Our political system, of course, is broken, in part because our political media is broken. And that brokenness stems in large measure from the fact that we have, essentially, two competing tribes of conservative media that think they are actually on opposite sides.
Recent weeks have seen a large, simultaneous anti-Bernie Sanders effort by Democratic media. This movement is an attempt to ensure that a specific establishment, corporate candidate receive her scheduled coronation. But more importantly, it’s one of our ostensibly liberal media’s perpetual exercises in coordinated anti-left sentiment. It’s a function that simply has no conservative counterpart; conservative media never, ever attacks to its right in this way, and to the benefit of conservatism. But it’s the most treasured ritual of centrist Democrat media, a way that young Democrat reporters make their bones in the industry: not by attacking Republicans, who hold the lion’s share of power in this country, but by ridiculing and marginalizing the left-wing fringe that controls nothing. I’ve said many times: just watch how they engage and you’ll see that this is what they really like doing. They are more motivated to hit left than to hit right; they enjoy it. Jon Chait attacks conservatives like it’s his job but attacks the left like it’s his passion. Pick a progressive Democrat writer at random and you’ll almost certainly find someone who shows more glee in attacking leftists than in doing any other kind of writing.
Here’s the real ugly part: because establishment media won’t critique itself on this issue, the existence of this incredibly obvious, politically important establishment attack is going essentially unreported. It’s utterly obvious that it’s happening; if you consume any media at all, you cannot help but have noticed the desperate, barely-concealed efforts of essentially our entire liberal media to attack Sanders and his supporters. People talk about it on social media openly. And yet no one will write any pieces about the fact that it’s happening, in mainstream publications, because to do so would be to threaten the very interests that they’re trying to protect. This is grimly hilarious because we’ve seen a dozen pieces on the “Bernie Bro” phenomenon, the product of a couple dozen people on social media with no power and no influence. That apparently merits the attention of some of the biggest publications in the world. But the simultaneous embrace of committed anti-left agitation by some of the most influential and powerful liberal media figures in the worls has been met with silence and will continue to be. That’s the benefit of controlling the message – it never gets turned back on you.
Had I the kind of sway these people do, I’d ask Joan Walsh if she has noticed that she now spends significantly more of her time attacking socialists than attacking conservatives. I’d ask Jamil Smith at TNR if it’s occurred to him that progressive politics are stuck in the mud because progressives attack and ridicule those to their left while conservatives embrace those to their right. I’d ask Paul Krugman if he thinks it’s weird that he feels it necessary to attack a candidate he himself describes as fringe and unelectable rather than the corporate interests that actual control the world right now. I’d ask the whole liberal media cool kids crew: do you think it’s some sort of coincidence that you guys participate in these periodic anti-left hate rituals, like you did before the Iraq war, like you did with Obama and drones, like you’re doing right now? And have you thought about whether our politics are so imbalanced precisely because your first instinct is to lash out at the powerless group to your left?
But then, I can’t force a consideration of our anti-left liberal media into the spotlight the way they can with a few meaningless Tweets from people who have no power of influence. Nobody can. And that’s the whole point, that’s why they’re in this together.