Home/Rod Dreher/Lying Liars Of The Ruling Class

Lying Liars Of The Ruling Class

Pinocchio has a great future in elite Western institutions (Source)

Another day in the life of Felicia Sonmez’s former employer:

These people live in a bubble. Joe Concha writes:

To say there’s a disconnect between many journalists and the public they serve is a gross understatement, according to a new in-depth survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

Per Pew, 65 percent of the nearly 12,000 journalists surveyed say the media do a solid job of “covering the most important stories of the day” and reporting news accurately. But a solid majority of the American public at large has the opposite view, with just 35 percent feeling the same way. That’s a 30-point perception gap.

When asked if journalists perform well when “serving as a watchdog over elected leaders,” 52 percent of journalists agreed. But the number dropped precipitously again when the general public was asked, with less than 3 in 10 agreeing with the assessment.

When asked if journalists manage and correct misinformation consistently, 43 percent of those in the industry said yes, while just 25 percent of the general public agreed.

Almost half (46 percent) of journalists said they felt connected to their readers and viewers, while just one-quarter of the public says they feel connected to the media outlets from which they get their news.

So why the disconnect? Perhaps it’s like the old saying about the key to good real estate: Location, location location. Most of the national media are located in two places: New York City and Washington, D.C.

In the 2020 election, just 9 percent of Manhattan voters voted for Donald Trump. In D.C., the Trump support was just 5.4 percent, underscoring that those who live in or near these cities exist in overwhelmingly liberal silos. It’s only human nature that a journalist’s perception of issues will generally conform to the places and people with whom he works and lives.

Concha goes on to say that the loss of local newspapers in the media consolidation wave of the Internet era is to blame. I think he’s overstating it. I’ve worked at several mainstream papers, and two papers — the Washington Times and the New York Post — that were self-consciously conservative (though the NYPost‘s conservatism was different from the Washington Times‘s). The newsrooms were all fairly liberal. In fact, one of the rare newsroom conservatives at The Dallas Morning News used to joke with me that if the entire newspaper building were to magically relocate itself to Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., the newsroom wouldn’t notice. With the exception of the bureaus, nearly everybody who worked in that newsroom when I was there (2003-09) lived in the DFW area, and the views of the staff were heavily liberal. And it showed in the coverage.

Look at this graphic from the Pew survey of journalists:

In 2005, I got into a friendly debate with a Dallas Morning News colleague, who agreed with me that the paper did not cover the same-sex marriage debate fairly, but thought that was a good thing. He said, “If we were covering the civil rights movement [for black people], would you think that we deserved to give the KKK equal time?” He was serious. He thought people who opposed same-sex marriage were the equivalent of Klan members. This was 2005. In Texas.

Once, in a meeting of DMN section editors that I attended, someone presented new internal survey data showing that most of a particular targeted demographic of readers reported having little to no trust in our newspaper. That didn’t surprise me at all. As an out conservative columnist at the paper, I was accustomed to meeting strangers at social events, and having to listen to them tell me what liberal outrage had finally been the last straw for them, and compelled them to cancel their subscription. I knew too that my liberal colleagues were good people for the most part, but suffered from some combination of ignorance (of how far their views were from the average north Texan’s) or contempt for the conservatives who stunk up their neighborhood. When whoever it was delivered the bad news at that meeting — that is, the news about how most of this target demographic didn’t trust the paper — one of the section editors present said, “Isn’t it sad when people will only believe what they want to believe?”

Not, Gosh, that’s awful — what are we doing wrong to have alienated so many readers? Not, How can we do better? Rather: What a bunch of idiots, not believing what we tell them. Is there any other industry besides journalism in which the manufacturers despise their own customers for disliking the product?

(Don’t get mad at the DMN now; that particular section editor is no longer with the paper, which has gone through a number of downsizes since then.)

In my time here in England this past week, I have gotten to be friends with an Oxbridge academic who grew up working class in a poor and violent part of a major city. We were talking this morning about what idiots people in our professional milieus can be — thinking of themselves as worldly and knowledgeable, but actually shockingly ignorant of the world outside their bubbles, and more damnably, utterly without curiosity about it. They mistake managing a narrative to skew it towards left-wing conclusions for actually doing journalism or scholarship.

