The Media Really Are To Blame

Yesterday, I posted a quick piece here on the entirely expected outrage the Republican party is aiming at the mainstream media over its coverage of the government shutdown. Since not every outlet is portraying this petulant tantrum by the House Republicans as a tale of brave warriors for freedom standing up against socialist tyranny, conservatives are of course calling liberal bias. My argument was that given how obsequious to politics-as-usual and as servile to phony objectivity most of the press are, the GOP should be thanking its lucky stars that it’s getting the kind of coverage it is. Republicans have no reason to blame the press for anything because not only is it giving them a free ride right now — it was the free ride it gave them for so long that allowed them to pull this crap in the first place.

And that’s why I think it’s important that we blame the media for this. It’s the political press’s unwillingness to report reality — as opposed to playing stenographer for each side in the hope of achieving balance — that emboldened the House Republicans to take our government and our economy hostage. They knew full well that they’d never be blamed entirely for what they were doing since they’d been able to get away with unilaterally screwing the country for so long without ever being made to answer for it by the supposed gatekeepers of truth in our culture. Sure, they were always going to complain about how they were treated by the media, but that’s par for the course; they need a boogeyman to be victim to and the press will always be convenient. The fact is, though, that if the political press had been willing to stop merely quoting the two sides and instead sorted out fact from fiction the way it’s supposed to, the unprecedented Republican obstructionism we’ve seen over the past few years — which led to this unprecedented government shutdown over a law the GOP didn’t want to see implemented because it didn’t like it — would’ve long ago been called out for being the bullshit it is.

Instead what we’ve gotten over the past few days is more of what we’ve come to expect from the mainstream political press. CNN, ABC, and the Washington Post have all lamented the “dysfunction” in Washington for this miasma, with “both sides” of course being to blame. Except that both sides aren’t to blame and haven’t been for quite a while. Again, there’s no precedent for what we’re seeing right now. Saying that Barack Obama and the Democrats have “allowed” the government to be shutdown by not capitulating completely to the GOP’s demands is like saying that by not handing over all your money to a guy sticking a gun in your face, you’re “allowing” yourself to be shot in the head and therefore bear some of the blame. The mainstream media have refused for too long to acknowledge that there’s been a guy with a gun in quite a few of the negotiations we’ve seen in Washington over the past few years. And because of this, because they enabled that guy at every turn, he now figures he can get away with shooting all of us.