As I often tell people, there seems a totally unpredictable, even random aspect to major American media coverage. Whether a scandal explodes into the public eye or escapes without notice seems difficult to foretell.
Consider the recent example of Dr. Jason Richwine, late of the Heritage Foundation, whose ideological travails became one of Washington’s major scandals-of-the-month over the past week. Googling his exact name now yields half a million web results, and I’d guess that 99% of these are of extremely recent vintage.
As some media commentators have suggested, Richwine himself may be wondering Why Me and Why Now? After all, the racial writings and opinions that provoked so much media fury had never been secretive or disguised; they were always hiding in plain sight.
His Harvard doctoral dissertation asserting the strong connection between race and IQ and suggesting that American immigration policy should be changed to reflect this relationship has been freely available on the Internet for years, as have been video clips of his public pronouncements on the same subject. His articles and columns arguing that Hispanics have unusually high crime rates—mostly written in rebuttal to my own contrary findings—have always been a mouse-click away, and anyone checking would have noticed that these writings had appeared in Alternative Right, a racial nationalist webzine whose ideological orientation has now suddenly been classified as poisonous by the Washington commentariat.
Obviously, one important factor in Richwine’s sudden DC demise was his newly-found prominence as co-author of a major Heritage study attacking the fiscal basis of the proposed immigration reform legislation. Powerful organizations support such legislation and they certainly had every incentive to undercut that research by destroying the credibility of one of its authors. Perhaps a Washington Post journalist just happened to stumble upon Richwine’s 2009 dissertation or perhaps pro-immigration opposition researchers quietly pointed him in that direction.
But given the highly controversial nature of Richwine’s racial views and his visibility as author of dozens of major studies at DC’s premier conservative thinktank over the last three years, it is easy to imagine that a similar if less widely reported version of this same ideological scandal might have occurred years ago. An enterprising reporter somewhere might have noticed Richwine’s controversial opinions and decided to write about them, the talking heads on cable television hostile to Heritage might have taken up the topic, and perhaps a mini-firestorm would have developed on a slow news day. Our political world is filled with open barrels of gunpowder and showers of random sparks, and although they sometimes explosively connect, more often they do not and instead remain in place, waiting for a future moment.
This metaphor of open gunpowder and random sparks should be kept firmly in mind when considering my recent American Pravda article on the remarkable lapses of our mainstream media.
My piece has certainly not been ignored, having received more initial readership than anything I have ever previously published with the sole exception of my Meritocracy article; it spent almost two straight weeks ranked as TAC’s most read article, and still remains safely lodged at number two. And it has received widespread coverage and linkages from numerous Internet websites and pundits, including a very generous and widely distributed column by Paul Craig Roberts, one of the most vocal public defectors from the reigning bipartisan establishment that some have aptly termed our “American Regime.”
Meanwhile, the piece also received major mention in so establishmentarian a publication as Forbes, with columnist Eamonn Fingleton describing it as one of the best critiques of the American media he had ever read, and sending many thousands of his readers in my direction. Other mainstream journalists have privately expressed similar sentiments to me, and they may also eventually help bring the piece to wider public awareness.
And on our website itself, there appeared a lengthy and particularly perspicacious comment by one “Gabriel” worth excerpting here:
Of course, it is extraordinarily disconcerting to question the media, especially if you ever got around to trusting it in the first place. You made a comparison of the information we get from our own senses with news we get from the media. Excellent comparison — and it works both ways: not being able to trust the media is just as bewildering as not being able to trust your own nervous system! You’re being hit over the head but you can’t tell! Every time you question the source of that trail of blood behind you everyone laughs at you! Not only do media lies disturb your own vision, but the mainstream media, through various means, controls the “group mind” as well. Fall out of touch with that, and you can lose friends, influence, investors, your job… whatsoever.
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Many readers point to things left out of this article, often with an accusatory tone. Look, people: this article punches a hole in the wall of illusion the mainstream press has built around each of us. The author proceeds to point in various specific directions. To those disturbed that x, y, and z weren’t covered I would say: there is an entire world on the other side of that wall. An entire universe. It’s called the truth, and there’s a whole lot of it.
I have certainly been gratified that so many individuals have commented favorably on my piece, and praised its portrayal of the dishonesty of the American media and the consequent extent to which our public is misinformed and misled. But even so, very few have chosen to explicitly mention the several barrels of open gunpowder that I carefully stacked in the last one-half of my article text. Perhaps at some point some bold and enterprising journalist somewhere will decide to ignite one or more of them. If so, then the resulting media conflagration may turn out to be vastly greater than that surrounding the recent auto-da-fe of the unfortunate Dr. Richwine.
Meanwhile, the ardent civil libertarians of the Obama Administration have announced that they expect the ongoing War Against Terror—and the extraordinary legal situation it requires—to continue for “at least another 10 to 20 years” and therefore say that the original 2001 Congressional resolution authorizing this Forever War should remain in place without alterations. Liberal Democratic congressional leaders strongly endorsed this perspective, while conservative Republicans demurred…or perhaps it was the other way round. The entire story was buried deep within the inside pages of this morning’s New York Times, and received little coverage anywhere else in the mainstream American media.
However, I was also very pleased to see Reason’s science correspondent Ron Bailey citing some of my own Race/IQ analysis in his effective attempt to refute Richwine’s views based on a dispassionate presentation of factual evidence rather than mere vituperation.
And I’m now off to attend an international conference, held in a part of the world whose educated citizens surely receive their own media Pravda, probably better than ours in some respects and worse in others, but certainly providing a strikingly different version of reality.