A report in the Bulwark earlier this week noting that Sen. Ted Cruz has nudged closer to endorsing the goal of the Texas secessionist movement, stating publicly that “I’m not there….yet,” triggered MSNBC nighttime host Brian Williams to wrap up his evening broadcast musing about what he called “the slow death of truth and consequences” that threatens democracy in America.
Williams succinctly put together all the pieces in his brief homily, linking the “death of truth” (an actual philosophical movement begun in the 1970s, a radical form of Foucaultian postmodernity that proclaims the triumph of ultimate subjectivity and leads directly to Trumpism), contributing directly to the rise of “grievance culture wars” arising from the social media’s “cheap anonymity” and “gaslighting,” and the hardening of new forms of “anything that drives us apart” to “turn Americans against Americans.”
This, he said, feeds on the news that tends to make us feel bad about ourselves, things such as new instances of mass gun violence, the Rittenhouse verdict, mass social repudiation of vaccines and this season’s new flash-mob gang violence in shopping malls, to weaken the public resolve to stand up for and defend core democratic institutions.
They constitute, he stated, nothing less than Soviet “active measures” to undermine our democracy, being effective assaults on our nation by a hostile foreign power, hostile to our nation and our democratic values. What he painted is not a pretty picture, and yet as this man, once considered a highly-esteemed future Walter Cronkite-like figure in U.S. news reporting, was taking one of his last big shots across the bow as he prepares for his exit from his show later this month, and apparently an uncertain future.
Count me among those who will always question the circumstances of Williams’ sudden fall from grace in 2015 after 11 years as the anchor of NBC’s prime time national newscast during which time he scored no less than 12 Emmy Awards. In 2015 he was severely demoted for ostensibly misrepresenting events during the war with Iraq in 2003 but was given his late late night slot on MSNBC, nonetheless.
I am not here to defend Williams for whatever happened then. I am here to salute his sign-off report this week. That was something. It summarized everything that’s seriously wrong and has put our nation in the great peril it now faces.
The worst part is that the nation is by and large unaware of this peril in its midst, except for its representation in bits and pieces, such as the January 6 insurrection and the worst excesses of the Trump presidency.
It’s all been fractured into sound-bite sized ingredients that obfuscate the big picture, which is that there is a very active subversion of our nation and its democratic institutions now underway along just the lines that Williams summarized earlier this week.
Sadly, the media, including institutions like Fox News but also others that have worked by way of insinuation into the interpretation of events, have played a major, major role. Despite their excuses for it, they created the Trump candidacy going all the way back to 1987, when it was first reported through intelligence sources that Moscow first determined Trump would be their chosen agency of influence through a presidential candidacy to advance its aims against the U.S.
I have been on this case a long time, and tried my best to summarize my findings and analysis in the pamphlet, “The January 6, 2021 Capitol Sacking: Putin’s Role” (available on Amazon).
My conclusions are almost identical to what Brian Williams sought to summarize this week. We can’t deal with this situation by treating the overt players as the cause agents. We can’t deal with it by throwing our hands in the air and blaming society in general, either.
The problem needs to be identified as an assault on the nation every bit as dangerous as by any military invasion.
Correction: In last week’s column I misreported who the James Webb Space Telescope is named for. It is named for James E. Webb, the NASA administrator during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations who led much of the development for the Apollo missions.