O’Keefe’s Sophomore Book Sheds Light on Mainstream Media Malpractice

Our writer Gabriella reviews James O’Keefe’s sophomore book on media bias.

Trust placed in media continues to be at an all-time low.

In July 2017, Gallup found that 60% of respondents believe the media reports inaccurately. It doesn’t help that most outspoken members of the Fourth Estate are dishonest about their political orientations, nor does it help when they give preferential coverage to events like the March For Our Lives over the March for Life.

The media doesn’t do itself any favors discounting viewers residing Flyover Country (Middle America), rural counties, or those outside the confines of the Acela Corridor. After the election of President Donald Trump, their biases came to light even more and their disdain for reporting the truth became increasingly clear.

Granted, there are members of the mainstream media like Jake Tapper, Yashar Ali, and others who aren’t necessarily mired by a left-leaning agenda on notable issues. Reporters like Tapper, for instance, tend to constructively criticize both parties regardless of administration. Nevertheless, the few outliers at mainstream sources are sadly outweighed by their more partisan colleagues. This bitter partisanship—compounded by them acting as gatekeepers for the Democrat Party—has drawn parallels between them and the Soviet Union’s Pravda, as encapsulated by investigative reporter and Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe’s new book.

O’Keefe’s sophomore book American Pravda, which succeeds the 2014 bestseller Breakthrough and as of this writing sits atop #1 spot of Amazon’s bestseller’s in Journalist Biographies, explores how his organization Project Veritas has relentlessly pursued the truth—in the fashion of the self-publishing Soviet-era Samizdat —against the establishment media, which he argues, at times, behaves like Pravda. While many will find this to be an illusory correlation, he’s not entirely wrong.

For context, Pravda was a Soviet news publications weaponized by Soviet dictators like Joseph Stalin to push an agenda. As I wrote here at The Resurgent earlier, here’s what Pravda did per Washington Post:

Stalin used the press, unburdened by facts, to create an enclosed atmosphere where paranoid fantasy had to be accepted as reality. He gaslighted his victims, and an entire nation, besides. There was seemingly no way out. (Pravda means truth in Russian, and the name of the other Soviet leading paper, Izvestia, means news; as the old joke had it, there was no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestia.)

The book explores beyond O’Keefe’s direct participation in his investigative work. Over the years, he’s largely shifted from direct participation in undercover videos to overseeing Project Veritas. O’Keefe may have started Project Veritas but it’s not simply about him, the book stresses. It’s about his employees and their overall quest for truth. He’s accrued a team of hardworking, loyal employees and undercover reporters throughout the years. Pravda clues readers into the evolution of O’Keefe’s work, from admitting past mistakes to showing maturation of his conduct and careful attention to detail in executing a mission and effectuating policy changes.

Throughout the book, O’Keefe draws great inspiration for Pravda from the original muckrakers of the early 20th Century who sought to expose corruption. He laments how modern-day journalists have abandoned integrity and fail to learn from their predecessors—simply to protect Democrat nominee for president Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

The various anecdotes he provides give readers an inside look into the success of his and Project Veritas’ work holding the media, politicians, and advocacy groups accountable for their misdeeds. How many other journalistic entities can claim credit for talking down ACORN?

O’Keefe’s undercover videos have received immense scrutiny—though I believe much of it is misplaced. Generally speaking, I’ve been supportive of the majority of James’ work, bearing an exception or two. Though they’ve made a lasting impression on his targets, supporters, and even high levels of the U.S. government, PV doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Recently, undercover reporters for Channel 4 in Great Britain blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica using the same recording tactics as Project Veritas. Yet the former is heralded as deserving of a Pulitzer Prize, while the latter is simply a tool of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. Funny how selective praise is when it comes to exposes.

