Over the past four years, what’s become increasingly obvious is that, in the era of Donald Trump, the media has had no idea who its audience is.
After spending decades alienating middle America, their response to middle America electing Donald Trump has been to insult them more and defend themselves from Trump and his attacks against them. They could dish it in snobbish overtones toward conservatives and their philosophies, but when it’s aggressively turned on them, they absolutely cannot stand it.
Much of the media’s response has been to coddle themselves and tell themselves they’re going to be okay, while also making Trump the King of All That Is Bad and attacking him nonstop. Their coverage during the coronavirus pandemic has been nothing short of hostile, contradictory, and based more on attacking him than informing the people they are supposed to be informing.
…Well, I say “the people they are supposed to be informing,” but the national press’s audience is not the American citizen anymore. They have long since deemed the American public too stupid to understand why Orange Man Bad and why they are the Truth. Instead of trying to better inform the public, they have instead decided to write only for themselves and each other.
In other words, the media’s audience is the media.
Before I go on, I would like to make something clear: When I use the term “the media,” I am referring to our national press. I preface the rest of the column like this because, like other small businesses, local journalism is very much necessary and needs support, even through tough times like these. While your local paper may have some of the same biases that the national press does, they are often less obvious, and they are vital to holding local government accountable because that government is way more likely to affect your day to day life than the federal government.
Anyway, it’s become pretty clear that the media has stopped focusing on informing anyone except themselves, and it’s less about informing and more about confirming biases.
With so many reporters on the national stage now being openly progressive and rarely having any experience outside of progressive newsrooms and urban lifestyle, it’s not really surprising that they’re only able to connect with each other and the Democratic groups and political offices that many of them come from now.
Take the idea of media reporting. The Brian Stelters and Oliver Darcys of the world. Is there any actual use in reporting about the media? Not really. Back when Dylan Byers was at Politico, the On Media blog was pretty interesting, but that only appealed to people who paid attention to the media, rather than the news. That blog was focused on the behind-the-scenes stuff, like reporters who left one place and went to another, management changes in newsrooms, and even the corporate news in media.
But now you have the Reliable Sources duo, whose primary job is to be on Twitter and talk about what Fox News is doing at any given moment. It’s not because Fox News is really doing anything different than the rest of the media. It’s just that CNN regularly gets beat in the ratings by Fox News, who is not of the left and doesn’t hate Trump and is therefore wrong.
You’ll note that the hatred of Fox News comes from things said by its commentators, not its reporters and its straight news hosts. But Fox News is at least honest enough to say people like Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity aren’t straight news guys, though CNN won’t say a thing about how biased and, at times, crazed Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo are.
On Reliable Sources, then, you have frequent commentary on why conservative media says what it says, and virtually no conversation on the screwups that you see pretty frequently in non-conservative media.
Or take the New York Times’ dismissal of Tara Reade and then its dismissal of the Biden campaign wanting to use their dismissal as a talking point. The Times decides it is not for the media to decide the fact of the Biden campaign, but the DNC’s, as though the DNC would fairly investigate it.
That wasn’t for the benefit of the American public. The American public watched as the Times and other outlets savaged Brett Kavanaugh on less substantive allegations. The American public has been subjected numerous times to reports on the allegations against Trump. They’ve been subjected to a multi-year media campaign that set out to prove, with no real evidence, that Trump colluded with the Russians to win in 2016, that he sought foreign interference for this election, and so many other allegations that have since been proven unfounded.
The Times’ declaration about investigating the Reade allegations was written for the rest of the media to read, to give them justification for why they don’t have to investigate it either.
There are so many ways that the media could be better, and it should be better, but it won’t get better. They will instead further insulate themselves into their little bubbles and pretend the rest of the world is too stupid to understand what they’re trying to do.
And all power to them. If they need that level of comfort, I hope they get it. I doubt they will, though.