Media Lies Help Liberty (2021 Aug)

by Barry A. Liebling

The mainstream media is committed to promoting the leftist agenda. It consists of most major communication companies and is distinctive from the few large firms that lean right such as Fox News and Newsmax. Those who are not sympathetic to the mainstream often refer to it as the legacy media. But fans of these behemoths typically call it “the media” because they refuse to acknowledge that companies opposed to the woke cabal qualify as genuine, legitimate media.

For a long time the prestige of the legacy media has been in decline. According to a number of surveys, each year fewer people trust it and regard it as a reliable source of information. Axios, a leftist news organization, has reported on this trend and regards it as tragic. Axios writers are hoping the descent can be reversed with the help of large corporations that support progressive leftism.

Note that the crumbling status of the mainstream media – lamented by its supporters – is a gift to those of us who appreciate the essential importance of liberty.

The erosion in trust is undoubtedly fueled by media blunders that are visible to anyone who cares to notice. There is a repeated pattern of the media shrieking a narrative and insisting that viewers and listeners blindly believe what they are told. Anyone who questions the propaganda is tarred by media agents as a “right-wing extremist” or a “victim of conspiracy theory” or both. At a later time information emerges that shows the narrative is not only wrong but that the media were culpably negligent in pushing it.

Here are a few obvious examples.

For years a dominant mainstream story was that President Trump was an asset of the Russian government. An elite cadre of investigators spent significant amounts of time and money to prove the charges, but the accusations came to nothing. The slander was revealed to be a fabrication of the president’s enemies. The lack of media veracity is in plain sight – in no way hidden. Of course, for Democrat partisans there is no problem because any attack on Trump is reflexively regarded as a good deed – whether based on fact or not. But for people not committed to trashing Trump, the media failure is a serious demerit.

In the Summer of 2020 there were destructive riots, looting, violence, and arson in major cities throughout the United States. The major media downplayed the calamity – urging its audience to look the other way – and insisted that the tumult was actually “mostly peaceful demonstrations.” To the extent that genuine mayhem occurred it was justified because there was a worldwide pandemic and the specter of systemic racism excuses any destructive behavior. This interpretation of events did not square with what Americans experienced and saw first-hand. The big media concerns avoided stating the obvious which was people with bad motives saw an opportunity to express their malice and calculated correctly that they could get away with criminal behavior.

Then there was the Capitol riot on 2021 January 6. Hundreds of people engaged in trespassing and vandalism which was understood by all fair-minded observers to be felonious and reprehensible. But the mainstream media insists as of this writing that the event was not merely a riot. It was an armed insurrection and an attempt to overthrow the government of the United States. Staging a coup to take over the country is a better – more inflammatory – story for the leftist elite than reporting accurately what really occurred.

The Covid virus is dangerous, but exactly how dangerous and under what conditions is in dispute. States that had the least restrictive lock-down policies had public health outcomes (Florida and Texas) that were better than states with the most harsh, suffocating rules (New York and California). So the woke mainstream media ignores or downplays the facts and reports that rigorous lock-down enforcement is better. Of course, endorsing universal involuntary compliance is viewed by progressive leftists as a way of asserting their dominance.

The good news is that the defects of mainstream media performance is likely to help the cause of individual freedom. It provides outside observers a rationale for discounting – sometimes all the way to zero – the messages sent out by the colluding corporations. The more people notice that the legacy companies are unreliable, the less influence the media will have.

Consider who is going to notice and who will be affected. The are many (not nearly enough) libertarians and conservatives who are already highly critical of big media. Additional examples of corruption will harden their resolve and will not diminish their unsympathetic judgement.

Committed leftists may or may not notice. But because they are dedicated to the woke agenda they regard the progressive-left narrative to be more important than facts. In fairness, my own conversations with leftist intellectuals over the years informs me that they are not against truth. To them truth is a useful attribute that will make any argument stronger. But truth is not necessary. Instead, it is a tool that is sometimes available, and sometimes not. If truth does not support the objectives of the left, then telling a fake story is the next best thing.

There is a huge cohort of Americans who are not participating in political discussions. Think of them as swing voters, or moderates, or people who are more interested in living their own lives than getting involved in political controversies. They are – and will continue to be – most influenced by instances where they catch the mainstream media lying. If they are alert it is likely (not inevitable) that they will decide to think for themselves and regard anything that the mainstream media says with skepticism.

The more media rantings are recognized as fraudulent, the more they will backfire. Citizens should pay attention to what they are being told, sort out what is true from what is not, and judge the messengers accordingly. The leftists habit of pushing their narrative instead of sticking to the truth should ultimately help the cause of liberty.

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