In the sequel to the Hunger Games (an increasingly prescient dystopian tale), heroine Katniss Everdeen, a reluctant dissident against the ruling regime, is given a piece of critical advice: “remember who the real enemy is.”
The advice is important — in the story, a key tool of the regime’s control was its ability to force people who would otherwise be friends into becoming mortal foes. They didn’t really wish to fight each other, but they also knew that refusing to do so would incite the wrath of the regime.
While “enemy” is perhaps too strong a word for Americans to apply to each other, it certainly seems that Republicans could use some reminding about where the myriad of ills befalling the nation (cancel culture, double standards, rioting, a breakdown of law & order, Critical Race Theory, etc. etc.) are coming from.
Hint: it’s the media.
Republicans in Congress, in particular, seem to have difficulty grasping this fact. Why else would so many otherwise-decent GOP lawmakers sign on to the diabolical Journalism Competition and Preservation Act? As I explained in a previous column, this is a bill that would give big media companies even more power to pressure Silicon Valley to give them special favors.
The lawmakers are clearly confused about who the real enemy is. They think it’s Silicon Valley, which has fought tooth and nail against similar legislation in Australia.
It’s true, Silicon Valley censors conservative politicians, conservative activists, and conservative media. But it does so in large part because of the establishment media.
The media spent four years since 2016 whipping up hysteria about “fake news,” “disinformation,” and “extremism,” laying almost all of the blame for it on Big Tech companies. The media whipped up gigantic advertiser boycotts against both YouTube and Facebook because they hosted too much content the media disliked.
There are plenty of left-wingers inside Big Tech companies that agitate for censorship, and would continue to do so without the media’s influence. But it was only after the media turned its gaze towards Silicon Valley, in particular its escalation of the “disinformation” narrative after 2016, that their agitation started to achieve success.
You can take the same formula and apply it to every other institution that has shifted to the radical left. Hollywood. The NFL. Major League Baseball. Sneaker companies. Shaving companies. Breakfast cereals. Are all of these industries inherently woke? No — but woke activists know they can call on the media whenever they want if their companies don’t play ball. And the companies know that too.
Someone who seems to get the picture is Washington DC appellate judge Laurence Silberman. His recent dissent in Tah v. Global Witness Publishing, should be required reading for any Republican who still thinks the corporate mainstream media is a force for good in American society.
From Judge Silberman’s dissenting opinion:
There can be little question that the overwhelming uniformity of news bias in the United States has an enormous political impact. That was empirically and persuasively demonstrated in Tim Groseclose’s insightful book, Left Turn: How Liberal Media Bias Distorts the American Mind (2011). Professor Groseclose showed that media bias is significantly to the left. Id. at 192–197; see also id. at 169–77. And this distorted market has the effect, according to Groseclose, of aiding Democratic Party candidates by 8–10% in the typical election. Id. at ix, 201–33. And now, a decade after this book’s publication, the press and media do not even pretend to be neutral news services.
It should be borne in mind that the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news. It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy. It may even give rise to countervailing extremism. The First Amendment guarantees a free press to foster a vibrant trade in ideas. But a biased press can distort the marketplace. And when the media has proven its willingness—if not eagerness—to so distort, it is a profound mistake to stand by unjustified legal rules that serve only to enhance the press’ power. [emphasis ours]
Judge Silberman argued that media bias is so bad that the Supreme Court should consider overturning New York Times v. Sullivan, a controversial case where the Supreme Court invented special First Amendment protection when discussing public figures. It protects media companies from defamation lawsuits unless victims can prove “actual malice.”
The power of the media to smear and defame without suffering any consequences cannot be overstated. It is another reason why woke activists have been able to take over virtually every American institution unopposed. So long as they can, without suffering any consequence, use the media to smear people as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, and every other buzzword, they will continue to win.
In every mainstream institution, you will find an underground conservative contingent. In some, like Hollywood and Silicon Valley, you might find a lot more than you expect. But they’re all underground, hidden from view, impossible to find — like Soviet dissidents. Why?
Again: because of the media.
Having a blue-haired, wide-eyed social justice activist call you a bigot in your workplace is a mild annoyance. But having the activist complain about “systemic bigotry in the workplace” is a different matter — that gets your company in trouble, it makes them more likely to fire you, and it makes other companies less likely to hire you.
Movies directed by open conservatives are almost guaranteed to be trashed by the critics. Technology companies that cater to conservatives, like Gab and Parler, can expect ceaseless media pressure on their business partners to cut ties with them. And on an individual level, dissenters against the narrative, like James Damore, can expect to have their personal reputation ruined by the media.
Remember, Silicon Valley’s founding values were libertarian. Openness, freedom, disruption, a disdain for legacy institutions and government regulation were all popular viewpoints in tech — and still are, if you know where to look for them.
But, with the exception of a few untouchable billionaires, you are far less likely to find them publicly displayed today than you were in the 1990s. Again, because of the media.
Republicans in Congress: this is not a side-issue. This is the issue.
So next time Democrats (and Newscorp) come to you saying you have to sign on to a bill to “save journalism,” think twice.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.