Beliefnet
At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

That the Democrat Party holds fewer political offices now than at any time since the 1920s does not mean that the left is losing.  Conversely, just because Republicans have been winning elections does not mean that the right is winning.

As I show in my book, Misguided Guardians: The Conservative Case Against Neoconservatism, the GOP is not now, nor has it ever been, a right-wing or conservative party.  Its rhetoric to the contrary aside, the GOP is every bit as much in favor of a centralized, administrative state as is its Democrat counterpart.

Nor is it for the sake of a right-wing agenda that neoconservative Republicans exploit this state power.

However, it is not my point here to revisit the multiple respects in which the neoconservatism of the GOP reveals itself to be a species of leftism. The point, rather, is to caution conservatives, libertarians, and others on the right against allowing themselves to be deceived into thinking that as long as the Republican Party continues winning elections that the right is winning.

In fact, culturally speaking, the left has been crucifying the right for decades.  Donald Trump’s presidency notwithstanding, it is still winning.

Tragically, I recently realized that leftists will continue to win the cultural war—at least as long as leftist and non-leftist Americans remain citizens of one and the same country.

My reason for this verdict is basic enough:

Those on the “the right,” or at least those on “the right” who are in positions to make the kinds of changes that need to be made in order to defeat the left, simply don’t have it in them to do so.  For as difficult as it is to reckon with this ugly truth, face it we must.

First, “conservative” publications and pundits are constantly, and correctly, informing us that the massive leftist, anti-Trump demonstrations and rallies that have unfolded around the country over the last six months or so are financed by such millionaires and billionaires as George Soros.

Though they don’t expressly say it, these spokespersons for “the conservative movement” treat this fact as if its immorality is axiomatic.  Yet not only is its wrongness not self-evident; I fail to see how it is wrong at all.

There are “conservative” millionaires and billionaires, some of whom speak for several hours a day every week day on the radio and on television. Within no time, they could raise exponentially more than what would be required to subsidize and organize rallies and protests that would be at least as large as those that Soros and his comrades have been funding.

As I type this, at the grassroots level, some folks on the internet are trying to assemble “MOAR”—“Mother Of All Rallies.”  The latter is supposed to be held in Washington D.C. on September 16. It is a pro-Trump, pro-America rally to which the organizers hope to attract over one million attendees.

This One Million Deplorable march is something that our “conservative” millionaires and billionaires could help along.

But there is no indication that the mere thought of undertaking such a venture has ever even entered their minds.

Beyond this, these wealthy, influential “conservatives” never so much as draw attention to those grassroots patriots who have been taking to the streets, at considerable risk and financial cost to themselves, organizing their own pro-America, pro-Trump, pro-“Free Speech” rallies.  These rallies the patriots have held in liberal bastions throughout the nation.  They have often been outnumbered and threatened, but they persevere.

Big-named “conservatives” say…nothing.

Second, when Sean Hannity was in the crosshairs of the left, a couple of lesser known, former radio hosts decided to “fight fire with fire” by establishing Media Equalizer, a site that regularly releases the contact information of all of those companies that sponsor left-leaning media figures. Hannity expressed his appreciation, but insisted that he still opposed “boycotts.”

This stated opposition to boycotts is typical among “conservatives,” particularly those who, like Hannity, depend upon sponsors for their living.  However, what, we must ask, is morally objectionable about a boycott?  How is it impermissible to unite with like-minded consumers in issuing companies that sponsor offensive programming an ultimatum to either drop their sponsorship or risk going out of business?  People are free to either participate in the boycott or not.

Hannity brought some attention to the founders of Media Equalizer initially.  Since then, though, neither he nor any of his colleagues have sought to remind their vast audiences of this invaluable site.

As long as our well-positioned “conservatives” refuse to “fight fire with fire,” the left will persist.

