Conformity can be a good or a bad thing. Conformity to obeying the law, or playing by the rules of a game, or dressing like the other members of a choir are all good things. But conformity with a false narrative is never a good thing.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board says the year 2021 was full of conformity to false narratives by politicians and the media alike. This kind of conformity promotes misinformation and can be dangerous. WSJ says, “By conformity we mean the progressive political and media consensus that forms quickly around an issue and then reinforces itself no matter the competing arguments or new information. This isn’t a conspiracy in any formal sense; there are no organized calls or Zoom meetings. This is about a shared set of political values and preferences that leads people to reach the same conclusions about an event. The reporters and commentators of the major progressive media – the Washington Post, Bloomberg, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Atlantic, and more – all then reinforce what they now like to call the “narrative” of a story.”
Here are a few examples from 2021:
The Wuhan Virology Lab origin theory of Covid-19
Although this was a definite possible source of the origins of Covid-19, the idea was quickly shut down by a group of scientists who stood to be embarrassed and possibly lose grant money if this was found to be true. The Lancet, a British medical journal, published a letter in February 2020 “to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that Covid-19 does not have a natural origin.”
This year we learned that the Lancet letter was part of a coordinated effort to quash the lab theory. We learned about the conflicts of interest of Anthony Fauci and others who provided funding for the Wuhan lab. Eventually even the press noticed that China had blocked an honest inquiry, and that no evidence for a natural origin has emerged.
Lockdowns stop Covid-19
WSJ says, “There was no fiercer consensus in the early days of the virus than the belief that locking down the economy to stop the virus was an unadulterated social good. We felt the consensus wrath when we raised doubts in an editorial on March 20, 2020, about the harm that lockdowns would do to the economy and public health.”
Two years later their skepticism has proven well founded. At most, lockdowns only delay the spread of the virus, but cause severe damage to the education of children, lost livelihoods for many workers and employers, and damage to mental health leading to increased rates of drug abuse and suicide. Even Randi Weingarten, the teachers union president who was most responsible for school closures, now pretends she wanted to keep them open all along.
The supply side of the economy doesn’t matter
Keynesian economists, who dominate the U.S. and European media, have long held that the demand for goods and services drives the economy. The ability or incentive to supply those goods is largely ignored or dismissed. Spurring demand was the theory behind the trillions of dollars in spending by Congress and easy money from the Federal Reserve. They dismiss supply-side economists like Arthur Laffer, who was so successful in the Reagan administration.
What did these Keynesians produce? – the worst inflation in forty years. WSJ says, “All that money did spur demand. But the Keynesians ignored the disincentives to increase supply from paying people not to work and restricting work with lockdowns and mandates. The result was the surging inflation that caught nearly all of them by surprise. Their demand-side models never saw it coming.”
The Steele dossier and Russia collusion narrative
In 2019 the Mueller report exposed the lack of evidence for the claims that Donald Trump and the Kremlin were in cahoots. This past year the indictments by special counsel John Durham have revealed how Democrats and the press worked together to promote the dossier that was based on disinformation. WSJ says, “Yet for four years nearly everyone in the dominant media bought the collusion narrative. One or two of the gullible have apologized, but most want everyone to forget what they wrote or said at the time.”
Vilifying police won’t affect crime
Where did common sense go? Anyone with half a brain should realize that reducing the presence of police will lead to more crime. If it were not so, we wouldn’t need police at all. But man is basically sinful and needs to have accountability to control his nature.
WSJ says, “The fast-congealing consensus after George Floyd’s murder was that most police were racist, as was most of American society, and violent protests against this were justified -even admirable. Woe to anyone who pointed out that the victims of these riots and crime were mostly poor and minority communities.”
Unfortunately, police funding was cut and bail laws eased in many large cities. Eighteen months later we see the result in rising crime rates and a soaring murder count. A political backlash now has even many Democrats claiming they really do want more funding for police. All of this was entirely predictable.
The lessons of this past year should be clear; jumping to quick conclusions is rarely justified and frequently leads to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. What is needed is a media that does its job – independently investigating stories until they get it right. Simply repeating what others have said is sloppy journalism and a successful democracy depends on the media doing better.