It seems the mainstream press’s main mission is not to report the news, but to define what is mainstream. Consider the latest reporting on Ben Carson. He has held second place in the Republican horse race for some time now. Lately he has pulled even with the Donald, as reporters advise us we’re about to leave the entertainment phase of the campaign. We love our tour guides, because they condescend to help us through this difficult process!
They like Marco Rubio to pick up the lead when the voting phase starts, because he’s a self-possessed, real politician. Only real journalists can tell us who should receive our vote. Meantime, real journalists tell us Ben Carson is bonkers. Or I should say, they tell us his views are bonkers, which in American political reporting means the person who holds those views is not sane. ‘Not sane’ means ‘of unhealthy mind,’ or more to the point, ‘not fit for high office.’
So we don’t disagree anymore about points of view. We don’t say, ‘I disagree with you on that point,’ then give reasons for disagreement. Mainstream journalists list the candidate’s points of view, say only a crazy person would believe these things, then say the candidate is part of the entertainment phase of the campaign. He’s not fit. Another route is to say, ‘These candidates have never held elective office before, so why are they even running for president?’ The hamsters are running full speed now: ‘Let’s see how we can take them down. Oh, here are some views that are way out of the mainstream. See what I told you? No wonder these jokers have never been elected to anything before.’
In being so dismissive, they dismiss everyone in their audience who might be listening to the candidate. Journalists may think they’re mainstream–gatekeepers for mainstream views–but fewer and fewer people listen to them. No wonder.
This article by Paul Waldman in The Week is actually a solid piece of journalism, even as it builds the wall between mainstream and extremist views: