Fake News Wannabes
We had a pretty good snowstorm the other day. I switched on the local news when I got up, naively imagining that they would give me a little useful information in between their usual dire warnings not to leave my home. For the first time that I can remember they weren’t much interested in ice or snow. They were concerned, instead, that the weather not deter me from going to my local vaccination center. They wanted to educate me, too, that today was the first day of Black History Month, that blacks die at three times the rate of whites from COVID-19, and that the black vote was suppressed in the recent election. You remember that election? The same one that the same station had declared, with smug satisfaction, that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won easily. On the following day, a glutton for punishment, I watched these journalistic titans show a teaser for their upcoming investigative report – on the topic of the rise of extremism in America. I didn’t need to actually watch to know that they would not be talking about Antifa or Black Lives Matter. Their extremists are my friends and neighbors. The American middle class. You know – that majority far-right fringe.
I am not surprised that the people in New York City have contempt for me. It’s nothing new. Nor does it shock me that multimillionaires living in well-protected enclaves snuggled up against the Pacific tend to believe themselves superior beings. You and I are creatures from another planet to them – primitives from the primordial ooze. Most of our exalted cousins have never gotten closer to us than 30,000 feet, as our homes and lives passed barely noticed beneath them. They think we pay rapt attention to QAnon, that is while we’re not polishing our jackboots and goose-stepping around the neighborhood with the militia. Outside of the leftist press, I’ve never heard a single conversation about QAnon. I don’t know what it is, nor do I care to. I wonder, absently, if such a group even exists outside the lurid imaginations of our betters. If we have a local militia where I live, they’re invisible. I can’t even remember where I’ve put my jackboots. Goose-stepping is too hard on my old knees. I’m having fun with you, of course. My jackboots are in the closet where I keep the stash of Molotov cocktail bottles I have leftover from my younger Marxist days.
I get it that the drove of insular snobs that run our country at the moment think of me and mine as little more than animated objects from a computer game. Or, if we are real to them at all, they see us as a sort of untermenschen in the best totalitarian tradition. We might be useful candidates for organ harvesting if they decide that we are advanced enough to be considered human. Call me angry, call me bitter – but I’ve read my history books and, yes, they did have plenty of pictures. What elites will do to people they have no connections with isn’t much of a surprise – but the sneering perfidy of the local news? That’s a different animal altogether.
Local reporters, after all, have spent their modest careers covering our more contentious city council meetings. They have dutifully chased after tornados in – can you believe it – actual rural areas. Their courage is unbounded. The modest cities they inhabit aren’t quite as insular as the gated communities on the coasts. The universities they attended, though ever more “woke” by the day, are less rarified than the ones that the elites attend. The local media cannot simply be ignorant. They live among us. They went to our high schools.
Snobbery is a contagious disease. It infects people with a deficiency of character, mask or no mask. It spreads without the slightest physical contact. I know a woman who believes, for example, that reading The New Yorker has somehow made her a somebody. It’s a fantasy of course. The gentry of New York society would consider her no more than an amusingly educated orangutan. Reading liberal rags and parroting all the approved nonsense counts for nothing if you live in Ohio. Status games are not about fealty – they’re about the simple joy of keeping people out. If you can’t check the residency box, you are cast into the eternal darkness without the possibility of redemption. Pretension only works on other pretenders of your class. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal in the middle class liberal heart. I think most homegrown progessives from the flyover country are of this kind. They’ve invested quite alot of time and energy convincing themselves they are just the diaspora of the coastal in-kids. Local news people are probably no exception. Cub reporters and anchors alike probably imagine they are cut from the same cloth as their national counterparts – and manage not to notice that Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of a national security advisor and Chris Cuomo comes from a family of New York governors. Almost all female national news anchors of somewhat lesser pedigrees are unusually attractive physical specimens. Male anchors of the second tier are mostly fashionably non-white.
Then again, perhaps even this poisonous assessment isn’t harsh enough. I am excusing the local news readers as merely the products of ordinary human vanity. Posers of no special malice – unhappy dreamers and nothing worse. This image would, no doubt, ruffle at least a few more Machiavellian feathers within their flock. There are worse motives to be had than ego.
The staple of my local morning news has been, for several decades now, a dreary litany of local murders, typically with persons of color on both ends of the gun. One can only imagine that good liberals despise reporting these things. In the first place it runs counter to their narrative, and in the second it makes them stand around looking nervous in the worst parts of the ghetto in the middle of the night. They have to interview people whose English skills are even more marginal than their own. Virtue signaling is best done over dinner or over drinks. It gets you nowhere in some wretched slum at 3:47 in the morning.
Now, if you were one of these junior league Carl Bernsteins and you’d watched the rioting by BLM, Antifa, et al., go basically unreported all summer long – you might see some marked advantages to the evolving journalistic business model. From a personal perspective, it is certainly safer to write pretty narratives from a nice safe office than it is to venture out to violent places where your liberal virtues just might be underappreciated. I suspect that many of these local Pulitzerists and Pulitzerettes long for the day when the networks order their editors to end the coverage of nocturnal homicides altogether. As I’ve said, these incidents have always been “off message”.
Don’t expect the local news to “do what’s right”. Don’t expect that they won’t find it safer and more satisfying to hound some little shopkeeper for not wearing a mask than to engage in actual journalism. What is truth to them but a career impeding proposition? Who knows who might be watching?
Image via Pixnio.