Issues and Non-Issues

MSNBC is considered a “far left” network — for the simple reason that it is not a blatantly far-right network. Joe Scarborough is considered a “far left” host — for the simple reason that he is not a blatantly far right host. But that doesn’t mean that Joe and his network never carry water for the right wing. In fact, they do so on a regular basis, as do all the other mainstream media outlets. Because right-wing propagandists are very good at planting bad faith narratives in the media and firmly entrenching them in the public forum. CNN, which they try their best to brand as “far left” and “fake news”, packaged the fascist grandstanding of the governor of Florida as “anti-woke” and “pro-freedom”.

Another excellent illustration is the above shot (courtesy of @jeffjarvis) of a TV screen during Scarborough’s program. It exhibits what Scarborough and MSNBC are declaring to be the most salient midterm issues for President Biden and the Democrats. But not one of them is a real issue. In fact, not one of them is even a real thing at all.

“Censoring of Conservative voices on social media”? As we’ve already discussed, “conservatives” enjoy a hugely lopsided advantage on social media, and, contrary to their persistent assertions, in news media as well. What they call “censorship” is really just the consequences of bad behavior — consequences from which they believe they, and they alone, should be exempt.

We’ve also examined the myth of “college campuses becoming liberal echo chambers”. The truth, as substantiated by research, is that attending college makes students — all students –more tolerant of other people’s viewpoints. Come to think of it, that’s what liberalism really means. But it doesn’t happen because professors “indoctrinate” students to be more tolerant. And it’s not what right-wingers mean when they talk about “liberalism”.

“The push to be politically correct”? What does that even mean? Who exactly is pushing? How? And what exactly is being classified as “politically correct”? Once upon a time, “politically correct” was a reasonably useful term. But, as happens eventually to any useful term, (“social justice”, “woke”, “Critical Race theory”, “fake news“) it was hijacked and perverted by right-wingers.

“Canceling historical figures”? Who is getting “canceled”? How? What does such cancelation look like? Taking down monuments of Robert E. Lee? Okay, sure, that happens sometimes. But nobody is trying to erase Lee from the history books. Well, nobody except maybe the right-wingers themselves, who have been industriously canceling not just historical figures but history itself. As well as science, and even — I kid you not — math.

All of these “issues” are conspicuously non-issues. But they are being treated as real issues uniformly among not only right-wing media outlets, but centrist and mainstream outlets as well. That isn’t an accident. It’s part of a calculated design to distract from real issues: e.g., climate change, civil rights, the economy, voting rights, and the struggle to preserve democracy against assaults like the Jan. 6 insurrection. Right-wingers know that examining real issues like these would reflect very poorly upon them. So they crank up the outrage machine, feeding it with bogus “culture war” narratives, which they hammer away at ad nauseam.

Here, for example, is just a sampling of how often they have harped about “grooming” and the supposed support among Democrats for pedophilia:

As you’re probably aware, politicians who turn out to be pedophiles are almost always Republicans:

But that’s not the reality the public is exposed to. What they hear constantly is “Democrats grooming pedophile, Democrats grooming pedophile wokeism”. And the mainstream media gulps down the bait like Monstro the whale swallowing a ship.

You may recall that the New York Times (another allegedly far-left media outlet that actually is anything but) ran front page stories about Hillary’s emails long after it had been established that they were a non-story; and this actually may have cost her the Electoral College. And you’re no doubt aware that the mainstream media have beaten to death the non-story of Hunter Biden’s laptop — yet they keep on beating.

And what happened when it became known that Don Jr. was involved in plotting the Jan. 6 insurrection? Front page of the “far-left” Times? Get real. It was buried on page A-15. Below the fold.

Shortly before this stunning news broke, it was also discovered that the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice (who had been instrumental in corrupting the 2000 election to install George W. Bush) was also part of the seditious plot — while her husband was participating in court rulings about bringing the perpetrators to justice. (Coincidentally, he was the only justice who voted to keep certain records under wraps.) Both of these stories made it into the news cycle, though just barely, for about one day. And then they promptly disappeared, to make room for endless rants about Disney showing too much respect for persecuted minorities.

Except that isn’t exactly how it’s being framed. The “far left” New York Times, among others, has done its best to convert the unhinged assault on Disney by an ignorant mob of reactionaries into yet another preposterous bothsidesim.

So in mediaspeak, Disney’s being singled out as a scapegoat for reactionaries means that Disney itself is “feuding”; and the company’s practices of inclusiveness mean that it is no longer trying to “appeal to all”. And foamy-mouthed right-wing delusions are now “the real world”. Since right-wingers are constantly presenting themselves as victims, the media feel obliged to validate that claim. Exactly as planned in the right-wing playbook.

In short, right-wing extremists have almost total control over not only how American media covers the issues, but over what gets pegged (quite often incorrectly) as an issue and what doesn’t. Any day now, you can expect an avalanche of media screeds about how Democrats want to exterminate all the unicorns in Central Park.

One comment

  1. I wrote this letter to the editor of a local news outlet who refused to publicly retract or rebut a letter from another commenter which they previously published:

    “Hello editors of the Duluth Reader, the following letter is meant as a rebuttal to Chuck Bracken’s and to Reader’s editors, who refused to let Bracken’s false letter in the 4-21-2022 Duluth Reader be rebutted by Reader. It is a whopping 281 words long. Thus. you should have no trouble publishing it in some future inbox of Reader. You need not publish the links I provided to prove my statements as part of my letter itself, but I hope you will list them at the end of this letter.

    4/27/2022
    To the Duluth Readers’ inbox
    RE: Chuck Bracken’s false claims about Hunter Biden;

    Chuck Bracken’s letter in the 4-21-2022 issue of reader is not just secondhand nonsense–except for the fact that Republicans lied about his claims in the past and are doing so again as the 2022 elections get nearer. Don’t believe me? Read the analysis that is there for all to see on Politifact, FactCheck.org, Snopes, the Washington Post etc. Don’t you know that many voters will be misled by this crap! It is just as much a problem in Duluth as anywhere else! But as I said, Duluth Reader’s editors won’t bother to prove it is actually true, because the only proof that affirms it comes from what is said in the conspiracy theory itself!

    Snopes and the Washington Post gave an unproven rating to the story merely because some information had not been confirmed, but if you read the Washington Post’s description about this so-called evidence, you will see that the story was shot full of holes and suspicious claims! The videos were obviously fake, and anyone with a sixth-grade education can easily see why!–except maybe for the owner of the PC store who discovered this alleged evidence, (because he is legally blind)? The last link I examined below also proves that this bogus story was once published on Facebook, and then removed for its unconfirmed and obviously fake evidence!

    https://www.factcheck.org/2020/10/social-media-posts-dredge-up-baseless-child-trafficking-conspiracy-theory/

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/fox-hunter-biden-porn/

    https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2020/oct/20/facebook-posts/fact-checking-unproven-claims-about-hunter-biden-a/

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/03/18/forgotten-and-ignored-context-emergence-hunter-biden-laptop-story/

    https://archive.ph/4BcBL

    This is truly the worst kind of unproved rumor, especially since many people believe it, and will then they may vote for Trump Republicans in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections!

    Pete W Johnson

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