Pointing out the media’s hypocrisy isn’t just ineffective, it misses the point.
Originally posted at Human Events.
January 14, 2021
Throughout this summer, the mainstream media machine has spent its time running interference for the Black Lives Matter movement. For months, riots were described as the “language of the unheard,” and burning down businesses as “fiery, but mostly peaceful.” But the moment that conservatives employed similar methods, the media slammed them as “domestic terrorists,” “insurgents,” and countless other epithets, despite the tangible consequences of last week being minuscule in comparison.
Several pundits and politicians have noted that this is hypocritical of the media. Ben Shapiro tweeted that the media has a “double standard with regard to rioting.” Matt Walsh sent a similar tweet, highlighting the hypocrisy that the media wholly condemned the Capitol protest but “defended and normalized” the BLM riots. Those individuals might be correct, if the media operated on the principle of intellectual integrity. The media only pretends to operate on that principle, however.
The real modus operandi of the media is to condemn any political opinion that is not ‘progressive’ enough. The media just hates conservatives. And, when one acknowledges that reality, the media’s treatment of conservative protesters becomes exceedingly logical.
The riots committed this summer by BLM, where the cities of Minneapolis, St. Louis, Denver, and others burned, needed justification because otherwise, progressivism itself would appear unreasonable. The Democrats who champion that ideology would quickly lose their support among the much sought after suburban progressive elites. (Recall that a “brisk growth” in Georgia’s “Democratic-leaning black population, gains in Latino or Hispanic and Asian Americans voters, and an increase in white college graduates, especially in the Atlanta metropolitan area—served to make the state competitive for Democrats this year.”)
But the conservatives who stormed the Capitol, out of anguish at a ruling class that is increasingly ignorant of them, must be universally condemned by the media. Otherwise, Americans might understand where those actions are coming from, even if they cannot fully support them. And, to the media, that understanding is just as dangerous as support since it grants conservative grievances legitimacy.
RULES FOR THEE BUT NOT FOR ME
Their coverage of peaceful conservative protests in 2020 exposes the true character of the media just as much as their coverage of violent ones. Last year, groups of conservatives across the nation protested their governors’ lockdown orders and earned the moniker “grandma-killer” by the media. Conservative author and commentator Bethany Mandel expressed her exasperation with the term, tweeting, “You can call me a Grandma killer. I’m not sacrificing my home, food on the table… in order to make other people comfortable.” Dozens of outlets rushed to publish articles ridiculing and condemning Mandel, including The Guardian. (Its piece also featured a quote by author Patrick Blanchfield stating that black people and Native Americans were “being asked to die for the market to be open.”)
Rallies of thousands strong for progressive causes are perfectly acceptable according to the media…
Just months later, when progressives rallied in celebration of Joe Biden, the media made every effort to paint that behavior in a positive light, with the New York Times assuring readers that one Delaware gathering was “somewhat socially-distanced,” and saying nothing further about COVID-19. Reutersclarified that most of the celebrants outside the White House in November were “wearing masks to curb the spread of COVID-19,” offering no criticism for what were large and obviously non-compliant gatherings. Rallies of thousands-strong for progressive causes are perfectly acceptable according to the media, but journalists stand ready to condemn similar rallies for conservative efforts.
This laudatory coverage by the media for progressive protest is far from new. The New York Times reported on one such incident back in 2011, writing, “Protesters, scores deep, crushed into a corridor leading to the [Wisconsin] governor’s office here on Wednesday, their screams echoing through the Capitol: ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are!’”
Nearly a decade ago, the Times had no condemnation when concerned Wisconsinites entered their state capitol screaming menacing phrases, angry at Republican Governor Scott Walker for his intent to “require public workers to pay more for their health insurance and pensions.” There was the opposite of condemnation; the Times humanized these protesters, detailing how they “shared stories of their families’ deep history in unions, people struggling to pay their mortgages, workers considering moving away, switching careers, retiring.” Comparatively, there has not been one single major media outlet giving ink to the emotional stories of pro-Trump demonstrators at the Capitol.
A few years later, Time Magazine published an article following the Ferguson riots in 2014 entitled, “Ferguson Riots: In Defense of Violent Protest” by Darlena Cunha, who asked, “Is rioting so wrong?” Protesters at the city’s police department “surged forward” toward the building as they learned that Darren Wilson would not be indicted. According to the New York Times, these protesters were also “throwing objects at officers.” The BBC noted that “several buildings [were] set alight.”
Riots, back then, were not crimes perpetrated by domestic terrorists but “a necessary part of the evolution of society.” Cunha went on to condemn actor Kevin Sorbo for calling rioters “animals” and “losers.” In the middle of the article, Time poses a question to its audience, reading, “Should the Ferguson protesters Be TIME’s Person of the Year? Vote Below.” Consider the response if any conservative asked such a question about the Capitol protesters. It would be unimaginable; there is already mounting pressure for Senators Cruz (R-TX) and Hawley (R-MO) to resign for simply objecting to Biden electors after the breach of government chambers.
“[T]hey aim to condemn all conservative protest.”
In addition to the mainstream media neglecting to condemn progressive rowdiness around local government buildings, they have also refused to condemn threats to federal buildings from progressive activists. After the confirmation of Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, “a throng of protesters pushed past a police line, storming up steps to pound on the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court,” according to NBC. There was no national uproar about that. Those people were not labeled domestic terrorists, and lawmakers were not asked to condemn the event nor were they excoriated if they failed to do so.
