What we are faced with is a propaganda war, and we are all too close to defenseless in it.
I speak, of course, of the media. IMHO there is a remedy, which can be implemented but should have been done yesterday. The Republican Party has been libeled systematically and viciously by American journalism, and it must sue for damages in the billions of dollars.
Theoretically anyone can sue for damages, but not just anyone has a specific claim of a specific tort which would really matter. It has to be the Republican Party. Of course, the pre-Trump Republican Party would never have tried such a thing. But as a centaur is a man with the body of a horse, and a mermaid is a maiden with the body of a fish, Donald Trump is a seemingly mythological creature. He is a Republican with the chutzpah of a Democrat. He needs to get this ball rolling.
Anyone can file a lawsuit, but the objection is that the New York Times Co. v. Sullivan decision makes it difficult for any politician, or even a judge, to sue for libel. This is true - and not only so, but that 1964 decision was unanimous, with concurring opinions wanting to make it even stronger. Not only is that the case but - I warrant - a panel of judges picked by Donald Trump today would decide the same case the same way tomorrow.
Why then do I suggest a lawsuit which would be doomed to fail? Because the case to be brought would neither allege the same facts nor plead for the same relief as the Sullivan case did. And it would attack the media under a different law - antitrust law.
You and I know that the media is a cabal which conspires against the public by ganging up on Republican politicians, and letting Democrats off
easycompletely.. But it can be shown that that is precisely what should be expected of journalism as it exists today. Not only can voluminous evidence of this fact - already compiled by existing organizations such as Brent Bozell Media Research Center - be adduced, but it is easy to show that journalists have ample motive and ample opportunity to conspire against the public in precisely that way.
As to motive, journalism operates under the rule for commercial success which states, If it bleeds, it leads. Journalism is systematically negative, such that society might easily build an entire city with little notice from journalism except for the occasions when buildings burn down. All journalists know, therefore, that journalism is negative. And yet journalists claim that journalism is objective. The claim that negativity is objectivity, however, can only be made by a cynic. Why then would journalists claim objectivity? Because they want to be influential (and commercially successful).
The trouble with being objective is that it is difficult to the point of impossibility, on the one hand, and against human nature, on the other. It is against human nature, because anyone who has an opinion thinks that opinion is right - or it wouldnt be his/her opinion. The only way to try to be objective is to analyze that opinion from the point of view that where you stand is probably affected by where you sit. This is uncomfortable, and that makes it hard work. And that is not what journalists do. Given the opportunity, journalists collude to claim objectivity, and collude to destroy the reputation of anyone who questions their objectivity.
And journalists have the opportunity, in spades. It is the air they breathe. In the founding era, and into the late Nineteenth Century, newspapers were primarily about the opinions of their printers (much as the Rush Limbaugh show is about the opinions of Rush Limbaugh), and nobody would have seriously suggested that they were objective. And that is the sort of journalism the authors of the Constitution and First Amendment were familiar with.
The telegraph was demod by Samuel Morse in 1844, and the first wire service began in 1848. This quickly morphed into the Associated Press, and by the 1870s concern began to be expressed over its concentration of propaganda power. The APs response to the charge was to assert that it essentially consisted of its - and its member newspapers notoriously did not agree about much of anything. At the time, there was truth to that argument - and the value of the wire service in disseminating information quickly throughout the country while conserving expensive telegraphy bandwidth was unquestioned.
But the AP wire constituted a virtual meeting of a critical mass of American journalists. And as Adam Smith warned in Wealth of Nations (1776), People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. Although the Associated Press Stylebook institutionalized some useful standardization (such as the pyramid organization of news stories which demands that the most important information appear early in any story), it can also have direct political implications (such as the insistence that illegal aliens not be called illegal aliens).
The meeting created by the wire" gradually became the air that journalists breathe. And the motive to cooperate - the motive of going along and getting along ideologically, and being seen as objective, transformed American journalism from an assortment of ideologically idiosyncratic purveyors of opinion (and secondarily information) into the ideological monolith with which we are all to painfully acquainted. All major journalism institutions all insinuate cynicism towards society, which conservatism considers to be fundamentally OK and in need of little guidance from government. And concomitantly, they project naiveté towards government (of which conservatism is suspicious).
The Republican Party must therefore sue wire service journalism (especially the AP, emphatically including its member newspapers). All wire services have the same sort of homogenizing effect, and all journalists share the motivation of being considered objective - and share the fear of the wrath of the cartel if they challenge any other journalists objectivity. So the fact that there are multiple wire services does not change the dynamic which, arguably, the AP was best positioned to start but need not be the only support of the system in being. Journalism which is in a de facto cartel does not compete, and functions to promote its interests, and those of the Democrat Party.
The upshot is that the journalism cartel pushes for campaign finance reform to decrease the ability of outsiders to oppose its agenda, and in other ways promotes the conceit that, far from being ordinary citizens, journalists in good standing with the cartel are the Fourth Estate, with rights that you and I do not enjoy.
The New York Times v. Sullivan case presented entirely different facts. The losing plaintiff, a Southern Democrat, was an unsympathetic figure, and the Times didnt even write the ad of which the plaintiff complained. And the ad did not even attack the plaintiff by name. There was no implication of conspiracy among journalists as a class.
Collusion among journalists to obviate ideological competition among them is provable factually, and it is explicable theoretically. Not just an individual newspaper here or there but the whole of journalism must be sued for libeling the whole of the Republican Party. Because that is what has been going on for half a century and more. The wire services are engines of conspiracy against the public, and - in the wake of the development of fiber optics, lasers, and microwaves and satellites - wire service journalism doesnt save important money in the dissemination of the news. Wire services should be forced to transform, or disband.
New York Times v. Sullivan to the contrary notwithstanding, SCOTUS can do it. But the Republican Party has to bring the case.
You are 100% correct. I don’t understand how a person can lose their rights to not be libeled just because they pay a fee and file for office. I would think it would also be an equal justice under the law issue as well. There again, it would take a huge amount of resources to push this forward.
Unfortunately, I think this political dichotomy is also affected by the intrinsic values and motivations of the different political persuasions. Socialists by their nature want to be in a crowd working toward a common goal. If a socialist leader asks their followers to call legislators or boycott a business, the group-think kicks in and they ALL want to do it -— high numbers will get involved to make things happen. Their activism flows organically from their politics.
Capitalists, on the other hand, tend to work independently and with a profit motive. We are more philanthropic than activist. If you want to do politics, they are glad to help you out for a price. You need folks to make calls to legislators, they will be glad to tell you how to set up and work a phone bank, and then send you to the person who will help you hire the people you need. Our activism costs us, more often than not.