It hardly seemed like much of a stretch for some lunatic on the right to take Trump’s constant chant of “fake news” and “enemy of the people” to heart, and act upon it. It’s not just the believers gonna believe, but that it’s assumed that anyone tied to the alt-right was at an intellectual deficit to begin with, and would need only the tiniest of pushes to go over the edge.
Violence? Any moment now. Then boom, there is was.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) August 12, 2018
The point isn’t that this reflects the core of the left any more than the craziest white supremacist is representative of the right, although both sides will insist so. The point is that this can’t be laid on Trump’s rhetoric.
There is a strong argument to be made that, outside of his hardcore base, no one takes Trump’s words seriously. They’re foolish, bordering on idiotic at best, and little more than a constant din of black noise in the background. Yet, the media was outraged by this “enemy of the people” mantra, not just because it was an attack on them but because they feared it placed them in the crosshairs of some Trump-inspired nutjob. It was a very reasonable fear.
What wasn’t anticipated was that the knife would come from behind.
— Cal Perry (@CalNBC) August 12, 2018
Why? What drives these attacks against the media during this protest in Charlottesville against white supremacy, in remembrance of Heather Heyer who was killed a year ago?
For the most part, the media is peculiarly sympathetic toward progressive views, and yet they’re perceived as the “enemy of the people.” While there’s no “official” explanation, which makes sense given there’s no “official” positions, organization or spokespeople, it doesn’t change the reality on the street that the protesters are at the point of grabbing cameras, blocking the shots with their hands and screaming that they’re the enemy.
Two points appear most likely. One is the misguided belief that they have a right to be in public, to engage in a newsworthy action such as protest, yet are entitled to privacy such that the media cannot film them without their permission.
It may be understandable that they would prefer not to be the face on camera, even if they would never admit to being concerned about standing up for their cause, as no one ever knows what goes viral and what comes back to bite one in the butt. These are odd times, and there is almost nothing that is so pristine as to be above reproach. Or put another way, there will be someone who will shriek mean names at you no matter what. No one wants to be the target of derision at a time when everything is the target of derision to someone.
But the second point is perhaps the more telling. Much as conservatives are outraged by the progressive bias in the media, as reflected by cherry-picked “facts” which may not be facts at all, but rather the “truth” of advocacy journalists who feel it’s their duty to lead you inexorably to the conclusions they assume you’re too stupid to reach on your own. it’s not good enough. Anything shy of a frontpage New York Times headline that reads, “Trump is literally Hitler” is acquiescence to their enemy. And if you’re not for them, you’re, well, you know.
Of course, this puts the media in a bit of a bind. Here it is, trying its best to push what it believes to be the “right” insights into the news, that the president is a amoral idiot spewing nonsense and hate, and yet they are unappreciated by the crowd with whom they share their sensibilities. The media can’t be quite so flagrant as to call for the revolution, even if not a day passes when they don’t publish a dozen editorials about how the Trump Apocalypse will end our existence within hours.
An interesting point was made by a professor on twitter a few weeks ago, that the conservative media, from Fox News to the extreme craziness at Infowars, takes pride in its ideology and makes no bones about being overtly conservative. In contrast, the progressive media denies its ideological bent, promoting itself as neutral and, indeed, believing with all its heart that it is.
It may well be that no media can ever be truly neutral, as it’s invariably forced to pick and choose what elements of a story to put up top and what to bury, or omit. But historically, media tried to be as neutral as it could, with editors challenging reporters who strayed from the facts into covert editorializing. It didn’t always work, but it was the goal. That was before advocacy journalism became not only acceptable, but an acknowledged purpose of providing all the news you deserve to know.
Short of the main stream media conceding that it’s the other side of conservative media, and shedding its mantel of feigned neutrality, it will never satisfy the demands and expectations of the far left, the Antifa, the protesters taking to the streets for JUSTICE!!! No matter how many attempt to “explain” the virtues of social justice or rail against systemic -isms, they will appear to be too centrist, too squishy, too conservative, to please the mob. And so, the mob will attack the media as their “enemy of the people.” And no president had to tell the mob to do so.