The beltway media's hero complex is taking a beating, and they are big mad about it

P20210120CW-0618 2

I observed in December that with Trump fading, the beltway press is going to miss the gravy train of sensational coverage that came with him, and try to stoke drama in order to satisfy their cravings.

Seems like I was right.

CNN's Jake Tapper is having a meltdown over people on social media challenging his absurd lies about President Biden's actions against Saudi officials in response to the Khashoggi killings. The Washington Post's editorial bosses are in a pithy over the fact that their reporter Seung Min Kim got taken down on Twitter over her crass attempts to politically hang Neera Tanden over old tweets that Tanden has deleted and publicly apologized for. And New York Times' Maureen Dowd - who once said Donald Trump is a peacenik - is openly lamenting not being worshipped as a god in an editorial so embarrassingly egotistical and self-congratulatory it could make Donald Trump blush.

They - and hordes of their allies inside the glass offices of New York and DC - have one central grievance: they are not being treated by us peons like the above-accountability super-creatures they imagine themselves to be.

After President Biden unclassified intelligence directly implicating Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman - who is better known by his initials, MBS - in the murder of Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, something the Trump administration would not dare do for fear of Saudi retaliation, the State Department banned his personal protective detail from traveling to the US, effectively travel-banning MBS himself. Jake Tapper, however, is still spreading the curated falsehood that the President did nothing to punish MBS.

Kim made it a point to show a 4-year-old unflattering tweet of Biden Office of Management and Budget Director-nominee Neera Tanden to Sen. Lisa Murkowski form Alaska, and compared it with her history of asking Republican senators about Donald Trump's twitter tirades. Perhaps mindful of the hypocrisy of asking a Republican to get mad over mean tweets after four years of Trump, she conveniently left out the facts that Tanden, unlike Trump's former job, is not the president, and that unlike Trump, Tanden has publicly, including in front of Senate committees considering her nomination, apologized for her tone. I refuse to insult Kim's intelligence by assuming she simply forgot about this, which leaves the causing of drama and conflict - not informing the public or even public officials - as the only reason for her actions. That is textbook tabloid journalism.

Dowd's column provides full-throated defense of this kind of tabloid journalism, as well as a self-centered admonition of those of us who are trying to hold the beltway press's perchance for sensationalism over substance accountable.

I should say here that there has been some racist and sexist attacks on people like Kim, and that, unequivocally is never acceptable. Kim and her bosses have tried to use samples of those reprehensible attacks to pretend that any and all critics of her tabloid journalism is automatically racist and sexist, however, and as someone who is a minority in more ways than just having brown skin, I find that tactic just as repugnant.

We have known this face of the beltway press for a long, long time. Some of the characters who are now bellyaching about receiving some well-earned and tough pushback are the same people that unapologetically cheerlead for the Iraq war, treated the racist, birtherist Tea Party thugs like they are merely good-natured people worried about the deficit (massive eyeroll, I know), took orgasmic pleasure in manufacturing bothsidesism crises and catastrophically failing at their task of properly informing the public about policy and legislation during eight years of President Obama, and asked candidate Donald Trump such important questions as if he was considering insulting Vladimir Putin's abs while they beat an email nontroversy to death to rob America of the most prepared candidate to be president on account of the fact that she was a woman.

These newsrooms are filled with the same culture that pretended that an accomplished woman making money by giving speeches is corrupt, by and large ignored the Trump-Russia scandal before the 2016 elections except to jump at every salacious drip from Kremlin's premier propaganda outlet Wikileaks, and when Donald Trump lost in 2020, flooded pages with stories about the 74 million people who voted for Trump while barely noticing the 81 million who voted Biden. There was no such focus on the supporters of the losing candidate in 2016, even though Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump by 3 million votes in the popular vote count.

But Donald Trump's presidency turned out to be an existential threat to the press itself, as much as anything. Faced with extinction, the beltway press was forced into having to do the bare minimum of what its real job is supposed to be at times. But with Trump, the truth was sensational because his lies were so big and so frequent. So when the media did their job, they earned both gratitude and clicks. That has apparently gone to their heads.

You see, it isn't that the rest of us has suddenly turned on the press now that the focus of the coverage has turned to Joe Biden from Donald Trump. It's that now that the focus of the coverage has turned to Joe Biden from Donald Trump, the media is desperate to do anything it can to gin up controversy since the Biden administration, while making tons of real news, is leaving the starved of sensationalism they have grown accustomed to. That is driving them back to their pre-Trump habits of manufacturing controversy for the sake of titillation that is now causing backlash.

The only difference this time - from earlier this century - is that there is visible and substantial backlash. With their coverage of Obama and Clinton, the beltway press became used to getting away with tabloid journalism. Their problem this time is that they no longer can, not without facing a firestorm of criticism themselves. Now, there is a counterforce on social media pushing back. This time, there are those of us who are willing to hold them accountable when they try to sell shit-stirring as journalism.

And they are gobsmacked. They are aghast. They are incredulous at facing accountability. They are so habituated to thinking of themselves as being caped heroes that they see fair pushback as a partisan affront to their imaginary status above us mere mortals.

All I can say to them is, buckle up.

Like what you read? Leave a Tip. 

💰 Fund the Fight