In 2004, dormitory walls at the College of Wooster in Ohio were defaced with obscenity-laced racist and anti-Semitic messages, some nearly as graphic as the lyrics on the new Kanye West CD. Included among the obscenities was the message “Vote Goldwater”—which was the first clue the graffiti was written by liberals, since Goldwater died in 1998. According to the student government president, most of the campus believed the perpetrators were “drunk, white males”—or as another student put it, a “typical white male.” But eventually it emerged that the real culprits were a group of leftist students led by a black studies major.17
Also in 2004, a white, Catholic visiting professor at Claremont McKenna College claimed her car had been vandalized with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti, with the words “Shut Up!” spray-painted on the hood of her car. This—at the very moment she was giving a talk on intolerance! It was just a little too ironic. But the suggestion that the hate crime was a hoax sent liberals into further depths of self-despair. One student angrily told the Los Angeles Times that anyone thinking it could be a hoax was “so sick, they are in denial. People don't want to accept that a well-educated, liberal community can have hate.”18
Classes were canceled and demonstrations swept the campus. The professor was not black or Jewish, but was converting to Judaism and was an outspoken opponent of racism—which takes guts on a college campus. Far from being “silenced,” this anonymous mountebank was given a national microphone to bore us with her race-gender-culture theories. Can you guess what happened next? Yes, the vandalism turned out to have been perpetrated by the professor herself when eyewitnesses identified her as the one who had spray-painted her own car.19
In 2002, vile racial epithets and other racist graffiti were scrawled on dorm room doors at Ole Miss, producing mass protests and a “Say No to Racism” march—just in time to counter the proposed “Say Yes to Racism” rally at Ole Miss. A university police official gravely warned that the offending parties could be prosecuted for “criminal charges, possibly a felony, or it could be a federal offense.”20
Then the school learned that the graffiti had been written by black students. No criminal charges were brought.21
In 1997, at Duke University, a black doll was found hanging by a noose from a tree at the precise spot where the Black Student Alliance planned to hold a rally against racism. Two black students later admitted they were the culprits and were immediately praised for bringing attention to the problem of racism on campus.22 Which is why I'm thinking about knocking over a liquor store to focus attention on the problem of big-city crime.
Rather than “institutional racism,” what we are witnessing is “institutional racial hoaxism” committed by liberals. Will anyone rally against that? In the future, I plan to checkmate liberals by claiming to have found a noose on my office door and wailing that I was shocked, nauseated, appalled, dizzy. I will not be silenced! In fairness, I wasn't particularly silenced before. But what the heck—everyone else gets people to treat them nicely for a few weeks after “discovering” nooses they hung themselves.
Meanwhile, when real victims of racism and sexism appear on the very same campus, liberals lead the lynch mob against them. In 2006, a group of white Duke lacrosse players was falsely accused of gang raping a black stripper. Despite the fact that the evidence against the players quickly unraveled, the New York Times doggedly refused to tell the truth about the case. At the university itself, professors and administrators attacked the victims of the false accusation, both publicly and privately. In an open letter that presumed the innocent players guilty, gender and ethnic studies professors droned on about the “racism and sexism” that students “live with every day”—mostly thanks to the professors who signed that letter and never apologized, even after the players were completely exonerated. Liberals love nothing more than these constant self-righteous-athons—as if they would ever have the courage to stand up for any cause not universally supported by everyone around them.
Elizabeth Edwards acknowledged the value of being a certified victim in politics by ruefully complaining during the 2007 Democratic primary, “We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman.”23 (Well, they can't make him black.) Even if they can't be black—in fact, even if they are the opposite of black, like Jacob Weisberg—liberals love to speak for the blacks. Denouncing racism, which no one defends, allows them to borrow from blacks to portray themselves as victims. Throughout the 2008 campaign, white liberals issued dire warnings that the only thing that could prevent Obama from becoming the next president was racism. Writing in the liberal Slate magazine, Weisberg said that only if Obama won would children in America be able to “grow up thinking of prejudice as a nonfactor in their lives.” But if Obama lost, “our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth. His defeat would say that when handed a perfect opportunity to put the worst part of our history behind us, we chose not to.”24
Fortuitously for the liberal Weisberg, Obama also happened to be the most left-wing person ever to run for president in the United States on a major-party ticket. If Republicans were running black Republicans Michael Steele, Ken Blackwell, or Condoleezza Rice for president, would liberals tell us that only racism could prevent them from becoming president? Say—do we need to send federal civil rights monitors into Maryland and Ohio right now, on account of the fact that Steele and Blackwell lost recent elections in those states?
Policymaking by victim status inevitably creates real victims. For openers, being a media-certified victim does not bring out the best in people. Once you are a victim, you can do anything—lord your victim-hood over others, behave abominably, tell lies, commit crimes, slander willfully—and liberals will give you a standing ovation.
