Most of us have an intrinsic and instinctive sense of when we’re being underestimated and handed a line of bull. Regardless of our race, class or political orientation, we’ve all been treated like idiots by authority figures who were less intelligent than ourselves. We may not always have a bushel of data or a briefcase of legal facts for every instance. You know when you’re being told to shut up and obey Big Brother. You can’t prove it, but you can’t ignore what your brain is telling you in giant neon letters. People sense it and the reaction becomes a survival instinct. Thus, if a media figure exhales, much of The Right assumes they are lying.
So yes, Trump’s anti-media lines were always some of the biggest applause generators at his campaign rallies, from the very beginning. But you know what? The same was true for Ted Cruz. And Ben Carson. Hell, even Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina were getting their biggest responses by going after the media at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference. As Jesse Walker pointed out yesterday, the anti-media element of the political culture war has been with us, very strongly, since at least Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. With newspapers from 1960-2000 busy with the work of consolidation, professionalization, and New York Timesification, the more tabloid, populist, and conservative values long associated with American newspapering and pamphleteering were consciously and ahistorically shoved aside (read Jack Shafer’s great obit of Roger Ailes on this point), meaning that almost every new technological crack in the media edifice has been breached at first with a firehose of non-lefty content. When the journalistic class reacted to each new turn with abject horror, the cycle of mutual alienation and open antagonism continued anew..
So “Reason” Magazine goes “Oh, Noes!” The Conservatives don’t trust the media. What a shocker. You get three steps here.
1) You get anger.
2) You get Cynicism.
3) You get contempt.
Just 24 hours after being charged with assault for allegedly body-slamming a reporter in his Bozeman campaign office, Republican Greg Gianforte on Thursday defeated Democratic opponent Rob Quist to win the special election for the U.S. House seat in Montana. The race was thrust into the national spotlight in dramatic fashion on Wednesday night after Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs described being “body-slammed” by the GOP candidate, and a Fox News crew who witnessed the incident said the former technology and software executive “grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.” “I’m sick and tired of you guys,” Gianforte said in audio of the event released by The Guardian.
Apparantly, half of Montana is sick and tired of them as well. And this has led to quite the bought of recrimination against those evil !KKKONSERVATIVE! Neanderthals.
Remember when Ronald Reagan body slammed a reporter to the cheers of the conservative grassroots? Neither do I. Yet in the aftermath of the assault on Ben Jacobs, a reporter for The Guardian, by Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate for a special House election in Montana, too many conservatives are either doubting the event occurred, despite audio evidence and witness testimony by a Fox News crew, or praising Mr. Gianforte for giving the press what it deserves.
They never wonder whether it comes from seeing stories written every day about the mental problems of Modern !KKKONSERVATIVES!
To many observers on the left, the initial embrace of Seth Rich conspiracy theories by conservative media figures was merely a confirmation of the rightâ€™s deformed soul. But for those of us who remember that Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity were once relatively mainstream Reaganites, their extended vacation in the fever swamps is even more disturbing.
Now all of this sounds almost reasonable until we look at what many of these same media outlets had to say about Ronald Reagan while he was still a thing.
“The Reaganites on the floor were exactly those who in Germany gave the Nazis their main strength and who in France collaborated with them and sustained Vichy,” wrote the Washington Post’s Henry Fairlie about the GOP convention that nominated Reagan in 1980. “Ronald Reagan was hated, and still is, in the feminist-establishment circles in which I grew up,” said Tammy Bruce, for many years the head of the Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization of Women. “That milieu subsists on enemies and hatred…They knew Reagan was evil.” “Reaganism is economic elitism,” said CNN’s Bill Schneider in a 1984 magazine article. “It is the view that hunger in America is merely anecdotal, that the homeless are homeless by choice, and that only the morally unworthy have been hurt by the administration’s policies.”
It’s not just the Far Right that Hitlarps. For a guy with just one nut, he’s been the man for over half a century. Obviously Gianforte shouldn’t have dropped the RKO on some chicken-sh!t dweeb from The Manchester Guardian. He’s apologized and maybe not just for career advancement. But am I supposed to be self-critical for laughing when these liars, hacks and propaganda ministers finally get their comeuppance? They’ve had it coming to them since back in Oswald Spengler’s day.
Anyone who thinks the media exists to tell them the truth probably thinks Public Schools still exist to give every child a quality education. They probably believe Democracies select the most capable leaders. They probably would have hated the Spanish when William Randolph Hearst yelled out in bold headlines “Remember The Maine!”
I remember the Maine. I remember that time Dewey beat Truman. I remember Lawrence Walsh getting to say anything he wanted on the front pages of The Washington Post and The New York Times both one day before the 1992 Election. Amazing how these things keep just coincidentally happening.
So Greg Gianforte shouldn’t have lost it, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist from Huntsville, AL to figure out why he felt provoked. You can only lie, condescend and insult people for so long before they spit on their hands, run up the pirate flag and start slitting throats.