My dad, in teaching me Portuguese history, used to repeat an aphorism, “A weak king makes a strong people weak.” This often ran to my head during the ill-fated reign of Barry the Smug.
But we’re not, thank heavens, an absolute monarchy, which is where that saying originated. Our danger comes from another area. Weak presidents, mentally slow representatives, and various functionaries who are not so much incompetent as on the other side — all of them pale before the risk our media presents.
I’m fifty-five. In several countries and at several times, I’ve been present at events that were newsworthy. I can say as Heinlein did at a little older than I, that I’ve never been present at an event that the media reported accurately. More interestingly, I’ve been present at many events that you’d think – and were – newsworthy but that were never reported at all.
I’m also not precisely stupid. I can read print if it’s six feet tall and in letters of fire. I think I was fifteen when I tweaked to the fact that the media had a narrative, which was roughly “eventually the proletarian revolution wins over the world, and we’re all happy forever and ever.” This is why most people in Europe thought of Cuba as a paradise well into the eighties; why idiots still adorn themselves with t-shirts of the mass murderer Che Guevara; and why people who’d flinch at declaring themselves fascist don’t hesitate to call themselves communist.
This is worldwide. That’s what the media is, that’s what they do.
But the United States has always been a thorn in their flesh. In the rest of the world, even conservative people buy the urgency of global warming, for instance, and are willing to put up with nonsense restrictions in the name of stopping it. I’ve given up on arguing it with my family because it’s just not worth my time. “Everyone says it” so it must be true. In the same way, my relatives in Europe believe a whole lot of impossible nonsense, such as lifestyles in Russia are at the same level as in the U.S. Or that people in China live better than we do. Not worth the argument.
Still, even in the heyday of mass media, before there were blogs, the U.S. never fully bought the narrative pushed, wholesale, by news media, entertainment, literature, and arts. If we had, we’d never have elected Reagan. Call this the result of being the descendants of misfits and never-fit-ins, the goats pushed out from every other country or who left before they could be kicked out. (Me.)
And now we have blogs. The dominance of the mass media in the U.S. is a sometime thing. Oh, sure, they can still push their pap at old people and millennials, but their hold on the American mind has become weaker and weaker.
The last election was a bucket of cold water, a warning that they won’t have even that much power much longer.
So, like people who know the end is near, they’ve pulled out all the stops and gone insane. My friend Charlie Martin has documented some of their insanity here, here, and here. Then there’s this via Ace of Spades.
All of this is annoying to us, but the news still gets out in the U.S., more or less. Okay, shut-ins like my mother-in-law don’t always get it, but most people do.
The problem is the rest of the world. Europe’s news media is to the left of ours and takes their clues from the often unhinged reporting of CNN, whose bilge pours out from every airport TV everywhere.
Over the years I’ve gotten used to my parents having things completely wrong because they get them from their news, such as thinking McCain, Romney, and Trump are all “extreme right wing” and “very Christian.” I’ve gotten used to friends from abroad in professional forums thinking that the U.S. is under martial law; that people without insurance are kicked out of our hospitals to die in the sidewalks; that we are all very very poor. It’s what their TV tells them. If they didn’t think the free market bred poverty, they’d kick out their socialist masters.
But the problem is this: it’s gotten worse, and in a way that hurts us. The media is endangering us all by exaggerating Trump’s supposed faults, and by pumping up “nothing burger” movements like Occupy Wall Street, or making people believe that Black Lives Matter is a huge movement all over the country, or for that matter that white people are shooting black people down in cold blood all over the country.
Like the continuous bows and apologies of Barry the Smug, this nonsense projects an image of a materially divided U.S., one that is in open revolt against its chief executive who is probably a Russian ringer.
We can’t afford this while fighting enemies like China and Weaponized Islam, or even Russia. All these cultures can’t even understand the concept of a free press, much less of a press that runs down and misrepresents its own country.
The idea that we’re fractured and weak, continuously blared by our traitorous media, is the rough equivalent of a “Kick me… with nukes” sign on the back of America.
And the almighty idiots will be shocked when their beloved large cities go up in flames.
So what can we do? Not much. For a long time I’ve kicked around the idea of a site like Instapundit, but in several languages (I can do three, I have friends who can do others) but I am, first and foremost, a fiction writer and time is scarce.
Besides, I’m not sure it would “take.” Portugal is at least as much online as the U.S., and most people understand enough English to read the news. But most people stay to the “safe, official” sites.
The little we can do is this: in forums, in gatherings with foreign nationals, slap down their ridiculous notions, and be ready with links to prove they’re wrong. Disputing stories of our miserable existence is not as effective as laughing at them.
If it’s possible, email airport administrations and tell them how sick and tired you are of CNN. This type of vocal complaint is a weapon the left uses and we need to learn to use, also.
Above all, deny the mass media money: don’t subscribe, don’t advertise. Make them drink their own ink to survive.
We can’t restrict the press: they’re supposed to be free. The fact that they’ve been colonized by Marxists who keep everyone to the right of Lenin out doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow them to be their own idiotic selves.
We just might end up paying dearly for the failure of the media as an institution to be, even vaguely, on the side of America.
You’d think our government would run propaganda, as they did during the world wars of the 20th century, but even Trump shows no inclination to do it. Maybe that only works with Democrats in power. And so, we must do what we can, in manners big and small.
Do all you can do to mitigate the media’s influence and the lies they tell to foreigners. We might get lucky. It might be enough.