Let me have a go at the question posed by the ever-interesting Kelly Sedinger. BTW, check out his daily poetry posts this month.
Will the media in this country EVER stop letting the right-wing just define things any way they want and drive the conversation? (Thinking of terror alerts, “family values”, the “immigrant mobs”, CRT)
At a basic level, the media during my lifetime have been fairly conservative. Maybe that’s not the right word. Conventional is the better term. It supported American wars, for instance. I imagine World War II was an easy call. But the technology that brought Vietnam into American homes made the war less defensible. Still, it was a BFD when CBS News’ Walter Cronkite, “the most trusted man in America,” gave the continued presence by the US a thumbs down.
The Shock and Awe was the “brand” for the first Gulf War in the 1990s. Wasn’t stuff blowing up really cool, the audience was supposed to conclude. When the United States fought Saddam Hussein again in 2003, all of America and the world would be behind it, right? Well, yeah, except for the literally millions, including me, who took to the streets, on February 15 of that year to oppose it. Still, Freedom Fries won the narrative war, and the media, by and large, fell in line as cheerleaders until the war wasn’t going so well.
I was particularly peeved with ABC News, which suggested back in the early 2000s that “Christian voters” were what some refer to as “fundamentalist.” “Fundamentalist,” I think is a lazy word here. A definition I found: “Fundamentalism is defined as strict adherence to some belief or ideology, especially in a religious context, or a form of Christianity where the Bible is taken literally and obeyed in full.” I believe I try, quite imperfectly, for the former – see Matthew 25: 34-40 And I know that the latter is impossible in this culture because if one started stoning people, they’d run into law enforcement.
Still, let’s go with the term fundamentalists, as I believe most understand it. They thought they elected one of their own George W. Bush. Seeing that political muscle, it must be what most of America wanted, the media in general concluded.
When djt was running for the White House in 2015, he would alternatingly spout some bigoted remarks with language suggesting that he understood the downtrodden, including the fundamentalists, whose values were supposedly being “buried” by the mainstream media.
Since Trump was perceived as “entertaining” – he HAD been a TV star, after all, and he was rich, right?! – the media covered his campaign with kid gloves. He had suggested he was going to run before dropping out in the past, so naturally, he’ll do it again. But what was past was NOT prologue, as he found his message resonating.
Meanwhile, every other week on ABC News’ This Week, one or another pundit would explain that djt had a “ceiling” of about 30% of the Republican voters, almost until March 15, 2016, when he essentially locked up the nomination. Still, he couldn’t really BEAT Hillary Clinton, who was the experienced candidate, so the press – and specifically NBC’s Matt Lauer – pressed on about her damn emails, while asking him either broad policy questions or puff personal biography.
He was elected. The mainstream media waffled trying to show “respect” to a president who clearly had contempt for them. And it wasn’t really until the last year, 2020, with his COVID “misstatements”, the Big Lie about the election, and January 6, 2021, that they really started to push back.
There are critics of the mainstream media. One was Eric Boehlert, who unfortunately died in a bicycling accident. Mark Evanier linked to Boehlert’s final piece, “Why is the press rooting against Biden?” which you should read.
This may explain why CBS hired djt sycophant Mick Mulvaney. The Democrats are going to lose the 2022 midterms, it is assumed, and the network needs Republican “access.”
The Problem, With Jon Stewart, addressed Where Does Mainstream Media Go Wrong? on the March 18, 2022, episode. Specifically, it’s in part about Critical Race Theory. The short version: a guy goes on Fox News to bemoan CRT. Sixteen days later, then-president djt echoes the message. Of course, when he says it, it’s echo-chambered all over the place.
All the news that fits
Sometimes journalism amplifies and sometimes reflects. An article in Nation Of Change tries to explain “Why conservative parts of the U.S. are so angry. Republican America is poorer, more violent, and less healthy than Democratic America. But Republicans’ blame is misplaced.”
“The right-wing canard that hardworking White people subsidize welfare-grubbing cities is backward. Democrat-voting counties, with 60% of America’s population, generate 67% of the nation’s personal income, 70% of the nation’s GDP, 71% of federal taxes, 73% of charitable contributions, and 75% of state and local taxes.” Tet the narrative remains.
Also, after a couple of years of COVID, with lots of uncertainty, increased violence, and the like, people are unsettled. They like the safe, the familiar, the “normal”. Certainly not the “immigrant mobs”, unless they look like them, or a potential SCOTUS justice who, it is alleged, wants to support criminals over “regular folks”.
Or probably Nixon
But it’s long been the narrative, going back at least to Reagan, about the welfare queen taking all of “OUR” money. “They” are not worthy. And members of the media are after all part of the community. As Kelly noted, America still has issues regarding race. When Black Lives Matter was “hot”, before Chauvin was convicted, some paid at least lip service to it. But as governors come out with their anti-CRT bills, the culture is perceived to have shifted.
For all the success of inclusion and fairness, there is a real pushback against it. A recent headline in one right-wing online publication was TSA to Get Gender Woke, a discussion about gender pronouns. Despite the notion that the media are “liberal” or, laughably, “leftist,” some journalistic platforms go the way the wind blows.
Modern journalism, more than ever, is tied to profit. Outlets often pinch the pennies when it comes to paying their staff, particularly editors, who are needed even MORE in the Internet age. When some push against the powerful, they risk losing access, which of course has long been true. The “noble tradition” of the fourth estate sometimes wins out. But it may be more subject to propaganda because it’s a lot cheaper to repost the press release or note what’s trending on Twitter rather than to push back against the tide.