Jennifer Rubin’s Washington Post op-ed calling for Americans to put an end to our new post-truth society might have been laudable. Unfortunately for her, she fails to realize that her piece is a fine example of politically-biased, mainstream media spin-doctoring.
Furthermore, Rubin’s piece demonstrates that when either side pretends that one party or one ideology has a monopoly on political spin or propaganda, such statements only work to disprove that theory entirely.
While concern over last week’s events at the Capitol are not unfounded, Rubin’s analysis of the problems of American political culture are not confined to the validity of the 2020 presidential election results and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric thereon. Instead, she engages in a series of invectives decrying conservative talking points, completely neglecting to mention the post-truth wordsmithing of Democratic politicians, progressive academics, or publications such as The New York Times or her own Washington Post. Post-truth America is supposedly an entirely conservative construct:
In this world, masks don’t work and Ukraine has the DNC server. White evangelicals tell their flocks there is a war on Christians. Radio talk-show hosts tell us there are terrorists among refugees fleeing violence in Central America. There is a whole industry — extending to issue-oriented advocacy groups and think tanks — designed to con the mob and infuriate them.
An interesting selection of issues and talking points. However, there are an additional set of claims that ought to be included as a complement to Rubin’s list.
The post-truth American society is also one in which gender is a spectrum of feeling rather than a biological fact. Journalists claim that America was founded in 1619 for the purpose of creating the slave trade. Professors tell us that “all white people are complicit with racism,” and that statement is somehow accepted rather than decried as being racist itself. There is a whole industry—extending to identitarian movements, progressive think tanks, and apologetic and coddling mass media programs—designed to enable and excuse the mob no matter how many cities they burn or how ill-founded their reasons for doing so are.
Post-truth America is one in which protestors chanting “Not my president” in 2016 were legitimately airing grievances, but in 2021 Rubin argues that lawyers engaged in litigation regarding potential election fraud in 2020 should be punished by bar associations. In addition, lawmakers who objected to the certification of the election “need to be identified as such for as long as they participate in public life.”
I would posit that if we need to introduce “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy who objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election results,” then we should also introduce “Senator Maize Hirono who attempted to impose a religious test on federal judiciary appointees.”
Neither side of any issue is devoid of ill-intentioned propagandists. The left still needs to learn that people are not as easily categorized as Rubin attempts. There will be people who engage in disreputable rhetoric in any institution or group. The idea that the Democratic party is somehow immune from this is laughable.
Rubin’s latest article may just be another example of a writer engaging in what Tim Groseclose described in his book Left Turn:
Many liberal journalists and scholars are opposed to the very idea of objective studies of media bias. That is, not only do they not want to conduct such studies themselves, they do not want anyone to conduct them.
Such people, I believe, do not want the media bias debate to be settled by data and objective measures. Instead, they want it to remain one that is settled by who has the smoothest rhetoric and who can shout the loudest.
It does not matter who engages in post-truth statements, nor how often they do so, nor how egregious the post-truth statements themselves actually are. With the liberal bias of newsrooms, the rhetoric will continue to be that media bias is non-existent and that post-truth doublespeak is solely the domain of far-right ideologues who ought to be ostracized from polite society.
That is not the truth, but it is the post-truth spin that Rubin, The Washington Post, and other liberal politicos and media personalities want everyone to believe.
To restore America to a truth-valuing society we must eliminate all post-truth statements, not just the ones that we are predisposed to find repulsive based on our own political preferences.
To favor one side over the other in this regard will only drag the country further into a post-truth society where Newspeak quickly becomes America’s first official language.
[Image from: DonkeyHotey via flickr, in the Public Domain, cropped]