Someone just suggested that anything went wrong with disgraced, indicted, alcoholic defamer Rudy Giuliani, and Jeet Heer of The Nation takes aim at them. He is not sad in and of himself; rather, the tragedy is in the fact that the American media spent decades portraying a racist authoritarian as a hero in the battle against crime.
For decades, before and after 9/11, the mainstream media relentlessly sanitized his record, eager to lionize a socially moderate Republican. This was the real tragedy of his career. Spencer Ackerman, a colleague of mine at Nation, made the following observation in his 2021 book Reign of Terror: “Guiliani had always been a media creation, propelled by journalists who might have found him incorrigible but generally treated him as a necessity to control an out-of-control city—something that, in practice, meant repressing black, brown, and poor New Yorkers.”
A neoliberal shortcut, the media’s ideal of a “socially moderate Republican” is very much alive and well. Because we aren’t concerned with reality but rather with the structure and purpose of tales, it may appear strange that the individuals chosen for this position are not moderates. My current train of thought, however, is nothing more than a stock story: “#5: the mainstream media’s intransigent flaws.”