The Alternative Media’s First Real Test Has Come
When the Democratic Party’s Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008, I was in the eighth grade, and the mainstream media, on the whole, still held a tight grip on the flow of politically-relevant information to the public. I became politically ‘active’ (if you could call it that) in 2013 – my first year at university – just after Obama won his reelection.
The defeat of Hillary Clinton in America’s 2016 presidential election, however, means that the Republicans are now running the federal government again, controlling the executive branch as well as Congress. This is the first time that this has happened since the ‘alternative media’ became a force to be reckoned with. It doesn’t take too much investigation to realize that after Clinton’s defeat at the ballot, the mainstream media’s monopoly on information is much weaker than it was back in 2008. When I tuned to CNN (which is the only mainstream American news network available to me in South Africa) right after Trump won, I heard more mumbling and nervous giggles with the question “What happened?” being asked every thirty seconds, rather than serious analysis and rational commentary.
During the Democratic government years, publications like Breitbart – with all its relevant imperfections – have done what the mainstream media was supposed to do: Challenge, and be adversarial toward, the incumbent political class. When Trump announced his candidacy, he was seen as an outsider who was not plugged into the Washington, D.C. establishment, and who offered a new, non-political, perspective on the issues facing America. Everyone knows Breitbart strongly endorsed Trump, but so did much of the conservative alternative media, if only implicitly.
The mainstream media, predominantly populated by left-statists, has eroded their credibility by making it abundantly clear that their top priority is not to inform the general public, but to indoctrinate it. Those they cannot indoctrinate, they indict and condemn. For years, the progressive media has portrayed themselves as the keepers of the Truth, as members of society valiantly keeping the rest of us informed so we may be protected from the machinations of those in power. But, it is apparent that they’ve not been exposing to sunlight, the best disinfectant, those people in positions of power who seek to exert undue influence over ordinary citizens, but to cheerlead leftists/statists, looking the other way when the left use their power to perform the same acts that they denounce the right for.
The mainstream media has not objectivity; but objectives. The left’s agenda has existed uber alles for so long that they’ve completely lost touch with the very audience they’ve been leading around by the nose. Individuals that had given the mainstream media the benefit of the doubt for so long are fed up with the blatant bias most media outlets exhibit. Any pretense of speaking truth to power has long since evaporated; so much of their energy is spent denigrating the right and the private sector, while defending the left and those in the public sector who are driven by the very same egregiously malicious motivations they disparage their political opposition for. This has not gone unnoticed by independent voters, and is what helped tip the scales in favor of President-Elect Trump.
But now the roles are reversed.
Donald Trump, come 20 January next year, will no longer be ‘an outsider’. Indeed, he will by definition be a true politician: He will live in Washington, D.C., and will have to, reluctantly or not, work with the establishment. Indeed, what he will likely try to do, as any sincere president before him, is forge a new establishment, more reflective of his and his supporters’ values.
The test for the alternative media will now be whether we will become that which we have protested against for close to a decade, or will we continue to challenge the new holders of power? Will we condemn the new establishment when they inevitably do the same things their predecessors did, or will we make like the ‘anti-war left’, and turn a blind eye until the Democrats return to power? Will we, like the mainstream media has become so adept at now, also help create a new form of political correctness, to silence the progressive opponents of the Republican government?
In many ways, alternative media publications such as Being Libertarian and The Libertarian Republic will have it easy, because the new establishment will not be a libertarian establishment, and while many of our staff and fans are glad to see a Trump White House and a Republican Congress, virtually none of us are red-blooded Republicans or die-hard alternative rightists. Some of us, myself included, might even have somewhat of an advantage by not being Americans. The ‘establishment’ in South Africa is still comprised of self-described socialists and communists, so I personally won’t be singing to a different tune any time soon.
But what can be said for the libertarian alternative media cannot necessarily be said for such publications such as Breitbart, The Federalist, PJ Media, or an up-and-coming little outfit I follow religiously, BillWhittle.com.
The alternative media – comprised of conservatives and libertarians, as well as liberals who hold a fealty to the Truth instead of to the Narrative – has a great opportunity to supplant the media outlets that have spent a generation putting forth facts that only support their statist agenda. It is an opportunity to win back the public’s trust through honest reporting that will hold members of all sides of the political spectrum accountable. It is an opportunity for responsible journalism, and to squander it would be a scandal as great as the systemic dishonesty that helped lead us to our present situation.
I won’t attempted to predict what will happen. But I do know this test will determine whether the alternative media has ever truly been about offering an alternative to the embedded political elitist mainstream media, which routinely twists facts to support their narratives, or whether it has simply always been about embedding ourselves in order to push our own narratives, regardless of what the facts may say. Only time will tell!
* Martin van Staden is the Editor in Chief of Being Libertarian. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen contributed to this article.