Fredrik de Boer takes a few faltering first steps towards understanding the media:
People often think I instinctively hate political journalists and writers. This is not the case. I’m friendly with some, and a few I consider close friends. I dated a political writer and journalist for years. And I know many to be bright, committed, decent people. That’s why I find it so perplexing that the average professional political commentator is so deeply out of touch, and so unaware that they are. The only thing I can figure is that the professional necessity of being constantly plugged into the news cycle, particularly on Twitter, just gives people an extremely skewed vision of what politics means and is for most people.
What else to make of this piece by Jake Flanagin or this piece by Amanda Marcotte, both of which have the same absurd idea: that the biggest problem that Bernie Sanders faces, politically, is the online conduct of his biggest online fans. The biggest problem! A Jewish socialist from Brooklyn in the land of Reagan, and his biggest problem is a few dozen people on Twitter!
Let’s think about some likely Democrat primary voters. Like, say, a white woman who lives in the greater Cincinnati suburbs, who can’t get enough hours at her part-time job organizing records for a oral surgeon, and whose ex-husband can’t pay her child support because his only income is disability payments. Or a black bus driver in Maryland who’s worried about what’s going to happen to his pension in the next union contract negotiations. Or a Hispanic first grade teacher in Florida who doesn’t know if her school’s funding is going to get cut yet again. Or a retiree in Pennsylvania whose economic security is dependent entirely on Social Security and Medicare. Or a Laotian immigrant in the Bay Area who’s struggling to bring her mother into the country.
Now: which of these people, do you think, is going to vote based on the conduct of Bernie Sanders fans on Twitter?
See, that’s just it. They’re not “bright, committed, decent people”. They’re narcissistic, solipsistic, maleducated, and of barely above-average intelligence. They’re also snobbish, tribal, clueless about any subculture but their own, and possess less self-awareness than the average rock.
Spacebunny and I once had dinner with a pair of legitimately famous journalists. I mean, one name you would recognize and the other is on a first-name basis with Hollywood’s A-list. After dinner, she commented that she couldn’t believe how shallow their knowledge was. And that’s the dirty little secret of the media: they have a surface knowledge of many things and that knowledge barely scratches the surface.
Ask them about anything, from Swaziland to the internal mechanism of the Austrian Business Cycle and they will claim to “have heard of that”. In their world, this passes for fluency, if not perfect mastery. There are few things I enjoy more than addressing a journalist who claims to speak another language in that language. It’s like waving a cross in front of a vampire.