Most readers here have surely noticed the disgraceful treatment given to Madam Vice President Kamala Harris by the US political media. Most probably know what it’s about, too — preventing a talented, skilled, charismatic Black female leader from rising any further in US politics and leadership.
Of course, the media heads and their ed boards would vehemently deny this, with their tired litany of excuses — “We’re just reporting the news,” etc., seeking to dodge responsibility entirely.
The bitter truth is, we can’t change the corporatized, conservative-friendly US political media; its corruption is baked into this country’s national political dialog by this point. All we can do is fight back with a more accurate and factual reading of history and the present.
Today I’d like to share an article from Eric Boehlert’s Press Run Media column. His article is The media's glaring new double standard for first woman VP, and you can read the whole thing at the link. (It’s not paywalled, you can click “Let me read it first.")
Here are a few highlights.
It’s impossible to miss the increasingly condescending tone of the coverage, as Harris serves as the first woman vice president in U.S. history, and the first person of color to hold that position. The Atlantic has dismissed her as “uninteresting” and mocked her lack of political agility.
This is The Atlantic, mind you — not remotely a right-wing rag. “With ‘friends’ like these, who needs enemas?” (ba dum pssh)
And since we’re talking about double-standards (my emphasis added):
Politico claimed Harris has been forced out of “the national spotlight” because she’s been given so much work to do by the administration. A) She most certainly has not been “drawn away from the national spotlight,” as compared to previous vice presidents and their visibility. B) If the administration hadn’t given her weighty issues to tackle, such as voting rights and immigration, Politico would be claiming she was being shunned.
Here Eric perfectly encapsulates the absurd, unwinnable gotcha presented by US political media to any serving Democrat who attains any notice: no matter what you do, we’ll find fault. It’s beyond ridiculous, and Eric is right to call it out.
Let’s not forget “Dems in disarray,” the forever refrain of the MSM:
Part of the ceaseless critical coverage stems from the media’s beloved Dems in Disarray storyline, where the party has to be perpetually portrayed as being undone by internal strife. It’s also fueled by the media’s need to create drama so they can present current events with a dramatic arc, as a way to keep news consumers tuned in. During the Trump years there was no need to invent White House drama, since it erupted on an hourly basis on many days. But reporters are frustrated by the No Drama Biden approach to governance (the New York Times: He’s “boring”), and have taken it upon themselves to create conflict. Harris has become a favorite prop for that.
Gosh, Mr. Media Talking Head, I’m just so sorry that Democrats get elected and actually, you know, do their jobs instead of spending their time doing nothing but extorting foreign leaders, siphoning money from the US taxpayer to pad their pockets, and befouling everything they touch. I mean, I’m so sorry you have to work to invent drama narratives about our Democratic leaders, because they’re not walking human tire fires like your beloved Republicans. Of course, I do remember an old saying: “If one party says it’s raining and the other says the sun is shining, your job isn’t to simply quote both speakers and claim you’re being ‘objective.’ Your job is to look out the window and let your viewership know whether or not it’s raining.” But reporting that one US political party is a rats’ nest of seditionists, insurrectionists, fascists and embezzlers with fewer morals than a half-starved rabid badger seems to be just a bit too far a bridge for our US media.
I’m going to push Fair Use by one paragraph to add the following, because it’s that important:
Also, note how the D.C. media career game is played. Back in June, The Atlantic’s Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris, announcing her vice presidency was a failure (“She continues to retreat behind talking points and platitudes in public”), even though she was just four months into her term. The takedown generated lots of Beltway buzz though, and Dovere was soon hired by CNN where this month he helped write … a completely over-the-top hit piece on Harris.
The incestuous, good-ol-boy/girl nature of the Beltway media is probably well-known by most, but please take note regardless. These people aren’t in business to report news — they’re in business to make money, to promote strife and dissent, and to keep US citizens intentionally uninformed. Please don’t forget that.
One last quote, not from Eric but from Driftglass, that summarizes the mess:
Because the only answer as to why a clown like Mr. (Matthew) Dowd is the political face of ABC News' or why Mr. Chuck Todd continues to the host of Meet the Press or why Mr. David Brooks continues to occupy a privileged and impregnable position at the top America's Very Serious Media is that the people who own the cameras and the microphones and the printing presses want our national political conversations to be this fucking stupid and hollow.
Misogyny — and even more virulent misogynoir — is baked into the US media cake, and the Beltway most of all. Please, readers — don’t believe the crap the MSM blats out into the mediasphere. MVP Harris deserves none of the pejoratives they’re slinging her way. She’s kicking ass.
And we need to make sure we keep that message out there. The Beltway media rather desperately don’t want a successful Biden Administration, or a successful MVP Harris. They’ll work very hard to sabotage wherever they can. Push back on that.
I hope to have more counter-narrative articles on MVP Harris in the future. For now, thanks for reading.