The Washington Post Thought It Might Be Nice To Provide Free Book Marketing To Insurrectionist Josh Hawley

from the zero-accountability dept

Let’s be clear about something. The U.S. doesn’t really do “accountability” particularly well. It’s a major reason why we often repeat the same mistakes over and over again without learning much from history or experience. That’s been made particularly clear by a U.S. press that continues to not only platform the insurrectionists who spread election fraud lies leading to the violent events of January 6, but treats these lies as valid and meaningful opinions. That, understandably, has led to concerns that it’s going to happen again. But worse.

Case in point is the Washington Post, which this week decided, for whatever reason, to give Senator Josh Hawley oodles of free publicity for his latest book. Washington Post Live hosted Hawley as part of a chat, providing him ample free marketing for his book complaining about the “tyranny of big tech” (tyrannically sold by Amazon, and heavily marketed by Hawley on Twitter). Not only that, the Post couldn’t be bothered to craft an accurate bio for Hawley, instead using the one provided by his publicist that paints Hawley in an aggressively inauthentic light:

Not too surprisingly, the Post marketing doesn’t really bother to inform readers that Hawley’s anti-monopolist credentials are largely nonexistent. Like most of the GOP, it’s literally impossible to find an instance where Hawley, for example, so much as criticized a telecom monopoly. And, like most of the press, it’s rare you’ll find outlets like the Washington Post pointing out that a primary platform of the GOP for forty fucking years has been to encourage monopolization, whether we’re talking about telecom, airlines, banking, or countless other marginally competitive and largely broken U.S. business sectors.

The GOP isn’t engaged in histrionics over “big tech” because it genuinely cares about monopolization or unchecked corporate power. Decades of policy history make it abundantly clear that’s not remotely true.

The GOP is angry at big tech because a handful of social media companies belatedly started policing disinformation and race-baiting, cornerstones of party power and recruitment in the face of an aging, sagging, and shifting electorate. There are plenty of very valid criticisms of “big tech,” but the U.S. press seems incapable of acknowledging that many of the GOP’s concerns on this front aren’t entirely in good faith.

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has long lamented the U.S. media’s obsession with the “view from nowhere,” and how this undermines accountability while letting bad actors off the hook. Rosen wasn’t particularly impressed with the Post offering free book marketing to a guy who just got done spending months filling the American public’s heads with dangerous fluff and nonsense, and shows absolutely nothing that could be mistaken as contrition in the wake of January 6:

Even if you just want to ignore that Hawley’s anti-corporate power and anti-monopolist credentials are nonexistent, it shouldn’t be that hard to see how treating Hawley’s (read: Trump’s) lies as valid can easily help undermine accountability for recent attacks on democracy. And while the Post did challenge Hawley somewhat on his role in the insurrection, the very act of free marketing and platforming Hawley then gives him ample opportunity to muddy the waters and distort his actual role in triggering the events of January 6, which he happily proceeded to do:

Rosen wasn’t the only media scholar to take issue with the Post’s decision to give Hawley’s book free marketing in the wake of his attacks on democracy:

Comedians routinely critical of the U.S. press also took issue with the Post’s decision to provide free book marketing to Hawley:

Of course the folks most in need of hearing and understanding this message, didn’t hear it at all. In reality, Hawley has been facing nonexistent to very light accountability for lying repeatedly about the 2020 election results, which put the very fabric of democracy at risk. But for the “cancel culture” set the very act of questioning the Post’s failures of accountability and journalistic standards is itself somehow viewed as “censorship”:

Again, light accountability for lying about the results of an election is not “censorship.” And criticizing someone for spreading lies that put elected officials’ lives at risk shouldn’t be seen as “conservative.” One major reason America keeps stumbling through the same issues over and over without learning anything from the experience is because for the ad-based, impression-obsessed U.S. press. It’s more profitable to heavily market Hawley and enjoy the resulting controversy than it is to do the right thing and not platform his dangerous lies at all. The age-old internet concept “don’t feed the trolls” isn’t adhered to because adhering to it harms profits.

That doesn’t mean the Post shouldn’t cover him when he does something of note (like being the only Senator to vote against a hate crime bill protecting Asian Americans), but they don’t need to be helping him sell a book five months after his lies contributed to numerous human deaths, normalizing his behavior and setting an ugly precedent for something even worse just over the horizon.

