Columns

When the Corporate Media Eliminates Facts and Nuance It Increases Our Deep Divisions

(YouTube screenshot, CBS "Face the Nation"

The corporate media has done a fantastic job of increasing the division among Americans. Beginning in 2016, when they referred to the large swaths of America left behind by increasing globalization as ignorant, deplorable, or harboring “white grievance,” they set the tone. Many of those same Americans voted for Barack Obama twice but felt the administration’s policies had not improved their situation. That did not matter. It served the Democrat cause to attribute motives rather than seek to understand what animated voters.

By the time the Trump administration ended, the “deplorable” rhetoric had escalated to paint anyone who preferred policies that put Americans’ safety, prosperity, and security at the forefront of decision-making as a racist, a white supremacist, or even a Nazi. The insanity of this meme in the corporate media is challenging to overstate since nearly every American benefitted from the economic policies of the Trump administration. People of every race, region, and background saw real wage increases, more opportunity, and nine out of ten taxpayers kept more of their earnings.

These facts did pierce the corporate media narrative in 2020. President Trump increased his base, receiving more votes than any losing candidate in history. He also increased his share of the minority vote to exceed any Republican in 60 years. As author and  political consultant Brad Todd noted after the election regarding the Democrats’ losses in the House:

Democrats always argued, “If more people voted, we would win.” Well, guess what? Everybody voted, and it didn’t help the Democrats. There is a multi-racial, working-class ethos that is animating the new Republican coalition.

Justin Gest, an author and political scientist from George Mason University, added:

Democrats need to ask themselves why someone like Joe Biden is an endangered species in the party. Why is the party of experts, urban intellectuals and woke social-movement activists not producing candidates who can mobilize people in Montana, Ohio, North Carolina? It just doesn’t look like a national party.

Democrats knew this well before the election, as did the corporate media. The New York Times and Washington Post actually announced a pivot to amplify racial issues last summer. CNN quickly followed suit, and it has been standard fare on MSNBC for some time. The network channels were more subtle, but none of them covered the violence that accompanied last summer’s BLM riots comprehensively. Nearly all of them adopted the term “protestor” to cover behavior ranging from carrying signs and marching to arson and physical violence—an Orwellian juxtaposition to how they covered the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

From last summer’s riots to the present, Democrats and the corporate media elevated the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin to be the defining moment for the character of America. Whether Chauvin was found guilty of the most serious charges or acquitted, the media had a systemic racism narrative to run with. A guilty verdict would be proof of systemic racism in policing. If he were acquitted, the jury would represent systemic racism in society. Even though, as National Review’s Andrew McCarthy notes, racial motivation was never alleged or proven during Chauvin’s trial:

Not a shred of evidence was introduced at the trial that Derek Chauvin is a racist. None. There was nothing in the weeks of testimony that even hinted at such a thing. The prosecutors who aggressively urged the jury to convict Chauvin of murder never intimated that racism played any role in the crimes. They convincingly argued that he was a bad cop, not a racist cop.

Perhaps dissatisfied with this particular fact and having nothing to point to, at least one corporate media outlet decided to capitalize on public opinion to continue to amplify political divisions, implying they are race-based. Face the Nation on CBS shared a graphic of a poll they took on the verdict. Soon, the blue check mafia picked up on the narrative, and the phrase “46% of Republicans” was trending on Twitter. Here are some of the more outrageous blue check responses:

There are plenty more with lots of profane language in them that are not appropriate to share. However, the mental leap required to make any of these conclusions is several miles long. The poll lacks all nuance in a complicated situation with several confounding variables during weeks of testimony. The corporate media was careful not to share any information that might have benefitted the defense.

Chauvin was charged with three separate counts. Testimony included Floyd’s female companion, who said she and Floyd were both addicted to drugs and that Floyd had gone to the ER with similar symptoms in the recent past for an overdose. His presumed drug dealer took the 5th. The narrative that Chauvin had a knee on Floyd’s neck was also debunked. National leaders called for a particular verdict, and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) traveled to Minneapolis to encourage protestors to get “more confrontational” if Chauvin was not found guilty of murder. The local paper also published enough details about the jurors to easily identify them before the jury determined the verdict.

The reasons that 10% of Democrats, 25% of independents, and 45% of Republicans could disagree with Chauvin’s conviction on all three counts are in all probability nuanced and varied. They also likely have nothing to do with race and do not necessarily reflect that anyone polled believed Chauvin should have been fully acquitted.

Perhaps some think the judge should have declared a mistrial after Waters’s comments. Even the judge conceded that her behavior could be grounds for an appeal. Republicans, who are more likely to have read or listened to non-corporate media trial-watchers, may have felt the prosecution did not make a case for causation. Perhaps they concluded that Floyd’s confirmed drug use was a significant confounding variable, but that the lower charges were appropriate. There is also increasing concern on the right about a two-tiered system of justice. And fear of mob justice in the aftermath was immense. This concern was reinforced when an alternate juror spoke out about her fears, a witness’s residence was reportedly vandalized, and defense witnesses now being threatened.

The corporate media eliminating nuance in a poll that appears determined to divide us by political affiliation to reinforce their narrative is toxic and counterproductive. The continued push to attribute opinions among right-leaning voters as race-based is intentional and corrosive. However, it appears to be the last card the Democrat-media complex has left to play going into 2022, so it is fair to assume it will only get worse.