​I’m convinced American Pravda can even get O’Keefe’s detractors to consider his work from a purely objective lens. The establishment media shouldn’t hold a monopoly on reporting or truth-seeking. The way we communicate and absorb information today is ever-changing, and it’s inevitable to see a change in how news is delivered too from a creative disruptive edge. To those who value truth-seeking, regardless of political orientation, they’ll find value in this timely book. O’Keefe and his fellow creative disruptors have forced corrupt organizations to go out of business, politicians or consultants resign, and laws to change.

Without a doubt James’ work with Project Veritas has been consequential, and for the betterment for our government and culture. Don’t simply take my word for it. Pick up a copy of American Pravda today.

Disclosure: The author is a friend of James O’Keefe’s and had a dossier placed on her.

Glenn Beck, Russia and the Mainstream Media

I was listening to the Glenn Beck Program on the way to the airport this morning, and heard him talking in the first segment about the recent developments concerning the infamous Golden Showers Dossier.  As the Washington Post has reported, it now appears as if the Hillary Clinton campaign, coordinating with the Democrat National Committee, paid the shadowy research company Fusion GPS to create the dossier in a deliberate effort to sabotage Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  The story is important in that it flips the whole “Trump colluded with the Russians” narrative on its head, and instead has Clinton playing footsie with the Kremlin to dig up dirt on Trump.

More than that, however, it also reveals a level of corruption in the federal government that is stunning even by Clinton standards.  It’s highly likely that Barack Obama’s Justice Department laundered the dossier—which was nothing more than uncorroborated opposition research—through the FBI and used it as justification for getting FISA warrants to conduct surveillance on principals in the Trump campaign.  To call this an abuse of executive power would be an understatement for the ages.  It means there’s a level of rot at the highest levels of the FBI and the DOJ that we’re only beginning to understand, and it’s only likely to get worse the more we find out.

At the same time, though, Democrat accusations that the Trump campaign tried to collude with the Russians—efforts that seem to have been fruitless, by the way—are not entirely without merit, as Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Moscow lawyer proves.  As Beck pointed out during his monologue today, no matter where you look, it’s Russians all the way down.

That’s why he pleaded with his listeners:  Stop ignoring the fact that Clinton colluded with the Russians just because you hate Donald Trump.  And stop ignoring the fact that Trump tried to collude with the Russians just because you hate Hillary Clinton.

The bottom line is that Russia doesn’t care who wins our elections, just as long as they can sow discord and division among the American people.

In this, Beck is exactly correct.  What he forgot to mention, however, is how much the mainstream media have contributed to the problem with their dishonest reporting.  From the beginning of the Trump administration, the media have sought to undermine the president at every turn with innuendo about his ties to Russia—attempts that have mostly failed, and given credence to Trump’s claims that the entire story is a hoax.  The problem is that Russian interference in our electoral process isn’t a hoax—and it represents a very clear danger to the future of our republic.

The media’s slanted coverage has obscured that danger.  More than that, it has only increased the discord that the Russians seek to spread.  In that respect, at least, the media have inadvertently signed on to the Russian plan—just as Moscow hoped they would.

More honest coverage would alert the public as to the real nature of the threat, and help to unify the country when it needs unity the most. Here’s hoping that the Blaze, with its renewed efforts to get the truth out—no matter where it leads, or what it exposes—can assist with that effort.

Even When Jeff Flake Is Right, He’s Wrong

There was a lot to like about Arizona Republican Jeff Flake’s speech on the Senate floor yesterday.  It was an impassioned call for a decency that is sorely lacking in our politics today, and on substance I think he was largely correct.  The coarseness that has become the new normal in Washington is indeed lamentable, and–more dangerously–it has also obfuscated the debate over what should be far more important issues.  President Trump, who has an unfortunate habit of running his mouth when prudence would be a far better course of action, bears a great amount of responsibility for this sorry state of affairs, and Flake was justified in calling him out for it.

What Flake doesn’t realize is that he’s also dead wrong.