Third, Trump supporters and those merely suspected of being Trump supporters have routinely been violently attacked for well over a year.  Fortunately, they have learned to fight back and, in some instances, they have turned the tables on their attackers and beaten them.  Still, the hostility toward Trump-supporters by the ever-proliferating “Antifa” (“antifascists”) and others remains toxic to the body politic.

The giants of “the conservative movement” say little to nothing about it.  Much less do they offer to help assemble a network of Constitution-loving lawyers, say, attorneys that will be on the spot in the event that conservative street activists need them, or who can file lawsuits against the politicians of those cities that order the police to stand down as leftist terrorists destroy property and attack those with whom they disagree.

This network of lawyers could also sue the police departments of these “progressive” oases for failing to uphold their oath to “protect and serve.”

If, though, our big league “conservatives” helped to finance and promote pro-American rallies, much of this violence against Trump supporters wouldn’t exist, for their influence would insure astronomical turnouts that would render this violence futile—if not suicidal for those who tried to perpetrate it.

This list of recommendations is not meant to be exhaustive.  It is meant to show that the most prominent representatives of “the conservative movement” aren’t doing nearly as much as they could and should do to insure victory over the left.

While it is undoubtedly important to draw attention, as these “conservatives” do, to the left’s outrages, unless this service is supplemented with other measures, with action, it begins to sound like whining and nagging.

The whole, “the left applies double standards when judging us” line, though true, becomes old. 

Unless the standard operating procedure of the official “right” changes and they begin to truly fight fire with fire, the left will continue moving along.

 

 

 

In previous articles, I wrote about the difference between Fake News and fake journalism. The two, I showed, are inseparable in practice. However, they are indeed separate concepts.

Fake News is the final product, the end or outcome produced by fake journalists. The latter derive their identity as fake journalists from the considerations that motivate them to produce Fake News.

That a story contains assertions that are false does not suffice to render it Fake News.  Honest mistakes, after all, are a part of life.  Those false statements that constitute Fake News are those whose falsity could have been discerned had their producers and disseminators performed their due diligence.  These are false statements that the manufacturers of Fake News either wanted to believe themselves or wanted for others to belief.

Nor, for that matter, does Fake News necessarily preclude the inclusion of assertions that are true.  However, for deceptive purposes, the proverbial “half-truth” is far more effective than the blatant lie.  When, for instance, those in the media reported that a “white-Hispanic” man by the name of George Zimmerman shot and killed an “unarmed” black “youth” named Trayvon Martin while the latter was on his way to buy Skittles, they told the truth—sort of.

Zimmerman’s father is white, his mother Hispanic.  He certainly looks more like a Hispanic than anything else.  But the descriptor “white Hispanic” was designed to fit into the media’s favorite template, the narrative of White-on-Black Oppression.

That this is true is borne out easily enough by the consideration that Zimmerman was no more, and no less, white than Barack Obama, yet the media never characterized Obama as a “white-black.”  The reason for this should be clear. Beside the fact that no one describes or self-identifies as a “white-black” (or a “black-white”), in stressing Obama’s Caucasian background, in reminding people that “the first black President” is no more black than he is white, Obama’s fans in the media feared that they would potentially detract from what they wanted for everyone to regard as the “historic” nature of his presidency.

Martin was a “youth,” yes, but he was 17 years-old; he wasn’t the 12 year-old smiley-faced boy whose picture the media circulated in the days immediately following the breaking of this story. Zimmerman was 11 years older and several inches shorter than Martin.  As both physical appearances and subsequent events showed, Zimmerman was not nearly in as good as shape as the latter.

Martin was “unarmed,” true. But as anyone who has ever been in a street fight knows all too well—and one shouldn’t need to have been in a fight to know this—punches and kicks can be lethal.

And Martin aggressed against Zimmerman.  He proceeded to pound his head into the pavement until Zimmerman shot him dead in self-defense.

Martin, it’s supposedly true, purchased a bag of Skittles.  It was eventually said that he did so along with some other products that he could use to get high.  But whether this is true or not, it is irrelevant to the fact that he physically attacked a man who posed no imminent danger to him.