By contrast, not only are the mainstream media content with demonizing the participants of the January 6th protest, but they aim to condemn all conservative protest. Democrats have introduced legislation to direct “domestic terrorism offices” to “focus their limited resources on the most significant domestic terrorism threats,” and the media are denying any suggestion that this could be used against right-wing protests. Outlets such as The Gateway Pundit and The Federalist Papers have echoed journalist Paul Sperry’s tweet that this bill is trying to categorize MAGA rallies as “domestic terrorist activity.”
AFP fact-checkers reassured readers that there is no specific mention of any events involving Trump or MAGA in the proposed legislation, but does that really mean anything? Both the Associated Press and NPR have tied the Capitol protest to white supremacy, and seven Democratic presidential contenders called Trump a white supremacist in 2019. It does not require much imagination to anticipate MAGA events becoming tied to white supremacy (and thus “domestic terrorism threats”), especially given that Congress finds that “white supremacists and other far-right-wing extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States.” (Fundraising platforms like GoFundMe have even started to prohibit fundraising for pro-Trump rallies).
With that level of mental gymnastics, it also becomes reasonable for Oliver Darcy and CNN Business to petition cable carriers on January 8th for the cessation of service to Fox News—because Fox spreads dangerous lies and is “partly responsible for what took place in our nation’s capital.” Darcy wrote that cable carriers also bear responsibility for the actions of their business partners’ audiences. Darcy adds:
“It is time TV carriers face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories. After all, it was the very lies that Fox, Newsmax, and OAN spread that helped prime President Trump’s supporters into not believing the truth: that he lost an honest and fair election … So why do AT&T (which I should note is CNN’s parent company), CenturyLink, and Verizon carry OAN? Why do AT&T, CenturyLink, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Dish carry Newsmax? And why do they all carry Fox — which is, frankly, at times just as irresponsible and dangerous with its platform as its smaller competitor networks?”
This could be dismissed as yet another example of mainstream media hypocrisy, were it not for the fact that, again, the media are without integrity. An opportunity has presented itself at long last for the removal of the only news network that can be called anything remotely close to conservative, and the rest of the media have jumped on it. Why shouldn’t they? That is precisely their goal. After Fox is eradicated, then progressivism will prevail as the only bias in news and will, therefore, no longer be a bias.
FASCISM WILL COME IN THE NAME OF LIBERALISM
President Trump does not matter to the media anymore; their main focus now is the everyday American who, if he is not progressive enough, must be eradicated. On January 7th, Rick Klein of ABC published an article for The Note where he said, “Getting rid of Trump is the easy part. Cleansing the movement he commands is going to be something else.” He also tweeted that phrase with a link to his article. (After receiving criticism for the word “cleansing,” Klein did not apologize, but quietly deleted his tweet and rewrote the portion of the article in contention.)
If this language does not immediately alarm you, it should. Such terms are the vocabulary of totalitarian regimes, and many people across the world have supported or suffered “cleansing.” Klein accidentally said the quiet part of the media modus operandi out loud, but that was solved by a quick edit without any public statement.
“[S]end a message to future Presidents that Congress will protect itself from populists of all ideological stripes.”
On January 8th, the Wall Street Journal editorial board argued that “The best case for impeachment… is to send a message to future Presidents that Congress will protect itself from populists of all ideological stripes.” In other words, they are advocating impeachment because it will send a message to the everyday American to quietly accept whatever action their government takes.
This impeachment, in fact, is not about President Trump. It is about keeping the American people in line with however the media want them to act. The media are blatant about this fact; The Wall Street Journal wrote, the day after the Capitol protest, that “The best case for impeachment is not to punish Mr. Trump. It is to send a message to future Presidents that Congress will protect itself from populists of all ideological stripes willing to stir up a mob and threaten the Capitol or its Members.”
But the media have proven that they are only concerned with reining in Americans of one political stripe. And why should pro-Trump populists accede to demands instead of BLM populists? Well, according to the Wall Street Journal, “because Democrats aren’t likely to behave responsibly or with restraint.”
The editorial board of the Journal calls upon Trump to just take the Nixon route if he wants to preserve cleanliness in politics, because it’s apparently a lost hope to expect that the Democrats will be responsible or restrained. In its reasoning, the Journal Editorial Board has (whether accidentally or not) legitimized poor behavior from Democrats and made inexcusable the same from Republicans. It has become the duty of conservatives everywhere—in the eyes of the media—to bow down to Democrat temper tantrums and consent to being labeled domestic terrorists when daring to throw their own tantrums. Rage is only legitimate when it’s from the left.
The reality is that the media are actively pursuing progressivism. They do not care that they act differently when one group employs a tactic versus when another group does. What is more, they do not care whether people see that this is the case. The only thing they care about is that the everyday American does nothing to change the situation.
Thus far, Americans have remained unwilling to do anything more than shout about media hypocrisy—conservative Americans are not taking their money elsewhere or creating their own media substitutes to an effective measure. But shouting about media hypocrisy will achieve nothing, and it’s high time we admit that.
If nothing changes, Americans face a future in which conservative speech is forbidden. In that future, there will be no recourse; conservatism will be unable to help due to its insistence on government nonintervention, and progressivism will be the dominant force on the political left and will have no incentive to aid the resurgence of opposing speech.
The first step toward avoiding that future is to recognize that the mainstream media are not hypocritical; they just hate anything and anyone that is not on the progressive left.
RJ Haskin is a senior political science major at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Read more at Human Events.