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Escaping American tribalism Only personal bravery can end polarisation

They could change their minds if they wanted to. (Photo by Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

They could change their minds if they wanted to. (Photo by Steel Brooks/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)


March 8, 2022   9 mins

One summer afternoon when I was 23 — this was in 1987 — I was twiddling the dial on the radio in the apartment I was subletting on 114th St. when I stumbled on a station that was unlike anything that I had ever heard before. They were in the middle of a story about the Appalachian Trail, profiling some of the people who were hiking its two thousand miles that year. The reporting was calm, patient, intelligent, allowing the subject to find its own shape, unfolding slowly, minute after minute, like the trail itself. 

What is this, I thought? What portal had I fallen through? I’d been raised on 1010 WINS, “all news all the time,” blaring the same rotation of headlines, weather, traffic, and trivia, in 40-second increments, for hours at a stretch. The piece that I had happened on that day went on, improbably, for over 20 minutes.

The program I was listening to was called All Things Considered, on a network with the unfamiliar name of NPR, short for National Public Radio. I was immediately hooked. In no time flat, I’d put it on whenever I was home. Morning Edition as soon as I opened my eyes, All Things Considered when I got back in the afternoon, Fresh Air during dinner. I fell in love with Robert Siegel’s wit, RenĂ©e Montagne’s voice, Scott Simon’s charm. These people got me. They shared my interests, my outlook, my sensibilities. For the first time, I felt myself reflected in the public sphere. “NPR,” I put it to a friend a few years later, “is my home in America.”

And that’s the way it was for over 30 years, through the advent of Talk of the Nation and This American Life, of On the Media and Here & Now. NPR became the soundtrack of my life — when I drove, cooked, ate, exercised, did laundry — three or four hours a day, every day.

That is, until around the beginning of last year. My discontent had been building since the previous summer, the summer of the George Floyd protests. It was clear from the beginning that the network would be covering the movement not like journalists but advocates. A particular line was being pushed. There was an epidemic of police violence against unarmed African-Americans; black people were in danger of being murdered by the state whenever they walked down the street. The protests were peaceful, and when they weren’t, the violence was minor, or it was justified, or it was exclusively initiated by the cops. Although we had been told for months to stay indoors, the gatherings did not endanger public health — indeed, they promoted it. I supported the protests; I just did not appreciate the fact that I was being lied to.

But it wasn’t just that story. Overnight, the network’s entire orientation had changed. Every segment was about race, and when it wasn’t about race, it was about gender. The stories were no longer reports but morality plays, with predictable bad guys and good guys. Scepticism was banished. Divergent opinions were banished. The pronouncements of activists, the arguments of ideologically motivated academics, were accepted without question. The tone became smug, certain, self-righteous. To turn on the network was to be subjected to a program of ideological force-feeding. I was used to the idiocies of the academic Left — I had been dealing with them ever since I started graduate school — but now they were leaking out of my radio.

Nor was it only NPR. One by one, the outlets that I counted on for reliable reporting and intelligent opinion — that I, in some measure, identified with — fell in line. The New York Times, which was already in an advanced state of decay, surrendered completely. Ditto The New Yorker. The Atlantic was drifting in the same direction. Inroads appeared in The New York Review of Books. Satirists whom I admired for their alert sense of irony, their ability to recognise the absurdity at all points of the political spectrum  — Stephen Colbert, John Oliver — got the new religion, and started preaching sermons. 

“Moral clarity” became the new journalistic standard, as if the phrase meant anything other than tailoring the evidence to fit one’s preexisting beliefs. I was lamenting the loss, not of “journalistic objectivity,” a foolish term and impossible goal, but of simple journalistic good faith: a willingness to gather and present the facts that bear upon an issue, honestly and clearly, regardless of their implications.

For months, I felt trapped, alone with my incredulity. Was I the only person seeing this? Every time I turned on NPR, my exasperation grew — basically, I was hate-listening after a certain point — but what was the alternative? I literally couldn’t think of any. Then, by sheer dumb luck, I was invited on a podcast to discuss a book I had recently published. It was The Unspeakable, with Meghan Daum, and while I had never thought of myself as a podcast person, I so enjoyed myself, was so impressed with her intelligence and humour, that I became a listener.

I quickly discovered that there was another person seeing what I had been seeing, and not only seeing it, but talking about it: frankly, fearlessly, incisively, in public. And not only one person. For I also discovered, from references she dropped, that there were other podcasts like hers, ones where things you weren’t supposed to talk about were talked about, where things you weren’t supposed to say were said. But how was I going to find the time to listen to them, on top of all that NPR? And then it came to me: I could just stop listening to NPR.

So that is pretty much what I did. Now, in addition to The Unspeakable, I listen to Blocked and Reported (Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal), The Dishcast (Andrew Sullivan), The Glenn Show (Glenn Loury, with John McWhorter as a regular guest), Honestly (Bari Weiss), and LibertiesTalk (Celeste Marcus). I don’t agree with everything these people say, still less with everything their guests do. Weiss is on the centre-Left, Sullivan and Loury on the centre-Right, but more to the point, all of these figures are heterodox, which means that their positions aren’t predictable.

But I didn’t start listening to them because I felt I had a civic duty to expose myself to opinions I disagree with. I started listening to them because I couldn’t stand the bullshit anymore. Because I needed to let in some air. They make me think. They introduce me to perspectives that I hadn’t entertained. They teach me things, and they are usually things the Times or NPR won’t tell you.

I have learned about the lab-leak hypothesis before it became an acceptable topic of discourse. About the lunacy of transgender orthodoxy (“affirmative therapy” for small children, the “cotton ceiling”). About the real statistics on police killings of unarmed black people (according to a Washington Post database, the number shot to death came to 18 in 2020, 6 in 2021). About the truth about Matthew Shepard (who was murdered, by a sometime lover and another acquaintance, over drugs), Jacob Blake (who was shot while stealing his girlfriend’s car, kidnapping her children, resisting arrest, and trying to stab a cop), and Kyle Rittenhouse (who worked in Kenosha, had a father who lived there, and was out that night, however misguidedly, to protect property and provide medical assistance).

