If there were a better example of liberal smugness smugly denying its own existence, you’d merely have to look at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner to find it. Thanks to Bee for saving us the pain of entering that particular ward in the “incurable diseases” wing of what Erick calls the Circle of Jerks.
The culture industry has always tilted leftward, but the swing toward social liberalism among younger Americans and the simultaneous surge of activist energy on the left have created a new dynamic, in which areas once considered relatively apolitical now have (or are being pushed to have) an overtly left-wing party line.
Though aimed at blue-state sophisticates, these shows are an unintended but powerful form of propaganda for conservatives. When Republicans see these harsh jokes—which echo down through the morning news shows and the chattering day’s worth of viral clips, along with those of Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, and Seth Meyers—they don’t just see a handful of comics mocking them. They see HBO, Comedy Central, TBS, ABC, CBS, and NBC. In other words, they see exactly what Donald Trump has taught them: that the entire media landscape loathes them, their values, their family, and their religion. It is hardly a reach for them to further imagine that the legitimate news shows on these channels are run by similarly partisan players—nor is it at all illogical. No wonder so many of Trump’s followers are inclined to believe only the things that he or his spokespeople tell them directly—everyone else on the tube thinks they’re a bunch of trailer-park, Oxy-snorting half-wits who divide their time between retweeting Alex Jones fantasies and ironing their Klan hoods.
And Timothy Stanley, who CNN described as “a historian and columnist for Britain’s Daily Telegraph. He is the author of “Citizen Hollywood: How the Collaboration Between LA and DC Revolutionized American Politics” before adding a warning label that his views are his alone, is positively daft.
Let’s start with the press. Trump is right: The correspondents’ dinner is awful. It’s an evening of self-congratulation, bad jokes and political bias, where Democrats go to get praised and Republicans to be lampooned. It was at this dinner where President Obama and “SNL’s” Seth Myers famously roasted Trump in 2011. A few years later, the joke turned out to be on them.
When my conservative friend tweeted “The top 3 best selling vehicles in America are pick-ups. Question to reporters: do you personally know someone that owns one?” and it caused such a backlash that it owned the media for a whole day, we know that someone is in denial.
Liberals are smug in their moral superiority, and liberals in the press have doubled-down in their smugness as protectors of some eternal truth which only can define. Their truth emanates from an epistemic source far beyond mere mortals and therefore requires the news and “what it means to you” be explained to the hoi polloi. They see themselves Greek demigods receiving inspiration directly from Olympus, but pretending to be mortals for the sake of our fragile psyches.
But in reality, liberals are the same today as they were in 2014, when Rod Dreher cited Jonathan Haidt and a commenter going by the handle “Salamander” to expose the psychological disorder that damages their minds to commit such acts of reality distortion.
I’ve also noticed my nice liberal friends assume that everyone thinks exactly like them. For example, my nice liberal upper middle class female friends know that the only reason they would possibly have gotten pregnant as a teenager would be that they were completely ignorant of how babies are made, or that they were ignorant of contraception, or evil patriarchs blocked all access to contraception, or they were raped – because why else would you jeopardize your college education and career plans? Hence they truly believe that since working class and underclass girls get pregnant frequently, it must be a combination of all of those – complete ignorance about sex and birth control, no doubt because of rape culture and patriarchy – hence more sex ed classes and burning down hobby lobby will fix it. None of them even know an actual baby mama, and have no idea that life’s priorities and circumstances are a little different in Fishtown.
Liberals function best in a hive mentality, where dissent is shut down and called “hate speech,” and groupthink is encouraged. Haidt’s research into the psychology of the damaged liberal worldview is that it inseparably conflates morality with identity. There’s no such thing as “love the sinner, hate the sin,” in the liberal mind. It’s a non-sequitur for them–it doesn’t compute–and when Christians use the phrase, it elicits rage like a mathematician being asked to solve the Missing Dollar Riddle.
In short, Haidt’s research suggests that many liberals really do believe that conservatives are heartless bastards–or as a friend of mine once remarked, “Conservatives think that liberals are good people with bad ideas, whereas liberals think conservatives are bad people”–and very liberal people think that especially strongly. Haidt suggests that there is some truth to this.
Leading to this:
As an aside, I think the “thinness” of the liberal moral worldview may explain a phenomenon that has puzzled me, which is the speed at which liberal views harden into orthodoxy and the willingness of liberals to use various forms of compulsion to enforce that orthodoxy.s
Now, let’s get back to who the press, and Samantha Bee’s compatriots, are. Only 7 percent of reporters identify as Republican. The “media bubble,” which the media denies exists, hangs like an iron curtain over New York, Washington, and Los Angeles.
If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties. And you’ve got company: If you’re a typical reader of Politico, chances are you’re a citizen of bubbleville, too.
As the news media continues to shrink, consolidate, and coalesce to a core of television, internet, and print powerhouses, the liberal bias becomes so ingrained that they don’t even realize they have it. These reporters simply see everyone outside their bubble as either uneducated hicks, or 100 percent a dick.
It’s easy to skewer people if one truly believes they are heartless, cruel caricatures of themselves. If someone is a “bigot” it closes the door for debate and opens the door for violence. It takes a very smug person to believe it’s okay to punch someone because they’re wearing a “MAGA” hat in San Francisco, but not a man wearing a tutu in a bar in other places.
When liberals interview liberals on news shows, or when liberals debate liberals on issues, it’s impossible for them to see their Grand Canyon-sized blind spots. And since conservatives are too dastardly and low to earn an opinion, the blind spots never shrink, even to the point where people like Samantha Bee deny they ever existed.
A whole chorus of scientists, pundits, researchers, scholars and think-piece writers could sing the choir eternal and not change a single liberal mind. It’s been said that the devil’s best lie is that there is no devil, and so it goes that smug liberals best lie is that there are no smug liberals.