Jonah Goldberg recently wrote an op-ed emphasizing how powerful media influences are (“If speech can inspire good actions, it can inspire bad actions, too“). His point:
Liberals decry the toxic rhetoric of the right, conservatives blame the toxic rhetoric of the left.
When attacked – again heedless of ideology or consistency – the gladiators instantly trade weapons. The finger-pointers of five minutes ago suddenly wax righteous in their indignation that mere expression – rather, their expression – should be blamed. Many of the same liberals who pounded soapboxes into pulp at the very thought of labeling record albums with violent lyrics warnings, instantly insisted that Sarah Palin had Rep. Gabby Giffords’ blood on her hands. Many of the conservatives who spewed hot fire at the suggestion that they had any culpability in an abortion clinic bombing, gleefully insisted that Sen. Bernie Sanders is partially to blame for Rep. Steve Scalise’s fight with death. …
I have always thought it absurd to claim that expression cannot lead people to do bad things, precisely because it is so obvious that expression can lead people to do good things. According to legend, Abraham Lincoln told Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Should we mock Lincoln for saying something ridiculous?
As Irving Kristol once put it, “If you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you have also to believe that no one was ever improved by a book. You have to believe, in other words, that art is morally trivial and that education is morally irrelevant.”
If words don’t matter, then democracy is a joke, because democracy depends entirely on making arguments – not for killing, but for voting. But only a fool would argue that words can move people to vote, but not to kill.
Jonah Goldberg’s op-ed “Leave liberal Hollywood to the liberals” argues that despite the fact that Hollywood is “overwhelmingly, though not uniformly, liberal,” conservatives shouldn’t try to buy up media in order to get their messages out. Buying up media is a waste of time because “Hollywood influence is agonizingly hard to predict or dismiss as unthinkingly liberal.”
This strikes me as head-bangingly wrong, and not the least because the messages put out by Hollywood are quite designedly rather than unthinkingly liberal. A repeated message at TOO is that the world would change rather quickly and dramatically if there was one above-ground, widely available, well-funded, mainstream media outlet — a sensible version, say, of Fox News or MSNBC, but with a perspective supporting the interests of European-Americans and Whites around the world.
But Goldberg’s advice is idiotic even for someone who styles himself a mainstream conservative. The media does have influence and the influence is generally in the direction intended by its creators.
Since I rather doubt that Goldberg is an idiot, I suspect there are some deep motivations going on here—including that Goldberg is not a conservative at all. As Peter Brimelow phrased it, with Goldberg assuming a prominent position at National Review, it had become a “once-conservative, now respected, magazine.”
And yes, I suspect that ultimately it has to do with Goldberg’s Jewish identity. Like other neocons, Goldberg has been an enthusiastic supporter of all of the fundamental positions of the organized Jewish community, including displacement-level non-White immigration and opposition to identity politics for White people (see above link). It’s revealing that Goldberg was not particularly upset by the recent election (“The right isn’t waving a white flag“), claiming that conservatism will come back, as it has before. Not one mention of the demographics of the vote or what that portends for the GOP or what the GOP ought to do about it. Goldberg is quite happy about the ethnic transformation that is making the Republicans, conservatism and indeed White people obsolete.
Goldberg also supported the firing of John Derbyshire from National Review. One wonders why he would care about firing Derbyshire if the media doesn’t have any influence anyway. Why not let Derbyshire continue to have a forum for race realism at National Review? One wonders why the media is so intensively policed to remove voices that conflict with the liberal world view—people like Pat Buchanan, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs. Why was Media Matters so upset when CNN quoted Brimelow and TOO’s James Edwards on immigration-related issues?
Why does the Israel Lobby consistently attempt to get voices critical of Israel out of the media—people like Rick Sanchez, Helen Thomas, and M. J. Rosenberg? Was the Jerusalem Post behaving sensibly when it removed an article about a prominent, mainstream Israeli rabbi who preaches that the goyim were created to serve the Jews? What about the lack of coverage in the U.S. media of the Israeli government coercing Ethiopian women into receiving shots of the birth control drug Depo-Provera? What about media coverage of the Arabs (see “Why we hate them: Arabs in Western eyes“)?
I don’t recall National Review bucking the trends on any of these issues.
According to Goldberg, all this work at censorship and influence is just a waste of time—presumably including his own efforts at propaganda and censorship at National Review.
Goldberg refers his readers to a Jonathan Chait’s “The vast left-wing conspiracy is on your screen.” Goldberg doesn’t bother to provide citations to his arguments against Chait. Nor does he mention the fact that the media — liberal and mainstream conservative alike — is preaching with one voice on basic issues related to White identity, particularly issues related to immigration and multiculturalism.
On the other hand, Chait’s article is an admirable (albeit flawed) presentation showing just how powerful media messages are and how much they reflect a consensus of the media elite that is well to the left of the attitudes of the traditional people and culture of America. Chait notes that
the world of popular culture increasingly reflects a shared reality in which the Republican Party is either absent or anathema. … When Joe Biden endorsed gay marriage in May, he cited [the television show] Will & Grace as the single-most important driving force in transforming public opinion on the subject. In so doing he actually confirmed the long-standing fear of conservatives—that a coterie of Hollywood elites had undertaken an invidious and utterly successful propaganda campaign, and had transmuted the cultural majority into a minority. Set aside the substance of the matter and consider the process of it—that is, think of it from the conservative point of view, if you don’t happen to be one. Imagine that large chunks of your entertainment mocked your values and even transformed once-uncontroversial beliefs of yours into a kind of bigotry that might be greeted with revulsion.
You’d probably be angry, too.