More broadly, I have learned of the emergence of an alternative ecosystem of independent-minded journalists, experts, and thinkers, many of them exiles, voluntary or otherwise, from the established media. They are free of institutional allegiances. They are unintimidated by the Twitter mob. They are committed to free inquiry and free speech. They are unafraid of debate. For the first time in a good long while, I feel myself reflected in the public sphere. I have a home, once again, in America.

We talk incessantly these days about political polarisation. Americans are hunkered down in our camps, we say, in our tribes. We are blue versus red, urban versus rural, secular versus religious. But wherever there are tribes, there are individuals who leave their tribe: renegades, heretics, converts; expatriates, emigrants, exiles. The late, great anthropologist David Graeber remarked that despite what we tend to believe about pre-modern social formations — that they were self-enclosed and inescapable — some five percent of their inhabitants, on average, left their group.

So it clearly is today, whatever the exact percentage. We rarely talk about this, but we should. It would help us perceive that our tribes, mentally and socially, are not so inescapable, so self-enclosed. That we have options. That there aren’t just two camps. That you do not have to join a camp at all. Because most of the people who leave one, I would venture to say, do not join the other. They become, as we say, politically homeless: anti-Trump conservatives who do not recognise what’s happened to their movement or their party; progressives, like me, who are disgusted at the spectacle of what progressivism has become.

But maybe the most important reason to talk about the existence of today’s political renegades and ideological heretics is to enable each of them, each of us, to feel less lonely. To live within a tribe is to enjoy the reassurance that you’re one of many. To leave one — to break one’s attachments, to call down the condemnation of one’s peers and friends — is necessarily to feel that you’re alone. But you are not alone.

So why do people leave? How do they change their minds? Different ways, I think. There is the lightning conversion, the stunning realisation that everything you’d previously thought is wrong, and everything you’d thought is wrong is right. Today that sometimes seems to happen to individuals who are raised in restrictive religious environments and who find themselves exposed, accidentally or otherwise, to the scepticism and relativism of the secular world — though obviously the road to Damascus can lead in the other direction, the direction of faith. There is the opposite experience: the feeling not that you have changed but that your tribe has — something that many are feeling with respect to one or other of the major political formations. There is the slow accretion of countervailing information that eventually leads (gradually, then suddenly, like Hemingway’s bankrupt) to a change in one’s view of reality, the way a scientist changes their mind.

But for me the most important way, and not just because it is the one I find most salient for me, is this. You change your mind when you consent to stop ignoring things you know full well but do not want to think about — things that you push to the edges of consciousness, or all the way out. Few of us are scientists. We do not gather facts through careful, ordered processes; we aren’t compelled to make our arguments in formal terms in front of expert referees. Our thinking is less about finding the truth than about making ourselves feel good. And so when we encounter a countervailing piece of information, an uncomfortable truth, we dismiss it as an anomaly, or as not undermining the general point, forgetting the previous “anomalies” and not regarding how they might together utterly destroy the point.

To overcome such a block, to look in the face an unwelcome reality, is first consternation, then liberation. Anyone who’s been in therapy will understand this. The truth always feels good, on a certain level, just because it is the truth. It relieves us of the psychic stress it costs us to resist it.

A few examples from my own thought. Some concern the recognition that we on our side are not any better, in many respects, than those scoundrels on the other. Yes, conservatives are making common cause with authoritarian regimes, but only lately did I let myself acknowledge that the Left has done the same for many years: with Cuba still today, Nicaragua in the 80s, North Vietnam in the 60s, the Soviet Union in the 30s. Yes, Republican leaders are cowards who refuse to denounce the Trumpian extremists in their ranks, but only recently did I allow myself to see that many leaders on the Left are equally spineless, equally faithless, equally complicit in the face of the extremists on their own side. For a lifelong Leftist pushing sixty, admitting this is, as Joe Biden might say, a big fucking deal.

But those are just examples, and they and others like them add up to far more than the sum of their parts. For knowing now how wrong I think I’ve been about so many things, knowing too that outlets and authorities I trusted have been, at the least, not telling the entire truth, and sometimes outright lying; knowing furthermore that others, ones to which I’m not “supposed” to pay attention, might supply the fact or argument that challenges another unexamined assumption — all this has been, to use one of Daum’s favourite words, destabilising. She started her podcast, she’s said, because she doesn’t know what to think anymore, and when I first heard her say that, I smugly dissented. No more. There are plenty of issues on which I still possess a firm opinion, but there are none, I now believe, on which my opinion cannot be overturned.

History is changing, fast. Stabilities are fracturing; intellectual borders are shifting. New movements have emerged, impelled by hidden emotional currents, impelled in turn by forces economic, technological, environmental. But history, I’ve learned, isn’t just something that happens out there. The upheavals it causes are psychic, as well. I had read about this with respect to people in the past, but now I find that I am living it. But that is the thing about history: we always think of it as happening to others, until it comes for us.

***

NOTE: I originally wrote this essay for a different publication. It was one with which I’ve had a long and fruitful relationship, and the editor-in-chief, who is retiring, invited me to contribute to his valedictory issue. His initial reaction was positive, to say the least.Like all your best pieces,” he wrote, “and like many of the other best pieces I’ve run, this one makes me a little scared, but also makes me excited by the prospect of waking people up. It wakes me up. I’ve felt some of this without ever quite admitting it to myself.”

 This, I should say, was according to plan. While politically neutral in theory, the journal had been drifting in the same direction as the rest of the mainstream media. Waking up his readers, whom I doubt had ever heard this kind of argument before, was exactly my intention.

Alas, it was not to be. Two weeks later, the editor wrote me again. “[T]he more I’ve thought about it, the less comfortable I’ve become with associating [the journal] with many of the assertions you make…. [T]here is too much in your piece that I could not defend.”

I had written a piece about the truths we aren’t allowed to utter on the Left, but that truth too, apparently, must not be uttered. The editor, it seemed, did not appreciate the irony. – W.D.


William Deresiewicz is the author of Excellent Sheep, The Death of the Artist, and A Jane Austen Education. The End of Solitude: Selected Essays on Culture and Society will be out in August.

