The great comedian Chris Farley had a recurring “Saturday Night Live” sketch in which he nervously and incompetently interviewed celebrities. “Remember when you were with the Beatles? … That was awesome!” he “asked” Paul McCartney in 1993, after fidgeting for a suitably awkward amount of time. “Yeah … it was,” replied McCartney, who played it straight.
That happened for real last Thursday, but without any self-awareness or comedy, when the entire White House Press Corps either effusively praised or more-than-gently handled President Joe Biden for the duration of his first press conference. Biden had his own struggles in the slow and painful press conference, repeatedly having to read off notecards to get through the few mild foreign policy topics and occasionally getting lost in “rhetorical cul-de-sacs,” as Fox News’s Bret Baier kindly put it. But somehow, it was the media performance that stood out as particularly cringe-inducing.
“[T]he perception of you that got you elected — as a moral, decent man — is the reason why a lot of immigrants are coming to this country and entrusting you with unaccompanied minors,” PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor, the second “reporter” to be called on, asserted Farley-style. Comedian J.P. Sears joked, in a sketch offering constructive notes for the “people running Biden,” that Alcindor sounded like she was worshiping a dictator and suggested that reporters go ahead and leave the over-the-top compliments out of their questions.
Alcindor’s posture toward the inhabitant of the White House has not always been that of a very supportive fan. Her questions of President Donald Trump were always hostile and never failed to accept Democrat narratives, no matter how false those narratives were. At this press conference, nobody so much as muttered quietly about her sycophancy. In fact, two more reporters riffed off her preposterous assertion.
“How far are you willing to go to achieve those promises that you made to the American people?” asked the Associated Press’s Zeke Miller, who also heads the White House Correspondents Association, pressuring Biden to help the media and other Democrat activists to end the Senate filibuster. Miller views his job, accurately, as an adjunct of the Biden White House, heading up its media division instead of something independent from the Democratic Party.
Alcindor wasn’t sure Miller made his lobbying for that major Democrat policy goal clear enough, so she spelled it out for Biden as if he were a remedial student. “[W]hen it comes to the filibuster, which is what Zeke was asking about, there’s — immigration is a big issue, of course, when it — related to the filibuster, but there are also Republicans who are passing bill after bill, trying to restrict voting rights. Chuck Schumer is calling it an ‘existential threat’ to democracy. Why not back a filibuster rule that at least gets around issues including voting rights or immigration?” she advocated, using Democrat talking points and slogans, from her perch as a “reporter.”
These media activists were completely the opposite of Trump. They weren’t professional or honest or trying to get at the truth. They were the adversarial political opposition, working relentlessly against him every day and at each press availability.
In any case, the rest of the Biden press conference was bad, too. As Michael Goodwin noted, no one asked him why he was reading from prepared talking points, unlike previous presidents. No one peppered him about the health reports he’s kept hidden, even when he repeatedly lost his train of thought.
Not only did the media not push back against his radical agenda, but they also seemed to think that nothing he proposed was radical enough. “Why don’t you, when will you, why haven’t you? Over and over, the aim was not to ask a question but to speed up an agenda,” Goodwin wrote. Here’s more:
The man who campaigned on unity is hell-bent on permanent polarization, meaning cancel culture and the supercharged racial climate are here to stay.
Biden gave license to the worst instincts on the left with his repeated sneering references to all Republicans, especially Donald Trump. At one point, he actually accused Trump of letting immigrant children ‘starve to death on the other side’ of the Mexican border.
He said it in a room full of 30 supposed journalists, and not a single one challenged him or even asked whether he meant it literally. In fact, not a single one challenged him on any of his falsehoods.
This is a clown world. This is embarrassing. This is unbecoming of professional adults. This is so ridiculous and self-debasing that even Chris Farley couldn’t have played it for laughs.
The term for people who lobby for Democrat policies in this clumsy manner is “Democrat activists in the propaganda field,” certainly not reporters or journalists. They need to be treated as what they are.
It’s time to stop acting like these political activists are professionals who do honest journalism. Continuing that pretense is not doing a favor to the public. It’s not true. With very few exceptions, these people are not there to do journalism, and we need to be honest about that with the public. Not everyone is as bad as everyone else, but nearly the entire press corps is somewhere on the Democrat activist scale, from lefty to fringe, from shrewd to clumsy and clownish.
What To Do
It’s easy to complain about the obvious reality that our political media are completely corrupted and engage in propaganda, not journalism. But as they are the largest, most powerful, and least accountable political advocacy group in the country, Americans also need to do more than complain as the press harms the country.
They need to be treated as what they are. So for the love of all that’s holy, stop calling them the “mainstream media” when they are anything but mainstream, with views far to the left of the average American, and they’re not media but propagandists and political activists. If you hear anybody else refer to the “mainstream media,” rhetorically slap that 1980s term out of their mouth.
Average Americans need to stop reading and watching the corrupt corporate media. They should immediately stop subscribing to them, stop advertising with them, and stop paying attention to them. Reporters at these outlets quite obviously hate many Americans and the values they hold, and it’s time most Americans realized that and acted appropriately in response.
