Ted Cruz doesn’t understand why people are so mean to him. He’s just your average oleaginous, treasonous sell out, they’re all over the GOP. Close your eyes and throw a stick in the Senate, you’ll hit ten of them; but the tons of bricks seemed aimed at him and him alone and now they’re falling — once again. Sheesh.
“The media is suffering from Trump withdrawal, where they’ve attacked Trump every day for four years, they don’t know what to do,” Cruz said. “So they obsess over my taking my girls to the beach.” The point here is obvious: Ted Cruz did nothing wrong, it’s the Evil Demon Media making it look like he did something wrong.
Victimization is the central tenet of Republicanism these days. And that’s where the problem is, not in Ted Cruz trying to save his public image, but with the persistent theme of cancel culture, a machination of the Democrats, we’re told, with the purpose of destroying America in cahoots with the mass media as the perpetrators of injustice.
And central to this theme, right there dead center, is Trump’s Big Lie, that of having had the election that he won “in a landslide” egregiously “stolen” from him — thereby justifying the Capitol riot and everything else that he and his sycophantic cultists are still doing to sabotage democracy. That’s the problem. Greg Sargent, Washington Post:
More broadly, we’re also seeing a re-centering of Trump as the primary victim in U.S. public life in other areas. Republican officials have launched efforts to make voting harder across the country, which they are justifying in part by claiming they will restore confidence in our elections among people who believe the election was stolen from Trump.
In short, the falsehood that the election constituted a hideous injustice done to Trump, and the fact that a lot of Republican voters believe it to be true, is becoming the rationale for more voter suppression and redoubled counter-majoritarian tactics — even though Trump and Republicans themselves spent months feeding this lie to them.
On top of that, Republican lawmakers who held Trump accountable for inciting the violent insurrection are getting censured everywhere, mainly by other Republicans who are demanding absolute fealty to the mythology that Trump remains the victim of that monstrous injustice.
It’s true that Trump’s exit creates a dilemma for the media. But it’s not the one Cruz has identified. It’s whether the media should continue giving a platform to Republicans who continue to traffic in the constellation of fictions that are organized around this central myth of Trump victimization.
As Sean Illing reports, some theorists have shown that merely allowing rank disinformation to seep into the media discussion actually undermines the possibility of consensus, allowing its purveyors to exploit the good-faith instinct toward openness to a full range of ideas toward unprincipled ends.
Press critic Jay Rosen has suggested that the media must seek to “decenter” Trump. If so, it may require the marginalization of that broader victimization mythology as well.
The problem with this idea, is that disinformation and Trump victimization is already baked into the media cake. People became accustomed to needling, so-called feature stories of dijon mustard and tan suits and the crueler ones of Michelle Obama’s gender, and the rest simply escalated as a matter of course, once the reality tee vee actor got into the mix. Now so many people respond not to the truth, because they haven’t been hearing it for so long, they’ve been listening to the “Fictions of Foxlandia” and that’s not going to change. Fox is too desperate to get out of the ratings basement that they find themselves in. The best thing they can do now is put on the likes of Cruz, Hawley and Graham and let them wail about how unfair it all is.
The information sphere is toxic. It is a disinformation sphere now. It took Fox News twenty some years to get us here, but here we are. That’s the starting point we’re at, and after four years of politics as tabloid trash infotainment — minus the info — under Trump, things are in a sorry mess. Couple that with the fact that the GOP is collapsing like an old termite-ridden house, with bats in the belfrey, and there is no easy fix to this mess.