Media Hypocrisy

La Rochefoucauld famously quipped that “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue”. True enough, but I still find that particular trait grating. Most people do.

I want to barf when I read the press’s endless encomia to Senator McCain, not because I hated the Senator – I most certainly did not – but because I’m old enough to remember when, during the presidential campaign of 2008, the very same media – indeed, in many cases the same people –  painted him as a Crypto-Nazi. At that time, I was contributing to McCain’s (sadly, inept) campaign and paying very close attention to how he was being portrayed.

Now they praise McCain for two reasons – that he hated Trump and that he’s dead, in that order. If he had gotten along famously with Trump, they would’ve written merely respectful war-hero-failed-candidate-maverick-Senator obits, but his intense dislike of the president, combined with his being dead, elevated him to near-saintly stature in their eyes. Praising McCain to the skies is their way of taking yet another dig at the president they detest.

Actually, I have clear memories of every presidential campaign going back to the 1970s. In each one, the Republican candidate was widely characterized as being broadly sympathetic to Nazi proclivities – as well as being completely out of touch (Ford, Bush, Sr., Dole), stupid (Ford, Reagan, Bush, Jr.) and/or predatory (McCain and Romney).

And, lo and behold, all the dead Republican former candidates – and even some living ones, like Poppy Bush and Mitt Romney – are now praised for having been moderate, kindly leaders by the very same organizations that did everything they possibly could to prevent those candidates from being elected. Even Ronald “Ray-gun” and George “BushHitler” have been re-evaluated favorably by our academic and cultural elites.

The virtue to which tribute is being paid via all this hypocrisy is even-handedness. Our media want to be thought of as fact-driven and fair-minded rather than what they are, which is rabidly partisan. I guess they figure that they can get some cover for their agendas by praising those, now irrelevant, who they once (or repeatedly, in some cases) did everything in their powers to defeat. They want us to forget their fact-challenged, underhanded portrayals of these people when they were perceived as threats to the media’s preferred, progressive candidates.

To most of our media, the only good Republican is one who, like Bush, Jr. and Romney, hates Trump (and has no chance of attaining national power in a way that threatens progressive interests) or one who is dead. Especially the latter – he or she’s a safer bet.

Message received.

These people just shouldn’t expect those of us who liked most of these leaders all along to believe what they say or write today. We don’t – and that explains why their incessant drumbeat of vituperation doesn’t seem to be hurting the president.

It might even be helping him. After all, hypocrisy is grating.

 

M.H. Johnston

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