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Why did the media choose to geld themselves?

From the late 1960s until about 2010 the “liberal” media of the English-speaking world were ideally placed to propagate their values. Sources such as the BBC, the “Big Three” American TV networks, the Times of London and the New York Times were widely seen as scarcely having any ideology beyond apple-pie sentiments about liberal democracy and an endearing pride in their own role. Newcomers such as CNN upset the balance of power but did not upset this perception that what they were providing was “just the facts, ma’am”, albeit with snazzier graphics. Then along came social media, Facebook and Twitter and the rest – another eruption in terms of technique, but they still saw themselves and were seen by others as media platforms. The very word implies a level playing field. They were all blessed with something like invisibility. To be able to mix your message in with the news and spread it without being seen to do so, without being seen as an actor in your own right at all – propagandists of past eras would have sold their souls to be in that position.

Now, of course, as Glenn Greenwald put it,

…we’re on a path where we’re going to have two of everything, depending on one’s political ideology: segregated websites, financial systems, even charitable giving, the result of systematically banning non-liberals.

Edit: ‘Tony in London’ comments with an interesting parallel,

Greenwald’s observation looks [like] the pillarisation that used to define Dutch society. Almost everyone identified with one of three pillars (Catholic, Protestant, Social democrat) and this would determine which school or university they would attend, which newspaper they would read, which radio station they would listen to, which trade union and political party would represent them etc.

The Wikipedia article about verzuiling in the Netherlands and Belgium is here.

26 comments to Why did the media choose to geld themselves?

  • Tony in London

    Greenwald’s observation looks the pillarisation that used to define Dutch society. Almost everyone identified with one of three pillars (Catholic, Protestant, Social democrat) and this would determine which school or university they would attend, which newspaper they would read, which radio station they would listen to, which trade union and political party would represent them etc.

  • Mr Ed

    Sources such as the BBC, the “Big Three” American TV networks, the Times of London and the New York Times were widely seen as scarcely having any ideology beyond apple-pie sentiments about liberal democracy and an endearing pride in their own role.

    Natalie, I have considerable difficulty with that proposition. Even in relation to 1982, an RAF Flight-Lieutenant* Gerry Pook DFC wrote of the BBC’s act of treachery in broadcasting news of the British Army’s pending attack on Goose Green (aided by Ministry of Defence Civil Servants no doubt).
    *equivalent to Army Captain, his then rank.

    As for the New York Times? I’ll raise you Walter Duranty. The NYT might fairly be said to have improved over the decades, from a very low base.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    It really is a grave situation, and I don’t think most people on the Left really understand what’s happening. Which is why it’s happening – and happening pretty quickly, too.

    First they came for Alex Jones and I said nothing…

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I don’t see a way out of what is happening. The Right has to construct the alternatives – news, charitable giving, social media, schools, etc mostly out of self-defense and the human instinct of self-preservation.

    The Left (and I’m talking about regular folks right now not the politicians, big donors, bureaucrats, billionaires, corporate leaders, media, big tech, hollywood, university professors…)… the left really does not know what is happening. I really mean that. The vast majority of regular everyday left wing people have no fucking clue what is happening.

    If they could only understand what is happening for a moment in time, they would totally change their perspective. In fact, I think for many of them understanding what is really happening would turn them overnight into some of the biggest protectors of de facto (not de jure, but de facto) free speech for such folks as Alex Jones, Joe Rogan, Eddie Bravo, Milo Yiannopoulos, Gavin McInnes, and so many more.

    But they just don’t see it. It really is a sickness. A total blindness.

    Scary times.

    And I don’t see a way out.

    Just yesterday Spotify removed 70 episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience from its platform. If they can do this to Joe Rogan then they can do this to LITERALLY anybody on earth – and for much less of any kind of “reason”.

    It’s like society is eating itself alive.

  • bobby b

    I doubt anything has changed outside of public perception.

    Used to be, while the British model seemed to be of partisan news organizations which were open and explicit about their choice of sides, the American model had the same partisan orgs who did everything to hide that partisanship.

    Then, the internet opened things up here. The partisanship of the orgs was made explicit.

    So, anyone decrying something now lost is really decrying that they can no longer pretend to be fair and balanced while being completely captured by one side.

