If you want a revealingly stomach-churning-inducing example of much of what’s whoppingly wrong with the nation’s intertwined media and political chattering classes – and a big reason for Donald Trump’s presidential victory – check out a video of yesterday’s edition of ABC-TV’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos. The episode was capped by a sit-down joint interview by guest anchor Jonathan Karl of Newt Gingrich and Donna Brazile.
What’s outrageous about this? That’s the same Donna Brazile who unmistakably took advantage of her position as a CNN political analyst to leak presidential debate questions to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primaries. In other words, it’s the same Donna Brazile who is nothing better than a common thief.
Now it isn’t the fault of Karl or ABC News that Brazile is still interim chair of the Democratic National Committee. That’s on the party. Nor is it the fault of Karl or ABC that Brazile’s sense of ethics is so perverted that she’s refused to apologize for the misdeed. That’s on her. What is the fault of Karl and ABC is giving this crook a national forum and treating her like some venerable sage – with Karl failing even to mention her perfidy.
Clearly, America’s political culture has traveled far from the notion of the press as watchdog of the public interest. But what Karl’s treatment of Brazile demonstrates – yet again – is that the problem only secondarily stems from the liberal bias of which the media is widely accused. The fundamental problem is a pro-establishment and pro-conventional-wisdom bias that originates less in ideology (for it’s bipartisan) but in sociology.
For whatever their personal backgrounds, Karl and Brazile (and so many other Beltway denizens) now belong to the same class, live the same kinds of lives and in the same kinds of neighborhoods, socialize with the same kinds of people – and often get invited to the same cocktail and dinner parties. As a result, they too often share the same kinds of values – especially about personal and professional norms of behavior. They thus tend to overlook all but the most flagrant (and highly publicized) transgressions. As Karl has just demonstrated, they even tend to act protectively of each other’s interests. And of course this mutual admiration society and support network takes on special importance in years like the one just past, when outsiders start breaching their common fortress.
Back in ancient Roman days, the poet Juvenal is credited with asking what’s become one of the most important questions in political philosophy and day-to-day governance: “Who guards the guardians?” Karl’s session with Brazile once more reminds Americans that the Mainstream Media has become all but structurally incapable of playing this role.