How the Conservative Media Looks Since Becoming Trump’s Ministry of Propaganda
I recently wrote about the mass purge of Trump critics (i.e., non-sycophants) at RedState, in the aftermath of which the site’s co-founder, Erick Erickson, declared the “old RedState” — that is, the actual constitutionalist-leaning political commentary website that used to go by that name — “dead.”
How dead? Well, a few weeks back, I took a quick scroll through the site’s recent articles, just to take the temperature of its new tone in the wake of the culling. Not surprisingly, I could not find a single article expressing the merest skepticism about anything Trump was saying or doing at that time. Nor could I find much of anything on the site that was unrelated to Trump. In other words, RedState had officially rebranded itself as “allthingsbrightandtrumpy.com.” In short, it was now an administration talking point clearing house, bordering on a mere fan club aggregator.
One danger of becoming a propagandist, of course, is the quandary one faces when the idol for whom one is propagandizing does something really important — even something likely to have significant lasting effects — but something that would be difficult to defend on the sort of principles one is pretending to espouse as political cover for one’s propaganda mission.
For example, consider Trump’s newly-imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. This seems like an inescapably important political story; it has understandably generated a great deal of attention, both within the U.S. and internationally; and the tariffs have since been met with severe counter measures by the affected nations. In other words, a trade war has broken out this week (whatever Larry Kudlow says to deny the obvious), as a direct result of extreme action taken by President Trump personally. Major players in Washington are publicly debating Trump’s decision and its hazards, and even some prominent Trump defenders, such as Mark Levin, have come out strongly against the policy.
Whether one loves protectionism (Bernie Sanders) or hates it (advocates of economic liberty), whether one thinks Smoot-Hawley was a great idea or the trigger of the Great Depression, there can be no doubt that this policy decision — the imposition of economy-altering tariffs on major allies — is a very important event from the point of view of the political punditry; and it is a story completely centered on Donald Trump himself, which guarantees its supreme value as prime “click bait” in this era of the reality TV presidency.
So how did the second-tier pundits who constitute the ruins of RedState cover the Trump tariff story over these past couple of days? The short answer: They didn’t. Or rather, they did what agenda-driven “news outlets” always do to cover their backsides in cases like this: They put it on the internet equivalent of the bottom left corner of page 31.
On Thursday, May 31st, the day the tariff story broke, RedState posted a piece by Kira Davis with the soporific, non-judgmental title, “Trump Will Impose Tariffs On Canada And Mexico.”
The article begins this way:
President Trump has been raising fears about a trade war with his promise to “even out” the trade deficit by imposing new tariffs on trade partners. After Canada and Mexico balked at the President’s strategy, Trump announced he would give the North American neighbors a grace period in order to iron out details. He also asked the two nations to make several concessions that would be in American interests.
On Thursday President Trump announced he would be moving forward with tariffs on both Canada and Mexico, as well as the European Union.
You see, as Davis announces so matter-of-factly, the President had a “strategy” to even out the trade deficit, and he even gave Canada and Mexico a generous “grace period” to “iron out details.” When the two nations failed to accept the simple “concessions” he had requested during this grace period, Trump was naturally left with no choice but to impose tariffs on those nations…andontheEuropeanUniontoo — AHEM, COUGH, COUGH, DANG THIS SORE THROAT IS A REAL DOOZY!
The rest of Davis’ article consists of two long quotations from ABC News, interrupted only by Davis’ brilliantly understated interjection: “The markets experienced a slight drop in the wake of the news.”
The final block quote is dominated by the snake oil rationalizations of Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the administration’s point man on all things protectionist.
And that was it. Not another main page article addressing these heavy tariffs imposed on major trading partners has appeared at RedState since that butt-covering, carefully nondescript, non-judgmental reportage from the first day. For context: Since posting that empty story, RedState has featured no fewer than twenty-nine front page articles — nine of them by the purge’s chief beneficiary, “Streiff,” who now reigns supreme at TrumpState since, apparently seeing which way the career winds were blowing, he completely reversed all of his old critiques of Trump and became management’s go-to guy — and while several of those twenty-nine articles deal with economic issues supposedly favorable to Trump, not a single one touches upon the controversial global trade war the Protectionist-in-Chief has declared. One has to believe such a policy would have warranted a critical analysis or two had the protectionist president been a Democrat.
This is how a propaganda ministry works, folks. “If a new rural school is built, run a banner headline declaring that Chairman Mao loves children. If fifty thousand farm workers are left to starve, run a story declaring that Chairman Mao is sparing no expense to make sure all farmers are working well for the collective.”
This is America’s new conservative media.
And are they getting the result they clearly desired, namely a friendly echo chamber for Trumpism? Well, if you take a glance at the readers’ comments for that single tariff story by Kira Davis, you will note that all six of them are from Trump cult members, as typified by the following from someone using the name “reddotbluestate.”
Trump may be a bull in a China shop (if you’ll pardon the pun), but he’s OUR bull.
And since when did having an economic illiterate on your side become an asset? As for the “but he’s OUR bull” baloney, I dealt with that absurd argument the other day.