Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Journo Dysphoria

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Journo Dysphoria

For nearly 75 years after 1945, reporters were one thing and politicians another. Journalists were imagined to be objective in their reporting on politicians, no different from E.O. Wilson’s relationship to ants.

If you needed any more proof that the older paradigm was dead you had it Wednesday night when former president Donald J. Trump debated, sort of, Kaitlan Collins, during a CNN Town Hall meeting in New Hampshire.

We say “sort of” because it wasn’t officially a debate nor structured like a debate nor as fair or as entertaining as a debate. It was more like a Trump fan fest occasionally interrupted by a media fact-checker.

But what made the event remarkable was the pure obliviousness of CNN. Did they really think Collins would be able to stand up to Trump? Time and again he just steamrolled the 31-year-old Collins to the approval of the audience.

More important was what it revealed about how progressives think about the world, about human nature, and about Trump. Progressives, and never-Trumpers, still act as though the attraction of Republicans to Trump stems from their ignorance of his lies. If only there were a fact checker always on hand! media elites appear to believe. Then people would stop falling for Trump’s lies!

A focus group with Republican voters who had just attended the CNN Townhall showed this was far from the case. None defended Trump’s denial of the election results nor that he had a history of grabbing women. And yet several if not most appeared inclined to support him. Why?

Trump’s appeal remains the same: he connects strongly with core Republican values including those around crime, abortion, and the economy. On question after question, Trump made clear that he would hold firm against progressive attacks, including in the guise of “fact checking,” which Republicans often view, rightly, as biased propaganda.


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