    I think it’s a good change. But we can’t have “two of everything” until we have two separately-controlled infrastructures to fund and transmit the media orgs.

  • bobby b

    “Just yesterday Spotify removed 70 episodes of the Joe Rogan Experience from its platform.”

    My guess is, they’re regretting their contract with Rogan, but need to find some way to make him be the one who terminates the relationship, so they can save some of that $100 million.

    His contract gives them some leeway in pulling episodes from their library. They’ll now likely pull episodes until he gets upset enough to end the contract and walk away from the future $$.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    My guess is, they’re regretting their contract with Rogan

    I really, REALLY doubt this. For so many different reasons.

  • bobby b

    Shlomo M, you’re operating here in a rational process mode. Yeah, he’s brought to them hordes of new viewers and attention. And thus money.

    But they’re lefties. They need to be loved, by other lefties. No one is loving them right now, and they’re bereft.

  • Exasperated

    We have dueling stories out of Canada, as we speak. The media presents the truckers as white supremacists, Nazis, and crass bullies, who are desecrating war memorials, and trashing the cities. The live streamers reveal to us that the protestors are wholesome, cheerful, diverse men, women, and children dancing, singing, playing games, and acting like they are at a Winter Festival. They are shown clearing ice and snow from the war memorial, salting the sidewalks, collecting garbage, feeding the homeless….. Make no mistake, this is a battle for hearts and minds.
    I don’t know what it takes for the media faithful to realize that something is amiss. For over a year, many Americans actually believed that Kyle Rittenhouse assassinated, in cold blood, three black BLM protestors, despite their surnames being Huber, Rosenbaum, and Grosskreutz. The media tried to convince the public that an SUV murdered 6, including a child, at a Christmas parade in Waukesha Wi. I’m barely scraping the surface. How can this be reconciled?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    How can this be reconciled?

    It’s a cult.

    The technical term is mass formation psychosis.


  • Paul Marks

    All my life the “liberal” media (BBC, New York Times, ABC-CBS-NBC….) have been pushing Collectivism. Not every person in the “liberal” media – but the that is where the thrust has been. Their “liberalism” has always really been Fabianism – Collectivism by the instalment plan. This is what the education system (the schools and the universities) taught them to believe.

    The only difference is that they used to be subtle – now they are IN-YOUR-FACE.

    They are no longer subtle, there is no mask – no disguise.

    Their evil is now out in the open – because they believe that their final victory is in sight, and liberty will be destroyed.

    They believe that we are defeated, that we can do nothing to stop them – so what is the point of hiding their intentions?

    I believe they are WRONG – but not because of any special merit the defenders of liberty have. No – the great flaw in the thinking of the Collectivist “liberals” is that COLLECTIVISM DOES NOT WORK.

    The more power they have, the more of a mess they will cause – till in the end they destroy themselves. Yes, rich and powerful though they be, they will destroy themselves – as they destroy the society they depend upon.

    The trick will be for defenders of liberty to not also be destroyed in the economic and societal chaos and collapse.

  • Paul Marks

    The most sickening thing a Conservative ever said to me is “history has no reverse gear” – oh yes it does, the tide of evil can-be-reversed, and what is destroyed can-be-rebuilt.

    And the most sickening thing I ever read from a Liberal was “concede whatever is safe to concede” by Walter Bagehot in his “The English Constitution” (1868), he was not referring to his support for bank bailouts (sadly even James Wilson, the founder of the Economist magazine – or which Mr Bagehot was the third editor, was a supporter of Credit Bubble finance – although on a TINY scale compared to today), Walter Bagehot was referring to ANY spending or regulations that were presented as “helping the poor” as long as it was “safe to concede” – i.e. would not destroy the private wealth of the nice-people. He was not arguing that this extra government spending and regulations would help-the-people (he was not a moron) – but he felt it had to be conceded, for political reasons.

    A few years later the Fabian Society was formed (1884 I believe) – they already knew that many of their opponents were WEAK, people without a vision – “concede whatever is safe to concede” is not a vision, it is a surrender note (just be the instalment plan).

    “Social Reform” (already started by Disraeli, Bismarck and others) would gradually destroy liberty and undermine a civilisation that the Collectivists hated – and their opponents (such as “Classical Liberal” Walter Bagehot) had already, de facto, raised the white flag.

