This is Why Our Country is Coming Undone
It was good of the Wall Street Journal to at least publish a front-page teaser about someone being charged with the attempted murder of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The major newspapers here in Connecticut, the Hartford Courant and the Waterbury Republic-American, could not be bothered to do even that.
The Rep-Am has a front page teaser on Jeff Goldblum coming back for the final Jurassic Park movie. But the attempted assassination of a U.S. Supreme Court justice? No space for a lesser story like that, I guess.
The New York Times ran a long, well-reported story — buried on page 20. The Washington Post did a little better. It also ran a long-well-reported story, and even put it on page one, but only the beginning paragraphs in the upper left-hand corner of the home page — the worst spot on the page.
But what if Kavanaugh hadn’t been a Trump appointee and one of the votes to overturn Roe v. Wade? What if, instead, someone had been charged with the attempted murder of Ruth Bader Ginsburg right before the Obergerfell ruling in 2015? Or, say, the attempted murder of Sotomayor right before a gun rights decision?
The Journal would have managed more than a front page teaser. Our local papers would have covered it. The Times and the Post would have blared the story across the front page. Both would have been filled editorials and columns about “the growing right-wing menace,” “the Republican war on democracy,” “the Trump-led right’s destruction of American institutions.”
It would be a front-burner story for months afterward. They wouldn’t stop talking about it. The action of a disturbed loner would be presented as an example of what the American right is really about.
And if the target were Ginsberg or Sotomayor, would Nancy Pelosi be sitting on the Supreme Court Police Parity act? Would they postpone a vote even after a man tried to kill a Supreme Court justice? A bill passed unanimously by the Senate?
Sleight of Hand
Don’t we keep seeing this double-standard in what gets highlighted, and what gets downplayed, or ignored? Haven’t we see it for decades? Has the left ever even-handedly applied the principles it claims to hold?
For the five or six months between the murder of George Floyd and the 2020 election, Antifa and BLM ran wild on American streets. The riots caused millions of dollars of damage. It destroyed communities and businesses, often black communities and businesses. They targeted police stations, federal courthouses, the White House. Symbols of government authority and American history. I’ll never forget the attacks on the statues of our Founding Fathers. But the only thing you hear about, regarding that era, is the Jan. 6th riot at the U.S. Capitol.
I am not now, and have never been, an apologist for Jan. 6th. But that Jan. 6th is all the mainstream press will talk about, and that it’s magically forgotten those “fiery but mostly peaceful” riots that defined 2020, is gaslighting of a very high order. People are not wrong to freak out over it.
Especially when the attempted assassination of Brett Kavanaugh is treated as no biggie. Or the firebombing of Wisconsin Family Action — a sister organization to my own — is treated as a one-or-two-day story. And there is almost nothing in the press about the firebombing of a Buffalo pregnancy center just four days ago.
Again, imagine that the stories were about attacks on LGBT rights organizations. Again, front page news in the newspapers and the subjects of days or weeks of outraged commentary.
And Rod Dreher’s reporting that Homeland Security has warned the U.S. Catholic Bishops that Catholic churches will be targeted for violence the day the Dobbs decision is announced? Have you heard anything about that? I haven’t seen it anywhere else.
How about, to bring this full circle, Justice Alito’s family having to go into hiding since the Dobbs leak, for fear of their own safety? Again, what if it had been Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Sonia Sotomayor? Wouldn’t this be one of the biggest stories of the year?
The Leftist Narrative
But the things I mention above are not treated thusly. Our public institutions are not serving the public interest. Instead, their role is to drive the Narrative, to be the servants of those who decide what we will, and will not, be allowed to think.
This is how you get the country we have now. This is why everyone is on edge. Our major institutions, especially those that report and comment on our national life, tell the story they want to tell. Not the story an objective look at the facts would require. The one the leftist narrative requires.
This is why things are falling apart.
Peter Wolfgang is president of Family Institute of Connecticut Action. He lives in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife and their seven children. The views expressed on The Stream are solely his own.