This morning, in a substantial piece on political division and discord, the most excellent Joanne Nova asks a plaintive question:
A better question would be why the old media are wall-to-wall fans of Big-Gov?
It’s a question many Americans of middle-ground, conservative, and libertarian views have asked. There are several reasons, and they tend to reinforce one another over time.
First, journalism, despite its supposed emphasis on the who-what-when-where-why of the “news” it “reports,” is merely one more “expressive trade.” Those who go into the expressive trades are overwhelmingly dominated by their emotions. Therefore, they respond to what they see and hear emotionally above all else – and the Democrats have learned how to pander to that. Consider in this light the Democrats’ elevation of any and every condition they dislike to a “crisis.” (Remember Jimmy Carter’s “the moral equivalent of war?”) Nothing’s more effective than the sense of emergency for getting your allegiants to lace ‘em up and march as told.
Second, reporters are as lazy as anyone else. They’d prefer that someone else do the work, if that’s at all possible. This is another characteristic the Democrats have learned to exploit. The key concept is access. Democrats have gone out of their way to grant reporters access to them on highly favorable terms. Indeed, many Democrats in high office appeal to friendly reporters for help about how to “position themselves” on some “issue.” Republicans have tended to maintain a far higher degree of personal and professional reserve.
Third, journalists want to think of themselves as a force for good, a common trait encouraged by the Democrats. Thus, in any disagreement if one side can effectively color the other as evil, the press will naturally favor the “good guys.” Among other things, that helps them to write “stories” with a clear moral vector. (As a writer of fiction, I object to this as an encroachment on my guild’s territory.) The Democrats have done this, often slanderously, for decades – in the U.S., since the Wilson Administration. Once again, the Republicans have mounted no countermeasure of consequence.
These three factors have operated for a century at least, each potentiating the others as time has passed. (Remember that leftists hire other leftists almost exclusively, which steadily increases their dominance of whatever institution they succeed at infiltrating.) In consequence, today’s “journalist” is a social-justice crusader who knows little and understands less about political dynamics, Constitutional law, economics, demographics, and general human nature, but “knows” with perfect certainty who his friends are: the “good guys” whose emotions parallel his own. It’s not likely to change any time soon.
Thirty years ago Marshall Fritz, founder of the Advocates for Self-Government, argued in a presentation titled “Liberty, Strategy, and Victory” that winning the allegiance of the media is key to a renascence of pro-freedom thought. As the media are overwhelmingly dominated by emotion and emotional appeals, the idea grates against the preferences of the facts-and-reasoning-oriented Right – not because we’re starkly unemotional, but because we’ve tended to regard such appeals as politically illegitimate, implicitly deceptive, shameful. Well, if that’s the case, then the Shameless Ones, the “it’s okay when we do it” crowd to whom only power matters, will continue to flail us with a media shillelagh, while we stand here asking ourselves how we can keep losing when all the facts, logic, and history are so plainly “on our side.”