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Monitor Them, But Don’t Give Them Access by tristero

Monitor Them, But Don't Give Them Access 

by tristero

I've been wracking my brains to come up with an appropriate way to manage coverage the extreme right. Margaret Sullivan comes awfully close to my thinking, with a few caveats. Some excerpts:

t was a thoroughly lousy idea for the New Yorker magazine to offer a high-profile perch — an onstage interview by top editor David Remnick — at next month’s annual festival to the deposed Svengali. 
There is nothing more to learn from Bannon about his particular brand of populism, with its blatant overlay of white supremacy. 
While we’re at it, there is also nothing more to learn from the die-hard Trump voters in what I’ve called the Endless Diner Series — the media’s recidivistic journeys to the supposed heartland to hear what we’ve heard a thousand times before about blind loyalty in the face of all reason...
Yes, it’s time, well past time, to stop lending the media’s biggest and most prestigious platforms to this crowd of racists and liars. 
Shut them down — not because of ideology or politics, but because there is no news value there...
What happened with Bannon and the New Yorker Festival, though it may appear to be just another digital-age dust-up, is part of a much deeper media problem: the normalization of people and ideas that deserve only scorn — all done in the name of understanding and challenging them. 
Author Roxane Gay offered an unvarnished view on Twitter: Inviting Bannon “demonstrates how the intellectual class doesn’t truly understand racism or xenophobia. They treat it like an intellectual project, where perhaps if we ask ‘hard questions’ and bandy about ‘controversial’ ideas, good work is being done.” 
Gay is exactly right. The "intellectual class" is making a spectacularly self-destructive mistake. They foolishly take the mad pronunciations of the right wing as an opportunity for intellectual engagement. Instead they need to treat rightwing for what it is: marketing and advertisements for bigotry promotion, xenophobia, and hatred of democratic ideals.
It would be heartening to believe that something might be learned from this episode. But the news media, even at its highest and most admirable levels, doesn’t seem to get the point. 
Challenging the likes of Bannon, or pushing back against the likes of Conway, only makes these figures into folk heroes, bravely telling their would-be truths to a corrupt media elite...
There’s nothing more to learn. But, in elevating these ideas and their practitioners again and again, there’s plenty more still to lose. 
Yep, I would just add two more points:

First, agreed that there is no reason for the mainstream media to slavishly report most of what the right says, nor is it useful to try to engage with them (anyone marching marching with the Nazis in Charlottesville was either a Nazi or extremely sympathetic to the their ideology). However, it is essential to keep tabs on them. For that, we need reporting that provides context. For example, always report that Trump has adopted the slogan America First by mentioning that he adopted this slogan from the KKK, from the American Nazis of the early 20th Century and from other far-right extremists.

Related:  let's make it crystal clear that while the far-right modern Republican party has not a single reasonable answer to America's problems, America has a lot of real, serious problems that need addressing, from economic inequality to racism to infrastructure. These can be reasonably and best addressed within the context of a liberal, progressive, and social democratic discourse.