WDeresiewicz

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Great essay. I, too, listened to NPR for decades then noticed it was trending ever leftward until now it is a parody of its former self (and a government-funded parody at that). And like the author, I struggle to find an alternative, unbiased news outlet on radio or the internet. Where, for example, can you find an unbiased, daily account of the war in Ukraine?
To be honest, I’m surprised it took the author so long to have his Damascus moment.
I had written a piece about the truths we aren’t allowed to utter on the Left, but that truth too, apparently, must not be uttered. The editor, it seemed, did not appreciate the irony.
Nah. The editor’s ability to recognize irony had nothing to do with it. The outgoing editor was pressured by his woke colleagues to drop the piece. Simple as that.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

In England, some years back, it was radio 4 which filled that niche for me. Long gone, of course, toddled off down the same trail as NPR by the sound of things. The spaces where ideas could honestly be discussed in depth appeared to me to be to be vanishing. Reality started to reflect Leonard Cohen’s song “The Future” a little too closely for comfort.
Yet the pushback was already well underway, had I but known where to look. Interestingly, I’m discovering podcasts in the same way as the author and beginning to breathe again, so to speak. Change may be inevitable but cultural desertification isn’t; thus I’m glad to hear so many likeminded voices, the more so when they’re coming from people I haven’t even met. Gives me heart – thank you all.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

First time I’ve seen anyone reference that song in print! It’s one of my faves and so prescient.

Mat G
Mat G
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat L

Leonard Cohen has always done in song for me what podcasts now do for this writer. None of the relentless positivity of most songwriters, only – to quote another of his lyrics – the awful truth.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  Kat L

Delightfully dark
 and eerily accurate it turns out! Still, “ring the bells that still will ring”.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Gawd I miss Radio 4. 5 Live went the same way.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Yes, sometimes it feels like a litany of loss
 I’m just glad I can remember it in better days

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

Leonard Cohen is genius. I have all his work.

Ian May
Ian May
2 years ago

I am SO glad I got to see him Live in London in 2012.

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago

Well don’t get too comfortable in your new found intellectual home. The next battle is going to be over laws imposing censorship of the internet. The political class, and mainstream media are noticing that increasing numbers of people aren’t listening to the narrative. People like Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson and Bari Weiss are starting to scare them badly. So the war on ‘misinformation’ has started. Misinformation like the lab leak theory that – let’s face it – should be a much much bigger story. In Canada Justin Trudeau’s liberals are trying to pass a bill to be able to censor everything on the internet. They are also working on some new ‘hate speech’ laws. In the US of course the Democrats are in an unholy alliance with Big Tech – but are finding even that is not enough. Sub stack – Rumble – Parler – Gab – Truth Social – keep chipping away at the narrative and growing audiences. Trudeau was talking about Russian misinformation today in the UK – maybe he needs to use those emergency powers against Canadians again. You know – to protect them from misinformation. And maybe some of those powers may just need to be made permanent as happened last month with the fintech laws.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gunner Myrtle
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

Well, but Russia *does* have a large and effective misinformation and propaganda operation, does it not? As do other large and well-funded groups – like the fossil fuel industry? Just because you are paranoid, it does not mean that you do not have enemies. The alternative to having some, yes, somewhat scary government powers is to leave Exxon, the FSB and their Chinese colleagues free to twist our minds and condition our democratic process as they wish. Of course, if you see your own democratic government as a bigger enemy than the FSB, that would tend to colour your opinion.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Seriously, if Exxon has a “large and well-funded” propaganda group, they should ask for their money back. Oil and gas companies get nothing but a bad rap in the media and the public mind , for decades now.
And they are in direct competition with coal, putting the lie to the fantasy of a single “fossil fuel industry”. Which is more accurately described as hydrocarbons anyway, since fuel is only one valuable use of petrochemicals.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

My Exxon shares have recovered quite nicely thanks to the realization that getting to that green economy will take a bit more time. All in-line with an exploding inflation created by way too many bad policy choices.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
2 years ago

Thank you for the essay. I thoroughly enjoyed it. May I just make the point, as somebody from the UK, that the description that you give of the politicisation of the NPR is exactly what has happened here to our once-loved BBC.

It is such a shame when the tribalists are allowed to capture a once fine institution and ruin it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Albireo Double
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

Our cultural institutions have turned against us. Instead of accurately reflecting the culture they find themselves in, they seek instead to shape and bend it to their will. As nation-states weaken, giant corporations are rushing in to fill the gap. This is all about power over the masses – both physical and psychological. In the case of NPR and other mainstream news outlets, journalists have become a courtier class, desperately seeking to please their corporate masters.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

I’m honestly shocked it took you until 2020. The British equivalent, BBC Radio 4, became impossible to listen to as early as a decade ago, long before the ‘great awokening’, the station dripping with the arrogance of north London champagne socialism and a half-mocking exoticism in relation to non-white people. Women’s hour somehow seemed to be every hour. One eventually had to just switch off. God knows what it became like in 2016 or 2020.

Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

Yes i would put it around the same time – 2010 – when the BBC tipped into full-on partisanship. I carried on listening and watching for a couple more years but haven’t tuned in at all for at least six.
The rot started for me when i noticed that global warming stopped being treated with some degree of scepticism (as is appropriate for a scientific theory) and airtime stopped being given to dissenting views. I wasn’t sold one way or the other on the issue but then all of a sudden the name became “climate change”, the sceptics became “deniers” and the questions like “why was it warmer than today 900 and 2000 years ago?” were never answered.
It was the first time I had heard the BBC take an activist approach rather than a journalistic one to any subject. Sure, there had been politically partial programmes or news items but some semblance of balance was sought. But not with AGW and soon the same stance on the subject crept through all its programmes – news, factual, comedy, light entertainment, drama, children’s, sport. From there it was just a short step to take activist positions on all manner of liberal hobbyhorses.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Fred D. Fulton
Fred D. Fulton
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

Personally I waited rather too long to stop listening to “my” Canadian Broadcasting Corp but I eventually did so. Wokeness out the wazoo, and determined to suppress any genuine debate about covid and the devastating lock down measures. Evidently much more censorship is coming to Canada, but the people sleep blissfully through it, as long as the Gov supports our subsidized and deficit-financed lifestyles and entitlements.

