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Against Frogs & Russkies

Steve Sailer and one of his readers notice something interesting. Sailer’s reader writes:

NOTA said…

The anti-Russia PR campaign in the prestige media reminds me a great deal of the anti-France campaign around and right after the Iraq invasion. Remember cheese eating surrender monkeys, freedom fries, and “rifle for sale, never fired, only dropped once?”

The pattern here appears to be that countries that resist our foreign policy adventures then become a kind of acceptable target in various bits of our media. I’m sure this isn’t overtly coordinated anywhere, but media people are presumably pretty good at inferring which way the wind is blowing….

Sailer responds, saying that this is a “major change” in his lifetime. Back in the day, the prestige media could be counted on to take the side of America’s enemies. Sailer:

But having been 9 years old in 1968 and 28 in 1987, it’s been pretty surprising for me that the American media has pretty much gone back to the way it was in 1942-1967 when the press looked to the government for what line to take on foreign policy. But that’s probably the natural state of affairs and what needs explanation is the skeptical, oppositional perspective that I grew up assuming was the automatic order of things.

Instead, the natural state of affairs is that people who are good with words write the kind of things that people with large budgets want them to write.

I think that’s at best a partial explanation. I was once discussing media coverage of same-sex marriage with a friend in the national media. He supports SSM, but conceded that in his newsroom, there was a wide range of opinion on economics, foreign policy, and politics. But the two issues on which no dissent was tolerated, or even thought possible, were abortion and same-sex marriage. Insofar as that attitude is characteristic of the media — and I believe it is, certainly at the national level — then yes, it’s unlikely that the people who receive paychecks from media outlets will write things opposing abortion or SSM.

Is it really the case that this dynamic works on foreign policy coverage? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s as crude. Rather, I think journalists today — elite journalists, at least — absorb the biases of the ruling class far more readily than they used to do. This is why the national media are obsessed with all things gay, but relatively uninterested in questions of poverty and inequality. Journalists working at the top level far too often come to sympathize with the class they cover. They see these people all the time. They went to the same universities. They have the same aspirations for themselves and their children. They send their kids to the same schools. They read the same things. And so forth. American journalists like to flatter themselves that they are nonconformist adversaries to the Establishment, but this is just silly. Living inside this class and cultural bubble, it’s not surprising that they would find it much easier to accept the Establishment view of the world. Sailer portrays it as a commercial exchange, but it ain’t prostitution if you’re giving it away.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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