The tragic shooting in Alexandria affects every American. Most of us have used this moment to reflect on how best to move forward.
Not the New York Times, though. In a feature published on June 14, the Times decided to blame Bernie Sanders, and the entire American left, for James T. Hodgkinson. It was a huge, infuriating smear.
Whatever the politics of its reporters, it is important to remember that the Times is in no sense a liberal, or even progressive paper. The Times exists to approve of the status quo, to perpetuate it, and to calm the rattled nerves of the upper-echelons of American society. Taking this in hand, and reading Yamiche Alcindor’s new piece, what can we learn about political journalism from the Times?
The Times tried to blame Bernie. Here’s how:
Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start. Writing a hatchet job begins with the headline: “Attack Tests Movement Sanders Founded.” It does no such thing, but make sure your distortions are extremely direct and to the point. Second, consider the photo you use for your hackwork, if you’re Alcindor. Make sure you show Sanders with his regret face on, as if he was feeling guilty for the shootings—even if the photo was taken in Chicago days before the event, and even if this has nothing to do with him.
Moving on from there, make sure you lower your standards as close to the basement as is possible. The sleaziest part of Alcindor’s rotten feature must be this quote:
That shooting on Wednesday, which wounded four people, may prove to be an unexpected test for a movement born out of Mr. Sanders’s left-wing, populist politics and a moment for liberals to figure out how to balance anger at Mr. Trump with inciting violence.
That’s totally cool. After all, there hasn’t been a miasma of violence from anyone else during the entire history of last year’s campaign. It’s not like the current President came to prominence by promising violence and reprisal on a vast scale against the weak. It’s not like your paper, the New York Times, backed a war a couple of years ago, a war based on imaginary evidence, a bloody slaughter which killed God knows how many innocent people. And after all, it’s not like the Times, (and the entire institutional apparatus it speaks for) has backed literally every single American military intervention in the last century.
If you’re Alcindor, you can pass off as journalism this lazy hackwork:
Sanders fans, sometimes referred to derogatorily as “Bernie Bros” or “Bernie Bots,” at times harassed reporters covering Mr. Sanders and flooded social media with angry posts directed at the “corporate media,” a term often used by the senator.
Right! Because that totally wasn’t an angle used by the Clinton campaign. And you know, again, that centrist pundits were literally the only people harassed on Twitter! If you’re Alcindor, you should disregard that being a Bernie supporter is hell online too. Especially for women and people of color. They were more or less called traitors during the entire campaign. If you’re Alcindor, make sure to erase all female supporters of Bernie, because that’s crucial.
If you’re Alcindor, you ought to combine the entirely justified call against corporate media with both 1) political violence, and 2) this crazed gunman.
Therefore, I’d like to propose the New York Times’ Rules On Covering the Alexandria Shooting:
1) Decry commentary on the event itself as “Being Political,” while quietly insisting your take is the natural take.
Even though times like these are exactly the right moment to discuss change, insist, again and again, with zero evidence, that it is important during tumult that the status quo remain unchanged.
2) Declare, with zero evidence, that this is a new dawn for centrist unity, despite no evidence supporting your proposition.
It’s mandatory you pretend that there is central ground, and that all parties are reasonable. For example, the notion that one party is an extremist group in thrall to a dangerous President, and that the other party is an incompetent collection of toothless probate lawyers, will not be allowed, certainly not.
3) Blame Sanders and Blame Progressivism.
This is the heart of the matter. It is important to paint all enemies of the ruling class, particularly reformists, with a broad brush. One violent man with a Bernie fetish automatically disqualifies a century and a half of progressive politics.
Try really hard, if you’re the Times, to make sure you tie in universal basic income with this gun-toting madman. Let me reiterate: if you’re the Times, you should definitely keep up the provably false “Bernie Bro” narrative—the same narrative Team Clinton used in 2008 against Obama—and repeat it as fact. Remember, you’re not an investigative journalist working for a newspaper, but a simple echoer of what Approved Wisdom said. Be sure to be as sleepy as possible in your research and conclusions, because that’s the only thing that will keep the world from moving forward.
Arguably, this point is the closest to the Times’ heart. They’re getting scared. The rise of Corbyn in Britain proves that the days of neoliberalism are over. Wouldn’t you be scared too? No wonder the Times slandered the left today, with the most hilariously wrong-footed and deluded story it has ever published.
4) Remember this very simple rule: white male shooters act independently, but every Muslim or left gunman is the result of a long, drawn-out conspiracy.
I think this is self-explanatory. Remember, Muslims always act as a group, and the entire one billion strong Muslim community must apologize every time some clueless dupe opens fire, but white male shooters are always independent operators. And now the same perfect logic can apply to anyone on the left. Perhaps we’re all being paid by Moscow or North Korea.
5) In fact, completely ignore years of rhetoric indicating violent reprisal against the government by people in power.
It’s best that we not look too closely at the hot takes from the right which direct aggrieved persons with firearms to do what just happened. If you are the Times, when there is a shooting, you should attack the public. More importantly, avoid blaming well-paid people who possess long-standing authority. Like, say, Judge Andrew Napolitao:
The historical reality of the Second Amendment’s protection of the right to keep and bear arms is not that it protects the right to shoot deer. It protects the right to shoot tyrants, and it protects the right to shoot at them effectively, with the same instruments they would use upon us.
6) Above all, while you’re decrying this tragedy, remember that violence committed by the state (bombing people in Yemen, removing people’s health care) is the only “good violence.”
Normal people decry violence of any kind, whether it happens to Congressmen or foreign people. But the Times reporter is different.
If you are a Times reporter, remember: It’s okay when the authorities kill people. The state has a monopoly on violence. It’s only good when Washington, D.C. does it. Bombing foreigners in a distant country is just part of how the world works, and rational and necessary. It’s also totally cool when cops shoot unarmed African-American kids because they’re no angels, or because we need a wide berth when using lethal force. In fact, the government can take the lives or limbs of people whenever they want. And the government’s remit goes even further than that: it’s totally normal and morally wonderful for the government to strip health care from millions and millions of people, including children. People dying in hospitals because they don’t have money isn’t violence; their deaths don’t count. Women being bombed in Yemen, their deaths don’t count. The job of a Times reporter is to decry some kinds of violence, and defend other kinds.
7) Above All:
Keep this in mind. If this truth is defended, all will be well. Individual members of the American Authorities can be wrong—Jared Kushner, or President Trump. Or the Clintons. What can never be repudiated, as a whole, is the American Authoritative Class—the businesspeople, middle-managers, and well-heeled class of strivers which are the Times’ readership.
God bless the glorious New York Times! What a dawn of truth you have brought us! I thought you could not rise any higher after the employment of Bret Stephens, but you have really outdone yourself. The corporate media is alive and well, and the Gray Vampire has drained every bit of perspective away from this story. It has blamed the official enemy. All is well.
The truth is more important now than ever, but not to the Times.