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When It’s Not Punching Down
Although a weaponized bureaucracy, academia, and pop culture are also in the running, with good reason most of us believe that media bias is the single biggest advantage the Left has over conservatism. Bush lied to get us into Iraq. Sarah Palin was a moron. Romney was a heartless vulture capitalist. The 2008 economic crisis was capitalism’s fault and had nothing to do with government overreach. Bush’s mistakes during Katrina show how racist he was and caused the deaths of thousands while Mayor Nagin’s and Governor Blanco’s ridiculous behavior isn’t even worth mentioning. The only Republicans who aren’t motivated by hate for the poor, gays, immigrants, women, minorities, and Mother Earth are backwards idiots who take the Bible too seriously. All of these beliefs and countless others have been adopted by large swaths of our population, and every one of them was advanced with the help of the mainstream media.
One can only imagine how different Washington would look today were the media merely fair. Of course, I’d love for CNN to have ferociously sought to destroy Lois Lerner instead of politically incorrect rodeo clowns, but had our esteemed Fourth Estate simply gone after Lois and the clown with equal fervor, we’d still be doing far better electorally. Note how much better we do in state and local elections where the national media has far less sway.
Yet after losing the 2016 elections, balance has hardly been hardly been restored to the national press. Whatever the current administration might attempt or accomplish regarding education, trade, regulation, or foreign policy, the press has only reported on Russia, Russia, tweets, Russia, Russia, awkward handshakes, and how greedy the President is with ice cream. Not only does this drive the narrative in ways similar to other eras, it’s had the tangible effect of resulting in an independent counsel that is likely to hound the President and his administration for the duration of his term, requiring them to devote energy and attention to disprove the existence of wrongdoing that exists only in the minds of his most fervent opponents.
So what is to be done? Aware of the problem, one of Ricochet’s esteemed contributors suggests the following:
And yes, of course Republicans get more biased coverage from most outlets than Democrats, but Trump should be able to shrug that off with a joke and a smile.
Indeed, a joke and a smile. I’m sure there were plenty of smiles in the White House at the absurdity of “Bush lied, people died” and how no reasonable person could believe such a thing. Romney was merely mildly perturbed at Candy Crowley unfairly ambushing him at the foreign policy debate, but he bravely took his knocks, soldiered on, and look at how well that worked out for him! After all, when our high school daughter gets too distraught at the rumors Kaitlyn keeps spreading about her, don’t we encourage her to ignore the unfairness of it all, focus on doing the right thing, and getting good grades so that she can get into Stanford where the opinions of fools like Kaitlyn and the people who listen to her will no longer matter?
However, we live in a democratic republic where people vote. Politics isn’t a high school where the smart kids can just leave the opinions of idiots behind them, it’s a high school in which the students vote on whether somebody gets into Stanford or not (or even gets to graduate), GPA and extracurricular activities be damned. In this world, when Kaitlyn spreads rumors, those rumors don’t just keep Brandon from asking Melissa to prom, they determine whether Melissa gets expelled. The media is Kaitlyn, and Kaitlyn’s big mouth does serious damage. Consistently.
Thus, the aforementioned “aw shucks, reporters are just like that” attitude may strike us as eminently mature, and taking others’ opinions and insults with a grain of salt indeed stands as an effective and mature way to lead one’s life when those opinions don’t objectively matter much. In the case of politics, they matter too much to ignore, and the media has sway over those opinions.
We can differ in good faith on the tactics we should employ to fight the media, but a “shrug it off with a joke and a smile” attitude indicates a disinclination to employ any tactics at all. Although I find Trump’s tactics to be effective (at least far more effective that any national Republican in living memory, save perhaps Reagan), if you believe he should fight differently or more intelligently, I’ll be willing to hear you out, so long as I know you know we need to fight.
But if instead of suggesting he modify his Twitter strategy you suggest he basically ignore the problem of a hostile press, it tells me you’ve learned nothing from the failed strategies of the Bushes, Romney, and countless other decent men and women who’ve lost horribly in the court of public opinion. You’re not just criticizing Trump’s tactics, you’d criticize any tactics other than “respect for the free press” (that refuses to respect you) and coming up with better slogans for reporters to twist and misrepresent.
Whether or not Trump brings on some of his problems with the media himself (did Bush?), only the most naïve among us could possibly believe that if Trump just acted with more dignity he wouldn’t have problems with the media, or that his problems with the media wouldn’t ultimately matter in the court of public opinion like they have every other time a Republican has taken the national stage. No matter our opinions on how we need to solve this problem, it’s time we agree it’s a problem we’ve got to solve, that it’s a bigger issue than personal insults we can transcend by being dignified.
