All the President's Voxsplainers

Remember when Vox was going to give us all a better way to "understand the news"? What we get instead is a better way to become courtiers to power.


Back in the days before the site launched, Vox's founder Ezra Klein promised his site would let all of us plebeians "understand the news" in a better, richer way.

If Vox's recent interview—er, "conversation"—with President Barack Obama by Klein and Matthew Yglesias is any indication, the tutorial being offered isn't about explicating difficult or arcance topics so that even dummies (read: you and me, dear readers) can fake our way through a dinner party.

No, what Vox teaches is how to sit on the knee of power and divine what our rulers really mean to say and why it's such a goddanged good and smart and sharp idea.

As Jack Shafer notes at Politico, the presidential Q&A typically results in nothing worth remembering even when done by latter-day Oriana Fallacis, much less two journos who are totally in the tank for Obama:

See for yourself how little meat the hungry press corps was able to scrape from the bones of the Vox interview. CNN: "Obama 'hopeful' about partisanship, race relations"; Bloomberg: "Obama Says Wealth Accumulation Speaks to Need for Tax Shift"; National Journal: "In Vox Interview, Obama Sets Limits on What a President Can Accomplish"; Politico: "Barack Obama: Get rid of 'routine use' of legislative filibuster."…

In the example of Klein and Yglesias, they're less interested in interviewing Obama than they are in explaining his policies. Again and again, they serve him softball—no, make that Nerf ball—questions and then insert infographics and footnotes that help advance White House positions. Vox has lavished such spectacular production values on the video version of the Obama interview—swirling graphics and illustrations, background music (background music!?), aggressive editing, multiple camera angles—that the clips end up looking and sounding like extended commercials for the Obama-in-2016 campaign. I've seen subtler Scientology recruitment films.

Read more here.

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  1. Vox who?


  2. I've seen subtler Scientology recruitment films.

    That is the best piece of snark I have seen this year. Klein and Yglesias are so pathetic even Politico finds them embarrassing. Shafer is the lead political writer for Politico, a unapologetic liberal publication. I wonder what those dumb asses thought when they read that. It is one thing to read that from someone on the other side. People like Klein and Yglesias are well versed in dismissing and ignoring any criticism from outside the Prog hive. But coming from a fellow traveler? That had to hurt.

    1. If the left had even a shred of good faith remaining in them, they scream about Citizen's United in connection with this.


    2. Vox is so stupid it might just cause a real schism among that TEAM, just because the rest of them will have to deal with how bad Vox and Klein make them look. I mean, Vox is like a glowing neon sign saying "THIS IS WHAT PROGS ACTUALLY BELIEVE, AND OH MY GOD IS IT DUMB".

      1. C'mon, Epi - these are people that take Salon and MSNBC seriously...would they recognize dumb when they see it?

        1. MSNBC's ratings have crashed and burned. They have worse ratings that CNN right now. And Salon has never made any money.

          At some point a few people in the leftwing media are going to get tired of losing their jobs and start to get embarrassed by people like this.

          1. "At some point a few people in the leftwing media are going to get tired of losing their jobs and start to get embarrassed by people like this."

            I'm not holding my breath.

            if there's a grand-purge of their media-sycophancy, it aint happening until Hillary (maybe) loses the 2016 election and the cash-flow to anyone willing to repeat-talking points is slightly attenuated.

            If hillary wins? it will be like a shot of adrenaline straight to the chest of the prog-bootlicking-industry

        2. Some of them can recognize when someone else is making them look stupid. That's all it takes.

    3. I had heard about the ridiculous Vox interview, but didn't bother to watch it until it was compared to a Scientology recruitment film.

      Yes, it is Grade A snark, but it is no exaggeration. Even the Organizing for America videos are more subtle than the Vox puffery.

  3. Two thoughts on that picture:

    1) Ezra looks like he's about to get on his knees and do his duty.

    2) I actually feel embarrassed for Obama. Talking with strange YouTube stars is more dignified than this. They even asked hard questions.

    1. Klein looks like such a dork in that picture, he manages to make Obama seem not dorky by comparison. I can't imagine Obama looks at people like Klein with anything but contempt. I am sure Obama enjoys the sycophancy as much as anyone, but there is no way he has any respect for him.

