F A K E N E W S
By Patrick Maines
If democracy in the United States is imperiled, as some say it is, then the pregnant question remains: Imperiled by whom? For the Left, Democrats, the pop culture industry, most of the mainstream press, and those in the permanent government bureaucracy known colloquially as “the deep state,” the answer is always Donald Trump. Trump because he is a president unschooled in the manners and mores of the country’s so-called elites.
For most everybody else, the answer may be found in the reflection of those same people and institutions whose over-the-top antics are a consequence of their hatred of Trump. They marinate in a vat of hypocrisy and self-promotion, and soothe themselves with the belief that the ends (removing Trump) justify their means.
Consider, for instance, the quality of political news coverage from outlets like CNN, NBC, and its offspring, MSNBC. No matter when you tune in, you can count on tendentious and nonstop anti-Trump commentary offered in a manner that perfectly blends hubris with hysteria.
But where is the historical perspective? Where is the gravity one would expect from people who work in the only industry protected by name in the constitution? If, in fact, the media are essential to our democracy, is it too much to expect from them the modest acknowledgment that nothing is more central to a democracy than elections, even those that are won by people one dislikes?
A Shameful Surrender
More disturbing still is the MSM’s utter abandonment of their role as watchdogs of government. With every passing day, the Trump/Russia collusion investigation uncovers a growing and frightening list of unethical and/or illegal actions hatched not by Trump but by the FBI and intelligence agencies like the CIA, to say nothing of the incestuous relationship those institutions have with the press.
And how are we learning about these things? Courtesy of the political coverage of such outlets as the New York Times, Washington Post, or any of the broadcast television networks? Of course not! We are learning about these things almost entirely because of the dogged investigative reporting and detailed analyses of a few relatively small circulation outlets like The Daily Caller, Tablet, American Greatness, The Federalist, Washington Examiner, and even National Review.
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Not to be outdone in their lunacy by the MSM, Hollywood and the recording companies are doing their own bit. Taken together these two industries comprise much of what constitutes pop culture in this country, and until recently one might have assumed that late show and stand-up comedians, actors and actresses, musicians and recording artists were in the entertainment business. No more.
Today large numbers of them appear to be in the agitprop business, spewing some of the ugliest rhetoric ever produced for the general public. If it hasn’t happened already, one imagines the time may come when people think twice about referring to such people as “stars” or “celebrities,” unless those words come to be seen as pejoratives.
Who Put These Guys in Charge?
The deep state has also jarred the nation with the alarming comments of characters like those of the former DNI James Clapper, the CIA’s John Brennan, and ranking members of the FBI like James Comey. Brennan in particular seems quite literally unhinged by the things he’s said about Trump, calling him a charlatan and saying, following the firing of the FBI’s Andy McCabe, “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history.”
Does that sound like the kind of sober and measured language about the president that one would expect of a man who headed the largest and most important intelligence organization in the world? Could anyone imagine the head of MI6 ever saying publicly such a thing about a British prime minister? It’s surely just a coincidence that Brennan made his infamous comments just one month after signing on with MSNBC/NBC as a contributor.
There’s no gainsaying that the country is deeply divided, a consequence in large part of the promotion by progressives and Democrats of identity politics, a grievance industry, and the most tedious kinds of virtue signaling.
But this condition isn’t likely to last much longer. Either it will blow up into something much more ominous, or it will be stanched by the turn of events and the surrender of the Left and NeverTrumpers to political reality.
Even now the handwriting is on the wall. It’s reflected in Trump’s rising poll numbers, the Republicans’ improving stand in the generic ballot polls, the collapse of the audiences for the entertainment industries’ televised awards programs, and in the declining credibility of the MSM.
Nothing quite like it has been seen before. A popular revolt against institutions like the press and government who, once upon a time, were seen as bedrocks of American democracy.
Patrick Maines recently retired as president of the Media Institute, a nonprofit think tank promoting a strong First Amendment, sound communications policies, and journalistic excellence. While in college in Washington, he was a junior staffer in the office of Sen. Barry Goldwater, and later became assistant publisher of National Review.