There are certain terms which get used so loosely, and so repeatedly, any nuance of definition is eradicated. ‘Fascist’ and ‘Communist,’ depending on your political leanings and the leanings of whom you are trying to disparage, would be two such examples.
Another would be ‘Orwellian,’ generally used to refer to any ‘Big Brother is watching’ type of governmental tomfoolery. What is lost within this usage is the depth of prophecy within Orwell’s 1984 — far beyond simply a prediction of the surveillance state.
Most crucial for us would be the occupation of Winston, the protagonist of the story. He works at a government agency whose job it is to write and rewrite the news and other literature to fit the prevailing political necessities of the moment.
Remember when Hillary Clinton’s private correspondence was leaked? In those days, CNN was a staunch defender of privacy rights. Further, they refused to even give consideration to the monstrous corruption revealed.
This week, when the personal correspondence of a member of the Trump administration was revealed and appeared to show questionable dealings with a foreign power, CNN did a complete ideological reversal, lauding the powers of surveillance and condemning the alleged political corruption. Hilariously, it has been Fox News, the great defenders of ‘freedom through security,’ who are now playing the role of privacy defenders.
There appears to be another misused term which is applicable here, the key to this week’s narrative — ‘Media Bias.’
Generally, the term is understood to refer to different media sources presenting the biases of different political ideologies — the derisive taunts; “liberal bias,” or “right wing nut job,” etc. But, upon closer inspection, the liberal v. conservative biases of political ideology are only the very surface level.
Yes, CNN is absolutely using the opportunity to demonize the current Republican administration (traditional ‘media bias’).
But, by completely reversing their position on surveillance and political corruption from only a few months prior, CNN presents the implication that the problems with surveillance or political corruption are not inherent, but rather are tied directly to Donald Trump.
In this narrative, the solution is simple: Get rid of Trump.
The next Democrat to win the presidency will likely do so on a platform including opposition to the surveillance state, and the condemnation of big-money political corruption, alongside other progressive stances. Whether or not they act on these promises will depend on whether they feel compelled politically to do so.
If bias in the media was based solely on oppositional political ideology, then presumably one outlet would present themselves as ideologically against surveillance and big money in politics. Using this ‘bias,’ the media source would coalesce public support for these positions and begin to hold politicians accountable. Instead, the media plays both sides depending on the day. The result is the surveillance state expands, and the political system gets more corrupt.
The true media bias means that no one is condemning the fact that ‘Big Brother is watching,’ only who sits in Big Brother’s chair.
Whether war with Eurasia or Eastasia, it is always war.
This piece was originally published on Medium.