If forced to engage with these corrupt political actors’ work, Americans should learn to identify the leftist talking points and assumptions in reporter questions and develop a reflexive suspicion toward them, without fail. Assume out of the gate that the narrative these leftists activists are pushing is not true.
Whether it’s claims about Brett Kavanaugh being a serial gang rapist, or claims about the Covington children attacking an innocent bystander, or claims about the 2016 election being won because Trump colluded with Russia, or any of the other daily false narratives they push, assume that the opposite is more likely to be true and only change your mind if you get real evidence from real reporters. When they all tell you in unison that indefensibly mild voter security reforms are the same thing as, and we’re not joking here, starving and dehydrating voters, assume they’re lying with every bone in their body.
It also goes without saying that average Americans should never, ever speak with a corporate reporter. Their decades-long track record of hostility, glee in destroying lives, and general mendacity mean you’re an idiot if you engage with them.
If You’re A GOP Official, Grow A Spine
If you’re a conservative leader of some kind, or an elected Republican official, the requirements are much higher. Maybe you don’t have Trump’s courage in taking on the media, but you must still do your part.
As a start, stop thinking of the corporate press as anything other than Democrat partisan activists and propaganda pushers. Have some self-respect and recognize this reality. My goodness, is it embarrassing to see the fealty and subservience that Republican and conservative “leaders” have in the face of the propagandists?
On Sunday, Rep. Michael Waltz taught a master’s class how to handle propaganda from a CNN host.
Waltz knew the details of the issue the corrupt CNN host was pushing propaganda about and had the confidence of his viewpoint to fight back.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky always does an excellent job of understanding media’s false assumptions enough to push back on them immediately.
These men retain their composure and their principles and recognize the media as the corrupt activists they are. Yes, it requires preparation and nimbleness, but it can be done.
Consider Other Creative Responses
Another option, a great option, is to starve these corrupt actors from getting your free help. There is no need to respond to whatever your most powerful and unaccountable political opponent says you have to respond to, particularly on their own corrupt and partisan terms. Treat them as your primary political opposition because they are.
Conservative leaders should have lists of fraudulent reporters and the outlets they work for. Sometimes media outlets are 95 percent hack, with one easily controlled lackey who is less bad than his colleagues. They put that lackey out there to work with gullible members of Congress.
If the media outlet publishes lies and propaganda, as they so frequently do, they shouldn’t expect a quote from any self-respecting congressional GOP office for a while. Maybe ever. When the lackey can’t get quotes, even though he’s not as bad, it might lead to some internal pressure. If it doesn’t, leave them behind.
If you must respond, respond in such a way that the only quote they can publish or air is one ripping them to shreds as the propagandists they are. When the entire media establishment went to war against Rep. Devin Nunes on account of his exposure of their fake narrative of treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election, his office seemed to have fun with the situation.
As an example, the Daily Beast took one of their many leaks from Rep. Adam Schiff’s office to write a hit on Nunes for linking the Democrat information operation of the “Steele dossier” to a later Democrat information operation even more focused on Ukraine. Asked for comment, Press Secretary Jack Langer responded, “The Daily Beast and its regular cabal of Democrat leakers don’t seem to realize they are claiming that Rep. Nunes made the same argument behind closed doors that he’s repeatedly made in public.”
Betsy Swan and Sam Brodey rewrote that statement, quite insufficiently, as “A Nunes spokesperson said the congressman had made the argument described above in public.” So Langer shared his actual biting quote with another media outlet, which published a fun story debunking the false narrative set by the activist reporters, with additional commentary from Langer:
‘The Daily Beast does not practice journalism. It’s just a Pravda-like messaging apparatus for the Democrats and resistance leakers,’ Langer told the Wire. ‘They flout fundamental journalism ethics and won’t even print responses they themselves request if the statements counter their narrative. They’re scribes and mouthpieces for their ridiculous anonymous sources, and they’ll regurgitate whatever dreck these unknown people spoonfeed to them.’
Embrace The Vibrant Media Space, At Long Last
The non-leftist media ecosystem is more vibrant and built out, thanks to corporate media’s failures. Right-of-center political groups and leaders should stop giving their news items to corrupt major media as if they’re nerdy and socially awkward high schoolers trying to convince themselves that the hot chick will get busy with them if they play it right.
They need to work with real journalists at non-leftist outlets. For all of its success in recognizing the corruption of corporate media, the Trump administration failed at this spectacularly.
The political organizations on the right need to be much more aggressive in responding to the falsehoods, lies, and defamations that routinely come against them from the political media. Where is the GOP war room that recognizes its main opponent is the media, not the Democrat Party that serves as the mere political arm of the media? Apart from the political concerns that the right half of the country should have with the corrupt media, this is a deadly serious situation for the country’s future.
“It should be borne in mind that the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news,” wrote Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit for the Court of Appeals. “It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy.”
That press conference was so horrific that it should serve as a wake-up call of how dire the situation is, with its weak, sycophantic questions after years of hyena-like behavior. The White House press corps, like most of the rest of the media, is an embarrassment. It pushes propaganda. Treat them like the propagandists they are.
Mollie Ziegler Hemingway is a senior editor at The Federalist. She is Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale College and a Fox News contributor.