In Oxford, I ran into a retired journalist of the old-school, a leftie who was rightly furious over the collapse of journalistic standards in the younger generation. He said something close to, “They think journalism is simply shifting information from one screen to another. They don’t want to go out and meet actual people, and see what’s going on in the real world.”

(Reader Jonah R. has said the same thing to me, about my own work. Though I’m an opinion writer, not a reporter, he’s got something of a point. After the divorce, and depending on where I end up living, I hope to be doing more of that.)

Anyway, I think the public is right not to have a lot of trust in journalism in general, though I know particular journalists working in mainstream media who really do work hard to get the story right. Next week The New Yorker is set to publish a big piece about US conservatives and Hungary. I cooperated with the reporter because the two previous pieces that different reporters for that liberal magazine did on me, they treated me fairly. Still, I would say that the faults of our media have far more to do with crusading idealism and a lack of curiosity about the world outside their bubble than they do with the concentration of media in fewer hands, and in left-wing locales. I live most of the time in Baton Rouge, which is deep Trumplandia. I’d wager that very few conservatives there would describe our local paper as conservative-friendly. If you’ve ever been to Tennessee, you know how conservative that state is, but how liberal its newspapers are. Besides, when I was in the newspaper business, lots of local papers looked to The New York Times, and to a lesser extent the Washington Post, as models for what to do next. It doesn’t do you much good to have a newspaper in Phoenix or Milwaukee if the newsrooms are taking their cues from Manhattan and DC.

The point is that these people who run our media are increasingly only talking to themselves. Remember how, for five minutes after Donald Trump’s win, the ruling class decided that it was going to think really hard about how it missed him coming. That was fun, wasn’t it? This echo chamber is a disease of our elites. I don’t know if you can read N.S. Lyons’s invaluable Substack without a subscription, but here’s a clip from his latest, in which he interprets a US State Department communiqué:

In this case my main goal will be to provide at little light instruction on how to understand – and even enjoy! – the fine and subtle flavors of trans-Atlantic internationalist bureaucratese, a heady brew by which the most powerful countries in the world not named China can openly outline policies intended to help dismantle popular democracy while talking about strengthening democracy.

Here, I’ll provide translations of a few lines from this fine example of a Communiqué to assist in this lesson:

6. A society in which individuals can freely exercise the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including seeking, receiving and imparting information and ideas of all kinds, is of foundational importance for democracy and liberty. Free and plural media are an indispensable component for this: by providing accurate information and diverse viewpoints, they enable the public to participate in societal debates, make informed choices, and hold their governments to account.

Translation: We’re all liberals who support free speech around here, because we are the good guys. In theory we even believe in the public being able to hold governments to account. You can stop reading here.

7. Information manipulation, including disinformation, and hate speech can undermine and hinder open, democratic dialogue and debate, and can promote division and polarization. As a result of targeted harassment and abuse, some parts of society, especially groups subject to multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination such as women and girls, LGBTQI+ individuals, and members of marginalized racial and ethnic communities, censor themselves, avoid specific topics, and even refrain from participating in public debates online[.] Online harassment and abuse not only impedes individual ability to exercise their right to freedom of expression, but the suppression of diverse voices results in an opportunity cost in terms of the free exchange of ideas and ultimately lost innovation. This can result in the dominance of one-sided, false or manipulative content in public discourse online.

Translation: But actually too much speech is bad; we agree with the new theory that, because of intersectionality, equal free speech requires selective censorship, therefore censorship is good for free speech.

8. To counter these threats, we will work together to protect and advance freedom of opinion and expression as laid down in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and further enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The G7 will take measures to preserve and promote free, independent and pluralistic media landscapes and improve economic, social, legal and actual conditions for those who shape those media landscapes to serve our democracies.

Translation: Since upholding human rights requires censorship, some top-down guidance needs to be provided to those who “shape” media and tech in order to “serve our democracies.”

It goes on like that. Read the whole thing — and if you don’t subscribe, please do. What Lyons — the pseudonym of a spy in the swamp — really does show how these elites are trying to impose anti-democratic, illiberal-left policies on populations that are unaware of what’s being done to them. This is one of the things I discovered about the Orban/Hungary situation: that nearly everything that Western ruling class people accuse the Orban government of, they do too! They lie to themselves about what they are doing — and then they lie to the rest of us, confidently.

