A while back, I was fired from a job. There were politics (office type, not electoral) involved, but the ostensible reason was my failure to do something that needed to be done.
At first I was in denial about that. I thought at the time that an executive’s inflamed ego was pretty much the only cause. While I still believe that to be a large factor, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my mistakes were also a factor. It was kind of painful to come to this realization. I wanted to be the victim. But I also know that if one fails to learn from these sorts of things, one can find oneself repeating the same mistakes, and I really don’t want to do that.
So in that way, I was forced (by myself really) to confront reality.
This is something the media seems unwilling to do. In emotional terms, the election of President Trump was much like a firing for the media. And with Trump relegating some big name news outlets to the back benches, well… there’s a reason “You’re fired,” is his catchphrase.
But the media is determined to put the “blame” for Trump on anyone but themselves. The Russians? Sure. White supremacists? You bet. Lousy white trash rubes in flyover country? Oh yeah! Especially them.
One thing they absolutely will NOT do is to take an honest look at their own role in the events of the past year.
I’m going to digress for a minute, but I promise it’s relevant.
A lot of people use the term “narcissist” as a colloquialism for general self-centeredness, or what, in earlier times would have been called “a swelled head”. But if you’ve ever known a person with diagnosed, clinical narcissistic personality disorder, you’ve probably seen a few remarkable things.
Though these people are often deeply unhappy, they never believe the problem is with themselves. They are unable to conceive of the idea of themselves as being any kind of problem. The problem is those other people.
See where I’m going with this?
Back in the 80s, when I was younger, and on the left, I noticed that most newspaper articles had a leftward tilt.I was not looking for bias, but I could see it. I could sense that, say, the Boston Globe, was on my side. The bias was clear, but back then, I thought it was a good thing.
There was still a veneer of objectivity, though, and they did often cover stories which were not advantageous to Democrats. I saw that change in the 90s and 2000s, though. I first started noticing the changes during the Clinton impeachment. It seemed to me that the press was spending an awful lot of time rationalizing and defending a man who, if he’d been a Republican, would have been run out of office on a rail covered in tar and feathers.
With my awareness thus heightened, for the next few years I noticed that veneer of objectivity wearing thinner and thinner. By 2001, it was so thin it was nearly transparent. The media’s shock – utter SHOCK – that Bush had beaten Gore was palpable.
Then 9-11 happened, and for a couple of months, the left, including the media, pretended that we were all “standing united”. When they got bored with that, they went to work on George Bush.
Now… I’m not the biggest Bush fan. I think he made some major mistakes, but I found myself in the position of defending him because the way he was being portrayed bore fairly little resemblence to what I saw. I thought, and still think, that President Bush is a smart, decent man. Granted, he’s a politician, and no politician rises to the top office without wallowing in the mud some, but in that respect he seemed no worse than his peers.
Then came 2008. The veneer was completely gone, the mask was off, and the media was flat out nakedly cheerleading for Barack Obama. The halo pictures. The hagiographic articles. The fawnining over his wife, etc. etc. All the while assuring us that we were getting the real news – that the bias was a conservative myth.
They may think the rubes in flyover country are stupid, but they’re not. They could see as well as anyone else that there was a huge disconnect in the way things were being reported in the media, and the way things were when they engaged with the world. They could see the way the media’s interest in war casualties evaporated the minute Obama took office. They could see the way that the media’s complaints about Bush and the “unitary executive” did a complete 180 and how they praised Obama for his “unprecidented” creativity in getting around Congress and the courts. They could see the way the economic numbers were cooked and spun.
And so they elected Donald Trump.
What does the media do at this point? Faced with their own utter failure to see what was coming, did they start wondering if maybe they had made a mistake in being such shameless partisans? Ha! They blamed everyone and everything except themselves.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot like narcissism to me.
And now we’re at the point where people are saying that the President’s criticism of the media is a Threat to the Republic. Confronted with their own failures, they’ve fallen back to a grandiose idea of their own importance, even as they publish every half baked rumor and even just straight-up make shit up.
It’s kind of amazing, actually. They have an uncanny resilience to the evidence that’s right in front of their faces.
This will be their downfall in the end. They will be replaced by leaner, faster, and, critically, more accurate sources of information. It’ll be slow, I’m sure, and noisy, but it’s already happening, and there’s nothing that can stop it. Their resilience is only in their self image. Not in their capacity for survival. Frankly, it’s a joy to watch.