The November Referendum on the Liberal Media

The old media is dialing-up its defense of a failed Presidency. It will cost them.

As the Obama Doctrine, that ill-defined foreign policy born during the conflagration that brought an end to the dictator Gaddafi not unlike that recently delivered upon U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, dissolves in failure, media shills for the regime focus their criticism on Mitt Romney.

It won't hurt him. But it will hurt them, because Americans are watching.

While this media misdirection doesn't surprise us, what is noteworthy is the strident tone of anti-Romney desperation bleeding through outlets and pundits like the website, and TIME magazine's columnist Joe Klein.

It's serves little purpose, though, to harp on the bias among the old media illuminati. Those who discern its existence need no persuasion. Those who do not are generally not subject to being persuaded, anyway.

So, perhaps we might try to understand, in an historical context, the phenomenon that is today's sycophantic, Obama-adoring, liberal "professional" journalists -- for our own edification.

First, they promote a species of propaganda not new to the planet. One place to probe their past is in two propaganda campaigns in Germany. First, National Socialism ruled Germany, and most of Europe. Then, Marxist-Leninist ideology filled the political vacuum in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) after the fall of the Nazis.

This disclaimer comes up-front: There is no suggestion made below that Democrats are Nazis. For that matter, neither are Tea Party supporters -- despite what Nancy Pelosi says. References to the role of propaganda in Nazi Germany below are made solely for comparative and illustrative purposes.  

Randall L. Bytwerk, Professor of Communication at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, compares propaganda during those two totalitarian regimes in Germany in his book Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democrat Republic (Michigan State University Press, 2004).

Bytwerk defines a totalitarian state as being...

"...dedicated to an ideal vision of history and sees its mission as getting the world there. It has a party willing to do everything necessary to reach its goals, a leader chosen either by Providence or the laws of history, a worldview that lays claim to all aspects of life, a confident reliance on mass propaganda, and central control of at least most institutions. This definition does not require that a totalitarian state succeed in being completely totalitarian or that totalitarian states be equally reprehensible." (p. 12)

America is not a totalitarian state, but more than a few Americans believe the nation has taken significant steps, during the Obama Presidency, in a totalitarian direction, and we are alarmed.

Today, America's liberal media displays behavior typical of how news and political commentary outlets function in totalitarian states.  Bytwerk writes,

"The masses' limited capacity makes repetition critical.  Even the most gifted propagandist faces great challenges in securing the attention, much less the belief, of the masses. Since the masses are of limited intelligence and great forgetfulness, 'all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan'." (p. 45, the quote is from Adolf Hitler's book, "Mein Kampf")   

The Obama regime's slogans and memes, propagated by the legacy media today, include, but are not limited to, the Republican's "War on Women," "fair-share," "Forward," and the general characterization of "rich" Republicans as uncaring about the poor, minorities, LGBT persons, and so on.

The legacy media parrots these memes and repeats the Obama Re-Election Campaign's talking-points -- daily.

"The media in totalitarian societies have catechetical functions. Their goal is to present people with convincing accounts of what they cannot know firsthand - the reality beyond their everyday lives. That which is presented must agree with the reigning worldview. If Jews are bad, news of Jews anywhere in the world must be bad news. If capitalism is in its dying days, it will not do to present its successes.  And if the news is to serve as an organ of the truth, those who determine what is news must be those who supposedly know that truth themselves." (p. 89)

The old media's catechetical-like repetition of Democrat talking points was exposed in 2010 during the "Journolist Scandal". Before the scandal was, conveniently, forgotten by the people who caused it, USA Today's Patrick Maines wrote an article entitled "Journolist scandal eclipses the real problem: News bias".

"The "Journolist" kerfuffle -- surely you've heard of it by now -- says more about the state of media criticism than it does about the state of journalism. Worse, it provokes a microscopic narrative about the thoughts and motives of opinion writers that only diverts attention from the macroscopic subject -- the public's perception of bias among mainstream news reporters.

