Ed Kilgore wrote kind of a boring post about why it is that the Washington press made a bigger deal of Rand Paul’s predictable announcement that he was running for president than they did about Ted Cruz’s equally predictable announcement that he was running. Not mentioned is just the feeling that Cruz is such a loon that he can’t win. I always think that argument is terrifying, because people said much the same thing about Ronald Reagan. I would never count Cruz out. But the media thinks he’s a nonstarter (they are probably right), and so they don’t much care that he’s running for president. But Kilgore focuses on what is probably the bigger issue.
Kilgore wrote, Libertarianism With a Human Face. He quotes David Frum correctly noting that libertarianism appeals to mainstream media because it is “socially permissive, fiscally cautious.” This is the core of my indictment of the supposedly liberal media. Even in Eric Alterman’s classic What Liberal Media? he notes that the claim that the media are liberally biased on social issues is largely true. It isn’t that they go out of their way to be biased, it is just that everyone they know — including conservatives — are socially liberal. The Koch Brothers don’t actually care about same sex marriage and reproductive rights.
This is why I devalue social issues. The policies that the vast majority of people care about are bread-and-butter issue. Abortion and marriage are things that happen rarely in people’s lives. But they have to eat each day; they have to pay the rent each month. So the fact that the rich have managed, over the last last 70 years to make the whole political debate in this country to be about non-bread-and-butter issue is really an amazing defeat for democracy. Regardless of whether the Democrats or the Republicans are in power, the rich still win.
And it is doubtless the case that the greatest weapon that the rich have in their fight against democracy is the media who often discount the thoughts of the social conservatives, even while they serve up a constant diet of neoliberal policies designed to vilify the government and argue in favor of privatizing all services. If there is one thing in American media coverage that isn’t even questioned, it is that charter schools are a great thing and “school choice” is just common sense. And as all of this is taken for granted, never do we discuss the egregiously unequal way that we fund education.
And why is that? It is because the major media players who bring us their “objective news” are upper middle and upper class reporters and editors. They may not think of themselves as elites, but they are precisely the kind of people who Anand Giridharadas had in mind when he said:
But of course these media figures think they totally know what’s going on. And that’s a big part of the problem. The way that American politics is now divided, they can look at their socially liberal and economically conservative viewpoints and think that they are just telling it like it is. But what they are really doing is what the privileged have been doing for thousands of years: they are seeing what is good for them as being what is generally good. So of course they think that Rand Paul has a real chance to become president. They are his constituency.