This is why the O.J. murder trial was the best thing that ever happened to blacks in America. As it happens, the one thing even certified victims can't do is wildly cheer the acquittal of a double murderer. That is what finally ended the patience of ordinary people for liberal patronization of blacks.
By that point, tender liberal ministrations toward the black community had nearly destroyed it. The black illegitimacy rate was through the roof and the criminal behavior that flows from such a massive social breakdown was on full display. And yet people would still listen in rapt attention to pompous liberal blowhards at dinner parties opining that the reason blacks committed crimes was white racism. Even after decades of racial quotas and set-asides, and endless rallies, sit-ins, demonstrations, and chitchat about racism in America, white people were still so guilty about how blacks had been treated by a minority of thugs three or four decades earlier most people would respond, “Gosh, that's so profound.”
It wasn't black people's job to tell whites to stop being pussies, it was white people's job to stop being pussies.
The O.J. verdict finally did that. At last, reasonable people began to roll their eyes when white liberals and professional blacks droned on about racism. The shocking images of law students at Howard University cheering a black man who had just gotten away with two heinous murders was the end of the infantilization of blacks in America.
But it was a good run, which is why from college campuses, to the literary world, to public discourse, to politics—everyone wants to be a victim.
LIBERALS LIVE IN A WORLD IN WHICH EVERYONE IS EITHER AN oppressor or a victim. In this rather extreme morality play, they control the casting: They are always the victims, and conservatives are always the oppressors. These dramatic productions are brought to you by network television, the New York Times, and NPR, with the Greek chorus backing them up on cable. The plots are so well known that liberals of various stripes have memorized their parts and take the stage eagerly, hoping to deliver a best-supporting actor performance, for which they might win, say, a Pulitzer, a university chair, or a Sunday morning interview with Tom Brokaw.
The rest of us are forced to live in liberals’ fantasy lives, inasmuch as liberals command a monopoly on the writing of these morality plays. Naturally, t
The establishment media are the most powerful force in the nation and yet they are constantly claiming to speak up for the little guy and berating those whom they call “the powerful.” In this affectation, they are like the fake blind guy asking for spare change and then beating street urchins when no one is looking.
The media are irreducibly powerful because they produce everything we know about the world outside of our personal experience. And these are people whose morality is so perverse that, as Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center pointed out, “they showed more outrage at John McCain featuring a picture of Paris Hilton in a commercial for two eye blinks than for Edwards catting around on a dying spouse.”
How the media report stories, which stories they report, and which they don't report create the universe of accepted facts. As Newman said of the post office in the sitcom Seinfeld, “When you control the mail, you control information.” Even sports columns have a political agenda, such as Robert Lipsyte's pompous denunciation of Cold War politics in a 1995 New York Times sports page column. Remarking on Mickey Mantle's liver disease, Lipsyte said:
And like America in the 50s, he was burdened with a distant sense of doom. For America it was the threat of atomic attack by the Soviet Union…. The threats to both America and Mantle ultimately proved empty, but they dominated the psyche of the country and the center fielder and gave each an urgency and a poignancy that affected behavior in often destructive ways. America abused itself with the cold war. Mantle had booze.25
You could hear a pin drop. When Lipsyte announced he was leaving the sports page to write about politics full-time, his editor stopped him just in the nick of time: Don't do it, Robert! You'll hurt yourself—-you're not smart enough!
What keeps people reading the New York Times—to the extent people still are reading the Times—is not the paper's brave editorial stance on Iraq. It is the massive coverage that can only be provided by more than a thousand reporters, editors, photographers, and newsroom staff. A newspaper with the vast resources of the Times that had a reputation for editorial evenhandedness would do even better. But the relentless censorship and partisanship of the major media made alternative media sources such as Fox News not only possible, but necessary.
The expansion of the alternative media in the last decade has allowed a breach in the wall of sound of the one-party establishment media, at least for those who take the trouble to seek out commentary to the right of V. I. Lenin. So now the big complaint from the Left is that people can pick their own news sources—also known as “choice.” Liberals fret that people will only be exposed to “Me-zines” and “The Daily Me”—as if the New York Times were not exactly that. This represents a crisis: No one can be forced to read the New York Times anymore! What will become of us?
Liberals carry on so about Fox News Channel that one almost forgets how much power the establishment media still have. After half a century of being attacked by every possible news outlet, Republicans have the Stockholm syndrome. They're so tickled to have one fair and balanced cable channel in an ocean of liberal advocacy that it doesn't even cross their minds to be shocked when the Democratic candidates for president refuse to participate in a debate on Fox News—the highest-rated news station on cable TV—on the grounds that the channel is “conservative.” These same Democrats were, however, willing to submit to questions from a talking snowman on the CNN/YouTube debate. If any TV station were treated like this during the mythical “McCarthy era,” I would admit that liberals’ claims of blacklisting were not entirely imaginary.
