How the Mainstream Media is Radicalizing the Right

There is much for the Left to celebrate in 2021, including the inauguration of Joe Biden, taking control of both the House and Senate, and broad alignment across mainstream media and Big Tech in the silencing of Donald Trump. 2020 was the Year of Comeuppance for the American Right, and much of America is drunk on the exuberant possibilities this creates for the liberal agenda.

But “victory without humility,” or as some call it, “ascendancy without grace,” can be a dangerous thing. By treating conservatives as wrong instead of different, dangerous instead of disgruntled, and morally inferior instead of culturally distinct, mainstream and social media run the real risk of marginalizing conservatives to the point of irrelevance. And as anyone who has ever backed a person into a dark corner can attest, seldom does this approach produce a happy ending for either party.

Mainstream media’s primary weapon of marginalization thus far has been the application of double standards to recent events, coupled with the belief that conservatives are far too dense to recognize the hypocrisy. The Capitol Hill protests provide a clear example. The protests were accurately called “riots,” national coverage was appropriately outraged, and the condemnation was deservedly swift and absolute. Although the riots began with a legal protest that was properly formed by an aggrieved class, this initial movement was soon hijacked by a smaller, lawless faction in an eruption of violent anarchy, resulting in fatalities and damage to property.

But rewind several months and we find similar events unfolding across a number of US cities. Legal, socially righteous BLM protests were overrun by small, unassociated, violent subgroups, resulting in numerous incidents of looting, property damage, and an unfortunate number of fatalities. But unlike the Capitol Hill riots, the mainstream media was careful to characterize the protests as “mostly peaceful,” downplaying both the looting and the responsibility of those involved. It was difficult to find reporting on deaths; a reasonable individual could be excused for living through the riots and not knowing that a single person had been hurt, such was the vacuum of serious, accountable reporting.

Social media is playing out a similar dynamic. The Twitter and Instagram accounts of the internet’s biggest influencers — liberal-leaning Hollywood entertainers and BLM-supporting athletes — have correctly and justly condemned the events on Capitol Hill. But those same leading voices were silent over fatalities in Portand and Seattle, looting in Chicago, and violence in NYC. This story has repeated itself again and again, most recently with Covid contagion. “Coronavirus super spreader event on Capitol Hill.” The allegation has been raised by a number of our largest news outlets. But what of the millions that protested in the summer of 2020? Coronavirus was scarcely mentioned. Is this because Covid isn’t a threat if the cause is noble? Highly unlikely. And conservatives are not stupid, as much as folks may want to believe they are. They see the double standard, and their resentment simmers.

And finally, there’s the case of Big Tech, perhaps the most blatant example of the current liberal zeitgeist. Consider the following: January 2020, Donald Trump was banned, according to Twitter, for tweeting “…they will not be disrespected or treated unfairly…” and “I will not be going to the Inauguration.”

Perhaps this is fair. Trump should have known that certain followers would take any words he said and act upon them, such that tweeting anything other than “go home” would be unwise. Holding him accountable for how others may delusionally misinterpret his words is a tough standard, but it’s a standard that most Americans readily accept.

But rewind again, this time to the summer of 2020, in which nationwide protests resulted in American deaths. Ayanna Pressley called for “unrest in the streets,” Maxine Waters proclaimed “…you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them,” and Kamala Harris said “they’re not gonna let up and they should not.” These words would appear to be much more direct — much more of a call to action — than “I will not be going to the Inauguration,” yet somehow, Big Tech has allowed these voices to remain active on their platforms. No bans. No consequences. Just business as usual on the left side of the dial.

And therein lies the problem. When double standards flourish, when the defeated are marginalized, and when otherwise intelligent people are publicly belittled, they pay attention. They get angry. And ultimately, unfortunately, they act.

The Right is being pushed down a dangerous path — one that leads to radicalization not only of their own ranks, but of well-intentioned moderates at risk of being swept up by the rising bitterness. By insisting on treating conservatives as morally bankrupt, or as intellectually deficient cannon fodder, the liberal mainstream is creating their own worst nightmare. It’s time to recalibrate this unwise approach before it’s too late.