L'Etat C'est Moi

May 15, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the likely Socialist candidate for President of France, was arrested in New York, accused of sexual assault on a chambermaid in his hotel.
Strauss-Kahn no longer electable for many French (Reuters)

Strauss-Kahn Rape-Attempt Charge May End Presidential Prospects (Bloomberg )

Allegations leave presidency bid in tatters (Financial Times)
None of those headlines about Strauss-Kahn’s political future rests on actual evidence except perhaps a brief in-the-street interview or the estimate of some politician. Maybe DSK’s presidential career is fini, at least for now. But maybe it isn’t. The point is that the people who wrote those headlines and articles don’t really know what the electorate thinks. Like Louis XIV, they are conflating themselves with the nation. (Another post on this bit of journalistic arrogance is here.)

The Monica Lewinsky scandal broke on January 17, 1998. Here are some headlines from that time.
People Talking about Clinton: 'If He's Lying, It's Over' (AP, Jan. 22)

Clinton's Cooked If It's Fire, Not Just Smoke (Daily News, Jan 22. 1998)

Public's Tolerance Wears Thin (Star-Ledger, Jan. 23)
Some pundits assured us that Clinton’s presidency was all but over. The nation would not tolerate such behavior. Sam Donaldson, a top reporter at ABC news, predicted that Clinton would resign within days. These predictions seemed like a good idea at the time. But Clinton remained in office.

Later, Donaldson said he was “just dumb” to have made that prediction. But in October,a month before the election, he made the same prediction based on his reading of “the American public.” Wrong again.


Anonymous said...

Really? Your sociological analysis of a high-power white man attempting to rape an African immigrant woman is about "journalist arrogance" ?

Jay Livingston said...

The ethnic, religious, economic and other demographic characteristics of the people involved, their political orientations, the legal questions including diplomatic immunity, the role of the IMF, etc., as well as the practices of the press – this story has much mileage in it. And like life, it is to be taken one mile at a time. I’m sure that you can find commentary on the other mileposts elsewhere on the information superhighway. Surely, the Socioblog is not your only source of analysis.

brandsinger said...

Hey Jay - i check in here from time to time to sample the nonsense of academe -- and I find tonight that you are quoting from my blog! - brandsinger.blogspot.com -- where I just commented on Gulf Oil's tagline - "Life... one mile at a time."

I should be flattered by this indication of my influence -- but then I suspected (I hope wrongly) that you are cutely, coyly implying that I'm your "anonymous" critic here -- which I certainly am not. I've given up trying to let the hot air out of this site and refuse to comment under any name.

But while I'm here - care to make a bet about this fat frog's future political career? I say he's toast -- and I'll give you odds. He's going to have trouble being president of France while doing 5 to 10 in a US prison.

Jay Livingston said...

Hi bs, Yes, that was my saying that I thought Anon was you. No, no bets on DSK's future.

brandsinger said...

Ha - I know how you think! Shocking as this might be, you seem to have more critics than just me... and more readers than you thought.

To attract even more, I recommend that you stop referring to your own previous posts... (It's doubtful that anyone is researching your online oeuvre) and second, kill the footnotes. Blogs don't have footnotes -- tedious monographs do.

Also, as long as you're visiting my site, leave a comment -- no matter how critical!

Finally perhaps you can help me: I want to kill this stupid picture that accompanies my comments. I don't even know why it keeps showing up.

Good luck - brandsinger