Members Only | January 23, 2023 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Political extremism of America’s most lucrative media properties
The radical ideology no one talks about.
Why do this country’s most lucrative media properties spend so much time and money covering the “dangers” of political extremism?
It’s not because of the fear of Donald Trump and his redhat fascism. It’s not because of the fear of Bernie Sanders and his cosplay socialism (or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, for that matter).
It’s because political extremes reveal something about this country’s most lucrative media properties that they’d rather not have revealed.
Their own political extremism.
None the wiser
Bullshit? Not when you think about it.
The difference between the country’s two major political parties is cavernous, deeper and wider than it has ever been in our lifetimes.
The Democrats, as I said, have grown to become under Joe Biden the party of statecraft. The GOP has grown to become under Trump the party of stagecraft. The Democrats have ideas. The GOP has Fox.
Yet this country’s most lucrative media properties, in their coverage and in their choices in determining coverage, treat the parties, which they take to represent one half each of this country, as if they were equal in nature, theory and practice, though the differences are huge.
Taking two things that are not the same in nature, theory and practice and making them appear the same is an act of democratic politics, a way of persuading an audience to believe that a particular worldview is normal by comparison to parties equal in nature, theory and practice.
Taking two things that are not the same and making them appear the same is an act of political extremism, too. There is no other credible way to describe taking two things that are not the same and making them appear the same for the purpose of manufacturing, by comparison with the two parties, an imaginary “center” of politics?
How else can we describe this country’s most lucrative media properties presenting themselves as impartial arbiters of the status quo despite that they go to extreme lengths to persuade their audiences that a particular worldview (theirs) is normal and “centrist.”
That’s what an act of politics looks like.
That’s what a warped reality, and our understanding of it, looks like.
This country’s most lucrative media properties do not want to appear to be political entities, but nevertheless, they are. They are invested in defining, controlling, defending and maintaining a political status quo that has made them this country’s most lucrative media properties.
So they focus on the far right.
They focus on the far left
You’re none the wiser.
“The way things are” is never natural
My point here is that “centrism” is a radical political ideology that often turns observable reality upside down, backwards and prolapsed.
It makes unequal things seem equal for the purpose of appearing to be normal, moderate and “centrist.” A consequence is that the “political center” overlaps with their particular kind of extreme politics.
The people who benefit most from the maintenance and advancement of “centrism” – the beneficiaries of the hierarchies of power that constitute a status quo – want us to believe that their radical political ideology is a product of nature. It’s the politics of “the way things are.”
“The way things are” is never natural.
“The way things are” is the product of history, contingency and choice. It’s the progressive accretion of decisions made for a particular time, for a particular place for reasons particular to those times and places.
Choices were made. Choices can be made to unmake those choices.
That’s the truth beneath “just the way things are.”
The people who benefit most from the maintenance and advancement of “centrism” want us to believe “the ways things are” is natural and politically neutral, as a result of being just “the way things are.”
But “the way things are” is never politically neutral. The proof is the insistence by the beneficiaries of a radical political ideology called “centrism” that says the way things are is just “the way things are.”
My second point is that an observable reality turned upside down, backwards and prolapsed is beneficial to those who maintain and advance a radical political ideology centrists call “the way things are.”
An incoherent status quo, for them, is a good thing.
As I said last week, false equivalence is the art of forcing unequal things to seem equal and making the morally better of the two seem not so good, the morally worse of the two seem not so bad.
Those people who benefit most from the status quo are most likely to insist that politics has nothing to do with their being the people who benefit most from the status quo. That, again, is a political act, a choice made among others that together constitute “the way things are.”
Apply this to Joe Biden’s documents “scandal.”
It is not equal to Donald Trump’s documents scandal.
The former lost some government secrets, found them, returned them and conceded to an official review to ensure everything’s above board.
The latter stole government secrets, lied about stealing them, refused to give them back after his theft was revealed, gave back a few, lied about giving back all, had to be forced, and then cried about the injustice of an official review to ensure everything’s above board.
Apply this to shooting massacres.
At least 10 people were shot to pieces during the Chinese Lunar holiday in a Chinese-American neighborhood in Los Angeles County. It is among many shooting massacres targeting minorities.
In Charleston, it was Black people. In El Paso, it was Hispanics. In Pittsburgh, it was Jews. In Colorado Springs, it was LGBT-plus people. The pattern is clear to anyone who’s willing to see it.
But this country’s most lucrative media properties don’t want to.
They regularly find ways to even mass death and constitutional rights, as if one is related to the other, as if one is as important as the other, as if one balances the other, as if this country’s most lucrative media properties are politically neutral arbiters of a status quo predisposed to rationalizing this country’s most lucrative media properties.
Mass death is not equal to constitutional rights.
Only adherents of a radical political ideology would say they are.
And here we are.
Apply this to any “issue” with “two sides.” USA Today’s Michael Collins:
“Biden said he was ‘surprised’ to learn of the discovery of the records. He had branded his predecessor … ‘irresponsible’ for storing classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.”
The italics are mine.
The radical political ideology is theirs.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.