The attitude epitomized by “shrug that off with a joke and smile” is no longer relevant for us and our movement, and that so many of our opinion leaders still think that way is one of the biggest reasons so many of us find it hard to find common ground with them any more.Published in Journalism
Totally mature, and this will be totally ignored by the crowd who wants to be liked by the popular kids.
Oddly (at least, it feels odd) I’m inclined to agree with you, Martel. Not because of you, that is, but because of Trump. He’s just so…Trump.
When I talk to progressive friends about Trump, they express their loathing and desire for impeachment… and I say something like “well, if Trump is impeached, you get Pence,” and they…express their loathing and desire for the impeachment of Pence. In other words, it really doesn’t matter who the Republican president is: the progressives would be after him. Some (Rubio, Kasich) would care what the MSM said about them. Would try to reason with them. Would try to “get the message out.” Fruitless, of course, so Trump doesn’t bother. He just messes with the press. Toys with them and torments them, and makes them look like idiots.
What will this do in the long term? Will the next president have to be Trumpish? Will the MSM be sufficiently chagrined by the experience of dealing with Trump to greet his successor with relief and respect?
Sure, if he’s a Democrat. Not so much any Republican.
This is the crux of the divide that we and the NT elites stare across. They think this is a debate of ideas and given time and historians we will be proven right even if it’s after we are all dead. Some of us just can’t seem to wait, I guess. Thank God for Trump that he is on our side.
When these people tell us that we shouldn’t fight the media (they buy ink by the barrel, after all) it isn’t as if they have a clever strategy that would be negatively affected by others’ meddling in the work of real grownups with real principles and decorum and decency. No, they really don’t want to have this fight and it’s not that they disagree with our methods — it’s that they disagree with the idea, with the goal itself. I think some just have given up and joined ’em since they can’t lick em.
This is what these people have really done but won’t say it, right? Their lives are stable and they don’t want people to mess with their income and they sure don’t want any sleepless nights.
Only if he/she is a Democrat. Otherwise, kill the heretic by a thousand cuts.
We will forever more need a candidate who is wise as a fox. Wearing brass knuckles on each hand with media names on each ringlet (metaphorically speaking). Viva La Trump
At the risk of threadjacking a really good post, I feel compelled to point out that those same fools are there at Stanford and every other college. College girls used to be high school girls.
Trump is at the center of a counter-cultural movement. CNN has kicked the bee’s nest of the young, anti-PC right. If you want to unleash the fury of a million memes, blackmail one anonymous memer on Reddit. The rest will come for you. Check out these anti-CNN memes on Reddit. You can’t find a positive word about CNN on Reddit. I realize that many on Ricochet will find these memes sophomoric, but what do you expect? They were created by sophomores. These Generation Z’ers are tech savvy, more conservative than Millennials, and most importantly they are tired of being intimidated into silence. They don’t take this intimidation with good humor, and neither should we. There’s blood in the water. It’s time to move in for the kill (speaking metaphorically).
If they manage to get Trump thrown out, I expect they’d be more emboldened than ever and give Pence an even shorter honeymoon than Trump had.
I think if we could implement conservatism without ruffling any feathers, risking posh jobs and social status, or getting called any nasty names, lots of them would be on board.
But the process of turning things around is bound to be somewhat unpleasant, or even risky. However, an election or two down the road, things will always be better. So they’ll always be willing just a little bit later, but never today.
This hole is deep. That makes it hard to realize what winning looks like. But it is happening. Stay the course. The traditional methods used by those seeking the truth have been corrupted and possibly cannot be restored except through a free market approach that confirms their irrelevance. President Trump is showing us how this can be done. Let’s just not spread our efforts too thin. Work the media and public education and a couple of legislative tracks to undo some of what has been inflicted. The Democrats, left to their own devices, will implode since there’s really nothing there.
Winning back the culture will take a group effort. We need to crowd fund conservative gadflies who stand up the the totalitarian PC left. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who read this post have decent jobs and above average incomes. We need to use our social and financial capital to make it non-ruinous to stand up to the left. There is no other way.
This is not a policy fight. This is about how we will be governed. Once how we do things is settled, a discussion of what to do can be civil.
Andy Ngo, young conservative freelance journalist in the People’s Republic of Oregon, was fired by his university newspaper for reporting the crazy statements of a Muslim at a public panel. People like this need our support. At very least, follow him on twitter.
For pleasure and instruction https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/07/06/4chanpol-declares-the-great-meme-war-of-2017/. Many have thought that Trump’s vulgar responses were unbecoming the president. I think that if some leader is to successfully fight back against the media, that leader needs to use the tools which are most effective. One of those tools involves bluntly, rudely mocking the media, highlighting its deceit and hypocrisy. We have yet to see leaders effectively neutralize the destructive agenda of the media using the style which the establishment would endorse.
