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Why It’s Good (And Right) Americans Think The Media Are The Biggest Threat To Democracy

woman reading the New York Times paper
Image CreditLina Kivaka/Pexels

Media assume the last few vestiges of the American constitutional republic are the top dangers to our freedom. But the American people know differently.


American corporate media are somewhere between a “major” and “a minor threat to democracy.” Far from a crotchety, back-bencher sentiment, this is now the opinion of a majority of the American people, according to no less than corporate media icon The New York Times.

In a poll conducted by the Siena College Research Institute and the Times from Oct. 9-12, 74 percent of the “likely voters” polled believe “democracy is currently under threat,” and 83 percent believe the corporate media themselves are the threat.

While President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, Democrats, Republicans, the Supreme Court, mail-in-ballots, electronic voting machines, and even the Electoral College all polled terribly, the media outperformed them all, with 59 percent of likely voters calling them a “major threat to democracy,” and another 24 percent calling them a mere “minor threat.”

This was a surprise to Times’ chief political analyst, who admitted in his write-up that he’d been focused on the same “threats to democracy” his colleagues had been focused on: Republicans, as well as “undemocratic elements of American elected government like the Electoral College, gerrymandering and the Senate.”

To put it more bluntly (a difficult task), he’d assumed we all thought the last few vestiges of the American constitutional republic (the Electoral College and the Senate), plus gerrymandering and free political opposition were the top dangers to our freedom.

The American people, it seems, knew differently. Hallelujah! It’s never good to learn you have a deadly illness, but if there’s any shot of treating it in time, well — it’s best to know you have it. This is the case in our current situation: Trust in American institutions is at all-time lows, and deservedly so — broadly speaking, our institutions deserve less trust than at any time before.

Washington Post senior political reporter Aaron Blake reported on the findings later Monday morning. The problem, he wrote, is Democrats had failed “to make 2022 about the threat to democracy” posed by Republicans.

While a lot of Democrats, he lamented, believe Trump is a threat, they had failed to make that translate to the half of the country who support him. He was surprised to learn Americans outside of D.C., New York, and San Francisco think Democrats are a greater danger to democracy than Republicans, and even more surprised to learn independents agreed.

The answer, he claimed unironically, is for Democrats to double down on their messaging of calling their political opponents dangerous terrorists and fascists. Unsurprisingly, his analysis failed to note the corporate media he is a part of scored lower than anything else — self-awareness is rarely the “political analysts’” strength.

Later that very day, MSNBC host and former Bush White House staffer Nicolle Wallace claimed the Jan. 6 riot was the “deadliest attack on the U.S. Capitol in our, you know, in history,” bypassing both the British burning of the building and the deadly planned Flight 93 attack on the Capitol during the administration she’d later work for.

Disgraced former FBI Agent Peter Strzok agreed, saying American security forces should be “on the same sort of war footing” toward Republicans as they were toward al-Qaida.

“I mean, 9/11 was a tragedy … we still mourn to this day,” he said, “but when you look at something that is an attack on democracy — something that could actually bring about a fundamental change to American governance as we understand it — 9/11 is nothing compared to Jan. 6.”

The morning after the poll was released, former New York Times reporter Anand Giridharadas went on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” — a cable show that lectures Americans on morality and values every weekday morning, co-hosted by two people who left their spouses and children for each other, along with Mike Barnicle, who was fired from the Boston Globe for making up tear-jerkers about overcoming racism through children dying of cancer. That day, Giridharadas used his platform to claim America is in “a dead heat between democracy and fascism,” and said he’d spoken to a “cult deprogrammer” to help him understand Republicans’ “authoritarian menace.” The hosts nodded dumbly. MSNBC producers posted the clip to their website.

The next morning, Georgia candidate for governor Stacey Abrams went on the show. When Barnicle pointed out that voters care less about abortion than “livability, daily, hourly issues that they’re confronted with,” asking her what she can do to fight rising costs as governor, she said the answer was aborting more children.

“But let’s be clear,” she began. “Having children is why you’re worried about your price for gas, it’s why you’re concerned about how much food costs. For women, this is not a reductive issue.”

“Republicans,” Newsweek’s Anna Skinner claimed in a “fact-check” following the interview, “are targeting Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams for connecting abortion to inflation during an MSNBC interview.” She dubbed the widespread disgust “Misleading,” and claimed Abrams never really said what she said.

The military has a saying: “Embrace the suck.” It’s a wake-up call to reality; a directive to toughen up, stop complaining, and get to work. It’s even used with pride by the old heads who have persevered despite the harshness of life.

American corporate media has been garbage for decades, insufferable for years, and outright dangerous in more recent times. Americans aren’t the type to be deceived for long, however, and they know what’s going on. All we crotchety, back-benchers can offer is a pat on the back, and a few words of encouragement: “Embrace the suck.”

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