I believe the Buzzfeed Cohen/Trump story and the Covington story have a connection, even though their subject matters differ tremendously.

The common meta-subject-matter of both, the lessons to learn from both, go like this:

(1) There appears to be no limit to the degree to which the media will lie in order to hurt the right.

(2) It can start with a fringe-type media source (usually reporting on something manufactured and/or distorted by a leftist activist unidentified as such in the report). Then the supposedly more reliable media, the MSM, will quickly pick up and run with it, with what you might call reckless disregard for the truth. This does not seem to be carelessness or accidental at all.

(3) If an exposure of the falsehood occurs and the truth finally comes out through some other conduit, there will be minimal or no apology or retraction from the original source or from the MSM. They will either double down or issue a fake and/or inadequate “apology.” This apology contains some minor element they got wrong while leaving the thrust of the story and their errors intact.

(4) In the minds of most MSM readers and listeners, the story will therefore stand mostly as originally reported. Most readers probably won’t even catch any corrections that are issued, and the ones who do will either reject them or consider them of minimal import.

(5) Then, without breaking stride, the MSM will go on to the next episode of the same game . . . because it works for them.

I noticed this game about two years post-9/11—a process I’ve described in my “a mind is a difficult thing to change” series—and this was one of the main reasons for my political change.

The tactic is even more blatantly obvious now. But many people who self-describe as being on the right seem to remain blind to it. That’s one of the themes of this recent post of Ace of Spade’s, in which he quotes Dave Reaboi on Twitter as writing the following (the “you” here is the supposedly conservative press):

People are furious that those of you who bought into it and couldn’t resist making knee-jerk Virtue Signaling condemnations have not yet learned about the nature of the enemy we’re fighting:

Activists are trained to set up these scenarios, the media runs with stories that are too good to check because they reinforce their biases. They do this on purpose. You just have to read Lefty activist literature. It’s all there, for decades. *Not knowing is your failure.*

That is the heart of the matter. How can intelligent people have been taken in by this? It’s not just that they might live and work in the Beltway, or are interested in virtue-signaling, although those things are often part of the phenomenon.

At least if their apologies sounded sincere and complete I might give them the benefit of the doubt, even now. We all make mistakes. But people who are inclined to think themselves more insightful than the rest of us, acting this way over and over and over, with so little remorse and seemingly no learning at all? No.

That is why so much of the right’s ire in response to the Covington story has been directed at pundits supposedly on the right who fell for the lie. It’s something like an error in baseball, or an own-goal in soccer. Don’t those things make fans much angrier than when the other team scores?

We know what game the left plays. Why don’t all those who profess to be on the right know it, too?

[Neo is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at the new neo.]


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