Here’s the passage that undermines his own argument:

Here today I stand to say that we would be better served — we would better serve the country — by better fulfilling our obligations under the Constitution by adhering to our Article 1 — “old normal,” Mr. Madison’s doctrine of separation of powers. This genius innovation which affirms Madison’s status as a true visionary — and for which Madison argued in Federalist 51 — held that the equal branches of our government would balance and counteract with each other, if necessary.

“Ambition counteracts ambition,” he wrote. But what happens if ambition fails to counteract ambition? What happens if stability fails to assert itself in the face of chaos and instability? If decency fails to call out indecency? Were the shoe on the other foot, we Republicans — would we Republicans meekly accept such behavior on display from dominant Democrats?

 The answer to that question is yes, the GOP has meekly accepted such behavior from dominant Democrats–and they’ve been doing it for a long time.  An ad featuring a Paul Ryan lookalike pushing granny over a cliff in her wheelchair?  Check.  How about another one accusing George W. Bush of going easy on the monsters who dragged a black man to death in Texas?  Got that too.  Let’s also not forget Harry “Red Eye” Reid calling Mitt Romney a tax cheat on the Senate floor.  Republicans grumbled about it, but ultimately Reid suffered no consequences for his slander.  Then there was 8 years of the Bush presidency, during which he was accused of everything from knowing about 9/11 in advance to blowing up the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  Bush never wanted to sully the dignity of his office by fighting back, which was noble–but it also allowed his enemies, including the media, to define him.

None of that happened in a vacuum.  GOP voters noticed, and started asking, “How come our guys don’t get as nasty with them as they get with us?”  In short, they got sick of Democrat bullies kicking sand in their faces on the beach and decided to send away for Donald Trump’s body building kit.

Flake goes on to say:

We were not made great as a country by indulging in or even exalting our worst impulses, turning against ourselves, glorifying in the things that divide us, and calling fake things true and true things fake. And we did not become the beacon of freedom in the darkest corners of the world by flouting our institutions and failing to understand just how hard-won and vulnerable they are.

Again, he’s talking about Trump here–but couldn’t he just as easily be talking about the media?  What have they been doing, if not dividing us along the lines of man and woman, black and white, straight and gay, liberal and conservative?  With every issue, they try to drive a wedge between Americans and then peddle the outrage, turning it into clicks and views while pushing a simple, constant narrative:  Democrats Good, Republicans Bad!  That’s also the old normal–one in which conservatives reliably lose.  If those are the good old days Jeff Flake is pining for, he can have them.

Fox News Exposes CBS’s Hidden Bias

Fake news has been a hot topic this year. What the term actually means is different to different people, but a recent puff piece on Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray by CBS News falls into that category.

While the piece was not fake in the sense that CBS made up fake information, it was an egregious example of the liberal bias that is prevalent in the mainstream media. Howard Kurtz of Fox News pointed out the shoddy reporting on Fox’s “MediaBuzz” program on Sunday.

In the CBS piece, correspondent Erin Moriarty profiled Cordray, the first director of the agency created in 2010 at the urging of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). In the course of the piece, Moriarty interviewed four law professors who defended Cordray and attacked Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and his Financial Choice Act that would limit the power of the CPFB.

CBS did present both sides of the issue. Even though it was very sympathetic to Cordray, who Moriarty says “may be the best friend that the consumer has ever had,” she did interview Hensarling as well. So, what is the problem?

The issue is that the four professors interviewed for the piece, Christopher Peterson, Patricia McCoy, Kathleen Engel, and Adam Levitan, were not just random law professors who happened to be fans of the CPFB. In all four cases, the professors had professional relationships with Cordray and his bureau. The professors had either worked directly for the CPFB or had served on its consumer advisory board. CBS did not disclose these relationships in its report.

While it isn’t improper to interview former employees and associates of Cordray, it is improper to not disclose that they had worked for Cordray’s agency. The CBS report left viewers with the impression that the professors were objective, when it fact they were personally involved in the issue.

