Once upon a time, the legacy media controlled the daily news narrative. There were three principal broadcast TV networks which took their nightly news cues from the NYT and, secondarily, the WaPo. Before cable TV, talk radio, and the rise of social media, the news of the day moved slooooowly and could be controlled and shaped by the powers-that-be. By the way, that was the title of a book about the early days of the legacy media, and it is a good read – for historical perspective purposes – about the media.
Back in the day, the New York Times – there was only a “print edition” back then – broke the news of the day each morning, which was used directly by other major and minor newspapers and/or repeated by the Associated Press and United Press International news services across the land.
Americans were conditioned over time to catch daily news summaries each evening on their favorite broadcast TV network. The leading stories on those broadcasts were almost always the major news stories printed by that day’s edition of the NY Times. I daresay that every American over the age of 50 can rattle off the talking heads back in those days: Walter Cronkite, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, Frank Reynolds/Howard K Smith, and their successors over the years.
In those days, the Democrat Party almost completely controlled the political narrative largely thanks to their media allies at the NYT and other major newspapers, as well as at the three broadcast TV networks. But there was at least a veneer of “impartiality” in those days. Controlling the media narrative made it easy to propagandize the socialist agendas of LBJ and Jimmy Carter. And even Nixon’s domestic policies were aided by the narrative, as they were largely left-of-center; e.g., he authorized the EPA and took us off the gold standard.
Had there been any real semblance of political balance among the major media in the decades leading up to 1980, the major media transformation that has transpired partly due to the Reagan presidency and partly due to new technology may have turned out differently. However, that was certainly NOT the case, as the media narrative was tightly controlled and aligned with the liberal political establishment’s policy objectives. The only conservative voices were a few token columnists on the op-ed pages and a few conservative magazines with tiny subscription bases, such as National Review, The American Spectator, Human Events, and the Conservative Chronicles. And there was also the inimitable William F. Buckley, Jr., on the flagship PBS TV show, “Firing Line,” during which he carved up any and all liberals/Democrats who appeared on his show.
The stifling of conservative voices by the Establishment received a big course correction with the election of President Reagan in 1980. The Fairness Doctrine, which in reality was used to control political discourse in the media, was abolished. And a conservative upstart by the name of Rush Limbaugh led the rise of conservative talk radio, and he paved the way for a veritable explosion of alternative media sources, which broke the Establishment’s chokehold on the daily news narrative.
Of course, the other major event essentially concurrent with Rush’s debut on August 1988 was the development of the Internet. Originally a research network, DARPA adopted TCP/IP in 1983, and Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1990. And thankfully, the Internet was unleashed and has been essentially unregulated unto the present day. The Internet led to an explosion of news sources and a goldmine for alternative and independent news media.
As a result, the legacy media lock on “the daily narrative” was broken. One by-product of the Internet age and the proliferation of cable news networks was the acceleration of the news cycle to the point of “instantaneous news” virtually “in the moment.” No longer could the daily narrative be shaped in the normal way by the legacy media. And the profusion of voices conveying “news” has only accelerated with the advent of social media. The Establishment’s daily narrative was diluted by dozens of other voices. Literally EVERYONE can become a journalist these days. Or at the very least become an “opinion journalist” based on their own political framework and life experience. [Hey! That defines me to a “tee”!]
Another result was the blurring of the lines between “investigative” and hard news journalists versus “opinion journalists” – in effect, the lack of differentiation between the news pages and the opinion pages in the media these days. The legacy media began to convey opinions even in hard news, and the political spin was invariably liberal and obvious to the discerning news consumer. That led to further fracturing of news sources, with the legacy media losing significant market share (and $$!). And thus, the political battle lines became more pronounced with each passing year, with the legacy media and their Establishment backers trying to regain market share and control of the news cycle and narrative, by hook or by crook.
One early attempt to control the media narrative was the Clinton regime’s use of a “War Room” to directly influence the media by conveying talking points to trusted allies in the media via phone and facsimile and, later, by email. This was so successful that it soon became obvious to various observers that certain media personalities were using the exact same words to describe the issue(s) of the day.
This was first made widely known by Rush Limbaugh, who introduced the “media montage” to his YUUUGE audience. He has used that device to highlight the extent of media coordination of the daily narrative for years now. For example, who could forget the legacy media’s parroting of the word “gravitas” to convey Bush 43’s lack of foreign policy experience by his selection of Dick Cheney as his VP candidate (who provided the necessary “gravitas”)? Others in the conservative media, e.g., Sean Hannity, now use media montages to showcase the media’s laziness and willingness to toe the Democrat line on a regular basis.
But media montages aren’t the only signs of agit-prop from the Establishment press. Remember the “journo-list”? This will refresh your memory:
Just in case you’ve been living in a cave, or if you only get your news from MSNBC, here’s the story. A young blogger, Ezra Klein, formerly of the avowedly left-wing American Prospect and now with the avowedly mainstream Washington Post, founded the e-mail listserv JournoList for like-minded liberals to hash out and develop ideas. Some 400 people joined the by-invitation-only group. Most, it seems, were in the media, but many hailed from academia, think tanks, and the world of forthright liberal activism generally. They spoke freely about their political and personal biases, including their hatred of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
JournoList e-mails obtained by the Daily Caller reveal what anybody with two neurons to rub together already knew: Professional liberals don’t like Republicans and do like Democrats. They can be awfully smug and condescending in their sense of intellectual and moral superiority. They tend to ascribe evil motives to their political opponents – sometimes even when they know it’s unfair. One obscure blogger insisted that liberals should arbitrarily demonize a conservative journalist as a racist to scare conservatives away from covering stories that might hurt Obama. Oh, and – surprise! – it turns out that the “O” in JournoList stands for “Obama.”
