I See the Church of the MSM is Still Practicing its Faith

A while back I wrote The Church of the MSM and the New Reformation, a book review of sorts of Professor Brian Anse Patrick’s The National Rifle Association and the Media: The Motivating Force of Negative Coverage. If you haven’t read my piece, the really fascinating thing that Professor Patrick determined from his research is that there is a bias in the media, but it’s not exactly a Leftist one. Certainly the majority of journalists, editors and publishers lean that way, but the bias he found and documented was what he termed administrative control bias:

The larger concept that lies behind the consistent ranking is a broad cultural level phenomenon that I will label an administrative control bias. It has profound implications. Administrative control in this usage means rational, scientific, objective social management by elite, symbol-manipulating classes, and subclasses, i.e., professionalized administrators or bureaucratic functionaries. The thing administered is often democracy itself, or a version of it at least. Here and throughout this chapter terms such as “rational,” “objective,” “professional,” and “scientific” should be read in the sense of the belief systems that they represent, i.e. rationalism, objectivism, professionalism, and scientism. Scientism is not the same as being scientific; the first is a matter of faith and ritualistic observance, the other is difficult creative work. William James made a similar distinction between institutional religion and being religious, the first being a smug and thoughtless undertaking on the part of most people, the second, a difficult undertaking affecting every aspect of a life. The term scientistic administration would pertain here. Note that we move here well beyond the notion of mere gun control and into the realm of general social control, management and regulation.

As a result of this, Professor Patrick continues, members of the media see themselves not as a check on government, but as the clergy in the Church of State:

Previous to objective journalism, baldly partisan news media were the norm; under objectivity news became a scientific tool of social progress and management. The elite press continues also to serve this function, connecting administrators and managers not only to the world they seek to administrate but also to other managers with whom they must coordinate their efforts. So in this sense social movement-based critiques have been correct in identifying a sort of pseudo-pluralism operating in the public forum, a pluralism that is in reality no more than an exclusive conversation between elite class subcomponents – but this over-class is administrative in outlook and purpose.

It’s their job to sit below the Cardinals of the Church of State and above us proles. They are the interpreters of the Text, the tellers of Truth, and it’s their job to make sure we don’t hear about anything that would interfere with the way the Church says the system should be running (as long as it’s their people in the red vestments):

Journalists acquire importance in the mass democratic system precisely because they gather, convey, and interpret the data that inform individual choices. Mere raw, inaccessible data transforms to political information that is piped to where it will do the most good. Objective, balanced coverage becomes essential, at least in pretense, lest this vital flow of information to be thought compromised, thus affecting not only the quality of rational individual decision-making, but also the legitimacy of the system.

Working from within the perspective of the mass democracy model for social action it is difficult to specify an ideal role model of journalistic coverage other than a “scientific objectivism” at work. An event (i.e., reality) causes coverage, or so the objective journalist would and often does say. Virtually all of the journalists that I have ever talked with regard coverage as mirroring reality.

They truly seem to believe this, that they have access to information to which philosophers and scientists have been denied. I spoke once to a journalist who worried out loud about “compromising” her objectivity when covering a story.

The claim being advanced here, by assumption, is that journalists can truly convey or interpret the nature of reality as opposed to the various organizational versions of events in which journalists must daily traffic. The claim is incredible and amounts to a Gnostic pretension of being “in the know” about the nature or reality, or at least the reality that matters most politically.

An ecclesiastical model most appropriately describes this elite journalistic function under mass democracy. Information is the vital substance that makes the good democracy possible. It allows, as it were, for the existence of the good society, a democratic state of grace. Information is in this sense analogous to the concept of divine grace under the pre-Reformation Roman Catholic Church. Divine grace was essential for the good spiritual life, the life that mattered. The clergy dispensed divine grace to the masses in the form of sacraments. They were its intermediaries, who established over time a monopoly, becoming the exclusive legitimate channel of divine grace.

Recollect that the interposition of intermediaries, the clergy, along a vital spiritual-psychological supply route was the rub of the Reformation. The clergy cloaked themselves in the mantle of spiritual authority rather than acting as its facilitators. Many elite newspapers have apparently done much the same thing, speaking and interpreting authoritatively for democracy, warranting these actions on the basis of social responsibility.

Example for today: Stephen Colbert vs. Christopher Coates.

Stephen Colbert, a TV comedian, is called before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security to “testify” in character. To perform, in other words, a comedy routine.

Google News records 1147 items on this bit of “news.”

Christopher Coates, Voting Section Chief of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division disobeys repeated orders from his superiors to respond to a subpoena to appear before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and testify about the dismissal of a voter-intimidation case by his department, invokes – and I quote“the protections of all applicable whistleblower statutes” and proceeds to tell the Commission that the Department of Justice under Barack Obama’s appointees isn’t interested in enforcing equal protection under the law. In fact, the Department of Justice is quite adamantly opposed to the idea.

Google News records 57 items on this story, none from a major news outlet with the exception of the Washington Post.

We peasants don’t need to know this, apparently. The Church has decided. The clergy has responded.

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