It is impossible to imagine Republicans self-righteously spurning a debate sponsored by CBS News—the station that once employed left-wing conspiracy nut Dan Rather. Indeed, for reasons that remain obscure, Republican candidates for president submitted to partisan harangues from Chris Matthews in a debate on unfair and mentally unbalanced MSNBC, which incidentally has about one-third the viewers of Fox News.
By any objective standard, Fox News is a more respected and respectable news outlet than MSNBC—to say nothing of CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC. It has a greater variety of opinion, including liberal hosts Chris Wallace, Shep Smith, Greta Van Susteren, and Geraldo Rivera, and even its one clearly conservative host, Sean Hannity, is balanced by his liberal cohost Alan Colmes. Hannity also happens to preside over the second-most-watched program on all of cable news. Fox News has never been caught promoting a fraud—unlike CBS (Bush National Guard story), ABC (tobacco industry report),26 NBC (exploding GM trucks),27 CNN (Tailwind),28 and MSNBC (Keith Olber-mann).
In 2008, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, said that “starting in Iowa and up to the present—Fox has done the fairest job, and remained the most objective of all the cable networks.”29 Even Hillary Clinton agreed that Fox News had the fairest political coverage, citing an independent study showing that. Noting the “pattern of demeaning comments” made on NBC networks, Hillary remarked that MSNBC hadn't issued apologies for commentary “that might have merited one.”30
But reality is irrelevant. Fox News does not ferociously promote a left-wing agenda, so liberals do not consider it real news. That Fox News is “partisan” has been agreed upon by the establishment media and they have determined that they determine what reality is. It's as if we're speaking French and they're speaking Urdu. Instead of responding to the smashing success of Fox News by becoming more balanced and thereby winning more viewers, the establishment media have apparently decided to wait Fox out. Roger Ailes can't live forever.
Seized by their Stockholm syndrome, Republicans had to be forced by livid rank and file conservatives to register a mild objection when it was revealed that the moderator of the vice presidential debate, Gwen Ifill—of the totally nonpartisan Public Broadcasting Service—was writing a book titled The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.31 Only because the author of the Sweetness & Light blog happened to be searching Amazon for another Obama book was this startling fact discovered before the debate. The book was scheduled to be released on Inauguration Day, so its prospects obviously depended to a great degree on Obama's being elected. There wouldn't be much of a “breakthrough” if he lost.
In no other circumstance would anyone conceive of allowing a self-interested party to mediate such a contest. It would be as if a Miss America judge had a book coming out titled The Breakthrough: Beauty Contests in the Age of Miss South Dakota before the winner had been chosen. Would anyone consider permitting a sports referee to bet on the game or a judge to have a financial interest in a case's outcome? No, of course, not—it's utter madness. But when it comes to the media, even after the explosion of alternative news sources, nonliberal news sources are still the redheaded stepchild.
Accustomed to being abused by the media, Americans meekly submit to boring debates focusing on the political fetishes of people living in Manhattan and Los Angeles. The difference between the forum moderated by Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church and the debates moderated by the dinosaur media was like the difference between great literature and Screw magazine.
Warren asked the candidates about abortion, their moral failings, the wisest people in their lives, taxes (“Define ‘rich’ ”), what's worth dying for, war, AIDS, religious persecution, and human trafficking.
The mainstream media moderators asked questions like “Who would you name as your Treasury secretary?” It was as if all the big questions had been resolved by PBS and the New York Times, and now we just needed to know about staffing decisions. How about illegal immigration? Guns? Taxes? None of that interested liberals. Gwen Ifill asked the vice presidential candidates about global warming. A series of Washington Post polls from 2007 to 2008 found that global warming was the most important issue for 0 percent of voters.32 No matter. Liberals with beachfront haciendas are scared to death of global warming's
This is still how we choose the leader of the free world!
But liberals blandly deny that there is a liberal establishment. After decades of angrily denouncing the reams and reams of evidence that the media were massively left-wing, one day, liberals began admitting that the media had once been liberal—but those days were long past. On a typical night of CNN coverage during the 2008 Republican National Convention, CNN had conservative commentators Alex Castellanos, Tara Wall, Leslie Sanchez, and Bill Bennett. Balancing out the four conservatives were eight liberals—Donna Brazile, Roland Martin, Paul Begala, James Carville, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, David Gergen, and Jeffrey Toobin.
It's as if Fox News never happened.
On evenly balanced CNN that night, the insipid David Gergen claimed to be baffled by Mitt Romney's reference to a “liberal establishment” in his convention speech.
DAVID GERGEN: Mitt Romney tried to argue last night about some liberal establishment, which doesn't exist anymore….
ALEX CASTELLANOS: In all honesty, I think if David Gergen thinks the liberal establishment does not exist anymore, I think he has become a part of it. I think Republicans at this convention will have a very different view of that….
GERGEN: … [I]f there has been a liberal establishment, it shrunk a lot and it's not right in Washington. That's a ’70s concept, Alex. You know that.33
Obviously, it doesn't take much to be a professor at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where the students are willing to spend $50,000 to have their names associated with the most lowbrow of the Harvard degrees.