When you watch this year's edition of Grabien's Most Mortifying Media Moments, you quickly notice just how gullible our supposedly serious national media are. Journalists are supposed to be the most skeptical among us — always careful, always probing, always verifying. Yet every year we see our media stray further from these ideals and ever toward self-reinforcing groupthink & intellectual conformity.
Tune into any random episode of "Morning Joe," "Deadline: White House," or "The Lead (sic)," where no guest ever dares break the mold of the day's prevailing narrative, to see this civilization-collapsing custom at work. Viewers are left watching them fall for one hoax after another, spreading gossip without thinking twice, and — in their worshipful embrace of America’s ruling class — speaking power to truth, afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable; and, when they’re feeling insecure about any of the above, endorsing, if not demanding, censorship.
Somehow expectations for the media fall lower every year, yet every year they manage to meet them.
With that, please enjoy this year’s
10. Media duped by another anti-Trump hoax.
The first lesson of journalism school is to never let the facts get in the way of a good anti-Trump story. This critical principle of news gathering has laid the foundation for an entire canon of work since at least 2016. The most recent from the series involves the rumor that “a 7-hour call gap” was found in the White House phone log from January 6th, and the feeding frenzy began. Our nation’s foremost intellectual, Chris Hayes, began drawing connections to Nixon’s erased tapes, and like that, a “scandal” was born. While it hardly matters, we later learned the reality was unfortunately slightly less conspiratorial: Turns out Trump was just using his cellphone. Inventing a story that’s quickly revealed as fake news would embarrass most journalists, but that’s what separates our professional chattering class from the mere amateurs, as they had already moved onto their next dubious blockbuster, utterly unbothered.
9. Media use NPR's fake news to trash Justice Gorsuch
The best part about modern journalism is that boring and old-fashioned concepts like “fact checking” are being replaced with easier and more fun things like feeling, emoting, and attacking. It’s in this context our next entry arrives: Earlier this year, an anonymous Supreme Court source told NPR that Justice Sotomayor was being forced to telework following Justice Gorsuch’s refusal to wear a mask, despite her being immunocompromised and having politely requested. As any professional journalist can already tell you, this story is ready for air. All of the pieces are in place: The bad guy is a conservative cis white male; the victim is a helpless, ailing minority woman; the conflict takes place in one of the highest seats of power; and, ultimately, it just “feels” true.
So when professional party-poopers/Supreme Court Justices Sotomayor & Gorsuch jointly debunked the claim, NPR, unfazed, said they were “standing by their reporting.”
Thank goodness for taxpayer-funded state media, because it’s not like fake news is going to publish itself.
8. Media to Canada: Smash this working-class revolt!
As any red-blooded robber baron can tell you, the main problem with workers is that occasionally they band together and start making unreasonable demands (e.g., “stop stealing my wages,” or “stop spying on me,” or, “I don’t want to inject my body with an experimental gene therapy as a condition for driving an 18-wheeler and supplying people with food”). When such a thing happens, and disloyal workers start thinking they have a right to their own opinion, there’s only one option on the table and that’s to smash the uprising with ruthless brutality. This year such an unfortunate incident occurred; in February, a group of greedy Canadian truckers, upset at their loss of “freedom” under their wise ruler’s compassionate invasion of their bodily autonomy, leveraged their strength in the supply chain and called a strike. As you may recall, it spread quickly and ultimately occupied all of Ottawa.
That’s when Canada got some help from its big brother. In Washington, American journalists quickly ascertained that among the aggrieved activists, there were surely a few who at some point had sent problematic tweets, and thus it was safe to call this worker uprising “racist” and “Trumpian” and basically a “terrorist” attack that Canada’s young king, Justin Trudeau, would be wise to crush with both of his well-moisturized fists.
HRH Trudeau wasted no time; the workers were doxed, shamed in the news, their children taken, their pets kidnapped, their bank accounts frozen, their charities shuttered. Mercifully, though, the threat was eliminated. Not long thereafter, His Regal Majesty Trudeau was spotted telling American reporters that Canada stands with Chinese citizens’ right to protest their government.
