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.

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  1. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler

    Martel (View Comment):

    Funeral Guy (View Comment):
    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.

    This is the focus here, in my opinion. Thanks for the post — excellent as usual.

    • #31
  2. Larry Koler Inactive
    Larry Koler

    drlorentz (View Comment):

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    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%.

    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.

    Hard to believe that the Newshour with Jim Lehrer is where it is. And what’s with the Wall Street Journal? Seems weird.

    • #32
  3. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):
    These Generation Z’ers are tech savvy, more conservative than Millennials, and most importantly they are tired of being intimidated into silence.

    I hope you’re right, but all this talk about Generation Z being a largely Republican counter to Millennials just reminds me too much of the talk 15-20 years ago that Hispanic immigrants were ‘natural conservatives’ due to their religiosity and initiative.

    That said, they’re our only real long-term hope, so we have to try to make the most of the opportunity.



    • #33
  4. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    Martel: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.

    I think the social media Leftist have overtaken the traditional elites in news and entertainment media in importance-CNN’s implosion and Disney’s decline are welcome, but the real Leftist behemoths are the likes of Facebook and Google (Youtube), and others I only hear about from my nieces and nephews.

    • #34
  5. drlorentz Member

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    Hard to believe that the Newshour with Jim Lehrer is where it is. And what’s with the Wall Street Journal? Seems weird.

    First, keep in mind that the QJE paper was published in 2005, so the data was gathered over a period of years before 2005. This is especially significant for the WSJ since it was before Murdoch’s News Corporation bought it. Also, the rating only refers to the news division, as the authors explain:

    One surprise is the Wall Street Journal, which we find as the most liberal of all twenty news outlets. We should first remind readers that this estimate (as well as all other newspaper estimates) refers only to the news of the Wall Street Journal; we omitted all data that came from its editorial page. If we included data from the editorial page, surely it would appear more conservative.

    Second, some anecdotal evidence agrees with the result. For instance, Irvine and Kincaid [2001] note that “The Journal has had a long-standing separation between its conservative editorial pages and its liberal news pages.” Sperry [2002] notes that the news division of the Journal sometimes calls the editorial division “Nazis.” “Fact is,” Sperry writes, “the Journal’s news and editorial departments are as politically polarized as North and South Korea.”[24]

    Third, a recent poll from the Pew Research Center indicates that a greater percentage of Democrats, 29 percent, say they trust the Journal than do Republicans, 23 percent. Importantly, the question did not say “the news division at the Wall Street Journal.” If it had, Democrats surely would have said they trusted the Journal even more, and Republicans even less.[25]

    The Sperry reference is to an article published in 2002 entitled Myth of the Conservative Wall Street Journal. A lot can change in 15 years.

    • #35
  6. LawrenceKemp Coolidge

    Yeah… “a joke and a smile” sounds nice, but it doesn’t work when a lot of America believes Republicans/conservatives are evil, and have believes such for at least 30 years. I know that “turning the other cheek” is a popular strategy, but it only works when the public can see that the person attacking you is in the wrong. Otherwise, you’re a doormat, enabling your attackers to further denigrate you and make you look weak-willed. This causes people whose worldviews align much better with the Republican Party to abandon it, either for the Democrat party or for ineffectual third parties. It’s a bad tactic, and needs to be replaced with other tactics.

    For all of President Trump’s narcissism and political inexperience, he’s doing what the people who have no voice have wanted those in the public spotlight to do: fight back. The people wanting this are the people who watched their loved ones’ lives ruined for a belief that is seen as mean and harsh. They’ve tried to teach the next generation about personal responsibility and work ethic, and were branded bigot, racist, or xenophobe. They’re afraid of being beaten up or run out for having a view that maintains the American spirit. They’ve run for office, only to be beaten out by big money interests who want to keep this perverted status quo. They’ve voted for representatives who’ve betrayed them. They’re looking for that leader who can champion their values, much like Ronald Reagan did.

    Yes, President Trump is far more aggressive than he should be, but then I also hear complaints when Steve Deace calls pundits liars to their face, Dana Loesch makes an NRA ad condemning violence, or Steven Crowder bluntly attacks the crazy culture taking over, and they’re respectful when they do it. You have to be strong and stand up for yourself, and yeah, people are going to accuse you of being aggressive even when you’re really just being assertive. But that pales in comparison to the people who feel relieved that someone is standing up for their values, even if they don’t completely align. Dennis Prager is right; there is a culture war going on, and it’s time to take responsibility.

    There are other ways to assertively and aggressively fight against the currently overwhelming tide that threatens to turn the United States into a carbon-copy of Europe, but it’s on you to find your own style and the resolve to use it. I know I’m going to try. Who knows? Maybe one of us will be that leader we need, if only at a local level.

    • #36
  7. Hypatia Inactive

    blood thirsty neocon (View Comment):

    Martel (View Comment):

    Larry Koler (View Comment):

    Martel: 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

    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 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.

    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.

    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.

    Your last sentence is exactly on point!  During the campaign all the doctors and lawyers and accountants I knew were for Trump–and so they voted, which is the important thing– but they didnt want to talk about it except among like-minded friends.  There were no groups, Lawyers for Trump! Doctors for Trump! Etc. Even  now he’s won, well, we don’t want to lose business.

    This is the reason it looked like the professional classes were not on board and the primaries, and the general, were such a surprise.

    We do have “social and financial capital”.  Expending the financial, no problem, we can do that in privacy.  But our clients and our colleagues need to see, publicly,

    that we,

    who’ve earned their respect and trust,

    respect, trust and support our president.

    But rising above the swamp of subterfuge and shame is not easy. Our “social capital” as you aptly put it, largely remains stashed away.

    • #37
  8. cdor Member

    Kate Braestrup (View Comment):
    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?

    Your question probably has already been answered. Just in case it hasn’t, @katebraestrup, the answer is…..It depends on what Party Trump’s successor represents. If a Democrat, they will have no problem with the press. If a Republican, they will no doubt have already been “teached” and know to win they must fight.


    Edit: should have looked ahead…the answer was obvious, and your question was probably moot.

    • #38
  9. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash

    Rightfromthestart (View Comment):
    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,

    Visualized in this video that’s shown up since the CNN blackmail attempt. I think its from Bloodsport.

    • #39
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