Progressive bias in elite media is nothing new — one of the cheeky unofficial slogans for George H. W. Bush’s reelection bid, displayed on GOP pins and bumper stickers throughout the 1992 campaign, was “Annoy The Press: Re-elect Bush.” But legacy heavyweights such as the New York Times and the Washington Post used to make at least a nominal effort to maintain some kind of nonpartisan image. Their reporting had a liberal slant, to be sure, but it was a slant — they weren’t producing propaganda.
Today, these towering institutions of American journalism have been reduced to providing glorified partisan bottle-service for overeducated progressives. The reason the last five years were so lucrative for major newspapers such as the New York Times is that they built a new business model around feeding left-wing readers exactly what they want to hear: a neurotic cocktail of perpetual outrage (“Can you believe what Ron Desantis is doing now?”) political affirmations (“Here’s why Democrats are right about everything, and Republicans are all conspiratorial nutjob rubes”) and outright partisan activism (“debunking Trump’s conspiracy theories about Hunter Biden’s laptop — or Tom Cotton’s conspiracy theories about the lab-leak origins of coronavirus — or Chris Rufo’s conspiracy theories about critical race theory — or . . .”), injected directly into the veins of the well-to-do suburbanites who happily fork over their monthly subscription money for the trouble.
The downside of this business model is that any divergence from the party line is shrilly denounced. Like clockwork, every article in the mainstream media that dares to say something positive about a conservative is treated as an outrageous scandal. The latest example of this was the eye-popping reaction to yesterday’s favorable Washington Post profile of NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch, which made the fatal mistake of actually treating Loesch as a normal human being rather than a murderous sociopath. This, of course, was an unforgivable sin — “just the latest instance in 2021 of the mainstream media trying to rehabilitate and normalize right wing extremists,” in the words of popular progressive blog The Palmer Report.
That’s what preceded Loesch’s name trending nationwide on Twitter for hours, as the credentialed denizens of the chattering class attempted to outdo one another in displays of pained incredulity. “What the hell?,” tweeted musician and left-wing commentator Charles Johnson, summing up the conventional wisdom. “Dana Loesch is a first class monster. This is today’s exhibit in the ongoing broken shitshow that is US media.” The profile, Media Matters researcher Cydney Hargis informed her followers, was “just lazy journalism. . . . Loesch has made a career out of exploiting fear and promoting firearms as a means of self-protection.”
Promoting firearms as a means of protection — imagine that! The Washington Post should really know better.
Any suggestion that Loesch isn’t a “racist white supremacist” who “epitomizes the gun lobby’s embrace of dangerous far-right extremists,” as she was described by anti-gun activist Shannon Watts yesterday, is simply beyond the pale for the Post’s rabidly partisan reader base. Maybe Manuel Roig-Franzia, the author of the ill-fated piece in question, forgot that small fact. Maybe he was “spending the entire research process mentally undressing both Shannon Watts and Dana Loesch, which is — to put it mildly — not a helpful way to write an article on this subject,” as RawStory reporter Matthew Chapman alleged. Maybe Loesch’s “agent/publicist also reps someone WaPo may actually want, so they had to agree to do this filthy deed in order to score the bigger ‘get,’” as was speculated by NeverTrump pundit Cheri Jacobus.
Or maybe — just maybe — Mr. Roig-Franzia was actually doing journalism. In that case, he must have missed the memo: Outlets like the Washington Post just don’t do that kind of stuff anymore. Someone should let him know.