X Close

The media’s betrayal of the poor American journalists use anti-racism to mask their contempt for the working class

Spot the Cartier ad (Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images)


October 27, 2021   5 mins

At the end of his career, in his 1907 retirement speech, Joseph Pulitzer wrote up his credo for journalism. He was adamant about the thing that made it a noble profession, one worth dedicating your life to: “Never lack sympathy with the poor.”

Living in the Gilded Age, there were plenty of poor people for journalists to sympathise with — the streets were teeming with working-class Americans who had been cast out of the comforts enjoyed by the obscenely wealthy industrialists. You might think modern-day America — a new Gilded Age in which the gap between the rich and the poor is wider than it has been in living memory — would provide another such opportunity for American journalists to sympathise with the lower classes. You would be wrong.

Back in 2016, journalists, Democratic politicians and Never Trumpers struggling to comprehend how they lost the election came up with two competing explanations. One camp argued that it was a protest vote stemming from the economic anxiety and despair birthed by globalisation, stagnant working-class wages, and downward mobility for the shrinking middle class. The other camp argued that Trump’s supporters were simply racists.

Hillary Clinton was the rare figure to hold both views, immortalised in her infamous comment that “you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables”. One might have expected that after Clinton lost the election, liberals would question the efficacy, if not the morality, of calling a quarter of the country racist.

Instead, they doubled down: it wasn’t just a quarter; it was half the nation. Everyone who voted for Trump was racist. By 2017, the very term “economic anxiety” had been branded a dog whistle for racism by some of the highest profile journalists in the country. So definitive was the racism explanation that during the 2020 election, the New York Times appears not to have run a single op-ed from a Trump supporter explaining their vote; how could the paper of record publish people who everyone knew were avowed racists?

How did this happen? How did the journalists, thinkers, influencers and professional Tweeters who too often set the agenda for the nation — people who consider themselves on the liberal and progressive Left — manage to police out of existence the devastating effects of globalisation on the middle and working classes of all races? How did we allow the definition of racism to melt until it covered people — of all races — who found their lots slightly improved over the three years prior to the pandemic, a time when wages for the bottom 25% rose for the first time in a decade?

You have to be pretty far removed from the pinch of economic anxiety to confuse it with bigotry. And indeed, America’s media has undergone a status revolution over the past century.

Writing in the Nineties, Christopher Lasch observed that the Left had begun to portray the nation, the neighbourhood and even the commitment to a common standard as racist, as part of a larger attack on populism and abandonment of the working class. But in truth that shift was a long time coming; throughout the 20th century, American journalism went from being a working-class trade to a highly educated caste.

As I chronicle in my new book, American journalism was born in the 19th century of a populist revolution in the form of the penny press, which was explicitly produced by and for the labouring class. At the time, the newspapers in circulation existed solely for the political and business elites: they were prohibitively expensive, and contained shipping schedules, wholesale prices, speeches from Congress and other things that interested few except those whose livings were made in business or politics.

The cheap penny papers filled that gap in the market, and were soon impossible to ignore thanks to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who purchased them every day (catering to the lower classes has the benefit of there being so many of them, after all). From that moment, through the middle of the last century, journalism became a blue-collar job, one in which a journalist was as likely to not have a college degree as to have one.

This is no longer the case. If a 1937 study found that fewer than half of journalists were college-educated and many hadn’t even finished high school, by 2015, 92% of American journalists had a college degree, a number that’s certainly even higher today. And college itself is no longer enough; to become a journalist today in a rapidly constricting industry, you have to go to the best colleges and take multiple unpaid internships in the most expensive American cities — where the vast majority of journalists remain.

But journalists today are not just more educated and progressive than the country at large; like other highly educated liberals, they have become increasingly affluent. As the local newspaper industry collapsed in the face of the internet, it squeezed those who made it to the top 10%, while dropping everyone else out. The fact that the starting salary of a digital media job is so low is not proof of the industry’s egalitarianism but of its exclusivity; who but the scions of the wealthy can afford to live in New York City or Washington, D.C. on $35,000 a year?

