June 23, 2018

Now Playing

Lady Bird
(Reviewed March 6, 2018)

A delightful and not entirely politically correct movie about growing up as a Catholic schoolgirl in 2002-2003

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
(Reviewed February 22, 2018)

An occasionally amusing parable of guilt and forgiveness whose setting in small-town America, like the prejudices of its author, does it no favors

Darkest Hour
(Reviewed February 6, 2018)

Despite some stirring moments, and a fine performance from Gary Oldman, the movie gets its portrait of a war leader wrong

The Florida Project
(Reviewed November 17, 2017)

A child’s-eye view, and therefore a rather amusing treatment, of social pathologies that are, in reality, not at all amusing

ENTRY from June 8, 2018

“We are not going to judge you on your outward appearance,” says Gretchen Carlson of the Miss America Pageant — excuse me, “Competition.” It sounds like a joke, or perhaps a Buddhist koan: when is a beauty pageant not a beauty pageant? When it doesn’t judge you on your outward appearance. Not so long ago, the media would have treated this like a joke — because it is a joke — but now The New York Times merely nods with approval at what it sees as yet another advance for “women,” which is their word for “feminism.” As anyone who has read a newspaper in the last two or three years knows, in the re-tooling of the industry to produce propaganda instead of news, any lingering sense of irony, or even of the absurd, has disappeared. Up until now, one might have hoped for the damage to be limited to the explicitly political, but we now have to accept that everything is political, and nothing more so than “the objectification of women,” formerly known as the recognition by both sexes of female beauty.

It’s just one illustration of the extent to which nothing is too absurd to be promulgated by the media with a straight face and not only no hint of irony but no fear that anyone whose opinion matters — in other words, anyone on the right side of things politically — will be so ill-mannered as to point out the absurdity. Just look at Tuesday’s column by that ornament of the Times’s op ed page, Nobel-prize-winning, Paul Krugman, writing on what he claims to think “the bad faith that pervades conservative discourse.”

And yes, I do mean “conservative.” There are dishonest individuals of every political persuasion, but if you’re looking for systematic gaslighting, insistence that up is down and black is white, you’ll find it disproportionately on one side of the political spectrum. And the trouble many have in accepting that asymmetry is an important reason for the mess we’re in. But how can I say that the media refuses to acknowledge conservative bad faith? While some journalists remain squeamish about actually using the word “lie,” and there’s still a tendency for headlines to repeat false talking points (which are only revealed to be false in the body of the article), readers do get a generally accurate picture of the extent to which dishonesty prevails within the Trump administration. It seems to me, however, that the media makes Donald Trump’s lies seem more exceptional — and more of a break with previous practice — than they really are. Trump’s seven-lies-a-day habit and his constant claims of being victimized by people who accurately report the facts are only a continuation of something that has been going on in the conservative movement for years.  Full Entry

Media MadnessMy book Media Madness, is available for order from Encounter Books. Less a polemic than an attempt to understand the origins of the mass media’s folie de grandeur, the book is a warning even to those who are deserting the big networks, newsweeklies and large-circulation dailies not to carry with them into the more attractive world of niche media the undisciplined habits of thought that the old media culture has given rise to. To order this book, click here.

Honor, A HistoryAlso available, now in paperback, is Honor, A History, which was first published in 2006. A study of Western cultural artifacts, from the epics of Homer to the movies and TV shows of today, it is focused on explaining why Western ideas of honor developed so differently from those elsewhere — and especially from the savage honor cultures of the Islamic world. The book then goes on to trace the collapse and ultimate rejection of the old Western honor culture from World War I until the present day and to suggest the conditions that would have to prevail for its revival.

Recent Articles

Stormy Weather May 31, 2018.
Yet another media-contrived scandal brought up against him seemingly fails to get the job done against President Trump. What is going on here? — From The New Criterion of May, 2018 ... Full Article

Trying times April 30, 2018.
On some of the recent media outbreaks of utopian thinking and what they tell us about the dire state of the culture — From The New Criterion of April, 2018 ... Full Article

Zip ties and media lies March 31, 2018.
Are the two sides of our polarized politics really living in "alternate realities" or does it only seem that way because of their hatred for each other? — From The New Criterion of March, 2018 ... Full Article

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