A lot of politicians and businessmen don’t understand that the press only has so much power as we give them. If people don’t trust corporate media — if people don’t respect them — then they don’t have much power at all.
Reporters in particular don’t seem to understand this give and take. By and large, reporters think of themselves as very important, very noble people putting their lives at risk to save American democracy in between brunch dates. Close your eyes and you can almost see chubby little Washington Post journos dramatically whipping their bangs out of their eyes as they whisper: “Democrathy dythe in darkneth.”
Elon Musk gets it, though. When a Washington Post reporter emailed him for comment on a story on how investors are worried he is stretched too thin — a story the reporter almost certainly finished writing before bothering to reach out — Musk replied, “Give my regards to your puppet master.”
“Puppet master” refers to Jeff Bezos, the book-burning, dissent-crushing, Main St.-wasting, China-loving left-wing billionaire who owns The Washington Post. And “alpha” refers to Elon Musk, who just perfectly demonstrated how to respond to a hostile and dishonest corporate media no matter the story.
I admit I was once very skeptical of Musk. SolarCity was a disaster for the American taxpayer. Teslas are cool if you have subsidies and like screens a lot, but they won’t do you much good when the bombs drop. And then one day, while I was in the middle of an important conversation, I found myself somehow distracted by a television in the background showing a Falcon 9 booster returning to land on the Earth. That was the day I stopped rolling my eyes at that electrical man from Pretoria, even if his technology will destroy us all someday.
Now compare landing space ships to the world of news journalism I joined a bit over a decade ago, where laziness and based stupidity go hand in hand with self-importance.
It’s a profession where it’s noble to print private neighborhood texts and take photographs of children to get just one more scoop on the already known story of Sen. Ted Cruz going Mexico, yet a story about Gov. Andrew Cuomo killing thousands of your parents in your own state is ignored until President Joe Biden can be safely elected.
It’s a world where Brian Stelter feels comfortable talking about how he “crawled into bed and cried,” where journalists think covering Trump was “thrilling in the way that I imagine storming Omaha Beach must have been,” where Brian Williams smiles and waves to a crowd at a Ranger’s game while the jumbotron tells the completely fake story of that time he was super brave and his helicopter was shot down in Iraq.
It’s a place where The New York Times can print falsehood after falsehood about President Donald Trump, and where its reporters can proudly claim credit for starting deadly race riots, while the editor in chief claims Trump “puts [reporters’] lives at risk” by calling “them names.”
It’s a field that builds the “Newseum,” a massive monument to its own importance, while executives and board members pay themselves millions to run the place into the ground.
It’s an industry owned by men like Jeff Bezos.
It’s a thing that doesn’t deserve your respect.
And people like these make my job that much more difficult, since people assume I am just like them, when I am not.