With a few exceptions, journalists along with the rest of America’s highly educated liberals now, by and large, belong to what the French economist Thomas Picketty calls a Brahmin Left. And as journalists became more highly educated and more affluent, they stopped writing for or about the working class. In its place, a moral panic around race and an obsession with causes once confined to academia — open borders, intersectionality, anti-racism, anti-Zionism — provided a convenient alibi for an elite that still sees itself as on the side of the little guy.

It’s not all on individual journalists, though. Journalists have for decades been more liberal than their fellow countrymen. But in the past, this liberalism was checked by their publishers, who were often the owners of large corporations, or Republicans, or both. They wanted their newspapers and their news stations to appeal to the vast American middle, which meant that journalists were not at liberty to indulge their own political preferences.

Then came the internet and with it the collapse of the local newspaper industry and the birth of a business model that was diametrically opposed to the goal of getting the widest circulation. Success is now rated in terms of engagement rather than circulation or ad revenue. And the best way to achieve this is to build a niche audience — more often than not, a highly educated, highly affluent, highly liberal niche audience who use the politics of identity to mask their success.

In other words, the media’s moral panic around race in America and the abandonment of the working class go hand in hand, like a photo of Angela Davis on the cover of the New York Times’s T Magazine and a Cartier ad on the back; like affluent liberals in New York’s most expensive neighbourhoods demanding we defund the police amid a historic rise in murder taking place in neighbourhoods just ten blocks away; like American Express hosting diversity, equity and inclusion training sessions in which the facilitator tells employees that capitalism is racist.

This perfect alignment of journalistic and corporate interests is one of the great ironies of the progressive culture war. It makes individual journalists feel like heroes while making their bosses and shareholders (and themselves) even richer.

Of course, the racism of state actors remains a problem in need of urgent repair; police brutality, for example, remains a scourge on communities of colour. But the racial moral panic obscures — and therefore perpetuates — the real divide separating America into two groups: an economic and cultural one, a giant and ever-growing chasm separating the college educated from those they disdain.

And therein lies the real tragedy: the liberal news media has abandoned the working class, allowing conservative outlets to swoop in and cater to them. The conservative media may not do much to help the economic fortunes of the downwardly mobile, but at least it doesn’t sneer at the working class while abandoning them economically.

That, ultimately, is the story of today’s national media landscape in a nutshell: with few exceptions, it is waging a moral panic around race to disguise the abandonment of the working class — and it’s getting rich off of it.


Batya Ungar-Sargon is Deputy Opinion Editor of Newsweek and author of Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy

bungarsargon

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

62 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Great article. Much truth in a few words. Having waded through some of Unherd’s recent offerings relating to post-liberalism, I would recommend those authors read this article for a lesson in clarity if nothing else.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Agree completely.

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The questions is – where do we go from here? Liberal left journalists do have power to shape opinions, like it or not, and do sometimes write cogent, informative articles. It would be good to acknowledge the good at the same time as raising the genuine concerns in this article.

Matt Hindman
Matt Hindman
2 years ago

There is a nice watermark in the United States for when the “Left” veered full speed ahead into narcissistic elitism, corporate ass kissing, and identity politics. It was the Occupy Wall Street Protests. See, a funny thing happened after Occupy, discussions of class magically vanished. You know I seem to recall when discussions of class were central to the Left’s view of the world. Oh well. Then about the same time identity politics and wokeness went full throttle. “Repent for ye are racist! Oh and we have a few other ‘ists’ as well to call you.” Now those who call themselves the “Left” in America sing the praises of globalization, megacorporations, and the security state while pretending class does not exist and rich white people are lecturing working class whites on their “privilege”.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Matt Hindman

Yes Matt. Whilst the elites put their bigotry to work via slavery and low wages, the poor white folks mixed with befriended and married people from all over the world. That mix was the working class and yet we are to believe it was the working class who were racists.

DA Johnson
DA Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

An accurate and insightful comment.

Matt Spencer
Matt Spencer
2 years ago
Reply to  Karl Juhnke

Absolutely nailed it. I have also wondered why those who live alongside and with immigrants and people of colour are painted as awful racists whilst those who do not are somehow on the moral high ground and in a position to finger wag. Good too know I’m not alone in noticing this.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Odd, reading an article from the center Right, it was like reading something illicit, or all wrong – it happens so rarely – and we spot the ‘Trigger Words, like ‘Never Trumpers’ and wait for the crashing attack, but it did not happen.