In 2008, participants shared talking points about how to shape coverage to help Obama. They tried to paint any negative coverage of Obama’s racist and hateful pastor, Jeremiah Wright, as out of bounds. Journalists at such “objective” news organizations as Newsweek, Bloomberg, Time, and The Economist joined conversations with open partisans about the best way to criticize Sarah Palin.
Who could argue that the “JournoList” doesn’t still exist, at least informally, in the Age of Trump? We’ve seen them in action in spades across the legacy media, but especially at the NY Time, Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC over the past two-plus years, haven’t we?
We have learned just recently that the NY Times has been following a now-failed Russian collusion narrative since late 2016 and is now in the process of “changing to a new narrative”:
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, said recently that, after the Mueller report, the paper has to shift the focus of its coverage from the Trump-Russia affair to the president’s alleged racism. “We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well,” Baquet said. “Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”
Baquet used the gentlest terms possible — “the story changed” — but the fact is, the conspiracy-coordination allegation the Times had devoted itself to pursuing turned out to be false. Beyond that, Democrats on Capitol Hill struggled to press an obstruction case against the president. The Trump-Russia hole came up dry. Now, Baquet continued, “I think that we’ve got to change.” The Times must “write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions.”
Yes, you read that right: the NY Times engineered a false narrative for two years (“Russian collusion”), shoe-horning virtually all of their “news” (in reality, propaganda) to fit that Big Lie. And now that the Mueller Report exposed that narrative as the lie it always has been, rather than take stock of their resultant declining market share and start reporting factual news, they’ve decided to retain their TDS and engineer a new false narrative: “Trump is a racist!”
We’ve already seen them working on that lie with their recently-announced and ridiculous “1619 project,” which seeks to essentially rewrite American history by claiming that America was actually founded in 1619 when slavery was introduced into the colonies with the resultant indelible taint of slavery ultimately “disproving” the concept of American exceptionalism and giving the Left license to tear down the country and remake it into their version of a Utopian socialist paradise (sic). And along the way, @POTUS will be a central focus in order to validate that false narrative. E.g., virtually EVERY member of the Democrats’ Star Wars bar scene (a/k/a their presidential wannabes) has ALREADY accused @POTUS of being a racist – or even a white supremacist!
The Left’s media narrative-engineering efforts are also orchestrated daily by Media Matters and the execrable David Brock’s ShareBlue org. These two groups propagate Democrat/leftist narratives and even complete stories to willing recipients in the legacy media every single day. They are carrying on with a modernized version of Clinton’s old War Room in the 1990s.
We are also learning that the social media and search engine giants are on board with facilitating Democrat messaging and suppressing conservative/Republican stories, too. And the legacy media are conducting slanderous attacks against independent media now, too, because they know they’re in trouble. Here’s Epoch Times’s response to a recent attack by NBC “News.”
There’s basically a hive mentality among the legacy media, social media, and search engine companies to support Democrats going into 2020! Some are bought and paid for by Democrats and their deep-pocketed donors like Soros and Steyer. Others are ideological soulmates. Let’s face it, the legacy media have become sources for anti-Trump agit-prop. It’s impossible to stomach CNN or MSNBC for even a few minutes these days without shouting at the tube!
What to do and where to turn for real news and commentary? Here’s my 2 cents on that score:
- Ignore the legacy media completely except for an occasional sampling just to see what they’re lying about on any particular day.
- Get your news and commentary from alternate/independent sources while comparing and contrasting the information to verify and validate the content.
- Live by the phrase “trust but verify” coupled with the 48-hour rule (i.e., wait at least 48 hours before responding emotionally or otherwise to any sensational “breaking” news story).
- Watch out for legacy media montages, and see if you can discover the “legacy media daily narratives” by looking for identical words and phrases used across the media on a given day.
- Watch out for fake conservative (and downright anti-Trump) conservative media; they are out there and need to be shunned, too. A lot of them are sensationalists and are in it for the mouse-clicks only!
Here are some of the sources I’ve come to trust, by and large, for news and commentary over the past several years (in no particular order):
- The Daily Caller
- Epoch Times
- Gatestone Institute
- American Thinker
- Breitbart News
- Free Beacon
- American Spectator
- Legal Insurrection
- America Out Loud
- One America News Network
- Human Events
- Claremont Institute
- Washington Times
- Washington Examiner
- NY Post
- Judicial Watch
- American Greatness
And last but by no means least, RedState(dot)com, who have graciously given me this platform from which to pontificate.
Beware of false media narratives, folks! We’re heading into the most important election cycle in the last 100 years, and the Left will pull out all stops to lie, cheat, or steal their way to victory, and narrative engineering is a big part of their political strategy! But we’re on to them this election cycle, aren’t we!