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Journalists have always been a parasite class, the kind of people who peep through blinds for a living or find someone at the worst moment of their lives and stick a microphone in their face—"Your whole family has been murdered, how do you feel?"—and if you look into the run-ups to both WWI and WW2 you can find the most reckless cheerleading for bloodshed, committed of course by cowards who hid behind their desks while other men were massacred in droves.

I know we all have our pet peeves about the zeitgeist, especially those of us raised in 20th-century America still in shock over what's happened to the 4th estate, those supposed defenders of our sacred Democracy: journalists willing to lie with a straight face to protect the Narrative du jour ("no one teaches CRT, bigot!"), engage in the most scurrilous ad hominens against any dissenters ("must be on Putin's payroll!), brazenly lie about their political opponents (Don't Say Gay), attack other journalists for committing actual journalism, denounce half their fellow citizens as irredeemable bigots, and (maybe the worst crime of all): become vicious narrative-enforcement agents who attacked anyone who even quibbled with the Covid narrative ("our toddlers must be masked if it even saves one life, grandma killer!") while denouncing anyone as racist (!) who attempted to look into the origins of the virus.

(Really, it needs to be said again: imagine any other journalist or thinker from any other time in recorded history and tell them that there was a global pandemic but that EVERY establishment journalist in the country deemed investigating it a hate crime. IT BOGGLES THE MIND!)

But for me the grossest part of all this is the unwavering sanctimony these people have, how they imagine themselves moral avatars as if they're reincarnations of Mother Teresa, never not patting themselves on the back about how much they love the Marginalized and how much more virtuous they are than us benighted peasants.

An entire generation whose greatest moral conundrum is whether to swipe left or right imagines themselves a cross bw the French Resistance and the marchers on Selma because they don't hate black people and because they put pronouns in their bios!

Will no one rid us of these meddlesome priests!?

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👏👏👏👏👏👏

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Brad, you're bad for my blood pressure!

;))

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Clever Pseudonym, I agree with everything you say here, with the exception of the notion that journalists have “always been this way”. I beg to differ.

Journalists used to be working class joes, not many with a degree past high school or community college. They lived next to firefighters, cops, paramedics and nurses, teachers, and salesmen. The account of the dynamics Brad lays out brilliantly here does not include other multi-factorial causes such as the over-production of elites at the beginning of the millennial generational “bulge” in college populations, the flight of working class families from urban centers, and the just-now recognizable stranglehold the laptop class has on the economy and its production of political narratives. Not to mention the total ideological capture of every single American institution other than the judiciary.

Everything Brad says here is TRUE

(Brad, I fucking love your work. I’m becoming a paid subscriber tomorrow--especially after this post). But to leave out all the other sociopolitical confluences that have led us here, and blithely state that journalists have “always been this way” is disingenuous as best, and slanderous at worst.

Much good has come of journalism in the 20th century. The times now are dark indeed. It doesn’t, however, diminish those earlier efforts.

And please know that I mean

no disrespect: I love every single thing you’ve posted that I’ve seen...I just feel compelled to point this out.

Either way, I’m glad that voices like yours and Brad’s exist. And that I get to hear them.

Keep it coming.

It does give me hope.

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author

I'm very grateful for your support. Thank you!

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Hey thanks a lot for the kind words, I appreciate them and don't mind any criticism (except of my face, which luckily for both of us you can't see ;))

I realize that when Brad gets me worked up I start to wax overheated and become like a deranged Pope spewing anathemas in every direction (Brad made me do it! LOL)

I often remind myself that denouncing any group of any kind with a blanket statement is the opposite of thought or wisdom—and then do it anyway!

I have been reading some Karl Kraus lately, a journalist who catalogued all the reckless things his fellow journalists wrote hoping to start 2 wars so they could profit from them, so I've definitely been in "Journalists suck" mode for awhile.