And so – we finally have a writer on the Right, then I wonder if she can tell us WHY all these Billionaires and heads of Corporations, Hedge Funds, Banking and Finance, Media Moguls, Tech Billionaires, Central Bank Heads, IMF, Davos folk, Political Donor class, and so on, Want a hard Left Socialism? They know it will make the economy a disaster, they know it will cause every kind of problem, and result in the loss of all freedom.

So, what are they up to?

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

A very good question! I suspect, like the aristocracy of old (maybe not so old) they live in their own bubble (left or right) where us lesser people simply do not figure as people at all. Their peers make up their world, the rest of us mere consumables.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lee Jones
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Left and Right is a little confusing and definitely a matter of opinion. You will remember our journal, The New Statesman. On UnHerd I once called that journal Left but had a lot of indignant replies from people who insisted it was not Left.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

It’s a good question. I think it may be because you need to be pretty rich in the first place to be able to afford to vote for the left. If you are uber-rich there is no consequence to you of doing so; your money rents you insulation from it all. You have private security on your own gated estate while you are defunding the police who protect the poor, for example.
The upper strata of the charity, public sector and grievance industry are well enough paid that they can ape their economic betters, so they do, because they imagine it confers status to do so.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Could it be that if the dog wants a bone then let him have it – and in the meantime it’s business as usual?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I don’t think that they do want socialism; in fact, I’m not even sure that the “progressive left” are socialist. What you do get from your virtue signing though is a way of aligning yourself with the elite and, more importantly, distancing yourself from the hoi poloi – I am educated, I am anti-racist etc. In otherwords, I might be one of the rich elite class, but I’m better than you, and I can prove it by my Tweets,therefore I deserve my status

Last edited 2 years ago by Linda Hutchinson
Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Yes this! It’s like a new way of signalling your status. Like it used to be to have a tan, or not to have one.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

The Billionaires don’t want real “soak the rich” socialism they want controlled constrained fake socialism. They want to be able to steer it. AOC swanning around in her ball gown at a US$35,000 a head charity function is what they want, just as Adolf Hitler’s rich industrialist backers wanted German National Socialism rather than red in tooth an claw Communism. It didn’t work out too well for them overall but despite the disaster of WW2 most of the families involved remain pretty rich. They just thought they would have more control than they in fact got.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeremy Bray
Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes, the likes of Hugo Boss, Siemens, Kodak, VW, Coca Cola ad nauseum participated fully in slavery, murder, and all manner of atrocities, hiding behind a veneer of apology in order to retain profits and power. Dispicable yet the masses ignore the horrors as if it doesn’t matter! I don’t know which is worse.

David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

They don’t want hard Left Socialism. They want fascism with its union of state and corporate power. (cf. Facebook and Twitter censoring anti-Biden news in the run-up to the last US Presidential election). Loss of freedom for everyone but them and their allies inside government is the whole point.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Good point, I think you may be right here. Also good to have someone who knows what fascism is.

Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

I doubt that Billionaires all want the same thing – their path to being a billionaire is either birth or an ability coupled with being in the right place at the right time and determination. It would be odd if they were all equally political and even odder if they all had the same political objectives.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

They DON’T want a socialist society, the virtue signalling helps distract from that! Neither by the way is modern China any sort of socialist society. That is not to say socialism would be a good thing, but the great majority of nations are not becoming, in any meaningful way, more socialist. If they were we would see the expropriation of some of these multi-billionaires etc.

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Group think and cowardice have a lot to do with it. As the writer says, over 90% of journalists have been through university. As has been pointed out previously it would be more reliable to rename universities indoctrination centres.
I’m from a working class area in the north of England. When I arrived in London in the late 70s I started to make friends amongst the middle and upper classes and was shocked by the openly derogatory attitude several held for the ‘lazy’ English working class. The fact that, until recent years, that ‘lazy’ group of people had been their skivvies and a general source of low paid labour was lost to them.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Glyn Reed

I’ve experienced similar snobbery and condescension.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Maybe both see each other as useful idiots in their quest for world domination, each thinking the other can be discarded when their usefulness runs out.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

You can get an inside view of the political machinations within the New York Times listening to Bari Weiss being interviewed by Jordan Peterson.
It was deplorable that Hillary Clinton was made Chancellor of Belfast University. Why do failed politicians keep getting recycled?