      1. Oh I'm sure Klein is a laughing stock inside the White House. But then such people tend to look at everyone with contempt, so that might not be saying too much.

        1. They look at their opponents as being evil and wrong but I doubt they laugh at them or consider them with quite the contempt they show Klein and his ilk.

          1. Daily Caller media column has a fitting headline:


      2. Men hate those to whom they have to lie.

    2. To be fair, it is hard to look like anything other than a dork when you are sniveling.

  4. Mr. Obama: remember when you said "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director." How are you always so right?

    1. It would be interesting to know what people like Klein tell themselves. Do they know how pathetic they are and figure no one will notice and they are doing a service to the cause or do they actually not realize how pathetic they are and think these interviews were fair and tough? I am not sure.

      1. To my mind, the political media is only worth something as a critic and whistleblower of government--regardless of the party in power or how much they like the political figure in question.

        We get no value whatsoever in so-called journalists acting in a propaganda role for government. We get plenty of that kind of slant from the government itself.

        1. Yes. There is nothing wrong with a partisan media as long as it is a fair fight. You want journalists to go after politicians.

        2. Yep = this exactly

        3. We get plenty of that kind of slant from the government itself.

          Is it possible that the WH had a hand in writing or approving the questions? That would not excuse Klein, of course. Nonetheless, what if this is just image management by the Obama administration? Maybe they only agreed to the interview (or maybe they solicited it) if they controlled the image.

      2. they are surrounded by equally pathetic figures, all so invested in the chimera of Obama that they created that reality does not stand a chance.

      3. No John, they don't. They are completely un-self-aware and incapable of perceiving themselves as others do. That's part of their overall problem. They're completely unable to think like another person, which is why they think everyone should think like them and anyone who doesn't is evil.

        Lacking any empathy...isn't there a term for that?

        1. I think you are right. I think they wake up every day and think they are doing real journalism and that they were really tough on Obama. They are that far gone. They have to be. No one could do the shit they do with a straight face without being that far gone.

          1. They're utterly delusional, John. I guarantee you that if you ended up at a dinner with Klein, you would walk away from it going "that guy is so fucking out of his head I don't even know what to do".

  5. There's something profoundly wrong with the universe when a couple of twits and tarts like those two can land an interview with a world leader.

    1. Yes but you should have seen them eat cereal out of a bathtub. It was classic!

      1. Obamacare, big...yeah! yeah! yeah!
        It's not small...no! no! no!

    2. That is one afternoon I would like to have lived inside Obama's skin. I wonder just how far Obama could have gone in humiliating them. I bet he could have easily had the Secret Service lick them both in a closet for a couple of hours without them objecting. Think he could have had them conduct the interview on their knees?

      Lyndon Johnson used to make his aides follow him into the bathroom and watch him take a shit while he met with them. I bet Obama could have gotten those two to wipe his ass.

      1. "...lick them both in a closet..."

        Well, depending on the agent(s) they might have enjoyed it a great deal.

  6. How many different ways are there to be a stenographer?

    1. Lets see. Shorthand, longhand...Voxsplaining.


  7. But did anyone actually believe them in the first place? It's Ezra Klein, even the people on his side know he's just a shill--even if they won't admit it.

    1. Exactly my question.

      I thought it was crystal clear from the pre-launch announcement that this was just another piece of the DemOp Media Complex.

      1. Exactly. SadBeard was too shitty of a writer and too much of a shill to work for Slate, for fuck's sake. Was he going to magically transform at Vox, shed his derpy Earthy form and shine?

    2. Clearly Shafer knows it and I doubt he is alone. The question is do Klein and Yglesias know it. I wonder how they rationalize when even people on their own side find them embarrassing.

  8. Vox is so incompetent it physically pains me. They published an article last week claiming that the act of being Muslim actually makes you less violent, and their argument was based on a 'study' that found that Muslim countries have lower homicide rates than non-Muslim countries.

    The problem is that Vox doesn't appear to have read the study. I actually went and looked at the study and noticed all of the homicide rates for majority Muslim countries were wrong. For example, they claimed that Niger had a homicide rate of 0.9 per 100,000 and that the fucking Sudan had a homicide rate of 0.3 per 100,000 - about 1/4th that of Canada.