The internet version of the CBS report contains an “editor’s note” at the end of the article that says, “Some members of the panel of college professors and consumer advocates featured in this report also have previous work experience with or have served on advisory boards for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” The video report did not contain a similar disclosure and on the internet version there was no mention of the fact that the relationships were not disclosed in the original report.

The CBS report can be legitimately called fake news on the basis of its hidden bias. Either CBS failed to do due diligence on the background of all four professors or, more likely, the network chose not to disclose their relationships with Cordray. Either way, it was poor reporting of the sort that feeds the public distrust of the media.

Katy Tur and the Mainstream Media: A Terminal Diagnosis

Many years ago, on a PBS series called Ethics in America, Professor Charles Ogletree of Harvard University convened a panel of American journalists who were at the top of their profession and asked them a hypothetical question:  If they were embedded with enemy troops and learned of an imminent attack on U.S. forces, would they try to warn their fellow countrymen or would they simply cover the attack as if it were just another story? Peter Jennings, who anchored ABC World News Tonight–and a native Canadian, no less–hesitated for a moment, but then said that he would probably try to sound a warning.  In his view, saving American lives was more important than covering the story.

That’s when Mike Wallace, the famed CBS News correspondent, stepped in and said that other reporters would have a different reaction.  “They would regard it simply as another story that they are there to cover,” Wallace said.  “You’re a reporter covering combat…and I’m at a little bit of a loss to understand why, because you are an American, you would not have covered that story.”  In other words, a journalist’s first duty is to cover the news without fear or favor, regardless of the consequences–even if that means people might get killed.  Video of the exchange is below:

Once Wallace put it in those terms, Jennings quickly relented and said that he would also allow the attack to proceed–much to the chagrin of the military men who were present.  It was a stark moment, but one that illustrated a cardinal rule of journalism at the time:  you’re a reporter first, and everything else a distant second.  It doesn’t matter how you feel about a story–you put all that aside and cover it, no matter what.

My, how times have changed.

These days, we’re all about the feelings–particularly in journalism, where narrative has all but displaced the facts.  Exhibit A:  Katy Tur, MSNBC correspondent and former flame of the disgraced Keith Olbermann, whose personality and politics are so odious that even the most leftist news networks won’t touch him with a ten foot pole.  For some reason, the suits at MSNBC thought that Tur–who had less experience with politics than your average college newspaper reporter–would be a Jim Dandy choice to cover Donald Trump during the 2016 election.  Perhaps it was her sassy persona.  Or maybe it was because she looks like the kind of girl John Cusack is supposed to fall in love with in one of those 80s-era teen rom coms.  Who knows?  But somehow, she found herself at the forefront covering perhaps the strangest presidential election in history, an experience she recounts in her new book Unbelievable.  

As you would imagine, Tur goes into great details about her feelings–such as that visceral moment when she realized that Trump had won the presidency:

“The room goes wavy. My stomach churns,” Tur says. “I can feel the bile in the back of my throat.

“I’ve heard him insult a war hero, brag about grabbing women by the pussy, denigrate the judicial system, demonize immigrants, fight with the pope, doubt the democratic process, advocate torture and war crimes, tout the size of his junk in a presidential debate, trash the media, and endanger my life,” Tur continued.

Tur, 33, adds she fears Trump will be in office 27 years from now at age 98 because he’ll find a way to avoid the two-term limit.

“Does anyone really believe he’ll respect term limits? I have a vision of myself at sixty, Trump at a hundred, in some midwestern convention hall. The children of his 2016 supporters are spitting on me,” Tur writes.

Left unexplained is how someone with such nonexistent professionalism can call herself a reporter.

Never mind Mike Wallace allowing enemy troops to fire on American soldiers for the sake of covering a story.  With Tur, her objectivity couldn’t even get around the size of Donald Trump’s wanker.  Whereas in the past we had journalists agonizing over hypotheticals involving life and death, Tur can only squeal, “Eww!  Gross!” and wallow in her book-length emotions for the entire world to see, as if such exhibitionism might offer some form of therapy or absolution for her failure to stop Trump.

