There was a meme a few years back during the Obama administration where liberals were encouraged to relate how they had lost a family member to Fox News propaganda.
During the Trump administration the narrative managers flipped the script, with the New York Times taking on the role of Fox News.
While the Fox News watching cohort believed all of the rumors and innuendos about Obama’s citizenship, with the whole Birther thing, the friends and family reading the Times have come to believe all of the rumors and innuendos about Trump being a Russian agent and Putin specifically as some sort of super-villain who has personally soiled American democracy.
What’s been the most craziest thing is that these liberals have come to see the CIA as a Resistance hero against the dastardly Trump. They were aghast because the poor CIA had been maligned and disrespected by Trump, who (among other things) claimed it exaggerated the role played by Russia in the 2016 election.
Not long ago, the CIA was viewed with disgust by like-minded liberals. It was the government agency that overthrew foreign governments, deceived and misled people in distant lands and fought for dictatorship around the world. Its list of crimes against democracy was long and disturbing.
But over the last four years this picture changed completely. Now liberals love them some CIA.
The CIA. Crazy, I know.
If it wasn’t so disconcerting and frankly sad it would be quite funny. But I love my family and friends and struggle with how to confront them. Or not. A recent interaction with a dear friend has led me to write this in hope that readers can relate their own stories of Times reading liberals.
A huge problem is the fracturing of information sources which has basically broken a certain fundamental consensus about reality. Narrative and reality are becoming further and further apart.
I don’t think that’s an accident. Furthermore, I’ve come to view Russia-gate as instrumental to the process.
The basic element of the scandal was ‘collusion’: that Trump had in some way conspired with or been compromised by the Russian government as it tried to intervene in the 2016 election. Which was to say that Trump was not merely incompetent or crooked but he was the agent of a hostile foreign power.
This was the dominant news story day in and day out during the Trump years, and revelations of his guilt were always, just around the corner. But somehow never quite revealed. Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted several Republican officials for other offenses, but he prosecuted no one for coordination or conspiracy with the Russian government. His report concluded in March 2019: ‘Ultimately, the investigation did not establish that the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election-interference activities’.
So the most heavily covered story of a monstrous Trump scandal turned out to not be true. Talk about journalism malfeasance. In the fervor to bring down a president they despised, the people of the press gave up any pretence of fairness or balance. They did not try to conceal this change, but bragged about it as some sort of moral choice made necessary by Trump’s constant lying.
A new article entitled–Slouching Towards Post-Journalism, helps make sense of the new face of liberal media. It describes how with the election of Trump the New York Times and other elite media outlets have openly embraced advocacy over reporting.
“During the 2016 presidential campaign, the Times stumbled onto a possible answer. It entailed a wrenching pivot from a journalism of fact to a “post-journalism” of opinion—a term coined, in his book of that title, by media scholar Andrey Mir. Rather than news, the paper began to sell what was, in effect, a creed, an agenda, to a congregation of like-minded souls. Post-journalism “mixes open ideological intentions with a hidden business necessity required for the media to survive,” Mir observes. The new business model required a new style of reporting. Its language aimed to commodify polarization and threat: journalists had to “scare the audience to make it donate.” At stake was survival in the digital storm.”
Hopefully, this will clear up a few mysteries about your own friends and family’s behavior during the last 4 years.
The corporate media exists for a reason and the surest way to get rich in this environment is to spread lies which serve the interests of the powerful. It’s becoming more and more like Orwell’s Ministry of Truth, with our establishment news regularly dishing out Two Minutes Hate pieces to us to demonize countries like Russia.
I believe that a true intellectual should spend his or her time criticizing their own country–its ruling ideologies, dominant culture, foreign and domestic policies–especially when their own country is the most powerful and destructive government on earth. Critiquing another country, especially one that the dominant hegemon has been trying to absorb into its empire makes one an accomplice in the dissemination of propaganda.
But, that’s just me.
Update: Now that I’ve lost my friends and family to the Gray Lady I wonder if I can get a discount on my online subscription?