After the New Hampshire primary results came in, I flipped on the news sites to see what they were saying. Fox News had a panel discussing the results in the same design you see ex-jocks discussing ball games. They were talking about the exit polling and all were shocked at the numbers. I got the feeling they really believed that some miracle was going to bring down Trump. Instead, it was a blowout in favor of him.
It reminded me of the ’94 election when the Republicans swept the House for the first time in fifty years. I was sitting with some friends and we were flipping from channel to channel, laughing at the shock and horror of the news readers. I forget who it was, I think he is dead now, but one of them appeared to be close to tears. Everything they believed in was suddenly proven false.
The concept of a “media bubble” is nothing new and many in the media fully admit to living in such a bubble. For the men and women of the prestige press, America is a foreign country in the same way India was foreign to British colonial officers. Watching the Fox show, I would not have been surprised if one of them blurted out, “What’s wrong with these morons?” It was what they were thinking.
The great transformation of the American mass media into a sealed off class is a relatively new thing. Originally, the news business was for the lower classes. If you were a working class guy possessing a decent IQ, being a newsman was a great way to avoid the factory life. You got to work inside, keep odd hours and have a lot of fun covering the events of the day. It was the sort of gig for the literate man, who liked adventure.
That changed in the 70’s as news reporter became a profession. Today, a paper like the Washington Post hires only from elite colleges. Northwestern and Columbia specialize in journalism, even having grad schools for it. Syracuse, another very good college, has long dominated the minting of TV and radio graduates. The prestige press is littered with Ivy League grads these days.
Of course, you don’t end up at the Columbia School of Journalism if your dad is a plumber and mom is the payroll manager at the local Chevy dealership. The elite colleges draw from the elite high schools, mostly private high schools. Many of the boys and girls milling around the Yale campus made it to adulthood never having met a plumber or ever collecting a paycheck, so they enter the bubble unfamiliar with the world they intend to cover as journalists.
While it is not a conspiracy or even a coordinated effort, the media tends to move as one organism. That’s why both sides are horrified by what they see from the Dirt People recently. They fashion themselves as savvy cultural observers and they never saw this coming. Even when it is explained to them in detail, they look blankly out at the mobs, not understanding what’s happening
On my trip around the dial I did not hear the “I” word until finally one of the Fox color commentators mentioned it briefly. The reason for this is they experience immigration differently from the Dirt People. For them, its just another charm on the piety bracelet. They are for open borders because only racists and xenophobes are against it.
The rest of America interfaces with the subject in a much different way. The Dirt People go to the ER to get some stitches and see it looks like a Tijuana bus station. Their kid’s school now has Bantus for some reason. Their insurance goes up because the illegal that rear ended them had no license or insurance.They lost their job because their employer brought in a bunch of H1B indentured servants.
When 75% of the tech jobs in Silicon Valley are held by foreigners, the Dirt People are, unsurprisingly, a little cynical about the elite’s immigration romanticism. More important, they are horrified when their healthy skepticism is called bigoted or un-American by the people who rule over them. It is this contempt for the Dirt People that is so noxious. As I’m fond of saying, it makes you want to spit on your hands, hoist the black flag and slit some throats.
That’s what the Cloud People don’t understand. Most of the Dirt People are fine with sensible immigration. They just expect it to be debated in the context of what is best for Americans. Instead, it’s treated like child pornography. There’s only one acceptable opinion and any deviations means you’re a vulgar bigot. As is so often the case, the response from the Cloud People is “suck to be you!”
I remember when Reagan was accused of going around the media to talk directly to the people. Then it was talk radio becoming the alternative to the liberal press. Then cable news, then the Internet and then Fox and now here we are, right back where we started. If you want anything resembling reality based commentary you end up reading hate thinkers like me. The point being that the brewing revolt will have to be more than just a batch of new pols and some sore feelings in the press. It has to leave a mark.
This cannot end well.