The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

The New Republic has figured all our problems out: “¿What’s the Problem with ‘the Media’? We’re Too Darn Good”

As e’eryone knows, my favorite genre o’ news article is that genre o’ porn known as self-masturbation. Newspapers writers ( or the editors who force them to write these articles or they won’t get the Twix candy bars they get as their salary ), lacking any semblance o’ self-awareness, wonder all the time why people aren’t taking their “news” seriously while rewarding their loyal readers with faces full o’ cum. Well, ¡get your spoons, folks, ’cause we’re digging right in! This is “We Have Two Medias in This Country, and They’re Going to Elect Donald Trump” from some newspaper called The New Republic. Man, I wish we had a new republic, but I get the feeling that their name is a reference to how the US felt new 2 centuries ago.

It’s often asked in my circles: Why isn’t Joe Biden getting more credit for his accomplishments? As with anything, there’s no single reason.

If this writer were as smart as they think they are, they would follow this inane question not by throwing out a bunch o’ answers that sound like they make sense, strewn o’ any evidence, but with their own questions: ¿“credit by whom” & “credit for what”? Obviously Biden isn’t going to get credit from right-wing media, whose express purpose is to make him look bad. This has always been the case & has ne’er been a full stop to Democrats winning in the past. ¿Does this writer not remember how Obama was blamed for a recession his Republican predecessor had caused? If anything, there are far mo’ Democrats defensive o’ Biden than of Obama — probably due to being mo’ sensitive to the prospect o’ losing to Trump after scoffing @ the idea back in 2016. To put it into perspective, Ralph Nader, who infamously ran as a 3rd-party candidate to deliberately siphon off votes from the Democratic party as a form o’ going on strike, has said he will support Biden ’cause he prefers “autocracy” — which, weirdly, in his mind, don’t suppress votes or suppress freedom o’ speech, which sounds exactly what actual autocracies do — to fascism. ( If Nader had a better grasp o’ words he’d have maybe been able to come closer to a mo’ accurate term to describe mainstream US politics, like “oligarchy”, which is not as authoritarian as autocracy, but not quite democracy ).

Inflation is a factor.

It should be noted that while Biden did help pass bills that ameliorated inflation, he also insisted in following decorum tradition in keeping Trump’s shitty head o’ the Federal Reserve, who has been trying to sabotage the possibility o’ wages keeping up with inflation. Perhaps we could talk ’bout the media’s terrible framing o’ inflation, inflating its own importance when in sexy grand #s, while ignoring the fact that wages have been barely keeping ’bove inflation for decades.

But there is one overwhelming factor in play: the media.

Underpinning this whole article is 1 major fallacy: that “media” — which is so vague it’s practically meaningless, specially as the internet has opened up all avenues as potential forms o’ propaganda, but I’m going to take, given the clues this article offers, as newspapers, or as young people call it, “dying media” or “irrelevant media” — plays a vital role in election’s outcomes. There’s a good reason for this fallacy: it can be nonfalsifiably defended, as one can easily scrounge up a ’scuse, no matter what the papers say, that what the papers said made people think howe’er they think. The fact that the media — which, to its credit, is a’least not gullible ’nough to fall for e’en Trump — has been warning gainst Trump for years, only for him to win in 2016, doesn’t matter, ’cause bad news is good news, & this only made people like him mo’ thru o’erexposure, somehow. Ne’er mind that the vast, vast majority o’ Trump fans don’t read The New York Times. It’s widely acknowledged that Trump’s win in 2016 was mo’ a loss for Clinton: the culprit was a low turnout by Democrats, people who are much mo’ likely to read The New York Times. You’d think all these warnings would’ve induced them to get out & vote if we assumed that e’en the majority o’ Democrats let themselves be inspired by The New York Times. If we reject this assumption, we get a much simpler picture — both to Trump’s victory & to The New York Times’s falling #s.

Or rather, the two medias.

In fact, there are many mo’ medias if one isn’t geriatric & ventures beyond only the few richest o’ newspapers or TV channels.

At the same time, as a culture, it’s consistently obsessed with who “won the day,” while placing far less value on the fact that the civic and democratic health of the country is nurtured through practices such as deliberation, compromise, and sober governance.

This is a remarkable statement in how contradictory it is to the central thesis o’ this article. Later on he will assert that the problem is that “the media” is too obsessed with both-sidesing e’erything — which is essentially refusing to call any side ( well, any o’ the 2 officially-accepted rich, powerful sides ) a winner.

