The Mask Slips -- by Thomas Lifson
The past year has seen a spate of shocking statements revealing hatred and contempt for President Bush and his supporters on the part of important media figures who claim objectivity and sneer at conservatives unafraid to characterize themselves as such. Regrettably, we cannot credit a sudden outbreak of honesty for this phenomenon, and thereby anticipate improved news coverage from these folks. A pathology is at work.
A sudden loss of status and influence is a profound shock to most people who have spent their lives aimed at the acquisition and enjoyment of socio-political standing. Relieved of the ability to shape the consciousness and behavior of others, a certain number unburden themselves of the inner restraints which kept them from openly voicing the condescension and scorn they have for those whom they regard as their social, intellectual, and moral inferiors.
The rise of alternate media – talk radio, Fox News, and the internet – has not simply allowed competing voices to be heard in the public square, it has robbed many media grandees of the ultimate reward of their striving after careers as shapers of mass opinion. Some have become unbalanced mentally, and emotionally overwhelmed by the loss. They strike out with blind fury at their “enemies” (the subjects whom they have covered as “unbiased” journalists), and thereby let the mask of objectivity slip from their faces, revealing spiteful, arrogant and bigoted visages. By dismissing those who disagree with them as unworthy of consideration, they expose to light the long-hidden dark vision of the rest of humanity that enables them to regard themselves as worthy.
Mike Wallace revealed to a Boston Globe reporter that he’d like to ask President Bush:
The governor of Texas doesn’t have the kind of power that some governors have. . . . Why do you think they nominated you? . . . Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?
Compounding the insult, the editors at the Globe then titled the piece “At 87, Wallace still tells it like it is”?
But important media figures as are Wallace and his former CBS colleague Dan “fake but accurate” Rather, no position in the American media can rival the influence of the editor-in-chief of the New York Times. Broadcast networks, wire services, and lesser newspapers take their news agenda and spin from the Grey Lady. So when the man who ran the Times for years lets the mask slip, it is worth some attention, for he has been shaping American public opinion as nobody else in the media could.
Howell Raines edited the New York Times until a cascade of publicly visible incompetence forced his separation from what regrettably remains the nation’s most prestigious newspaper. Earlier this week, Raines contributed a spittle-flecked diatribe to a roundtable in the U.K. Guardian on the five years since Al Gore conceded defeat to George W. Bush in 2005. Perhaps feeling secure because his outlet was overseas (and still thinking the way to read the Guardian is via dead tree), he allowed light to shine on the lunatic obsessions which colored his performance as one of the most influential figure in American media for many years. From the essay, it becomes evident that Raines is obsessed with the Bush family as the embodiment of evil, a multi-generational conspiracy in league with the Dark Force.
Behind George W, there are four generations of Bushes and Walkers devoted first to using political networks to pile up and protect personal fortunes and, latterly, to using absolutely any means to gain office, not because they want to do good, but because they are what passes in America for hereditary aristocrats. In sum, Bush stands at the apex of a pyramid of privilege whose history and social significance, given his animosity towards scholarly thought, he almost certainly does not understand.
Here is the big picture, as drawn by the Republican political analyst Kevin Phillips in American Dynasty. Starting in 1850, the Bushes, through alliance with the smarter Walker clan, built up a fortune based on classic robber-baron foundations: railroads, steel, oil, investment banking, armaments and materiel in the world wars. They had ties to the richest families of the industrial age – Rockefeller, Harriman, Brookings. Yet they never adopted the charitable, public-service ethic that developed in those families.
Robber-barons, preying on the innocent peaceful folk of the globe with their sale of armaments! Why, they made money from railroads! Why didn’t they start software companies in the 19th Century? Or maybe run Scotch and Rye into America during Prohibition, like Joe Kennedy.
This Woodrow Wilson-era rhetoric (before the man who “kept us out of war” led us into war), however quaint, reveals a mind unable to extricate itself from conspiracy theories now regarded as archaic by many in even the Moonbat Community.