Examples of this kind are without limit.  It’s probably the case that more often than not Fake News contains truth.  This, though, is exactly what has made it as effective as it’s been. The truth in Fake News is distorted for the purposes of advancing the political agenda of the fake journalists that produce it.

Now, commentators are not, and can never be, guilty of producing Fake News—even though commentators frequently espouse bogus ideas, make false and unwarranted assertions, and even tell outright lies in order to promote their own partisan purposes. Yet commentators, everyone recognizes, do not exist to convey the news.  Commentators fulfill a distinct social function fundamentally different than that assigned to “journalists.”

Journalists are expected to report the news.  Journalists render themselves fake journalists and produce Fake News when they betray their vocation, betray the very citizenry from which they derive the whole point and purpose of their being when they indulge the all too human impulse to inject their own biases and prejudices into their construction of “the news.”

It is again worth repeating: Even when it consists of true claims, which is usually the case, “news” that has been edited in such a way as to promote the partisan political and economic machinations of its distributors is, necessarily, Fake News.  And it is produced and disseminated by fake journalists.

In stark contrast, however wrong and even dishonest they may be, commentators who place their biases on the table, so to speak, can never be guilty of fake journalism or Fake News.  Since only journalists are expected to produce—or “cover”—the news, it is a serious category error to say of commentators like, say, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh that they are guilty of promoting Fake News.

Fake journalists had conniptions when the Trump administration characterized them, collectively, as “the Enemy of the People.”  The President’s intentions in selecting this description for them aside, there is a very real sense in which the purveyors of Fake News are indeed enemies of the citizenry.

The rights that journalists enjoy are not timeless abstractions. They are culturally and historically-specific liberties that, as such, derive their meaning from the whole system of rights and obligations to which they belong.  In a self-governing Republic like the United States—what leftists call “Democracy”—the media, more specifically, the press, exists solely for the sake of supplying citizens with the knowledge that they need in order to make informed decisions regarding the fate of society.  This raison d’etre of journalists presupposes their obligation to aspire to an ideal of “objectivity,” a trans-partisan stance.

To the extent that journalists have betrayed their reason for being, they have betrayed “the People.” To the extent that, for the sake of their own profits and fellow political partisans, they have gone so far as to create a Big Lie regarding “collusion” between a duly elected president and the second most heavily nuclear-armed country on the planet, they have not only betrayed the citizens and the Republic whose interests they are expected to serve.

They have, in effect, declared themselves an Enemy of the People.    

 

There is a difference between Fake News, on the one hand, and fake journalists, on the other.

Fake New refers to the end product.  What make a fake journalist a fake journalist are the motives that drive the latter.  Ultimately, in practice, the two are inseparable. Conceptually, however, the ideas of “Fake News” and “fake journalists” are distinct.

A fake journalist is someone whose reporting is undertaken for the sake of, not truth, fairness, or informing the public but, rather, his or her own political partisanship, profits, and/or fame and recognition.

Immanuel Kant was one of the Western world’s greatest philosophers. Kant distinguished “acting for the sake of duty” from merely “acting in accordance with duty.”  Kant’s moral philosophy was vastly more nuanced than this brief allusion would have the reader think, but his point was that if people fulfill their moral duties just because they are their duties—if they do their duties for the sake of their duties—then they deserve moral credit for doing so. If, on the other hand, they fulfill their moral duties from ulterior motives, then their acts are not right and they deserve no praise.

In other words, whether an act is morally right, whether it is authentically moral, depends upon the motive or intention of the actor.

In many contexts, Kant’s thesis resonates profoundly at an intuitive level.  Take the following scenario as an example.

