No one is allowed to dissent from the official Establishment line: that’s the new dispensation in the media, and it is being enforced by the political class, which has launched a series of smear campaigns against anyone who dares question the conventional wisdom. Anyone who questions the veracity of the media, starting with our President, is deemed an “enemy of democracy,” because the media is supposed to be the foundation stone of a free society.
But what happens when the media becomes an instrument in the hands of Power, a weapon in the arsenal of a Deep State intent on exercising its veto over our democratically elected government?
That’s a question fake-“libertarian” Conor Friedersdorf doesn’t want you to even contemplate. Why? Because then, like Tucker Carlson, you’d be “hurting America.” That’s right, folks: “Tucker Carlson is Hurting America Again”! Yes, again!
Oh, when will they make it stop?
How and why is this hurting happening? Well, it seems Tucker stepped over the line by giving his audience the sort of advice I’ve given my readers time and time again:
“Last week, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson, or else the eponymous populist demagogue that he plays on TV, declared on Tucker Carlson Tonight, ‘If you’re looking to understand what’s actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.’
“He has previously hosted TV shows on CNN, MSNBC, and PBS.”
That last paragraph is supposed to clue you in to Carlson’s hypocrisy, and yet it will no doubt seem to the non-hysterical reader that Tucker’s experience in those vales of confirmation bias gives him some insight into how they report the news. And then there’s the snarky implication that Carlson doesn’t really believe what he’s saying – after all, how could anyone doubt the Russia-gate conspiracy narrative? Why, nobody at The Atlantic does! – and he’s just “playing” the “eponymous populist demagogue” on TV.
First of all, let’s dispel the aura of intellectuality that Friedersdorf exudes: “eponymous” doesn’t mean what he thinks it means, and the word has absolutely no applicability here. See for yourself. So why include it? Because Friedersdorf is a complete and total phony, and always has been. He’s a pretentious careerist who, in taking on the assignment given to him by Jeffrey Goldberg, former Israeli prison guard and editor-in-chief over at The Atlantic, shows us what a third-class writer he is.
Most of the piece consists of quotes from Carlson, supposedly contradicting his present skeptical view of the “mainstream” media. Yet this misses the point – deliberately, one can’t help thinking – being made not only by Carlson but by some of the few remaining rational pundits on the left who are disturbed by the weaponization of journalism as a sword in the hands of those who would slay the President. There’s been a sea change in the content and tone of the “mainstream” media, which has given up all pretenses of objectivity and lent itself to partisan purposes.
This radical departure from the traditional news-gathering credo of old-time journalists has made our job here at Antiwar.com much harder: whereas before the default attitude toward the reporting of, say, the McClatchy News Service, was implicit trust, today we must approach McClatchy with skepticism for the simple reason that their output has taken on a polemical tone. And the content reflects that tone, which is brazenly biased against anything connected to Donald Trump, such as the Korea summit. The same is true of the rest of the legacy media: we have to check, and check again, just to make sure we aren’t being lied to.
Friedersdorf has the nerve to write about “the jarring dissonance” between Carlson’s former views and his current critique, but to that one can only answer: Look who’s talking! Here is Friedersdorf, in the very same magazine, blaming the “MSM” for misleading bloggers during the early days of the Iraq war. The pro-war bloggers, we are told, “saw through none of the MSM’s flaws.”
Flaws? Why is Conor Friedersdorf trying to “hurt America”?
The hypocrite continues:
”The vicious circle was closed when bloggers normally critical of the MSM would cite MSM stories ostensibly bolstering the case for war as if they were extra credible statements-against-interest … An expectation that should’ve informed pre-war arguments – that the press has always had statist tendencies and has always put excessive trust in leaders during war time – was nearly absent from the blogosphere, which mocked that notion when it came up at all.”
Friederdorf’s turnaround indicates that, in joining what he characterized as the “statist” press, he’s chosen to ignore his own warning that, in wartime, the “mainstream” media is not to be trusted.