“Deliberation, compromise, and sober governance” are so vague, they’re basically just empty superlatives. Right-wingers are very sober & deliberate when they are exploiting people’s superstitious bigotries to divide & conquer them. As for “compromise” — ¿compromise with whom? As this article will admit many times, the media has done a great job o’ compromising with bigots while speaking on various topics like Israel vs. Palestine or Venezuela’s political issues with the subtlety o’ a Jack Chick comic. ¿Was Thomas Friedman, longtime writer for The New York Times, & thus very much o’ the traditional, not the fringe right-wing, media, evoking “compromise” when he told Muslims to, & I quote, “suck on this in reference to the US’s illegal war gainst Iraq?

Let me begin by discussing these two medias. The first, of course, is what we call the mainstream media: The New York Times, The Washington Post, the major (non-Fox) news networks, a handful of other newspapers and magazines. This has also been known as the “agenda-setting media,” because historically, that’s what they did: Whatever was the lead story in The New York Times that day filtered down, through the wire services and other delivery systems, to every newspaper and television and radio station in the United States.

Uh huh. Totally correct. Literally e’ery newspaper, including all the li’l local newspapers, just straight-up take their news from The New York Times. Awfully nice o’ them not to sue all these agencies for plagiarism. For instance, I’m sure this Democracy Now interview that describes the governments o’ Iran & Syria as the “Axis of Resistance” came straight from The New York Times. Similarly, Counterpunch’s lovely article, “Where are Marx and Lenin When We Need Them?” showing a hilarious painting o’ Karl Marx looking depressed as fuck, came straight from the Bezos Post — or a’least that’s what my uncle told me he read on Social Truth o’er Thanksgiving.

My biggest question: if a few small newspapers like The New York Times & The Washington Post held the “historical” role o’ essentially monopolizing the media & “setting agenda” — which is a nice way o’ enforcing beliefs — like communist dictators, — which is this writer’s inane claim, not mine, remember — ¿would that not have been just as “tragic for democracy”, as this writer claimed earlier was an upcoming threat? I don’t know ’bout this writer, but where I come from democracies don’t have their entire agenda decided by a tiny minority o’ large organizations but allow things like free thought. Luckily that’s not the case & this idiotic writer is just spewing right-wing conspiracy theories &, in actual fact, nobody gives a shit what The New York Times says.

Then there’s an avowedly right-wing propaganda network. This got cranked up in the 1970s, when conservatives, irate over what they (not incorrectly) saw as a strong liberal bias in the mainstream media, decided to build their own.

Here’s a golden rule for knowing what one’s political leanings are, regardless o’ what they say in some sad attempt to crank the overton window: if one thinks the media is biased on 1 side, one is biased on the other side. Nobody who is taken serious within the left-wing community considers the media to be left-wing any mo’ than anyone who is taken serious within the right-wing community considers the media to be right-wing ( the fact that this writer probably isn’t taken seriously by either, or by anyone, is a different story… ).

Note, ’course, that nowhere in this article does this writer provide any evidence o’ this “not incorrect” liberal bias, which would get this writer a pretty nasty grade in my high school. I guess my high school just had higher standards than The New Republic.

Rupert Murdoch bought the New York Post. In the 1980s, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon started The Washington Times. In the 1990s, right-wing talk radio exploded (enabled, in part, by a 2–1 decision by a judicial panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals making the Fairness Doctrine discretionary; those judges were Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork). Then the Fox News Channel was launched.

Anyone who has e’er watched Citizen Kane, much less knows the history o’ yellow journalism & how rich owners o’ newspapers like Hearst & Pulitzer ( the fact that they named an award for “good” journalism after a propagandist hack tells you all you need to know ’bout what a sham “good” journalism is ) spewed propaganda to deliberately stoke war with Spain to conquer Cuba, knows that newspapers being vessels for propaganda is as ol’ as time itself.

Also, there’s an inherent contradiction to this story: you just claimed that the media was liberal biased, but then say that the Fairness Doctrine, which pressured the media to take a balanced approach to issues ( how well this could be done, given the subjectivity o’ what a “balanced” approach is, — many bizarrely consider being 100% pro-Israel & anti-Palestine or being explicitly pro-capitalist & anti-socialist to be “centrist” views in the US ( & only the US ), for instance — is a different story ), & imply that it was effective. But if ’twere effective, the media would have been balanced, not “liberal biased”.

