The media can either be a bulwark of democracy and can protect the public at large from would be tyrants and ugly demagogues or it can be the downfall of democracy and decency. Sadly, much of the media, especially cable news outlets, now seems to be falling into the latter category through both laziness, the idiocy of many anchors who are selected based on physical looks rather than intelligence and analytical skills. Add to this, the false equivalency that is so often given to candidates and their positions, not to mention the constant repetition of lies without challenging them and those who promote them. Hitler and the Nazi regime and dictators like Vladimir Putin always seek to control the media because it is a key to furthering their anti-democratic agenda and often frightening policies. Here in America, we now see much of the media seemingly voluntarily doing the work of propagandists as they proceed with normalizing Neo-Nazis and other extremists by describing them as "conservatives" and "conservative Christians." These hate merchants are not conservative nor are they Christian, yet through sickening deference and the unquestioning parroting of their lies and propaganda, the mainstream media is helping to kill America. A piece in The Daily Beast looks at this disturbing phenomenon. Here are highlights:
When the Los Angeles Times’s social media team tweeted a link to a storyabout last Saturday’s celebratory post-election gathering in Washington of racists, anti-Semites, and white nationalists, the reaction—at least by some—was collective outrage.
“Worthless @latimes covers resurgent neo-Nazi movement as if it was a new boy band,” one of dozens of aggrieved readers tweeted after the paper touted the story on the benignly yet deceptively named National Policy Institute with the cheeky tweet, “Meet the new think tank in town: The ‘alt-right’ comes to Washington.”
Another critic, actor Adam Shapiro, who was in the cast of Aaron Sorkin’s Steve Jobsbiopic, objected to the respectful attention the Times’s coverage of the conference accorded National Policy Institute president Richard Spencer, who is credited with coining the term “alt-right” for his fellow twenty- and thirty-something clean-cut millennials who would rather not be tagged as xenophobic thugs.
“WTF?! Why are you glamorizing this guy, @latimes? This is not a think tank. It’s a hate group,” Shapiro tweeted in response not only to Lisa Mascaro’s story—which quoted Spencer as hailing “the alt-right as an intellectual vanguard”—but also to an accompanying video in which the telegenic and articulate white nationalist was given four unchallenged minutes to reasonably explain his dream “to influence politics and influence culture” to restore white people of European descent to unquestioned power and social dominance, adding, “I think we have an amazing opportunity to do that with Donald Trump.”
In fairness, Mascaro’s story—which eventually carried an altered headline, dropping the “think tank” idea in favor of “White nationalists dress up and come to Washington in hopes of influencing Trump”—did point out that “the formally dressed men more resembled Washington lobbyists than the robed Ku Klux Klansmen or skinhead toughs that often represent white supremacists, though they share many familiar views.”
But unlike more unsympathetic accounts of the gathering in The New York Times and The Daily Beast, it made no mention of partygoers, including former MTV host Tila Tequila, jubilantly giving the Nazi salute and engaging in other less than democracy-friendly behavior.
Still, the LA Times story also quoted Heidi Beirich, of the anti-hate group nonprofit, the Southern Poverty Law Center, as warning against the “mainstreaming” of pernicious ideologies that the National Policy Institute represents.
Beirich, while calling the LA Times’s Mascaro “thoughtful,” cautioned news outlets not to legitimize such groups with apparently balanced, if not credulous, coverage.
“I don’t want anything to normalize the National Policy Institute,” she told The Daily Beast. “I think there has been a tendency in the press to not understand what the alt-right is—which is white supremacy. And I think we’re letting haters basically rebrand themselves to sound less threatening—and that is very disappointing. I worry about that.”
The LA Times’s spokesperson didn’t respond to an email requesting comment.
Democracy doesn't die without either the willing or forced complicity of the press and news media. I truly wish some of these "journalists" would take a history course on the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime and then take a good look at themselves in the mirror. If they are not relentlessly exposing the hate and evilness of these Neo-Nazis and white supremacists, then they are part of the problem.