Truth in Journalism
Thanks to the heroic efforts of our internal integrators burrowed into the very roots of of the Deep State, we here at Postliberal Order are pleased to be able to share with you a secret memorandum that recently went out from [redacted] to mainstream journalists all over America. This remarkable document takes the form of a series of terminological notes, to which all reputable members of the journalistic profession are expected to conform. We reprint selections here without editing, as the first installment in an ongoing series. Note that in the original, the entries themselves come with light annotation.
(1) In place of “liberalism” always say “democracy.” You must accustom your audience to making this mental substitution so rapidly and automatically that they will eventually find it incomprehensible to say that a polity can be democratic without being liberal. Eventually, you will be able to have them swallow, without any complaint, sentences like “every time Fidesz wins a clear electoral victory, Hungary becomes less democratic.”
(2) “Oligarch” is properly used only of the influential rich in Russia or China. (We have recently seen serious confusion on this point among the untrained). The United States, due to its democratic* system and the excellence of its antitrust laws, especially for technology firms, does not have oligarchs. Philanthropists, yes; donors, yes, or so we devoutly pray at every meeting of the Federalist Society; but oligarchs, no.
(3) So too, “propaganda” should be used only of Russia and China, the Bolsonaro administration, and the mullahs (if they don’t make a good deal with us). The West does not have propaganda - Radio Free Europe is not state media - not only because it is democratic,* but because of the crucial public-private distinction. It makes all the difference in the world if the government, rather than manipulating what people think, tells Twitter and Facebook how to manipulate what people think.
(4) “Rule of law.” An extremely useful concept that almost everyone agrees with, but a caution is in order: Western nations may, in virtue of their democratic* character, do things that are “illegal but legitimate.” When they do so, this by no means violates the rule of law. Rather it is an exemplar and fulfillment of the rule of law. If this puzzles you, please report for a remedial master’s degree in journalism at Columbia.
(5) The United States does not “invade” other nations; it engages in “military interventions.”
(6) Fact-checks are correct regardless of the facts. Non-experts fail to appreciate that a fact check may correctly show that something was false even if the fact check itself shows that it was true. Conversely, a fact check may correctly show that something was true even if it was demonstrably false. The good journalist rises above mere facts to higher truth.
In conclusion, be guided in all things by this master principle: it’s neither hypocrisy, nor hierarchy, but democracy*!
*See entry (1) above.