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Comments on “The Washington Post Thought It Might Be Nice To Provide Free Book Marketing To Insurrectionist Josh Hawley”

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31 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Republican lawmakers and leaders still make overtures to the principles democracy — after all, they haven’t (yet) banned people not registered as Republicans from voting. But Republican voters are either aching to support or already support Republican-led fascism.

I mean, the whole point of the insurrection was to depose a legally elected president-elect and put in his place the legally certified loser of the 2020 election. That’s straight-up fascist behavior.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I mean, the whole point of the insurrection was to depose a legally elected president-elect and put in his place the legally certified loser of the 2020 election. That’s straight-up fascist behavior.

No, the opportunity window of fascism is to stop the election from happening. After that, it becomes insurrection and rebellion. Denying that an election happened is more like pretend-fascism.

Could have been a coup except that the military was exceptionally clear that it was not going to be game for that, making several public announcements that they were not going to help overthrowing the elected government.

Ok, let’s upgrade to wannabe-fascism.

Bad enough as a political goal.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

" after all, they haven’t (yet) banned people not registered as Republicans from voting."

Not for lack of trying. They have spent decades of gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. doing just that, they just haven’t been able to come right out and say that’s what they’ve been trying to do yet.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I am not convinced he isn’t representing his electorate here.

Republicans are seeing that their firebrands by far receive the most small-donor donations, and they try accommodating that trend.

I half suspect that it’s just that Putin is good at restructuring small payments, and frankly: if he wants to destroy the U.S., that would be a whole lot more effective use of money than building nukes.

Particularly since after a bit of initial investments, the operation can be run on empty promises fairly well, as opposed to nuclear armament.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And as the Redhatted brownshirts use pipebombs to burn down the offices of the Washington Post, the Editorial staff will take to social media bemoaning the fact that people whose rise to power they enabled out of an insane sense of ‘fairness’ don’t actually care about fairness, free speech, nevermind freedom of the press, they’re just useful tools to get beliefs that have been thoroughly discredited by history platformed and given an undue appearance of being legitimate.

‘How were we to know that enabling the people who hate anything to the left of pinochet and have been threatening, and committing, terrorist could possibly lead to bloodshed? Hawley was elected to office, republicans would never put someone dangerously unfit in office aside from all the times they did.’

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You mean the "Leopard Eating Faces" party they enabled would eat their face also and they’d take it as a complete surprise?

It’d be a steep price to pay for putting up that clickbait, I’m sure. But hardly surprising.

Also not way out there. I keep coming back to the fact that 30% of the US citizenry is on board with these asshats. Hitler made his takeover of power work with just 12%.

The US is one bad recession – or crisis, real or imagined – away from tipping right over the brink.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Kinda gave the game away there

If calls for accountability and not providing a platform and bullhorn to insurrectionists to speak with are evidence of ‘anti-conservative bias’ then that says a lot about what counts as ‘conservative’ these days, probably far more than he thought his statement did.

‘Accountability is anti-conservative(at least when applied to us), how dare you call for consequences for our actions!?’

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Koby (profile) says:

Must Have Been A Great Interview

It’s more profitable to heavily market Hawley and enjoy the resulting controversy than it is to do the right thing and not platform his dangerous lies at all. The age-old internet concept "don’t feed the trolls" isn’t adhered to because adhering to it harms profits.

I have to wonder how badly the Amazon Post is hemorrhaging cash, if they’re willing to stir up the pot in exchange for some readership. I’m not really hearing anything wrong with the talk that he gave, only character assassination for past policy disagreements. I guess the leftists don’t want a free press; they just want an echo chamber, even if it drives them into bankruptcy again.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Must Have Been A Great Interview

‘Past policy disagreements’, you mean like whether or not people who win free and fair elections should be allowed to take power? Whether or not it’s right for far right mobs he’s helped to stir up to storm the capitol and murder police officers in the hopes of being able to do the same to their political opponents?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

A given newspaper has no obligation to print “both sides” of an argument or give space to fascist bullshit and the people who spew it. The Washington Post can be part of a free press without giving Josh Hawley — someone who implicitly supported the cause of the violent insurrectionists by raising/supporting baseless objections to the 2020 election results — space within its pages.

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This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: 'Some people think vaccines have microchips, here's their side.'

