Maybe if our news media didn’t insist on seeing EVERYTHING through a binary lens, we wouldn’t be in the deep trench we’re in where the alternatives are so stark. Per our news media, the world’s either “this way” or “that way”. The middle ground – a much desired thing called “bi-partisanship” – remains forever out of reach, a thing our news media laments more than anyone else. That’s why insist “both sides do it”. They see moderation as the ultimate goal. They see their “neutrality” as moderation’s pit bull. When you refuse to judge anything, everything becomes equal – even when it’s not. Especially when it’s not. That, right there, is “Both Sides Do It’s” biggest, baddest flaw: it assumes that the two things it’s moderating have equal weight and validity even if those two things are “Truth” on the one side and “Absolute Bullshit” on the other.
This is how our news media slowly normalized Republican corruption.
When a Republican gerrymanders a district to advantage Republican voters and disadvantage Democratic voters, they’re doing it for an entirely political reason. When Democratic voters complain that they and their votes are being disenfranchised, their argument may be about a political thing – their vote – but what their arguing isn’t “do it OUR way”, it’s “hey, my RIGHT TO VOTE is being dicked with here!” It’s a CIVIL RIGHTS question, NOT a political one. Alas, that’s a little too much subtlety for our news media to take in and process.
Our news media likes horse races – elections. They can measure things more easily that way. Look at how wild-eyed our press gets every time a poll drops. They think that photograph of that instant will have some meaning in an election a year away. They also think the way that poll framed its questions reflects what voters are thinking. Actually, as polls prove constantly, HOW a question is phrased is very important. Phrase it one way, you’re measuring one thing. Phrase it another way, you’re measuring something else entirely. Polling over abortion always works that way.
The Republican Party is entirely cynical about America and Americans. The Democratic Party is not. The Republican Party’s approach to power and money are entirely different from the Democratic Party’s approach. Our news media love attacking the Progressives as being “too crazy”; they’ve never treated Republican authoritarianism with the same disdain. They’ve never treated Republican over-reach in voting laws, abortion laws, LGBTQ laws with the same dismissiveness. Why is that?
By granting Truth and bullshit equal weight, our news media gave feelings and facts equal weight. That means that while Republicans like Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz, Lindsey Graham or Mitch McConnell can spew whatever bile rises from their corrupt guts – and it stands as is – Democrats have to run around like headless chickens chasing down every last receipt they can to back up their assertions. That’s a lot of time and energy spent backing it up. Imagine if every time a Republican opened their lie hole to vomit more pestilence into the information environment, they had to back it all up. We’d never hear from them again – and wouldn’t that be sweet?
Consequently, every time America turns on its news channels, it finds itself confronting a false narrative posing false choices.
The January 6 insurrection will be the end of Donald Trump. Everyone involved in any way, shape or form in trying to overthrow the results of election 2020 so as to keep Trump in power has a legal problem that won’t go away. And that legal problem won’t get any smaller as the investigations and prosecutions go further and further up the Republican Party food chain. At some point, the insurrection’s Russian ties will pop to the surface – and that will set off a whole host of chain reactions all by itself that will stretch all the way back through the Trump administration to the 2016 election. But for Russia, we will come to understand, Donald Trump would NEVER have been POTUS – a fact the entire GOP knew before they even nominated him.
“There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” is how current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders on June 25, 2016, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be president. A month before Trump implored Russia – who the Republicans knew owned Trump – to go looking for 33,000 emails.
In 2020, the GOP had no platform. Whatever flew out of Trump’s anus-shaped mouth, that was the Republican Party platform.
Nothing’s changed from then to now. The Republican Party doesn’t know how to run honest elections anymore. They don’t know how NOT to cheat. Having committed TREASON, they know they can’t go back. “How it was” can’t be. Either the Republicans will succeed – meaning their treason will succeed – meaning Vlad Putin will succeed or the Democrats will succeed meaning America will succeed.
There is no middle ground. How can one be “bi-partisan” with traitors. This is part of what baffles about our news media. They compartmentalize things they shouldn’t be compartmentalizing. When you report a story about Ohio Republican Jim Jordan (a man who looked the other way while members of the collegiate wrestling team he helped coach were being molested!) refusing to cooperate with the January 6 investigation because HE WAS INVOLVED WITH THE INSURRECTION, it’s kinda hard to suddenly forget all that when you go and report a story about Jim Jordan doing literally anything else. But, that IS what our news media does repeatedly – with Jordan, with Boebert, with Marjory Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz and pretty much every Republican! They treat them with absolute, immutable “neutrality”. No amount of prior information makes a difference. Maybe today, our news media must be calculating, the Republicans won’t act in the criminal-seeming way they’ve behaved every single day up till now. Finally, our news media must tell itself, their neutrality will be justified!
In the meantime, our news media covers Republicans running for office as if the Republicans HADN’T been trying to cancel the last election because they hated the results! Because Americans won’t vote for them! But, every time our news media reports on the coming election without that essential piece of perspective – that one of the two parties committed TREASON to get the power they now have! – they’re reporting on some other election in some other place.
That isn’t journalism, it’s fiction.
When our news media reports on the coming election, they fall right into the old, familiar “Both Sides Do It” tropes about elections, Republicans and Democrats. “Republicans are tough on crime”… “Republicans are better with the economy”… “Republicans are better at running the military and keeping peace across the planet”. What horse shit – every last bit! Our news media adores “conventional wisdom” despite the fact that it’s all convention and zero wisdom.
When Biden’s poll numbers began to fall, our news media, per usual, put everything in purely political terms. That means they saw peoples’ reaction to the epidemic in purely political terms when – a more thoughtful analysis would give the pandemic’s impact on us and the world far, far more significance on current events. The pandemic transcended politics until those with political ambitions sought to use the pandemic for their political ends. That wasn’t everyone’s response. You wouldn’t know it to hear our news media’s piss poor reporting.
Okay, America’s news media, let’s have it your way for a second! Let’s jump forward to election day. Americans go the polls – well, those that can, those whose rights haven’t been completely undermined by now (and why THAT isn’t a huge part of the story is a reflection on our news media’s utter incompetence). Those supporting Democratic candidates will be voting FOR something.
What will those pulling the lever for Republicans be voting “for” – aside from some knuckle-scraper with an “R” next to their names? Will they be voting for a better economic policy? A better approach to foreign matters? Better anything? How about just “different”? Not even that actually. The Republican alternatives to whatever the Democrats are doing is nada: it’s just having Republicans in power for power’s sake: the point of the entire exercise for Republicans. They want to end American democracy because American democracy has no interest in them.
Our news media insists however on reporting Republicans running for office on nothing other than ill will towards everyone not them as “normal”. But then, consider everything about Trump that our news media normalized starting with “Mexicans are rapists”, “Pussy grabbing” and ending with “Putin is a genius for invading Ukraine”.
Both sides don’t see American democracy as an existential threat. Imagine if our news media reported that accurately.