John Aronsson
John Aronsson
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

I noticed a dramatic change in the Western press in February 2014. Before and during the Maidan demonstrations in Ukraine one could easily find essays and actual journalism arguing and reporting both sides in the German and British press; the US press, led by the New York Times, had already been long lost and by then was publishing only State Department propaganda – the Obama effect, don’t ya know.
But after the February coup, it seemed every outlet was simply republishing things that had been published a day or two before in the NYT, the Financial Times and Foreign Policy magazine.
Oh, by the way, Ukraine is not a puppet of the US State Department it’s a puppet of the Democratic National Committee.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Aronsson
John McKee
John McKee
1 year ago
Reply to  John Aronsson

Yes indeed!

sashastone
sashastone
2 years ago

Thanks for this. I thought I was losing my mind midway through 2020. I’d noticed something really strange happening on the Left. I didn’t notice as much prior, even though my daughter had gone to a public high school magnet that was designed around Critical Theory (yes, they were teaching it and are teaching it in public schools all over the country, which is partly why we are here now). I knew she was being indoctrinated into a belief system but I figured I could offer her some critical thinking about it (I didn’t know what it was called but it seemed very cult-like to me, a child of the 70s).
I realize now that in 2012 there was a shift in the thinking on the Left. The rise of the Tea Party was considered a racist movement in response to Obama’s presidency. We all assumed this was so, and as such, began the moral panic of racism. We didn’t realize it was beginning back then. We just thought – all of these racist white people don’t like our Black president. Trump’s own past and how he antagonized the Left (which is probably the reason he was popular, to begin with, and still is) meant that we were satisfied with the idea that Trump=racist, Trump supporers=racist, Trump voters=racist. So you can imagine how it would then have shattered the psyches of the Left when he won.
That, I think, set into motion something like the Red Scare or the witch trials – moral panic and mass hysteria which leads to the fear that the poison, the badness, the wrong thing is inside each one of us – it isn’t even so much about skin color (Larry Elder, for example) but about devout beliefs, ideological compliance. The Me Too movement was the first mass hysteria event. It started out as a reckoning that seemed to have validity but it spiraled to the point where due process was tossed, anyone could be accused of anything and victims were to be believed, no matter what.
Then came the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. A lot of what happened that summer was in direct response to the need to remove Trump from power. So much of everything that happened between 2016-2020 was driven by that but when the major institutions got involved that is when it kicked into something akin to the Red Scare in the 1940s-1950s IMO. This is where we are now. I was worried when Biden took power that it would then get into government. It looks like we were teetering on the edge of that before Putin invaded Ukraine.
We were all part of what built this mess we’re in now. The solution is here, in these words. We must see each other as human beings again, yes even Trump supporters. Even Trump himself. He is, after all, just another human being. More and more people are speaking out and that is good for all of us.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  sashastone

I began to notice something was off back in 2015. I had just emigrated to the US from Europe and started studying at an east-coast college. Almost immediately lumped into the role of Southern antebellum oppressor due to my gender and skin color despite having just arrived in the States. It was then I realized that the US professoriate are complicit in forming a new racial and gender-based hate ideology that needs to create allies and enemies in order thrive.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago

THANK YOU!!!!
Brave writers like you helped to save my sanity: I thought I was the only lifelong progressive Democrat who felt alienated by the “Left”.
What you describe in your article started happening to so called “feminism” about 20 years ago (only the “second wave” of feminism actually accomplished anything for women, the following “waves” were just various forms of backlash).
Today’s “feminists” think it’s empowering to be a “sex worker”. The current Left gets away with a great deal of reality distortion by creating extremely broad categories. A “sex worker” can be a pornographer, a pimp, a cam girl, a lingerie model, or an 18 year old homeless addict selling blow jobs in tents on the street. Guess which of those people gets a platform to defend “sex work”?
The Academic Left filled in the gap created by the loss of Democratic working class voters in the 80’s and 90’s, and it has been a disaster.
Academics live in their heads, so they dismiss anything that effects the body as an illusion.
So what if multiple dead eyed strangers penetrate your bodily orifices every day? It’s “just work” and the body isn’t real anyway.
Cyntoia Brown, a Black teen trafficking survivor who murdered a white sex consumer, was the darling of the Left when she was in prison; now that she’s been released and speaks out against the decriminalization of pimps and sex consumers, she is politely ignored in favor of white former “cam girls” like Melissa Gira Grant.
The current Left is not only extremely heartless (which is what happens when you’re bodiless) they are extremely hypocritical, AND classist, AND racist, AND misogynist.
I was a Sanders/Warren Democrat but I’m now a registered Independent.
I cried tears of happiness when a Republican defeated the Democratic candidate for City Attorney in Seattle (she wanted to decriminalize pimping and sex buying in a city overflowing with homeless women and kids, which is a sex trafficker’s dream come true). These “sex work is work” people claim to support “sex work” not sex trafficking, but how could sex trafficking exist without sex consumers? It couldn’t – yet these people want to make life easier for the very same people who fuel sex trafficking.
The “Squad” lost me when they came out against FOSTA/SESTA (supposedly in defense of “sex workers”; gee, I wonder which ones?)
I now donate to anyone who runs against them.
Anyway, that’s only ONE of my complaints against the current Woke Left.
Thank You so much for your courage.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Thanks for explaining the perceptions of sex work, Penny. I had no idea that the term applied to rich ‘glamour’ models and their managers at the expense of those who operate in the shadowy margins of society.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Penny, many of us have been red pilled in the last half decade or so. It is unsettling to try to find a new home, but try we must. The ‘progressive’ left are illiberal and have stolen my centre left liberal home.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago

Conservatives are making “common cause” with authoritarian regimes? What regimes would those be? The authoritarian over our northern border was certainly not supported by conservative truckers. Conservatives do not support buying oil and gas from Russia and Iran. Conservatives are repelled by China and its social credit score system. Conservatives don’t lock down whole nations and threaten those who object with prosecution and ostracization. And conservatives will show the American authoritarians the door in November. Of course, NPR and the other media outlets the author cites will keen and lament and lie about the reasons for that, no doubt placing the blame on their two favorite evils, Trump and racism, having learned nothing at all.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
2 years ago

I noticed that too and wondered who he meant – maybe Hungary (?) but Hungary is a far cry from the USSR, Cuba, etc regimes he notes in the left. Clearly, he wanted to signal to us where his deep biases remain.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Pearse

I suspect he’s either bought into the flagrant, scurrilous media lie that conservatives in America are somehow siding with and/or defending Putin, or he’s just added the lie to his piece so as not to lose cred with his fellow leftists who will take offense at his heresy.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago

Apparently Tucker has created a small army suggesting he is a Putin friend. Seems to me Tucker is trying to warn us not to go to war over Ukraine. We are navigating a tricky path in trying to support Ukraine without angering Putin. Putin was praised by Trump only because Putin took advantage of a situation that was inspired by an apparent US weakness. Trump blowing his own horn again doesn’t make him a Putin stooge only continues Trump’s infernal promotion of himself.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago

Interesting point. The only example I can think of right now is Viktor Orban’s Hungary. Tucker Carlson recently went there to do a series of interviews of Orban, and some percentage of the Right seems to be quite taken by Orban’s “strong leadership.” I didn’t watch the interviews and have no opinion on Orban (only 24 hours in a day). I have, however, watched many Carlson clips on YouTube, looking for the “white supremacist” that I’ve been warned about for years, and have yet to spot him.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Unfortunately, these days, perhaps always, any revered institution is prone to capture by the political class.

