Monday morning, the first day of the Democratic National Convention, as Debbie Wasserman Schultz attempted to address the Florida Democratic delegation breakfast, she was booed loudly and ceaselessly; and was ultimately forced to leave the stage.
In what might be the most perfect microcosm of media bias toward the Democratic establishment, MSNBC’s caption at the moment boos for Wasserman Schultz were picking up steam, and as she exhorted the crowd to “settle down”, read: “Wasserman Schultz Receives Cheers at Florida Delegation Breakfast”. The caption remained even after she had abandoned the microphone, and while another speaker sought (unsuccessfully) to soothe the crowd.
It’s an absurdly minor point of detail; they report cheers as she gets booed off stage. But it shows how thoroughly the attempt to craft a pro-establishment narrative infects the media – to manufacture consent, as Noam Chomsky says. They had decided to run that caption long before the event; and they ran it even while the exact opposite was taking place. Whether it represents dissonance-riddled willful ignorance or deliberate deception is moot. Boos are cheers; war is peace; HRC is progressive.
MSNBC of course covered the booing later, speaking to Andrea Mitchell from the floor by phone (though the announcer hedged, saying they heard “cheers” and “jeers”); but in the moment, as Wasserman Schultz was on stage, they had their own narrative cued up and ready to go. If events hadn’t been so diametrically opposite, that narrative would have remained.
Even if it is not the least bit surprising, it is still chilling. Here the offense is obvious; but the gutwrenching truth is, the myriad and manifold ways the media slighted and marginalized Bernie Sanders throughout the campaign were almost always far more difficult to see, and easily dismissed as paranoia.
And so it goes.
MSNBC’s utter haplessness at this moment in particular would be terribly funny if it weren’t such a heartbreakingly concise epitome. Sanders’ supporters have been gaslighted by the media the entire campaign. Now, with the leaked DNC emails raising furor after furor, another example – however picayune – of the media rallying around the political establishment at the expense of truth is sickening.
It is, even so, no reason for demoralization. The revolution continues despite the establishment in all its faces. Moments like this remind us that what we’re up against – while sickening – is simply no match for our concerted, dedicated vigilance.
If we’ve learned nothing else, it’s that we can count on one another for that.