The media lost the trust of the American people long before the ill-fated campaign against Donald Trump, but one of the great pleasures of living in post-2016 election America is watching the establishment media continue to refuse to accept the reality of their low standing in the eyes of the citizenry of this nation. Instead of humbly acknowledging that they lost the trust of the people somewhere along the way and must work to recapture it, posturing media figures believe that if they keep assuming a Walter Cronkite air of authority, they can get simple-minded Americans to toe the line again.
Missing the Monopoly
This antiquated attitude is on full display in a recent interview NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd gave to a Washington, DC college magazine. “Well, there’s competition for facts. This is the problem,” Todd told George Washington University’s GW Magazine. “It used to be there was a competition for ideas. Now we have a competition for facts, and I think we have such a fear of losing that competition that it has changed almost how some people engage in journalism.”
Todd brings up President Trump as a negative force in this tragedy, expressing seeming personal offense at the fact that the man refused to accept the establishment media’s inherent right to set up the playing field that all political candidates are expected to unquestioningly tread when running for office.
“What was our ability to get results? We shamed people,” Todd wistfully recalls. “What happened? What did Trump hack? How did he hack the system? By being shameless. If you don’t feel shame for your actions, and the bad press doesn’t bother you or you can live with it or explain it away — that is Trump’s superpower. I don’t know if another politician can pull it off. Every other politician that has tried to be as aggressive as he can be sometimes, denying what is obvious, it has not gone well for them.”
Todd seems genuinely stunned that a presidential candidate didn’t cower and crumble before the media judgment that was decisively cast against him in 2016. He completely misses the point that what he and his fellow elites declare to be “obvious” and unassailable is not being swallowed by the American people anymore.
Be Reasonable and Believe Everything We Say
Todd does have an explanation for this later in the interview. In the age of the internet, that unfortunate creation that destroyed the establishment monopoly on the news, people can’t be counted on to think correctly anymore. It’s a systemic problem, and it is only seen on one side of the political divide, according to Todd.
“And it’s funny. I’ve seen, particularly in the conservative echo chamber, the way these conspiracy theories start to creep in,” Todd says. “They almost all back their way in. They start in talk radio, they back into primetime on Fox and then seep their way onto the news side of Fox. That’s how it moves. There isn’t a similar place on the left that can move it as efficiently as the right does.”
Yes, because the left would never be so gullible to fall for nutty conspiracies: Russia Collusion, Climate Change, 1,000 genders. What an embarrassing assertion for a man claiming the impartial high ground to make.
It’s an old trick that Todd is trying to play: “Hey, everybody, let’s all tone down the partisanship and just blindly accept whatever the dominant media tells us.” That Todd and so many of his media allies are still trying to pour this thin gruel some 20-odd years after the internet obliterated their stranglehold on the news tells you everything you need to know about what these folks have to offer the American people.
Todd’s observations are all casual assumptions, comfortably in line with the baked-in biases that color these comfortable elites’ slanted presentation of “the news.” If they only knew that their blithe smugness is just as damaging to their cause as their blatant unfairness.
Big Media’s total lack of self-awareness has hurled it into full eclipse. Its irrelevance is complete. Had there been a willingness to show a genuine effort to recalibrate in even the slightest degree, perhaps some standing could have been salvaged.
It was not to be. Chuck Todd and his cohorts are determined to defiantly stand on their collapsing soapboxes and wag their fingers at people who have long stopped paying attention to anything they have to say.