Did Americans Come to Love Big Brother?

In less than a month, there will likely be no more President Trump for the media to obsess over. No more false stories about him overfeeding koi fish or headlines screeching that Trump told Americans to inject bleach to combat COVID-19. No more Trump-fixated media worries over how to best accentuate bad news and downplay good. 

There will be no more frenzied mockery that Trump was lying about a vaccination delivery date in 2020. Instead, imagine a happier world of 2021 where Dr. Anthony Fauci is the genius behind the vaccination. Joe Biden is the master logistician who inoculated the nation. And COVID-19 disappeared with Trump to Mar-a-Lago. 

There will be no more news blackouts of the first lady, no more snide suggestions that the elegant and quite stunning Melania Trump lacked the beauty and grace of Vogue cover star Michelle Obama and the education and academic authority of Jill Biden.

There will now be no more media bombshells about “Russian collusion” mythologies. There is only the effort to downplay the real, frightening, China collusion narratives. And they involve U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), Hunter Biden and the Biden family, and a host of American corporations, universities, and multibillionaires. Nothing to see here, move on.

There will be no more anger over Trump’s use of the term “China virus.” There is only the deadly suppressed truth of the COVID-19 virus that originated in Wuhan, and Beijing’s outright lies about the virus ensured its spread and lethality. No matter, troublemakers. Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg will reassure us that a non-authoritarian China did as well as it could. 

There will be no more media “walls are closing in” frenzies that Trump is crazy and should be removed under the 25th Amendment. There will be only the underground whispers that he seemed a lot more hale than incoming President Joe Biden. 

The real question is not how or even whether the media can exist without its obsessions with Trump, but what will it now do with Joe Biden? To put it another way, the media assumes that its creation of a new fake hero can become even more believable than the construct of its old false villain. 

For over a year, the media gave Biden—the Left’s only last-chance hope to end the Trump presidency—a complete pass. We were told that the tens of thousands who crammed Trump rallies were rubes, while the few dozen who honked their horns at Joe Biden’s occasional virtual car stops were ecstatic. 

The press largely refrained from asking Biden any “gotcha” questions. They gave no tough interviews. He gave no spontaneous press conferences. They conducted no probing investigations into Biden, Inc.’s financial quid pro quos with foreign governments, and offered no honest inquiries about Biden’s health and cognitive abilities. Heroes, we gather, need not stoop to answer such ankle-biting.

On the one hand, many journalists now crow that the media’s asymmetrical coverage helped get Biden elected and yet, on the other, they’re all wondering, at least for a few seconds, now what?

The Media Cannot Protect Biden For Long

First, if candidate Joe Biden was rarely scrutinized in the past, he will be vetted in the present—not by the American media, but by foreign leaders, spontaneous crises, and his own restive radical base. 

Second, leaks, rumors, and smears about Biden’s health and competency will not originate from a nonexistent Trump camp. They will emanate from Biden’s own new left-wing Democratic Party. 

Progressives, after all, see the over-the-hill Biden mission of providing a centrist campaign veneer now done. It is past time for Kamala Harris and the one true Left to assume power. How will such left-wing gossip and leaks about Biden’s cognitive decline be attributed to Trump golfing in sunny Florida?

Third, if things in general begin to go bad, whom or what exactly can the media blame?

If Biden reverses the Trump Middle East calculus and violence ensues, whose fault will it be? Or will it even be said to be bad?

Will the out-of-office Trump be blamed for reentering the disastrous Iran Deal, for bringing the radical Palestinians back to the center of Middle East negotiations, for alienating moderate Arab states to withdraw recognition of Israel, for ostracizing and alienating Israel in the fashion of the policies of the Obama administration? 

Or will all that and more be claimed just as wildly successful as Obama’s “shovel-ready jobs,” “cash for clunkers,”“Russian reset” and “Asian pivot”?

If Biden resets with China, and empowers the post-COVID-19 Chinese imperial agenda, whom will the media blame? Or will it fault anyone or anything at all when we are at last “managing decline,” as good globalist realists should?

If Biden stops the construction of the border wall, issues blanket amnesties, and sees new massive influxes at the border in the time of COVID-19, whom will the media blame? Or will we be willing to lend our ICUs and ERs, as we should, to the truly needy?

If by 2022 Biden raises taxes, cuts back on U.S. gas and oil production, issues new regulations, and stalls the post-COVID-19 recovery, whom will the media blame? Or will they claim Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can now decide to have children, given the New Green Deal has given all our unborn a viable future at last?

If defunding or cutting back the police, if releasing criminals in mass from jails, and if not arresting those who commit misdemeanors and “minor” felonies, all result in a 1970s-like crime wave, whom will the media blame?

Or will it be a “crime wave” at all, rather than a “liberating experience” from the police, and the achievement of “social justice”? 

Memory-Hole Rules

Easy answers to these questions all are found in the reality that there is no more media. We are left now only with a Pravda fusion of progressive communiques, Silicon Valley censorship and cancel culture, and hard-Left media propaganda that will make new “good” news just as fake but far more palatable than the old false, but depressing bad news. 

Real news is volatile; wokespeak is a sedative. 

For four years, the media has told the American people that Trump—our version of the class enemy “Emmanuel Goldstein” in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four—was the cause of all its problems: a Satanic creature known to exercise all sorts of insidious powers and master of conspiracies and deceptions.

Trump single-handedly invented Russian collusion. Trump himself caused the impeachment melodrama. Trump alone spread the pandemic. Enemy of the people, Trump by himself mishandled the lockdowns, and birthed the rioting and violence in the streets. Only the omnipotent Trump-Goldstein could cause the economic recession at home, and supposed chaos abroad. 

But what if, post Trump, many of these crises continue, or get worse—or heaven forbid—began to wane due to Trump’s past policies? Are they even crises then?

Wokespeak’s answer to all these questions is likely again to be found in Nineteen Eighty-Four

Under memory-hole rules, just as everything good under the prior administration is now “bad,” so everything bad under the new administration will be presented as “good.” 

Americans in the new calm of all good news, and no bad news, then will supposedly come to appreciate that our Ministry of Truth’s Wokespeak—our version of Orwell’s “Newspeak”—was for our own good. 

Will it be easier to sleep when President Xi Jinping smiles at us on CNN, when we read in the New York Times how Joe Biden is reining in Benjamin Netanyahu, and when MSNBC hosts a town hall with John Kerry and Javad Zarif to announce a new and improved Iran Deal? 

When you are tired, and stuck in commute traffic, would you rather hear yet another NPR theory about how the sinister Donald Trump never paid his taxes and made millions while in office—or listen to a softer, upbeat voice narrate how the Biden Foundation is helping needy, undocumented workers?

So will Americans, exhausted by Trump-Goldstein, at least confess that the Ministry of Truth’s new rosy fantasies are not as nerve-wracking and depressing as its old angry hate-Trump propaganda? 

In other words, too many Americans may come to resemble Winston Smith, the defeated hero of Nineteen Eighty-Four, who at last accepts the false calm—in his appreciation that all the devilish enemies of the past have faded away and there is only the tranquility of media triumph: “Everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the newly released The Dying Citizen.

Photo: iStock/Getty Images

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