How The Main­stream Me­dia Op­er­ates

MidWeek (Hawaii) - - Front Page - Den­nis Prager

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.

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