Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism
Timing is everything.
During Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke’s awkward campaign rollout, we learned that a Reuters reporter had a damaging story about the politician’s past during the Senate race against Senator Ted Cruz that he promised to hold “until after the November election.”
It’s now March.
The Reuters reporter sat on the story until the day after O’Rourke announced his White House bid. And then he decided that the time was perfect to debut a mildly damaging story about a Democrat.
There were three points in time when the story could have run.
When it would have helped Ted Cruz and hurt O’Rourke, after the election it would have mildly hurt O’Rourke, and now when it would damage O’Rourke more seriously and help his Democrat rivals.
Going the first route would have been journalism. It would have meant a mainstream media hack putting the story above his political leanings. And the odds of that are as good as a snowstorm in July. It does happen sometimes, but you don’t want to pack your winter boots on the off chance that it might.
The second route would have been routine media bias, holding a damaging story on a politician until it’s not election season anymore. The third route, the route that was taken, is much more revealing.
The story was deployed when it could cause maximum damage, right with O’Rourke’s campaign rollout.
The strategic timing reveals the media’s political priorities, helping Democrats defeat Republicans, and then helping Democrats defeat other Democrats that are less leftist than the ones they are helping.
Within this hierarchy, the media will champion liberal Republicans against conservative Republicans. It will aid Democrats against Republicans. And then support socialists against Democrats. In every confrontation, the media will pick the side that is furthest leftward and use its power to back its cause.
Why are the 2020 Democrats each scrambling to ‘outleft’ each other on every issue?
A sizable segment of the Democrat primary electorate will be radical. But it makes no practical sense for almost the entire field to be competing for only one segment of the electorate. And indeed, poll numbers show that the strategy isn’t working. The clown car pileup in which every candidate in the race steered toward Marx led to a distorted field with Bernie Sanders leading the announced candidates.
If you’re going to vote for a leftist, why settle for shoddy imitations like Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, or Kamala Harris, when you can have a politician who was booing JFK in support of Fidel Castro?
The Democrat field favored candidates like Biden and O’Rourke who hadn’t yet announced because the base was actually hoping for more sensible options than Bernie and a bunch of professional politicians embarrassing themselves by embracing every radical cause in order to appeal to the Sandernistas.
Good luck with that.
Bobby O’Rourke entered the race by endorsing the Green New Deal and confessing his privilege. Biden is teasing a run by promising to be more “progressive” than any of the other candidates in the race.
Is this really a good strategy?
It’s not a great strategy for anyone in the back of the clown car trying to edge out Bernie and get a few points off Kamala, but it’s a sensible strategy for not being hammered with hit pieces that might not just end your chances at 2020, but force you to resign from your Senate seat and end your entire career.
The candidates aren’t going leftward because it’s the best strategy to win over the base. They’re doing it because it’s the best strategy for protecting their political fundaments from the partisan press.
The media never liked Hillary.
It didn’t resent her because she’s an unpleasant person, because she roped off the media or because of her numerous scandals. Her one unforgivable sin was steering slightly to the right in the Senate. Hillary had been plotting her own White House run and she voted for the Iraq War. And that was it.
The media helped build up Obama. Then it helped build up Bernie Sanders.
When Hillary went up against Trump, the media had her back all the way and was willing to help pull any dirty trick, just as Reuters never ran that O’Rourke story when he was up against Ted Cruz. But the media never liked her and it undermined her whenever she ran against a leftier Democrat opponent.
That is the political lesson that has shaped the 2020 Democrat field.
No one wants to be Hillary Clinton. A useful reminder of that came from her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, who became one of the lone voices condemning Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitism. When Islamist activists harassed Chelsea, the media took their side, the side of anti-Semitism, rather than hers. If you want to understand why hardly any of the 2020 Dems dared criticize Rep. Omar and why some, Senator Elizabeth Warren, actually doubled down on her anti-Semitism, look at what happened to Chelsea.
Or what happened to Senator Dianne Feinstein when she bucked the Green New Deal.
Forget the mainstream issues that the Democrats once held mainstream positions on. That the only acceptable positions on illegal migration, infanticide and crime are “Hell, yeah”, is a foregone conclusion. But defying even the most extreme leftist positions, on any subject from banning planes to racial reparations to outright anti-Semitism, will be swiftly punished with media hit pieces.
That is the political backdrop against which the 2020 Democrat primaries are taking place.
In the democratic days of the Democrats, candidates went to places like Iowa or New Hampshire to appeal to voters. These days the actual electorate of the 2020 candidates isn’t in any of these places. Their real electorate is a media apparatus based out of New York and Washington D.C. The primary tour is an opportunity for Democrats to market themselves not to the electorate, but to the media.
And the only test that matters is how far the needle on the radioactive political counter tilts leftward.
2016 proved that the media doesn’t control the outcome of national elections. But it does control the outcome of Democrat primaries. Had a more viable leftist candidate than Bernie Sanders emerged in 2016, Hillary Clinton would not have made it through the primaries. And as it prepares for 2020, the media wants to find that candidate. Anyone who isn’t that candidate is being hit with hit pieces.
The 2020 media landscape is a scorched earth landscape of hit pieces being lobbed at various candidates for their progressive failings. The media civil war will end when a Democrat 2020 nominee emerges.
And then all the scandals will be as thoroughly buried as the O’Rourke story was before November.
The media doesn’t report. Its shoddy mockery of journalism consists of the same alternating flattery and fury, the boot-licking and head-kicking tendencies of propaganda operations in totalitarian states. America isn’t North Korea or Cuba. Yet. But we have the same malicious media perations as they do.
And it’s not just Republicans or even conservatives caught in the line of fire.
The O’Rourke story is a demonstration that every elected official lives with the knowledge that the dirty thumb of the media rests heavily on the scales. Every Democrat may benefit from partisan media bias, but he also knows that when an Alexandria Ocasio Cortez shows up, he will get the same treatment.
And Cortez knows, to whatever extent she knows anything, that one day her turn will also come.
To be a proper leftist is to live in perpetual terror of deviating from the party line. Leftists, like cannibals, form into lynch mobs for self-defense. If they’re lynching someone else, their neck is momentarily safe.
Yesterday’s progressives have long since become today’s racists, sexists and reactionary monsters. But the process is accelerating so fast that it’s no longer just the Democrats of another generation who have to fear that tomorrow the cultural revolution will come for them. Every Democrat official lives in terror.
Not of tomorrow. But of today.
Until the laws fail and the guillotines and gulags are upon us, the media is the arbiter and instrument of revolutionary justice. Its lies and smears are the sharp blade that hangs over the head of every 2020er.
The media has turned the Dem 2020 field into a clump of clueless and fearful posturing radicals. The clown car is out of control and it isn’t Biden, Beto or Kamala at the wheel. It’s MSNBC and the Post.
The Democrats no longer represent the people. Or even their own voters. They represent the media.
And the media party lives in perpetual terror of the radical red eye of its electorate.
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