If you replay the video, and listen under Stephanopoulos’ interruption, this is point Koppel was trying to get across:
“And I think there is just a small but significant fraction of Americans for whom…the truth in this instance is never going to matter.”
Which sounds like a small thing, but for me it was almost a cultural event, because it is almost the only time in my memory when a Big Time Newscritter sat in front of a camera and called bullshit on some specific, identifiable group other than “bureaucratsinwashington” or “liberalelites”.
Because in Stephanopoulos’ world (as in fairy tales of old) knowing and using the True Name of things comes with the possibility of dire fucking consequences, and so one must never, ever, ever, ever, ever call the 27%-ers out by their True Name lest All Conservative Hell break loose.
And so, in Stephanopoulos’ world the 27%-ers are people who have merely been somehow bamboozled by the medium through which the message passes.
They are innocent naifs, bedazzled by Teh Sparkly Internets.
The inhabitants of Stephanopoulos’ world will never come within a million miles of even forming their mouths to say the words “Jesse Helms was a despicable, racist motherfucker who stayed in power for as long as he did because his supporters and admirers were and are despicable, racist motherfuckers, one and all.”
Instead, the inhabitants of Stephanopoulos’ world believe that on the occasion of the death of this evil man we should toddle down to the Piggly Wiggly and buy some brand of Kiwi shoe polish powerful enough, to buff this turd of a human being to a shine high enough, so that he can be buried under a gooey, compromise word like “Controversial” or “Provocative”.
But Koppel — admittedly in the weakest, most tepid way possible — was trying to at least hint at the terrible truth that dare not be spoken, because its implications are so enormous.
The truth that, fundamentally, it’s not that our courts that are broken. Not our roads and bridges. Not our schools.
Not something from which science or engineering or manufacturing will rescue us. Not something we can figure out, prototype and then make a fortune selling a million units for a buck apiece.
Because it is we ourselves that are broken.
When I look at Dubya’s poll numbers staying absolutely dead-level week after week after week regardless of what he has fucked up this week, or how badly, I learn nothing new about George W. Bush. But A-B-Cs behind just about everything else I need to know about America stand painfully revealed. Those numbers confirm for me for the unmpteenth time that inside the mushy skulls of the 27%-ers there is nothing but a hatbox of junk machine parts, still twitching and clattering mindlessly along on corrupted software that was already obsolete before men walked on the Moon.
The 27%-ers are slugs madly fighting for the right to jump into the salt bucket and drag us all down with them, and any solution to the problems that vex us must begin with their grotesquely mutant versions of patriotism, economics, virtue and civilization being discredited, sequestered and driven into oblivion.
Our first, great, national problem is that our fellow citizens — in their millions — are damaged beyond repair.
Amen, Brother Driftglass.