That’s crazy talk that is, what’s next, arguing that serious newspapers shouldn’t print plague cultists and/or flat earth screeds, despite the fact that balance clearly requires that they print both if they are to be taken seriously?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Must Have Been A Great Interview

character assassination for past policy disagreements

You must be referring to his Hitler impression outside of the capital building, trying to rile up the plebs just before they started their violent storming of the capital in support of an insurrection, encouraged by Trump himself?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
JMT (profile) says:

Re: Must Have Been A Great Interview

"I have to wonder how badly the Amazon Post is hemorrhaging cash…"

Well that one’s ripped straight from the Trump Twitter feed…

"I guess the leftists don’t want a free press…"

Deciding not to publish the words of a lying, fascist insurrectionist is the definition of a free press. Deciding to criticize press who do publish the words of a lying, fascist insurrectionist is the definition of free speech. Why do you hate freedom so much Koby?

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Must Have Been A Great Interview

"Why do you hate freedom so much Koby?"

Because what Koby is pushing is that anything not describing the "real" narrative of the white man being pushed from his supremacy throne must be Lügenpresse – or the US translation of Goebbel’s old talking point – "Fake News".

It became clear, quite quickly, that Koby is just the "rational" frontrunner trying to make space for his less civilized stormfront peers.
A phenomenon bar owners are used to seeing; when a well-spoken and reasonable person walks in wearing a swastika to sound out the waters and see if that bar is a good new place for the like-minded to gather.
Most bar owners today know damn well that either they toss that guy out on his ear at once or a month later that bar will be a nazi bar.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Not all conservatives are assholes.

Stop pretending that the reason the leaders of the insurrection are being "picked on" is because THEY CREATED A FUCKING INSURRECTION!

They are so quick to pull out the zomg they only did this because I’m conservative & the masses run to protect some of the largest assholes even they can’t stand because conservative.

Hawley has come out against the 1st Amendment in action & deed while screaming he believes in the Constitution & anyone trying to call him out is pounced upon by the conservatives he summons screaming they only attacked him because he is a conservative not because he is a worthless human.

I’m still waiting for him to apologize for all of those conservative insurrectionists who stormed the capitol. I mean he expects all Muslims to apologize for the actions of others they don’t even know & were not involved in. Hawley cheered them on to storm the capitol… not a freaking peep.

Its a pity that the Post is on the bandwagon of everything is destroying print news while doing shit like this…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

he expects all Muslims to apologize for the actions of others they don’t even know & were not involved in.

Funny thing about that: Lots of Muslims have been denouncing the actions of Muslim groups engaged in terrorism the entire time, only the bigger outlets never run with those stories. I guess it’s so the anti-Muslim crowd can keep making this (stupid to begin with) claim that they do not.

And that’s despite the fact we’ve all been living under Sharia Law since Clinton and whatever i can’t run with this ridiculous nonsense any further.

David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, but it doesn’t help that Salafism is a major brand under the label of Islam, just like Trumpism is a major brand under the label of conservativism. That a significant part of the brand is just retained as a rallying cry and for claiming more encompassing support for your ideology that you actually can rely on…

Who minds? Certainly not the people cheered by the largest inauguration crowd in history.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"…only the bigger outlets never run with those stories."

Hell, one thing known in the middle east which is in the west completely unknown. Even Iran issued a fatwah on ISIS, with the chief poo-bahs of Shi’ite Islam all condemning the "new caliphate" as blasphemers and apostates, very early on.

It’s a bit of a problem that in the US the "conservatives" screaming about the constitution all the time tend to condemn every amendment except the 2nd while hosting a particular hatred for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Jojo (profile) says:

Washington Post, wtf are you doing?

Why are you wasting space and time with this kind of shit? I still have respect for you, but it’s waning when I heard about this stuff. I am genuinely confused to why give one of, if not the biggest Conservative asshole(s) on Capitol Hill (who is partly responsible for the Insurrection four months ago) his own space in the Washington Post. That’s like the New York Times accepting an interview with Adolf Hitler about his Final Solution. These things should not be compatible.

sumgai (profile) says:

The age-old internet concept "don’t feed the trolls" isn’t adhered to because adhering to it harms profits.

Kinda snuggles right up next to what I said in https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20210430/00075246706/hollywood-lobbyists-so-afraid-any-public-benefit-intellectual-property-that-theyre-trying-to-block-covid-vaccine-sharing.shtml#c65

Used to be, back in the day, that misfeasant or malfeasant discourse was at least frowned upon, or more often, rejected out of hand.

Too bad for me that I didn’t think to mention the profit motive just then. Nice finishing touch Karl, thanks.

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