Anyone who has been following the news with a regularity as of late has undoubtedly heard of the Alt-Right, a collaboration of paleocons, rad-trads, right-wing libertarians, dissident thinkers and racial identitarians. One of the foremost speakers of the Alt-Right (and the man who coined the term) is Richard B. Spencer, the leader of the National Policy Institute, an identitarian think tank. Spencer is often described as a “White Nationalist,” but he is not terribly fond of the term and prefers to describe himself as a “European Identitarian.”
All of this information is quite relevant due to recent and repeated CNN coverage of Spencer following his annual NPI conference in Washington, a popular social gathering event for political and philosophical dissidents to make speeches, talk to the press, and network.
On the CNN program “The Lead with Jake Tapper,”news anchor Jim Sciutto said that Spencer’s rhetoric was nothing more than “hate-filled garbage,” and went on to quote Spencer, “One wonders if these people are even people at all, or, instead, soulless golem.” [Golems, by the way, are humanoid constructs, crafted of clay and brought to life by magic which feature prominently in Jewish Folklore]
This quote was quite accurate—save for one glaring fact—Spencer was not referring to Jews at all, rather, he was referring to (surprise, surprise) the media. The story quickly spiraled out of control and soon variations of the line “ALT-RIGHT FOUNDER QUESTIONS IF JEWS ARE PEOPLE,” were picked up and spread hither and thither throughout both the mainstream media and alternative social media news sites such as Buzzfeed.
Let me preempt some predictable criticisms – criticisms which will likely be along the lines of “But he deserves it!” or “He’s a white nationalist, he says things like, “I’m suspicious of Jewish influence!” Irrelevant. Whether or not you agree with Spencer or his cohorts is completely immaterial to the truth or falsity of his statements. This is precisely the kind of self-conscious spin that made the common American lose faith in the media to begin with. A loss of faith which helped propel Donald Trump and Mike Pence to the White House.
This is exactly what the media outlets have been doing with Dr. David Duke for years, heading up every interview with the prominent white nationalist with the lines, “Ex-KKK member and well known White Supremacist, David Duke.” Naturally Duke is no more a white supremacist than Steven Bannon (or Richard Spencer for that matter), but it’s a cute gimmick and it generates clicks, so why should they care? And again, whether or not you agree with Duke should be irrelevant to one’s ability to accurately portray the man’s positions.
There are numerous individuals who I personally disagree with, but I don’t attempt to put words in their mouth or further distort their positions. There’s simply no need to do so, their arguments will stand or fall based on their own merit. What is interesting about all of this is that it tells us all something we have known for quite a long time: that CNN does not believe in challenging the plainly-laid arguments of its opponents but rather shadow-boxing an illusory monstrosity of its own construction.
Note: CNN has since apologized for making the aforementioned erroneous statements.