Suppose that I witnessed a murder, say, that of a little old lady who was killed for her bingo money.  I had all of the information that the authorities needed in order to apprehend the killer. The only problem is that I am unwilling to come forward. Perhaps I am fearful that if I disclose my knowledge of the crime I will then make myself and my family vulnerable to reprisals by the murderer and his associates.  Or maybe I am unwilling to fulfill my moral duty because I know that I will then become part of a long, drawn out trial, and I don’t want to be inconvenienced.  Perhaps I have long known the killer and his family and I don’t want for them to have to suffer the pain that they will undoubtedly suffer in the event that he goes to jail for the remainder of his natural existence. Or possibly I just don’t feel like getting involved.

So, I have a duty to help, I know I have a duty to help, but I’m disinclined to do so.

But then it is brought to my attention that the family of the slain woman, the authorities, and other concerned members of the public are offering a handsome reward for anyone that can help them resolve this murder.  Without missing a beat, and obviously with an eye to collecting money, I go to the police station and reveal all that I know.

In this case, I would have indeed fulfilled my duty to help the police resolve a murder. But what was my motive?  Did I fulfill my duty for the sake of doing so? In other words, did I do the right thing simply and solely because it was the right thing? Or was I motivated by something other than respect for the duty itself?

The answer is obvious. I acted “in accordance with duty,” but certainly not for the sake of duty.

Few people would commend me for coming forward—as long as they knew my reason for doing so.

From Kant we can learn much regarding the difference between real journalists and fake journalists.  In a self-governing Republic, it is a good and necessary thing that the media have at least an adversarial-like relationship with politicians. Thus, in and of itself, that the President and many in the media mutually detest one another is far preferable to the love affair that transpired for the last eight years between President Obama and the very same media that is now hostile to President Trump.

But it is precisely the love-fest between Obama and the media that reveals that much of this journalism that we see on display is indeed fake journalism.  Fake journalists at CNN, MSNBC, and elsewhere fulfill their duty insofar as they assume a skeptical or distrustful stance toward Trump and his party. Yet they deserve no moral credit, for while they act in accordance with duty, they surely are not fulfilling their duty for duty’s sake.

That this is so is borne out by the fact that the overwhelming majority of Trump’s media critics are Democrats. 

As such, they are driven by a desire to delegitimize Trump and the GOP, but the President especially.  And they are willing to pursue this goal at all costs, namely, the cost of telling lies—whether these are lies of commission, like the lie that Trump and his associates “colluded” with Russians, or lies of omission, like their unwillingness to talk about the President’s achievements.

Conversely, Obama was a fellow partisan, the first black president in American history. The very same people who are invested in bringing down Trump were equally invested in seeing to it that Obama succeeded.  Today, this pro-Obama sentiment continues to animate them as they seek to preserve 44’s legacy.

Any Democrats and leftists who doubt what I’m saying should ask themselves a simple question.  If there was a large and influential media organization whose self-styled “journalists” were Steve Bannon, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Franklin Graham, and whole lot of others who are known to be Republican, Christian, conservative, and, let’s say, Southern, would you trust that they could also be “objective” in their reporting?

Of course, no one really needs for left-wing Democrats to engage in a hypothetical thought experiment over this topic.  We already know how they have long reacted to the one and only network that wasn’t dominated by Democrats and that self-described as “fair and balanced.”

 

 

 

 

Last week, CNN thrust itself into what could very well be the biggest scandal in the history of the American media.

And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group of people.

However, that the fake journalists at CNN are as deserving as anyone to be called out for what they are doesn’t mean that there aren’t legions of others in the media who aren’t as deserving of the same.

The only difference between the fake journalists at CNN and fake journalists at MSNBC; ABC; CBC; NBC; The New York Times; The Washington Post; and numerous other media organizations is that CNN got caught red handed in the act of cooking their anti-Trump story of choice: the Vast Left-wing Russian “Collusion” Conspiracy.

CNN got busted in two respects.  First, it was forced to retract a fake news story regarding “collusion” between one of the President’s associates, Anthony Scaramucci, and those nefarious “Russians.”

Then, Project Veritas released video exposing, first, a CNN producer and, then, CNN contributor Van Jones, both admitting that there had never been anything to the “collusion” conspiracy other than ratings gold.