I’m in a house with two 14 yr old boys. Both conservative with no filter and a serious disdain for their would be oppressors….. the media and the democrats.
This makes me think of my musings lately on the filibuster. I think the Senate should get rid of it now. A filibuster is a slowing feature where impulses can be tamped down a bit. But, it assumes people of good faith and that the people in the Senate believe in the American project and the Constitution. We don’t have that now with most of the Dems — they are not acting in good faith and can’t be trusted with any power and the filibuster is a return of power to the minority factions in gesture of good faith and trust.
Once we have a Senate mostly filled with pro-American people then we should consider having it again — but we are decades away from that.
Modern day Boy Scouts :) May they live long and prosper.
That’s an assertion that is yet to be proved. I think skepticism should be the order of the day when it comes to predicting behavior in the future. After all, some of the smartest minds predicted an emerging Democratic majority, and we got Obama and Republican control of the Congress (one cheer for divided government).
That’s actually kind of an interesting proposal. But maybe it needs a little more structure. Eliminate the filibuster, with an announced reinstatement in 10 years. Long enough that nobody really knows who will have control of the senate then (or in between), but short enough that it won’t be completely forgotten.
Of course, it’ll never happen…
Those who’ve been around here for a while may remember Tim Groseclose, Ricochet contributor and economics professor. Back in 2005, he and a colleague published a paper on media bias in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (QJE). The PDF was once available online for free but I can’t seem to find it at the moment. The ideas in this paper were expanded into a book: Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind.
In their paper, Groseclose and Milyo note that
Elsewhere, Groseclose has made the case that this media bias has electoral effects. The following graph from the QJE paper illustrates the leftward movement of American politics by plotting the ADA scores (Americans for Democratic Action, a lefty organization that rates politicians) of members of Congress. Even though the data only cover through 1999, the authors say that “any conclusions that we make for this period should also hold for the 2000–2004 period, since in the latter period the House and Senate had almost identical party ratios.”
drlorenz, you beat me to the punch about Groseclose. He was interviewed by Peter Robinson here, for anyone interested in more information. Groseclose estimated that media bias gives Democrats an electoral advantage of 8-10%.
Martel, I like what you say. What worries me is the parallel to the decline and fall of the Roman Republic — from the Gracchi, to Marius, to Sulla, to Catiline, to Pompey, and finally to Caesar. Both sides of the political debate seemed to move in a bad direction, because it worked, and the result was five centuries of Empire.
I guess what I see is that the press/MSM thinks that THEY should run the country. They seem to feel that only they are wise enough to know the TRUTH. And, of course, they are also in charge of what should be considered “Truth”, too. It is remarkable when you realize that most of them have done nothing real in their lives. They went to college, and then they started being newsreaders. And the ones who have the biggest voices all live in huge metropolitan areas and do not even rub shoulders with anyone who doesn’t work in their field.
And the idea that only a Democratic president will get any positive coverage has so far seemed to be correct in my life…I’m kind of old, too.
I was reading FB posts of some hippy liberals I’m friends with during the inauguration. They had their kids out there against their will protesting Trump. Indoctrination is second nature to the left. We have to raise our kids to resist leftist intimidation. It sounds like your boys are already with the program.
This is why we need to dump the NT elites and get that type of person out of influence in the party — they are really hurting the country. This is also proof that the country is center-right and that the elections and policies and laws and judges should reflect that instead of this pastiche of hard leftists in critical positions of government.
I’m not sure I like this because I want to see a change to the country first. But, interesting point….
Excellent article, like Briebart I’m among those who has been saying for decades that the press is the main enemy and for that long I’ve wanted a President who gets up everyday and kicks the media right in the groin, who loves to just drive them crazy, Trump is forcing them to reveal their arrogance, ignorance and stupidity on a daily basis. I can’t recall ever having this much fun.
In dealing with the media there has to be a middle ground between the whipped puppy dog who only wants the occasional bone, the battered wife who always thinks things will get better because “well…he promised…” and the guy like Trump who fights back but in the end is his own worst enemy.
A valid point, and I think that part of what so many of us like about Trump, is that with all the flaws and apparent missteps, he’s so much better than what came before.
Trump has some serious trolling skills, but trolling alone won’t cut it. However, although quiet dignity as you lose has it’s place, it’s been drastically overused by the GOP for the last few decades.
Yes, there’s middle ground, and we’re going to differ over where that is.
Still, let’s all recognize we have a serious problem here, and that we need to get a lot better at solving it.
Thanks for the link to the interview. I probably remembered his media bias electoral advantage from that interview. Here’s a link to a post about Right Turn from 2011 that discusses some of the controversy the book stirred up.
If anyone is interested in the chart Groseclose showed in the interview, it comes from the QJE paper.