Home/Rod Dreher/It’s Not The Media’s Fault

It’s Not The Media’s Fault

This morning I received an e-mail from a well-known (white) writer friend who is very much a man of the Left. He objected to the reasoning in the e-mail I posted from a white Republican friend in Baton Rouge, regarding the black flash mob; the Republican woman had complained that the media are in part to blame for the dismal situation with black culture in the city, because (in her view) they rarely if ever highlight successful middle-class black people like her friends, but only valorize dysfunctional gangsta-rap culture.

My leftist friend wrote this morning to object to the GOP woman’s complaint about the media, particularly her view that:

…if only the mainstream media ran different stories, things would be different, which, inter alia, seems to me to be increasingly a rote Republican trope. The truth is that the lower half, for lack of a better term, of the black community is for all intents and purposes, shattered. We can argue about the reasons. Was Moynihan right all those years? Was it the Great Society or was it the failure of the Johnson administration to properly implement the Great Society? Was it political correctness? The deleterious effect of the sexual revolution on the poor? Was it economic globalization that has made good working class jobs scarcer and scarcer? Or was it modern capitalism’s push for virtually open borders for two decades which led to the arrival of millions of Hispanic immigrants willing to work for far less than blacks would accept?

Frankly, I don’t trust my own opinions on the question of how much weight to lend to each of these explanations. What I’m certain is that the crisis in black America grows worse by the day and that it is only the resegregation of the US, the diluting of the black moral claim on American that is the inevitable result of our having moved from being a country of whites and blacks to a genuinely multi-racial one, and the fact that, if anything, the lady you quote has it exactly backwards and far from glorifying criminality and barbarism, the media actually underreports the bad news, that conceals this horrible reality.

I suspect he’s right. I think of the detailed descriptions I’ve heard of the utter chaos and dysfunction in poor black Baton Rouge neighborhoods, witnessed by firefighter friends who work there every day, and how none of this ever makes it into the media. Seriously, some time ago I was talking to a firefighter (I met a lot of them after Ruthie died; her husband is a BR firefighter) about his job, and in the course of getting to know him, asked him questions about his work. After a while, it occurred to me that this guy saw a side of daily life that was completely alien to me, even though I now live within miles of it. He admitted that life among the poor urban black communities in Baton Rouge is like life on another planet. He didn’t say that with meanness or triumphalism or cruelty in his voice. If anything, he was sad about it, and said it in the sense of most people  outside those communities — people like you, Rod — have no idea how chaotic and broken life is for those people. My leftist writer friend, in our exchange, said he has not had the experience that the firefighters have had, but he thinks this is correct.

It’s not the media’s fault. If anything, the media are underplaying the extent of the problem. So says my leftist friend, a man whose name many of you would know. I think he’s right.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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