The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Blind Spot

In a thoughtful article in The Daily Beast, Michael Tracy dissects the media's treatment of Donald Trump and those who support him. He contends that the near-hysterical condemnation of every Trump statement, along with suggestions by the media that his supporters are low-intelligence and low moral character creates an inverse affect in which the general public simply discounts the media's hyperventilation. Tracy writes:
The total paucity of avowed Trump supporters in elite spheres—including prestige media outlets, think tanks and academic institutions—has created an unprecedented imbalance in our electoral politics. During any given week this summer, commentators might have charged Trump with committing treason (a crime punishable by death), seeking to carry out mass genocide, being clinically insane, or chomping at the bit to instigate civilization-destroying nuclear war—not to mention secretly working to undermine the entire American system of government at the behest of Russia’s dastardly leader. Such extreme besmirchments have become so common now that they seldom even raise an eyebrow.

Of course, given his penchant for inflammatory blather, Trump himself bears plenty of responsibility for provoking some histrionic name-calling. But even so, when a presidential candidate nominated by one of the two major parties can be called a literal traitor and virtually nobody within the domains that traditionally regulate mainstream public discourse feels compelled to come out and object—something’s off.

Something intrinsic to the fundamental order of the polity is fraying, and it threatens the continued existence of a functioning, governable nation state.
Trump can be a vile jerk, no doubt, but the level of overt animosity evinced by the "prestige media" is both shocking and telling. Trump's every word is taken hyper-literally, even when he's obviously joking, making an attempt at irony, or being hyperbolic in the way of all politicians. Even more telling, the media suggests that his pronouncements, taken literally, may lead to chaos and nuclear war. Tracy suggests that all of this creates a media "blind spot," in which their continuous condemnation becomes background noise or worse, that it will cause some voters to react positively to Trump so that they can punish the media for its obvious and blatant bias.

Again from Tracy:
But far from acknowledging the blind spot and trying to compensate for it, every day brings a new wave of mindless Trump hysterics. Nobody would argue that the candidate’s statements should go unscrutinized—that’s a red herring. But to hang on his every trifling word as if the fate of humanity depends on it is going way, way overboard. It generates such a tiresome cacophony of noise that many voters, especially casual news consumers largely indifferent to politics, simply tune out.

I can’t tell you how many ordinary folks I’ve spoken with who don’t trust that the rolling Trump outrage machine otherwise known as current mainstream media is giving them the real story. This includes people who generally dislike Trump. One representative example was a restaurant worker in Philadelphia during the Democratic Convention in July who told me that she assumes anything Trump says or does will instantly be blown out of proportion, so has decided to just ignore the coverage. For her, it’s a rational reaction to such disproportionate, all-consuming furor: She says she cannot process it all and also retain her sanity. So even if a controversy arises that is legitimately worth getting up-in-arms about, she will no longer know it.
Tracy suggests that all of these attacks emanating from the prestige media have become "trite and boring." He's right, but they are also indicative of a media that has lost its way. The same prestige media has given Barack Obama a pass throughout his presidency and has only recently been forced, kicking and screaming, to cover Hillary Clinton's mendacity and corruption (and only then, as lightly as possible).

We've lost one of our most important checks again government power and corruption, as long as Democrats maintain the oval office.

Were Trump to win, all of that would change, of course. The media would aggressively and relentlessly pursue every aspect of a Trump administration. The slightest whiff of foul play, influence peddling, or scandal would be put under a metaphorical electron microscope. Investigative reports would become a daily occurrence and good reporting might actually return. In an odd way, Trump, were he to be elected, might actually save the prestige media from self-destruction.

An Aside: Part-1:

When the "prestige media" isn't excoriating Donald Trump, they try to make excuses for Hillary Clinton's pathetic polling numbers when it comes to honesty and trustworthiness and her less than impressive lead over a man who they think is the devil.

In a typical example of warped progressive thought, Peter Beinart in the left-leaning Atlantic argues that most, if not all, of the public (not media) concern focused on Clinton is due to misogyny. Combining psychobabble studies about women and outright disingenuous thinking, he writes:
Except for her gender, Hillary Clinton is a highly conventional presidential candidate. She’s been in public life for decades. Her rhetoric is carefully calibrated. She tailors her views to reflect the mainstream within her party.

The reaction to her candidacy, however, has been unconventional. The percentage of Americans who hold a “strongly unfavorable” view of her substantially exceeds the percentage for any other Democratic nominee since 1980, when pollsters began asking the question. Antipathy to her among white men is even more unprecedented. According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 52 percent of white men hold a “very unfavorable” view of Clinton. That’s a whopping 20 points higher than the percentage who viewed Barack Obama very unfavorably in 2012, 32 points higher than the percentage who viewed Obama very unfavorably in 2008, and 28 points higher than the percentage who viewed John Kerry very unfavorably in 2004.

At the Republican National Convention, this fervent hostility was hard to miss. Inside the hall, delegates repeatedly broke into chants of “Lock her up.”
HRC is a "highly conventional" president candidate? Really? Only Peter Beinart and many other Clinton supporters, blinded by their own lideology, could think this.

Hillary Clinton is anything but "conventional." What other candidate in modern history has been under FBI investigation during a presidential campaign? What other candidate in modern history has been accused of major ethical violations, not to mention criminal wrongdoing, with respect to the operation of the Clinton Foundation? What other candidate in modern history has lied so often, so blatantly and so ineffectively? what other candidate has admitted to destroying evidence after a subpoena for that evidence was issued by a congressional committee? What other candidate in modern history has presided over foreign policy that has resulted in failure after failure?

But no. According to Beinart and many others on the left, distrust, criticism, and overall dislike of Hillary Clinton occurs because she is a woman. It's an useful fantasy if you have to convince yourself that Hillary Clinton is the kind of person you'd want as president.

An Aside: Part 2:

In the aftermath of the Matt Lauer interview of both candidates, the members of the prestige media are again getting hysterical (e.g., here). By most accounts, Trump held his own and the prestige media can't abide that, so Lauer (a left-leaning TV personality who is likely a Clinton voter) gets the blame. He didn't ask tough enough questions on Trump; he was "boorish" when questioning Clinton.

This from Jonathan Chait of The New York Times:
The average undecided voter is getting snippets of news from television personalities like Lauer, who are failing to convey the fact that the election pits a normal politician with normal political failings against an ignorant, bigoted, pathologically dishonest authoritarian.
Hmmm. It looks like the current prestige media narrative is that Hillary is an example of a "conventional politician" who has "normal political failings." This is becoming amusing. Let me repeat: Is it "normal" to be under FBI investigation during a presidential campaign? Is it is "normal" to be accused of major ethical violations, not to mention criminal wrongdoing, with respect to the operation of the Clinton Foundation? Is it "normal" to lie so often, so blatantly and so ineffectively? Is it "normal" to admit to destroying evidence after a subpoena for that evidence was issued by a congressional committee? Is it "normal" to preside over foreign policy that has resulted in failure after failure?

Gosh, you'd think the grand poobahs of the prestige media, many of whom haven't done an honest day of reporting and research in at least eight years, were biased -- wouldn't you?