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The Herd Media Stampedes Sinclair

In an unguarded moment during the 2016 campaign, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski remarked that it is “our job,” not Trump’s, to “control exactly what people think.” The Sinclair Broadcast Group referenced that line in its promo. But the news accounts of the phony controversy over the promo never mention that Brzezinski did in fact make that outrageous comment.

Unless I missed it, Brzezinski herself didn’t acknowledge the reference to the comment she made. Gripping her chair like a Victorian fainting couch, Brzezinski found the promo “frightening.” But beneath the hysterical blather was nothing more than the hurt feelings of an exposed liberal propagandist. Sinclair had nailed her and she didn’t like it.

It is rich farce to see the herd media stampeding Sinclair for refusing to join it. How dare Sinclair read its own script and not ours! That’s the demand implicit in the media’s temper tantrum, all while journalists pontificate about the importance of a “free press.” Here we had the spectacle of liberal propagandists denouncing “propaganda,” the most pitifully servile members of the press (former New York Times editor Jill Abramson carries around an Obama doll) denouncing boot-lickers, and Pavlovian liberals denouncing coordinated messages.

“It’s kind of beyond chilling, right? It’s state media, essentially,” said Jon Meacham, a supposedly deep historian who turns up on Morning Joe to tell its juvenile hosts exactly what they want to hear. Talk about a corporate toady. A world-class bore like Meacham wouldn’t have a career if he didn’t second the ruling-class’s propaganda day in and day out. Someone should put together a montage of Meacham and company mouthing the same tired “state media” talking point. Never mind that the actual state media — NPR and PBS — joined in the Pavlovian pile-on directed at Sinclair, a private company.

These sham controversies aren’t even worth unraveling, except to the extent that they throw light on the hideous power politics of the ruling class. That politics consists of treating any exercise of power by conservatives — whether it is a chief executive controlling the executive branch or a private media company controlling its own editorial mission — as “controversial.” Whatever is conventional for liberals is somehow controversial for conservatives. That’s the only interpretive key you need to understand the “outrages” of the ruling class. Liberals think they should have one hundred percent of the power in America, so to them any exercise of power by conservatives is inherently troubling. None of the inflammatory language they use these days can be understood apart from that assumption. That’s why almost every move Trump makes, no matter how obviously it falls within his constitutional powers, is treated as “lawless.”

Usually, the result of the ruling class’s hypocritical mau-mauing — you must not do what we do! — is that conservatives trim their sails a bit. And if they don’t, well, that becomes a story too, yet another outrage for liberals to find “chilling.” And so we have Jeff Zucker’s marionettes all saying in unison that it is somehow a scandal for Sinclair’s employees to read the mission statement of their employer. Or news readers at MSNBC, who would never dare challenge the coordinated anti-Trump propaganda of their network, calling other news readers “cowards.”

The hypocrisy of this hectoring is only exceeded by its presumption. What’s ours is ours and what’s yours is ours — that’s the essential demand underneath this hectoring. Hence, we are supposed to regard it as a great scandal that Sinclair hosts are expected to follow Sinclair’s editorial line rather than Jeff Zucker’s. Just take out Sinclair from the headlines and put CNN or MSNBC in its place and you see how ludicrous the stories are: “[Jeff Zucker] is putting words in his anchors’ mouths.”

The attacks on Sinclair amount to nothing more than a brainwashing exercise designed to get all media companies to forfeit their autonomy to liberals. If anything is chilling to a free press, it is that these companies will often cave to this power politics and hire liberals to divide their companies from within, thereby diminishing the diversity of the media a little bit more each year. That’s why Fox News retains a liberal skunk like Shepherd Smith while MSNBC and CNN don’t employ a single real conservative host.

Sinclair shouldn’t surrender an inch to these frauds who feel entitled to set their employee and editorial policies for it. They are just a herd of embittered, has-been monopolists who still think it their sacred right to “control exactly what people think” without competition. They are the greatest enemies of a free press — conformists who chill free speech and call it journalism.

George Neumayr
George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.
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