How The Mainstream Media Operates
ur leading media” are characterized by “indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly.” —Patrick Lawrence in The Nation, Aug. 9, 2017, on the media’s reporting of the alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia
To understand America’s crises today, one must first understand what has happened to two institutions: the university and the news media. They do not regard their mission as educating and informing but indoctrinating.
In this column, I will focus on the media. I will dissect one issue that I know extremely well: the national and local coverage of the invitation extended to me to guest-conduct the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The concert took place last week.
I am well aware that this event is far less significant than many other issues. But every aspect of the reporting of this issue applies to virtually every issue the media cover. Therefore, understanding how The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and NPR covered my story leads to an almost-perfect understanding of how the media cover every story where the left has a vested interest.
When it comes to straight news stories — say, an earthquake in Central America — the news media often do their job responsibly. But when a story has a left-wing interest, the media abandon straight news reporting and take on the role of advocates.
As I explained in detail in a previous column, the board of directors of the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra and its conductor, Guido Lamell, invited me to guest-conduct a Haydn symphony at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. I have conducted regional orchestras in Southern California over the last 20 years.
Sometime thereafter, four members of the orchestra published a l etter asking their fellow musicians not to perform, claiming, “Dennis Prager is a right-wing radio host who promotes horribly bigoted positions.” They were joined by former Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, who announced, “I personally will most certainly not be attending a concert featuring a bigoted hate-monger,” among others.
Then, The New York Times decided to write a piece on the controversy.
Why would the Times write about a controversy begun by a few members of a commu
I am quite certain that one reason was to protect the left. My original column on the issue, titled “Can A Conservative Conduct An it made the left look bad. Not only was the left trying to prevent conservatives from speaking; it was now trying to prevent a conservative from not speaking — from just making music.
Therefore, it was necessary to show that the left in Santa Monica had legitimate reasons to try to prevent me from conducting. And the only way I am a hater and a bigot.
The Times writer wasted no time in portraying me that way. He wrote, “A number of them are refusing to play the fundraiser, saying that allowing the orchestra to be conducted by Mr. Prager, who has suggested that same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and incest, among other contentious statements, would be tantamount to endorsing and normalizing bigotry.”
Lesson No. 1: When the mainstream media write or say that a conservative “suggested” something that sounds outrageous, it usually means the conservative never actually said it. After all, why write “suggested” and not - picious whenever anything attributed to a conservative has no quotation marks and no source.
Seven paragraphs later — long after having mischaracterized my words to prime the readers’ perception — the Times writer did quote me on the subject. He said, “Mr. Prager suggested that if same-sex marriage were legalized, then ‘there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.’”
Though no context was given, the words quoted are accurate and a source was given. It was a 2014 column I wrote about judges having hubris for overturning voters in state after state who vot as the union of a man and a woman. I was responding to then-District Judge Vaughn Walker, who struck down California’s Proposition 8, which had amended the marriage as “the union of a man and woman.”
One of Judge Walker’s arguments was that “Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis.”
I wrote in the column, “If American society has a ‘constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,’ then there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.”
Had The New York Times author been intellectually honest, he would have written the context and the entire quote. Or, if he had wanted to merely paraphrase me, he could have written, “Prager suggested that if samesex marriage were legalized, t here were no arguments against legalizing polygamy and adult incest.”
But that would have sounded a lot less awful than saying I suggested same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy and incest.
So, for as long as human beings and the internet exist, people who wish to dismiss me or my views on same-sex marriage will quote The New York Times mischaracterization. Readers will not know that the quote about same-sex marriage and incest is not mine but that of a New York Times writer.
Lesson No. 2: When used by the mainstream media, the words “divisive” or “contentious” simply mean “leftists disagree with.”
Both words were used in The New York Times piece. The writer wrote that my “political views are divisive” and that I’ve made “other contentious statements.”
But the only reason my views are “divisive” and “contentious” is The New York Times differs with them.
During the eight-year presidency of Barack Obama, did The New York Times once describe anything he did or said as “divisive” or “contentious” (including his pre-2012 opposition to the legalization of
Lesson No. 3: Contrary evidence is omitted.
Despite all the Santa Monica musicians who supported my conducting; despite the musicians from other orchestras — including the Los Angeles Philharmonic — who asked to play when I conducted; and despite the or-
While the author did speak at Politicon earlier this year, he never talks politics at his musical gigs. But politics somehow got in the way in the end.