But all walks of life are filled with both unscrupulous bottom feeders and their opposite, smart and dedicated people a la Pete Hamill, Jimmy Breslin, and even that brilliant bastard, Mencken.

I guess the truth is my intense loathing for the MSM and "the total ideological capture of every single American institution other than the judiciary" has warped me a bit, and I appreciate you pointing it out.

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Jun 28, 2023·edited Jun 28, 2023

Having never heard of Karl Kraus, I looked him up. Thank you for the mention. The Wikipedia entry is useful, and then there's this: https://thelastdaysofmankind.wordpress.com/introduction/

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you're welcome and thanks for the link...

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My only quibble with your statement is that the judiciary is not captured. IMO a good portion of it "deals" in exactly what you and Clever discuss as "ideological capture".

Beyond that, it is captured to an extent. The Law has become an instrument for illegality itself. Not to mention all the egregious double standards.

So I guess the question is; can you have a judiciary that is only partially "captured"?

One ruling/precedent leads to another. It seems as if many laws are established (their rulings) precisely to paper over the preceeding nonsensical law. To either narrow rights, or expand state power, to confuse/conflate rulings orthogonal to other areas of the law.

I think Tacitus said:

"The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state." (Or vice-versa)

And what to make of SCOTUS sitting on their hands for two years while virtually every amendment was neutered during c19?

Lastly, there's no doubt the legal system has been compromised by the influence of the Intel Agencies.

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May 25, 2023Liked by Brad

Wonderful article and wonderful back and forth here in Comments, and CP is exactly right; the "unwavering sanctimony" of this newsie group is the worst part, this oozing condescension and contempt is unbearable....

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They would literally read your logic and common sense as hate.

That's hard to break. Hopefully enough from Team Fantasy switch jerseys to Team Reality.

There's nothing to debate. We can only hope that we speak out and they wake-up.

We'll see.

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Well done. Worth a kings ransom.

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venmo me!

🤣🤣🤡

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I always get the warm and fuzzies when I see something from Brad that's orthogonal to something I'm writing.........

The media's playbook consists of hatred and division. Advertising-as-revenue is a dead business plan, and it should be. Much better to be "beholden" to the readers -- who can drop your service at any time if they feel its not worth the money.

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Another way of saying this only stops when we the public stop buying it. Will the crazies ever admit they are crazy? Doesn’t seem likely.

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But wouldn't being beholden to the readers also create confirmation bubbles? That's even evident here on substack.

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That's certainly something that I wonder about, but by the time you're beholden to readers, there's hundreds or thousands of them. At that point (hopefully) there's so many differing opinions that the echo chamber never forms.

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NYT as notary..good one.

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Excellent article, and IMO a shame we've moved from the journalistic ethos of the 20th century. Your article meshes pretty well with the Munk debate on the trustworthiness of MSM, which I believe was pretty handily won by Taibbi and Murray.

But your article also intrigued me to consider Substack, a media supported only by readers. Do you think this influences the writers on Substack to also add to polarization? I've followed Taibbi for years and he was my introduction to the Substack space. I believe he (and you) follow objective reporting methodology, but I've also seen commentary responses that reflect a polarized audience.

Thanks for what you do. I'm on the verge of moving from unpaid to paid reader.

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author

Yes, I thought of substack too. But although substacks are obviously subscriber newsletters, I think it's the big fish of the mainstream media that are most beholden to readers and thus cater to a polarized audience because their survival depends on it. After 2016, liberal journalists and audiences began to openly demand a revision of journalism’s standards towards more impact and involvement for the sake of "preserving democracy." Reader revenue for the MSM is now supplied by an odd source. It looks like subscription and is sold like subscription, but it has motives that are increasingly not commercial and transactional, but rather civic and philanthropic. It's about joining a cause - that of ensuring a specific worldview is validated by the imprimatur of legacy outlets - outlets like the NYT, whose raison d'etre has become political and activism-based, not journalistic - and peddled to others on a mass scale. These outlets are now beholden to an openly normative axiological paradigm in which objectivity is treated as suspicious, centrism is a crime, and bothsidesism is treason (think of the Tom Cotton scandal at the NYT, when they published his "send in the troops" op-ed and both the newsroom and readers absolutely flipped out). This has narrowed the MSM's scope, over-representing some topics and views while turning a blind eye to others. I don't think most substack writers are as confined by such strictures, if that makes sense.

