We need a stronger pushback against a hostile media
For those who don’t have The Washington Post as their local newspaper, let me tell you what it’s like to open the print edition each morning for breakfast. The front page inevitably has a story about race – today, as I write this article, it’s about how puns like crossword puzzles and scrabble suffer from “systemic racism.”
The next section, “Metro,” follows local news (often race-related), such as a recent article by left-wing columnist Petula Dvorak about a couple of Virginians putting racist things in their backyards. Next is “Style,” which covers entertainment and fashion… as far as race is concerned, such as a recent report on black women and reality TV. Finally comes “Sports,” which, unsurprisingly, has several stories about the race, such as former Raiders coach Jon Gruden being called a racist, or how women’s rugby needs more black players.
Sometimes I play a game where I try to see if the WaPo can last a day without having a race article in each section of the newspaper. Most of the time I lose. And if it’s not race, there will inevitably be another workhorse in identity politics – feminism, LGBTQ +, transgender – that will replace race. Sometimes the WaPo gets extra points for figuring out how to combine them all, for example, with an exclusive report on black transgender feminists.
It wasn’t like that before. While going through my late father’s records, I found an old Washington Post from the 1980s that included an entire section on the upcoming hunting season. If the WaPo takes the trouble to report on the hunt now, its authors are so ignorant on the subject that they call archery “archery”. Today, they would probably characterize the hunt as systematically racist or report on a black transgender feminist bow hunter (surely there is at least one).
How did the media’s relentless obsession with identity politics come about? Batya Ungar-Sargon, Newsweek’s associate opinion editor, has a few ideas. In his new book Bad news: how Woke Media is undermining democracy, Ungar-Sargon argues that over the past decades, as their profession has become populated by members of elite academic institutions, American journalism has undergone a radical shift from the preoccupation of the working class to that of the preoccupations of the working class. the rich and the well educated.
The “wake-up tax”
The digital media landscape, whose business model aligns corporate power with the left’s last crusades, further compounds the problem. This paradigm has created tensions that are largely unrecognized in the media world, given that the journalist’s ostensible role is to be the little “truth-in-power” guy.
Consider the fact that the public face of corporate media, as well as its management, remains predominantly white. This is certainly the case with the Washington Post, but also with the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, etc. Trained in identity politics, the world of journalism must respond to its own claims that America’s institutions all suffer from systemic racism that needs correction, along with the uncomfortable fact that the media is their own elitist and dominated power structure. whites.
One way to resolve this tension is to pounce on any white journalist (preferably a male) who transgresses the sacred codes of wokeism – for example, former NYT reporter Donald G. McNeil Jr., who has been so accused. somewhat dubious to have used a racial insult. Diversity hires can replace fired, canceled, or retired journalists, which can provide at least a patina of awakened self-satisfaction with which to dress.
But is that enough, especially when the media is owned by the same greedy business interests – the incredibly wealthy and arguably white Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post – supposedly suffering from systemic racism? And what to do about the inconsistent competing beliefs of the elite in their own success via a meritocratic system… and the dismantling of power structures populated by well-educated technocrats like them?
So the media is paying what Kyle Smith calls the “revival tax,” devoting as much content as possible to the identity politics agenda, which both tries to atone for white guilt and masks the fact that they are part of the problem they claim to identify. and disturbing.
As Ungar-Sargon observes, the New York Times wants us to believe that the simultaneous presentation of Angela Davis and the advertisements for Cartier watches “are not in tension with each other, but rather both sides. from the same piece “. As long as the liberal white technocrats perform the necessary revival tributes, they are betting they may be able to avoid being devoured by the monster they helped create.
Unfortunately, there are already quite a few victims of the ideological project of the media. One is democratic civic life itself, which suffers from siled information flows that avoid real debate. In the six months leading up to the 2020 election, there was not a single editorial in the NYT by anyone explaining why they voted for Trump. This, Ungar-Sargon notes, is meant to be the nation’s “archival document”.
Another victim are working class Americans, whom the media disdainfully views as backward and fanatic racists. Working under that presumption, their reporting on the countries of flyby and rural and rusty America is condescending and paternalistic.
Heroes and saints
Ungar-Sargon offers several suggestions on what Americans can do to counter the deleterious influence of corporate media. One is to “starve them of your rage” by refusing to hate your political opponents and become “a champion of opinions you don’t like”.
Another is to try to understand why those in the working class – including those whose union history was still democratic – have largely moved to the right. Ungar-Sargon also urges us to “find and protect non-political spaces” in our lives, and says we need to be more humble in our approach to political debate.
It’s a nice milquetoast. Universities, businesses, government bureaucrats, and most corporate media outlets (except Fox News) are firmly aligned with their ideological agenda regarding race and gender. Their ability to silence dissenting voices and force submission to their awakened agenda is growing stronger.
Some of the most bizarre fringe ideas about the human person, such as giving gender dysphoric children hormones to block the onset of puberty, are now unmistakable dogmas of the left. Being kind and understanding will not change this socially dire reality. Awakened people have an incredible amount of cultural and political power at their disposal. What incentive do they have to change course?
Additionally, Ungar-Sargon’s explanation of how we find ourselves with a race-obsessed media (and many other institutions) is incomplete, in part because the issue is not just race, but also gender and sex; in other words, the most salient biological components of our humanity. The normalization of the perverse conception of the enlightened religion of the human person could not have happened without the decline of an earlier American self-understanding, a “civic religion” deeply influenced by Christianity.
Yet Christianity’s influence in the public arena – and in the hearts of ordinary Americans – has waned for many decades. As the faith weakened, American civic religion and its mythologies diminished, which is why so many citizens now despise not only Christopher Columbus, but also George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. We are increasingly a people without a coherent “creation story”, as many now believe that the founding of our nation was marked by an irreparably racist, sexist and exploitative patriarchy.
But we Americans, like all humans, are a religious people. We need stories that explain who we are and how we got here. We need a telos to turn to, that is, something (or someone) worthy of our worship and sacrifice. We need doctrines and codes of conduct that guide our thinking and behavior towards one another.
Christianity once served this purpose. Wokeism now awkwardly fills the void. His divinity is far less merciful and far more capricious than the God of Jews and Christians, as evidenced by the speed and eagerness with which his adherents turn against one another. THE
As in all times of cultural and political upheaval, what is needed is not compromises on kindness and openness. We need heroes and saints who are committed to the truth, even if this commitment requires unexpected suffering and sacrifice.
Casey Chalk is a senior contributor to The Federalist and an editor and columnist at The New Oxford Review. He holds a BA in History and an MA in Education from the University of Virginia and an MA in Divinity from Christendom College.