[guest post by Dana]
One thing to come out of this election, aside from our president-elect, is confirmation of the blatant partisanship of the MSM. Account after account demonstrated the collective sneering disdain the media elites have for those who live in “flyover” country and lacking a college degree. Heaven forbid you are not living on a coast, breathing the rarefied air of liberalism. On one hand, we’ve always known about these left-leaning preferences, and that they naturally eliminated any hope of objective reporting. And we’ve always known that what once passed as investigative journalism is now simply advocacy. But nevertheless, it’s good to see it exposed and confirmed in such an irrefutable manner.
Whether the MSM will actually do some collective self-examination regarding their role in indirectly helping put Trump in the White House is doubtful. They are an insular bunch with a myopic view of the world around them. And like small, petulant children, it’s always someone else’s fault. But that’s what the self-centeredness of youngsters begets. And don’t you find it utterly ironic that these recorders of life lack the necessary curiosity to explore, be open to, and present the bigger, fuller picture of the world around them and what they see? Or maybe they once were curious, but agendas don’t permit the luxury of curiosity and wonder. It only allows one to stick to the narrative and make the “facts” bend to it.
But there is hope. There is at least one journalist willing to take a hard look at the role of the media during this election. And what he discovered isn’t pretty. In fact, it’s downright despicable. And yet it’s amusing, too, because outside of junior high school, rarely do you find such a collection of judgmental and intolerant adolescents who really believe that the world revolves around them and hangs on to their every word. The desperate quest for relevancy is not an attractive look on anyone.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.
This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’s be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.
So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.
And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.
It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing. There’s been some sympathy from the press, sure: the dispatches from “heroin country” that read like reports from colonial administrators checking in on the natives. But much of that starts from the assumption that Trump voters are backward, and that it’s our duty to catalogue and ultimately reverse that backwardness. What can we do to get these people to stop worshiping their false god and accept our gospel?
We diagnose them as racists in the way Dark Age clerics confused medical problems with demonic possession. Journalists, at our worst, see ourselves as a priestly caste. We believe we not only have access to the indisputable facts, but also a greater truth, a system of beliefs divined from an advanced understanding of justice.
That’s the fantasy, the idea that if we mock them enough, call them racist enough, they’ll eventually shut up and get in line. It’s similar to how media Twitter works, a system where people who dissent from the proper framing of a story are attacked by mobs of smugly incredulous pundits. Journalists exist primarily in a world where people can get shouted down and disappear, which informs our attitudes toward all disagreement.
Journalists increasingly don’t even believe in the possibility of reasoned disagreement, and as such ascribe cynical motives to those who think about things a different way. We see this in the ongoing veneration of “facts,” the ones peddled by explainer websites and data journalists who believe themselves to be curiously post-ideological.
That the explainers and data journalists so frequently get things hilariously wrong never invites the soul-searching you’d think it would. Instead, it all just somehow leads us to more smugness, more meanness, more certainty from the reporters and pundits. Faced with defeat, we retreat further into our bubble, assumptions left unchecked. No, it’s the voters who are wrong.
I hope that sound we hear in the near future will be any number of arrogant, self-promoting bubbles of noxious hot air bursting.