Almost always leftist, overeducated, underemployed, looking for that sweet flowing stream of public money.

Jason Highley
Jason Highley
2 years ago

I’ve left old media behind entirely, and when it comes to social, my only further interactions will be in the alt/parallel economy:
-Gab
-Telegram (multiple private groups + Project Veritas)
-Substack (Ben Domenech/The Transom, Bari Weiss, Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Freddie deBoer, Jessica Rose, Steve Kirsch)
-Podcasts (Issues, etc., Young Heretics, The Federalist Radio Hour, Bear Grease, Andrew Hubermann Show, Radio Free Cybertron)
This is what all the free-thinking people my age are consuming. And honestly, it’s changed my life. All for the better. It’s so much more satisfying, fun, and liberating to question.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

Great list
I would add there are certain sites as well, Spectator, Unherd which are more open. Alongside certain Twitter humour handles such as Titania McGrath (they really hate humour) and Babylon Bee.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Jason Highley

A solid 5% would be a good start…and still adds up to a pretty big tribe….maybe even hope !

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago

I guess you’ve “triggered” me (in a good way) cuz I’ve got more to say:
Kyle Rittenhouse: what the “woke” media failed to report is that the first man Rittenhouse shot had previously been convicted of raping young boys. Rittenhouse looked about 12, and a convicted boy rapist was aggressively advancing upon him. The kid assumed (accurately, it turned out) that he would be severely harmed if this man got ahold of his gun and overpowered him. This relevant information was excluded from the Woke media.
Jacob Blake: he was a serial abuser of Black women and children, and had previously raped a Black woman in front of her child. I guess when the Woke say “Black Lives Matter” they mean Black male perpetrators, not the Black women and children they victimize.
Black Lives Matter: I was devastated and enraged when George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin. I thought then, and think now, that Zimmerman is a dangerous man and should be in prison. I marched in early BLM demonstrations in support of Black Lives, NOT in support of abolishing prisons or the police. Police and prison reform? Of course! Police and prison abolition? That is infantile, classist, and insane. The current leaders of BLM think all the Zimmermans of the world should go free, which is NOT “anti-racist”.
Gender Identity: my son is a trans man, so I have actual skin in this game. Trans women are trans women, they are not genetic women. Trans men are trans men, they are not genetic men and never can be. So what??? My son needs protection from discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare, and adoption. He does NOT need people to bow down to insane fictions like “men get pregnant, too” (no, genetic men cannot get pregnant, only trans men can get pregnant because they are genetically female). He does NOT need people to claim that “some penises are female” (nope – sorry. If you wanna be a lady, lose the D or keep it hidden). The looney-tunes ideology being promoted by the Woke Left is undermining my son and ALL trans people. They are fueling an ugly backlash that I can’t help but have sympathy for (Lia Thomas???? Don’t get me started). Trans activists are “deeply” concerned about hurting my son’s feelings by acknowledging that only genetic females can menstruate or get pregnant, but they don’t give a damn about what would happen to him – or any trans man – if they were sent to a men’s prison. Trans men have vaginas and are typically smaller than genetic men: can you imagine the horror of being the only person with a vagina in a men’s prison? NO ONE talks about this issue. Ever. This is hypocritical insanity.
Anyway, that’s enough venting for now. I guess I won’t be needing my coffee this morning.
Thank You again for your honesty and courage.
Also: JK Rowling RULES!!!

Last edited 2 years ago by Penny Adrian
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Trayvon Martin was sitting on top of George Zimmerman, banging Zimmerman’s head on the sidewalk, when Zimmerman shot Martin. In Montana, where I grew up, that’s self defense. The Florida jury thought so too.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Obviously you are paying attention and aren’t buying the spin. My best wishes that your child can deal with his hard path.

Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago

That editor’s loss is our gain. Thank you.

Paul Scannell
Paul Scannell
2 years ago

Nails on head in every paragraph. Thank you for your wise words.

Rhonda Culwell
Rhonda Culwell
2 years ago

We watched a lot of PBS, but I finally cancelled my monthly membership for the reasons you stopped listening to NPR. The only thing I miss is my PBS Passport, where I could choose to watch specific programs at my own leisure.
I enjoy hearing other viewpoints and leaning about other parts of the world, hence UnHerd, but PBS had become so inbred and focused on one point of view that it just wasn’t for me anymore. There are better places to get information.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

It is one thing for an individual to “change your mind when you consent to stop ignoring things you know full well but do not want to think about.”
It is another thing for a ruling class to change its mind. Because rulers and politicians cannot admit a mistake or change their minds.
Not their fault. It’s just that the politician thing is to be Henry V bellowing “once more unto the breach” until the day dawns when nobody follows them into the breach.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

Maybe it’s the outsiders perspective as an immigrant, but I don’t think tribalism is the problem – the term implies a problem shared by both sides, and also suggests both sides are comparable in terms of mindset.

I would argue while conservatives may have certain questionable views (such as excessive restrictions on abortion), they are essentially tolerant, “live and let live” folk who you can live with even if you disagree.

The key crisis issue facing the West is the other “progressive” side are not just tribal, they are a) utterly hostile to criticism or dissent b) have a stranglehold on education and media and c) are utterly evil as their stance on issues such as energy security, trans or race issues reveal.

