Creating Our Own Realities
The Discourse Police have been in high dudgeon recently, railing against what they describe as the right’s creation of its own reality.
Buzzfeed recently ran a piece headlined “In Conservative Media, a Race War Begins.” In it, McKay Coppins argues that “If you’ve spent much time consuming conservative media lately, you’ve probably learned about a slow-burning “race war” going on in America today.” There is no such war, Coppins argues, and right-leaning media is doing itself a disfavor by making the argument.
Over at Salon, meanwhile, conservative journalist Michael Fumento spends a couple thousand words decrying the influence of Andrew Breitbart, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and other conservative firebrands for their offensive brand of ignorant political anger. Once, Fumento argues, the right was committed to rational thought.
“But no longer,” Fumento mourns. “That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name ‘conservative’ to scream their messages of hate and anger.”
Let’s leave aside the fact that Malkin and Coulter were doing their shtick while Fumento was publishing regularly in conservative media outlets like The Weekly Standard. Instead, let’s consider what Coppins and Fumento are getting at here, specifically that conservatives are especially guilty of creating some sort of alternate universe in which only certain ideas break through.
This is silliness, pure and simple. Liberals are just as guilty of creating smokescreens through which they blind their fellow-travelers.
For example, in Coppins’ piece the diversity chairman of the Society for Professional Journalists is paraphrased as saying “best practices generally dictate that news outlets should only identify a criminal suspect’s race when there’s evidence suggesting it was a factor in the crime—otherwise, he said, they run the risk of recklessly affirming negative racial stereotypes.”
In other words, journalists are encouraged to hide the truth from their readers in order to avoid the truth’s ugliness. Journalists create their own narrative—one of colorblind crime, one that ignores beatings because of the victims and the perpetrators—in order to better comport to their worldview.
As David Gelernter argues in his latest book, America-Lite, modern intellectuals on the left have traded facts and education for ideology and indoctrination. “Newspapers will print lies rather than admit their cherished, childish theories about the world are false,” he argues, and persuasively. Lies of omission are lies all the same.
A perfect example of this is MSNBC’s recent dropping of the Trayvon Martin story. After hyping the shooting for weeks, evidence emerged that contradicted the media’s narrative. Instead of a blameless black youth gunned down by a vicious white racist, it appeared as though a Hispanic man shot a black teen with drugs in his system who was smashing his head into the pavement and breaking his nose. As the new evidence came to light, MSNBC made zero primetime mentions of the story.
Who would argue that readers are better educated in a world in which ugly truths are covered up?
Walter Russell Mead recently noted the same in a post focused on the Wisconsin recall election. The state of Wisconsin is on the upswing, with a recovering economy, declining unemployment rate, and decreased fiscal deficits. But you’d never know that from the New York Times’ coverage.
“That the Times takes sides in this contest neither surprises nor disturbs the Via Meadia team. We know the Times is a liberal newspaper (often a very good one) whose readers are primarily liberal and want the news reported and analyzed from that point of view,” Mead writes. The Times’ liberalness isn’t the issue. Its avoidance of unpleasant truths is:
But what Times readers will not learn from this piece is that the skunk is winning. Walker is overwhelmingly favored to win on June 5, with polls consistently giving him a significant lead over his opponent. In seven pages of focused, detailed coverage of the politics of the Wisconsin race, the piece has no room for this simple yet somehow telling detail. … It isn’t just that recent Times articles about Wisconsin have studiously tiptoed around the opinion polls that point to a solid Walker lead. Dan Kaufman’s weeper doesn’t give readers any idea why anybody in Wisconsin supports Walker or why even the Democrats now accept that the public supports Walker’s union legislation and aren’t making an issue of it in the campaign.
Conservatives aren’t alone in creating their own realities or dispensing with facts when they are unpleasant or risk damaging a preferred narrative. Strange that they’re the only ones criticized for doing so.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire