The Couric-Rich Model of the Five Stages of MSM Grief

“The Five Stages of Grief: The Left Wing Now Gets Angry,” Rob Long writes at Ricochet, noting that the MSM has moved up a notch on the Kubler-Ross model of the Five Stages of Grief:


Now they’re turning to Stage Two: Anger. Angry at the voters, at Fox News, at Obama himself.

Next up: Bargaining. I’m not sure when that’s going to start — probably a few weeks after Labor Day. But as always, what we’re all waiting for is Stage Four: Depression.

Depression? Hey, the economy’s waaaay ahead of them on that one! But seriously, as Matthew Sheffield quips, “Hating your countrymen is the new patriotism:”

In short: liberals don’t hate America, they simply hate Americans, especially when they won’t go along with such obviously good things such as President Obama’s healthcare law, “economic stimulus” spending, nationalizing student loans, unilaterally disarming American nuclear weapons, or raising taxes in an anemic economy. Having fully embraced the notion that Judeo-Greco-Roman society has engaged in systematic “cultural imperialism,” the modern Left has embraced what might be termed “cultural inferiorism” as a means to atone.

One could argue that conservatives and libertarians are prone to similarly negative views about the public–particularly when it votes for politicians loathed by the Right–however, it seems to me that when such sentiments are expressed, they tend to proceed more from disappointment than the fulminations against the public one regularly sees expressed by liberals (the supposed movement “for the people”).

The reason for this rhetorical disparity is that conservatives and libertarians seem to have a much better grounding in the idea that they have a political ideology. Liberals lack this sense, believing their ideology to be literally incommensurable to other ideologies. To oppose liberalism is thus not only intellectually incorrect, it is also an affront to common decency.

This isn’t all that new a development of course — Krauthammer’s Law was coined in 2002. Ace of Spades joked about the left’s “Ike Turner school of patriotism” back in 2007 — “Those who love America show it by denigrating and beating the sh*t out of her at every opportunity.”

You can see the mindset behind that sort of punitive liberalism at work in yesterday’s HuffPo photo essay, which looks at the attendees of Glenn Beck’s rally on Saturday wearing — gasp! — T-shirts emblazoned with the American flag, the Gadsden flag, or quotes from George Washington. With the sniff of a fully upturned nose, the headline writer decries, “Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally: The Most Ridiculous Messages.”


You crazy rubes in flyover country!

But another Krauthammer column from a few years ago is also worth revisiting, “The Pressure-Cooker Theory” from August of 2004:

The loathing goes far beyond the politicians. Liberals as a body have gone quite around the twist. I count one all-star rock tour, three movies, four current theatrical productions and five best sellers (a full one-third of the New York Times list) variously devoted to ridiculing, denigrating, attacking and devaluing this president, this presidency and all who might, God knows why, support it.How to explain? With apologies to Dr. Freud, I propose the Pressure Cooker Theory of Hydraulic Release.

The hostility, resentment, envy and disdain, all superheated in Florida, were not permitted their natural discharge. Came 9/11 and a lid was forced down. How can you seek revenge for a stolen election by a nitwit usurper when all of a sudden we are at war and the people, bless them, are rallying around the flag and hailing the commander in chief? With Bush riding high in the polls, with flags flying from pickup trucks (many of the flags, according to Howard Dean, Confederate), the president was untouchable.

The Democrats fell unnaturally silent. For two long, agonizing years, they had to stifle and suppress. It was the most serious case of repression since Freud’s Anna O. went limp. The forced deference nearly killed them. And then, providentially, they were saved. The clouds parted and bad news rained down like manna: WMDs, Abu Ghraib, Richard Clarke, Paul O’Neill, Joe Wilson and, most important, continued fighting in Iraq.

Stripped of his halo, the president’s ratings went down. The spell was broken. He was finally once again human and vulnerable. With immense relief, the critics let loose.

The result has been volcanic. The subject of one prominent new novel is whether George W. Bush should be assassinated. This is all quite unhinged. Good God. What if Bush is re-elected? If they lose to him again, Democrats will need more than just consolation. They’ll need therapy.

Unfortunately, the left never received it. Instead, they went first from exploiting Hurricane Katrina for political gain, to creating the messianic cult of Obama only a couple of years afterward. Along the way trashing slightly more centrist Democrats for backing Hillary rather than Obama as racists, concurrent with Spencer Ackerman advising his fellow JournoListas to look at the GOP and randomly “take one of them–Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares–and call them racists.”


No wonder McCain and his team were terrified to bring up Rev. Wright and his pseudo-Marxist Black Liberation Theology religious worldview, in which Obama found some sort of emotional sustenance for an extended period of his life.

Which brings us to the fall of 2008. The two parties’ presidential candidates are assured of each receiving at least a third or so of the American voters through their respective party loyalists. So presidential victories ultimately come down to wooing the remaining undecided moderate voters in the last weeks of the election. (IE, the simultaneously least informed, but finickiest voters in the world.) At the end of September 2008, McCain made, in retrospect, the fatal error of “temporarily shutting down his campaign” to return to the Senate and give the impression of focusing like a laser on the then-burgeoning financial crisis. It seems obvious in retrospect that what it wound up doing was largely confusing moderates who then thought, “Hey, McCain campaign’s shut down? I guess there’s only one guy left to vote for now!” And of course, the media’s demonization of Sarah Palin was then at full Category-5 force, which caught the McCain campaign once again off-guard, clueless as they were throughout their campaign about the nature of the MSM.

Once Obama won, the MSM had to continue the charade that he was the second coming of Lincoln meets FDR meets JFK. They had to project an air of confidence about about his ability to magically restore the economy, while instituting a whole host of jobs-killing legislation.

And the MSM simultaneously went to work cranking out manifestos which assumed that conservatism was dead. Once the Tea Parties coalesced as a protest to Obama’s statist, reactionary economic policies (FDR FTW!),  the media’s pressure cooker burst, beginning with the media openly condemning any protest against the president as racist.

Getting whiplashed this month by Obama’s does he/doesn’t he policy defending the GZM was the final straw for the legacy media. Or as Krauthammer recently noted, every majority opinion held by the American people boils down to the same conclusion in the MSM’s collective, collectivist eyes:

That’s a polite way of saying: clinging to bigotry. And promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

  • Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.
  • Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.
  • Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.
  • Opposition to a 15-story Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero? Islamophobia.

Now we know why the country has become “ungovernable,” last year’s excuse for the Democrats’ failure of governance: Who can possibly govern a nation of racist, nativist, homophobic Islamophobes?

Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. Majorities — often lopsided majorities — oppose President Obama’s social-democratic agenda (e.g., the stimulus, Obamacare), support the Arizona law, oppose gay marriage and reject a mosque near Ground Zero.


Add to that the American people increasingly rejecting the MSM’s ongoing shift throughout the previous decade from at least paying lip service to objectivity, to advocacy journalism, even to the point of publicly admitting that it’s OK to  cook the books if it suits the cause of the week.

Not coincidentally in August, CNN recorded its “Lowest Primetime Viewership In 10 Years” according to TV Newser, while Glenn Beck can deliver at least 300,000 of his most faithful viewers to Washington, D.C. Which brings us to a new post by Daniel Greenfield, found via Ace, which notes that “by putting politics over profitability, the media left alienated viewers and readers exactly during the critical transition period when it needed them most. And the worse its fortunes grow, the more radical its politics have become:”

When the left turned magazines, newspapers and TV news into its own bully pulpit, they helped drive away consumers, while locking up those same publications and broadcasts into a liberal ghetto, that was still not liberal enough for them. As print publications increasingly turn their websites into masses of blogs, it becomes hard to tell the difference between Time magazine, Foreign Policy and the New York Times– and the Huffington Post and Daily Kos. All of them have angry left wing bloggers denouncing Republicans, America and Israel. The difference is that the official media outlets have more prominent names like Joe Klein or Robert Mackey blogging for them.