Dawn McD
Dawn McD
2 years ago

This guy is my age, and if I had one person in my own life like this, someone I could talk to about this change I’ve gone through, as he has, I also would not feel so lonely. The only community I have is on the Internet. The thing that gets me the most is the sense of betrayal, all the decades of my adult life I swam in the wrong water, taken in by a cult that lied to me and convinced me to vote for the wrong people, that tricked me into living, in part, a “wrong life.” This is time that I can’t get back, and it’s incredibly painful and difficult to pick up the pieces of myself and search for a path forward.
The cult would be happy, now that I’ve escaped, if I would just let myself be destroyed, but I’m not going to let them win. I’m learning a lot and have not lost my sense of humor, so in my better moments I tell myself that I’m living by the motto of Galaxy Quest (“Never give up, never surrender!”). In my worst moments, when I wake up in the middle of the night, in tears, I survive by reminding myself that I’m not going to let the bad guys win. If I give up on myself, they win.

Martin Rossol
Martin Rossol
2 years ago
Reply to  Dawn McD

Oh, don’t give up! There are more of “you” than you can imagine. The more we speak up, the more there will be that speak up.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

Very thoughtful and well argued piece, glad we had the opportunity to read it.
Podcasts seem to offer an alternative but as a commentator says below, the next challenge will be censorship, which is rapidly creeping in. We will end up with radios concealed under the floor; trying to tune in to the ever varying frequencies of broadcasters hiding from the authorities…

frank6
frank6
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

in Canada the media is either state-owned (CBC) or subsidized. Guess how they are going to cover issues like the trucker protests?

Amol Kaikini
Amol Kaikini
2 years ago

Thank you. David Mamet, a playwright, wrote a piece in the Village Voice a few years ago. He reacted to NPR similarly. When I search for that write-up I can’t find it. PBS TV news hour has gone in the same direction.

Vince B
Vince B
2 years ago

Outstanding essay. Mr. Deresiewicz’s NPR saga mirrors mine exactly. I fell in love with it 30 years ago for the very same reasons he did, and now, post-George Floyd, I can barely listen to it.
They often present a fact without any context, with the hope that the audience will fill in the blank in the way they way progressive activist would want them to.
For instance, some months ago they reported that black small business owners weren’t getting accepted for pandemic relief from their banks at the rate at which white small business owners were, in a head shaking, “isn’t that sad and wrong?” tone. No context, no follow-up, no digging into the criteria used to grant or refuse relief to any business.
The audience was meant to assume that the simple lack of parity was evidence that racist bankers were knowingly trying to cut out black small business owners in favor of white ones.
This just makes you ill that there is so few real sources of journalism worth trusting anymore. As the author wrote, “objectivity” is not the standard to hold journalists to, but mere “good faith.” They’ve all become activists.

Art C
Art C
2 years ago

Good stuff. “I couldn’t stand the bullshit anymore” sums it up. And (don’t like) “being lied to”, “race .. gender … morality plays” all strike the same chord. What stands out is the breath-taking mediocrity of the people operating in politics and the mass media now. It’s easily understood though: no individual with any integrity could sign up to the blatant mendacity & blinding omissions which are now part & parcel of corporate media output. No principles are required to be a mere purveyor of a “narrative”. All you need to do is adhere to a script; and smear anything running counter to the (currently) accepted narrative as “far-right”, “extremist” or “conspiracy-theory”. Q.E.D. Of course humility is not part of this job description: people like Rachel Maddow & David Frum & Justin Trudeau are live performing proof of the Dunning Kruger effect. Which means the listener/watcher are patronised regularly too.
It’s not 1984 just yet though. In the West, at least, we have some freedom of choice. So unless one is some sort of masochist who enjoys having their intelligence insulted daily one doesn’t have to consume this garbage, as the writer points out. The good news is that the legacy media (at least large parts of it) cannot compete with new media and is dying. Also, the wider public is slowing waking up to the fact that public services like NPR and the BBC have no right to taxpayers money to run advocacy platforms. Pushback “defund” movements are becoming ever more popular for politicians of a different stripe to back.
In the meantime, thank God for podcasts; and SubStack; and sites like UnHerd & Quillette too!

Martin Rossol
Martin Rossol
2 years ago

I gave up on NPR about 8 yrs ago. I had similar experience when I started University at Michigan State U. NPR was this very interesting radio station with no (limited?) advertisements. Honestly, I still recall 3-4 of the most captivating stories I have listened to on NPR.
My parents from Poland and Romania, immigrated to the US in ’49 and ’51. They lost everything in the war. I was born in 1955 and never knew anything but: “The United States of America” is the best country; the best thing that ever happened to us.” Well, the USA is far from perfect. But I also learned that you don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.
Hmm. Let me state some of the obvious: Why the need for an ‘Iron Curtain’? Why are Chinese children starving? Why are people fleeing Cuba? Why do I have freedom [of education, religion, travel, work, association, etc.] when so many others in the world do not?
When the “major media”; the ‘legacy media’ began singing from one song sheet and not allowing any deviation from ‘their’ narrative, I said, “I’m out of here.” And low and behold, there are hundreds, thousands, who see this same bias.
I’m certain I wont’ agree 100% on all issues with everyone on UnHerd [maybe 50%??], but I’m sure we can all agree that freedom of thought and speech is right at the top of the priority list that we should stand for and be counted.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Rossol

I am, like you and William, out of (t)here . . . and into UnHerd. What a refreshing bunch of writers!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Ahh America.. the land of people who think that Austria had kangaroos and Windsor Castle was built in the Heathrow flight path…

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
2 years ago

Well, we did have a president who said people in Austria spoke Austrian. It wasn’t Trump either.

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
2 years ago

Well I’m an American and I know Austria gave us Arnold and Viennese pastries like Christoph Waltz; regarding Windsor, God save your gracious queen, as she is all that keeps Charles the Twit from the throne.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ray Zacek
T Bone
T Bone
2 years ago

Why is it so imperative that Leftugees retain such lazy, reductive thinking about Trump voters or Nationalists in general? It appears most Leftugees retain the NPR snobbery of Limousine Liberalism while ditching it’s most extreme idiocies.  Obviously there are certain things like Trump Supporters = Fascist and Victor Orban = Dictator that still have to be taken as an article of faith.  Those ideas are simply facts and not subjected to any kind of good faith rational evaluation. 

