Why do people dislike the media so much? Well, part of the reason—most of it—is that much of the media is run by dishonest, professionally disingenuous hacks who are loath to even consider writing anything even approaching the truth. A good example can be found in their recent treatment of Donald Trump’s nomination for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.
At her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday, she was grilled by numerous Democrats regarding her positions on school vouchers, Department of Education policy and federal support of local educational systems, but it was, quite predictably, the gun question that had everyone talking:
Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who has been vocal on gun control in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, asked DeVos if she thought firearms had any place in or around schools.
“I think that’s best left to locales and states to decide,” she replied.
Pressed on whether she could say “definitively” if guns shouldn’t be in schools, she referred to an earlier remark by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) who mentioned an elementary school in Wapiti, Wyoming, that had erected a fence to protect children from wildlife.
“I think probably there, I would imagine that there’s probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies,” DeVos said.
This is a perfectly reasonable supposition; it might not be true in this one instance, but it is at least defensible to guess that a school in the middle of Grizzly Country might want to keep a shotgun in a locked closet somewhere, just in case. In any event, note well what DeVos was saying: her point was not that every school should have a gun with which to shoot bears, but rather that “locales and states” are likely in the best position to determine their individual policies concerning school administration. That’s all; that was her entire pitch. It’s not controversial or even worth remarking on at all; it’s simply, quite literally, federalism,
Well, how do you think our media covered DeVos’s comment? You already know, don’t you? You already know. “Betsy DeVos Says Guns Should Be Allowed in Schools. They Might Be Needed to Shoot Grizzlies.” (Slate.) “Betsy DeVos: Schools May Need Guns to Fight Off Bears.” (The Daily Beast.) “Citing grizzlies, education nominee says states should determine school gun policies.” (CNN.) “Betsy DeVos says guns in schools may be necessary to protect students from grizzly bears.” (ThinkProgress.) “Betsy DeVos says guns shouldn’t be banned in schools … because grizzly bears.” (Vox.) “Betsy DeVos tells Senate hearing she supports guns in schools because of grizzly bears.” (The Week.) “Trump’s Education Pick Cites “Potential Grizzlies” As A Reason To Have Guns In Schools.” (BuzzFeed.)
To say that these headlines are intellectually dishonest is putting it mildly. The implication in each of them is clear: the idea is to make Betsy DeVos seem like a crazy person who believes there are bears running around every school district in the country. In the proper context, her point—both in and of itself and as an illustration of the larger issue—was perfectly defensible. But you would not garner that from these stories.
Now, on the one hand this is somewhat understandable: most of the media is populated and run by liberals, and as a rule liberals really, really don’t like guns. So I suppose if a smart, successful cabinet nominee is going to make a reasonable point about school gun usage, progressives are going to jump all over it out of habit, like vicious dogs that bite anyone who comes near them.
Just the same, it takes a special brand of intellectual cowardice and professional vindictiveness to push this kind of transparently false narrative. Yet that is apparently where the media is heading in the age of Trump: a bunch of hacks peddling fake news in order to discredit conservative politicians. You can thus understand why Trump was elected in part because of his very vocal pushback on this rank dishonesty—and it will surely go a long way towards explaining why he was elected again in 2020.