    The Sudan's actual homicide rate is, according to various sources I found, between 10 and 25 (real numbers are hard to come by because the central government is grossly incompetent.) This doesn't even count the 300,000 people killed in the Darfur genocide because that was government mandated killing that doesn't get counted in homicide statistics.

    So the numbers Vox was using not only were between 1/30th and 1/80th of the actual Sudanese homicide rate, but it ignored the most famous genocide of the last decade and claimed the Sudan is safer than Canada. That's so horrifying incompetent I almost have no words.

    1. This is very typical. It's just like accepting that China has fewer prisoners than the U.S. or that Cuba's healthcare system is the envy of the world. Why anyone would accept the published statistics of totalitarian regimes without question is truly mind-boggling.

      1. There is a long tradition of that. US media spent the entire cold war breathlessly publishing Soviet economic statistics like they were true. This is why they were so shocked when the iron curtain fell. They thought it was just as good as the west and only war monger Republicans claimed otherwise.

        1. Whatever else one can say about government, there's no question that governments everywhere and at all levels, lie about most everything.

        2. The CIA did the same thing.

          1. And they were surprised as well. Yeah, the CIA was and continues to be utterly incompetent.

          2. "Simpsons did it!"

        3. I want to say it was in an afterword to a Heinlein book, that he basically said that, after a visit to the Soviet Union, he thought it was pretty obvious that they were nowhere near the superpower that the CIA and the West would have us believe.

          Its been awhile, so I'm very fuzzy on it, but as I recall it, one elderly fiction writer on a tour of Russia got it right, while a multibillion dollar agency got it comprehensively wrong.

          1. The CIA studied the soviet union by listening to its phone calls mostly. This is like trying to write a biography of a pathological liar by reading his mail.

            The problem with a system like the Soviet Union is they shot you for screwing up at your job. So naturally everyone lied. You lied to your boss who in turn never questioned your lies because it allowed him to lie to his boss and so on. If you just read the mail and listen to the phone calls, you would think everything is great.

            Something similar happened in their assessments of Iraq under Saddam. One of the reasons why they thought he had a lot more WMDs than he did was because Saddam's own people were telling Saddam that. It never occurs to the CIA that anyone would lie to their boss.

          2. It was completely in the CIA's budget interests to have the USSR perceived as powerfully as possible, dude. Come on. Of course they're going to pretend the Soviets were super powerful.

            1. Yes Episiarch. There was a lot of confirmation bias going on. If they admitted the Soviets were idiots and the whole place was falling apart, then their job wasn't very important anymore. So they wanted to see the Soviet Union as working and being a powerful enemy that wasn't going anywhere.

              1. By virtue of being a nuclear power, the Soviets were actually a threat...it wasn't just a fabrication of the CIA for budgetary reasons. I think that we're often a little too quick to call out people as lying who are merely wrong.

                Not to mention that the containment doctrine we followed in the Cold War was based on observations about the inherent weakness of the Soviet position in relation to economic reality. Analysts realized soon after WWII that the Soviets had a poor economic model. The problem is that the data collection we did to track their decline wasn't very good...which probably wasn't helped by our spies continually being exposed by moles like Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames (and subsequently removed). When you keep losing your people, it gets tougher to collect accurate data to analyze.


          3. Dude, Reagan got it right with no specialized knowledge whatsoever and he was mocked for how stupid he was to question the Known Wisdom.

            Reagan literally told a Soviet during a meeting that he knew they wouldn't be able to keep up with defense spending due to their economic issues, and the press criticized Reagan for being so 'naive.'

            1. That is because Reagan wasn't a socialist and knew that socialism couldn't work in the long run. A lot of people in even our own government and intelligence agencies were socialists or sympathetic to it such they thought it would work and work in some ways better than capitalism.

              Most people in the media and academia in the 60s and 70s assumed that socialism was the future and capitalism was inferior. It is easy to forget just what an outlier someone like Goldwater or Thatcher or Reagan were.

