Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Media Loser Bares His Teeth

     I stumbled across this article yesterday. It’s the only way I would have known about Andrew Marantz’s new book. I’m grateful for that – in more senses than one:

     America is in the midst of a democratic revolution. Anti-establishment conservatives have used the internet to break the mainstream media’s control of the national conversation. In doing so, they were able to win over a critical mass of ordinary Americans, dealing a deathblow to traditional gatekeeping. This is the revolution that made a Trump presidency possible....

     A significant new book by Andrew Marantz, a staff writer at the New Yorker, has reinvigorated the gatekeepers’ efforts to censor the internet. Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Utopians, and the Hijacking of the American Conversation is an account of our ongoing democratic revolution, a historical moment that brings into relief two realizations for Marantz: (1) conservative influencers are now able to out-compete legacy media outlets, and (2) it was this that lead to the election of Donald J. Trump. “[T]hey helped propel their man to the presidency,” he writes.

     For Marantz, these two realizations justify all-out censorship of the internet. But his extremism comes as little surprise when you recognize that, from start to finish, Marantz’s argument is grounded in his contempt for the intellectual and moral capacities of ordinary Americans.

     Mind you, Marantz’s opinions are neither unique nor new. Consider what Hillary Clinton said, as quoted in Ann Coulter’s 2002 blockbuster Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right:

     Hillary Clinton has also expressed concern about the “accessibility and instantaneous information on the computer.” Too much free speech! This was in a press conference on February 11, 1998—or two weeks after Matt Drudge broke the Monica Lewinsky story being suppressed by Newsweek. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Clinton raised the need for some “kind of editing function or gate-keeping function” for the Internet. Saying “It is just beyond imagination what can be disseminated,” Mrs. Clinton said, “We are all going to have to rethink how we deal with this.” There are, she said, “competing values.” To wit, her electoral viability versus the First Amendment. So the First Amendment’s got to go, the children need her.

     [Yes, my memory really is that retentive. And for the doubters out there, Miss Coulter’s meticulously footnoted book tells us that Clinton emitted those sentiments in a press briefing on the “Millennium Project, Part 5 of 5, U.S. Newswire, 02/11/1998.” If you have access to Lexis / Nexis, you can look it up for yourself.]

     Show me someone who demands the power to censor others’ free expression of their convictions and opinions, and I’ll show you a whiny loser. As usual, Mike Hendrix cuts to the core:

     The title of Marantz’s book is where the sad irony really lives and breathes. It isn’t any “hijacking of the American conversation” that so frustrates and enrages him; it’s having the ignorant serfs speaking up without permission he finds so damned galling. Unapproved views are now being freely expressed, rather than all and sundry listening in enraptured silence to his exalted pontification, as he so much prefers. Oh, there’s a conversation going on all right, but he’s not invited. Nothing has been “hijacked,” but a few things have been left behind. People like Marantz have nothing new to say, nothing to contribute but more of the same-old same-old. Is it any wonder that fewer and fewer of us seem interested in hearing their tired, century-old lecture recited all over again, only louder and more spitefully this time?


     No one likes to be shown up. Media institutions and their barons hate it more than most. Remember the “Covington Catholic scandal” of a year ago? Remember how the media strained to persuade us that those high-schoolers, who were in Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life, were really vicious racists? Remember how common citizens’ video-recorded evidence of what really happened utterly refuted the media’s attempts to destroy the life of Nick Sandmann and besmirch the classmates who stood with him?

     The media haven’t forgotten – and we mustn’t either:

     On the weekend of January 18, 2019, a short video appeared on Twitter that purported to show a group of Catholic high school boys—one young man, Nicholas Sandmann, in particular—harassing a Native American elder named Nathan Phillips on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

     One year later, the media's reckless mishandling of the story stands as an important warning against the kind of agenda-driven, outrage-mongering clickbait that unfortunately thrives in the world of online journalism.

     But no less noteworthy was the news cycle that followed the initial flawed coverage, which featured a host of ideologically-motivated partisans doubling down on their initial assumption, digging for new information to justify it, and reassuring themselves that they were right all along. Sandmann and his MAGA hat-wearing friends had identified themselves as members of Team Trump, and thus the national shaming they endured was deserved, this thinking went. Indeed, those who had defended the boys by disputing some aspects of the encounter—including me, in an article for Reason that changed many people's minds about what had happened—were engaged in "gaslighting": trying to make people think that something they saw hadn't really happened.

     That’s right: The mainstream media outlets that originally misreported the story to smear Sandmann and his classmates, when their coverage was revealed to be tendentious to the point of slander, then leaped to attack those who had dared to refute them. They cannot bear to have their actual status – i.e., as boughten allies and handmaidens of the Democrat Party – revealed to the public. So they did their best to persuade their audiences that it was their fraudulently edited video clip and their coverage of the interaction of the Covington Kids with Nathan Phillips and the Black Hebrew Israelites the was authoritative.

     That, Gentle Reader, is the nature of the Establishment Media in our time.

     If there’s any “red thread” that unites the media’s attempts to don a mantle of unquestionable authority, it’s the consistency of its promotion of “the narrative.” For any news story a media institution seizes upon, its reporting will conform to a prescribed narrative: a moralistic uber-story that frames the reportage in a fashion that promotes the institution’s ideological preferences. In the case of the “Covington Catholic” story, the narrative was about white racism toward minorities, always one of the media’s favorites. Note that the mainstream reporters at the Virginia gun-rights rally this past Monday was framed in much the same way – and note also that copious video-recorded evidence is available to refute that narrative. None of that evidence has made its way into mainstream coverage.

     It’s what they do – and when they’re called on it, they react with fury. They never apologize. Their retractions and corrections always appear on page 53, at the lower right. And after a “decent interval” — i.e., when they think enough time has passed that they can get away with it – they will posture as if they were right all along. Read the cited Reason article in its entirety and follow the links.

     The last arrow in their quiver is to silence the citizen journalist, the citizen videographer, and the citizen editorialist. They’ve striven to enlist “Big Tech” in that cause, and have made no small amount of allies therein.

     Buddha, you’re up again:

Believe nothing,
No matter where you read it,
Or who said it,
No matter if I have said it!
Except it agree with your own reason
And your own common sense.

     And do have a nice day.

1 comment:

mobius said...

Except it agree with your own reason
And your own common sense.

Can I get some of that in a happy meal?
Oh, if we could add it to the food.