At the end of the day, there is a relatively binary choice between the Globalist/collectivist institutional worldview and the Nationalist/Individualist libertarian perspective.  Whether one wants to actively engage politically but hold themselves out as being “above the fray” is up to them but it’s not intellectually honest. You’re allowed nuance.  You don’t have to identify with any political tribe but you know good and well that it’s not the right that’s freezing anyone’s ability to speak and imposing speech codes on dissident speech similar to Putin’s control edicts.

The perception of Trump voters is shaped by a curated narrative that we might call “misinformation” created by “disinformation.”  Most Trump voters want to be left alone.  Period.  Trump resonates because he was willing to call out the nonsense at a time when no other politician would do it.  Is he kind of an idiot? Yeah, but he’s the kind of idiot that wasn’t interested in toppling foreign governments to create refugee crises across the globe.  American Interventionalism doesn’t work.  We’re over it.

Last edited 2 years ago by T Bone
Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
2 years ago

Great piece. Agreed with virtually every aspect of it but at the same time felt that my own thinking was being endorsed but with greater eloquence. The gradual degrading by secularists of moral values alongwith a woke culture that masquerades as progressive has deadened much of the population’s thinking to the extent of apayhy.
This has permitted these ‘social scientists’ to create an ethereal world of non binary genders, white privilege and Zero policies on Covid and Climate. All this sounds so unoffensive and soft but in fact will bury Western civilisation.

Dominic A
Dominic A
2 years ago

I wonder if some of this is in reaction to the rise of China & the accompanying notions that democracy is weak, fatally flawed; a ‘benign’ dictatorship is best. Both left and right seem to be craving the cold comforts of authoritarianism. It’s an almost universal human desire to celebrate/worship/follow a ‘one true thing’ – especially when anxious & insecure.

Insufficiently Sensitive
Insufficiently Sensitive
2 years ago

The tone became smug, certain, self-righteous.
Some of us had noticed that of NPR by the 1990s, and it only got worse, as Mr. Deresiewicz describes. Long past time to colonize NPR with 50% of non-‘progressive’ voices, and to end that mandatory knowitall diction too.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

It’s interesting how long it took the author to see what’s been happening at NPR. I heard what happened at Obama’s inauguration; seriously, I thought the commentators were going to start bawling and kissing each other. Then came the ‘changing hearts and minds’ regarding ss marriage and illegal immigration. Never a negative story about the latter and only one in depth opposing report about the former that didn’t automatically paint it as bigotry. It got so bad that I had to stop donating. Why give money to pay people who despise my values?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Thanks for this article which follows my own distress with being deprived of media outlets that provide informed insight and balance. Like others here I gave up on the BBC about 10 years ago, before there were decent alternatives available online.
As ever, nature abhors a vacuum.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
Michael Sweeney
Michael Sweeney
2 years ago

I have lived in Manhattan for 30+ years, dropped “The Times” in April 2020, and here we are on “UnHerd.” Welcome.
And don’t get cocky Freddie Sayers. I read Substack too!!

Last edited 2 years ago by Michael Sweeney
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

On the satirists, they’ve unfortunately conformed with the dogma, none more so than John Oliver. He’s become so extreme.

I find Bill Maher a decent port in the storm even though I disagree with his politics, and he just didn’t understand Brexit at all.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

I’ve just had another comment held up for approval. Can’t work out why?

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

This is the comment. I wonder if it will escape the AI if I post it as a reply to myself?
“Thank you, William, a lot of us are making this transition in order to satisfy a desire for truth and candour. For instance, GBNews highlighted a report about the White House being bugged via a democrat-inspired tech internet installer. I haven’t found this on any major public outlets; I wonder why?
Your final comments explain the conundrum well. However, in the body, I wondered why you had to state that you are on the Left? It made no difference to your excellent reasoning; so I wondered if it is the last vestige of fear that by being honest you might get labelled alt-right or conspiracist or something. In the end candour has to surf the tsunami of brainless insults and keep broadcasting.“

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I repeated the comment as a reply and it is being held up! Whatever is going on?

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter LR
Andrea X
Andrea X
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I do hope that UnHerd fixes this problem pretty soon. It is becoming very annoying and in a little while it may well become suspicious.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrea X

Yes, UnHerd. Please quickly fix this or give a convincing explanation for what is going on.

Otherwise, I predict your readership will, like audiences of NPR and the BBC, be looking for a new home with a more reliable (trustworthy?) provider.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Now it is restored. I’ve lodged a complaint to try and discover why it was flagged.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I complained about a blocked (later released) post and another one which disappeared although still findable under My Comments and I have to say the reply was corporate blah blah blah.

Marilyn Foley
Marilyn Foley
2 years ago

This piece is just wonderful. Thank you SO much!!!

Jim Davis
Jim Davis
2 years ago

Better late than never. Some of us made this transition after emerging from the angst of the 60s when many blindly followed the leftist dogma. Military service, university, real jobs, marriage, and children necessitated a shift in thinking from philosophical pipe dreams to survival in the real world.
William, you have arrived at a place and space where understanding is more important than agreement. The only risk you take in a conversation with someone who thinks differently is that you may learn something that makes you question yourself…which is a good thing.
So please write some more for us. When you can write an article like this without clinging to your political label or even mentioning the former President, you will have truly arrived in the New World.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jim Davis
Kerry Godwin
Kerry Godwin
2 years ago

The author actually pivoted me with his honest self-reflection into a quieter, more thoughtful direction. Well done. This is why I pay money to subscribe to UnHerd.

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago

Thank you so much for this. I speak I am sure for all the ‘politically homeless’ — and there are many in the West — who find relief in such an articulate wake up call.