    Capital development and technological advance has hidden the damage that has already been done – “we are much better off than we were in the past” does NOT mean modern policies are better (they are NOT – quite the contrary). If Britain had the level of government spending and regulations in (say) 1869 than it has now, the country would not have been better off – the population of the country would have staved to death. the economy and society totally destroyed.

    And if we now had the level of government spending and regulations that they had in 1869 we would be many times better off than we are now – poverty would be vastly LESS than it is (not more than it is).

    But Capital development and technological development can only achieve so much – it can not keep a totally mad system going.

    And the level of statism and Credit Bubble finance we now have – is totally mad.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Hasn’t this happened before in the US? Weren’t town newspapers called Democrat Daily, or Republican Daily, thus showing the papers’ party affiliation?

  • Patrick Crozier

    Given that the Netherlands and Belgium were reasonably peaceful and prosperous places under “pillarisation” would it really be such a bad thing?

  • Clare Quilty

    You fail to isolate the cause of what you describe. The credentialism of the university system. When the media was infiltrated and taken over by Marxist indoctrinated college grads (along with the arts, government and most corporations) the rise of atheistic, yet deeply religious statism was inevitable. Along with the ideological conformity and totalitarian thinking militant religiosity always brings.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Nicholas.

    The newspapers in the United States used to be open in their politics – and this was a GOOD THING. The rise of the “Scientific Journalism” of the “Schools of Journalism” (starting in the very late 19th century) was the rise of STATISM – disguised, but deadly.

    We should indeed build an alternative media system, and an alternative financial system (which rejects the ESG, Environmental and Social Governance, system) – the question is WILL WE BE ALLOWED TO?

    You are quote correct Clare Quilty – the EDUCATION SYSTEM (the control of it by the Collectivists) is the key factor – it has led to the leftist domination of just about everything else (including the Secret Police – the FBI, although the United States was a much better place before they existed, even when they had not been taken over by the left).

    Patrick Crozier – excellent point.

    Yes – the left do not want us, fair enough I am not in love with them either.

    The question is (again) WILL WE BE ALLOWED to create a society of our own – with are own schools, media, financial institutions, and-so-on.

    As for the Netherlands – the “Social Democrat Pillar” seems to have collapsed into Frankfurt School stuff (which is most certainly not in the interests of the working class), so has the Roman Catholic “Pillar” since the 1960s powerful forces in the Roman Catholic church have rejected the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.

    In Belgium (and I believe the Netherlands as well) old books were actually destroyed by the Catholic authorities – in order to prevent them falling into the hands of “Trads” (people who actually believe in the doctrines that the Roman Catholic church taught up till the last generation).

    There have been many sad examples of religious persecution in history – but I think this is the first time when a church itself has persecuted people who believe in the doctrines it has traditionally taught (although, come to think of it, there is the case of the “Old Believers” in Russian history – but in that case the break was less fundamental than the break has been in the Roman Catholic church after the “Modernists” took power). The traditional liturgy, music, architecture, and DOCTRINES (core beliefs) appear to be objects of real hatred for those now in power, it is astonishing. And as an OUTSIDER – I can not really explain how this happened. How did a vast church (and many centuries old) get taken over (fairly peacefully) by people who, essentially, HATE everything about it? Perhaps its “top-down” structure was the weakness – once the “commanding heights” were taken, everyone fell into line (indeed pretended that no transformation has even happened).

    Saul Alinsky, the thinly disguised Marxist who inspired both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, predicted that if the man who became Paul VI became Pope (a man he knew via their mutual friend Jacques Maritain) – all things were possible, not because Paul VI was a Marxist (he was not), but because of certain weaknesses which could be exploited.

    But there is still the “Orange Belt” in the Netherlands – the Calvinists, some (some) of them seem to be as they were.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Patrick Crozier, I certainly agree that two or three officially permitted strands of opinion are better than one – but I’d rather not have officially permitted opinions at all. Things can get tough for anyone who does not align any of the allowed groups. I dimly remember posting something Found it! In 2003 I posted something about attempts to exclude the right wing party Vlaams Blok from Belgian politics. It included this quote from a link that is now dead:

    The Belgian trade unions exclude everyone who is known to be a Vlaams Blok member. However, in Corporatist Belgium the unions hand out the unemployment benefits (a task for which the government pays them), so the consequences of such exclusion can be severe. The party is also denied access to the government-owned networks. The Flemish Broadcasting Corporation (VRT) has adopted a charter stating that it does not provide a platform for “opinions that propagate exclusion.”

