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Our Agenda-Driven Press Corps

In his post yesterday about the Los Angeles shooter, Jeff pointed out the noteworthy lamestream media silence on certain key elements of the shooter’s manifesto.  Indeed, as Noah Rothman notes today at Mediaite: When crazed shooters can’t be linked to the Tea Party, the media displays admirable restraint.  The story of the shooter in Los Angeles, in fact, is–like several other recent shooters–only of interest to the press corps to the extent that it helps feed the narrative about “gun violence” and the need for more gun-control.  Elements of the story that don’t fit with the narrative are omitted, and especially those elements that contradict the narrative or help to fuel competing narratives.  Because the Los Angeles shooter’s manifesto complains about perceived “racism,” this could theoretically turn into a story about how the racial grievance industry has created a monster, but of course it never will because that is not an agenda the media has any interest in promoting.

Most of the times these days it seems that the press corps is pushing several different agenda items at one time, and news stories are only of interest or worth covering to the extent that they help advance one of those agenda items.  Rather than report the facts and let things fall where they may, the press tries to shoehorn as many stories as possible into the service of one agenda item or another.   The other day, for instance, I woke up to this story on NPR explaining that:  “The gun violence that scars some Chicago neighborhoods has been a plague for one woman. Shirley Chambers first lost a child to gunfire in the mid 1990s. In 2000, a daughter and a son were shot to death just months apart. On Monday, Chambers buried her last child.”  The story could have focused on the horrible failure of gun-control in Chicago, it could have talked about the problems with gangs in the city or crime related to drugs, it could have talked about the plight of inner-city blacks caught up in a dysfunctional culture, but it didn’t do anything like that.  No, the story had to be forced to fit the current narrative about the evils of “gun violence.”

But it’s not just “gun violence.”  As I write, a huge winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast.  When I spent a few years in New England in the 1980s, this sort of thing was to be expected and was known simply as “winter.”  These days, every storm of any magnitude is a big story, people are encouraged to panic and to scurry about, and inevitably, the articles begin to appear linking the storm to “climate change.”

Other common themes of note these days include the repeated focus on “bullying” as a way of pushing “anti-bullying programs” and “anti-bullying” legislation.  Hence, this horrible story is of interest to the media because it is seen as a way of advancing the “anti-bullying” agenda.  In years past, it may have been reported simply as a brutal fight in a school yard, but not any more.   I’m curious to know more about the attacker, but the story doesn’t tell us, nor does the journalist who wrote the story have any interest in reporting what the actual issues in this case are, because doing so would only undermine the “anti-bullying” agenda.  Even NFL cheerleaders are of interest largely to the extent that they can help advance the cause.

And of course, gay issues are another big agenda item for the press corps, but only insofar as gays and lesbians can be portrayed as either victims (of hate or discrimination or abuse) or as inspiring and selfless humanitarians.  Hence, this story about a supposedly “gay” dog in Tennessee was picked up by the national press because it helped advance the narrative that people in “red states” are stupid bigots who hate gays;  in truth, it is really a story about how there are people in all states who shouldn’t own dogs either because they are irresponsible and self-centered or because they have no knowledge or understanding of normal canine behavior.  Had the dog been euthanized after having been abandoned by a gangster or a meth addict in the inner city, you can be certain it wouldn’t have made the news.