Wednesday, May 23, 2018


Responding to news that President Trump uses highly insecure phones, Brian Beutler concludes that the mainstream media rewards Republican bad faith.
... the 2016 election turned to a comical degree on a fabricated consensus among Republicans and the political media that strict adherence to information security protocols was a central qualification for the presidency. Specifically, Republicans pretended to believe Hillary Clinton had committed a disqualifying and imprisonable crime by using a personal email server to do work when she was secretary of state, and reporters pretended to believe that these infosec concerns were offered up in good faith.

... It is so taken for granted in the halls of power that Republicans don’t actually care about this issue, and never did, that nobody even bothers to ask them to square their hair-on-fire behavior in 2016 with their insouciance today. Two years ago, House Speaker Paul Ryan repeatedly and publicly requested that Clinton be stripped of her security clearance because of her email practices. On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the Trump phone-breach story broke, he held a routine Capitol briefing for reporters and fielded zero questions about it.

... If the standard journalists set for themselves is that anything Republicans claim to be outraged about must be treated as a live controversy, then journalists disclaim a major potential point of failure, and become conduits for propaganda. This insulates media organizations from accountability for their handling of the email server matter, but also guarantees that the patterns of the past years will repeat themselves.
I wouldn't say that the mainstream media believes that literally anything "Republicans claim to be outraged about must be treated as a live controversy" -- now that Trump is in office, the mainstream press seems capable of resisting a certain amount of GOP scandal invention. Uranium One isn't a major MSM scandal. Nor was "unmasking." The press is even resisting the notion that it's criminal to hire an informant when you're investigating possible espionage. It's conceivable that mainstream journalists are on to the game now -- though it's more likely that Republicans aren't trying to sell these scandals to the mainstream. They're just for base consumption. They're R&B or country hits that the record label has decided probably won't cross over to pop radio, so why waste money promoting them there?

But the most likely reason that information management became the #1 issue in 2016 is that it was directed against a Democratic presidential candidate who wasn't a charismatic bro. The "liberal media" may seem culturally liberal on, say, LGBT rights or immigration, but the press doesn't like Democratic candidates for president unless they have star quality and at least a little bit of bro in them -- and even then there's disillusionment if the Democrats actually attain office (see the press sneering at Bill Clinton practically from the moment he took office; also see the "Well, what does he want to do if he gets a second term?" yammering about Barack Obama circa 2012). But if you don't have that somewhat bro-ish charisma, forget even reaching the White House -- whatever the Republicans unleash on you will be eagerly echoed by the mainstream press during the campaign.

What happened to Hillary Clinton also happened to John Kerry (Swiftboating and charges of elitism and flip-floppery), Al Gore (earth tones, excessive ambition, claiming to have invented the Internet), and Mike Dukakis (wimpiness and an inadequate desire for vengeance against criminals).

In 1992 the mainstream press liked Bill Clinton somewhat more than it liked those candidates (though Clinton was attacked on his sex life and his patriotism), and in 2008 Barack Obama generally avoided MSM scorn after the Jeremiah Wright moment passed. But those are exceptions. The rule is that the mainstream press doesn't like Democratic candidates at all. We'll see it in 2020, when the Democratic likely won't have a bro in the bunch (unless you count Joe Biden, assuming he runs). Republicans will lob phony attacks at that Democrat, too. The "liberal media" will know they're phony -- and take them seriously anyway.

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