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Paul Marks, I had to search my old blog to find the link to an unknown source that I quoted in the comment to Patrick Crozier above. When searching for an old Blogspot post, the search, even if successful, only takes one to that whole month’s output, not to a specific post. While scrolling through to find it, I happened to come across this line which I thought might interest you:

    “…there’s a big difference between a living tradition and a series of reversals, rejections, and capitulations to fleeting cultural fads, even if the series maintains some superficial elements of similarity.”

    It is from this series of blog posts written in 2003 by Eve Tushnet. The author has a Wikipedia page that says she is a “lesbian Catholic author, blogger, and speaker”. Interestingly, her Catholicism seems to be of a distinctly traditional kind.

  • Paul Marks

    Natalie – on what happened to the Roman Catholic Church (and so much else), as an OUTSIDER I am certainly no expert, but it is increasingly clear that it was ripped apart. I do not doubt that Paul VI had good intentions – but Saul Alinsky most certainly did not have good intentions, and he was overjoyed at the election of someone who was so misinformed and so easy to manipulate. Mr Alinsky even seems to have convinced Jacques Maritain that (Alinksy) was building version of the “Medieval Guilds” to limit the “excesses of capitalism”.

    There are so many errors in that – firstly compulsory guilds are NOT good thing (not now – not in the Middle Ages, not ever), but also the “excesses of capitalism” are not the cause of poverty (capitalism means that there is LESS poverty not more – a point that Leo XIII utterly failed to grasp in his famous encyclical of 1891) – but, and most importantly, Saul Alinsky and co were not trying to make society better – they were (and are) trying to DESTROY society (in the hope that some wonderful new society will emerge from the ashes of the old). The basic point about “Community Organising” is to DESTROY communities – to drive out employers, to loot and to burn. All to serve a POLITICAL end.

    If Paul VI could not grasp that about Saul Alinsky and co (and it is the most obvious thing about them) – then it is no wonder he was so easy to confuse and misdirect in church matters.

    The Marxists do not want to destroy the churches (at least not at once), the Marxists want to CONTROL the churches – to turn them away from God (apart from as a metaphor for “the people”) – and to make the churches about political “Social Justice”, or “Social Gospel”, or “Liberation Theology”, or “Climate Justice” (or whatever) activity – and a lot more than an Argentine Jesuit (Francis) has been fooled by all this, plenty of Protestants have been as well.

    As Barack Obama used to explain – salvation is a collective process (“I can not be saved – unless we are all saved”) – because it is NOT about an individual soul coming to a person we call God. No – the new “salvation” is about building a new society here-on-Earth, that is the immortality (the immortality of the collective) – not of the individual after physical death.

    “But that is Marxism” – Bingo! Merit Mark to whoever grasps that.

  • Paul Marks

    On the “lesbian” point – the wiki page says the lady is celibate.

    On sin generally…..

    Wanting to steal (or commit adultery – or whatever) is already a sin – but that does NOT mean you might as well go ahead and steal (or commit adultery – or whatever), that would be Rasputin “theology”.

    No – ACTING ON the desire to a bad thing is vastly worse than just having the desire to do a bad thing.

    “I want to kill that person – then I could have his job” – that is bad, a person should repent of such horrible thoughts.

    But that does NOT mean you should just go ahead and murder them – “in for a penny, in for a Pound”.

    “But scripture says….” – scripture says all sorts of things, one can find a verse of the Bible to condemn and to support various things.

    When Martin Luther (the only scripture matters, man) was told that the Epistle of James contradicted what he was teaching – his reply was that it was an “Epistle of straw”. He also left out books of the Bible and translated passages in a way that suited his argument.

    Everyone does this sort of thing (we are all human) – so reason and tradition (not just scripture) also matter. The three legged stool (as Richard Hooker put it) is vital.

  • Paul Marks

    In the context of both Belgium and the Netherlands we were told that the mainstream parties were “Woke” (especially in relation to opposition to Islam – Freedom of Speech being considered unimportant, indeed harmful), but that some of the political parties were pro freedom in economic matters.