              1. Reagan had experience with the communists and socialists in Hollywood, so he knew what he was facing, especially the two-faced nature of lying leftists.

              2. Lee Edwards browsed Reagan's bookshelves, and was astonished to find dense works of political economy by authors such as Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek heavily underlined and annotated in Reagan's handwriting ..

                -- Hayward, The Age of Reagan

                The left characterized Reagan as a dottering fool, but the guy read and understood Hayek and Mises so well that he accurately predicted both the failure of the USSR and the cause of its failure while they remained utterly clueless.

          4. It's an article he wrote called 'Pravda means Truth' it goes with 'Inside Intourist' or vice versa

    2. I am sure that, if they ever correct it, they will do so surreptitiously and without questioning their conclusion whatsoever.

      1. "I am sure that, if they ever correct it, they will do so surreptitiously and without questioning their conclusion whatsoever."

        I wrote a blog post about it, sent a tweet to Vox telling them about the issue, and am actually going to email the post to Ezra Klein.

        The numbers are so wildly off base, that if Vox even wants to pretend it's credible (which at this point is an open question) they'd better issue some kind of correction.

        Not only that, but they really need to fire both Zack Beauchamp and Max Fisher. They both continuously write about Islam and the Middle East, despite having no discernible knowledge about either subject.

        1. Max Fisher? The kid from Rushmore?

          1. No, Max Fisher is the gibbering idiot who claimed that Jews living in Hebron is a recent development, when in actuality there have been Jewish communities in the area for like 2000 years uninterrupted.

              1. Oh, no. that won't do.

          2. Max Fisher? The Dead Detroit industrialist, capitalist pig?


        2. You mean to tell me that this fellow isn't someone I should be taking seriously?

          I forget which one, I think it was Zack, but one of them said there was a bridge from Gaza to the West Bank, and that Isreal had shut it down because they were meanies.

          And then, instead of issuing a correction just saying they were morons, they said "No, there's no bridge, but there WERE plans to build one. So there."

          1. Zack Beauchamp

            Zack writes about all of the things that are not American things. He previously edited a section on political thought at ThinkProgress and, before that, contributed to The Dish. It's pronounced BEE-chum.

            Real man of genius.

          2. For an assignment for a grad school class on cartography, I just used a Zack Beauchamp article as an example of an incompetently designed map that completely undermined the author's claims. My classmates were having trouble finding similar work, so I told them all to just surf Vox, because the analysis there is a special kind of stupid.


    3. That's so horrifying incompetent I almost have no words.

      there you and others go again. It's not incompetence as that assumes some effort at getting it right and screwing up. No, this sort of thing is on purpose, it is evil, and it is done with an outcome in mind.

      Just this week, Obama proclaimed the shooting deaths of several patrons of a Jewish market in Paris by an avowed jihadist as "random." As if it were a Chicago drive-by gone bad. It's not incompetence, it is malevolence.

      1. http://bit.ly/1rxSE7I

        correct isn't in the business model or something.

      2. It's not incompetence, it is malevolence.


      3. Obama's comments were intentional. Much of what Vox posts is just lazy blogging. They need to produce content, and the more inflammatory or unconventional the claim, the better.

        Muslims are actually less violent? That'll get attention, post it!

        1. I love how the one Vox idiot tweeted that the controversy over Obama's comments about the crusades is just about whether it is okay to hate Muslims. These guys are chasing peak retard hard.

          1. The problems with the Crusades argument is that it is a fact without meaning.

    4. It's a site of incompetent millenials with useless degrees acting as if they were knowledgable and had something to say because they know how to use Excel. And it was founded and run by such people. At least back at WaPo, Klein had a seasoned institution to back him up and wipe his butt for him. Vox is the lunatics running the asylum.

      And they probably have enough of an audience to endure. It's depressing.

  9. I don't know what VOX sells for revenue, but Obo ought to be paying large for that sort of PR spinning.

    1. You don't pay for the services of groupies. They give it to you for free.

  10. I'm not really old enough to remember Camelot. But I have never seen the press so blatantly in the pocket of the governing party as the last six years.

