This perfectly captures the state of the political discourse on the Right.

It’s a massive problem that much of the established media will keep pretending these are serious people because they feel the need to uphold the myth that there are two roughly equivalent sides/parties.
Since mainstream journalism is predicated on the idea that politics is a game between two teams that are essentially the same and journalists aspire to “neutrality,” which they define as equidistance from either side, whatever comes from the GOP has to be elevated to credibility.
Stating clearly what the Republican Party has become would run counter to mainstream journalism’s eternal quest for “neutrality” and “balanced” coverage, its overwhelming desire to signal “nonpartisanship.” And so the GOP continues to be covered as if it were a “normal” party.
Occasionally, something so terrible happens that it has enough of an impact to break through this “both sides” charade of constant normalization. Uvalde was such an event. And so we’re getting editorials telling us clearly what the problem is: The radicalization of the Right.
But it never lasts. We’ll be back to pretending the GOP is a “normal” party soon. It’s also weirdly inconsequential for other areas of public policy: Republicans can thoroughly debase themselves on gun violence - and will still be treated as serious voices on taxes, welfare, etc.
And so journalists, forcing themselves to act as if they were completely oblivious to who they are interviewing, will keep approaching them with a microphone to spout their vile nonsense into, as if they hadn’t proven a million times they weren’t serious people.
It’s one of the most bizarre features of the American political discourse that it demands we pretend these are serious suggestions, coming from serious political actors, instead of acknowledging that one side, one party, is entirely uninterested in protecting American lives.
In a healthy political culture, anyone trafficking in such deranged nonsense would be shunned and ostracized, the party that elevates them would have to pay a hefty political price.

In the U.S., that’s evidently not the case. And until that changes, nothing changes.
Addendum: In case anyone needed more evidence for the type of mainstream media complicity I am criticizing here, the NYT has this to offer.

This type of coverage is actively harmful and serves no journalistic purpose beyond upholding the “neutrality” dogma. It needs to stop.
The constant normalization of Republican radicalism via supposedly “balanced” journalism is usually most apparent in opinion pieces that explicitly employ a “both sides” framing – but in some ways, it’s the supposedly “neutral” reporting that does more harm. Here’s an example: Image
It starts with the headline that defines the problem as “gridlock” in Congress – a term that appears several times in the piece. And in a narrow sense, that’s factually correct. But it’s a framing that privileges those who simply sabotage over those who want solutions. ImageImage
The “dysfunction” trope is, in almost all cases, willfully obtuse and entirely misleading. Is there no level of deliberate sabotage from Republicans that political journalists won’t immediately press into the all-familiar “Dysfunction in Washington” framework?
There’s a long bipartisan tradition of blaming “Washington,” of course. But actively sabotaging government and then selling the ensuing dysfunction as proof that government doesn’t work - that’s really been a Republican specialty for decades, with disastrous consequences.
Next up, we get the usual dose of stenography-masquerading-as-journalism: Yes, it’s true, Republicans want to frame it all as a mental health issue and blame Democrats for “politicizing” the situation – but do we need the NYT to present this without any kind of disclaimer? Image
What’s the least controversial thing one can do in American politics? Blame “polarization”: It’s the concept you use if you want to lament major problems in American politics but can’t bring yourself to openly address the fact that the actual issue really is a radicalizing Right. Image
This one is particularly bad: Why sanitize the utterly deranged, entirely-detached-from-empirical-reality nonsense that Republicans have been offering by presenting it as a call to improve “school security and mental health”? Image
“There remain serious questions,” the article reminds us – which makes it sound like someone offered a new, yet to be tested, maybe potentially risky but also kind of innovative approach that just hasn’t been fully vetted yet… Is that what Republicans have been doing? Image
The article finally links the gun debate to the broader political conflict. Unfortunately, we’re being treated to some hardcore both sides-ing. Yes, Republican states have been up to some pretty extreme stuff – but did you know that Democrats have decided “to respond in kind”? Image
Once again, on a narrowly factual level, it is not incorrect to say that California wants to use the questionable (that’s a euphemism) legal mechanism pioneered by Texas to abolish abortion to enforce its existing gun laws. But think about what’s implied here by this framing. Image
What is strongly implied here – fully in line with the overall “polarization” framework – is that both sides are engaged in an equally bad, ever-radicalizing, dangerously escalating project to force their radical views and policies onto America.
That’s only plausible, however, if you think that Texas (abolishing the right to abortion, bodily autonomy, and privacy) and California (enforcing existing gun laws to keep *already banned* guns off the street) are somehow pursuing projects that are morally and politically equal.
One state, Texas, is pursuing a policy uniquely extreme in the “developed” world – while the other, California, is enforcing gun laws that are fully in line with what is consensus everywhere outside the United States of America. That seems like relevant context, perhaps?
I am not singling out this article because it is so extraordinarily bad – but because it’s typical of what is presented as “balanced” coverage every day. It’s the result of journalists following an ethos of “neutrality,” which they define as keeping equidistance from either side.
The “neutrality” dogma and the overwhelming desire to signal “nonpartisanship” have journalists gravitate towards narratives and frameworks that blame “division,” “polarization,” lack of “unity” – while never adequately and precisely assessing the problem.
The resulting coverage constantly privileges the radicalizing rightwing forces in American life. The cumulative effect of this kind of journalism is disastrous. So many Americans remain oblivious to the threat of Republican radicalization – and this is a big reason why.

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More from @tzimmer_history

Jun 28
The key thing to remember is that almost all Republicans – including some who have been presented to us as heroes by the committee – are on board with giving the awesome power of the American presidency back to this raging, narcissistic wannabe-dictator. #January6thHearings
I found it very hard to stay composed while watching today’s hearing. Not even necessarily because of the new revelations about Trump himself – although: oh my, there really was some revelatory stuff! – but because this guy is actually still the leader of the Republican Party!
This is who they are. After a brief moment of uncertainty, of being rattled, immediately after January 6, they rallied behind Trump: They first acquitted him, then they started obstructing every attempt to hold him accountable, and now they are all running on his Big Lie.
Read 23 tweets
Jun 28
This is misinformation. It completely ignores the actual politics of abortion on either side of the Atlantic, the manners in which these regulations are applied, the broad exceptions they entail in many European countries, and the broader legal and health care contexts. ImageImage
Or maybe it’s just deliberately misleading, a way to obscure and normalize what’s happening in the U.S., to provide cover for the multi-level reactionary counter-mobilization that’s currently underway. In which case it’s closer to disinformation. Hard to tell, really.
It is, of course, entirely in line with the kind of empty anti-“alarmism” that’s constantly coming from these self-proclaimed Very Serious People on the center - people who have been consistently wrong about what’s happening on the Right and never once stop to reflect on that. Image
Read 5 tweets
Jun 27
One more thought on where we are in the wake of Roe’s end:
 
America can accept this Court and its rulings as legitimate - or it can have true democracy. But certainly not both.
Quite a few people have told me that they’re no longer interested in yet more analyses, only in concrete solutions. I firmly believe any attempt to solve the problem has to start from a precise, unflinching diagnosis; but I totally get the need for someone to chart a way forward.
And there absolutely are possible ways forward – in fact, it would be entirely outrageous and completely unnecessary to simply give up and accept this Court like a force of nature or the act of God that the reactionary justices seem to think they are.
Read 15 tweets
Jun 24
It’s terrifying to live in a country where any revelation about how the former president tried to abolish democracy can only dominate the news cycle for about 12 hours because the multi-level reactionary assault on the civil rights order is continuing with such brutal speed.
Crucially, it was the reactionary counter-mobilization which made that guy president in the first place, and though his coup attempt failed, he remains the leader of a party and a rightwing movement fully committed to entrenching white patriarchal dominance by whatever means.
The key is to see all of this as connected, all part of a multi-pronged, multi-level reactionary counter-mobilization that has a judicial arm, a political arm, an intellectual arm, and a paramilitary arm, all flanked by a massive, highly effective media/propaganda machine.
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Jun 21
Wandrea Arshaye Moss. Here’s someone who understands democracy. Understands why it’s so important. Has been down in the trenches for years to make it work. These are the people democratic institutions need to protect, the heroic figures the #January6thHearings need to celebrate.
Wandrea Arshaye Moss. Ruby Freeman. A society in which they can’t feel safe enough to participate in democracy, help make democracy work, cannot and will not stay a democracy for long, let alone develop into the kind of true democracy that America has often claimed as an ideal.
“There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere.” Ruby Freeman’s testimony was devastating. If the institutions tasked with protecting democracy cannot or will not muster the strength to protect her, to make her feel safe, democracy is lost. #January6thHearings
Read 24 tweets
Jun 20
Rufo has always been completely transparent about the entirely dishonest nature of his reactionary projects. And over the past two years, very few people have done more than Andrew Sullivan to popularize and legitimize those rightwing crusades. Rufo is very much his monster.
I know it’s almost cliché at this point to quote Martin Niemöller’s famous words, but this might just be one of the purest “First they came for the…” situations ever.
Sullivan is particularly guilty at helping succeed that about which he now starts having doubts - but there are so, so many people with public platforms and influence, dominant on the center and well into the liberal spectrum, who have been actively complicit in similar ways.
Read 8 tweets

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