LCarey Rowland
LCarey Rowland
2 years ago

I am empathetic with your experience and your responses. Mine is quite similar.
Born in 1951, I can remember Cronkite, Huntley-Brinkley, Mike Wallace, Morley Safer . . . Camelot.
It is a sad state of affairs, and tolerable until the Fox stole the henhouse, and–allied with Trump–carried the Right wing to regions of obsession and paranoia not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy.
As for NPR, I find Megna Chakrabarti and Jack Beatty, On Point, to be a quite tolerable, even edifying, analysis of the news. And sometimes even Terri Gross and Dave Davie at Fresh Air can be quite informative, thought provoking an edifying.
All that said, my assessment of our situation is that if we allow the trumpian element of the GOP to take control of the party–and the Senate–we will be in for real trouble.
The criminals of Jan6 need to be brought to justice. That is one crusade of the left that is necessary and worthwhile. I am gaining confidence in Attorney General Garland to get to the bottom of what happened in that attempted treason.
And hey! William, when push comes to shove, just flip on over the UnHerd to get a truly balanced perspective of any given issue.
And just now, with a mad Russian on the loose Ukraine, we have much more important issues to deal with. We are going to have to find some Yankee solidarity to confront the threat of a hitler-sudetenland replay of world war.
As far as that goes, I have full confidence in our highly experienced statesman, President Joe Biden, to lead the way through this East European minefield. We need to get this very important mission out of the way.
And I might add that our President Biden was no wild-eyed leftist Democrat. In the primaries, he found the pulse of the people to steal the Demmi party away from Bernie and Elizabeth. That was a very favorable development.
And of course, the NPR crowd are quite supportive of our President–who is much “stronger” than the Fox crowd give him credit for. Perhaps after this military project we will have reached a new frontier of consensus about what is truly important, and thereby forget about identity pronouns and transie education for grade school kids. Don’t say gay, say hey! this is America and parents are free to train their children according to their own values without having to fear sabotage in the minds of their children at the State-mandated schoolhouse.
And that’s the way it is, March 2022.
And a few hours later . . . Excuse me for getting carried away. Your statement here . . .
You change your mind when you consent to stop ignoring things you know full well but do not want to think about — things that you push to the edges of consciousness, or all the way out. . .
says it all. Thank you, William, for this thought-provoking entry on UnHerd. Keep up the good work.

Last edited 2 years ago by LCarey Rowland
Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago
Reply to  LCarey Rowland

What about the criminals who devastated mostly Black poor/working class neighborhoods and lives in 2020?

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Which sector is bigger in the USA
 the far right or the far left?

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

In the United States of the Media, the Far Right is massive.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

What publications? What TV channels?

frank6
frank6
2 years ago

Fox News (Murdoch) is center-right on it’s news coverage, more populist right (Tucker Carlson, Hannity) on its opinion shows. Minor contenders Newsmax and OANN more hard right. The rest of the major news channels and newspapers are uniformly left to hard-left, with the exception of NY Post and WSJ (both Murdoch owned)
While there are a lot of conservative radio shows out there, none have the footprint or audience of Rush Limbaugh (RIP). Big hole in the American media landscape with his passing a year ago.
National Review is more center-right than hard right (old-school conservatism). Bulwark/Kristol are Democrat neocons pretending to be conservative.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago
Reply to  frank6

Spot on

Ian May
Ian May
2 years ago
Reply to  frank6

I know this is pretty much impossible, but I don’t want to listen to left or right, but just the facts. I don’t want opinionated drivel from either side. I can make my own mind up. Personally, I’ve never aligned with one side or the other and I can often see the other side’s viewpoint, even if I disagree, but I never want to be told how I should think.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago

I think Brendan was making the subtle point that to the US media, the far right SEEMS massive. In reality the population of most western countries is moderate right on financial issues and moderate left on social issues

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Yes, sorry. Not so much subtle as hastily-written.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brendan O'Leary
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

And what size of the population is far right vs far left (progressive). And how do they organize in terms of names of factions and organisations.

Rob Wright
Rob Wright
2 years ago

Radio is Right. TV and Print is Left. Generally speaking.

Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

All legacy media is Left except Fox. The only balance is talk radio which is mostly Right.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
2 years ago

Speaking as a long time political junkie I would have to say the Far Left is much more public thanks to major media such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS,NBC, and especially CNN and MSNBC. The Far Right is more subterranean with fewer public media outlets. But if you listen to people on radio talk shows, they are there.

frank6
frank6
2 years ago

Most of the population is center-right. The media (with a few exceptions) is left to far-left.

PB Storyman
PB Storyman
2 years ago

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies!!!

Frank Giove
Frank Giove
2 years ago

In the end, evolution equalizes us. Thank you for an excellent essay.

chuckpezeshki
chuckpezeshki
2 years ago

It’s painful to read yet another essay on how someone realized the mainstream narrative was shit, and then, at the end of this pandemic, still give the nod to scientists as some immutable, rational force. It means that while I may agree with many of Deresievicz’ main points, he’s still trapped in The Matrix, and while he’s willing to change his mind on subject matter (thank goodness for that) he still doesn’t understand he’s still trapped in an illusion of how that selfsame society “says” knowledge is created.
Except it isn’t. Knowledge is created in communities, with different network topologies, and bound together, to the extent that they are there, by the quality of connections inside that network topology. The shape of that network, and the quality of connections is characterized by the values that drive the community — notably its views on agency/independence, and empathy/connection to others.
We desperately need new models to understand how communities create knowledge. We need a new field of memetics, that is free of the burdens of the past beliefs, which are so obviously wrong.
If you want a deeper dive — here is a start: https://empathy.guru/2019/04/06/what-is-structural-memetics-and-why-does-it-matter/

Joe Wein
Joe Wein
2 years ago

I have traveled the same path as you, but several years ago. Welcome to the Dark Side.

Insufficiently Sensitive
Insufficiently Sensitive
2 years ago

But it wasn’t just that story. Overnight, the network’s entire orientation had changed. Every segment was about race, and when it wasn’t about race, it was about gender. 
This geezer thinks that that taking of notice about NPR’s monolithic POV (no enemies to the left) is about a generation or more later than its original occurrances. All it’s done is intensify that self-appointed position as Commissar for the Masses, and the hell with the half of the country who doesn’t toot the ‘progressive’ horn.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago

What made us vulnerable to believing this new ‘religion’ in the first place?
(I write from London but the trend is much the same).

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Johnson
D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

Thanks for the podcast tips. I’m going to start with The Unspeakable – it looks interesting.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
2 years ago

I might disagree about Nicaragua. Otherwise, the article reflects what so many of us have experienced.

Melanie Mabey
Melanie Mabey
2 years ago

Excellent piece your very last paragraph is exactly how I feel; so scarry that your former editor refused to publish it; sounds like this whole type of thinking – call it wokery call it what you will – is turning into a cult. I was reading last night ‘Disciplined Minds’ by Jeff Schmidt who made the point that in Cult type thinking there can be no questioning whatsover.