2016 election, Donald Trump, elites, Establishment Media, Gawker.com, Im-Politic, Immigration, J.K. Trotter, Jeb Bush, media bias, NBC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, TIME, Trade, Washington Post
A major theme of RealityChek since its launch has been that, if America’s Big Media ever took seriously their one-time mandate to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” those days are long gone. Instead, establishment journalists collectively have clearly decided that their priority instead is coddling the nation’s political and business elites and protecting their privileged perches from the great unwashed. That’s when they aren’t crossing back and forth among those worlds.
So you can just imagine how (ruefully) pleased I’ve been these last few days to read through various media post-mortems of former Jeb Bush’s historically disastrous presidential campaign. In an ordinary campaign year, media types surely would have roasted the former odds-on Republican favorite as a monument to nepotism whose respectable turn as Florida governor was massively offset by his family connection with his widely reviled brother, the former president, by his reliance on George W. Bush’s neoconservative foreign policy advisors, and by the oceans of special interest money that were funding his White House run.
But of course, this isn’t an ordinary political year, and although Jeb Bush was not exactly adored by the mainstream press, he was often flatteringly contrasted with Donald Trump. This media anti-Christ’s capitol offense has been daring to blast away at the two of American elites’ most sacred cows – the job- and wage-killing mass immigration and offshoring-friendly trade policies that simultaneously enabled the establishment to claim cosmopolitan, noblesse oblige ideals even as it’s pocketed nearly all of the lavish benefits.
Now that Bush is toast politically (and both Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and establishment darling Marco Rubio, Republican Senator from Florida, are still running reasonably strong), the media has been freed to let its pro-Bush – and thinly disguised anti-Trump – biases hang out.
We should all be indebted to Gawker.com’s J.K. Trotter for compiling some of the most cringe-inducing. All are worth reading, but in case you’re pressed for time, here are a few lowlights, as well as examples I’ve found:
>From The New York Times‘ Ashley Parker: “[A]t the core, what made Jeb compelling to cover was that he was deeply, impossibly human.
“In a cycle where so many other candidates were able to toggle effortlessly between soaring speeches and masterful debate performances, between well-rehearsed outrage and manufactured indignation, Jeb almost seemed to think aloud in real time, and we got to watch him muddle and bumble through, just like any real person….
“Jeb was a flawed candidate, who ran a wildly imperfect campaign. But he struggled mightily and did it on his own terms, trying to talk about big, serious things. And for that, perhaps, he deserves a round of applause.”
>From the Washington Post‘s Chris Cillizza: At January’s South Carolina Republican debate, Bush “made serious and nuanced points about immigration and foreign policy, and he demonstrated deep knowledge on almost every issue. …as he has throughout the campaign, Bush painted a picture of a complex world — from the Middle East to here at home. His answers to questions were larded with detail and complexity. On Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the country, for example, he was measured and thoughtful; ‘every time we send signals like this, we send a signal of weakness, not strength,’ Bush said.
“Jeb knows the world is complex. He knows that problems aren’t solved simply because you say so. He knows the work of governance is hard. ”
>From The Wall Street Journal‘s Beth Reinhard and Rebecca Ballhaus: “Mr. Bush’s departure also reflects the fading of a brand of Republican politics as a harder-edged conservatism comes into focus. His father advocated a ‘kinder, gentler nation,’ his brother described himself as a ‘compassionate conservative’ while Mr. Bush called for ‘the right to rise.’
“It was conservatism laced with the Bush family’s sense of noblesse oblige and old-fashioned patriotism, manifested in a focus on education policy, a desire to bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows and a strong military presence on the world stage.
“But Mr. Bush faced a GOP electorate angry at all things Washington, making ties to the establishment a vulnerability rather than a strength.”
>From TIME’s Philip Elliott and Zeke J. Miller: “At a time when experience was a vulnerability rather than a resume line, Bush insisted on running a policy-centric campaign. It was a year that saw bluster overtake substance, and Bush refused to shift. ‘In this campaign, I have stood my ground, refusing to bend to the political winds,’ he said before leaving the stage, tears visible in his eyes. His insistence on running his campaign his way proved his undoing. While rivals mastered clipped sound bites, he held forth on policy. When reporters tried to goad him into questions about politics, he defaulted to wonkdom. If a voter took the time to attend his town halls, he owed it to them to give a thoughtful answer.”
>From NBC News: “Bush ran for all the right reasons, according to NBC News. He told voters he had a ‘servant’s heart’ and, in private and public, his campaign always appeared motivated by duty rather than personal ambition right up to his final speech.”
It’s important to note that all these strongly opinionated views have come not from pundits – who are supposed to be opinionated in their work. They come from beat reporters and political analysts – who are not. The media’s increasingly open biases can only be signaling ever mounting levels of contempt for Main Street, and warning everyday Americans that trusting all the news they watch and read can be hazardous for their political and economic health.