Back then, even with the launch of Fox, the mainstream media was much larger and more influential than the right-wing media. If the mainstream media was a beachball, the right-wing media was the size of a golf ball.

Today? They’re about the same size. In fact, the right-wing media might finally be bigger.

That’s OK, ’cause both are dwarfed by some high-school dropout “influencer”’s X account.

The success of the right-wing media is by and large due to the way they speak in lockstep, with one voice, and the way they push one very partisan agenda. They promote Republicans and conservatives, and they say nothing good ever about Democrats or liberals (exception: people who go off the reservation and willingly foul the Democratic-liberal nest, like Joe Manchin or some liberal academic or talking head who turns right, like Glenn Greenwald). Their guiding ethos is not journalistic but political: to advance one party and creed and work their readers and viewers into a constant state of agitation about the other party and creed.

Meanwhile, when New York Times writers refuse to support Israel in their race war gainst Palestine, they “resign”, that’s ’cause the New York Times is totally tolerant o’ differing viewpoints & definitely don’t push 1-sided, right-wing political views.

Sure, they’re “liberal,” in two senses. First, their editorial pages typically endorse Democrats. And second, they are culturally liberal, because they are mostly based in big cities and their staffs include lots of LGBTQ people, for example, and precious few evangelical Christians.

Yeah, we all know long-time writers like Ross Douthart aren’t Christian fanatics who defend homophobes, & we all know The New York Times’s great track record with LGBTQ+ people, given that major open letter protesting their transphobia ( which their owner replied to with mafia-style veiled threats ). But as this writer has it, allowing LGBTQ+ people to exist within their halls is practically going full Karl Marx. Perhaps the problem is the writer who internalizes & parrots the right-wing propaganda that tolerating gay people’s existence is just as “biased” as wanting them dead.

When The New York Times or CNN or MSNBC gets a scoop about serious corruption in the Biden administration, they pursue the lead and, if verified, report it.

Right, like when CNN lied & claimed that Biden ended his own student loan repayment policy, not the supreme court.

So, to the loud and bumptious anti-Biden chorus that blames him for everything bad, there is no equally loud and bumptious pro-Biden answering chorus speaking as one and giving him credit for everything good.

You’ve clearly ne’er been on /r/politics. ’Gain, there’s no such thing as liberal media — well, ’cept for “mainstream” media, which is liberally-biased ’cause they don’t fire all gay people & only spread bigoted lies ’bout trans people half the time, but treat mediocre Democrat president evenly with insurrectionist Republican presidents. ¿Daily Kos? Ne’er heard o’ ’em. It’s embarrassing that this writer’s revealing their lack o’ knowledge o’ any media beyond the most basic & trying to present it as “wisdom”.

¿Why should it matter that much how well these newspapers treat equally rich & powerful white men like Biden & Trump? ¿How does these various newspapers treat working class people or Palestinian civilians or trans people?

And with respect to economics specifically, the imbalance is made worse by the fact that the mainstream business press, as Tim Noah pointed out not long ago, tends to accentuate the negative and see bad news nearly always coming around the corner.

That & they’re ignorant o’ the complexities o’ economics & will accept whate’er some salesman economist like Paul Krugman says uncritically.

It is blatant to me how much this writer is deliberately ignoring factors. When talking ’bout demographics like “not hating LGBTQ+ people”, urban, & the vague term “culturally liberal”, ¿how do you not list the economic status o’ the people who run these papers when talking ’bout skewed economic perspectives? ¿Is it because that would mean this pretend leftist — or “liberal”: I’m not sure if this writer considers “liberal” to be separate from “leftist”, as some people think; but if they do, that would make the term “liberal-biased” weird, as it would leave a giant question mark where leftists would fall: in such a circumstance “liberal-biased” would seem to be a pejorative for “centrist-biased” — would have to critically analyze the US’s very-much-pro-rich economy using actual left-wing ideas, & not just, “well, inflation’s lower than expected, so there’s no reason the average working class person should complain that they’ll still have to work 40 hours as a menial worker drone till they’re in their 60s while others get rich lying to people”.

Most reporters know that they are personally pretty liberal, so they overcompensate for that.

Sorry, let me fix that: “Most reporters know that they are personally rich, white, & cis, so they’re equally biased in favor o’ their material interests as Republicans”.

Most of them went to elite schools and have maybe never known a Southerner or an evangelical, so they overcompensate for that as well.