    Covid has exposed that not to be true – with the establishment parties all lining up to support lockdowns and so on. You can not be “pro freedom generally” and then crush civil and economic liberties because someone told you that doing so worked in China (and no clear and reliable evidence had come out of China by March 2020 – indeed there is no clear and reliable evidence out of China NOW). The idea that any real body of evidence that lockdowns worked existed in March 2020 is a lie – and now, of course, it turns out that lockdowns did NOT “save lives”.

    “Paul does this apply in the United Kingdom?” – of course it does. You can not close the economy down for months (more restrictions than during World War II) spend hundred of Billions of Pounds NOT on health (but on economic compensation and various schemes) and then say “I am free market, limited government, person” it does not make sense to say that. This does not mean that the Opposition is not WORSE (on Freedom of Speech, on Covid restrictions, on the economy, on everything) – but anyone who says “my party is perfect, it never makes blunders” is a idiot or a liar.

  • Paul Marks

    My fear is that Mr Greenwald is mistaken – like Patrick Crozier and others here I have no great problem with society becoming divided into “Pillars”, with conservatives such as myself going our own education system, business enterprises, sources of finance – and-so-on.

    But there is no evidence that this will be allowed. For example, conservative business enterprises are not left alone – even “chic-fil-a” was forced to become “Woke” (a lot of conservatives have not noticed who it gives money to now – and what the company says). And such things as the Environmental and Social Governance system (the ESG system) does not say “conservative banks and conservative business enterprises can opt out of this” – no, it is to apply to everyone.

    The objective is not to force non leftists to create our own schools, business enterprises, banks, and so on – no, the objective is to wipe us out. To eliminate us.

  • CatoRenasci

    I agree that pillarization (nice neologism!) has occurred in the US and much of the English-speaking world. It’s long past due, IMHO. In the early republic, newspapers and pamphlets were very much polarized by political / social leaning and it was only in the late 19th and early 20th century that the notion of ‘objective’ news gained widespread acceptance. However, with some exceptions, mainly in ‘straight’ news which was locally verifiable, ‘objective’ reporting was always more of an aspiration than a reality. That the press managed to sell it as well as it did, to a public thirsty for news, especially foreign new during the Spanish-American (aka Mr. Hearst’s) War and the First World War, speaks to just how few sources were actually availalabel.

    By the thirties, the bulk of the press was left wing, e.g. Walter Durante of The NY Times, Walter Lipman, etc. and pushed a leftist narrative and agenda… but, knowing they were in a conservative country, it was very much soft-pedaled and kept hidden behind an increasingly touted myth of objectivity.

    While I don’t think it was exactly an organized conspiracy, it was certainly widespread and deep…. It really began to crack, ironically from the left, with coverage of the Vietnam War. And, then, it collapsed with the almost simultaneous fall of Communism in Eastern Europe and then the Soviet Union, and the rise of cable news, which allowed other voices…. As cable was captured, the internet became widely available and we had a real choice for the first time. It too has been largely, but not completely, captured by the left -Facebook, Google, etc….

    Liberty is not secure and one is increasingly tempted to talk of pitchforks, tar and feathers, and to sing:

    Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
    les aristocrates à la lanterne!
    Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
    les aristocrates on les pendra!

  • Exasperated

    I just don’t know where this will go. The one thing Trump established is there are a lot of Normies, and now we know, they are even in Canada. Have you looked at the footage from the Coutts'(Montana/Alberta) border crossing. I find it stunning given that is is in the middle of the tundra. Civilization, if you could call it that, is 300 miles/3.5 hours away. How is this possible?


  • Seymour Trout

    The Old Media were never fair, just unexamined for lack of competition.

    When JFK was assassinated, Walter Cronkite spent the first half hour of coverage claiming some right wing yahoo did the dirty deed. When the news broke that Lee Harvey Oswald, a Communist, did it, Walter was set back on his heels for a few seconds, but went forward claiming that Oswald was provoked to do it because of the hostile climate in Dallas. That was pure lefty bias.

    When the US beat back the Tet Offensive, killing the majority of the North Vietnamese attackers, Cronkite claimed it was a North Vietnamese victory. That was pure lefty bias.

    On and on it went until the New Media showed what liars the Old Media was. Rathergate was the turning point.

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