Media and the leftist code
Go ahead and make it official: Senator Tom Cotton is the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner.
In driving the staff of the New York Times positively batty (including woke hostage victim and executive editor Dean Baquet), Cotton singlehandedly threw a wrench into the workings of America's premier liberal institution. Not since making rubble bounce in Baghdad as a captain in the 101st Airborne has Cotton kindled so much chaos in the heart of an enemy.
In using his senatorial status and martial background to endorse the deployment of the National Guard to quell citywide rioting, Cotton effected a veritable coup, toppling James Bennet, the editorial page editor. The Gray Lady's cosseted staff turned on management, incensed by the fascistic concept of entertaining contrary beliefs.
Like the Arab Spring, the newsroom-led uprising sparked subversive rebellion in sister publications. Philadelphia Inquirer executive editor Stan Wischnowski resigned (read: was pushed out) after vociferous outcry following an article titled "Buildings Matter, Too." On the other side of the Keystone State, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette saw hireling-led distemper when a reporter was removed from the Black Lives Matter beat after showing plain bias in favor of the protesters.
What is this tug-of-war between broadsheet editors and reporters in their employ? Is the nature of journalism changing? What happened to diversity in opinion and just-the-facts-ma'am coverage?
All-out war — that's what happened. Ben Smith of the Times gives a behind-the-scenes breakdown of the press's civil row, with up-and-coming Millennial-age journalists infusing their reporting with progressive ideology. "[T]he shift in mainstream American media — driven by a journalism that is more personal, and reporters more willing to speak what they see as the truth without worrying about alienating conservatives — now feels irreversible," Smith writes, including his own fatalist feelings in his examination.
Smith's wording is careful, beating around what's actually happening, only framing it as a new slant to reporting that lets stringers insert parti pris into their news copy. But there's more to it. The binning of unbiasedness isn't just a stalking horse to serve left-wing causes with the excuse of embracing authenticity. The purpose is political, yes, but it's also essentialist: view-from-nowhere inquiry is viewed as a racial norm. "The entire journalistic frame of 'objectivity' and political neutrality is structured around white supremacy," tweeted Asian journalist E. Alex Jung, synopsizing the new journalistic cosmovision.
(Since ideology can't suffer irony without snapping at the seams, purveyors of this radical reorientation around objective truth fail to see the implication of their views. By fettering "objectivity" to whites, neutrality opponents admit that other races are incapable of putting aside bias to deduce the warheit of things.)
Other young reporters have attempted to redefine the fourth estate's stock in trade along similar lines. Jemele Hill, the former ESPN host who infamously called Trump a white supremacist, described journalism as "not a profession of being friends," but "a profession of agitation." Masha Gessen of The New Yorker told CNN that reporting on the White House should focalize on "harm reduction."
Got that? Journalism isn't just about recording and disseminating information. It's about stirring up trouble and healing wounds at the same time, like a doctor knocking teeth out in a sub rosa fight club.
What all of this lingo-laden twaddle really means is simple. Journalism qua journalism hasn't changed. Straight news documentation still exists as a philosophical concept, à la the Archimedean point. It's just out of practice, like tintype photography or drawing up a code duello.
The print media operate with what playwright David Mamet calls a "code." The left's code, which has subsumed hard reportage, is holistic: all information, every angle, every thought, every utterance, every word, every sentence construction, revolves around dissipating the right's legitimacy.
"The committed liberal, leftist," Mamet explains, "ha[s] devoted so much time, energy, and treasure to the creation of a code that no evidence could convince them that it has been broken and so must be replaced."
The sacked editors who challenged their young colleagues never got the coded memo. Though liberal in persuasion, they thought their ideas could win the day in open combat. The newsy upstarts don't view intellectual competition as helpful — only a form of legitimation. So conservative views must be crushed and shunted from public view.
If Tom Cotton scored any sort of victory over the Times, it's sure to be Pyrrhic. The collateral damage of Maoist suppression will only spread within the news business.