Friday, April 30, 2021

Reputational Damage

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter riots, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stated the most important point when she said: “People, we are better than this.”

True it was, but her point has largely been ignored. She was noting a fact often ignored, namely, that running an ongoing months long riotous insurrection causes reputational damage. That means, the rioting has divided the nation according to race and has made black Americans look bad indeed.

Clearly, most blacks were not rioting. Most blacks opposed the activity. And yet, reputation is shared, and it is shared among people who have no specific relationship to specific criminal activity. By that I mean, try getting a job in the financial services industry with a name like Madoff. It does not matter that you had nothing to do with Bernard’s crimes. The taint is shared with family, friends and community.

Rioting notwithstanding the current narrative, one that is certainly not limited to rioters, holds that the problem with black crime is white policing. When blacks commit crimes the fault must lie with white police officers. No one is going to earn a reputation as a solid citizen, a contributing member of the community, by purveying such arrant nonsense.

Guilty verdicts are one thing. Exercising political power is another thing. Reputation cannot be regained by forcing people to pretend to believe something that they know to be untrue. If the goal of BLM is to turn whites and blacks against each other, to diminish the reputation of black Americans, they are doing a fine job. If their goal is to produce antagonism between whites and blacks, even to foment a political movement whereby blacks will overthrow the supposed white supremacist power structure they are leading their followers to destitution.

One notes that before Black Lives Matter offered up an incoherent political slogan, we also suffered the influence of something that was called Black Liberation Theology, the pet ideology of Barack Obama’s mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It is, to summarize, an offshoot of Liberation Theology, an unholy amalgam of Marxism and Catholicism. The difference lies in the fact that BLT proposes that black people become a vanguard to overthrow the white capitalist patriarchal order. 

The point is to impose political will on the general populace, by whatever means necessary. The voice of the people, the reputation garnered by those who propagate such theoretical swill, might be silenced, but it is no less influential. Perhaps it is more influential for having gone underground.

In short, anyone who thinks that declaring war against white supremacy and advancing the BLM and BLT agendas is going to produce anything other than mutual antagonism has missed the point completely.

But, the reputational damage is not just limited to American blacks. Major American institutions have bought into the radical leftist agenda and are in the process of destroying their national and international reputations.

Victor Davis Hanson bemoans the reputational damage done to America’s institutions of higher learning. (via Maggie's Farm) Of course, many of them still contain world class STEM programs, but their love affair with radical leftist ideology and their insistence on imposing their will on their students has caused them to lose their prestige.

Hanson explains:

Instead, imagine a place where the certification of educational excellence, the bachelor of arts degree, is no guarantee that a graduate can speak, write, or communicate coherently or think inductively.

In fairness, these places have been ground zero for the effort to engineer diversity, regardless of merit. The result has been a bloated administrative staff with fewer and fewer teachers teaching.

And often, the teachers, having been hired for reasons that have had little to do with merit, are incompetent. Educational excellence begins at the top, and if the teaching staff does not have any and if they insist on not teaching the greatest works of our civilization but limit themselves to what they understand, students will necessarily suffer. The results should have been predictable.

Hanson continues:

Imagine a place that cherishes student interaction and criticism of the “establishment,” yet the ratio of instructors to administrators is about one to one. The money devoted to non-teaching administrative costs is now about equal to the money devoted to classroom instruction.

It is less about education and more about policing thought and inculcating the correct ideology:

Imagine a place with non-taxable endowments that restrict free speech and expression. Nonprofit universities make it impossible for some speakers to lecture, and they often suspend constitutionally protected due process for students facing particular allegations.

Hanson suggests that American universities are suffering great reputational damage, roughly as Hollywood and even professional sports are. The failing Oscars, a grand and glorious event that has been politicized beyond reason, just garnered its lowest ratings in ages.

It’s about reputational damage. Hollywood celebrities, flush with excitement over their own self-importance, have forgotten that their opinions reflect the quality of their high school level educations. In this as in other matters, the marketplace is casting its vote on these empty headed fools. Fortunately, film product made outside of America still retains some semblance of artistic merit.

Hanson concludes:

As long as universities produced highly educated and open-minded graduates at a reasonable cost and they kept politics out of the lecture hall, Americans didn’t care much about peculiarities such as tenure, legacy admissions, untaxed endowments, rebellious students, and quirky faculty.

But once they began to charge exorbitantly, educate poorly, politick continuously, indebt millions of people, and act hypocritically, universities turned off Americans.

Just as a sermonizing Hollywood grates when it no longer can make good movies, a once-hallowed but now self-righteous university seems hollow when it charges so much for so little.

