Analysis: Today’s U.S. media calls to mind hilarious Soviet headlines

by WorldTribune Staff, March 23, 2021

“Champion of middle class comes to aid the poor”.

That headline could have come straight out of Pravda circa 1958.

But it didn’t. It’s from The New York Times in March of 2021 in which the Times basks in the glow of Joe Biden, resembling a state-run propaganda outlet more than the so-called “newspaper of record,” an analyst noted.

Washington Post on March 6: ‘Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty’

The corporate media’s coverage of Biden “increasingly resembles official press releases, often featuring embarrassing, Soviet-style contortions,” independent journalist Matt Taibi noted.

‘A Mighty Demonstration of the Union of the Party and the People’ fit the day after Supreme Soviet elections …. Who could earn an obit headline but a ‘Faithful Son of the Party’?

“Reality in Soviet news was 100 percent binary, with all people either heroes or villains, and the villains all in league with one another,” Taibi wrote. “Other ideas were not represented, except to be attacked and deconstructed. Also, since anything good was all good, politicians were not described as people at all but paragons of limitless virtue — 95 percent of most issues of Pravda or Izvestia were just names of party leaders surrounded by lists of applause-words, like ‘glittering,’ ‘full-hearted,’ ‘wise,’ ‘mighty,’ ‘courageous,’ ‘in complete moral-political union with the people,’ etc.”

Other recent headlines in the U.S. corporate press sound suspiciously like this kind of work:

  • Biden stimulus showers money on Americans, sharply cutting poverty — The Washington Post, March 6, 2021:
  • Biden’s historic victory for America — CNN, March 6, 2021

Taibi also contrasted how today’s Pravda-like corporate media portrays what are essentially identical decisions made by Biden and President Donald Trump:

“When Biden decided not to punish Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi on the grounds that the ‘cost’ of ‘breaching the relationship with one of America’s key Arab allies’ was too high, the New York Times headline read: ‘Biden Won’t Penalize Saudi Crown Prince Over Khashoggi’s Killing, Fearing Relations Breach.’

“When Donald Trump made the same calculation, saying he couldn’t cut ties because ‘the world is a very dangerous place’ and ‘our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,’ the paper joined most of the rest of the press corps in howling in outrage. ‘In Extraordinary Statement, Trump Stands With Saudis Despite Khashoggi Killing’, was the Times headline, in a piece that said Trump’s decision was ‘a stark distillation of the Trump worldview: remorselessly transactional, heedless of the facts, determined to put America’s interests first, and founded on a theory of moral equivalence.’ The paper noted, ‘Even Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill expressed revulsion.’ ”

In its “Crusader for the Poor” piece, the NY Times described Biden’s identical bin Salman decision as mere evidence that he remains “in the cautious middle” in his foreign policy. The paper previously had David Sanger dig up a quote from former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who “applauded Biden for ‘trying to thread the needle here… This is the classic example of where you have to balance your values and your interests.’ ”

As Taibi noted: “It’s two opposite takes on exactly the same thing.”

In the post-Jan. 20, 2021 era, Taibi wrote, “Republicans in basically all non-Fox media have been moved off the legitimacy spectrum, and appear as foils only. Allowable opinion is now depicted stretching all the way from one brand of ‘moderate’ Democrat to another.”

Reporters “once had to at least pretend to be something other than courtiers, as it was considered unseemly to openly gush about a party or a politician,” Taibi added.

In 2021? Here are two paragraphs from a New York Times feature story on Biden’s covid relief bill:

On Friday, “Scranton Joe” Biden, whose five-decade political identity has been largely shaped by his appeal to union workers and blue-collar tradesmen like those from his Pennsylvania hometown, will sign into law a $1.9 trillion spending plan that includes the biggest antipoverty effort in a generation…

The new role as a crusader for the poor represents an evolution for Mr. Biden, who spent much of his 36 years in Congress concentrating on foreign policy, judicial fights, gun control, and criminal justice issues… Aides say he has embraced his new role… [and] has also been moved by the inequities in pain and suffering that the pandemic has inflicted on the poorest Americans…

Taibi continued: “The move to turn the bulk of the corporate press in the ‘moral clarity’ era into a single party organ has come accompanied by purges of the politically unfit. In the seemingly endless parade of in-house investigations of journalists, paper after paper has borrowed from the Soviet style of printing judgments and self-denunciations, without explaining the actual crimes.

“The New York Times coverage of the recent staff revolt at Teen Vogue against editor Alexi McCammond noted ‘Staff Members Condemn Editor’s Decade-Old, Racist Tweets’, but declined to actually publish the offending texts, so readers might judge for themselves.”

Taibi concluded: “All of this has created an atmosphere where even obvious observations that once would have interested blue-state voters, like that Biden’s pandemic relief bill ‘does not establish a single significant new social program,’ can only be found in publications like the World Socialist Web Site. The bulk of the rest of the landscape has become homogenous and as predictably sycophantic as Fox in the ‘Mission Accomplished’ years, maybe even worse. What is this all going to look like in four years?”

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