Trump supporters are like ISIS fighters

By Christopher Harper

If anyone represents the disdain of the media for Trump supporters, CNN media maven Brian Stelter would be an excellent example.

Recently, Stelter compared Trump supporters to ISIS members who’d been brainwashed.

“The same pipeline that helps my children learn, helps you connect with your loved ones, also poisons some adults, and distorts their reality. The body of research about radicalization is very clear,” Stelter said. “The Internet creates more space for extremism, and the echo chamber effect accelerates the process. QAnon is one really clear recent example. But so is ‘Stop the Steal,’ and so are some corners of the anti-vaccination movement.

“The best word for what is happening in America right now is radicalization. That’s what it is. That’s what this hyped-up, right-wing media machine is doing. That’s why it feels harder to talk about politics with other people, harder to speak a common language about right and wrong.”

Stelter’s screed is reminiscent of various media attacks on Trump and his supporters—a subject of a recent analysis in Quillette by writer Kevin Mims. See https://quillette.com/2020/12/15/journalisms-ivory-towers/

Simply put, media types don’t understand Trump supporters because the two groups are almost distinctly different from one another. Virtually no one in the elite media comes from the same background as Trump supporters. For example, two-thirds of Americans—many of whom support Trump—don’t have college degrees. Alternatively, a college degree is a minimum requirement for a job in journalism. 

“As recently as the 1970s, when I first became a consumer of American journalism, daily newspapers were filled with the work of syndicated journalists such as Art Buchwald, Mike Royko, Jimmy Breslin, Pete Hamill, and Jack Anderson, none of whom possessed a university degree that wasn’t honorary. Perhaps the most storied newspaper columnist in Northern California during the second half of the 20th century was Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle, another journalist who never went to college. Visit the Wikipedia page for American Print Journalists, and you’ll find plenty of famous 20th-century reporters who lacked a college degree: Ernie Pyle, H.L. Mencken, Harold Ross, Ernest Hemingway, Martha Gellhorn, Ring Lardner, Damon Runyon, I.F. Stone, Hedda Hopper, Walter Winchell, and even Hunter S. Thompson,” Mims notes. 

Mims continues: “So much that has been written about black Americans lately has also been written by black Americans. The same is true of gay Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and American immigrants. But very little of what has been written about non-college-educated Americans of any race or ethnicity in the last five years has actually been written by non-college-educated Americans.”

In many cases, the elite media no longer seek non-college-educated people as readers and viewers. That may be another reason why few people in the press understand those who voted for Trump.

Whatever the case, the media might want to look for people who understand that Trump supporters aren’t brainwashed idiots akin to ISIS members.

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