    1. They rewrote Camelot. They were not in the tank for Kennedy anything like this. They just didn't report on his being in really bad health and banging so many women. But that was just how the press was back then. The truth is Kennedy was at the time not that popular or successful of a President and most people gave him a less than even shot at being re-elected. It was only after he was murdered that they rewrote history and pretended it was Camelot.

    2. The 4th Estate is truly becoming another branch of government, and of course works closely and in tandem with the other branches. That's government for you.

      1. Yeah, so much for checks and balances. Well, there still may be checks, though of a different variety.

    3. Camelot?

      We're knights of the round table,
      We dance whene'er we're able.
      We do routines, and chorus scenes
      With footwork imp-e-cable.

      We dine well here in Camelot,
      We eat ham and jam and spam a lot.
      We're knights of the round table,
      Our shows are for-mid-able
      But many times,
      We're given rhymes,
      That are quite un-sing-able.

      We're opera mad in Camelot,
      We sing from the diaphragm a-lot!
      In war we're tough and able,
      Quite in-de-fa-ti-gable,
      Between our quests,
      Wear sequin vests and
      Impersonate Clark Gable.

      It's a busy life in Camelot:
      I have to push the pram-a-lot!

      1. Let us not go there - 'tis a silly place...

      2. It's only a model.

        1. Shhhh.

  11. But somehow this will all be forgotten when it comes time to throw lightly nudge Obama under the bus to get Hilary elected.

    1. Throw him to the BACK o' the bus! Cause they'll be puttin' ya'll BACK in chains!

      /Uncle Joe

    2. They'll just transfer their sycophantic behavior to her and everything will continue as before.

      1. At some point even the Soviets had to admit Stalin was a disaster. The way it usually works is when the party gets its ass handed to it, it is because this person failed. The party or the ideology are never wrong.

        You would think they would walk away from Obama to avoid being blamed for what a fuck up he has been. I am not sure they will. If they get their asses handed to them again in 2016, they will likely blame Hillary for not being more like Obama and running away from his glorious record. I am starting to think that they are so committed to this guy they have lost their survival instinct.

        1. How can they? They went way too far years ago. If they'd turned on him first term, maybe, but even our short-memoried population won't miss this one.

          I think they do what lefties have become very wont to do in recent years--double-down on stupid.

          1. I am starting to think you are right. Part of it is that Obama is such a perfect expression of identity politics. He is what every person like Klein would like to be. He is bi-racial. He grew up in exotic place and isn't particularly American. He went to Harvard. Since they judge everything and everyone by credentials and identity, they can't admit Obama is a disaster without admitting their ideal person is a disaster. And they won't ever do that. They are fucked.

      2. Gosh, won't that be fun to watch.

    3. I keep waiting for that to happen but it still hasn't. At some point, I figure the media will go after Obama full bore because they need to put some distance between him and Hillary and then need to hedge against a Republican winning in 2016. If they go after Obama after it no longer matters, they can then pretend like the first now going on seven years he was in office didn't happen and they are just treating the Republican like they did on Obama, whom they were so hard on.

      Yet, they haven't done it yet. I figured they would go after him after the midterms but they didn't. I am starting to wonder if maybe it won't happen. That maybe the media invested so much of their credibility in Obama and he is so much the kind of person they want to be that they won't turn on him even if it is necessary to get Hillary elected or save themselves.

      1. I don't think that they'll go after him. I think they will cast him as a trailblazer who worked against evil and who's achievements need to be protected from the Republican reactionaries. They just have too much of themselves invested in him emotionally to turn on him in that way. He'll be a martyr before he's made a target.

        1. It is looking more and more like you are right. If you are, the Democrats are fucked. A party can't come back from a bad President if they don't distance themselves from him and blame him for their problems. If their answer to Obama leaving office is to embrace him more, they are in a lot of trouble.

          1. To be sure, they'll bounce back quickly if they remain the only alternative to the GOP, and the GOP does stupid, unpopular things.

            1. You never know. I suspect however that the GOP unlike the Democrats learned from the Bush experience. It is possible they will nominate Jeb and go right back to being what they were, but I doubt it. I think they will more likely nominate Walker or Paul or someone who is completely different than Bush.