Chait summarizes recent natural experiments showing the power of the media in shaping social attitudes in Brazil (smaller families) and India (smaller families, more assertiveness by women). He also mentions research in the U.S. showing that Will & Grace resulted in more positive attitudes on homosexuality, especially among people who had little contact with homosexuals.
And [Will & Grace] was merely a component of a concerted effort by Hollywood—dating back to Soap in the late seventies, which featured Billy Crystal’s groundbreaking portrayal of a sympathetic gay character, through Modern Family—to prod audiences to accept homosexuality. Likewise, the political persona of Barack Obama attained such rapid acceptance and popularity in part because he represented the real-world version of an archetype that, after a long early period of servile black stereotypes, has appeared in film and television for years: a sober, intelligent African-American as president, or in some other position of power.
Chait might also have mentioned the effects of pornography and the sexualization of culture on sexual behavior. One may argue that pornography is not part of the mainstream media. But the point is that media—all media—has the potential to affect the attitudes and behavior of its audience. That’s why we at TOO keep plugging away despite the intensive policing process whereby our ideas are kept from possibly coming into contact with the vast audiences of the mainstream media.
Where Chait goes wrong is in supposing that the Jews who controlled Hollywood before 1970 were self-motivated in upholding conservative values. Chait writes that
Hollywood was founded by Jewish immigrants who lived in terror that their Jewishness would make conservative America suspect them of abusing their cultural power. The moguls ostentatiously cloaked themselves in Americanism, snuffing out any hint that the images they projected in towns across America would unsettle the culture.
They were Establishmentarian in their politics rather than radical. The studio chiefs embraced the Republican presidents of the twenties; many supported Franklin Roosevelt and then backed Dwight Eisenhower. Their actors, and especially their writers, leaned left, including a small but organized Communist faction. But the moguls wielded ruthless control over their own studios. …
Chait avoids discussing the uproar that Hollywood created in the 1920s because of material related to sex and the family. The reaction against this by conservative America did indeed have overtones of anti-Semitism (e.g., in Henry Ford’s The International Jew). The result was the establishment of The Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, headed by Will H. Hays in 1922 in response to movements in over thirty state legislatures to enact strict censorship laws. Later the Production Code Administration, headed by Joseph I. Breen, was launched in response to a campaign by the Catholic National Legion of Decency.
The fact that Hollywood reined in the sexual content of movies was thus the result of external pressure. The forces of cultural conservatism remained powerful through the mid-1960s, fueled also by Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s campaign against communist influence in Hollywood. By the 1970s the dam broke because of the success of the 1960s countercultural revolution spearheaded by the Jewish left (see here, p. 76ff), with the results we see now. Hollywood was no longer held in check by the rest of America.
Chait points out that
The right has no broadcasting device of comparable scope; it tells its stories mainly through avowedly political media like talk radio and Fox News. This makes the fears that torment conservatives today—overweening regulators, welfare layabouts, the government seizing our guns—not so easily recognizable to those not expressly familiar with the right-wing creed.
Conservatives have no voice in pure entertainment. This is especially problematic for the proverbial low information voters. Most people, even people with conservative inclinations, would rather watch prime time sitcoms and dramas than watch Fox News or listen to Rush Limbaugh—much less spend their evenings reading articles on VDARE or TOO. Relatively few people are intensely involved politically to the point that they would rather listen to people opine about politics than watch entertainment programming.
As a result, conservative media reaches a small percentage of the electorate, while the liberals not only have Rachel Maddow and MSNBC to counter Fox News, they have all the network news programming, all the TV entertainment, and all the movies.
Ratings f or cable news shows are far less than for entertainment programs. For example, on Monday, Feb. 19, the four networks had around 90,000,000 viewers combined for all their prime time shows. On the other hand, the four cable news channels (Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and CNBC) pulled in less than 13,000,000 viewers combined. Fox News, the neocon network, had around 6,000,000 viewers. That doesn’t include all the other cable channels showing Hollywood movies, reruns of prime time shows, etc. with liberal messages. (All these numbers double count people who watch more than one show.)
And of course, as noted above, due to the actions of people like Goldberg, mainstream conservative media is intensively policed to preclude voices promoting White identity politics or voices opposed to immigration and multiculturalism. But clearly even mainstream conservatism is massively disadvantaged by the liberal domination of so much of the media.
This capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of the public, and especially the youngest and most impressionable elements, may or may not be unfair. What it is undoubtedly is a source of cultural (and hence political) power. Liberals like to believe that our strength derives solely from the natural concordance of the people, that we represent what most Americans believe, or would believe if not for the distorting rightward pull of Fox News and the Koch brothers and the rest. Conservatives surely do benefit from these outposts of power, and most would rather indulge their own populist fantasies than admit it. But they do have a point about one thing: We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.
Chait’s last sentence bears repeating: “We liberals owe not a small measure of our success to the propaganda campaign of a tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite.”
The fact is that the public would resonate strongly to messages of White identity politics and messages opposed to immigration and multiculturalism. But they won’t hear these messages in the mainstream media, left or right.
Chait of course shrinks from identifying this “tiny, disproportionately influential cultural elite,” but a continuing theme of TOO is the domination of the media by the left and by Jews whose leftist political and cultural values are far more in tune with the mainstream Jewish community than with those the traditional people and culture of America (see here, p. 48ff). There is overwhelming evidence that besides the clear bias to the left, the media presents very positive images of Judaism and negative images of Christianity (the latter also noted by Chait). Just as with its generally leftist values on political issues, television presents images of Jewish issues, such as anti-Semitism (depicted as an absolute, irrational evil) that conform to the views of mainstream Jewish organizations.
Goldberg’s views on the importance of media influence should be given as much credence as his views on immigration or on Israel. Absolutely none.