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Because their disposal by normal means will block the drains and pollute the political environment?

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Because academia is highly political and Clinton is exactly what they love most.

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

This was an interesting piece in an open, clear, unpretentious style. As a member of the bluecollar demographic, my exclusion from the political conversation began, pretty much, with Tony Blair. I just couldn’t relate to him. The labour party seems to represent Gaurdian readers, students and the middle class, (and now the woke brigade).
The BBC, three quarters of Parliament and most of the media were anti Brexit, I felt completely unrepresented. Paul Embery, GB News and UnHerd have at last provided some hope.
Thankyou.

Sharon Overy
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

The idea that people voting for Trump and not Hillary was racism, what Van Jones called “a whitelash”, was always utterly bizarre. Hillary Clinton isn’t black.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Whilst not a trump supporter myself (not American wasn’t up to me anyway), when presented with two evils maybe people chose to give the lesser a go. As an outsider they both seemed appalling, more so perhaps because most American presidents, when viewed from without, seemed to be far more serious.

Last edited 2 years ago by Lee Jones
L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  Lee Jones

That’s why I voted for Trump.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  L Walker

In your place I might have done so too, I make a point of always voting against entrenched cliques of power. He did seem a little unhinged, but looking to my own country, and the rest of Europe, I do not feel our electorate is in a position to judge other electorates from anything other than equal positions of moral turpitude, or perhaps exasperation at the general state of (un)civic responsibility.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

Funny, ‘the poor’ are fetishised by liberal saviours lamenting their situation. Yet when the poor vote for Trump they suddenly become the ‘basket of deplorables’ who don’t know what they’re voting for

Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Yep.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Being in Chicago, USA, I’m always late to the conversation on these articles and I respond for cathartic reasons only. We are being gaslighted by our media today in so many ways. The main violation is when articles, commenters and leftist politicians scream from the top of their lungs that the right side of the aisle wants to destroy democracy! The only ones I see that are actually doing something to destroy democracy is the left.

Jim Cox
Jim Cox
2 years ago
Reply to  Warren T

In his 1970 blueprint for communist takeover of America, “Rules For Radicals”,
Chicago communist Saul Alinsky listed accusing conservatives of subverting the country, while the Left actually does that,
as an effective technique for confusing
the opposition.

David Yetter
David Yetter
2 years ago

There is a third, competing explanation for Trump’s win (though it together with those offered in the article surely combine to give a fuller picture): people voted against Hillary Clinton because she was known to be corrupt in ways that directly mattered to governance (the Clinton Foundation as a conduit for foreign influence buying) and symbolized the corruption of the within-government portion of the ruling class with her free pass on mishandling classified information (no, the statute on negligent handling of classified information does not contain a mens rea clause, but it was a mens rea principle that FBI Director Comey appealed to in not investigating what was at best negligent handling of classified information, and at worst deliberate misuse). And yes, Trump showed every sign of corruption, too, but it was the sort of almost working-class corruption one expects in the property developement business, not the sort that represents misrule, and thus the anti-Clinton share of his vote was willing to discount it.
I suspect the ranking of these in influence on Trump’s share of the vote, was economic anxiety, Clinton corruption, with racism (if one really uses the word with its denotation in standard English, rather than the expansive version found in the Left’s real-world analogue of Newspeak) present, but a very distant third.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

Excellent explanation.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  David Yetter

I just thought Clinton represented ‘more of the same’ and ‘disdain for patriotic rural Americans’

