Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism
The oldest institution in Washington D.C. isn't the White House (1817), the Smithsonian Castle (1855) or the Old Ebtitt Grill (1856): it’s government insiders conspiring with friendly reporters against their rivals and superiors. Even when Washington D.C. was uninhabitable during the summer months, the telegraph wires still burned with smears, innuendos and leaks even with no one around to leak.
When the Washington press corps isn’t firing stupid questions at press secretaries, it’s lunching at places like the Old Ebtitt Grill while jotting down gossip, innuendo and talking points from government insiders. The only industry with a more incestuous media than Washington D.C. is some 2,700 miles away in Hollywood. But lately the forbidden affairs between reporters and insiders make Hollywood seem tame.
Take James Wolfe and New York Times reporter Ali Watkins, where the thirty year difference between the Senate Intelligence Committee security director and the 26-year-old Pulitzer nominee (the most disgraceful Pulitzer jorno who hadn’t actually colluded in Communist genocide) and his marriage didn’t obstruct trigger the scruples of media outlets getting the inside scoop between the sheets.
The New York Times verbally shrugged it off. “Their relationship played out in the insular world of Washington, where young, ambitious journalists compete for scoops while navigating relationships with powerful, often older, sources.” Or as Harvey Weinstein called it, business as usual.
The anonymous insider New York Times op-ed lays bare the farce that is the insider-media resistance swamp. “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration,” the headline blared.
“Resistance” makes you think of guerrillas hiding in jungles, partisans shooting from behind brick walls, not a Washington D.C. insider lunching with a New York Times editor. Government bureaucrats sabotaging elected officials didn’t begin with President Trump. Every Republican president (and some Democrats) have faced the courageous resistance of careerists who occasionally switch from ordering overpriced office chairs at taxpayer expense to pursuing their personal and political agendas, also at taxpayer expense. Only under Trump would these professional cretins be compared to the Maquis.
The insider-media resistance legitimized Hillary Clinton opposition research as a basis for spying on Trump officials, it let Comey allegedly leak classified documents and a thousand other treacheries.
Say what you will about Antifa and leftists who dress up as giant private parts or characters from the only Hulu original show that anyone watches, at least their “resistance” puts them on line for a beating or a photo that will make them cringe at family reunions for two generations. And they really believe in something. That something may be evil, but to quote Walter Sobchak, “At least it’s an ethos.”
The Washington insider resistance is the pathetic work of colorless careerists whose ideology rarely runs deeper than their next job. Their leftism is the reflexive protective social coloration and goes no deeper than Comey or Mueller’s Republican credentials. Had President Trump not threatened to drain the swamp, they would have done only as much undermining of his administration to get them a date, a good story at the next cocktail party or a post-government gig. But then Trump threatened the way of life of men and women who would have been happy if the Soviet Union had won the Cold War as long as they were allowed to keep their job titles, their gym memberships and their endless lunches.
Why does this “resistance” resist? Why does every Washington D.C. insider have his own pet reporter?
The unglamorous truth is that beyond the marble and white stone, the Imperial City is a snake pit where government careerists, bureaucrats and political appointees, engage in constant intrigues. Success in D.C. has very little to do with performance and a great deal to do with contacts and publicity. Everyone important enough to get coverage starts cultivating reporters and anonymously planting stories that make him look good and everyone in his way look bad. That’s the social disease of Washington D.C.
Both the media and the insiders have escalated their usual abusive behavior, with the insiders leaking classified information, doing serious damage while boasting about being a “resistance”. But it’s not a dramatic break with the past. Instead it’s a corrupt illicit relationship turning even more corrupt.
The “anonymous” op-ed casts light on just how much of Washington D.C. is driven by an incestuous relationship between government insiders and the reporters who are supposed to cover them, but instead collude with them. The media shapes the policy consensus while the insiders shape the media. And policy gets made not by elected officials, but by an echo chamber of unelected officials, appointees and their media pals. This echo chamber defines the popular view inside and outside Washington D.C.
Normally elected officials colluding to undermine elected officials would be deemed a threat to democracy, but the echo chamber insists that they’re saving America from President Trump.
That’s the “resistance” of careerists looking to balance jobs in the Trump administration with future job opportunities. It’s the lifers who never leave Washington D.C. riding the revolving doors from government to lobbying and consultancies, and then back to government again, who change addresses and suburbs, but never stop playing their corrupt games and hate anyone who threatens them.
Some call them the “Deep State”, but like “Resistance”, it’s far too grand a name for small, petty people who would sell their sisters for a leg up, who claim to believe whatever is popular at any given moment.
And switch just as easily the next.
The only thing that Washington D.C. insiders ever resist is reform. That, not the supposed suffering of illegal aliens, Muslim terrorists or whatever Dem victim group is hot this week, is what motivates them.
President Trump came from the real estate world to a medieval court with the semi-modern trappings of ubiquitous Blackberries and encrypted apps to connect leakers to New York Times reporters. He threatened to drain the swamp and reform the racket. And that threat bound the Washington D.C. insider and the Washington D.C. reporter closer together than ever around fighting a common enemy.
The insider-media connection is older than the White House and Old Ebtitt, old enough that its members have come to think of Washington D.C. as their own, and of Trump as a parvenu, an upstart threatening to reform them out of existence just because he happened to have won an election.
Elections, the D.C. lifers know, come and go. Corrupt relationships however are forever.
The media is an integral part of the Washington D.C. swamp. The relationships that insiders cultivate with reporters are an important weapon in staving off reforms. The idealistic politician who starts talking reform quickly gets distracted by a thousand crises manufactured by threatened D.C. lifers.
That’s why the media has been so sharply paranoid about the loss of its privileges. Cutting back press conferences, opening them up or criticizing the media were all deemed a threat to the First Amendment. It’s not just about hating President Trump and his politics. The media depends on its network of contacts. Any threat to its contacts is a threat to the careers of influential reporters.
When a New York Times journalist is prepared to allegedly sleep for scoops with the knowledge of her superiors, imagine what sort of lies, smears and attacks the media will unleash to protect its sources.
The anonymous op-ed is the tip of the iceberg. The swamp dwellers like the slime too much. And they will do whatever they can to stop elections from overturning their powers and privileges.