Wait a minute – war? What war? I’m talking about the liberal media’s war on Trump, which no one with eyes in their head and half a brain can deny. They are out to destroy this President. In league with the “intelligence community,” just like during the run-up to the Iraq war, they are embarked on a crusade for regime-change – only this time, the scene of their operations is right here in the United States.
You don’t have to like Trump, or his policies, to see this as a mortal danger to our republic: does any libertarian want to give the “intelligence community” veto power over who occupies the White House? Do we really want to see the FBI and the CIA intervene in our politics?
By allowing himself to be used as a tool in this fight, Friedersdorf’s true colors come to light, and it isn’t a pretty sight. Don’t be skeptical, he’s telling us: swallow what they tell you, or else you’re “hurting America.” Has there ever been a more pathetic argument than that?
Sadly, the Friedersdorf piece is filled with epithets that are merely a projection of the author’s own sins: “mercenary,” “opportunist,” “demagoguery.” It’s quite a grisly scene: there is the alleged “libertarian” Friedersdorf alongside such luminaries of liberty as neocon warmonger David Frum, anti-Russian fanatic Julia Ioffe, and Goldberg, all statists who revel in America’s wars abroad. Once a promising writer with libertarian-ish impulses, today he’s become a tool of the very statist media he once descried.
In short, he’s a sellout – not an unusual specimen in our media landscape, but nevertheless an object lesson in what not to be or do if you want to maintain your integrity.
A particularly sinister aspect of this nasty little polemic is that it mentions several Hollywood types with financial ties to Fox News, and their displeasure with Fox’s editorial stances of late: the implicit threat being that Tucker will be axed from the Fox News lineup for financial reasons if he isn’t careful about what he says.
Which makes Friedersdorf not only a tool, but also a particularly contemptible human being who should be ostracized by all decent people.
Okay, enough about that contemptible little shill: let’s talk about what all this means, aside from the fact that Evil exists in the world. What is the lesson here?
Tucker Carlson is absolutely right when he tells us: “If you’re looking to understand what’s actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they’re telling you on the big news stations.”
We here at Antiwar.com have been saying exactly that since our founding – indeed, it is why we were founded in the first place.
The media was an indispensable element in the campaign of lies that lured us into Iraq: without Judy Miller at the New York Times, and the dozens of fake news piece published by the Washington Post, and buttressed by dozens of pro-war editorials and op ed articles – not to mention the televised lies broadcast 24/7 – the worst foreign policy disaster in our history might have been avoided. The rest of the “mainstream” picked up this massive assault on truth and ran with it, and the rest is a tragic history indeed.
Public distrust of the “mainstream” media didn’t begin with Trump and his followers declaring “fake news” to be “the enemy of the American people” – it started when the lies that dragged us into war were debunked and the liars exposed. That’s why our audience has been growing steadily since that time: and that’s why we are known today as a reliable source of nonpartisan objective reporting and commentary on what is happening in our tumultuous world.
We’ve been exposing the schemes of the War Party since 1995 – but we can’t continue to do it without your financial support.
There are plenty of Establishment shills who would like nothing better than to see Antiwar.com go down: heck, there is even an entire contingent of morons who would like nothing better than to see me silenced, in particular. That’s because I don’t follow the Party Line when it comes to Trump, or Russia-gate, or anything else, and they just can’t stand the fact that dissident voices are being heard.
Well, to hell with them. I won’t be silenced. Tucker Carlson, I hope, won’t be silenced – and Antiwar.com will continue to speak truth to power with your invaluable help.
Which brings me to this vitally important point: our summer fundraising campaign is well underway, and we need to wrap this one up as soon as possible so we can get back to focusing on our job – reporting the truth about American foreign policy. So please make your tax-deductible donation today – because, in these dark days, we can’t believe a word of what the “mainstream” media is telling us.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.