Donald Trump, Jill Abramson, The VA, and The Liberal Media Narrative
Donald Trump. Jill Abramson. The VA.
The first, the famously Republican entrepreneur and potential GOP presidential candidate. The second, the now-abruptly-fired uber-liberal Executive Editor of the hyper-left New York Times. The third, the primary source of health care for America's veterans. What could these three possibly have in common?
Call it the "liberal media narrative." Defined simply as the way in which the liberal media reflexively portrays people and events to fit the liberal world view.
Let's begin with Donald Trump.
A few weeks back, all of America was suddenly discussing NBA Clippers owner - now banned owner - Donald Sterling and his off-the-charts racist comments. We did so here.
So when Donald Trump discussed the situation during one of his Monday morning appearances on Fox and Friends, so far, so normal. What happened next, however, is typical of the liberal media narrative.
Over here at the Daily Mail the paper correctly notes that Trump called Sterling "despicable" and said that "harsh action has to be taken" by the NBA against Sterling. In mid-week, in fact, just as Trump and an entire chorus of Americans all across the political spectrum demanded that harsh action be taken against the Clipper owner, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from basketball - for life. And more.
But the coverage of Trump? At the tail end of his Fox interview The Donald noted of Sterling that "And by the way, he has a girlfriend from hell"' who "set him up."
And.boom. Like clockwork, the predictable liberal media narrative firestorm -from the so-called "mainstream" outlets with names like CBS and the Washington Post all the way out to the fringes - erupts.
Predictably, the Huffington Post headlined "Donald Trump Predictably Makes The Donald Sterling Saga Worse."
Written by "reporter" (read: liberal activist-masquerading-as-objective-journalist) Catherine Taibi the story begins: "Leave it to Donald Trump to defend the alleged racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in any way possible."
Over at CBS Sports, the network's NBA writer Matt Moore "reported" that Trump's "comments come across as a condemnation, but with caveat, which is sure to embroil more heated discussion around Trump. Trump, 67 has been at the center of controversy in the past over allegations of racism."
Not wanting to be left behind in all this Trump-pummeling, the far-left Salon began its "report" with this charmer: "One garbage human - Donald Trump - decided to comment on another garbage human - Donald Sterling - and it was terrible. None of this is surprising."
Hello? Trump says Sterling is "despicable" and that his punishment should be "harsh" - and this is racist? Saying the obvious - what partner in any relationship tapes the other and then leaks the tapes? - is a "defense" of Sterling? What are these "journalists" writing this garbage about Trump thinking?
Answer: They aren't journalists. They are liberal activists with computer keyboards and an agenda. What they write about day in and day out - what they push day in and day out under the guise of "objectivity" - is the liberal agenda delivered up in the form of the liberal media narrative. In this case, the target at hand was Donald Trump. His remarks were reported - make that deliberately reported - out of context. A glaringly obvious fact about the Sterling case - that Sterling's girlfriend set him up - was made by the liberal media narrative into "Trump Defends Sterling" - a blatant untruth. But a blatant untruth that fits the liberal agenda as delivered up in the form of the liberal media narrative.
Republicans are racists, goes the liberal narrative. So ignore everything Donald Trump actually said about Sterling, and deliberately twist his comment about the "girlfriend from hell" who "set him up" - again two blatantly obvious facts of the case - into another story altogether. Trump defends Sterling, Sterling is a racist, ergo, Trump is a racist. The only thing true in that narrative formulation is that Sterling is a racist. Everything else is, not to put too fine a point on it, a lie. A deliberate, calculated untruth. But hey.it serves the liberal agenda on race, so.too bad for Trump.
But the liberal media narrative certainly isn't just about targeting Donald Trump. The liberal media narrative is about interpreting the world through the lens of liberalism. And another recent news story involving someone who is decidedly not Donald Trump illustrates the point exactly.
That story, of course, is the abrupt firing of New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, Abramson and the Times being the very symbols -not to mention purveyors - of the liberal media narrative.
What is the liberal agenda when it comes to women? Aside from issues like abortion ("a woman's right to choose"), "equal pay for equal work" is at the core of the liberal agenda. Thus the liberal media narrative assumes that the Times - which writes ceaselessly about equal pay for women - does in fact live by its ideals. Who would ever think that the woman who serves as executive editor of the Times would in fact believe that she herself was not being paid equally in comparison with her male colleagues who have held the same job?
