Atrios delivers a fantastic piece about the “both sides” tendencies in the media. I think the point really needs to be made that the MSM and the GOP–the two institutions who created Trump–paved the way by essentially abandoning empiricism in their own ways. The Republican Party rejected empiricism in large part because it conflicted with deeply emotionally-held beliefs (e.g. guns) or because it conflicted with the financial interests of the people who own the party (e.g. climate change). (Though there’s a pretty porous membrane separating these categories, sure.) And the media rejected empiricism because they panicked when they lost so many customers to FOX and Rush, and have not stopped trying to get them back. Of course, they’ll never come back, and Bill Kristol will laugh all the way to the bank whenever some MSM outlet pays him to spout nonsense b/c “balance.” But ultimately that’s that “both sides” is about.

The thing is, of course, that when you refuse to run criticism of one particular party unless you can find something similar the other side has done (or unless a notable member of that party publicly opposes something they did), you tend to miss big stories. Like, oh, I don’t know, the rise of Trump. There are certainly ways in which Trump is unusual for a presidential nominee, but as an enemy of empiricism he fits squarely into current Republican trends. Bob Dole, at one point an avowed enemy of supply-side economics, actually picked nonsense budget pioneer Jack Kemp as his running mate. Dubya rejected environmental science, budget math, and any semblance of a realistic view of what could be done in Iraq. McCain ran almost entirely on his (media-recited) biography as a national hero and selfless servant, even though he divorced his first wife for getting fat and only became a naval aviator because his dad pulled some strings, enabling him to be an incompetent Maverick wannabe who crashed multiple planes (oh, and he picked a Victoria Jackson SNL character as his veep choice, despite running a campaign with the motto “country first”). Long story short, notwithstanding a truly harrowing spell in the Hanoi Hilton, McCain is a hypocritical, selfish asshole and always has been, but the media recreated him as this glittering Cincinnatus. Then there was Mitt Romney, whose aggressive assault on any notion of objective truth was truly breathtaking and paved the way for Trump in ways that doth make him protest too much. Sure, Trump is a little worse than Romney, but ultimately not all that much, and the progression is clear enough. The media, however, spent the last twenty years pretending that nothing had changed. Wages of suppressing any trace of a point of view, I guess.

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  1. […] at Library Grape, writes about the rejection of empiricism, the theory that knowledge comes to us by way of sense experience, […]

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