Saturday, March 12, 2016

Where were they when we needed them?


Here's a great column by Neal Gabler at BillMoyers.com. (Thanks, Jeff, for the link.)
Donald Trump isn’t the destruction of the Republican Party; he is the fulfillment of everything the party has been saying and doing for decades. He is just saying it louder and more plainly than his predecessors and intra-party rivals.

The media have been acting as if the Trump debacle were the biggest political story to come down the pike in some time. But the real story – one the popularity of Trump’s candidacy has revealed and inarguably the biggest political story of the last 50 years — is the decades-long transformation of Republicanism from a business-centered, small town, white Protestant set of beliefs into quite possibly America’s primary institutional force of bigotry, intellectual dishonesty, ignorance, warmongering, intractability and cruelty against the vulnerable and powerless.

It is a story you didn’t read, hear or see in the mainstream media, only in lefty journals like The Nation and Rolling Stone, on websites like People for the American Way, and in columns like Paul Krugman’s. And it wasn’t exactly because the MSM in its myopia missed the story. It was because they chose not to tell it – to pretend it wasn’t happening. They are still pretending.

It is hardly a surprise that the GOP establishment and their enablers in the media are acting as if Trump, the Republican frontrunner, is a break from the party’s supposedly genteel past. Like Captain Renault in Casablanca, who was “shocked, shocked,” to find gambling in Rick’s establishment, the GOP solons profess to be “shocked, shocked” by Trump’s demagogic racism and nativism. Their protestations remind me of an old gambit of comedian Milton Berle. When the audience was applauding him, he would shush them demonstratively with one hand while encouraging them gently with the other. ...

I don’t think the media would deny their indifference. They would say they don’t take sides. They’re neutral. They just report. Partisanship is for Fox News and MSNBC.

Of course, this is utter nonsense. Accurate reporting means taking sides when one side is spouting falsehoods. I am still waiting for the media to correct the GOP pronouncements that Obamacare has cost us jobs and sent health care costs skyrocketing – both of which are screamingly false. I am not holding my breath.

But even if it were true that the media are not referees, not taking sides against extremism is just another way of taking sides by legitimizing extremism and making it the new normal, which it now is – so long, apparently, as you don’t shout it. In any case, objectivity is a rationalization. We know the media are afraid of a right-wing backlash. We know that they protect themselves by insisting that our two major parties are equidistant from the political center – more nonsense. And we know that every story is framed by its political consequences, not its human ones. We see that every day. ...

Something happened in American politics over the last 25 or 30 years to release our demons and remove our shame. The media didn’t want to look. Now Trump has come along to reap what the conservatives had sown, and stir up those demons, and the media are suddenly in high dudgeon. Where were they when America needed them?

Good question, isn't it?

Of course, our media are corporations with a primary goal of making money. They were not there when we needed them, because...

1) The "mainstream" media does not wish to offend nearly half the country, because then they would lose too many paying customers (niche companies like Fox 'News' make money by deliberately appealing to Republicans, but that's not the business model of the MSM);

2) That "he said/she said" bickering, fostered and encouraged by a media which referees and treats both sides as legitimate, whether one side is flat-out lying or not, fits with their entertainment model; and

3) The CEOs, board members, and large stockholders of the corporate media are wealthy people who directly benefit from low taxes on the rich, which is one thing the Republican Party has stuck with for decades.

Of course, the "something" that happened in American politics in recent decades is that notorious 'Southern strategy,' where the Republican Party deliberately began to woo white racists, after the Democratic Party (finally) took a principled stand for civil rights.

That's why it's been the Republican Party, rather than the Democratic Party, which has gone completely off the rails into racism, faith-based thinking, and xenophobia. It could have been the other way around. (Although, the Dixiecrats wouldn't have had big business on their side in that alternate history, unless they'd also started pushing tax cuts for the rich. And the South was already Democratic, so all the Democrats would have gained by pushing racism was to maintain the status quo.)

Well, I've posted plenty about that 'Southern strategy' already, so there's no need to repeat myself here. That explains what happened, but not why we let it happen. It's easy to blame someone else (in this case, the media). But we Americans let it happen.

We're in this together, you know. One way or another, this is going to affect all of us. Fascism won't be defeated without us, and if fascism wins, we'll all suffer.

2 comments:

jeff725 said...

It is times like this when I believe it wouold be wise to heed this cautionary from Mr. Spock (go to 3:00 of the clip):

https://youtu.be/vi7QQ5pO7_A?t=3m

WCG said...

Thanks again for the link, Jeff. That column is right on the money!