In fact, the Abramson story - like the Trump story - illustrates a central reality about the liberal media narrative. It isn't true. Donald Trump is no racist, and Jill Abramson, in spite of irate denials by Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, was by multiple accounts in fact not receiving "equal pay for equal work" as the liberal media narrative defines it. More to the point, as the Abramson story exploded there was no less than a female ex-New York Times reporter taking to MSNBC air to say the following, as Mediaite reported:
"Former Times reporter Leslie Bennetts claimed she left the institution in 1988 specifically because of a dispute over gender-based pay discrimination. After noting that the paper's "treatment of women was so atrocious," she recalled discovering she was being paid less than her male colleagues for the same work and was blown off by her superiors when she complained about it.
Bennetts alleged that a sex discrimination lawyer told her that "salary discrimination is endemic at the New York Times. It is a bomb waiting to go off."
"They pay lip service, they write editorials, Jill did a great job of increasing the amount of news about women and covering the issue," Bennetts asserted. "But they don't do it."
"The fact is that, by a lot of our indexes, they're still unbelievably sexist," the former Times reporter declared. "If you look at the front page and experts quoted and recent study about women in the news media, the percentages are terrible and they haven't changed in many, many years."
In other words, the liberal media narrative about the New York Times and its female employees - assumed to be true without a second thought by the wider liberal media - was a fiction. Or, if you will, a boldfaced lie.
The reason for the stunning success of Fox News and conservative talk radio is precisely because neither outlet takes the liberal media narrative about anything as gospel. For decades conservatives labored in a media environment that printed and broadcast all kinds of political slander that gushed forth in the name of spreading the liberal media narrative.
But this began to change over time as increasingly media-wise conservatives realized that television could in fact be used to get stories out there that in fact showed up the liberal media narrative of the moment to be, well, full of it. A case in point came in 1988 during the George H.W.Bush - Dukakis presidential campaign. The liberal media narrative was that the Democrats' presidential nominee, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, was that liberal favorite - an "environmentalist." The Dukakis campaign was licking its lips at the thought of portraying then-Vice President Bush as a tool of polluters.
But suddenly there was a problem. The Bush campaign hired a boat, put the Vice President and accompanying press on the boat, and launched the boat into the waters of Dukakis's own back yard: Boston Harbor. Which, surprise, surprise, was choked with pollution. The fabled harbor, into which Boston's patriots had famously dumped tea in the run-up to the American Revolution, now quite visibly contained infinitely more than water and tea. The TV cameras rolled as Bush grandly roared around the filthy water and blasted the image of Dukakis the environmentalist - the liberal media narrative about Dukakis - right out of.ah.the water.
One of the key participants in that Bush campaign was media advisor Roger Ailes, who of course went on to build Fox News. Where the liberal media narrative is routinely and quite relentlessly challenged.
The message in all of this is straightforward. Liberals in the media see themselves not as objective reporters but in fact as liberal activists whose sole job is to somehow turn the liberal agenda into today's liberal media narrative about X event.
The Trump comments on Sterling were deliberately misrepresented in the service of the liberal media narrative that all Republicans are racist. Abramson and the Times were always presented as the very embodiment of the liberal agenda. But just as with Dukakis and his "record" as an environmentalist, in point of fact there wasn't a word of truth to the liberal media narrative - in this case the Times narrative - that the liberal paper was an employer that lived up to the liberal agenda item that is equal pay for equal work. In truth, we now learn that at the Times "treatment of women was so atrocious" and that "salary discrimination is endemic."
There is a reminder here, as if Fox and talk radio need any reminder, that in fact the liberal media narrative about just about anything is in fact, to clean this up, bunk. Certifiable untruth masquerading as Received Truth.
Because, to borrow from Bill Clinton on GOP critics of ObamaCare, there is a "craving bordering on addiction" by the liberal media to create and maintain a steady, ever-flowing liberal narrative of events. Not to mention an obsessive need to depict the people at the center of those events as illustrative of said liberal media narrative.
Thus the deliberate distortion of Donald Trump on Donald Sterling. And the assumption that all those Times editorials demanding equal-pay-for-equal work meant the Times itself practiced what it preached.
Add to this the liberal notion that the VA is just one glorious example of how excellent universal health care is in practice. Over at Truth Revolt, Ben Shapiro does a devastating job of pulling back the curtain on all those liberal media figures who have spent time over the years selling the liberal media narrative that the universal health care that is the VA is just so excellent. Here, to cite but one example, is the Times' own Paul Krugman marveling that "Yes, this is `socialized medicine'.But it works, and suggests what it will take to solve the troubles of US health care more broadly."
Not a word of this, as America is learning to its shock, is true.
The reality is that the liberal media narrative is just that - a liberal media narrative. It isn't news. It frequently bears no resemblance whatsoever to the truth. And any assumption that it bears even a passing resemblance to the truth - to the actual facts of a given matter - is a mistake.
A big one.
As the liberal media narrative on Donald Trump, the Times' equal pay policies and now the VA - every one one of them blatant lies - so vividly illustrate.
About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania.