The Wilderness | Issue 60 | 10 . 7 . 2015 | Tweet
The political right can finally exhale: after seven years, and with one foot already out the door, the Real Barack Obama finally revealed himself. Last Thursday, he entered the White House briefing room and gave an angry statement about a mass shooting in Oregon that had inconsiderately interrupted his retirement planning. And he did it before the bodies were cold, before an investigation had even begun and before victims’ families had been notified. Before anything was known about the shooter, the guns or the victims, Barack Obama was once again yelling at everyone in the country not responsible for the crime. This was an angry, petulant, lecturing leftist straight out of the Occidental College teacher’s lounge. It was also the first time this country saw the real Barack Obama. It was, if anything, refreshing.
He is who we thought he was.
Obama has never had much success playing the role of consoler-in-chief when it comes to his politically unpopular positions. He has no use for it marketing-wise. We as a country should be thankful at least that he didn’t break into a pre-rehearsed “Amazing Grace” in the middle of his afternoon tirade. Instead, he seized on the deaths in Oregon to create an imaginary strawman opponent, who he claimed would argue he was “politicizing things” by turning immediately from the massacre to the subject of gun-control. He did this in order to give himself the opportunity to proclaim “this is something we should politicize.” Perhaps our President would have been smarter holding off on the desire to politicize shooting deaths before an investigation had been conducted or concluded. Later that same week, after a U.S. military strike killed several aide workers at a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Obama stated he would await results of a Pentagon investigation of the airstrike before “making a definitive judgment” about it.
Obama is not nearly as anxious to “politicize” his FUBARed ongoing Not-War, which just resulted in the vaporization of a hospital, as he is a more propitious domestic incident.
Obama used the shootings at a community college in Oregon to denounce everything that’s wrong with the country that elected him twice, and praise everything that’s right about Australia. This isn’t the first time Obama has referenced the massive mandatory gun confiscation undertaken by Australia in 1996. He did so in the days following the Charleston shootings, when he lectured legal gun-owning citizens, then hopped on his airplane to do a few Hollywood fundraisers and comedian Mark Maron’s podcast. This has also led an activist group in Australia to call for a boycott of the United States until our gun laws match their own.
We’re heartbroken. Really, mate.
Obama believes the shootings in Oregon have finally given him the political capital to push massive, unprecedented (and unconstitutional) gun-control measures. Not legislatively of course. That would require work, and building relationships with a Congress he has no interest in dealing with. No, what Obama is doing is once again the only thing he truly knows how: activism. The current occupant of the White House thinks laws are passed not by meeting with legislators and marshaling support in the Capitol building, but by organizing celebrities and loyal media personalities on social media.
Obama has finally gone from hiding his “Bitter clinger” ideology behind closed-door fundraisers to letting his full out-and-proud anti-2nd Amendment freak flag fly. But nothing Obama has ever done has been spontaneous or unplanned. It’s been a carefully stage-managed show, not unlike a vaudeville salesman hucking his magical healing tonic out of the back of a wagons while his unknown accomplice in the crowd shouts out how well it works. Except Obama’s accomplices aren’t old Dust Bowl hobos of Steinbeckian legend. They’re our vaunted Fourth Estate, the journalists of America who claim the right to determine what America is suppose to think about and talk about. When Obama walked into the White House Briefing Room on Thursday, he demanded his loyalist media push his “See I told you hashtag Not All Muslims hashtag” narrative. They dutifully complied, like a classroom full of Martin Princes waving their hands in the air, barely able to contain their eagerness to answer Mrs. Krabappel’s question.
Media personalities and journalists have in years past usually fallen back on “Ha ha, don’t be so paranoid, silly gun nut! Nobody’s coming for your guns!” It’s the same cliche response they’ve always whipped out when forced to defend their positions as credible reporters and not progressive activists. Except this time, because of Obama’s own words and actions, they now feel Narratively Empowered. This will not be the normal nudging of political storylines. This will be a full assault. They have a little over one year left with their handpicked President and they believe this is can be the last great legacy action for a White House that has accomplished much of everything else it set out to do. As stated before, our media is Obama. Because his election was so closely tied to them, his successes and failures are theirs as well. Because Obama is no longer being subtle about his wishes with respect to guns, neither will they. And Obama cannot be allowed to fail.
In the past few days, therefore, writers from Vox, Talking Points Memo, Washington Post, Think Progress and New York Times have all come out for gun confiscation. If they are only just writing it now, understand that it’s something they’ve believed for a long time and now finally feel comfortable about letting the mask slip. But after hammering Donald Trump for months about how he plans to round up and deport 12 million illegal immigrants without instituting a mandatory door-to-door police state, they seem to be at a loss as to how the federal government plans to round up 300 million firearms legally owned by American citizens.
In an appearance on “Morning Joe” with National Review‘s Charles C. Cooke, Mark Halperin declared that journalists hold a leadership position on policy and demanded, in agreement with the President, that they all be a part of some solution. His “solution” seemed to be little more than getting in a circle and holding hands to wish all guns away, and when pressed by Cooke spell something more specific out, Halperin froze and mimicked the facial expressions of a Nazi staring into the Ark of the Covenant. Mark Halperin claims that as a member of the Fourth Estate he’s a leading leader in a leadership position, but he doesn’t have a policy. All he knows is that he agrees with Barack Obama, who also doesn’t have a policy, beyond (whisper it softly at first, say it louder later) the Australia-style mandatory confiscation of firearms. Journalists sheepishly trying to maintain any of semblance of neutrality on the issue know this and they can’t quite bring themselves to say it, so their goal is to wear down anyone on the opposite side of the argument.
No matter who they are.
When John Hanlin, the Douglas County Sheriff handling the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, was asked to defend his 2nd Amendment beliefs at a press conference, he instantly became a credible obstacle and therefore a target. The next morning CNN’s noted Chaplinsky expert Chris Cuomo attempted to corner Hanlin in an interview and demand he rethink his pro-gun views. In an interview immediately after, Matt Lauer of the Today show echoed the same sentiment. When Hanlin also declared he would not identify the shooter by name, progressive media on Twitter threw their arms up and CNN decided as well that they wouldn’t abide that:
Suddenly, devoted journalists began digging into Hanlin’s social media background. The website Mashable (essentially Salon for nerds) ran a story on the sheriff’s previous lobbying against gun-control measures in the wake of a tweet from editor Jim Roberts commending Obama for his speech. Both Buzzfeed (still struggling to figure out the proper implementation of their own set of declared journalistic ethics) and the New York Times ran a story on a Sandy Hook ‘Truther’ video Hanlin shared on Facebook. No one knows why he shared it, what he found interesting about it or what his beliefs on Sandy Hook actually are. But it didn’t matter. The Brady Campaign (the most well-known anti-gun group in the nation) has since filed a petition demanding his resignation, for reasons having nothing to do with his competence concerning the actual investigation at hand.
At the cue of our President, the media had suddenly had decided that a sheriff with the heartbreaking burden of investigating a mass shooting in his jurisdiction was a bigger villain than the shooter himself — a man who executed his victims based on their whether they were Christian.
It was only a matter time before the media took aim at the 2016 field.
While speaking at an event in South Carolina, Jeb Bush was asked to weigh in on mass shootings and what could be done about them. Bush’s answer was perfectly standard GOP boilerplate on the issue: “we’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think that more government is necessarily the answer to this,” he said. “But I resist the notion — and I did, I had this, this challenge as governor, because we have, look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis and the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.” Answering questions after the event Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker‘s Washington correspondent, seemed to take personal offense to that response and approached Bush with his conclusion already in mind, suggesting what Bush said was a mistake and that he was doing his noble journalistic duty in giving him a chance to correct himself. Bush did not and Lizza took his own interpretation of two words to Twitter.
Lizza’s cropped half-quote “Stuff Happens” was turned into a hashtag, shot to the top of Twitter’s national trends, and was being posed within the hour to Obama at a presser, who shrugged it off to the laughter of those in the room. POLITICO, ABC News, Chicago Sun Times all gleefully ran with it. The Democratic party was running with it and Hillary Clinton is still doing so. Bush’s tepid response to the decontextualization of his quote was woefully expected and a sad measuring stick of how much of an outdated good-guy candidate Jeb really is. No one in the online conservative movement is happy about having to defend Jeb! and his limp-sack-of-noodles act, and yet here we are, animated by sheer force of principle rather than any enthusiasm for the man or his candidacy.
