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The political hit on Rep. Steve King

We're witnessing yet another political hit on Steve King.

It seems we are subjected to monthly and sometimes weekly atrocities by Steve King, courtesy of the media. He regularly says what everyone else is thinking, an outrageous thing in the current year. On cue, the mainstream media breathlessly feigns shock that he said something they have deemed beyond the pale. Then the lying begins all over again.

This week's hit piece, written by Trip Gabriel, is here:

It's the standard fare from the merchants of political discord. The article is simply a hit, linking King to Trump, accusing him of being an extremist, despite two decades of winning elections in a purple state, and not so subtly accusing mid-westerners of racism in the process. Gabriel calls King a white nationalist and a white supremacist, despite King explicitly and repeatedly rejecting the label every time someone levels the accusation.  Gabriel dubiously accuses King of using "fear tactics" without explaining what those fear tactics actually are. He tries to link King to far right European politics and neo-Nazis, who like King reject these labels.

In his own mind, Gabriel knows more about King than King knows about King. The article consisted entirely of Gabriel trying to link King to everything he thinks his readers hate, and it used just two sentences from an interview to prove it. It's all so tiresome.

The entire quote from King is, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

No context is given. Gabriel never bothers to say what the interview was intended to be about. The entire article was a hit, and this quote is tucked in the middle without explanation. In Gabriel's mind, I'm sure the interview was about getting King comfortable and talking while the tape was running, and then gently guiding the conversation to something he could exploit.

The Times article acted as a sort of dog whistle to other publications, and most of the rest began to pile on, including the so-called right wing media. The National Review, which masquerades as a right wing magazine when it isn't piling on King, published a particularly bad article of writing by Jonah Goldberg. Goldberg used the same silly tactics that Gabriel did, but was more ham-handed about it. He starts by attempting to link King to slavery in the first paragraph. It's all downhill from there. He goes on to link King to everything from white supremacy to dubious connections to long dead eugenicists, and for reasons I can't comprehend went so far as to list different types of Europeans, such as eastern Europeans, Jews, etc. and claim they aren't white, thereby insinuating that King is racist against them too. Once you see what he's doing, it's equally laughable and pathetic. The article is here.

None of this accidental. The media, as well as his own Republican party have been trying to get rid of King for a long time. Following the 2010 census, his state gerrymandered his district to include Ames, IA, an extremely liberal college town that had not been part of his district before. He still won reelection and keeps on winning. The RNC, which exists to raise funds for republican congressional candidates, refused to fund him in 2018. He won again. This tells me that Iowa voters see through the act. Like the little boy who cried wolf, you can't call King a racist every single time he speaks and expect normal people outside the beltway bubble to take you seriously.

King isn't entirely blameless though. He's been in politics over two decades, and by this point he knows only too well that the NY Times, the National Review, and the rest of them are charlatans. Another publication, the Des Moines Register, a completely worthless rag, is riding the Times coattails with daily articles about this one interview. These publications are not news media at all but news tabloids. Like Charlie Brown playing football with Lucy, King took the bait yet again, hoping against hope they'd hold the football still for him and give him a fair chance, only to have them yank it away at the last moment, and he falls on his back, like every single time before.

Like the writers at the National Inquirer, Goldberg, Gabriel, and the writers who are just like them are so disconnected from the truth that it no longer bears any relation to what's published. It's not that these publications get it wrong accidentally. It's not even that they intentionally lie. It's that the idea of truth and honesty simply don't apply to what they write. The only thing that matters is the narrative. And the narrative is that Steve King is bad. It doesn't matter what he says. He's bad, therefore it's an atrocity and we must feign outrage.

I don't understand why King keeps talking to these people. With the advent of social media he simply doesn't need them. No politician needs them. Their influence has been slowly waning since 2001. The Times is hemorrhaging money. The National Review has only ever lost money. You might be waiting for them to go bankrupt, but that won't stop them. As long as they have influence, which they obtain through access to people like King, their owners will gladly suffer the loss to maintain the propaganda pipeline. But when they lose access, they'll lose readership, and then they'll no longer serve their purpose. These news tabloids and these people cry out as they strike the hand that feeds them.

Rep. King, please stop feeding the likes of Mr. Gabriel and Mr. Goldberg. These people are not important to you. You don't need them at all, not even to reach your constituents. By giving them interviews, you're just playing host to the parasites.

Photo by Gage Skidmore

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