7. Media: Have we mentioned Justice KBJ is black?
One way you can be sure someone definitely doesn’t have any racial hang-ups is when they repeatedly go out of their way to tell you how much they love black people. Thankfully America’s clique of celebrity broadcasters are thus the least racist among us, as they evidenced during Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation process. Nary a report on her nomination lacked the requisite reference to her skin color and its “historic” significance (never mind that when President Bush floated Judge Janice Rogers Brown as a SCOTUS nominee, she was greeted with racist cartoons & accusations of not being a “real” black). This time however Justice KBJ’s ideology conformed with progressives’ requirements & accordingly they were able to showcase their totally genuine enthusiasm for this historically historic moment in history. You go, sistah!
6. Media post-Dobbs leak: Make insurrections great again!
In the event you’re unaware, America’s sacred democracy was mere moments away from being lost January 6th, 2021. (As constitutional scholars are aware, had this expertly-trained, well-organized unit of highly-disciplined MAGA special forces managed to locate the Capitol’s secret Chamber of the Scrolls and proceeded to read the Madison Manifesto from atop the dome while wearing a horned helmet, Donald Trump would currently be Emperor of the Americas and we’d all be speaking American.) Having narrowly escaped this frightful outcome, America’s newspeople have spent the last two years reliving these harrowing moments, soberly warning new threats of “insurrection” and “attacks on our democracy” are everywhere.
A righteous cause, surely, but even the most noble effort sometimes needs to hit the pause button. That’s what happened when another — or was it? — anonymous Supreme Court source leaked the draft Dobbs ruling. Now we were being told that, in fact, a violent insurrection can sometimes be exactly what America needs. Across the media landscape came calls for political unrest, tinged with the kind of violent rhetorical imagery the media have at other times blamed for many deaths. (And in this case, one troubled man became radicalized enough to travel to Virginia for the express purpose of assassinating Justice Alito.) But isn’t it, you may ask, hypocritical for our democracy stalwarts to be clamoring for an insurrection? Of course not, you sillies, the media have always made clear they will consistently defend their principle of saying whatever might be useful to advance the progressive political project.
5. Media blame us for hot weather in July
In today’s media, reporters excel less through deep-thinking & investigative journalism than they do sassy Twitter snark, so they should be forgiven for sometimes getting mixed up about what actually constitutes “news.” This last July, for example, in many parts of the world the weather became hot, and the media treated this as major, breaking news.
This was but another reminder that the legacy media’s main stock in trade is not so much news as it is fear. Even casual observers can see how America’s fear-industrial complex is shifting our focus from Covid to “extreme weather” and our supposed sins of emission. The important thing for us to remember is that a good citizen is the citizen who lives in a state of permanent fear, permanent guilt. Because the truth, I’m very sorry to report, is that it’s your fault when there are floods in Pakistan or droughts in Africa. If you had just traded your SUV for a bike, given up beef for bugs, and aborted your kids when you had the chance, we could now be celebrating the end of climate change — aka climate — and have finally dethroned that uppity bitch Mother Nature. Maybe next year.
4. Media volunteer as 1/6 carnival barkers
If you’re like most Americans, you probably have no idea that many in Congress have spent the last year working on a commission to “investigate” a 2-hour riot that took place January 6, 2021, or that this commission arranged for its meetings to be televised. Which is precisely why Democrats’ comms team — aka “the media” — volunteered for service as carnival barkers to help attract an audience. Why Congress has spent so much time and money on one instance of political unrest while ignoring dozens more, or why this is their focus rather than actual problems affecting actual people, has yet to be explained. But don’t let these trifling trivialities distract from the “compelling” circus our ruling class has been courteous enough to arrange for our entertainment. Be grateful, citizen, and be sure to tune in to Season 2.