If this is what passes for wisdom from Katy Tur, MSNBC might as well have hired Katy Perry.

Even so, Tur’s bosses saw fit to reward her campaign coverage with a coveted anchor spot on MSNBC Live, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the news business these days.  Rather than promote reporters who prize objectivity above all else, it’s the pundits in disguise who rise to the top–which is what makes Tur emblematic of everything that’s wrong with American journalism.  It used to be that you rarely knew how reporters felt about a given issue, because they didn’t want that perception to taint the public’s view of their news coverage.  Nowadays, feelings are all that matter–and, like a cancer, it’s slowly killing the profession.

That people like Tur aren’t even bothering to hide it anymore means the prognosis isn’t likely to change.

The Blaze Rebooted

It’s no secret that media personality Glenn Beck is no stranger to reinvention.  A while back, I wrote about his turn away from partisan politics and his own reputation as a conservative firebrand, and his attempts to bridge the left-right divide in the country by trying to find common ground with well-known figures on the left.  I believed in what Glenn was doing, and still do–my only concern was that he partner with people who acted in good faith, not bomb-throwers like Samantha Bee who reverted to form as soon as it suited her.

It was a pretty big risk for Glenn, but hardly the first time he had taken a stand based on principle.  His media company, the Blaze, has also suffered ratings losses over his refusal to support Donald Trump during the 2016 election, and finds itself in an uncertain position–one not unlike the conservative movement itself, which is struggling to find an identity somewhere between the rising tide of Trumpian populism and a feckless GOP that is great at talking about limited government but shows little interest in actually implementing it.  How does a liberty-minded network serve its audience in an environment like that?

To most of the media, the answer has been to keep everyone moving from one outrage to the next, spinning opinion, innuendo and loosely-sourced facts into a noxious mix that doesn’t inform so much as incite. In this relationship, however, the roles are reversed:  the audience actually serves the media, providing them with ratings and clicks as they await their next fix of information.  Never mind that it’s fake news, often packaged by people who have a vested interest in deceiving the public. As long as it gets eyeballs, it’s all good.

To this, Glenn Beck is saying no more:

We begin tomorrow a new experiment. To prove to the media and to ourselves that you can be profitable and tell the truth…

If those of us on the right don’t stop our infighting and figure this out we will fall one by one and google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple will be the portal of all information.

We will not waste your time or our resources one more second on things you can get everywhere else. The Blaze has done too much of it.

Glenn goes on to note that the Blaze will be refocusing its energies on what is working and divert them away from what is not, starting with a refocus on one of its greatest strengths–its radio presence.  But there will also be a pivot in the way that it reports the news:

On September 11, the Blaze news team spends a solid week with me working on a completely different approach to news which we will begin to roll out as MVP, Sept 18.

The world dismisses us and most believe it is too late or will not work. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps you must run click bait, misleading headlines and say outrageous things to be successful.

If this is true, I will shut it all down and find some other way to make a positive impact. Even if it is just to teach my children…

I am not promising anything to you. I cannot promise success, or that we will change the world. I have failed at that too many times.

All I promise to you is what I promise myself and family. That we will give our best work to figure out a way to make sense of the news, expose the lies on all sides, teach our children true history including the worst and then the best of American history and most importantly, do our utmost to help find a way back to each other and the things that made our nation the light of the world in the first place.

I can’t help but think this sounds a lot like the mission statement that Jerry Maguire wrote, after he had the revelation that almost everything he had been doing in his business life was wrong.  Of course, in the movie Jerry ended up taking a big hit–much like the Blaze itself, with the layoffs of 20% of its workforce–but in the end, he had to lose in order to win later.  I hope this is the case with Glenn’s venture.

As to what that new approach with news might be, the standard seems pretty simple:  just tell the truth.  How exactly that will be carried out, though, remains a tantalizing mystery.  Glenn has promised to hire “creative disrupters” to carry out his vision, but beyond that we don’t have many clues.