But, the academy and Hollywood are not the only institutions that are suffering reputational damage. Add the American media to the list. As Caitlin Johnstone points out on Medium, fewer people trust the American media now.

Led by such august enterprises as the New York Times and CNN, the media has become the propaganda organ of the Democratic Party. The result, lost reputation, which means that more and more people no longer trust the media version of the facts.

She sums up the reputational damage:

This year has marked the first time ever that trust in news media dropped below fifty percent in the United States, continuing a trend of decline that’s been ongoing for years.

Mass media punditry is divided on where to assign the blame for the plummet in public opinion of their work, with some blaming it on Russia and others blaming it on Donald Trump. Others, like a recent Forbes article titled “Restoring Public Trust In Technology And Media Is Infrastructure Investment” blame it on the internet. Still others, like a Washington Post article earlier this month titled “Bad news for journalists: The public doesn’t share our values” blame it on the people themselves.

The one thing they all seem to agree on is that it’s definitely not because the billionaire-controlled media are propaganda outlets which manipulate us constantly in conjunction with sociopathic government agencies to protect the oligarchic, imperialist status quo upon which the members of the billionaire class have built their respective kingdoms. It cannot possibly be because people sense that they are being lied to and are fed up with it.

Yes, indeed, CJ. The truth is staring them in the face. And they cannot see it. They blame everyone but themselves and they are so arrogant that they cannot accept that the American people know they are being lied to and therefore no longer trust the media.

Naturally, we all want to know what they have to do to regain the nation’s trust. Johnson offers a stark, and not entirely correct, assessment. The trust they have lost, the reputation they have damaged, will never be regained. 

And actually it doesn’t ultimately matter what mainstream pundits and reporters believe is the cause of the public’s growing disgust with them, because there’s nothing they can do to fix it anyway. The mass media will never regain the public’s trust.

They’ll never regain the public’s trust for a couple of reasons, the first of which is because they’ll never be able to become trustworthy. At no point will the mass media ever begin wowing the public with its journalistic integrity and causing people to re-evaluate their opinion of mainstream news reporters. At no point will people’s disdain for these outlets ever cease to be reinforced and confirmed by the manipulative and deceitful behaviors which caused that disdain in the first place.

She continues that for having turned themselves into propaganda outlets, they will forever remain propaganda outlets.

A propaganda outlet will never be anything other than a propaganda outlet. A lot of half-awake people with one eye open and one eye closed will notice how the news media don’t practice journalism and don’t report the facts, and they’ll assume that something went wrong at some point. “Just do your jobs and report the news!” they’ll shout in frustration.

At this point CJ goes off the rails. Sad to say. She says that the media has never been in the business of reporting facts, but has been spinning narratives. I will not expatiate on this point, because it undercuts completely her argument. 

Once upon a time the media was trustworthy. Once upon a time our academic institutions took seriously the task of teaching, even of imparting information. Once upon a time we accepted that objective facts exist. We did not think that it was all propaganda all the time. Because it wasn't.

In truth, CJ should have quit while she was ahead. The media has lost its reputation for being a trustworthy source of information. Twas not always thus. It might, with some time and some effort, recover its reputation. The point I would make is not that reputation has been damaged forever, but that once you damage your reputation it takes an exceptionally long time to recover it. Once you have shown yourself to be untrustworthy it takes years of concerted effort to persuade people that you can be trusted.


Phil, Jr. said...

To your last sentence, I might add one more thought, based on several decades of experience with people trying to run all sorts and conditions on me: those years of concerted effort become all the more difficult with a populace used to multiple and repeated years of concerted efforts to deceive them.

urbane legend said...

The media began to lose its reputation for credibility during Vietnam, when people like Walter Cronkite began to take a stand. This political action grew worse under Nixon, and has continued, until today we have outright propaganda.

Instead, imagine a place where the certification of educational excellence, the bachelor of arts degree, is no guarantee that a graduate can speak, write, or communicate coherently or think inductively.

We don't have to imagine. Don't expect anyone with a degree earned after, say 1985, to be able to express a complete thought coherently. 95 out of 100 can't.

As for Hollywood and professional sports, these are entertainment, nothing more or less. The opinion of someone who throws a ball is of no value. I don't care what you think, do what you get paid for. If you can discuss Spinoza and St. Augustine with anyone that's great, but that's not why I want to see you work.

Spot on, Mr. Schneiderman.

David Foster said...

Despite all the self-inflicted reputation damage, though, a very significant % of the population lives within a universe of 'fact' and opinion which is largely crafted by the major media, both traditional and social. See my post 'You Better Go to Raw Data"