Because ultimately it’s the principle that matters. If they do this sort of thing to Jeb, they can and will do it to Marco Rubio, or Carly Fiorina, or Ben Carson. The question now becomes how to fight it and the answer is pretty simple: candidates must treat combative partisan journalists as political opponents and not as conscientious practitioners of our sacred First Amendment rights. Yesterday morning Marco Rubio sat down with Matt Lauer, who proceeded to grill him on gun control after the typical “Trump called you XYZ”. Rubio gave his GOP opponents a roadmap on how to handle combative journalists as their base instincts kick in, the fangs bare, the eyes roll over white, and they slide into “gotcha mode.” Rubio asked Lauer to name the proposed gun-control law that would have stopped a shooting like in Oregon, short of full confiscation. Lauer was left gasping that Rubio was advocating doing nothing in the wake of the shootings. When at the 2:55 mark Rubio suggested looking more at mental health, Lauer shut it down. It’s the conversation they absolutely do not want to have.
The twitterati and the political right will be tempted to just write this all off as more example of Journolist bias, and say that nothing can be done except point it out. But they have to understand that this time actually is different. The media, Obama, the Democrats, and Grandma herself are advocating against our founding and against our 2nd Amendment rights for gun confiscation. The GOP can either react properly to these tactics or once again be overwhelmed by an activist White House, Hollywood celebrities and a network and web media (Hello Planned Parenthood). This issue is not going to simply drop away after the next news cycle. It will be framed as a public health crisis and therefore something that Obama can move unilaterally on. He’s been pretty successful implementing Obamacare on his own, after all; why not try it with guns? The White House already floated this trial balloon yesterday. The White House will throw each of these narratives out to their JuiceVoxers & Buzzfeeders (many of whom are now loyal employees of NBC/Universal Peacock Lobby) and see how they do. It is time to turn the mirror around on them. We as a country are facing an unprecedented wave of attacks fueled by the greedy corporate media lobby who appears to not care about the blood of innocent people on their hands.
An inconvenient narrative that CNN, NBC, Vox, Buzzfeed, Huff Post and the rest refuse to face up to is the fact that more mass murders have been committed by members of our news media in the past month than by NRA members, or anyone who purchased a gun at a gun show (the new favorite talking point of the powerful Clinton Lobby).
Therefore, I say that the Right should respond to this national epidemic by proposing measured and modest media-control solutions to counter the recent wave of attacks committed by Assault Journalists™
First, all members of progressive media should be outfitted with mandatory body cameras. This will clear up activist confusion surrounding new myths like “Hands Up Don’t Shoot.” Second, Congress needs to pass a law limiting clicks per website. You shouldn’t need more than seven hundred clicks for a piece about the evil NRA. Click exceptions will be made for hunting news websites. It’s time to take our rights back from the powerful media lobby in Washington more concerned with making millions off the news stories of dead bodies than with the welfare of our communities. They should no longer be able to shield themselves with the excuse that one mass murdering member of their network community does not represent them all.
Any reporter willing to abdicate their journalistic responsibilities at the request of a head of state is no longer a credible reporter. They are dangerous activists and should be treated as such. Ryan Lizza, specifically, should have his campaign credentials revoked and be given the same treatment a DNC operative would be given. This isn’t robbing anyone of their First Amendment rights as Lizza and his defenders might argue. Just a reasonable commonsense solution to prevent another targeted attack like the one this allegedly mentally deranged reporter committed. He’s free to cover our candidates’ campaigns, from his couch or his office while streaming their events on C-SPAN and under strict supervision. Perhaps it’s even time to discuss prohibition.
An old-media war is now a new-media war. Information travels at the speed of tweet before context can explained. No one is asking journalists to be unbiased because true objectivity doesn’t exist in politics, but if they are going to choose to weaponize their bylines for the specific intent of influencing another presidential election via deception, making themselves the story, then they need to be exposed for what they are and live with the consequences. America needs common sense Assault-Journalist reforms. We can’t wait. The urgency of the situation demands action now. We have to do it for the children. Yes, it would be an uphill fight against the powerful Peacock Lobby, with their scores of bought and paid-for journalists, but if together we can save even one innocent NRA member’s life, well then surely it’s worth doing.
– SM –