For what it’s worth, I do have one suggestion.  Perhaps the greatest shortcoming in the news business has been its retreat not only from the rest of America, but also the world.  Newspapers can no longer afford to maintain foreign bureaus, and the big operations based out of New York and Washington rarely get out of their bubbles.  As a result, so much of what the average news consumer sees is actually produced by third parties such as corporate interests and political action committees, with very little effort put into finding out if any of the claims are even true.

But what if the Blaze could harness the power of people who aren’t professional reporters, but who know how to tell stories?  Citizen jouralism has already proved itself to be a potent force in the blogosphere–so why couldn’t that particular model also work for network news?  In a world where everyone has a high-definition video camera in their pockets, literally anyone could be a reporter with just a little training.  All they would need beyond that is strong editorial guidance, which the Blaze could provide.  In short order, they could have a footprint across the country that would rival any network.  More that that, they’d have a perspective that nearly all of its competitors lack.

Like I said, it’s just a suggestion–but with just a little imagination, perhaps the Blaze can change the paradigm.

Here’s hoping that they succeed.

CNN Wants to Defeat Trump, Can’t Even Beat Yogi Bear

THIS. . .is CNN:

Last week, more Americans tuned in to watch re-runs of “Yogi Bear,” “Full House,” and “Friends” on Nick At Nite than to watch Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon’s shows on CNN.

According to cable ratings from the week of June 26-July 2, CNN’s viewership of its primetime shows was ranked significantly lower than its competitors like Fox News and MSNBC, which place first and second respectively. Clocking in at No. 10 on the list, CNN fell behind HGTV, Nick At Nite, History Channel, and ESPN.

CNN’s ratings nosedive corresponds with the network’s ongoing feud with President Donald Trump. Last week, Trump tweeted out a GIF of himself appearing to pummel a wrestler with CNN’s logo superimposed over the latter’s face. The network has covered the tweet nearly nonstop ever since. It also went after the Redditor who made the GIF and threatened to dox him unless he apologized and promised to never say anything CNN dislikes again — a move that drew much criticism and may have been illegal.

When asked for comment, CNN personality Chris Cillzza got right to the point:

Oh, wait–that was just Cillzza pulling a Lonely Island when he thought that Poland’s first lady gave Trump the cold shoulder, yet another meme spread by the intrepid forces at CNN that turned out to be less than accurate.  Still, it’s illustrative of the troublesome troubles that the troubled network is facing.  Getting killed in the ratings by that Marcel the Monkey episode of Friends is one thing–but Yogi Bear?  Come on, dudes!  That’s well-nigh impossible even if you’re trying to flop.  It’s as if Jeff Zucker knows he’s going to get the sack after AT&T gobbles up Time Warner and so he’s trying to burn the joint down before he leaves.  Either that, or he’s staging his Trump coverage like a production of Springtime for Hitler but instead of getting laughs everybody thinks he’s serious.

Speaking of the Other Zuck, he’s also been doing his best to look on the bright side of things, insisting, Charlie Sheen-like, that his people are starting to get tired of all the #Winning he’s brought to CNN:

“My job is to remind everyone that they need to stay focused doing their job,” Mr. Zucker said on Wednesday, brushing off any suggestion that he was rattled. He added: “He’s trying to bully us, and we’re not going to let him intimidate us. You can’t lose your confidence and let that change the way you conduct yourselves.”

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Chris Cuomo–host of CNN’s New Day (Same Old Bias)–chimed in, “I’m comfortable going to work in Thunderdome every day.”  Well, that analogy might work–but only if Cuomo is Blaster and Trump is Aunty Entity.

Not to worry, though.  I’m sure Zucker still sees himself as Master.

