We can’t reform America without a new news media

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by Fabius Maximus

Summary: Some control of America’s information flow – the news, the stories that shape our imagination – is necessary for any political reform to succeed. Today it is run by liberals, a hindrance for progressives and a foe of populists.

“And that, señorita, is the weakness of our Cause. Communications. Those goons were not important – but crucially important is that it lay with the Warden, not with us, to decide whether the story should be told. To a revolutionist, communications are a sine-qua-none.”
— Professor Bernardo de la Paz (an experienced revolutionary), from Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1965).

Information Wars

Mobs confronted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a Mexican restaurant in Washington and blaring speakers outside his homeMobs chanted outside the home of White House advisor Stephen Miller. A mob confronted Senator Ted Cruz in a Washington restaurant. Mobs chased down Senators Rand Paul and David Perdue at Reagan airport (they followed Perdue into the bathroom). An intern for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) doxxed 3 Republican senators. This comes after years of increasing violence at colleges (and elsewhere), as leftists prevent conservatives from speaking.

If conservative mobs were attacking Democrats, the news media would have headlines about “Fascism.” But vice versa is AOK, reported only as isolated incidents. The news media sets the narrative, creating the framework through which Americans see the world.

Caitlin Johnstone, “rogue journalist”, has written about the importance of controlling the narrative.

The news media, in aggregate, are adequately serving the broad middle of the US public: 47% say they are doing “very well” or “somewhat well” at reporting the different positions on political issues fairly, as of Pew Research’s Spring 2017 survey. This allows them to retain their power, so long as they retain the support of the other great power centers in America. Their power makes substantial reform difficult.

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Who makes the news?

We can learn about our journalists from The American Journalist in the 21st Century: U.S. News People at the Dawn of a New Millennium, based on a 2002 survey.

Journalists place themselves on the political spectrum …

  • “Pretty far to the left”……09%.
  • “A little to the left”…………31%.
  • “Middle of the roaders”..33%.
  • “A little to the right”………20%.
  • “Pretty far to the right”….05%.
  • No answer……………………….02.%

Journalists share their political party affiliation. “Independent” tells us nothing these days; many are in fact straight party-line voters.

  • Republican……18%
  • Independent..32%.
  • Democrats……36%.
  • Other……………..11%
  • No answer…….03%.

These are aggregate results. They do not show how many of the conservative or Republican journalists work at local or national news media, or how many are cub reporters or senior reporters.

Ken Stern

A life making news in a leftist workplace

In an article at the New York PostKen Stern, long-time executive of NPR and then its CEO, explains how this works in practice.

“When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate and what the narrative of the day will be.

“This may seem like an unusual admission from someone who once ran NPR, but it is borne of recent experience. Spurred by a fear that red and blue America were drifting irrevocably apart, I decided to venture out from my overwhelmingly Democratic neighborhood and engage Republicans where they live, work and pray. For an entire year, I embedded myself with the other side, standing in pit row at a NASCAR race, hanging out at Tea Party meetings and sitting in on Steve Bannon’s radio show. I found an America far different from the one depicted in the press and imagined by presidents (“cling to guns or religion”) and presidential candidates (“basket of deplorables”) alike. …

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“It {a story about defensive gun use} is an amazing story, though far from unique, but you simply won’t find many like it in mainstream media (I found it on Reddit). It’s not that media is suppressing stories intentionally. It’s that these stories don’t reflect their interests and beliefs.

“It’s why my new friends in Youngstown, Ohio, and Pikeville, Ky., see media as hopelessly disconnected from their lives, and it is how the media has opened the door to charges of bias.”

See his book: Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right (2017).

Conclusions

Any reform of America’s institutions, by progressives or populists, requires gaining some access to the institutions by which America is run. The news media is high on that list. That means either gaining support of existing media firms or building their own — with sufficient credibility to reach outside their core believers to the large middle (who control America’s destiny).

It won’t be easy or quick. The first step has yet to be taken.

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