The great pundit James Bowman recently said, “The biggest mistake conservatives make is to suppose that Democrats control the media. In fact, the power relationship is the other way around: The media control the Democrats.” His remark sheds light on the convulsions going on in the Democratic Party right now. There’s a power struggle in the media for who will set the agenda and issue orders. The resulting confusion is trickling down to Democrat politicians, who aren’t sure how and to whom they’re supposed to submit these days.
This power struggle accelerated at the beginning of this decade with the media class moving to Twitter. As a platform, Twitter is an intellectual’s dream because words and rhetoric are untethered from action and results there. It’s the ultimate literary coffeehouse. As the media migrated to the forum, they underestimated the volatility that occurs when intellectuals from all walks of life (but especially academics who dreamed of jobs in the media) are suddenly on equal footing.
Twitter dislodged the left-wing media hierarchy and soon self-important pundits were calling for comment sections to be removed. They were up against people who in an earlier time were called anonymuncules—a Latin word for a “nameless little man.” The media were shocked to see their public talking back to them. Even worse, not all of their detractors were harmless randos, but many of these anonymuncules were bitter agitators from academia who had learned petty infighting during their time in Humanities departments. For years the media had thought the internet was a technological utopia, and that access to information and easy communication would create a better, kinder world. Here they saw how envied and unloved they were.
After their mistake in letting the masses talk back to them online, the media would retreat from their utopian rhetoric about the online world. Now the media would say the internet was full of Nazis and that systematic changes were needed to separate Real News from Fake News. The time had come to reclaim their authority over the masses.
It was too late. Many old-school liberals were out, and young radicals were in. The people who used to rule media (many were moderate liberals, who are now called “neo-liberals”) were not “people of color,” and they were not young. It was a world of Bill Mahers supporting Joe Bidens. People who believed that advocating for gay marriage and hating people in Alabama would forever make them the left’s avant-garde.
A good example of this changing dynamic is from weeks ago, when there was controversy over Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy announcement video. Feminists on Twitter were seething because Beto’s wife, Amy, did not speak during her husband’s announcement but sat silently next to him with their children. Bill Maher fired back at Beto’s far-left critics on Twitter: “I see Twitter got made [sic] because Beto’s wife didn’t talk during his announcement. You’re right, he’s a sexist monster, we’re better off with Trump. To my FarLeft friends: you’re doing it again. Amy can talk or not, her call, but you need to shut the f— up.”