The mainstream media has been at war with conservatives for as long as I have been alive, but for most of that time, they have been in such a dominant position that they were able to be relatively subtle about their disgust with the deplorables.
Before the proliferation of cable channels and the narrowcasting that developed, the media had to pretend to play it down the middle. Would it play in Peoria? was the standard by which they calibrated their pitch. By the Bush years, that standard was breaking down; by 2016, it was out the window.
During the Trump years, the media began to let their freak flag fly, making it clear that they hated not just Trump but anybody who tolerated him. For years, the media massaged their style to appear fair; since Trump got into the presidential race in 2015, the media’s hatred for all things Republican (not just MAGA) is there for all to see.
Many Republicans, including myself, appreciated Trump’s willingness to call the media out and confront them. However, unlike many, I don’t think that Trump was nearly as effective at discrediting the media as is supposed. His willingness to confront them and draw out their bias was important, but as with so many things Trump, his supporters loved his insulting media figures, and most others rolled their eyes.
Trump managed to drag the media figures into the mud with him–which is not nothing–but Trump’s approach had a downside in that it wasn’t persuasive to people who didn’t already agree with him. People wound up either rooting for Trump or for the media, as if it were a sports event.
His supporters cheered and jeered (I loved watching Trump insult reporters because they richly deserved it), but people in the middle wound up hating both the media and Trump.
A newer generation of conservatives has developed a new strategy for dealing with hostile media, which I think is more devastating. In Canada, we saw Pierre Poilievre absolutely destroy a reporter, not through insulting him or accusing him of anything, but simply by revealing his bias in the most gentle way possible.
Great smack down. More republicans need to start acting and talking like this when confronted with the typical hearsay from reporters
— Ron Arnone (@224RMA) October 17, 2023
Poilievre’s technique is best tailored to Canadian audiences because they are less inclined to love a good scrap. Still, the principles are the same as in DeSantis’ forcing reporters to defend their ridiculous assertions and in the new clips of Vivek Ramaswamy taking on a Washington Post reporter yesterday and Dana Bash today.
Vivek was confronted by a Washington Post reporter trying to do the ol’ “gotcha” by framing a question in a way that implies all Republicans are racists. “Do you condemn White Supremacy?” Vivek had none of it and absolutely crushed her by challenging her premises. It was deeply embarrassing for her and on Twitter she is still defending herself, which shows she has lost the battle.
After Steve King announced he was endorsing me, predictably a lame reporter from @WaPo tried to get me to play the game of “denouncing white supremacy,” while she refused to actually define “white supremacy” which in recent years encompasses concepts like “punctuality” & “the… pic.twitter.com/V4e01qcsqw
— Vivek Ramaswamy (@VivekGRamaswamy) January 3, 2024
The “Do you condemn White Supremacy?” question wasn’t intended to elicit a genuine response–who, aside from a few people, doesn’t condemn White Supremacy? The point was to suggest that White Supremacy is rampant among the deplorables, and also to imply that it is unique among racisms. Vivek rightly points out that all invidious racism is bad and he condemns all of it, which actually answers the question.
White supremacy, insofar as it is invidious racism, is bad. But “White Supremacy” has been redefined to mean anything that the DEI/CRT mavens want to destroy; then, it is no longer about race but Western culture. Punctuality has been defined as White Supremacy. Speaking English well is now White Supremacy. Capitalism, equality under the law, monogamous marriage, and a whole host of non-racial concepts are now wrapped up in the concept “White Supremacy” and Vivek refused to condemn it all.
Setting aside Vivek’s handling of the questions — are there any related examples of a reporter going hammer and tongs at a Democrat at any point in recent years? The same way that this routinely happens to Republicans? https://t.co/766EqfsZyD
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) January 5, 2024
What ties this new strategy together is the refusal to accept the premises of the media. DeSantis is a master of it, Poilievre gave a master class while eating an apple, and Vivek, in his manic way, executed the strategy equally well.
Trump opened the door to challenging the media directly, but as with most things Trump he went straight to the insults and nicknames instead of building the case. You and I love to see the bullies get hit in the nose, but many people need to be convinced that they are bullies in the first place.
Speaker Johnson did a good job against Jake Tapper yesterday–fact-checking Tapper in real time. Tapper wants us to take the Biden Administration at its word that it will solve the border crisis with more money for asylum officers, and Johnson pushed back effectively.
The MSM’s power comes from shaping the Narrative™. That power has to be taken away. Trump made progress by using the sledgehammer he wields so well, but only a scalpal will do the trick for many people.
This is the way. Force the media to define its terms, defend its premises, and refuse to be baited into answering stupid questions.