The CNN scandal confirms two things that many of us have been insisting upon all along:

(1)Fake News is a real and pervasive phenomenon.

(2)The Russian “Collusion” Conspiracy is, and has always been, the most recent paradigmatic expression of this phenomenon.

This being said, there is much confusion regarding this notion of “fake news” that equally inflicts both the friends and enemies of this term.

The Origins of “Fake News”

First, “fake news” did not originate with President Trump or, for that matter, with any Trump supporters.  I’ve noticed recently in my exchanges with the President’s critics that they seem to assume that had it not been for Trump’s routine use of the label to dismiss his media critics, there never would have arisen any talk of “fake news.   Considering that “fake news” became part of our political-cultural lexicon as recently as the last election, it’s odd that anyone would be in doubt just seven months or so later as to its origins.

At any rate, neither Trump nor any of his supporters invented “fake news.”

Prior to the language of “fake news,” there was much hand-wringing by conservatives over the “liberal bias” of the “mainstream media,” and comparable mocking by Fox News detractors of “Faux News.”

Then, shortly after Trump got elected, his Democrat enemies began attributing his victory to the dissemination of “fake news.”

To repeat: It was Trump’s opponents who created the moniker “fake news.”

However, they didn’t anticipate—incredibly, given that Republicans and tens of millions of other Americans had been complaining about the dishonesty of the media for decades—that the right would waste no time commandeering this nomenclature from its coiners.  For Democrat politicians and operatives and their propagandists in the media to accuse anyone of promoting fake news was analogous to the Clintons accusing Trump of mistreating women because he made some lewd remarks about women in a private conversation.  It was like Hitler attacking Harry Truman for mistreating Jews because the latter used ethnic epithets when referring to them.

“Fake News” was exactly the expression for which those on the right had been looking—and the left handed it to them on a silver platter.

The Meaning of Fake News

Trump-haters seem to think that it is only negative coverage of him that the President and his supporters label “fake news.”  This is incorrect.  The left-liberal media had been disseminating Fake News long before anyone heard of “fake news.”

Fake News doesn’t consist only in false reports—though it does indeed encompass assertions that are, like the Trump-Russian Collusion Conspiracy, patently false.  Fake News consists as well in claims that may be true, as far as they go, but which, it’s painfully obvious to all who aren’t blinded by the prejudices of the “journalists,” are not newsworthy.

Fake News is fake news.

A perfect example of this is “the story,” all of the rage in the Democrat media not very long ago, regarding President Trump’s alleged preference for two scoops of ice cream at White House dinner parties. Trump may very well prefer two scoops of ice cream. This could be as true as that the Earth revolves around the sun is true.  What makes it Fake News, though, is that those in the media mentioned it only so as to weave it into their larger, anti-Trump narrative.

Trump, they told us, insists upon two scoops while allowing his guests only half of this amount.

This, his enemies in the Fake News media, confirms further that the President is “narcissistic,” “mean-spirited,” and the like.

It was the media spin on this wholly uninteresting, trivial detail regarding Trump’s dietary habits that made it Fake News.

Or consider a hypothetical illustration to drive home this point that Fake News is not limited to claims that are untrue.  Suppose that I and some imaginary “journalist” disliked one another for whatever reasons.  Now, suppose that this person—let’s call him “X”—reported on his nightly television program that I did not beat my wife today.

What X said would be true, but only because I never beat my wife.  In telling this truth, X would give the impression, and mean to give the impression, that I regularly beat my wife.

That I didn’t beat my wife today, though true, is not news.  To make this claim about me so as to make it sound like news is for X to be guilty of disseminating Fake News.

Fake News existed long before Trump.  It will, unfortunately, remain with us as long as partisanship remains with us.

Thankfully, though, the ever-rapid proliferation of “alternative” sources of news and commentary, particularly of those that are now exploding all over the internet, Fake News is easier than ever before to recognize and call out.

It is also easier than ever before, and will only grow easier in the future, to squash Fake News.