¿Do they o’ercompensate for their ignorance & lack o’ class interests with the urban working class or religions that are not the dominant religion in the US, like Muslims, too? ¿Why does this writer think there has ne’er been a rich Southerner or evangelical or that these people have ne’er been to elite schools? Clearly this writer has ne’er gone to an elite school, ’cause they are unbelievably stupid if they expect anyone with a brain to think “Southerns” ( which, when used in this context, only e’er includes white people: e’en tho southern states like Mississippi & Georgia have ’mong the highest ratio o’ black populations, black southerners might as well be imaginary people to these ignorant journalists ) & evangelicals are the most victimized minorities in the US. This person is literally just regurgitating the most inane, obviously false right-wing lies e’er & pretending to be fighting gainst right-wing lies while doing so.

That’s what gave us all those stories of reporters venturing out into the heartland to try to “understand” Trump voters.

Right: stupidity.

Meanwhile, no reporters are sent to pro-Palestinian protests to “understand” them: their newspapers just call them antisemites ( tho, bizarrely, the pro-Israel protests aren’t Islamaphobic or arabphobic, e’en tho, as a “Jewish state”, Israel, inherently, treats anyone outside that religion or race as 2nd-class, just as nobody would seriously think the US could be a “Christian state” or “white state” & not treat non-Christians or non-white as 2nd-class citizens ) & gleefully join their Republican friends in calling for them to be obliterated.

And all those stories about people who refused to wear masks or get their shots.

Yeah, it really shows the lack o’ good taste in these newspapers that they would rather focus on useless morons than people who have actual interesting problems. Good thing I read actually good news so I didn’t have to read this garbage.

How many more of these can we bear to read, I kept wondering at the time.

Yeah, it’s tragic you’re too uneducated to know there are better outlets out there.

And I couldn’t help but notice that there was no mass effort to find and understand Biden voters after he won in 2020.

Maybe ’cause it’s boring to read the obvious.

“¿Why did you vote for Biden?”.

“I’m not a dumbass”.

“Thank you for this interview”.

I sent a journalist, Marion Renault, down to red America (Mobile, Alabama, specifically) to report on the people who were following the rules—who were wearing their masks and getting vaccines in an inhospitable milieu. She produced a beautiful, moving report that I felt certain would land her on TV and get attention. No one cared.

& this is how our young journalists 1st discovers this beautiful economic system known as capitalism.

It didn’t fit the narrative—either right-wing or mainstream. Not enough chaos or conflict to be found in American citizens helping to knit up the civic fabric during a traumatizing pandemic, I guess.

I mean, if you armed the pro-mask people & had them violently fight back gainst the already-violent disease-spreaders, maybe you could have both conflict & be on the right side. Maybe the problem isn’t just that the “liberal” side is too willing to “understand” the other side, but also that they’re not willing to actually fight gainst the other side, but keep insisting that the most important thing is to tell warm fuzzy stories ’bout grandma getting her COVID vaccine rather than preparing oneself for all the right-wingers arming themselves & getting away with terrorist attacks.

So, to show you how idiotic this writer is, they acknowledge that the problem is economic, — that the media has to lie in a way that helps right-wingers to entice the moronic cattle that makes up their audience, any intelligent person having long abandoned these Jerry Springer sideshows long ago in disgust in search o’ actual honest information — but their recommendation is… the mainstream media should just stop doing the bad things they personally don’t like, e’en if it goes gainst their material interests. Just “call a lie a lie”, bro. ¿Why should they do that when, as businesses in a capitalist system where any failure to fully profit hurts your competitive edge, specially in a medium like newspapers that are becoming narrower & narrower monopolies, making money is e’erything? They claim, “Remember that we are not just in the “news” business. We’re in the information business. We’re in the preservation of the civic fabric business. And we’re in the business of people”, but they’re wrong: their business is selling people what they want to hear & what gets them to view your ads.If the country loses democracy, it’s not as if that’s a full impediment to The New York Times; they can still make money selling what King Trump tells them to say. As they themselves say, they’re perfectly comfortable with kowtowing to Republicans.

But there is much better news: people don’t need to read either the mainstream media or the right-wing media, but can read from an infinite variety o’ media — or better, read actual scientific studies, statistics, history books by actual historians or economics books by actual economists & not hack journalists with creative writing degrees. Or they could just read The Onion, since it’s just as informative & much funnier.

But, no, you should totally spend that monthly $10 to save democracy from “dying in darkness” by filling some rich, white, Republican newspaper owner’s large stash o’ Scrooge McDuck cash.

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Posted in No News Is Good News, Politics