The Media Lead Without Followers
A special Sunday NY Post column, [Link fixed]from yours truly:
They also took cues from such authorities as the editors of The New York Times, who assured readers discomfited by the lack of evidence that it was still OK to blame Republicans for the crime (an approach the Times describes as “Islamophobic” when killers are Muslim). Maybe the lucid-dreamer Loughner lived “well beyond usual ideological categories,” but that’s no reason not “to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge.”
This was something of a fatwah for straight reporters and TV hosts to stay focused on Sarah Palin and Republican rhetoric generally. They used the weaselly rationalization that the murders had started a “national debate” on the political discourse. But this is somewhere between an outright lie and a wild distortion. Loughner’s actions didn’t spark the conversation, the media (and the Democratic Party) sparked that conversation because they were already locked into a storyline, like a newspaper that has already written an obituary for a still living actor. “People are debating” or a “national conversation has started” is a cheap gimmick for the author — or his editor — to talk about whatever they want to talk about. If The New York Times ran an untrue story tomorrow announcing that I beat my wife, it would be the Times that sparked the conversation about my wife-beating, not anything I did.
And this is hardly an isolated incident. It’s understandable that journalists would want to set the national agenda by providing new information. That’s their job. But sometimes the press just won’t take no for an answer, when the public refuses to see events the same way. For instance, last summer the Times worked valiantly to cast the Ground Zero mosque controversy as a symptom of Islamophobia sweeping the nation, even though the data on anti-Muslim hate-crimes undercut the claim entirely. The press routinely floats the idea that the country needs a “frank” or “honest” “national conversation on race” but viciously punishes anybody who says something they don’t want to hear. It seems every week there’s another thumb-sucking seminar on public radio about how dismaying it is that the public doesn’t share the elite press’ global warming hysteria. Despite the fact that ObamaCare was persistently unpopular, it seemed news reports often focused on how the public didn’t understand what’s good for them. Last month, The Washington Post refused to print the results of its own poll, showing that ObamaCare was at an all-time low in popularity. And, right now newspapers are debating whether they should adopt “undocumented immigrant” instead of “illegal immigrant” not because the latter term is inaccurate but because they think their readers will fall for the subtle manipulation.
Just because everyone at the Huffington Post and The New York Times reader forums is regurgitating the same pre-baked narrative isn’t proof the narrative is right, it’s just proof that everyone in the bubble needs to get out more.