Friday, November 18, 2016

Motives And The Media

     When I first sat down to write this piece, my dominant thought was that “it’s getting to be a bit much.” In fact, the first sentence I typed was “Some days it all gets to be a bit much.” And if your experiences with the “reporting” coming out of the Mainstream Media have been at all similar to mine, I’d bet you feel the same.

     We suffered through a maximally contentious presidential campaign. We wrangled with colleagues, relatives, friends, and former friends. We endured every sort of dire prognostication – from both sides. And we became the sort of news junkies, hanging on every scrap of coverage of every quasi-relevant development no matter how plausible or remotely relevant, that the media purely love.

     And it won’t stop. We’re being allowed no peace.

     The drums of contention aren’t beating themselves; they can’t. Moreover, the overall balance of attitudes toward the results isn’t changing. I’ve come to an unfortunate conclusion about it. The drum beaters aren’t just biased; they’re actively malevolent. They really, truly mean us harm.

     Harm of what sort? Ah, there’s the question of the hour!

     In the following snippet from On Broken Wings, Malcolm Loughlin, immortal grandmaster of war, is tutoring Christine D’Alessandro in strategic analysis:

     "Of all the musts and must-nots of warfare, this one is paramount: you must conceal your motives. Unless he is insignificant in comparison to you, once your opponent knows your motives, he'll be able to defeat you. He'll probably even have a choice of ways to do it.
     "You must move heaven and earth, if necessary, to discover your opponent's motives. His tactics will be determined by them. If his motives change, his tactics will follow. There lies your opportunity, if you can get him to adopt tactics unsuitable to the conflict. Of course, he could try to do the same to you."
     "What's the countermeasure?"
     "Constancy. Refusal to let yourself be diverted. Of course, that can be a trap, too. Motive is partly determined by objectives. If your adversary's situation changes but his objectives remain the same, he could find himself committed to paying an exorbitant price for something that's become worthless."
     "And that's the time to stop playing with his head?"
     His grin was ice-cold. "You have a gift."

     Politics is a struggle over who shall have power over whom: warfare without violence. Accordingly, discovering the motives of its opponents is the chief requirement of any political force. Even a victorious force must do so, if its victory hasn’t included the complete destruction of its adversary.

     As I’ve observed here many times, the political Left is a coalition of diverse elements. The overtly political component, the Democrat Party, has the same principal motive as any other party: to install as many of its candidates in office as possible. The motives of other components of the coalition are more complex.

     The Left’s media allies are especially interesting in this regard. The alliance itself has become undeniable. Vignettes such as this one from R. Emmett Tyrrell suggest that the alliance is effectively international, which gives it a unique aspect. But as reporters and commentators don’t share the Democrats’ foremost motive – the acquisition of directly wielded political power – we must ask what the media seek from that alliance that would be most valuable to them.

     There may be a clue in one of the media’s more common tactics: openly accusatory behavior toward figures from the Right while consistently treating figures from the Left with “kid gloves.” This appears meant to encourage conciliation of the media by the Right. It would also predispose the Left to grant the media broad access to its officials and other luminaries.

     When the Right is politically dominant, as it is just now, the media must tread carefully. Sufficient access to the powerful is vital to “reporters;” most of the “news” is about the operation of our political system and the machinations of those within it. Therefore, the approach the media take toward the Right cannot be too confrontational, lest they find that they’ve been shut out completely. However, they never show nearly as much warmth toward the officials of a conservative government as they routinely show to left-liberals.

     In treating with left-liberal politicians and allied figures, the media display an open assumption of their benevolence. Not so in treating with conservatives.

     Marshall Fritz, founder of Advocates for Self-Government, argued that as the personality type most common in the communicative trades is emotion-dominant, we must expect reporters and opinion writers to be driven primarily by their emotional reactions to the subjects they cover. Moreover, the emotion-dominant personality has little interest in actual analysis – the rational consideration of evidence and causation – as it detracts from emotional considerations. In other words, one particular toddler that hasn’t eaten for three days has more appeal to the reporter than reasoning out why all the people of the district have lacked adequate nutrition for decades.

     Apart from permanent front-page / above-the-fold status, no desire is more common among journalists than the need to see themselves as “among the good guys.” And of course, a “good guy” rushes to feed that hungry toddler; he doesn’t waste time noodling over why a nation might never, in all its history, have had an adequate supply of food.

     The conservative’s objective is to improve matters in a stable and lasting fashion, which requires a depth of understanding that gets in the way of the prompt emotional fulfillment the emotion-oriented reporter seeks. The reporter naturally finds the attitude and opinions of the liberal more palatable. Never mind that left-liberalism’s emotionalism has caused widespread dependency, while its policies have perpetuated the very conditions it claims to deplore.

     He to whom emotional fulfillment is the ultimate goal will naturally value situations and circumstances in which he might find it. The reporter is therefore more powerfully drawn to conditions of chaos, poverty, and oppression than to those of order, prosperity, and social harmony. If forced to endure the latter, he might even contrive to evoke a little of the former, that he might have “something meaningful to write about.”

     When I wrote this essay, which first appeared at the old Palace Of Reason, I hadn’t yet come to grips with the needs of the emotion-oriented, or the dynamic those needs propel. Yet it was quite visible then as now. Without it, there’s no possibility of explaining why the Mainstream Media so doggedly seek to highlight discord and foment even more division over the recent election. And when you find that “it’s getting to be a bit much,” reflecting on the most effective countermeasure – focusing relentlessly on evidence and logic – is both constructive and reassuring.

     Passion of one sort or another is at the root of every political turning. This piece suggests that we ponder what could follow should conservatives attempt to ignore or dismiss it. It would be wise to take J. D. Rucker’s warning seriously.

     Mongol General: Hao! Dai ye! We won again! This is good, but what is best in life?
     Mongol: The open steppe, fleet horse, falcon at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.
     Mongol General: Wrong! Conan! What is best in life?
     Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.
     Mongol General: That is good!

     [You know perfectly well where that came from.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The media-Left alliance is international. So is Marxism. Coincidence?