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

“- the streets were teeming with working-class Americans who had been cast out of the comforts enjoyed by the obscenely wealthy industrialists.” This, in reference to the Gilded Age.
There are quite a few things wrong with that sentence from the article. One, the streets were often teeming not with the ordinary working Americans but with immigrants, new arrivals in the New World. In the late 1800s, America was still mostly rural, even if more Americans were working for an employer than for themselves by that time. Perhaps some streets were teeming briefly with working-class Americans when their work day was beginning or ending. The new Americans probably had to work very close to where they lived: in the crowded slums of the big cities. The only time Americans away from work were teeming the streets was probably when there was a big parade or demonstration, such as July 4th: and you might say then that the streets were teeming with excitement.
Where was I? Oh yeah, number two. What, cast out of the comforts enjoyed by the obscenely, horrendously, horrifically wealthy industrialists? What comforts were those? Perhaps when Prohibition came, the working class did not have the quality and quantity of liquor the wealthy may have been still able to acquire.
And three. And what of those industrialists? Many of whom may well have known poverty when they were children? Although not born in America, Andrew Carnegie, who had emigrated to America when he was twelve and made his fortune in steel, in the late 1800s, became a philanthropist. The Carnegie libraries around the world are one example of his legacy.

A very good and interesting article, by the way.

L Walker
L Walker
2 years ago

Spent many days in the Nashville Carnegie library. Always been grateful to him for it.

Jordan Flower
Jordan Flower
2 years ago

Ironic how you’ve really got the pulse of why the journalist class is so insufferable. But then you kind of blow it by dropping in the obligatory

police brutality, for example, remains a scourge on communities of colour

This is a lie perpetuated by the journos you just derided. They use anecdotal incidents and half-baked statistics that aren’t adjusted for a myriad of other factors to widen the race divide which fattens their pockets. It’s just simply wrong.
The police use more deadly force against white, both in absolute numbers, and in terms of their contribution to crime in our society. 
1,000 people killed by police every year (including justified uses of force—and I use that term lightly because I’m not a big fan of police)
About 50% are white.
About 25% are black. 
Of this 1000, last year about 50 were unarmed. Just over 10 of those unarmed were black.
13% of the population are black, but blacks commit at least 50% of murders and other violent crimes, and in some cities 66% of all violent crimes. The overwhelming majority of the victims are black. 
Nationwide, blacks are 6x more likely to be murdered than whites, in some cities like Milwaukee, it’s double that. Around 95% of these murders are committed by the black community.
The weekend the Floyd protests and riots were kicking off nationwide, 92 people were shot and 27 killed in Chicago alone.
I’m not saying police don’t need improvement, but here’s a list of things that have a higher rate of death per 100,000, many of these things which affect blacks disproportionately, but get a tiny fraction of the attention:
193—Heart disease
186—Cancer
46—Lung disease
43—random accident
42—Stroke
29—Alzheimer’s
24—Diabetes
17—Flu
15—Overdose
13—Suicide
12—Car accident
8—Parkinson’s
2—HIV
1.8—Encountering a cop
It just blows my mind how people purporting to care about POC will do everything they can to avoid addressing real issues, and then hyperfocus on something as minuscule as “police brutality”.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
2 years ago
Reply to  Jordan Flower

Excellent catch, Jordan – I was hoping someone would focus on that obligatory line about the “scourge” of police brutality!!

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago

Brilliant. It’s one of the bizarre turnarounds of our time: you hear more about the working class and the poor from ‘right-wing’ sources like Quillette and some in the Conservative Party than from the left.

Mark Knight
Mark Knight
2 years ago

Excellent article, thanks.

James Joyce
James Joyce
2 years ago

Once upon a time The New York Times was so woke that it hired a journalism student from a, Mon Dieu, public uni. This student was so brilliant, and his stories were so good, that he was put on the fast track and had a meteoric rise at The Times. As noted, he was not from the best private uni and he was not even a college graduate–yet work was so epic that The Times didn’t wait–how could they afford to lose this treasure?
Still with me? Jason Blair. Serial fabricator/plagiarizer. Hired/promoted/protected/admired simply because he was black. Positive discrimination at its best.
This took place in the early 2000s. Perhaps as a result of this, journalism became even more woke advocacy and less journalism, yielding the endless propaganda of The Times today, even on the news side.
His book Burning Down My Masters’ House is an expose of how he was hard done at The Times.