The idea of a Bad Seed transmitting itself through generations of Bushes and Walkers bespeaks a mind thinking in terms of secret historical forces, hidden long-term motives, and the other baggage of conspiracy nutters. And notice in Raines’ words how “public service” no longer is descriptive of those who give up careers that made them modestly rich in order to collect the salaries offered by government, as three generations of Bushes have done.
Wealthy men who become Democrat politicians are regarded as exemplars of the spirit of public service and giving back to the community. But let a George Bush run for office and he is performing no public service, he is corrupting the republic in service to evil multigenerational conspiracies.
After hectoring the Bushes as robber barons, Raines then hectors them because their fortune has not been large enough to establish a Rockefeller Foundation or Carnegie Endowment. George W. Bush’s very substantial (as a percentage of his income) personal giving to charity, as revealed in his income tax returns, is on the record. But to Raines, it is not enough. He should have arranged to have inherited wealth on the scale of Jay Rockefeller or Teddy Kennedy, so that he could hire bureaucrats to distribute grants to the Tides Foundation, AIDS activist groups and chairs of feminist studies at effete institutions of higher learning.
Raines also embraces tacitly the “false consciousness” explanation of the foolish behavior of the masses, an excuse beloved of Marxist intellectuals to explain the failure of the proletariat to embrace their vanguard. Most recently this has been popularized among the vulgar intelligentsia by Thomas Frank in this recent minor bestseller in liberal circles too lazy to read more explicitly Marxist theoretical journals. In this excuse for the stubborn populartity of conservative ideas, the foolish yahoos are being manipulated by Wall Street puppeteers (not Jon Corzine or Robert Rubin or George Soros, of course). The condescension drips:
The Bushes believe in letting the hoi polloi control the social and religious restrictions flowing from Washington, so long as Wall Street gets to say what happens to the nation’s money. The Republican party as a national institution has endorsed this trade-off. What we do not know yet is whether a Republican party without a Bush at the top is seedy enough to keep it going.
“Hoi polloi” is actually the more respectful term he employs for mainstream conservatives. A bit earlier in elucidating the treachery of the Bush-Walker-Daddy Warbucks Crime Family, Raines causally threw out a racial epithet:
He [George W. Bush] adopted the full agenda of redneck America.
Take a moment and savor the twisted contempt in this usage. After all the years of pretending he was a racially unbiased friend of all humanity, Raines lets the mask slip and demonstrates his raw hatred for white people who haven’t overcome their misfortune in being born in the South (as he did). The unwwashed sub-humans from whom he escaped the accident of birth are so stupid that even as transparently stupid and evil a man as George Bush can fool them.
“Redneck” is the precise Caucasian equivalent of the n-word. Comedians like Jeff Foxworthy may be permitted to use it in chiding his own folk, just as certain black comedians use the n-word. But imagine if Thomas Sowell called a black rapper or black hoodlums (the two groups may overlap) the n-word. The consequences would be immediate and would follow Dr. Sowell the rest of his life. “Self-hating inauthentic bigot” would be among the kinder criticisms he would endure.
Yet Raines, unconstrained by his former professional role, and writing for a presumably friendly audience overseas, demonstrates race- and class-based scorn for people whose values differ from his. Precisely because Raines is a Southerner who had to prove his bona fides to northern liberals by outdoing them, he demonstrates his contempt for poor Southern Whites when addressing a British readership. This is the very same phenomenon behind self-hating Jews who have to attack their own, in order to purify themselves of the “taint” of the others. Self-immolation vaporize the imagined but deeply-felt impurities. It is a sickness.
Howell Raines no longer determines what Americans read and hear about important national and global news. But the attitude he represents is far from extinct among his former colleagues throughout the most prestigious media institutions. The decline and fall of the broadcast networks and newspaper industries, all but irredeemably populated by variants of the hateful Raines, cannot be completed too soon.
Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.