3. Media: How can anyone question the integrity of the FBI?
Americans know well that our patriotism can most accurately be measured by how enthusiastically we cheerlead on behalf of the FBI. After all, while it’s true our forgetful founders neglected to authorize the creation of a federal police force, no one can deny the importance of having an agency that tasks itself with cleansing the population of impure political thoughts.
So when the midterm elections were rapidly approaching and the Biden Admin ordered the FBI to get tough with their chief political rival, some America-haters said the move was “political” and reminiscent of a “banana republic,” but thankfully our media betters quickly swept into action and reminded us that in fact the integrity of the FBI has never been questioned, their behavior always above reproach. (The Twitter Files have since confirmed this, as we now understand how the agency spent millions of dollars and assigned dozens of agents to help ensure Americans didn’t accidentally elect the wrong person in 2020. A grateful nation bows in appreciation.)
2. Media bulldoze journalism in race to exploit Colo. tragedy
It’s impossible to make jokes about a tragedy as horrific as the Colorado Springs’ Club Q killings, but it’s very easy to point and laugh at the journalisming we witnessed in its immediate aftermath. While actual reporters were on the ground in Colorado, digging into the killer’s past, activists employed at major news networks who play journalists on TV — for example, NBC’s Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny — dispatched with the pretense of being facts-based reporters altogether so they could instead exploit the victims for their own political ends. To this day there is not a single fact available showing anti-LGBT hate motivated the killer’s rampage. In fact, we’ve since learned the killer is non-binary. So when you re-watch how these TV talking heads reacted in the days after the tragedy, it’s even more grotesque. Collins’ behavior was particularly noxious. Appearing on “Morning Joe,” he delivered something like a sermon ostensibly expressing regret for not having been more of an activist against cultural conservatives, and then called on the media to “double down” on left-wing activism. In his performance, Collins frequently says these victims were being used as “pawns” and wow as it turns out all you need to work in the mainstream media is a lack of self awareness.
1. Media throw tantrum at prospect of Americans freely exchanging ideas
As you probably recall from school, the purpose of the press in a free society is to be a one-way conduit of information whereby self-anointed ThoughtCops speak down to the people and tell us what to think. This is why new, unregulated mediums of information exchange are dangerous and must be shut down. If the ruling class can’t control what information is in circulation, how can anyone know what’s true? What if an unapproved idea begins picking up traction and results in people seeing that certain public health officials have a conflict of interest that appears to be shaping policy in the direction of their benefactors? That would surely undermine people’s trust of the system, and thus destabilize our sacred democracy — clearly a dangerous threat. It doesn’t take a genius like Josef Stalin to understand that the only reasonable solution here is limiting people’s access to unsanctioned information.
This is why Facebook and Google are upstanding global corporations we can trust while Elon Musk’s recent purchase of Twitter — which he says is being done to restore “free speech” — is the worst and most terrifying thing to ever happen in the history of everything everywhere. If you’re not sure, don’t take our word for it: a recent study by the smartest experts found that since Elon’s purchase of Twitter, mean tweets are up a staggering 77 percent, misinformation (aka information the media hasn’t yet acknowledged as true) is up 69 percent (😉), disinformation (legacy media tweets) has increased 432 percent, the Covid death rate increased from .001 percent to .002 percent, computer projections of the rise of global sea levels in 10,000 years increased 1.5 CM, and, perhaps most distressingly, politicians are increasingly at risk of hearing from their constituents.
Recognizing this dangerous trajectory, America’s fearless journalists are banding together and demanding action. What action exactly they can’t say. But something. Maybe new laws. Maybe deporting Elon. Maybe a new socially conscious social network. Maybe a commission or a task force or a petition with lots of important signatories.
The important point is that they fight; and Americans love a fighter. So this holiday season, families coast to coast will sleep soundly knowing an army of keyboard warriors stand ready to do battle against potentially popular new ideas. For us.
What shape their heroism takes exactly is a story yet to be told. Inevitably in 2023’s Most Mortifying Media Moments.