The traditional media, in an attempt to manufacture the illusion of “objectivity,” has pretended for many decades to be centrist in its political approach. One of the more obvious ways it does this is by always offering up a “both sides” analysis of news events. This approach is fundamentally conservative by nature, in that it tends to protect the establishment from actual popular opinions and facts. But the harsh reality is that the traditional media isn’t centrist: It’s conservative and leans to the right.
After King’s and Tlaib’s comments, news outlets made a point of finding out every Democratic representative’s opinion on the use of the word “motherfucker,” while occasionally following up with Republican representatives about having a high-ranking Republican embrace white supremacy. The coverage of Tlaib also shows the inherent sexism and Islamophobia baked into the fabric of these institutions. You don’t have to look far to see the difference in how white guys using foul language are treated.
The standard argument is that in trying to generate profits, mainstream media is simply engaging in sensationalism. As a result, it’s argued, the traditional media isn’t technically conservative; it’s just compromised by its need to make money. However, the fact remains that, while sometimes news media is indeed chasing stories that seem to be of great public interest, it also tries to generate the sensation that will bring eyes to its advertising and then continue with it, regardless of the facts. In the end, the question is the content of the remarks.
Rep. Tlaib said she wanted to investigate and impeach Donald Trump. That’s the story. Her use of the word “motherfucker” only underlines the seriousness with which she means to do just that. Media outlets should explore why she said that, not how she said it. Rep. King wants to know why the ideas and concepts of white supremacy and white nationalism have gone out of fashion. In fact, King was posing a rhetorical question: He in fact is saying that he still supports concepts and ideologies that promote slavery, sexism, racism, and Native American genocide. You might want to ask him why he said that. Not how he said it. That is the content of his remarks.