The Realities Obscured by the Media’s Concentration on ‘Reality’

February 5, 2021 Updated: February 10, 2021


The New York Times headline on Jan. 30 on an article by Adam Goldman, Katie Benner, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs reads “How Trump’s Focus on Antifa Distracted Attention From the Far-Right Threat.”

Anyone who has skeptically read as many NY Times headlines as I have will no doubt know enough without being told that the headline would be more accurate if its terms were transposed.

In other words, I’d a lot rather hear about how the media’s focus on the supposed evils of former President Donald Trump and the purported “Far-Right Threat” of his supporters has distracted attention from Antifa, among other things.

Well, as Gerard Baker recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal in another context, “in our hyperpartisan, post-truth, fit-any-fact-to-your-narrative world, everything is a Rorschach test.”

First, that is, you pick your side, and then you pick your truth—or your “reality,” as partisans on both sides have lately taken to calling it. That’s why the NY Times has recently called on President Joe Biden to appoint a “reality czar” to deal with a supposed “reality crisis.”

Belief in their “reality,” it seems, requires an absolute ruler to enforce it.

But in the interval before the reality czar is appointed and gets down to work, if you’re one of those rare people who is still interested in real reality, or in search of the truth instead of just your truth, what are you to believe? Is it bogus concern with the Antifa threat that is obscuring the Far-Right Threat (F-R.T.) or bogus concern with the Far-Right Threat that is obscuring the threat of Antifa?

Let’s see if there’s any way of telling.

There’s no denying, if you’re still a consumer of the monolithically Democratic media, that the papers these days are full of references to the F-R.T. and almost completely empty of any mention of Antifa. The media appear to share Biden’s belief that Antifa is a mere “idea” and not an active organization at all.

Their attention to the F-R.T. is almost entirely based on one event, the invasion of the Capitol on Jan. 6 by Trump supporters and others.

This has led to endless articles about shadowy groups of right-wing militants and conspiracy theorists who could, supposedly, erupt into violence and “insurrection” again at any moment—which, in turn, has led to thousands of troops still being stationed in Washington, with nothing to do, as a visible representation of the need for vigilance against the supposed threat.

As an aside, some of us have noticed that it’s now pretty typical of the media to pay much more attention to events that could happen, if they fit the media’s narrative, than to those that actually have happened, if they don’t. Just look at “climate change,” now routinely treated in the media as a fait accompli, along with its supposed disastrous effects—though the latter are still, supposedly, to come.

As for what actually has happened in cities across the country, thanks to Antifa in collaboration with Black Lives Matter, the media are still sticking by their description of the riots, the looting and arson and assaults on police as well as private citizens that raged throughout the summer as “mostly peaceful” demonstrations. Or else they’re forgetting about them entirely.

If you asked an ordinary, apolitical citizen without an axe to grind for either side which of these two threats, the Far-Right or Antifa, look more threatening, I think you can guess what that citizen would answer.

Of course, you also have to make allowances for the fact that Antifa is more threatening to the ordinary citizen, while the Far Right is more threatening to the media and their protégés in Congress. That could account for the difference in point of view.

As could the increasingly large number of other things, besides Antifa, attention to which the media’s obsession with the F-R.T. now usefully obscures.

Such as the flurry of authoritarian executive orders from the new president which, among other things, have announced his intention to return the country’s southern border to its more permeable state under President Barack Obama.

And then there are the totalitarian-style thought police and political loyalty tests being administered to the U.S. military and the police even before the new reality czar gets around to you and me.

And how about the wanton damage to the already staggering U.S. economy by the new president in the name of a climate “emergency” that is entirely theoretical at this point and that—even if it proves to be real—these measures will do literally nothing to mitigate?

Not to mention the larger problem of government-by-virtue-signaling, which that futile gesture portends.

The only thing the media have to allege that Trump is distracting attention from is, basically, the awfulness of himself and his deplorable followers. That’s something which the media themselves haven’t allowed anyone’s attention to be distracted from for a single day of the past four years.

Once that is eradicated, presumably, everything in the garden will be rosy.

The media, on the other hand, by their monomania have had their own attention distracted from a great many things during the Trump era itself, and a great many more under the Biden administration, that might otherwise have caused concern to more than just Trump.

Just as everything good done by him has been rendered invisible to the media by his supposed deficiencies of character, so everything bad now being done by Biden is invisible to the media because of their inability to think of anything but the evil of his predecessor and his followers.

That seems to me rather more of a threat to the Republic than the prospective reconvening of disgruntled Trump supporters at the Capitol.

And how about the fact that they, along with more than a third of the population of the country, believe that president to have been illegitimately elected? Any “threat to democracy” there?

Oh, well, say the media, what if people don’t trust the bona fides of their rulers anymore? People haven’t trusted us for years and we’re still doing just fine.

Let’s hope they’re not doing fine for much longer.

James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for the New Criterion.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

James Bowman
James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for The New Criterion.