If a tree falls in a forest with no one around, does it make a noise? That grade school joke of sorts has a serious contemporary equivalent. It is increasingly clear that if a conservative speaks up, liberals will not actually hear it unless the conservative tells them what they want to hear. Consider four separate and unrelated stories that now all relate.
The Washington Post just covered the story of a student killed by the MS-13 gang. To the paper's credit, it has fairly extensively covered MS-13 in its local reporting. But nationally, conservatives have raised concerns about the gang mostly to deaf media ears.
After President Trump referenced the gang in his State of the Union address earlier this year, the Washington Post ran an op-ed downplaying the threat from MS-13. The author of the piece disagreed that MS-13 needed to be more seriously addressed by the Justice Department. Around the same time, the Washington Post ran stories with the following headlines:"'You feel that the devil is helping you': MS-13's satanic history;" "MS-13 member in Maryland convicted in racketeering case;" "'Vying for control': How MS-13 uses violence and extortion in America's jails;" and "'People here live in fear': MS-13 menaces a community seven miles from the White House." The paper stands almost alone in covering the gang.
Conservatives have long talked about MS-13. Conservative talk radio has documented crimes by the gang. Fox News has covered the gang. But most mainstream news outlets barely covered it until a Washington Post story broke through last week. The Washington paper covered the spread of MS-13 from New York to Texas and focused on how the gang can take over local school populations. Suddenly, liberals across the nation were talking about it.
"Hand Grenades and Gang Violence Rattle Sweden's Middle Class," read the headline in the New York Times on March 3rd. "Weapons from a faraway, long-ago war are flowing into immigrant neighborhoods here, puncturing Swedes' sense of confidence and security. The country's murder rate remains low, by American standards, and violent crime is stable or dropping in many places. But gang-related assaults and shootings are becoming more frequent, and the number of neighborhoods categorized by the police as 'marred by crime, social unrest and insecurity' is rising," reported Ellen Barry and Christina Anderson.
The story lit up social media. Liberals across America had considered Sweden a peaceful place they could run to for safe haven against Donald Trump. Conservatives have been talking about Sweden for years. The growth of violent muslim gangs is on the rise. There are parts of the country that Jews could not go to at any time and parts that non-Jewish women would need to avoid. "That's like anywhere else, you racist," liberals would retort. But something is different here. The rise of young muslim immigrants into Sweden had imported a new violence into the country. Liberals dismissed conservative concerns as Islamophobic. Now suddenly they're talking about it.
For years, conservatives warned against Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan has long been treated as a respectable person among the left, though he shares many of the same views as David Duke. Only in the past few months has CNN, led by Jake Tapper, delved into Farrakhan's views and ties. But most of the media has ignored him and the left has given many of their political leaders a pass to deal with him. Suddenly, like scales falling from their eyes, the left realizes he is who conservatives have been saying he was.
On one hand, it is good that liberals are suddenly paying attention to these stories. But it is also a reminder of how dependent conservatives are on places like Fox News for their news. The left, which is disproportionately represented in newsrooms across America, are often ignorant of and hostile to the news from the right. The shock and surprise is catching up to them. Perhaps instead of waving so many conservative concerns away, the media would be more trusted by taking conservatives and the news they talk about seriously.