The Unbearable Lightness of Being the MSM - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Unbearable Lightness of Being the MSM

It has been obvious for some time that the Gingrich strategy for capturing the GOP nomination for President includes running against the “news” media as well as the President, and Saturday’s primary results in South Carolina seem to vindicate the shrewdness of that plan. Newt realized early on that much of the voter indignation that has manifested itself in the Tea Party movement is driven by media complicity with Obama in his ongoing effort to ignore the will of the people and transform the U.S. into a European-style social democracy. This concordance between Newt and the voters on the untoward and destructive role of the media in our political discourse was blindingly obvious last Thursday when Newt’s reprimand of CNN’s John King during the GOP debate drew two standing ovations from the audience.

Much has been written, of course, about media malpractice. Most commentators put it down to liberal bias, but that is actually a symptom of a larger problem — the intellectual shallowness that afflicts most contemporary journalists. One reason John King opened the CNN debate with a question about Newt’s sex life is that it required less cerebral exertion than a more substantive query about such things as the cause of high unemployment or the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate. This lack of intellectual depth is why one moderator of a CNBC debate, who gave each candidate thirty seconds to propose an alternative to Obamacare, was clearly shocked and angered when Gingrich accurately labeled it an “absurd question.” She had no idea that she had said something stupid.

And, if you doubt that the “shallowness theory” holds true beyond the realm of broadcast media, I recommend a perusal of the Atlantic. Andrew Sullivan’s departure may have reduced that publication’s creepiness factor, but it hasn’t increased its intellectual heft. A case in point can be found in a recent post by David Graham about Rick Santorum. The latter served in Congress for sixteen years and, in the volatile race for the GOP presidential nomination, he pulled off a near miracle in the Iowa Caucuses. So, what does Graham offer the readers of his venerable magazine about this interesting public figure? A sophomoric critique of Santorum’s “embarrassing yearbook photo, which the Atlantic first unearthed in May 2011.” Just imagine the seconds of grueling toil that must have gone into “unearthing” this monumental scoop.

Comparable levels of research often go into the news analysis offered by the media. Nonetheless, when some story threatens to confuse the hoi polloi, the deep thinkers of the MSM are ready to render their opinions. For example, after Obamacare was passed and some benighted souls beyond the Beltway began raising questions about its constitutionality, the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein was there to explain the problem. On MSNBC, he opined that all the unnecessary fuss was really caused by the blueprint that lays out the structure of our government: “The issue of the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago.” And, believe it or not, he was right. That hoary document was penned in 1787, which is way more than a century ago. It was actually written before Facebook existed.

This no doubt explains why Klein’s perplexity is shared by so many of his fellow journalists, Joe Conason for instance. When U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson struck down Obamacare because Congress can’t “compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction,” Conason denounced the ruling based on his reading of the Militia Act of 1792, a law empowering President Washington to call up the militia and require its members to buy muskets. This precedent, according to Conason, meant that the government can indeed “compel” citizens to buy things. That the Militia Act is authorized by the Constitution’s militia clauses, while Obamacare’s individual mandate involves the interstate commerce clause, holds no meaning for Conason. He is, as Klein might put it, confused.

Among the establishment media, this sort of thing also manifests itself in general knowledge about the nation’s history. Just prior to the 2010 midterms, Sarah Palin visited Nevada and admonished a group of exuberant Tea Partiers not to “party like it’s 1773” before actually winning the election. PBS’s Gwen Ifill got wind of this speech and fired a tweet heard around the Internet: “Sarah Palin: party like it’s 1773! ummm,.” Though the former Alaska governor was obviously alluding to the Boston Tea Party, which occurred… ummm… in the year cited, Ifill and many of her colleagues were under the impression that the midnight raid had taken place in 1776. Thus, they promptly began braying about Palin’s ignorance. Within twenty-four hours, however, they were desperately walking back the embarrassing gaffe.

The astonishing irony of all this is that the vast majority of establishment journalists still consider themselves to be the intellectual superiors of the voters, particularly those who don’t share their ideological perspective. Thus, the cover of Newsweek’s current issue brazenly asks, “Why Are Obama’s Critics So Dumb?” Even worse, it contains a surreal feature story in which Andrew Sullivan explains that Obama has actually been a success: “Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb.” According to a recent CBS survey, “41 percent of Americans think Mr. Obama has performed his job well enough to be elected to a second term.” Presumably, then, the editors of Newsweek consider the remaining 59 percent, nearly three-fifths of the public, just plain dumb.

As dumb as we are, however, most of us grasp something that has obviously eluded the brainiacs at Newsweek — insulting the customer is not a good strategy for selling one’s product. But the editors of that increasingly ridiculous publication, like most of their colleagues in the establishment media, are intellectual lightweights. Their understanding of such mundane realities is just as tenuous as their comprehension of the major problems facing the country. Newt Gingrich, on the other hand, gets it. And he has used this knowledge to bring his candidacy back from the dead — twice. Whether it will carry him all the way to the GOP nomination remains to be seen, but the voters obviously want the pompous asses of the mainstream media brought low nearly as badly as they want to fire Barack Obama.

David Catron
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.
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