In the event that you've been vacationing abroad, or have better things to do than monitor pundits' opinions of themselves, Journolist is a now-defunct listserv once made up of some 400 liberal commentators, activists, academics and "think tank" ideologues. It was assembled (and then disassembled) by The Washington Post's Ezra Klein."

The "listserv" may now be officially defunct, but the catechetical function of the legacy media lives on, unabated. It is as much a "perception of bias" as seeing the sunrise is a merely a perception of reality. The catechetical sameness of the storylines used by the old liberal media to attack Romney, Ryan, and Republicans in general, is too broadly identical to be coincidental.

There's nothing new here; we've seen "journolists" before.

On March 33, 1933, newly-minted Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels addressed German journalists.

"You should obviously get your information here, but you should also get your instructions. You should know not only what is happening but also what the Government is thinking and how you can most usefully explain this to the people. We want to have a press that works with the Government, just as the Government wants to work with the press." (Bytwerk, p. 91)

By 1943, Goebbels' attitude toward the press had shifted.

"Any decent journalist with any feeling of honor in his bones simply cannot stand for the way he is handled by the press department of the Reich government.  Journalists are sat on as through there were still in grade school. Naturally this will have very serious consequences for the future of journalism. Any man who still has a residue of honor will be very careful not to become a journalist." (p. 104)

In the Marxist-Leninist regime of the GDR, a journalist described the status of his profession in 1989, as the Berlin Wall fell.

"We had no status either with the population or in the party apparatus.... We were seen by the entire party apparatus as ink lackeys, as people to whom one gave orders. We were not taken seriously. People said we were the court fools of the nation" (Bytwerk, p. 105)

The characterizations of the East German media as "ink lackeys" and "court fools" do not significantly differ from how many Americans view the legacy media today.

Frequently, those posting comments on American Thinker wonder if the nation has reached the tipping point where a majority of voters lack critical thinking skills, and are, therefore, poised to re-elect Obama.

Lest we assume that only the less-educated are susceptible to propaganda, Bytwerk offers this warning:

"The mass of such material [modern propaganda] is so great that even those who claim to be critical readers have little option but to accept most of what they read. They may be suspicious, but it is difficult to confirm their suspicions. Few are able to doubt everything. Citizens of both systems [National Socialism and Marxism-Leninism] faced a comprehensive media system that was difficult to disagree with. There was either no competing information in the case of National Socialist Germany or limited information in the case of the GDR." (p. 107)

In the quote above we find a redemptive difference between state-sanctioned propaganda in the two political systems examined in Bytwerk's book, and the media landscape in America today.

We have a flourishing, expanding, new media that lives and thrives on the internet. And it's still in its infancy.

While that new media covers the spectrum of ideological opinions, as it should, within that spectrum are America's most independent, conservative news and commentary outlets.

Supporting those outlets is a legion of unpaid citizen-journalists and modestly-paid semi-professionals. They join with full-time staff writers for pre-existing conservative magazines that now post on the web. The combined effort offers alternative viewpoints to those of the old liberal media.  

To conclude:

Historically, the corruption of the professional media in totalitarian societies has been omnipresent.

America's old liberal media has, likewise, been thoroughly corrupted, and its integrity irreparably damaged.

Because Americans are not uniformly stupid, many know that.

Consequently, the November election will, also, be a referendum on the liberal media.

History does not bid well for their long-term success.

"Totalitarian propaganda fails for inherent reasons that over the long term (which may take generations) make it unable to achieve the goals its makers set.  It fails because it is untruthful, because it encourages hypocrisy, and because it is in the biblical sense idolatrous, placing a human absolute in place of a divine absolute. The last is the worse. With the conviction that the Fuhrer or the party is infallible, the way to evil is open." (p. 161, Bytwerk)

You will not see the legacy media on the ballot in November. But it will, most assuredly, be there.

And so will we.