“Treating the Media As a Thing Can Be a Convenient Shorthand But It Also Can Make You Sound Dumb”

Andrew Ferguson, though a writer at the conservative Weekly Standard, is one of Washington’s independent thinkers and he’s always happy to make fun of pretty much everyone in the nation’s capital. Here’s Andy looking at the media in a piece about Trump-era books, with the focus here on Fox News’s “Judge” Jeanine Pirro, author of Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy.

The judge believes, as so many Trump supporters do, that there is a thing called “the media,” much in the way that economists believe there is a thing called “the economy” or environmentalists talk about the thing called “the environment.” If there weren’t such a thing, if there weren’t this unitary object to concentrate on, they wouldn’t have much reason to get out of bed in the morning.

In truth, there are all kinds of media—print, digital, radio, TV, unfortunately Twitter—and there are many ideological shades within those media: liberal, left-wing, conservative, right-wing, even moderate. It’s a gorgeous mosaic! In the current usage, however, “the media” is just a term for any person we encounter in print or on TV or NPR that we find objectionable. Treating the media as a thing can be a convenient shorthand but it can also make you sound dumb. The judge has a news talk show on a news network surrounded by dozens of journalists who think the way she does, but you can be sure when they trash the media they’re not looking in the mirror.

Distinctions are not helpful in a made-for-TV book, so she avoids them. It’s certainly true you could throw a brick through the newsroom of the New York Times or NPR—who hasn’t been tested in this way?—and never hit a Republican, except maybe the IT guy. And you’d have a fair chance of knocking off several social justice warriors moonlighting as editors or reporters. But distinctions must be made. A careful and responsible reporter like Maggie Haberman at the Times or John Dickerson at CBS should not get tossed in with a much less responsible reporter like Philip Bump at the Washington Post, who is nevertheless a great improvement over the hysterical showboat Jim Acosta at CNN, who, hard to believe, is superior to a frothing youngster at ThinkProgress. This myth of the unitary media is irresistible because it allows you such wide latitude. Pirro says that the “media” don’t give Trump a fair shake, which is 90 percent true if you’re talking about the editors and reporters of the liberal media. Then she says the “media” routinely make fun of Trump’s 12-year-old son, which is not true at all unless you’re talking about a commenter at the Huffington Post.

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