It’s long been known that a leader can gain power by rallying the people against a boogeyman.
And it helps when that boogeyman is real.
When CNBC’s GOP debate moderators couldn’t help but be sanctimonious, supercilious, and self-important Wednesday night, they did more than provoke a response from their intellectual superiors. They did more than further reveal the Establishment Media as a left-wing monolith, further discredit themselves, and further cement in minds that they’re comic-book versions of journalists.
They quite literally revealed a strategy for GOP electoral gains.
I said many years ago that if I were seeking the presidency (fanciful thought), one of the entities I’d run against is the media. Why? Along with lawyers and politicians, the media is a group for which Americans have a fairly intense dislike. This is largely because as with the first two groups, a big part of the modern media’s business is lying, and no one likes being lied to. Moreover, outsiders Donald Trump and Ben Carson are leading contenders for the GOP nomination because people have lost faith in our institutions and are fed up with the establishment. And the Establishment Media, by definition, are part of the establishment. Thus, they’re ripe to be demonized.
To reiterate, no Machiavellian maneuvering is necessary here because the media are demonic in their deception. Along with entertainment and academia, they constitute a tripartite axis of cultural evil. They are Americans’ conduit of information, and how can citizens choose the right policies and politicians if they’re being fed misinformation? It’s as with a computer: if the input is wrong, the output will be wrong — and our nation’s actions won’t compute.
And taking on this enemy of America — as is the case when tackling any enemy — makes you a hero. Think about it: every candidate that joined Senator Ted Cruz in the phalanx against the media Wednesday seemed like an anti-establishment outsider bravely fighting the powers-that-be. This was true even of Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Chris Christie, despite the only true visible outsiders in the race being Trump, Carson, and Cruz.
Another factor is that the media are going to propagandize against Republican candidates regardless; it’s a given. But it won’t work nearly as well once you make clear you’re a mortal enemy of the media, which will be attended by the (correct) assumption that they’re an enemy of yours. Then when they run negative information on you, people will be more likely to dismiss it with “Well, of course they’d say that. They hate his guts!” In other words, there’s long been an undeclared media war on conservatives, but up until now rightists having generally taken the abuse quietly. And if you have to take the flak anyway, why not make sure the war is declared, an open and visible fight?
In contrast, when you play along with the media’s ridiculous questions, which range from juvenile to malicious, you not only cast yourself as someone who plays the game (paging John “Can’t do” Kasich) but lend those questions credibility; this is significant because people are influenced by what’s “accepted,” and a large segment of the electorate won’t truly recognize, independently, the questions’ inanity. But standing up and passionately pointing it out will be a light-bulb moment, making some of them say, “Hey, yeah! That was a dumb and unfair question!” You’re announcing that the media have no clothes.
So while some lament the media’s descent into overt left-wing advocacy, there is a silver lining in that cloud. In the days of Peter Jennings and Dan Rather, the media already constituted a leftist propaganda mill but were decidedly better at feigning impartiality. Today the media are even more artless, impatient, and infantile and far more often wear their banners openly. This not only means they tend to let their mask slip, but gives a smart candidate the opportunity to rip it off completely and expose the distorted visage beneath.
Running against the hated media also has an obvious byproduct: discrediting via guilt by association all whom the establishment media support, such as establishment candidate Hillary Clinton. To intensify this process, it should be treated as a given — not only because it’s true but also because what’s assumed is learned best — that the media and Democrat Party are joined at the hip. I’ve often used the line that the media are the Democrats’ “public-relations team,” and Rubio related this idea well Wednesday when he called the media the liberals’ “ultimate super PAC.”
Of course, all this would have to be effected boldly but artfully; if overdone, it could start to seem like whining. It’s also possible the media could be cowed somewhat by humiliation and retreat into Peter Jennings mode. After all, leftists have big egos and can’t tolerate what their own Saul Alinsky prescribed: mockery. Should this return to relative subtlety occur, it would make the media’s propaganda more effective. There is some question as to whether today’s new media guard — more emotion-driven than ever and conditioned to expect immediate gratification — could exercise such discipline. Yet I wouldn’t be surprised to see them regroup, at least for a time, in an effort to not be the bull in the china shop of leftist shilling.
Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has been excoriated for setting up the CNBC debate, but he perhaps stumbled into gold. No, taking down incompetent propagandists is no substitute for having a fair media in the first place. But, as G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “War is not the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.” The media have long been launching the salvos and settling matters. It’s time to fight back in the spirit of settling their hash.