Anyhoo, with all this going on, it doesn’t look as if the war between CNN and the Trump administration will be abating any time soon–which kind of leaves me feeling conflicted.  On the one hand, I think it’s peachy that CNN has torn off the mask of objectivity, like Peter Parker ripping off the black Spider-Man costume, revealing to everyone that they’re less about covering the news and more about getting digs in against an administration they don’t like–something they also did with George W. Bush, even though Dubya was far too polite to call them out on it.  On the other hand, it would also be great to see them have a “WTF are we thinking???” moment, realize that they’re doing nobody any favors by acting like bias junkies in search of a new fix, and provide an example for other news organizations by cleaning up and going straight.

It’s a drama that even Aaron Sorkin couldn’t have made up.  Anybody got popcorn?

Lighten Up, Media

Man, there’s nothing like taking a little vacation time to give you some perspective on politics.  I spent most of last week up in the mountains of Colorado, where there (thankfully) isn’t much cell service, so it was pretty easy to fall off the grid and let the latest outrage du jour pass me by.  Alas, such things are not forever, and eventually the cold reality of Twitter must intrude on such idyllic ignorance.  Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in:

Naturally, the media–since they’re the often the butt of Donald Trump’s le mot juste–are freaking out over this tweet because they see it as a call for violence against journalists.  In fairness, reporters may still be suffering from post-Gianforte stress disorder–but Ben Jacobs getting his glasses broken isn’t exactly the same as Ernie Pyle storming the beaches of Normandy with the troops on D-Day, so you do have to wonder if perhaps the media tenderfoots of today might be blowing this all out of proportion just a bit.  Byron York from the Washington Examiner thinks so, and writes:

The relaxed way to read the tweet is that the president is — among other things — an entertainer. He was an entertainer when he was a real estate developer, he was an entertainer when he was a reality show producer and star, and he is an entertainer as president. That doesn’t mean he is not other things — Trump Tower really was built, for example — but it means that he knows how to communicate in the style of an entertainer. That’s what he did in the WWE tweet.

The alarmed way to read the tweet is that the president is inciting violence against journalists. That is the way that most journalists chose to see it. “The president of the United States is encouraging violence against journalists,” tweeted Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg Sunday morning, reflecting what dozens of other establishment journalists were saying. CNN’s statement in reaction to the president, plus that of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said much the same thing.

It’s just an impression, but one could note that some journalists seemed more alarmed by the president’s tweets than by other recent examples of violent political expression — Kathy Griffin holding what appeared to be Trump’s bloody, severed head, or the Trump-as-Caesar assassination, for example. That is probably because many journalists are simply more worried about the prospect of right-wing violence than they are about the prospect of left-wing violence. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a favored source among some reporters, did not build up a nine-figure endowment by warning about violence from the Left.

York raises an important point here, and is absolutely correct in his analysis.  For the media, perceived violence from the Right is far more frightening than actual violence from the Left.  But I think he leaves a another salient point off the table, in that the media have a need for right-wing violence to pose a greater danger because it advances their preferred narrative–i.e., Trump supporters are mouth-breathing Troglodytes who use their fists to spread fear and fascism, while the #Resistance are people of reason who take direct action only as a means of defending liberty.  The media romanticise that particular brand of violence.  The other, not so much.

More important than the narrative, though, is the need for the media to stroke their own egos.  Reporters have this burning desire to believe that what they’re doing is not only important, but that it also takes a tremendous amount of courage.  In some parts of the world, this is actually true.  If you’re a journalist in Mexico investigating the Sinaloa drug cartel or an editor in Russia looking into Vladimir Putin’s shady business deals, you really are risking life and limb to do your job.  But here in America?  Donald Trump might put a nasty tweet out on you, but that’s pretty much it.  That doesn’t exactly make for Great War stories, which is why guys like Brian Williams had to make stuff up to make themselves look like tough guys.  The rest of the media are no different, and so they cast themselves as heroes putting themselves on the line against the Trumpian horde.  The fact that there is no horde might seem problematic at first–but if you can read every tweet as a violent threat, that’s almost as good as the real thing, isn’t it?

Lighten up guys, or it’s gonna be a long four years for you.