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Roger L. Simon

Fear and Shame on the Campaign Trail

August 8th, 2012 - 12:05 am

Anyone who doubts the enduring power of the mainstream media need look no further than the rise in Romney’s unfavorables in a recent Pew Poll. Yes, this poll is likely skewed, but the percentages are too extreme to escape the conclusion that a large number of Americans do not find Mitt “Mr. Nice Guy.” (I met him and thought he was perfectly okay — but what do I know?) Obama, on the other hand, is still considered a swell fellow.

All this although the economy has been a disaster throughout his presidency and, for the last year, probably more, he has seemed a petulant prig when confronted with the slightest criticism. Not an attractive trait.

You would think under those conditions those poll numbers would be reversed and the election polls themselves would show Romney with a gigantic lead, but no. Like a nation of ostriches, huge portions of the American public have swallowed the media/Axelrod line that Mitt Romney is a rich self-interested capitalist out of touch with the masses, whoever they are and whatever that means(it doesn’t matter as long as they vote for Obama), hell-bent on robbing from the poor to give to the rich like a reverse Robin Hood.

In other words, a large portion of the American public has effectively been brainwashed. And the brainwashers are the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. The former is quite understandable since political parties cling to power by virtually any means when threatened. But for the media it’s another matter. Why do these people persist in their views in a situation where, objectively, almost any corporation or business would have been looking for new leadership long ago? Why are they so destructive to our society and ultimately to themselves? Don’t they have children and grandchildren?

Many explanations exist for this seeming blindness; among them, and not to be ignored, is good old-fashioned habit. But I would suggest, having lived among them, particularly the Hollywood variety, for decades, two other components: fear and shame (and, yes, loathing, to extend the Hunter Thompson analogy).

But fear first and foremost.

It seems counterintuitive, but journalists are some of the most risk-averse people around. Few of them are really entrepreneurs. Despite bohemian veneers, they have little daring. They work for somebody and that somebody calls the tune. “Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one,” as the great A. J. Liebling reminded us many years ago.

Journalists fear for their jobs and their jobs are increasingly precarious. If they change their opinions, even investigate the possibility that the other side might have some reasons, quite often they are out the door. So not only do they toe the line, they are disinclined even to consider alternatives in their minds, consciously or unconsciously, because those alternatives are dangerous to their livelihood.

And now for shame. Despite what many may choose to think, journalists are not stupid. They are at least relatively educated. They have seen the same things we all have and know that the economy (the very heart of America) is failing. And they know deep down that they are responsible for some of it, because they bought and promoted Barack Obama as if he were a messiah without the slightest bit of vetting. Obama was anointed, not elected. To this day no one knows who he is, possibly even Obama himself.

And deep down these journos are embarrassed by this (who wouldn’t be?) but they can never never admit it. To do so would injure their self-image and self-respect to the level of personality disintegration.

So this shame is projected out in rage and, yes, loathing toward you, me, Mitt Romney, and anyone else who might deign to disagree with them. We are accused racists, homophobes, sexists, classists, any refugee of sixties group speak that might stick for ten minutes, even though they themselves are more likely to be those things. It is, after all, projection. Ideology is but a pretentious cover for rage.

So no wonder they behave as a shrill gang, banging metal drums like lost characters out of Gunter Grass, “Romney bad and rich! Romney bad and rich! Romney bad and rich!” ad tedium, ad nauseum, as if they were on David Axelrod’s payroll.

And in a sense they are. For to wander off the reservation is a road to penury. And who wants that now more than ever with the number of media jobs contracting?

Of course, the ones who are screwed by this song and dance are you and me — the American public. And no doubt some day the journalists themselves.

If Obama wins, they will rejoice on election day. But they will shortly be throwing up. In the words of Brillat-Savarin, “You are what you eat.” (Actually he said, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are” — a yet more delicious irony.)

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