Last edited 2 years ago by James Joyce
Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

I receive the NYT and WaPo stories via their free daily snippets and use my local library to read stories of interest but not that many. I pay for my local newspaper for news the local TV will never cover and each year it’s become more expensive now at a cost beyond the means of many. I now watch Fox and CBS for TV news, the others are too biased to accept anymore. I enjoy the longer material from Substack writers – some free, some not. But I am retired and have the time but the majority are too busy and catch only bits from TV, priced out of newspapers. They might look at FB to see what’s new and skim headlines. Those penny papers seem still useful but unable to compete anymore in reaching the masses. Leaves a lot of frustrated people out there.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

I understand that you may watch Fox News to get another point of view, but to say (or imply) that it is not biased rather bewilders me – it is biased even if it is biased in the way you may want it to be. It is so easy for people on all parts of the political spectrum to assume that because some news outlet produces copy that one agrees with it’s not biased; one needs to read/watch/listen to different outlets to get anything nearing a complete picture, and even then there will be a lot of holes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Linda Hutchinson
Karl Francis
Karl Francis
2 years ago

Fair comment.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I read Hardee’s comment completely differently. He said the others are ‘too biased’, not ‘biased’. The implication is that Fox is biased but not as much as most of the others.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
2 years ago

Dickens left education by the age of fifteen and by that time had learnt enough English to become a greater writer, including being a journalist. So why does journalism now need a degree ? Is it the decline in education ?

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Yes but (for journalists) the Left Wing indocrination also takes longer than it used too.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

I’ve been reading the American press for years, and subscribing to the Washington Post, so I can get insights on our major influencers, and it’s astonishing the level of bigotry expressed in the articles and the comments against anyone they don’t agree with.
It just astounds me that these people, who think they’re liberals, lack the self awareness to realise their own narrow outlook is prejudiced. And it helps me understand why, in desperation for someone who might speak for them, that working class Americans of all ‘stripes’ voted for Trump.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I rather think that the author’s use of the Brahmin / Indian caste system metaphor is a good one , and to some extant many of the views expressed above are over-thinking the situation. It appears to me that the Left/haves are mer ely creating a western caste system – which is what all humans attempt to do – as well as pretty much all birds and animals. In reality HUMANS ARE JUST PRIMITVE CREATURES ACTING OUT THEIR PRIMITIVE DRIVES -as they have always done. The simplest explanation is usually the truest-we are merely higher functioning chimps and all the rest is surface verbiage…. As to what to do about that ?? maybe just go thru life as if humans have had another 1000yrs of cultural/spiritual evolution behind them and dont be constantly shocked at their primitiveness in the “present’ – damned hard tho !

Alyona Song
Alyona Song
2 years ago

Thank you Batyua for being courageous and honest! The truth is spoken – a remarkable event. “the racial moral panic obscures — and therefore perpetuates — the real divide separating America” – so true and amoral.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

Yes, journalism was generally a career for people who didn’t go to ‘Uni’ but who worked their way through the trade, first at local level and then maybe onto the nationals, although this was not a necessity as there were many good-quality local papers where a good living could be made. Indeed ‘The Press’ in general was staffed by working-class printers, compositors, readers, revisers and many semi-skilled literate non-graduates who were rich in accumulated knowledge, skill and experience. Now what remains of the fourth estate is staffed almost exclusively by middle-class university-educated social justice activists. Another victory for equity and diversity.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Journalism degrees…hmm. Attending universities drenched in wokeness. Is it any wonder we are churning out same-thinking scribblers?

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

I’m afraid that my idea of a journalist is someone who has to write something against a deadline. It is human nature to make that ‘something’ easy to swallow for the bosses and the readers – the same old, same old…

Now that journalists are in the higher echelons of life, they have nothing to fight for from their own point of view. Why fight when you still get paid for not fighting?

The article above, naturally, tries to show journalists as special people, perhaps the conscience of society. Maybe this was true in Mencken’s time but why should it be true today?

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

My brother-in-law used to be a journalist (on a large national paper) and he once said that the editor’s advice to a new journalist was:- make it short, make it quick, make it up. I think that he was only half-joking

Last edited 2 years ago by Linda Hutchinson
Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

Many thanks, Batya Ungar-Sargon, for a great article. There has been some transitioning from the ultra-hypocritical time when they pretended that their journalism was supporting the “downtrodden masses” (whilst actually being proto-woke) to the situation today.