Did you know that some leading members of our ruling class are actually planning to “decolonize Russia”? No kidding. I found this via Niccolo Soldo’s Substack:

Soldo writes:

A common thread in postwar histories of WW2 was one that liked to paint Adolf Hitler as increasingly unhinged and detached from reality towards the end of the Third Reich. We were told stories of how he liked to indulge himself in flights of fancy, surveying architectural models of a new Berlin, one that was to be built after Germany won the war, despite the Allies already closing in on both sides. Delusions of future grandeur, while everything was collapsing all around him. A case of “cope”?

The feel of omnipotence after a string of great successes can often lead one to think of themselves as permanent victors, incapable of defeat. This enters the realm of delusion when the facts on the ground run counter to the perception of victory. This is the real estate currently occupied by a large segment of the US foreign policy community.

Decolonize Russia. These idiots actually believe they are going to decolonize Russia. More:

Who is the Committee on Security and Cooperation in Europe, you ask?

The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent commission of the U.S. Federal Government. For over 45 years, the Commission has monitored compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advanced comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental, and military cooperation in the 57-nation OSCE region.

In short: it’s another of the zillions of committees run and financed by the US Government. The US Government held a panel earlier today on the “need” to partition Russia. Let that sink in for a bit.

One more bit from Soldo’s piece:

Tomorrow’s panel is a further step forward in that it tells ordinary Russians that even regime change and democracy is not good enough for them. They require the partition of their country into smaller (more easily controlled) polities, so that they can be free. Needless to say, this is a propaganda coup for Putin and the Kremlin as it allows them to paint the conflict in Ukraine as an existential fight.

I am fond of saying that the genius of the United States of America is its ability to absorb, co-opt, and then monetize any trend that comes its way. “Decolonizing Russia” is simply woke terminology for its partition. This symbolizes how the USA has managed to co-opt “Wokeness” for its own foreign policy objectives.

Read it all, if you can.If you need a subscription, it’s worth it — Soldo’s Substack is consistently interesting and provocative.

Maybe I’m naive, but I bet that every one of the CSCE panelists really do believe their own propaganda. Just like American journalists believe the very best about themselves. Only bad people — Putin apologists, Trumptards, fundagelicals, bigots of all sorts — could possibly doubt the justice of their cause. Therefore, why listen to these people? Queer the Donbass! It’s a moral imperative! Like Soldo says, twenty years ago, we were told we had to wage war on the Bad People Who Hated Us For Our Freedom, in the name of democracy. Now we are told we have to do it for woke reasons. Same old idiotic imperialism. Same old risking other people’s children.

But there are other dire consequences to the man in the Western street to prolonging this war. This week in England, I spoke to a well-informed man who told me that last month, the governor of the Bank of England warned about “apocalyptic” food and energy price rises coming later this year. I had not heard that. Here’s what the BBC reported at the time:

The possibility of more rises in food prices is a “major worry” for the UK and other countries, the Bank of England governor has warned.

Apologising for sounding “apocalyptic”, Andrew Bailey said the war in Ukraine was affecting food supplies.

Mr Bailey also defended the Bank’s performance following criticism it has not done enough to try to rein in rising prices.

Inflation – the rate at which prices rise – is at a 30-year high.

Mr Bailey warned that a “very big income shock” from the increase in global goods prices would hit demand in the economy and push up unemployment.

He also said that difficulties shipping out food supplies from Ukraine could hit world supplies of wheat and cooking oil.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty around this situation,” Mr Bailey said.

“And that is a major, major worry and it’s not just I have to tell you a major worry for this country. There’s a major worry for the developing world as well. And so if I had to sort of, sorry for being apocalyptic for a moment, but that is a major concern.”

This is not just any banker. This is the equivalent of the head of the US Federal Reserve. My source told me about a friend of his, a member of Parliament, who spent last weekend laying in stores of rice and pasta for the fall and winter.

Yet the ruling class (in the US, at least) is eager to “decolonize Russia” — it’s “a moral and strategic imperative” — while our own people starve and freeze in the dark, and government officials cooperate with compliant media to lie to the people about what the ruling class is doing to them. We’ll all have Drag Queen Story Hour — “nothing inherently sexual” about it, you bigot! — by candlelight, I guess.

This is not going to end well. Prepare — read Live Not By Lies, for one.

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.

leave a comment

Latest Articles