A famed media critic's memoir, and what it tells us about political polarization
Tara, thanks for your very nuanced look at Sullivan. It would have been much easier just to slam her for being part of the "elite media." But you have made her "human," even as you disagree with her. If only more of this could happen in all press!
There is something about your look at Sullivan's memoir that reminds me of about Ezra Klein's Why We are Polarized book. Klein writes insightfully about the political "sorting" that has happened in the US, and how it creates "tribes" that hate the other for a sense of identity. But then he overwhelmingly critiques only Republicans for their tribalism - unconsciously illustrating his very point by the lack of self-critique of liberal Democrats. i wonder if the same thing is happening with Sullivan: lamenting polarization, but her own siloing feeds a polarization she cannot see or get out of.
It also makes me grateful for your own work. Very courageously you are trying to remain open to those not in your "tribe" - if, in fact, you still have a tribe - while trying to call your own "people" to account. In religious terms, one would call this having a "prophetic" orientation - not a "prophet" in a demogogical sense, but one that looks at one's own faults first, before obsessing over the faults of the other. In that sense, thanks for being a kind of Canadian version of a prophetic journalist.
This is excellent insight and a necessary reminder why understanding those you don't agree with is so incredibly important.
Margaret Sullivan went from reporter to partisan hack and she's butt-hurt that a sizable portion of the US population finds her loathsome. She is the embodiment of Bubble Journalism.
Convenient ignoring of the actual history of news media bias to make victims out of the journalists and new villains out of the subjects they have done such a great disservice to. She makes some milestone- crucible out of the 2016 Republican National Convention but lacks the complete intellectual honesty, or maybe just journalistic curiosity, to ask why... what happened? The frankly idiot self-serving answer is that it is all Trump... that these people would have been like the old people had not Trump came on the scene. No, people like Sullivan had already effed it all up. They had already turned hard left. They had already turned what was once a diet of balanced news reporting into a constant stream of subtle and not so subtle liberal bias... and against the forgotten working class men and women that the old Democrat party and at least some journalists used to consider and write to.
"Sullivan sees Fox News and the Trump presidency — and indeed whole segments of the modern American right — as existential threats to democracy, and argues that the traditional norms of journalism are inadequate to the task of confronting them." identifies HER and HER ILK as the existential threat to democracy. Her upper class boot on the neck of the American working class, and now this believe that she needs to be involved in this final extermination by the work of her pen... well let's just say that she has earned the target on her back.
She should read this... https://www.nytimes.com/2022/07/21/opinion/bret-stephens-trump-voters.html
Defender of democracy? Where is the democracy when an election was stolen from us, and all evidence to support it is gaslighted? Where is the democracy when the media colludes with big tech and govt to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story, effectively gifting the election to the left? Or J6 detainees, some sitting in jail for TWO YEARS without being charged, while murderers are released on no bail? Journalists like Sullivan are already extinct, they just don’t know it yet.