              Beyond that, it will take an epic fuck up to produce the results the Democrats need. An ordinary unpopular President might get them the White House and maybe a small majority in the Senate but it won't get them the House and it won't get them anything if they don't run someone who can at least pretend to be moderate.

              1. Beyond that, it will take an epic fuck up to produce the results the Democrats need. An ordinary unpopular President might get them the White House and maybe a small majority in the Senate but it won't get them the House and it won't get them anything if they don't run someone who can at least pretend to be moderate

                Nuh uh, the democrats will win every presidential election from now on because they will be decided by the happy-go-lucky nigruhs and the ixpanix and single women!


              2. Really, all the GOP needs to do is to start rolling back all of this excess government, radically cut spending (and individual and corporate taxes), rationalize our foreign and military policies, and otherwise get out of the fucking way.

                Sadly, I fear they are too much socialists and statists in their own right to do all of those things. A boom economy could really cement their power base, but that means letting go, which they've historically had trouble with.

                1. Ha, ha, ha. PL tell funny joke, yes?

                  Really, all the GOP needs to do is to start rolling back all of this excess government, radically cut spending (and individual and corporate taxes), rationalize our foreign and military policies, and otherwise get out of the fucking way.

                  1. I don't expect these things, but what else is going to get the economy out of neutral? If they do nothing, then we'll go back to the Dems, back to the GOP, and so on, until the collapse.

                    1. The thing is that Obama is so bad and the bar is so low, it won't take much to make a huge difference. If a Republican wins in 2016, he won't have to do a lot for things to noticeably improve.

                    2. Tax and regulatory reform has to be root and branch to make a difference.

                      Killing Ocare and just doing a basic corporate tax reform could be easy fixes, but I doubt the GOP will be able to do it. Back in power now, they want the spoils.

  12. "If only you could see der Furher through my eyes, you'd understand."

  13. No, what Vox teaches is how to sit on the knee of power

    Knee? Yeah, right.

    "Oh, Sir I can't bear to think of ruining that crease. Take those trousers off, and I'll just ease myself onto your incredible Presidential Manhood. Don't worry, I'll lick it clean when you've finished with me."

  14. my best friend's sister makes $61 hourly on the computer . She has been without a job for 8 months but last month her income was $15147 just working on the computer for a few hours. this page..............

    ????? http://www.netpay20.com

  15. "In the example of Klein and Yglesias, they're less interested in interviewing Obama than they are in explaining his policies pulling their own teeth out to provide the smoothest TEAM-Fellatio possible"

  16. one elderly fiction writer on a tour of Russia got it right, while a multibillion dollar agency got it comprehensively wrong.

    Heinlein probably never went to a single embassy soiree. How could he possibly know what was really happening?

    1. One thing the Cold War should've taught us was to assume nothing. Check and recheck basic facts when it comes to enemies and competing states. Heck, do that with everyone when it comes to government-produced information. You know, like unemployment figures or inflation.

      1. It is hard to think of a single thing our intelligence community got right in the cold war.

        1. Didn't think Kim would invade South Korea.
        2. Didn't think the French would lose in Indochina.
        3. Failed to understand that Ho Chi Mihn was a nationalist who would have abandoned communism for the right price.
        4. Failed to see Castro as a threat to overthrow Batiste until it was too late.
        5. Didn't know about the Soviet Sino split until years after it happened.

        Just to name a few off the top of my head.

        1. Thought Stalin was a swell ally.

        2. Failed to see the soviets getting the H-bomb.

          Failed to see the berlin wall coming down.

          Basically every major event in the 20th century was a surprise to our intelligence agencies.

  17. Ezra Klein doesn't care what you cynical right-wing racists think. He knows that President Obama is a good and honorable man who does whats best for this nation, and his asshole tastes like a buttered english muffin.

    1. Nyeh, nyeh, nyeh. We're just jealous because he got to speak to the President and we didn't.

      I'm pretty sure this is how they think.

  18. Y'all are all tearing into Klein and Yglesias as horrible partisan hacks, and you are correct. Consider this the next time you hear someone talking about a 'licensed press corps' because these two are exactly what the entire press corps would look like.

    1. That's ridiculous. They'd be the ones issuing the licenses.

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