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May 25, 2023Liked by Brad

Great piece. Journalists used to proclaim a social responsibility to try to appeal to the largest market, primarily the middle. Now the business model is divisiveness, fear, resentment, and the old days aren’t coming back.

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Excellent article!

Headline:

'Man "bites" polarization"

The "top-dogs" know this, so they create "dog-eat-dog" cage matches, because it satiates wannabe top-dogs spectating in the stands.

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Hadn't thought of the situation in these terms exactly- interesting. I would argue, however, it started well prior to the internet upsetting the revenue stream. Look no further than the instant popularity of Fox News. I distinctly remember one of my middle school teachers complaining about the treatment of conservatism during the Carter era (imagine hearing that in a public school now)

Look at Watergate, the "holy grail" of investigative journalism. The story was fed to them....by a Fed. Meanwhile, Ben Bradley knew all about the malfeasance in the JFK and LBJ administrations. To this day, much of it goes unreported. Nixon inherited Vietnam. We hear plenty about the withdrawal, and very little about the impetus

I believe today's polarization started with McCarthy. After a unified nation won the war, the hunt for communists gave the left the first bite of moral superiority, the foundation upon which "the good guys" built. Without defending Mccarthy, it's interesting that the ideology he attacked formed the basis for leftist platform today

MSM long festered over Fox, the first overtly biased network. Fox's success exposed their bias, something they still will not admit. Aside from TYT type shows, left leaning networks hold onto the journalism moniker. Fox's admission makes them look silly. Their credibility problem comes from delivering essentially state media through the prism of objectivity. People now see it

No matter how we arrived here, a free press is the only thing standing between us and one party rule. We need more opposition to statism, not less. If they want to call it polarization, so be it

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May 26, 2023Liked by Brad

What role do you think Fox News, Breitbart or Drudge played in this? These were started partially I believe in opposition to the hidden left bias in other main stream media (Fox News even called other networks the Main Stream media even though they were arguably more popular) and were more openly partisan and seemingly commercially successful, proving that one doesn't have to pretend to be neutral.

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There's no doubt that right-wing media also contributes to polarization. I think both poles of the spectrum within the media business have settled into a system in which negativity, a hysterical tone, and threat ideology have become essential to business success. Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC have transitioned to focusing more time and resources on the rival faith than on actual news, using one another to energize their audiences. The result has been a vortex of self-perpetuating agitation.

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May 26, 2023Liked by Brad

Matt Taibbi wrote a book on this: *Hate, Inc.*

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Jun 28, 2023·edited Jun 28, 2023

I was just going to mention this. Hate, Inc., while a good overview, is more narrowly focused (mostly on the Trump years) than Brad's post here. I do highly recommend Taibbi's book. He's one of the few journalists I place any trust in anymore. And even then, avoid blind trust.

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It is interesting to compare American journalism and media to Canadian. As you suggest, the American discourse is polarized; I would suggest the Canadian one is so lop-sided to be single-sided. Granted, I, and many other Canadians I assume, do not consume mainstream media any more, so I can't really say for sure what it's like.

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An excellent article. And I don’t disagree. Yet there seems to be a glaring omission…the capture/corruption of the media by big, powerful corporate entities such as pharmaceutical companies, etc. which now provide a large percentage of revenue to MSM. It has been painfully obvious that many ‘news’ articles are nothing more than advertisements, and serving as a mouthpiece for stories fed to the media by these corporations. Why was this not included?

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Mainly because of length.

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