Huffington Post, such as Vincent Intondi's "No, Hillary Clinton Is Not Worse Than Donald Trump" in March.

In fact, I thought there was a strong case to be made for the hyperbolic headlines that Goodman relied on throughout the primary (from "Hillary Clinton Should Concede to Bernie Sanders Before the FBI Reveals Its Findings" to "Yes, Bernie Sanders Will Win the Contested Convention"). The corporate media's campaign of condescension towards Sanders for the past year has been so suffocating that Goodman's headlines could reasonably be interpreted as crude but necessary skewers meant to poke holes in the airtight narrative of Clinton's inevitability.

Even those of us who found Goodman's arguments poorly researched (as when he condemned a Clinton endorsement by "Ms." Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone--subsequently corrected) or soul-crushingly repetitive (indictment take #1, indictment take #16, indictment take #116 )--even we understood that Goodman was playing the role of a motivational speaker rather than a journalist. For many Sanders supporters who felt betrayed by every media outlet from NPR to the New York Times, Goodman's arguments didn't need to be compelling as long as they were sufficiently uplifting.

Goodman's fans believe he speaks truth to power. But now that he can no longer bludgeon the Clinton camp with a looming FBI indictment, it's plain that power shouldn't listen to him because he doesn't know enough about the 2016 election to speak the truth, as he demonstrated in this interview with Tim Black:

Even though Goodman has long championed the Bernie-or-bust movement, with its focus on either writing in Bernie Sanders or voting for the Green Party's Jill Stein in November, he clearly considers Stein a tool that can best be used to threaten the Democratic Party--especially by those disinclined to dwell on policy particulars. Goodman doesn't appear to have an opinion about (or an awareness of) substantive differences between Stein and Sanders beyond their personal stances on drones and their parties' stances on Black Lives Matter.

At the thirty-minute mark, Black gave Goodman the opportunity to spew a bunch of misinformation about Gary Johnson. Goodman obliged by telling Black's viewership that the Libertarian Party opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership and champions Wall Street regulation (which comes as a surprise, I suspect, to many Libertarians). Contrary to Goodman's claim, Johnson is an avowed proponent of the TPP, as he reiterated in a CNN interview just last weekend: "I'm being told that the Trans-Pacific Partnership would, in fact, advance free trade, and so I would support that document."

Of the five most important candidates (Clinton, Trump, Sanders, Stein, and Johnson), Johnson is the only one who is showing overt support for the TPP at this point in the campaign cycle--a fact worthy of attention for anyone paying attention (and especially those being paid to pay attention). Clinton knows she has to lie about her support of the TPP until she gets into office; Trump knows he needs to pretend to be outraged by it to authenticate himself as a populist; and Sanders and Stein both genuinely oppose it. But Johnson doesn't even feel compelled to lie about his support for the deal--apparently because he can count on people like Goodman not to hold his own words against him.

The problems aren't confined to Goodman's flawed and superficial understanding of third-party candidates. Earlier in the interview (at around 21:10), Goodman deliberately distorted FBI Director James Comey's remarks about Hillary Clinton's carelessness with classified information. According to Goodman, Comey conceded that people responsible for less significant security breaches than Clinton had been jailed for their offenses. While it's true that others have faced criminal charges for lesser offenses, that isn't at all what Comey conceded when he remarked:
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
This concession from Comey has nothing whatever to do with the criminality of Clinton's actions and everything to do with how security breaches in various government departments routinely result in demotions, firings, or the revocation of security clearances--but Goodman is only interested in what he wanted to hear, not what Comey said.

There may have been a time when Goodman's insistence on seeing the world through rose-tinted glasses was helpful (or perhaps even emotionally necessary) for some Sanders supporters, but that time has passed. Despite all the setbacks we've experienced, we must recognize that no matter how painful things are right now, sobriety and honesty are much more effective tools for moving us forward than ignorance and fantasy.

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