The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

You Can’t Say ‘Rigged’

Posted on | February 5, 2021 | Comments Off on You Can’t Say ‘Rigged’

One of the things you learn, if you spend as many years in the news business as I have, is that the news is not random. That is to say, the question of what stories will appear on the front page of the New York Times is not merely a matter of what happened the day before, because all kinds of things happen every day, and there is only so much space on the front page of a paper. Actual choices have to be made, by human beings called “editors,” to determine what’s front-page news, what gets stuck back on Page A14, and what never gets reported at all.

The process of deciding what is “news” is not random, as I say, even though some events are of such unquestioned importance that they must be at the top of the front page. If you picked up any American newspaper on Sept. 12, 2001, this was rather obvious, but such historic events are rare, and on most days the question of what goes on A1 leaves a fair amount of leeway to the editors to make their own choices. There may be one or two stories of such unquestioned importance that they must be on the front page, but when it comes to the rest — Story 3, Story 4, Story 5, etc. — the editors have more room to exercise discretion.

Trust me, there is often a lot of internal disagreement over such things. When I was at The Washington Times, some reporters would get very angry if a story they had pitched for A1 didn’t make the cut. It was generally the policy that A1 would have at least one Metro story, and on most days also there would be something from Sports or Features on the front page, so that out of a total of seven or eight front-page stories, the National desk would only get five or six. Well, if Bill Gertz had a story about the Chinese military that he felt deserved to be on A1, he’d get rather peeved — and understandably so — if his story was bumped back to Page A3 so that we could have, say, a feature about Georgetown University basketball on the front page. It happens.

Human beings make decisions about what counts as front-page news, and there is a certain amount of selectivity involved. You know who figured this out? Matt Drudge. The story is that when he was working as the overnight clerk at a 7-Eleven in the Maryland suburbs of D.C., he would read all the newspapers to pass the time in the wee hours when there were no customers. Reading the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Times, the New York Post, USA Today, etc., back-to-back every day for weeks on end, Drudge began to notice the different choices reflected in the content of the papers. From that insight sprang his subsequent approach to aggregating news at the Drudge Report (which, alas, he seems to have turned over to a gang of liberal dimwits in the past couple of years). Thanks to the Internet, all of us now have more access to different sources than was possible for most people back when Drudge was reading all those newspapers at 7-Eleven, so there is more widespread understanding of how media bias operates.

“Why is this story national news?”

That’s the question you have to ask, whenever a crime story makes it to CNN or to the network evening news broadcasts. Because America is a very large country, with more than 325 million people, the vast majority of crime in the United States is strictly “local news.” There were more than 16,000 murders in America in 2019, which works out to about 45 murder per day. How many of those murders even get mentioned on CNN? Not many. So when something like the Trayvon Martin shooting or the death of George Floyd becomes national news — hourly updates 24/7 on CNN — this means that a decision was made by someone. These stories didn’t just coincidentally become national news. On the day that George Floyd died, about 40 other Americans were shot to death, but none of those other deaths were deemed newsworthy by CNN.

Everybody today is talking about this Time magazine story by Molly Ball, which looks an awful lot like a secret plan to rig the election, but you’re not allowed to say “rigged” or “stolen,” because if you do, you’re an “extremist” and potentially a terrorist. Ace gives the story a thorough fisking here, and my podcast partner John Hoge also takes notice.

This story is nearly 7,000 words, which is a lot to chew on, but here’s one part that attracted my attention:

The racial-justice uprising sparked by George Floyd’s killing in May was not primarily a political movement. The organizers who helped lead it wanted to harness its momentum for the election without allowing it to be co-opted by politicians. Many of those organizers were part of Podhorzer’s network, from the activists in battleground states who partnered with the Democracy Defense Coalition to organizations with leading roles in the Movement for Black Lives.
The best way to ensure people’s voices were heard, they decided, was to protect their ability to vote. “We started thinking about a program that would complement the traditional election-protection area but also didn’t rely on calling the police,” says Nelini Stamp, the Working Families Party’s national organizing director. They created a force of “election defenders” who, unlike traditional poll watchers, were trained in de-escalation techniques. During early voting and on Election Day, they surrounded lines of voters in urban areas with a “joy to the polls” effort that turned the act of casting a ballot into a street party. Black organizers also recruited thousands of poll workers to ensure polling places would stay open in their communities.
The summer uprising had shown that people power could have a massive impact. Activists began preparing to reprise the demonstrations if Trump tried to steal the election. “Americans plan widespread protests if Trump interferes with election,” Reuters reported in October, one of many such stories. More than 150 liberal groups, from the Women’s March to the Sierra Club to Color of Change, from to the Democratic Socialists of America, joined the “Protect the Results” coalition. The group’s now defunct website had a map listing 400 planned postelection demonstrations, to be activated via text message as soon as Nov. 4. To stop the coup they feared, the left was ready to flood the streets.

Do you see that these dots connect in a non-random way? And do you understand how the news media was part of this coordinated operation?

Notice also that Molly Ball says the George Floyd riots were “not primarily a political movement.” Well, what does “political” mean? You’re not supposed to ask such questions. That’s the important thing about the media narrative, is how skepticism is basically forbidden. Ordinary citizens are not supposed to notice the strings by which the puppet-masters manipulate the story, and don’t you dare point out the political objectives toward which the media narrative is aimed:

In three consecutive presidential elections — 1980, 1984, and 1988 — the Republicans won landslide majorities. In order to win back the White House, the Democrats began examining the demographic composition of the electorate, looking for some cleavage point by which they could break up the Reagan–Bush majority. Poring over exit-poll data and convening focus groups, the Democrats went to work, and with Bill Clinton as their candidate assembled a new coalition.
Part of the Clinton message strategy — and one that Democrats have exploited ever since — was to accuse Republicans of representing forces of hate and division and saying they are to blame for the suffering of victims of oppression. This message has been ably reinforced by the Democrats’ allies in the news media. Who was it, after all, that decided to replay the video of L.A. cops beating Rodney King over and over on CNN until eventually Los Angeles erupted in the worst race riot in recent U.S. history? That episode helped Clinton win the 1992 election, and are we to suppose that this was merely coincidental? Likewise the summer-long wave of racial violence that began with protests over George Floyd’s death last May — just another election-year coincidence? Or is it the case, as I rather suspect, that CNN and other Democrat-controlled media operations are not just randomly choosing local crime stories to turn into national controversies? . . .

Read the rest of my latest column in The American Spectator.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!



Comments are closed.