Mainstream media is tearing down American norms
"Protestors in California," tweeted ABC News, about an incident in Oakland, "set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station and assaulted officers after a peaceful demonstration intensified."
If you'd presented your ninth-grade teacher with that sentence in your weekly writing assignment, she might have taken out her red pen and asked you, "How does a peaceful demonstration intensify?"
This sentence, however, was written not by a ninth-grader but by an adult, a professional journalist working for one of the world's major television news organizations. It was not an accident. As Modern Age editor Daniel McCarthy noted, "George Orwell could not improve on this."
Any "peaceful demonstration" capable of "intensifying" into setting fire to a courthouse, damaging a police station and assaulting law enforcement personnel was never really "peaceful" in the first place.
As The New Criterion editor Roger Kimball wrote, "the overriding criterion for choosing which narrative to plug" is which "will do the most damage to Donald Trump and Republican prospects in the November election."
The narrative that serves that purpose is that the demonstrations that broke out after the May 25 death of George Floyd are peaceful, and the demands of many demonstrators to "defund" the police are a reasonable response with no downside risk. Video footage suggesting the contrary has appeared sparingly, if at all, on broadcast news, CNN and MSNBC.
Demonstrations that have continued for more than 60 days in cities such as Oakland, Portland and Seattle are described as "largely peaceful" -- which, translated into English, means "violent."
Setting fires in federal buildings, aiming blinding lasers and shooting pellet guns at law enforcement personnel are to be ignored (as the Associated Press's Mike Balsamo's reports from Portland have been) or characterized as, in House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler's words, "a myth."
In that spirit, committee members questioning (and permitting few replies from) Attorney General William Barr declined his invitation to condemn violent attacks on federal courthouses and to endorse federal law enforcement attempts to defend them.
Major journalistic organizations seem uninterested as well in learning just who the mostly white and mask-clad violent protesters are, and whether they are part of an organized antifa network. Some, like MSNBC's Joy Reid, are willing to take antifa groups' anti-fascist label literally despite their use of tactics reminiscent of Mussolini's Blackshirts and Hitler's Brownshirts.