Peter Francis
Peter Francis
2 years ago

Many thanks, Batya Ungar-Sargon, for a great article. There has been some transitioning from the ultra-hypocritical time when they pretended that their journalism was supporting the “downtrodden masses” (whilst actually being proto-woke) to the situation today.

Dennis Mills
Dennis Mills
1 year ago

An excellent snapshot of how journalism has changed since the beginning of the 20th century, Batya.

During the 60s and 70s I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for the Bangor Daily news, when it was the largest circulation newspaper north of Boston.

Our newsroom was truly diverse, by which I mean our managing editor did not hire reporters based on skin color, or gender, or “journalism” degrees.

To the left of my desk was a young women with a masters degree, albeit not in journalism. And no, she was not a fashion reporter. Her ability to create compelling and well constructed news stories was second to none in our newsroom.

I worked with several talented reporters who never finished high school. There were a number of reporters and editors like me, who never received a university degree. About 10 of the reporters and editors were veterans of the Korean conflict or World War II.

I was discharged from the Air Force in Bangor, ME.

The military generously allowed me to accumulate just shy of a hundred credit hours from the University of Maryland’s program that sent professors overseas.

I wanted to further my education at the University of Maine, but needed a job to fully support my goal.

At the time, I had no idea what a copy boy did at a newspaper, but decided to find out. The city editor interviewed me, and within a short time he offered me a job as an apprentice reporter.

He was more impressed by my ability to type 70+ words per minute on a clunky manual Remington than the college credits I’d accumulated during my four year enlistment.

The senior editors consistently red lined most of my reporting until my young brain learned to keep my own opinions to myself.

My career as a reporter and editor ended in the late 70s when I noticed every young reporter wanted to be called a journalist, and insisted that their greatest goal was to get a U.S. president impeached.

My wife looked over my long retired shoulder to see what I was reading, and then and went to her own computer to order your book for me from her Amazon account.

She is a most observant lady.

-30-

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Mills
Dennis Mills
Dennis Mills
1 year ago

An excellent snapshot of how journalism has changed since the beginning of the 20th century, Batya.

During the 60s and 70s I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for the Bangor Daily news, when it was the largest circulation newspaper north of Boston.

Our newsroom was truly diverse, by which I mean our managing editor did not hire reporters based on skin color, or gender, or “journalism” degrees.

To the left of my desk was a young women with a masters degree, albeit not in journalism. And no, she was not a fashion reporter. Her ability to create compelling and well constructed news stories was second to none in our newsroom.

I worked with several talented reporters who never finished high school. There were a number of reporters and editors like me, who never received a university degree. About 10 of the reporters and editors were veterans of the Korean conflict or World War II.

I was discharged from the Air Force in Bangor, ME.

The military generously allowed me to accumulate just shy of a hundred credit hours from the University of Maryland’s program that sent professors overseas.

I wanted to further my education at the University of Maine, but needed a job to fully support my goal.

At the time, I had no idea what a copy boy did at a newspaper, but decided to find out. The city editor interviewed me, and within a short time he offered me a job as an apprentice reporter.

He was more impressed by my ability to type 70+ words per minute on a clunky manual Remington than the college credits I’d accumulated during my four year enlistment.

The senior editors consistently red lined most of my reporting until my young brain learned to keep my own opinions to myself.

My career as a reporter and editor ended in the late 70s when I noticed every young reporter wanted to be called a journalist, and insisted that their greatest goal was to get a U.S. president impeached.

My wife looked over my long retired shoulder to see what I was reading, and then and went to her own computer to order your book for me from her Amazon account.

She is a most observant lady.

-30-

Last edited 1 year ago by Dennis Mills
Lloyd Byler
Lloyd Byler
2 years ago

“We are only limited by our inability to imagine”
~ Lloyd Byler, circa year 2014

As long as the mass media can come up with meme ideas, their dominance, and thus their profits will continue.. if they start losing money, Congress will bail them out… bailing the media out will only continue as long as Congress can give give fancy names to their bills they pass.

.. and so on.. and on… and on…

Shale Lewis
Shale Lewis
1 year ago

Hmm… I agree with the political objectification of the poor. I don’t know about the evils of globalization and capitalism, though. Are you quite sure that globalization was all bad for everyone except the upper crusties? And what should everyone have done instead of globalized capitalism?