The Problem with the Media is that We Should Mistrust Them


Monday, November 9, 2020

Law aside, “honest pollsters, the media, and bipartisan institutions” are the bedrock of a healthy nation and its politics, claimed Victor Davis Hanson in his recent National Review op-ed. He is not wrong. He is also correct that these once flawed, but overwhelmingly valuable pillars of America’s political settlement, are toppling faster than a confederate statue in Portland.

The media is chock-full of woke takes on the Republican Party’s racism, sexism and bigotry; yet Trump took the highest share of “non-white” votes of any Republican presidential candidate since 1960. Just earlier this year, the MSM put their full force behind the impeachment of the President for nefarious links with Russia that failed to materialize. 

Twitter, not trusting users to make up their own mind, has taken to routinely censoring conservative commentary on the election. A mere fortnight before the election, Twitter and Facebook deliberately suppressed a New York Post article alleging that Hunter Biden may have been paid by Ukrainian energy company Burisma to garner favor in the Obama administration.

Whether the NYP piece was the smoking gun many Trump supporters claimed it to be is irrelevant. It seems that, according to Stone and his ilk, “misinformation” has been redefined as anything that does not benefit one’s side of the political aisle.

The conversation surrounding election fraud is similarly fraught. In mid-October, Pennsylvania’s state court ruled that ballots arriving without a postmark, or with an illegible postmark, were to be considered valid. There are reports of dead individuals voting. Whether these questions would tip the final result are uncertain, but they are not to be ignored.

Yet, if you peruse blue check Twitter for a few moments, it would seem that concerns over voter fraud are exclusively a preserve of oddball Qanon-ers. As usual, Trump’s bullish language does not help his PR, but progressives have once again made the fatal error of dismissing any concern that slips his lips. 

The United States has never before seen mail-in voting on this scale, and if the delays of the past few days show anything, it is that the counting infrastructure is not fit to handle this swiftly, never mind fairly, with states such as PA apparently giving up on the latter aim entirely. 

Of course, Conservatives should accept the result of any free and fair election, but questions surrounding the degree of freedom and fairness are not the sign of unhinged conspiracy theory. Nor is the mistrust of institutions exclusively a preserve of the (Trumpian) right. 

The lead up to the election was peppered with Democrat anger at alleged voter suppression. A solid percentage of Americans genuinely believe Donald Trump to be a fascist. This summer saw neighborhoods burnt to the ground over the question of police brutality and racism. 

Thankfully, the United States is a long way from totalitarianism, and it is a testament to its resilience as a society that while political chaos rages on, the vast majority of citizens can carry on with their everyday life. Yet, these trends remain a cause for alarm no matter who ends up in the White House in January. 

In her 1951 The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt described how the repeating of obvious falsehoods by political movements was symbolic of an intent to dominate the subordinates of the masses, and destroy the category of truth and falsehood itself. Only crude readings of Arendt claim her for the right or the left. Her theory here might describe aspects of both left and right in her own time, and now, and thus both must heed its lessons. Moreover, only clean open debates will resolve the conclusions we must make form these truths, not censorship and name-calling.

In a 2019 Columbia Journalism Review piece on the question of journalistic bias, Michael Schudson suggested, “It may be time for journalists to acknowledge that they write from a set of values, not simply from a disinterested effort at the truth.” This attitude ought to be reserved for the opinion section, not news reporting. If this resignation to the partisan balkanization of American institutions is let loose, we will surely witness the downfall of the very republic itself, a course which no presidential election will be able to turn back easily.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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