August 24, 2023
From Popular Resistance

Above Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

We now tip into the 2024 election season in some kind of official way, with the Republicans scheduled to hold their first primary debate Wednesday evening. Here is my question at this early moment: How are American readers and viewers going to follow events such that they can grasp what is at issue and—for those who insist on indulging in this practice—vote come November 3, 2024?

Here is my answer: I don’t know. With diligent effort and greater resort to independent media is the best I can propose as of now.

The coming presidential election already proves corrosive in all manner of ways, among them institutional corruption and a daring White House coverup of Watergate magnitude. These matters I considered in a recent column. But I left one thing out. The 2024 contest for the White House has tipped over our already listing corporate newspapers and broadcasters. Their abandonment of American readers and viewers in the service of the incumbent regime and the party apparatus propping it up is now complete and, in my view, beyond repair.

When Jefferson was serving as the new republic’s minister to Paris, he wrote home to Edward Carrington, who was then a delegate at the 1786–88 Continental Congress. “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government,” Jefferson told his friend, “I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

For the sake of crystal clarity, the great Virginian added, “But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.”

How upside down is our world from Jefferson’s. With this political season we are required to acknowledge that we effectively live in that condition our third president thought most abhorrent. We do not have newspapers anymore, honorable exceptions at the local level notwithstanding. Our newspapers are simulacra now, imitations of newspapers, appendages of government. And the last thing one wishes is for people to receive and read them.

I am moved to these thoughts, odd as it may seem, by a single photograph. It appeared atop a New York Times report headlined, “Kamala Harris Takes on a Forceful New Role in the 2024 Campaign.” The piece is bad enough, and I will get to that in a minute. It is the lead photograph that blew me away.

Look at it. There is the Biden regime’s way-over-her-head No. 2, with not an achievement to her name, pictured in a field of solemn black, flags on either side giving the only color, with her head bowed forward in a pose of hard-won accomplishment. I drew several conclusions as I stared at this image, unable to take my eyes off it as its implications tumbled into my thoughts.

One, we are now on notice that the Democratic leadership intends to address the problem of Joe Biden’s worsening-by-the-day mental incompetence by pushing Harris out front effectively to stand in for the president on the campaign trail. I had been wondering for some time how they would handle this knotty problem. Harris is now cast as “something of a one-woman rapid-response operation,” as The Times put it. She will do the public campaigning, in other words, while voters are invited to reelect a president they will rarely see but for more of those staged videos shot from the basement of his Wilmington mansion.

Two, our media are now certain, and unfortunately with justification, that they can get Americans to think whatever it is the power elites want them to think, however preposterous this may be. And they are fully committed to this project in the interests of the power they serve. We live, in other words, in the propaganda state Walter Lippmann, Edward Bernays, and others of their kind described approvingly a century ago.

Three, and this is the worst of it, there is no longer any air whatsoever between The New York Times and the Democratic National Committee. The one serves the other as a party organ in all respects other than name. This is what I mean when I invoke Jefferson’s nightmare of a government without newspapers. We are on notice as of this political season that this is what we’ve got.

Once you get past the semiology of the photograph, take a sec to peruse the report beneath it. Poor Zolan Kanno–Youngs, the Times reporter who had to excrete the drivel necessary to support the shocking image. If I find the subliminal power of the picture of Harris frightening, as honestly I do, the copy at least has its fun moments.

Our intrepid reporter quotes—but of course—a DNC official, one Cedric Richmond, saying, “It’s good to have her out there.” Biden, you see, is too busy back at 1600 Pennsylvania to run for office. “He is still uniting the West against Russian aggression, and he’s tackling the economy and inflation,” Richmond explains. Thank God we have Harris so that this brave man can watch over us.

Hyping Harris’s expertise on the gun control question, Kanno–Youngs quotes her saying she has “seen with my own eyes what a bullet does to the human body.” Is this the wisdom of hard-earned experience or what?

Tell me, reader, you can match this crap for its high quality.

This is a commentary about the totality of our media’s capitulation to liberal authoritarian elites in consequence of an election season that appears to have these elites quaking. I focus here on The Times for good reason, as the following will indicate.

Many years ago, when I was on one of the editing desks at The Times, we would receive a telephone call from one of the television networks at 5:30 or 6:00, just as we were closing the next day’s first edition. This would happen, maybe, a couple of times a week. The television people would say something like, “We have a story on the election in Belgium. Are you running anything on it?” If we said yes, the item would be on the evening news. If we said no, it wouldn’t.

I hope this explains why I am so often on about The Times. It is not only that the once-but-no-longer newspaper of record has burned through its credibility with years of irresponsible reporting—a sad decline that has steepened dramatically since it began assiduously to advance the Russiagate hoax seven years ago. My focus is as it is primarily because of the extraordinary power The Times exerts—invisible to readers, perhaps—over what the rest of American media report or don’t report and over American discourse altogether.

Quite apart from selling us Kamala Harris so as to get a cognitively impaired man reelected to the White House, The Times and all the pilot fish that swim beside it are now covering up the president’s perfectly obvious involvement in his son’s influence-peddling schemes and the Justice Department’s corruption out both doors—on the Hunter Biden case and the gross politicization of the Donald Trump indictments. One grows rather tired of reading there is “no evidence” of the president’s corruption when the press and broadcasters evince zero intent to investigate a raft of evidence waiting to be explored.

I begin to think the 2024 election will prove a succession of events that puts a hole in our republic’s bow that is simply too large to plug. No nation can hold together long if it suffers this magnitude of darkness. No people can cohere long when they are betrayed so thoroughly by those responsible for keeping them informed.

Jefferson had it very right. Better a press without a government than a government without a press. I fear we are on the way to learning the hard way why he had it this way around, given we now have it more or less exactly backward.