The Jornolist scandal is the tip of the iceberg that shows just how thin the line between the press and the policies that they advocate really is. But that’s not news to anyone. The liberal media is not some right wing talking point, poll after poll shows most of people who read newspapers and watch the news have come to that conclusion on their own. Because while the media elite may sneer at them, the public knows quite well what they stand for. And the more the media goes left, the less the public trusts it. Not just Republicans, but Democrats too. Because bias is bias, even when it does lean your way, it reduces the credibility of its purveyors as an information source. And the more they lose their audience, because the right tunes out and the left gets bored agreeing all the time, and heads to MSNBC in search of some red tofu.

Lenin called on Communists to seize the telegraph offices, telephone stations and post offices in order to control the means of communication. The American left has seized the means of cultural communication, hijacking the media, the educational system and entertainment, and turning them into vehicles for their brand of political indoctrination. And they’ve managed to badly devalue all three. The American educational system is a shell of what it used to be, the media is imploding and the entertainment industry keeps hitting new lows. Just as in the USSR and Venezuela and everywhere else, what the radical left controls, it also destroys.

The left’s hijacking of American culture has turned institutions into rags and rubble, and it will only get worse. Because the left does not know when to stop. Does not understand that it should stop. That is why left wing revolutions that do succeed, eventually culminate in multiple levels of purges that exterminate many of the original revolutionaries, or send them off to fight and die somewhere else, turning them into convenient martyrs who look good on blood-red T-shirts.

Obama’s vision of the media was as purveyors of his talking points. To that end he kept it at arms length, even while using it non-stop to promote himself. By turning the media into his publicists, he helped accelerate a rapid slide that had already been under way, ending any real distinction between news and celebrity news, between opinion and reporting, and between the liberal media and the liberal government. And when Ezra Klein tried to occasionally draw a line between themselves and the politicians they cover, it was a line that was no longer there anymore, because the media had found its mission in the advocacy of liberal domestic and international policies, of convincing the public that their political way was best. How many lines could be crossed in the name of that advocacy was by this point a subjective matter, a question of what individual members of the press were comfortable with. while still retaining the illusion of their independence.

When it came to a showdown between the principles of journalism and the principles of liberalism — journalism never stood a chance. And all that was left was shrill political advocacy, propaganda if you will. Numerous stories praising their politicians and their cultural figures. Numerous other stories damning opposition politicians and elements of culture that displeased them. And the costs to the nation were high. The same media that did everything possible to destroy McCain and Palin, also portrayed Obama as a visionary leader, even though he had barely nailed down 100 days in the Senate before running for President.


And that takes us to today, and the run-up to this November. How much of the midterms are a referendum not just on the president’s policies, but on how he was sold to us by the MSM? And if the current poll numbers stay the same, how will the media react on the first Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in November? How will they respond to voters afterwards? (And how vicious will the MSM-DNC September and October surprises be in the interim?)

Related: As Jay Cost writes at Real Clear Politics, “Health Care Reform Has Endangered the Democratic Majority:”

Yes, this was an actual Newsweek cover in 2009.

Partisans on both sides tell themselves stories about why they’re up, why they’re down, and why the other side is where it is. These stories usually contain at least a grain of truth, but they also help encourage ideologues in the face of an impending rejection by the electorate. Democrats ignored the political problem of health care in the fall and winter – arguing that Martha Coakley and Creigh Deeds were bad candidates, that voters had been turned off by the health care bill because of the process, and that they would come around once the many benefits kicked in. Now, they’re pointing to the economy as the only significant reason why the party is in trouble.

It would be difficult for any strong partisan to admit that such an accomplishment was so deeply unpopular. Yet the polling is pretty unequivocal on the relationship between the Democrats’ fortunes and the health care bill. It was during the health care debate that the essential building block of the Democratic majority – Independent voters – began to crumble. It was evident in the generic ballot. It was evident in the President’s job approval numbers. It was evident in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

Reconstructing the Democrats’ meme, we can fairly say that the economy is a huge problem for the party. Of this, there can be no doubt. We can also say that the stalled recovery denied the Democrats a chance to win back the voters they lost over health care. But the process and passage of health care reform were crucial elements in the story. That’s when the party started losing the voters it needs to retain control of the government.

And to bring this back to the MSM, it directly coincides with this manufactured moment, perhaps the nadir of American politics — and certainly Beltway journalism — in 2010.



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