Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Famous men are being exposed as sexual predators, and Jonah Goldberg has a complaint:
The ongoing cascade of sexual-harassment violations is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. But one thing has been nagging at me for a while and Patrick Ruffini put his finger on it this morning:

When the allegations about Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes came out, the mainstream media had a field day. But there was no larger feeding frenzy. Last year it was a “Fox News” story, not a “societal problem” story. It took the Harvey Weinstein allegations to get the mainstream press to start asking uncomfortable questions about its own institutions. I can think of several reasons for this, but one that stands out is the tribalism of media itself.

The Fox stories confirmed, to one extent or another, what a lot of mainstream liberals think about Fox or about conservatives generally: They’re retrograde. They’re bad. That’s the kind of thing that goes on over there.
I'd say that the scandals at Fox News were covered as separate from the wider American culture because Fox News regards itself as separate from the wider American culture. It expresses nothing but contempt for other parts of the news media. It portrays popular culture (with a few exceptions, like country music and religious-themed movies) as sleazy and decadent. It claims to speak for all of America, but it portrays anyone who doesn't agree with its point of view as not really American.

Fox built a cordon around itself. We didn't build it.

Goldberg continues:
One of my longstanding gripes is how when conservatives do something bad, it’s proof of the inherent badness of conservatives and conservatism. But when liberals do something bad, it is immediately turned into an indictment of America itself. Joe McCarthy’s excesses were a window into the nature of conservatism, according to historians, intellectuals, and journalists. But when liberals — Attorney General Palmer, Woodrow Wilson, et al. — did far worse, the villain was America itself. When conservatives are racist, it is because they are conservatives. When liberals are racist it is because racism is an “American sin.”
I don't know where Goldberg sees this careful sorting. I don't see it. Witch hunts are witch hunts, and racism is racism; they're both stains on the individual perpetrators as well as on America as a whole.

... is it crazy to think that there’s a problem specific to liberalism at work here? I mean this all started with Harvey Weinstein, and he first thought he could survive the scandal by promising to go after the NRA. Where did he get that idea? Maybe because he had good reason to think it would work?
Well, it didn't work. It was clearly naked opportunism on the part of a desperate sociopath, and nobody fell for it.

And no, there isn't a problem specific to liberalism at work here. We're seeing stories of sexual misconduct in politics, entertainment, and the media itself because these three fields get a disproportionate share of media coverage. But harassment and assault happen everywhere. This week we learned that there have been 180 sexual assault claims connected to a chain of massage spas. A couple of weeks ago, HuffPost reported on widespread sexual misconduct aimed at hotel and casino workers. Is this a liberal problem? A conservative problem? I'm pretty sure it's a male problem.

Goldberg acknowledges that ("The problem lies not in ideology but in human nature"), but he's still ... peeved:
... it seems fairly obvious to me that the press enjoyed the [Roger] Ailes and [Bill] O’Reilly stories precisely because they involved toppling someone else’s icons. Where there was barely constrained glee in the voices of many pundits and reporters when it came to exposing the sins of Ailes and O’Reilly, there’s equally obvious remorse when it comes to Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin, NPR’s David Sweeney, and, obviously, Bill Clinton. It speaks well of the media that it’s reporting these things anyway. But it would be a good thing for the press to meditate on what that remorse (and glee) says about its own tribalism.
If there's more remorse in the media reaction to the downfall of the latter group, and more glee at the downfall of Ailes and O'Reilly, it's because Ailes and O'Reilly proudly proclaimed that they hated the non-conservative media, as well as the part of America that didn't like their work (which was the rest of the media's audience).

But I don't agree that the reaction to the more recent scandals has consisted largely of remorse. Ask some women how they feel about these guys getting their comeuppance. They don't sound very remorseful.

No comments: